Categories
Life

God is Always Behind the Scenes.

As I read Isaiah 45:1-13, there is one, single, consistent, mind-numbing, eternity-changing, thought:

God equips, empowers, and energizes even those who do not know him as Lord and Savior in order to accomplish his majestic purposes.

I ask, “Why does he do this?” The answer comes in verses 5-6:

So that everyone, from east to west, may know that Yahweh is God, and that there is no other.

Truly our God’s mind and will is unsearchable and inscrutable.  How awesome are his ways!

Categories
Life

Happy Twenty10

My apologies for the laziness with blogging lately.  I really have no excuse.

I get married in less than two weeks, and the last six have been a whirlwind.  God has taught me more than I could ask for since being home from South Africa.  As always, he is continually revealing the dark parts of my heart to me (which have been ever so clear lately).  Holiness always hurts and never comes easy, and I am certainly no exception to that rule.  But, in spite of the rocky transition and my own sinful ways, I’m excited for 2010 — a new year, a new decade, and new beginnings, with the same, unchangeable God.

Since being home from Africa, I’ve found myself tending to trust in my own strength.  Obviously that never works out well.  Over the past three days, Habakkuk 3:19 has been on my mind.  Perhaps it will be a theme verse for this next year: “GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

Happy 2010 to all of you who visit this blog.  I’m blessed and humbled that you actually read what I write.  Thank you.

Categories
Life

More Thoughts on Loving and Liking

I wanted to clarify a few things from my last post.  Here are four things that I do not mean when I say that loving and liking someone is the same thing:

  • I don’t mean that you have to be buddy-buddy with every person.  There is a way to be gentle, respectful, kind, truthful, and interested in their well-being without being a “friend.”
  • I don’t mean that you have to be “nice” at the expense of truth.  For more on this, read this post.
  • I don’t mean that you have to agree with — or even be tolerant of — every opinion out there.
  • I don’t mean that you have eliminate emotions and never get frustrated, angry, sad, etc.

As Christians, we are called to genuinely love every person since they are made in God’s image.  Romans 12:9, 10 says, “Let love be genuine…Outdo one another in showing honor.”  If you do not genuinely like someone, I’m willing to bet you won’t try very hard to love them, and you won’t go out of your way to show them honor.  Paul commands us in Galatians 6:10 to do good to everyone.  Doing good comes from a heart-level desire for the benefit of another’s well-being.  If you do not like someone, you will not be concerned for their well-being.

By God’s grace, let us pursue the great exhortation of Paul to the young Timothy: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5).

Categories
Life

“I’m Called To Love Them, But I Don’t Have to Like Them!”

Have you ever heard a Christian say this?  I’ve not only heard it, but said it many times. Yesterday, talking about Barack Obama, a friend told me that they love Obama but don’t like him.  (By the way, this was right before he called Obama a “self aggrandizing, arrogant socialist…who is a piss-poor leader.”)

Sometimes I wonder if we say “I love him, but I just don’t like him,” so that we can justify our sinful and selfish attitude or behavior toward an individual who is hard to love.  We say we love them and that love is a matter of the will, not an emotion.  That is, we argue that love is a choice, not a feeling, as my friend did.

But don’t feelings necessarily arise from the choices of our will?  I think they do.

I don’t see a difference in the Scriptures between liking and loving.  I think that we say things like this simply because we don’t want to do the hard, messy work of actually loving.  Consider though how God has loved us — the untouchable, unlovable sinners that we are.  He never said, “Well, I quite dislike this group since they are a stench to me, but I guess I’ll send my Son to show them how much I love them.”  The call for us is to be like him: “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

In an article from 1970, John Piper talks about how it is impossible to have the will to love someone if we dislike them:

If we dislike another person it will be impossible to consistently will the loving thing for that person. Sometimes we will simply forget to restrain our feelings and other times when we think we have willed the loving thing, our dislike will have sneaked in through a patronizing tone of voice or a depreciating glance. We cannot love consistently if we do not like (emphasis added).

Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” and also, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:16; 44).  He did not say, “Love your enemies, but feel free to not like them if want.”  No one will glorify your Father in heaven for that.

What are your thoughts?

Categories
Theology

The Lord Will Provide

By John Newton and William Cowper

Though troubles assail,
And dangers affright;
Though friends should all fail,
And foes all unite,
Yet one thing secures us,
Whatever betide:
The Scripture assures us,
“The Lord will provide.”

The birds, without barn
Or storehouse, are fed;
From them let us learn
To trust for our bread;
His saints what is fitting
Shall ne’er be denied,
So long as ’tis written,
“The Lord will provide.”

His call we obey,
Like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way,
But faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers,
We have a good Guide;
And trust in all dangers:
“The Lord will provide.”

When Satan appears
To stop up our path,
And fills us with fears,
We triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us,
Though oft he has tried,
The heart-cheering promise,
“The Lord will provide.”

He tells us we’re weak,
Our hope is in vain;
The good that we seek
We ne’er shall obtain;
But when such suggestions
Our faith thus have tried,
This answers all questions,
“The Lord will provide.”

No strength of our own,
Nor goodness we claim;
Our trust is all thrown
On Jesus’ dear name.
In this our strong tower
For safety we hide;
The Lord is our power,
“The Lord will provide.”

When life sinks apace,
And death is in view,
The word of His grace
Shall comfort us through;
Not fearing or doubting,
With Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting,
“The Lord will provide.”