Archive for January, 2009

Defying Definition

January 29, 2009

People want to understand God. Sometimes people will use their lack of understanding as a reason not to believe in the existence of God.  I think that a part of the nature of God is the unfathomable.  After all, God is infinite.  We are finite.  How can the infinite be understood by the finite?  If we were able to wrap God up in an assortment of theological terms like omniscience, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc.  Then there would be a limit to the nature of God.  God in a box.  A nice, neat, wordy, theological box.   It would be like building a fence around Texas.  It would take a long time, a lot of materials, and a lot of work, but it could be done eventually.

I do not believe that we can ever fully encompass God with our human understanding.  The task is unreachable, unobtainable, impossible.

We can know some things about God.  He has revealed himself to us in the world around us, in the Bible, and in the person of his son, Jesus.  We can know God by spending time in his presence.   As our lives go on, if we work at building our understanding and knowledge of God, we will grow in our grasp of the revelation of God.  We will never fully obtain complete understanding, but we can learn a lot.

Letting Go

January 28, 2009

As a parent, one of the things that I have found to be challenging is knowing when it is time to let go.  As our children grow up they become more and more independent.  They make more and more decisions for themselves and accept more and more of the responsibility for their own lives.  As my boys are now young men, my responsibilities are quickly becoming fewer.

That is not as easy as it sounds.

I like to make the decisions.

However, I certainly do not want them to be dependent on me their whole lives.  It is time for them to be growing up, and time for me to be letting go.

This reminds me of other areas in which I have to let go.

I need to let go of things that others could be doing at the church.  When people want to step up and take charge of various church activities.  I need to be willing to let go, so that they can be involved in the ongoing work of the church.  The church is a body of believers with each one doing their part.

I need to let go of those things that only God can do in my life, and in my ministry.  I need to let God be the one in control.  After all, if I have given Him my hopes, and dreams and life, then I need to not take them back but allow God to do what he wants to do, both in me, and through me.

Letting go isn’t easy.

But it is necessary.

God is Good!

January 27, 2009

God is good!!

All the time.

Does this mean that we don’t have bad days?  Of course not,  it means that even on the bad days, God is good.

Does it mean that there aren’t terrible tragedies that take place? No, it means that the goodness of God goes beyond what we are able to see and comprehend.  We look at life from a temporal, human perspective.  God’s view is eternal, and omniscient. 

If you were to take a beautiful, carefully crafted piece of needlework and flip it over you would see that from the back there is a terrible mess of thread and color. There may be some parts that are vaguely recognizable, but overall, it is a mess, bearing little resemblance to the view from the front.

Sometimes life can be like that, a jumbled mess of interweaving lines and lifes, seemingly chaotic. 

However, God is the one who is putting together the pieces of our lives.  He knows what he is doing and the final result is indeed a thing of beauty.

Keep Talking

January 26, 2009

I have noticed that silence isn’t always golden. 

It is important to maintain communication going in relationships.  This is not something that comes naturally to me.  I have to put forth effort to engage in conversations.  As a general rule I am willing to let others talk, and I will listen, but communication is a two way street.  I am expected to contribute my share to the conversation. 

This point is illustrated to me by the way that I interact with other commenters on dissenting blogs.  I have noticed that it is more enjoyable when people of varying opinions keep the discussion going, as long as it is done in a civil manner.

If I can keep an interaction going with complete strangers, then certainly I ought to be able to converse with my family and friends.  Of course, on line the timing is different, and you can take as long as you need to take to sort out your thoughts, but the idea is still there. 

Interaction.

Discussion.

Putting forth what is in your thoughts.

I wonder how many of the problems that exist between people; whether it is a friendship, an employment situation, or entire communities, could be resolved if people would simply keep talking to each other until they come to an understanding and a peaceable solution.

I’ll keep working on it in my life.

How about you?

False Prophets

January 22, 2009

I received an email a while back from someone in my congregation about a prophecy that had been made regarding President Obama.  It said, among other things, that he would not be president, that he would never take the oath of office.  When the oath was given incorrectly, I was concerned that people would jump on that to say that he wasn’t “truly” the president, that the prophecy had been fulfilled.   I was glad to hear this morning that he had quietly retaken the oath; this time correctly.  We can safely say that the prophecy that he would not take the oath has been proven to be wrong.

What I tend to be amazed at is the number of people who will follow after individuals who give prophecies that turn out to be false.  Over the last thirty years I have heard many things prophesied, some true and some false.  I cannot think of a single instance where the person, after the prophecy was not fulfilled, came out and just said  ” Sorry, I missed that one!”  Usually there is some rationalization or excuse given for why things did not turn out as predicted.

Biblical prophecy itself is difficult to understand, and has often been misinterpreted.  The profusion of false prophets who attempt to excuse their errors causes some nonbelievers to group Biblical prophecy with these charlatan’s predictions and then throw it all out.

I am sure that in the days to come there will continue to be more prophetic words given by individuals claiming to have heard from God.  I believe that God can, and does, still speak to us through prophesies.  May God help us to discern what is truly of Him, and what is not.

The Day After

January 21, 2009

Well, the party is over.  We have a new president.  Many people are filled with hope and excitement for the future.  Today is President Obama’s first day on the job and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for us.  He ran a good campaign.  He gives great speeches.  We will see if he can truly govern.

What I am impressed with, is that this country has had eight years of political turmoil.  There has been negative press ever since the Supreme Court finalized the election eight years ago.  The bitterness and anger has rumbled throughout our country with ever increasing clamor.

However, it did not turn to bloodshed.  There was no violent uprising.  There were no shots fired in our land for political reasons.  No one was arrested for expressing their views on the government.  The turmoil was expressed in print and voice.  Our country has survived a rocky transition of political power.  The Democrats are now in charge. 

I encourage all Americans of faith to pray for America, to pray for our leadership, and to seek to work together for the greater good.

The party is over.  The work begins.

A New Day

January 20, 2009

Today is inauguration day.  I wonder what the next four years will bring to the United States. 

The last two elections were hotly contested and won by a narrow margin. Many members of the losing party were bitter,angry and vocal.  It was an ugly start, and did not get any prettier.

This is a new day, a new beginning.  As a country we appear to be more united in our approach to the problems that we face together.

I hope, and pray that God will direct our leaders and our country. 

But I can’t say that I am confident that all will be well.

It’s Not Just a Job

January 19, 2009

For a Christian, a job should be more than simply a means to a paycheck.  Don’t get me wrong, a paycheck is important, and most people need a job to get one! Yet, if the only reason that we are trudging off to work each day is to earn the money for the things that we want or need, then something is missing from our lives. 

I believe that our place of employment is a part of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.  That he can use our jobs to have an impact in molding our character, and that we can have an impact at our jobs for the kingdom of God. 

God can use our jobs in our lives, and God can use us at our jobs.

This is true whether the job is a temporary means to an end, or a temporary job that lasts twenty years, or a career that one worked long and hard to obtain. 

God can, and does use our employment in our lives,  and us in our place of employment.  It is not just a job, it is a part of God’s plan for our life.  When we realize that, it can help make the daily grind a little bit easier.

What is “Good”?

January 17, 2009

A new semester has started at the college.  This semster I am teaching logic and ethics.  For three out of the four classes that I teach I have used the same basic format and the same text for years.  I keep changing the ethics course format and text because I just haven’t been quite happy with the way that it goes.  I feel that I can do better. 

Recently, I was going through some of my material from previous years and I came across a definition that I had written of “good”.  Here it is:  “Something is good to the degree to which it meets, or exceeds our expectations.”   That was a good meal.  That is a good movie.  This is a great car.  You get the idea.  This is a very subjective definition and obviously will vary greatly from person to person. 

I continued with the observation that if a God  exists, then something would be “good” to the degree that it meets with God’s expectations.

Obviously, none of us are perfect, we have all fallen short of God’s expectations.  That is why we need forgiveness and a saviour that God has provided in Jesus. 

Yet, we can make choices to do the right thing.  “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.”  God will both guide us to know what is right, and will give us the strength to do what is right.  Will we become perfect? Not in this life, but we will be continuously becoming more what God wants us to become, we can become “good” in his sight.

Rearranging the Furniture

January 15, 2009

We have just rearranged the furniture in our living room.  It has been years since we changed the fundamental way that the room is set up.  The couch and chairs were arranged in such a way that they were naturally directed towards the television set.  In our new arrangement, they are in a half circle around the fireplace.  The television is not longer the central focus.

Sometimes we need to rearrange our lives.  Sometimes there is too much stuff to fit without bursting at the seams.  Sometimes we need to change our focus.

What is your life focused on?  Have the activities and entertainments of the world taken over the central focus of your life?  It is a new year and a good time to make evaluations and changes if necessary.

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  Math 6:33