Posts Tagged ‘God

24
Sep
09

The Godless Gospel – Part 3

Things and techniques: those are the means of a godless salvation so suggests David Wells (see previous post).  In other words, people are trying to remake themselves, to “regenerate” themselves through what they possess and what they know.

Not long ago I had the chance to upgrade my basic mobile phone to an iPhone.  No suspense here, I did.  But now as I reflect back on that decision in light of what Wells is saying I see vestiges of the godless gospel at work…in me!

On the surface I had “good” reasons to upgrade, but down deeper something else was going on.  The upgrade would move me from the “basic and boring” niche of mobile phones to the “cutting edge”.  By possessing this phone my image would be remade, I would be remade; no longer would I be yesterday’s man.  Moreover, this upgrade would give me tools I did not have.  My phone was now a “smart phone” and I would be smarter because of it.  I would know when my appointments were, I would know people’s contact information, I could GPS them and a boat-load of other things.  Down time would be a thing of the past, now I could surf the web waiting in line, read the news, listen to podcasts, and more.  In my hand would be technology that I could leverage to be more than I ever was.

Do you see the godless gospel at work?  Do you see me trying to assuage my insecurities and failings through things and techniques?

It isn’t going to work.  My soul needs a redeemer, my hurts need a healer, my vices need a deliverer and my life needs a lord.  I am not going to find that is the things I possess or the techniques that I master.  I need a God-based grace filled gospel.  They don’t sell that on-line.

21
Sep
09

The Godless Gospel – Part 1

Think of the people that surround you on a regular basis.  Do they not want happiness and security?  Do they not want wholeness and hope?  Do they not want to be delivered from disease and despair?  Do they not want affirmation and significance?

The people that surround me do!  And that which would provide all of that would be considered by them to be good news, it to them would be “gospel”.  However, what they don’t want (or so they think) is a God-based gospel.  Good news yes, God no.

David Wells, argues that when one removes God from the picture, there remains no adequate basis for moral absolutes.  Salvation is no longer understood in a moral framework but instead, he argues, in a psychological framework.  People are not seeking deliverance from sin and its effects, rather they desire to be saved from their inner angst.  Have you seen that?

In the next post of this series we will talk about some key shifts that have accompanied a move from a God-based gospel to a godless one.

26
Jan
09

Two good choices, right?

“Pleasing God” or “Trusting God”.  If you had to pick between these two where would you land?

That question was raised in material our accountability group was discussing not long ago.  Both seem good don’t they?

The catch comes if we seek to please God by self-effort.  You know what I mean, we work hard at saying the right things, we work hard at doing the right things, we work hard at stopping a bad habit, we work hard at…you fill in the rest.  We’re working hard but it isn’t quite enough we fear, in fact we begin to doubt whether we will ever be able to please God.

Trusting God is different.  It takes my focus off of what I am going to do for God and places it on what God is going to do in me.  Sure I still have the same hang-ups, the same hurts, the same sin issues; but instead of a bunch of self-effort to improve myself, I am looking to God to change me, from the inside out.  As he does that transformational work in me, I begin to live a life that is truly pleasing to him.

What pathway are you on right now?  Pleasing God?  Trusting God?

Photo Credit - //farm3.static.flickr.com/2089/2462141919_3c8e73e40b.jpg?v=0

22
Dec
08

Responding to the gloom

Photo Credit - //farm2.static.flickr.com/1245/711658920_e81817f070_o.jpgA scan of the headlines today informed me that the major banks are predicting a shrinking economy, consumer confidence is the lowest in decades and unemployment is projected to rise significantly.  Hmmm, enough there to make one more than a bit jittery and anxious.

Let’s step back to the first Christmas.  The angels announced to a bunch of guys:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Lk 2:14)

The declaration of “peace” was good news to the shepherds centuries back and it is good news to us.

How do we avail ourselves of this God-given peace?  The letter Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi gives us two things we can lean into.

First, we read,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)

Projected economic downturn is not a time to wring our hands but to raise them heavenward in prayer, asking our Father who knows what we need to provide our daily bread.

Second, Paul writes,

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Php 4:9)

Social and employment uncertainty is not a time to stray from God’s truth, but to be doers of His Word, being rooted and ready because He guides us.

As we enter into a new year, headlined by gloomy forecasts, may we encourage one another to experience the peace of God and the God of peace.

12
Dec
08

God’s Address

My wife was looking for some gift ideas for me so I decided to update my wish list on Amazon.  In the process of doing that I was prompted to add my address so that people who might use my wish list could correctly send their gift to me.

Amazon wish list aside, one’s address is an important piece of information.  In the last federal election my address was very much part of the process of verifying me as an eligible voter.  It was a key piece of info when I went to renew my driver’s license.  Shucks even to get my library card I had to prove where I lived.

What is God’s address?  The shepherds needed to be informed by the angelic host that God-With-Us could be found in the City of David lying as in infant in a feeding trough.

Where do we find God today?  Is there a chance that with the insane level of busy-ness that attends the Christmas season that we lose track of God’s address?  Don’t dispair my friend, in the stress and strain of packing too much into too little and spending more than we have to give, we can yet be confident that we will eventually re-discover God’s address…He can always be found at the end of our rope.

Photo Credit - //farm1.static.flickr.com/77/158509770_0da6119e0a_b.jpg

16
Jun
08

Becoming a man of prayer – experiencing forgiveness (ch. 8)

“Many people handle guilt by repressing or internalizing it…others attempt reeducation…some seek to atone for their guilt by becoming religious…some men and women deal with guilt by punishing themselves…The problem with all of these solutions is the same, they don’t work! There is only one effective solution for true moral guilt. That solution is now accessible through prayer.”

In this chapter the author deals with the phrase ‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Mt 6:12). He suggests four stages in order to receive and to offer forgiveness.

First, we need to get honest with God and ask the Holy Spirit to show us concrete sins that we need to confess. Beltz in his prayer notebook has also made a list of character flaws so that he is regularly prompted to pray about these as well. Stage two is agreeing with what the Holy Spirit has shown us and confessing that before God in prayer, giving thanks for the forgiveness that is available to us because of Jesus’ atoning work. Sometimes there is benefit is confessing our sin before another believer (see James 5:16). Thirdly, we seek the power of God to change the defects of our character and the behaviour patterns that are not pleasing to God. Finally we check our attitudes. We need to willfully decide to extend forgiveness to those that have wronged us. This needs to be an ongoing choice so that negative emotions do not embitter us. When we have wronged others we need to attempt to make things right through asking for forgiveness from the one we have wronged and seeking to restore what our sin has damaged.

I have experienced challenges in each of these phases. Sometimes I just want to accept my flaws. Other times I mistakenly try to earn my forgiveness. For sure, it was good to be reminded to persist in choosing to forgive another so that the emotional fall-out has time to heal.

Click here for this week’s assignment.

Previous post in the series.

06
Jun
08

Becoming a man of prayer – praying for provision (ch. 7)

“Even in coming to the Father for our own needs, we need to focus on God and His agenda.”

There are some principles according to Beltz regarding God’s provision that men need to understand. First, to be assured of God’s provision we need to be in proper relationship with him; authentic prayer and scripture reading fuel that relationship. The author states that if we are not in daily fellowship with the Lord, then God might withhold His provision to encourage us to restore our relationship with him. God’s provision is also linked to our obedience in the area of financial stewardship. If we rob God of what is his due then we rob ourselves of God’s blessing and provision. On the other hand, if we are faithful in our stewardship then we will know God’s blessing.

When praying for God’s provision the author focuses on two general areas. The first is his real needs of the moment which include physical and financial needs, as well as needs that arise out of what is on his agenda. The second area is his anxieties and his desires. Here Beltz prays cautiously, praying for what he wants but asking God not to give it to him if it would not be a blessing.

It seems very natural to me that as we seek God’s provision that we reflect on the blessings that we have in hand and ask for our “daily bread” from the context of gratefulness. Many of us are blessed by safety, security, freedom, shelter, clothes, food, and health. Thanking God for these puts our other needs in better perspective.

Click here for this week’s assignment.

Previous post in the series.




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