e429

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

Archive for the tag “Jesus”

God’s Gracious Curveballs

“Either we believe Rom 8:28-29, or we don’t: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose; for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

What this means is that God is writing your life script. It means God is writing your story. And it means that your story is not without purpose – not your comfort, but your conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.

So when you wake up in the morning and something unexpected, surprising, horrifying, grievous, extreme, trying, terrible or shocking happens to you, you can know that it is coming from the hand of your good God. It’s a gracious reminder that you are not writing your life’s story. God is – the God who loves you so much that he sacrificed his son for your salvation. And the reason it’s a gracious reminder is that the greatest problem we have is that we spend far too much of our lives with self at the center, believing the lie that my life is my own, that I am in charge of my destiny, that I have life firmly in my control. These lies are just that – lies! And they only destroy us in the end.

So be thankful today for God’s gracious curveballs. They are the evidence that your loving Father is writing the story of your transformation from what you once were to all you were meant to be in Jesus.”–RW Glenn

Advertisements

Peace of Mind or the Peace That Passes All Understanding

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.[…] I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Phil 4:4-9 & 11b-13 (ESV)

Being at peace with a decision is not the same as having the peace that passes all understanding. Making a decision that falls in line with your own desires is likely to produce a peace about the decision, but having a peace that passes all understanding is being at peace with the God of the universe through Jesus the Christ even though we deserve no peace from Him because we have committed treason against His infinite attributes (in other words, we have sinned against Him). If you have THAT peace, you can be at peace no matter what situation you are in regardless of whether it lines up with your desires or not.

“It is a by-product of the presence of the ‘God of peace’ that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The full reality of that peace comes to bear as we obey the command of verse 8 above: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”–in other words, saturate your thoughts in Christ & the Gospel. (Thank you Pastor Gary for that helpful insight!)

Why Study the Psalms if I Don’t Get Them?

I’ve been trying to work my way through the book of Psalms & spend some time on each one using a commentary because I’ve always had trouble “getting” the psalms. I understand the basic gist of the psalms (or think I do), but they are generally not the inspiration & comfort to me that they are to so many people. Part of it is the structure of them; because they are poetry, I have a hard time understanding them. Call me shallow, but I’ve always had more difficulty with poetry that doesn’t rhyme (& many times I even have difficulty with that). Add to that the fact that the psalms are translated out of a foreign language with structural compositions that I have a hard time following, & it makes me want to just breeze through them to get them over with & just hope that God will somehow bless my mere completing of the task.

The bigger reason, I think, that they don’t have the effect on me that others seem to experience is that God has chosen to spare me of significant trials & sorrows to this point in my life (&, yes, I need to spend some time considering the implications of that based on some New Testament passages). Take the first 2 verses of Psalm 18 for instance (where I’m currently at in reading through the psalms):

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Now, I can accede to all that in my mind, but there is no significant sense of comfort there for me because I have not experienced that overwhelming need for a refuge & stronghold from my enemies whoever or whatever they may be.

So, does this mean that I have no reason to study these Scriptures more deeply & try to get more out of them? Absolutely not! And here are a few of the benefits I can see of studying them more in depth even though I do not experience them the way others do (in no particular order):

1. I may be able to point someone else to particular ones in the time of their distress.

2. God may more readily bring them to my own mind for comfort when I do experience trials & sorrows.

3. I will gain a better understanding & appreciation of the various attributes of God especially love, mercy, & faithfulness.

4. I may better see how the Old Testament looks forward to Christ & see Him in the Psalms (because, to quote Sally Lloyd Jones, “every story whispers his name” [The Jesus Storybook Bible])

5. I may gain a better understanding of poetry in general & in particular in how it is used in the Bible.

My Case For God

[Originally posted on Facebook on May 3, 2009–This post was a result of my thinking through how I might be able to prove to someone  that there is a god & that you can’t do enough good to outweigh any bad you have done after my boss claimed he was agnostic and then stated, “If there is a god, I figure the good things I’ve done will balance out any bad things I’ve done.” I readily admit this is not the best argument out there, & I realize that I make a bit of a leap for a logical “proof” around #s 7-8. I also realize that in #21 it is probably better understood that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:20), but I decided to leave the note as I originally wrote it]

1.) There is a God–Nothing else makes sense. If there is not an Almighty Creator, how did everything come into existence? The “big bang”?! This just isn’t a logical explanation. Where did the elements come from that allowed an event like that to occur? And what kind of leap of faith does it take to believe that a cosmic event occurred in which things lined up so perfectly that this “perfect” habitat we call Earth came into existence with the diversity of life that it has (even if you believe that it occurred over billions of years)?! And if you do choose to believe in a “big bang” or something similar, what was there before that event? I find in[sic] very sobering and somewhat mind-boggling to consider what “eternity past” really means; it’s a term that’s easy to throw out there but becomes very difficult (if not impossible) to fully understand when you really dwell on it for a while. When you consider eternity past, there must be something that triggered the universe in which we live; if it was a “big bang”, what triggered it? There has to be a starting point. Nothing could exist for eternity past except an all-powerful being. I could probably ramble on more, but I think I’ve made my point.

2.) Since there is a God who has always existed, he must have created everything.

3.) Since God created everything, He must be all-powerful.

4.) Since God is all-powerful, He must set the rules.

5.) Since He set the rules, all right & wrong are determined by Him.

6.) Since He determines what is right/wrong, He can never be wrong.

7.) Breaking God’s rules (doing wrong) is called sin.

8.) The Bible (Old & New Testaments) constitutes the word of God written by many different men over hundreds of years through the divine inspiration of God without error or contradiction.

9.) If we believe that the God of the Bible is the one, true God, we must believe the entirety of the Bible because He says “all scripture is breathed out by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16a), & since we have already established that God cannot be wrong, this MUST be true.

10.) Since the entire Bible must be true, EVERYONE has sinned (ALL people from all time). “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”–Romans 3:23.

11.) God must be Holy (set apart), Loving, Righteous, Perfect

***God must have certain attributes. He must be all-powerful ergo he must be all-knowing and be capable of being everywhere. He must be perfect & only He can be perfect. He must be righteous. He must love His creation because He made it.

12.) Because God is perfect, He cannot allow imperfection (sin) into His presence.

13.) Since we have all sinned, we cannot be allowed into His presence; we are doomed to be separated from Him for all eternity.

14.) Since God is righteous, sin MUST be punished (we broke His rules, after all).

15.) Since God loves His creation, He wants it to be able to enjoy Him.

16.) There is nothing WE can do to make up for our sin. Even if we do good things, we are still imperfect because we have sinned; we cannot change that no matter how much good we do.

17.) The only way we can be allowed into God’s presence is if our sins have been paid for (someone has been punished for them).

18.) God requires a sacrifice to take the place of our sins. Only someone who is perfect can be a worthy sacrifice for others’ sins.

19.) Jesus lived a perfect life, and since He was perfect, He must be God even though He was a man.

20.) Jesus willingly gave up His life and took on God’s punishment for our sins even though He was perfect and did not deserve any punishment.

21.) If Jesus had only died as a sacrifice for our sins, it would not have been enough because there would have been a power stronger than Him–Death. Jesus rose from the dead through His own power which shows that nothing has power over Him.

22.) Since we have accepted that the Bible is true and is the Word of God, we must believe that the debt we owe for our sins has been paid by Jesus’ death and the only thing we must do to claim that payment is BELIEVE that Jesus died for our sins and ask for His forgiveness.

I pray that this note will glorify God and that He will use it to draw others to Him. There are probably better arguments from people more eloquent than I, but I believe that this is a fairly logical approach to the existence of God and Jesus. I fear that I have left things out so if anyone notices any mistakes, PLEASE correct them, and PLEASE feel free to add your own thoughts, comments, reflections, etc.

Was CfA Appreciation Day Worth It?

Ever since I first heard about Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, there was something about it that bothered me. On some level I didn’t like the idea, but I just wasn’t able to figure out exactly what it was.

I love CfA’s food & their customer service is probably the best of any company with which I’ve ever dealt. I agree with Dan Cathy’s statements, & I don’t think they were a surprise or in any way hateful. I despised the way the media created a story where (at least initially) there really wasn’t one (see here for a good explanation of this). I was only slightly surprised by the intolerance of those that claimed tolerance (Thomas Menino, Rahm Emanuel, etc.).

So why would I be suspect of CfA Appreciation Day?

Shouldn’t we show solidarity with those with whom we agree? Especially our Christian brothers & sisters? Isn’t it important to stand up for Free Speech & the Free Exercise of Religion?

Well, yes but…

The first article to capture what I was struggling with but unable to express was at Deep Roots Library. There are lots of things I could quote from the post because I generally agree with the entire thing, but, basically, I had reservations over CfA Appreciation Day because “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation”. Standing in line for hours to eat chicken (delicious though it may be) in support of a man’s biblical views is decidedly NOT the Gospel. In case you’re unaware, the Gospel is the good news that even though we have each committed treason against the Almighty Creator of the universe (also known as “sin”) & deserve eternal punishment (b/c that treason was against an eternal God), God in His mercy & grace has provided a way for us to be forgiven & reconciled to Him if we would only believe on Jesus Christ (his life, death, & resurrection) & repent of our sins (turn away from those sins & turn to Jesus).

God has called His people to go preach the Gospel & make disciples. He has not called us to fight the Great Liberal Left Enemy. He has not called us to take easy stands against a progressive agenda by doing something that we love to do anyway (i.e.-eat delicious chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, hand-spun shakes, etc.). He has called us to proclaim His good news, & that good news will be offensive to many & will cause us to be hated & persecuted; that is a promise from God! We are told that we will be hated for Jesus’ sake, but we are not told that we should go forth & try to make people hate us. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us to live in harmony with one another, to not repay evil with evil, & to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:14-21).

By reacting in this way, are we acting in a loving manner & turning the other cheek? Or are we fighting fire with fire (by doing what amounts to anti-boycotting a boycott)? If so, is that the Christ-like way to respond? When we do such things, I’m concerned that it harms our testimony to the Gospel. I think this is similar to an article on poor tipping that I linked to on my Facebook page a week or two ago; when we tip poorly or react to something negative in kind manner, we may be failing to demonstrate the love, mercy, & generosity that Christ has shown to us. When we fail (& we all do & will sometimes) at these things, it demonstrates to the world that we are no different from from the world. What Christ did & what He taught was radically different from what the world taught & continues to teach.

I don’t think it was necessarily wrong to support CfA Appreciation Day, but we each, on an individual level, should examine our hearts closely before doing these kinds of things to ensure that we are doing it out of love rather than merely in a reactionary way or out of spite. And we should be aware of how those that we might hope to win to Christ may view our actions.

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:35) And, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matt 22:39)

I just wonder if this is what was demonstrated last Wednesday or not. I wonder if there were not better ways to stand up for the 1st Amendment, &, even more so, were there not better ways to demonstrate God’s love, grace, mercy, & forgiveness without compromising our beliefs.

Here are some other posts that I found helpful:

Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day: A bold mistake

A response to my Critics

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.

Division & Unity in the Church, Miserable Comforters, Self-Esteem, Jesus in Hell?, & SOPA

Satan’s Great Desire | Challies Dot Com. Some wise words here from Tim Challies. “Here is what we need to see: God wants me and commands me to love the other people in my church; Satan wants me to hate them. God wants me to feel a great deal of unity with those people; Satan wants there to be an issue between us—something, anything, to drive us apart.”

How to Build Unity in Your Church | Challies Dot Com. A follow up to the post above with more wise counsel. “You need to plant yourself in a local church. Why? Because you need the gifts of the Christians there and they need your gifts.”

How to Be a Miserable Comforter | Counseling One Another. Good advice given in the negative.

In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise – The Washington Post. I think most of us realized a long time ago that praising kids for everything & trying to “build self-esteem” doesn’t really work.

He Descended into… Hell? | Blogging Theologically | Jesus, Books, Culture, & Theology. Very helpful explanation of a very confusing (@ least to me) part of the Apostle’s Creed.

SOPA and John Adam’s America | sojourns with Jesus. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: