Monday, April 30, 2007

God our enabler

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations-- that's what I had in mind for you."

But I said, "Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don't know anything, I'm only a boy."

God told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.' I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there..."

This comes from the first chapter in Jeremiah and this is the Message paraphrase of a passage I find very comforting. It isn't that I take the passage so personally as to believe that God conveys in his message to Jeremiah that we will all become his 'prophets to the nations' but I do believe that the intent in God's rebuke conveys to all his Followers. God is saying "Why protest my plan? I'm giving you a command. Follow it. Why question what I have so clearly laid before you? It may not be the easiest job on earth, but rest assured, I will enable you along the way."

I like the Old Testament. Some people shy away from it but I enjoy it immensely, mostly because the language is so poetic and because the terms are laid out so discreetly. God speaks broadly to His people through his direct lessons to his prophets. In this passage, Jeremiah is being told of God's plan for him. He not only knows that there IS a plan-- he is told WHAT that plan is. God doesn't always spell things out so clearly; he does, however, open up ways and means and make clear paths that will and won't fit within His plan. .... to be continued...

Friday, April 27, 2007


"Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."
--C.S. Lewis

Set your eyes on things above, not on earthly things...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Edwards versus modern thought

If there really be a hell of such dreadful and never-ending torments, as is generally supposed, of which multitudes are in great danger... then why is it not proper for those who have the care of souls to take great pains to make men sensible of it? If I am in danger of going to hell, I should be glad to know as much as possible I can of the dreadfulness of it. If I am very prone to neglect due care to avoid it, he does me the best kindness, who does most to represent to me the truth of the case, that sets forth my misery and danger in the liveliest manner.
-- Jonathan Edwards

We didn't think it was going to look like this. We were praying for God to move, and our assumption was, when God moves we'll see more people saved and more people healed, and there would be the excitement that that would generate. We didn't think he would come and throw a massive party.
--John Arnott

These two men present starkly different models of evangelism. Edwards demonstrates in countless sermons a sense of the dreadful nature of hell and the dire need human beings have for the saving grace of God through Jesus' blood. Edwards' use of words to direct his audience toward a spectacular realization of human depravity requires no "drumming up" of emotions, no mood music, no ushers or volunteers waiting to urge people forward in an altar call. Rather, Edwards merely pointed sinful souls away from certain doom and unto sweet freedom and salvation. The quote from Edwards above can be summed up in this way: "The person who clearly shows a sinner the depravity of his own soul and the certain damnation that awaits has done him a great service in pointing him away from death and toward the Light."

Arnott believes that effective evangelism can be accomplished through inviting non believers to a huge party-- what better way to be attracted to God than through a wild party?? The problem with this idea is that excitement fades quickly in the face of reality. Arnott and others like him believe that evangelism and encouragment Believers can be accomplished by basking (or partying) in the "fire" and excitement of God. I contend that a young Christian can only ride the waves of excitement in his new faith for so long. A Christian at any age needs to be fed and equipped through teaching of God's word-- the Bible should make more than a cameo appearance during any given church service. By steering away from emotion and using reasonable presentation of the tragic fate of mankind, Edwards leaves a much longer-lasting impression, one based in cold-hard, biblical facts. A God-party is weak at best in its attempts to build up Believers for anything other than an emotional high because it often relies on worship songs and testimonies of other humans to accomplish the same purpose as the Word.

It could be argued that Edwards uses a bit of a scare tactic in his presentation of hell to non-believers; I contend however that a bit of a scare is not a bad thing. I do believe however that the "party" approach utilized by some modern churches is a bad thing-- it fails to leave a lasting impact. A person who relies on "experiences" of God will falter when experiences no longer bolster his faith-- at best, the Believer who receives dose after dose of party will stagnate; at worst, he will flail and fall. Edwards, scare-tactic or no, equips believers to grow in faith and spurs non-believers toward becoming believers. Edwards appealed to the mental faculties of his audience through effective reading of the Word. Abbot and Co appeal to the emotions their audience through various levels of emotional manipulation. In my opinion, only Edwards' model holds potential for lasting and effective exhortation of saints and sinners alike.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Romans 12 from the Message

I realize that the Message is a paraphrase, but here is how it words one of my favorite passages:

So here is what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday ordinary life-- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-- and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you and quickly respond to it. Unline the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I particularly like the part in which the author has pointed out that God brings out the best in us. However, it is our job to embrace this truth and ALLOW him to take charge. As the NIV put it: "This is your spiritual act of worship." We must lead a life worthy of His name, regardless of circumstance, even in the mundane aspects of life so that we may always be "holy and pleasing to God."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27)

I had this verse on my mind last night as I was drifting off to sleep-- I have a lot on my mind when I am drifting off to sleep and fortunately all that occupied my mind last night was this and a couple other verses. Interestingly enough, I woke up this morning (spring break-- hooray) and went to the "A Slice of Infinity" page which I read via RSS feed on I really appreciate this particular verse because as was described in the editoral on "A Slice of Infinity," our tendency is to veer a little toward some extreme or another. Either we are too liberal or too legalistic. A balanced approach to Christianity is a difficult thing to achieve, much less maintain.

Where are my eyes now? How is my vision? Am I on the proper course?