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Archive for the ‘God’ Category

God’s Creativity

I never ceased to be amazed at the creatitivity, simplicity and elegance with which God designs the universe and the world we live in.

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Thinking Out Loud

The more I listen, the more I’m beginning to wonder if wisdom is the permission to see and thus live life from God’s perspective.

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God Colors

What’s your God color?

I love Eugene Peterson and The Message.  I was reading the Sermon on the Mount this week for work and loved it.

13“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”

14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven”

I love that image of “God-colors.”  It is so easy to default to thinking God will speak to humanity through nature or the written word, but it is we who are to be how people experience God.

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A Threatening God

Growing up God always seemed angry to me.  My image of Him was someone always watching out, the great cop in the sky.  He always had one eye glued in my direction, waiting for when I screwed up.  And this image, which I now hold was my own image cast upon him, drew me into a deeply religious life of perfection.  I had to be good.  Then God would like me.

This image was like a threat.  If I wasn’t good, I was going to hell.  And so I said the sinner’s prayer (like many) a thousand times.  I wondered if I had said it right because it didn’t seem to change my life in an observable way.  Perfection was not to be had.  Throw girls and puberty in the mix and I was a disaster.

But now it seems to me that the issue of threat is such a fantastically easy yet somewhat immature motivator for action.  I can use it on my children, but it does little more than get them to stop what they are doing.  It doesn’t change their heart.  It is only when I approach them in love, as human beings with a heart that I affect something deeper.

Is God’s use of punishment deeper than simply a threat?  Is it more wholistic than that?  If it’s restorative, then how does that influence our views on punitive justice and even hell?

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God Takes Sides In War

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Intellectual Christianity

Recently I was doing some work that required me to really think about the early parts of my Christian faith.  This period for me was marked by what I would call an intellectual Christianity.  I had the head knowledge but virtually no heart knowledge.  And what hit me is that intellectual Christianity is both easier in the short run and harder in the long run.  And let me first say that I was a card carrying member of this clan.  I could hold my own against the best of them.  So this is my story.  If its not your, no worries.

It’s easier because it allows us to remain in control.  Faith, which isn’t really a faith at all, is more a well developed castle of reason or a logical argument.  It’s a mental ascent of information that we hold, which sadly allows us to look down on the world.  It’s facts and figures, collective propositions and statements put together in a reasoned way.  To gain this information is actually quite easy to do through a systematic theology process.  It just takes time and a willingness to accept the information.

I grew up in this world.  Much of my spiritual upbringing was an intellectual faith.  And this approach favors those who are smart.  Apologetics becomes a playing field of discourse for argument and debate to see who can build the best castle.  The winner is not who can pour his life out in love but the person who can offer the most logical, reasoned expression of the Gospel.

The problem is that this discourse is always designed to be combative.  In order to win an argument, the game pits people against each other.  It quickly becomes a chess match to see who can outwit each other with the smartest point or comeback.  If you have rhetorical skills or wit, you are in an even better position.  As Peter Rollins so aptly pointed out, most of our energies are spent looking for our opponents weakest point so we can postulate our strongest point.

The deeper issue is, and the reason an intellectual Christianity is harder, is because its power lies in the argument of being smart and having a well developed castle.  But as new information arises, information that poses a threat to our castle, we are less likely to integrate this information because to do so would be to reveal our weakness.  And weakness is not part of the game.  So it becomes very hard to hold the defenses up, so as not to be swayed by competing points of view.  Instead of wrestling with it and holding the tension in a healthy way, we’ll expend our energies searching for the right quote or passage that seems to fit, even making it fit.  Our feedback loop simply refuses to see new information that becomes available.  And this defense process is exhausting.  It actually is very destructive for relationships because as I learned, people don’t remember what you say, they remember how you make them feel.  If you make them feel like crap, their likely not to listen to much that you have to say.  Inversely, if you make them feel loved, they will listen to just about anything you have to say.

Intellectual Christianity is deeply rooted in Greek ways of thinking.  It’s the idea that we should know everything there is to know “about” God.  It’s sadly devoid of relationship because it never requires you to “know” God, which requires trust and surrender.  I really never found it transformative. And what is also sad is that the journey from head to heart is twelve inches, but often a lifetime of work.

It wasn’t until I surrendered my chess pieces and watched it all come crumbling down that I found life.  My restoration came when I abandoned my castle and saw the world from the ground up.  I wasn’t better than anyone.  I was loved by God like everyone.  And it was now my responsibility to reveal that love to the world.

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Rollins On Knowledge

Peter Rollins is blowing my mind.

“God is not a theoretical problem to somehow resolve but rather a mystery to be participated in.  This perspective is evidenced in the Bible itself when we note that the term “knowing” in the Hebrew tradition (in contrast to the Greek tradition) is about engaging in an intimate encounter with God rather than describing some objective fact: religious truth is thus that which transforms reality rather than that which describes it.  (p. 23-24)

Peter Rollins in How (Not) To Speak Of God

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