Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scandalous Love

I'm reading through the book of Isaiah these days, and I must say, I love it.  In these 66 chapters the prophet has condensed practically the whole of God's story of redemption.  This afternoon I came across a verse that struck me in its simplicity yet great depth.  Chapter 57 tells of the rejection of God by his chosen people.  They have turned from him and followed man-made gods instead.  (Not so unlike us today.)  Then we get to verse 18 which reads, "I have seen his ways, but I will heal him."  It's short enough that you might read right over it without stopping to feel the weight of what it said here.  In this chapter the Lord is calling to his people who have sinned against him to repentance.  What is so beautiful about this verse to me is the reminder that God sees everything I do, good and bad, and he still loves me.  He knows every foul thought in my mind and every careless word I speak, yet he still wants to restore me to himself!

In these nine little words God has summed up the story of salvation.  He knows the wickedness in each of us, but he offers us hope that we can be made right with him.  Here healing doesn't constitute physical healing but spiritual healing and restoration.  What an incredible picture of love we are given!  God loves with unconditional love that I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around.  It's scandalous really.  When I think about the punishment my sins deserve and how God declares me righteous because of Christ, it's nothing short of a scandal.  I think the beauty of the gospel is all the more precious as you realize how desperate you are for God and what it is exactly that he is saving you from.

Another thing that struck me about this passage is our utter dependence on God for salvation.  The ways of man lead us to attempt to save ourselves on our own.  We create idols for ourselves and set up lists of do's and don't's that we think make us acceptable for heaven.  When we compare this to the glory and majesty of the Living God we quickly see the foolishness of this.  But God has seen.  And He desires us to be right with him.  He alone is capable of making us righteous.  Praise God for his infinite mercy and love!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Called to Non-Conformity

I used to think that non-conformity was a bad thing.  I used to think that non-conformity meant being a rebel or a bad person.  I used to think that it was safer and easier to go with the crowd.  WRONG.

This past year has been a lesson in what it means to be a radical disciple of Jesus Christ.  It all began last winter at our church in Okinawa when all the community groups went through the book "Radical" by David Platt.  It's a book that changed my and Patrick's lives, and many others from what I've heard.  (Perhaps a book review will follow eventually.)  Nowhere in the Bible will you see Jesus talking about settling down into a nice big house with a picket fence, and living out your life in quiet oblivion.  Nowhere does He say that you should look out for your own welfare and safety above all else.  Jesus doesn't say it because that's not what Christians should be about.  We should be about sharing the gospel and bringing the salvation of Christ to the nations who haven't yet heard about Him.

God calls us to non-conformity.  Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Why doesn't God want us to conform to the world?  Because the world doesn't know God.  "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him." (John 1:10)  We are to be people who seek God and love and obey him.  We are a people set apart from the world to bring glory to our Father.  1 Peter 2:9 tells us that, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."  

Christians should be the epitome of non-conformity, or at least when compared with the rest of the world.  There should be a light that shines through us that is clearly different from the darkness all around us.        My constant prayer is that people would see something different in me and want what I have.  Any ounce of light that comes from me is not because of anything I did, but it is the work of Christ in my life!

So what does non-conformity have to do with being a radical disciple of Christ?  Plenty.  Jesus calls us to a life lived in antithesis to the world.  Where the world cares about health and wealth, we are to give up the material things of the world to gain that which is treasured in heaven.  We are to cast aside our anxieties and lay them at the foot of the cross.  We are not to be busy to the point of exhaustion, but sit at the feet of Jesus learning who he is and who he wants us to be.  But most importantly he calls us to GO.  Rather than store up for ourselves money and possessions on earth, we are to be willing to leave it all behind so we can go to the unreached people groups of the world and share the gospel.  That's pretty radical if you look at it through the eyes of man, but through the eyes of Christ this is what all christians should do.  We aren't supposed to keep the joy of the gospel to ourselves, but we are to share it with everyone around us!  When you look at the early church; the persecution and suffering, the boldness and preaching, these people wouldn't call themselves radical.  They would call themselves christians.

Somewhere along the way, we lost track of this idea of what it means to be a christian.  If being a christians means following Christ, even when it looks crazy to non-believers, I would stick with Jesus any day.  What about you?  How radical are you ready to be?

Sunday, November 20, 2011


If someone asked you to define yourself how would you answer that question?  Would your answer be your job?  Or maybe where you live?  Perhaps you define yourself by your political beliefs?  Initially my brain would jump to things that describe my life: military wife, daughter, friend, teacher, reader, writer.  Then I might start thinking about specific details that make up who I am and past experiences that have shaped my life.

What I've been discovering recently is how much I define myself by the externals.  Too often I define myself by the things I do not who I am.  Things like being a military wife, or a teacher, or even where we live.  While this might not seem like an overtly negative thing, what happens when that is taken away?  Who am I if I'm not a military wife, or a teacher?  My identity should not be wrapped up in these things but in Christ.  Because I am made in the image of God, it is God who defines who I am.  On a daily basis God is transforming me into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ.  Second Corinthians 3:18 says this, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

The beautiful thing about God is that he doesn't simply absorb us into Himself; he allows us to reflect his glory while still maintaing our individuality.  Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him." God didn't create us to be robotic clones, rather, he created us to be unique image bearers of Himself.  We are made to bring him glory by being transformed into the likeness of Jesus.  "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:29)

Sometimes I get caught up in worrying about what I can do to bring God glory.  It is here that I must stop a minute and remember that God is more concerned about who I am than what I do that brings Him glory.  Scripture tells us that we have been made alive with Christ (Eph 2:5) and that we are being renewed in knowledge in the image of God (Col 3:10.)  These verses are not describing acts that we perform or deeds we do.  Instead, they encourage us to be open to the work God is doing in us.  "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6.)  God is able to use me for his glory when I allow myself to be transformed by Him.

It's easy to get so worked up about doing things for God that we forget to pay attention to how he is molding us.  Being the kind of person that God created me to be will enable him to use me for the purpose of glorifying Him on earth.  So, what's your definition?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Power of the Gospel

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been reading through the Bible one book at a time.  I've been taking notes and doing more highlighting so I can have a better understanding of the purpose of each book and how it fits in with the meta-narrative of God.  Last week I read through 1 and 2 Thessalonians, which are two letters Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica (a city in Greece.)  Though short, these books pack a powerful punch dealing with the power of the gospel and warnings against false teachings within the church.

One thing that struck me about 1 Thessalonians was Paul's focus on the fact that there is power in the gospel message.  1 Thess 1:4-5 says, "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."  The gospel of Christ is hard to hear because in order to be transformed by it we must first come to terms with the fact that we are sinners in need of a savior.  No one honestly wants to own up to the fact that they are flawed or that they are incapable of saving themselves, but without this kind of introspection, we cannot be saved.  The realization of sin in our lives is painful and most want to avoid it.  However, when we realize our need for Christ, the Holy Spirit comes upon us with power to transform a life of sin into a life of grace.

1Thess 2:13 says, "When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." Christianity is not a man-made religion as some think it to be.  The word of God is just that, God's actual word to his people, and through that word there is transformative power.  God doesn't save our souls then leave us to flounder on our own.  He breathes life into us through the Holy Spirit and gives his word to us to show us the way of sanctification.

One of my favorite verses of all time is 1Thess 5:16-18 which encourages us to, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  This kind of joy and thanksgiving can only come through the power of the gospel.  It's no easy task to be joyful and thankful in every circumstance of life, but the grace of God gives us power to see the world with an eternal perspective; to see that this life is not all there is, but we are destined for eternity.  Only through the lens of the gospel do we find strength to give thanks even in our weakest moments.  In closing his letter Paul reminds his readers to live holy and blameless lives, and that, "The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it."  It is not by our power that we are sanctified but by the power of Christ Jesus!  Amen!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Letter from a Disgruntled Teaching Assistant

Dear Old, Crusty, Burned out Teacher who Should have Retired Years Ago,

  Hi, I know you don't know me, but I have a bone to pick with you.  I just spent 2 1/2 years working my butt off in graduate school to become a teacher, and now that I at long last have my certification, there are NO teaching positions available.  Would you like to know why there are no teaching jobs Mrs. Crusty?  Because teachers like you refuse to just quit already!  Admit it, you don't have the drive to teach like you did 100 years ago.  In fact, you don't even like kids anymore!  You've been teaching the same grade level forever, and nothing about the way you teach has changed since you first started.  You still use a chalkboard and have all the desks in rows for crying out loud! 

Why are you taking up valuable classroom space when fresh, bright-eyed teachers like me could take your place?  I actually like children, and unlike you I have something to offer them that you seem to have given up on long ago.  I have creative ideas that would get kids to love learning!  My classroom would be a fun place to be where students feel welcomed and loved!  I have the motivation to work late nights and weekends planning lessons that are fun and engaging.  When was the last time you stayed late?  When was the last time one of your lessons was actually fun?

  Face it, you had your turn at the chalkboard, and now it's time to clean the apples off your teacher's desk and make room for some new blood in your school.  Trust me, your students will appreciate it.  And so will I.


A New Teacher who is Tired of Waiting on the Sidelines  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Let the Nations be Glad! by John Piper

Let the Nations be Glad  has been called one of the foremost books on modern missions, and I can see why.  Piper is incredibly thorough in presenting his argument for why missions is necessary and why it is a joy to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel.  Piper offers scriptural evidence for his viewpoints, and gives real-life stories of the mission field bringing a personal depth to his writing.

"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn't."  We live in a world that does not glorify God as it should.  When we understand the greatness and glory of God, it is only fitting that we should share that knowledge with the world.  When we find salvation in Christ, we should desire that others find salvation in Him as well.  The gospel of Christ is not something to be hidden away, but is something to be shouted from the rooftops!  Psalm 67: 1-4 says, "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.  May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.  May the nations be glad and sing for joy."

One chapter in particular was extremely powerful for me and that was the chapter on prayer.  Piper reminds us that we are at war.  Not a war of flesh and blood or of guns and steel, but of spiritual forces.  Second Corinthians 10:3-4 says, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  Piper says, "Life is war.  That's not all it is, but it is always that.  Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth.  Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the power of darkness and unbelief."

The war Piper refers to is one between the spiritual forces of good and evil.  The battle is for lost souls.  God desires to bring all people to himself through belief in His Son, but Satan struggles to bring us under his control through the bondage of sin.  It truly is a desperate situation requiring a desperate reliance on God.  In wartime there is urgency and a dramatic shift in the way we live and the way we pray.  During times of peace and prosperity we let our guard down.  We are now living in a time of war as if it were a time of peace.  Piper poses that the reason so many of our prayers are ineffective is because we do not view prayer as our lifeline to God as we accomplish our wartime mission.  "Until we feel the force of this, we will not pray as we ought."

Through this book Piper offers incredible and detailed insight into many areas of missions, making it a staple for anyone's library who plans to help fulfill the mission of God in the nations.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Sweetness of God

It saddens me to hear people talk about Christianity as if it were a punishment.  Somewhere along the way people started thinking that to be a follower of Christ meant that there was no joy in life.  The idea lingers that if something fun, God hates it and will condemn you to hell for it.  Yes it is difficult to come face to face with the reality of my sin, but the grace I find in the arms of Jesus makes the pain worth it.  And let's not forget that God is the creator of pleasure and goodness!  He meant for us to have abundant life in which we enjoy the good things in life!  John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  God created pleasurable things for us to enjoy.  The problem comes in when, in our sinful nature, we distort what God meant for good and turn it into something destructive.

Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."  There is a sweetness in a relationship with God that, once tasted, makes everything else taste bitter.  I wish I could say that my whole walk with Christ has been characterized by this sweetness.  There have been moments where I didn't feel God's presence and questioned his faithfulness.  But through difficulties and trials, the Lord has brought me through to a point where I can lean on Him and know that he will never forsake me.  I know that I was created for more than plodding along with a mediocre faith till the last days of my life.  "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created." (James 1:17-18).

I long to know more of who God is and I am so thankful that he has chosen to reveal himself to us not only through his glorious creation but also through his word and through prayer.  Every day when I read my Bible and have my quiet time I am amazed that the book I hold in my hands is truly the word of God.  How incredible is that?   The more I soak in scripture the more I can't live without it.  The more time I spend in communion with the Living God, the more I don't want to go a second without praying to him.  And by praying I don't just mean bringing my list of requests before God but really listening for him to speak to me.  Learning to listen for God is a difficult process, but when I truly quiet my heart, I can clearly hear Him speaking to me.  It's been incredible to see how being in a relationship with God has completely transformed my life.

God is not a crutch as some think he is.  He is not a figment of my imagination that I made up to feel warm and fuzzy inside.  God is.  He created the world and everything in it and is active within his creation.  He calls his people to salvation and saves those who come to Him in humble submission and love.  He loves his children and wants to bless us abundantly and offers a life sweeter than you can imagine.  Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

If you have read anything by C.S. Lewis you know what a brilliant writer he is.  From the whimsical tales of Narnia to the theology-based apologetics of Mere Christianity, it is clear that Lewis has a gift for showing readers a different perspective on what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ.  The same holds true for The Screwtape Letters.  This is a book I think every christian should read; it will change your thinking in drastic ways.

Screwtape is a demon corresponding with his nephew Wormwood,  a young tempter.  In his letters Screwtape gives advice and admonishment to the young demon as he works on his "patient" trying to lure him away from following Christ.  Though fictitious, it is striking to see the world through the enemy's eyes, because so many of the thoughts and actions of the human in the story coincide with everyday experiences of all people, and many of these are propagated by the demons.

One quote that sticks with me every time I read this book is this: "Indeed the safest road to hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."  The  chief end of the demons is to drag the human away from the Lord and into hell.  They do this by manipulating the mind with subtle tricks rather than overt theatrics.

One chapter deals with the idea that there are troughs and peaks as we walk through the christian life.  After becoming a believer in Christ we do not experience a continual spiritual "high" or a conscious experience of God.  Rather, He wants us to learn to trust in who He says He is even when we cannot feel his presence.   As Screwatpe puts it, "He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles."  He goes on to say, "Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."  Though we don't always feel the presence of God, we are still called to obey his will for it is through this obedience and knowledge of Him that brings eternal life.

Spiritual warfare is a reality that many are not prepared to deal with.  God is clear in scripture that we are at war with spiritual beings.  Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground."  

I think the idea behind Lewis' writing Screwtape is to give us a glimpse into the spiritual world.  Yes, it is fiction, but I think he might not be too far off course with what he is saying about the spiritual forces at work in the world.  The devil wants us in hell and will stop at nothing to tear us away from following Jesus.  We must be prepared for these attacks in whatever form the present themselves.  This book will give you a different perspective that, while at times difficult to read and terrifying to think about, will help you stay on guard against the work of Satan himself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lounging on Quicksand

Lately we've been talking a lot about missions and our future plans to move back overseas as full-time missionaries.  There are several verses of scripture that have been on my mind lately in regard to all this.  One is from Matthew 19 when a rich young ruler comes to Jesus asking how he might enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus replies, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me."  When you have surrendered your life to Christ and abandon all creature comforts of this world to go to the nations to preach the gospel, this verse hits pretty close to home.    While I don't believe God calls everyone of his followers to give up absolutely everything they have, I do believe that this verse applies to our mindset as believers.  A second verse that has been on my mind is Matthew 6:19-20 which says, "Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

How easy it is to become comfortable on this earth by surrounding ourselves with material wealth and possessions.  This is an area that I still struggle with, if I can be perfectly honest.  While I want more than anything to be obedient to the call of missions, I still find it difficult to part with all the "stuff" in our lives.  I'll give you an example.  When we moved back to the US we bought a new couch.  And oh, I. love. this. couch.  My living room has become my favorite place in all of Beaufort.  I look forward to coming home form work everyday and putting my feet up with a good book all snuggly warm on our couch.  This might not seem bad on the surface, but what scares me is the idea that I allow earthly treasures to take the place of heavenly ones.  Someday all our material possessions will be gone; destroyed by moth or rust or thieves.  That much is clear.  So how foolish it is to put our hope in such things.

When we actually let go of the stuff that we think keeps us so happy, we're free to really live our lives fully surrendered to Christ.  He wants all of us.  That means he also wants the part of our hearts that have a tight hold on the things in our lives.  Otherwise we'll get to the end of our lives and what will we have to say for ourselves?  "Well, I enjoyed my couch.  Enjoyed it so much in fact that I didn't live in obedience to Christ.  I was comfortable, but the world isn't any different because I lived."  Ouch.  I don't want that to be my life. God calls us to live lives that glorify Him.  Jesus calls us to abandon the comforts of this world and follow him with all we have.  It's time for me to get off the couch.  What is Christ calling you to do?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chasing After the Wind

I'm slowly making my way through the books of the Bible, yet in no particular order.  Last week I read through Ecclesiastes, and I must say, it was a difficult one for me.  Not because it was hard to read or the theology was too deep for my understanding, but because of the despair that Solomon expressed in his writing.  In Ecclesiastes Solomon chronicles his search for meaning in life.  He looks in all the usual places: work, wisdom, pleasure, and even folly.  No dice.  At the end of each section he laments that everything is like chasing the wind.  There is meaning in nothing.  In chapter 1 verse 14 he says, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."  One thing I thought of as I read the phrase "under the sun" was the fact that Solomon was looking at the creation for meaning when he should have been looking at the creator.  He was looking under the sun when he needed to look over the sun.  In God we find our ultimate purpose.  In God alone is there meaning for life!  When you look anywhere but to God for your purpose in life you will come up short.  Trying o find meaning in the things of this world will disappoint you again and again.  Our purpose is to glorify God in all that we do!

Another verse that stuck out to me was 3:11 which says that God, "has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  We were created for much more than just this life on earth.  We were created for an eternity spent with our heavenly father.  The limitations of our flesh keep us from seeing the true nature and glory of God, but someday it will be revealed to us.  By setting eternity in our hearts God has shown us that we are meant for an eternal dwelling place with him.

The wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes abounds.  Chapter 5 verses 1-2 say, "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.  Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.  Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."  How often it is that I go before God in prayer with a lengthy list of requests.  Sometimes I talk to God as if what I have to say is more important that His words to me.  How foolish!  These verses remind me that prayer is two-way communication, and I must spend more time listening to my heavenly father, because it is through these intimate moments of prayer that he reveals himself to me most clearly.

I praise God everyday for his infallible Word to us.  Again and again I'm thankful that I can hold in my hands words breathed by God himself!  What a privilege it is to be able to study and understand scripture.  I hope that you will find a similar joy as you delve into the pages of scripture yourself!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Marine Corps!

  This weekend Patrick and I drove to Hilton Head for our last Marine Corps Birthday Ball.  And thus began the process of saying goodbye to many a Marine Corps tradition.  I must say, I'll miss the dress blues when Patrick is no longer a marine.  I'll miss the ceremony and all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it.  But rather than get all bleary-eyed, I'll just say that the night was a lot of fun.  We got to spend some time with some new friends and get to know them a little better.

It was fun to get out of Beaufort for a night and stay in a nice hotel right on the water in Hilton Head.  Too bad it was too cold to go to the beach.  We actually stayed in the hotel where the ball was held, so my hair wasn't completely wind blown by the time we got there.  Bonus!

Us with Sarah and Mike 

For those of you that aren't familiar with the traditions of the Marine Corps, here's the scoop.  The USMC was created on November 10, 1775 and every year around that date marines all over the world get together to celebrate.  There is a ceremony that commemorates the heritage of the corps, a big dinner, and dancing.  This was our 9th ball (13th if you count the ones in college), and also the biggest. All of the Recruit Training Regiment was there and that was a couple thousand people.  Crazy!

It's a little hard to believe that we won't be going to another birthday ball since Patrick will be getting out of the marine corps next June.  Hopefully this time next year we'll be on the mission field in Zambia!  Quite a change from formal gowns and dress blues, but we're looking forward to it!

Alpha Company Marines
Alpha Company wives

Adventures in Teaching

Second graders excited to perform their readers' theater!
This past week I had a wonderful opportunity to teach during the Extended Learning Time our school offers to students who are below grade level.  I taught 2nd grade ELA (English and Language Arts), and we had a blast!  I had two classes of 12 students each and team taught with another second grade teacher who taught math.  It was quite challenging simply because the majority of the students who are below grade level tend to be behavior problems as well.  Thankfully there were only two students who were really difficult.  The rest of the students worked hard, and for the most part were able to focus well.

I'll be honest, I didn't enjoy every moment of last week.  There were some days when I came home exhausted and frustrated, feeling like I wasn't making a difference at all with these kids.  There were moments where I felt like maybe I'm just not cracked up to be a teacher at all.  All those feelings vanished by Friday though!  All week I'd been working on a readers' theater with the kids, and they performed it on Friday for the other class.  They did such a fantastic job in that five-minute performance that I suddenly felt like all the headaches and frustrations of the week had been worth it.  Last week was a chance to reaffirm my desire to teach and have my own classroom someday.

It's going to be difficult to go back to work tomorrow as just a teaching assistant.  It's always hard to let go once you've had a taste of what you really love!  I've been praying for a teaching position of my own and yesterday I felt God telling me that I'm exactly where he wants me right now.  The word "strategic" kept coming back to me.  As a teaching assistant I'm in a unique position to get to know the students on a different level since I'm not in responsible for all the duties of the full-time teachers.  While talking to God I also felt him saying that he is preparing me for future teaching opportunities, they just might not be what I expect.  I have a wonderful peace about where I am right now, but I look forward to the future with hopeful anticipation to see where God leads me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sidestepping the Cafeteria Line

I have been called many things for being a christian, but one that stands out is being called closed minded because I believe that scripture truly is the word of God.  I've been called an idiot for believing that everything in the Bible is actually real and is actually inspired by God.  Upon reflecting on this conversation I realized that what many people do is tease apart scripture into bite sized chunks, and believe only those chunks which are easy to digest.  The rest, they leave on their plate.  I call them cafeteria christians.  They take only what they want from the Bible, what makes them feel good, and claim that the rest isn't worth believing.  This is a dangerous path to tread.  The problem with claiming that portions of scripture are true while others are not is who is to say which is which?  Who has the authority to claim that one verse was actually inspired by God but another wasn't?  When we start to doubt the authority of scriptural truths, the foundation for faith quickly crumbles.  When you start doubting the word of God what basis for your faith are you left with?

We are living in what RC Sproul calls an anti-intellectual age.  Too many christians aren't taking the time to study and think through what the Bible says, and contemplate what they believe and why.  Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  We need to dig deep into God's Word and unearth His truths there.  But we have to start with the authority of scripture itself.  Why do we believe what this book says?

There is vast amounts of evidence to prove the authority of scripture.  External evidence such as archaeology shows the historical accuracy of biblical accounts.  One noted archaeologist Nelson Glueck said, "No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference."  I've read of countless instances where the Bible has been held up under historical and archaeological evidence.

There is also plenty of internal evidence in scripture where we see that the Bible really is God's inspired word to his children.  2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  Hebrews reminds us that, "the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to diving soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."  The Bible is more than just a book of stories.  The word of God is living and transformative.

Another aspect of scriptural authority that I find interesting is the unity of the scriptures.  The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different authors on 3 continents, yet they all tell the same story!  Think about that for a minute.  If you asked 40 different people living in America today to write about one theme, you'd get 40 completely different viewpoints.  The Bible is not that way.  We can read the whole book and see God's theme of redemption for man on every page.

I absolutely love the word of God, and the more I read it the more I realize I can't go a day without it.  Scripture breathes life into me each day, and in its pages I am reminded of God's intense love for me, and what He was willing to sacrifice that I might be saved.  When you really start to see the Bible as God's words to you you won't be able to put it down.   And though there are some hard truths found within scripture, we know that it is all from God.  He had a purpose in speaking each word that we read, so we cannot discount it as irrelevant or obsolete.  I would rather have the whole truth of God than a lie, and anything less that then whole truth of God is a lie!

So instead of taking the cafeteria approach, approach all of scripture as God's inspired word.  See the Bible for what it is: a love story between God and his people.  Work through the difficult passages to find the truth of God within them rather than writing them off.  You will have a deeper understanding of who God is and his plan for salvation.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did!