Tuesday, September 29, 2009

God’s Ability and Power

Brute strength may be intimidating. Sheer power may be impressive. A show of force may inspire awe. But power and ability are impotent if not directed toward our needs.

That God has all power and ability is awesome news precisely because he uses his power on behalf of his people! God brings all the omnipotent power he used in creating the cosmos to bear on our weakness and need. So well does David personally know God's power that he can call God "My Strength":

"O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,

for you, O God, are my fortress,

the God who shows me steadfast love."

(Psalms 59:17)

Do you know God as "My Strength"? Only those who are humble enough to admit weakness and call out to the Lord will know him as "My Strength".

So, let's make the rubber meet the road. What battles are you facing that overwhelm and fatigue you? What enemies (within or outside) are assailing you? Take a moment to list them…

Now, look to the God of all power and might and say, "Alright Lord, I give up. This is too difficult for me, but not for you! I am weak but you are strong! Be my fortress! Show me your steadfast love! Display your power! Be 'My Strength'!"

Now, rest in his power and ability for you – that's what trust is. And sing praises to "My Strength" for what he does!

(Click here for passages to meditate upon this week)

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom

Man vs Squirrel 4

Man vs Squirrel 4 from tom welch on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

God’s Knowability: Knowing and Being Known.

Spirituality is "stock-up" while religion is "stock-down" in our culture. For many this means that we can seek after God, but never make any definitive statements about who he is. And that would be true – if God had not revealed himself to us so clearly!

God can be known! In fact he delights in being known! And one of the reasons is that our God delights in relationships. The Trinitarian nature of God shows that God exists in and for relationships. God calls us into relationship with himself so we can know him and so that we can know that he knows us.

Paul talks about this two-way relationship like this: "…now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God…"
Galatians 4:9

Being known by God is as crucial as knowing God himself. J.I. Packer in his "must read" book, Knowing God, makes this amazing affirmation about being known by God:

"I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his cares falters."

"This is momentous knowledge… There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me."

As you meditate on the privilege of knowing God, think also on his knowing you!

(Click here for passages to meditate upon this week)

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

God’s Beauty and Desirability

One of the remarkable discoveries of the Christian life is God's beauty and desirability. Few things will rekindle your sense of wonder than meditating on the beauty and desirability of God. And only desire for God will displace our affections for lesser things. But we must set our heart, minds, and wills to pursing a vison of God's beauty.

As we saw last Sunday, the early American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, gives us some practical advice:

Ways to increase your desire for God:

  • "Endeavor to increase spiritual appetites by meditating on Spiritual objects."
    Translation: fill your mind with spiritual things/ God's beauty as seen in creation and God's beauty as seen in the Bible. (Click here!)
  • Endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement.
    Translation: If you are hungry – go to the 'fridge. If you are spiritually hungry – go to worship, communion, fellowship, etc…
  • We should express our longings to God. They will increase by being expressed.
    Translation: Whether it is at our worship service, in you private time with God, in your car, or in the shower – express your longings to God! As you express your longings with a sincere heart, God will both satisfy you and make you hungry for more.

The Good news is that God's feast is a smorgasbord that never closes. He is open 24/7-365! So take some time this week to "lay yourself in the way of allurement"!

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Be like Sarah!

"They say there is a young lady in (New Haven) who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him… she has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in their affection… you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful….  She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind…. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no one knows for what.  She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have someone invisible always conversing with her." – Jonathan Edwards (who would later marry this "young lady"!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Waking Up to God

When the Bible speaks of "knowing God" we moderns tend to think in academic terms. We suppose that knowing God means knowing more about God. If we just read one more book or hear one more message, then we will reach true knowledge of God.

But in the Bible knowing God is being in intimate relationship with him. It's not amassing facts about God like a theological Wikipedia. Knowing God means growing in our experienced relationship with Him.

Now, an aspect of being in relationship means increasing in "information" about a person. I know more info about Nancy than when we were first married. But it goes much, much deeper. Sometimes it goes so deep, it is almost inexpressible.

Sarah Edwards (wife of early American theologian Jonathan Edwards) had such an experience of God. She describes a time when:

"The spiritual beauty of the Father and the Saviour seemed to engross my whole mind; and it was the instinctive feeling of my heart, 'Thou art; and there is none beside Thee.' I never felt such an entire emptiness of self-love or any regard to any private, selfish interest of my own. It seemed to me that I had entirely done with myself. I felt that the opinions of the world concerning me were nothing, and that I had no more to do with any outward interest of my own than with that of a person whom I never saw. The glory of God seemed to be all, and in all, and to swallow up every wish and desire of my heart.

Our knowledge of the truths about God become the fuel for the flame of our love and experience of God! I want to go deeper with God. I want to grow in my knowledge of God. I want to expand my capacity to receive al that God is for me in Christ! I've got a feeling you do too!

I invite you to join me on a spiritual adventure to know and love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength!

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom