Saturday, October 31, 2009

a gap between our theology and our reality?

I've been thinking about this whole idea of there being a gap between our theology and our reality lately. One of the pastors at my church talked about it in a sermon recently and it's been in my head since then. I think because it's something I see and know can be there in my own life, and I think it is common in the lives of many followers of Christ.

How often do you find yourself thinking to yourself or saying to another person that you know something is true in your head, but you don't seem to believe it with how you live? I know I've been there a lot in my life. If you asked me about some things I could give you a lengthy list of Scriptures that talk about it and explain it to you clearly, but if you then move on to asking me how that works practically in my life I could have a problem, because there is a gap between my theology and my reality.

I would be the last one to discourage studying the Bible and theology and knowing what we believe and the Scripture that supports it. I love doing that kind of study. But, I'm beginning to see the huge danger that comes from doing all that study but stopping short of making the truth we learn through it a reality in our lives. God didn't intend for Scripture to just be something we gained head knowledge from; He intended for it to bring life-changing truth to us so that we would act on that truth. God doesn't want us to live with a gap between our theology and our reality. Our theology should impact our reality.

But, how do we do this? I could stop with my comments above and continue to leave a gap between our theology and our reality, but that's probably not going to fit too well with this blog. I feel like if I'm going to say that the gap shouldn't be there then I should get more practical too.

So, how do we close the gap between our theology and our reality? What does it look like?

To some degree this will look different for each person. But, I think the basics of it comes down to taking everything we learn and study about and asking ourselves the question: How does this apply to my life today, in the situations I'm in? What can I do to live this out? We need to finish our study with applying it to our lives.

In my own life recently, I have been studying faith and what it is and what it looks like. It's been a good study and it's been making me think a lot. It would be very easy to just study what the Bible says faith is and stop there, but that would leave a gap between my theology and my reality. Studying faith has been very relevant to things going on my life and the lives of some friends of mine., and I know there is a gap between what I could tell you about faith and what it looks like in my life. Closing this gap in my life during this study has meant that I don't just study faith, but that I make the choice each day to actually practice having faith in God. And for me, that means that I begin my day by declaring my faith, and I remind myself of it through out my day as situations come up where I'm tempted to doubt that God is there and has a plan. Rather than getting discouraged and deciding God doesn't care when it seems like something is going wrong, it means that I'm choosing to trust that God can still work through the situation for his good and to go to Him in prayer about it. It's not totally natural right now and definitely not always easy, but I know it's good.

So, where are the gaps between your theology and your reality? How can you take steps to close that gap?

reflecting on my time at Briercrest

So, last week I was back at Briercrest for the week. After over 4 years away it was interesting to be back in the community there. I was visiting my sister.

While I was there I took some time to just walk around the campus and the town and see what had changed and say hi to a few people I still knew who were around. As I walked down some of the familiar streets of the town and hallways of the school buildings I found many memories of the two years I spent as a student there coming flooding back. Those two years are filled with many really good memories of friends, classmates, dorm-mates, profs, classes I took that challenged me, chapels that encouraged me and spoke in to where I was at in life. Many of them things I had forgotten in the years since.

I know that my time at Briercrest was important to my life and my spiritual journey overall. But, until last week I had forgotten about many of the little things that have impacted the way I think or the way I do things. I'm beginning to think that sometimes it is those little things that are the most important. I may have forgotten in my day-to-day life about many of those little things, but when I do remember I realize they are what has impacted my life more than the big events that I remember.

Things like the friend who helped me to learn that sometimes it's OK to admit that you aren't "fine" when someone asks how things are going. Or the prof from a class who sees that you are not yourself that day and stops to ask what's going on and then through really listening and encouraging or challenging you, teaches you that they don't just say they care about their students, they really do care about them. And then, there's the roommates and close friends in the dorm who teach you how to live life with people authentically rather than putting up walls around those who aren't family.

Those seemingly little things in comparison to all the Bible, Theology, and other things I studied are what really influenced me during my time there. But, they're the easier ones to forget in some ways, because they just changed who I was. It's easier to remember the things I learned and that I use when I study the Bible with friends now. But it's the people who really changed me and helped me to grow, not the things I studied.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


So, it's the Thanksgiving weekend (or at least it is here in Canada), and it's gotten me thinking a bit about all that I have to be thankful for. There's so much. I, honestly, have been incredibly blessed. And I think I take most of it for granted a lot of the time - just by thinking so little of it as I go through life.

So, here's my list of just a few of things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend:
-an amazing immediate family (parents and sisters)
-an extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) who are great
-two absolutely wonderful roommates
-good friends
-one of the best jobs that I could possibly ask for
-the beautiful place in this world I get to call my hometown
-a great church family and opportunities to learn to use my gifts within that body

Just a few of many things that have come to mind this late at night (OK, I guess technically early in the morning, but I haven't gone to bed yet). Given time, I know there would be many more things I could add to that list. My guess is that your list would very quickly grow if you were to sit down and think about it for any length of time too.

Just by virtue of living here in Canada I have so much to appreciate and be thankful for. And I'm slowly learning not to just take it for granted all the time. Starting with this weekend and this blog entry - making a list of all those things and then taking time to thank God for all that He has blessed me with.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I've been wrestling with some questions lately: Does God still perform miracles today? If He does, why does He only seem to answer some prayers for healing by miraculously healing people? How does God decide which prayers to answer by healing a person and which ones He won't answer that way?

Many times in the Gospels and the book of Acts there are records or Jesus performing miracles, or Jesus' disciples performing miracles, or people praying for miracles and God stepping in to perform them. Yet, in my own life and the lives of those around me, I'm not sure how many miracles I have actually seen, or how many prayers for healing I have seen answered. Is this because I'm not paying attention when they do happen? Is this because I discount things that some people would call miraculous? Do my prayers for God to intervene in something in a miraculous way just lack enough faith for God to respond by performing a miracle? Or do the lack of miracles just mean that God doesn't perform them today the way He did in Scripture?

I have to say that this blog is not even going to attempt to answer these questions. Right now, I'm just asking the questions and I feel like I'm rather far from having any kind of answers to these questions. And, I think that being willing to ask the hard questions is often the first step in coming to any kind of an answer. If we never ask the questions, we will never find the answers. Some of the answers to our questions may not come until we are in the presence of God, but that doesn't mean asking the question and allowing it to drive you to God in search of an answer is a bad thing.

salt and light

So, this past week the young adults group at my church started . . . a new year, with new ideas, and a new look. Much about how this group will look has changed since last spring when we finished for the year. While I'm usually not one to embrace change quickly or easily, I'm really excited about this year and where we're going. A focus on community and service, rather than just providing another "church service" option. This past week we talked about how sometimes our heads can get full of knowledge and keep growing, but because we never put action to what we study and learn our hands and feet, and ultimately our hearts, are very small.

It was something that challenged me to do a lot of thinking in the past week. I love to study and learn more, and there's really nothing wrong with that . . . as long as it translates into action at some point. But, I know I get caught in the trap of it stopping at my head - at being something that I know and can talk about quite intelligently - and I think that's the case for many other people too. We know it all - we can respond to challenges to our faith. But, we hide in our churches and with our Christian friends because it's safe. We don't have to put ourselves out there.

But, the more I think about it and read Scripture, the more I'm convinced that's not how Jesus calls us to live. Jesus calls us to actively help people, to actively engage in conversation with people. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus says this:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it
be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out
and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be
hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put
it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way,
let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise
your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:13-16)

Jesus calls us to be salt and light in our world. If we're always hiding where it's safe, how much are we really being salt and light?

It's not even possible to shine light on the darkness in our world if we ever do is spend time with other people who are already living in the light. Our light does nothing than make that space a little brighter, but when we go into dark places with our light we can make a big difference.

It's also not possible for us to be salt to our world - to be people who bring a different flavour or way of looking at life - if just hide with other people who think and live like us. I wonder if sometimes when we never get out of our safe worlds we can get to the point of having too much knowledge and too much salt in one place, and it then becomes a detriment to us.

We need to get out and be the salt and light in our world that we are called to be.

I'm as guilty as the next person of hiding in my safe Christian world. My family and friends are Christians, I'm quite involved in my church, and I work for a Christian organization - all of those things make it quite possible for me to live in a world with only other Christians. But, I'm not so sure that this is a good thing for me . . . actually I know it's not. And, so I'm learning how to be intentional about developing relationships with the non-Christians in my world. People such as the couple that runs a cafe near my work where I often go for lunch or coffee, the people in my apartment building that I see regularly in the halls. Building these relationships takes a little of my time, but it's really no that hard to be friendly and smile when I see them and stop to talk rather than just rushing by all the time.

I think each of us, no matter what the world we find ourselves in the most looks like, have people to whom we can be salt and light. But, maybe, just maybe, it will require that we be willing to stop and actually see those people as people and take the few minutes at a time to start building a relationship with them. Being salt and light doesn't mean we just go up to people and preach the Gospel to them. It means we take time to build relationship and live the Gospel in front of them as we do so.

What about you? Who are the people in your life that you can be salt and light to? Your family? Your friends? Your co-workers? Your classmates? Your neighbours? What are the steps you can take to begin to build those relationships with them that will allow you to be salt and light in their world?