Cultivating a life of Faith

Photo Credit: Zaprittsky via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Zaprittsky via Compfight cc

There’s a scene in the movie Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, and Fezzik are looking out over a cliff as the masked man dangles from the rock face even though they just cut the rope that he was climbing. Vizzini says, “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!” To which Inigo replies, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” That’s the way I feel sometimes about the way that we use faith.

Faith is considered one of the three theological virtues along with Hope and Love. Of the three, however, I think faith may be the one that is the fuzziest. I think it’s the one we use the most and define about the least. Many people will say that they have faith, meaning that they believe in God or that they hold to a particular “Faith” like Christianity or Judaism. We are told to have faith or encouraged to come to faith in Jesus, but what does that really mean? Continue reading

On Marriage, Faith, & Discipleship

Photo Credit: justindc via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: justindc via Compfight cc

If you are on social media at all, you have witnessed the explosion of posts that followed the SCOTUS ruling on Same-Sex marriage. Many words, both loving and hateful, have been posted, shared, and tweeted about what people think about marriage. When I read the posts from my brothers and sisters in Christ, I think that often they saying more about their faith and view of discipleship than their view of marriage.

Faith

In Seminary, the primary focus of my thesis was Faith and the work of James Fowler. Fowler created a faith development theory and at the heart of that theory is a very helpful way of understanding faith. Faith is ultimately about trust and whatever you find at the center of that trust becomes the foundation of your worldview. If God is at the center of your faith, then God is the foundation on which you build your worldview. If you, money, power, sex, or anything else is at the center of your faith, then that is what your world is built around. To have faith means to order your world and life around that person. Continue reading

Grace in our Debates

From "The art of boxing, swimming and gymnastics made easy .." (1883)
From “The art of boxing, swimming and gymnastics made easy ..” (1883)

I know I’m at least week late on this, but that’s alright. I don’t want to weigh on any of the debates. I want to talk about the debating. I’ve been thinking a lot about the way debating that has been going on in our nation and I want to comment on how debating happens, especially among fellow believers.

While reading What We Talk About When We Talk About God, I was struck by his chapter on the paradox of talking about God. The paradox of God is essentially the fact that we cannot fully know him or describe him and yet we must. It’s hard to live in this paradox. We want answers to our questions. Bell writes,  “Take faith, for example. For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt.” Many of us want to eliminate doubt. We want it all spelled out for us so that we know what is right and what is wrong. This desire for right and wrong plays greatly into debates that involve theology and morality and it’s this desire that I’ve been thinking about. Continue reading

Fighting the idols in our lives

_240_360_Book.804.coverOriginally posted on my former blog Life, The Universe and Everything.

If I asked you which of the Ten Commandments gave you the most trouble, you probably would admit to the second commandment. In Exodus 20:4 God commands, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” I don’t think that this is a common problem in America today. I very rarely, if ever, see actual idols that were made to worship. There is, however, still an idolatry problem in our world today. Kyle Idleman meets this problem head on in his new book gods at war. He argues that while we aren’t setting up statues or other images and bowing down to them, we’re elevating people, ideas, and objects in our lives to a place higher than God. Idleman writes, “Anything at all can become an idol once it becomes a substitute for God in our lives.” Whenever we make a choice that goes against God or favors someone or something over God, we have become idolaters.

Gods at war is broken down into four sections. The first section defines what he means by idolatry. Idleman describes how we are in a battle with the “gods” of this world. These gods are fighting for our attention and drawing us away from Christ. The idols are not the same anymore. Unlike the Israelites who were following after Baal, Ashteroth, and Molech, we worship the gods of pleasure, power, and love. Essentially, though, we are doing the exact same thing as the Israelites. Instead of following God and pursuing obedience to him, we give our obedience and worship to something other than god. Worshipping Baal has the same consequence as worshiping love. The last three sections explore the ways we worship in the “temples” of power, pleasure, and love. Idleman explores how we devote ourselves to gods like money, success, food, entertainment, romance, and even family. Each of chapter in these sections (except for the last one) ends with questions to help the reader identify the idols that may be in their life.

I really appreciate what Kyle Idleman has done in gods at war. When I wrote my thesis on faith, I came to the same basic conclusions about where we put our faith. Ultimately if we are not trusting and seeking after God with our lives, then we have given something that isn’t God the position of God in our hearts. I think a lot of people need to hear this today. The subject matter, however, is very similar to Timothy Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods. If you’ve read Keller’s book, this book is not going to much different. One thing Idleman does different is his book does a great job of helping you reevaluate the values you are giving to different people and things in your life. The reflective questions that appear in the book help you take this step. I don’t think most of us realize how we have let something that might be good turn into a false god and rule over our lives. It does not, however, explore in depth in any one of the false god’s that it discusses. For that reason, I believe this book would be best used in a group study since it comes with questions already imbedded in the text. Going through this book with a small group would allow someone to analyze each “god” a little more in depth, there are also online resources available.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”