Thursday, June 30, 2022

On the need for discernment

It seems from my experience (and from what I have heard others say) that possibly the most neglected and underappreciated gift of the Spirit is the gift of discernment. Tim Alberta, himself the son of a pastor, cites Michigan pastor Ken Brown, writing, “'Discernment'—one’s basic ability to separate truth from untruth—'is a core biblical discipline. And many Christians are not practicing it.'”

Now I'm not talking about so-called "discernment ministries" that seem to do nothing more than pick out certain individuals, churches, ministries, or movements as "enemies of the faith" and then go over everything those people say or do with a fine-toothed comb to find the smallest mistake they can use to raise a charge of "HERESY!!" I'm talking about real, Spirit-guided thinking.




Monday, June 6, 2022

Is this really the life God planned for me?

I recently saw the following quote posted on social media.


I understand that the person who posted this meant for it to be inspirational, and as a reassurance that God knows what is going on in our lives, even when they seem out of control.

The problem with it is that, when carefully examined, the quote espouses a deterministic view of how God interacts with His human creatures, that God foreordains and sets in motion every single detail of each person's life. It implies that the untimely death of a child was orchestrated by God and part of what He wanted for that child's family. It would seem to indicate that the horrific events of mass shootings in the spring of 2022, including the deaths of 19 elementary school children in Uvalde, Texas, were "exactly the way God planned" for those families' lives to be. 

From another angle, the sentiment expressed in these words could be interpreted as meaning that even when we make bad, sinful choices that result in painful consequences, it was somehow God's will and plan that we would make those choices in order to suffer those consequences. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

I Want to Be Biblically Fluent

The longer I live, and the more I read the Bible, the more I realize that Scripture is not simply a manual for me to look up what to do in a particular situation. The Bible is not meant to be read just for reference, but to immerse myself in it. Rather than a pietistic checklist item I feel forced to mark off every day, my engagement with the Bible should be about getting to know God better. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

2021 Reading Report

I'm going back through all my notes and trying to reconstruct the list of books I read this past year (I've got to do better about keeping the list current as I go -- that's one of my 2022 goals).

First off, I read the entire Bible through again in the New Living Translation, but this year I used the more leisurely Bible-in-a-year plan instead of the accelerate 90-day schedule (which I found very hard to keep up with in 2020, as it took me closer to 120 days).