Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I have every reason to be humble. Yet, somehow, whenever I manage to string together a decent number of days or hours in which I do well, or well enough, my ego starts to inflate. I become prideful and critical, judgmental and thus hypocritical. Fortunately, I suppose, events soon conspire to remind me why I ought to be humble. Still, I’d like to be able to tie down this balloonish pride of mine that seems so prone filling up with hot air and floating away. I want my perspective to be permanently grounded in the earth of knowing that for me, and probably for everyone else, life is a great struggle. And so, in our thoughts and feelings and actions, we should be kind to one another.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I constantly struggle with the story of Uzzah. The Israelites are transporting the Ark of the Covenant, and an oxen stumbles. The Ark is jostled and nearly falls over. Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark, touching it. "The LORD's anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God." 1 Chronicles 13: 10.

How should I feel about and act upon the knowledge that God is so holy?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Same question; different answers

The Gospel of Luke describes God responding differently to different kinds of questions and doubts. In chapter one, an angel announces to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth will become the parents of John the Baptist. In light of his advanced age, Zechariah doubts the angel's message and asks 'how can I know this is true?' In response, he gets a sign: the angel strikes his tongue so he cannot speak.

In the same chapter, Mary is told by an angel that she will give birth. In light of her virginity, she is confused. She asks 'how can this be true?' This is almost exactly the same question Zechariah asked; yet, instead of being struck dumb, the angel grants her a detailed explanation.

I can only figure that the reason for the different angelic responses was due to the spirit of the questioners. Zechariah probably doubted the angelic proclamation; whereas Mary probably didn't doubt, but failed to understand.

Jesus also responds differently to different types of questions and doubts. When his critics and enemies ask him to produce a sign, wonder, or miracle, he refuses to give them one. Yet when one of his own disciples says 'I will not believe in the resurrection unless I can put my fingers in his wounds,' Jesus allows him to do just that.

Within apparently very similar questions, I see a spectrum of attitudes, and it appears that these attitudes determine the type of answer one receives from God.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hypocrisy vs. Failure: Ted Haggard, analyzed in the abstract

After Jeff's recent post about Haggard's problem being hypocrisy, not the flesh, I ran the issue by some local compadres.

Most of them immediately agreed with Jeff.

However, I then posed this hypothetical to them: suppose you knew that your pastor had at some point in the last year done something he wished he hadn't done: he'd looked at pornography. Should he then never say from his pulpit that you shouldn't look at pornography?

There's a difference between hypocrisy and failure; and Christianity has built into it a certain degree of failure on the part of its adherents.

However, another person brought up the need for transparency or honest, saying this is what would save someone from hypocrisy. 'It's one thing to fail to live up to your own ideals, it's another thing to imply that you are living up to them, when really you are not.'

So that's what I'm about: failure with transparency.

I'm not familiar with Haggard's work, but I suspect that his preaching implied that he himself wasn't indulging in sexual immorality, so that was probably hypocrisy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Answered prayers:

In the spirit of trying to increase faith, please post examples of prayers you've personally seen answered.

I'll start with two:

1. I prayed for a mentally ill friend of mine to be healed from it, and he was. Five years ago he was deeply depressed and suicidal; today he's happy and healthy.

2. I prayed for my wife - when she was still dating someone else. It was very interesting because when I prayed for her, I had a distinct sense that God said to me, 'yes, you'll have her, but not yet.' About a month later she turned me down for a date (she was dating someone else). About 18 months later, we were married. (And I didn't even do anything sneaky to steal her from her old boyfriend, except maybe the prayer).

Monday, November 06, 2006

In light of the Ted Haggard scandal, let's pray that God have mercy. Let's pray that God have mercy on Ted Haggard, his family, and his congregation. More importantly, let's pray that God have mercy on all of us Chritians, because we're sinners, 'wretched and wrecked by the fall,' 'daily debtors to grace constrained to be,' 'wanting to do good, but instead doing evil.' Let's not look at Ted Haggard and say that we're glad we're not like him. Let's identify with Ted Haggard, saying that his struggle with the flesh is our struggle, and pray that God have mercy on us, the Church.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24.

Whenever I read through a Gospel, I am confronted by bold promises of the possibilities of faith. I know this question is in some ways old hat, but do we believe this promise about prayer? We tend to interpret these 'faith' verse in order to mitigate the possibility that Jesus really meant anything supernatural would happen. But I'm noticing that when Jesus talks about the powerful possibilities of faith, it's usually related to something supernatural happening: moving mountains, calming seas, feeding multitudes, withering fig trees. So, again, do we believe this verse?