Baby Bison, don't tread on that pretty flower...

Baby Bison, don't tread on that pretty flower...
Custer State Park, SD; June, 2010

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Columbia, TN, United States
I am a Christian, married over 43 years to my gorgeous first wife; in 13th year as professor of education at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, TN; 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Faith isn't past tense

As an ex-English teacher I naturally tend to thoughts of good grammar and sentence structure. It’s brain-ingrained. I’ve had those usage and mechanics principals drilled into my head from an early age. With the skills necessary to do his job exceptionally well as a court reporter, my dad was prone to quizzing me on various social outings. He would give me a sentence, and I would try to tell him what part of speech each word was in that sentence. This wasn’t as exciting as a video game; but given the fact that those games didn’t even exist, it was pretty challenging for such a young chap as I (notice I typed “as I” rather than “like me” which might be considered “normal” but incorrect in formal grammatical structuring. I’ve seldom been accused of being “normal.”)

Growing up in a family in which good grammar was a fact of life and for which there were high expectations from both parents, I took to it like a dead fish to a toxically polluted pond. (not at all sure why I put that analogy in – trying to be cute, I suppose; was going to type something like “an amoeba to post-creation Oceana” but thought better of it. Oops, guess I did it anyway...)

So one recent morning sitting in Sunday worship my mind flitted to several verses mentioned in that daze sermon. The first was Luke 24:21…We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. Notice the double past tense usage (like a double negative only not really) in that passage as the physician-author combines the future-looking hope with the hopelessness of the past tense was. The thought process might have gone something like this, “Jesus used to be about to redeem; but we killed him, so he can’t do that anymore. Death is, after all, final.”

Furthermore, that same doctor had previously penned Luke 23:47…The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." Can you feel the hopelessness in that official’s bemoaning the death of a good and innocent “man” in spite of the “praised God” reference. I wonder if that Roman soldier moved and was the centurion of Acts 10 whose family became the first Gentile converts through the somewhat resistant and at first unwilling preaching of Peter.

Finally (although I think there are other numerous uses of the hopeless past tense, but these will suffice to sufficiently lengthen this blog), there is again a recounting in Matthew 27:54…When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" Matthew’s account actually calls the man on that middle cross the “Son of God” adding to the utter hopelessness that not only had they killed innocence but salvation as well.

Considering the idea of Jesus in the past tense makes living hopeless. The security of the knowledge that Jesus always was (the Great I AM with God) and still is as He lives interceding for us at the right hand of God…the pondering restores the hope. Our faith must be active and living and NOW.

And so, with apologies to Tom Hanks (and F.G.), that’s all I’m going to key about that…

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