Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The presence of the Lord was tangibly thick in the room. Some couldn’t stand up under it. Others laughed and cried with joy as the Holy Spirit lavished the loving presence of God upon us.
I heard testimony after testimony of people being set free in their hearts being made whole by the love of God. I heard many testimonies of people being healed of various pains and ailments that they suffered with. I saw many so full of the Lord they appeared drunk like described in the book of Acts.
I too felt the strong presence of the Lord as did my husband. In fact, I experienced something I had never experienced before when one of the speakers at the conference prayed for us to receive a greater filling of the Spirit. She touched my hands as she passed me and they began to tingle and pulsate. I shook them and put them down at my side to see if maybe my circulation was impaired by having my hands raised. No matter what position I placed them they still tingled all over, not on the skin but within them. As I reflected on the Lord, the feeling increased and my hands were feeling heavy and pulsating and tingling even more. This continued the rest of the day Saturday and all day Sunday, Monday and continues even now. At times, it is almost imperceptible and then I will seek out the Lord in my heart and the original intensity of the feeling returns promptly. I had not felt it strongly today until I started writing this paragraph and the feeling has returned.
I hesitated to share this with you all for obvious reasons, but I feel the testimony needs to be shared even if you add it to your list of my lunacy. I still need to seek the Lord to find out what all this means and what He wants to show me through this. But I cannot deny the tangibility of knowing Him.
I did not have the opportunity to pray with anyone personally for healing at the conference. However, at church on Sunday I had an impression from God that there was one or more people who had a upper back/neck pain that needed healing. Upon asking if this were so, three people said it was. Two were completely healed of their pain and the third said it felt somewhat better, but not one hundred percent.
God is so incredibly awesome. His love is so sweet and good. I feel Him with me as I write and my hands continue to have this strange sensation running through them.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Where does this desire come from to imagine and be imaginative? What use is there in imagining things beyond nature if there is nothing beyond nature? Is it mere evolutionary escapism?
Can it be that this is a desire of the supernatural coming awake in us to depict things that are not natural but fanciful? Maybe the fanciful is a shadow of the real instead of a grave distortion of the natural. Maybe leprechauns, fairies, elves, dwarves, unicorns, and other mystical creatures of our imagination are thus imagined because we see that something supernatural is at work behind the scenes and artist are trying to capture it and compel the imagination forward to grasp this glimmers of something else. We know these things to be created by human artistic expression, but how can it be that humans can create something so otherworldly if there is no reality beyond the physically natural? Why is the literature of every culture so full of grandiose myths of the gods and modern culture so full of superhero and supernatural power stories?
Why this urge to create something non-existent. We consider people who imagine things that aren’t there lunatics and we lock them up. But we don’t consider artist lunatics that imagine such fantasy. G.K. Chesterton suggest that “we must invoke the most wild and soaring sort of imagination –the imagination that can see what is really there.” He is asserting that imagination is something that aids us in seeing beyond what we experience with our senses to see more of reality and not less.
Maybe some of you have studied the imagination more than I and have some natural theories to suggest as to the necessity and usefulness of imagination and the reason for the creation of mythologies, fantasies, poetry, and other artistic expression stemming from the imagination.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I have noticed a trend of sorts in the discussions regarding the goodness of God that I think needs further examination. There seems to be a common agreement that if a God existed, He ought to be good. Hence, if the best candidate for God is shown not to be good by reason of His acts recorded in the Bible, His failure to end suffering in the world, or His plan of salvation is found to be flawed, then He doesn’t meet the qualifications of goodness nor Godhood.
Is this a fair assessment of the charges levied against His goodness and existence? I will continue on the assumption this is fair and I am sure you will all correct me if need be in the comments. At any rate, this is what I am hearing from all the discussion in the comments.
The idea of a “good” is resonate within us however we arrived at this construct. We value the good. We have standards for good. We differentiate good from evil. From what I see, the debate revolves around how we came to these constructs more than whether or not these constructs are part of humanity. Few argue that we don’t comprehend a difference between the two. I think most accept this dichotomy as obvious.
Can you put yourself in my shoes for a moment? Can you think about what the existence of an eternal God who is the author of all life means for the world? Is it possible for you to imagine with me a world where an eternal God created all? If such a God exists and is goodness personified eternally all He creates would naturally be good. This is the story of the Christian God. He created a good world with good people in it and He said it was all good. But we object that it cannot all be good we know there is evil, there is suffering, and there is disease and tragedy. We see natural disasters and not so natural ones. We see war, brutal violence, murder, destruction. We are appalled by what we see, so we, if a naturalist, can deduce we have evolved to have this natural indigence within us towards such cruelty. But what if there is another answer. What if when good was created, that which was not good was made possible. Man being created good, but with freedom sees what is not good and chooses to try that out for size. Man was warned not to do what is not good, but the not good was available to him, not because it was created, but because it is the absence of good or sometimes a distortion of good. The non good defiles the man who was warned it would not be a good thing to do. A course of events was set in motion to bring about the redemption of man to righteous goodness found in God that he became separated from through sin.
The evil and suffering in the world, is thence, a product of the gravity of sin causing corruption in man and in creation. But man has been on a journey ever since to become the great people of righteousness who will reign in a world where sin and evil has been conquered once and for all. God paid the debt for us, and as that reality is lived out in His Church in the world a great restoration will take place and is taking place. He waits and seems slow about bringing it to fruition so that more rather than less will find life in Him. He tarries to allow the fullness greater time to grow and more hearts and lives be brought to life through Him through the work of those who are in Him and are bringing Him to others.
I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis’s books The Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe you have seen the new movie The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. In this mystical
The longing we have for the good is thus explained as a desire to find this restoration that all for which creation longs. We know intuitively that things ought not to be like they are, that violence, and suffering seem out of place to the way things ought to be. Could it be that there is meaning in it all and that our yearning to set things to rights is because there is a right to set it to? We can give up, so to speak, on our journey and accept things are simply the evolutionary pattern of life that we may or may not evolve past. But it would appear that even in terms of evolution we still have this nagging since of “rightness” and “oughts” and “the good.” It lingers despite evolutionary theories. So much so that we know that if a God exist He “ought” to be a good one or else He’s not worth bothering about.
These charges levied against Him can only be discussed in a framework of “a good” and if we imagine a world with no God I see a world where only humans make up what is beneficial to life based on evolutionary patterns to promote the continuation of our people and yet that doesn’t satisfy me. If that answer is good enough for you, then I can’t argue with that. We can say a God that destroys life for whatever reason under the sun cannot be good because life is good. But how do we determine life is good or valuable? How do we charge this Christian candidate for God with violating morality if He is our Creator and goodness is His nature? Or how do we charge Him, if He doesn’t exist and our morality is a product of evolution? There would be no one to charge, and nothing to charge Him with.
Unless you are talking about the finite gods of the Greeks and Romans and other ancient cultures, no one believing in God posits a God who is less than good. It seems to be a prerequisite for Godhood. We use our own standards to question it, but we are obviously not a perfect standard of good. So I question our appeal to ourselves to have grounds to question Him.
I realize I have not given some awesome argument that defeats all objections to His existence or His nature. But I hope I have left you with some things to consider. I’m not offended or threatened by such questions. I think they need to be asked and the questioners deserve to be taken seriously with great time and consideration taken in forming responses. You will find I do write on the same topics repeatedly because I am trying to have something worth your time to consider and I want to keep at it and keep reading and learning and inquiring. So I give answer, and then study some more, and listen some more, and engage in conversation some more, then write once again. So for today, this is where my musing pauses for you to consider.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
6. If it was always God's plan to provide salvation through Jesus, why didn't he send Jesus from the very beginning, instead of confusing and misleading generations of people by setting up a religion called Judaism which he knew in advance would prove to be inadequate?
He didn’t set up a religion called Judaism. He set up a people called Jews. People make religion, God makes relationships. He established a covenant (a relational promise) with the Jews to have relationship with them, but that relationship wasn’t fulfilled until Christ came because we needed to see the difference between what was available without Christ and the greater with Christ. Christ didn’t abolish the previous covenant, He made it better. He renewed it to a greater covenant by fulfilling its requirements. His covenant with the Jews was not misleading; it was leading all the while up to Christ. It was pointing to Him. Remember the Church began with Jews. These were Jewish people that saw the fulfillment of everything they had been waiting for in Christ. Some rejected it and clung to laws instead to the reason for the laws. Jesus rebuked them for missing the point of the laws and the Prophets. He came to show them bodily what everything since the beginning of time had been leading up to. He, Himself was born as a Jew and His disciples were Jews. There are many Messianic Jews because they are seeing the truth of Christ in their own Scriptures. It isn’t something separate, it is part of the same faith.
7. Since the Bible states that God does not desire that anyone perish, but also states that the majority of humankind is going to hell, doesn’t this show that God's plan of salvation is a failure even by his own standard? If this outcome is a success, what would count as a failure?
Jesus spent very little time speaking about hell. There are only a few verses where it is even mentioned in the whole of Scripture. I think the Church has made a mistake to spend so much time talking about something Jesus spent so little time talking about. I’ve noticed that the atheists reading my blogspot spend lots of time ranting about hell, when I seldom brought up the subject. The only time I have written on it is in response to their demands that I address the subject. Maybe some churches still spend a lot of time on the subject, but in my lifetime I have not heard it addressed very often and I have read hundreds of Christian books and have been immersed in Christian culture my whole life, still I have never heard so much about hell until I started talking to atheists and hearing how much they bring it up. Jesus is establishing a Kingdom of people who have life in Christ and who are inheriting everything of heaven that belongs to Him. He came to share the good news. He came to give life and give it abundantly. He came to show us how to live the good life. He didn’t come to condemn us. He didn’t come to make our lives darker and more depressing. He didn’t come to oppress. He came to set free, to heal, to love to forgive. This is His message. This is the reality of what He offers.
8. Why didn't God create human beings such that they freely desire to do good, thus removing the need to create a Hell at all? (If you believe this is impossible, isn't this the state that will exist in Heaven?)
If God created humans who freely desire to do good, would not this mean that they cannot do bad? As soon as something is good, that which is not that something is be default bad or evil. So a choice is created. If the choice is removed, freedom is removed.
No, in heaven we have arrived at the fullness of freedom from the bondage of sin because it was dealt with on earth by freely accepting Christ gift of salvation. The chains of sin are broken here and we start learning to walk that that reality now on earth.
The Bible speaks far more about the Kingdom of God and life in Christ than it does condemnation or hell. I think this shows what is important to God is giving us life. He isn't desirous of our not finding life.
9. Is it fair or rational for God to hide himself so that he can only be known by faith, then insist that every single human being find him by picking the right one out of thousands of conflicting and incompatible religions?
God put the desire for Him in us and He put the reality of His existence all around us. Moreover He tells us all about Himself in the Bible. And He came into our world bodily to further show Himself to us. He also shows Himself to the world through each believer. He tells us to go out and be witnesses for Him showing the world His truth.
However, despite all that there is truth to saying He is hidden. Have you ever seen the joy on a child’s face when they find a treasure? The path to God is full of treasures and He wants us to share in all that glory of discovery.
Religions have sprung up because of man’s desire to be connected to God. We have funneled this desire into things that do not satisfy. We invent ways to earn God’s favor and God is all the while telling us we have His favor we just need to learn that we can belong just as we are without earning anything and His love will provide all we need to live life. Religion shows man’s deep desire for God. It proves we have a God need. But it is inadequate to bring us home to Him in life. He gives life, He gives it to anyone who wants to drink of it.
There are many reservoirs of water. If you try and drink the oceans salty water it will not satisfy. If you try to drink from a bitter spring it will not satisfy. If you drink from water that’s full of bacteria it can cause dysentery or worse. But water is necessary for life. But all reservoirs of water are not equal. You need to find the good water in order to have life giving water. It is the same with “religion” you need to find the right source to drink from in order to find what will be good. God provided that source in Jesus and He gave us much evidence of its veracity and goodness. Will we drink up His life or will we choice a substitute source? He doesn’t force our choice. We are free to make that for ourselves.
10. If you had the power to help all people who are suffering or in need, at no cost or effort to yourself, would you do it? If so, why hasn't God done this already?
God has done this and is doing this still. He’s doing it through each believer. He’s doing it directly as well. Muslims are having dreams and visions of Christ and are coming to know Him without ever hearing the Gospel from a missionary. Christians are going into some of the most hostile of territories and bringing healing, miracles, and life to the people and they are hungry for more. Many groups are providing food, drinking water, hygiene instruction, education, jobs, employment training, homes, health care, etc.
A Christian woman named Heidi Baker and her husband Roland went to the poorest country to the most poor people in that country and risk their lives regularly to help the orphans there. They hear about the worse crime ridden neighborhoods and it is there they go to bring life. They raise the dead, they see miracles, but most of all they love the ones society has not loved.
I listened to Rick Warren the other day address a group of Muslim dignitaries and politicians from various nations on CSPAN. He spoke to them about merging efforts to help the poor and needy world wide. He spoke about working together despite our theological differences and aiding this world in a grassroots effort to bring relief to the suffering. His church is doing much toward this end.
A church in
There are thousands and thousands of such stories in the world today.
Monday, February 9, 2009
1. Why is God called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament's stories of the Israelite conquest, he specifically orders his chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?
The Old Testament shows us the natural consequence of sin. It shows us the severity of sin and the problem of sin. God physically gave them laws for their protection. These laws were not His whims, but rules to protect their heart and life. They needed to know these things and they needed external enforcement of these rules so that they could taste the goodness of life instead of taking on the weight of sin. God did not at this point co-habitat with man in our hearts for that was going to be made available once Christ came and fulfilled the requirements of the law and showed us and enabled us to live a new way a better way.
In the Old Testament, God was showing them His power. He demonstrated His authority. He gave them leaders to show them how to live in a way that was not going to lead to their destruction. He spoke to the people through Prophets and he gave them warning after warning. He was patient with them. Consider Jonah. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn the people that their ways were going to cause their destruction and they needed to repent. (Repentance means change the way you think turning around away from the path of destruction. It doesn’t mean being really sorry.) The people did just that and were saved from destruction. It wasn’t God’s desire to destroy them for their actions, if it were He simply would have done it without sending Jonah to warn them. Jonah is actually dismayed that God saved them; he says “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2) He says this is why he didn’t want to waste his time warning the people, because he knew God could relent. He didn’t understand why he had to go through the trouble of warning them when God wasn’t going to end up destroying them. His selfishness was showing through. God tells him, “Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11)
If you pull these stories often cited by atheists out of context of the whole of what the Bible reveals to us about God it will look like God is a vindictive annihilator. I am not sure how you can read through Scripture and miss the warnings, the mercy, the compassion and see that all acts of judgment were few and far between and very slow in coming. But when you learn more and you see His holiness in context of His love and goodness and His justice in context of His goodness you will see more clearly. When Moses is working with God to free the Israelites, God sends these plagues as warnings to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He doesn’t come sweeping in and destroy them all and have Moses leave with his people. He is patient. More patient than the Israelites wanted Him to be. He gives ample time for Pharaoh to do the right thing and when Pharaoh remains resolute in the face of all the demonstrations of God’s power, the consequences of His rebellion are brought to fruition.
Also many who are adamant about God having done something unjust the few times He exacted judgment must consider if they believe there is ever a just war? Is there ever a just reason for bloodshed on a human level? If so, why do you not see that there could also be a just reason that God had for doing what He did? We who can’t see the whole picture of the outcome of a war, or the outcome of a battle can see good reasons for going to war and taking lives even when some of those lives will be innocent lives of citizens and not soldiers. Yet God sees the big pictures, He knows the complete ramifications of His actions and He knows the hearts of man to know what the eternal consequences may be and what choices they would make if left to their own ways. Do you not think a perfect God capable of making such a choice and it be good? We have this idea in our minds that good always means pleasant and that just isn’t correct.
2. Does it make sense to claim, as the Bible does, that wrongdoing can be forgiven by magically transferring the blame from a guilty person to an innocent one, then punishing the innocent person?
Does this question forget about question one where it is proposed that God is wrong to punish a guilty person? One can’t have it both ways.
God shows us the severity of sin and then shows us the One who will take the pain of sin for us so that we can be redeemed and free from the judgment. It is a loving act. It isn’t a logical act. Is it logical for any person to die so another can live simply because of love? Yet this happens all the time. One person takes the bullet for another protecting the other by their love and sacrificing themselves. If a created person can act in such a way, why are we confused by a perfect person, Jesus, doing so?
3. Why does the Bible routinely depict God as manifesting himself in dramatic, unmistakable ways and performing obvious miracles even before the eyes of nonbelievers, when no such thing happens in the world today?
How do you know no such things happen today? I’ve seen them happen today. I’ve read countless stories of them happening today. I’ve met many people who can tell me example after example of it happening today. His miracles are a sign of His existence, His love, His kindness, His authority and the power that He gives to those who walk with Him through life. He demonstrates His love through us by healing the sick. We live in an age of an increase of miracles happening in and outside the Church. Many are happening in the malls, on the streets, and in daily life as we Christians are out about our business. Many Christians are actively going out and seeking the sick and injured and physically handicap to bring healing to them and many are seeing results, not every time, but enough to know God’s still doing miracles.
4. Why do vast numbers of Christians still believe in the imminent end of the world when the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago, during the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries?
The Bible does not state that it was going to happen 2,000 years ago. Jesus said before this generation passes away you will see the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is here now and is demonstrated in the lives of each believer. Moreover, I do not believe the world will end. I believe the corruption of the world will end, but not the world. The Bible says that what can be shaken will fall away but what is unshakeable will remain. It also said the corruptible will put on incorruptibility meaning that what is now corrupted will be restored to something not-corrupted. The earth isn’t going anywhere because God gave humans authority and dominion over the earth. The earth will be made new and sin and corruption will be gone from it one day, but it’s not going to be destroyed.
5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?
The soul is something spiritual, not physical. I’m not sure science could find something metaphysical. I have not researched this area of science so I really can’t say more than that.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Why is there so much faith put into science? Why the certainty of factuality when it comes to what is considered scientific? Science does not tell us how life originated. It doesn’t tell us why life originated or give us insight into our purpose. Science can tell us that if I put strychnine in a well the water will kill those who drink it. But it doesn’t tell us if it is wrong to kill.
G. K. Chesterton quips “Nobody can imagine how nothing turned into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else.”
I do appreciate science. I think we are motivated by God given curiosity and desire for knowledge to search out the hidden things with our microscopes, telescopes and other instrumentation. We want to know. We need to know. But why? Science cannot answer that. Notwithstanding, so many have such an unwavering faith in science when it tells us so little about who we are and why we are. Science can give us a complete composite of our biological make up and that is outstanding progress. It can get into the molecular level and tell us so much and give us ways to repair bodies. It can help us explore the oceans, plants, animals, and universe. The scientific advances are astounding wonders of exploration.
When I was watching Dawkins and
Science is an awesome tool for exploring life, but it isn’t THE tool to knowing about life. It falls short in many areas of answering the great questions most of us think about. Some say there is no meaning to life and yet they thought about the meaning of life enough to write about it acknowledging a need for meaning that prompted the negative answer to the question. The great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, and Kierkegaard, etc. explored these questions of life. What drove their exploration? There is something in us that cries for answers and accepting defeat to our questions does not make logical sense. If that desire is in us then there is a reason for it. If we haven’t found the reason we can’t give up by denying the question.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I read this fantastic book on parenting entitled “Loving Our Kids On Purose”. No, I don’t have any children yet, but I wanted to read it just the same. I would say this book is good for anyone who wants to know the heart of the Father. The author, Danny Silk, communicates the love of the Father and how parents can model that love. He shows how we send messages to kids about what God is like by the way we parent. If we parent with strict rules and punishments the child thinks God is a strict disciplinarian bent on punishment. But if we parent in freedom based on love and we lead by love we will show them the Father’s heart. Silk explains how many still parent in an old covenant way and that it is more relevant and beneficial to parent in a new covenant way. He gives practical examples of how this is done and how perfect love cast out fear. As a social worker, pastor, father, and grandfather, Danny Silk, is well equipped and qualified to offer parental advice. I found his book amazing and it really changed how I think. I knew these principles he sets forth in reference to how God responds to us, but I hadn’t made the connecting in parenting yet. It’s a parenting model built on freedom, self-control, and love. Danny says no one is to control another person, not even your own children. If we control our children, they don’t learn self-control.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the heart of God and how to represent that heart in relationships with children or adults. For more information about this book and the Loving Your Kids On Purpose Ministry please click here.