Impossible Persons

Reading the comments in a Challies.com post on Unconditional Election (in a TULIP series), I ran across this interesting bit:

Tim,
Dr. Mohler answered a question on election/human responsabilityl/God’s sovereignty to this doctrine in his debate with Dr. Patterson at the last SBC convention:
there are two impossible persons: those who want to be saved and are not saved and those who do not want to be saved and are saved”. Not an exact quote but I guess it is close… [italic emphasis mine]

 

Is that a little reductionist, or is that the deal?

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Anonymites Anonymous

One of the hardest things I’ve found about returning to church is becoming a real, live, acting member of the body of Christ. I’m terribly introverted, and over the years, I’ve found it easier and easier to withdraw from social situations, rather than extend the effort to be part of a group. When I have joined a group, or exerted myself to join the larger world, it was often a false cheery front, performed out of necessity, counting the minutes to which I could retreat again into my own, comfortable, quiet and solitary world.

When I started going back to church this year, I didn’t really see any need to change that. I thought, well, I’d get in and talk to God, and get out. No muss, no fuss. Sure, smile at people, but don’t get too close – they might ask you something personal.

I don’t think I’m alone here on this. Lifeway released the results of a recent study that shows visitors to a church prefer to remain anonymous.

But as it happened, there was a new person’s BBQ at the pastor’s house in two weeks, and someone asked me if I would come, and I thought, okay…what will one time hurt?

I went. I felt awkward and weird of course. But there were a couple of people at the party I recognized the next week at church and we waved.

My kids went to Sunday school, and they wanted playdates with their new friends there. So I ended up talking to the parents. More awkward little small talk, but again…more people to wave hello to.

And soon enough, I was having a hard time getting out of the chapel after the service, because I kept getting waylaid by these people.

In my reading, I started noticing the passages about the body of Christ. How we are really actually his body here on earth. How we all have a function. And I started to realize how important this is – to be real brothers and sisters. So I had lunch with some here and there. I went on a trip with some others. I did more reaching out than I’ve done for decades.

It’s a quiet revolution in my life. There has been no big bang change, but I know these people, these siblings of mine. I know they are affecting my life, and I am affecting theirs, and it is in Christ.

I knew my attitude had changed when I recently spoke with a co-worker who grew up in a church in Eastern Europe. He was complaining how American churches are too friendly. He wanted to get in, worship, and get out. No muss, no fuss. And I wanted to tell him why, and that it was not only a necessary thing, but a good thing.

There are Sunday mornings that I still think about going to a different church; one that I could slip in unnoticed and not have to talk to anybody. But I find when I go to my church and sit through the sermon and see the people and talk to the people, somewhere along the line, somebody slipped a little extra love in my heart.

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Filed under Conversations, The Christian Walk

Do you ever get to feel good about yourself?

One of the tools I use as a parent is discipline when my monkeys need it. But it’s not the only thing. I also use a lot of encouragement and praise.

Sometimes it seems like the only thing I ever see or hear in sermons or Christian books is exhortations to recognize your own sinfulness and repent, repent, repent. Not that I’m disagreeing! Oh no, I am not. I probably tend toward overdoing it (can you actually do that?)

But what about the encouragement? I know God gives us all our abilities to love our neighbor and love ourselves, but I just rarely see much discussion about when you do something well. Is God happy? Or is it just okay, you’ve been less bad today, but gee whiz look at what else you have to work on!

Luke 17:10

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ “

I don’t think I’d get very far with my kids if I never told them I was happy when they did right, and it was just their duty to behave.  I’m having a hard time phrasing that without sounding flippant or disrespectful, but I do not mean it that way.  I’m just trying to understand.

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

This verse also comes to mind. Perhaps this is one way of showing that?

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On Humility

An unexpected personal finding: praying is hard.  Praying every night, which I resolved to do, whatever the circumstances, is unexpectedly hard. Sometimes I don’t want to.  Sometimes I’d rather work late, or surf the Net or do the laundry, or talk to my husband…or anything…rather than get down on my knees and pray to my Father and admit the sins of the day.  Especially if they were the sins of yesterday and the day before that and so on and so on.

I failed again.  I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Again.

We’re so used to being proud of ourselves for our accomplishments and sweeping the failures under the rug.  To bring them out each night is humbling.  Once in a while though, I feel, even as I fight myself to surrender, the joy of it.

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Oh Holy Night

I find myself looking forward to the holidays this year.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years…all of them.  The difference between this year and previous years is that the reason for celebration is no longer lost on me.

Celebration to thank God.

Celebration to marvel at the mercy and glory of God who brought us a savior.

Celebration to begin a fresh new year, with more hope and more love.

Yesterday, a coworker of mine was bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas.  He said he wasn’t particularly religious but this season always depressed him by the way the point is being missed.

The usual culprits of holiday depression are explained as lack of close family, friends, social isolation and overcommercialization.  But I think, looking back in my life, I would put the finger on missing God.  When we are so far away from him on the days we’ve set aside historically to honor him, the lost feelings multiply and become crushing, leading to cynicism and bitterness as protective measures for our broken hearts.

I will be so glad to honor my Father this year on these special days.  No false sentiment.  No going through the motions.  Just celebration and hope.

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Mercy Beyond Measure

Of all the horror, of all the shock, and the sorrow and the sheer obscenity of the Amish school girl murders, one thing stood out in my mind.

Marie Roberts was in a prayer meeting, a prayer meeting at the time her husband was breaking in to the school, ready to commit unspeakable mayhem.

The media has not said much about Marie Roberts (and praise be to God for what is hopefully unusual restraint from the media), but I get the sense from what I’ve pieced together, she was involved, caring and genuine. She was at a prayer meeting for a group called Moms in Touch.

She was praying to God, our Heavenly Father, while her husband was carrying out his monstrous plot.

Such terrible awe and horror in the subcutaneous realization of our hearts: the evil that men do is right here, right now, in each of us. Even in the moments while we appeal to God, evil tortures and kills.

We torture and we kill.

No one can say that this was from God.

I cannot fathom the workings of this war between light and darkness, but I am given hope by this: the forgiveness shown to Marie Roberts and her family by the Amish is the purest mercy God could show to Ms. Roberts. It may even feel terrible to her – I can imagine I might feel that I didn’t even want them to forgive me much less look at me in my shame. But one of the most crystalline displays of forgiveness in modern memory is an utterly profound gift to Ms. Roberts, one to rise above and overcome one of the most dark and demonic displays of evil. To be the recipient of such grace and mercy must be humbling beyond measure.

Pray for mercy. The power and glory of mercy is matchless.

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Yay for Mr. Rogers

and for Jared over at Thinklings.  This is a great post using Mr. Roger’s song “You Can Never Go Down the Drain” as a reminder that Jesus is not going to let us go:

“[…]I don’t know what it’s like to feel afraid of the bathtub drain, but I can imagine what it’s like to be a small child watching the spiral of water over a mysterious hole and worrying it might take him down too. It’s an irrational fear, but an understandable one. It was wise of Mr. Rogers to tell children that, despite appearances, they can never go down the drain. It just can’t happen. ”
You Can Never Go Down the Drain

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Filed under A-Hah Moments