IMonk posted a very interesting message concerning God’s will and knowing it. See it here.
My tiny contribution there is this:
This post is a more eloquent description of one of the reasons why I reject most if not all of evangelicism.
God is not some big vending machine in the sky so that if we deposit enough coin (faith, tithes, obedience, etc.) then push button B and 6 God is obligated to give us our Twinkies (put your own desires in here).
God is sovereign.
The only clue I have as to His will are the very simple things that are told us in scripture.
To paraphrase Jesus, be nice to each other and worship God above all others.
To paraphrase Paul, go tell other people.
I won’t be putting out any fleeces or any of the other gyrations to know God’s mind. I can’t know it.
I can trust God’s mind.
So I am free to live and move within that mind of God without the constant struggle to make sure I’m making all the steps 1 through 12a to live.
Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty free at last.
Strangely, thinking about this has led me to at least the beginnings of another answer in my life.
I don’t want to be a Roman Catholic.
I am certainly attracted to the beauty, tradition and majesty of the Roman church.
But, believing as I have stated above, how can I be apart of a fellowship that teaches that if I confess to a priest and say 10 Hail Mary’s then my sin of lusting after a new guitar is expiated?
I realize that is an unfair simplification but it is what it is.
This leaves me with rejecting both orthodoxy in most forms and absolutely rejecting the evangelical church.
What’s a fellow to do?
Constructive comments welcome.
Last week we buried my father-in-law.
He was my father-in-law and my friend.
He was a remarkable man in many ways and a very simple man in other ways.
He was quick witted and quick tempered.
He was cruel and he was kind.
He was a war hero who refused to discuss it but in other ways one of the most vain men I have ever met.
I loved him.
About 3 weeks before his passing I had an opportunity to talk with him alone for couple of hours.
The conversation veered from the profane to the divine.
He told me many things I will remember but one stands out.
He said he was not ready to go yet. He put it this way,” I have not seen the light at the end of the tunnel yet but when I do I know where I am going.”
His faith was uncomplicated.
Believe and you are saved.
I will miss his jokes and music and wisdom.
I am comforted knowing that he is with the Lord and no longer suffering.
God bless you Glen and thank you for the beautiful daughter and the genes you added to my beautiful children and grandchildren.
Now rest a bit and then pick up your D28 and play some old time country gospel. I’m sure Jesus will enjoy it. I always did.
I am at an age (56) that finds me, my wife and siblings and my friends at another of the crossroads of life.
We are not necessarily looking forward any longer. We are not dead (yet) and yet in truth we know that the better part of our time here is gone.
Older relatives and friends are passing.
Our parents are changing before our eyes.
Those stalwarts of strength and stability are now frail and in need of us.
The mother who just yesterday was so vivid and alive is tired and cannot remember conversations, dates and times.
The father who has always taken such pride in his independence and ability to take of af things can no longer climb the roof and work all day repairing shingles.
Brushes with death are becoming common.
We all knew these times would come but had hoped against hope that they would be forestalled somehow. That our parents would be the exceptions. The ones who lived to 105 and still were healthy and awake.
It is not to be.
Nor should it I suppose.
We have a time allotted to us here on this earth and the we must “shuffle off this mortal coil.”
So we self absorbed and spoiled baby boomers must both care for our parents and learn to be the patriarchs and matriarchs for our children and grandchildren.
Rather than fight the inevitable it is now my hope that when the time comes that they can with grace and dignity lay down their burdens and lie in the arms of our loving Saviour and hear,”Well done my child. Rest now.”
Today, not for the first time, I was cut off in traffic and rudely signaled by a person with the “Christian” symbol on their car.
I was not going slow. I was actually above the speed limit but apparently not fast enough, in the right lane, for this soldier of Christ.
Ladies and Gentlemen. If you are going to put a piece of plastic on your car to make some kind of statement about your supposed spirituality then please be mindful that you are anonymous and it is not your good name that is being slandered by your behavior.
Lose the plastic. Your life of Christ-likeness will be a much bigger testimony than the piece of signage on your car.
I really think folks do it just to proclaim whose side they are 0n in the culture wars.
By the way, I find the Darwin fish-eating symbols to be even more offensive and idiotic. What is your point? that you are smarter or some other conceit? that symbol has only one purpose. To offend and belittle.
Back to Christians.
Either be perfect or take the fish off the car. At the least try to obey traffic laws and common decency.
This past Easter weekend two of my dearest friends were formally taken into the fellowship of the Catholic Church.
This in and of itself is a little amazing but not shocking given that many evangelicals and former evangelicals are moving towards Orthodoxy in one form or another.
There are, however, a few things that I believe make this extraordinary at least for me.
Bryn and Sandra befriended my wife and me many years ago when we were perhaps not newly minted Christians but were certainly not deep in the faith.
Bryn in particular was and is a mentor to me as well as my friend.
I want you to imagine that person or one of those people that were there for you and helped guide you through the early days of your walk with Christ or “the Christ” as Bryn is fond of saying, becoming Roman Catholics. Think of it.
Those of you who are regular readers of the internetmonk have watched and in some detached way seen what Michael Spencer, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and educator has gone through during his wife’s conversion the Roman church.
Bryn was one of three older men who mentored and were spiritual guides for me.
Bryn and another dear and departed friend lead my brother and me to a men’s spiritual retreat and training that I still look back upon with deep appreciation for the many lessons learned.
Both of the other men have now gone on to be with the Lord.
Bryn and Sandra also opened their home to us and several other couples for a home bible study/worship service that to this day has not been equaled in my experience for its depth and warmth.
These are not flighty church jumpers.
Bryn is a 71 year old semi-retired architect and Sandra has raised two beautiful daughters as well as put up with Bryn for a long, long time.
Sandra, being clearly much younger, could possibly be looked upon as doing something out of the impetuosity of youth. Bryn has no such excuse.
I spoke to both of them at some length last week and the single question I had was this.
Both talked at some length about things that they liked or didn’t like about the churches from their past and their new church home.
They both talked to some degree about the theology and apologetics.
When it finally got down to the basic truth they both were looking for authenticity in their worship experience.
This is a reason that reverberates with me.
This is reason I understand I believe many evangelicals can identify with.
Our churches and the worship experience have turned into extravaganzas and circuses meant to attract the “unchurched” and entertain the masses.
I wish my friends all of the happiness and blessing possible in their new spiritual home.
They may soon be joined.
I have had friends ask me why I don’t like contemporary Christian music.
1. I am an old curmudgeon.
2. Most of it is not very good.
3. Much of it is just an attempt to copy other popular music.
4. The big, real reason – WHO IS THE CENTER OF ATTENTION? WHO IS THE FOCUS OF THE PERFORMANCE?
How many times have you heard a performance in a church and the histrionics of the performer are what is the main thing in view?
Hey, if you want to be Beyonce’ or Britney Spears or David Cook then by all means go for it.
Just don’t do it where I’m trying to worship.
I have friends and relatives, one in particular, that play and in Praise and Worship bands. I have no doubt at all about this friend’s sincerity and heart for the Lord.
I have a confession to make.
I do not attend any organized form of worship service on a regular or even a very irregular basis.
I of course go to funerals and weddings and have occasionally gone to a local megachurch to hear my nephew sing.
My inclination is to blame this all on the churches and the people who run them. You can see from the last post of imonk that I put up links to here and in other postings of his and the comments that there is plenty of wrong to go around.
The real problem is me.
I wrote to a famous blogger asking what are we to do as far as finding a church in response to a provocative blog about the ills of evangelical churches. His response was that if I couldn’t find some kind of group to worship with amongst all of the myriad possibilities out there than there is something wrong with me.
He is right.
I do have many issues with churches. It is the reason I started this blog. I’m not talking about the groups that deny the deity of Christ or His Supremacy. They are not my concern in general except as fellow humans who may need to be presented with the gospel.
No my issues are with the evangelicals. One thing is I have been surprised by how many groups take on that appellation.
I once, in my distant youth, even wanted to be a bible teacher or pastor. I did succeed for a while in leading a large group in bible study (40-60 a week) but I betrayed the trust of that group and eventually even blamed that on others.
I am by nature a weird combination of both a cynical skeptic and a hopeful dreamer. Not a great combination if you are looking for something inspiring in others. Looking for some evidence of the Divine in the people around me that claim brotherhood with the Risen Christ.
As noted above, I am chief among those who have disappointed others. Deeply disappointed. Ruined families. Deeply damaged my own family. Hurt and confused younger brothers and sisters in Christ.
Yet with all of this I presume to set myself up as an arbiter of what is right and wrong with the church both local and universal.
Talk about a hypocrite.
I know none of us is worthy and I may be slightly more honest than others may be willing or able to be at this time but that does not excuse my behaviour.
I’m not sure I have the guts to push the button and actually post this. We will see later.
So I guess you could say that guilt is a big part of why I don’t go to church.
There are other better reasons that would certainly be more palatable to others but they don’t seem to matter very much right now.
I know where I need to be and who I need to be with. I just don’t have the stomach for the worshiptainment and circus nonsense that goes on at most of the groups I would consider aligning with theologically.
I have even flirted with Catholicism but there are just a few points that I can’t seem to get past. (There’s some of my line in there Mr. Bell).
I don’t need or desire anyone’s sympathy or even deserve it. If you want to pray for me then pray. Don’t tell me about it. God will know.
I suppose for the time being I will suspend my series on why tithing isn’t new testament biblical or there is no model for a professional clergy. That we don’t need these giant stadiums complete with coffee shops and indoor gymnasiums. I could go on.
All of these things I feel strongly about but do not believe I am qualified to comment.
A dear friend of mine once told me that he thought I had the gift of prophecy, the telling it like it is variety not the world is coming to an end type, and that Satan had sabotaged my life to make me ineffective.
That is flattering but I am sure it makes me out to be be way more important than I am.
So, there you go. It’s me.