Posts Tagged ‘Faith’
“I am El-Shaddai—God Almighty. Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life” (Gen. 17.1)
♦ Gospel - Mark 8:31-38
“Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8:31-38)
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy way, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ they Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, on God, for ever and ever. Amen
Roman 4:13, 16, 18, 22-23
13 Clearly, God’s promise to Abraham (and us) was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 16 Abraham is the father of all who believe… 18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing… 22 Because of Abraham’s faith God counted him righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (items in parenthesis and emphasis is mine)
This is an amazing thing. So many times I have caught myself measuring my spirituality and my “righteousness” on performance based metrics (eg., my Bible knowledge, my “servant’s” heart, the ministries I participate in, my abstinence from various vices, etc.). I will admit that I don’t do this consciously, but I do recognize I do it. I know in my head that it is by grace that I’ve been saved, but I also know that a “tree is known by the fruit that it bears.” And then there is this quote from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans. God’s promise, and I might add favor, was not based on Abraham’s obedience, but on a right relationship with God.
What this speaks to me is that the most important thing God is concerned with in us is our right relationship with him. I do believe that trust, obedience, willing and submissive surrender to God will follow right relationship, but those things in and of themselves do not trump a heart that believes God on the basis of faith. There are some amazing feats of faith that are exhibited by father Abraham and each one of these feats merited a personal visit or personal word (reaffirming God’s covenant promise) from God to Abraham. It seems that Abraham tickled God’s fancy… mostly, because he stayed in right relationship with God. He believed him. Even when he questioned God, his heart believed.
I think that sometimes I might err on the side of caution and try to obey my way to faith. Sometimes I want to believe, but it is hard…it’s easier to tough my way through obedience and then pat myself on the back because I “obeyed” God even if my heart didn’t believe God. I give myself extra points for degree of difficulty like Olympic athletes. While I’m grinning at myself holding up a “9″ for my act of obedience, I probably merit a disqualify from God as I’ve attempted to “work” myself into his favor… when what he wants is a relationship with me. He wants me to trust. He wants me to believe him first. Obedience will follow. Right relationship is more important than obedience. Now that I think about it, I seem to recall there were quite a few characters in the Bible that God delighted in that fell short of the mark of perfection, but they were in right relationship. I’ll work to remember this and ask Jesus to help my faith.
- Title: If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
- Author: Randy Alcorn
- Publisher: Multnomah Books
- ISBN-10: 160142132X
I must admit, this one caught me completely off guard. Before I explain, let me say that I have not read cover-to-cover If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn, but I have had the time to get very acquainted with it. In my opinion, this book is monumental. I am aware of the many books that have been written on the topic of God, evil, and suffering; however, I have yet to come across one that is as broad, deep, and still conversational at the same time as this one.
As a pastor, I think this book can be (and should be) recommended for any congregational care leader and any person struggling with the questions of God and evil. I think it should also be a ready resource for the pastor-counselor. The way the book is written; topical and conversational, it would make a great small group study and it could probably serve quite well in the role of textbook for the Bible student or seminarian…it’s that good.
Did I say I love the layout and order of the book? Oh, and I said it caught me off-guard. No disrespect to Randy Alcorn, but I wasn’t expecting such an exhaustive work when I was invited to review the book. It is extremely well organized and extensively documented with scripture references, bibliographical citations, and a very thorough scriptural and topical index. I love that Alcorn gives as many sides (or the most popular arguments) to the debate as possible with each topic discussed. I think it helps to give a more unbiased presentation of the material and still allows the reader to decide.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I think it serves the budding apologist, evangelist, pastor, lay-leader, seminarian, Bible student, curious seeker, and doubter equally well. As much as it might be a reference book, it can also be read casually as one would a novel. I think it is a rare thing for a book to have both qualities, but I think Randy Alcorn has done just that with If God is Good. I don’t think this one is just a “must read;” it’s a “belongs on your shelf.” Thank you Mr. Alcorn, and thank you Multnomah.
Let me begin this review to say that I am a Christian; my experience in Christianity is Protestant with a history beginning in the Baptist church then migrating to the “Jesus Movement” and the charismatic. Most of my teen and young adult years were spent in the Pentecostal denominations primarily with the Assemblies of God where I first responded to the call of ministry on my life and I now serve as a pastor with the Free Methodist Church of North America. What does this have to do with a review of The Orthodox Study Bible? I wanted to share my background so my review, comments, and possible biases might be understood…especially if there might be other protestant evangelical Christians who were interested in this particular study Bible.
First Thoughts and Things I liked:
- I wish it was a version other than the New King James Version; the NKJV is ok, but I prefer the style of the dynamic translation (New Living Translation, New International Version, etc) for easier reading. I think literal translations are not as easy to read, and I’m not so sure they are more accurate to the intent of the original text just because of a word for word translation. Anyway, the NKJV is not a deal breaker, but I would prefer a more readable version personally.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to the Orthodox Church. I have been intrigued and curious about this “missing piece” in history of my own faith. To a large degree, I think that my experience with Christianity has been influenced more by my culture than the history of Christianity itself. Several years ago, I began a journey of exploration into the ancient history of my faith. My earliest experiences with the Orthodox Church have helped to shape me in good ways. I enjoy the sacred mystery and holy reverence of the rites and rituals held in the orthodox tradition; I feel these elements of worship have been missing in my life and I have taken the steps to incorporate them as I learn and understand them more. This Study Bible has been useful in some of these areas.
- I have enjoyed making comparisons between the Lectionary of my church and the Orthodox Church.
- I recently (1-2 years ago) began praying the Daily Office; exposure to the Morning and Evening prayers included in the Orthodox Study Bible have been insightful and a welcome addition to my own prayers.
- I appreciate the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical and Apocryphal writings.
- I like the artwork included in this Bible.
Additional Thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »