Sunday, March 26, 2017

EXPECTING TO BE UNDERSTOOD

EXPECTING TO BE UNDERSTOOD

Proverbs 3:5-6    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.


            Sometimes our troubles in communication involve expectations we have adopted, usually unconsciously. “We expect to be understood by other Christians and it comes as a shock to realize that they do not understand” writes Julie Gorman, teacher at Fuller Seminary. We expect to be understood, period, and are shocked when we aren’t. If not shocked, at least convinced it’s the other party’s fault – things were certainly clear when I spoke them.

            But Christians should never be shocked to be misunderstood, whether by those who share our faith or those who do not. Misunderstanding occurs because of two realities, both basic to the Christian understanding of creation, that as creatures we are both fallen and finite. Being fallen means our minds are never fully dependable; and our autonomous hearts are always attracted  to whatever ideas seems to make us the center of the universe, even though it sets us adrift to be…lost in the cosmos. If anything, we should be shocked when someone hears us correctly. But even if we were not fallen we would remain finite. Even if all we are and do weren’t so badly broken we would still be severely limited. Even at the best of times we can never comprehend everything at once, but only grasp bits and pieces, parts and partially at that, which means we can never fully, exhaustively understand anything.

            Being both fallen and finite, it makes more sense to expect misunderstanding, to see clear communication as a grace, a gift as precious as it is unexpected.


  
Critique: 2011 Issue 2 “Hindrances to Communication” by Denis Haack, pg. 6-7.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

NO PAIN, NO GAIN

NO PAIN, NO GAIN

1 Peter 4:1-2    Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.


            Of what avail is our life of prayer, our study of Scripture, theology and spirituality, if we do not trust the insights that we have received? Waffling back and forth between a decisive yes and a discouraging no keeps us in a state of terminal procrastination. Likewise, an exclusive emphasis on the burning theological issues of the day (many of which are neither burning nor theological) or a one-sided emphasis on the pressing issues of social justice can temporarily or even permanently postpone a decision to trust in the love of God, thus keeping us in a state of spiritual limbo.

            “To live without risk is to risk not living”, my paternal grandma used to say. The way of trust is risky business, no doubt about it. To change careers suddenly because one feels unfulfilled, to assume the energy-depleting care of elderly parents, to retreat for three days of silence and solitude with Jesus or to volunteer for a summer in the sub-Sahara – all these challenges require a willingness to risk a journey into the unknown and a readiness to trust God even in the darkness.

            A person should not act impulsively, of course. A careful discernment process involving family, friends and a spiritual mentor should precede every major decision. But when the appropriate time comes, only the disciple with an unflinching trust in God will dare to risk. And that trust is not na├»ve. It knows that the possibility of making a mistake and getting hurt is very real. But without exposure to potential failure, there is no risk.





Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God, by Brennan Manning, pg. 20-21

Friday, March 24, 2017

PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

John 10:27-29    My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.


            A spiritually dead person can no more give himself spiritual life than a physically dead person can give himself physical life. That requires a supernatural act on the part of God. By that supernatural act God Himself, through His Holy Spirit, sovereignly takes us out of the kingdom of Satan and places us in His spiritual kingdom by a spiritual rebirth.

            And having once been born into the kingdom of God, we can never become unborn. Since it took a supernatural act to bring us into a state of spiritual life, it would take another such act to take us out of that state. Hence the absolute certainty that those who have been regenerated and who therefore have become truly Christian will never lose their salvation, but will be kept by the power of God through all the trials and difficulties of this life and will be brought into the heavenly kingdom.

            This gift of eternal life is not conferred upon all men, but only upon those whom God chooses. This does not mean that any who want to be saved are excluded, for the invitation is, “and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).  The fact is that a spiritually dead person cannot will to come. “No man can come to me unless the Father wo sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Only those who are quickened (made spiritually alive) by the Holy Spirit ever have that will or that desire… And concerning them Professor Floyd Hamilton has very appropriately written: “All that God does is to let them alone and allow them to go their own way without interference…God save all who want to be saved, but no one whose nature has not been changed wants to be saved.”



The Reformed Faith by Loraine Boettner, pg. 10-11.

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