Total Pageviews

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Desiring God

In 1955, the largest soda McDonald's offered was 7 ounces. In a little over 50 years, it has swelled six times that size to 42 ounces.

In a recent international marketing campaign, McDonald's is pushing their super-sized drink more than ever, lovingly naming it "Hugo" to entice customers.

Should someone choose to grab a Hugo, he or she will be taking in over 400 calories in the drink alone.

When is enough enough? Our culture craves for more, more, more. It goes back to what we were talking about yesterday. There is a sense in which we are never satisfied.

Only Jesus can satisfy. Only a true relationship with Him.

Yet for some, the presence of God is an acquired taste.

I can remember when I first started drinking coffee. I hated it. Now, I love it. It is an acquired taste.

Let me tell you something. When you and I reach heaven, tasting of the presence of the Lord will be an acquired taste for some.

Many have trouble spending time in the presence of the Lord. They crave and drink of so many other things.

Yet in heaven, we will be filled with presence of the Lord. Are you ready for that?

I encourage all of us to begin to taste and drink of the true drink: the water of the presence of God. Lot less calories there also.....

Monday, August 27, 2007


The Rolling Stones used to sing, "I can't get no satisfaction."

I was reading this week in John Ortberg's new book that talk-show host Dennis Prager wrote about an ad he read for a sex therapist in Los Angeles: "If you're not completely satisfied with your sex life, give us a call."

The more he thought about it, the more he was stuck by the brilliance of the ad, all because of two words: "completely satisfied."

Who is ever completely satisfied with anything?

John Ortberg writes:

"Imagine these ads:

If you're not completely satisfied with your spouse, give us a call.
If you're not completely satisfied with y our body, give us a call.
If you're not completely satisfied with you church, give us a call.

Here's what he writes, and it is so true, "we are completely satisfied with nothing."

Wow. What a thought. We are completely satisfied with nothing.

What would it take to satisfy you in any area of life?

We can be so demanding can't we!

Our problem isn't that we want more. Wouldn't you agree that our problem is that we are looking in all the wrong places? We are not just physical beings, we are spiritual beings, created by God for communion and connection with Him.

Our deepest hunger is spiritual. If our spiritual hunger is not met than all the rest will continue to be in the land of dissatisfaction.

The apostle Paul wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content."

Are you content today?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bringing out the best in others

As I grow older in the faith as a leader of God's kingdom, I am learning that one of the main tasks I have is not just to continually seek to bring out the best from myself but from others as well.

I receive great fulfillment in seeing others succeed, whether it be in ministry or in life in general.

One of my purpose statements is to "bring out the best in others, so that they might minister and succeed in life."

There's a great story that's been told about George and Barbara Bush (the older Bush, the 41st president of the United States).

They were on the campaign trail once and stopped to pull over for a tank of gas. The attendant happened to be an old high-school sweetheart of Barbara's, and George later remarked, "Just think. If you had married him, you'd be the wife of a gas-station attendant."

Barbara replied, "George, you're confused. If I had married him, he'd be president of the United States."

Some people have the ability to bring out the best in others. Maybe Barbara Bush is one of these people, I don't know. But I do know that this is something all leaders, all parents, all husbands and wives must strive to do: Help others become what they can be.

It's not always easy helping others develop their potential. Paul compared it to childbirth. He said to the Galatians: "Oh my dear children! I feel as though I am going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives." (Galatians 4:19)

When it comes to building others, what's the difference between inspiring them and nagging them? The tone of voice you use is the first indicator.

The second indicator is the words you choose. Are they accusatory or encouraging? Do they imply doubt or belief in the other person's ability to reach the goal?

The third indicator is your willingness to hang in there with them. If you're constantly threatening to withdraw from the relationship, to wash your hands and walk away, you're not inspiring them -- you're loading them down with guilt.

Paul told the Philippians that he was confident God would finish what he started in them. (Philippians 1:6) Let's show that same confidence to those whom God has given us to lead.

Don't give up on that person that you are coaching or mentoring or discipling!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The difficult road

One of the things I am learning is that the easy road is not always God's will for our lives. Many times we have bought into the mindset that the easy path is the right path. Not so. God generally has other ideas.

I'm not one to relish pain. When I am sick, being the typical male that I am, my belief is that the whole world must stop and pay attention to my needs. Isn't Debbie lucky to have me!

Yet at the same time, I am becoming comfortable with the fact that when God leads to on a road that includes persecution, pain and suffering, I can rest in the fact that I am exactly where he wants me to be.

I've heard it said, "the safest place to be is in the center of God's will." It may be semantics, but that's simply a myth. Sometimes God's will does include suffering and pain.

We must be willing to "step up to the plate" anyway and take our hacks, letting the ball fall where it may.

When Scottish explorer and Presbyterian missionary David Livingstone was working in the African interior he received a message from the London Missionary Society that said "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you"

Livingstone wrote back, saying "If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."

The Bible doesn't promise that all our paths will be easy ones, but it does say that if we obey God and walk by faith we are assured a future reward.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)

I just want to walk in God's will. How about you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Do you believe in miracles?

Do you believe in miracles?

Remember the United States Hockey team in 1980 at the winter Olympics?

At the start of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the U.S. team was little more than an afterthought -- even in the mind of its coach.

"The Soviets had beaten us 10-3 in an exhibition a few days before the Olympics," Herb Brooks said. "They were fantastic. ... I had little hope for a medal. I would have been very happy to have achieved a fourth-place finish."

The Soviets were seeded No. 1, and deservedly so. They had won five gold medals and one bronze in the previous six Olympics. The seventh-seeded U.S. team could cling to one piece of history.

That one Soviet loss had been administered at Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960, the last time the Olympics had been held in the United States -- when the Americans beat them in the semifinals and defeated Czechoslovakia to win the gold.

If there was an omen for the 1980 team, good or bad, it was this: Brooks, now coach of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, was the last player cut from the 1960 squad.

The U.S. and USSR teams each won their first five games. On Feb. 22, George Washington's birthday, patriotism was running rampant in and outside the Olympic Field House.

The Soviets unleashed 30 shots in the first two periods to the United States' 10. Only one dramatic save after another by former Boston University goaltender Jim Craig kept the United States close.

When Mark Johnson scored with one second remaining in the first period to tie it at 2, Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonev replaced legendary goalie Vladislav Tretiak with Vladimir Myshkin.

"We didn't even realize (Tretiak) was out of there until the middle of the next period," center Neal Broten said. "But after that first period, we knew we could win."

The Soviets led 3-2 after two periods.

"We told ourselves we were just down one, when we'd been down six after two periods last time we played them," team member John Harrington said. "We'd played 40 minutes, they were just one ahead, but we were younger. We wanted to take it to 'em."

Johnson tied it again, this time on a power play, 8:39 into the third period. And at exactly the 10-minute mark, midway through the final period, Harrington's pass set up Mike Eruzione to become an American icon.

Eruzione, the team captain from Winthrop, Mass., and a member of the International League's Toledo Blades, took Harrington's pass from the corner, skated into the slot between the faceoff circles and unleashed a shot past a Russian defenseman and through Myshkin .

The explosion of cheers was deafening, and most of the 10,000 fans squeezed into the 8,500-seat arena began a chant of "USA! USA!" that never abated in the final 10 minutes.

As the final 10 seconds ticked away, ABC broadcaster Al Michaels gained an immortality of sorts. "Do you believe in miracles?" he shouted, and at the final buzzer he answered, "Yes!"

(Almost anticlimactically, the U.S. team won the gold medal two days later, rallying from a 2-1 deficit after two periods to beat Finland 4-2.)

"We frustrated 'em," Craig said of the Soviet team. "For the first time, I think they panicked. They skate better than anyone in the world; they pass better than anyone in the world. But in the last few minutes tonight they just threw the puck forward. And we were in a zone. Amazing!"

Do you believe in miracles?

The dictionary defines a miracle as "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs; an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment."

Some people who deny the existence of miracles think of them as happenings that would violate the laws of nature. However, what we call the "laws of nature" are only our very limited understanding of nature. If God created all of nature, which he did, then what we call "laws of nature" are only the result of our very finite study and observation.

God never has to violate any laws, because it is His universe and His unusual workings and manifestations will only be understood by, and available to, His believing followers.

The more we embrace the Living Word, and live by the written Word, the more we will experience the miracles of God.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eternal time and open theism

Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:8, "But do not forget this one thing, beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day."

Here's what I know: Eternity is qualitatively different from time. It is related to time, but it must be distinguished from it.

God transcends time. God is not bound by sequential, linear, earthly, temporary time.

Eternity does not simply take up where time leaves off, nor is eternity just endless time.

There are three distinct definitions of time:

Cosmic time: calendars and clocks, calculated mathematically on the basis of movement around the sun and symbolized by a circle.

Historical time: decades, centuries and millennia and symbolized by a line. This sort of time, stretches out into the future and is unrepeatable.

Existential time: This time is not subject to mathematical measurement. It is characterized by intensity of experience and symbolized by a point - movement in depth. There is no distinction between the future and the past, between the end and the beginning.

With God, there is no time, only eternity.

Jesus, on the cross, says to the thief, "today you will be with me in paradise." We say at funerals, "Joe is now in heaven, with his resurrected body."

What about the chronological sequence of Jesus coming back and the dead in Christ rising and receiving their "new bodies?" How do we reconcile the two thoughts?

That is resolved again by realizing that once we die we enter into eternity....we leave the temporary sequential time that we live in and enter into timelessness with creatures, new bodies, for eternity.

Perhaps this will also aid us in an attempt to gain a handle on "open theism" or the lack thereof.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Open theism

How do we reconcile the fact that God knows the beginning from the end, he's omniscient and sovereign and in control, but yet gives His creation the ability to make choices and choose the path that they want in life?

Some people believe in the limited foreknowledge of God. That God purposefully choose to limit his knowledge of the future.

It is called "open theism."

Here's a great article on open theism found at:

"Open theism, also called openness and the open view, is a theological position dealing with human free will and its relationship to God and the nature of the future. It is the teaching that God has granted to humanity free will and that in order for the free will to be truly free, the future free will choices of individuals cannot be known ahead of time by God. They hold that if God knows what we are going to choose, then how can we be truly free when it is time to make those choices since a counter choice cannot then be made by us because it is already "known" what we are going to do.1 In other words, we would not actually be able to make a contrary choice to what God "knows" we will choose thus implying that we would not then be free.

In open theism, the future is either knowable or not knowable. For the open theists who hold that the future is knowable by God, they maintain that God voluntarily limits His knowledge of free will choices so that they can remain truly free.2 Other open theists maintain that the future, being non existent, is not knowable, even by God.3 Gregory Boyd, a well know advocate of Open Theism says,

"Much of it [the future], open theists will concede, is settled ahead of time, either by God's predestining will or by existing earthly causes, but it is not exhaustively settled ahead of time. To whatever degree the future is yet open to be decided by free agents, it is unsettled."4

But open theists would not say that God is weak or powerless. They say that God is capable of predicting and ordaining certain future events because He is capable of working in the world and bringing certain events to pass when the time is needed. Therefore, God could inspire the Old Testament writers to prophecy certain events and then He could simply ensure that those events occur at the right time.

Furthermore, open theists claim that they do not deny the omniscience of God. They, like classical theologians, state that God is indeed all knowing. But the differ in that the God can only know that which is knowable and since the future has not yet happened, it can not be exhaustively known by God. Instead, God only knows the present exhaustively, including the inclinations, desires, thoughts, and hopes of all people.

In open theism God can make mistakes because He does not know all things that will occur in the future. According to them God also takes risks and adapts to the free will choices of people. They claim biblical support for their position by citing scripture where God changes His mind (Exodus 32:14), is surprised (Isaiah 5:3–7), and tests people to see what they will do (Genesis 22:12).

Finally, open theism tends to portray the God of orthodoxy as distant, controlling, and unyielding while promoting the God of openness as involved, adapting, loving, interacting, and caring for humanity.

Orthodox Christianity

Historic Orthodox Christianity states that God knows all things, even the entirety of the future, exhaustively. 1 John 3:20 it says, "...for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things." Likewise, Peter said to Jesus in John 21:17, "...You know all things; You know that I love You..." God's sovereignty is clearly taught in scripture and His sovereignty is tied to His omniscience. Orthodox Christianity teaches that God is very loving, very involved, and even condescends to our level and interacts with us in a manner that we can understand. This means that we will see what appears to be instances of God changing His mind, testing, and adapting. But, this is all due to God's working with creatures who have limited vision, short life spans, and are sinners. God must work on our level since we cannot work on His.

God and time

The question about God's knowledge of the future is very important because it deals with the actual definition of God's nature in relation to the nature of the future. Is God all knowing about the future or not? Is God existing in the future or not? Is God limited to the present or not? The answers to these questions reflect the very nature and scope of God's existence. The open theists are pushing a description of God that reduces God from knowing all things, past, present, and future, to not knowing all things in the future. God's omnipresence is also in jeopardy in open theism, since some open theists deny the existence of the future and thereby deny the omnipresence of God in the future.


My opinion is that openness is a dangerous teaching that undermines the sovereignty, majesty, infinitude, knowledge, existence, and glory of God and exalts the nature and condition of man's own free will. Though the open theists will undoubtedly say it does no such thing, it goes without saying that the God of open theism is not as knowledgeable or as ever present as the God of orthodoxy."

Now, back to my words (George):

My question is: why do we feel we have to reconcile the two? Jesus never taught "systematic theology," he never put events on a time line, the eastern cultural mindset is comfortable with "grays" theologically and philosophically.

The ultimate ways and attributes of God are a mystery and will always remain a mystery. If they were not, God wouldn't be God.

I think we need to be careful that we don't put God in a box of our own creation. Where God becomes something made in our image instead of the other way around.

Just some thoughts.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Conflict: Not making it worse

Have you ever been in conflict with someone? We all have.

Are you in conflict right now with a family member? Fellow employee? A person in the church?

What's been your response in that conflict?

Do you have to have the "last word?"

Do you have to make sure your point is heard above everyone else?

One famous conflict that I was reading of was between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor in England. It is well-known that they despised one another.

Actually they hated each other.

And though I'm not interested in placing blame on who was at fault in this relationship, there are numerous stories about how Mr. Churchill kept the battle going with his barbs and witticisms.

On one occasion Lady Astor said to Churchill, "If I were your wife I would fill your cocktail glass with poison."

Churchill replied, "Lady Astor, if you were my wife, I would drink it."
On another occasion, Lady Astor made the public accusation: "Mr. Churchill, you are disgracefully drunk!"

Churchill said, "Yes I am. And you, dear lady, are disgracefully ugly. What's more, tomorrow morning I will be sober."

Now admit it. You laughed at that.

I know I did the first time I read it.

When we do laugh at that (it's okay, admit it), it shows that we are inclined not to peace but rather to conflict.

I mean, let's be honest, how many of you thought, "way to go Winston! Great comeback! I wish I could be as quick on my feet when people say things like that to me!"

"In fact, let me write that down. I may be able to use it."

When we think or verbalize that way, it shows our "bent" toward conflict. It shows how much we admire it. And thanks to this aspect of our fallen, sinful nature, many times when we strive for peace we end up quarreling and in a verbal war.

That's why, when we are in conflict, we must decide that you won't make matters any worse.

I don't think Winston Churchill could have done anything to change Lady Astor's animosity towards him, but he could have, with a little effort, kept the relationship from deteriorating any further simply by keeping his comments to himself.

For many of us, this is an impossible task. We think we have to have the last word. We think we have to return insult for insult. The result is that we keep things stirred up much longer than necessary. Paul said,

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil." (Romans 12:17)

This means you approach conflict with the attitude: "I may not be able to make this situation better, but I don't have to make it worse. I will bite my tongue and keep my comments to myself."

It's hard I know, but something to practice and pray about.