Friday, April 14, 2017

Why is This Friday Good?

Today, Christians all over the world remember the day in approximately 33 AD, when Jesus of Nazareth, God incarnate, was beaten bloody (to the point where His spine was exposed from the cat o' nine tails), took up His cross, carried it to Golgotha, and allowed Himself to be crucified. Why on earth would He do such a thing? Why would He submit to the the physical torture of crucifixion? Why did He not respond when the Roman soldiers taunted Him to call the angels and rescue Himself?

The answer is so simple that many people can't believe it. He died for love. Love. Nothing more or less. He died for love of you, me, everyone on the planet for as long as there have been humans.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16, in case you didn't know.

Jesus wants an authentic, genuinely intimate relationship with you. I'm not going to preach at you about sin, because no one wants to be preached at. You know all those arguments and frankly, I don't have the gift to be an evangelist. Instead, I will simply say that God wants you to know Him, and Jesus is the way.

The crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central tenet of my faith. Because He closed the gap between us and God, conquering death in the process, I have hope that I will be resurrected as well, to spend eternity in the company of my God.

Why is this Friday good? Because Jesus swept away the barrier between us and God. It is finished. There is nothing you need do but believe that He did that. It's not "believe and be baptized." It's not "believe and give up your lifestyle." It's not "believe and change who you are." It's "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Losing My Religion (While Keeping the Faith): Believing in an Infinite God

When we last met, I asked you to sit with and think about the implications of a God for whom all things are possible. What does it mean that God makes all thing possible? What is possible with God?

I thought and prayed about this question for three years. Opening your mind to Possible is not always easy, especially when you have been raised with the idea that there are rules about what God does and doesn't do, depending on when in history you live. Yet, Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus said "I and the Father are one" (John 10:38), so God is also the same throughout  history. This makes perfect sense to me, as God is outside our limitations of space and time.

So the first breakthrough I had was that God is the same as He has always been, and He always will be the same. Perhaps our current idea that God doesn't speak directly to His people is flawed. It's possible that He still does. It's possible that He still heals, still works miracles, still allows us to see glimpses behind the curtain.

So I started listening for His voice. God had spoken to me before, in the depths of emotional trouble over ... well, it doesn't matter what the details are. I heard Him clearly tell me to be still and let Him work in that situation. I began asking for specific guidance, believing that God still speaks directly to His people, and that He would speak to me.

And that's when things started happening.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Losing My Religion (While Keeping the Faith), Introduction

Discussing faith is tricky. The two topics it's not "polite" to discuss are religion and politics, yet both of them have been at the forefront of social media lately. It is not my intent to discuss politics here. If you want to know, feel free to ask elsewhere.

This is the first entry in what may or may not be a long series of posts. It's largely for me to externalize my spiritual journey over the last 7 or 8 years. The further away I get from organized religion, the closer I feel to my God. This is not to say that I have abandoned all ideas of returning to church. What I am saying is that *for me,* there is value in seeking a more experiential component to my faith.

I grew up in a fundamentalist, nondenominational church. Emphasis is on study, an intellectual analysis of the Scriptures in the context of the original languages and the time in which they were written. For 40 years, I accepted that systematic study of the Bible in this way was not only the best approach to faith and worship, it was also the only way.

Then I started meditating on Matthew 19:26b - "with God, all things are possible." I asked myself, What would it mean if you really, truly, believe in an infinite God? I meditated and prayed on this simple question for about 3 years, and then the answers started coming.

I'm going to leave you with this question for a while. Sit with it, think of possibilities. What is possible if you truly, with all your heart, soul, and mind, believe that God is infinite? Infinitely powerful? Infinitely loving? Infinitely full of grace?

Think about it, and I'll share my conclusions and experiences in a while.