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Showing posts from November, 2006

Submitting to God

"When we submit ourselves to God, we are placing our lives under His mission. Of course this is always easier when we agree with God and far more difficult when we do not. We cannot assume that we are living a life of genuine submission to God simply because we do what God says when we are in agreement. The real test of submission is when we disagree, when we don't like what has said because it goes contrary to our personal interests or desires. If we find ourselves unwilling to submit to truth in those cases, then we are living by truth not because we agree with God, but because God agrees with us." ~ Erwin McManus; Uprising, pgs. 57-58

How to Experience God

I wonder how many times we have talked ourselves out of an experience that would lead to an encounter with God because we didn’t know how it would all turn it. We talk about Abraham’s great faith, but many of us would not have followed his example. Instead of following God to the Promise Land we would have stayed behind in Ur.

Henry Blackaby in Created to Be God’s Friend wrote:
“Don’t let the unknown of the second step determine whether or not you will take the first step. Some people are not willing to take the first step unless they know what will happen when they do! Faith leaves the next step to God and ‘steps out’ in obedience, believing God will supply ‘all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue’ (2 Peter 1:3).”

It is hard to follow God into the unknown. There is uncertainty because God has left so much unspoken. There is also fear of failure or the fear of being forced out of our comfort zone. Each one of us ca…

Does God Know the Word 'Perhaps'?

Here are the two articles against Open Theism that the Christian Standard printed in their November 19 and November 26 issues.

Part 1:

Classical theism tends to start from the idea of God as an absolute and perfect being, and secondly explains how this abstract idea becomes personal in the God of the Scriptures. First, what is God? And second, who is God?

All human beings have some concept of divinity. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen. (Romans 1:20, New American Standard Bible). Consequently, when someone searches for the existence of God he already has some concept of what kind of existence he is looking for.

The abstract concept of divine nature or divine essence is crucial for classical theism. God is by definition the most complete and perfect being thinkable. He is essentially distinct from his finite and dependent creatures.

Part 2:

Whatever one might believe about classical theism or open t…

Open to Open Theism

The Christian Standard the past two weeks have run pro and con articles about Open Theism. Here are the pro articles.

Part 1:

As someone who was asked to argue the "pro" side of open theism, I have a confession to make. I am not really "pro" open theism. As someone whose early training was in two Restoration Movement educational institutions, I am inherently suspicious of theological systems, even my own. If open theism has become such a system, I cannot say I am a proponent of it.

But I am sympathetic to some of the questions some open theists raise about traditional systematic theology, whether Calvinistic or Arminian. More importantly, I think reading the Old and New Testaments without preconceived theological systems that tell us what texts must mean suggests that open theists have something constructive to say to the church at the beginning of the third millennium.Part 2:
Open theism arose as a system because of dissatisfaction with traditional theological formul…

The Gift of Praise

"God does not only 'demand' praise as the supremely beautiful and all-satisfying Object. He does apparently command it as lawgiver. The Jews were told to sacrifice. We are under an obligation to go to church...But for many people at many times the 'fair beauty of the Lord' is revealed briefly or only while they worship Him together. Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men; in the central act of our own worship, of course, this is far clear--there it is manifestly, even physically, God who gives and we who receive." ~ C. S. Lewis; The Joyful Christian; pgs. 117-118

God Will Get You to the Right Place

Life is unpredictable. Regardless of the plans we may make it rarely works out the way we hoped. It is the rare person who is experiencing life the way they imagined it would be. Far too often life is filled with disappointments that force us to cope with life rather than live life. When life doesn’t turn out the way we planned we have no other option but to deal the best we can as we adapt to the new circumstances.

Following Jesus doesn’t change any of this and many times makes it far worse because our dreams tend to stand in the way of what God has dreamed for our lives. Jesus will ask us to lay down our plans and follow Him into the uncertainty of the future. If we are unwilling to do this He will allow our dreams to shatter so that we will be forced to discover the life He wants us to live.

One of the frustrating aspects of this whole process is that God doesn’t treat us all the same. For some God allows great tragedy into their lives in order to prepare them for what lies ahead. Ot…

Worship By Obeying

“God knows how inclined we are to say one thing and do another. That’s why the true test of worship isn’t so much what we say, but how we live.” ~ Louie Giglio; The Air I Breathe

Jesus told this parable:
“But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.” But he didn’t go. Which of the two was obeying his father?” (Matthew 21:28-31; NLT)
I sure can identify with the younger son. “Yes, I will go,” and then distraction comes my way. Work is work, and it isn’t always fun. It is so much easier and simpler to sit inside and drink Mountain Dew and play Playstation than it is to go outside and work. Who wants to sweat when you can be comfortable on the couch?

This is the attitude we have with our lives. God has asked us to obey Him, to step outside and to work for Him…

Courage to Change Opinions

"We must be fully persuaded, that all uninspired men are fallible, and therefore liable to err. I think that Luther, in a coarse manner, said that every man was born with a Pope in his belly. By which I suppose he meant, that every man deemed himself infallible. Our pride abhors the idea of being accounted weak. To give up an opinion, a sentiment or doctrine, and to receive a different one, has been long reckoned a certain evidence of weakness. The public has strangely affixed this stigma on the man, who dares to change his opinion. If the various reformers, in the different periods of the world, had been influenced by this principle, what would have been the consquences? Certainly, they would have remained in error--evaded persecution, and we should now have been under the midnight shades of paganism and popery. If the present generation remain under the influence of the same principle, the consquences must be, that the spirit of free enquiry will die--our liberty lie p…

Wallowing in Mud

I don’t know about you but I often find myself struggling with the same sins all the time. There are certain sins that hold no attraction to me at all but there are others that continually seem inviting, no matter how horrible I try to make the be. Once we have established a behavior or attitude it is certainly hard to break.

This is no excuse for remaining in sin. There are consquences for not struggling against sin and throwing it out of our lives. Here is what the Apostle Peter wrote about continual sin in our lives:
20 And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before.21 It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life.22 They prove the truth of this proverb: "A dog returns to its vomit." And another says, "A washed pig returns to the mud.…

Inappropiate Intimacy

"Do not open your heart to everyone, but discuss your private concerns with a person who is wise and who reveres God. Do not spend much time with young people or strangers; instead, develop the friendships you have, especially with those who are older and wiser than you are. Do not flatter the rich, and do not be eager to be seen with important people. Rather, be with the humble and the simple, with the devout and the obedient, and talk about those things which help you to beome more holy. If you are a man under religious vows, do not be intimate with any woman, but commend all good women in general to God; if you are a woman under religious vows, do likewise with men. Seek, instead, a more intimate friendship with God and his angels, and avoid becoming emotionally or spiritually dependent on other people.

"We should have great love toward everyone, but intimacy often gets in the way of our spiritul development. Sometimes it happens that a stranger shines from a good r…

The Far Reaching Consequences of Sin

A sobering thought I have pondering that last few days is the result of my sin. I believe when it comes to sin we don’t fully understand the far reaching consequences of our actions. Henry Blackaby wrote:
“Sin carries awful consequences. Sin is devastatingly real in its consequences in every person alike. There are no favorites or exceptions” (Created to Be God's Friend)
A good example of this reality is Abraham. God had promised him a son, but after years of waiting Abraham and his wife Sarah were still childless. To help God out the couple decided to go ahead and have a son by an acceptable cultural method. Abraham and Sarah had a son through Sarah’s servant. While this may have been acceptable to the culture it was disobedience to God, and the consequences of that decision are still felt today in the Middle East. Abraham’s sin had far reaching consequences. David’s sin with Bathsheba assured that David’s family would always have trouble and sexual transgressions would be a part o…

People of Influence

The God-given mission that we have been given is to influence the world around us. It is through our influence that we will have the best chance at bringing change into the lives of people. Condemning people and using power plays will not get us the results we desire. If we are really interested in helping people find love and forgiveness in a relationship with God then we will seek to be people of influence.

Though I have to admit it is hard to have influence because it takes time and work to establish the trust and relationships needed so others will listen to what you have to say. Relationships are the path over which influence travels. Without a relationship we have little hope of influencing a person.

As we seek to be people and churches of influence we have to remember that influence require character and intergrity. How we live our lives say much more aboaut what type of people we are than anything we might say. We have to think about what our lives are saying to the people aro…

God Has What It Takes

"Most of us do everything we can to reduce the element of risk in our lives. We wear seat belts, watch our cholesterol, and practice birth control. I know some couples who have decided against having children altogether, they simply aren't willing to chance the heartache children often bring. What if they are born with a crippling disease? What if they turn their backs on us and God? What if...? God seems to fly in the face of all caution. Even though he knew what would happen, what heartbreak and suffering and devastation would follow upon our disobedience, God chose to have children. And unlike some hyper-controlling parents, who take away every element of choice they can from their children, God gave us a remarkable choice. He did not make Adam and Eve obey him. He took a risk. A staggering risk, with staggering consquences. He let others into his story, and he lets their choices shape it profoundly.

"This is the world he has made. This is the world that …

The Pathway to Change

Influence is the way we bring about change in others. This is true not only for us personally but also for communities and nations. The change we long to see happen in the lives of other people, in our communities, in our churches, and in our nation begins with our influence.

One of the killers of influence is power or authority. When we seek to bring about change based on our power or the position we hold we will ultimately fail to see the results we hoped to have. People may adhere as long as we are there to enforce obedience, but they will not comply when our backs are turned. A change of heart can’t take place by force and resentment quickly replaces any influence we may have had.

Looking at the life of Jesus we notice He sought to bring about change based on influence. He is the one person who could have rightly demanded obedience and yet He sought to influence people by showing them respect and compassion and then providing them with a choice.

Nicodemus, the woman at the well, t…

Moral Choices

"People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, 'If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing.' I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a Heaven creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment …

Story and Truth Telling

John Eldredge in his little book Epic quotes Neil Postman (Science and the Story That We Need):

“In the end, science does not provide the answers most of us require. Its story of our origins and our end is, to say the least, unsatisfactory. To the question, ‘How did it all begin?’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’ To the question, ‘How will it all end?’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’ And to many people, the accidental life is not worth living.” More than facts and figures or philosophies and propositions what people need is a story. A story which will help them make sense of their lives and gives them a purpose for their life.

For all the good science has given us through out the years it has failed to deliver what most people hoped that it would: answers to life's toughest questions. Science can dissect things and explain why things work the way they do, but science is incapable of telling us why these things are here. Science can help us count the stars, …

Relational Integrity

"When God creates, he creates with relational integrity. Everything is connected and fits together. This is true not only in the physical realm, but even more so in the spiritual. The Bible tells us that when man sinned, all creation groaned...The pulling of one piece of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the primary influence of famines that spread across deserts, tsunamis that swallow up villages, earthquakes that shake the earth, and the unpredictable force and violence of nature. According to Scripture, everything is connected, and every action has at least some effect on the whole.

"In the same way the church is a part of the whole, she is both influenced by the world around her and called to influence the world in which she exists. Too often the church does not realize that she is part of a greater societal and spiritual ecological system. That is why a balanced ecosystem is of primary importance in the Genesis design. And just as it is …

Pick Yourself Up

“Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up.” ~ Thomas Wayne to a young Bruce in Batman Begins

It is no secret that Batman is one of my heroes. The movie Batman Begins I believe is the best live action Batman movie, partly because I think it captures the true essence of Batman, and partly because of some of the themes which run through the movie. One of the themes is overcoming failure. Every one of us has to deal with failure.

Failure for the Christian can be devastating. Satan will whisper in our ears that we are no good and that we don’t have what it takes to make it. He will use our failure to crush our spirits and rob us of the desire to move on. Satan isn't neccessarily looking to take us out with some big “sin.” He does want to rob us of the love and forgiveness God offers us through Jesus, which are essential to living lives of hope. By filling our lives with guilt because of our failures Satan is able to steal and destroy the life God wants us to l…

Making Sacrifices

What sacrifices am I making to follow Jesus?
Think about that question for a while. I mean it, take a few moments right now and consider what sacrifices you are making in your life that would qualify you to be Jesus disciple. Remember Jesus said:

“If any of you want to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24; NLT). One of the ideas of shouldering your cross is the idea of sacrificial service. So the question is still out there for you to consider: What sacrifices am I making to follow Jesus? To put it another way: How am I shouldering my cross? Take a few moments on ponder this question…