Abundant Grace

“It is not that we are so amazing that He HAD to die for us, but instead that He is so amazing that He WOULD.”
My tweets. Read from the bottom to the top.

My tweets. Read from the bottom to the top.

Old Testament Law and The Charge of Inconsistency
I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” What I hear most often is “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?”
 
It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.
 
First of all, let’s be clear that it’s not only the Old Testament that has proscriptions about homosexuality. The New Testament has plenty to say about it, as well. Even Jesus says, in his discussion of divorce in Matthew 19:3-12 that the original design of God was for one man and one woman to be united as one flesh, and failing that, (v. 12) persons should abstain from marriage and from sex. 
 
However, let’s get back to considering the larger issue of inconsistency regarding things mentioned in the OT that are no longer practiced by the New Testament people of God. Most Christians don’t know what to say when confronted about this. Here’s a short course on the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament:
 
The Old Testament devotes a good amount of space to describing the various sacrifices that were to be offered in the tabernacle (and later temple) to atone for sin so that worshippers could approach a holy God. As part of that sacrificial system there was also a complex set of rules for ceremonial purity and cleanness. You could only approach God in worship if you ate certain foods and not others, wore certain forms of dress, refrained from touching a variety of objects, and so on. This vividly conveyed, over and over, that human beings are spiritually unclean and can’t go into God’s presence without purification. 
 
But even in the Old Testament, many writers hinted that the sacrifices and the temple worship regulations pointed forward to something beyond them. (cf. 1 Samuel 15:21-22; Psalm 50:12-15; 51:17; Hosea 6:6). When Christ appeared he declared all foods ‘clean’ (Mark 7:19) and he ignored the Old Testament clean laws in other ways, touching lepers and dead bodies. 
 
But the reason is made clear. When he died on the cross the veil in the temple was ripped through, showing that the need for the entire sacrificial system with all its clean laws had been done away with. Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and now Jesus makes us “clean.” 
 
The entire book of Hebrews explains that the Old Testament ceremonial laws were not so much abolished as fulfilled by Christ. Whenever we pray ‘in Jesus name’, we ‘have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus’ (Hebrews 10:19). It would, therefore, be deeply inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible as a whole if we were to continue to follow the ceremonial laws. 
 
The New Testament gives us further guidance about how to read the Old Testament. Paul makes it clear in places like Romans 13:8ff that the apostles understood the Old Testament moral law to still be binding on us. In short, the coming of Christ changed how we worship but not how we live. The moral law is an outline of God’s own character—his integrity, love, and faithfulness. And so all the Old Testament says about loving our neighbor, caring for the poor, generosity with our possessions, social relationships, and commitment to our family is still in force. The New Testament continues to forbid killing or committing adultery, and all the sex ethic of the Old Testament is re-stated throughout the New Testament (Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 1 Timothy 1:8-11.) If the New Testament has reaffirmed a commandment, then it is still in force for us today.
 
Further, the New Testament explains another change between the Testaments. Sins continue to be sins—but the penalties change. In the Old Testament things like adultery or incest were punishable with civil sanctions like execution. This is because at that time God’s people existed in the form of a nation-state and so all sins had civil penalties
 
But in the New Testament the people of God are an assembly of churches all over the world, living under many different governments. The church is not a civil government, and so sins are dealt with by exhortation and, at worst, exclusion from membership. This is how a case of incest in the Corinthian church is dealt with by Paul (1 Corinthians 5:1ff. and 2 Corinthians 2:7-11.) Why this change? Under Christ, the gospel is not confined to a single nation—it has been released to go into all cultures and peoples. 
 
Once you grant the main premise of the Bible—about the surpassing significance of Christ and his salvation—then all the various parts of the Bible make sense. Because of Christ, the ceremonial law is repealed. Because of Christ the church is no longer a nation-state imposing civil penalties. It all falls into place. However, if you reject the idea of Christ as Son of God and Savior, then, of course, the Bible is at best a mish-mash containing some inspiration and wisdom, but most of it would have to be rejected as foolish or erroneous.
 
So where does this leave us? There are only two possibilities. If Christ is God, then this way of reading the Bible makes sense and is perfectly consistent with its premise. The other possibility is that you reject Christianity’s basic thesis—you don’t believe Jesus was the resurrected Son of God—and then the Bible is no sure guide for you about much of anything. But the one thing you can’t really say in fairness is that Christians are being inconsistent with their beliefs to accept the moral statements in the Old Testament while not practicing other ones.
 
One way to respond to the charge of inconsistency may be to ask a counter-question—“Are you asking me to deny the very heart of my Christian beliefs?” If you are asked, “Why do you say that?” you could respond, “If I believe Jesus is the the resurrected Son of God, I can’t follow all the ‘clean laws’ of diet and practice, and I can’t offer animal sacrifices. All that would be to deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross. And so those who really believe in Christ must follow some Old Testament texts and not others.”
by Tim Keller
Summer 2012 Update (1) - food, prayer, training, and education

Hey y’all, 

I hope that you are enjoying your summer. I wanted to write a quick post on what I am doing this summer. I was reminded to write because I have been seeing everyone’s awesome & exciting travel blogs. Although I am not going anywhere exciting this summer, I am having a great time at home, enjoying my family. 

One of the things that my family is really appreciating is my newfound interest in healthy cooking. I have been following food blogs, researching recipes, and shopping at health food stores. I hope that I have my own kitchen next year so that I may continue pursuing this hobby. Cooking really is an art. I love perfecting the presentation of the dish, and also producing a dish that tastes amazing and is highly nutritious for our bodies. I am not on any type of diet, but I stop eating when I feel full, cook foods with high nutritional values, avoid processed foods, and use natural and organic ingredients instead. 

Here are some dishes that I have cooked:

Here is a list of some of my favorite dishes and recipes: 

Lunches:
Dinners:

Desserts:
  • Sour cream apple muffins (fitfood)
  • Apple-walnut cookies (fitfood)
  • Strawberry shortcakes (fitfood)
  • Blueberry-peach tart (fitfood)
  • Fruit crepes (fitfood)
  • Banana bran muffins (fitfood)
  • Oatmeal raisin cookies (fitfood)
Also, here are the BEST food blogs around. 
Enjoy! 

Other than food, I also have been working on praying. I am reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller and it is really challenging me to integrate prayer into my daily life, in all aspects. I strongly recommend this book.
   
Training is also a huge part of my summer life, and hopefully- life when I get back to college. Over the past year at Harvard, I did not really exercise at all, and I kept saying that it was because I was too busy and/or tired. But now I realize that I was tired because I wasn’t feeding my body the correct fuel and I wasn’t exercising. Now that I have started exercising 1.5 hours every day, I have never felt better. I am losing body weight, and I have a clearer mental state and am just all-around happier. I have been training at Sweat Life, http://sweatlifefitness.com/, and if you are in Gainesville, I highly recommend you train with them. It isn’t just a training program with them, it turns into a lifestyle. I am training for a triathlon in St. Augustine on June 17th, so I have been doing a lot of running, biking, and swimming. But my favorite activity is doing weights and endurance training in the gym. And this is why I want to continue to train at Harvard. I will be joining the Harvard crossfit team. I am extremely pumped. If you aren’t sure what crossfit is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzD9BkXGJ1M. Crossfit’s motto is - be stronger that you were yesterday. It is pure fitness. 
And now…for the finale- education! I have been working on a lot of projects for my education extracurriculars (Harvard Students for Education Reform and Harvard Education Society). Here is what I am working on:
  • Forming partnerships with local schools to assist them in one time service events (like recruiting, celebrations, field days, academic competitions, etc). I have gotten great responses from many principals, including UP Academy, Community Charter School of Cambridge, Roxbury Prep, Orchard Gardens, Frederick Pilot School, and Codman Academy. It has been great meeting this awesome school leaders.
  • Reaching out to find edu-internships for Summer 2013. I have been in contact with a lot of companies, such as National Council on Teacher Quality, Teach Plus, Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship, KIPP, etc. 
  • Looking into grants, now that SFER can be classified as a service organization.
  • Contacting schools about starting a College 101 program at Harvard (showing middle or high school students what Harvard is like)
  • I contacted Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, to have him hopefully come to be our keynote speaker for an edu-conference that we will be hosting in the Fall. My email has been forwarded to his scheduling aides, so fingers crossed!
  • I am working with Kay from the Graduate School of Education to form a pre-professional mentorship with our students and their students. I have sent in a project proposal, and this is now in the works.

Those are some of the projects that I have been working on. I also have been preparing to teach at Breakthrough Cambridge! Chemistry! I am so excited. I am now in the process of developing my behavioral management system. I want to be strict, but still very warm and caring. I think that I will try out the “scholar dollar” system. I will definitely be blogging about this experience, so stay tuned! I also was named Science Department Chair for this internship! 

In other education news, UNION COLLABORATION! 

http://articles.boston.com/2012-06-08/metro/32104943_1_ballot-question-teachers-union-ballot-initiative

This is truly a step forward. 

Well, I hope that you have enjoyed my summer update #1! Stay safe! Have a great summer! And please do not hesitate to contact me for any reason. I love answering emails ;) 

Much love,

Lanya

“I believe in Jesus. That means I believe less and less in money, good looks, success, popularity and all the other stuff people say will bring you security and happiness. I believe less and less in my own ability to run my life. The more I believe in Him, the less I need anything else.”
Lee Younger (via leeyounger)

(via marcphun)