Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Recent Thoughts on Life Part 2

More thoughts on life as of late.

There has been a restlessness that has settled in my heart and mind over the past few weeks. It feels like a sort of wandering spirit settling in, the kind you get when you feel discontent with your life and what is going on; the kind of feelings I have known best in my life as depression or as grief.

Dealing with three deaths that all happened in a span of less than two weeks probably has a lot to do with it. Being confused about being out of school has some to do with it too; in this regard it is mostly with the job situation and not knowing what direction the Lord is leading me. It also has to do with the pain I am in because of my hand. Taking 800 mg of ibubrofen every 4 to 6 hours, as well as taking antibiotics, have done a number on my mind and emotions as well; I do not do well taking new medicines. The pain and the blur in my mind because of the medicine have made it hard to think about things, and to be honest, I have no idea where to start or how to sort out grieving for three people all at once.

I have ALWAYS been a sensitive person in just about every way, and have also always had a tendency towards a melancholic disposition in general as well. A lot of the things I have been taught along the way through therapy, my own formal education at college, and through personal study have really started to become ingrained into my mind, which allows me to be able to deal with my emotions in healthy ways and to be able to identify how I am thinking about things that come up in life.

Some of the time I am able to see how ridiculous I am being or am able to see why I am feeling or interpretting an event the way I am. Sometimes I am faced with the fact that I "know" how I am thinking is out of step with the Word, but I don't know the reality of what He has promised in a real way; in other words, I see that it is my unbelief that is caused me distress. A lot of the time when that happens I ask the Lord to reveal what He needs me to know and to give me open hands to recieve it.

For God's Sake, Let Grace be Grace!

"If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah."
-Isaiah 1:9

The video below speaks enough in itself as to what I am thinking and feeling lately, particularly in regards to salvation.

The Gospel is robbed when presented as a person's being regenerated depends upon them. When that happens, God doesn't save anybody; He only gives the possibility of them being saved. But the Gospel teaches us that God actually saves people; His saving is efficaceous.

As Christians, we are often okay with admitting that we need some help from God in our lives, but overall we are really all okay. We deserve God's favor.

Only when we see that we are undeserving, that we are guilty, that at this very moment we deserve to die and suffer for an eternity because of our sin, only then can we know what it means for God's grace to come to us.

I have been reading through the Old Testament, in no particular amount of time, and recently finished Isaiah. I have been perplexed by many passages in Isaiah, as well as by many passages in other places in the Bible, in regards to things future for the world.

I do not at all think of the future of the world in a doom and gloom scenario anymore, but I can't quite tell what Scripture actually is trying to tell us about what lies ahead for us. There seems to be a larger number of texts that actually speak of things getting better, texts which cannot reasonably interpreted in any other. There are, of course, other passages that, even when excluding the grossly misinterpreted pieces and putting them into the right perspective, attest to an increase in godlessness in "the last days".

I often wonder if we can know anything about what the biblical prophecy regarding the future is actually talking about, as it is easy to interpret whatever is happening at the present moment as the "beginning of the end". This has been the case for most, if not all, of history for those who have concerned themselves with taking the Bible seriously. In recent times, it has moved from black people and communism to hispanic or middle eastern people and "the possible rise of socialism turning into a one-world system of government, which will pave the way for the AntiChrist to reign in case it is not Obama, which he probably is so we need not worry. (In any case, separate yourself from the world, wait for God to take you up in the clouds, and watch the rest of the world become obliterated by God's wrath. Follow this three-step plan and you will be fine.)". Seriously?

Not to press the point, but even how narrow our scope of vision is is not an entirely perspicuous matter. The restoration of Israel as a nation, which is supposed to be fulfilling prophecy that tells us that the end is very close, has happened 5 or 6 times since those prophecies were written. God is true to His word, but God is true to how He means what He promises and not how we interpret (or misinterpret) what has been said.

I do not know what to make of a lot of things in the eschatological area, but I am not distraught over not knowing. I am, however, becoming aware of how much what we believe about what God will be doing in the future shapes how we live and think about the world and our objective as Christians as a whole. People say that eschatology is an "unimportant" aspect of the faith, which it is a secondary issue, but people live out of what they believe in this area, even is they are doing it unaware of how much their thoughts on this area underlie a lot of other areas.

The River Church
Yesterday was an awesome time of worship at the River. You could really hear the people there pouring their hearts out to the Lord in song. The music had such a deep reflection of the Scripture, which made it easy for me to feel comfortable singing and becoming absorbed in God's presence. I can't quite say what it was about our gathering yesterday; something was different and I can really sense that God is at work, but that is about all that I can tell.

Joey's preaching has seemed to shift from being imperative to becoming a lot more centered on indicatives; in other words, a shift from "What would Jesus do?" to "What has Jesus done?" Both indicatives and imperatives are important aspects of preaching, and finding that balance is definitely hard to do, as I have found out from teaching at a Bible study.

It is kind of funny, because all of the pastors at the River have a gift for preaching through narrative passages of Scripture. These types of passages are harder to preach through for a lot of people, myself included, but God has definitely given them all the gift of teaching these sections of Scripture in amazing ways.

Apart from some of really well-known pastors/teachers, Joey does the best job of teaching through narrative passages of anyone I have heard. I think some people have that gift, and he is definitely one of those people who has it. He has the ability to really exposit the text itself and sticking very closely to it, while at the same time making the text come alive so that it is understood and its relevancy is seen.

There is much going on at the River Church and at Confluence, and am glad to be a part of it. I have said this before, but I will say it again. Our church has some really awesome leadership. I am really glad to have their guidance and feel them to be people whom I can willingly serve under their spiritual authority. The way a lot of the structure at the River is really helps it to function as well as we do. This dimension of the church is something that many churches fail in, which inevitably leads to A LOT of other problems.

I have more thoughts, but that's enough for now.

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