Monday, December 9, 2013

It's been a while... part II

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)-
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

In the previous blog I didn't discuss the second part of these verses...I'm gonna try and do that now. 

So, we have been reconciled by Christ and are now seen by God as holy and free of blemish or accusation... "if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel."

This is the second part of what is so amazing about God's grace. He sees us as holy and blameless...and we just have to have faith. I think sometimes the word "faith" is seen as vague and nebulous and something very intangible. But I don't think it has to be that way.

James wrote, "I will show you my faith by my deeds." (chapter 2, second part of verse 18)

Faith isn't something that just happens in our minds. It isn't something that just happens inside of us - it starts on the inside, and grows and changes us and as it does we start looking different from the outside (not physically, of course). 

Faith is like a cookie, in a way. If you give a mouse a cookie, he will want a glass of milk. If you have faith in God and believe that He is who He says He is, then you will want to worship Him. You will probably want to tell others about Him. It also seems likely that you would want to follow His advice and suggestions on how to live better. 

So, when Paul says that God sees us as holy - as long as we continue in our faith - I don't think he is saying that we just have to say that we believe in God and go to church and say the words on the screen and maybe attend a Bible study or something. Paul's faith wasn't something that affected part of his life. His faith changed him from killing and imprisoning others to being imprisoned and beaten (and eventually killed).

One of my former Bible study leaders said a couple times that the Bible is like a mirror. You hold it up and it will show you yourself and your flaws. But when you try to hold it up to someone else and see their flaws, it gets distorted and doesn't give a clear picture, because it isn't meant for you to use it to change others. It is meant to change you, to make you look at yourself and look at God and maybe see something/someone greater than your current self, and hopefully want that potential to become reality. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's been a while since I blog'd

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)-
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Wow. Ok now I don't want to be cheesy, but seriously this is crazy. The crazy part isn't even that we were God's enemies - to me, it is that we are now "holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation..." Wow.

I have a hard time believing that, most of the time...you know what I mean? But when I actually take the time to think through it, to sort of have a conversation with God about it (I'll explain), then it seems to make sense and I can start to believe that truth about myself, at least for a time. To me it is like, how could God forgive me for being so selfish and prideful and angry? I mean, He sees my inmost thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. Of all people/beings, God has the most right to say, "No, you have done too much wrong to be forgiven."

But that's not what He says...He says, "Come now, let us settle the matter...Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

He says that what He did on this earth and on the cross was (more than?) enough to forgive me for the terrible things I've done and thought and said and even all of the things I should have done but didn't do. He says that if that wouldn't have been enough to forgive all of the sin, He wouldn't have done it. Jesus didn't leave heaven and live and die on earth so that we could be partially forgiven and then work to try and make up the rest. That'ts not how it works. That's not how God forgives, and that is not what grace is. You know the song, "Amazing Grace"? There is a reason for the title of the song.

So here is another set of Bible verses that kind of does a good job of showing what grace is like. The prophet Elisha is helping out the king of Israel, but the king of Aram doesn't like this, so he sends an army to capture Elisha.

2 Kings 6:15-22

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So He struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”

“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

On a side note, here is some more music I downloaded recently:
http://noisetrade.com/gungormusic
http://noisetrade.com/jasongray
http://noisetrade.com/colortherapy
http://noisetrade.com/jarsofclay

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Questions, questions, questions

I'm going to title this after I write it, mainly because I don't know what I'm going to write/blog about right now.

Ok, I got it.

So I've been reading this book lately called Velvet Elvis. It is written by Rob Bell, who is a pastor at a church called Mars Hill (I'm pretty sure) and has written other books and made some video Bible study things too. So anyway, in this book he is just spilling some of his thoughts about Christianity and what it means to be a Christian and what Christian faith looks like.

One of the points he just made was that Christian faith is like a trampoline - it isn't rigid, but has room to flex and bend. Trampolines work by getting on them and jumping on them and doing things that may not be entirely safe, but you don't experience a trampoline by standing next to it and talking about it. Also, the springs in a trampoline help it to work, but without any one spring it would still work. Springs are like specific beliefs about Jesus/God/Bible and that sort of thing.

For example, he said that he once heard someone say that if the earth/universe was not created in 6 24-hour days, then none of the Bible is true and Jesus didn't live or die on the cross. He says that is more like a brick wall; when you take out one piece, the rest of it crumbles down too.

So anyway, with the trampoline idea, he says that part of having faith is also having doubts. Having doubts isn't a bad thing, and asking questions isn't a bad thing. Asking questions means you acknowledge that you don't have all the answers, and you are having to look outside yourself for help in some way. He also says that through asking questions we should come to truth, and since God is truth, it is good to ask questions. He clarifies this by saying that 'questions' doesn't mean things like "Can God make a rock so big that even He couldn't lift it?" (CS Lewis would reply that nonsense remains nonsense even if you try to put God in it.)

Rob Bell says that the kind of questions we should be asking are the ones that come from our hurts, our confusion, our wonder about God. They should be real, things that either we want to know about God or we don't understand about God or are keeping us from getting to know God. Something like that.

And I think that is a good point. There isn't anything wrong with asking questions, and by asking questions, we keep moving in our relationship with God and with others. You can't have a discussion without a question (or at least a starting question). And since God is truth, and God doesn't have any boundaries or limits or whatever, our questions usually lead to more questions (this is Rob Bell's point, not mine).

So yeah...I want to try to ask more questions. I haven't been doing that lately, I think. I haven't been wrestling with ideas about God and the world and the universe and life and what it looks like to live in a way that shows love to God and shows love to other people..

and that takes me to the song, "Live Like That" which I think I have posted the lyrics to somewhere on here.

Jude (1:)20-21- But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.