June 29, 2011

Dog's Life

This post is in response to a one word at a time blog carnival by Peter Pollock entitled Pets. For me that could easily have been Dogs. I am an unashamed dog person. We had a cat once. (It wasn't just my first cat, it was my last cat). But we are dog people. The two in the picture are the current generation: the Shepard was put to sleep last November at nearly 13; the Shepard/Retriever/Who knows what else mix is still with us at 15. Hard of hearing, shaky on her feet, a gimpy leg and possibly the onset of doggie dementia, but still with us. With her breeds and size, a human equivalent age that one normally only sees in the Book of Genesis anymore, but still with us.

The thing about dogs is they exhibit many of the qualities one would love to see in people; unconditional love, unswerving loyalty, and unabashed happiness when they enter your presence. The way we should be in the presence of the Lord, but are most often not.

I think that is why we grow so attached to them: the qualities they exhibit we know we should as well, yet they do not call us to task for it nor do they rub it in our faces (they are more likely to roll around on their backs in the grass than do that).

Dogs would make pretty darn fine people, but we would probably make miserable dogs.

June 28, 2011

Grace and The Sovereignty of God - Part IV

Thinking. Thinking. Thinking about God's grace and sovereignty.

This is an infinite topic because He is an infinite God. This is a finite blog series because I am a finite mind. But I am still not sure how long it will go on for.

But my thoughts now are on what I need to do as I live my life daily. How do I go about honoring Him and living it out in a life that has Christ as the central core? How do I make sure I am living the best I can to be pleasing to Him?

  • Patience - I need to live a life that recognizes His sovereignty and waits for His timing. I need to sit and listen to Him and make His will my timing, not the other way around.
  • Prudence - I need to live a life that is active in discerning and doing His will. I cannot sit back and wait for the Lord to drive me where He wants me to go, I need to follow hard after Him and go where He is directing me.
How do I balance the two? I am convinced that only through prayer can the discernment come to know when to wait and when to walk. If I am not listening for His voice, how can I expect to hear it? If I am not seeking Him in my life, how can I expect to see Him working in it?

Someone once told me the Lord does not steer a parked car. How true. I just hope I am wise enough to know to wait at times for the light to turn green.

June 27, 2011

Grace and The Sovereignty of God - Part III

Further thoughts regarding God's grace and sovereignty. One of the things I often hear is how can a loving God permit pain and suffering in the world.

I do not know all or necessarily any of the answer to that question, but here is how my recent thinking made me work through it (for now).

A loving God wants us to fully realize the joy that a close personal relationship with Him would bring, fueled by our faith and trust in Jesus and our desire to be obedient to the will of God that comes through that faith and trust. A loving God also allows us the freedom to make our own choices. I cannot fully reconcile God's sovereignty with the concept of personal accountability, but I do know we will stand in judgment one day (Hebrews 9:27), the results of which will depend whether we have trusted Christ or not. Lots more can be said about that. Lots more.

But moving on, I see pain and suffering in a fallen world being used to address two things:

  • Pride - as sinful beings in a fallen world, we do need to deal with our pride and how it can drive us away from God, away from His will, away from the joyous union with Him.
  • Dependence - as sinful beings in a fallen world, we need to come to terms that only dependence on Him will get us through to eternal salvation and security.
Pride cuts against dependence on God and drives us from it. maybe pain and suffering are actually a loving way to draw us to Him. 

It may sound cruel, but the temporary pain of a temporal life (even though it does not feel temporary when it is occurring) may be a loving way to draw us to the eternal joy of union woth God. 

We are after all sinful beings in need of saving from ourselves.

June 26, 2011

Grace and The Sovereignty of God - Part II

A good thing is happening here. I have been thinking a lot about grace, a lot about the sovereignty of God. I have written a little about my thoughts and that is making me think about it all the more. A good thing.

As I explore it a bit more two other thoughts begin to bubble up to the surface: acceptance and condemnation.

  • With God's grace and sovereignty, you can accept people as they are.  Not necessarily accept what they are saying or doing, for that may be against God';s will. But accept them as people, and as a result, love them more as people. Not for what they do or say, but who they are. People, lost without a loving God unless they accept Christ as Savior, lost and unacceptable to all. That is, unacceptable without God's grace manifested in the atoning, substitutionary death of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead in victory over all.
  • With God's grace and sovereignty, there is no need to condemn anyone.  When you realize your own unacceptability but for His grace, you realize there is no one you should be condemning, as you are no better than they. When you accept the fullness of His sovereignty, you realize there is no need to do so, because He is in control and will square all things in His timing.
Faith and trust in Jesus as the sole way to your eternal salvation was the starting point of my journey into God's grace and sovereignty. Such a rich journey, such a long way more to go.

June 25, 2011

Grace and The Sovereignty of God

I have been doing more thinking than writing lately, a condition that is probably better for me in the long run. What I have spent a good deal of time thinking about is grace and God's sovereignty.

I have come to some preliminary conclusions. I say preliminary because of well what the conclusions are:

  • My study of grace and God's sovereignty is a life-long process: Now you see why my conclusions are preliminary, I do not believe you ever fully plumb the depths of either topic. The more I study, the more I meditate, the more I learn. And the farther I find I have to go.
  • I tend to try to limit God's sovereignty: At least I usually do. The more I worry about my little world or expand that worry to what is going on in the world, I am actually limiting the sovereignty of the Lord. He is in control, I usually do not have a clue as to what He is up to until after He has accomplished His purposes.
  • I need to keep the His grace and my living the Christian life separate: While I need to accept what He has willed, and do so with at least a minuscule measure of the grace Christ exhibited on earth, and the Father lavished on us from heaven; I do need to try to achieve all I am capable of in living in a Christ-like way. I should not accept what happens in the world without trying to do my part to influence and change it, but I cannot take the burden for righting all the world's problem. It is probably better if I just try to discern what role He has for me in my small corner of things.
So acceptance of His grace and sovereignty comes down to three things: faith, trust and obedience. Faith in God's character, trust that Christ is my salvation and obedience to His will. 

And I need to keep thinking about all of this daily.

May 2, 2011


This past Friday I completed the last course necessary to finish up my studies at seminary. It only took me three years to finish what is officially a one year full time course of study. I found study at seminary to be hard and the fact that I did not like being a student didn't make it any easier. I cannot imagine doing it and trying to learn Hebrew and Greek as well. And they are such useful languages to have in everyday conversation. 

It all becomes official next weekend (it can't be official yet, they haven't given me access to the alumni portion of the seminary website yet). Now I have the opportunity to audit classes (listen to lectures, no papers, no reading requirements, no exams. Why didn't I think of that sooner? Oh yeah, they wouldn't let me) and observe the classes I would have had to take had I stayed in the original degree program I was in. 

I never would have thought in 2008 that I would be working full time in ministry but I am. I never thought I would be working through seminary at a pace that it would take me 6 to 7 years to do what I thought I could knock off in 2 or 3, but it did, and that only worked because I reduced it to a one year requirement.  My hat's off to the men and women who do it in the officially allotted time. You are better than me, but chances are I am older than you. The mid-50's is not the ideal time to be a student in my book.

So what is next? Full time ministry, yes. That will continue. But also doing what I find the hardest thing of all to do. Being more like Christ as I move through the world. His standard of perfection is a struggle for me daily, and it is the thing I really wish to do well and do full time (unlike being a student).
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.Romans 7:18-19 (New King James Version)
Trying to meet His example, the standard He lived up to perfectly. That's what's up next. Trying to live a life He would have me live, doing it daily and not getting hung up in the book smarts and the study, but in people. Doing His will as I move along, and not worrying about the things I would have chosen to make important.

Funny thing is that has been what has been up next all along.

March 25, 2011

Humble Exaltation

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. My thoughts for today are pretty short and to the point (for me at least):

You can choose to exalt yourself by comparing yourself to others or humble yourself by comparing yourself to God.

That's all I got today.