Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ummm...That's a Lie

I've been blogging randomly since the beginning of 2014; this makes the blog much harder to write. So I've decided to start a new series, which I actually was thinking about a few years ago. The series will be titled "From the Dead" and will be centered on the places in scripture where someone who is dead comes back to life! I had to put an exclamation point, because that just feels exciting.*

Most Christians are hoping to be raised from the dead, as opposed to being a live witness to the second coming of Christ. Non-Christians might be like: "that's silly" but trust me...there are some drawbacks to being around at that particular time. Trust me. In any case, I thought it would be great to write a few blogs on resurrection, which is basically the foundational hope of Christianity. Why do I say it's foundational?

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  - 1 Corinthians 15:13-15

I really love this scripture because it's super convicting. Am I the only one who thinks it's strange that the worse thing is not
  1. That the gospel (for which Paul was whipped, beaten, stoned and shipwrecked for preaching) was useless
  2. Your faith is useless

Really? To me, the uselessness of the gospel and my faith actually would have been the worst thing. Not to Paul. The absolute worst thing would have been his misrepresentation of God. The worst thing would be attributing to God something that He didn't actually do. Or sometimes the worst thing is assigning a false "why" to something He actually has done.

We (myself included) tell these sorts of lies on God all the time. 

For example:
  1. Lying about the position of God's heart - We do this by thinking "God must hate me" when a series of tragic events come to pass in our lives. We can sometimes get so caught up in our suffering that we start accusing God of all sorts of malintent.** Even though scripture blatantly tells us otherwise (Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, and the list goes on and on).
  2. Lying about God's motivation - To put it simply, by believing that our actions are the driving force behind God's choices about our lives. In short, bad things happen to bad people; good things happen to good people. Only. So when something good happens, thinking: "Because of my faithfulness, or because of my goodness, God has blessed me with XYZ." And likewise: "If you were serving the Lord fully, this stuff wouldn't be happening to you. This is a wake-up call from God." 
When I hear stuff like that my eyes shrink into tiny slits of incredulity.  Why does God have to wake me up with a lightning bolt? I'm pretty positive I could be gently shaken awake... AND, I'm pretty positive all the people who are "#blessed" are not as pure as the driven snow.

More importantly, when we think this way, we rob God of His sovereignty (conceptually of course). When you think like this, YOU are sovereign. You're the captain of this ship and you can turn God at will based on your decision to do "good" or "evil." While it would be amazing to have that level of control...we just don't.

Jesus said as much while strolling down the street with His disciples:

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  - John 9:1-3

I love that the disciples find there are only two possibilities: either this man sinned, or his parents sinned. There was an assumption built into their approach to God. They didn't ask: "Why was this man born blind?" because they already "knew" the answer to that. They already believed a lie.

Harmless mistake?

Not in Paul's opinion. And not in God's either:

...the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right... - Job 42:7

The biggest karma peddlers in scripture are without controversy Job's three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. God was angry with them for assuming and speaking falsely about both His heart towards Job and His motivations regarding Job's trial/test. 

Are we the Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar in our own test? Are we the three friends condemning ourselves (and accusing God) in our own trial? Are we being that kind of friend to our friends?

Have we believed the lie? And if so, who are we telling it to?!

* This is not a part of the series. I was derailed by this random thought while studying.
** malintent isn't a word?! It's slang for "malicious intent"...I'll keep using it anyway.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Want to Be a Genius

Writer's block is real. I've wanted to write a blog ever since Portland, but inspiration has been far from me. Or, something would inspire me, but I could never really grasp hold of it tightly. I couldn't turn an idea into anything more than an idea. Then, today, at work we had an "All Hands Controller's Meeting" which is really just a plain old team meeting.  At the end of the PowerPoint presentation outlining our key performance indicators, there was a quote with a picture of Albert Einstein (genius):

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein
I have included a picture of young Albert Einstein because I get tired of seeing just one view of him: disheveled genius. He was young and dashing, as well as a super smarty, at one point.

oh la la
But I digress, a little. In any case, this was a great quote, and though I'm sure I was supposed to apply it to my job: How can I understand derivative valuation and analysis enough to explain it simply? Hmmm. I'm not ashamed to say I'm not there yet.  Every time someone asks me "what is a derivative?" I die a little inside. Not because I don't know, but rather because I can't tell you without using the words "underlying", "notional", and "net settlement" at which point your eyes have glazed over. And if I do tell you without those words, I run into the second quote in the PowerPoint: 

"Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein

I have to say this quote actually blew my mind a little bit. It is an incredibly hard task to make something easier to understand, without removing the complexities or ignoring critical nuances. And that, my friends is the reason for my writer's block. I have wandered into territories (spiritually) where I don't know enough to carelessly toss it in the blog. And if I did know, and from what I think I know...I'm afraid of what I might be losing in the translation from my head/heart to the page!
Long story short, I'm worried about my lack of genius.
As I've said before, I'm on the Bible in One Year plan, and we just got around to the "genius" of biblical times: King Solomon. King Solomon comes to the throne as a "man of God" and there's this day where he offers 1000 sacrifices. And in response God says "Ask what you wish me to give you." I immediately stopped reading and thought: genie-in-a-bottle! Like, what do I want most? If I was in Solomon's situation...what would I say? Then I read on:

Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” - 1 Kings 3:7-9

To keep it real, I rolled my eyes. And immediately said to myself "It's EASY to ask for wisdom when you already have everything! You're king!" I wasn't impressed. 

But GOD was.

It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. - 1 Kings 3:10-12

...those were legitimate things he didn't ask for. See, my carnal mind went automatically to ways to discredit his righteousness, so I wouldn't be accountable to it. But, aside from his riches, he had no way of knowing how long he'd live. People with money always want more money, and as far as enemies? Those need to be eliminated. Especially in those days; that was real life Game of Thrones! But he didn't ask for any of that. He didn't ask for what would keep him in his position, but rather for what would make him do well in his position. 
So, I've been praying for wisdom lately. Which is a departure from my usual prayers:

"Dear Lord, where is my husband?...Dear Lord, I'm ready for a promotion at work...Dear Lord, Mega Millions?...Dear Lord, I have this doctor's appointment next week..."

Don't be deceived. The prayer for Wisdom hasn't replaced the others, but it is an add-on. But really, it's the biggest thing.
For if you cry for discernment...
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom
- Proverbs 2:3-6 

Wisdom is at the bottom of a lot of values lists, when it should be searched for like a hidden treasure. But the real clincher is this: God gives wisdom!

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. - James 1:5

Wisdom, unlike everything else I pray for, is guaranteed. That's a downer to some people, because all the other stuff is SO important (and it's important to me as well). However, to pray for something and KNOW it is God's will for me to have it takes the really hard "faith" part out of it. I can get wisdom. And as my faith grows, I'll get other stuff too. But wisdom is an excellent, awesome, guaranteed starting point. 

I'm kind of geeked about it.  I might not be a genius...but, you'll see. The blog will get wiser. 

Summer of wisdom!