Tag Archives: Savior

Powerful dramatic performance by amazing youth

My church’s youth drama club did this performance on Sunday. What a special youth group we have.  . .Such a blessing. I watched it with a big lump in my throat. The journey may be hard, but Jesus and his love prevail.

Please post your reactions or responses.

Perspectives- Ease and Struggle

We all have our troubles, and our issues. We all have pain, and problems.

In American, Jesus has often been sold like a product. When there is still struggle, disappointment,and  pain, the “Jesus is the Answer,” for some people just feels like a broken promise. Maybe even, a crappy snake oil kind of product. It’s quite a consumerist mentality.

ChineseJesus

Asian depiction of Jesus painted c.1880s

 

In many parts of the world though, being a follower of Jesus means one pays dearly. Perhaps in health quality, comfort, safety, status, personal/family economics, and in quite a number of cases, with one’s life. Is Jesus still the answer? Well, in the gobal South and East more adults have willingly claimed Jesus as Savior and Lord in the last 35 years, than in ALL the last 1,500 years combined. Christianity is booming like never before worldwide, and greatly outpacing any other belief system. One missiologist suggested, where there is struggle, oppression, and suffering, Jesus shows up.

(note: You may have heard Islam is the fastest growing relegion in the world, but consider that Muslims claim any one living in an Islamic state (at any age from birth on) and those under newly-changed Muslim governmental regimes, or anyone converted by force to Islam are considered Muslims in these tallies. A personal faith, or a conscious and unforced decision to choose one’s faith is not considered a criteria for Islamic adherence in these statistics.)

Simply put, the gospel message, and a person’s receiving of it, doesn’t result in an easier life. Maybe even the opposite is true, but it continues to be the hope and healing many give their lives for.  The affluence of America, and other Western countries, has seemed to create an entitlement mentality or expectancy of a time of comfort or ease for the spiritual journeyer. That concept seems to be a cultural construct, more than anything. And it seems a childish one, at that. We are here to help each through life, which can be very difficult indeed. There is something about the struggle that helps us grow, and makes us better than before, by grace.

I won’t kid you. Some people honestly need to be chemically helped with medication to feel well. That is in a different category, in my opinion. A doctor, and probably both a spiritual director and therapist can assist here, for those who cannot see life as anything but gloomy, or can’t get out of bed in the morning.

How does this play out in the real world, and in the blogosphere?

It’s quite interesting. I have stumbled on SO many blogs. So many perspectives. In them, people reveal who they are, and what they really believe in, value, or to whom they sacrifice. They tell who they count as important, whether they put themselves and their comforts in the center of their lives, or if they use their time to inspire. I have been saddened to see so many negative Christian blogs, consumed with bemoaning one thing or another.

Here are two authors whose blogs I visit. X & O

They are WILDLY different, and I still get baffled by it sometimes.

I visit one more than the other. One is a professing Christian, and one is not. Since I can’t be in the mind of either author, I must admit, I really can’t know what they experience, much at all. I can’t condemn either one, I don’t want to, and I won’t. 

Yet, one insight emerges after witnessing these two perspectives, when I ask myself,

“Who would I rather emulate?”

I ask myself, “How do I want to be in this world?’

I’ll leave general observations and summations to you.

If the exploration reveals anything for you–I’d be quite interested in your responses.

Who has inspired you, as you read various blogs?

And why?

“How Much Hoodoo / Voodoo do you do?” Self-test

This man just prayed, "God, give me sign if I should get a dog?"

This man just prayed, "God, give me sign if I should get a dog?"

(Was the cat joke too obtuse?)

Has a bit of Hoodoo, folk magic, superstition, and general hooey nuzzled its way into your theology? Probably. We all fall prey to cultural influences that don’t have a solid base in the nature of Reality, (i.e. our Creator and Redeemer) Take this self-test to know if you’re mostly hoodoo-free, or if you could use an excorcism, a bath, a dose of Reality, or just a good swift kick in the pants. Oh, and please, enjoy yourself. It’s all supposed to be fun, good-natured, and thought-provoking in a helpful sort of way.

Hoodoo Self-test

Answer true or false, and add up your answers as you go.

1. Once in a while you straddle a broomstick, and hope it will magically fly. (Or you think about doing it.)

2. Hogwarts seems like the ideal boarding school, even if there does tend to be a lack of supervision.

3. Sometimes you make plans, and then think to ask God to bless what you are doing, with a sign, if possible, to see if it’s “his will.”

4. You’ve gotten hurt or sick and thought it could be a punishment from God, (however, you hold back not officially citing it as “bad juju.”)

5. You’ve fairly certain you’ve been hexed or cursed by someone at some point in your lifetime, maybe by someone who hated you, or a band of gypsies.

6. If you don’t pray in Jesus’ name, you think your prayer could be a dud.

7. When you need to, you put out a (proverbial) fleece, much in the style of Gideon, to get confirmation from God.

8. If God seems silent on a decision you need to make, you check for “closed and open doors,” and pray more zealously about it.

9. Not getting in private devotional/Bible reading time with God can correspond to a bad day, (or an odd string of bad luck, or even a loss of mojo.)

10. You suspect demonic activity is responsible for a lot of your temptations, mistakes, and influences.

 

*Scoring: Add up true scores in a column, and then false scores in another.

1-3 True answers means that like many people you have been somewhat influenced by hoodoo folk magic and folk theology. The upcoming series will be of great benefit to you. Hold off on the exorcism-for now. But, don’t get too cocky.

3-6 True answers means that you have a bit of a problem area with hoodoo. (See my other post to learn more about hoodoo vs. voodoo. It’s oh so real.) You probably don’t realize the extent you are being witchy with God. Don’t freak out, he won’t put a bad spell on you, but I’m sure he yearns for you to get to know him, more for who he is. It could be more complicated than the voodoo doll slippery slope approach that can creep up unawares. It could be very comforting for you too, to hear a few fresh ideas. Check back soon for posts in this series.

6-10 True answers mean you have a hoodoo issue. Return any capes, magic wands, voodoo dolls, potions, or caldrons you may have purchased. They will not serve you well. It’s quite likely that you are incorporating some superstitions into your worldview, theological foundation, and everyday life. But there is always hope! God wants your liberation, and the journey to freedom, with him. It will be so restful at the end. You won’t have to keep looking over your shoulder, so that will be nice too! Check back soon for many helpful ways to rid your perspective of faulty notions of God’s nature, character, and actions; and learn of his redemptive agency in his created  world.


If you are ready to grow, be open, and BRAVE, leave your score in the comment section. If not, please post something you’ve been thinking about throughout this time. Thank you!

*(This test is mildly amusing, but not real, in any scientific way, so please don’t be upset however your score may come out. The idea behind it is to prompt thought about your beliefs and spiritual actions against the gracious, loving, true nature of our Creator and Redeemer.)

A few thoughts about needing signs, from my Savior and mentor:

“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” John 4:48  (Said despairingly of the Jews who rejected Jesus in Nazareth.) 

Matt. 12:38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” 39He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

This is the greatest sign and revelation that God is God, he came in the flesh, died, was buried for 3 days, and was brought to life again, which was witnessed by many. He is trustworthy.

“Is God Knowable?” (Response to reader)

Can we know God?

The easy answer would be to come out right away and say, “Yes!”

But, I won’t. I think the more honest answer is, “Yes and no.”

For one thing we can’t even know people that well. We can live with a spouse, or family member for years, and still find out new things about them, time and again. People are deep wells of information, experiences, natures, and characters… but through time and devotion, we can get to know them…. We never know them completely. What I mean is, we become thoroughly familiar with those we’ve spent plenty of time with, but it is naive to say we know them fully. 

BUT- what about God? God is SO different, right? He is UNFATHOMABLE. He created everything, and is everywhere, all-knowing, all-powerful, so says the Bible, right? How can we REALLY REALLY possibly KNOW him, right? He is beyond language. Correct? Well, the short answer is “yes, kind of.” 

God made it possible for us to have an amazing book in our reach called the Bible which talks all about him. It can’t capture him fully with words, but the narrative that runs like a river through the whole council of the Bible can loosely give a good contour of the Supreme Being that is all at once Almighty God, Father, Savior, Friend, and much more. We can’t sketch a sunset with pencil, but we can get some shapes down. We can’t use words to describe what tasting coffee is truly like, but with words, we can outline a bit what the aroma is like, and how good a warm cup tastes and feels when it is drank. One can imagine well what it is REALLY like based on a word description. So too with God. The reality of him can be known, but not fully grasped. He is knowable, but not fully comprehendible. It is limited knowledge, but entirely useful.

Let us not dismiss some of our best ways to encounter God by calling them shoddy when we use and trust language for so much else. It is on the basis of language, words, and propositions, that we first encounter all our initial ideas before they are incorporated into our lives. They are a starting point, not the end all be all to knowing God. Like any complex relationship, knowing God involves invests of time and devotion, not just mere research.

Do you know God? How have you encountered him? Feel free to leave your comments.