God Is Not Your Fairy Godmother!

I was just watching “Shrek 2” and it struck me how similar the Fairy Godmother’s advertising campaign is to many people’s conception of God. “Help is just a tear drop away” is how her campaign goes, with the premise that when you shed a tear, she’ll come along and make everything perfect and you’ll live “happily ever after.” An awful lot of people seem to think that God makes the same promise to Christians, but if you look in the Scriptures, that’s complete nonsense!

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As you might guess from looking at the collection of photos that cycle behind the blog title, I have a thing for thunderstorms. I’m not sure exactly what it is that draws me to them, perhaps it’s just the display of God’s power reminding me of just how powerless I truly am. I remember going to the mountains surrounding Phoenix one year on the Fourth of July to watch the fireworks. As we were waiting for the man-made fireworks to start, a ring of lightning storms surrounded the Valley, presenting an incredible show of God’s fireworks that the mere works of man couldn’t hope to match. It’s invigorating to be out just after the storm, to taste the tang of the ozone, to feel the renewal of land and marvel in the wondrous works of God.

A Lamp Unto My Feet

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalms 119:105 (KJV)

Isn’t this a great scripture? It reveals so much about how God shows us His will for our lives and does it in just a few words. When you’re walking along a path at night in an unlit area, what do you use for illumination? You don’t set up street lamps and light the entire area, instead you carry a small lantern or flashlight that illuminates your next step and a bit of the path ahead. Similarly, God doesn’t usually use His word to reveal all our surroundings, or even what He has for us around the next bend. Instead, He uses it to illuminate our next step and the path just ahead. We know our ultimate destination, indeed, we can see it shining on the hill above us, but between here and there is a path through the darkness that is this world that we must traverse.

So, why doesn’t God just illuminate the entire path for us? Why just enough to keep us from stumbling or losing the path entirely? I believe that it’s because He knows our limits better than we do. Think back (if you’re old enough!) to when you were in high school or middle school; if you could have known then everything that God had planned for you for the rest of your life, what would you have done? I don’t know about you, but I think I would have rolled up into a fetal position and started sucking my thumb! Even with God, life is scary enough on a day to day basis! Repeatedly in the scripture God tells us to take life one day at a time, this verse is just another way of saying it. His Word illuminates our feet so we don’t stumble and lights the path so that we can find our way. It’s not intended to be a floodlight that banishes all questions from our lives, the Word is a flashlight showing us where to place our next step.

Tribulations and Trials and Tests! Oh My!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a doubleminded man, unstable in all he does.
James 1:2-8 NIV

Wait a minute! Who stuck that in my Bible? Isn’t Christianity supposed to be all rainbows and lollipops? What’s this talk about “trials” and “testing your faith”? I don’t want to be tested! Tests aren’t any fun!

Well, contrary to what sometimes seems to be popular belief, Christianity isn’t all rainbows and lollipops. Sometimes it’s hard and occasionally, it’s really hard. We in the United States have been fortunate in that we live in a country where it’s still pretty easy to be a Christian. Oh, we may gripe and complain about it, but we’re not being rounded up and sent off to camps. The problem with this is that it tends to produce weak Christians. We can talk a good game, but if our faith is truly put to the test, do we hold up under the pressure?

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Probably the most difficult thing to do as a Christian (or for that matter as a non-Christian) is to forgive. We all want to be forgiven our mistakes, large or small, but it’s so deucedly hard to do for others. And yet it’s essential to our lives as Christians. The Lord’s prayer says Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. God has given us an amazing model of forgiveness, forgiving all our trespasses both large and small, and yet, we often find it hard to forgive the merest perceived slight.

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Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:21-24

I’d say this passage ranks up there as one of the most misunderstood and abused passages in the entire New Testament, if not the whole Bible. It’s been used far too often as a license for abuse and misogyny and all because submission is so misunderstood.

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Free Will?

How can God be all-knowing and mankind still have free will? This is a question that has been asked practically from the dawn of Christianity. Some will deny that we truly have free will in the long run, that we are predestined to our fates and that any apparent free will we have is merely an illusion. But, if this is the case, why would God bother to create mankind in the first place? And more importantly, why send Christ as the atoning sacrifice for mankind, if our fates have been determined in advance?

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