Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Thoughts on Prayer from a Non-Calvinist

Let me be transparent for a minute (I only have about a minute to post - the baby will surely need me in just a moment).

Sometimes I wonder "What is the point of supplication?" Don't get me wrong, I do pray. I believe that reading His Word and fellowshipping with the saints is how we hear from Him ... and prayer and praise is how He hears from us. I do think it is pretty important for our relationship. So when He hears from me it is usually made up of thanksgiving/praise and simply sharing with God what is on my heart and mind etc... (as if He didn't know already anyway). From my diminutive understanding, thanksgiving and praise is the best communication because it offers God that which He asks for. This kind of prayer is not about me asking. It makes perfect sense to me to offer God this thanksgiving and praise - He is so great and awesome ... and He has given me so much in Christ!

... It is the supplication part that I get all mixed up with.

I was thinking about this last night and talking with my husband. This is kind of silly, but I was telling John about the night before ... and how, when I laid the baby down in his bassinet at 11:00 pm, I said, "God, please let Levi sleep until 5:00 am." Then, I thought, "Maybe I should ask for 6:00 am, just in case God answers yes." (greedy, I know)

I told John that when the baby woke up at 5:15 am, I was most pleasantly surprised.

We were having the conversation about all of this last night and I concluded by saying, "Isn't that weird? Was that God granting my desire ... or was it just a coincidence?"
My husband knows the long-standing struggle I have with this issue (why ask for God to do things when He is going to do whatever is in His will, etc... you know...)

So, my husband says to me, "You Calvinists ...." and he chuckled.

That was especially funny to me. I think of myself as about the farthest thing from a Calvinist. Yet, my husband has a point. If I can't pray believing that God has some wiggle room in His will to grant requests or intercede in the life of a loved one, then my view of His will is very static, which is exactly how I think the Calvinist views the "will of God" - as very static.

As we talked about this, my husband assured me that Calvinists pray, not to change the mind of God, but to "get their minds in line with God's will."

I, of course, replied, "How does asking God to save such and such ... or soften so and so's heart ... or asking Him for anything ... cause one to 'get in line with God's will' ... when so and so may not be part of God's 'elect' ... and my desires may be totally off-base with His plan?"

I really do find that to be a quandary. If I, being a non-Calvinist, am mystified as to the practical purpose of supplication, how does a determinist find it in his mind to ask anything of God?

BTW, I am aware of the fact that we should ask God because the Bible says we should. I am just wondering about the practical understanding of how it all fits together. See?
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:18)
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; (1 Timothy 2:1)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Proof is in the Pudding

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13)

I have continued to be captivated by this verse over the days. The comments that were left in the post below have really affected my thoughts.

The statement from Jesus needs to be looked at plainly. He says something to his disciples. He say YOU ... by this love will all men know YOU ... by this will all men know something about YOU ... they will know a characteristic of YOU.

Let's think about the neagtive aspect of the verse. Could it be that the world will know something in reverse about US? Does He say, "By this will all men know that you are not my disciple, if you don't have love toward one another?" He absolutely does not say such a thing. It is a bad interpretation. (They have a name for that kind of drawing of a false conclusion from a statement, but I can't think of what it is.)

Would this be a better negative application: "Men will not know that you are my disciple, if you don't have love toward one another?" I think this better represents the statement in the negative.

I really think this verse has a lot to do with illusatrating our faith, with presenting ourselves to the onlookers all around us. The thrust of the statement is positive, and this should be the focus - LOVE ONE ANOTHER! This love gives the world something to see that endorses our words. If we love one another, all men will be shown that we mean what we say as we share God's Word.

The negative aspect goes right along with James' teaching on having a faith without works - it is kind of like hiding a light under a basket. Being Christ's own and not loving our brothers is like having faith without works. What can it accomplish for those who are looking for direction in the night? They can't see a light hidden under a barrel. They can't see the difference Christ makes if we are not walking in the works of the Spirit, the love of God.

When I posted the verse, honestly, I had not been inspired or prompted by the "Lordship Debate" (which some say is over, even though I see it discussed on many blogs and among Christians I know.) I was not thinking about "Lordship Salvation Teaching" at all last week.

Actually, this was my inspiration for thinking about that passage and bringing it to the Reasoning table: I was reeling from a sense of a "lack of love" brought on by a certain situation with some church members ... gossiping and criticising someone I really care about. It was upsetting ... and I thought, "How is this different than the way the world treats one another?" Then, when Levi came, the opposite was demonstrated as brothers and sisters from EBC brought us meals for 2 weeks after his birth! What care! My unsaved family could see that faith that our church family has in their love for us. (I know bringing a meal is not laying down your life for someone, but it sure helps when your family is going through big adjustments like a birth, or a severe illness, or a death.)

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If you have love for one another...

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13)
I looked up the word "love" that is used in this passage.
It is the word agape¯
Thayer defines it: 1) brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

So is Jesus saying that people who are kind to one another - who have good will toward one another - benevolence - will be thought of as his disciples? Or is He saying that if you claim to be a follower of his and you don't exhibit this agape, then it will be questionable to "all men" that you really are his disciple?

Either way, we should love one another. Because ... if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Galatians 5:15)


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