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October 30th- More Than We Imagine

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20)

 

What happened is impossible, and it happened at the moment my faith had run dry. Hang with me as I paint for you the backdrop.

 

Several years ago, we moved to our town to start a church. It has not worked, and may never work. However, one of my ideas for connecting with the college students in the community was to try and do free statistics tutoring at the local University.

 

math

I had no realistic expectation that the university would actually allow me on campus, however I gave it a shot. One day, I contacted a professor in the math department, introduced myself, and told him about what I wanted to do.

 

To my great surprise, they let me.

For the next three semesters, I tutored in the university library twice per week. But as the church planting was falling apart, I repeatedly wondered about finding work to pay the bills. My dream would have been to teach the statistics course at the university after the current professor retired. However, I don't have a Master's Degree in Math, much less a PhD, so I figured it was impossible.

 

Having given up on the idea, I was leaving the library one evening when a student I had never met stopped me. She said she had overheard me tutoring and wondered if I had ever considered teaching at the university. I thanked her for her kindness, but told her that they wouldn't allow me to because I didn't have the necessary degree. However, for the next week or so, I began hoping and praying that the interaction with the girl was a sign from God.

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October 27th- A Thought About Miracles

“Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.” (John 4:46)

 

For some time I have been toying with a thought about God's miracles. Then, when I found the exact same idea in C.S. Lewis, I realized that great minds think alike. (No comments please!)

 

wine

The idea is that miracles are generally not God doing something completely out of the box. Instead, God is doing something which occurs in the box; He is just doing it much faster.

 

In other words, God doesn't interrupt the rules of science to perform miracles. He uses the rules of science, but does so instantaneously instead of slowly.

 

For instance, when Jesus healed someone, He wasn't contradicting the processes of the human body, but using them. Lewis continues:

 

“God creates the vine and teaches it to draw up water by its roots and, with the aid of the sun, to turn that water into a juice which will ferment and take on certain qualities. Thus every year, from Noah's time till ours, God turns water into wine....But when Christ at Cana makes water into wine, the mask is off.”

 

When Jesus makes water into wine, He is simply doing the same “little m” miracle and turning it into a “big M” Miracle. Yet, this idea is not intended to minimize what Jesus did. Lewis continues:

 

“Do not imagine I am trying to make the miracles less miraculous. I am not arguing that they are more probable because they are less unlike natural events: I am trying to answer those who think them arbitrary, theatrical, unworthy of God, meaningless interruptions of universal order.

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October 14th-- My Theory On Marriage

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

 

I have a new theory on marriage, and I think it is a good one.

 

marriage

Marriages go badly when we run out of grace. What does that mean? Let me explain.

Everyone runs on grace, it is our fuel. For grace means “loving kindness” and it is the substance that gives us the power to make it through life. And, this loving kindness is stored in our grace tank.

 

Life works when our grace tank is full. However, we often get the grace drained out of us, and if we don't refill, life doesn't work. And this has huge implications for marriage. Let me explain.

Anyone who has ever been married has a list of complaints. It is a list about the imperfections of their spouse. And, when a marriage is struggling, it is this list that looms large.

  1. I'm so tired of how irresponsible he/she is.

  2. I can't stand it when he/she is selfish.

  3. He/she never listens.

  4. Etc., etc., etc.

Every point on this list may be absolutely true, and justifiably frustrating. But, here's the catch. Hasn't your spouse always been like this? Weren't they like this even when you were dating?

 

In truth, they haven't changed, which is disappointing. But, in the beginning, you were once able to overlook it. And, during the good times, you haven't minded being patient with those same issues. So what has happened?

 

What has happened is grace; or, more appropriately, a lack of it. When you were first in love, your grace tank was overflowing, so their issues, which really were there, didn't bother you. And, during the good times, when you again overlooked their issues, the truth was that your grace tank was filled.

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October 17th- The Wounding Voice

“"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

Allow me to cite for you the report card for the 15-year old John Gurdon.

 

“It has been a disastrous half. His work has been far from satisfactory. His prepared stuff has been badly learnt, and several of his test pieces have been torn over; one of such pieces of prepared work scored 2 marks out of a possible 50. His other work has been equally bad, and several times he has been in trouble, because he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work his own way.

 

Gurdon

I believe he has ideas about becoming a Scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous, if he can't learn simple Biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a Specialist, and it would be sheer waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him.”

 

Ouch. Oh, you don't know who John Gurdon is? Well, John Gurdon has won the Nobel prize for his work in biology.

 

It has been sixty-four years since Gurdon received that report card, and it sits, framed, above his desk at work. Coincidentally, his office is in a research building named in his honor.

 

There is a lot that could said about this story, and much that should be said. However, to me, what stands out is how deeply wounded Gurdon was by the comments.

 

All of us, like it or not, have had voices enter our lives that have left such scars. It could have been a teacher. It could have been a coach. Saddest of all, it could have been a parent.

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October 9th- I Hate Church

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:25)

 

I have a confession to make. And, given my profession, it is quite a juicy one.

 

I hate going to church. Not a little bit, a lot.

 

Now, I won't go into the reasons for my disdain; they aren't important anyway. The point is simply that I don't like it, and I don't think I'm alone.

 

church

Countless times throughout my life, I've heard people say things like, “I don't need to go to church to be a Christian,” or “I feel closer to God just having my own private 'church-time' on Sundays.”

 

And, believe me, I understand what they are trying to say, and can empathize with their true underlying motive. But, the truth is, these well meaning folks are simply wrong.

 

C.S. Lewis was onced asked the question, “Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?”

 

I love his answer.

 

“My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn't go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that this meant being a target....

If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can't do it without going to Church. I dislike very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it.

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