Sunday, May 27, 2012

Leaving the gray... right where it is

Over much of the last ten years, I have spent a lot of time learning about apologetics- the part of Christian theology that seeks to provide compelling and sufficient answers for skeptics outside the faith and to those who are struggling with their faith within Christianity. I was beginning to ask questions that I had never considered before like, how could God create the world in six days, or why do we have the books we have in the bible. These and many others like them were important questions that my mind needed answers to- more than sufficient answers. I was in search for concrete bullet proof answers- not to answer others, but to answer the biggest skeptic I know- me.

And so my journey began. I found many a book that focused on providing such answers. I read as many of them as my sleep-deprived eyes would let me, and listened to as many sermons and apologetics talks that would fit on my mp3 player. And as I went along, I noticed my confidence was soaring! I had satisfied my doubts so much that i was starting to try place doubts in others and wistfully and thoroughly remove them from within others! (or so I thought)

I began writing this blog three years ago with the purpose of trying help believers become as passionate about their faith in Jesus as I was. Through my search to remove all of the doubt, all of the "gray" in my theology, I had unwittingly removed many parts of the theology that God had intended to remain. Questions like, what happens to babies and young children who die and are unable to understand and receive salvation? Or, how does God truly choose us for salvation or do we choose him? I found no bullet proof answers to these and many like them in the scriptures because the absolute answers I was looking for are not contained in a black and white way on the pages of scripture. Scripture was written to communicate to us God's plan for salvation, not to answer our every theological question.

Many of the answers I was looking for were not black and white, but gray. They were not contradictions, but either-or, both-and answers that wanted to stretch my theology so that I might see the beauty of God's sovereignty, untamed and without boarders, and still know and have full confidence that He is good, that He is faithful, and that I can trust Him with my entire life- even my theology. And if I can trust Him to continue to develop and deepen my theology, I can also trust Him enough to leave the gray, right where it is.

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

He even uses angels

Reading Hebrews chapter 1 today in my bible reading plan. Never studied this passage much before, never realized that this was an apologetic to those who thought that Jesus was just another angel. It's pretty clear after reading this that Jesus was no angel- he was and has and always will be God.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14 ESV)

I never really gave much thought about angels before today. (guess today is a first for several things). Just kinda ignored the concept. And I'm glad that I haven't spent too much time on them- scripture makes it pretty clear that they are just servants and not worthy of our worship- only God is worthy of our praise. But it struck me as I read the above passage that God created the angels for a purpose, and that purpose is to minister to those who belong to Jesus.

Its not the angels that are important here, but the heart of God, that cares about us and is diligently working out his plan, preparing us for the wedding feast in heaven, and taking full responsibility and ownership of us his Bride, making sure that we finish the race He marked out for us, and that we would persevere with and by and through a spirit of hope and faith that is not our own, but given to us through the Holy Spirit, through faith.

So many things unseen. 8 billion people in the world, unique individuals with their own thoughts and perspetives on how they see the world they live in. Our souls are lulled away from seeing and perceiving the beauty and majesty and holiness of God, fully distracted by the cares, concerns, troubles, comforts, and vain and fleeting things of this world. Yet the Lord is still on His throne, careful to ensure that the Son shall lose non that the Father has given Him, and knowing that we are like sheep, easily lead astray by the lies and deception of this world, in need of our patient and loving God to comfort us, to lift up our heads, and cause us to persevere to the very end. And this great loving and holy God uses whatever means he sees fit- be it faithful men and women sent and equipped to encourage and edify His church, or angels in the realm of the unseen, going before us to accomplish the purposes directed by God, for our good, and for his praise and glory.

He is good. He accomplishes His plans. He gives us the grace that we need for today. And like the dawn of each new day, he renews his mercies toward us, so that his loving kindness would complete its purpose to draw us to repentance, and perfect us in Christ.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Theoden: I will not risk open war.
Aragorn: Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.

I love The Lord of the Rings movies. The imagination of Tolkien to dream up these amazing worlds and characters is fascinating to me. And like with every fictional story, there are numerous issues and themes that surface, paralleling real life where we all live.
Sometimes they are by design of the author, as hints and clues are strung out for the audience to discover. Other times, they are general statements like the one above that contain massive ideas, that communicate far more than meets the eye, if we are thoughtful and willing to stop and to ponder, to simply get lost in a thought, an idea, that transcends beyond the silver screen and into the depths of our hearts, into reality. And this was the case for me regarding this exchange between King Theoden and Lord Aragorn.
A great and evil army was being assembled for the destruction of mankind. And Aragorn and his party were trying to unite rival kingdoms to fight against the forces of evil and to save the people of Rohan. But king Theoden did not perceive the army as a direct threat and was convinced that he could sit back and remain on the sidelines and not get involved. What he failed to realize, as lord Aragorn was trying to explain, was that the war was coming, and there was no way to avoid it. To sit idle and wait for the battle to come to Rohan would have been disastrous. They would have to flee to Helms Deep where they could defend themselves and have a chance at avoiding annihilation.

It's strange how the mind works, how it recalls things from the past. I haven't seen this movie in months, but for some reason this quote surfaced in my mind tonight.
I currently find myself in an interesting chapter of my life. Massive change is going on in my career and in other areas of my life. For a moment I seemed to be in control, authoring some changes that I wanted to see. But then reality showed up, wadded up my plans and lit them on fire and then urinated on the ashes. (sorry).
Things, they are a changing. And I knew that this day, this season would come, but I though it would be on my terms, when I was ready. What I came to realize was that change comes when God is ready for it, not too soon, not too late, and most definitely not on our timetable.
As I find myself in the midst of a storm of change, my mind flashes to this quote, to remind me that in spite of our efforts to mitigate and avoid change, God brings it about, whether we want it or not, whether we would risk it or not.
But change is not a bad thing. While it can be incredibly painful as it happens, it can give us incredible perspective to see what God is doing, and how He uses our struggle and adjustment to grow us and to teach us to depend on Him, and help us to see a bit more clearer our circumstances, as God sees them.
For me, I have been longing for some specific changes in my life, and have really been very miserable in the waiting, very wearysome waiting for God to make His move and solve all my problems, the way I want Him to, and when I want Him to. And while the changes are not exactly what I had in mind (understatement), there is a bit of relief, of contentment, knowing and trusting by faith that It is now time for change; that God is ready to show me what He has been doing all these years that He has been so silent and seemingly inactive.
Seeing my wife go through three pregnancies, I have observed some pretty obvious things: being pregnant near the end of the pregnancy is zero fun, and that delivery is painful and scary. While I'm pretty sure that I'll never really know what it is like to be pregnant, I feel like I can relate, at least in part. For 9 years now I have been burdened for change in certain parts of my life, and the grief and frustration and hope has grown as the years have increased. But as with a pregnancy, every season has an end. It is definite and eminent change. And when the labor pains come, there is a mixture of dread and fear over the pain that is coming, yet there is also a sense of excitement and relief, that FINALLY this is coming to an end, and it is all going to be worth it when it is over.
That's kinda how I feel about the change i'm in. A lot of dread, but a lot of hope, knowing and trusting that God is at work, and is bringing about his plan, not too soon, and not too late.
Change is upon us all, whether we would risk it or not. But we who are in Christ can embrace the change and the One who is bringing it about, for His glory, for our good, and for out joy, in the fullness of time.

Theoden: I will not risk open war.
Aragorn: Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.