What My Faith Means to Me #3 Final Chapter

It is a universal law that all action has both cause and consequence. Movement, whether physical, mental, moral or of some other type begins with an identifiable reason and affects something else through its occurrence. The love of God for His creation is no different in this respect from any other movement in the universe except that is cause is within God Himself. His nature is complete in itself and from His being all things were willed into existence. But the consequences of His nature occur outside of Himself, therefore, the consequences of His nature and action are evident in His creation.

When I first became aware of the immensity of God’s love and sacrifice for me I was stunned and exhilarated. Unfortunately, that was all that happened for a while. I did not want to cross that bridge that was laid down for me at such a high price. Yet, as water slowly moves around, under or through obstacles in its path, so the force of God’s justifying action moved me toward the bridge over the vast gulf separating God and man.

As we honestly confront the reality of God’s efforts on our behalf, we are drawn toward Him. Moving closer, we want to become more like Jesus and we want to serve others, just as He served us. While our imitation of Christ will always be imperfect, and while our sinful nature will always try to turn us away from the light and back toward darkness, the positive effect of God’s movement toward us will always be stronger than the propensity to sin which is in us.

In his commentary on the Gospel as presented by St. John, Rober Barclay asks of Christianity, what other force in the universe has the power to make bad men good. Maybe in the end that is what we should think of when we ask the question which led to this paper. When I think of God, I think of the One who can make bad men good..

For more on sanctification see:

Trust God’s Process

Learning to Love

God’s Victory Over Evil in Us

What My Faith Means to Me #3 continued

Despite the many signs of God’s love all around us, I still remain far from the Creator. It’s been said that, if you have never stood before your God in fear and trembling, you have never stood before your God. This is indeed how I feel when I think of the Person we call the Father. He seems so remote, so Other, that I can never hope to come near to Him. How can we possibly relate to someone or something so far outside the realm of our experience. How can such a distance ever be traversed, such a chasm ever bridged?

Then however, we come upon the great evidence of God’s true nature in the Person of Jesus. What kind of God would suffer for humanity? What kin of God would allow Himself to be debased and humiliated by His own creation? What kind of God would stoop to save such a world as this? There are only two possible answers to these questions. Either God is totally mad or God is completely and utterly loving and therefore no action on His part can be too much. Now by definition, God cannot be mad, since He, as creator, is the arbiter of all objective reality and therefore what we call madness would not be madness if it reflected God’s vision but would, in fact, be Truth itself. The only possible answer then is that God is totally loving in a way that beyond our finite understanding.

As I think of God, therefore, I must now think of a God who bridged the chasm between His creation and His otherness. I must contemplate a God who came to us so we could come to Him Then I must take the next step. I must consider what effect such love and action will have on me and on my life.

Final episoode coming soon ……

For more about the love of God see:

Hesed–God’s Love in Action

Martin Luther on God’s Love (Agape)

Perfect Love

What My Faith Means to Me #3

This was written by husband for one of his seminary classes, and I thought it went along well with the earlier posts by our daughters when they were confirmands.

When I think about God I think first of the awesome wonder of a Being who can create all that is from nothingness, simply by willing it into existence. It is so far beyond my understanding that simply trying to establish boundaries for this act of power, to express parameters for such a God is impossbile. My mind can conceive many wonderous, Wonderland-like things, but creation, ex nihilo, is so frar from my understanding of what is possible that I can only accept it on faith.

The author of Hebrews describes faith as …the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (11:1). Hope and evidence, yearning and established fact. It is in this faith, this gift of God that I can come to terms with that which is beyond knowing. The Hidden God reveals Himself to His creatures in ways which we can only dimly comprehend. In this realm of the poorly understood Truth, we are forced to become like children, guided toward places we can only imagine, trusting the choices of the loving Father who leads us.

When I was a child my father would take our family on Sunday afternoon drives in the country. After leaving our neighborhood I would be totally lost, unable to recognize any reference points in the landscape around me. Yet I never worried about the unfamiliar homes, fields and woods that we saw. My trust in my dad’s ability to bring us safely back to our home was absolute.

distant man driving fancy red cabriolet along town street

Just so my faith in the loving heavenly Father is absolute. As my father’s repeated ability to find our home again reinforced my trust in him, so the long record of God’s faithfulness and care for His people reinforces my trust in Him. In Scripture, in the lives of people I have observed, and in my own life, God’s faithfulness is always apparent, always comforting, always objectively true.

To be continued …..

For more about faith see:

What Does It Mean to Walk by Faith?

What My Faith Means to Me #2

What My Faith Means to Me

A Spanish Birthday Song?

As I’m writing this post, my husband and a member of our congregation are attending a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend. In prayer for that retreat, I read through the Pilgrim’s Guide, a booklet of prayers, songs, and psalms that is given out to all first time attendees. One of the songs is Las Mananitas, a traditional Spanish song that’s used in Mexico as a sort of “Happy Birthday.” It’s also sung on other occasions such as Mother’s Day and the Feast Day of the Lady of Guadalupe. On Via de Cristo weekend, team members sing it on Sunday morning to awaken the first-timers. What a blessed way to start the day!

The composer is not known, and since it has a long history, there are many different lyrics and variations. Here’s one version:

For other songs used on Via de Cristo weekends see:

Just A Closer Walk With Thee

Wind, Wind Blow on Me

Lord I Lift Your Name on High

A Glimpse of Heaven

Because the 4th and 5th chapters of the book of Revelation have been coming up in different ways in my study life, I decided to do a lectio divina reading of this text. In chapter 4, here’s what stood out for me:

“After this, I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!” Revelation 4:1a

How amazing and wonderful that God would allow John (and us) a glimpse of the world to come! The description of heaven is, well, unworldly. Like nothing ever seen before. John uses words that describe valuable gems, robes of pure white, golden crowns and crystal. Imagine the most ornate and beautiful throne room and multiply that image by a million. The eyes are dazzled.

The animals around the throne are also only “like” the ones we know on earth– a lion (majesty), an ox,(strength) a man (intelligence) and an eagle (sovereignty). They are covered with eyes–maybe denoting that in heaven things will be seen completely and clearly. There are hints of the natural world, too– thunder, lightening, a rainbow. The kinds of things that produce awe in us, even here and now.

Everything is about the worship of God. This reminds me of the Santus, a hymn that used during many Christian liturgies:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,
heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Glory be to thee, O Lord most high.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

When you worship on Sunday, remember the communion of saints — those in heaven are worshipping right along with us! Keep that beautiful glimpse of heaven with you for the rest of the week!

For more about heaven see:

Heaven is a World of Love by Jonathan Edwards — Book Review

90 Minutes in Heaven — Movie Review

Living in Heaven

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What Matters Most?

The true proficiency of the soul consists not so much in deep thinking, or eloquent speaking, or beautiful writing; as in much and warm loving. Now if you as me in what way this much and warm love may be acquired, I answer, — By resolving to do the will of God, and by watching to do His will as often as occasion offers. Those who truly love God love all good wherever they find it. They seek all good, they always acknowledge and defend all good. They have no quarrels. They bear no envy. O lord, give me more and more of this blessed love! It will be a magnificent comfort in the hour of death to know that we are on our way to be judged by Him whom we have loved above all things. We are not going to a strange country, since it is His country whom we love and who loves us.

St. Teresa

For more about love see:

Hesed–God’s Love in Action

Charity = Love

Learning to Love

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza– Book Review

I’m choosing to review this book, not because it is Christian, but because it is important. It describes a situation that is tragic — a black teenager is shot and killed by two policemen. He doesn’t hear their calls to stop because he is wearing ear buds, as he reaches into his pocket for his cell phone, they assume the worst and respond with deadly force. The story is told from the point of view of two protagonists — the black journalist who is assigned to cover the shooting, and her best friend –the wife of one of the policemen. (this book also has two authors, one white and one black) Both sides of the question are presented honestly. The real difficulty, it seems, is a failure to communicate difficult feelings, feelings that are hard to accept and understand. Bringing them into the open is key to resolving issues around race in our society today.

We Are Not Like Them: A Novel by [Christine Pride, Jo Piazza]

Will these two women be able to remain friends? The question is left unanswered, but they are trying. Is there an outcome to this kind of situation that will satisfy everyone? Probably not. One thing is clear — race is an issue that must be brought into the light and discussed, and the only possible solution is a very Christian virtue — love.

There are discussion questions at the end, and this would make an excellent book club read.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Excellent and thought-provoking. It’s a new book that you can probably check out of your local library.

For more book reviews see:

,Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi–Book Review

A Couple of Good Books

Grace by William Kent Krueger–Book Review

Manger by Lee Bennett Hopkins — Book Review

Manger by Lee Bennett Hopkins (2014-09-01)

This book for youngsters is based on the Germanic tradition that the animals in the stable spoke on the night when Jesus was born. Each animal portrait, beautifully and realistically done by illustrator Helen Cann, is accompanied by a poem about the Christ Child. Each poem is by a different author, and all are simple enough for young children and early readers to understand. Every animal has its own gift to offer the special baby.

Children and parents will fall in love with the lovely pictures and tender message. It would make a nice Christmas gift, and reading it together could become a treasured tradition.

VERDICT: 5 STARS

For more Christmas books for children see these posts:

Christmas Every Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren–Book Review

The Silent Noisy Night by Jill Roman Lord — Book Review

Who Sang the First Song by Ellie Holcomb — Book Review

His Commandments

I’ve come to the last chapter of 1 John in my lectio divina study, and here’s what stands out for me:

“…his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3b

Many worldly people believe that to become a Christian, to submit to God’s will, would impact their life in a negative way. How boring to spend free time reading the Bible, praying, and going to worship services! How dull to be barred from behaviors that our society considers acceptable! Life would not be fun at all!

When our children were young, we tried to stress the truth that following God’s rules was not meant to be a punishment, but would make our lives easier. We might miss out on some momentary “fun” but the rewards were far more important. We would have better relationships, a support group in our church family, peace during difficult circumstances, and more. Better yet, at the end of our lives, we would not have too many regrets.

In the book of Matthew Christ tells us:

 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

That yoke is really simple, in fact it boils down to one word: love. Love God and love one another. The more you practice love, the easier it will be. And the rewards are great.

23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” Romans 6:23

For more about obedience see these posts:

A Long Obedience In the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson — Book Review

Walking in Obedience

Obedience?

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The Attributes of God

In my husband’s weekly Bible study class, we’ve been studying the attributes of God, and I thought today I would share some of that information with my readers. So far, we’ve gotten through what are considered the incommunicable attributes of God. Incommunicable means that these are qualities belonging to God alone, and they cannot be used in relation to human beings at all.

The first attribute is simplicity or unity. This means that all of the qualities of God are present all the time. He is merciful, just, holy, wrathful and more all the time and all at once.

The next attribute is self existence. God was not created,

The third attribute is immutability. God does not change. Although there are times in the Bible when God seems to change His mind, this is really for the benefit of humans — God already knows and has decided what will happen.

The fourth attribute is impassibility. God does not suffer or experience emotional changes. Again, when the Bible says God is grieved, this is really an attempt to explain things in a way humans can understand — it is not a statement about the nature of God.

The fifth attribute is omnipresence. God is everywhere all the time.

Finally, God is eternal. He was not created (see attribute #1) so He has no beginning and no end. God does not exist with time — He is outside of time.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around these qualities, isn’t it? That’s because God is God, and we are not. Later on I’ll post about the communicable attributes of God, which are easier to understand because there is some human equivalent.

For more about Bible study see:

The Greatest Bible Study

Study Resources for Ladies

A Prayer Before Study