On Being on a Mission from God

Blues_brothers3If you recall the 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood being determined to save the orphanage where they grew up, peppered their hijinxs with “we’re on a mission for God”. They remained undaunted by all the obstacles in their way, they were to achieve their mission at all costs.

It occurs to me that Christians adopt this mentality, also. Now, I don’t mean just mean being determined to live a good Christian life, follow Jesus and be obedient to his will. But it’s finding this one particular aspect of dogma that turns into a crusade.

I was reminded of that recently after a conversation with a friend about a topic that I’m a bit passionate about – God speaking. He was telling me of this conversation with a young lady who gave little interest in the Bible, exclaiming that the Holy Spirit can just tell her what she needs to know. Anyone who knows my passion for this topic, can imagine all the sirens that were going off in my head. It fueled that already existing desire to help people be thoughtful about how God has already spoken which is compatible to how he has revealed himself. I am convinced that the main reason the Bible is treated as a secondary means of communication is because it has been treated in a very fragmented way that provides little snippets for life principles and a guide to hear more words from God instead of being the very voice of God. The 66 books must be considered holistically for the redemptive narrative that it is.

It is precisely this desire that reminds me of Christians that I’ve encountered that become so fixated on a particular area, where passion for the dispensing of knowledge has turned into a crusade. I know first hand that it’s a pretty easy line to cross, if we are not careful. It’s usually accompanied by some kind of warning or danger that the church needs to know, whether it be a particular leader or ministry, some point of doctrine or Christian practice.  Continue reading

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I Am Not Gay…(and I have no idea what that’s like)

girl looking out windowI am a woman and I like men. From the time I was a little girl, I carried the fantasies that so many girls dream – to meet a guy, fall in love, get married, have kids, have a life  long companion etc etc.

Well, that happened, kind of , not in the way I wanted In fact, it has been pretty messy. Widowed now 10 years, that desire has not changed. There are longings in the heart for companionship, even deeper given all the fractured ways that has happened.

I have no idea what it is like to desire someone of the same sex. It doesn’t resonate with me because when I think of attraction, I think of men. I have no idea of the struggles that people with same sex orientations face, and even more so if they are Christian who believe that homosexuality is a sin.

I came across this really interesting read by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Gay, Christian and Celibate. The articles speaks of Christians who have a same sex orientation, believe that homosexuality is wrong and decide not to act upon it. They have no desire for the opposite sex, because they desire the same sex. But they choose to remain faithful and so they remain celibate.

I have no idea what that is like. Sure, I know my struggles with various issues. I know the issues in my own life that remain a battle. I know the repeated repentance and the desire to change. I know of change that has happened and also the change I wonder will happen. Continue reading

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How Do you Know if You are Experiencing God’s Favor?

I came across this blog post today 4 Things Jesus Didn’t Die For. I found the first point, the American Dream, pretty compelling;

He didn’t die to make you healthy, wealthy, secure, and comfortable. This may be your current state, but don’t let that to lead you into thinking it’s a promise. God blesses those that belong to him, sometimes with temporal comfort but spiritual chastening, and sometimes with temporal suffering but spiritual flourishing.

However, there is a devastatingly harmful teaching present in churches across America, which claims that physical “blessings” are a sure sign of God’s favor. Not only does this fly in the face of the entire Bible, but it is also a grievous offense to those Christians going through immense persecution in countries all over the world, often in impoverished circumstances. There is only one sure sign of God’s favor: the death of his Son.

Christian, Jesus’ death means he has taken on your sin, in exchange for his righteousness. God has shown us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7) These are the only riches you are promised in this life; the joy and peace that comes with knowing that you have a good, loving God that has saved you at the infinite cost of his only begotten Son.

man standing on rockIt’s taken a long time in my Christian walk for me to realize that we’ve kind of missed the boat if we think favor translates into my life looking pretty good. In fact, sometimes favor means just the opposite.

To be sure, this kind of thinking has some important ramifications for our Christian walk. When we are fooled into thinking that favor means things going great in our lives, we’ll think the Christian who is suffering or otherwise can’t cut a break is not experiencing God’s favor. This may result in a superior attitude against other Christians, especially if our life is going pretty good.  You can hear this in the “favor ain’t fair” mantra spoken with an attitude, as if we have anything to brag about. Or if we are the ones in that situation, we might wonder what we’ve done wrong, why is God mad at us or even worse, does not love us. These are all lies of course. Scripture is full of characters who experienced hardship and persecution by believing the promises of God and being obedient to his will. Continue reading

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Read’em and Weep . . . or not

computer yellingThe other day, a good friend gave me a gentle rebuke. The reason? I had articulated an opinion about a current event that I didn’t have a wealth of knowledge in.  Sure I knew the basic facts but not enough to spit out what I thought of the matter. Though it was tough to hear, I had to acknowledge that I had engaged in a bit of hypocrisy by doing exactly what I recommend that we don’t do – arriving at premature conclusions based on superficial information.

We live in an age of information overload, an embarrassment of riches that on the surface would support an incredible wealth of knowledge. And yet, it’s just the opposite – fragmented, de-historified pieces of media sound bytes that are designed to sway us towards a certain opinion. It doesn’t matter what the topic, whether current events, history or theology. We get lured with attractive titles and questions that appeal to our particular affinities, especially when it’s fueled by an particular image. If we are not careful, that biased slant with its emotional appeals can suck us right in.

When we propagate un-informed or poorly informed opinions through social media, it only adds fuel to the fire. In fact, this is where I’ve seen the down side even to blogging, which I love so much. It gives anyone who wants to say something the opportunity to do so regardless of how much is understood about the topic. Expertise has indeed taken a hit. I’ve become increasingly more cautious in my assertions because of this, though maybe not all that successful at times.

When it comes to the media outlet today, let’s not fool ourselves that you will read objective opinions.  Sure, there are some writers who strive to portray what they would deem “objective”. But that that object always has some question it is trying to answer based on some perspective, which may not be that objective at all.

I follow a variety of different news sources from various perspectives. Some are straight news, some focused on politics and economics, some economic perspectives from a Christian worldview, conservative, liberal, moderate. And of course my beloved theology! Regardless of what I read,  I strive to remember the ideology that pervades the thoughts behind each post to gauge where the author is coming from.  And yet, I am sometimes lured in by well-sounding arguments, especially where there appears to be some kind of authentic research or historical sketch. Continue reading

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Meaty Teachers, Gospel Reachers

teacher_small groupI’ve been going through the book of Hebrews and it never ceases to amaze me with each reading, some new insight is gained (why repeated reading of the word is a lifetime exercise). So here’s something that struck me recently and was kind of enforced in our Sunday School class where we are going through the book of Galatians.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts Christians who were Jews and wanted to return to life under the law of Moses because Christian life was so challenging. He issues a series of warnings regarding those who shrink back and don’t mature in their Christian life.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food if for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good and evil. (Heb. 5:11-14)

A few observations: 1) There are basic principles of Christianity to be believed that these people have heard repeatedly; 2) moving from milk to meat having the basics so down pact that you can teach others and 3) this is intrinsically related to putting the word into practice such that the basics are lived out.  And here is where I think a careful distinction should be made. Continue reading

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