Is God Better Than My Imagination?

So…recently I’ve been lonely. Not, “I don’t have friends or anyone to talk to lonely”-I’m blessed with amazing, loving friendships and family members, but that sort of “I desire a daily companion- loneliness”. I want a person that knows me. All of me. And that I can process my daily events and ponderings with.  One day when recognizing this yearning in my soul (sorry if that sounds dramatic) I remembered that God is my ultimate companion, and that any desire I have for companionship in this life is but a shadow of the deepest, most fulfilling, indescribable companionship found in the perfect person of our Triune God.

So I decided to try and imagine God as my companion.

I sat down to my dinner of delicious leftovers and asked Him the first question I would ask an earthly companion which was “How was your day?”

I imagined God sitting with me, eating dinner…well…not really Him eating…just me, and him just being there, telling me about the best and worst parts of His day.  With a twinkle in His eye He told me of a beautiful concerto Bach had written in heaven today, and how he had just discovered how to use chord progressions to move buildings.  So the structure they were in was spinning as he was playing! “You’ll love it when you get here! It’s wild!”  He told me about a teenager in Cambodia who was just born again-and the eruption from the angels when it happened!

He told me about a hard part of his day too. “There is a daughter of mine in Mississippi who has prayed to me for 3 years for a son, and I keep telling her no. In fact, today she got back the negative results from in vitro and she cried and cried and cried. It was so painful to hear and see her pain. I moved in the heart of her sisters and friends to call her that day to comfort her, but still I know she is aching.” I asked God why he kept saying no? The answered I imagined him giving blew my mind. “Because in 6 years, the world will be exactly where it needs to be for her son Judah to be born.” I must’ve had a face of panic at the thought of 6 MORE years of heartache for this poor woman, because that’s when I imagined the Lord showing me a little glimpse of His plan.

It appeared before our eyes like a Star Trek-ish computer screen. And the gist of what I imagined Him saying was this: “See I need him born when this, this, this, this, and this has already happened, but I need to move in these people, this country, and this university before that can begin…then at this time I’ll put him here and he will fulfill THIS plan I have for his life. It’s beautiful. It is perfect. As much as I hate to see her cry, I KNOW that my plan is flawless, and I literally cannot have him born ONE day earlier.”

complicated

I imagine it sort of looking like this!

After that conversation, He asked me about my day and I imagined little comments He would respond back with, and questions He would ask. I rambled about different life things and imagined his lighthearted and comical responses. It was an enjoyable time! So enjoyable in fact, that I did that same sort of thing a few days later on Easter, when I took a walk and imagined talking with Him about random reflections and thoughts on the resurrection.

Harmless, right?

Well that’s what I thought until I realized that the god that was answering my questions and responding to me and laughing at all my witty remarks, sounded a lot like Betty. In fact…that god  thought my questions were interesting and barely ever talked about his own holiness or my sinfulness or the gospel really at all. And for that week, I had started to replace God with this imaginary god.

And it makes sense why I started to do that. Because that god is comfy and very relatable and addresses my particular, everyday situations. But that god is not God. That is simply my made up thoughts. My God, my True God, is not hiding in the nooks and crannies of my imagination, but boldly standing in every word, line, and page of the inerrant Scriptures. And that is where I need to CONSTANTLY be in order to live my life in a way that pleases God. As entertaining/fun as it may be to imagine God and how He would respond, that should NOT ever be my first line of defense against anything.  God’s word is all sufficient. In it’s pages lie the revelation of who God is, what He likes, dislikes, how He responds, why He responds, and through it I have the privileged to deeply get to know God. Me! Know God! It’s foolish to depend on my imagination and be more thrilled by that, than by the true character and nature found in Scripture of this mind-blowing, Betty-loving, good and sovereign, abundantly gracious, infinitely creative, joyful, righteous, perfect King, Friend, and Savior.

So don’t just depend on your mind, imagination, or previous knowledge about God in your relationship with Him. We must steadfastly be in His word to not be led astray by any false gospels, or simply entertained with weak caricatures of a god that we can comprehend. Don’t go to bed tonight without reading The Book and reflecting on what it teaches you about who God is-because He is bigger and better than anything we could ever imagine.

Need a New Worship Song?

What’s that you say? You’d like a new song suggestion? Well sure! Here is one that was just (wonderfully) suggested to me! Give it  a listen! “By This We Know Love”

VERSE 1 
God of all Creation, Lord of heaven’s light 
Descended into evil’s darkest night 
Infinitely Holy, Your perfections know no end 
Selflessly You died my rightful death 

CHORUS 
By this we know love that He laid down His life 
God’s very own Son, came from Heaven to die 
Suspended He hung, as He shed His own blood 
What grace in His pardon, by thisWe know love 

VERSE 2 
Forsaken man of sorrows, hated by all men 
You willingly surrendered for my sin 
Scornfully derided, yet in silence stumbling on 
Bearing wrath for all that I’ve done wrong 


Credits: 
Words and music by Judah Groveman 
© 2009 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)

Studying the Holy Spirit-Part 3 and 4

So…the last time we had this study (a month ago…) I MEANT to upload these notes:

NotesAnd it was a really interesting night talking about tongues. And we covered A LOT of material…hence my crazy notes…but that was a month ago, and I really want to type up notes from last night’s study, so the bottom line is this: Every time the word “tongues” is used in Scripture it is referring to a real human language (even if it is unknown by you; xenoglossalia) NOT gibberish-people do not need to hear “tongues”  as a sign and wonder so much as they need to hear the clear gospel message. 

If you have questions, you can ask Pastor Joel! Findgracehere.org is our website!

Okay! Moving on to this week! We started our night discussing the book “Jesus Calling” . Pastor Joel explained the premise, the “Presence”, and explained how the book oozed affirmation.  In groups we discussed “How do we hear from God?”, “Why do Christians desire to hear from God everyday?” and “What dangers (if any!) could result from this desire to hear from God.

It is interesting, we noted, that when we (or others) make up the response of God in their head-that it sounds a lot like them. Uh-oh.  Though it is desirable to have God given answers to our specific personal questions, are we in fact making our own imagination God?

We then dove into a study on “prophecy”.  We first looked in the Old Testament, when God gave the nation of Israel prophets to be his mouthpiece, and then looked at how to identify false prophets and prophecies (Joel gave us some examples of the most ridiculous ones of our time, and it is actually very sad that they get so many to believe and give so much into these lies!). From that we transitioned into the two Gospel-Centered camps of prophecy we have today: the Continuationists and the Cessationists.

Continuationists believe prophecy is communicating messages that originate from God but are to be evaluated by the church. The New Testament apostles are equivalent to the Old Testament prophets, and today prophecies are impressions given to believes by the Holy Spirit for the church. Cessationists believe that prophecy is a message FROM GOD, accepted as an absolute authoritative revelation. New Testament prophets are equivalent to Old Testament prophets, and prophecy CEASED after the completion of the New Testament (Ephesians 2:20).

We learned different scriptural arguments for each side, and Pastor Joel humbly noted that there are good, godly people on both sides of this fence and that this is not a battlefield we die on. We are on the same team here. The role of women play an interesting part in this discussion, as did the story from Acts about the prophet Agabus.

But Joel’s question that got me was this:

madewithOver

 

He feels that we undermine the sufficiency of Scripture when we rely on extra-biblical revelation-that we are ignoring the Holy Spirit and his job and delight to illuminate the Word to us!

So I ask you what I had to ask myself that night: Do you truly understand and believe that this book is living and breathing and that its author is present each time you open its pages? Do you look somewhere else (or to someone else) to answer your questions or to ease your distressed spirit? If so, you (we!) are missing out on an AMAZING experience, because Scripture is all-sufficient and the Holy Spirit will reveal truth, wisdom, and comfort to those who seek to know God.

Pinterest, Einstein, and Cupcakes

I saw this pin on Pinterest (a VERY reliable source) that quotes Albert Einstein in saying, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Quote: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Eistein ||| Keep it simple.

And I really like this quote because I see this challenge every week when I teach a bible lesson to my Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders in Awana. I have to take what I know and love about depravity, election, propitiation, and the metanarrative of Scripture and boil it down to truth that their baby teeth can chew.

Last week was a lot of fun at Awana. After “Game Time”, I asked “Snack Time” to be postponed and quickly funneled them all into “Lesson Time”. After singing a few choruses with them, I stood in front of about twenty 5-7 year olds and began slowly eating a delicious looking snack time cupcake.

Every single adorable eye was glued on me and that cupcake as I took bite after bite. I asked them (with a mouth full of cake) “Are you guys a little hungry?” They all nodded their little heads quickly. “Do you wish you could have a cupcake?” “Yes, uh hu, oh yes” they responded. With their eyes still glued on me I asked, “Wouldn’t we all feel pretty awful if I had cupcakes for myself but not for any of you guys tonight? That I didn’t have enough to share? And there was no way I could get more?” Their audible groans and looks of terror and panic filled the room. I broke character; they are too cute to torment! I quickly explained that luckily I have PLENTY of cupcakes to share, and everyone can have one. As they delightedly were handed their chocolate cupcakes with green icing and sprinkles I read from the Jesus Storybook Bible, the story of Jesus Feeding the 5,000.Crème de Menthe Frosting (for St. Patty's Day) ~    Here's a delightful recipe you can make for Saint Patrick's Day.   Start with a chocolate cake mix and prepare two dozen cupcakes according to the package directions. Use green or holiday-themed liners to add some fun!  Recipe @  http://www.susannahskitchen.com/2012/03/recipe-creme-de-menthe-frosting.html

Afterwards, we talked about the details of the story, making sure they were listening and comprehending, and how fortunately there was enough food for everyone there to eat (hence the purpose behind the cupcake torture). Then I reminded them of a basic hermeneutical truth (though I haven’t taught them that word yet) and that was to find out what the passage is saying about God.

I reminded them that this is not a story primarily about sharing– the little boy is not who we should walk away talking or thinking about. Though sharing is a good thing I don’t want kids to go home and tell their parents that that is the thing they learned from the Bible tonight. Instead we should see two awesome, amazing, wonderful things-:1.)the deity of Christ (KIDS,-JESUS IS GOD! LOOK AT THAT MIRACLE!) and 2.) the provision of God the Father (HE WILL ALWAYS GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED! IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT YOU DON’T NEED IT!)

And I go back to good ol’ Albert’s quote that I mentioned in the beginning to say that each time I teach I am wonderfully challenged with how to teach God’s truths to these beautiful, young minds. I want to make sure that I am not just promoting moralism, but that I understand how the gospel permeates and interweaves into every inch of Scripture and of life.  And that is a lesson I think we ALL need to hear. As you are (and I am!) in the Word, remember to not just think about “what’s in this for me?” though of course that is important, but to first ask, “What does this teach me about God?” and then praise Him for that thing!

(p.s. this is a great website for lesson help! http://ministry-to-children.com/lessons/)