It’s a God Thing

As I get older I have stopped believing in “coincidences.” I truly believe that everything happens not just “for a reason” but because God knows we need them to happen. I am persuaded that the Spirit of God is alive and active in the lives of those who allow Him to be. This is what is promised to us by Jesus, Peter, and Paul…and I’ll take their word on it.

For instance, when I was signing up for interview spots last semester for the churches coming to interview prospective interns, I took a shot in the dark with Central church of Christ in Athens, Alabama. I knew I had family in Athens, but I had no idea which congregation they were a part of. Turns out they are indeed members of Central.

Then we needed to find out about some sort of counseling internship for Katelyn. Most psychology students have to work extremely hard to find a summer internship and then they end up filing papers or doing other grunt work. As it turns out, Katelyn got a job working with one of the elders’ wives who is a LPC at a children’s home. The job most students search long and hard for just fell into her lap, and she loves it.

Just this past week my parents found out that their good friends from way back in college are now working with the church in Murphy, NC. Turns out that they are the preacher & wife at the same small congregation to which we are taking a mission trip this Saturday.

It is truly a small world when the Spirit of God is working in it. God certainly does move and work in mysterious ways. We can’t understand it, but we can feel it and experience it. If you haven’t felt God move in your life, maybe you should start asking Him to. It’s amazing what will happen when you pray that prayer.

It’s a God Thing

As I get older I have stopped believing in “coincidences.” I truly believe that everything happens not just “for a reason” but because God knows we need them to happen. I am persuaded that the Spirit of God is alive and active in the lives of those who allow Him to be. This is what is promised to us by Jesus, Peter, and Paul…and I’ll take their word on it.

For instance, when I was signing up for interview spots last semester for the churches coming to interview prospective interns, I took a shot in the dark with Central church of Christ in Athens, Alabama. I knew I had family in Athens, but I had no idea which congregation they were a part of. Turns out they are indeed members of Central.

Then we needed to find out about some sort of counseling internship for Katelyn. Most psychology students have to work extremely hard to find a summer internship and then they end up filing papers or doing other grunt work. As it turns out, Katelyn got a job working with one of the elders’ wives who is a LPC at a children’s home. The job most students search long and hard for just fell into her lap, and she loves it.

Just this past week my parents found out that their good friends from way back in college are now working with the church in Murphy, NC. Turns out that they are the preacher & wife at the same small congregation to which we are taking a mission trip this Saturday.

It is truly a small world when the Spirit of God is working in it. God certainly does move and work in mysterious ways. We can’t understand it, but we can feel it and experience it. If you haven’t felt God move in your life, maybe you should start asking Him to. It’s amazing what will happen when you pray that prayer.

What really matters

Last Sunday a verse in Galatians really popped out to me.

“…what really matters is faith working through love.” Galatians 5:6b (HCS)

The preacher brought this up in his sermon and then we talked about it more on Sunday night. It really got me thinking…What would church look like if we took this seriously?

So many things we place such high importance upon don’t fit. Not that certain practices and traditions aren’t valuable. But when you really think about it, how many times do we find ourselves arguing, debating, and consuming our time with things that don’t involve “faith working through love”?

What does instrumental music have to do with faith, love, or action? Women’s roles? The manner in which we take the Lord’s Supper? Whether we meet in a building or not? What version of the Bible we use?

It’s up to you to decide whether these are issues worth fighting about. Each one of us must decide what belongs within the model of “faith working through love.”

As for me, I will choose to measure each church practice using this criteria.

1. Faith is essential. We must believe in and love God. No question about it. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

2. But we must show that faith somehow. James says that faith without action is dead. Our faith in God must be lived out, not just thought about. We must show our faith by our actions. (James 2:18)

3. Finally, our actions must be motivated by love. Love for God, for fellow believers, and for all humanity. Not out of obligation or tradition, but out of love. This is how people will know that we follow Christ. (John 13:35)

Faith, Love, Action. This is what matters. Now decide for yourselves which issues fit this criterion and which ones don’t.

What really matters

Last Sunday a verse in Galatians really popped out to me.

“…what really matters is faith working through love.” Galatians 5:6b (HCS)

The preacher brought this up in his sermon and then we talked about it more on Sunday night. It really got me thinking…What would church look like if we took this seriously?

So many things we place such high importance upon don’t fit. Not that certain practices and traditions aren’t valuable. But when you really think about it, how many times do we find ourselves arguing, debating, and consuming our time with things that don’t involve “faith working through love”?

What does instrumental music have to do with faith, love, or action? Women’s roles? The manner in which we take the Lord’s Supper? Whether we meet in a building or not? What version of the Bible we use?

It’s up to you to decide whether these are issues worth fighting about. Each one of us must decide what belongs within the model of “faith working through love.”

As for me, I will choose to measure each church practice using this criteria.

1. Faith is essential. We must believe in and love God. No question about it. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

2. But we must show that faith somehow. James says that faith without action is dead. Our faith in God must be lived out, not just thought about. We must show our faith by our actions. (James 2:18)

3. Finally, our actions must be motivated by love. Love for God, for fellow believers, and for all humanity. Not out of obligation or tradition, but out of love. This is how people will know that we follow Christ. (John 13:35)

Faith, Love, Action. This is what matters. Now decide for yourselves which issues fit this criterion and which ones don’t.

Fall of Man – Rise of Mercy

I had always heard growing up that Genesis 3 is about the fall of man. Humanity went against the will of God and thus sin entered the world. That sin separated man from God, thus humanity “fell” away from God.

But recently I have noticed that this story is not so much about the sin as it is God’s reaction to the sin.

Take yourself back to that moment when you first realized that you had done something wrong and got caught. Remember those feelings of dread, shame, embarrassment, guilt. Now multiply those feelings many times over and you might begin to understand the emotions that swarmed over Adam and Eve. Their eyes were opened to their nakedness. For the first time in their lives they felt shame about their “private” parts.

In an attempt to cover their sin and their shame they tried making loin cloths out of fig leaves and then tried to hide themselves from God’s sight.

Imagine the hurt that God must have felt. His prized, most beloved creation, His masterpieces, were now terrified to be seen by Him. They were now ashamed of the very bodies that He had crafted so tediously.

God told them that on the day they ate of that fruit they would certainly die. They had obviously eaten the fruit. They had broken the one command given them. What’s more, they tried to turn the blame back on God Himself.

God had a decision to make. Would he strike them dead that day as He said? Or would he show mercy on them?

Here’s the awesome thing about God’s reaction – He is just yet merciful.

He has to punish them for their sins. He curses the ground, increases childbirth pains, and drives them out of the Garden and cuts off access to the tree of life. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?

But He does not kill them. Instead, he kills two animals. This is the first instance of animal sacrifice on humanity’s behalf. He takes the skins of those two animals and makes proper clothing for Adam and Eve. He didn’t have to do that, yet He knew how important it was for Him to take away their shame and embarrassment.

What man failed to cover up, God covered it better. What greater show of mercy could their be?

Even though Adam and Eve were driven out from the Garden, God did not leave them. He still loved them. He still took care of them and blessed them. What greater show of grace could their be?

Yes, God is just and fair, but He is even more merciful and gracious.

” Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand [generations], forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave [the guilty] unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7

“But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more…” Romans 5:20

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Fall of Man – Rise of Mercy

I had always heard growing up that Genesis 3 is about the fall of man. Humanity went against the will of God and thus sin entered the world. That sin separated man from God, thus humanity “fell” away from God.

But recently I have noticed that this story is not so much about the sin as it is God’s reaction to the sin.

Take yourself back to that moment when you first realized that you had done something wrong and got caught. Remember those feelings of dread, shame, embarrassment, guilt. Now multiply those feelings many times over and you might begin to understand the emotions that swarmed over Adam and Eve. Their eyes were opened to their nakedness. For the first time in their lives they felt shame about their “private” parts.

In an attempt to cover their sin and their shame they tried making loin cloths out of fig leaves and then tried to hide themselves from God’s sight.

Imagine the hurt that God must have felt. His prized, most beloved creation, His masterpieces, were now terrified to be seen by Him. They were now ashamed of the very bodies that He had crafted so tediously.

God told them that on the day they ate of that fruit they would certainly die. They had obviously eaten the fruit. They had broken the one command given them. What’s more, they tried to turn the blame back on God Himself.

God had a decision to make. Would he strike them dead that day as He said? Or would he show mercy on them?

Here’s the awesome thing about God’s reaction – He is just yet merciful.

He has to punish them for their sins. He curses the ground, increases childbirth pains, and drives them out of the Garden and cuts off access to the tree of life. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?

But He does not kill them. Instead, he kills two animals. This is the first instance of animal sacrifice on humanity’s behalf. He takes the skins of those two animals and makes proper clothing for Adam and Eve. He didn’t have to do that, yet He knew how important it was for Him to take away their shame and embarrassment.

What man failed to cover up, God covered it better. What greater show of mercy could their be?

Even though Adam and Eve were driven out from the Garden, God did not leave them. He still loved them. He still took care of them and blessed them. What greater show of grace could their be?

Yes, God is just and fair, but He is even more merciful and gracious.

” Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand [generations], forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave [the guilty] unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7

“But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more…” Romans 5:20

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23