Do you believe in miracles?

I think most people would answer YES to that question, but what I’m interested in is what you really believe in your heart…in practice.  This is one of those areas where we often have quite a big gap between what we SAY we believe and what we in fact REALLY believe in practice.  Don’t get what I’m saying? It is the difference between saying God could heal your loved one of cancer and praying audibly while laying your hands on your relative for God to heal them. Without action behind our beliefs the Bible makes it clear its hard to make the case we actually believe something.

Why you may be inclined to believe in miracles:

  • You experienced one personally
  • Someone close to you experienced one
  • You were in the room when someone claimed to have received a miracle
  • You have been part of a faith tradition that taught you to believe in them regardless of your experience
  • You have a need for one

Why you might not believe in miracles:

  • You have prayed frequently for many years and have not received one
  • You have not known anyone personally who has experienced a miracle
  • You were taught that they no longer happen and only happened in biblical times or never at all

Maybe you are in yet another group, maybe you don’t really care either way if miracles still happen (or ever did for that matter). For you life is all what you can see with your eyes, hear with your ears, touch with your hands…you tend to stay from thoughts of the supernatural or extraordinary.

So I invite you on this journey as I process through this thought of Miracles….stay tuned for more posts on the topic, meanwhile I would love your thoughts on this: do you believe in miracles? Ever experience one yourself? If so please share it….

God & Sports

Did you hear about the high schooler who got a flag thrown on him because he pointed to God after his touchdown?

Or what about Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson dropping an easy, game-winning touchdown pass last week and then twitters this;

Personally I think this highlights what is wrong with our world today. One high school football player gets penalized for a simple gesture thanking God for his success while a professional NFL Football player blames God for the lack of it.  Admittedly I still struggle to find redeeming value in the wonderful world of sports…but that’s not to say there isn’t some out there. Maybe out on planets where life feeds on arsenic?

Selfish Theology

I’ve noticed something lately that is troubling me that I would call “Selfish Theology” or “Self-centered Theology.”  I’m sure we all have slid into this type of thinking when it comes to how God interacts with our lives from time to time, but I am sad to say there are a number of Christians out there who operate completely with this sort of theology.  I believe it to be an extreme take on the whole Jesus as our “personal” Savior idea.  Those with this type of theology read the bible with a “what is God going to say to ME” approach. No matter what they are reading, they interpret it to hold a direct message for them. I think this is dangerous for a number of reasons, not the least of which that God said particular things to particular people.  For example we read in Genesis 12 Abram getting his promise from God that through him God will bless him and create a special nation of people. Now most of us would read this passage and understand this promise is for Abram and doesn’t apply to us specifically.  Can you imagine if I opened up my bible and read this text and attempted to apply it to myself? Maybe there’s couple out there that has been trying to get pregnant for years…after literally hundreds of prayers for God to bless them with a child they read this passage and “claim it” as a promise from God that they too are promised offspring. While this may seem like something God might use His Word for I think it’s the wrong way to read the bible.

In seminary my professors hammer home the point; context! context! context! The importance of reading the bible as a narrative is vital to interpreting it properly.  We shouldn’t take a verse or passage out of context and attempt to apply it personally to our lives UNLESS the text encourages us to do so.

Now I hear some of you out there responding with 2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,  rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

While I would definitely agree that Scripture is God-breathed (inspired by Him), it is important not to forget what the ALL at the beginning of that verse mean; ALL of the bible, cover to cover is inspired…the whole not just the parts are inspired. In other words the Story is inspired, not just the sentences within the Story. Each of the verses and chapters within the bible are parts of a greater whole that God’s Word comes out of.

Last week in Portland we were hit with our first Winter Weather. As usual the local news stations had a field day with all the reports of pending weather disaster.  Amazingly the school district I work for decided to close schools on Tuesday.  Now I am sure some of the Christian students I know were praying for a snow day (and I imagine so were some of the teachers as well) but what would you make of a student who prayed and claimed rather excitedly the next day that God answered their prayer knowing that they needed a day off? Wouldn’t it seem selfish to proclaim that God would actually cancel school just for little old you? Now this type of “faith” might be praised by some, but where it lacks is taking in consideration what God answering that prayer means for everyone else. Think about all the teachers who had a particular lecture or test planned for that day? Or what about the bus drivers and other school support staff that don’t get paid for a day off from school. What about the “weird” student who might have actually been praying FOR SCHOOL because they had an important conversation that needed to take place or they come from a troubled home and school becomes a needed escape for them?

In the end there is no simple answers when it comes to issues related to God answering our prayers, I just wanted to bring to light what I’ve been observing as of late our tendency to have a selfish view of how God interacts with mankind.  As we seek to connect with God in 2010 and beyond may we do so understanding what small parts we play in His universe/Kingdom.  Even God’s Son Jesus wrestled here and landed with these words which should reflect the basis of our theology;

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

Did God Do This?

Last summer Tyler and I did a bible study  on God’s sovereignty. One of the questions you wrestle with when you talk about God’s sovereignty is to what degree does God control life on earth? Does He control things like the weather, car accidents, earthquakes in Haiti, planes flying into buildings or lightning destroying statues of His Son?

Not sure if you knew of this statue before, but it actually was one of the ten tallest statues in the United States.  It had a lot of nicknames; Touchdown Jesus and Big Butter Jesus being the most common.  The “King of Kings” statue as the church calls it stood tall encouraging those speeding past on I-75 for many years until last Monday night when it was struck by lightning and burnt to a crisp. This is the kind of story where I don’t know whether to laugh at the coincidence of lightning taking out a statue like this or wonder if God was showing His disapproval of this statue (maybe He prefered a darker complexion) or something going on at the church. 

What is your first/gut reaction? Coincidence or God’s Providence?

(Thanks to Marko for tipping me off to this story. You can read more about it HERE including a local news report on the statue)

The Soul of Parenting

Growing up did either of your parents tell you that there are things that you simply wont understand until you are a parent yourself? My mom still loves to tell me this frequently…usually when she is trying to express the unique love a parent has for a child.  Recently I watched the first two episodes of LIFE a new Discovery Channel series that follows in the footsteps of their award winning Planet Earth series.  I am usually not the nature show kinda guy (I am from Detroit remember?)…admittedly I tuned in because it was in HD and was narrated by Oprah.  Surprisingly I was sucked in and enjoyed learning about the complexity of life in the animal kingdom.

In the first episode I was particularly amazed at the story of what great lengths a mother frog will go for her babies. She climbs all the way to the very top of a very tall tree with a tadpole on her back, which is the equivalent of miles for her to travel to drop her baby in a pool of rain water formed in a center of a plant.  Even more amazing is that she doesn’t do this once but multiple times for each of her little ones and continues to feed them with her own eggs for weeks!  Amazing! Later on they shared about a giant octopus that once pregnant finds a cave and lays there to her death to simply take care of her 100,000 baby eggs.  Now that is devotion! I see that kind of devotion in a lot of the parents I work with in middle school, parents working multiple jobs to get their kids through college, some driving everywhere under heaven to make sure they are socially involved. Sadly I also see some lacking the short of devotion needed to raise a kid in today’s world…ones who seem to have given up a long time ago and are merely hoping they turn out well. 

Oprah quotes someone  saying that the “soul of parenting is the capacity to sacrifice.” I think this is what my mom is getting at…this unique bond between parent and child seems to be instinctual scientists might say. I however believe it has to do with us being like our Daddy…that whole “made in His image” thing? The heart of our Father is to sacrifice for His children, which is the very thing we celebrate this Easter week.

If you haven’t yet check out LIFE on Discovery pretty cool stuff.

It’s Still Raining

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it’s still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you”
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I’ll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can’t find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away

I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth