Crackpots and Cracked Pots

The word crackpot is found in print only back to 1883, and portrays someone who is off in the head, insane, eccentric, or foolish. The history behind the word is more ancient and interesting.

When the Vikings were pillaging and colonizing the British Isles in the 1200s, a band of raiders intended to attack the village of Crakepot in Yorkshire. Crake was the Norse word for a crow; and pot described the human head. Word reached the warriors that the citizens of Crakepot were insane and chose to avoid the place. Hence the phrase crake-pot became associated with insanity.

Scripture mentions mentally unstable people. Before he was Israel’s king, David faked insanity to spy on the Philistines and protect himself (1 Samuel 21:10-15), and the Gospel writer Luke tells of Jesus healing a demon possessed man who was then in his right mind (Luke 8:26-36).

While there are examples of crackpots in the Bible, there is also reference to Christians as cracked pots.

In Second Corinthians, Paul writes: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Clay pots were so common in the ancient world that they are found in every archaeological dig. Earthen vessels were cheap to make and cheap to buy because they were easily broken and as easily replaced. Paul uses the image of these pots for our humanity, made from the dirt (Genesis 2:7; 3:19).

God’s treasure, the gospel of salvation in Jesus, resides in people of clay to evidence God’s greatness, mighty, power, and eternality, while we are weak, fragile, and easily destroyed.

Paul knew this truth, for his own body was hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and bore the suffering and shame of Jesus each day (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).

We live for the intended purpose of the Potter, and the brilliance of Christ is best displayed in our brokenness for we have no power in or of ourselves. So when we embrace our weakness, God’s power is manifested in us. We remain weak and breakable, but God is ever strong and unchanging.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Living by Faith in Troubling Times

Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4).

The Book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet begging God to do something about evil in Judah. Then God revealed how He’d deal with Judah’s sin, and the prophet is dumbfounded. God told Habakkuk to write on stone tablets, a medium that can’t be erased, what He was going to do. He wasn’t going to act in a time or way Habakkuk expected. He was sending the evil Babylonians to punish evil Judah.

I grew up like many people, thinking of God as a divine medium seated in Heaven looking into a crystal ball to see what mankind will do next. He takes all the possibilities into consideration, and once the vision is clear, He makes a prediction. That’s NOT what the Bible says about God. Prophecy isn’t God the spectator looking into the future; it’s the Sovereign explaining His eternal decree.

Take Isaiah 14:24 for example. God describes the destruction of the Assyrian Empire. Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand. God predestined history and now works them exactly as He willed. Or consider Ezekiel 12:25. I am the Lord, I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed. Does that sound like a guess or a divine determination?

The Apostle Paul said there is only one race on earth and it has nothing to do with skin color. For humanity, God has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation (Acts 17:26). The rise and fall of nations and the borders they inhabit are by the eternally determined will of God (Daniel 4;25, 35). He is actively moving kings and congresses, men and women, events and circumstances, to fulfill what He determined before the world was formed. He’s bringing all things together at the time, place, and manner He willed.

In Habakkuk’s dumbfounded state, God commanded him to trust God’s character, way, and work. The just needed to live by faith in God. Faith goes beyond what we see. Faith goes beyond what we understand. Faith is feet firmly cemented in a trustworthy, faithful, and true God.

Living by faith in troubling times is God’s directive to you and me, just like it was to Habakkuk.

He Giveth More Grace – Annie Johnson Flint (1941)

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

Refrain – His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength (Isaiah 40:29).

A Son by Love

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6).

The man on the other end of the phone claimed to be a long-lost cousin and asked if they could meet. The caller had photos and information that might be interesting to Marvin.

The man showed Marvin information that revealed Marvin wasn’t who he thought he was. Both men had submitted a DNA sample to a popular genealogy company, and that DNA testing revealed they were unknown blood cousins, and that Marvin wasn’t the biological grandson of a German doctor as he’d always believed.

Two generations earlier, a German doctor awakened at night to find on his doorstep a newborn baby. The doctor and his wife took the baby into their home, gave him their name, and bestowed upon him all the rights and privileges as the doctor’s natural born son. He was the son of the doctor by loving choice rather than by birth, and never said otherwise.

The baby grew to be a man and moved to the United States prior to World War Two. He married and raised two sons of his own, carrying on the name of the loving doctor who accepted him, loved him, and raised him. He was the son of the doctor and nothing less.

This amazing love by choice in no way diminishes the natural love of a parent for a child; rather, it highlights the extraordinary love of a parent for a child by choice.

By grace through faith in Jesus, God the Father has accepted and made us His own children. Entrance into the divine family is from eternity, not because of who we are today, choices we make today, or things we do today. Inclusion in His family also isn’t by natural birth, but by a new birth and adoption by love and the pleasure of His own will. This choosing by choice – by God’s choice – exalts the glory of His grace.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1).

Moral or Holy?

As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

God never calls His people to be moral; His command is that we be holy.

Morality is a set of standards for living which a person or society deems to be right or proper behavior; it is a self-generated or society enforced effort to be good. There is nothing wrong with being moral, but it is not the same as being godly or being holy. Holiness or godliness is being of like character as God. Holiness come from God; morality comes from man.

Today preachers and politicians alike talk about the morality of homosexuality; as long as two people, even of the same gender love each other, sexual activity and marriage is moral. They campaign on the killing of unborn children as a moral choice depending on “your truth”. In some cultures, cannibalism, child sacrifice, and plural marriages are considered evidence of high moral standards.

You can be “moral” without God, but you can not be holy apart from Him. Holiness is of divine origin.

Charles Finney (1792 – 1875), by whom much that is wrong in modern Evangelicalism can be directly traced, was obsessed with morality and made it a touchstone of his preaching and writing. His sermons stressed the importance of making personal decisions, decisions to be a Christian, decisions to do what is right, decisions to be moral. His was a theology of personal efforts and works empowered by good intentions. Morality, Finney taught, was the proof of Christianity.

Biblical salvation is the work of God within the human heart and mind. The Spirit of God creates Christlike character in the child of God and nurtures it to maturity. Christlikeness begins within the believer and works its way into daily living. The Holy Spirit empowers the believer to live a life of honor to the Person of Jesus, not from compulsion or fear of punishment, but from a heart of thankfulness and love to God. Salvation and sanctification is all a work of God’s grace from beginning to end.

Not so for Charles Finney. Salvation is your choice. Being good is your choice. The best Finney could offer anyone was summed up in the simple catchphrase, “Strive for moral perfection!” This takes neither a Saviour, nor a drop of grace.