Reason for Faith

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1When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:1-6

John, the one we call John The Baptist, was not a new believer when he raised the question of Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. John was the prophet who prepared the way for Jesus; he pointed to Jesus as the “lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world;” he baptized Jesus and heard the voice from Heaven declare that Jesus was his beloved Son. John’s zeal for God and determination to speak of all people’s need for the righteousness of God landed him in prison when he criticized the lifestyle and choices of the governing ruler.

Yet in the dark and loneliness of prison, John had to grapple with his reasons for faith in Jesus as the Christ. I love what happened next! John made his questions known to Jesus and Jesus answered. “Go and tell John what you hear and see…”

When the events of life challenge our faith that’s the time to activate it by considering again the life, person, character, preaching and activity of Jesus. This is the time to read the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John slowly and persistently. We will see again how He fulfills the promise of God and brings us into His Kingdom. Jesus Himself is our reason for faith.

 

Obedience and Christian Leaders

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1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1-6

A healthy church is not out to control you. But it has received grace and calling from Jesus to bring about

“the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.”

Obedience is a response to Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord. Obedience flows from faith. Obedience flows from the dynamic relationship you have with Jesus. The most life-giving call to obedience flows from the experience of grace.

The church is at its best when it remains a voluntary association of people graced by Jesus Christ and following Him together with an agreed upon vision of the constraints and freedoms of His holiness.

Christian leadership under the grace of Jesus is not about getting people to do what the leader imagines for his or her benefit. Christian leadership is creates the environment where people get to know Jesus, understand what Jesus wants, and gain the courage to make adjustments to be obedient to Him. That’s the obedience of faith.

What if it was raining cats and dogs?

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24And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?

26The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Here’s one strange English idiom: “Its raining cats and dogs.” Meant to describe a heavy downpour it surely describes a devastating downpour.

What if life brings you a devastating downpour? What if pressure is mounting because of your faith in Christ?

The challenge under pressure is to keep our view of God large. When the church in Jerusalem experienced pressure during the arrest of John and Peter they prayed. When they celebrated their release from the authorities they prayed. They prayed not for relief but for courage. How could they do that?

They kept God large through the revelation of Jesus Christ— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Sovereign Lord.

Creator of Heaven and earth.

Inspirer of the prophet’s message.
Promise keeper.

Messiah, Anointed one.

King.

When the downpour comes, me must remember Jesus. He shows us God’s plan that continues even through the downpour.

 

Two Questions to Ask Yourself

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Dynamics of a life with God

8And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  Genesis 3:8-9

After the Great Catastrophe Adam and Eve had to learn repentance and belief. It began with God asking a question, “Where are you?”

Two questions we ask when we sense God breaking into to our lives, when He is calling us to pay attention to something in us or in our world:

“What is God saying to me?

“What am I saying to God?”

Repentance and belief. The Apostle Paul expressed the dynamics of Gospel life as repentance and belief.

18And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:18-21

In repentance I have a confrontation with truth and grace, the realities of God. I have a choice to change my mind, attitudes, and actions.

In belief or faith I make adjustments to keep in step with Jesus.

What is God saying to you?

What are you saying to God?

Who Cares When Questions Send You Reeling?

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University sometimes lives up to its name. Sometimes we truly are a “community of truth seekers.” Then we embody one of our most idealized visions of university life. Truth seeking will direct us into the big questions of life. When that happens most of us are likely to experience a disorienting wave of not knowing. This dis-equilibrium is often a necessary part of learning: knowing that I don’t know; knowing that I must seek; knowing that I must ask.

Truth brings us into spiritual questions and a spiritual quest. Many people panic, ignore, and coverup these questions. We are not in the habit of leaning into spiritual questions. Consider our avoidance of reflection and consideration of death is one example of our efforts to avoid spiritual struggle.

Spiritual Struggle and University

The Huffington Post reports on recent studies examining the spiritual lives of university students. The conclusion regarding spiritual struggles and its dis-equilibrium are not encouraging for our current generation of students.

“Findings in this study suggest that spiritual struggles are a significant factor in the health and well-being of college students,” researchers reported in the latest issue of the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. “These results suggest that students may be utilizing unhealthy patterns (e.g., addiction) as one way to cope with their spiritual struggles and other life stressors.”

The finding is consistent with a developing body of research revealing the complex nature of religion and mental health. The assurance of a loving God concerned with their welfare helps many people deal with life’s stresses, but individuals with a less secure attachment to the divine may face greater problems with anxiety and depression.

The challenge for caregivers and religious individuals and communities is to help people through their periods of struggle with doubts that can be part of an active spiritual journey.

Read more.

The mind has little patience for ambiguity and mystery unless there is a framework speaking to it. As a follower of Jesus I know Christian faith must become my own. The  process of owning faith often involves struggle. Struggle is part of faith.

Knowing Jesus has not been the end of spiritual struggle. Rather Jesus brings me into the challenge to learn and grow in my faith. Following Him brings me directly in contact with the darkest aspects of our brokenness.

Knowing I am Loved

But what has been steady, is a clear and enduring attachment to God through Jesus Christ. I know I am loved. And its this confidence I wish for all our friends in Origin Church and in the UBC campus community. Grace, the unmerited favour of God, for the forgiveness of sin through Jesus’ work and the promise of ever-present and on-going life in His presence, has allowed me to live loved. Meaning and purpose for life, for studies, for virtue and morality, and for hope is found in Him. We believe you were born for more than existential despair or bondage to your passions.

I do remember times and seasons of my life when my questions have sent me reeling. Its too easy to seek a temporary restoration of a shallow happiness by turning to people, my achievements, my appetites, or my ambition for wealth as a salve. These are easy and available. They are championed by many as ready-made solutions. Yet, they were never meant to bear the weight of our souls. We will be crushed under them and in turn we will crush others up on whom we lay our souls, unless we lay our soul on Jesus Christ. He is the champion of God over sin, disillusionment, and even death. I have come to believe only Jesus is sufficient. I believe Jesus cares.

So who cares when you are reeling over your questions of life?

Jesus cares. I care.  And there are others in communities of faith in Christ who care. Chaplains from a variety of perspectives at your university care. I encourage you to enter into a circle of hope, faith and love built around the person of Jesus Christ. I invite you to come and see what our life with Jesus is like before, after, and even during that period of life with the questions that spin our souls and leave us reeling.

University can be a period of intense growth. You can become a person of courage, humility, love, and integrity. University can be a season when faith deepens and  grows not in despair but in joy!

A Vision of Faith for People in a World of Disturbing Questions
Romans 8:28-30
28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?36As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.