Tag Archives: faith

Faith dominos

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I heard a sermon over the summer about faith dominos.  The speaker described these as people or situations in someone’s life that led them over the course of time to encounter God.  She went on to say God uses the elements of the world he created with perfect timing, falling one against the other like a string of dominos.  Each domino moves a person closer and closer to their encounter with God.  We were challenged to be a single domino in the string of many in the life of someone who may be struggling.

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT

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The Knowledge of the Holy: part 2

IMG_0057In the second chapter of his book, Tozer poses the question, “What is God like?”

“When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not add to that statement an idea from our own head and make it mean in the exact image.  To do so is to make man a replica of God, and that is to lose the unicity of God and end with no God at all.”

Tozer goes on to say:

“Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms.  We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need him.  We want a God we can in some measure control.  We need a feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like…”

Tozer adds that the answer to the question, what God is like, can be answered in the person of His son, Jesus Christ.

“In Christ and by Christ, God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love.  Faith is an organ of knowledge, and love an organ of experience.  God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter and lay hold on Him.”

We can only begin to understand what God is like if we study what Tozer regards as God’s attributes, which he addresses in the rest of the book.  A divine attribute he says, “is something true about God.”

“A man is the sum of his parts and his character the sum of the traits that compose it.  These traits very from man to man…The doctrine of the divine unity means not only that there is but one God, it means also that God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself.  The harmony of His being is the result not of a perfect balance of parts but the absence of parts.  Between His attributes no contradiction can exist.”

When we look at God’s attribute of love, using the above above quotation, it is not something He has, love is who he is.  Tozer goes on to discuss many other attributes such as the Trinity, His self existence, eternity, infinitude, omniscience, sovereignty and many more.

It is a great book, which I highly recommend reading.  For those of us with a casual view of God it will shake up our perception of Him.  As you progress through the book, you will be acquainted with the depths of God’s love and the height of His holiness.

Check out this song by Addison Road, “What do I know of holy”.  It certainly captures a desire to know what is God like.

 

Fish, part 2 (revised)

IMG_0392St. Andrews Lake was not huge, but you couldn’t see the far end of it even from our elevated vantage point. The lake was kidney-shaped and its clear water darkened to blue as it deepened…Most importantly, lurking in the water like buried treasure, were largemouth bass, northern pike, pan fish and perch. All of them hidden from view…  

Bill Roushey, from the book Junior’s Hope

The August sun beat down on Dad and me as we waited for the fish to surrender or make another run for it. Impatience bubbled up inside me. Holding on to my fishing pole kept my hands occupied but the rest of my body squirmed, longing to do anything but remain pinned against the sun baked boat seat. The life vest hanging around my neck made me hot and sweaty. The vest’s past history became evident as it wicked up the moisture from my body and produced a rotten smell.  My standoff with the fish showed no sign of ending. The huge northern pike had done something to prevent me from reeling it in. My head hurt and I was ready to give up.

“Dad, the fish isn’t tugging on the line anymore,” I complained.

“That doesn’t mean its not there. Don’t give up,” Dad said trying to encourage me.

My father wasn’t ready to give up. An engineer by profession, part of his job involved coming up with solutions to problems. He took an oar out of the oarlock and pushed it into the water following the fishing line down, hoping to gain some understanding of why I couldn’t bring up the fish. Unfortunately, the depth of the water exceeded the length of the oar. Dad also rowed the boat in a wide arc around the spot where the line plunged into the water. He stopped four or five times during the trek to give me a chance to pull on the line from different angles. Nothing he tried worked.  We both knew there was only one thing left to do.

“Billy, pull steadily on the line so you don’t break the pole,” Dad said, voicing his solidarity.

“Like this,” I replied as I stood up and leaned back against the line.

The tension broke before I had a chance to brace myself.  I was pitched backwards by the sudden release of the line and landed in a heap between the seats.  I didn’t cry as I reeled in the empty line. Instead, I felt more like one of Dad’s fishing buddies and less like a kid who got to sneak off early that morning to fish with his father.

Fish or fishing in my earliest years validated the idea that just because something couldn’t be seen that didn’t mean it didn’t exist.  Fish, though unseen, were real and could be interacted with. To this day one of the most exhilarating things about fishing is the feeling of an unseen object tugging on your line. Being a person of faith, the picture of unseen fish models the existence of God who is present though not seen.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18

My fish story does not end here, however.

The next decade of my life was one of drastic changes. Our family vacations to Canada continued. Fishing became truly a family affair. As our skill improved, so did the number of fish we caught. For me, fishing with Dad became an important way of relating to him.

Those carefree years came to an abrupt end, however, when I graduated from high school. I no longer had time for family vacations. Holding down a job and going to college were my priorities now. The remaining years of my second decade afforded me little or no time for fishing.

In my second year in college I happened to meet a freshmen who turned out to be a very funny guy. I don’t make it a habit of hanging around comedians but for some reason we hit it off and become good friends. He made me laugh more than anyone I knew.  Our definition of fun, however, sometimes clashed with the college rules.   In an effort to protect his identity, I’ll call him Boris.

Boris and I made plans to room together our senior year. Oops, I just gave away his identity. Anyway, we arrived early on campus in the fall and immediately began decorating our “bachelor pad.”  Because we arrived early, we were able to pillage the best room furnishings out of nearby dorm rooms. Conversations between us went something like this.

“Boris, our room is missing something.” I said

“All my stuff is here,” he countered.

“I’m not missing anything either. The room is missing something!”

“You mean besides the stereo, speakers, sofa and television?” Boris said.

This was 1979, before the widespread use of cell phones, personal computers, flat screen TVs and all of the game consoles we can’t seem to live with out.

“I need something for my desk.”

“How about a lamp?” He said, chuckling as only Boris could.

“I’m being serious.”

“How serious can getting something for your desk be.”

His cackle was contagious and soon he had me laughing.

“Let’s go down and take a look at brother Jim’s room.” Boris said pressing his palms together as if to portray himself as a wise sage.  Boris was studying to be a minister and often got carried away with the whole brother/sister thing.

“What does Jim have that we don’t?” I said, suddenly curious.

“You’ll see.”

We went down the hall to Jim’s room but he was not there. His door, however, was slightly ajar.  I had just recently met Jim but already I had him pegged as a bit of an eccentric.  Living in a dorm, it had been my practice to give eccentrics a wide birth until I understood them better.  Boris knocked hard on the heavy oak door, hard enough to make it open completely.

“Brother Bill, shall we enter?” Boris stated like he was rolling out a welcome mat.

“Can’t we get in trouble for doing this?” I said more afraid of being misunderstood by Jim than anything else.

“I’m an RA.”

I should explain that each floor in our dorm had a resident advisor, or RA, who was the liaison between the students and the dorm’s resident director, or RD. Boris was permitted to enter rooms on our floor as part of his responsibilities.  Tentatively, I entered Jim’s room and Boris followed.

“What do you think?” Boris said, gesturing towards the aquarium in the back corner of the room.

“Yeah, that would do the trick.” I said growing excited about the possibility,  “I wonder why it looks like he’s trying to hide it behind the door.”

“Are you working for the FBI now?” Boris said sarcastically.

“You’re the RA, you should be investigating stuff like this.”

“What kind of fish do you suppose those are?” he inquired, taking a closer look at them.

“Okay Sherlock, lets go get the fish tank.”

IMG_0374I can’t remember exactly how we acquired a fish tank, but I’m sure we did it legally. Putting fish in an aquarium drew me closer to them, close enough where I could fully appreciate their beauty. I felt a part of their world as they swam by me at eye level.  It’s a much different perspective than viewing fish from afar or looking down at them from above.

I would characterize this decade of life as the discovery of genuine relationships. These were more personal and fulfilling than the juvenile ones of my earliest years.  I fully immersed myself in these relationships and learned the joy of putting effort into them rather than just taking what I could out of them and moving on.

Spiritually, I was going through a major transition as well. As a child I believed in God because my parents did. It was their faith I held on to. In my second decade of life I discovered the beauty of a God who didn’t look down on me from above, rather his habitation was with me. He became my God.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16

As wonderful as this realization was, I was unprepared for what was about to happen.

To be continued…

Psalm 119:33-48 Cause Me

(33) “Follow it to the end” – this section of the 119th Psalm speaks about finishing well.  God’s help is needed for us to stay the course and finish well.  (37) “Turn my eyes” – our eyes have an appetite, we need to guard what they are focusing on.  (41) “Thy salvation” –  deliverance from the evil that is revealed to us in God’s word.  (48) “I will lift up my hands” – how many of us can say that we reach out  for God’s word like a child reaches for a gift (Spurgeon).

Matt Chandler in his video series on Psalm 119 titles this section, “Cause Me.”  Our prayers should reflect two ideas: (1) to love what is good (give me an appetite for God’s Word) and (2) to hate what is evil (my selfishness can be a source of evil).  Studying God’s word positions us to do both.

My prayer: Cause me to be certain of my faith, cause me to be thirsty for Your word and cause me to finish well.-Let anyone who is thirsty (2)

Annie and Willie’s Prayer

IMG_0561Twas the eve before Christmas. “Good night,” had been said,
And Annie and Willie had crept into bed;
There were tears on their pillows and tears in their eyes,
And each little bosom was heaving with sighs,
For tonight their stern father’s command had been given
That they should retire precisely at seven
Instead of at eight – for they troubled him more
With questions unheard of than ever before:
He had told them he thought this delusion a sin,
No such creature as “Santa Claus” ever had been.
And he hoped after this, he should never more hear
How he scrembled down chimneys with presents each year.
And this was the reason the two little heads
So restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds.

Eight, nine, and the clock on the steeple tolled ten,
Not a word has been spoken by either till then,
When Willie’s sad face from the blanket did peep,
And whispered, “Dear Annie, is ‘ou fast as’eep?”
“Why, no, brother Willie,” A sweet voice replies,
“I’ve long tried in vain, but I can’t shut my eyes,
For somehow it makes me so sorry because
Dear papa has said there is no ‘Santa Claus.’
Now we know there is, and it can’t be denied,
For he came every year before mamma died;
But, then, I’ve been thinking that she used to pray,
And God would hear everything mamma would say,
And maybe she asked him to send Santa Claus here
With that sackful of presents he brought every year.”
“Well, why tan’t we p’ay dest as mamma did den,
And ask Dod to send him with p’esents aden?”
Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor,
And four little knees the soft carpet pressed,
And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast.
“Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe
That the presents we ask for we’re sure to receive;
You must wait very still till I say the “Amen,”
And by that you will know that your turn has come then.”

“Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me,
And grant us the favor we are asking of thee.
I want a wax dolly, a teaset, and ring,
And an ebony workbox that shuts with a spring.
Bless papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see
That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he;
Don’t let him get fretful and angry again
At dear brother Willie and Annie. Amen.”
“Please, Desus, ‘et Santa Taus tum down tonight,
And b’ing us some p’esents before it is light;
I want he should div’ me a nice ‘ittle s’ed,
With bright shinin’ ‘unners, and all painted red;
A box full of tandy, a book, and a toy.
Amen, and then, Desus, I’ll be a dood boy.”

Their prayers being ended, they raised up their heads,
With hearts light and cheerful, again sought their beds.
They were lost soon in slumber, both peaceful and deep,
And with fairies in dreamland were roaming in sleep.

Eight, nine, and the little French clock had struck ten,
Ere the father had thought of his children again:
He seems now to hear Annie’s half-suppressed sighs,
And to see the big tears stand in Willie’s blue eyes.
“I was harsh with my darlings,” he mentally said,
“And should not have sent them so early to bed;
But then I was troubled, my feelings found vent,
For bankstock today has gone down ten percent.
But of course they’ve forgotten their troubles ere this,
And that I denied then their thrice-asked-for kiss:
But, just to make sure, I’ll go up to their door,
For I never spoke harsh to my darlings before.”
So saying, he softly ascended the stairs,img_0849
And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers;
His Annie’s “Bless papa” drew forth the big tears,
And Willie’s grave promise fell sweet on his ears.
“Strange – strange – I’d forgotten,” said he with a sigh,
“How I longed when a child to have Christmas draw nigh.”
“I’ll atone for my harshness,” he inwardly said,

“By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed.”
Then he turned to the stairs and softly went down,
Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing gown,
Donned hat, coat, and boots, and was out in the street,
A millionaire facing the cold, driving sleet!

Nor stopped he until he had bought everything
From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring;
Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store,
That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned. With his holiday load,
With Aunt Mary’s help, in the nursery was stowed.
Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine tree,
By the side of a table spread out for her tea;
A workbox well fitted in the center was laid,
And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed,
A soldier in uniform stood by a sled,
“With bright shining runners, and all painted red.”
There were balls, dogs, and horses, books pleasing to see,
And birds of all colors were perched in the tree!

While Santa Claus, laughing, stood up in the top,
As if getting ready more presents to drop.
And as the fond father the picture surveyed,
He thought for his trouble he had amply been paid,
And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear,
“I’m happier tonight than I’ve been for a year;
I’ve enjoyed more pure pleasure than every before;
What care I if bank stock falls ten percent more!
Hereafter I’ll make it a rule, I believe,
To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve.”
So thinking, he gently extinguished the light,
And, tripping down stairs, retired for the night.

As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun
put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one,
Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide,
And at the same moment the presents espied;
Then out of their beds they sprang with a bound,
And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found.
They laughed and they cried, in their innocent glee,
And shouted for papa to come quickly see
What presents old Santa Claus brought in the night
(Just the things that they wanted,) and left before light:
“And now,” added Annie, in a voice soft and low,
“You’ll believe there’s a ‘Santa Claus’, papa, I know”;
While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee,
Determined no secret between them should be,
And told him in soft whispers how Annie had said
That their dear, blessed mamma, so long ago dead,
Used to kneel down by the side of her chair,
img_0851And that God up in heaven had answered her prayer.
“Den we dot up and prayed dust as well as we tould,
And Dod answered our prayers: now wasn’t He dood?”
“I should say that He was, if He sent you all these,
And knew just what presents my children would please.
(Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf,
‘Twould be cruel to tell him I did it myself.”)

Blind father! Who caused your stern heart to relent,
And the hasty words spoken so soon to repent?
‘Twas the Being who bade you steal softly upstairs,
And made you his agent to answer their prayers.

-Sophia P. Snow (c) 1884

The Problem of Evil

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Ecclesiastes chapter 8.  As Solomon continues to process his thoughts on the benefits of wisdom, he comes up against the problem of evil. The existence of evil in our world is not generally one that godless people (unbelievers) concern themselves with. Those who don’t know God may not like evil, but it is what it is. The problem of evil lies with people of faith. If God is good and loving, why is evil allowed to fester in our world, and why is there so much suffering?

Warren Wiersbe explores the problem of evil in three areas: Authority (8:1-9); Inequity (8:10-14); Mystery (8:15-17)

military-662863_960_720Authority

Rulers have oppressed good citizens since the time of Nimrod (Genesis 10). Ancient rulers weren’t elected democratically. They held the power of life and death over their subjects. Rulers were sovereign and each ruler believed that he or she made no wrong decrees.

But what if a ruler asks an officer to do something evil? Should he:

  1. Be disobedient (v2) – Solomon advises to keep kings command. Be loyal (he made an oath to serve the ruler. Following orders avoids punishment
  2. Consider desertion (v3) – Officer risks punishment or worse. Desertion would preserve his character.
  3. Be defiant (v3) – Solomon advises not to get involved with a plot to overthrow the king. Is there a time and place for defiance?  In Acts 3:29 Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Christians must obey their consciences.   Disagreement demands “wisdom and grace.”
  4. Use discernment (v5-6) – Understanding proper time and procedure (text uses judgment) under which the officer can operate. The lives of Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, Nehemiah in Persia demonstrate the use of discernment (James 1:5; 3:17-18)

Inequity

The righteous get what wicked deserve, wicked what the righteous deserve. The example we are given is of a deceased man who routinely visited the temple. He had not lived a godly life but praise was heaped upon him. The truly godly people of the city were ignored or forgotten.

Mankind continues to sin because it can be gotten away with. God is viewed as being asleep at the helm. However, God is long-suffering and doesn’t judge sinners immediately (2 Peter 3:1-12).

interview-851440_960_720There will be a judgment of the wicked, rewards for righteous

Mystery

“The person who has to know everything, or who thinks he knows everything is destined for disappointment in this world.” Wiersbe

Will Durant, a historian, concluded, “Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.”

If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know            1 Corinthians 8:2

Solomon admonishes us for the 4th time to enjoy life and the fruits of our labor.

Solomon does not reject wisdom; instead, he finds it necessary and useful to get the most out of life.