Romans 12 Resolution

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Today we bid a fond farewell to 2014.  For some of us, “goodbye” seems not quite as fitting as “good riddance.”  However this past year went down for you, the New Year always springs forth with hope – a clean slate, a chance to afresh, a whole new year ahead, brimming with promise.

Many people will make New Year’s resolutions. Most will not keep them, either because they planned no follow through on setting their goals, or they’re waiting for a genie to pop out of a bottle and fulfill their wishes.  Perhaps we approach the idea of change all wrong.

We all have aspects of our lives and ourselves that we want – need – to change.  But before we change our behavioral patterns, we have to first change our thought patterns.  We have to change how we view the world around us, other people, ourselves.  (When the Bible says we are to love others as ourselves, it is not a prescription for self loathing.  The Lord is telling us to love others just as much!)

Romans 12 lays out a great set of parameters for a transformational New Year’s resolution: to truly live out what it means to follow Christ.  But, before we can do that, we have to change our thinking – “renew our minds” – and be transformed (literally metamorphosed) from conformity to the world’s ways of thinking and acting to God’s will and ways.

It isn’t easy.  Be ready to face opposition.  Be prepared to be tempted.  But be strong in the Lord.  Commit to Him and keep following His Word.  Trust in the Lord.  Stay in Scripture every day and, as Paul says, pray without ceasing.  Love others first.  Accept God’s grace.  Quit beating yourself up.  Stop trying to change everything by your own power then feeling defeated.

2015 is upon us.  Ring out the old, ring in the new!  Take some time to prayerfully read Romans 12 and make a commitment to change.  You are not the one doing the transforming.  God is.  But, we are called to be faithful in doing what the Lord calls each of us to do.  So keep on truckin’.  Keep following Jesus.  Trust Him, follow Him, seek Him, watch for Him.  Don’t worry about the results.  That’s God’s department.

Have a blessed and wonderful New Year!

Fading Lights

When a star is young, it burns hot and bright, giving off a reddish hue. As it ages, gasses are burned off, and the star cools, turning bluefish in color. Despite being less active and bright, the blue stars are still burning. Still functioning. Still hot.

Blue stars still support solar systems. They still radiate light. They have a beauty that is unique in color and luminescence. And, considering the years it takes for their light to reach earth and beyond, stars continue to “shine” long after they have burnt out.

I think of all my friends and loved ones who have lost grandparents this year nearly passed. And I think of my grandmother, who I got to visit while in Indiana. We were blessed to celebrate her 90th birthday. As the effects of Alzheimer’s takes its toll on her short term memory, it’s the reminders of her past that she still clings to that amaze me. Over he course of a couple if visits, she must have told me half a dozen times about the red velvet outfit she bought for me when I was born.

Our grandparents hold a special place within each of us. They are sources of wisdom and guidance. They love us grandkids in a way no one else can, and let us get away with far more than Mom or Dad ever did.

They are, for many of us, the gateway to our genealogical pasts, filling in the blanks about family we never knew, sharing stories and info that help fill the picture of who we are, where we came from, and why our families are the way they are. And they influence heavily who we grow to be – DNA and teaching, nature and nurture. They play a vital role in who God formed each of us to be.

I write this simply from my heart, a heart filled with memories and heavy thoughts as I travel back from a week at home with family. I am reminded once more of the part each of my grandparents played in my upbringing. I can still see their smiles, and hear their voices. And, whether long departed or slipping under the blanket of Alzheimer’s, they are still in my heart. Here I thank God for them, rejoice in their memories and mourn the loss of their physical presence.

All the same, they are all with me, burning bright blue and beautiful, each in their own way. And I thank God for that gift.

Don’t Go Away Angry, Just Go Away


14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. – Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV)

This morning I read an interesting article about the implausibility of creation being by chance, and how scientists, the deeper they dig, are discovering that all of the universe must have been created, thus there must be a Creator (although many are so solidly atheist that they can’t see the theological forest for the philosophical / theoretical /scientific trees).

What grabbed my attention more than the article itself was the online comments. Most posted by people who seemed to know a thing or two about physics. Some of them atheists.

And they were snarling.

If there is one thing Satan dislikes, it is losing. And, the simple fact of the matter is, no lie can stand up to the Truth. We Christians can stand firm on that foundation. We can boldly proclaim Christ is the Savior of the world, God is the Creator and Sustainer of All, and The Lord is all His Word claims He is.

What we cannot do is get cocky about it.

Many years ago, my wife and I were part of a street ministry. I remember quite vividly being with our group in the Minneapolis Skyway one cold winter night. A couple of Muslim men were walking toward us when one of our group decided to be bold and share the Gospel with them.

The problem: these men had no interest in hearing the message. And they got defensive and angry in a hurry. An argument ensued and, pretty soon, a pair of Minneapolis police officers appeared.

Argument over.

I have mulled that incident over in my mind a few times over the years. I fail to see how God was glorified in such an inglorious conversation. How would anyone be drawn by the love of Christ when they are being verbally berated by one of His followers? Are we called to share the Gospel, or proselytize? If browbeating people into faith worked, wouldn’t the Crusades have been more effective?

We are not called to arguing or strong arm tactics. We are not called to snarl. We are called to share. To present. To love. And, if people won’t listen, then leave. Just go.


No argument.

No guilt.

Shake the dust from your feet. In other words, leave alone those who do not wish to receive what you have to give. Don’t carry their dust with you. Don’t feel the need to persuade or argue. Do not think you can cajole them into the kingdom of heaven.

We have to remember: we are called to be salt and light. We are called to share the Gospel – boldly, honestly, but not obnoxiously. Not judgmentally.

The Truth is to be proclaimed far more than defended. After all, a lie will dig its own grave. The Truth will continued to be revealed, and every lie of the enemy exposed.

Remember that Jesus did not defend Himself before Pilate or Herod. Who is man to think he can put God on trial?

Advent 25: Arrival

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

67 And (John the Baptist’s) father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. – Luke 1:26, 56; 1:67-80; 2:1-20 (KJV)
Merry Christmas to you all!
Chris, the Bouville Diarist

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to send a quick word of peace and joy and hope for a most blessed Christmas.   May the Prince of Peace be your Joy and Strength today and always.   Thank you all for reading and following  Blessings from the Bouville Diarist.

Advent 24: Great Expectations

7  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then,who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV)

Ahhhh… to be eight years old again.

I look forward to Christmas Eve night.  This is the night Mom and I get to play Santa. (Hey, if any of you still believe in the jolly old elf, my apologies for just outing him.)  We set up the gifts, eat the cookies, drink the milk, and take a bit out of the carrots – always careful to leave a remnant as evidence that Santa and a reindeer (probably Blitzen) have been here.  We write “thank you” on the note our son left with the snack, reminding him to stay on the nice list until next year.

But the best part is watching my son.  His excitement reaches fever pitch about bedtime on Christmas Eve.  His sense of expectancy is such that going to sleep takes a while.

It seems most fitting that, on the night before Christ’s birth, that we should all be filled with great expectations and eagerness.  Not for the presents under the tree, but for the arrival of God Himself.  We should be buoyed up by knowing He is coming back and, until then, He resides inside of each of us.  We should continue to seek God, vigorously and joyfully, with great and hopeful expectation.

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalms 5:3, KJV).  If we believe in God, truly trusting Him with our lives and taking Him at His Word, then we have to expect that He will do whatever He says He will do.

But, more than that, we should not just expect God to shower gifts on us.  He is our Heavenly Father, not our spiritual sugar daddy.  Rather, our expectation in seeking God should be God.  Period.  Without limitations or denominational boxes.  Just as He reveals Himself in His Word.  Looking up, knowing He is there.  Knowing Jesus is returning.

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. – Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)

Expectation is indeed a mark of great faith.  Be ready always.  Keep looking up.  And expect God.


Advent 23: Worst Case Scenario Faith (or Life + Fan = ?)

13  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. – 1 John 4:13-18 (ESV)

Life can be quite distracting.  Life is messy, filled with ups and downs and busyness and stuff to do and people to see and places to go and schedules to keep and work to do and commitments to honor and overtime to work and… and… and… and…

And somehow God gets lost in the shuffle.  And when we lose sight of God, when we no longer seek Him first or fervently – or even regularly… It isn’t that more bad things happen in our lives.  It’s the fact that we are now left of center (Christ being the center of our lives, remember?)  And if our faith is skewed or weak, we are more vulnerable to fear and worry and doubt.

Especially when life hits the fan.

Everybody has faith.  The problem is that, for some people, that faith is fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of losing control.  Fear of flying.  Fear of dying.  Fear of spiders and/or snakes.  Fear of loss.  You name it.  If you can imagine it, there’s a phobia for it.  (In fact, the Greek word translated “fear” in Scripture is phobos.)

You see, fear is worst case scenario faith.  It is the assurance of bad things unseen, and results unwanted.  And, if we are not staying rooted in our faith in God – our Steadfast Heavenly Father, Love Himself, the Almighty Creator of all, the Great I AM – then we are vulnerable to fear.

The greatest danger of fear isn’t the consequences we dread, but the fact that fear blocks faith.  It leads to worry and doubt and anxiety.  Fear is faith against God.

4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

Notice that rejoicing in the Lord is “reasonableness”.  This is because, when we fear, we are choosing to believe in a negative we cannot be certain of, because we do not know what the future brings.  However, when we walk in faith in God, we can trust in and rest on God’s unchanging character, His unwavering promises, His steadfast love, His mercy and grace and peace…

Peace – the peace of God guards our hearts.  Protects us from the irrational thoughts birthed in fear.  Protects us from the lies we choose to accept instead of the glory we should be seeking.

Regardless of circumstances, seek God first.  Trust in Him.  Love Him.  Rest in Him.  Believe in Him.  Keep your faith intact and your spirit in tune.  Don’t ponder the painful possibilities.  Dwell on God and His Word and His Truth.

Advent 22: Steadfast God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)

Some things never change.  Actually, it is more accurate to say that a few – very few – things never change.  One thing that never changes is the fact that change itself is inevitable.  Another thing that never changes: the fear some people exhibit toward change.  We tend to like the steady course, to experience the familiar and comfortable.

When we become Christians, we change.  And perhaps that more than anything is why some people resist fully following Jesus Christ.  He gets into your heart and changes your perspectives, your desires, your focus.  Some of your friends may change.  Your entertainments will probably change.  Habits?  Them too.

But don’t get hung up on the changes that happen when you begin seeking God.  The farther down the path you go, the more you begin to crave the wonderful changes the Lord makes within you.  You see with new eyes, feel with a new heart.

“God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:6-7, ESV).  How can one not change when God Himself has taken up residence within one’s self?

Not only that, but we are adopted children of God!  Talk about change.  My wife and I adopted our son from China in 2008.  Before that time, he had a Chinese name.  His mother and I were nothing more to him than a couple of strange Americans with round eyes who talked funny and smelled of cologne, beef and sweat.  Strange indeed.

But that all changed for our son (and us as well) once we adopted him.  As soon as the papers were signed and the money distributed, he was our child.  I was no longer some big fat American stranger.  I was now Daddy.  His name changed.  His diet changed.  The language he heard changed.  When he came to America, everything he knew – sights, sounds, smells – changed.  His nationality changed.

He is still the child God created him to be.  In essence our boy is who he always was.  But everything changed for him.  For the better.  He is no longer an orphan.  Having parents is no longer an abstraction to him.  It is a reality.  He is our child legally, physically, emotionally…

When God adopts us, it is the same thing.  Without the home study, the nerve-wracking waiting and the tens of thousands of dollars and yuan.  He are changed.  We remain who He created us to be, but our identities change.  We are His.  Having a Lord and Savior is no longer an abstraction to us.  We now have a heavenly Father – Abba – with whom we have a real relationship.

That sounds like a pretty good set of changes, right?  Well, if you’re one of those people who resist change, you’re going to love this.  God never changes.  He is rock steady.  He is Who He is, and Who He is is Who He had always been and always will be.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17, ESV).

God is steadfast – never wavering, always true to His Word:

God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? – Numbers 23:19 (ESV)

God is all He says He is.  He always has been.  He always will be.  He is Love.  He is Truth.  He is filled with Majesty and Grace.  He is the righteous judge.  He is our heavenly anger.  He is the Great I AM.

Ok, so maybe only one thing never truly changes: God.  You can put your trust in Him.  You can rest in Him.

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote (1797-1874)

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Advent 21: Calminian Penguinism

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (ESV)

I am currently living with the foremost expert on penguins at our local elementary school.  My second grade son has read about them, studied them, and watched Happy Feet about 2,945 times (2,944 of those viewings with his dad).  There isn’t a penguin fact he can’t recite from memory – whether you ask him to or not.  We can be discussing pizza and he will blurt out, “Daddy, do you know why penguins are white on their tummies and black on their backs?”

Penguins live in communities, called rookeries.  They come together with a simple purpose: survival.  However, they are designed to serve a greater purpose for all Antarctic life as both predator (of small fish) and prey (of bigger seals and whales).  Even if their larger purpose is merely their place in the food chain, they still play an important role as part of God’s grand design for His creation.

God created the simple penguin with a purpose.  How much purpose do you suppose people – His most beloved creation – are called to possess?  And what is our purpose?

Our purpose is simple: love one another.  If we follow the lead of Christ’s love, all else will follow.  If we are seeking God, love must propel our journey.  This is how we propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ: by loving others, and doing all to the glory of God (for that is our original created purpose, to bring glory to the Lord), praising the Lord and giving Him thanks continually.

As Christians, we are called by love another, serve one another, and support one another.  Penguin rookeries are sometimes inhabited by more than one species of penguin, living together harmoniously.  Why is that so hard for believers?  We have the perfect designed example of the Triune God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit, each singular in personage yet united in purpose literally One Substance.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and you will discover that the church is the body – a community, a unified whole.  And the first church was not divided by denominational notions and theosophical beliefs.  There were no Catholics or Baptists or Methodists or Charismatics or Evangelicals (although a dear brother of mine once pointed out that Jesus was a Nazarene).  When we stand so proudly and firmly on our own theological precepts that Christians who hold different interpretations become our enemies, something is profoundly wrong.

“…if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25, ESV).  And, let’s face it, God’s house is definitely one divided.  We cling so tightly to our theological beliefs that we wring love right out of the picture.  We – and I am saying “we” as the larger whole of Christianity and no one group or individual specifically – seem to have forgotten our calling, our purpose, our reason for being here: to love.  Regardless of religious affiliation.  Regardless of political leanings.  Regardless of sins, past or present.  Regardless of nationalities or borders or philosophies or influences or whatever it is that serves to divide us.

We are all sinners saved only by the grace of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

We are all hopeless without the love and grace of the Lord.

In these things we are all equal.

We all need to focus on less on what we think is wrong with everyone else, and focus on the one unifying factor we need to bring us all together: God.

This is why I (half-jokingly, but only half) refer to my beliefs are firmly “Calminian”.  I have experienced Christianity from many different religious / theological perspectives over the years.  I’ve been Methodist.  I’ve been Charismatic.  I’ve been Baptist.  I’ve been Disciple of Christ.  I’ve been independent.  I’ve been part of a franchise church.  I’ve been evangelical (whatever “evangelical” means).  I’ve been mainline and mainstream.

Through it all, I have been blessed to know many God-loving people of all Christian stripes who I am honored to call my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Some speak in tongues.  Some are vehemently against it.  Some read the ESV or NIV or NLT Bibles.  Some believe the KJV is the only Bible.  Some go to church on Sunday morning, some on Saturday night.  Some attend at beautiful cathedrals, some in modest country churches, some in converted warehouses, some in school gyms and auditoriums.  Some meet in homes as small house churches.

None of that matters to me.  And it shouldn’t matter to you.  Whether you view communion as consubstantial, transsubstantial or substitutionary doesn’t change the fact that God loves you.  Who you are – who I am – is defined not by what we do or what brand of Christianity we prefer.  I really enjoy Coke Zero.  I don’t hold it against Diet Pepsi drinkers.

Who I am – who you are – is defined by God, our Creator.  All of us, each of us, individually and collectively… we are sinners saved by the grace of a loving God Who humbled Himself, became flesh and died as the perfect sacrifice for our sin, then ascended gloriously into heaven, overcoming death and thus nullifying the wages of sin.  In other words, the only things that truly divide us as Christians are the walls and fences we ourselves build.

We are all called to follow Christ, to be imitators of Jesus.  In other words, we are called to love.  Unconditionally.  As Christ loves us.  We all have biases to overcome. Love runs counter to sin, so it simply is not natural for our sinful selves to lead with love.  I mean, truth be told there is something about those Diet Pepsi drinkers that bugs me deep down.  (Just joking…  Diet Pepsi is a fine product and I mean no malice against it or any other soft drink.)

But, every day, we need to take up our cross and follow Christ We must love others.  For that is our purpose.  To honor and glorify God in all we do by loving others, being the light on a hill, shining the message of Christ to the world around us, wherever God places us.


Advent 20: Theological Revelation From a Second Grader

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. – Psalm 147:5 (ESV)

I started to write this post about God’s omniscience.  The next would be His omnipotence, followed by a post on – you guessed it – His omnipresence.  How predictable.

I had it all figured (the three planned articles, not God Himself).  The piece on God’s omniscience would start on the island of Patmos, where the apostle John received God’s revelation of the end times.  I was ready to tie it all together by showing that God must know everything if He tells us how it all ends, in details too “detailed” for John’s first century AD mind to comprehend.

Then, as I sat down to begin writing… I couldn’t do it.  Something wasn’t right.  Something just felt off about it..

Last night I was talking with my seven year old when it dawned on me.  I asked my son, “Do you believe God knows everything?”

“Yes”, he answered.

“Why do you believe that?”

My little boy looked at me for a brief moment and stated, quite assuredly, “Because He made the world and all the plants and animals.  He has to know everything!”

And there it was.  Right in front of me.

1  At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:1-4 (ESV)

Just as John had no literal point of reference for all God revealed to him about heaven and the future (how does one go about describing the indescribable?), none of us is intelligent enough to intellectually grasp the Great I AM in all His fullness.  We try.  We try very hard.  But, in the end, we mess it up with our thinking.  We end up with theological approaches like Open Theism which mixes Biblical studies with philosophical reasoning to conclude that God cannot know the future because it hasn’t happened yet.  (That is a huge oversimplification of Open Theism, but that isn’t really the point I’m making.)

Open Theists drive mainline evangelicals batty.  And vice versa.  Each side is so deeply entrenched in the defending their theological and philosophical points-of-view that the Truth gets lost in the scuffle,  (Personally, I feel sorry for Greg Boyd.  This is a man who, I am quite sure, loves God.  But there have been times aplenty when he had to feel like a piñata swung over a tree branch, being swarmed by a mob of stick-waving evangelicals.).  When it gets hard to see the reality of the forest for the theological trees, something is wrong.

Unless we have the faith of a child – accept, believe, not mere reason but heart – we’re not going to get there.  God is so complex and complicated, but His accessibility is so simple.  We cannot understand His love, we have to just believe in it.  Our thoughts are not His thoughts, so we need to rely on faith.  Of course God created it all!  It’s as plain as the nose on your face.  Now, just accept it and believe.  My seven year old said so.

My son also informed me I needed to blog about penguins.  I’ll have to work that into the next piece.