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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Art Thou Not Puffethed Up?
No, this is not a post about how corny and fake it sounds to talk to God in King James English when you normally talk to the rest of us in standard, modern English. Nor is it a post complaining about the horrible abuse done to the archaic pronouns in said attempts.

No, this post is about whether it is pious or stupid to do something that seems spiritual but isn't really.

I trust the Lord to keep my family as safe as His perfect will allows, by that I mean accidents and calamity are sometimes allowed because they bring with them lessons that cannot be learned otherwise, and anyone who is serious about being God's servant, is willing to accept whatever tools are needed for the ministry God prepares each of us for. He does and has prepared good works beforehand, that we should walk in them - and some of that preparation comes in forms the world would regard as tragedy - whether pain, suffering, personal loss, calamity or what have you - the man of God trusts God in and through it all. Which isn't to say the man of God is always happy, never riled, and everything works out dandy - just as he would like it to - it doesn't; but it is to say that the man of God, at the end of the day, trusts that all things do work together for God to those who love God and are called, not according to their own purpose, but according to His.

So, I do trust the Lord to keep my family safe - as safe as His perfect will allows. I don't want them to be kept safe according to my understanding, but according to God's understanding, and that could (and often does) look very different than I would have it be. My nine year old daughter, for instance, has a skin condition that often covers her hands in open running sores. When she is crying and asking me to intercede on her behalf, that God would take it away, my heart is sorely tested, for I not only have to believe God's will is perfect, I must comfort my daughter with that truth. I must explain that God isn't our servant, that we are in fact His servants, and that God has promised to give us the tools for that service - some of which are pleasant, and some of which are not. What strengthens us is that we trust that God is truly there, that these things are truly His will, and that we be willing to pray as our Lord prayed, "Please take this cup away, nevertheless, your will (and not ours) be done." There is nothing wrong with asking, and even asking more than once, presuming we are not simply asking to satisfy our own desires. Contentment comes from knowing Immanuel (God is with us).

That is what trust looks like. It isn't me demanding that God heal my little girl right now, then clenching my teeth under the strain of a person effort to convince myself that God is going to do it. Brainwashed people can be utterly convinced of a thing, but that conviction is hardly trust - it is vacuous. Trust isn't the ability to convince yourself of something you have no right to be convinced of. Trust is knowing a thing is true because God has said so.

Thus there is nothing pious about me telling my children to go play in traffic because I trust that God will look after them, nor do I pretend something is wrong with some one's faith if they don't jump on the false piety band-wagon. Listen: there is nothing pious about doing something dumb because you trust God to clean up the mess afterwards.

If I find in myself an unquenchable desire to go to some country and share the gospel with people who have never heard it before; and seeking counsel from those those members in my congregation whose walk and conduct and wisdom have shown these people to be godly, and if they agree that I am gifted for such a thing, and my spouse is as desirous as I am, and I find that the trappings of this world do not bind me as they do others so that selling my house, and leaving my job are all trivial matters to me, for I trust in the word of God that such things will be provided if I look to the Kingdom of God first - and in the strength of that conviction I quit my job, sell my house, and go to some far away land with my family - that is called "stepping out in faith".

Buying a house that is more than I can afford and trusting God to make up the difference by getting me more money - that isn't stepping out in faith, it's ridiculous.

Sending my "Christian" kids to a Muslim school because I trust God to protect their faith is not stepping out in faith - it's called tempting/testing God, and it's as far from piety as smart is from stupid.

That's not to say that we can never take a risk, or do something daring, or simply trust God for certain things that are outside the standard pale. But it is to say that dumb decisions that are buttressed foolishly by the misguided notion that one is stepping out in faith ought to be avoided by sober Christians.

There is a kind of mysticism that masquerades as faith, and we ought to be on guard against it. There are few things as blinding as ignorance pretending to be piety, for just as knowledge puffeth up, so wilful ignorance puffeth up also, and it comes in all kinds of flavors.

Let us therefore examine ourselves at every opportunity (as opposed to examining others), to be sure that when we step out in faith we are not simply calling on God to do our bidding and pretending there is something holy about it. If we do see what looks to be error in someone else - let us be gentle in dealing with it - ask questions, and listen to the answers. You can't open the eyes of someone born blind, but God can in and through you if you are patient, not quarrelsome, and apt to teach.

Labels: , , ,

posted by Daniel @ 9:22 AM  
9 Comments:
  • At 5:27 PM, May 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,

    While I agree with your post, it raised a question. Many couples do not practice any form of birth control because of their belief that God is the author of life, children are a blessing, we are commanded to be fruitful, etc. When that couple is already stretched thin financially or emotionally or even physically, are they guilty of false piety?

    On one hand, I know of couples who it seemed would be better off practicing NFP at least and others who seemed like they couldn't take on another child, only to have the resources appear just when needed.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts.

    Jen

     
  • At 7:30 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jen, I have had to deal with this question personally. My wife has a congenital heart condition that is sorely aggravated by pregnancy, so that each of our four pregnancies so far as given me, at least, many opportunities to fret about "what if?".

    There is a difference between having a biblically informed theological opinion about what we (as Christians) ought to do, and quite another when the rubber of that opinion meets the road of real life. I mean, is God really the Author of life, or are we? Does God really decide where and when we will be born, who will be our parents, and what will be distinctive about us, or is that all a by-product of our biological makeup?

    Frankly, we are programmed from the very beginning to believe that God has nothing to do with life; that God plays no real role in conception, and that we, and we alone are the reason anyone ever gets born. Calamity or human intervention might prevent a birth, but pregnancy itself is a biological crap shoot. We can't really blame secular humanism, atheism, and unchecked agnosticism for painting this picture for us, since beginning with no God, one can hardly conclude anthing else.

    But scripture paints a very different picture. God is the Author of life, knitting us together in our mother's womb, knowing us before we had any substance, then bringing that substance into being - curdling us like milk in our mother's belly. Scripture leaves no room for doubt - God controls where, when, and to whom we are born. He gives us life, and without Him none of us receive life. The moment of conception is much more than a biological reaction, it is the culmination of creation - a moment that God has had a very present hand in bringing about.

    Which is to say that I do not believe that life just happens, rather I believe that God brings into being every single life through providential means - and that it is intended to be a blessing, that none are accidental, and that all are created in His image.

    Now the first question we might ask in the wake of such a statement is typically from some fringe/alarmist camp, so I will address some of the more typical questions that could be asked:

    (cont)

     
  • At 7:30 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    What about the rape victim?

    Well, if we are convinced that we have the power in ourselves to make life happen through procreational methods, then we usually go ahead and "plan" where and when that life happens (hence birth control etc.), and something like a rape (and subsequent pregnancy) can only be understood as an tragic intrusion into our careful plans - so much so that some even regard the innocent life newly created as nothing more than a hateful reminder that they were forced to bear the child of some rapist, assuming they even allow this life to live - many see rape as reason enough to kill their unborn child (as though one act of violence [rape] could ever be made better by a subsequent but more heinous act of violence [cold blooded infanticide]).

    But if we are truly convinced that God is the Author of life, as opposed to our selves, then (in the ideal at least) a child born from rape will be regarded as a gift from God just as any other conception would be regarded.

    What about children with severe disabilities?What of it? The person who denies the value of such a child is in fact denying his or her Maker, or suggesting that God, in His infinite wisdom, has somehow goofed by allowing this "travesty", etc. etc.

    Then we have the trivial, the sort of, "the baby might be an inconvenience to the life I plan to live" sort of stuff - you know, what about my career? My income? My spare time? Does God really intend to for my wife and I to pop out babies until one or both of us is no longer physically able?

    Here we see again, the idea that we author our own children - and when we think like this, the question is, "How many children does God expect -us- to make?" I don't want to downgrade my life style by having too many kids, right? But if we are not the Author of life, then such considerations are silly. Wives do not withold yourself from your husbands, nor husbands from your wives, lest you be tempted. Your spouse is to have access to your person, and you are to have access to your spouses person - for so God has commanded. If God gives you a child, will He not give you the means to support that child?

    So for me, I believe that God gives the child, and gives the means to support the child - perhaps not in the high-falutin life we might desire, but certainly according to His promises. We homeschool, have four kids (so far), and do it all on a single income. We don't have two vehicles, and we live in a modest house - but we have more life than most people with far more house, far more money, and far less children.

    If I lost my job, and my house, and was living on the street and learned that my wife was pregnant - let me tell you, I would rejoice with great joy, not worrying for a minute because I know that the God for whom not one sparrow can fall to the earth without his say so, the God who Authored that life, knows what He is doing, and chose me and my wife, from all the people on the earth, to have the privilege of becoming parents to a life God has brought into being - and I would not be concerned about it one bit. If I am given a stewardship by God, will the judge of all the earth not provide me with the means to carry out that stewardship?

    So that is my answer.

    Now, having given that as an answer, I would hastily add, that I didn't jump out of the gate with that sort of conviction, but it formed itself in me as I surrendered myself to both the sovereignty of God, and the truths of scripture that painted these things on my heart. Unless God so paints on the heart of another, who am I to judge that one?

     
  • At 9:00 AM, May 22, 2009, Blogger Susan said…

    My daughter was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (part of the autism spectrum disorders) and Anxiety Disorder - both of which are not a surprise to either my husband or me. Her behaviors and symptoms have been obvious for all of her six years. (Blogged about it here:
    http://ourdailythread.blogspot.com/2009/05/understanding-grace.html )

    Frankly, I consider both she and we very blessed to have her just the way God made her - even not knowing why. This is one of those few times I really don't feel a drive to pursue the "why."

    And I believe He's lighting the path for her ongoing evaluations and therapies - both traditional and non (holistic, diet, etc). In some ways, it's almost like being on a mission trip. It's a grand adventure filled with joys and new learning and meeting many people with such rich and varied experiences.

    Part of the intrigue (for lack of other word coming to mind) for me in this journey is learning how differently God has designed each of our minds. Some people don't process information the same way we would expect them to. I think of Temple Grandin (if you've heard of her - she's known as "the woman who thinks like a cow" - there's a YouTube documentary about her by that title). She's a woman with autism (probably Asperger's) who designed at least 1/3 of the cattle facilities in the US. She thinks in pictures, not words. It's am amazing story.

    And her story, and my daughter's, as well as your child's - and the friends of my daughter who likewise suffer from various skin disorders and allergies - they're all uniquely designed for some purpose and God is all the more glorified through their "disabilities" (again, for lack of better term). I don't really see them as "dis"-abled (and I'm not a politically correct person at all), rather - differently abled.

    I have people close to me who are of the mindset of "name and claim it" with respect to healing, and I couldn't disagree more, although I'm usually a bit quieter about my views than they are. I believe, as you stated, I will continue like the woman at the door of the unrighteous judge to knock regarding not only my child's state, but the spiritual state of my loved ones, and pray that God hear the cry of my heart - and yet, nevertheless, His will more than mine - and may I/we be conformed to same. Because He is God and I am not - and His ways are not my ways. His thoughts not mine. And His ways far exceedingly better than I can even think of.

    I'm blathering on, but just wanted to stop in to say I appreciate your post - more than you know.

     
  • At 9:27 AM, May 22, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan, I hear you. My wife worked for years with differently abled children - specifically within the autism spectrum. She now has a very keen eye for autism and has been critical in the diagnosis of several young kids we have known through the years. I think you rightly describe them as differently-abled. One of the most charming and godly children in our assembly has very severe eczema, and as heart breaking as it is, it has produced a character of profound resolve, joy, and trust in this little one - we all notice that it is [1] profoundly exceptional, and [2] directly tied to her having to deal with the persistent drain this skin condition is on the little one. The parents have grown so much on this account, as have all the siblings. I don't think God gives these things *as* gifts, but I do think God uses these things to deliver gifts, not only to the individual, but to the family and people in that individual's life.

    Thanks again for the comment.

     
  • At 9:29 AM, May 22, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Oh, and my wife and I are quite familiar with Temple Grandin. She took the kids to tour a barn designed by Temple for the reason that it was designed by Temple. The kids did a big study on it, and part of that study was recognizing God's grace in her situation.

     
  • At 9:54 AM, May 22, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,

    Thank you for your response (re: pregnancy & children). I am still a work in progress in this area. My mind is there, but my heart is slow to follow.

    Jen

     
  • At 12:25 PM, May 22, 2009, Blogger Susan said…

    Jen,

    If Daniel doesn't mind my responding to you regarding your last comment, you are not alone. Since learning about Reformed theology, my mind took a great leap forward, and I willingly left my heart well behind.

    Only recently, by God's grace, has He allowed me to see what a distance this has caused between both Him and me, as well as others and me. He has recently stirred a deep longing in me that cries out, "I would give up all of my head knowledge for an intimate relationship with Jesus." And I would give it all up - because I know truly what infinite joy lies in the heart relationship, not the head knowledge. Knowing about God and knowing God are so very different.

    I'm not preaching to you here, just sharing that I am at the same place as you, I suspect. If Daniel doesn't mind my sharing, I wrote about that difference (head and heart) here: http://ourdailythread.blogspot.com/2009/05/where-rubber-meets-road.html

    It's good that you ask the questions you do. The more we seek and lay ourselves down to truly hear what God has to reveal, the more He fills, I believe.

     
  • At 7:07 PM, May 22, 2009, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,

    Btw, I've noticed the same spiritual sensitivity or submission in a homeschool family with six children, all of whom have skin or allergy condition (the four most affected being two sets of twins, ages 6 and 10). Their hearts are most tender to God, and they are my daughter's best friends.

    Likewise, I don't see abilities (differently and otherwise) as gifts, but blessings nonetheless - or at least means through which we are blessed.

     
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