"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

He said it on our way home from the county fair

From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love...

-Jonathan Edwards

That one is found on page 13 of Religious Affections.

Edwards is looking at the question, "What is true religion?" And a large part of that answer is affection. Loving God, the greatest command of all. But what does it mean to love God?

I love my family. If you want to get on my bad side, do something that harms my family. What kind of husband would I be if I said I loved my wife, but watched as someone abused or berated her and did nothing? What kind of father would I be if I observed my children being bullied and just watched and laughed. No, my love and affection for them would cause me to react in a different way.

So what about God? Do we love Him? Do we come to His defense when He is attacked?

My 9 year old son and I were driving to the county fair, listening to the radio. A man was on who had witnessed many atheists and those who had given up their faith. He said that in his experience, people who rejected God on a rational basis always had a painful past that led to this attitude. As he spoke, he mentioned one who had rejected God because his fiance had gotten ill, and even after much intense prayer, she died. I was not aware how intently my son was listening, but suddenly he burst out, "That's ridiculous! You shouldn't hate God just because your fiance dies! God can't do everything! Well, He can, but He does not have to. You shouldn't hate God just because you don't get what you want!"

And I pray that that child-like affection and devotion, that love and instinct to protect a God that he loves, will never, ever die. No wonder Jesus loved the little children, and stated that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wish I woulda said that...

In nothing is vigor in the actings of our inclinations so requisite, as in religion; and in nothing is lukewarmness so odious.  -Jonathan Edwards

It is on page 6 of "Religious Affections." My progress in this book is slow. So much to drink in. Why does it always sound more obvious when someone else says it? Shouldn't I understand that without passion, without love, my works are hollow?

So many Scriptures come to mind that validate this idea, yet I continue to fall short. I need to put these Scriptures more before me.

Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

What Scripture comes to your mind?

Monday, July 18, 2011

What is your answer to this question?

I just started reading through Jonathan Edwards "The Religious Affections." It's going to take a while. It seems to be the kind of book that you can't just read through, you have to think it through.

You don't normally expect to get hung up in the introduction, but even the intro has a lot of thought in it. He begins with this question as a premise. "What is the nature of true religion?" Seems like a simple enough question to answer, but look around at the various religions and even at the variety of answers within a single religion, and you will see much diversity, if not in response, at least in practice.

So does this make God the author of confusion, or do we not get it?

It seems to me that there is no one subject where God ought to lead more than in the answer to this question, yet there is no one subject where we bring our preconceptions and baggage in than this.

I look forward to reading this book. It's gonna take a while. But these nagging questions haunt me...Does Jonathan get it? Will I?

If you dare and have the time, what is your answer to the question of the true nature of religion?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I wanna be like Leslie

You have to believe it, and you hate it. I don't have to believe it, and I think it is beautiful.

The above quote is one that I wrote down in my journal from "Bridge to Teribithia. The scene is the boy in the movie has invited the new girl, Leslie, who moved into the house next door to church. They are riding home and Maybell, the younger sister is sounding off. Maybell apparently is not to fond of church. Perhaps she is too young to understand, or maybe she has just fallen into the trap of participating without belonging. She has found religion, but not a love for the God of that religion.

I wonder how these words apply to many in the church today. We see people leaving churches and organized religion in droves. Is it because God has failed or has religion gotten in the way? Do we feel the pressure of having to be perfect on the outside, while inwardly we know the truth? Does our enthusiasm wane when we just can't play the part anymore? Is that really what God has in mind for us?

Maybell had to believe it. Her parents made her go to church, and she resented it and all of the trappings that went along with it. Leslie saw something different. Instead of condemnation, she saw forgiveness. Instead of rules to obey, she saw freedom. Instead of outer obedience, she felt the inner response to the tug of God on her heart.

Which does your church sell? Which do you buy?

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Can't Get No Satisfaction...

"As soon as the Christian life becomes attainable, it ceases to require faith and loses its seasoning of humility and grace."  (John Fischer, Real Christians Don't Dance, pg. 16.)

We like things to be attainable. We preach the disciplines of the New Testament so that people will attain what God desires. We do stuff. Stuff like going to church, tithing, etc. so we can attain a measure of satisfaction in what we have done.

I am not saying doing stuff is bad. But doing stuff is not enough. Doing stuff is never enough.

I like what David Platt says, although I cannot recall his exact words. The idea is that we don't do stuff expecting God to be pleased with us, are doing is in response to seeing who He is. It is not an obligation, it is an act of love. Like when I come home. Usually my children will shout, "Daddy!" and come up and hug me. A response. But sometimes, they are preoccupied with a TV show or a video game. Then I have to announce myself, and I get a "daddy" out of obligation. It just is not the same.

I want to always stand in amazement of God, but truth is, sometimes I do not. But these times lead me to seeing His grace and my humanity. They show me the beauty of who He is and what He has done for me. I don't want to intentionally fall, just so I can see Him as greater. But when I do fall short, seeing His continuing grace is amazing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Worth viewing

Saw this here. Bet you know you I want to send it to.

Of course, to speak with conviction, you first ought to be convicted. So in a sense, I think the level of your speech at least gives a hint to your conviction.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thought for the Day

"If your understanding of the Christian faith can be summed up on a bumper sticker, printed on a tee shirt, or could make its way on to a Hallmark greeting card, you could be in a very dangerous place." (Nathan W. Bingham, found here.)

Sometimes simple is good. And when it comes to faith, I think we all start out simple. So the above quote does not apply as much to those new to the faith. But we are told not to be eternal milk drinkers. There is an expectation that we will mature in that faith. I would even go so far as to say it is something that we should strive for.

That is a problem for some, who get stuck in a denominational or other type of mindset, thinking they have it all figured out and in essence, getting stuck in the mud. As my mother-in-law would say, doing the same old six and seven. But God's word is living and active.

I say this as much for me as for anyone who might read this. I like to be right. Problem is, that I am only sometimes right. Hard to say how much. So I need to be aware of over-simplifying, and holding on to what I believe instead of holding on to truth.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thought of the Day

...when you hide certain things about Jesus to attract people to him, it's not Jesus you're attracting them to. (Jarod Wilson, here)

I like reading Jarod's blog. He is no-nonsense and gospel focused. To many times we feel that we must be people pleasers. That Jesus needs some make-up to cover his flaws. Yeah, we will mention some of his hard teachings, like his encounter with the Rich Young Ruler where Jesus tells him to sell all that he owns. But then we will soften the blow with phrases like, "that does not apply to everyone," or "you just have to have a loose grip on your stuff." While I agree that it does not apply in the same way to everyone, that does not mean that it does not apply in the same way to you or me. But we like to let people off the hook so they will join the "Christian Club." The Christian Club is a lot like the church, only it has all the benefits with 99% fewer commitments.

Now go out there and have your best life now!