Thursday, January 29, 2015

Something For Nothing

What do you have that you did not receive? -1 Corinthians 4:7b 

In one of my favorite movies, there is a line which goes, "Quid pro quo, Clarisse, quid pro quo,"  whereby the speaker reminds the woman in question that there is a price to be paid for what she is seeking.

One of the themes of this film (and its well-made sequel which I like even more) is the question: how much are you willing to pay to get what you want?

What if I told you it was free?

Yeah right, I hear you saying. We are such cynics, aren't we?

Do you suppose that's the reason we find it hard to claim the love, joy and peace we've already been given?

Is it why, instead of counting our blessings, we list our complaints.

Is this the cause for my being barely able to imagine heaven, I mean its possibility for someone like me, much less what it must look like?

Yet I am assured "the richest of fare" "without money and without price." All the days of this life, I am promised "goodness and mercy."

I read that this is not the result of anything I have done or can do. Even my response to the command, "Come unto me," is because I have been "drawn" to come, given the desire to come.

It really is free.

Already paid for, you see.

Oh it didn't cost me anything, but it cost Someone very dearly.

It cost Him everything.

Friday, January 23, 2015

How Do I Love Thee?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, it always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-5;7

Sometime ago, I blogged here about the nature of love: 

Love has again been on my mind as I look around me.

"You just don't understand," is a common variation on the theme, "Men just don't understand." One hears it so much one has to wonder, why hasn't anybody wrote a symphony around this subject?

Even I, who, as you know, have been blessed with a wife who dotes on me and forgives my many shortcomings, sometimes hear this all-too-familiar tune.

Male- female thing, right? Battle of the sexes and all that?

But I'm not here to hate on the ladies (believe it or not). No.

The thing that concerns me most is how we guys fail to be leaders in our homes and relationships. 

I make the assumption that, as Christian people, we are all familiar enough with Scripture to agree on this foundational fact of relationships: The man is supposed to lead. And there are many qualifications, admonitions and instructions to guide us in this concept.

The problem is, I think that we guys in seeking to be sensitive have succumbed to the current definition of LOVE.

Now I am about to step on many toes here and opine that for some, this definition seems to be, "Don't tell me what to do, but affirm me in what I feel is right and proper."

Hmmm? Did I say that?  Is that really the mindset of some in defining what they will accept as "love" from their mate, their friend, their co-religionist, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera?

If you think about it, we all have exhibited that very mindset in relating to our Lord and God. True?

If I really and truly love you, am I not responsible to not just question that mindset, but invite you to do so? To lovingly ask, "Is that really what you think?"

Being shaped in part by our environment (who was your mother? who was your father? how did they interact?), we bring certain assumptions to any discussion.

All I'm saying is we need to examine those assumptions in the light of God's word.

And men, we are admonished to seek wisdom, in part, to be able to lead in these discussions.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I'm not angry, I'm just sayin'...sometimes goodbye is a second chance.- Shinedown

You have noticed, I am sure, that songwriters tend to work out personal issues through their craft. Not always, mind you, but often enough.

In the above-quoted example, the notion is put forth that sometimes the best way to love someone and get along with them is to be apart from them.

I can see the truth in that, can't you? Barring a deep-seated bitterness, we usually remember the good when we recall the past. I think fondly of friends and family who are separated by many years and many miles.

After all, it would be churlish of me to recall the minor slights and annoyances I suffered at their hands, would it not?

I have been blessed with forgetfulness of the occasional wounds that must come when we interact with our fellow fallen humans.

It may just be a product of old age that this is so. Or perhaps all the drugs I did way back in the sixties.

At any rate, I thank God for a short memory. It alleviates a lot of pain, I think.

I would be especially fearful, I were Buddhist, say, of the sin of scorekeeping.

One might come back in the next life as an elephant.

Sounds like a drag.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What God Doesn't Know

Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose. -Isaiah 46:10

What interesting conversations we have! To see things through the lens of God's word and in the light of His reality leads us to share our faith with those who might not be Christian by sometimes simply sharing our joy in Christ.

But I think it is with brothers and sisters in Christ that I most enjoy conversing. Speaking with a friend of long-standing the other day, he expressed an astonishing opinion.

"I believe that God has laid out since before time what will come to pass, but He doesn't know exactly how it will happen. That is in our hands."

This is a variation of a notion called "Open Theism."  Here is a detailed explanation:

As I reminded my friend, there are more than a few passages that speak of God's ordaining knowledge of everything that will come to pass and the manner in which these things will occur.

None of which make God the author of sin (Psalms 5:4; James 1:13-14; 1 John 1:5).

The two most well-known are Joseph's reminder to his brothers that God had over-ridden their evil intent toward him to bring about good (Genesis 50:19-21) and Peter's Pentecost message that God in His sovereign foreknowledge turned the most heinous crime ever committed into His greatest gift to mankind (Acts 2:22-24).

Maybe the thought of God's gentlemanly sharing of His power and glory is appealing to some (in fact, who among us has not occasionally attempted to usurp these?). But God has given the lie to this notion (Isaiah 48:11).

Do you agree that we all share the common failing of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought? We are tempted constantly to elevate the creature above the Creator. Even our worship services may tilt from the vertical to the horizontal if we are not careful.

I think my friend spoke without considering the implications of his words: that  a God without all power and all knowledge simply ceases to be God.

And that can never be.