Rediscovering God with Down Here

I had to post about one more thing today:

I got to hear Down Here’s song “Let Me Rediscover You”, and it is pretty sweet.

You might be able to find the video at this link:
http://www.hearitfirst.com/artisthome.aspx?f=artisthome&artist_id=2276&name=downhere

Let Me Rediscover You

Your spirit hovers over my waters
Your love burns longer than the sun
The skies of thunder echo your wonder
Your praises can’t be over-sung

The whole Universe is witness
To only a part of what you’ve done

So let me rediscover you
And breathe in me your life anew
Tell me of the God I never knew
Oh, let me rediscover you

You see my weakness, my pride, my blindness
You wield your power through them all
Of all the mysteries, still, the greatest to me
Is that you’re faithful when I fall

How can I say I know you
When what I know is still so small?

Let me rediscover you
And breathe in me your life anew
Tell me of the God I never knew
And let me rediscover you

Let me cry “holy, holy, holy”
(holy, holy, holy)
Let me awaken to your majesty
(waken to your majesty)
And see a glimmer of your glory
Let me abide in you

Let me rediscover you
And by your grace I’ll follow through
Reveal to me the God I thought I knew

Let me rediscover you
And breathe in me your life anew
Tell me of the God I never knew
And let me rediscover you

Oh, let me rediscover you
Tell me of the God I never knew
Jesus, let me rediscover you.

God’s Conditional Love

Yep. God’s conditional love.

Perhaps you have heard the arguments:

Deuteronomy 7:12-13 shows that God only loves the people who follow His laws!”
John 14:21 clearly states that Jesus only loves those who obey his commands!”

For the record, here are those respective verses (NIV):

If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you.

… and …

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

What if, however, these verses do not actually show conditional love? What if “God will keep his covenant of love with you” does not mean “if you do this, I will love you” but “if you keep my covenant you will see the benefits of my love. If you do not keep my covenant you will not see the benefits, but I still love you!” What if “He who loves me will be loved by my Father . . .” falls in the same vein. How do we know this is more likely?

Jesus Christ.

Do you want some Scripture to back that up? Okay:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11, NIV

I am pretty sure not all people will be saved in the end. Sorry universalists. I just see too much biblical evidence against that. However, it does not mean God does not love all people (these arguments are all for other posts!).

I do think God’s love is conditional, however. How can I say this?

For God to love us, He must exist. God exists. God is love. Therefore, He loves all people. Easy condition to meet. It is not dependent on human behavior or faithfulness.

I could argue this all day and night, but I think others should be involved. In case you are wondering, I kept this simple and relatively short to try to inspire further dialogue.

What do you think? Is God’s love conditional in any way? When have you felt God’s love when you were certain you least deserved it?

In passing …

I get updates from Rachel Held Evans, and she shared a link today (07/10/2011) to another blog. I really like the post, so I am linking to it, as well! That is all. Here is hoping your Sunday (and any other day you may read this) is a good one!

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 07/10/2011

My beautiful wife has been given the opportunity of teaching Kindergarten! My sister was allowed to transfer to be closer to home! God is a God of opportunities, so I picked a couple poems that speak to this:

opportunities

daniel m  klem

God gives many opportunities to listen

He gives opportunities to help the Son

we need to do what the Father asks us

and help spread the Word about Jesus

read your Bible and books to help you

so that all of us may spread the news

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 77.

haiku
daniel m  klem

God came from heaven
His name is Jesus the Christ
and He redeemed us

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 151.

Apologizing or Using Apologetics

President Obama has received a lot of flak for apologizing for the United States of America. I recently read an article that brought up the subject. It got me to thinking about Christian apologetics – giving a reason for why we believe what we believe.

In my short 27 years, 8 months, and (roughly) 2 weeks of life I have noticed that there are a lot of Christians who spend their time apologizing for declaring truths or offending people or the Crusades. They tend to act like a puppy who pooped on the floor and do everything they can to hide from the shame of past offenses and being friendly. Some people just ignore the sin topic entirely and sometimes ignore Jesus Christ, because these are the top two issues that offend people.

Why are you a Christian, then?

If Jesus is not our central focus, if His death and resurrection did not happen and our sin is a non-issue, then why even call yourself a Christian? Did you know there is a name for this Christian? The “Christian Atheist” is one who goes to church … maybe … does all the right things, is a generally good person, and helps people. Yet these people rarely mention the cross, Jesus, or sin.

There is another name for that: Atheist. So, you might as well own up. We will miss you, but you cause more harm than you realize.

If you truly wish to live a God-honoring life, speak for your faith and your God. Yes, it can be tough talking with people about sin and the need of a Savior, but that is actually the one thing a Christian is supposed to do (see Matthew 28, especially verses 17-20).

So, give a reason.

Peter, the Apostle, told us “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV). The greek word used for “give an answer” is where we get our words “apologize” and “apologetics.” We were commanded by our Lord and reminded by one of His closest followers to share the message, to know what we believe and why, and to share these reasons.

But we can do it “with gentleness and respect.” We do not have cram “You are sinner and you need Jesus!” down the throats of people. One of the best definitions for gentleness I have ever heard is “controlled strength,” and for respect “loving patience, service, and humility.” Yes, you should find times to share your faith, but the loudest message will be faithfully living your life for Christ. If you are living well in a God-honoring way, you study His Word regularly, and are always willing to listen and help and humbly live your life, people will ask you about why this is. Then you can share your story and the story of Jesus Christ. It does not have to be all fire-and-brimstone, follow Jesus or suffer talk. In fact, a simple and straight-forward explanation usually opens the door to further conversation.

And do not worry if you do not have all the answers. You can ask your pastor or friends for advice or even refer the asker to one of them.

If want some help, here are a couple of common questions and answers that may come up:

“Faith is abandoning reason and believing for believing’s sake! So why have faith?”
“Actually, faith is reasoned belief. I have faith in what I do not see or understand, because I have seen enough evidence that what the Bible says is true enough places to trust the others.”

“How can you believe in a God when there is so much evil on the planet?”
“Evil can be defined as “the absence of God.” If most of our world wants nothing to do with God and often pushes Him away, you would expect to see “the absence of God” in many places. If some people do not want His help, why would He? Should we not be more amazed that have not destroyed ourselves? Our continued existence can be seen as evidence that God is good and gracious in keeping us from destroying ourselves.”

These are just a couple of short, quick responses, and by no means full rebuttals. It takes practice reasoning skills to become proficient.

Another reminder: Anyone who says the Christian life is easy is trying to sell you something. Jesus warned us there would be difficulties, but we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

Do not apologize for the faith we hold. If we truly believe we have access to the truth, there is nothing to apologize for. We should acknowledge the sins the Church has committed, but we should explain the difference between what has been committed and what Christ has called His Church to do. And we live it.

What do you think? Do you see more apologizing or apologetics? Do you have any stories of your own?

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 07/03/2011

In honor of tomorrow, I say …

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

This is generally a time of pride of country and national heritage. I am not going to argue either way if this pride is good or bad … at least not today.

Today I only offer a poem based on Galatians 6:14 (and other passages, too!) which explains where our pride should lie as believers in Jesus Christ.

pride
daniel m  klem

the pride i feel is for my God
He sent His Son to die on a cross
Christ Jesus came and saved my soul
so that i know it is not lost
from now on  i will not be ashamed
to tell the world about the day
that Jesus died upon a wood cross
just so that your and my souls are saved
i will repeat what i have said
to make sure you heard me say
God sent His one and only Son
so that He could keep us all safe

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page  48.

Do you know where there are any personages of historical significance around here?

Earlier I talked about Bill and Ted demonstrating the most excellent story ever told, and really how we just need to always be ready to explain our faith to anyone we can.

If God can use this guy ...

Today is a short but sweet message.

Bill and Ted were two young men who lacked many intellectual capabilities, yet they changed their world (and ultimately the galaxy) into a peaceful and prosperous one.

You may already know where I am going with this …

If two know-nothings can change their world with a tiny bit of help from God, how much more do you think you can do? Believers in Jesus Christ are given His power through the Holy Spirit. You can deny He still works in us today. You can even deny that miracles still happen. I love to break it to you, but the Holy Spirit does indeed still work and perform miracles through His people.

Do not think for a moment that you are not good enough to ever do anything. With the power of the Holy Spirit working through you, you can make drastic changes to your own little part of the world and maybe even the rest of the world!

Remember that Billy Graham was a boy who heard a message in a tent and went on to become the most famous evangelist in the world. Bill Gates is a college dropout who is now one of the richest people in the world. Barack Obama is the son of a Kenyan foreign student and a middle-class woman, yet today he is the leader of the free-world.

Do not think you are any less. Jesus did say “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV … and I suggest reading the entire chapter).

You can do anything through the power of Christ. You were meant to do great things, even if it is “merely” being somebody’s friend.