According to Your Word

During a devotional time this morning, our Associate Pastor read 1 Kings 3:7-12 and something grabbed my attention that I’ve never noticed before. It was in verse 12. In the ESV it reads, “I now do according to your word.” The interesting thing is that in this portion of Scripture, God is speaking. God said to Solomon, “I now do according to your word.

What?!?!? We’re supposed to say that to God. He’s not supposed to follow us! He’s God right?? So why would He do “according to our word.” We’re just stupid, arrogant, prideful, selfish people. Of course you all know the answer. God is willing to say He’ll do “according to our word” when we have completely lined up with His will – when our desires are the same a His desires – when He has placed His words in our mouths – when our word is the same as His Word.

So here’s my question: Can God say to you, “I now do according to your word.”? Is your desire the same as His? Is your heart in line with His? If you could ask for anything in the world from God (like Solomon), would your request be a selfish one? or one that would honor God and be in line with His desires for the world?

Me? To be real honest, I’m not sure what my request would be. I believe that in moments like that God gives us strength to do the right things, but I also know that my first temptation would be to ask for a job and a way to support my family right now.

Prayer: Lord, I confess that I’m a selfish man – that I want things my way way too often. I confess that I’m fearful for the future of my family. I do trust You. But I’m also fearful. I know those things don’t really go together, but it’s truly where I am right now. There’s a real tension between my faith and my fear and the two of them are waging war within me. Lord, I’m weak and I know that in these moments, You are strong. So please Lord, take charge of this battle. My true desire is to be faithful, to honor You, to hold fast. My deep desire is to have my words, my desires, & my life in tune and in step with You – to put myself in a position where You can say, “I now do according to your word” to me. May it be so. AMEN.

Good Personal Vision Questions

Church UniqueJust thought I’d repost these questions from Will Mancini (Church Unique) & Tom Harper

These are things we should all think about every now and then.

As you think about your personal vision…

  • What one thing bothers you most about the world?
  • If you knew you couldn’t fail, what one thing would you pursue for God?
  • What do you tend to pray for the most?
  • What gives you energy?
  • What have you secretly believed you would be really good at if only you were given a chance?
  • What do others say that you are good at? That you are not good at? (Have you asked lately?)
  • What projects or accomplishments, though probably unnoticed by others, created a deep sense of satisfaction on your life’s journey? What projects or accomplishments from grade school years, high school, college and early career?
  • What would you want people saying about you at your funeral? State three words that reflect “who you were.” State three words that reflect “what you accomplished.”
  • Who are your heroes? Why do you admire them? Who have you wanted to emulate or spend time with but have not been able to?

Three Translations and my thoughts

I read a post from Mark Batterson’s blog the other day that really stuck out to me. Here’s what he wrote:


Three Translations

Had a thought during one of the sessions today.

There are three ways to translate the Bible.  You can translate it with 1) your mind 2) your heart and 3) your life.

I think a lot of us settle for the mental translation.  But the end result is information.  And what happens is this: we learn more, do less, and think we’re growing spiritually. But not if that’s the only translation.

The second translation is emotional.  And the emotional translation may seem more subjective than intellectual translation.  But that is when our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God.  It’s not just information.  It’s transformation.  For the record, I think one person with one deeply held conviction will make more of a difference than someone with a hundred good ideas.

Finally, there is the life translation.  That is when we become a “living epistle.”  That is when the noun turns into a verb.  And that is how we change the world. At the end of the day, Jesus isn’t going to say, “Well thought good and faithful servant.” He’s going to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Imagine a church filled with people who are translating the Bible with their lives!


Anyway, I thought it was a great idea. The only way that the Bible makes a difference, is when it’s made a difference in our lives. If it’s only intellectual or emotional, there’s been no real change. The whole thing also reminded me of the old school praise and worship song “Holiness.” The chorus says, “Take my heart and form it. Take my mind transform it. Take my will conform it to yours, to yours, oh Lord.” Mind, heart, and will – sounds a lot like intellect, emotions, and life to me. Anyway, if Mark were gonna preach this idea, that’d be a great commitment song.

I’m also reminded of the old illustration of marriage. A young man may know (mind) a girl and have feelings (heart) for her, but she will not be his until he commits his life to her by saying, “I do.” Maybe we could restate it this way – A man may know the Bible and have a fond appreciation for it, but until he commits to living by it, he goes unchanged.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live by Your Word and not just to know it and appreciate it. AMEN.

Open Theology

Puppet_2
Open Theology (also called “Freewill Theism”) states that God does not
know the future. He changes His mind in response to our prayers. This idea
comes out of the “Freewill/Arminian” position which says that because
of our freewill, God cannot know the future. If He did, then we don’t really
have freewill. John Sanders describes the three main points:

(1)
God is Sovereign, but decided to create us  in such a way that we could experience a
reciprocal relationship with Him.

(2)
God made some of His decisions non-negotiable, but others are contingent upon man’s requests and actions. He truly responds to what man does. He knows the future as partly definite and partly indefinite.

(3)
God chooses to exercise general rather than meticulous providence. He doesn’t control everything that happens in a man’s life, but has flexible strategies for accomplishing His purposes.

 

They hold a high view of human freedom and even say that God will not violate our freedom.

 

They appeal to God’s testing of Abraham saying that God didn’t know if Abraham could be trusted with the covenant that He had intended for him. The verse actually says, “for now I know that you fear God.” (Gen 22:12)

 

Here’s what I think:

There are plenty of other verses which uphold God’s infinite knowledge. 1 Samuel 16:7 – God knows the heart. Psalm 139:1-2 – God knows all my ways, even the words I will speak. (That sounds like the future to me.) Anyway, considering these verses, we’ve got to either reinterpret them (and other which I have not mentioned) or reinterpret the Genesis passage. It seems more probable that the one should be reinterpreted than all the others. If you consider the book of James which interprets this Genesis passage, it becomes clear that the emphasis is on the fact the Abraham’s faith believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. If the NT authors didn’t comment on God’s limited knowledge, why should our emphasis be any different? It seems pretty clear that James (Brother of Jesus) never imagined that God learned something that day, but more likely that Abraham did. Abraham knew his faith in new ways that day.

Here are some other thoughts regarding Open Theology:

How do you explain all the Scripture that describes God’s infinite understanding?

What about Jesus’ statement in John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I Am.”?

What about prophecy?

Does God get surprised?

Does God get smarter as time goes on?

 

If God doesn’t know the future, then that must also mean that He is confined to the limits of time as man is. Doesn’t sound like much of a God to me – Like me, He’s imprisoned to time (which He supposedly created) like me. Like me, He doesn’t know the future. Like me, He gets surprised by other people’s actions.

I’m just not sure we have a god at all anymore. He seems a lot like me.

How does this make a difference for me?

Not at all – cause I can’t subscribe to this view. I will say that knowing the basics of these ideas will prepare me for discussions within the youth ministry that I work with. I feel like I should take some time in the future and study up a bit more on all of this so I can be more prepared. It seems like it might be an appealing theory for our culture that devalues God and uplifts man’s position. It’s probably a growing ideology that I should be ready to give an answer to.

 

(Info from “Does God Know Your Next Move?” by Chris Hall and John Sanders)

 

Wish

Wish_1 Evidently in the class I missed a couple of weeks ago, my professor gave an assignment for our journals. Here’s the assignment: If God gave you one wish, what would it be and why?

Of course my first response is “more wishes,” but I’m sure that’s not gonna qualify for a “good” answer. The truth is that this is really a tough question. I think that as humans, our initial reactions would be those selfish sorts of things like: wealth, fame, mansions, trips, health, etc. But then I think about what I should desire as a Christian and I come to more unselfish things like: for no hunger or pain in the world, or maybe I should wish for world peace, or for everyone to know Jesus. I also think about some specific people with specific problems that I’d like to make wishes for. I might even wish for some things for my beautiful bride. Another thought I have when I think about this question is “What would Jesus do?” or “Is there a Biblical example I should follow here?” I don’t know about what Jesus would do, but Solomon is a pretty good example and he asked for wisdom. God rewarded him for it too. Hmm. . . . .what about me though. . . . . .It’s really tough to decide on one thing. I have a few regrets in my life that I wish I could “do over” but nothing that would warrant a wish – I mean, I’ve really learned from those things and they help make me who I am today.

Man this is hard. There’s a part of me that would wish for a family of my own one day. I’d also wish to be a part of a starting a new church someday in the future. I would love to be able to study and teach the Bible for the rest of my life. And eat Blue Bell ice cream every day. I’d also love to have the ability to write songs like my friend Jon, or maybe a voice like Briscoe’s. I wanna travel the world and especially go back to Israel again. I wanna scuba dive the great barrier reef, and snow ski the swiss alps. I wanna see Hawaii & Australia, and I wanna visit my compassion international child, Yigremachew, in Ethiopia. I wanna do mission work for a minimum of about 6 months somewhere and if I had to choose right now, It’d be Africa – maybe with the “Mercy Ships” folks.

OK – I finally got to my real answer: If I could have one wish from God, it’d be that I could stay in the center of His will for me for the rest of my life. I don’t get there very often, but the few times that I’ve really been in step with Him have been amazing. Even if I wasn’t getting to do some of the things I dreamed about, those steps with Him were always incredible!

I wish I could say I’d give up all those other dreams, to be in step with Him, but the truth is that even if He gave me my wish, I’d probably still be wishing for something else – of course it wouldn’t be a “Godly” wish but I’m not very good at those kinds of things anyway. It’s sad, but also very true that I’m much better at selfish wishes.

How ’bout the rest of you guys – what would you wish be?