Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What of Jesus?

I had a very encouraging conversation with a classmate a few days ago. She claims to be a believer. As she told me her story, she explained that her parents were devout Catholics, but that she'd rejected God at the age of 17.

I was so excited to hear this and I gladly started asking her questions. She explained what it was that led her back to the belief that God exists. It is then that I grew curious as she described the God she believed in.
Her God didn't seem to match up with the God I knew from the Bible. Hers was more a God of common sense, as if Kant had been her mentor in her search for the divine.

The realization finally hit me, we hadn't agreed on the basics! In my eagerness to hear her story, we never spoke of sin and of Jesus. That is why I ask the question, "what of Jesus?" Is he really at the center of our lives and talk? Do we understand that all truth in the universe is defined on how they accept Jesus? 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pray More Than You Criticize

I felt rebuked by reading the notes of Marc Driscoll at the Desiring God Conference. I'm going through a more difficult time and I would like to shoot down several people that probably deserve it. So these words were good for me.
I perhaps didn't read them as I was intended to. I read them as if I were the shepherd and I examined myself to know if that was indeed a description of myself.

"Pray that they would have a thick skin. Pray that they would have a humorous outlook. That they would laugh at themselves, that they would have a tender heart toward Jesus and the sheep. That they wouldn’t be hammered, that they would keep a tender heart, that they would have a humble disposition, that when criticisms are true, they would repent. That they would look at a criticism for a kernel of truth to be sanctified by."

You can read the whole thing for yourself here

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Isn't there more to life than this?

Monday, September 22, 2008

What is a church?

If I were to ask you, what is a church? You would probably have something in mind that resembles a bit the photo. If I were to ask a passerby here in France that same question, he would certainly agree.
We're a nation with a Catholic heritage. So that photo is exactly what we understand as being a church. Its a big building, where the windows depict stories. The building isn't heated and the benches we sit on are uncommonly uncomfortable (they must do it on purpose), so
much that it comes as a relief when we stand up for part of the liturgy.
There is a priest who does his rounds. But for lack of priests and of
funds, the mass in villages is often held midweek, so that the priest
can hold mass on Sunday in a 'bigger' church. That is a church in the
minds of my people.

In my mind as well, there is often this notion that the church is a
building and something that we do on Sunday morning. God gently
reminded me of the truth during the month of August as I rediscovered
His church.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Dawkins Delusion

I read Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion a few months ago. Well, I didn't really read the whole thing. I just read until Dawkins gave his thesis, his "so we know almost beyond a doubt that God does not exist." (page 96 if my memory is correct). After that I skipped ahead to the two chapters on morality, to see if Dawkins had an answer. He doesn't.
But today Dawkins came back to mind and as I was reading up on him, the name of Professor Alister McGrath came to my attention. I read an interesting article on Dawkins' book by this professor. He concludes:

"Aware of the moral obligation of a critic of religion to deal with this phenomenon at its best and most persuasive, many atheists have been disturbed by Dawkins's crude stereotypes and seemingly pathological hostility towards religion. In fact, The God Delusion might turn out to be a monumental own goal - persuading people that atheism is just as intolerant as the worst that religion can offer."

Read and learn. God is not dead. They're trying hard, but He's not dead, not even close.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Roller Coasters and Prayer Life

I've just watched this little clip made by George Verwer and his gopher. Enjoyed it and thought I would pass it on. George is 70 years old and still going strong. Click and see...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When Did I Give Up On It?

When did I give up on the belief that man has free will?

I don't know if I ever had this belief formulated, but I certainly acknowledged that Jesus had taken "a risk" by dying at the cross. This was a consequence of Phillip Yancey's influence in my life. I believed that Jesus died for the world, but we had the freedom of accepting him, or refusing him, hence the "risk".
While it isn't clear when I changed belief or what was the leading argument, it is clear that I no longer believe in the doctrine of Freewill.
If I knew what it was that had me convinced, I would use it to convince others as they become offended by my view. But I have no idea what it is that changed my opinion. All I know is that in God's sovereign grace, He saved me from my sins. He picked my out of my former ways and told me to live for Him. He changed my heart and I was enabled to love Him as He is the only being in the universe worthy of my worship and affection. In Ezekiel 11v19, God says it well:

"I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:"

In my sinful state, I know myself to have been utterly unable to chose God. God chose me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How good is good enough?

What is excellence? How do you know if you've worked hard enough and
tried hard enough? While working onboard the Doulos, I often heard
people remark in this manner. They would comment on how the task was
above them, they couldn't do it and yet, by God's grace the job was
done. I don't want to criticize this view, as I've been there many
times. But there is something in that attitude that perturbs me. It
seems to say that we should be placed in jobs that our beyond our
ability so that God is the one who does the job.
This is all very nice, but couldn't we also say that we do our best
and no matter what we do, God is the one who gave us the ability to
do and will what we did? I don't know if this makes any sense. What I
suppose I dislike is the attitude, "I'm not qualified for this, I
have no idea what I'm doing." I would contrast that with, "I can do
this. I've studied, worked myself to a place where I can confidently
say, 'I can do this, through God who strengthens me.'"
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Phil. 2v12)

This is perhaps obvious for some and dumb to others. Again, I've
spent three years with the Doulos, where we're repeatedly placed in
areas out of our expertise. But in a general way, I think we should
take some confidence in our abilities and simply work our self hard.
And when we succeed in the end, we give God all the credit.
What I mean by this is simply:
Should we have a God who uses us in our weaknesses or a God that gives us strength? Are these different or the same thing?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why Did God Create Old-Age? (Part 3)

On what you can do when you are old and bed-ridden.

I think there is in each of us a fear of aging. We've all seen a loved one grow old, lose mental capacities or physical abilities. We've seen what's left of them as sickness and age makes a mess of their bodies. We know it to be an inevitable part of life and yet, we dread the day we'll have to fight the demon of age ourself.

For the active people out there, being bed-ridden is perhaps the most horrible thing you can imagine. Firstly because you love being up and about. Secondly, because "who then will continue on with the Lord's ministry?" Both my French grandparents are active Christians. They love Jesus and therefore have always been actively looking for ways to reach the lost and to bring hope to the hopeless. However, the drawback to this lovely mindset is that there is a dichotomy that is set up between the secular and the holy that is unbiblical. You cannot uphold that 'ministry' is more important than loving your wife and family (seeing that marriage is high in God's affections and that it is a man's responsibility before God to be a good father and husband). How can preaching be more ministry-like than putting your kids to bed? All things can and should be done to the glory of God.

So what are we to do when bed-ridden and old-age ravishing our body?
• Meditate on God (Psalm 63v6 & Psalm 4v4), considering His goodness.
• Tell the next generation about Jesus Christ (Psalm 71v18).
• Pray to God without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5v17). My grandmother is a remarkable example in this. I'm sometimes led to think that God has kept her alive because he loves to hear her pray with passion, like a 75-year old child of God.
• Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5v16) so that the world would know that you have a greater hope yet to come in heaven.
• Be a listening ear to those who come to find advice. Speak little, pray for wisdom and give great-God answers (Proverbs speaks of this everywhere).

Those were a few of the ideas that came to mind.
Photo: Doulos