who is God?

Category : God, different, faith

 

I was pondering something the other day: have you noticed that God is never described by the stuff he has?

He’s never described by his sweet baseball card collection, or his Steeler bobblehead memorabilia.  He isn’t even described in terms of the kingdom he rules.  (When’s the last time you read an article about Bill Gates that didn’t tell you how wealthy he was?) 

Instead God is defined by the characteristics that make him who he is: love, patience, compassion, justice, truth.

But when someone says to me, ”who are you?”  I usually respond by telling them what company I work for, my educational background, maybe where I live.  I rarely, if ever, describe my personality or character traits.  I even quantify my life in terms of stuff.  Whether it’s readership at R3 or who my friends are, I’m always trying to use material things to define myself. 

But that shouldn’t determine who I am and what I’ve done. 

Greg Boyd says that Christians have one job in this world – to look like Christ.  If that’s the case, maybe we need to spend more time defining ourselves by our characteristics and less by the stuff we have.  For me that looks like worrying less about defining blogging success as pageviews, and more about impacting people’s lives. 

What does it look like for you? 

patience in practice

Category : God, Matthew, choice, different, taking action

   

A certain cable company (rhymes with “Time Warner”) has been causing me difficulties ever since I decided to downgrade my cable subscription.  Each day it seems to get worse. 

  • On Thursday they collected my old digital converter box and reclaimed my cable modem (hence no Friday post).  I have high speed internet through them still, so this was a mistake. 
  • Their mistake forced me to sit in my apartment waiting for them to deliver a new modem for 12 hours on Friday.  They never showed up.
  • Saturday I didn’t talk to them – so no bad news.
  • On Sunday I learned they can’t make it to my apartment until Wednesday. 
  • This morning (when I finally had some working internet at work) I learned that they also shut down my e-mail address.  And since I’m looking for a new job, this is a bit of an issue!

Now I find myself with a choice: On the one hand I’m furious.  There’s a big part of me that wants to scream, “I didn’t cause any of this, why do I have to deal with it?!”  On the other hand I just wrote a prayer to God asking for patience.  Apparently God was listening, because there’s no doubt now have the perfect opportunity to work on my patience!

As Christians we’re called to live differently.  We aren’t supposed to respond like someone who doesn’t have that relationship with God.  Our lives are supposed to have a different feel to them.  Or as Jesus says, people will recognize our faith by the “fruit” we produce.  (Matthew 7: 20).  The problem is, at least for me, I don’t always want to live that way. I don’t always want to respond calmly, or patiently, and certainly not lovingly.  Sometimes I just want to get in there and argue to “prove” just how right I am.

But is this how Christians are supposed to act?

The times Jesus lost his temper with people were the times they were dishonoring God.  It was never when they were struggling with their own problems, or their own sins.  Jesus always had love, mercy, and compassion for those people.  And that’s how we have to deal with people as well.

No one at the cable company was trying to ruin my service intentionally.  No one wanted me to have a bad day.  In fact, their whole job involves listening to angry customers yell at them.  What kind of a toll does that take on someone?  So while I was angry I took this as an opportunity to minister to people.  While I never said, “hey I’m a Christian, God loves you!”  I did try to be calm, not raise my voice, and get things handled in a civil way.  It was an opportunity to submit to service, rather than exercise my pride (something I do all too often).

Christians aren’t called to be walked all over, but we’re not called to be jerks either.

prayer thursday: patience

2

Category : faith, prayer, prayer thursday

 

There’s no question that sometimes God doesn’t move as fast as we’d like him to.  Maybe we’re waiting for a friend to be healed, or a family member to be encouraged, or sometimes we just don’t have the strength to keep fighting.  It’s in those moments that we can’t understand where God is, and why he hasn’t “shown up.”  And so fear and doubt begin to creep into our minds.  But God’s perspective is different than ours, and that means he sometimes sees things differently than we do.  He hasn’t forgotten us, or abandoned us, we just need to be patient and trust him.

Patience – or “Why I hate sitting at red lights”

God – help me to be more patient.  Help me to trust you more.  Because I certainly don’t wait for you like I should.  I want to always be going, and never have to slow down or stop.  I don’t want to wait, because I’m in too much of a hurry.  Help me to understand that sometimes the reason I need to wait is that I’m not ready for what you’re going to do.  That I need time to grow into someone who can handle the amazing ways you act.  Remind me when I’m impatient that maybe the reason I need to wait is for my own good, for my own safety.  And that by waiting for you, you’re making sure I’m not hit broadside by something unplanned.

<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer for patience>

persistence

Category : God, R3, faith, hope

 

A while back I was having lunch with a friend. We talked about the usual things friends talk about. But as always our conversation shifted towards God. I was describing some of the things happening with R3 and what I thought I needed to be working on next. I talked about some of the fears and frustrations I have around a blog like R3. That’s when she said something to me that didn’t really register until a few days later.

She said I was “patient.”

As Moe says, “whaaaaaa-?”

On the surface I find this idea completely ridiculous. I feel so impatient. Some days it’s simply a struggle to believe that God is leading me somewhere because it feels like I’m not making any progress.

Seth Godin has said, “persistence isn’t using the same tactic over and over. That’s just annoying. Persistence is having the same goal over and over.”

I think that’s true. I also think it’s reflected in how God deals with us. He always seems to be willing to change his methods (although never his goals) when he’s dealing with us. Sometimes he talks to us directly, sometimes he uses dreams. Sometimes we get to see miracles, other times we live by faith.

I don’t know if I am patient or not.  I just know that God is always seeking a way to engage us. And that can be a hard thing to remember when we’re waiting on him.

 

why does God take so long?

Category : Exodus, God, faith, hope, trust

  

Why can’t God just answer my prayers?

I wonder that all the time. 

I mean he is all powerful.  How hard can it be to snap his fingers and just make something happen?  I don’t see what the issue is.

And that, I think, is the answer.  No matter how much we know, there are simply some things that we can never know.  For instance, we can never know what would happen if we went to a different college, married a different person, or slept through our alarm.  Well that last one might get you fired.  But in general we will never know the road not taken.  

The interesting thing is, God does know.  He’s fully aware of what would happen if things went differently.  When God promised Israel their own land, I’m sure some of them thought, “well why can’t we have it all at once.”  To me that doesn’t seem like an unreasonable question.  God did, after all, promise it to them.  

Yet there were things that Israel couldn’t know.  There were things they probably never even thought of.  Fortunately God had, “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” (Exodus 23: 29-30)

God knew their lives would be harder, not easier if he simply gave them everything they wanted.  I wonder what I am impatient for, and God is saying “Be patient, trust me, you aren’t ready for this yet.  But you will be.”