Back in 2001, I interviewed for a church job. It was going real well until I was asked one question. It’s a question that has stuck with me and made me dig into God’s word a little bit. The question went something like this:
“Do you believe in election?”
This question caught me off guard. I had expected all sorts of questions, from what I thought about the Bible to leadership. But election? That one stumped me for a minute.
I finally answered that since it was in the Bible that I believed in it. I’m not sure they liked my answer. I honestly believe that they wanted me to refute election on the spot.
To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure where I landed on election other than the answer I gave. Since then, though, my answer has changed and, hopefully, been fleshed out a bit. So what do I think about it now?
I believe that God chose us before the foundation of the world. I don’t try to parse it down too much. That is basically what Paul says in Ephesians, so I’ll go with Paul.
Still, I had trouble with this until recently. I didn’t know how to talk about it that really made sense to anyone until I happened to think about my own children.
After Jan and I were married we began to plan our family. We decided that we wanted a child. We elected to have children. We chose to have our children.
First came Lauren. Four years later Andrew showed up.
Election was involved in us having our kids.
That’s why I don’t have much of a problem with election any more. If two finite people can elect to have children, then why not the God of this universe?
If Jan and I can elect for our children to enter our lives and be born, then why can’t God elect us from before the beginning of time to be born again.
You don’t have to agree with me. We can disagree and still be friends. But let me explain why this is important and, more importantly, gives me the greatest comfort in the world.
If God’s election resulted in me being part of His family, then He has loved me longer than I can truly wrap my mind around. He said, before the beginning of time, “I’m going to have a follower named Larry one day who is going to be born again. And nothing can stop or change that.”
I feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy thinking about that.
So, no, election doesn’t bother me?
Does it bother you?
I watched Whiplash this pa,st weekend. It was lauded as one of the best movies of the year, so we gave it a shot.
This movie is the story of a young man who wants to be a great jazz drummer. He attends a school that will help him develop the skills necessary to be one of the greats. One of the teacher leads a band that is considered one of the best training grounds in the county. The student is asked to join and is pushed in incredible ways as he moves toward his goal. Eventually, his dream is shattered resulting in his dismissal from school.
This movie has some of the most pervasive language I have heard in a movie in some time. I have never truly heard anyone in real life talk this way, so I cannot testify to how realistic it is. If someone spoke to me the way the characters did in the movie, I would find it difficult to not strike back physically.
I cannot recommend this movie due to this language. I feel like I need to wash my ears out with soap due to watching this film.
Just a simple question today. What are you doing to grow as a person? Look at the various areas of your life. Are you growing?
What are you doing today?
If you’re like me, you’ll probably wake up, get ready for work and head in for a hard day in the salt mines. Or if you’re lucky, the gold mines.
We have to work. At least most of us do, though some seem to make a profession out avoiding gainful employment. We all need to eat and need money to buy food. Having a job seems to be one of the best ways to fund our survival.
I’ve been working now since I was sixteen and a junior in high school. There have been very few months where I have not been employed. I’ve learned a lot over the years. One of the things I have learned is this.
Your job is not necessarily your calling.
I remember the first time I heard about someone “missing their calling.” My parents like to play Rook and often invited friends over to play. I was usually bored and had to entertain myself. On this particular occasion, my parents and their friends hooted, hollered and laughed all night long. My dad later said that his friend had missed his calling and should have been a comedian.
I’m not sure about all that, but after many years I finally understand what he meant.
I believe that God gives us natural talents when we are born. We might even call them common talents. Everyone, whether they know the Lord or not, have these talents. We may develop these talents. They may grow over time. You may gain new ones through sheer will and determination.
Not so when you come to salvation.
You gain some gifts through your new relationship with Christ. You also gain something else.
Now some of us are lucky enough for something to happen. Some of us are fortunate enough for our calling and job to be the same. Most of us are not so fortunate.
However, if we want to truly enjoy life and find fulfillment, we will discover and pursue our calling. We may enjoy our job. Our job may fund our life. Our calling, though, is where our inner joy and happiness truly come from.
So get out there and find your calling. It might be to make regular mission trips to Haiti. Maybe it’s to bring clean water to India in Christ’s name. Whatever it is, remember one thing:
Your job is not necessarily your calling.
Do you know what your calling is?
I don’t know if he was the first one or not, but he may have been the first famous one.
His name was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He achieved fame as the Beatles guru. Later on, he was the same for the Beach Boys and other celebrities. He reveled in being a guru.
Me, I’m no guru.
These days everyone seems to be a guru.
There are financial gurus. Dave Ramsey is one, I suppose.
There are spiritual gurus. Any number of preachers and other spiritual guys fill that role.
There are blogging gurus, writing gurus, career gurus and you name it gurus.
A guru is a popular teacher or expert, someone who people look to for answers and advice.
I have to admit that I have wanted to be a guru. I have wanted people to look forward to my blog and look to me for answers.
I realize that pride was driving that. I wanted to be looked up to and admired.
I was totally self-centered.
I think people who want to be gurus are like that. They are focused on themselves, not those who look up to the guru.
People who truly want to help people don’t think about becoming gurus. They are focused outward. They are focused on others. The love and serve others, not themselves.
I’m just a guy who wanted to be a guru, but I’m no guru. I want to love others the way Christ loves people.
Do you have a guru?
I had a thought during church this past Sunday. Actually, if you saw my bulletin, you would see that I had many thoughts. I wrote several of them down, including this one:
Unbelief is sin leading to more sin leading to more unbelief.
I think that unbelief is the heart of sin. We don’t believe God. We choose to go in the opposite direction from the one God wants us to travel.
The problem, then, is where unbelief leads us. It leads us to more sin. Unbelief in one area too often leads to unbelief in another. One area of sin makes it much easier to have another area of sin. And another. And another.
All of this sin leads to even more unbelief. Sin drives us further from God making it harder and harder to believe Him.
Where do we end up?
Metaphorically for us, and what was reality for Israel, is the wilderness. Think about that for a minute.
Israel didn’t believe that they could conquer the Promised Land. They didn’t believe that God had already won the battle. The chose to not believe. They ended up in the wilderness for forty years. All of them died except for Joshua and Caleb, who were willing to go the first time.
We too end up in the wilderness. We may not realize it, but we do when we don’t believe. Our stay might be short, or it could be long. The more we sin, the more we slip further and further into the desert.
So, how do we get out of it?
Believe. Believe when we don’t really want to. Believe when it’s hard. Believe when we don’t have a reason that makes sense. Just believe God.
That’s easier said than done. I get that. I believe and then don’t believe several times. Not believing has never benefited my life.
I just have to believe whether I like it or not.
Do you find it easy to believe God or hard?
Who are you?
Have you ever been asked that question? Perhaps not in that way. Few people will really ask in that way, but many will want to know who you are.
How do you answer the question?
You might say that you are so-and-so’s husband or wife. You might be this or that kid’s parent.
Maybe you a collector of marbles or stamps or rabbit’s feet. Or whatever else you can dream up to collect.
Maybe you reply with your job. You’re a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, though I’m not sure about the upward mobility of those jobs. You’re identity might be tied up i being a banker or a pastor or any myriad of other jobs.
I listen to a lot of podcasts. One of them proclaims basically that what you do for a living is not who you are. I couldn’t agree more, though I might have had a hard time learning this over the years. I think that it is a difficult lesson for many of us to learn.
Think about Jesus. We describe him sometimes as being a carpenter or carpenter’s son. Some people in Nazareth seemed to not get over the fact that He used to build their houses or their furniture or whatever it was that Jesus did for the people of Galilee. However, that’s not how Jesus identified Himself. He saw himself as being His Father’s Son. Everything else flew out of that.
Paul didn’t tie himself into what he did either. He was a tent maker, which was a far cry from his original career path. He could have been a great leader of Israel’s religious community. Instead, he switched sides to following Christ. He gave up the good life for one even better. However, how did he describe himself?
Most of all a servant.
There are many things in this world that we can identify ourselves with. However, it’s outside of this world where we truly find our identity. We need to find our identity in the One who we place our faith in rather than in what this world offers.
Who are you?