Monday, September 17, 2012

I love Mondays

Everyone hates Mondays, right?  I mean, it is the start to another week, and any time something goes wrong on this day, Monday gets the blame.  A little unfair, if you ask me.

Let me tell you how my week started, and maybe you'll understand where I'm going with this.  I barely slept last night.  Not complaining, just stating a fact.  It took some time to get to sleep, and then it wasn't great sleep, and I had to get up early and get to work.  Not only work, but I also was going to take my girls to school, one of them beginning her early learners by herself for the first time.  A pretty exciting day for them.  So I go outside, pull the car out, and am in the process of getting the car seats moved around, when I notice that the rear, drivers side tire is flat.  Not all the way, but very flat.  This obviously took a lot out of my morning.

Please understand that as a pastor, Monday mornings tend to be busy.  I'm getting back into the office after a tiring Sunday, and I have a lot of things to catch up on.  So these little inconveniences aren't very helpful.  In fact, they are quite disturbing.  So I was tempted to say, along with everyone else this morning, "I hate Mondays."

The problem is that I love Mondays.  Monday is a fresh slate for me.  As someone who gets to preach every week, Monday morning is when I begin that prep.  This means digging into the passage I'm studying, finding sermons by other people who have preached on the same passage which I'll be using, and getting into commentaries.  I love this part of the week.  It actually happens to be a great day.

I think the big difference for me is that I don't just love Mondays; I love my "job".  I say "job" because it is really a joy and ministry to be able to do what I do.  Being a pastor is a blessing greater than many which have been given to me.

But does this only have to be those in full time ministry?  Shouldn't this apply to everyone?  Shouldn't we all look forward to a fresh week, being sent from our places of worship on Sunday in order to live lives of worship in our communities, jobs and homes.  So my mantra is not "I hate Mondays", but "I love Mondays."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Does God get what He wants?

Does God get everything He wants?

This question has been posed by many before, and I'm afraid the answer is often somewhat disturbing.  The answer, for many, is "yes".  The conversation usually centers around the sovereignty of God, and how God is "in control", and therefore everything happens which He wants to happen.

The problem with this answer is that, while it might sound good, it isn't Biblical.  God doesn't get everything He wants.  Scripture tells us "God is not willing that any should perish", yet many do.  And as I look around at the world around me, I'm constantly faced with things which I cannot believe God wanted.  I heard this week about a 2 year old who is getting skin grafts this morning because she fell into a fire pit.  There is the 8 year old girl who has had cancer, which has now returned for the third time.  A young boy in our church fell from about 20 feet onto concrete.  Thank God he is doing well today, as miracles seem to be abounding in this particular story.  But what about the others?

These are just a few stories which have disturbed me this week.  And I hear people talk about these things all the time with comments like "well, it must be God's will", or "I'm not sure how God is going to get glory out of this".  Isn't this a little disturbing?  Shouldn't we be bothered by the fact that many people think God wants people to suffer so He can receive glory?  Where is the God who is described as love?  Where is the grace and mercy?

This is why I believe this teaching not only contradicts some very important passages concerning the will of God, but is inconsistent with the picture we see of God in Scripture.  He is a God of love, He is a God who grants free will and He is a God who repents, changes His mind, and wished He hadn't done things.  This doesn't sound like a God who gets what He wants.

What we must acknowledge is that several factors come into play when we are talking about the bad things. As I've mentioned in a previous post, sometimes bad things are indeed caused by God.  But sometimes they are caused because humans have free will, and do evil things.  At times it is demonic warfare.  By the way, they have free will too!  These things all come into play whenever we are talking about the bad things which are happening in the world around us.

So does God get what He wants?  Clearly, at times, He does.  But also, at times, He clearly does not.  Some might argue that this makes God less than trustworthy.  Surely, if God doesn't control everything, I cannot put my faith in Him, because other things could happen and my prayers not get answered.  My response is this; I believe it makes Him more trustworthy.  How can I trust a god who would cause disasters and pain all so he could receive glory?  This god would be untrustworthy, and frankly, I don't believe he would be worthy of my love.