I am always surprised by the things God does. How He provides. How He speaks. How He. . . .
However, when I look back over my life, I see His consistency in all things. He is always faithful to provide. He is always speaking. He is always working, loving, guiding, intervening. . . He is always. . . He is God.
If I reflect on His character and our relationship, it’s not surprising at all that He would do these things. Why am I surprised?
Maybe my surprise reveals my lack of faith? Or maybe it reveals the greatness of God? He is beyond my imagination and comprehension.
Here’s an excerpt from “Traveling Mercies” by Anne Lamott – She seems to have this idea that God’s leadership is pretty difficult to imitate. He can lead with such intricacy that we don’t even recognize that we’ve been led there.
“My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear.”
I John 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I wonder if leading someone into discipleship could simply be the creation of "lily pads" to direct people across this swamp of doubt? How do these ideas play into the "method" we’ll be learning in class?
Although the existence of God has been debated throughout the years, there are some very good arguments which have developed. The following are the most popular.
Cosmological Argument – Since the world exists and something cannot come from nothing, God must exist. Teleological Argument – Since the world is ordered and logically arranged, there must be an intelligent organizer. There must be a master architect since the world evidences intelligence, purpose, and harmony. Ps 8:3-4; 19:1-4 testify that creation itself speaks of God. The idea that this kind of organization could happen by accident (as Evolution proclaims) is like a tornado ripping through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747.
Anthropological Argument – There are things within man (intellect, sensibility, will, conscience, and inherent belief in a creator) which could never have found their origin in some “blind force,” therefore God must exist. Man is not simply a physical being, but he is emotional and spiritual – this speaks of God.
Moral Argument – If man is only biological, why does he have a sense of right and wrong? It must be from God. Man is different from all the rest of creation in this way. Recognition of moral standards are found in every culture, yet could never be attributed to any sort of evolutionary process.
Ontological Argument – This one isn’t as strong as the others, but it basically suggests that since every culture (all men) have had an awareness of God, then God must have placed that idea in humanity. Therefore, He exists. Anselm (1033-1109) was the first proponent of this view.
How does this affect me? As a youth minister, I get these kinds of questions/challenges all the time. I’d say it’s actually one of the favorite topics, among our students. I enjoy these conversations because these arguments are pretty strong and they can lead into some great evangelism-type situations.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 183-185)
Last night was a crazy night. We were getting all kinds of warnings about the weather and the news people were saying not to get out in it all. It was supposed to freeze, and schools were shutting down. But I had class. I really have enjoyed the classes I’ve been taking and so even with all the warnings and an hour and a half drive, I decided to go anyway. I called ahead to make sure we were going to have class before I left, and they said they were so I headed out.
As I drove, I listened to a couple of sermons by Rob Bell. (That has kinda become my habit on the way to school. I get Rob’s latest teaching every week that way.) The roads weren’t too bad. Certainly not as bad as I had expected after all the hype the news people were making – I didn’t see any ice at all. When I got to school, I heard that we were having class, but that Dr Loken wasn’t there and we’d be watching a movie. I was dramatically disappointed. (Wow that’s a nice alliteration – “dramatically disappointed” – Can you say A.D.D.? Sorry.)
We sat for two and a half hours and watched “Abraham” with Richard Harris. Every time he spoke I couldn’t help but hear Caesar from the movie “Gladiator.” It was a pretty good movie. There were lots of parts that they had to write in and guess about how things might have been, but it still followed the Biblical text for the most part. The scene at the end of the movie where Abraham is tested and is asked to sacrifice his son Issac was interesting – Issac is portrayed as understanding what Abraham is going to do and even tells him to tie him up tighter. I never imagined it quite like that. I always figured that Abraham had to wrestle his son to the ground to tie him up. Maybe the sense of honoring your parents that they instilled in their children was greater than what we see today – wait, I’m sure it was – but I’m just not sure about how much more ti was. Could Isaac have offered himself to his dad and ultimately to the Lord like that?
I did take special note of what Abraham said to his servants as I watched last night. They accurately portrayed him as saying that he and the boy would go up the mountain to worship and then they’d both return, but Abraham spoke these things with a fearful and trembling tone – it almost seemed as if He didn’t believe they’d both return. I’m sure it would be normal to be fearful about the whole situation, but this is the moment of faith that He is commended for in Hebrews, and He believed in God’s promise (that He’d make a great nation of him) so much that He thought Isaac would be raised from the dead.
It’s interesting to me that both faith and doubt were so clearly co-existing in this situation, but Abraham chose to act on the faith. In this moment, even though the Jewish faith doesn’t yet exist, Abraham is half Jewish (faithful) and half Gentile (doubtful) on the outside, but is still completely Jewish on the inside – in His heart, He remains faithful.
The truth is that, for me, faith and doubt co-exist more often than not. Even in my best, most faithful moments, when I put on my game face and act on faith, my insides are twisting and turning, trembling and fearful. It’s in those moments when I put fear aside and trust in God – it’s in those moments when my faith is stretched, and doubt is defeated. If I imagine myself like Abraham – everything in my life culminating to one moment of choosing faith or doubt. What would I do? Can I put fear aside? Would I act on faith? It’s one thing to act in faith in a normal everyday sort of situation, but what about when my whole life’s journey is at stake? Would I stake my life on Christ? Would I stake my son’s life on Christ?
Prayer: Lord, I don’t know much. I know that You are all that I need. I know that You have provided for me over and over in my life. I know that You love me. I know that without You, I would never have any faith at all. I know that doubt consumes me when I’m on my own. I know that there’s a battle within me between doubt and faith. I’m grateful for the battle, because I know that means You’re in me. I also know that sometimes I let the doubt to win out in my life. Sometimes I even encourage it. Lord, change that part of me. I mean, I know You’re gonna win – there’s no battle that isn’t Yours for the taking. Lord, win in me. I trust that in the momnts where I must choose, You will show me Your way of faith. Lord, nudge me – No, push me – push me hard – throw me to the ground if You must – but make me go Your way – Let me walk in faith no matter what the cost. In those testing moments, I want to honor You. In every moment, I want to honor You. I want to honor You.