Help Needed?

This past weekend while I was watching an international soccer game a commercial came on at the half that really intrigued me. It was for a Christian dating website and what really struck me was the last thing the narrator said. He boldly declared to the viewing audience, “Sometimes we wait for God to make the next move, when God is saying the next move is yours.” First I laughed, and then I sat back and thought about that statement for a bit. Is it true, are lots of “singles” running around because they just aren’t proactive enough, or because they haven’t heard the voice of God?

Let me start this by coming clean and stating that I am one of those “Christian singles” that this website is geared toward. As a single in Christian circles, pressure for marriage comes from all directions, and with this pressure comes varying degrees of advice – some great, some not so much. So in writing this I’m not trying to offer advice on the issue of dating and Christianity. There are many great books written by authors much wiser than I out there that give advice and weigh the merits of dating and relationships in our context. I just want to offer my observations as a 26-year-old single, the target demographic of the commercial.

The statement that God is waiting for my move can’t solely apply to marriage. It also permeates every facet of a believer’s walk. If God’s waiting on me to make a move for a wife, then why not for a job, or a relocation? In thinking about this statement I’ve constantly circled back to the words of Christ in John 15:7 – 8. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” So often we confuse our rugged individualism, independence and gumption with spirituality. We subscribe to the notion that God helps those who help themselves, hanging onto those very words as though they were a profound biblical truth. God is not a passive observer of our lives, He does not sit in heaven popcorn in hand, anxiously waiting to see whether we will turn to the right or to the left. There are no what ifs with God. He is the author of time; meaning He is in the past, He is in the future and He is in the now, simultaneously. The days of our lives were mapped out far before we were even a thought in the minds of our parents. Seeing God as a co-author with us to our lives strips God of his omnis – omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence – and elevates us into the realm of the controller of the universe. That’s where my problem with the statement lies, that in the context which it is given it very much asserts a fallacy, that we are on par with God.

As we further meditate on the words of Christ in John 15, and couple with that the words of James 4:3, “You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions,” one realization has to be made, that for what we ask to be granted, it has to be aligned completely with the will of God over our lives. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the heart is deceitful, and the only way to counter the deceit of the heart is to abide in the love of Him whose heart is pure and undefiled. When our desires flow seamless from the heart of the One we are bound to in love, then those desires are granted and they glorify our Maker.

God is always making the moves. He moved to create the world, perfect and spotless. He knew that sin would enter the world even before He created it and moved to set in motion a redemption story. He moved to send His Son to die on the cross to reconcile us to Himself. He moved to give us, believers in Christ, the faith to believe by the grace afforded us by the cross. God doesn’t stop moving. He moves us to delight in Him, obey Him and seek Him. God always initiates, we are the responders. The responsibility of man is our response to the evidences of God. So even in the realm of dating, God initiates by laying that attraction on our hearts and then He invites us in to take part in the glorious gift of pursuit and marriage. We are unable to snatch control from His hands. We can’t blind side Him, He authored our story, our life.

I didn’t really answer the question, “Is it my move next?” mainly because there’s a deeper issue. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” Matthew 6:33. Wife, job, kids, house, health, the list is endless. God moves us to Himself, He awakens desires in us as we draw nearer to Him. God is always faithful, always compassionate. He’ll make the moves, and He’ll compel us to respond.

Further Reflection:

“Grow Up and Get Married” – Geoff Ashley 

“I will wait for you” spoken word video

Christian Pick up lines – Stuff Christians Like

What not to say to Single Women” – Kevin DeYoung

Dude, Where’s your Bride?” – Kevin DeYoung


De Trinitate

Human language can be a very weak thing. There are those moments or thoughts in need of expression that human language simply cannot carry the weight of. This is one of those moments. My language is inadequate. But inadequacy does not mean useless. No doubt human language is inadequate to carry this deep reality, but you don’t throw out the love poem because it falls short of the love.

I don’t mean to bore you with a seminary like essay. I want to provoke worship. I want to bring some sort of clarity to what can very often be a foggy doctrine. All for the sake of worship. This isn’t a doctrine meant to stay in the classroom, it’s a reality the “everyday Christian” should be dwelling on and living in.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do this alone. I have much wiser and much holier men who have gone before me to stammer for an answer. Honestly, they will be doing most of the work of describing the Trinity, seeing as their language is much more beautifully descriptive than I am able. I’ll be using quotes from the two men who have influenced me most in my thinking of the Trinity, Jonathan Edwards and John Piper. Let’s hear what they have to say.

 

“In a nutshell, I would describe the Trinity like this: The Father is God existing in the primal, unoriginated, most absolute manner. The Son is God eternally generated by the Father’s having a clear and distinct idea or image of himself, so much so that his image or reflection of himself is God—the Son. The Holy Spirit is God existing as the infinite Spirit of love and delight flowing eternally between the Son and the Father.

The Father has always existed. And there never was a time when he did not have a perfectly exact and full Idea or Image of himself. This is the Son who therefore is equally eternal with the Father. “God’s idea of himself is absolutely perfect and therefore is an express and perfect image of him, exactly like him in every respect; there is nothing in the pattern but what is in the representation—substance, life, power nor anything else…But that which is the express, perfect image of God in and in every respect like him is God to all intents and purposes…” (Jonathan Edwards, An Essay on the Trinity, p. 101). Biblical passages that point to this understanding of God the Son are 2 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3.” -John Piper

“IT IS COMMON when speaking of the Divine happiness to say that God is infinitely happy in the enjoyment of Himself, in perfectly beholding and infinitely loving, and rejoicing in, His own essence and perfection, and accordingly it must be supposed that God perpetually and eternally has a most perfect idea of Himself, as it were an exact image and representation of Himself ever before Him and in actual view, and from hence arises amost pure and perfect act or energy in the Godhead, which is the Divine love, complacence and joy. The knowledge or view which God has of Himself must necessarily be conceived to be something distinct from His mere direct existence… If a man could have an absolutely perfect idea of all that passed in his mind, all the series of ideas and exercises in every respect perfect as to order, degree, circumstance and for any particular space of time past, suppose the last hour, he would really to all intents and purpose be over again what he was that last hour. And if it were possible for aman by reflection perfectly to contemplate all that is in his own mind in an hour, as it is and at the same time that it is there in its first and direct existence; if a man, that is, had a perfect reflex or contemplative idea of every thought at the same moment ormoments that that thought was and of every exercise at and during the same time that that exercise was, and so through a whole hour, a man would really be two during that time, he would be indeed double, he would be twice at once. The idea he has of himself would be himself again.” -Jonathan Edwards

So far we have the Father and the Son. The Father being God existing in the aboriginal, most absolute manner. And the Son, being God eternally begotten by the Father’s perfect and distinct image of himself. Now, as C.S. Lewis says, the Trinity is a dance of worship. The Father loves the Son (Ephesians 1:6; Matthew 3:17; John 5:20, 17:26), and the Son loves the Father (John 14:31). The Father eternally delights in the Son, and the Son eternally delights in the Father. God’s love for his own glory was satisfied from eternity in beholding his own image of his glory in the Son.

“Therefore, the Father and the Son never existed without an infinite delight and love flowing between them. It was not possible they could be indifferent to each other’s glory. 1 John 4:12-13 shows that the love that God is (v. 7) is the Holy Spirit: “If we love one another God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him…because he has given us of his Spirit.” The Spirit of God is the river of love and delight flowing between God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is the esprit de corps of the Godhead. In responding to each other’s infinite glory, the Father and Son put all that they are into the act of love. And therefore the Spirit is all that they are and exists as a Person in his own right, yet one with the Father and the Son.” -Piper

“The Godhead being thus begotten by God’s loving an idea of Himself and shewing forth in a distinct subsistence or person in that idea, there proceeds amost pure act, and an infinitely holy and sacred energy arises between the Father and Son in mutually loving and delighting in each other, for their love and joy is mutual, (Prov. 8:30) “I was daily His delight rejoicing always before Him.” This is the eternal and most perfect and essential act of the Divine nature, wherein the Godhead acts to an infinite degree and in themost perfect manner possible. The Deity becomes all act, the Divine essence itself flows out and is as it were breathed forth in love and joy. So that the Godhead therein stands forth in yet another manner of subsistence, and there proceeds the third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, viz., the Deity in act, for there is no other act but the act of the will.” -Edwards

Have you ever been to a party and you can just sense the mood? Whether upbeat or boredom, you can almost feel the ‘spirit’ of the party. This is an infinitely tiny fraction of Who the Holy Spirit is. For eternity, at all times, the Father and Son have acted in love toward each other. This love is so strong, it is in itself another person in the Trinity. And because the love between the Father and Son is based on the attributes and characteristics of each other, the Spirit is of the same essence as the Father and Son, but distinct.

There is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We grope at understanding, but never fully have it. We stammer to express, but always fall short. Why? Because something has happened, an affection has come about. A passion has been placed by God for God. Passion sprouting from a love for the glory of God displayed in His saving work. Salvation: originates with Father, accomplished by the Son, communicated by the Spirit. Falling in love always precedes the love poems. Although communicated with the help of others, they’re writing is in sync with my heart. This is my love letter.

 

“Ascribe O church the greatness and the glory due His name, one God, one Being, one Essence, O Triune God proclaimed.”

 


Who Am I?

I’m going to need you to get out of your own world for this one. For these next few paragraphs you’ll need to sit back and actually contemplate the magnitude of what is going on around you.

 

As you read this, I assume you are sitting at a desk or in your living room. As you sit still, how fast are you actually moving? Yes, in an earthly, horizontal sense you are sitting still, but what about apart from the earth? As you sit still, you are sitting on a moving planet, so in reality, how fast are you actually moving? There are several different factors we need to consider to actually find out. First off, our planet rotates on it’s axis. But more than that, it wobbles as it spins on that axis. The speed of earth’s rotation is about 1,041.7 mph. Now secondly, the earth is also orbiting the sun at a speed of 69,360.73 mph. So, so far we have three different directions of motion, orbit, spin, and wobble. All put together for a combined speed of 70,402.3 mph. That’s the easy part. Everybody knows about wobble, spin and orbit. But there are a few more factors to take into account to calculate how fast you are actually moving as you read this.

For number four we need to take into account the center of our galaxy. The sun, and therefore the entire solar system, is actually drifting towards the constellation Hercules, more specifically the star Lambda Herculis, at an approximate speed of 43,200 mph. Now also we must consider that the solar system itself is actually moving upwards at 90 degrees to the plane of the Milky Way galaxy at 15,624 mph. The sixth factor we must consider is the orbit of the solar system around the Milky Way, at an approximate speed of 446,500 mph. Feeling a little sick yet? There’s one more to consider, but let’s add up what we have so far. From what we’ve said, as you read this, you are actually moving at a combined speed of approximately 574,585 mph, in six different directions.

Now for out last factor, we see that our galaxy itself is moving at 1,339,200 mph through the universe! So to add it all up, with wobble, spin, earth’s orbit, the solar system’s drift, the upward motion of the solar system, the orbit of the solar system, and the movement of our galaxy, you are actually moving at a speed of roughly 1,913,785 mph, but in seven different directions!

 

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that your care for him?” Psalm 8:3

This is what baffles me. No, not what I just explained, but what the weight of that verse in light of what I just explained. Not the speed of the universe or motion of our galaxy, those are mere shadows. What baffles me is, the Substance to whom those shadows point, He loves me? This is what I don’t understand. That God, who created these wonders, before he created anything, set His eyes on me. This puts in me the most profound and confounding question in Christianity. No, not the question of predestination. No, not the question of the inerrancy of Scripture. But this: who am I? Who am I that the Lord would choose me? Who am I that I would be the object of His grace and affection? Who am I that the Lord, would indeed, do “The Hardest Thing”? Who am I that men such as Stephen Hawking would be left to baffle in the shadow, yet I’m given the grace to see and praise the Substance creating those shadows? It certainly wasn’t anything in me that provoked this out of the Lord. I tell you now, with full confidence, I am in no way better than Stephen Hawking. I am no better than Sigmund Freud or John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

So why? Why would the Lord willingly choose the set his redeeming love and affection on mere wicked and needy sinners such as you and I? In all my prayer, in all my struggling with this question, I’ve found no other answer than Ephesians 1:6. For His glory! This is why. And when the Spirit gives me clear eyes, I see that His glory made it worth doing the hardest thing. Although agonizing, “it pleased the Lord to crush him…” (Isaiah 53:10). And that pleasure wasn’t flowing from how “awesome” or “worth it” I would be to save, but rather how unawesome and unworthy I am to be saved, and in that, have the glory of God shine brightest in the salvation of a wicked, perverse and rebellious soul! Praise the Lord that the very apex of the glory of God, namely His grace, would be set on and displayed in you and I.


The Hardest Thing

That line has been stuck in my head for the past couple of weeks now. It stems from the selfishness of the heart, and how often there is a misunderstanding of the Gospel. In talking to an eclectic collection of people, some friends, others strangers, one theme has been constant; a question on how it is possible for God to love and forgive us after all we’ve done. Inevitably every conversation I have been part of recently that begged this question winds up, wrongly I might add, at the same conclusion. “God can’t forgive me, what I’ve done is too horrible and I’m too far gone” or “God will never forgive me, I’ve chosen so many other things over him, he’s tired of my apologies”.

The answer to this misconception and misunderstanding of the Gospel is that God already did the hardest thing. The costliest, most loving thing he could have done for you, for me, he has already accomplished. That’s the root of the gospel. On that fateful night,in the garden, Jesus prayed. He cried out to the Father, fully knowing and understanding the Father’s will for his life, because that will was put in place before anything was. He cried out to the Father knowing full well that what he was about to endure was unimaginably painful, and undeserved. He cried out with sweat dripping like drops of blood because the culmination of what he had come to earth to do was close, and in that moment the enormity of the suffering and pain he was to endure he could not do on his own strength (Luke 22:39 – 46).

The Father loves the Son, and the Father loves his creation. Sin entered and fractured our relationship with the God. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8“. That’s the hardest thing, that in my transgression and iniquity, in the middle of my pride and idolatry, God sent his son, with whom he was well pleased to die a death so gruesome and undeserved. The hardest thing that though Jesus was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but gave up his stature, his comfort and his life to give me life (Philippians 2:6 – 10). The hardest thing is wrapped up in that demonstration of love and grace on the cross, a love that defeated sin by paying for it in full, love that defeated death through the resurrection of Christ, that’s the love that we boast off. Thats the grace that we live our lives under, and thats where the power of forgiveness lies.

So no, the hardest thing is not for God to forgive your sinful, wicked heart in your current failings. He already did that, while you and I were sinners (Romans 5:8). A belief in the contrary is contrary to what we believe. His love was poured on us by Him sending His son. Our right standing with God is based on someone’s good behavior. Good thing is that behavior isn’t yours or mine but His Son’s.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16