Tuesday, October 25, 2011

proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

I have heard these verses quoted many times and in many situations. I can say them without really thinking about what they actually say. I have done so, but when I read them today, I found myself stopping to meditate on them - asking myself whether the words of these verses were true in my life and what it would look like if they were.

Do I trust in the Lord with all my heart?
What does it look like to trust the Lord with all my heart?
Or am I leaning on my own understanding?
What does it mean to lean on my own understanding?
Am I acknowledging God in all my ways?
What does it look like to acknowledge God in all my ways?

Proverbs 3:5-6 is a passage of Scripture that is pretty straightforward in what it says, but I wonder if that can mean we don't take the time to reflect on them as carefully as we would a passage that is more difficult to understand. But I would say that living life in this way is probably more difficult than it seems like it should be.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, October 17, 2011

questioning another's salvation?

I read something in this last week that really got my ire up. It seemed as though the author was questioning whether someone struggling with sin was saved. The way it was written, a person reading it would feel as though their salvation was being questioned if they struggled in that area. I found myself disagreeing with that way of looking at things immediately when I read it and now a few days later, I still feel much the same way.

When a person is struggling with sin in their lives we have the responsiblity to challenge them on it and encourage them to turn from it. But, I do not feel that it is appropriate to question whether they are saved. That is not our place. God alone is the One who knows whether or not a person is truly saved, and it is not our place to try to determine that.

Scripture gives us examples of how to and tells us that we should go to fellow believers and confront them on sin we see in our lives. And we should do this because we love them. But, no where in the Scriptures do I see them saying that we should question whether someone has received salvation.

Matthew 18:15-17 is probably one of the passages of Scripture that I have heard used most often when it comes to this topic. I talks about going to the person and confronting him about his sin, first privately, then with a couple of others, and then with whole church. After all of that, it says to stop feloowshipping with the person if they are continuing to live in sin and refusing to repent of it. No where in this passage do I see Jesus saying anything about questioning someone's salvation. What I see is Jesus teaching His followers to confront the sin they see in another believer's life - to deal with what they know is true and observable.

1 Corinthians 5 is another passage where confronting the sin of another. But, again, it is speaking of confronting the sin and taking the steps necessary for the person to come to repentance, not of going to them and saying, "Are you really saved?" That is something we cannot know.

We are not to tolerate and ignore flagrant sin within the body of Christ. We should confront and challenge one another on it, and hopefully that confrontation and challenge will lead to repentance of sin. And if it does not, then the person living in the sin should face the consequences of their sin in not being a part of the fellowship of believers. But, no where in either of these passages do I see anything that teaches that we should try to decide whether or not another person, who claim to be a believer, is actually saved. That is not our job.

I would be the first to admit that confronting sin in another's life is hard. It is not something to be taken lightly. And, we do not tend to do it very well in our churches these days, but that does not mean this is not the way God intends for it to happen. Just because we do not want to say anything to someone about the sin in their life does not mean that we should change our ways and beign questioning their salvation.

Now, I know that I have probably opened a can of worms, so to speak, with this topic and all reading may not agree with me. Since I do not claim to be an expert on this, I am okay if you do not agree. If you explain why and how you disagree, I will listen to (read) your thoughts. The only way to grow is to be challenged on what we are doing and on what we think or understand about things related to our faith.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

transparent? vulnerable?

One of the speakers at one of the conferences I attended recently talked about these two words as being different from each other when it comes to interactions with others. And it started me thinking. Then, at the next conference there was another session on vulnerability that kept me thinking about it.

The first speaker described being transparent with others as being honest at a safe distance. That made sense to me - I have done that in my own life. It is easy to let others know the truth about our circumstances or even about how we felt about something that has happened.

She then moved on to define being vulnerable as allowing someone to get close enough to tough you, and possibly even hurt you. Being vulnerable means we let people into our mess and letting them see what goes on beneath the surface of what we portray to the world around us. This is much harder to do - especially if you have been hurt doing this in the past.

The speaker at the second conference who spoke on vulnerability talked about three fears we have to overcome to be vulnerable: 1) the fear of being rejected, 2) the fear of being embarrassed, and 3) the fear of feeling inferior. The possibility of those things happening can definitely keep us from being vulnerable in any situation.

As I think more about it, I am beginning to wonder if being vulnerable with others is more vital to our lives than we give it credit for. We know that we were designed for community, but that community does not happen well when we are only transparent with one another. True community happens when we are vulnerable with others - when we take the chance of being hurt by others because we let them get that close.

So, I find myself evaluating my own life. Am I vulnerable with others? Or just transparent? Does something with this need to change in my life? What about in your life? Are you vulnerable with others? Or just transparent?

Friday, October 7, 2011

information overload?

In the past three weeks, I have been at two different conferences. There is so much stuff running around my head that I have not been able to write anything that is remotely coherent. Even now, I am not sure I have a lot to say. There is still so much to think through and figure out how what I heard at these conferences needs to affect my life.

This has made me think about our culture as a whole. There is so much information available to us all the time. We do not have to go find a book to look it up or even go home to our computers to look something up. We just pull out our phones and find the information right there. And not just information if we are curious about something. The news is at our fingertips too.

Are we suffering from information overload? Is there something to be said for having a break from access to all that information and news all the time? Do we need to make the choice to step back from this information overload?