Good news: God is in control.
Tiring news: We think we are!
Are you one of the many Christians who knows about God but hardly knows Him? Y’know, there’s a difference between knowing about God and knowing God? Most of us love God from a distant.
Positioned to Receive
This is a continuation of my previous post, “A Startling Conclusion About The Will of God”. I found the passage below equally liberating and therefore I’m sharing it with you guys here. Again, it’s taken from this great book, “The Will of God As a Way of Life” by Jerry Sittser.
The conventional approach to discovering the will of God has a problem. It betrays a false and negative view of God. It implies that God for some reason “hides” His will and thus forces us to look for it, as if God were playing the celestial equivalent of “hide-and-seek” with us. According to this way of thinking, God hides His will, and we must go searching for it. In the process, He appears to delight in making things difficult for us. He prefers hiding over being found, frustrating us over making us joyful.
Raising my own children, however, has changed my understanding of both God and the game of hide-and-seek. When my children were little, we used to play hide-and-seek indoors during the winter or on rainy days. I was better at hiding than my kids were. But I always gave them hints, like little squeaks or hoots, to help them find me. When they discovered my whereabouts, they would squeal with delight because they loved to find me. I never once wanted to hide so well that they would never find me, because the joy of the game came in being found, not in hiding.
Playing that simple game with my little children helped clarify my understanding of the will of God. Is God’s will something He hides? Does it consist primarily of what we don’t know? I assume, rightly or wrongly, that God is always clear when He needs to be. He does not play a celestial game to frustrate us. He cares about us much more than we care about our children. He delights in us. He wants us to do His will because He knows this will bring us true happiness. God has enough trouble persuading us to do His will. Why would He make it more difficult on Him and on us by hiding it?
What if we do make a wrong choice? Does a wrong choice imply that we have forever missed the will of God for our lives? We choose to become, say, a chef when God wants us to be a teacher. We choose to marry Ellen when God wills us to marry Sarah. Is God so mean that He would cut us off from the good plans He has for us just because we make one “wrong” decision? It is always possible to do God’s will, even in less than ideal circumstances, once we turn to God and do what we already know.
Too many of us conclude in the face of difficulty and suffering that we must have made a choice outside the will of God. Then we spend the rest of our lives wishing that we had chosen differently. Ironically, we waste the opportunity we do have, however harsh our circumstances, to do God’s will right where we are. The conventional approach to the will of God leads to second-guessing and wishful thinking, which contradicts God’s gracious provision for us in Christ.
I was reading a book, “The Will of God As a Way of Life” by Jerry Sittser and found a particular passage I believe will set many a good intended Christian, who is still looking for the will of God, liberated! Hope you’ll be blessed by the message as much as I was! Here goes:
As I struggled with the issue of discovering God’s will, I came to a startling conclusion. The will of God concerns the present more than the future; it deals with our motives as well as our actions; it focuses on the little decisions we make everyday even more than the big decisions we make about the future. The only time we really have both to know and to do God’s will is the present moment. We are to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Jesus’ teaching about the simple will of God is therefore always relevant in every situation imaginable, whether we are doctors or ministers, single or married, young or old, healthy or sick. It is the daily choices we make to honor and serve God that determine whether we are doing the will of God. We already know the will of God for our daily lives, however cloudy the future appears to be. That we do not know what God wants for tomorrow does not excuse us from doing His will today.
This perspective on the will of God gives us astonishing freedom. If we seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness, which is the will of God for our lives, then whatever choices we make concerning the future become the will of God for our lives. There are many pathways we could follow, many options we could pursue. As long as we are seeking God, all of them can be God’s will for our lives, although only one – the path we choose- actually becomes His will.
God does have one will for our lives – that we seek first His Kingdom. But God allows us to follow many possible pathways to live that one will out. For example, God does not have one person selected for us to marry whom we must “find”. Instead, there are many people we could marry, if we choose to marry at all. Nor does God have one career mapped out for us, which we must then figure out. Instead, there are many careers we could do and perhaps will do. The “one” will God has for us consists of a commitment to put Him first in everything. Then, when we make specific decisions concerning the future, we can be confident that what we choose becomes God’s will for our lives.
What does this mean in practical terms? God wills that we do the obvious everyday, which is to honor Him. As Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, wrote in his Spiritual Exercises, “In every good choice, in so far as it depends upon us, the direction of our intention should be simple. I must look to the end for which I am created, that is, for the praise of God our Lord and for the salvation of my soul. Therefore, whatever I choose must have as its purpose to help me to this end.”
Two days ago, I received an email from a friend. I thought it was powerful and would like to share it with you guys. It’s something we all self professed Christians should meditate on. Here goes:
THE QUESTION THAT CHANGED MY LIFE – DR DAVID RYSER
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:
Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece, and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy, and became an institution; it moved to Europe, and became a culture; it came to America, and became an enterprise.
Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old – barely out of diapers – and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.”
After a few moments, Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.”
She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”
The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that”. I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes!“ The American Church , tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.
I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God – much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ – that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?
I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?”
I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”
For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.
Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God, and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.
So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?
There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.
Dr. David Ryser
There is an ancient curse that lingers with us to this very day – the willingness of human society to be completely absorbed in a godless world.
It is the supreme sin of unbelievers that even though Jesus Christ Himself has come into this world, man does not and will not feel His all-pervading presence; man cannot see the true Light, and he cannot hear God’s voice of love and truth.
We have become a “profane” society – fully absorbed in and intent with nothing more than the material and physical aspects of this earthly life. Men and women glory in the fact that they are now able to live in luxurious houses, wear designer clothes, and drive the finest cars money can buy, such things that previous generations could never possess.
This is the curse that lies upon modern man – he is insensible, blind, and deaf in his eagerness to forget that there is a God. He has bought the big lie and strange belief that materialism constitutes the good life. But, dear friend, do you not know that your great sin is this: the all-pervading and eternal presence of God is here and you cannot feel Him at all, you acknowledge Him not in the least? Are you not aware that there is a great and true Light that is brightly shining and yet you cannot see it? Have you not heard within your conscience and mind a tender Voice whispering to you about the eternal value and importance of your soul, and yet you have said, “I hear nothing.”
Many an unthinking, secular-minded man replies, “Well, I am willing to take my chances.” What foolish talk from a mortal and dying person. Foolish because men do not have the luxury of taking their chances– either they are saved and forgiven or they are lost. Surely this is the great curse that lies upon mankind today– men are so wrapped up in their own godless world that they refuse the Light that even now shines, the Voice that speaks, and the Presence that pervades and changes hearts.
So men pursue money, profits, fame, fortune, continual entertainment, or addiction to pleasure. Anything to take the seriousness out of living, anything to keep them from sensing that there is a Presence, who is the way, the truth, and the life.
One of the saddest and most serious truths that exists is the fact that a great and eternal woe awaits the completely secular and materialistic man whose only religion is in the thought that he is probably not as bad as some other men.
I myself was an ignorant 17 year old boy when I first heard preaching in the street, and I then wandered into a church where I heard a man quoting a Scripture: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden!”, and I will give you rest; Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me . . . and you shall find rest for your souls.”
Actually, I was little better than a full pagan, but I suddenly became greatly disturbed, for I began to feel and sense and acknowledge God’s gracious presence. I heard His voice within speaking to me ever so faintly. I discerned that there was a light that was shining in my darkness.
Once again, walking on the street, I stopped to hear a man preaching at a corner and he said to those listening, “If you do not even know how to pray, go home and get down low, and pray,” God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” That is exactly what I did. And God promised to forgive and satisfy anyone who is hungry enough and concerned enough to cry out, “Lord, save me!”
Well, He is here now. The Word, Jesus Christ, was made flesh and dwelt among us and He still is among us, still willing and able to save. The only thing remaining is for anyone from a humble and needy heart to cry to Him, “O, Lamb of God, I come, I come!”
Recently, my Agel business partner cum good friend, Mei and her daughter, Dawn just got baptised! To be exact, it was on the 13th of December 2008 at between 10 to 11am.
I knew Mei, I think, slightly more than a year. It was through another Agel business partner, Angelina that I got to know her. From her not attending church; to her attending church; to her bringing her kids to church. And now to her getting baptised together with her lovely daughter, Dawn! It was such a joy to witness these series of event.
Frankly, I really don’t know how they felt at the baptism. But just by witnessing the whole event of another person stepping into the Kingdom of God has really blessed my day. The old is gone; and the new has come! Let’s rejoice with them. And with God too!
Below are just some of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken on that day. Enjoy! Click on individual photo to enlarge it.
If you like, you can post a congratulatory note here too!