Tag Archives: faith

Tip of the Iceberg, Tip of Faith

If you were afloat on a leaking life raft in the Arctic and saw an iceberg, you’d paddle toward it. A majority of an iceberg is hidden under the water line, but it wouldn’t matter what size and shape it was under water, as long as what you saw above water was large enough to survive on until being rescued. The same is true with God. We don’t have to know and understand everything about God, but we can respond to what we do know about Him.

This is a huge universe with astonishing diversity and complexity. We continue to discover more and more about everything. The more we discover the more we uncover new mysteries of the universe. We can never grasp everything about everything.

It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that if we can’t fully comprehend the universe we certainly will not be able to fully comprehend God who made it all and sustains it all. God, far more than His creation, is ultimately incomprehensible. For instance, how could God always have existed? How can God be sovereign (in full control) and yet how can we have free choice? How can God know how the future will turn out when we humans have the free will to influence and change the future? How can God be one God and yet the three “persons” of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

Believing in God and responding to Him is a lot like the desperate soul paddling his leaking life raft toward the tip of an iceberg. We shouldn’t concern ourselves too much with what we don’t understand about God but respond to what we do understand. The great writer Mark Twain said, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

All we can do is give as much as we know of ourselves to as much as we know of God. This is the starting point. By God’s grace, it is enough!

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)

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Beyond Facts and on to Faith

I was reading the Smithsonian web site about how life can thrive in really hostile environments. For instance, there’s a microbe that lives in the boiling springs of Yellowstone Park. The water is not only hot, it’s full of enough acid to dissolve nails, yet the microbes survive.

 

Most life has to live off other life, eating other plants or animals, but not the Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator bacteria. It’s found almost two miles deep in South African coal mines, where the temperature is 140 degrees; it eats sulfate.

 

In the Antarctic, the emperor penguin lives for months at temperatures of -40 degrees. It does this while incubating an egg on top of its feet!

 

Life can survive and even thrive in very hostile environments, and so can faith! In fact, faith thrives best in hostile environments! When things are going well, we don’t have to exercise much faith. We may even take everything for granted. When something’s a fact we don’t need faith at all. Faith exists where facts don’t!

 

Author Gary Thomas writes, “The desert is real, it is difficult, and it is to be expected. God is not singling you out, He is not punishing you or even necessarily disciplining you. He is training you, strengthening you, purifying you, and loving you.” (Thirsting After God, e-book location 3953)

 

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Alphabet of Faith — “F” Is for “FAITH”

We come to the letter “F” in our Alphabet of Faith. We’re going to have it stand for faith.

 

“F” is for Faith!

 

We need faith in almost everything. We sit down for a bowl of cereal in the morning having faith the chair we sit in will hold us up. There’s the rush out the door to drive to our destination with just enough time to get there on time; we have faith our car will start. We grab a cup of coffee at work or at a local coffee shop and have faith it’s not tainted with arsenic. Once at work we punch the power button on the computer with faith that it will boot up.

 

True, sometimes our faith is not rewarded and we’re disappointed that our expectations aren’t met. An occasional disappointment doesn’t deter us, however. We simply can’t function by doubting at every turn, it would immobilize and debilitate. We always need faith.

 

When Disney World was completed someone made the comment that it was too bad that Walt Disney didn’t live long enough to see it. Someone else, who knew Walt well, said, “But he did see it. That’s why it’s here.”

 

The best of all definitions of faith is found in the book of Hebrews in the Bible. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) What separates faith from fact is the unseen that is seen!

 

God seems to be into faith in a big way. He could make Himself far more obvious than He does – big and booming voice, a large image of Jesus molded out of cumulus clouds, and an instant and appropriate answer to a test prayer we might send up to Him. Instead, God seems to be, as some have put it, shy. Why? It appears that a relationship with Him has to have faith as a main ingredient.

 

Even at His resurrection Jesus first appeared to some women who then told the apostles about His being alive. Jesus could have appeared to the apostles first, seniority, you could argue. Instead, the apostles were required to grapple with having faith in what they had not themselves seen, before they were allowed to see for themselves. I suspect it gave them a greater appreciation for the faith that would be required in order for future listeners of their sermons to believe.

 

The great devotional writer Oswald Chambers said that “the call of God… presents us with sealed orders… Faith never knows where it is being led, it knows and loves the One who is leading.” (Daily Thoughts for Disciples p. 23) In seeking to be God’s person we usually have little idea of what He’s up to. As much as we might bow our head in prayer for guidance He doesn’t give us much of a “heads up” as to what He’s going to do. If you listen close enough you can almost hear Him whisper, “Trust me.”

 

Facts tend to find their home in the head. Faith, on the other hand, finds it home in the heart. God wants more than a head knowledge of His existence from us. He wants our heart, and that requires faith in Him!

 

Any ideas for “G” for next week in our Alphabet of Faith? Let me know.

Feed Store Faith

The other day I was in a feed store buying chicken feed for the small flock I maintain in my back yard. I go there about once a month to buy a bag of feed (far too often and far too much money spent on a few chickens, in my wife Diann’s estimation). The man behind the counter made a comment that indicated that he knew I was a pastor. My first thought was, I wonder how I’ve been acting each time I come in here? He knows that I’m a pastor: a preacher of the message of Jesus. I wondered whether he thought I acted like Jesus.

 

I’m challenged by what Henry Drummond wrote. “The end of life is to do God’s will. . . . It is not to be happy or to be successful, or famous, or to do the best we can. . . . It is something far higher than this – to do God’s will.” He went on to say that life is “defined by how sincerely we wave our flag of surrender, how earnestly we want to do and be exactly what God wants us to do and be.” (quoted in Thirsting for God, by Gary Thomas)

 

I was reminded of this in the feed store. Though I determined long ago to seek to live my life to please God, it remains a daily battle — even an hourly or minute-by-minute battle — to keep Him on the throne of my life.

 

“Serve the Lord with all your heart.” (1 Samuel 12:20)