Tag Archives: Truth

Fork in the Road (A Guest Post)

“Sometimes it’s embarrassing to talk to You, to hold a conversation with the only one who sees right through this version of myself I try to hide behind” -Relient K

Yes, I DID just brilliantly quote Relient K. Despite their [for some - unpreferred] punk rock tones the lyrics of certain Relient K songs are extremely deep and can speak to my Christian walk. This particular song “I Am Understood” perfectly depicts a 19 year old version of myself. Maybe you remember a time in your life where you met “the fork in the road” as a young person. Well, I hit mine at age nineteen. I needed to make a very specific decision that I knew would determine what kind of character I would have for the rest of my life. You see… God had called me to a very full life; a life that I would have to dedicate my whole self completely to His service. I have known since I was nine years old that God has called me to full time vocational ministry. However, this dream became a little tainted when I became a teenager. I quickly realized how difficult ministry life would be for myself and my future family (husband and children). So, I planned on making a deal with God. I created a few “terms” that were my conditions for accepting the job for full time ministry! I know… I was blindly arrogant and presumptuous because I was operating out of fear. And yet, God saw right through me and He “let me know I was understood”.

I am a fourth generation pastor’s kid. My parents are exceptional Pastors and always tried their best in keeping my childhood experience as it rightfully should be. Being a PK [Pastor's Kid] is something I am very proud of. However, that also means I saw a side of ministry that most young people do not ever experience. I was exposed to the sacrificial and emotionally draining effects of ministry life. Through some of my PK friends and their families I saw the darkness of ministry failure. I saw so much anger and hurt from other wounded and failed pastors and missionaries. I knew the scary statistics for Pastor’s families. I realized as a young teen that my parent’s had somehow beaten the odds. Would I be so fortunate to replicate their success in my own adult life someday? I was so fearful to release my “terms” because I did not want my future family to struggle financially or even relationally. You’ll laugh when you hear that one of my terms was “I will NOT marry a Pastor under any circumstance”. I wanted to marry someone with a so called “normal” job that could provide a steady source of income who’s schedule was reliably 9am – 5pm. That way I could continue to do ministry myself and not have to worry about making money to provide for a family. I had to be [what I thought was] realistic about life! I thought if I married a Pastor then my children would eventually miss out on something due to our busy ministry schedule. So, I tried living my life on my precious terms. This proved more difficult than I anticipated! I was trying to do ministry uninhibited, but my “terms” kept on getting in the way! I desired to be captivated by Christ and wanted to grow my relationship with Him more and more, but this required full obedience to Him.

Ultimately, I was faced with that proverbial “fork in road”. I had to make a decision to either cling to my terms, or cling to God and trust He would take care of me. Finally, I was tired of the charade. Decision time was unavoidable. I just could not continue running from the full embrace of God’s calling – it became so draining! I couldn’t keep everything together, only God could meet all my needs. Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

During that decision time I spent so much time in prayer seeking God. As I made changes in my life God began to reveal to me a new set of terms – His promises! He promised to be with me, to meet all my needs, and assured me that He would always have my back. A difficult time of transition became an era of promises! My God had proven faithful to me, yet again. As Relient K sings “You’re the only one who knows [me] yet still loves [me] completely… through the times I’ve faded and you’ve outlined me again; You’ve just patiently waited to bring me back… Your voice has broken my defense. Let me embrace salvation.”

Six years later my life hasn’t been easy, but it’s been beautiful. I have watched God provide in good times and bad. He has delivered to me an amazing husband that I can live out my youth ministry calling with. Can you believe I ended up marrying a Pastor? We make an incredible team – leaving a dent in the kingdom of darkness! I wish there were words that existed to more accurately describe how fulfilling, joyous, and comforting it is be in the perfect will of the Father. I could have had a decent or “good” life on my terms… but now I’m living an EXTRAORINDARY life that is beyond my wildest dreams on His terms. How could I have ever thought my plans were better than God’s plan for me?

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:3-6

Kimberly Clervois is an enthusiastic Youth Minister with a passion for this generation of teenagers.

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Questions Jesus Asked in His Ministry

Sometimes people get the false impression that faith means learning the right answers. However, Jesus understood the importance of asking the right questions. Here are a few examples.

Questions of Priorities

The priorities I would write on paper and the priorities my choices write on the hours of my life sometimes begin to differ in the rush of living. A good question slices through the growing hypocrisy. Jesus understood the gap between intentions and actions, asking questions such as:

And why do you worry about clothes? (Matthew 6:28)

So, could you not watch with me one hour? (Matthew 26:40)

Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)

Questions about Emotions

Jesus understood that faith is much more than intellectual assent. He knew that a good question presses beyond mere information to address the emotions driving our choices.

Why are you so afraid? (Mark 4:40)

Why are you crying? (John 20:15)

Does this offend you? (John 6:61)

Questions about Purpose

Jesus knew we are made for more than mere survival. Life is more than eating, sleeping, and working. Everyone has a greater purpose beyond just getting through the day. He asked people questions to help them get their focus beyond their immediate concerns to the larger spiritual truths.

But what about you? Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)

What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)

Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)

Honest answers to good questions grow our faith more than memorizing the right answers ever will.

 

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Faith Leaves Room for Questions (A Guest Post)

Have you ever had a serious faith-related question, but were afraid to ask it? Many Christians have their curiosity kick in, while at other times, the way something was explained raises more questions. Do you dare ask it? Do you raise a question that deals with a matter of…faith?

 

I had the privilege of growing up in a family where I could always ask questions, even questions that were related to faith. Admittedly, some of the questions asked made heads turn (no wonder I’m now a Ph.D. student in Theology); other questions led to answers of “I don’t know.” In either situation, this provided the opportunity to read, study, and journey together in a process of discovery. Questions concerning the age of the Earth, the eternal state of those who never hear the Gospel, and from where the spouses of Adam and Eve’s children came all serve as samples of the many questions on the minds of people of faith—questions that many are afraid to ask.

 

Admittedly, some will argue that such questions are a source of weak faith or a lack of genuine faith. I strongly disagree. If anything, these questions stem from a heart seeking to learn more about the God they serve and the world in which they live. Just as I remember being told, “I don’t know.” I also remember, “…but we can study together and see if we can find some answers.” That attitude has aided me in understanding the importance of asking questions. So from where does the fear of some come? Some fear that the Bible (the written standard of their faith) might be proven wrong or that their entire faith is wrong because they come to understand that one thing they believed was incorrect. I can say that my thoughts have changed on some issues, and I find this experience has actually strengthened my faith.

 

I encourage you to ask your questions and grow in your faith. God is big enough for your questions. He isn’t afraid of them; you shouldn’t be either. If you choose to ask some of the “hard” questions of faith and explore them with others, there is no guarantee or requirement that you all come to the exact same conclusion. That is okay. The beauty of faith is that we can have unity on the essentials, liberty on the non-essentials, and love in all things. Remember to remain humble on this journey and be open to the thoughts of others.

As a final note, be warned that there are some things for which you will not obtain a solid answer. Use these opportunities to embrace the mystery of the God of the universe. I mean, if you could really figure out everything concerning God—an omnipotent, eternal being—he wouldn’t really be God, now would he?

Dan Morrison is enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy program at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, ON. When Dan is not reading or doing research, you can usually find him working out at the gym.

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  • The beauty of faith is that we can have unity on the essentials, liberty on the non-essentials, and...  Buffer
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Constructing Newton’s Bridge

Isaac Newton, one of the most influential scientists who ever lived, also was a Christian theologian. He once said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” His quote resonates with me because bridges filled the landscape of my childhood.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life growing up in “The City of Bridges”. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, contains more bridges within its city limits than Venice, Italy, with the current number of bridges totaling nearly two thousand. Three major rivers come together at the Point, the location of Pittsburgh’s iconic fountain first built in 1974.  In addition to the presence of rivers, the steep hills and ravines around the city make bridges a necessity for transportation. The early European settlers of Pittsburgh quickly learned that they had to choose between living in isolation or finding creative ways to span the waters and valleys.

People cluster on one of two riverbanks in their approach to relating human reasoning to faith. The first approach, common in many Christian circles in my childhood and college years and persisting to this day, revolves around mistrust of the intellect. Acquiring knowledge, analyzing information, and questioning assumptions become suspect activities. Too much thinking means that you are not listening to your heart; you are out of touch with practical concerns; or you are not truly spiritual.

Many Christians find support for mistrusting the intellect in a variety of Biblical passages. All the way back in Eden, Eve’s temptation included a desire for wisdom and knowledge. In Proverbs 3:5, an often-quoted verse reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” In the New Testament in John 20:29, Jesus said to the doubting Apostle Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:27), the Apostle Paul explained, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

Clustered on the second riverbank, we find those who worship the life of the mind above all else. Human reasoning reigns supreme. The standard for judging truth becomes data collected through the human senses and processed by rational thought. Atheists and agnostics wield Occam’s razor to slice away the possibility of revelation, preferring explanations that avoid spirituality. While the 14th century Franciscan friar William of Ockham was right to suggest that a scientific model should avoid introducing more causes than necessary, the principle often is used to exclude from the possibility of existence everything not perceivable by the human senses. Occam’s razor is a sound approach to the practice of science, but when brandished too freely, justifies positivism. This philosophy persuades those dwell on this second riverbank to stop their search for spiritual truth when they reach the limits of human reasoning and empirical evidence.

Perhaps the two camps of settlers could survive adequately without venturing beyond the limits of their respective riverbanks. Yet I join Isaac Newton and the early settlers of Pittsburgh in the conviction that a richer life waits for those willing to construct a bridge.

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Three Great Easter Questions

While preparing for the Easter holiday, I began to think about the great questions contained in the Biblical account of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, celebrated by Christians on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. These questions quickly get to the heart of the Christian message and remain relevant even today.  How would you answer the following three questions?

1.    You are not one of his disciples, are you? (John 18:17)

A young girl asked the Apostle Peter this question as he was waiting outside the high priest’s courtyard after Jesus was arrested. Peter had enough courage to follow Jesus to the religious leader’s court when the other disciples simply stayed behind. Peter put his faith into action more than most, but in the end, not enough to keep from denying Jesus to a servant girl. Fear won the day over faith. Weakness triumphed over love and loyalty. The question of the servant girl echoes to this present moment. Everyone who learns about Jesus must decide, “Am I his disciple or not?”

2.    What is truth? (John 18:38)

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sat in judgment at Jesus’ trial, asked Jesus this question. Of course, Pilate asked the same question that philosophers have been asking and attempting to answer for thousands of years. But Jesus was not another philosopher with a theory of truth. He claimed to be the truth (John 14:6). Pilate was asking the wrong question. The right question becomes, “Who is truth?”

3.    Why do you look for the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5)

Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning asked this question to the women who had come to Jesus’ tomb to anoint the body with burial spices. The women came to pay respect to the dead, but they became the first witnesses to the central miracle of Christianity. Christianity is not about the sayings of a good moral teacher. Christianity goes beyond advice for living a successful human life. Christianity is about resurrection. Resurrection means hope beyond this lifetime, power beyond natural explanation, and love that lasts for eternity. A Christian settles for nothing less.

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