It’s Not About Who You Are

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After reading part of Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, I was bothered by this phrase which I hear so often in the world around me, “God loves you for who you are.”  While I understand why people say this, I disagree with the wording of this phrase.  If God truly loved us for who we are, He wouldn’t love us at all, since we betrayed and rebelled against Him.  Furthermore, if God loved us for who we are, then sin would be no big deal.  By saying that God loves someone for who that person is, one is saying that God’s love is conditional.  All three of these things are false, therefore, God does not love us for who we are.

God created man in His image, and He created man perfectly.  God loves His creation, and man is included in that love.  God loves man because He created man.  At that point in time, man, Adam and Eve, had a perfect, whole relationship with God.  Nothing came between the first two people and God, they completely loved, trusted, and shared with one another.

Sadly, this perfect world ended with the entrance of sin.  When God created man, He gave man the ability to choose to love Him.  Adam and Eve chose to sin.  Sin is rebellion against God.  God hates sin because it is everything that He is not, evil, twisted, and deadly.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were no longer able to experience God’s perfect love.  God had to force Adam and Eve out of the garden, because a holy and perfect God cannot be near sin.

Every human being since Adam and Eve has sinned, we are all sinners.  People are defined by their actions.  All one has to do to look into another man’s heart is to observe his actions.  Thus, anyone who sins can be defined as a sinner.  Because God is holy and we are sinners, He could have and should have destroyed us.  However, God is a loving, and merciful God.

God did not want the story of the world to end with the destruction of man, so He provided a way of restoration in the sacrifice of Christ.  Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God loves us, not for who we are, but because of who He is.  He is love, as 1 John 4:8 points out, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God loves man unconditionally because it is a part of His very nature.

Finally, if God loved us for who we are, i.e. what we do, then there would be no reason for anyone to repent of his sin.  God, because he is holy, hates sin.  God judges sin, because sin is fundamentally evil.  Over and over in history, individuals and nations have fallen because of their sin.  Sin is a problem.  Thankfully, God has provided us a way to turn from our sin and back to Him.

In conclusion, we should praise God that He does not love us for who we are, that He does not treat us as we deserve.  Thus, I think that we should amend, “God loves you for who you are,” to a much more beautiful statement, “God loves you because of who He is.”

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Why Christians Can’t Reject Genesis

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Some Christians today believe that the Bible is fallible, at least some of it.  A particular book that several Christians think can be rejected is the book of Genesis.  Because modern “science” argues that the Earth is more than six thousand years old and that the world was formed by macro-evolution, some Christians reject the idea of a six-day creation.

I would argue that all scripture is inspired by God and is therefore infallible.  I would also argue that the book of Genesis, especially the first three chapters, is essential to the Christian faith and therefore cannot be rejected by Christians.

Herbert Spencer, a brilliant philosopher and proponent of Evolution of the late 19th/early 20th century, stated that all matter could be divided into five categories: time, force, action, space, matter.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”-Genesis 1:1

In the first verse of Genesis, all elements of reality are introduced.  Time: “In the beginning,” when time was first created.  Force: “God,” the greatest force in the universe.  Action: “created.”  Space: “the heavens,” the cosmos and all they contain, as well as literal space.  Matter: “and the earth,” the first matter discovered by man.  Men have tried but cannot deny what stands obviously before them, truth.

Genesis is a book of origins, and it starts with the origin of the universe.  God spoke everything into existence.  What I do not understand is why people do not want to believe that God created everything in six days.  God is God, and as God, he can do incomprehensible, amazing things that only God can do, like creating the entire cosmos in six literal days.  In six literal days, the universe and all life was created.  First light and night and day, then water in heaven and in the seas, then the land and plants, then the planets and heavenly bodies, then sea creatures and birds, then land creatures and man.  Six days.

Not only does Genesis talk about the origin of creation, but it also talks about the origins of order and complexity, man’s love for beauty, marriage, culture, government, nations, and much more.  Genesis 3, all the way at the beginning of scripture, tells of the origins of evil, judgement, and salvation.

The man and the woman were tempted and succumbed to temptation, doubting God and allowing sin to enter their hearts.  Knowing that they had sinned, they hid from the God with whom they had been able to directly communicate and have a relationship.  Adam and Eve were punished and  sent from the garden, knowing that they were mortal and doomed to death.  However, God spared them from death that day and gave them hope for a savior.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head; and you will strike his heel.”

-Genesis 3:15 

The “he” referred to in this passage is the savior, Jesus Christ, who was not due to come for four thousand years.  This gave Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, hope that someday, their relationship with God would be restored, that the savior would crush sin and death, bringing humanity back to its God.

The reason Genesis is so important is that it gives us the story of where we came from and why things are the way that they are.  In it is the story of a holy but loving God and his relationship with man.  I will not tell the whole story, because the believer must read it for himself.

If the Church tries to fit its faith to the world by twisting it and taking away fundamentals, nothing will be left of Christianity.  Thus, we must hold fast to the word of God, the inerrant scriptures.

Waiting for God’s Will

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This summer, I’ve learned about trusting God with my present and future situations.  This has been very good for my relationship with God and kept me from stressing out too much; however, I oftentimes still wish that their was a magic formula to show me God’s will for my life.  I’m sure that there are many others like me, since I’ve read a couple other blog posts and articles about finding God’s will.

The truth is, I believe that God does know what will happen in each person’s life and that he gives us certain abilities and insights to help us make life choices.  The first most obvious choice is salvation, which is when a person first surrenders his or her life to God.  After that, our job as believers is to spread the gospel and glorify God.  Though this may sound vague, it really isn’t.  Finally, I think the most important thing to do when trying to figure out what God’s will for the future is, is to step back and invest in the present.  This advice was given by an older friend in my school’s yearbook, but I did not follow it until this summer.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do after high school, but I know that I have a desire to get married and have children.  I also want to do the best I can as a high school student, sister, daughter, and friend right now.  Just because someone may be worried about the future doesn’t mean that they can’t focus on the present.  In fact, I believe that it is more important to invest in the present than to plan the future.  As I’ve learned, plans do not always go the way we want them to.  There are so many things that I thought I’d be doing by now and there are so many things that I’m doing now that I never knew I’d be doing.

I actually started blogging because I was tired of things happening without my input, specifically political things.  I have a passion for writing and a talent for it, so I started a blog.  I thought I would be doing a lot of writing about political and social events, but instead, God has turned my focus in a more spiritual direction and has revealed the desire to pour into other’s lives as a mentor and counselor.  This is an example of how investing in the present can impact one’s future.

 

I still do not know for sure what I want to do after high school, but I know that I will most likely go to college and major in communications.  I definitely have more ideas about jobs that I want now than I did at the beginning of the summer.  Thus, trusting God was a good idea, because it allowed me to take a step back from worrying about the future and focus on investing in the present.

“The Apologist’s Evening Prayer”

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From all my lame defeats and oh! much more 

From all the victories that I seemed to score;

From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf

At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh; 

From all my proofs of Thy divinity, 

Though who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.  

Thoughts are but coins.  Let me not trust, instead

Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head. 

From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee, 

O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free. 

Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye, 

Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

-C.S. Lewis  “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer”

This beautiful poem reflects what the apologist should be thinking once all his arguments are wrapped up and he goes back to his home.  Though he has tried to represent God and defend him with the most brilliant of arguments, the apologist should still recognize that because he is human, he will never have all the answers.  God is God, and we are not

We’re All In This Together

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Today I have truly felt the love of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and I do not know what I would do without them.  This past weekend has been difficult for me, my church, and my family, and today I felt very emotionally and physically drained.  This morning, after experiencing the unity of the body of Christ in a Sunday morning worship service, I received hope through the Spirit in a sermon about the characteristics of a disciple of Christ.

Tonight at youthgroup, yes, we had a good message, but I was more encouraged by the people that I talked to afterward.  With one girl, I shared the difficulty of the week and listened to her, and together we recognized how ready we are for heaven.  I also had a good conversation with a friend, a conversation that I had worried about before hand.  My friend was understanding and gracious, which was a blessing to me.  I talked to a few other friends too, but the conversation that really blessed me tonight was one that I had with one of my best friends.

My friend and I often mutually encourage one another, and tonight, I really needed that encouragement.  I poured out my heart and emotions to her, and she listened and explained how she was doing too.  What I remember most was her encouragement, which was straight from scripture, to set my mind “on the things above, not on things on earth.”  After that, we mutually experienced joy in talking about how much we long for Jesus, and learned that we both are memorizing the same passage of scripture.  Our God is amazing!

I am so thankful that God does not let his people walk through life alone, that he created a community that we could find encouragement in.  The community of faith is one of the greatest blessings God has given me.  Without the Church, I do not know how I could get through this life.

I thought I would let all my brothers and sisters in Christ know how thankful I am for them.  I thank God, the father of my Lord, Jesus Christ, when I pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that your love may abound more and more, and that you will not lose heart, but continually grow in Christ, setting your mind on the things of heaven.  May God’s kingdom come in his Church!

Worldview/Church History: 4 Emerging Churches

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This week for my worldview class, my teacher had us watch a couple videos.  One was a Nooma video by Rob Bell, about trusting in God through the storms of life, the other was by Mark Driscoll, where he talked about his views on what he calls the four lanes of Emerging churches.

The Rob Bell video was done well, with a good intro that set a comforting mood, and a positive theme.  It was appealing to me that Bell started his conversation with a story that served as an analogy to a certain aspect of the Christian life.  He talked about him and his son being caught in a storm, and the comfort that he had to give his terrified young son in that time.  This, Bell says, is like what God does to us, comforting us in the hard times and holding us close.

Now, although this was a good message, I would not rely on that instead of going to church.  Bell did not give an application to life or incorporate the gospel into his message very well.  Also, it is important to have a church family to be in fellowship with, so although I think that the video I saw was good, I wouldn’t replace the church experience with it.

Next, I watched the Mark Driscoll’s video on the four different churches, and he mentioned Rob Bell in his lecture.  Driscoll says that there are four types of emerging churches, three of which he thinks stay on the right doctrinal path, whereas the fourth goes off a bit.

The first type church, the Emerging Evangelicals, is pretty much the original evangelical church updated a bit.  This church tries to be more relevant to the culture while still holding to most traditional doctrine.

The second type of church is the House Church of Evangelicals, this type of church, Driscoll says, has good doctrine, but rejects the typical big church with a pastor.  This church thinks it is better to meet in smaller groups.

The third type of church is the Emerging Reformed church.  This type of church holds to reformed theological positions, but wants to be more relevant to the culture.  This church is especially concerned with missions in daily life.  I would say that this is the view that my church holds.

The last type of church, the Emergent Liberal church, is the church that Driscoll says has gone off the road a bit.  They call into question foundational Christian doctrine and dodge the difficult questions.  Some of these churches don’t hold to the whole Bible, says Driscoll, but only take some of it.

If I was to make a church, I would base it on the Bible, making sure that it holds to the infallibility of the scriptures, the doctrines of hell and heaven, the doctrine of salvation, the supremacy of God, the Trinity, etc.  I would probably lean more toward the reformed view, since that is more  what I see from the scriptures.  I would definitely say that my church should be culturally relevant and missions minded, and hold fast to prayer and service.  My church would most likely not be perfect, but what church is?

The Doctrine Debate

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Here is a post by one of my friends: Calvinism & Alternative Ideas

Now, while we don’t agree on the subject of election and freewill, and we know that we will not agree, we still argue about it.  I find that pointless!  Why are we arguing about something that we will never agree on?  I personally think it’s because we are both stubborn human beings who like to be right.

I have that Christians make a huge deal over the freewill/election debate, but I do not believe that it should split congregations.  Yes, how you believe that you came to salvation does somewhat affect your view of God and the role of the church, but I do not think that the issue is big enough to create conflict in churches.  It is like in 1 Corinthians, where Paul is rebuking the church for dividing because the people are arguing over whether Paul or Apollos is better.

Please Christians, encourage each one another and build each other up!

The Emerging Church

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The emerging church is attempting to live in this post-modern culture by asking questions and changing the way the church worships, evangelizes, and sees community.  While some elements of this movement are positive, I believe that it is important for the emergent church to stay firm on the foundation of the Bible and salvation.

The emerging church is fond of challenging theology and basic doctrine, and the people within the “conversation” are fine with not knowing all the answers.  While it is important to question and deepen one’s faith, it is also important for one to stay within the limits of scripture in answering those questions, something that I am not sure all emerging churches do.  We cannot look to the world for answers, since it is fundamentally broken by sin.

What I appreciate about the emergent church is their emphasis on Christ being both transformational and relational, our Savior and friend.  I also love the ideas of transforming secular society and imitating Christ, which are two of the core doctrines of the emerging church.

Overall, I think that there are many good things about the emerging church, but I also think that those within this movement need to make sure that they are holding to scriptural authority and Biblically accurate theology.

My Impression of TBN

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For my worldview class, our teacher had us watch one hour of the Trinity Broadcasting Network.  Surprisingly, I had never seen any of the shows on TBN.  I say surprisingly because it is the most watched faith network on television.  As with most Christian movies and television, I had a few presuppositions about the quality of the production and message, and was not disappointed.

What I first saw was a message high on emotionalism, low on scriptural context, with verses about giving scrolling across the bottom of the screen.  The message itself would have been better if it was more about teaching on the blind beggars’ experience with Jesus and less about the prospect of giving to TBN and receiving a reward.  Yes, it is good to give to ministries that help others, such as TBN’s second chance ministry, but was that message necessary?

TBN’s message to me today seemed to say, “give and you will be blessed by God.  Are you getting what you want?  By the way, our mission is to reach everyone on earth with the gospel.”  Now, I do not think that there is anything wrong with wanting to reach the world with the gospel, in fact, I think that it is one of the best things Christians can strive for.  However, I think that the Trinity Broadcasting Network could feature a little bit more meat in their channels.  I watched a message on why I should give to TBN, the history of TBN, the prison ministry of TBN, and heard a couple testimonies about the power of TBN.  TBN really likes itself.  I am sure that everyone who works there also really likes Jesus too.  I am sorry I do not know more about TBN, so my impression may be off quite a bit, but that is what I saw.

It does encourage me that there are people trying to reach the world  through television.  My only request is that those who do really bring hard theology into their messages, teach on apologetics, and encourage people to go out into the world to serve Christ.

Too Modest?

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I once asked a few of my girl friends, “Can you be too modest?”  All the girls agreed that yes, one can be too modest.  They thought that one could be too modest by being covered up from head to toe.  This, they explained, was too modest because at that point a girl is drawing attention to herself, at least in American culture, by being so covered up.  However, by drawing attention to herself, is a girl being truly modest? I disagreed with my friends, I believe that one can never be too modest.

Dictionary.com defines modesty as, “the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.”  The definition that I want to focus on is “freedom from vanity.”  True modesty is humility. Typically when people think of modesty, they think about girls who wear full-length, hideous dresses.  This is sad because it distracts from the fact that true modesty is undenyingly beautiful. Modesty is beautiful first in a person’s heart.

The only human being who was truly modest was Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Though no other human beings are perfect, when a Christian is following hard after Christ, he or she can lose herself and be humble. When that Christ-like humility flows out of one’s heart and into one’s words and actions, people notice.  When a boy or girl talks to others in a humble manner, others are attracted to Christ.  Denying oneself for someone else is another expression of that modesty.

Finally, our clothing should be modest.  If a person is truly humble, he or she will want to glorify God in his or her dress.  This means dressing beautifully and modestly.  Do not sell yourself short, but do not purposely dress to impress either.  Think of your brothers and sisters in Christ when you dress, because honoring Christ should be your first thought and honoring your Christian brothers and sisters your second.

There is my opinion on modesty, hope it made you think!

Emma