Archive for the ‘grace’ category

If/When God Sends Us Difficulties

July 10, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 86547374 Copyright: Johan-jk

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people….”[1]

We like to view God as a Great Benevolent Giver in the sky. We want Him to pour out good gifts to us and make our lives easy for us, and we are disappointed, disillusioned and discouraged when we don’t experience the generosity we imagine and want from God.

God is benevolent for sure, but He is much more than that. He doesn’t just want to give us good things; He wants to give us Himself. In fact, he doesn’t just want to give us Himself, He wants to pour Himself out into and through us to bless others as He desires to bless us.

But, this ultimate desire and purpose of God to bless us takes on a different form than we would like at times. God’s activity in our lives doesn’t always feel like a blessing.

In this verse from 2 Chronicles 7, we learn that God, Himself, may cause difficult things to happen, or simply allow them to happen, in our lives. But why? And what can we do about it?

We need to read the second half of the verse and consider the context in which it was written for a more complete picture.

(more…)

Advertisements

God Chooses US

April 25, 2017

Creative Commons photo from Flicker

God lets us choose Him: “But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” But that isn’t the beginning of the story – or the end of it.

God chooses us. He gives us the right to become children of God[i], and He made that choice before the foundation[ii] of the world. We become the children of God not by blood descent, not by the will of parents or anyone else – maybe not even by our own will – but by God’s choice.[iii]

I do not have a systematic theology. I am not a theologian, and my understanding of systematic theology is limited, but free will has always seemed self-evident to me. It also seems eminently biblical. God created us in his own image[iv], and a primary characteristic of God is agency. We see in the story of Adam and Eve that God gave us agency too, by giving them dominion over the animals of the earth and in the choice to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The freedom to choose is also a necessary condition of love. God is love[v], and he created us in His image to reflect Him, to glorify Him and to love Him.

The point of an image is to image. Images are erected to display the original. Point to the original. Glorify the original. God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God. Images of God. Seven billion statues of God. So that nobody would miss the point of creation. Nobody (unless they were stone blind) could miss the point of humanity, namely, God. Knowing, loving, showing God.[vi]

God created us to love him. Therefore, we must have agency/free will in order to be able to reflect back His love as He intended.

But there is another side to this. There is not only what we call faith; there is grace. There is God’s unmerited favor. God chooses us. We call this predestination and attribute it to God’s sovereignty

(more…)

What Is God’s Love Like?

October 31, 2016
Stairwell in Syria by Steve Murray

Stairwell in Syria by Steve Murray

I recently began reading The Forgotten Way, by Ted Dekker, and the book has been an eye opener. By that I don’t mean that have learned anything new. Rather, I am sensing, glimpsing something that I have not quite grasped yet about what I already know but don’t really know.

Ted Dekker describes his own journey in this knowing in the book. Here is part of the story of his journey:

There in my office, drowning in a sea of self-condemnation and unworthiness, a gentle question whispered through my mind

                Does your Father not love you with the same love that He asks you to love others?

The room was utterly still. I blinked, unable to comprehend.

What is love? The voice asked.

But I knew, of course. Love was a staggering concept that held no record of wrong and was kind in the face of cruelty. When the evil man attacked, love turned the other cheek without offering blame or grievance. This is the love no one knows – the same love Jesus talked about often.

                Does your Father not love you with the same love that He asks you to love others?

I sat in my chair, stunned, unable to accept the implication that anyone could possibly love me in such a way. I had never thought to ask if God loved me in the same way He asks me to love others.

Then I heard another thought, like a voice but not a voice at the same time.

                Let go of all you think you know about Me, so that you can KNOW Me.

Translation: let go of your intellectual knowing so that you can experience my love (to know in a biblical sense).

As a deeply philosophical thinker trained in theology, deeply dependent on logic and intellect, this invitation should have frightened me. Instead, I began to weep with gratitude at such an intimate offer.

You mean I don’t have to figure this all out?

                Has doing so ever led you to this kind of love?

No.

                Taste Me and see that I am good. I am love. I am Father.

I didn’t hesitate. Nothing else mattered to me in that moment, because if it was true that God was this kind of loving Father, I would throw myself off a cliff to fall at His feet in gratitude for such an extravagant love.

And so I did. There, in the night, I closed my eyes, let go of who I thought I was and who the Father was, stepped off a kind of cliff, and I free-fell into that space beyond mere intellect where faith and love are found.

This was my surrender, you see? I let go of my own fear of not having it all figured out; my fear of not having all the right doctrines and beliefs; my fear of not being accepted unless I measured up to the demands of a holy God. I let go of all of that and fell into the arms of trust and love.

It felt like falling into a great unseen mystery, but I was actually falling into the light. I was falling out of a prison – a darkness that had been deepened by my own attempts to make my own light through reason and striving.

As the light filled my awareness, I began to awaken to a whole new reality.

It was then that I began to know my Father intimately in the way Jesus talked about knowing the Father – a word used for a deep intimidate experience between a man and a woman. It was that kind of knowing, not an intellectual knowledge that swallowed me.

There, I trembled at his goodness , because He is infinitely good and complete and could never, never, never be compromised by anything anyone did or thought. Ever.

(more…)

How Can God Judge Good People: Approaching the Solution

February 22, 2016

One of the nagging problems that people have with the Bible is the notion that God will judge people that we might consider good (as in better than me). That does not sit well with me, of course. Because we do not fully understand the issue, we fire off the accusatory question: if God is good and loving, how can He condemn good people to hell?

Part of the problem with the question is that we may not accurately understand the problem. The Law (morality) was not given to us so that we might measure up to it; the Law was given to us to show us that we do not measure up! In fact, the very point is that we do not measure up, and we cannot measure up.

Goodness and badness are not really the point; moral standards, the Law, only expose the problem. A moral standard is completely incapable of accomplishing what we need; it only reveals that we need help.

Thus, when the Pharisees boasted of their good actions, Jesus raised the ante: He said that even thinking bad thoughts is sin! When the rich young ruler asked what he needed to do to be saved, Jesus told him to go sell everything – something Jesus knew he could (would not be willing) to do. The point of the Law is to bring us to the realization that we cannot measure up on our own.

If we are trying to measure up and “be good” in order to get to Heaven, we have failed to understand the problem. We cannot even begin to understand the solution if we fail to understand the problem.

The problem is that we are set against God in our sinfulness. Our nature is set against God’s nature. While everything else in the universe was created to be finely-tuned as God intended, by the choice God gave us, we deviated from plan. This choice gave us the possibility of having a relationship with God, our Creator, but it also set us up for corruption as we inevitably would go our own way, being imperfect creatures, and not gods (let alone God).

We wanted to be like God and, so, became opposed to Him. In this way, we introduced corruption (sin) into the world that resulted in death (and all that leads to death – decay, degeneration, disease, etc.)

Transformation is what we require to be able to have fellowship with God and to enter in to His Heaven. But, we cannot achieve that transformation ourselves. In fact, we are completely incapable of it on our own.

(more…)

Love of God and Wrath of God though the Filter of Human Experience

February 1, 2016
by Treasure Noel Tatum

photo by Treasure Noel Tatum

This is the fourth segment in the series, Putting the Wrath of God in Perspective.

We should never be afraid to confront the most difficult questions or statements. Truth is truth, and God and truth must necessarily be harmonious. Richard Dawkins says,

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
― Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion

The angry God of the Old Testament problem is often a line of first defense (or is it offense?) for those who do not believe in God, or at least do not believe in “the God of the bible”. It is a problem that believers wrestle with too.

The sermon in church today was on the book of Ezra. Ezra 8:22 reads,

“The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”

This is the kind of thing that people like Richard Dawkins criticize, but they do so without any understanding (and likely no desire to understand) what they are criticizing. (more…)


Quotes, thoughts and musings

“God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes.” ~Apostle Paul

A Pilgrim in Narnia

a journey through the imaginative worlds of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings

Sparkonit

Science - Simplified

Paradigm Shift

A Godly Perspective To Refocus Every Day

Life, God, and the Universe

Inspirational insights revealing the secrets to a life of abundant joy, meaning, purpose, and love

Cat Battista

Faith. Family. Fête.

resurrecting orthodoxy

Joel Edmund Anderson

Spiritual Sisters

Embrace, Encourage, Empower.

Work in Progress

My thoughts as I journey through this thing called life.

Small Town Girl Taking on the World

"The world is a book and those who do not travel only read a page." - St. Augustine

t2gospel

Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Convergent Christianity

Where Evangelical, Charismatic and Historic church expressions are brought together in unity.

WolffPoetry.com, Poetry, Publishing Resources & Writing Tools

Wolff Poetry is a free resource that offers poetry writings, publishing and writing resources for poets, and writers, and poetic writings of Linda J. Wolff

The Truth Will Make You Mad

Skeptical believer. Christian anthropicist. Post-partisan Hayek-Friedman-Reagan classical liberal.

Larry Hurtado's Blog

Comments on the New Testament and Early Christianity (and related matters)

WIT

Women in Theology

Real as the Streets

Faithfully Authentic

Reflections

We are what we think.

Rationalising The Universe

one post at a time

The Life Project

Finding Clear and Simple Faith

Boosterclub Blog

Supporting positive change

%d bloggers like this: