Monday, December 31, 2012

He makes all things new.

Here we are, at the end of the calendar.  Not the Mayan calendar, because that supposedly ended several days ago.  The end of another year.  As I read in Genesis this morning, I read that God gave the celestial bodies for seasons, for days and for years.  As we come to the end of a year, I notice that, aside from being in the same relative position in out revolution around the sun, there is no sign in the heave telling me that the year is over.

Regardless of a sign in the heavens, my calendar tells me that tomorrow begins a new year.  It also begins a new month.  My clock tells me that I have begun a new day.  A new day brings hope and expectation of certain things depending on our schedule.  A new month tells us the days are marching on.  A new year fills us with the hope that, somehow, this year will be different than last year - better, more exciting, less exciting, more rewarding, more filled with blessing, etc.

I often tend toward being an optimist.  But not at New Year's time.  I have figured out that turning the page on the calendar does not automatically change the habits and motivations that have made a year what it was. Therefore, the change of a year does not magically change what we can expect out of the next 12 months.

But I know what can.  Do you want to change your habits this year?  Do you want 2013 to be better than 2012?  I know the answer!
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
Do you want better things for 2013?  One simple answer will make that happen.  Put yourself in Christ.  Whether for salvation, calling upon the Lord for forgiveness of sins, or whether for abiding, resting in Him, we can put ourselves in Christ, and watch as He makes all things new.

Wishing you all the blessings God has in store for you in 2013!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why Does God Allow Tragedy????

I know, why do we need another blog post on it?  Well, we don't need one, but my blog is for sharing my thoughts, and no one else has done that.

There are two questions: Why did God allow this tragedy? and Why didn't God stop this from happening?  They are similar, but not exactly the same.  On top of these, as a Christian, I ask "What is God's purpose through tragedy like this?"

First off:  Why did God allow this tragedy?  The simple answer - because He is good.  Before you tune out, we need to follow this train of thought and answer a few questions.  Obviously, if we speak of God allowing it, we must be saying that God could have stopped it if he so chose.  I agree with that.  I believe God is able to do anything consistent with His character as the Bible states "For with God, nothing shall be impossible".

So we have to question: How could God have stopped it?  He could have stopped the man from acquiring a weapon, He could have made the weapon jam, could have made the ammunition useless, He could have struck the man with a bolt of lightening, He could have made the gun shoot out unicorns and rainbows!  OK, there are an infinite number of ways He could have stopped it.

Another question:  Why would He have stopped it?  Most would answer - because it was wrong.  Should God stop everything that He considers wrong from happening?  Sounds good, right?  Until He stops us from overeating by stopping us from having that dessert we really enjoy (gluttony is wrong, too), until He stops us from yelling out in anger at someone that has hurt us, until He stops us from watching that movie we like, until he stops us from dishonoring our parents?  How would you like Him to stop us from these sins?  A bolt of lightening doesn't sound so good anymore.  Maybe some would answer - because of the loss of innocent life.  Should God stop the taking of any innocent life?  How would he stop the large number of abortions in our country? in our world?  How should he stop the endless stream of murders?

The problem to all these questions is that the answer would require God to take away our choice.  What if you had no choice but to honor God?  If all your purchases had to be approved by God or you couldn't buy it?  If all your food had to pass God's standard in quality and quantity?  If all your words had to meet God's standard before they came out?  God created us with the ability to choose, and we would miss that if it were taken away.  We would scream that it is not fair!  That God wouldn't be good if He took the ability to choose away.

So what is God's purpose?  What does He seek to accomplish in this?  The same thing He always looks for: to glorify Himself.  It sounds selfish, but how does He seek to glorify Himself?  If the Bible is any indication, He seeks to glorify Himself by fixing the world, by perfecting mankind, by making all things right.  How does this make all things right?  I don't know, but I trust that He will do what He has always done.  How did He respond to tragedy in the Bible?  When Adam and Eve sinned?  When Cain killed Abel?  When mankind was so wicked that God brought a flood to wipe the earth clean?  He responded with a promise.  To Adam and Eve, the promise of a savior.  To Cain, the promise of protection, to Noah and his children, the promise of salvation - never to destroy the earth by flood again.  To yesterday's tragedy?  The same promises hold, God is still working to make this world what it ought to be.  He's not finished yet.  We're not what we should be.  But He will finish His work some day.  I look forward to that day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Business of the Church

This doesn't quite fit with the normal content of my blog, but since I haven't had any content in several months, and this is on my mind, it makes it on the blog.

I have usually resisted the idea of thinking of the church in any sort of business terms.  The terms of the day like "Mission statement" and "strategic thinking" always struck me as being attempts to make the church work man's way rather than God's way.  I think the fringe of the church growth movement that makes all decisions based on business models have helped reinforce my resolve to be no part of it.

A few weeks ago, we had one of our missionaries come and share with us and he got me thinking again about the use of these business terms in the church.  Is it right?  Is it wrong?  Have I been doing church 'wrong'?  I mean, what church needs a purpose statement?  We're a church?  Our purpose is to be a good church. . .

Well, today I found my thoughts wandering to the Apostle Paul and his use of analogies in his writing: the soldier, the farmer, the athlete.  If Paul wrote today, would he use the same analogies?  Would he add to them?  Now, don't get me wrong, I am not going to add to God's Word, it is already perfect.  But would Paul have used the analogy of a business man in explaining the work of the Christian, of the church?  Jesus did, when he talked of counting the cost before building a tower.  God is the author of all truth, whether in business, science, relationships, it is all his.

The problem comes if we blur the line of truth.  We must define truth appropriately.  Truth is not defined by what works.  Truth is defined by God.  Can we use truth from the business world?  Absolutely, so long as it is God's truth.

So what truth am I thinking of this morning?  The truth we find in Hebrews 12.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us"

Why this truth?  Why business?  Because businesses constantly must look at what works and what doesn't.  What doesn't work must be let go as a weight that weighs us down.  Weights are not necessarily sin, in fact, it is listed in addition to "the sin which so easily besets us."  The hard part?  Remembering what works is according to God's definition.  From a business standpoint, sowing the gospel in the hearts of men may seem less effective at building a church than finding Christians disgruntled with their current church.  One method will appear to 'work' better.  But by what works, we have to mean what helps us to do the work that God has called us to: Making disciples to the glory of God

Well, those are my thoughts. They may not be the clearest or well laid out, but God is still working on me, and I pray God will use this to spur your thoughts toward Him as well.