Tag Archives: Christianity

My Plausible Solution

Listening or thinking?

So for those of you jumping in on this blog post, this is a continuation of my last post. So to sum up, I essentially mocked (well, not really but kinda) the use of the question “What does my heart sense God is saying to me?” I said what I said about it because nobody in the Bible ever had to ask that question. If God wanted to say something to someone, he said it, and the person receiving the message didn’t have a doubt about what God said, or that it was even of God. It’s very cut and dry. Just go read the last post.

Okay, now that you’re up to speed, I also said that I think there’s actual worth in the question, though not in a way that most people look at it. Most people mean or understand that question as an actual listening for the voice of God, or looking for an idea impressed on their mind, or SOMETHING at all involving a possible tie to God, and assuming it is God giving them a revelation.

And now that I’ve thought more on it, I think that I was stretching it when I said I think there’s worth in the question. Instead, I’d like to offer an alternate (and easier) solution to this quandary. And I think that this solution is what actually happens most times when people think they are listening for the voice of God.

So there’s this thing called a conscience. One also possesses a brain, and theoretically some amount of wisdom. Also the Bible. Why in the world would God give us these things if we were merely supposed to listen for God to tell us what to do? Why would God give us the capability to solve problems if the only problem solver should be God?

Just so you know, those questions are rhetorical.

Look, we have a moral compass, called a conscience. This isn’t the Holy Spirit, this is a (almost) built-in feature of the human. Atheists have a conscience; one doesn’t need to be a Christian to have one. Yes, Christians tend to keep their consciences in better shape than atheists, but that’s because we have a reason to. The conscience is a feature of our ability to understand that sin even exists, which came into existence starting with Adam and Eve. So we have a conscience, which is from God, but not God himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, in my opinion.

We have a brain (mind, rather), which is great for using to solve predicaments and problems. I think of this as the objective part of our spiritual self. We can analyze a situation and know what is the best thing to do. Wisdom is acquired over the course of one’s life, and not an inherent part of us. Thus we can grow in wisdom and further our capability to think, which can be used to advance our spiritual walk with God. Again, this is made by God, but not God himself.

Finally, there’s the Bible. The Bible is the handbook of the Christian. The Bible is full of wisdom and insight, and holds much of the history of Jews and Christians, giving us historical accounts to look back on and learn from. There are important principles for Christians to follow, and they are all right there in the Bible. This is wisdom and knowledge preserved and handed down from God, so that we can learn and develop as Christians. This is from God, but not God himself.

You bring these things together and you have a powerful set of tools to use in divining the best way to go. The trick is to be able to trust ourselves, and be as honest with ourselves as we can. And you don’t have to trust just yourself, there happen to be other Christians in the world to bounce things off of. I don’t think God gave us all of this so that we can ignore it and just ask him for all the answers.

When I got into my teens and later, my parents gave me more and more freedom. They allowed me to start making more of my own choices. I usually had the option of getting advice from them. Sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I had to make my own choices, making up my own answers. Sometimes I failed, sometimes it worked. But I certainly became more mature quickly when I started taking responsibility for my own choices, because suddenly, I had to think for myself. My parents instilled in me the knowledge of the basics, but I didn’t take those lessons to heart until I put them in action in a previously unencountered situation. Figuring out how to use what I know is the fastest way for me to learn something, because I can’t just suck off of Mom and Dad’s expertise anymore. Yes, I get their advice, but I’m the one who ultimately chooses what to d0. And that’s the best way to mature and grow, in my opinion.

I think it’s the same with God. God gives us the knowledge in the Bible. We get to draw on the history of the Bible to study the stories of different people who made certain decisions that ended in certain consequences. These accounts can sometimes relate directly to a situation we may be in, but not often. We have to deduce and decide for ourselves what is most prudent, and sometimes we may be wrong, sometimes we may be right. But then we now are putting what we know into practice, and our faith becomes ours instead of being the faith described in the Bible. I think we learn the most when we fail. I certainly do.

I simply think that it makes more sense for God to have us decide what to do using the tools he provided us with, rather than provide us with powerful tools and have us sidestep them.

Now, what I am not suggesting is that God never speaks anymore. I just think he doesn’t actually speak to us as often as people would like to think.

It also depends on what people think about when they talk about God speaking to them. God can “speak” through the Bible, meaning that God provided the Bible for us as His word, which contains the truth of God. However, there is a difference between God “speaking” through the Bible as in the conveyance of moral truths and God actually using particular passages of the Bible to speak directly to the reader. And that’s actually likely going to be another blog post yet. Involving misusage of certain verses in Jeremiah that talk about God knowing the plans he has for you. But again, another blog post.

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So I wrote most of this post a week ago, and I’ve tried to proofread it a couple times but had too many other things going on in terms of missions trip preparation (and taking care of the girlfriend :) ) to really set aside time to do that. So I’m not entirely sure if I stayed exactly on topic or even ended up on the same conclusion that I started with, but I had promised this post to you a week ago and never got it to you. So I figured I should, in whatever state it may be in. Feel free to critique it, smash it to bits with your razor-sharp logic, or feed it to a friend who would think this post is heresy, and let me know how it went. Or even post it on your Facebook wall and make fun of me. Seriously, this is me partially reasoning out loud so that I can cement thoughts in my head and get opinions on it. So tell me what you think. Even if it’s a “That’s stupid and you’re wrong.” Or a “I really dig it, man. Totally groovy,” even though that pretty much tells me nothing. If there’s a concept that I started but never seemed to get around to finishing, or if I was just too plain confusing about something, ask me to elucidate. So yeah. Anything. Go for it.


My Unpopular Opinion

So for one of my missions trips, I received a big ‘ol package of preparation material and such. I haven’t really thoroughly explored it until recently, and when I did, I noticed a prayer journal they encourage you to use to “ignite” your prayer life. So I opened it up and started looking through it.

Week One, Day One- Time With God

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Okay, cool. Good verse. Talks about being honest and real when you’re praying to God, and not to be showing off or whatever for the people around you, because this is contrasting to the hypocrites mentioned in the previous verse. Then I keep going.

Jesus didn’t mean that we must go into a room and shut the door. He did not do that when He prayed. But He did find ways to be alone with God, and that’s what He is telling us to do today.

Oh. Really? That’s what the Bible’s saying right there? Ummm, so what about in Matthew 6:5, where Jesus says to not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray to be seen by men? Is the solution really to just be alone with God? This passage isn’t about necessity of praying when you’re alone, it’s about the perspective one needs to have when engaging in prayer. Prayer is a conversation with God, whether in a group setting or by yourself. But prayer is about God, not about you. That’s what the verse is saying.

So I skip down to the journal part of the devotion, and the first question goes like this:

What does my heart sense God is saying to me?

When I see this question, I picture myself when I was younger, closing my eyes and concentrating as hard as I could to try to hear what God was saying. I would try to keep my mind as blank as possible, warding off any possible distracting thoughts, and I would curse Satan when he wouldn’t let me hear what God was trying to tell me. I eventually figured out there was something wrong with that.

My beef is with the idea of needing to ask the question. If God is saying something, your heart doesn’t need to be uber spiritual at the time. You don’t need to be prostrate and fervently praying before God to be able to “sense” God saying something to you.

Exhibit A: Numbers 22. Balaam and his donkey. If you recall the story, Balaam was pretty much blind to God. But God had something to say to him anyway. And God made sure that Balaam heard it and followed it.

Exhibit B: The book of Jonah. This time Jonah was vehemently opposed to doing what God said, but God got through to him anyway.

And take into account every true prophet in the Bible. They didn’t give a message saying, “This is what I sensed God was saying to my heart.” They would know beyond a shadow of a DOUBT what God was saying, and they didn’t need to even ask the QUESTION! God just said what needed to be said, and nobody had any question about whether it was God or not. Why would it be different for us?

I do think there’s a good reason why that question is so popular though, and I may blog on that next (I’ll give you a hint, I think it actually is productive, but not in the way people mean it or take it). However, right now I have Bible verses and a testimony to memorize, and I need to train my evangicube skills. So I need to go do that. But I’m doing prelim forming of the next blog post in my head already, so expect that sometime in the next week. It’ll also likely be a long one.

So yeah. Discussion is definitely encouraged; in writing this rather strongly weighted opinion, I don’t want to discourage other perspectives, so discuss away!

(Btw, here’s the next blog post in the series.)


Brainflip

So there was one time when I thought “livid” meant something like being tired, uncaring, and all-around apathetic to the situation.

That’s not what that means.

There was a time when I thought a testimony simply meant the story of how one came to Christ.

Yeah, that’s not what that means, either.

Ever been in that kind of situation? Where you’re trying to make sense of something based on what you thought, and then realize it’s completely different? I had one of those today. I call them brainflips.

So today, I was at a meeting for my South Africa trip. We were talking about testimonies, and working on forming our own in preparation for the trip. For my entire life previous to this, I’ve tried and given up on trying to create a testimony, mainly because of my preconception that a testimony is all about the story of how I came to Christ.

Now, I believed in Jesus’ saving grace when I was 3 or 4. There’s not a whole lot of story to that, and if there was, I don’t remember anything about it. I could easily make something up. I could say something about how I was just a bad kid before I accepted Jesus as Savior, stealing cookies, jumping off the roof, and driving the car unapproved by my parents. But that wouldn’t really be honest, and likely not very convincing to the person I’m talking to. They’d probably know that I couldn’t possibly reach the cookie jar at age 2-3. So I can’t really lie. And besides, lying wouldn’t help my cause very much.

But here’s what I realized today. It never clicked in my brain WHY the purpose of testimonies even exist. Testimonies are meant to be a segue into sharing the gospel. The purpose of a testimony is to share where you’re from, what Christ did for you, how it has impacted your life, and why the person you’re conversing with should be interested in it. I never thought of it before, but I mean, that’s exactly what testimonials are on advertisements. They’re stories for the reader to relate to in order to give the reader reasons why to purchase the product.

So after thinking about all that, and with some ideas from some friends, here’s a go at my testimony.

God blessed me by giving me parents who loved him, and taught me about him. Because Jesus was a part of my life from when I was three, he protected me from the things that you usually hear about in the “before” region of a testimony. All throughout my life, Jesus guarded me from resorting to doing things like drugs or alcohol, because he gave me a reason to live with purpose. He gave me hope that no matter what happens, the most important thing is him. He died for me, paying for the penalty that I would have otherwise received because of the bad things I’ve done. Without that, I probably would have no reason to live right now. I would have no reason to abstain from things that make me feel better for a little while, but are bad for me in the long run. Christ preserved me, and saved me from my sins so I can have eternal life with him when I die. I’m eternally grateful to him, and I know he can give you the same hope and purpose in life. Would you like to know how to have that same hope?

So there’s the rough draft of my testimony right now.

As always, please comment below upon my thoughts, whether positively or negatively. I’d really appreciate your input.


Selfish God

So, interesting thought I came across. Something I had been pondering awhile and something atheists like to bring up to sorta give a bad taste to Christianity.

“The Bible says that God is a SELFISH God. Doesn’t God say to NOT be selfish? Isn’t that hypocritical of your precious God, and a bit egotistical?”

I never really figured out a good answer to that one. I mean, other than the fact that God is sorta the one this world revolves around, since he created it and all. But it still had that bad taste I couldn’t get rid of, you know? There was something about that statement that assumed something that wasn’t fair to assume, and I couldn’t figure out what. But a couple weeks ago, my pastor brought up the subject in his sermon, and I found his analysis to be very useful.

The first thing we have to look at when thinking about this topic is what the word “selfish” really means. When we use the word selfish, it has a bad taste to it because the action of being selfish is, well, self-centered. Why is being self-centered a bad thing, though? It’s usually because the person being selfish isn’t worthy of it. They don’t have the right to make the world revolve around them because they almost never are fully responsible for their success. There’s ALWAYS a team element to any kind of success. As a band, to get big, you have to have fans, connections with people who can get you where you want to be, and talent. As a corporate executive, you never get where you are by yourself. You have people that work under you, that you pay to do things for you that you could never do yourself. Yes, you may be responsible for much of the company’s success, but the rest of the company is also responsible for the company’s success. Nobody can ever accomplish ANYTHING alone, there’s always something/someone else backing you, whether indirectly or directly. So when someone starts acting like it’s all about them, people get mad because there are way more people that also deserve the attention that that person is attempting to usurp.

Here’s the difference. God had NOBODY backing him. He actually DID do everything himself. He created something from nothing. There was nothing previous to the universe except HIM. He actually does deserve the glory because he is completely and utterly worthy. So yes, he is a selfish God. And it’s not egotistical because it CAN’T be, in that sense. He wants us to worship him because he really is all there is. So there.
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Currently listening to: I Got Rhythm by an eleven year old Sam Scott. It’s awesome, definitely check it out. Here’s her album on CD Baby.


I really dislike churchspeak.

So you know how churches will put little one or two-liners on their signs sometimes? Well, I tend to like to pick them apart because of their inaccuracy, ineffectiveness, or churchy language. And I drove past one the other day. This one said: “People disappoint. God never will.”

Now, for a Christian, I think this works quite well, and I don’t really have many qualms about this statement because I know what they mean. God doesn’t disappoint because he will always keep the promises he has made. Always. So in that sense, God will never disappoint.

But the thing is, this sign is obviously not meant for fellow believers. This sign is meant for outreach to nonbelievers. So what does this statement mean in their view?

Well, it’s possible that they could take it in the sense that it was meant to be taken in, in that God will never break his promises. But how can a non-believer possibly be expected to understand that? If I were a non-believer, I would probably think that God was the solution to all my problems, and my life would immediately be better because God wouldn’t disappoint my expectations. Death is a good example here. Say my dad suddenly became ill, and I expected God to heal him, since God supposedly never disappoints. And then my dad dies. What would make me want to trust what that church says, and in turn, what the Bible says? My misinterpretation of a poorly conveyed Biblical truth could make me turn against Christianity just like that.

I really dislike those church signs.

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Currently listening to: Afro Blue by Sasha Masakowski