"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..." Ephesians 2:8
- The whole concept of faith is often misunderstood in our spiritually pluralist culture. Faith is not necessarily even a "spiritual" concept, but an expression of whatever it is we trust to bring us what we want or need in life. So the question becomes: What do you put your faith in? Is it your financial security, your spouse, yourself, or something else? And is the object of your faith delivering for you what you thought it would? Christian faith makes the bold declaration that we trust NOT in the things of this world, but the redeeming work of Christ ALONE. Further, faith in God is not our creation. It is God's gift to us as Paul notes above. We didn't simply have a great day a while ago and figure out the redemptive nature of God. What could the finite know of the infinite unless the infinite chooses to be known? It makes no sense to give ourselves credit for faith. Instead, by God's Spirit, our eyes are opened to His redemptive work and, by faith, we receive it and are forgiven, justified before our heavenly Father as one wholly righteous. By faith, we apprehend the work of Christ on our behalf and are then transformed as we appropriate His benefits. By faith, God's words to His son become His words to us: "This is my son (or daughter) whom I love; in him I am well pleased."
- You have enough faith. Period. I grow weary of hearing people falsely say to others, "If you had more faith, your prayer would be answered" or "if you had more faith, you wouldn't be so worried or anxious. Nonsense. We're human beings, and I think all of us will go through a "crisis of faith" a time or two in life. It's human nature. Circumstances mount up in our lives and we wonder, "If my faith is in God, then why is He not taking care of this?" It's a normal response, but remember, if faith is a gift of God, would God ever give us something insufficient? Of course not! You have enough faith for exactly where you are right now, and part of enduring faith is remembering God has not promised a pain-free life. Read the second half of Hebrews 11 if you don't believe that. It didn't always work out circumstantially for God's faithful, but our faith is NOT in our circumstances, but in God through Christ. Our faith is in what God has done for us through Him, and by that faith, we know what our future holds – and Who holds it.
- If you want to see a movie that will grow your faith and inspire you, join me on Wednesday night at WP Regal Theaters for a special early preview of Same Kind of Different as Me. I will host four screenings at 7, 7:15, 7:30 and 7:45, offering a few words beforehand on faith, homelessness and the importance of our community in caring for one another. The movie tells the story of how one man's relationship with a homeless person literally changed his faith – and his life. Even if you can't come Wednesday, make sure you see the movie!
- When I was learning to drive, the only thing my parents had to worry about was whether the music was too loud or not. Today, some new car infotainment systems offer FIFTY or more buttons which serve multiple functions. A Univ. of Utah study released last week said it's not just texting or talking on your cell that is causing accidents, it's operating the touch screen or other features on your vehicle. I used to be nervous about flying, but now I feel nervous about driving just knowing what all the other drivers are doing – or not doing.
- AIRPORT STORIES: Yes, I always seem to have fun times in airports or on airplanes. This past week I flew to Boston and was seated next to a delightful 12-year-old boy who was thrilled because it was his first time on an airplane. He was seated with his mother as they traveled to see family. About five minutes into our climb out, he unbuckles his seatbelt and BOLTS past me towards the bathroom, but he doesn't make it. He blows all over the floor. The real joy, however, was the flight attendants wouldn't clean it up until we reached 10,000 feet. He puked again on landing, but that time he used his "motion sickness bag."
- PURE BUTTER: It's funny how the FDA will change their story on certain foods from time to time. Take butter. For years, we heard it was bad, but now we hear "it's not AS BAD as margarine." (It's still not exactly great for you…) With that news, we seem to really be loving our butter. It is now being regularly added to both coffee and cocktails. I guess there is nothing that could not be improved by a little butter. The US Agriculture Dept said our consumption of butter rose 10% in one year – to 940,000 metric tons – the highest in 50 years. That's roughly 6.1 pounds per person.
- At Boston's Logan airport, I was reminded again of how often people carry on conversations – face to face or on the phone – in full earshot of others. It always boggles my mind when they talk as if I am not there as if I can't hear EVERY WORD they are saying. As I spoke to the Lord about it in my self-righteous tone, He nudged in a bit: "Would what people think of me if they overheard my conversations? Do the conversations I have reflect God's presence in me or something significantly less than that?" I know we're never going to be perfect, but I want to pay far more attention to it – because people DO hear what we say. Proverbs 15:4 "Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit."
- FAITH IS NEVER A STRAIGHT LINE: Fyodor Dostoevsky, the famous Christian author (Brothers Karamazov), wrote of his own faith journey: "My hosannas burst forth from a furnace of doubt." It was through his wrestling, doubting and questioning that his faith emerged and grew. He never stopped seeking the face of God.
- There is nothing about Monday morning that a Chick Fil A chicken biscuit can't fix.