The Christian Atheist

A few weeks ago, our pastor asked us ‘Which book (other than the bible) had been the most influential in your life?’
I went with a copout answer of ‘the current book I’m reading, as I read to learn, and there are always things to learn’.

Now with more reflection, I feel that the book that had the most impact, the book that I took to heart the most (other than the bible) was The Christian Atheist, by Craig Groeschel

The book was about Christians living as if though Christ does not exist, practically atheists. As the book explores different areas in our lives, I feel it was really leading all up to the epilogue (which is my favorite chapter in that book).

So I shall share about the vision that the author outlined in the epilogue, and then some of my reflections to go with that…

The Vision:

He saw 3 lines in sand, and instinctively he knew exactly what those lines represent.

The first line was I believe in God and the gospel enough to benefit from it, the under lying tone was if there is a God, I want to be on His good side. This is characterized by wanting God’s benefits without changing how we live. We want His best, without our sacrifices. We do not fear the Lord nor share our faith, we still love this world and pursue happiness and any cost. We get what we can from God, without giving much, if anything, back. This is a cultural Christianity, a nominal Christian, although we claim to be Christians, our actions speaks otherwise. Is this still on the wide road that Jesus warned us against? Remember the verses such as, “even the demons believe…”

The second line was I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to contribute comfortably, the underlying tone was as long as it doesn’t cost too much. Many first line Christians eventually cross over the second line: If I don’t have to change too much, I’ll do some of what God asks; if it doesn’t hurt too much, I’ll get more serious about God. But everyone have their limits, right? This is a humanistic Christianity, a involved Christian. Only God is the judge, but this looks a lot like ‘the middle road’ that Francis Chan was talking about. We don’t want to be on the wide road, no, because that leads to hell, but we don’t want to be on the narrow road either, because that takes too much work, too much sacrifice.

The third line was I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to give my life to it, and the anything less than line three didn’t seem like real Christianity to me (the author). And I agree. Is this a God that I can give my whole life to, not only in words but in living as well? The thing is, it had always been like this, to follow is to deny myself. This is true Christianity, a committed Christian. This is a Faith that states Christ or nothing, nothing to add, and nothing to subtract… do not be deceived by the lukewarm! There is no such thing as the middle road, it is the narrow gate and the narrow road… or nothing.

“A moderated religion is as good as no religion at all!” ~C.S. Lewis

The Reflection:

To understand that being involved is not the same as being committed.

I’ve always believed in God, just not enough to trust Him with my whole life in his wheelbarrow. I knew God COULD fulfill His promises, but I was never sure he’d do it FOR ME.

God created me in His image. I returned the favour and created Him in mine. Comparing myself to others is much easier than measuring my life against Christ’s, but God does not grade on a curve.

But ultimately, there is no excuse to NOT living this life for Him in view of what He has already done for us.

So…
Where are you?

Where do you want to go? Do you even want to move?
How badly do you want to get there? Whatever it takes?

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. ~Titus 1:16
The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him. ~ 1 John 2:4

Are you denying Him?

Love awakens Love, and you are loved! Obedience is an outflow of love

so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive ~Titus2:10b

Love is not just emotions, it is also actions, a call to commit, and God exemplified that commitment first:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us ~Romans 5:8

So live!

~John

Let my words be few – Phillips, Craig, and Dean

You are God in heaven
And here am I on earth,
So I’ll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You.

And I’ll stand in awe of You,
Yes I’ll stand in awe of You,
And I’ll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You.

The simplest of all love songs
I want to bring to You,
So I’ll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You.

 

Interruption

A while back I was saying that God really threw a curveball, now I would like to talk about it a bit more without going into detail of what it actually was, but you guys are smart, you can probably figure it out. 😛

It was something that I had really thought was God’s plan and God’s timing that occurred, but it turned out to be not so. As I was working through the emotions and the spiritual implications, one verse that really moved me was Job 6:10, it reads:

Then I would still have this consolation – my joy in unrelenting pain – that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.

It was a weird versed to be comforted by, IMO, but it worked. The thing is… it wasn’t even a pain that was unrelenting because I realize that in the grand scheme of things, it is but a minor setback and I truly believed that my God who had been faithful thus far will continue to be faithful.

That being said, being caught in the middle was still not a pleasant experience, and I wondered why it was allowed to happen. I was completely ok with not having it, what annoyed me was that it occurred for a short month then ended.

I think I now know why, in the words of Chuck Swindle as he shared why God allowed some things in his life to happen: “To show how much further I have left to go.” To show that I had made an idol out of it; to show that I had desired it more than I desired God, even when I thought it was something that I was able to glorify God on; to interrupt a life that was on autopilot; to show that He is worth so much more than an autonomous life.

But that’s not all, God did not give me all these spiritual implications without dealing with my emotions first. I was first comforted by the phrase, ‘this is not the end of the story.’ Not only through my own time with Him, but the same idea kept coming up as I was sharing with my close peers: that it was not the end of the story.

How this story is going to play out, I do not know. But one thing I do know is that the God who had been faithful will remain faithful, there is no shadow of turning within the God of infinite love and infinite holiness.

Realizing that God’s best is always worth waiting for. This story is worth waiting for.

~John

Wisdom of the Ancient Chinese: Love

The Chinese word for love is , it is comprised of 2 parts: the word (heart) is located in the middle of the word (to receive).

Love is only possible when your heart is in it! And we know that we are loved when we receive the other party’s heart in the process.

Not only that, but an authentic love is only possible when you have received a new heart first.

We love because He first loved us. ~1 John 4: 19

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. ~1 John 3:16

But God demonstrates his low love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

There is much more to be said about love, but I feel like I have said enough in a previous post (see The meaning of life is… love?)

Yay for shameless self promotions!

~John

Wisdom of the Ancient Chinese: Trust

the Chinese word for trust is ,it is comprised of 2 parts: , meaning person/people/individual, and , meaning words/speech.

So to trust is to take someone at their word.

Pretty straightforward, isn’t it?

Think about our lives, we actually function on trust a whole lot more than we would think.

For example, we breath because we trust that the next breathe is not going to kill us. If we trust that the next breathe could kill us, like when we are underwater, we will try our best NOT to breath!

Simply because we cannot and are not physically possible to test everything, we trust someone else has, and the results are being shared correctly. This is actually the idea of infinite regress, but that’s a lot more philosophical and it will be for another time.

Let us just say that at the root of any and every piece knowledge is trust: we must trust the source of that specific knowledge, whether it is from your own senses or from other people’s.

That being said… whose words do you trust? On whose words are you forming your knowledge about this world? About life? About your own life?

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. ~ Psalm 118:8

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Furthermore, this is also a reminder for us to watch our words carefully. To be trustworthy is

“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (Matt 5:37)

~John

Crossroads

I’ve come to the cross roads of my life, I’ve always knew what the right path is; without exception, I knew, but I never took it, you know what? Because it’s too damned hard. ~ Anon

Traversing a path made of principles that will lead to character.

Out of Respect

One sunday morning, as my car load of people pull into our near empty church parking lot, a measly 15min before service actually begins, a comment was made by a peer. I shrugged it off and just said, “it’s always been like this.”

As if that’s normal.

Then it got me thinking… why is it that we are always chronically late? The service always starts on time, then people trickle in. And we are so used to it.

As if that’s normal.

This is the kind of thing we don’t do for work/school/meeting someone, then why is it ok to do it with God? As if you are doing God a favor by even showing up at all!

Yes, God looks at the heart. Yes, God does not require you to specifically show up at a service on time. But isn’t this something that we should joyfully do out of respect and love for the One who died for us so that we may have life?

We can all agree that “Action speaks louder than words.” (see Matthew 7:15-20, John 13:35, James 1:22)

So you say you respect, and love the Lord, but your actions speak otherwise.

I mean, I completely understand if something comes up once in a while; but really? every week? Its like you’re not even trying!

Punctuality shows respect, and being early offers a chance to set our hearts straight to worship.

Chronic tardiness really just says God is not worth my time. And if He’s not even worth that… how can I say this is a God that is worth my life?

Are you running to God out of respect?
Or are you running out of respect for God?

~John

What if scenario: pope

So this will be a new category… What if scenarios
It’s really random thoughts I get sometimes.

So what if… An authentic, bible believing Christian went under cover in Roman Catholism and later is made pope?
Then he would proceed to use his status to denounce areas of the catholic faith that are not biblical.
(such as… Mary, saints, father/priesthood, popacy… Etc)

As per catholic belief, a pope is infallible…