Tag Archives: theology

Opening to New Experiences (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 9)

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“Do not measure yourself by how much road you have covered thus far; rather measure with your eyes set on how much more there is in front of you.” (Jeanne Guyon wrote this to her cousin François Fénelon)

For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about things that influence our spiritual depth: a sense of wonder, widening the parameters of what we believe, letting go of the familiar, assessing the actual “spiritual” nature of our faith as opposed to “soulish,” etc. Here I’d like to propose that…

To go deeper in God we have to be open to new experiences with God.

Fear is not a good reason to stay in the shallow end of your faith. Remember how you feared to even try the water at first? Thank God you overcame your fear and took the risk. Now I encourage you to venture out into deeper water and let the Spirit teach you how to swim. Continue reading

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Just Wondering (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 8) 

 wondering

“God himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for his wonder.” Thomas Kelly

Speaking of “wonder,” I wonder a lot––mostly about God. I used to wonder if he existed, but since I got that settled to my complete satisfaction forty-five years ago, my wonder is now of a different sort.

“Wonder” itself has a number of connotations. There’s the wonder that involves frustration, another is more of a curious sort, and then there’s the kind that connotes unreserved marvel. My wondering about God includes all three at different times. Continue reading

Widening our Doctrinal Definitions (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 7) 

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“Theological reflection is a pilgrimage in which change should be celebrated, not feared.” Clark Pinnock

We’ve been talking about deepening our walk with the Almighty, and certain attitudes we must cultivate if we want to explore “the deep things of God.” (See at the bottom of this post links to previous ones on the subject.) Here’s my next recommendation to that end:

To go deeper we have to be willing to expand our doctrinal definitions

I realize that considering making revisions about what they believe is frightening for some people. For many, their entire relationship with him is wrapped around their doctrinal statement, that list of irreducible minimum beliefs that identify them as “true Christians.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are non-negotiables in our faith, and I wouldn’t think of trying to wrest any of them out of your white-knuckle grip. I’m not recommending that you toss everything out and start over. What I propose is that if you haven’t ventured into deeper waters for quite a while, you might want to take a fresh look at the width, if not the length, of the things you believe. Is it possible that your list of givens is too short or too long or too narrow or too wide to take you to a more profound place in Jesus?

Could it be that what you believe is fundamentally correct in and of itself, yet you’re not flexible enough in your thinking to tweak it if the Spirit were to bring fresh revelation to light? If the very thought of adjusting your theology makes you hyperventilate, you probably suffer from a fixation, if not a mild addiction, to the strictures of your spiritual beliefs. If you wish to have a more profound experience with him, you might do well to ask yourself if you love your beliefs about God more than you love God! Continue reading

No, really, what is God like? (A “conclusion”)

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.  Romans 11:33-36

This is my “conclusion” to my essay on What God Is Like (with two addenda to follow), but let’s be real, how does one conclude a conversation about what God is like? Trying to “finish” a study of the Infinite is like snorkeling to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – without fins or flashlight! Continue reading

What God is Like (Musings on the character of God) #3

“Do you know what you really need?”

I want to know God. I mean I really do want to know him. It’s a core value for me. It’s not that I don’t want to do things for him  – that too. But I figure that I can’t show him any better than I can know him. When I was just over 20 years old I had my first ministry assignment as Interim Pastor of a small church in a rural town in Northern California. I had been a Christian for all of about five years, and was the youngest adult in that little church. I went into the church office prior to my first service, feeling desperate and a little bit afraid of what I had gotten myself into. I just didn’t know what exactly I was desperate for. I had been to Bible College, and was full of knowledge and concepts about God, but it was pretty clear to me that on this day I was way over my head. I got down on the floor, flat on my belly, and buried my face in the carpet – I think it was shag (this was still the ‘70’s). This seemed to be the posture that best expressed how frantic I felt. I started to pray, “Lord, I need…” (Pause.) I didn’t have much time before the service began, and I wanted my request to be as economical as possible. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I must’ve begun by asking for “anointing” to give the sermon (they taught us that in the preaching class in college). I probably also started to ask for “peace” to calm my screaming nervousness. But God, as he often does with me, interrupted my anxious prayer, and whispered to my mind what I actually needed. I very seldom get particular words when God communicates with me, but I guess he saw my pitiful state, and made his message clear enough for me to remember it for a long time. I didn’t hear it with my ears, but these were the words that I “heard” inside me. Continue reading

What God is Like (Musings on the character of God) #2

Someday the shroud will be removed altogether and we’ll live where God lives with nothing in between. For now we get only glimpses of him “through a shroud vaguely,” but there we’ll gaze upon him and see him as he actually is! I trust we’ll be able to stand the sight. In the meantime, we have to take some responsibility for the widening of these God-sighting pinholes in the curtain. We do so when we read the book he wrote through special God-gazing men and women, have lots of concentrated conversations with him, enjoy his beauty in creation, notice his personality in each other, and respond in delight-filled worship. He loves to show himself to seekers who apply themselves to knowing him as much as he can be known. Continue reading

What God is Like (Musings on the character of God) #1

I wonder…

I wonder about God a lot. I used to wonder if he existed, but since I got that settled (to my complete satisfaction), my wonder is now of a different sort. “Wonder” itself has a number of connotations, some of which are part of the kind of wonder I have about God. There’s wonder that includes some frustration with it, another is more of a curious sort of wonder, and then there’s the kind that connotes total marvel. My wondering about God includes all three.

To be honest, sometimes my wonder about him is of the frustrated sort. It’s when he acts in a way I don’t understand or appreciate in the immediate that I wonder about the wisdom of his decisions. I often get that sorted out in my mind, but even when I don’t, I shelve it for the time being and continue trusting him in spite of my frustrations. At other times my wondering is more of a spiritual inquisitiveness. Sometimes I can be annoyingly curious about God’s Word and his ways. I wonder what a certain passage of the Bible means or I am curious to understand an action he took or decided not to take. The last sense in which I wonder about God is the sense in which I’m amazed and blown away about him! What a “Wonder” he is! When I think about it, this might not be so different from the other two types of wonder, and might, in actuality, include them both. Bottom-line – he’s pretty “wonderful” – which is an interesting word when you think about it, since we’re the ones who are full of wonder. Continue reading