Showing posts from November, 2013

New neural pathways of faith, hope, and love

Communion with God changes everything. It's true! I experienced it again this morning. I was praying over a situation that has been giving me some stress. Then I opened the Gospel of John and started browsing through the middle of the book. I settled on chapter 7 and stopped when I read this verse:
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (7:38)I realized that what Jesus is saying is that even when you are in the middle of a stressful situation, you need not get trapped in all the "normal" responses: anxiety, depression, anger, and the like. He has a completely different way to meet the challenges of life. I'm not a scientist, but I believe the normal neural pathways that are accompanied by stressful chemical responses are well-worn highways in our brains, and God wants to plow some new roads for us.

I spent quite a while in prayer, simply receiving from God three gifts: faith to trust him, hope to see that he …

What if most of what you have been taught about faith is wrong?

What if faith doesn't solve all life's problems? What if faith actually makes things worse? Is it worth it to have faith?

Those are questions that came up after I just finished reading the first chapter of a book given to me by a friend, 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe by Larry Osborne. The meat of the chapter is Osborne's observations about Hebrews 11, the Bible's standout chapter about faith. Osborne rightly says that when he really read Hebrews 11 carefully, it messed with his head.

Hebrews 11 starts with this famous "what is faith" statement:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (vv. 1-2) Okay, so faith is confidence and assurance. But confidence and assurance in what? Here's a popular conception of faith: "Faith isn't believing God can. Faith is believing God will." That notion of faith is flat out wrong.

The truth lies in the examples …

Reflections on preaching on singleness

Yesterday I preached one of the most difficult messages I have tried to tackle since I have been at Sanctuary: God and the love life of a single person. I had some Scripture to teach on, but I did not feel comfortable.

In the church, married people are usually the dominant demographic. The church holds marriage classes, preaches on marriage, and devotes massive amounts of resources toward discipling married people's children. Singles often feel left out of much of what is going on at church -- a significant demographic that somehow remains invisible. I would wager that the ratio of marriage sermons to singleness sermons is at least ten to one. Add that church cultures often carry an expectation that if single people would just do this and fix that, they could get on board and join the ranks of the married. One would think that church is the best place for a single person to bring the experience of singleness, but reality is often far different. It grieves me that Sanctuary has som…

Who has it backwards -- God or us?

Deep communion with God changes everything. That includes your perspective on life. Want some examples of an altered perspective? Check out a sampling of the instructions from the first chapter of James:
Consider it "pure joy" when you face trials. (James 1:2) If you are humble, think of yourself as having a high position (because you are just as important as a rich person in God's eyes), and if you are rich, think of yourself as having a low position (because you are no more important than the "least of these"). (1:9-10) It is better to listen than to speak. (1:19)  Rather than trying to ratchet your social circles upward, spend time with orphans and widows by entering into their distress. (1:27)  James is turning our values upside down, isn't he? Living with God means adopting his values instead of expecting him to adopt ours. God is not as into the American Dream as a lot of people think.

And how do we adopt God's values? Commune with him. Read Scrip…