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February 2014 entries

He Can't Do That

Can God make a rock so big He can't lift it? How many angels can dance on the tip of a needle? If God is good and created everything, who created evil? If He knew Satan would rebel, why did God create him in the first place? 

These questions, and many like them, have puzzled people since the dawn of time. Human beings have an insatiable desire to know all the answers. If you don't believe me you've never talked to a 5 year old whose response to every statement is "Why?" 

As a "church professional" I'm often stopped just to be asked to give an answer to a question that's been keeping a member up at night. If my answer is unsatisfactory, or worse yet, I don't know the answer, the person will dart away to ask someone more spiritual than me. We just have to know. It's a curse of being human. But can we know everything? Is it even possibile that we can know deep truths too great for our finite minds to comprehend or our fleshly hearts to bear?

 

Which brings me to my point. I'm encountering more Christians who seem to think they have God figured out. Now I don't want to make this about doctrine, so I'm not going to be specific about the topic at hand. But more and more people believe they know how God is going to act. If His actions don't meet their predetermined criteria then they say, "That's not God." When you ask why the answer is either, He can't" or "He won't act that way." Really???

Most recently I was a part of a worship time that was more "spiritual" than a lot of my peers are used to. I grew up in a very spiritually active religious environment, but I had not been in a service like this for years. Many were reacting with hands in the air and audible expressions of joy.  After the service was over a lot of people were blown away at the very tangible presence of the Spirit in the place. While others were saying, "God would never be pleased with people acting that way."

In another instance, a few years ago, I had people come forward to be prayed for after being annointed with oil. One very reserved long time Baptist met me after the service and said that I was trying to make the church like one of those Pentecostal churches. I responded in a way that would make my wife proud. I smiled and wished her well. That fine lady is in heaven now. I wonder if her opinion has changed?

So for the record. God can choose to act in any way He wants. He often surprises me. Sometimes He blesses me when I am wayward, and sometimes He seems to turn a deaf ear to me when I'm behaving. My best messages are usually those I have the least confidence in and my worst I thought would be my best. If He wants to bless a church that doesn't believe like mine, that's His perogative. I have come to a place in my life where I am glad He does not act like I think He will. I'm learning that His grace is greater than I can comprehend. I've come to realize that I don't know half what I though I knew about God ten years ago. The closer I get to Him the bigger He gets. I'm good with that.  


Don't Run; I Promise Not To Use Big Words

It's Friday and I'm not usually in my office at work. But because of this weeks' weather and an abundance of work; here I sit. I just finished notes for Sunday's message. I begin a series on the Holy Spirit. This is a doctrinal study but I dare not declare it as such. To announce it so is similar to yelling fire. The room clears out just as quickly.

However, as I have been oft reminded, a full house is not the best way to describe a spiritual church. I agree, so Sunday it begins. That being said, doctrinal studies need not be as boring as a seminary lecture on the doctrines of common and efficacious grace. Especially when we discard 4 syllable theological terms like efficacious. The meaning is certainly important, but we can achieve more when the truths of God are discussed in more understandable terms.

I have read many books about the transcendence and the imminence of the Trinity and how those are manifested throughout God's redemptive story. My responsibility as a teacher of God's Word is to make those truths known to the world and not impress people with my vocabulary of theological terms. Simply put, I desire to make God known. So I have reduced our discussion of the triune Godhead to these three basic truths:

The Father is the source of all power and life.

The Son is the revelation of that power and life.

The Spirit imparts power and life to all who will receive the Son.  

I am excited to start this Sunday talking about the third person of the Trinity; the Holy Spirit. I do not think for one moment that I can make Him completely understood. I'm not sure I want to serve a God that I can completely know or understand. Pray with me that we get a glimpse of His glory. No more or no less than our finite minds can comprehend. See you Sunday!     


Panspermia and a Blind Man

I don't want to take much of your time. I just want to make one observation as I consider a Scripture I will share for this Sunday's message. In John 9 a blind man is made to see by Jesus after having spat on the ground and made mud in the dirt. You know the story right? I f you don't go read it now and come back.

Ok, so the man answers his critics at the Temple who pelt him with questions about the source of his healing. He finally declares, "Whether this man is a sinner (Jesus) or not, I don't know. What I do know is this; I was once blind but now I see."

So he did not feel compelled to answer theological or scintific questions about his condition. He was not capable. It was beyond his knowing. And that was ok with him. Why isn't the same true for us?

One such area of controversy is the origin of life. From evolution, the big bang, and creationism there are more questions in the debate than answers. Creationist often get intimidated with questions about the age of the earth, the fossil record, physics and the study of ancient space and the speed of light. While scientists are stumped with their own principles of scientific observation and statistical probability.

Most recently I have been educated about a scientific theory for the explanation of life on our planet. It isn't new, but since space exploration it has gained new devotees. Dawkins, a popular atheist author and professor, has resurrected the ideas the of the panspermian origin of life. This train of thought states that  intelligent  life arrived from nothing by aliens bringing sperms to the earth from another planet. Here they planted life and left.

I promised I would not be long. So here it is. If I were foolish enough to believe in panspermian origins to life on earth; I would still be confronted with another dilemna. Who created the alien life? It seems we have just transferred the question of creation from one planet to another. The qustion still remains.

So back to the blind man in John 9. He was not an educated man. He was blind and probably, almost certainly could not read or be educated.  However, he was wise. He knew what he did not know, but was sure of what he knew. Why can't we be so wise? When confronted with questions we cannot answer, why not declare what you know to be true. I was once blind, but now I see.

Don't argue about the unknowable. Instead, declare the undeniable. No one can argue with that.

I told you I would be brief. See you around the throne!