It's Thursday morning already?
Wow, what a busy week in my personal life and in this study. I knew that committing to doing "Believing God" would be difficult time-wise, but "committing" is the key word here, and I'm committed to staying on top of the homework and applying the principles.
How are you doing? By the way, remember that even if you're not enrolled in the study, Diane and I welcome (beg for) your reflective comments here. Just like those roadside church signs that say, "There is no 'church' without 'u' in it," Diane and I feel that there is no "conversation" without 'u' in it. We need converusation.
Week #2 of "Believing God" focused on "Believing God is Who He Says He Is." (Matthew 16:13-19 is the "home base" passage, where Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?")
One of the first things Beth talked about (we're on a first-name basis now, since she's been in my family room on the computer while I sip coffee, have hot flashes and unfasten my bra and everything) is understanding that all of us have perceptions about God based on what was 1) taught to us 2) caught by us (by assimilating both the explicit and implicit actions/statements of others as we moved through life.)
Beth states that it's safe to assume that somewhere along the way, we may have subconsciously picked up a few flawed ideas about who God is and what he's capable of.
Here's an interesting exercise to see popular images of God: Go to Google, choose "images" for your search, and type in "God." The first three pages of pics will provide food for thought.
Here's an example from my life: There's a well-worn postulation in Christian evangelism, "God loves you so much that if you had been the only person on the planet, he still would have come to die for you alone." My mother never fully understood or trusted that statement and voiced her doubt often enough that I think I absorbed her doubt. As a result, whenever I hear someone make that assertion, I think, "Really? Is that true? It sounds good. Is that biblical?" And yet highly respected Christian leaders have repeated this idea many times.
Question 1: Where did you develop your perceptions of God?
Question 2: Have you ever challenged any long-held or popular concepts about God? Care to share? BM says that "Faith that remains unchallenged ordinarily remains unchanged."
Do you ever wonder, "Why doesn't God just put an end to all questions about his existence and goodness by providing irrefutable proof for our enquiring little minds?" Beth says she believes the answer stems from Hebrews 11:6, But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him. It brings God pleasure when we believe in him, so he doesn't remove all doubt because he enjoys our faith, our belief, our trust in him.
I think of it like this: What if I had a child who had an emotional disorder wherein she could never develop a trusting relationship with me. She would always pull away when I reached out, always close her hand when I tried to give her anything, always suspect everything I told her. My heart would break. Part of knowing/loving someone is trusting in their character. I would probably say to her, "Please just notice how over and over I treat you with love and gentleness and kindness. Remember those times that so that the next time I reach out to you, you won't feel compelled to pull away. HAVE FAITH IN ME. I'M A GOOD MOM." Or in another context, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8.
Beth also spent quite a bit of time talking about culture's attempt at the "Dumbing Down" of God--demeaning his name, mocking him, tearing at his greatness bit by bit, "voting" on the validity of his Word, etc. I feel passionate about this, too. The reason we do this? We're humans. It's what we do--like "Why do flies poop every time they land? They're flies." At least we're his enemies until by his grace the scales fall off our eyes and our ears unplug and our knees hit the ground, right? But it's important to remember that God doesn't get nervous when man does this. He's unshakable.
Finally, Beth, or "Beh" as I like to call her for short, reminded us through scripture that we (humans) will reflect (in actions, in speech, in appearance) who we believe God to be. Consider Psalm 135:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
16 They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
17 They have ears, but they do not hear;
Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.
Jeremiah 10:5, "Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good." Thus the scarecrow pic above. Just thought I'd point out that he's not God.
When I finished this week's teaching video, I felt as if I were having church while sitting there at the computer. That is, I was worshipping God for who he is, despite man's attempt to pin him down, dilute him, direct him, ignore him, take him for granted. There is none like him.
Basically, the lesson this week can be summed up, "Whoever you might think God is, aim a little higher" because our faith will never be stronger than the God we perceive.
The song on this video, "You Are God Alone" just reaffirms his praiseworthiness. It's not a fancy video, just the words, but the words--ooh they are powerful. If you have a couple of minutes to listen to this, it might change the rest of your day.
Thanks for stopping by. Again, Diane and I would love to "hear" your thoughts in the comments or in your own post.