Sunday, July 27, 2008

Making Sense of the Christian Life

Even posing the question like this presupposes that we are on a quest to "make sense" of this life and then move on to living it. That notion comes from the way we do business every day. When taxes are raised, people want to know WHY. Someone who wants to invest money wants to know that there will be a worthwhile return on it. If it makes sense, we dive in.
But the life of faith does not work like that apparently. No way in the world you can get all your questions about God answered--in fact, He usually frustrates those who proceed like that.
This is not to say that there is no cost-counting involved, or that you must turn off your brain to become regenerated. It is to say that we are to become like little children and trust God. Not to do that is to be doomed. Period.
Maybe its like this: The Father says in his word that we are completely responsible for our sin.
You have a few choices when you hear that. The first is to say "well, I just can't believe in a God who says that." Or "Yeah I know I am a sinner, but isn't he gracious" and move on to another topic and never be struck with the majesty and awesomeness of his forgiveness. Or "Can't he cut me a break, I was tired, hungry, etc." But those responses will not yield forgiveness. Only someone who says from the heart "God be merciful to me, a sinner." gets home justified. We do not want to humble ourselves like that. It doesn't make sense.
Yet in another sense it does. God is a lot bigger than me. He is infinite, I am finite. He is perfect, I am fallen. Therefore I should trust that He will tell me the true path to happiness.
Does the sailor try to tell the captain how to navigate the waters? Nope. Again, this faith is a miracle. "All things are possible with God." Luke 9:23.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Making Sense of Moses

Moses is great example of the Christian life. Before his encounter with God, he tried to right the wrongs he saw in the flesh. He figured that the best way to stop Egyptians from enslaving his people was to kill Egyptians. It didn't work. Then he found some Hebrews arguing and tried to set them straight. Then he was found out, and had to flee. Moses had passion, skill and the right idea, but God wasn't central.
Man since the fall does not come equipped with God-centeredness. It has to be given to him. Praise the Lord that he is ready, willing and able to do just that. When Moses got commissioned and went to Pharaoh, then miracles happened. God brought about a powerful deliverance, and

Saturday, July 5, 2008

More on Life

I confess, I am a nutcase fan of virtuoso guitarists. There is this guy out there who can make his instrument sound like the soundtrack of PacMan when the ghosts run wild:) He says that anyone can do what he does, it just takes a lot of practice.
I guess I shouldn't pay so much attention to that, but even when I do, Psalm 139 rings true "If I fly to the heavens, You are there. Or if I make my bed in the depths, you are there too." The part about "it just takes practice" reminds me about the biblical truth that we are to train ourselves to be godly. I sometimes think "What would life be like now if I gave half as much time and attention to the Word and prayer and not let Satan blow it out. It really is spiritual warfare. No one is going to attack you if you are really disciplined and lose a lot of weight. Or if you can play like Keaggy or Eddie. But start meditating on the Bible, and go for it with practice and watch the fight begin. I guess not to fight back armed with your brothers at your side is to lose. Good thing God gave us the church.
Tomorrow is another Sunday. I am glad. It is a needed pit stop, and I trust that we will be able to see beyond the mundane and be jerked back to spiritual reality. I will praise him again, because what has happened before, we can reasonably expect to happen again.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Showing Somebody the Love of God

Does God love you? I personally do not see how people could struggle with a question like this.
( By the way, I personally do not subscribe to the "Calvinistic" views out there saying that God doesn't love everybody). It's like asking "Is water wet?"
Rarely does anyone look to the sunset, watch a mother bird feed her chicks, or witness the miracle of live birth and say "I just can't figure God out!" At best, we stand in awe. Questions only come up when bad things happen. God gets the bad rap when a hurricane destroys, or a forest fire rages uncontrollably. (Insurance companies call these "Acts of God".) What about all the murder, genocide, war, starvation, etc. So, to some degree we get stuck with cognitive dissonance--knowing that there is beauty, truth, and goodness in the universe, and yet the presence of evil and suffering.
Usually the first place we look to get the answer is to circumstances. If we are having it hard, we conclude he is not loving. If we got a good parking space, somebody smiled at us, our favorite food is for dinner tonight, then he is.
It is helpful, again, as in all cases to get the whole of Scripture in focus. The default is: "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Not that God loves, but GOD IS LOVE. Note carefully, and do not confuse this one. Remember the burning bush "I AM." The verb "to be" is in God's name. All other being is dependent or derived. And as such, we are shadows at best of his ultimate reality. God does so much better than just to love. Infinitely better.
So let me begin by defining love. Love is, simply, to reflect God's character. Period. Now with that definition, let's make sense of the present evil world, and all the negativity and fallenness in it, and the iniquity in our hearts. "The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it. In hope that the creation itself may be liberated from its bondage to decay, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:20-21). Note the upswing in this verse. Frustration is only temporary. It gets fixed, and liberty comes. But only for the children of God.
OK, now you have put your finger on it. How do I know I am a child of God? That's exactly what I lack--assurance. I can verbally assure you he loves you, but God himself must move and give you the confidence you need in his love. I am not trying to confuse at this point, but the best way for God to show the love of God is in RELATIONSHIP with people. For example, if I am a good husband to my wife by the power of the Spirit, then Isaiah 54 makes sense "Your maker is your husband, the LORD Almighty is his name." If I have a relationship with you, and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), you may have a sense of the reality of God's love, and yes, be drawn to confidence in Him. If you blow him off and say that God doesn't exist and I am a deluded dreamer, then his wrath is provoked. Notice that I said provoked. It is not his default condition. He still loves you, but if you die in this condition, you'll never know or appreciate it. Once again the definition "Reflect God's character." God will reflect his holy character in treating a rebel according to his rebellion. But he does not want to do that.
He would far rather be merciful. If you doubt this, check out Isaiah 53-55 with me and see if it is not true. Stop believing your emotions, and believe the truth!