Tag Archives: God
While attending a friend’s high school graduation, the commencement speaker gave an excellent speech, one that Christian graduates don’t often hear. While telling the graduates that God doesn’t care which college or career path they choose, he also balanced it out by encouraging them to seek God in fellowship and prayer, to use the wisdom God has given in His Word, and to pursue godliness. He said if Jesus were to give a commencement speech, He might simply say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Preachers and teachers have often said, “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” as if each step is mapped out, which has led to a lot of confusion, not only in trying to find the elusive plan but in dealing with the subject of evil. Although I understand that some will say His plan starts after a person accepts Christ, which may answer someone’s question, “Was it part of God’s plan for me to be abused as a child?”, making the answer, “No,” it still falls short. And some would say, “Yes, it was a part of God’s plan for your life.” Sure God can turn what was meant for evil into something good, as in the case of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, but how does it make sense to anyone, much less a child to imply that his or her suffering under the hands of abusive parents was all a part of a good God’s plan? That’s where the long debated subject of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility comes in.
“It’s interesting that while many of us will reject Calvinist theology in matters of salvation, we embrace the idea of a predestined personal life.” —Jennifer Taylor in “God Does Not Have a Plan for Your Life”
Does God have a plan for our lives? Yes. He has provided a plan of salvation and reconciliation, and that plan includes the plan of conforming us into the image of His Son. He is not a puppet master pulling all the strings. He has given us a Book of wisdom and the responsibility to study it, apply it, and seek Him and His counsel… or the freedom to not. Just as He had an overall plan for the Israelites and gave them promises with conditions to choose or reject them, although He was very patient, He did allow them to suffer the consequences when they continually rejected His commandments and wisdom. Both the promises and the consequences were a part of His plan, but He gave them the freedom to choose. He also gives us the freedom to choose. That was His plan all along.
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” —Psalm 119:105
I participate in a weekly photo challenge for my photo blog, and this was too good not to post here, too. While pondering this week’s photo challenge theme Extra, I remembered finding a 4-leaf clover a day or two before. I also remembered seeing some clovers whose leaves had a reddish edge. Four-leaf clovers have an extra leaf, so I decided to venture out in hopes of finding one for the challenge. As I strolled to the back yard, I also thought, “Lord, it would be really cool to find a red 4-leaf clover.” Even though it wasn’t actually a prayer request, and even though He doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want or expect, I was so excited and surprised to actually find one! What are the odds? Seriously! Jesus loves this ragamuffin!
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. —Jeremiah 33:3
Although God does have a very serious side, it’s good to be reminded that part of reflecting His image means reflecting His winsome, loving, creative side, too! My daughter shared an excellent article with me yesterday called Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good Time.
You’ve probably heard it.
You’ve probably read it.
I know I’ve said it.
“It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship.”
Although I said it in It’s Not About Going to Heaven, I also mentioned that Jesus’ dying on the cross was about reconciliation and getting to spend an eternity with God.
But there’s more.
Yesterday at church, our co-pastor, Josh, preached the morning sermon, and I wrote something down because of something he had said. I wish I could remember what he said, but all I wrote was “relationship & fellowship”, and as I pondered the two, although it was not exactly what his sermon was about, I realized that having a relationship with people… or God, does not automatically lead to having fellowship with them.
Fellowship is not about Christian socializing, like church potlucks and picnics, although that is what we generally think of when we use the word fellowship.
Although the term fellowship is used mostly among Christians, it is also used by groups of learned or skilled people in pursuit of mutual knowledge or talent. I know a married couple, who are professional photographers, master photographers, and were the first married couple to become Fellows as well. To become a Fellow within a group of academia is generally a great honor and something that is not bestowed lightly. Within Christianity, the term comes from the Greek koinonia, meaning “communion, joint participation, or partnership”. I have heard our pastor and other preachers define it like this:
“Fellowship is two fellows in a ship, rowing in the same direction.”
In life, there are relationships that occur naturally, like within families. We have a relationship that is created either by birth or marriage, but we don’t necessarily get along, get together or pursue the same goals as a family group. We may have a relationship, but we don’t always have fellowship.
We all have a relationship with God whether we believe in Him or not, because He is our Creator, but we do not all have fellowship with Him. We might have even said “the prayer” and call ourselves Christians and not have fellowship with Him.
But, if we are trying to seek Him, (even if we get distracted), and if we are trying to do what He said, (even if we fail), and if we are trying to discern His will and participate in His purposes and goals, (even if we sometimes think our way is His way), then we have fellowship with Him. He is so patient and gracious, that even when we break fellowship with Him, He still pursues us.
It’s not just about a relationship.
If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork
Yet another post inspired by ‘coincidences’. My daughter and I watched the movie Good Will Hunting, and it contains a scene in which Sean, the counselor, expresses a realization about Will, the troubled young genius he is counseling. It parallels the quote by the late American physicist, Richard P. Feynman. Sean said:
“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that…. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help.”
The same could be said about God. We can know all of His names and even memorize the Bible but not truly know Him. We can study about Him, but unless we interact with Him on a more personal level and actually put some of the things He said into practice and experience Him, we can never truly know Him. It reminds me of when Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself,” as well as, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”
Because the disciples had walked with and experienced Jesus, they knew Him. They didn’t just know about Him. And Jesus said if they knew Him, they knew the Father, too. Knowing and accepting, though, are too different things. Judas Iscariot experienced life with Jesus, but he betrayed Him and rejected Him as Messiah.
Knowing facts is not what counts. Knowing what someone or something is doing, knowing by experience and genuine understanding is what really counts.
Disclaimer: Although the movie has a good plot and was well done, because of the movie’s vulgarity, I would not recommend it.
If you liked this, you might also like: Knowing Vs Knowing
“God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go, in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.” —Paul Tripp in his sermon “The Difference Between Amazement and Faith”
Not only is Easter not about the Easter bunny, colored eggs, jellybeans or chocolate, but Easter is also not about having our sins forgiven so we can go to heaven. It’s not about us. It’s about reconciliation. It is not about religion. It’s about a relationship.
In an attempt to evangelize and convince people to become a Christian, some Christians have been taught to use the tactic that asks a non-Christian, “If you died today, would you go to heaven?” as if that is the goal and the Gospel itself. I understand that people are generally more interested in getting to heaven than in having a relationship with a God they don’t know or of Whom they have a skewed perception. Most people are at least vaguely aware of the concept of heaven and hell, and most would like to avoid hell if at all possible.
But even paradise isn’t really paradise without someone to share it with.
I understand why some Christians use the tactic to gain an audience, but I have also heard from people who have been offended by Christians who tell them if they don’t accept Christ, they are going to hell. Yeah, like that wins them over. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember Jesus ever doing that, and if we are supposedly following Him as His disciples, aren’t we supposed to be following in His footsteps? Sure Jesus talked more about hell than He did about heaven, but He was full of grace and love when dealing with those He was trying to reach.
One of the things Jesus said to the disciples in the upper room, during the Last Supper before His crucifixion, was meant to give comfort and hope. Although it was about heaven, it was more than that. He said:
“’Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’” —John 14:1-3
Jesus didn’t die on the cross for our sins so we could go to heaven.
He died so that we can be reconciled to God.
He died to break the curse of sin and separation.
He died so that we can be adopted as sons and daughters and
D.A. Carson said:
“We go to heaven, not to be saved, but to see Jesus’ glory, because God has determined, because of His love for His Son from before the foundation of the world, that His Son’s glory would be displayed. Now, I know that’s bound up with our salvation… but unless you see that this is not simply so that we will be saved, but so that we will see Jesus’ glory, then even heaven itself becomes slightly domesticated by some assumptions that we are at the center of everything, when it’s Jesus who is at the center of everything.”
When we try to convince someone that Jesus is the way to get to heaven and make heaven the focus over a restored relationship with the God who loves us, we do a disservice.
It is not about going to heaven. It is about getting to spend an eternity with the One who is love.
If you liked this, you might also like… Happy Resurrection Day!
“The more tranquil the water, the more accurate the reflection. We are made in the image and likeness of God. As with the water, the more tranquil we are, the better we reflect God.” —Jim Finfera, photographer
“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” —James 3:16-18