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Desiring to build others up & give grace to those who visit

Archive for the tag “grace”

My lament

I’m at times angry, at times sad. More than anything, I’m frustrated and tired. I’m tired of certainty without verification. I’m frustrated by lack of sympathy/empathy for others’ points of view. I’m exhausted by some people’s felt need to immediately respond with skepticism to every current event, especially if the event goes against their own desires. I’m sick of denial. I’m worn thin by large swaths of the population being painted with the same brush.

I started to write something a few days ago, but I couldn’t find the words I wanted so I’m trying again.

I’m not sure my words matter, surely in the grand scheme of things they don’t, but it helps me to get my thoughts down sometimes when they just keep rolling around in my head. When those thoughts keep coming as soon as I’m not distracted by other things, it seems best to start writing with the hope that they’ll help someone else in one way or another.

I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to current events than I typically do recently. It started with COVID-19 & has continued through Ahmaud Arbery & George Floyd.

I still can’t handle watching or reading a lot of news. Gone are the days in which you could consider two or three news sources & be able to gain some reasonable idea of what the truth might be.

And that frustrates me.

I watch a little bit of news. I read a few articles. I read individual’s social media posts. I see how entrenched people are with what they choose to believe.

And that tires me.

I see those that think inconvenience equals a loss of liberty. I see that many think that freedom means following whatever path your heart desires. I see people who think their political candidate can do no wrong. I see people who think their opposing political candidate can do no right. I see a black kid gunned down by civilians. I see a black man murdered because a man, whose charge is to serve and protect, knelt on his neck until the man died, despite being told he couldn’t breathe, despite being told by bystanders that the man was in distress, despite three others that could help keep him under control IF he was resistant being present. I see bystanders unwilling to stop an obvious wrong (I assume) because of fear that if they did, their own lives might be forfeit (& I’m not at all saying I would do differently).

And that grieves me.

I want to weep with those who weep, but I worry that friends won’t understand & will think that I’m just falling for the mainstream media’s lies. I want to point out reasonable questions, but I’m afraid other friends will think I’m just deflecting from what’s really going on. I want to consider the background that other people are coming from, but I’m afraid that I’ll be met with the same old talking points. I want others to understand the background that I come from, but I’m afraid my own perspective will be considered irrelevant.

And that breaks my heart.

I see the hurt & the evil in this world. I see the obvious fallenness of this world. I see the depravity visible in each one of us.

And I feel powerless against it.

And I am.

I see the beauty of Creation even in the midst of destruction. I know the Hope that each person could have even in the midst of despair. I understand the Peace that is available even in the midst of strife.

And I feel like I can’t articulate properly.

At least not audibly, orally, face-to-face.

I pray for an end to this virus & a return to normal daily interactions. I pray that truth comes out & justice is served. I pray that there is some sense of healing in this country. I pray that Christians would represent their Name well. I pray that the victims, the murderers, the sick, the healthy, the cops, the protestors, the good actors, the bad actors, & everyone else would recognize these things:

  • God is real & created this world (there is no other reasonable explanation for this existence), and as such he has a right to dictate what is required of His creation.
  • Mankind has rejected God’s rule over him & pretends he is autonomous (sin). This is an offense to God & deserves punishment. (Since it is an offense against an eternal God, it is worthy of eternal punishment)
  • Jesus Christ, as both fully God & fully man, fulfilled God’s law (His requirements for man) & took on the punishment we all deserve making the way for our reconciliation to our Creator.
  • We have only to respond to His offer of forgiveness by confessing to Him that we have sinned against Him & believe in Jesus (that He is who He says he is & that He did what the Bible says He did & that He is able to save us from our condemnation) in order to have our sins forgiven, be reconciled to God, & have the hope of a new Heaven & a new Earth in the very presence of our Creator in which all things will be made new & we will have no more of the sadness, strife, & evil present in this life we now live.

We should stand against wrongs. We should desire justice. We should seek mercy. We should want equitable laws & regulations that protect the most vulnerable. We should ask that the powerful not get special treatment–especially when they do wrong. We should call out hypocrisy (especially & firstly in our own lives). We should demonstrate love toward one another & seek good for one another.

But we should also recognize that humanity is born in sin & there will be no lasting peace until Christ returns. If we love Christ, we should yearn for that Day. If we are opposed to Him, we should dread that Day.

Oh God! Be merciful to us. Open the eyes of blind. Let them see your love. Use this time of upheaval to draw your people out of the darkness of their sin & into the light of Truth. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your grace. May those that already know you, love well & live lives consistent with the love, mercy, & grace that You have shown them.

Amen.

How Could One Not Believe?

Psalm 19:1-6

During the drive home from work today, I was listening to a Wayne Grudem systematic theology lecture (you can get all 119 lectures free + shipping on mp3 CD or download each one free here) about the arguments for God, and as I listened I was thinking about Psalm 19 (I had been studying it last night, & Dr. Grudem mentioned it during this particular lecture), thinking about the expanse of the universe, thinking of the miniscule building blocks of our bodies and other things, & thinking of various things in between.

Do you know what struck me as I pondered these things? I was amazed! But maybe not by what you may think…

Yes, I was amazed at the beauty & intricacy of God’s creation. I was floored by the unfathomable depths of God’s creativity.

But…

I was even more astonished that there are those out there who do not believe there is a god. And, not only that, but there are those who go to great lengths to “prove” that we came to be by some unintelligent (this does not seem like an appropriate word choice) means.

I find it hard to believe that you can look at the vastness of space & the beauty of the stars; that you can see the sun rise & set; that you can hear the birds sing (& not just one kind of bird, but thousands upon thousands of different kinds); that you can study the complexity of the human body (not just the multitude of organ systems working together in harmony, but also the varied individual cells & the DNA & the processes that create energy & the billions of neurons in the brain…); that you can see the variability of the plant life & animal life & insect life; that you can study the structures of compounds & how atoms stick together in different structural arrangements; and that you can hear, see, smell, taste, & feel a thousand other things and not see proof that there is a God & that He is good.

And, yet, although I cannot understand that from a human perspective when I take the time to look & think about God’s creation, even God’s Word tells me it is this way:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)

I am thankful for God’s grace & mercy upon me, undeserving though I am, that I have been blessed by God to be able to see Him. I have some friends that I would love to argue into God’s kingdom using various “proofs” & thoughts,  but I realize that no matter how good or how logical my argument may be, God is the one who calls & He does so via His Word.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Cor 3:7 (ESV)

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:8-17 (ESV)

What Our Culture of Death Has Wrought

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?. As absolutely horrible as the ideas put forth in this article are to even contemplate (& as horrendous as it is that a peer-reviewed journal published it), having this article out could actually be a positive thing for those of us who value the sanctity of life. As John Knight of Desiring God points out, “[The authors] have, in fact, done a great service to the cause of the unborn by openly and clearly connecting the argument for infanticide with abortion.” And that’s just it, I think the average person would be appalled at the thought of infanticide, especially of otherwise “normal” babies. Most people, I suspect, would consider that to be murder (and rightfully so, I might add!). But, if someone considers abortion to be a  perfectly okay choice for whatever reason the mother wants (and many do think this way), then it is only logical that infanticide is also okay for whatever reason the parent(s) decide. The fact that this has been published in a well-respected peer-reviewed journal should, it seems, be an indication of the increasing acceptability of such ideas, at least at the academic level (which means it is only a matter of time before it is acceptable at the lay level).

Read more…

Every knee will bow…

As we sang How Great is Our God at church this evening, I noticed for the first time (or paid attention to) the lyrics “And all will see/How great is our God”. This, in turn, made me think about Philippians 2:10-11. As I considered these things, I thought about how these statements could be viewed by Christians with an air of haughtiness. But while there may be satisfaction in knowing that those who stand opposed to God & deny his existence will one day have to acknowledge Him & give glory to Him, I do not think we should feel pride over this fact.

There are at least 3 things that this knowledge should do:

  1. It should sadden us to realize that there will be many who will not acknowledge God for who He truly is until it is too late.
  2. It should humble us. For but by the grace of God, we would be just like them.
  3. It should encourage us to spread the Gospel even more so that every person has the chance to believe on Jesus & be reconciled to God. Because we do not know who God will save, we should preach the Gospel to all persons.

The Courts & Religion, Miscarriage, Church/State, Don’t Be a Jerk, Tebow Time, and Saul/Paul

The Most Important Supreme Court Ruling on Religion in 20 Years – Justin Taylor. I think the title says it all…

Grace in Miscarriage. This is specifically about how to look to God for comfort in a miscarriage, but I think this could easily apply to any loss or trial.

Thinking Through Church and State – Kevin DeYoung. Good thoughts on the differences between Church & State.

How To Disagree Online Without Being A Total Jerk. If you have ever had an online conversation take a bad turn, you should read this.

Tebow Time: 10 Thoughts and a Cloud of Dust | The Cripplegate. I especially like the 5 concerns with Tebow-mania in this post.

Brother Saul | Challies Dot Com. Be careful never to think someone is beyond God’s grace. If Saul could be saved, anyone can be saved.

A beginning

Well, I’m not sure exactly how this blog is going to take shape or even if it will be a long-term venture. There’s a good chance this will fizzle out & die in short course. I hope not, though.

The name of the blog comes from Ephesians 4:29, & I hope that it will build others up & give grace to those who visit. Right now I hope to do that by primarily posting links to those things I come across that I think will be helpful to others in their Christian walk. Currently, I usually post individual links to my Facebook &/or Twitter accounts, but since multiple postings over a short period of time may annoy some people, I think I’m going to try posting multiple links under a single blog entry then post that to Facebook/Twitter. We’ll see.

From time to time I may also post my own thoughts, but I expect this will be a rare occurrence.

I always welcome comments; I only ask that you keep them clean & respectful.

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