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Showing posts from 2012

How Much Can God Trust Us?

Can God trust us with our enemies? Can God trust me enough to make my enemies vulnerable by giving me power over them?
If we look around it doesn't take long at all to see how most people think enemies should be treated. And sadly most Christians have little difference in their personal views about how to relate to enemies than everyone else. If you just listen to the scenarios presented by various groups of Christians about end-time scenarios, they almost always involve some kind of triumphalism doctrines where God uses coercion to at last win over His enemies, punish them severely and exalt those who are loyal to Him.
Yet how can we give credence to these notions when they fly directly in the face of explicit teachings and the example of Jesus regarding how we are to view and relate to our enemies? Jesus also makes it very clear that God does not treat His enemies the way we think they should be treated.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, s…

What is Praise For?

Praise, especially for God, is for my benefit far more than for His. God does not need praise to make Him feel better about Himself. However, He very much needs me to feel and think better about Him. The problem of sin is not that God needs appeasing, softening up or flattered by showering Him with enough praise to get Him to relent and forgive me or even bless me. The problem of sin is that I do not know God rightly enough to trust Him fully. That is where praise works to transform my opinions about God and to work a change within my own mind and heart, to bring me into a greater awareness of how trustworthy God really is. Whatever is not of faith (trust) is sin. (Romans 14:23) Those who are overcomers are those who come to know God so well that they not only trust Him implicitly but they praise Him all the time for how good He is. No, God does not need our praises, except maybe in the sense that as we praise Him by focusing on the real truth about His character we more and more acc…

The Good News

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. (John 16:24) ...I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:32-33) The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23) And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters." (Revelation 14:6-7) After these things I sa…

Misleading Sparks

People who respect the LORD also listen to his servant. That servant lives completely trusting in God without knowing what will happen. He really trusts in the LORD'S name and depends on his God. 'You've all lit a fire and helped the flame grow, then you were drawn to its light toward the very flame that you kindled! Because of me this has happened to you, and you'll spend your nights in distress!' (Isaiah 50:10-11 ERV, 2001)
This verse came to my heart as I was waking up this morning. The more that I meditate and listen to the Spirit about this the more clearly I see a number of things that I want to grasp much more deeply and securely.
I see myself and nearly everyone around me caught in a trap that God is longing to release us from, and into a radically different relationship with Himself. Yet particularly in Western culture, we have been deeply ingrained with the philosophy of Greece and Rome in which religion is primarily an external affair. We talk about the …

Parable of the Jumper Cables

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matthew 5:39)
An evil person is like a very weak car battery. They are seriously lacking in love power and as a result they malfunction, growl, spark and lack ability to get along with others. They are filled with selfishness and obsessed with grasping and clawing those around them in desperate attempts to meet their needs. What they really need, whether they are aware of it or not (and most of the time they are not) is a jump from another battery that is fully charged.
If the jumpers used to connect two batteries have too much resistance, the power cannot flow sufficiently to make enough difference to get the weak one started. Likewise, when we resist an evil person's attacks on us by taking offense, becoming defensive, retaliating or any similar ungodly responses, we prevent them from having access to the very power they so desperately need.
Most of the time a…

Exploring Sacrifice Deeper

Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins in order to reconcile us to God.
That sounds like a very normal statement of faith that one might expect to hear as the confession of any typical Christian. But what does that mean? It all depends completely on one's beliefs about God and sin. It has become rather clear to me that the problems with the typical explanation of this theme from the legal approach has made such views untenable for me, for they fail to accomplish true reconciliation. This is because God is presented in ways that destroy our ability to truly trust Him.
I have come to see that sin is at its core a problem of trust, not an external problem regarding behavior. Bad behaviors are only symptoms of a lack of trust. Of course dysfunctional behavior can deepen distrust and reinforce lies of sin in our hearts. But when the problem of sin is traced all the way back to its deepest roots inside of us, it will always be discovered that the essence of sin is…

Vengeance

I looked up all the passages I could find in Scripture that use the phrase, vengeance is mine, and what I found was very fascinating. It is often very easy to apparently vindicate typical views of a vengeful, retributive, violent God if one is predisposed to cling to that view. I do wonder many times though, what vested interest people might have in clinging so tenaciously to such dark views of God. But in this study, what surprised me a little was how many clues there are in these passages that reinforce what we have been exploring about a God of consistent non-violence. That is not to say there is never any violence involved in interactions between God and humanity, but what has been a problem is that God's people have not understood Him very well in this regard. Yet mingled throughout the descriptions of vengeance and wrath even in the Old Testament are clear references to the true meaning of wrath spelled out in Romans 1 as abandonment rather than attack. Also found in these …