Pentecost. Through the centuries there has been a lot of misunderstanding on the original Pentecost and what it means for today! Let’s clear some of the air.
- Pentecost is about God and His plan! It’s easy to make it about us, our plan, our ministry preference and our favorite giftings. We should make this season about God, not us and our preferences.
- Pentecost is about reuniting the divided nations! Early in Genesis we see the nations divided over language because they became enemies of God. In Pentecost, we see a gift of languages given to reunite what was divided long ago (Pentecost 2). This unique event brought the Gospel to numerous nations all at once who were present in Jerusalem for their large of religious festival.
- Pentecost is about seeking God and not the gifts! One temptation Christians have had over the years is to seek the various gifts of God and not God himself. God gives gifts, but they are meant to point toward him. Let’s not get lost in the gifts, but in the Giver.
- All Christians have the Holy Spirit! I have seen too many Christian Churches who claim to be “Holy Spirit churches” which have a sort of two-tiered caste system. Caste 1 – Christians who (supposedly) have the Holy Spirit (Spirit-filled) and Caste 2 – Christians who (supposedly) do not. I however reject this distinction. All Christians have the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Certainly, various Christians have new and important realizations of God the Holy Spirit in their lives. But, this does not mean they did not previously have the Holy Spirit. “Realization” is a key word for us, because it highlights something in a greater way that is already in one’s life. Moreover, it means we are all still growing and have something to offer each other.
- The Holy Spirit points us to Christ. This is often lost in discussion on the Holy Spirit these days. We talk about signs, wonders, miracles, and missions, but we seldom talk about Christ. There is something slightly off with this. The whole purpose of the Holy Spirit is to point us to Christ (See John 16-17) and then lead us on into Christ’s mission (Acts 1:8 and 2:14-47).
The story of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” comes to mind. Each time I hear the cry, “Wolf!” I have come running to this slide/picture and found nothing there.
Is a baby a parasite? Well, no. But, should we worry about the upper biology class photo about comparing fetuses with cancers? Not at all. In fact, reacting to this image is doing a disservice to the Pro-life movement. Here is why.
It fails to take into consideration the context. This is a biology class!
We have little to no background information. We don’t have the professor’s lecture. Christians, of all people (and pro-lifers too), complain of being misunderstood. We should not do the same disservice to others.
We confuse science with morality. On the picture of the slide in question there are no value or moral pronouncements being made. The professor is just teaching. Let’s use a parallel example. Humans are animals. Rational animals to be sure. The comparison is regular in philosophy, science, and even historical theology. Yet, the comparison does not tell us the value of human beings. It says nothing about how we should treat humans. The comparison is fine.
We are buying into a reduction that is not necessarily present. In this example, some are thinking that the slide is saying that fetuses are just/only parasites However, the slide is in no way saying this. Strangely enough, pro-lifers who are jumping on this like it is some sort of “cancer” are betraying a weakness of thought.
It is hypocritical – The Pro-life movement, and Christianity too, has sometimes tried to get science to speak for itself and not wade into ethical judgments. By making an ethical judgement about an observational comparison (in a class we were not in) means that we are the ones crossing the line. It is not up to the scientists to make the ethical judgements from the standpoint of their own discipline. Science is by nature a descriptive discipline. Ethics is by nature a prescriptive discipline. Each discipline needs to talk with the other, but each side should recognize when it is encroaching on the other.
We betray a misunderstanding of science – There is a great article from Scientific American on the the studies between cancer and pregnancy and how the body reacts similarly and differently in each case. Moreover, there seems to be much fruitiful research to be done in this area which may help treat cancer. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-pregnancy-help-scientists-better-understand-cancer/?fbclid=IwAR3aTLcjI39oyn0ts0FQoTjUPhvNKENa5OANbmXTaPgRKgbvPI0v0CoEOtw
I think that Pro-lifers who react to this sort of picture not only miss the point but can be doing the Pro-life movement a disservice. We lose credibility to make moral judgments if we cannot take the time to understand the landscape first. There is no wolf. Let’s hope next time a cry is made the whole town doesn’t stay home.
Pastor Isaac Fleming
Throughout some of Christian history, The Garden of Eden has been looked at as a “Perfect Place.” Adam and Eve also as “Perfect People.” This interpretation is especially popular in America and Western Christianity. This Perfect View (as I will call it) has one of the most influential theologians in history in its favor. Augustine, who lived in the late 300’s. This man heavily influenced much of Catholic and Evangelical Christian Theology today. The Perfect View is so popular that few people are aware of a more original (and hence earlier too) understanding of the Garden and Adam and Eve.
The more biblical view avoids the word “perfect” and uses the Bible’s own word for the Garden and Adam and Eve. The Bible calls them “Good” (Genesis 1:31), but never perfect. Goodness has more to do with simplicity and basic humanness than it does some heavenly perfection. There are reasons that defining the garden and first humans as perfect should be avoided. Doing so we run into nearly insurmountable difficulties. Among them are 1) How did sin enter a perfect place? 2) How could perfect people choose sin? Perfection makes things hard here. But, the Simple Goodness View can get the job done.
In the Simple Goodness View, humans could not really be perfect at the outset. Humans are species that by definition are a growing and developing kind of thing. The very concept of people or humanness necessitates that they must be able to grow and mature. In other words, Adam and Eve were not pre-downloaded with all the necessary information that they would always need. God had them on a growth track. And, seemingly, the way to grow is to interact with the natural world through decisions. Opportunities to decide can build human maturity. Decisions can make us great vessels for God or corrupted vessels of sin.
This brings us to the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” This “tree” has much to do with choice. Adam and Eve (because they are human) must have the opportunity to work on their growth. This means decisions. This possibly even means faltering. I myself do not think that God was surprised by Adam and Eve sinning. In my mind, this seems to be a possibility from the outset for all those training for godliness and growing in understanding.
The possibility of temptation is woven into the fabricate of a good world that human creatures get to make decisions in. Tim Bergman mentioned to me on Sunday that he often teaches in his Bible Seminars that temptation is “the thought to satisfy a good desire in the wrong way.” In other words, Adam and Eve’s curiosity and desire to know were good desires, but they were fulfilled in a timing and place that was not good for them. We can say the same thing about our own temptations. For an easy example, the desire to enjoy some chocolate is good. However, if one goes about stealing chocolate to fulfill that desire, or perhaps gorges on it constantly, then we would fault the route of fulfillment.
Now to us who are also human. Lent reminds us of the good desires of Jesus for food, worship, and trusting in God that the devil wanted to use for evil. We human creatures get “trees” or opportunities to decide how we will fulfill our desires for good things. Like Jesus, we must order our desires. Will we go about them in good and maturing ways or in detrimental and de-maturing ways? This is the challenge of any Garden. This is the challenge for all humanity. This is the opportunity of Lent!
I was raised in a predominantly Charismatic & Pentecostal tradition. The first church that my husband pastored was a Congregational church, and we are currently at a nondenominational church with Lutheran roots. But in the midst of that, I have at least attended a service or two at a Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Orthodox, and Episcopalian church, just to name a few. I hope that list continues to grow.
The history of denominations can be a spotty one. Someone or group prefers this emphasis in the Bible so they create a church around that belief. Another assumes certain practices should have a greater role in the church so a group is created to foster that desire. Some feel ignored so they create a space where they can feel heard and build doctrines around it and so on and so forth. Often, because of this negative view, we within that world look at the other group with suspicion as if the other does not have the marks of a true Christian.
Humanity itself is quite diverse in its offerings. We range in color, language, cuisine, music and every other thing that you can imagine. Even within the small microcosm of our cities, we have different neighborhoods that have their own distinct characteristics. With that in mind, how hard would it be to wipe the slate clean and create a homogeneous society across the whole spectrum of humanity? Who’s culture would we pick? Can one culture translate well enough across the board? Dressing modestly might look a little different in Siberia than it would in the Sahara desert region. How does God work with all of this?
God among us
I think it is important to acknowledge that God came among us. He came to where we were and took on a nature that we could relate to in order to reach us. He appropriated the language and culture of the day as well as turned it on its head. He fulfilled expectations as well as added new ones. His message to us was enhanced by the backdrop of what already was and did away with them as well. He came in the midst of our understanding and spoke to us. Christ adapts to our ways but also transforms them. Our cultures, habits, and ways are but means by which God communicates to and through us. It is part of the beauty by which we were created.
There are no two people alike in this world. God comes in the midst of that and shows us Himself. No wonder why we find so many different denominations. Granted, there are certain theological beliefs that do transcend our cultural preference. So please do not think I am saying that all belief is relative to culture. As Christ’s body we can all hold to the basic premises confessed in the Apostles Creed (written below). Every Christian denomination I listed above holds to these essential truths of our common faith. Where I believe we differ many times are our cultural expression of that faith, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. My husband and I are COMPLETELY opposite in our upbringings, yet our common bond of Christ holds us together.
Yes, the Orthodox may like their long services, the Episcopalians their incense and the Pentecostals their joyful noise, but at the end of the day, our common bond is Christ. We are all doing our best with our limited understanding to serve the God that has brought us salvation. So let us extend an olive branch and embrace one another as we allow others the freedom to serve Jesus in the culture of Christianity that best suits them just as He has done for us.
I believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Is Ash Wednesday Biblical? Yes. In what way? In every way. How so? For dozens of verses come together under the heading of this one day that kicks off, perhaps, the most Biblical season of the Church.
Let’s ask a question which might frame this discussion. Is it good for people to come together for an extra day to hear God’s word, sing God’s praises, repent, and begin a corporate fast? YES! These are what Ash Wednesday (and Lent) are about. So, what about those Ashes?
Ashes are to remind us of repentance and mortality. Our forefather Abraham said, “…I who am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). Joshua and his Elders, “put dust on their heads” (Joshua 7:6). Tamar, who was violated, “put ashes on her head” as she wept through her pain (2 Samuel 13:19). In Nehemiah 9:1 Gods people “were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads…and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.” But wait, there’s more.
Mordecai, whom God used to save Israel, “tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry” (Esther 4:1). Two verses later all the Jews did the same (Esther 4:3). It says of Job in 42:6 that he did, “repent in dust and ashes.” For the Prophet Daniel, “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). In the book of Jonah God even accepts the Ninevites King who repents the same way Israel did, “and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes” (Jonah 3:6). Jesus recognizes the history of God’s people Israel and the validity of that form of repentance by saying, “Woe to you…For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:21). But wait, there is still more.
On Ash Wednesday we say, “From dust you came and to dust you shall return.” This exact phrase comes to us from Genesis 3:19 which says, “For out of it you were taken (from the ground). For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Few phrases could be truer. In Genesis 2:7 we learn how we started (dust). In Psalm 103:14-16 we learn our end (back to dust), “For he knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone. And its place remembers it no more.” Ecclesiastes 3:20 makes this clearer, “all go to one place; all are from the dust, and all return to dust.”
Let’s be clear here. I do not think that all Christians everywhere for all time are commanded that they must celebrate Ash Wednesday. What I am saying is that any Christian who does (and many who don’t should be open to it), find themselves on footing that goes back to the beginning where people repent with a reminder of ashes and dust nearby. This special day kicks off our super-biblical focus of Christ’s death (see all the Gospels).
The next time someone asks you if Ash Wednesday (or Lent for that matter) is Biblical. You can say, “It most surely is!”
After Sunday morning my wife brought out a few critiques of my sermon. My wife loves history, so when I wade into that realm I usually get more approvals or disapprovals than other weeks :). My wife and I have a good relationship on truth matters. We are both critical of each others thoughts on these matters, and I think this is an important model for the Church as well.
My reason for commenting on some of her thoughts here for everyone else, is because I tend to despise it when preachers and pastors overstep in their preaching. I see this enough and it drives me up a wall. Therefore, when I overstep I try to amend or clarify. We are supposed to be truth people, so we should make it clear when wrong or offering too narrow of a point.
- Other Religions – In first service I talked about “our love and relationships” with other religions and our ability to befriend them. I made this comment to make room for my then forthcoming critique of Islam. My wife’s concern was over the word “our.” Living Water does not formally have relations with other religious bodies and people. Therefore, she thought I should say “My” (as in Isaac’s) considering I do. This would not have given a false impression or overexaggerated sense of what Living Water does with other religions.
My Explanation: I used the word “our” in a way to show that “Christians” do have relationships with other religious groups, and we at Living Water can lead the way. Perhaps I overstepped a bit here and should have been more specific, but there is room for the phrase broadly. Moreover, as a church we have set the tone for our relationships with other religions through our past visits to the Mosque, our invitation of an Atheist to debate in our sanctuary, and our general care when discussing other religious beliefs during questions and answer sessions. Therefore, I felt comfortable drawing on this heritage in speaking for us as a church. Moreover, since we had visitors in the congregation Sunday, my intent was to build a way of discussing a sensitive matter. If those visiting can know that our discussing truth matters is distinct from our treatment of human beings, I think it opens them up to hearing the ideas better.
- Slavery and Christians – In discussing slavery on Sunday I made a statement that the Evangelicals and Quakers were the first to start an anti-slavery movement. My wife’s point was that I needed to be more specific (or less) because the anti-slavery movements in Great Britain likely included other kinds of Christians too.
In this case my wife is right. I should have said, “Christians (in general) were the first to start an anti-slavery movement.” This would have encompassed Great Britain’s early beginnings, which was composed of more Christians than just Evangelicals and Quakers which I cited. When I was saying this statement, I was thinking of a quote from the book “What’s So Great about Christianity” by Dinesh D’souza. But, I failed to remember one word. Quaker and Evangelical Christians were the first to start and Anti-slavery movement in “America,” and not outright. Checking the quote again makes that clear.
The point of this was to say that despite individual Christian’s failures over the centuries, Christianity is the reason for the kind of morality that opposed and worked to end Slavery. This is a tangible sign that Christian moral expression has the strength to achieve great heights and that Christians were the first. My wife was right. Thanks Sweetie.
To develop this even further, it might not hurt to point out that even though slavery was allowed in Old Testament times, the progression of the view that all people are made in the Image of God, made Christians very critical of the practice. In the letter of Philemon in the New Testament, Paul is writing to a slave owner who became a Christian. Paul has been traveling with the slave owners slave for some time in common work for the Gospel. Now, he was supposed to return him, but he is sending him back a bit late. Paul uses a neat rhetorical trick in this letter to affirm the societal rights of the slave over to be a master over him, but then subverts those rights by saying that we all have only one master, the Lord Jesus Christ. For a universally practiced thing like slavery, these are very audacious words thousands of years ago. Christian moral teaching is that all people are made in the image of God, and this is the foundation for why slavery cannot be a Christian practice.
- Islam and Development of Ideas – On Sunday I talked about the difference between the Quran and the Bible. I mentioned how the Quran was a static dictated revelation and the Bible was a progressive revelation. My wife thought that the point may have been too narrow, because there has been some internal updating that took place in the Quran, and thus that looks like progress.
My Explanation: Here is where I stand by my point, but I do want to offer a longer explanation to make sense of what Vachelle is pointing out. It is correct to say that the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, is not a progressive document toward Allah (their word for God). Everything given about Allah is final. In fact, in Islam, it is a great heresy to say that any updating of Revelation can take place for Allah. It is a very important distinction between Christians and Muslims. However, what my wife is referring to is that some factions of Muslims do have an abrogation system. In other words, some Muslims think that some earlier verses have been abrogated/exchanged for later verses.
This abrogation system however has more to do with social mores than it does for the nature or character of Allah. Therefore, I intend my point to be taken about the Quran and Allah himself, and I could have made this a bit clearer on Sunday. Moreover, I also talked about accommodation. Namely, that the God of the universe (and the Bible) has accommodated himself early on, to help people grow in their understanding of him and their own moral development. This is not the case in Islam. Accommodation is not how Allah shows himself in Islamic understanding.
Now, historically speaking, Muhammad the founder of Islam did not get his Revelation all at once. He got it in stages. Moreover, many of the supposed revelations that he got from Allah updated based on the needs or wants that stood before him or his army. So, in the one case they were not allowed to raid caravans, and then in the latter case they were given “new” revelation that allowed them to raid caravans and receive that wealth. In my conversations with Muslims on this development (which to me shows that there was personal views of Muhammad being made into “revelations”) they are not comfortable with the idea of development. The exception to this comes when Muslims are trying to convince Christians who don’t know better to convert.
Now, let’s talk about Christians for a second. There are plenty of Christians that have not become comfortable with the idea of progressive revelation in the Bible. Even though historical Christianity and Judaism rely on that as a basic fact of their religion, plenty of Christians act as if the Bible was dictated right from the mouth of God on every word. This is often at the crux of many classes I have taught about Scripture.
The full Christian view of Scripture (the Bible) is that it is truly the product of God and truly the product of humanity simultaneously. This is akin to Jesus Christ himself. Jesus is truly God and truly man simultaneously. Therefore, there are real human elements in the Bible. This is not something to be ashamed of. It is something to be grateful for. It can make better sense of how we have an updated understanding of who God is through the centuries of Scripture. Moreover, we can offer contextual answers as to why something was written 3500 years ago to make sense of things. Muslims are left with thinking that their book has no or almost no human influence. But, then they are stuck in the insuperable puzzles of making sense of a supposedly “perfect dictation” that changes based on Muhammad’s needs. These are hard logical troubles indeed for them.
Let me lay out some of the other ways that Christians think through the human and divine composition of Scripture.
- Sovereignty – one way of thinking through these elements is remembering because God knows everything, he can know who is going to write what and when in advance. Therefore, human authors in their human recordings can actually be bringing about the kind of revelation that God desires in an entirely human way, while it also being what God wanted humanity to know. This perspective based off of God’s foreknowledge is well represented by the great scholar William Lane Craig.
- Authorization – One of the largest ways we see God’s Revelation to us in the Bible is by authorization. For example, most of what Moses wrote in the first 5 books of the Bible has to do with him being God’s authorized agent. In other words, God chooses Moses to help lead his people Israel, and what Moses brings about or writes, since he is God’s authorized agent, is also what God brings about. This a bit like the President and the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is not receiving everything the President says in perfect verbatim language or handing it in a verbatim way. However, She/He represents America and the President. What they say, is what the President says. They are operating in the capacity of authorized agent for a greater authority. This can solve the human/divine composition.
- Appropriation – Lastly, we come to appropriation. This is kind of a cool way of understanding how some of Scripture can be the product of humanity and God’s product too. Let’s use an example in language regarding the Packers. Perhaps Stephany tells her family, “I am going to the Packer Game this weekend.” Then, her husband Andy, agreeing with the phrase and also happens to be going to the same game, responds, “Me too!” Now, Andy did not literally say, “I am going to the packer game this weekend.” But, he did piggy back (or appropriate) Stephany’s sentence, and make it work for him to say the same thing. God can do the same thing with human authors. They can write some true or accurate about God or deal with a situation in a congregation, and then God can piggy back (or appropriate) it for his causes and make it speak for him. These last two that I mention are well represented by the Philosopher Nicolaus Wolterstorff.
Anyway…this is more than most of you cared to know. But, I think it might help us grow in our understanding of the Bible and other religions too.
God Bless, Pastor Isaac
What is Lent about? My one-word answer is JESUS. Here are eleven questions and answers that seek to draw out the meaning of this great upcoming Church season.
- What is Lent? A way to adopt practices and attitudes that realize the suffering and death of Christ.
- Why Suffering and Death? The suffering and death of Jesus is the focal point of God’s activity in the earth. Nearly half of the Gospel of Mark and large percentages of the other Gospels are reporting Jesus’ suffering and death. Churches everywhere must do a better job of keeping that focus.
- What do we do? We fast/pray for 40 of the next 46 days (starting March 6th). Sundays are always a break day. Christians have always thought that Sunday is a unique day (cause of the resurrection) even during the Lent season. Therefore, whatever you are fasting (and you get to decide) you can feel free to not fast on Sundays.
- Why Ashes? There is no direct Biblical command for or against getting ashes placed on our heads. However, I have found Ash Wednesday weaved together a wide array of biblical themes all at once. The phrase, “from dust we came and to dust we shall return,” reminds us of the double reality that God used the natural earth to develop his human creatures, and one day their bodies shall go back into the earth. Moreover, especially in the Old Testament, we see the nation of Israel and other nations repent in “sackcloth and ashes.”
- What else are we doing? Well, the sanctuary is going to look pretty stark. All of the Christmas lights and backdrop are coming down for this season. In a sense, as we take on the attitude of fasting, prayer, suffering, and death, our environment is going to reflect that nakedness. At least partially. Moreover, we have some special songs that are going to be functioning also as prayers through the Lent Season.
- Isn’t all of this kind of grim? Are we not supposed to celebrate? Well, yes, sort of. However, there are so many Scriptural themes that remind us that God is still present through the suffering and sorrowful. People need this season! I find that plenty of Christians find this season an exercise in renewal. A broadening of their awareness that Sunday morning is not only supposed to be honored with a smile, but with one’s brokenness and suffering too.
- Is Lent Catholic? Lent predates the solidification of any one denomination. Thus, it is not expressly a Catholic or Orthodox or Lutheran activity. It is a universal way for Christians everywhere to focus on the most central person of the faith, Jesus.
- What else can this season offer me? Well, in a sense this is the wrong question. JFK would flip the question. However, perhaps broadly speaking I can offer an answer. 1) It can balance out all of the misdirected emphasis in the body of Christ on “pet” doctrines and teachings. There is no other Gospel but one that includes the suffering and death of Jesus. 2) It can remind us that God is near to the sufferer. 3) It challenges our way of having power. Christ gives his life instead of taking others. This is a most powerful demonstration of God’s activity.
- Are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday Holy Days of Obligation? In the ‘non-catholic world’ we do not typically have Holy Days of Obligation. However, I do personally hope that you come with a spirit to embrace physically what our faith brings about spiritually on these days.
- Where do the Ashes come from? On Palm Sunday each year (the week before Easter) we wave palms and sing Hosanna. Then, we dry the palms, burn them, and use the ashes for Ash Wednesday the next year. There is a cyclical and renewal process to all things that we participate in when we get ashes on our foreheads.
- What is the most funny story pastor Isaac has from Ash Wednesday? Come March 6th to find out. 😊 Or…I suppose you could listen online later too. Truly, Wednesday I will be sharing some, but we also have a special guest joining to help lead this service. Candace (who many of you remember has led worship before in the past), has a wonderful gift for teaching and leading and she will join me in leading this great service of Ashes.
This last weekend I was invited to be the guest speaker for a retreat for young adults. This retreat led and organized by City Church was in northern Wisconsin in a town called Three Lakes. As beautiful as it was spacious, the outdoor environment along with some great cabins offered a setting of reflection on my vocation as “Pastor.”
I had three sessions to share with these “young adults.” The theme was equipping, so I spent my time charting ‘waters’ for their minds to consider and molds to grow into. Not only did I go to minister to these young adults, I also was ministered to in a variety of ways.
It was touching being together with numerous people around my age who were trying to serve Jesus with their whole beings. In the morning, I woke up to study. Upon arrival I was reading solo in the large study quarters. Then slowly, one by one, a plenitude of people arrived with no other agenda than to connect with God through His word. As I watched these young people, I sensed a bright future for God’s Church.
I also met a young man named Joel. He lived up to the meaning of his name as “fire of God.” Joel is currently pursuing his PHD in Philosophy at UW Madison. He knew Larry Shapiro whom I debated this last October. Needless to say, we had much to talk about. Joel began his deep studies in philosophy to think through some of the doubts he was having about God and Faith. Philosophy has served him well. He has a vibrant faith in our Lord Jesus and he is a committed child of God. I hope some of you would add Joel to your prayer lists. He needs God’s favor as he seeks Him through his many more years of study.
Thinking through some questions with Joel served as a reminder to me of the great treasure of the mind that God has given to all of us. Every one of us allows some cobwebs to grow in our minds. In fact, we are the ones who put them there as we passively receive much from our digital worlds. Our “Talent” is often not invested or saved.
Connecting with Joel was like Jethro refreshing Moses with new insights and wisdom. Could you please pray that our further conversation would turn into abundant fruit that we know not what to do with. For years I prayed that God would bring me to Madison, so I could make an impact for Him at the University. That prayer was prayed miles away from here. Since then, God transitioned us here and together, we hosted a debate with a UW Professor in philosophy. All that being said, I do not think meeting Joel was by chance.
Regardless of what steps are next, God has great people at the University. People like Joel are on the front line in unique ways. Few Christians get such a chance to ponder the big questions and use their gifts for God in this realm. I myself have thought and prayed much about PHD work in Philosophy. I have tried to faithfully live the dictum, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I have always thought that if I represented Christ with my intellect, perhaps others would follow. I will leave that in God’s hands. But, this weekend has strengthened my resolve that the Church must think through its faith in intellectually challenging ways as to be a good witness to the world around us.
For the Life of the Church, Pastor Isaac