Posts Tagged ‘ God ’

Keeping It Really Simple Today … on God’s Sovereignty

Discover the Author of Wisdom through some thoughts on both at Proverbial Thought!

Here is keeping it simple: I will just post a quick thought on a topic. Nothing else.

This week’s topic:

God’s Sovereignty

This is not a post about the battle between Calvinism/Arminianism/Molinism/everything else. All this is is a brief explanation of God’s sovereignty.

God being sovereign means that He is in complete control of everything. Period. He does not have to take orders from nor listen to anyone.

Yet, amazingly, He listens us. Because He loves us.

—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
1 Timothy 6:15-16, ESV

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. . . . Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 4:16, 10:19-22

Rediscovering “Rediscovering God with Downhere”

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Three years and nine days ago I heard a song for the first time that I greatly enjoyed, so I shared it on my blog.

As I have been finishing my first summer as a Seminarian, I am officially beginning my teaching career (in Special Education with children with Autism), and I have had a jam-packed summer of travels, work prep, and simply getting things done.

It has been a little exhausting!

Therefore, I think it is a great time to bring back this song as a good reminder to myself, other seminarians, and all those who tend to work too hard and sometimes forget or neglect time with God (like pastors and other ministry leaders, teachers, and just about anyone else in Western culture). This is “Let Me Rediscover You” by the band Downhere (no longer together, but the lead singer of this song is now “Freddie Mercury” for the Queen cover band Queen Extravaganza).

Just listen to the lyrics and focus on God for about four minutes!

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-Esteem

I grew up in the midst of a relatively new social experiment that has taken hold of our society.

Self-Esteem

I know many people who struggle with self-esteem and/or have struggled for a long time.

It sounds so good!

“Believe in yourself!”
“Find your self-worth!”
“You are beautiful!”
“You are precious!”
“Look within yourself to find happiness!”

It all sounds so great, until you get to that last one.

Self-esteemers are big on finding what is good in you and latching on to it. “It is the good in you that gives you a good self-esteem!”

My pastor recently shared with me some information he read. It looked at the claim that so many people are in prison because of low self-esteem. After surveying several inmates, it was deduced that they did not lack self-esteem. If they lacked anything it was a proper distinction between right and wrong or guilt over what they had done. Many were confident in and of themselves. The only real hit they took to their egos was that they were arrested.

Self-esteem was not the issue.

(We might even find many of them were told they are great and can do anything as they were growing up.)

It can also be tough overcoming low self-esteem you are constantly told about how great you are, how much you can accomplish, or you are basically good, and find out how untrue these can be.

Children may be told time and again that they can do whatever they want, yet poor children are often told that they are worthless by much of society.

So many are told they are able to do great things, yet they are not always given the opportunity to learn or try (for myriad of factors) and are left in their failure.

We are told that we are basically good, and then we struggle with our imperfections and failures.

And what do we find when we look inside ourselves?

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

It is easy to see that most of us are not that good. We feel the truth of how not good we can be when we get cut off in traffic and yell at “YOU IDIOT!” We feel the truth of how messed up we are when we see injustice in our world and want to destroy those who perpetrate it. We feel the truth when we break a rule “because it is silly, anyway” (like when we drive 5 mph over the speed limit).

It gets worse when we read the next verse in Jeremiah:

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Many of us might say, “Yeah, but I have not done as many bad things as others?”

a) But we still understand we are not as good as we like to think.
b) If we have to justify ourselves by comparison to others, that becomes a self-evident point to our not-goodness.
c) By God’s standard, all sinful deeds are choosing our own will over His, they are disobedience.

We have little within us to make us completely happy.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Isaiah 64:6

There is hope for us, though:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Colossians 2:20

Our worth is found through self-esteem. It is found when we esteem the Creator and Lover of our souls who saved us from ourselves!

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:4b-14, NIV

How Sweet Are Your Words

About  month ago I posted Psalm 119:89-104. The reason for that was that my Theology class was assigned this passage for a memory quiz. We had to write out all 16 verses from our choice of translation as accurately as possible.

I typed it out for my blog as a memory aid.

The day it posted online was the day of the quiz. I was going over it before my Preaching class started, and the professor asked if I had an opening thought and prayer to share with the class (he likes his students doing that in this class). Since I had it in my hand, I said “Yes,” and quickly decided which words to share about this passage. Below, I will expand on what I shared in class.

Proverbs 119:89-104, ESV

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:1-3, NIV

If I had not delighted in your Law, I would have perished in my in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:4, NIV

I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies. I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
John 15:18-20, NIV

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected     has become the cornerstone,”

and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:1-12, NIV

This is true for the pastor and for the regular church-goer:

We are called to be a royal priesthood. It is our calling, in Christ Jesus, to share the good news of Christ Jesus with the world.

How can we do that if we do not know His written word?

Through the Bible, our Lord has revealed to us the truth of His character, plan, and will. We must be saturated by His word if we are to be fully effective as His witnesses. (Note I said “fully” effective. God can and does still use us to achieve His will, just keep in mind that He uses the wicked as much as the justified. i.e. Look at the Antichrist.)

As we have begun teaching in our youth group, this requires knowing God’s word through prayer, study, fellowship, and meditation.

  • Prayer: Ask God to reveal His truth and help you retain it.
  • Study: Intentionally read through the Bible (one book at a time) to find the full context and meaning.
  • Fellowship: Discuss what you are reading and what God has revealed with others. This lifts each other up and protects from misunderstandings and false teachings.
  • Meditation: Not like in Eastern religions in which you empty yourself of thoughts and emotions. This is intentional thinking over the words, meanings, and ideas being expressed. This is focused thinking what God is revealing. This is allowing God to imprint it in your heart and mind.

This is not a suggestion. To be fully effective for God, we must make sure we “sought Your precepts,” “consider[ed] Your testimonies,” and “do not turn aside from Your rules,” “for You have taught [us].”

God Himself has taught us what is good and right, and we know this best from reading from the Bible regularly and allowing it to transform our lives to the likeness of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father.

(Or am I being to strict about this?)

(No. I am not.)

An Evolution of Fear … of the Lord

Proverbial Thought officially finished going through the book of Proverbs this past Thursday, but it will always contain great commentary and wisdom!

On a similar note, I receive a daily devotional thought every weekday from a great friend. What is amazing about God is that, although I have discipled him, he often challenges me in my walk through his short texts and helps me learn more about following Christ.

Also this past Thursday, he sent out a question as opposed to a typical commentary-type message. Today, I share with you our exchange, only I will put in some the quotes of each verse(s) mentioned.

Ok, so I would like input if anyone gets a chance. I want to hear what your take on the “Fear of the Lord” is. I am doing some interesting lexical study and would like variety! Check on Proverbs 1 [v. 7: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.], Isaiah 6 [note Isaiah’s response to seeing God and the message he is given], 11:2,3 [And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LordAnd his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.], Deuteronomy 28:56 I believe? Or 26:58 [Deut. 28:58: “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God . . .”] … Anyhow, give me thought, ideas, beliefs! What does fear mean in these passages. And I can tell you they are all the same Hebrew word, Yare, with the primary definition: to be afraid of or fear (in the very traditional sense). But his many other peripheral definitions that include the likes of reverence, awe, and deference. [This link is for BlueLetterBible.com with a look at the Hebrew.] Let me know what you think!
My response is as follows. Please keep in mind, I am speaking from my studies and experience and not necessarily according to a specific theological system.
From what I have learned it can mean all of those things. I stand with the idea that we begin with terror of the One who can destroy us, move to a simple fear as we come to faith, and grow into a reverent awe (respect, love, and amazement) as we are drawn closer in Christ. As we consider the fates, if you will, of others, we should find a healthy mixture of all. He has given us, as believers, a responsibility over our fellow Man, so we still face some judgment, though no longer condemnation. The more faithfully we live, the less terror we will and should have (from dread to simple fear to deeper humility).
What say you? Do you have any thoughts on this matter? He was appreciative of my comments, but perhaps I need to continue working on my understanding, as well!

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 02/02/2014

Get a closer look at wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

O Christian, may this be a blessing to you, a reminder that our God is always close at hand. Always.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

And Jesus tells us in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” And in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” with John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.


objects are closer than they appear

we pray for Your closeness
we expect to turn and see Jesus
we expect to see Your angels
we watch for great miracles

what if we are looking too hard
what if we are looking the wrong way
what if we are looking too far
we only need to hear You say

“I am closer than you are aware.
 There is no need to look here and there.
 My servants and signs are closer than they appear.
 Believe when I say I am near.”

we may not always see Christ
because we refuse to look inside
some great miracles are missed
because we may be looking for the big

we need to remember Christ lives within
and that angels appear as men
and miracles come both small and large
but God always resides within our hearts

A Simple Look at the Trinity

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There is an objection to Christianity, or even within Christianity, which may be raised: the Doctrine of the Trinity.

There are various sources of this argument: Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, Muslims, Jews, and many other sources including some people from church who may have doubts.

The biggest reason is that the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible. The Trinity is the belief that God is one Being with three distinct Persons (not simply personalities): God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.

This is true, but there are many things that are believed by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and various cults and belief systems that are not found in scriptures. They are inferred from readings. (One example could be “falling in love with Jesus”. Not in the Bible, but the phrase conveys the need to discover the truth, grace, and love of God that can change your life.)

However, the title says this is a simple look at the Trinity. Therefore, I will merely give a mental exercise which can also be used as a form of apologetics:

To the objection that there is no Trinity and Christians worship three gods:

Look at this man (any man, really). He is a father. There is his child. Do you dispute he is a father?

Look at this same man. Here is his father. Is this man also a son? How can he be two different people.

Look at this same man. He has a license to heal the sick and prescribe medicine. Is this man also a doctor? How can he be three different people.

Obviously I must be talking about three different men, right?

Please remember, there is no perfect analogy for describing/explaining God. This is not me trying to say I understand God. This is merely a tool to help us understand a little better how God can be three and one at the same time.

It is my prayer that this may help you in understanding your faith in a better way or in sharing your faith with others.

If you are not a Christian as you read this, I pray you may understand better what Christians truly believe. Naturally, I hope you would also come to believe as I do in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world!

Wholly Yours with the David Crowder Band

Make sure you read David’s wise words on Proverbs 26:23 at Proverbial Thought!

Last week we listened to Five Iron Frenzy’s song “Dandelions” and looked how we are like weeds, plants out of place, but the most beautiful flowers in God’s sight when we are in Christ.

Here is another look at who we are, this time through the lyrics of David Crowder.

Consider the following passages:

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Matthew 13:3-9

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Luke 6:43-45

God created us from the earth, and we are frequently referred to as soil or plants (which grow from soil).

Earth is soil which can support life.

Dirt, on the other hand, is misplaced soil. While things can grow from dirt, usually all you get are weeds or weak plants.

Only with soil do you get strong plants which are capable of producing good fruit. Good fruit are good deeds, good speech, and praise of God.

Weak plants and weeds do not give good fruit. Any good deeds from people like this are tainted by pride or do not have lasting or good results. There is a lack of, if any, praise to God.

And the thing that needs to be remembered is that only God by the grace shown through work of the crucified Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit can make us clean soil, fertile soil capable of growth and good fruit.

Listen to David Crowder and his band worship God for His creation and grace. Read the lyrics, and I pray grow in some understanding of just how much our God has done for us out of His love for us.

Wholly Yours by David Crowder Band

I am full of earth
You are heaven’s worth
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity
You are everything that is bright and clean
The antonym of me
You are divinity
But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I wanna be holy like You are

You are everything that is bright and clean
And You’re covering me with Your majesty
And the truest sign of grace was this
From wounded hands redemption fell down
Liberating man

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy like You are

But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean

Glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy, holy God

So here I am, all of me
Finally everything
Wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly Yours

I am wholly Yours

I am full of earth and dirt and You

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 10/06/2013

Love God with your mind, and find wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

God loves us in amazing ways. That is the entire point of this poem. It is a brief look at how much God loves us.

how much does God love us

just how much does the One True God love us

He created not just a plant

or solar system

or galaxy

but a universe

how much does He love His prized creation

He never gave up

sent messengers

forgot our sins

sacrificed His Son

how deep does His love truly extend

He left paradise

became one of us

redeemed us

made us His holy children

Out for a Walk

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Out for WalkiesWP_20130323_002

I currently live in an apartment, for a couple more months, at least. We eagerly await the day we can move into our new home.

Living in an apartment with a dog requires taking many walks for exercise and “potty breaks”.

As we walk along together, I let my puppy scamper around wherever he wishes in the grass and rocks, even letting him choose where he “does his business” on our mini-journey.

Sometimes, he gets a hold of a bone of some sort, a plant with spines or bad fluids inside, or a piece of garbage. I have to take his “treat” out of his mouth, even though he does not care for me doing so and would rather keep this seeming “prize”.

Sometimes, he rolls through something, such as another dog’s waste or some mud. This requires taking a bath as soon as we are back at the apartment, even though he does not care for it at the time and seems to prefer his new smell.

Sometimes he begins to stray into the parking lot, driving lanes, or even the road. I have to pull him back, even though he does not care about it nor necessarily understand why.

No matter what, though, I give him some freedom to choose where he goes on our path. However, I am the one ultimately in control of the path we take. He chooses some of his stops, but I am the one leading the way (even if it sometimes looks like he is!) to get him where I want when I want. When we eventually move into our new home, he will have more freedom to choose when he goes outside.

Human WalkiesWP_20130329_070

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9

This is not a debate about theologies. Many of the soteriological theologies agree with what I am about to express.

God treats us much in the same way.

While we live on this Earth, God gives us some freedom of choice in many areas.

We often choose to put things into our minds and bodies that harm us, make our minds, bodies, and souls sick. Sometimes, God has to help us, but it can hurt, be uncomfortable, or even be embarrassing. It is for our benefit to be made healthy and whole.

We often choose to put ourselves in situations that sully our character or reputation. Sometimes, God has to wash us, but it can hurt, be uncomfortable, or even be embarrassing. It is for our benefit to be made clean and pure.

We often choose to stray from the path of righteousness. Sometimes, God has to pull us back to save us, but it can hurt, be uncomfortable, or even be embarrassing. It is for our benefit to be made holy and righteous.

Every step of the way, though we make some choices, God is leading the way. He knows our choices before we make them, but He is in the business of redemption and grace. He leads along the path of life, until He finally takes us to our new Home with Him.