Archive | January, 2018

Why life is hard – one reason

26 Jan

I find that clear thinking and logical deductions help me think through my day-to-day life.  And as my understanding of the Bible deepens and is clarified, thinking carefully illumines Truth.

For instance, does it ever feel like God is blocking you? That no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to make ‘it’ happen?  What if you realized that your goal or desire is NOT what would actually make you happy?

To say that God might be in the way of our plans is NOT to imply that He is a ‘cosmic meany’ or grumpy God who is against pleasure.   Our God is the happiest being in and out of the entire universe.  The Bible even calls Him ‘happy‘ or in Greek, ‘makarios‘.

1 Timothy 1: 10b-11 …..sound teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed* God.

Furthermore, our good triune God created pleasure and fashioned us, His image-bearers, to be supremely happy, content and satisfied in HIM!  We just don’t know, at first, what makes us happy.  And we have an enemy who keeps diverting our attention to temporary shiny baubles.

Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

What I am finding out and beginning to consciously learn is that when I start to pursue something that does not lead to ULTIMATE joy (as much as is possible here on this present earth), God thwarts me, eventually.

I’ve seen it in my decades-long pursuit of ‘the perfect weight’.  And I see it now in my desire to ‘feel competent’ at my craft of teaching French so students acquire the language.

How so?  Well, a new thought occurred to me this week.  If what I mean by ‘I want to feel competent‘ that I don’t want to feel needy or unsure of my skills, then I have set myself up for a NO-WIN endeavor.

For God has made you and me, created beings, to be DEPENDENT on our Maker.

Here’s the logic.  I’m sure you can follow these premises.  Do you agree that they are true?

  • God wills for me to be supremely happy (makarios) IN HIM!
  • God’s will is always done, eventually.
  • When I pursue something other than God that I think will make me supremely happy (makarios), then I am in opposition to God’s will.
  • God will cannot be denied.
  • Therefore, God will either block my pursuit or allow me to continue until I reach the painful conclusion of just how unsatisfactory it is.

I’m FAR better off giving in and submitting to God BECAUSE He is good and loving.

If you have listened to or read anything by John Piper from Desiring God Ministries, then you recognize how he summarizes this philosophy of the Christian life as “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Seeing evidence of God’s glory HERE and NOW fills that cavernous pleasure ache in us.  Not completely while we are in this body, but more than anything created.  Here is how our Lord describes the worth of His glory.

Isaiah 42:8  I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.

The highest and best gift God can give us is to SEE His glory.  Look at how Jesus explains it:

John 17:24  Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! (NLT)

So maybe the next time you experience frustration over something you have had your heart and mind set on, consider whether God might be blessing you by holding you back from something far less satisfying compared to what you might have now.

Of course, it goes without saying, we’ll need to pray for discernment and wisdom to distinguish between ‘a time to persevere’ and a time to ‘submit to God’s will and let go.’

Bible Promise Logic

11 Jan

John 8:31-32  If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free

I’ve been struggling with knowing God’s truth, but not having it make a difference in my day to day life.  Here’s how this struggle looks in a partial syllogism or Enthymeme:

  • Premise:  If you know the truth
  • Conclusion: Then, you will be set free

To complete or make explicit the missing premise in this enthymeme, I can write it like this:

  • P1 – All those who know the truth will be set free
  • P2 – I know the truth
  • Conclusion – Therefore, I have been set free

But here’s the rub:  I DO know the truth about Jesus and how I have a new identity as a regenerate Christian, adopted child of our Triune God.  But I still live in bondage to some faulty thinking EVEN though I know better.

So the syllogism that describes my true, functional condition looks like this:

  • P1 All those who know the truth will be set free
  • P2 I am not free, but in bondage
  • Therefore, I do not really know the truth

Solution?  There’s only one way to be set free.  And that is to immerse myself in the Gospels and pray, asking God to grant me to know Jesus and what He did for me both in atoning for my sins and in fulfilling the law.  The shorthand way to describe that remedy is for me to meditate on just how much He loves me.

A verse I read this morning caused me to see that possibility: 1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.

Maybe I don’t TRUST God’s love for me because I don’t really know it.  I see now that even before my recent frustration with feeling trapped in habitual practices, I was groping for a deeper and more intimate knowledge of God.  I had chosen my 2018 New Year’s Resolution to notice and study God’s glory wherever it comes up in the Bible.

I intuitively feel that the path to liberation lies in going deep into seeing, observing, studying, meditating on the glory of God as manifest in Jesus and being satisfied with who He is and what He has done.