Sunday, October 25, 2009

Time flies..

...just like an arrow. Piercing through even the most stubborn of lives, the most stalwart of chain-mail-tradition. It leaves it's impact in the experiences we have, the people we meet, and the places we see. Our perspectives change. Our understandings grow.

Time is essential to the very foundation of how we know how to exist. How to be. In our language, culture, thoughts, the concept of time is deeply rooted because the passage of time is often the only constant in a person's life. In the life of a community. In the life of a society.

But it didn't have to be so.

God didn't have to design our universe this way... but He did. And God, not being given to fancies and whims, chose to do so with purpose, as with everything else that He does.

Time is a gift. Cliché, but true.

Does that mean I shouldn't sit down and be playing Gratuitous Space Battles for another hour? I don't know. Should I be working 50 hour work weeks so that I can pay the lease on my two new cars? [Alright, so that one's a pretty loaded question...] Should I be working on that 10000 piece 3-D mystery puzzle in my basement? If I really enjoy doing something, is that reason enough to be doing it? (even if it's something as innocuous as puzzle-building?)

Does it even mater? Am I just being trivial?

When does hanging out turn from discipleship into distraction? Is there something in this about being too caught up in the things of God?

Time...there is a time for every season. Do we get to dictate what those seasons are?


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finding purposeful Purpose

Recently, I found myself in attendance to a Leadership camp of sorts, a provided feature of my church to it's college students who have committed to greater responsibility within their immediate community. As far as camps goes, there was nothing unexpected (except the quality of food, which far surpassed anything I thought possible from a retreat centre). Ultimate Frisbee (which has somehow become somewhat of an icon for Christian College men), about 4 girls to every 1 guy, plenty of, and of course Spiritual reflection.

During a period of this reflection time, we were given paper with specific questions to ponder deeply about and to write the outpourings of one's soul upon...even though, realistically 90 percent of these sheets have by now been either tossed, recycled (we are from Seattle, afterall), or forgotten between pages of the Bible.

Regardless, One of these questions regarded "Our Purpose" and, more specifically,

"What big thing do I think God will be accomplishing through me this next week/month/year."

What a pretentious question! As we were so informed, this also happens to be one of the top questions Christians in America are asking their selves. This of course, led me on a bit of a rant on my laptop. The following is an excerpt of stated rant (spelling left intact for historical accuracy):

What a total BS question! I mean, how on earth are we supposed to even kid ourselves that we could answer that! There are so many subtle things happening at every moment, God-direcctted and planed surely, thhat there is no way we could ever truely know the full impact of our day-to-day actions. And I firmly beleve that it is in these day-to-day actions that we really find the purposse that God has put us on this Earth for.

People, it seems, continue to be asking them self the wrong questions, stressing needlessly about "what God wants them to do" or "what is God using me for?" Those questions miss the point, they skip to the end while missing everything in between. We're here to share the Love of Christ, to bring others into this wonderful community that He has provided the framework for. To point the way to saving grace. Most any other specific thing is inconsequential to that.

Should I be a lawyer or an epidemiologist? Sell groceries or work for my church? Certainly, there may be "callings" folk will have. God may reach down and nudge your heart...but for the most part, don't sweat it. What you are doing right now is important and meaningful whether or not you can tell. To borrow from a completely over-rated and over-used cliche, "a thread in the tapestry."

He, God the Father, Savior of the World, knows what's going on. That's what's important.

** Note, this is assuming that while you may be doing something seemingly inconsequential to the ends of Eternity, what you are doing in that is living a life reflective of the characteristics of Christ.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Musty Mustard

Today was a good day.
Not in a bright-sun-sandals-flowers-unicorns sorta way, but in a much deeper way. A day that is the beginning of much better things. A day that marks the passage of many restless nights and an unsatisfied spirit...quite possibly only to usher in more of such nights. For now, I will count myself as satisfied.

Understanding came to me this afternoon over lunch. Friends are truly the greatest blessing a person can have, and it was with a friend today that I was able to talk and work out my mind, if only in part. I realized what the crux of my spiritual questioning has been. Something that it has been rooted in.

I want things to be concrete. I want to know for certain so much about what I believe... but so much about what I believe is so far beyond the human capability for description. Faith is then necessary, or else there really is nothing. On the other hand, I have been compelled that there must be at least something that can really be dug into without hitting the "faith-wall." What are those things? What (explicitly) are those things that require trust alone? Many of my previous questions can be seen as probes into these questions...seeing how far I can go without losing my footing of faith. Today I have been assured that yes, there are things to be taken without any faith at all...but they are small, and far between. Mustard Seeds. I was told there are two such seeds that are readily available. Seeds rooted in the reality that is around us without further insight. Without degrees, doctorates, or doxology.
  1. Community
  2. The Bible
Both rooted in Christ, as manifestations of God's character and action. Of how He is and who He is. Both are very real, and true.

I feel encouraged...for I seem to have reached a new starting point. I will continue my search for more mustard...

Further notes on Faith:

My friend assured me where one finds evidence in support of one thing, contrary evidence will surely be found. Therefore, a faith that is based solely on "evidence" for faith will be weak and fickle...that person could just as easily be persuaded by contrary evidence. Therefore, faith actually is then integral in one's belief in the person of Christ. Without it, you have no sticking power. Easily tossed about as a ship on the sea...

I was given a great analogy as well concerning faith and our understanding of God. My friend has been married for 7 years, known his wife for 9 years and fully aware that she could cheat on him. He has plenty of evidence that she would never cheat on him from all those years together, but he must still take it on faith that she will honor their commitment.

Faith reconciles the truth of her freewill with his knowledge of her character and actions.
The truth of our human condition with our understanding of God.
Pain and suffering with an omnipotent God.
Sin with a loving God.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

What the Devil?

Bumps in the Dark. Not all of them are the Devil at his handiwork, we all know this. Some bumps are merely the result of all those things pack-rats such as I find to cram under of bed shifting around in the absence of light. Surely.

But what of those other bumps? Those things that the Devil does do?

I've heard it dozens of times, the hard things (or trials) we go through in life can be attributed to a number of sources.

  • God testing us. (See the book of Job) This one...I feel I'd like to see less ambiguity on. How are we supposed to know when we're being tested and not receiving pot shots from Satan's firey pea-shooter?
  • The result of "living in a sinful world." Makes sense. People make stupid decisions like ill-directed bomb-shells. When they blow, the "unintended" body count can be staggering.
  • God's Plan. Well, this one is rather all-encompassing...because all is in His plan, as I understand and takes into acount all the above and below.
  • The Devil. (See Ephesians 6)
Difficulty: how are we to decern which is which? I mean, tough times are tough regardless of the source! A death in the family can be spirit-rending regardless of whether you're being tested, or a boozer running his car into them (sin in the world), or Satan's influance. All can be pulled through with His strength. All can be used to build perserverence, and perserverence characher, and character faith etc. The reaction to all trials should be the same: running to the strengh and security and peace of Christ.

So then, what then matters about the distinction? And consequently, what then matters about the Devil?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Finding Faithfulness

God is faithful.

We know this is certain. A covenant promise. Throughout the Bible, one is confronted time after time with instances in which He fulfils a promise (rescuing the Israelites from every possible bad guy ever, Abraham's having a son, Nehemiah getting done the wall of Jerusalem, Jesus Himself, et cetera...) In nearly every case, we have seen God work in miraculous ways the likes of which, honestly, few of us will ever see ourselves. When was the last time God parted a river on your way to work?

Yeah, not exactly happening.

Clearly, God the Rock is constant in nature and character. His intentions never change because, well, He isn't constrained to our scale of time. However, how He chooses to have influenced our lives is particular and individually distinct from each and every other person. Custom tailored have our lives been so that we are who we are. So we are where we are. So you know who you know. Right now.

My question is then thus: how are we to distinguish God's faithfulness in our lives today? When I look back on the life I have lived, how am I to identify that which is directly of God and that which isn't?

Without much else in explanation, I feel there are a couple logical roads that one could follow after the previous question:

  1. Everything is an example of His faithfulness, including that which is supernatural in character.
  2. Nothing is an example of His faithfulness except that which is supernatural in character.
I'm most positive these are less likely roads than ends in a spectrum of possibility, but regardless. The difference in the above lies in how we view the events around us.

The fact that I'm living in a house, with food readily available, and plenty of comfort... is this God's faithfulness, or simply a result of living in a prosperous country? Is my living in a prosperous country directly a result of God's planning and provision?

I would then ask, if in fact it is God's faithfulness, this comfort I enjoy, is that also to say that three quarters of the world experience less of God's faithfulness than I? Or is it simply different faithfulness?


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Time for all things: Faith

Faith is... so very important. This goes without saying. Christianity would be nothing if it were not for this concept. Without it, an Infinite God is beyond the scope of a belief system, because faith is what is required to fill the gaps of what we don't know or understand.

It allows us to act without having all the pieces.

It allows us to verbalize without knowing the full impact of our words.

It also provides followers of Christ a convenient cop-out for not pursuing a more intimate understanding of God.

Most of Christianity, surely, compares depth of adherence to Biblical precepts with that of a Relationship. Our "Relationship" with Christ. Therefore, I will continue along similar lines of analogy. As with any friendship, understanding is very key. If I were asked if I understood the one I loved, and answered "no, not in the least." what would your impression be of my love?

That it's shallow. Surface. Self-serving, even?

( --> Oh, how easy it is to sustain a merely self-gratifying level of Christianity...)

Problem: God, being infinite as He is, certainly is not completely understandable. Or even comprehensible! So, then, how much is too much to expect?

At what point are we depriving our relationship of Faith? At what point are we depriving it of knowledge?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Changing the Unchanging

I still don't get this,

how is it that God can change His mind? It came up last night, that in the book of Jonah, God once again seems to have changed his mind. " Jonah 3:10: “…He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.”

Hmmmhhgh? Hold on just one second. He threatened them, but then didn't destroy the Ninivites? If He knew that He wasn't going to destroy them to begin with, then why would He have threatened them? To coerce them to reject their evil ways? Is that alright?

To seek a random second opinion, I here lift a quote from a certain .

"The Scriptures that are interpreted as God seeming to change His mind are human attempts to explain the actions of God. God was going to do something, but instead did something else. To us, that sounds like a change. But to God, who is omniscient and sovereign, it is not a change. God always knew what He was going to do."

This was quoted from what could be called the concluding statements of the article. This is what it all boils down to... and we make one big circle back to were we began. We go from Original Question -> The Bit we're specifically questioning. -> Weak Rebuttal -> To the bit from which my original question was spurred.

If God always knows what He as going to do (because He's already done it... because He's transcendent of time), then there can be no changing of mind. Unless it has been specifically calculated to bring about a specific outcome. Which would mean that God is manipulative. At which point the question becomes, are righteousness and "manipulation" mutually exclusive?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In the Meanwhile

The mind is truly remarkable in capability. It's hard to fully grasp the majesty of complex biology going on right behind the eyes that let me see, that let me know that I see. That allow me to respond to what I know that I see.

God has given us a mind to know know Him, of course, but to know other things too.

This week has been one filled with many...other things. That is, of course, a freedom we have pre-packaged with our free-will. That's the amazing part of His grace and generosity, that He would allow us the capacity to ignore Him. He gifted each of us with the capability to forget, the intellectual choice to think outside of Him.To let slip slowly from our active mind as innocuously as a bead of sweat or change from a torn pocket; the wonder of Christ. The reality of Him. Our place in the midst of it all, momentarily lost in the meanwhile.

And so He waits patiently for our return, because He knows that we will, or will not. There is no frustration, only love and incomprehensible understanding of us.

He is waiting for me.

and I am too busy...

In the meanwhile, I have forgotten...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

His Distant Presence

I cannot run from His presence... He will never forsake me, yet how is it I can feel so detached? So distant. I don't even remember running away, and even if I did, how could I be farther away? He's like the air that surrounds us. Like the atomic bonds that bind us. But stronger, more pervasive, more.

More than we can where is He? Where am I? How did I get here?

I feel that there should be a more concrete basis behind Christ. I'm told faith isn't a feeling. So, alright. I'm not feeling all that much of anything in particular. That's good, right? If it isn't a feeling, then how is it that we struggle so much when we aren't feeling spiritual? Our perspective must be totally screwed. We should feel perfectly natural in the absence of a Holy high. A Christ fix. These are the day-to-day. Weekend retreats and missions trips only come seldom often.

But this isn't the case.

When we aren't feelin' it, we read books. We pray harder. We blog: "Where are you?" Workshops are held. Coffee and donuts provided. The pillers of your spirtual community are soughht out. All to be told, it's not a feeling. Tough it out. Faith is a committment.

It must be more than this. It must be. Please, let it be more than this. I thought that filling "the void" with Christ was what was to fulfil me. Is not fulfilment a feeling? Contentedment. Not feeling that you are lacking, even if you seem to be.

But it's not a feeling. It's a committment. It's a pledge to something you can't always feel, but that should bring you feeling.

But God is Love. Love is a committment and a feeling. Not always a feeling... wait a second, maybe I'm on to something...

regardless... I feel distant. A cold distant planet longing for a sun... I feel full of my head and empty of my heart. I could think of a dozen reasons why Christian morality is beneficial and worthy of pursuit, but what of the belief? Ah, the preverbial carrot before us: Heaven. Ahhh... that's another fun nut.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

God is. Love.

God is, was, will be... love.

At church today, I was struck with that oh-so-common quote: "God is Love." I don't know why...but is there more to this?

His love...must be something foreign to us. But not completely. We see broken pieces of it everywhere. A glass that has been shattered all over the floor. The loving-kindness of a friend, the forgiveness of a father, the gentle embrace of a beloved, the patience of a mentor... but pieces they remain. Moments in time. Individual points. Everyone fails in love.

Love is something that has been so distorted by the ambitions and sentiments of capitalism, by the won-ton carelessness of "the media," it is something to be profited from. It is something to be purchased. Something to be hedged, to be taken, to make a statement with, to fall into. We're taught this from a young age. It's no wonder we struggle with finding what is real in relationship because we're so far from real it becomes hard to discern from the distance. How has this impacted our dynamic with God? Our perception of Him? Our expectations? If He is love, how has our understanding of Him been distorted?

Hang on that for a minute...selah I believe is the word. Each of us has been affected differently by our respective cultures. Clearly this distortion will be different for each of us...


Another matter came to my mind aswell this morning, and it is of this void I hear so much of. This "hole": we try to fill with everything but God. What is this a metaphor for exactly? A need for intimacy? A need to be part of something larger? I've never felt this hole, except a desire for human intimacy...a desire for my works to be of merit. To be contributing to something greater. But these feelings are coming from a heart that has already been "saved," so where's the difference?

Is it that my void has an outlet, someplace to be anchored in? I never seem too lost in the woods...and at least I know I have a purpose, without even having to try. No searching required, only trust.

Perhaps there's a different reason entirely why money and greed don't satisfy the soul...

My musings for a busy Sunday are thus concluded. For now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Funny thing: God is complicated

This weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to converse with my peers regarding basically the contents of my previous post: the Infinity of God. This has been the subject of much of my personal, internal quandaries, and I feel I have as of yet heard a decent response to my questioning...until perhaps now.

Not that my questioning has been satisfied entirely, but, as it turns out, God is merely more complicated than I had thought. Funny thing to say, I'm sure.

For instance,

God can change His "mind." Example: Moses begging God not to absolutely destroy the Israelites in the desert after having forsaken Him time and again. (Exodus 32-33) God relents His fury. How is this even possible? Things get sticky here, because if one assumes that He had already planned on saving Israel before Moses pleads to Him, then that makes God out to being manipulative, which seems totally out of character. could He not have known?

There are other specific incidents throughout the Old Testament where God holds specific conversations with people, (Walks through the Garden with Adam/Eve, the Burning Bush, the Anointing of David, all the Prophets and them being spoken to...etc) and then, most prominently, The Christ in the New Testament.

Apparently, the conclusion is that God can enter into and out of our time.


How can He do that? When He' He not know everything? But He must...but He can't?

I was told there's a new theology gaining in popularity that says that God has limits to His knowledge, that He can only know that which has already happened. But then, what about prophesy? What about His plan? (Well, I suppose there is a difference between His will and plan). What about purpose?
I don't like this idea that God can have such crippling limits.

So, what then? He is the same, always. Was, is, and will be -- simultaneously. I was asked, does that mean that Christ is concurrently child, dead, and resurrected? Maybe existing in separate time-lines... I can't say. Is He ministering right now to all the people that could have possibly existed now, but aren't due to the decisions made in our time-line? But that's just crazy string-theory, right?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Benevolence vs. Omnipotnece

So I heard it last night. Again, that pivotal issue upon which I feel the whole of Christian faith rests upon, unknowingly. Something's up in the basement.

The argument is apparently an old one, but it goes like this:

God is
  • All Loving
  • All Knowing/Powerful
  • There is Pain and suffering in the world
Pick 2.

If He's all knowing, but there is pain... then He must not be all loving. If He is all loving and there is pain and suffering, then He must not be all powerful. If He is all loving and all Powerful, then pain must not really exist but in our minds on a psychological level. (That one can be easily ruled out)

I've heard this issue mentioned several times these past few weeks. It's also something that has weighed on me personally. When in brief, I hear something along the lines of God cannot create evil; cannot create pain. We brought that into the world. But...

He's all knowing.

He created everything.,

So, then, are we saying that He didn't know that there was going to be this decision for evil when it all was set into motion?

But we have free will!

But, God is an infinite God, unrestrained by the constructs of time. He exists simultaneously then, now, and future. He knew. He couldn't not have known, and since He does nothing by accident, this line of thought suggests the created, knowingly, the potential for sin. It was intended.

I don't know how not to conclude this!

If I designed a car, knowing that the breaks would fail if you were to drive above the speed limit by 5 mph, and I knew you were going to do so, is it the driver's fault when he ploughs over a barricade into a ravine?

If this is so, then I'm sure He has a plan for it.

But then, that brings up other problems...

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I spend a lot of time in church. I mean, a lot. I've been going since I was a small child; before then, really. I've heard all the doctrine, all the stories, made all the crafts, I've even preformed that admirable accomplishment of having read through the entirety of Christianity's only sacred text: the Holy Bible. Through the years I've heard many justifications. Cop-outs. Glossed over accounts. Those things that ruin my appetite for more. Faith.

The purpose of this blog is to explore Christianity in a deeper I go to church now, I rarely track 100% with the preacher: there's another story happening in my head. I jot down questions. I seek answers.

It is through this medium that I have selected to chronicle my continuing journey. I doubt anyone will read this, but if in fact you, reading this right now, are someone besides myself, I can only hope to be revealing additional insight to your journey. If not, then at the very least, be entertained! ;)

Camina con dios,