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09 July, 2012


An Exercise From a Synchroblog











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The following exercise is from the synchroblog at http://frankviola.org/2012/07/09/gospelforthemiddle
Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of Maine, USA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.
One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.
Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.
Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.
Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.
Recently Fielding asked this question:
When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)
Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.
Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.
Question: If you were Fielding’s cousin, how would you instruct him and his wife the next time you saw them?
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There are some things that stick out to me in this; 
First: He believes in God, that Jesus died for our sins, and yet has not made that decision for Christ.
Second: It seems as though this has gone on for some years, his not accepting yet wanting to know more.
 Third: He is hungry to know so much more, yet will not commit. It seems as though he were waiting for something to happen, an answer, a "happening" to occur, before he will make any commitment.

First, I think of Paul. When and how he came to Christ was extremely important. It happened in such a way and a time that, when  he did make that commitment, he did so with such zeal and fervor that we now have a Mission Field. The time he spent not knowing Christ and, indeed, fighting against Him, defined the commitment he did make! 
Second, it seems as though God could be using this time in much the same way He did with Paul. To develop a great, deep desire to fulfill a call that only he can. One that will be better understood with time. Paul did not come to Christ while He was still here, not while he sat in instruction. He came when his time, according to God's timetable, was ready! When Paul's mind and heart were ready for that decision and for a call to Ministry.  The hunger he feels, may be along that same line. Fielding wants to know, but isn't ready in understanding. Is it possible that God is holding back on something until that time has come? 
For what? Is it possible that God would have Fielding to start a Church there?  Fielding will have a great understanding of why a Church needs to be there, from his own time before conversion. He will also have this huge need to do more than just sit back and do nothing! His wife wants to do more than that! He is hungry and he knows what he is hungry for. Many people I know, are going to hell, and they know it! It isn't because they want to, not because they like the idea, they just don't know where else to go! Fielding may very well be that answer for that area. 

Instructions for Fielding and his wife? "You already know the answers to any question I could ask. You already know  who Jesus is and what He is. You also already know what you need to do. I give you my word: I will support you when you do!  If it's prayer you need, I will do it! I will do that anyway, but , so you will hear the words...Regardless of what it takes...I will support you and Felicia, no matter what. 

12 June, 2012

Beliefs; Do You Bother?

 When we decide we believe in something, what  runs through our heads? Do we actually go through a process of determining what that belief entails? Do we really think what it is going to mean to us, or what it will require of us?

Take for instance, the idea of Salvation. Many people will tell you they are in need of it because of the sin in their lives. They will go so far as to tell you that everyone has the same problem, and that only God can forgive that sin. Many people will also tell you that God will save someone because of their sin, not because they saw sin in their lives and needed a way out.

So, where is the problem?  In my mind, the problem is when we try to make our beliefs fit our thoughts. We have the  notion that God can, and will, cover all sins. He doesn't want any of us to perish, to go to Hell. Which is true, Jesus came as the atoning sacrifice for us. He made a sacrifice so great, that it paid the price so that we might come before God and have that relationship with Him (Col. 1: 15- 22). The problem is that God does not storm the gates and conquer the city! I John 2: 1-6 teaches  that very concept. We must choose to follow His commands. Just as we chose to sin ( rebel against God) so must we choose to follow Him. Look at God's Grace. According to Scripture, it is the very thing that makes salvation possible (Acts 15: 11; Eph. 2: 3-8; Titus 3: 3-7, etc...).  Grace, by definition, is a free gift. Something we did not earn. Simple. Basic. The difficulty comes when faced with trying to come to terms with God's grace and our humanity. We have a huge desire to mess things up! We have a strange ability to do so knowing it is wrong! We see this choice in front of us, we know that it is wrong and do it anyway; this is sin. We make a choice and it is done! God's grace, on the other hand, is capable of covering so many of these things (II Cor. 5: 18-20).  With the expressed purpose of allowing us to have a relationship with God. The term "relationship" is the key. No relationship is one-sided, it must have more than one working on the same thing for it to work and grow. In short, both parties must choose, purposely decide, to make a personal investment into this relationship to make it happen.

I do have a question: Why do people say that we need to be saved because of the sin in our lives, yet not acknowledge that salvation and sin are both choices?  Is it just because someone told us that man is too sinful to be able to do anything? Was God consulted either in prayer or through Bible reading? Where did the thought come from? Do we try to make sure that God is kept "up there" too good for us, and we are kept "down here" where we are too bad for Him? We acknowledge God's grace, yet not that we have to accept it. Why?

I have a challenge for you; Do you know what you believe? If you do, can you tell WHY you believe it? A babbling brook is so very relaxing. It has such a nice, soothing sound. If your beliefs are like a babbling brook, that means you will take anything that falls into it, and pass it right along! No foundation. The next thing that comes along that sounds like it is something you like or is against something you don't like, you will take it, and pass it along as well. No reason as to why you took it, no critea to go by for a basis in the belief, just take it much like a bass would a spoon!
It is not What you believe that counts! It's the Truth BEHIND your beliefs.

Consider it.

15 April, 2011

Quiet Time

My favorite story in the entire Bible is a great start for this. In I Kings 19 beginning with vs. 10, Elijah starts complaining to God about all the work he has done for Him and now his life is being threatened. At first Elijah expects, I guess, for God to pamper him, to possibly give him "something" (?). What God does do is tell him to travel, then eat and rest; then to meet Him on a hill. God didn't tell him to go to a high mountain top and give up his life and live waiting for God to speak, He simply told him to go to a hill and wait for The Lord would pass by. First a huge wind comes and tears the place apart; shatters rocks and ripped the mountains apart! However, God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake, then a fire, but again God was not in either one of these! After these a small gentle breeze came through, and THIS is where God was!

God is the creator of all that is. He has the power to do anything He wants! He is the one who taught the lions to roar, gave lightning the ability to strike the earth from a cloud! He made all that is from NOTHING! Yet when He is with us, He does not yell, He does not come with a booming voice; quite the contrary. Instead, He comes to be with us. I am of the impression that is why He didn't come through the earthquake or fire, but chose the still small voice so we would have to choose to place everything else in ours lives down and listen! He isn't one to compete. In all honesty, how would anyone be able to?

In Jeremiah 33:3 we are told : "call unto me and I will answer you; I will tell you great unsearchable things!" In the 147 Psalm we are told He made and named all the stars! We can't even SEE all the stars and He knows each and every one of them by name! In Luke 12 and Matthew 10 we are told He has counted the hairs on our heads! Considering all the people that are born everyday, not to mention all that have come before, that is an unbelievable number, but God does this and has since the beginning of time. It is an every day thing for Him, and if these things are everyday occurrences, then what could God call "great and unsearchable"? If God is looking for us to come to a place that is set aside away from everything else, He chooses to use a voice that is smaller than that of all that is around us, one can only wonder!

A Quiet Time is meant to be just that: Quiet! The reason is so that He can show you the things He calls great and unsearchable.
Does this mean every time we go we will receive a great "eschatological" vision? Not hardly! If anything, especially at first, the time will be more along the lines of learning. Learning what His "voice" is like, how to tell His voice from the world, His voice from ours. I think it is most important to remember that the time is meant to spend with Him, not to solve the worlds problems.

13 April, 2011

Prayer

God is the Creator of all that is. He made everything from nothing (Gen. 1). He has many names; He called Himself "I Am" in Exodus. He also called Himself "Jealous" later in Exodus (34:14). In John 15:15 He called Himself our friend! How do you pray to someone like this?

When I think of all He has done for me, I tremble with absolute fear, and awe! I want to sing, to shout! This is not prayer, though, how do you pray, go before Him and petition for anything? He has the power and authority, but is He approachable?

I heard a story once that tells of a man who had a similar problem for many years. A friend told him that God had promised many times throughout the Bible that He would be with us, all he would have to do is just talk to Him. The friend told him to use a chair. Place the chair in front of him and imagine Jesus sitting in that chair and just talk to Him! The man tried this and found it to be a lot easier than he thought. He liked it so much he continued it for many years. The day he died, his daughter went in to check on him and found he had died, but not until he had laid his head in the chair next to his bed! In the mind of the man, he had lain his head in the lap of his best friend, and passed away there.

I have spoken with others who have read and prayed much. They came to a point in their Christian growth that prayer was stagnant and meant nothing to them; they were doing nothing more than reciting to God. Different things began to happen to them that brought them to their knees in remembrance of just who God really is. This thought caused them to do more than recite, it made them stop and really look at themselves as petitioners rather than talkers( A person who tends to do more talking than listening.). They came to a point in their prayer lives that nothing less than being on their knees was good enough for prayer. They had come to an understanding that God was so great, so awesome; and that prayer was being in His presence so being on ones knees was the only way for them to pray.

Should we pray on our knees? Is it alright to stand and speak to God as though He were a close friend? In Jeremiah 33:3 we are told to call on Him and He will answer. In Luke 11:10 we are told if we seek, we'll find; if we ask, it will be given; and if we knock the door will be opened. In Jeremiah 29 we will be able to find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts! I am convinced that it is not the position of our bodies that is in question, but our hearts! He has always wanted a relationship with us; a personal relationship. This cannot be done without some kind of communication: PRAYER! If you do this on your knees, do so with all your heart! If you choose to use a chair and imagine Him sitting there as a close friend, again, do so with all your heart, but talk to Him! Listen to Him! Seek Him!

Prayer

Bible Reading

Reading the Bible can be reading an instruction book; reading a Love Letter from God. I have heard it said that it can be Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth, but I think my favorite is when reading the Bible, you are reading your own story!

Genesis, the first book of the Bible, means "The Beginning" and in this first book, we find so many beginnings. The beginning of life, the first time man sins against God. The first time man is called out by faith. When Abram was called out, God didn't say a word about where He wanted him to go, nothing about the name of a city, no GPS setting, nothing! God simply said "Go to a place I will show you". That is a really tough way to go! He was simply (Gen. 12: 1- 3) told to pack up his personal belongings,his immediate family and go! As Christians, we are called out from what we know and understand, to become part of a great kingdom. Faith is not easy! It requires leaving what we know, what we already understand and use to make our decisions with. Go to a different kind of learning, basically, a new life! In Exodus we find what the Israelites had to do to learn the same lessons.
The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians and had been for many years. They had been crying out to God in prayer for help. We do the same, maybe in different ways, but we look for something better than what we have, more of a purpose in life. That is referred to as "salvation", a way out of the life you have and into something more. The Israelites were looking for a way out of the oppression they had become slaves to. The only way out was to rely completely on God's direction. They were more than willing to do so until they got out, and the traveling got a little tougher than they thought it should, it was then they began to have second thoughts about leaving their lives. We tend to do the same thing; we don't like the lives we had before Christ, but we are so lost in this new life and what it takes to live it, that we actually start to look back and wonder "why did we leave?". We already know what we left and why we needed to leave it, we know we didn't like, didn't need it, still don't want it, but that we know how to live in. This life is so new and confusing! Faith is a lot of things, but easy is not one of them. Exodus is a story about us in our early Christian lives learning how to live that kind of life.
The next time you read your Bible, try looking at it as though it were a story written about you! It really is a Love letter written by God to us, but I like reading it with the thought that it's about me and for me! I tend to look a little closer, look more for something that actually applies to where I am in my Christian growth. I have seen some amazing things in God's Word, in Isaiah 55 we are told that God's word will not return void, it will complete what It was given! It has a task to complete just as you and I do! That word has the task of helping us to understand who He is and who we are. I guess that makes It the instruction book to beat all!