Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! [James 2:12-13 NIV]
Monthly Archives: June 2006
Our pastor had us write a prayer to God by putting Psalm 131 in our own words this morning. I'm giving you mine here. It isn't all that true to the psalm and I'm desperately resisting the urge to rewrite it and not show you the spontaneous 5 minute exercise, but…but…I realized on the way home it is the first thing I've ever created just for God. I hope he considers it as precious as I considered my childrens' first macaroni and glue crafts.
Father, I'm just trying to live my daily life.
I don't want to be Oprah or Angelina.
I don't need to be Stephen Hawking or CS Lewis.
I'm here in Denver, everyday,
Doing my job, raising my monkeys.
I am practicing coming to you.
I have found peace at the foot of my bed in prayer
and at Discount Tire, by surprise.
Oh Denver, relax and breathe.
Hope, Denver – always.
1. The Holy Spirit is our friend that comforts and guides us until Jesus returns. I guess I just thought he hung around for your baptism and then swooped around here and there afterwards. Yes, I was a shockingly ignorant Christian.
2. The Greek word for Spirit (Pneuma) is also the word for air, wind and breath. Since I have found this out, when I think of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, I think of God's breath keeping me alive rather than my own, which is just a delightful thought.
3. Legalism is relying on your own ability to follow God's laws and rules, and really just can't be done. It leads to you thinking you can save yourself or earn your salvation. Only God saves us. Really! The only way! I remember thinking the whole thing was so futile because nobody could be that good. Okay, I get it now – that *IS* the point. This has been a real mind bender to me, and I find my mind still trying to find sneaky ways around it and encouraging me to "prove" to God I'm worthy.
4. New heaven and new earth. Huh, how 'bout that? No clue that was even there.
5. People do not turn into angels when they die. Angels are totally separate and different.
6. Demons can masquerade as angels of light. This is not good. I don't like this at all.
7. Our heavenly Father longs for us. He wants us to be with him – like crazy!! And it really hurts him if we turn away. Longs for. Wow.
8. You can pray for very meta stuff – to learn how to pray, for example. Or for God to grant you the *desire* to do something he wants you to do, but you don't have any desire for that at all.
9. The body of Christ is not just the communion ritual. It's the whole church – you and your brothers and sisters are all in Christ as a body.
10. The Gospel really is really, really, REALLY Good News!!
One of the most interesting things I'm learning is that much of the scripture appears simple at first glance, and yet is layered and complex.
Take this terribly interesting bit about John 3:16 [via Wikipedia]:
John 3:16 (chapter 3, verse 16 of the Gospel of John) is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Christian Bible. It has been called the "Bible in a nutshell" because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of traditional Christianity
- For God so loved the world… – God is a God of love and this love motivates his action in the rest of the verse
- …that he gave… – there was God giving something, his son as a sacrifice
- …his only begotten Son… – the human Jesus of Nazareth is also the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity
- …that whosoever… – that salvation is open to all who will believe
- …believeth… – being saved is based on belief or faith, rather than based on human works.
- …in him… – the belief being in Jesus, the Saviour
- …should not perish… – implies the fate of those who do not believe, that is the doctrine of hell
- …but have everlasting life. – shows the reward of those who believe, that is the doctrine of heaven
I get a massage every two weeks. My first massage therapist was a no-nonsense ex-military slip of a girl and stronger than you could imagine her to be. I was so sad when she moved on to another location that was too far for me to follow her to. So I tried again, and ended up with Micah (as always, not her real name).
Michah is a lovely, soft-spoken butterfly type girl. She's quite intuitive, and she's really been able to help me with those horrid knots I get in my shoulders and neck from being hunched over the computer all the time.
Shortly after Easter, I had been asking a friend about false gods and angels in disguise. We ended up having quite a discussion about New Agers, mystical "spirituality" and the dangers lurking behind the "it's all good" facade. I decided that I'd ask Micah if she used any alternative healing techniques for her massages, you know – just in case. I was relieved when she said no, she just used plain old physical therapy techniques. Unfortunately, then she went on to say that she really *wanted* to get into the eastern spiritual techniques and had been dreaming of going to India to learn from a guru or some sort.
I didn't say anything at the time, but felt concern for her. It occurred to me several times during the next two weeks that I might want to pray for Michah, and so I did.
Yesterday, I had my regular appointment with her. I wanted to talk to her more about what her plans were, but didn't quite know how to bring it up. So I told her that I was excited (which I was) about my plans later that evening to go to an emerging church that my church sponsors. I'd heard a lot about it, and Alexander and I were going to go see what it was all about. She was interested, so I told her about how the emerging churches are specifically for people who don't feel like they belong in a traditional church, and that I'd seen a book about it recently called No Perfect People Allowed [Burke].
She laughed and told me her father had been a Christian and her mother a Jehovah's Witness. I offered that it must have been confusing for her. She told me that it was, but that she was now getting involved in Wicca. She said that she has always been drawn to the power of the earth and nature and the tolerance of the Wiccans really appealed to her. I was a bit taken aback at that point, and will admit to a momentary feeling of alarm. First from a stupid personal fear perspective, and then from an "Oh dear, I have no idea how convince someone who wants to be a witch that it might be a poor life choice" perspective. Fortunately, it was just a knee-jerk reaction and disappeared as quickly as it came.
I still had no idea what really to say, so I just told her my story of how I came to feel like I needed to go back to church, and once I got there, that God indeed did want to talk to me. I told her about how different my experience was from when I was a teenager. How I found out that you didn't have to "earn your way to heaven" or follow a bunch of stupid rules so (maybe if you were lucky) you wouldn't go to hell. I told her how Jesus died for all of our sins and paid off the debt and He just did it just because he loves us. He offers us this amazing gift and he offers it to everyone and it's just as simple as saying yes. Then He shows you how to do all the rest, one step at a time. Or at least it was something like that. It's hard to remember the details because I *was* getting a massage, after all :)
We fell silent for a while, and then I told her about my dream of the rain storm. I told her how I felt God had been reminding me gently for years that He was still there, and then he brought His enormous storm into my life. And how another friend at work had the insight that the storm was not just for me, but for the people all around me, people that I knew and people that were in my town. Micah seemed to see this right away.
I didn't say anything about Wicca, but I did tell her that I understand (and believe me I DO) that it's so hard to find the truth when there are so many voices telling you they know what you should do. I offered her the advice that's been given to me: Look at the message behind the words. Look at the people saying the words – are they good people? Are they living the life they talk about? Do they have your best interests at heart?
I told her about the feelings that I should be praying for her. She got a bit teary at this point, and didn't say why, but said that the last three weeks had been really hard and she really did need it.
I invited her to come to the "alt.church" with us that night, but unfortunately she had to go to her other job right after my appointment. But she seemed like she really wanted to go, and she thanked me seriously for telling her all that I did. She said she hadn't quite understood it that way before. I told her it was about the best thing I could tell anybody and I was happy to do it. I suggested if she really wanted to find out about Jesus that she say just a little prayer to let Him know.
I have been examining my heart whether I should post things like this or not. I know my tendencies toward pride, and so I am trying hard to make sure my motives are worthy. Yes, I am happy. I'm joyful my Father might be working to touch Micah's heart through me. I feel like this account might show someone else how ordinary situations can turn so extraordinary. That apologetics isn't just for fancy debates among scholars. That the people around you are still looking for truth even if they don't talk about it.
So please help me pray for Micah. This story doesn't use her real name, but God will know who you're talking about.
I've read First Corinthians 13 many times. It's one of the few verses I remembered pretty well. In fact, I've even done a reading of the passage in the wedding of some friends several years back.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. 1Cor 13: 4-8 [NIV]
I've heretofore only considered it akin to a commandment, e.g., how we should know what love is in order to love each other this way. That's why they like to read it at weddings, right?
But it's not just to us for us, is it?
Is this profoundly beautiful description of love not how our Father loves us? These golden truths, these perfect ideals that we desperately try to live up to: God loves us this way – perfectly and everlastingly.
And so surely we must love God this way as well.
I’ve been wondering what I could do with this blog since I really don’t know enough about Christianity, theology or apologetics to teach anybody anything. I’m in total immersion mode, and learning a tremendous amount, but it’s going to be a long road. I’m thinking about getting some formal education, but I’m not sure how to best go about that. I have a four year degree and 20 years of work experience, but it’s all technical computer stuff. I haven’t done anything even remotely humanities related since my few required courses in college.
But one thing I do remember from English writing classes is to write what you know. And I do know the questions that I had to get answered before I came to the point where I am now. So I’m going to try to combine a couple of things here. First, I’m going to talk about the issues I had before I could recommit myself to Christ. I’m going to ask the question, and give the answer that made sense to me, but what’s more, is that I will try to make the answers more complete and based in theologies, reason, and evidence.
In many ways, I think my aptitude for my current career as a technical architect will prove valuable in apologetics. Most of what I do and what I am talented at is taking the theoretical and applying it in a practical way that people can use and understand. And what I’ve learned over time is that the best way to learn the practical application of the theoretical is to actually try and DO IT.
Since I know most of my readers know way more than I do, I invite you all to correct and guide me as I make these chicken scratchings. :)
It’s a little late in the evening to start one off, but I’m planning on starting with the issue of why I can’t open a newspaper without crying for all the horrifying things that are being done to innocent children. Yeah, that’s right. I like to give myself easy assignments. ;-)