Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lessons from an Atheist

While reading Answers magazine the other day, I stumbled upon an article that is quite the call to action.  This video is a very sobering account from an atheistic comedian who was given an incredible gift, and contains some good lessons for communicating with people who seem hostile to God.
*Disclaimer* Penn's other YouTube clips are not recommended for viewing, due to their crude and profane content.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Remember and be Enraptured

Looking up at the sunset one summer evening, turning the sky to gold; magnifying itself, as every other thing, every blade of grass, becomes immersed in ever-darkening shadow.  The clouds, soft victory banners in crimson and gold, announce the Sun's glorious departure. There is no helping but to glory in the moment.

In times like these I feel that I have found my place, that I am beginning to realize how small I truly am.  My mind knows that even the piercing beauty of creation; the deafening roar of thunder, the heights of the stars, the depths of the mighty oceans- can never be more beautiful, mighty, lofty, or deep than the Lord.  My soul confirms this truth, making the beauty seen even more beautiful as my mind expands in the knowledge of a great and unimaginable hope.  God is greater than anything my perception or even emotions can experience, but even still, I find that God can use created things to deepen my understanding of Him.  In the resplendency of a beautiful sunset or a glorious mountain range, I am swept away, not only by the things I behold through my eyes, but the deeper truth that I hear whispered in my soul.  "I am greater far; I am more beautiful still".  And knowing this truth, I treasure the memory of that beauty as a shadow of what is to come.

I have noticed that God often breaks through to my heart in the times when I come to a new realization of my smallness and inadequacy.  Leaving for Europe from the Seattle airport back in March brought me one of those realizations.  I was embarking on a journey much larger than me, with people I had never met.  I didn't know what was ahead, but God did, and I could rest in that.  With those thoughts in my mind, I looked down at the people below.  How small they were!  And how numerous!  And here I was far up in the sky, so separate from their struggles and joys.  It came to me that God sees everyone at once, just as I was seeing those hundreds of scurrying people below.  I could be - should be- seen just as another minuscule ant on the pavement, but instead God looks into my heart and loves me.  And not only me, but the whole world!  It is such an elementary truth of the faith, but at that moment it blasted through to reality for me.  I go through life at times as if I am the center of the universe, but in reality, I am just a speck of dust traversing this little blue marble.  At the same moment as these truths were sinking in, God was impressing his love upon me.  Despite the smallness and self-centered atttitude of the human race, he loved us and died for us, in order to fill these poor earthen vessels with the living, breathing, Spirit of God.  Marvelous! 

Sadly, these moments of spiritual realization come far too seldom.  There are times when I am swept away in the monotony and busyness of the everyday.  I dutifully take in knowledge of the truth, but I do not do it in Spirit.  This past week, God has been impressing two themes into my mind: to "Remember", and to be "Enraptured".  Reading through Exodus, I was confronted with the constant mandates to build monuments of remembrance to the faithfulness of God.  Remembering helps to keep our faith alive in the desert.  It reminds us that God's promises are not void.  It reminds us that his love is true and constant, regardless of the dimness created by blinding circumstances.  Remembering keeps us looking ahead with childlike faith.  This childlike faith helps us go through life with wonder, reveling in beautiful truths that we do not fully understand.  And this is where the word "enraptured" comes in.  In Revelation 2:3-5, Jesus delivers words of praise and rebuke to the church of Ephesus. "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first."  In Matthew 18:2-4, Jesus has some humbling and wonderful words to say: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
I will conclude with a quote by Samuel Chadwick  "Why does the church stay indoors?  They have a theology that has dwindled to philosophy, in which there is not thrill of faith, no terror of doom and no concern for souls.  Unbelief has put out the fires of passion, and worldliness garlands that altar of sacrifice with the tawdry glitter of unreality"