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Remember Sleepless in Seattle? – Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageRemember Sleepless in Seattle? – Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

 

 

Do you remember the movie Sleepless in Seattle?  Sleepless in Seattle was a 1993 American romantic comedy film directed and co-written by Nora Ephron. Based on a story by Jeff Arch, it starred Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin and Meg Ryan as Annie Reed.

The film was inspired by the 1957 film An Affair to Remember and used both its theme song and clips from the film in critical scenes. The climactic meeting at the top of the Empire State Building is a reference to a reunion between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember that fails to happen because the Kerr character is struck by a car while en route. The movie was not about a hopeless insomniac trying to find rest as the title would suggest to some. This morning, during my ‘Holy Hour”; I took some time to meditate on Psalm 127:2.

Psalm 127:2

King James Version (KJV)

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

It is vain for you to rise up early. Think about that clause for a moment.

The psalmist is not suggesting here that it is wrong to get up early in the morning; or that there could be no advantage in it; or that people would be more likely to be successful in their undertakings if they did not rise early; but that, even though they are early risers they should always be dependent on God. After all we are admonished in the Bible to be imitators of God. It was Christ whose habit it was to rise early in which to find a solitary place to pray. The text also suggests that mere early rising, without His blessing, would not secure what they hoped to accomplish, for everything is still in the hand of God. Health, strength, clearness of mind, and success, are all under his control; and though early rising may tend to produce all these – as it does in fact – yet still people are not the less dependent on God for success.

To sit up late – That you may toil or mull over your problems all night losing precious time sleeping. As with rising early the psalmist does not express any opinion about the propriety or impropriety, so it is in respect to this. He merely states that if it is done, this, of itself, will not accomplish the object; people are still dependent on God for success though they do it. As a matter of fact, however, sitting up late has fewer tendencies to promote success in life than early rising; but in either ease there is the same dependence on God.

Barnes states; To eat the bread of sorrows – Bread of care, anxiety, or trouble; that is, bread earned or procured by the severity of toil. There may be an allusion here to the original sentence pronounced on man, Genesis 3:17. The meaning is, that it is in vain that you labor hard, that you exhaust your strength, in order to get bread to eat, unless God shall bless you. After all your toil the result is with him.

For so he giveth his beloved sleep – The word “for” is not in the original, The sentence is very obscure in the connection in which it stands. The Septuagint and Latin Vulgate render it, “Ye who eat the bread of care – rise when you have rested – when he hath given his beloved sleep.” Some have supposed it to mean that God gives his people rest without toil, or that, while others labor, his “beloved” – his friends – sleep; but this interpretation is not necessarily demanded by the Hebrew, and is inconsistent with the general doctrine of the Bible. Others have supposed the idea to be, that God gives his beloved rest after labor; but though this is true, it is not true of them especially or exclusively. Some suppose, with as little probability, that the meaning is, that what others hope (but hope in vain) to get by labor, the Lord bestows upon his people in sleep, they know not how.

The meaning evidently is, that God bestows “sleep” upon his people in some sense in which it is not bestowed on others, or that there is, in regard to their case, something in which they differ from those who are so anxious and troubled – who rise so early for the sake of gain – who toil so late – who eat the bread of care. The idea seems to be that there would be calmness, repose, freedom from anxiety or solicitude. God makes the mind of his people – his beloved – calm and tranquil, while the world around is filled with anxiety and restlessness – busy, bustling, worried. As a consequence of this calmness of mind, and of their confidence in him, they enjoy undisturbed repose at night. They are not kept wakeful and anxious about their worldly affairs as other men are, for they leave all with God, and thus he “giveth his beloved sleep.” The particle “so” – כן kên – or “thus,” I apprehend, refers to the general sense of what had been said, rather than to what immediately precedes it; to the fact that all success depends on God Psalm 127:1, and that it is always by his interposition, and not as the result of human skill, toil, or fatigue, that people find calmness, success, repose. It is only by the favor of God, and by their recognizing their dependence on him, that they find repose, success, and freedom from care.

Psalm 127:1

King James Version (KJV)

127 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Lastly, Saints we have to remember that we are God’s beloved. That is worth repeating over and over. “I am the beloved of God.”!

Ephesians 1:6

King James Version (KJV)

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

King James Version (KJV)

13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Enter His rest today!

Properly Discerning the Body of Christ- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

Properly Discerning the Body of Christ- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

 

 

 

Image1 Corinthians 11:29 

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

To this date, I still have vivid memories of our Holy Communion Services in the Baptist Church I attended as a child in Houston. Those sacred images of the fresh baked unleavened bread covered with pure white fresh heavily starched linens. The redness of the wine in the small glass cups. I remember the gold-platted dishes. I remember the eerie crunching sound as the deacons would break the bread by crushing wafers between two gold platted plates. The white-gloved dark suited deacons were ever so solemn with every movement. I usually sat with my God-mother on the front row of the church. I sat there probably to give my mother a rest from watching after an active inquisitive child.There I sat with these holy women of God with their all- white dresses and special white hats. Whenever I would start to move around they would calm me down with a nice peppermint candy from their purses. I would never mind the lint or small pieces of paper that was attached to the delicate sweet morsels. They were called the “Mother’s Board”. It was their duty to bake the fresh unleavened bread for the service the day before. I remember the haunting minor chords of the sacred hymn of the church “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord”. Even as a small child it always nearly brought me to tears. Our pastor the Reverend A.A. McCardell was so powerful as he translated us to that sacred hill called Golgotha. It was the “place of the skull”. The place were King David buried the head of the fallen giant Goliath! He would always read 1 Corinthians 11: 29. He stated by not properly discerning the Lord’s body and partaking of the Lord’s Supper some were sick and some even died! What did he mean by not properly discerning the Lord’s body? Did he mean as Barnes stated:” Not discerning the Lord’s body – Not discriminating” μὴ διακρίνων mē diakrinōn between the bread which is used on this occasion and common and ordinary food. Not making the proper difference and distinction between this and common meals. There was evidence that this was the leading offence of the Corinthians (see the notes at 1 Corinthians 11:20-21), and this is the proper idea which the original conveys. It does not refer to any intellectual or physical power to perceive that that bread represented the body of the Lord; not to any spiritual perception which it is often supposed that piety has to distinguish this; not to any view which faith may be supposed to have to discern the body of the Lord through the elements; but to the fact that they did not “distinguish” or “discriminate” between this and common meals. They did not regard it in a proper manner, but supposed it to be simply an historical commemoration of an event, such as they were in the habit of observing in honor of an idol or a hero by a public celebration.”

Did he mean that Paul was referring to an ability to discern the body and blood of Christ, whether “in the elements” or at least, in the sacramental action as a whole. Or was he asserting that Paul was teaching that a certain amount of theological understanding was necessary before one may be admitted to the table. Whether this understanding is narrowly sacramental (e.g. the nature of the presence of Christ in the Supper) or construed more broadly (e.g. a theological understanding of Christ’s sacrificial death etc.), the implication that small children do not have the wherewithal to meet the requirements to partake. Indeed was it something else he was asserting? I remember adults who I knew were saved and baptized let the serving dish pass by them after much self examination. Had they sinned the night before or that very morning? Was Paul yet again referring to the Church? The common objection to this is that Paul had referred to the “body and blood of the Lord” two verses earlier (11:27), clearly with reference to Christ’s own physical body. It is suggested that the apostle would hardly have gone from one usage of “body” to another in such a short space, without warning. Personally, I believe that he is speaking of Christ’s body. As Joseph Prince has stated:  He is talking about HIS Body, not the church in this verse.  When Jesus took the bread, He said, this is MY Body, not the Body of Christ.  When He talked of the Blood, He was referring to His body as well.  What have we failed to discern? Sometimes, no sense of  the Lord’s body being broken for my healing and deliverance.  Many are weak and sick and falling asleep.  We must discern HIS Body.  We must discern that the Body of Jesus took the scourging so that our body would be made well.  We must realize the Lord’s Body being broken for my wholeness and healing. 

Eats and drinks in an unworthy manner. In most churches it is taught:  If there is sin in your life, many have been taught, do not partake.  If you are unworthy, do not partake.  It’s not talking about unworthy people, but in an unworthy manner not discerning the Lord’s Body.    It is not unworthy people who cannot take.  Jesus died for unworthy people.  Jesus died for us and took the diseases of unworthy people.  We must discern this bread as Jesus Body, the brokenness, the scourging, the wounds for our healing.

“You can have everything in life that you want; if you help other people get what they want.”- Zig Ziglar

During my meditation early this morning I thought of that quote from Zig Ziglar. You know, our lives really have to be more about helping others and not getting what we want always. If we really think about it deeply; getting what we want is not hard at all when we focus on others. Just by making that one slight change I have found the world today to be a lot more agreeable and easier to navigate. – Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

Under the New covenant, we get to meditate on the person of Jesus when we meditate on the Word. Jesus is the Word made flesh, and as you meditate on His love for you, on His finished work, on his forgiveness and on His grace, God guarantees that you will have good success.
When you meditate on Jesus, your ways always become prosperous.
The Bible tells us that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The word for “God” here in the original Greek text is Christos, referring to Christ. In other words, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. It comes by hearing the Word of Jesus and His finished work. It is about meditating, muttering, and hearing about Jesus!- Joseph Prince

Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Reductionism and The Messiness of Ministry- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

ImageIn ministry we are often given the difficult task of dealing with the messiness of life. Let’s face it when dealing with suicide, evil, sin addictions the whole lot can be messy. The tendency is often to take a Reductionist approach to the whole of the matter. In an effort to comfort , exhort, and minister often we over simplify with Reductionism.

Reductionism

Reductionism can mean either (a) an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or (b) a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents.[1] This can be said of objectsphenomena,explanationtheories, and meanings.[2]

 

 In ministry we would do well in learning to lean and depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance. In some cases the Reductionism approach is wise in others a more holistic approach is better. The Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth. We must learn to depend and lean on His promptings.