Friday, February 21, 2014

Being strengthened with all power…

[continued from my earlier post]

Colossians 1:9-12 says that as we are filled with the knowledge of God's will, among other things, we'll be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience.

One thing I've noticed about this is the purpose for all this strength. Paul doesn't pray that we can be strengthened with all power (etc.) so that we can perform miracles, or win thousands of souls to Christ, or some other spectacular thing. No, his prayer is that we can be strengthened with all power so that we can have great endurance and patience. It reminds me that He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who captures a city (Proverbs 16:32).

Paul prays that for the Colossians (and hence I think it's a good prayer for you and me); how does it happen? How does being filled with the knowledge of God's will give us strength to have great endurance and patience?

Paul also wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 4. After describing some issues (hard pressed on every side… persecuted… struck down, 4:8-9) he writes:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:15-18, NIV
Two passages come to mind right away: one from Paul, in Romans chapter 5:
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:1-4
If I could consistently rejoice in suffering, then I'd have more endurance and patience than I do today. But how can I rejoice in suffering?

In my admittedly limited experience, it works like this: As the verse says, God desires to use suffering to produce perseverance, character and hope in my life. When I remember this fact, trials become more bearable. The sooner I remember it, the gladder I am that God is working through whatever suffering comes.

What if I were filled with the knowledge of God's will? What if I woke to and ate and lived and breathed the knowledge that God is using everything in my life—the pleasant and the painful, the joyous and the tragic—to make me a better person, one filled with character and hope and love and joy and peace…? Might I be able to rejoice even in the midst of suffering?

I don't really desire suffering. But when it comes, I want to see the good things God will work in my life through it. And perhaps to rejoice.

The second passage that came to mind is from James 1. After encouraging us to consider it all joy when we meet various trials (1:2) and encouraging us in much the same direction Paul does, he writes: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him (1:12).

I find this fascinating. The one who perseveres under trial receives a crown promised to those who… who persevere under trial, right? No, the text says "…to those who love him." In other words, those who love God are the ones who persevere under trial. How does that work?

I can't prove it, but Jesus himself may have given us the answer in John 14. Here Jesus says those who obey him are those who love him. And, he says, "He who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and disclose myself to him" (from John 14:21, NASB). A little later, he goes on to say, "If anyone loves me… [m]y father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (14:23, NIV). The whole paragraph is worth reading, actually.

But what I think he's saying is this: he fills us with the knowledge of his will. We don't resist him (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and indeed we ask for spiritual wisdom (James 1:5). We love and obey him (John 14:21-23) and he reveals more of himself to us and even makes his home in us.

And that's power to strengthen us according to his glorious might, so that we can have great endurance and patience.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A life worthy of the Lord—part 2

[continued from my earlier post]

Thinking about Colossians 1:9-12 and what it means to live a life worthy of the Lord and to please him in every way, I mused on the question of how we grow in the knowledge of God. Various teachers say that knowing God is different from knowing about God. Could we say that knowing about God is kind of superficial? Maybe we'd say that knowing about God would imply the ability to list a bunch of adjectives: eternal, all-knowing, etc., whereas knowing God himself implies knowing what kinds of things he does and doesn't do, what he likes and dislikes, what he cares about and so on.

If that's a helpful distinction, I suppose the latter is more relevant. Would it please God if I had a clear understanding of what he would and wouldn't do, what he cares about, what he likes and such? The short answer would be "yes," and it's not hard to find passages in the Bible that support this. Jeremiah 9:23–24 for example—let not the wise man boast of his wisdom (etc.) but let him who boasts boast … that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these things I delight.

And Jeremiah 31:34—I was going to just give you a link, but I just saw something that's got me so excited that I want to give you the text here. Look at the last verse (34):

31“The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)
Do you see it? What is it that makes it possible for them (or us) to know the Lord? He doesn't say "They will all know me… for they will reach that place in their cultural and intellectual evolution…" Nor does he say, "for they will finally decide to provide universal education." They (or we) will all know him, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

How does that work? He forgives his people and somehow they automatically know him? I think something else is probably involved. Prophets often speak elliptically and this is no exception. This reminded me of the time Jesus visited the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50), where he explains that people love much when they're forgiven much, but “he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

As even a casual reading of Matthew 5 will show, every one of us stands in much need of forgiveness, because we sin in various (numerous) ways: we're angry unreasonably (5:22), we nurse inappropriate desires (5:28), we divorce each other (5:32), we ignore the poor (5:42), we don't love our enemies (5:44). If all our sins are forgiven, then much has been forgiven. So what does Jesus mean in Luke 7:47?

I think it's this: the more I understand just how much I've been forgiven, the more I'll love and know God. I find it fascinating that when God talks about knowing him, the first thing he talks about is knowing his great mercy: did you notice the order of attributes the Lord uses when he talks about himself in Jeremiah 9:24 above? … that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Note the first word: kindness. This is the way God identifies himself throughout the Bible in the overwhelming majority of cases.

The so-called “sinful woman” in Luke 7:37 knew that her sin was great, and when she experienced forgiveness she knew that the forgiveness was great: she knew something about God's kindness and mercy that Simon the Pharisee did not.

Two more things on this topic, both from this weekend as it turns out: first, the sermon recounted a conversation Moses had with the Lord in Exodus 33:18-19. Moses says, “Now show me your glory,” and the Lord replies, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you”—I find this remarkable. His glory, he says, is shown in his goodness. The very next thing he says is, “I will proclaim my name… in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy…” Again: goodness and mercy are the first things he talks about.

The second thing from this weekend is that we had someone come to our church and say he wanted to follow Jesus. Why did he decide to follow Jesus? Because he understood that Jesus was kind.

So: one way—not the only way, but an important way—we grow in our knowledge of God is by remembering and thinking about his kindness and goodness and mercy. Of course the Lord has other attributes; as we read in Jeremiah 9, he “exercises kindness, justice and righteousness,” and he has many other attributes. But kindness first.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Citrix Receiver 13.0: "The server name cannot be resolved" -- when 13 really is unlucky

I upgraded my desktop at the office last November, but until yesterday, Citrix Receiver was giving me the network equivalent of the Blue Screen of Death (image at right).

I didn't understand it. I adjusted the configuration file. I copied the parameters from a colleague's configuration file. I replaced the hostname by a dotted-quad address (as in But I kept seeing "The server name cannot be resolved" like a broken record.

Then I remembered someone's comment about the most important skill of a system administrator, viz., “the ability to use google.” So, yes, I did a web search with that phrase "The server name cannot be resolved" (with quotes) and "Citrix receiver" (without). Within a few clicks I found this post, which contained:

I have installed Citrix Receiver for Linux ver.12.1 on Ubuntu 13.10 64 bit:
followed by steps:
(Citrix Receiver 12.1 on Ubuntu 13.10 64-bit)
and it is working for me.
Which solved my problem! Downloaded from this page, said
$ sudo rpm -Uvh --nodeps ICAClient-12.1.0-0.x86_64.rpm
and that was it.

Why the --nodeps? Well, though it claims to be a 64-bit rpm, the executable is a 32-bit binary. It wants 32-bit libraries, which I didn't have installed on my 64-bit box. But the dependencies may have been a little aggressive. In any case, it installed and ran just fine.