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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

He would have been 49 today.

I stopped in my insurance agent today, and had to sign a paper. When I hesitated before putting the date, she said, "It's the 29th." I responded with a "sheesh." and she said, "Yes, the year has gone fast."

But my "sheesh" came for a different reason. My brother would have been 49 today. He died several years ago of an intentional overdose. He just couldn't take being an addict anymore. It was so bad that he chose to take his life over it. So much for drugs being an escape from one's problems.

I do not know his eternal destiny, although things don't look good. He was antagonistically agnostic. He had a Buddha in his house, but when questioned about Buddhism, he admitted he did not really know much about it. I think it was mostly there to antagonize any Christians who might enter, like me.

He tried 12 step programs, but they don't work so well when you refuse to have anything to do with a higher-power. And yet, he believed in something. He was, among other things, a mountain climber. He said once, "You can't stand on a mountain and look around and say this all happened by chance. There has to be a creator."

Yet, he didn't like the creator. He didn't want to have anything to do with a god who would let children starve, or any of the other seemingly unexplainable miseries that befall mankind.

Brother, you are still loved and missed. I wish we could have talked more, although I don't know if it would have changed anything. I wish you peace. I pray that in those last moments, you wrestled with God and lost, that you might win something greater.

Why don't I like what I see?

Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?" and Peter replied, "Yeah, sure, Lord. I like ya."

This comes to mind because our church is encouraging a Bible reading plan for this year. Now, I am all for Bible reading, but it is their motivation for the plan that concerns me. Here are their "8 good reasons to listen to God daily through His Word:

  1. So my prayers will be answered. (Jn 15:7)
  2. So my decisions will be wise. (Ps 32:8)
  3. So I will not sin. (Ps 119:11)
  4. So I can find comfort. (Ps 119:52)
  5. So I can get the most out of life. (Josh 1:8)
  6. So I can know what is true. (Acts 17:11)
  7. So I can be close to God and learn from Him.(Heb 10:22)
  8. So I will have hope. (Rom 15:4)
 On the surface, these all sound like great things. But why is it I keep hearing, "Yeah, sure, Lord, we like ya." 

Like I stated already, I am all for the reading of God's word, and I think it is powerful and can transform lives. But I also know that the scribes and pharisees were very devout in their knowledge and reading of God's Word, and that didn't work out so well for them.

Jesus question holds the answer. "Do you love me?" What is our motivation for reading the Word? Is it for what I will get out of it? Or is it because I love God and desperately want to draw closer to Him? Mere obedience does not bring about change. I (try to) obey the speed limit, but that does not make me love the police. I do it to not exact the consequence.

I guess that is why I think of this passage when I heard about the reading plan. I have contacted the pastor about some of the statements I hear from the pulpit. He puts me off for months. When he finally does talk to me, he promises to pray about it and get back with me. What he does is then send me a letter saying that if I do not have full confidence in his preaching, perhaps I should find another church. He follows that up with a meeting with myself and a couple of elders. No mention is made of my questions, just a meeting to say that we need to get along and start over. I left for a few weeks, but decided that I should not allow this bullying to chase me away from a church. I now attend again, but listen to my i-pod during sermons. Although many have seen this, no one questions anything. (What elephant in the room?)

"If you love me, feed my sheep."

"Yeah, sure, Lord, we like ya."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Late night ramblings...why I won't give up

I am lucky to post 1 to 3 times a month these days. A far cry from what I am used to. Several reasons. The main being life is so busy right now. Work load is awful, father-in-law not doing well, mother-in-law driving everyone crazy. Wife struggling with her father's decline and mother's expectations (they live with us). Oldest son lives out of state, and we are not sure how he is really doing. The list goes on. And through it all, our church ignores us, treats us like outcasts or as non-existent, and just lives in a glory that isn't really there at all.

And yet, I believe in a sovereign God. So I can smile sometimes during the day. I can continue to praise Him, even though times are tougher than I would like. (Take that, Joel Osteen!) Like Job, I am sure that some would just advise me to curse God and die (or quit or leave or find another church). But my God allows me to stay, even in the midst of trials. Somehow, I should be glorifying Him through all of this, and I pray that I am. I do not seek to be a martyr, but I dare not run either.

Contrary to what I read in the Purpose Driven sequel called SHAPE, it is not my strengths and abilities that honor God, but it is my weaknesses and inabilities. It is the things that drop me to my knees that draw me to Him. Maybe I don't have the most read, coolest, most techno-savy blog. But maybe I touch a heart or two. Maybe I don't lead a platoon to Christ, but maybe I just fill the gaps that God desires I fill.

Just a little late night rambling from a man who is tired, but who clings to a faith that will not let me down, and a God who cannot fail.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I have really done this, and still do it!

We had been in limbo for a while, searching for a place to worship. We either had issues with doctrine or theology or both. So we tried worshipping a home, but felt something was missing.

We decided to go back where we had previously worshipped, even though we felt the preaching sucks. Really, I can't think of a politically correct word for what I hear. Like recently, two of points were that 1) We should trust the promiser and not his promises; and 2) We should focus on the relationship and not the results.

But why would I trust a promiser who does not keep his promises? Why does God make promises and swear by Himself? I need to trust His promises, not as I understand them, but as He gives them. God is completely faithful. And to tell me not to trust in His promises belittles Him.

And why have a relationship and not consider the results? Unless we go in with selfish motives and then of course we will be unhappy. One of the greatest things about a true relationship with God is the result of the changed life I have as a result. That is why I seek a relationship, because I know God is good and I trust in Him.

So what have I done to resolve my dilemma? I use my i-pod during services to listen to preachers that uplift God rather than try to sell some god to me that needs to have someone give excuses for his imperfections. Really. And the preacher has seen me with them in. And no one says a word about it. Now, I must have had them a little loud a couple of weeks ago, because the little old lady in the row in front of me looked back at me a few times, but no one has said a word in the 4 weeks we have been back. Because if you ignore the elephant in the room, it isn't there, is it?

Why go back if it is that bad? Because we have made some connections there that will likely fade if we leave, and we don't feel that we should have to give them up. Strong, gospel centered connections.

Maybe someday they will talk to me. Maybe someday I will have an opportunity to say something that will change them. I am going to leave that in God's hands. I am not seeking to create controversy, but you really can't have a controversy if one party refuses to participate. I just want to worship.

Maybe I do need to turn up the volume a bit more though.