Tired of being told to “Love God More?”

Love God more.

What does that even mean?  If you are like me, maybe you can relate to this:

You are sitting in church, and the pastor says that the most important thing is to love God the most.  You agree, so you decide right then and there that you are going to do just that.  You don’t know exactly what it looks like, but “in your heart” you are just going to will yourself to love God more and that’s that.

Basically, what has happened is that we have reduced love to an intellectual decision.  I think I love God more than anything, therefore I do.  But is that what it really means to love God?  I suppose that it is definitely true that you should think of God above all, but that’s a little dry.  The problem is that our English word “Love” really encompasses a lot of things.  So I’m going to throw out some new words for you.

Infatuated with.  Passionate about.  Appreciate.  Admire.  Fun. Find interesting.   How would like to truly be able to describe your relationship with God in terms like these?  I know these sound more like terms that remind you of your first girlfriend/boyfriend, but that is EXACTLY what I’m going for. Continue reading “Tired of being told to “Love God More?””

If you have ever had a significant other, you know that the early days of that relationship are EXCITING!  That person is all you can think about.  You talk about him/her with you friends.  You call them.  You look through all of their Facebook pictures.  Every day is a new adventure, and, whatever you think it means, you start to fall in love with them.

Unfortunately, most of us have never felt this way about God.  But you can.  And he wants you to.  But you will never feel this way about God by willing yourself to “love him more.”

What you need to do is study.  Yes, study.  It sounds yucky and reminds you of school, but hear me out.  That honeymoon phase with your earthly significant other was exciting because you are constantly learning about them, and they are excited to learn about you too.  I’m sure you can think of a time where you had a bad first impression of someone, but came to love them by learning more about them.  Or maybe you thought some type of art or music was dumb, but learned to appreciate it later in life.  Knowledge leads to love.

Unfortunately many of us believe — or go to a church that believes — they have it all figured out when it comes to God.

But you/they/we don’t.

I’ve got news for you, your theology and understanding of the Bible and the great mysteries of God will never be perfect.  Ever.

Maybe the reason you aren’t totally infatuated/in love with/interested in God is because you don’t realize there is so much more to know!  Do you think you truly understand the depths of his love? You don’t.  Do you think you know all there is to know about his character? Nope.  Do you really understand how God is weaving the events of history to the benefit of those who love him? Really.  Can you fathom the intricacies of how God holds this universe together just so you can have life?

The fact is, that God is so majestic and wonderful and holy, yet so personal that there is never an end to “getting to know” or dare I say, “dating” him.

Of course there are doctrines that are set in stone, such as Jesus’ s death on the cross.  And we can be confident of this because they are straightforward in the Bible, and pass the logical tests for truth.  But that doesn’t mean you fully understand it.  It doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to learn, or that some of your doctrines need questioning.

There is a difference between questioning God and his word and questioning your understanding of it.  And if you are willing to humble yourself and let God teach you through his Holy Spirit, he will reveal himself to you in BRAND NEW  ways and you will, in fact, begin to love God more.

 

 

Prayer is good, but…

Yea, my first blog post as part of Life in Progress Ministries!  Very exciting times.  Klinton, myself and our spouses are anticipating that God will accomplish great things and open many doors of opportunity for this ministry.

I want to share something on my mind and heart today, a conviction really.  All of us can relate to going through times when we had no clue what to do.  We had no clue what our next move should be, no clue what to think or how to behave.  So, we began to pray.  Prayer is good.  Prayer changes things.  There IS power in prayer.  Prayer is the way we communicate with God; giving thanks, asking for provision, begging for help, repenting of sin…you know the drill.  But, have you ever considered that prayer is an incomplete way to communicate with God? Continue reading “Prayer is good, but…”

Klinton and I were discussing this morning how desperately we need fresh knowledge of God.  We need to know who He is and what He wants.  God is an incomprehensible and complex being. (Which is what makes a relationship with Him forever thrilling!) There is so much to know!  Ironically, as I minister to women,most — if not all — are faithfully praying.  They need help.  They need encouragement.  They need comfort.  They need answers.  They need hope.  They NEED.  And prayer is a proper response.  Please don’t get me wrong.  But, I’m wondering if prayer is enough?  Prayer is YOUR word to God.  What you and I most need is HIS word to us.  We need knowledge for decision making, knowledge for understanding, knowledge for comfort, and knowledge for life.  We need to know.

I have been guilty of only praying and expecting answers.  I’m learning that God speaks to me through prayer, but more directly and more personally through His word.  There have been times in my life that I have tried to take spiritual shortcuts to get answers.  I’ve asked someone else, read articles, watched TV programs and read blogs.  To be honest, at times the answers I found did pacify, but they never satisfied.  I’ve learned not to sacrifice Biblical knowledge under the banner of prayer.  Pray.  Prayer is beautiful and necessary.  But, also open your Bible and discover God for yourself.  Reading and studying and meditating on the Word of God is life-changing and life-giving.  It is the Word that gives life.  Jesus said,  “it is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.”  Jesus said man should not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. God’s word should be life to the believer.  Yet, so few self-proclaimed believers know the Bible.  Does anybody else see the problem?

I love these verses that so eloquently explain why we have the written Word:

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.  Romans 15:4 (ESV)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

The more I study the Bible, the more I realize how much I need it and how complete it is in covering my every need; spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically.   It is the scriptures that change me.  It is the scriptures that reveal God to me.  It is the scriptures that give me hope, purpose and direction for my life.  Sadly, I am often guilty of passively reviewing the Bible or depending on someone else to teach me what it says and what it means.  The Holy Spirit desires to be our teacher…God…your teacher.  Who better?  Don’t take the shortcuts for finding answers.  Gain the knowledge you need for your life.  Pray.  Go to church.  But, take time to study and examine God’s word for yourself.

“The scriptures are written for our use and benefit, as much as for those to whom they were first given.  Those are most learned who are most mighty in the Scriptures.”  Matthew Henry

 

 

 

Truth, Logic and Tolerance

Truth, tolerance, logic

Ask any random stranger if they are reasonable, and almost all will either tell you they are reasonable or at the very least will jokingly tell you they aren’t via some cliché line about how their therapist says they are.

Unfortunately, I do not think any of us are as reasonable as we think we are. Continue reading “Truth, Logic and Tolerance”

I often thought of “reasonable” as meaning fair or moderate. This is one definition of the word, but the core of a reasonable person is the ability to exercise reason. All of this seems intuitive at first, but in practice, it is not. The ability to reason requires a person to understand sound logic. It is at this point of understanding logic that I have an intellectual bone to pick with our culture and with our education system.

(Before I pick this bone, I want to say that I am writing about education at large. This is not a direct attack on the Potosi School District in any way. In fact, what I have to say applies just as much to a place like Mizzou as it does to an elementary school. )

Did you know there are fundamental rules of logic? Of course you did, but I bet you couldn’t state them. I couldn’t. Neither in grade school nor college had I ever been taught the basic fundamentals of logic. Yet I found myself answering “critical thinking” questions throughout grade school.

Critical thinking begins with good logic. And teaching students to think critically without first establishing the rules of logic is like trying to teach algebra to someone who doesn’t know how to multiply or divide.

Have a look at the four fundamental laws of logic:

1. The law of non-contradiction: A thing or idea or statement etc., cannot both be true and not true in the same way at the same time. For example, black cannot be white and simultaneously black at the same time.
2. The law of the excluded middle: A statement is either true or false.
3. The law of identity: A thing is what it is. As in, it has a specific nature. For example, I am 5’9” tall, and that does not change even if I say (or wish) I am taller.
4. The law of rational inference: There should be sufficient reason for a thing to happen. For example: If A=B, and B=C, then A=C.

As I said before, many think that logic is implied in critical thinking, but after working as a teaching assistant at Mizzou, I can tell you that contradictions run wild in the essays of many college students.

What is even worse is that these laws do not just apply to abstract thought, they apply to our day-to-day lives as well. Finances, morality, philosophy, law, lifestyles etc. all are thrown into chaos when a person chooses a particular course of action and hopes for a better result than what these laws would dictate.

See, the reason one uses the laws of logic is to come to a conclusion about what is true or not true. However, our culture, especially academia and the social sciences is questioning the idea that truth exists in a shift of thought that some call “postmodernism.”

To clarify, let me compare this to modernism.  Modernism is the system of thought that is exemplified in the scientific method.  The idea is that there are some things we do not know, but if we develop a hypothesis and test it, we can come to a conclusion about what is true.  Modernism assumes that there are some things that are absolutely true and in the marketplace of ideas, we can debate, experiment, and test assumptions to argue for what is true.

Postmodernism rests on a foundation that says there is no such thing as absolute truth because all truth is relative to the preconceived notions we were all raised with depending on our upbringing.

For example, you might think that cannibalism is absolutely bad.  However, to someone who was raised in a cannibalistic tribe, it is good — nourishing in fact.  And, it is not their fault they were raised that way.  So, who are you to say they are wrong for what they believe?

A less striking picture of postmodern thought could be that where one person sees a forest, someone else might see “just” a group of trees, and a bird might see a home, and a lumberjack might see a business opportunity.  For the postmodern, the nature of all things is dependent on the interpretation of the viewer.

On the surface, some of these basic tenants of postmodern thought seem to make sense, but with just a little more digging, the foundations of postmodernism fall apart.  Postmodern thought can also lead to incoherency and extreme views about people who do believe that there are some absolute truths to argue for.

It is under this postmodern view that the word “tolerance” is being redefined.

In the good old days, tolerance meant that you could completely disagree with the ideas another person had, but you would respect the right of that person to hold whatever view they wished. However, you could still maintain that there is, in fact, right and wrong, and make arguments for what is true or morally acceptable.

Under the postmodern view, it is not OK to even believe that some things are right or wrong. Being “tolerant” to post moderns means accepting all views as equally valid. Agreeing to disagree, or even respecting another’s view is not enough. If you say someone else is wrong, postmodern celebrities such as Oprah would say you are intolerant.

I would argue that acceptance is not even enough in the pop-culture today. The shift is that now you must endorse and even advocate whatever beliefs, lifestyle or decisions anyone else holds — unless, of course, that person chooses to believe that there is such a thing as truth. In that case, the truth-believing person is to be labeled as an intolerant bigot.

I find myself agreeing with the man who said that this postmodern view is a kind of “philosophical stupidity the likes of which has never been unleashed on mankind.” Under a little scrutiny, the system falls apart.

For example, let’s examine this statement: “There is no absolute truth.”
I wonder, is that statement true? Absolutely?

The same sort of question could be asked of the statement, “All truth is relative.” That statement is true relative to what? Is it absolutely true because if it is, then we are looking at a pronouncement that is not relative and disproves its own self. If that statement is relative to something that is not absolute, then we don’t have to regard it.

Problems arise for the postmodern view on tolerance as well. Postmodern tolerance means one must agree with and accept all things or be labeled as intolerant. Not only is this contradictory, it is incoherent.

You cannot tolerate someone with whom you already agree. The very word tolerance means that you believe someone else is wrong in some way.

To look at a belief or action and say, “I think that is wrong,” is not intolerant as long as you are not advocating violence or ostracizing the person with whom you disagree.

But to ridicule and label people as narrow-minded bigots because they hold to a certain view of truth is intolerant.

And this happens all the time in pop-culture and mainstream media with the vitriol usually directed towards people of monotheistic faiths and social conservatives — all in the name of tolerance.

It is hypocrisy.

However, it is easy for me to imagine someone who holds to a postmodern view of the world to ask, “Klint, who ever said everything had to be coherent?” To them, I would simply reply, “Would you like me to give you a coherent answer?”