Sunday, February 28, 2010

wrath 1

i have always wanted to be able to explain the wrath of god in ways that made sense to unbelievers and believers alike. in the times we live, when one speaks of god, it has been my experience that there is so much reaction that is quite different from the next. you have many camps of beliefs in a god just not the one i am referring to. there are some who really could care less because their view of god is that he does not exist...or at least i think they want to believe he does not exist but truly in their heart they know he does. there are some who believe in god and hold to the gospel according to oprah. this is the thought that all roads lead to your heavenly creator and no one path is more righteous than the next. there are some who believe in god but when it comes to issues that are familiar with the fallen state of humanity they could not believe a god who would have an adverse affect to sin. in other words, they choose to not see god as a "hater," but rather a lover of all things even the very immorality they so choose to indulge. then there are some who are quite and completely different than what we hear about in the mainstream media and they are the fundamentalists who build compounds, foster many children through many wives and are unwavering believers in god's eventual wrath that is meant to annihilate the existence of man...except for them of course. but for me, i believe it is real, i believe there is and will be judgement, i believe also that god's incarnation made atonement and even though the debt cannot be cleared, it has been paid for. so what should be said for the wrath of god?

"to an age which has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, pride, sex and self-will, the church mumbles on about god's kindness but says virtually nothing about his judgement."

i know the church has been destined to be many things in the communities in which they are represented. that being said, it is funny to find many changing their very identity to reflect that of the community. if leadership desires monetary status planting a church in a financially respected district seems practical. likewise, a desire for a thriving spanish speaking community will not prove to be advantageous if it seeks to establish the congregation in anchorage alaska. this convinces me that despite my desire for the church to be one what i view as one comes in another form. i have no desire to be apart of a brazilian church. so i will trust the leaders of the brazilian congregations will hear from god for their church and what they do at this particular juncture does not concern me. but even though the image of the church changes on the outside, (whether that is viewed as righteous or not is not what i find important here in this post) i do believe that the teaching of the all powerful god in the inside remains constant for the entire body of christ. that means from the conception in acts 2 til now, the principles of god and all his attributes DO NOT CHANGE for his bride.

i guess the two characteristics or the attributes i would like to discuss are god's anger, wrath, and fury and that of his love and tenderness. some might say the two are not mutually exclusive. i would whole heartedly agree. but as it is what i have seen of the church, i find that it is not equally represented, therefore giving me the suggestion that they ARE in fact different. so when the already confused individual who has endured tribulation his whole life is presented with god as an option, the imagery of the choice is chocolate or brussels sprouts. who in their right mind would choose brussels sprouts? however you read the bible to understand who god is you might find it interesting that a study of the concordance will show that there are more references to god's wrath and anger than there are to his love and tenderness. "the bible labors the point that just as god is good to those who trust him, so he is terrible to those who do not."

Friday, February 12, 2010

dumb animals

the art of hospitality may seem simplistic. sadly, however, it is not. the common mistake so many handily make is not on the extension side but rather on the receiving side. as a recipient of gracious hospitality on this wonderful island of guadeloupe i have observed not that the ambassadors of the church are extremely humble, gracious, and unselfish. trust me they are all of those qualities. but rather what steps i must take to further strengthen the relationship. it would be just like an american from the united states to expect this type of hospitality. and maybe there are some who feel they do not deserve such gracious service. maybe yet still there are some who believe they are in no way going to allow someone to carry their bags for them, open car doors, provide all the meals, and drive them wherever they want when ever they want. hospitality is culturally bound. in the united states, men may open the door for women...maybe. there is a degree of respect in the united states for difference in gender which provokes one to be hospitable and serve others. even still in europe, the cultures are very similar but i have noticed in observance of a guests arrival and the proper procedures upon dinner, or eating of any meal, is to wait and stand upon arrival of said guest. maybe you don't do these things, or if your european and they seem unfamiliar, it is not because it doesn't happen it is because your understanding of hospitality is limited to your experience and external teaching. i am not different in this educational process. i too don't follow all of the cultural norms and etiquette as close or as much as i should towards my fellow man. so the challenge i am presented with in this country is very real.

previously in trips of invitation, or being a guest of honor, the way i am treated is very very very wonderful. i could say about every place i have been, "this is the most hospitable country i have ever traveled!" i am forced, upon conversation with my common friends, to reveal how i was received and treated and i truly and honestly could not say that is was different than other times i have traveled. i do not want to say it was better there, or it was better in this place, or that. gods design of hospitality was not mean to be a one sided avenue. there is a response that must be given. in what form i am not sure of but in my most recent experience i believe it requires my attention to how my comment or response to hospitality will change the dynamic of the relationship. i know an example is needed here.

those that are hosting me in this church speak french...i do not, yet. what i have noticed is that if i mention i like something, or mention i would like to go to a location we might notice an immediate detour for that location. this is the urgency and desire of service that these people have on their hearts. is it gifting, or is it trained? i mention a good wine that i favored and the very next day i would find it gift wrapped for me to take home. one evening volcanic ash covered the ground quite similar to the snow fall i had missed in texas. as we approached the building to the church for the service you could anticipate an individual with an umbrella ready to usher us in without one spot of ash on our person.

it spoke to me. it yelled at me. it upper cut me in the face. the moment i thought this service was not real and would give way to true human character of self seeking i was awestruck with another exhibition of humility. the most endearing lesson i have ever learned. these people followed there orders given without question, or if they questioned they petitioned it to god...and not the pastor. look at yourself. look at your service. i am well aware of faults of my leaders and i am well aware of what i would like things to look like or how i think they should run. to have a shepherd who you follow without question is not to deny your ability, on the contrary, you will not be anybody significant without a shepherd to guide you. to question your leader reveals a great deal of distrust and insecurity in your own heart in the god you claim to serve. we all have an issue with submission. and i mean we all do. i know leaders mislead, take advantage, misguide, and give horrible counsel quite regularly. especially in this wonderfully blessed nation we live in we find that what we value as freedom actually gives credentials for a great deal of misguided leadership an opportunity to flourish and further create a hard heart amongst other selfish people. this creates dissension inside the church which has root in every congregation and feeds the philosophy of independence. it's message resounds from every corner. if you want to be anybody you must do it on your own. this is not the kingdom i so hope to be apart. we all like sheep have gone astray. and if i have learned anything about sheep in my study i have learned that sheep are dumb animals who need guiding.

the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want.
he makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters.
he restores my soul;
he guides me in the path of righteousness
for his name's sake