Monday, April 26, 2010

Fair? Just?

Some of you know I've had this ongoing conversation with an atheist who sometimes attends Eastview (go figure) about the reality of God, Jesus, etc... It honestly is frustrating most of the time because I know Who I believe in is real and he doesn't. So there you go.

Recently, he viewed our "cardboard testimonies" from our Easter service. He callously questioned what kind of fair and just God would do miracles in some people's lives and not others. Why would he let millions of kids die, etc...? Actually, aside from insulting my God and my people (Eastview) he has a great question. Many have asked it. Why isn't God fair when He claims to be? Below is my response to him...hope it is helpful to you:

"Think about this...if God is the God that I believe in (and you don't, but just go with this) then there are two things he has besides ultimate power that neither you nor I have:
1. Eternal perspective - he sees all of eternity (past and future), all human kind (the six billion living now and all the billions from the past), all human history (every act as it really happened and not as historians recorded it). You and I have 80-90 years tops, which is a very limited perspective!

2. Internal perspective - he sees and knows every heart. Where as you and I can say, "she's a good woman" or "he's a good man" we are easily deceived because we have only outward realities to judge people by - we don't see the heart. But God knows the motives of every heart and can't be faked out. He sees every motive and evil thought and wicked plan. He's not guessing like you and I do when it comes to people (how many times have you heard the interviewed neighbors of a mass murderer say, "He seemed like a really good guy"?). God knows every thought of every heart.

These two realities give him unique ability and privilege to determine what is "fair" or "just". You and I simply are disqualified because we don't know the complete story. God's perspective and power allow him to do what is "right" and "just" based on his knowledge of EVERYTHING! In comparison, you and I know nothing. How then can we possibly say that something is fair or unfair with such limited knowledge? It's like a juror making a fair decision on a trial after hearing only one of 120 witnesses of a two month trial. Our limited knowledge disqualifies us for sound judgment. I'm not arguing for God's ability to judge fairly (which I believe and you don't). I'm simply saying that you and I are far worse judges than God!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Have you evern wondered what people mean when they say I felt "prompted" to do something? Especially in Christian circles we tend to throw this word around a lot. Sometimes it is code for "I'm going to do what I want to do and if I say the 'spirit is prompting me' then you can't argue with my action or conclusion." I've actually had encounters with Christian people who are getting a divorce with no biblical grounds for it and justify their lack of commitment by saying, "the Spirit is leading me to end this marriage." Well, you can take this to the bank - the Spirit and the Word are NEVER in if the Spirit is saying something the Word isn't saying, then it's not the Spirit you are hearing. But this blog isn't about that.

I'm talking about when as a Christian you actually feel the Holy Spirit moving you, inspiring you, prompting you. It's like saying in Acts 20:22 - "and now compelled by the Spirit, I'm going to Jerusalem..." or in Acts 16:6&7 when the Spirit prevented them from going into some areas for missions ("the Spirit of Jesus wouldn't allow them"). Here's how I've experienced this lately...a lot!

The Spirit prompts names for me. As you can imagine, in a church this large, I don't know every name (truth be told, I'm lousy with names and in a church of 200 I wouldn't know every name either - I sometimes forget my kids names...and I'm not joking!). But here's been my experience lately as i'm pastoring here. I'll be running, or sitting in my chair at home, or just riding my motorcycle, or watching baseball, or writing a sermon, really an 'ol time at all; and suddenly a name is in my head.

Usually it's totally unrelated. Sometimes it's my immediate family, sometimes it's people from church, sometimes people I haven't seen for years. But here's the crazy thing, the name keeps coming back. I mean if I just say internally, "that's weird" and go on; then a day later that name will be back. So I've made it a habit that if a name pops into my head - I pray for the person.

It is uncanny - miraculously spiritual - how many times I bump into these people a day or two or week later only to hear exactly what I was praying for unawares. Sometimes I "coincidentally" (and by that I mean providentially) run into people i haven't seen for months and then I put it all together. The Spirit is at work and I'd better pay attention. Because these names are promptings and I'm to keep in step with the how is the Spirit prompting you?

Monday, April 12, 2010

staff kitchen area

A little insight into the area in our office wing where almost everyone on staff gathers from time to time to share a "meal" and conversation. Here's a sample of what you might get there. It may be helpful to know that our staff is pretty young and looking for a handout in the middle of a hectic schedule for lunch. It comes in many forms:

The first Monday of every month usually a celebration of the birthdays in that month. Someone (usually a couple of staff members) brings in a number of food items ranging from "puppy chow" to shrimp cakes or whatever. Believe it or not, you can build a lunch out of cake, some shrimp and carrots from a veggie tray (makes you feel healthier).

Then our building supervisor (Gary Dickson) often surprises us in the morning with an e-mail that his wife (Sandy) has made some more of here awesome cookies (yes cookies are a breakfast meal - with coffee - perfect). From time to time others will make some food just for fun.

As you know we also have a number of events in the building for an assortment of trainings and team meetings that include food. Well, what happens when there is leftover food? Staff kitchen. Just this morning, the fare was spaghetti and bread (the salad didn't make it -very wilty) leftover from step one, and shrimp, cheese, meat, bannanas, and cake from Spirit-lifters. Quite a Monday surprise.

During the Christmas season, we get gift trays from different vendors that we do business with during the year. One company sends us shrimp, smoked salmon and cheese trays...very nice. But the best by far is the "kringle" that Dr. Nord sends us each December. It's an awesome danish...have to experience it.

Sometimes there are donuts left over from morning meetings. Sometimes chips left over from retreats and sometimes there is ice cream left over from camp. Occasionally cold pizza from a variety of events. Of course, we also have some candy jars in the staff mailbox area for that late afternoon pick me up. My personal favorite: Almond Joy (very biblical candy bar - almonds in Palestine and joy - as in fruit of the Spirit).

What's the point of this blog? There is none, just to say the staff seems to always be able to find something to eat in our staff kitchen. One of the perks of working at Eastview. I wonder if the apostles had something like this? If they did, I bet Judas would have eaten 30 pieces of shrimp.

Monday, April 5, 2010

why I cry

Well, yesterday was a very moving time as we celebrated Easter together. I cried (or teared up a lot - actually all weekend).

*It began with my preaching time at Mt. Moriah Christian in downtown Bloomington on Good Friday. Great time of preaching and fellowship. But at the end, Pastor Rayford caught me completely off guard by giving me an award for being a preacher who "loves preaching, preahers and prayer". It is an annual award given in honor of Pastor Walter Banks. I was moved and undeserving (tears) - but it is true, I love preaching, preachers and prayer.
*Friday I received word that we were given occupancy of our new balcony expansion - I teared up as I thought about all that many people had to do to make that a reality. I praised God.
*Saturday I had to run 18 miles - didn't really cry - but I should have.
*Sunday I had a lump in my throat as I saw all the humble servants of our choir and orchestra get on the shuttle at 6:45 a.m. I'm blown away by the people who love God enough to sacrifice.
*I was moved deeply as I watched people pack the place both services on Sunday.
*By the time all the people came on stage with their cardboard testimonies...I just stood backstage watching on the screen (there was no place to sit) and wept with Karen.
*then I tried to invite others to let Jesus change their lives.

Why do I cry? Well, you'd have to be dead not to cry yesterday. The spirit moved hundreds to tears! Literally. I cry when I sense God doing something in the lives of people that only he can do and then I'm moved that maybe some small little part of that was God using me and the church that I serve. Overwhelming.