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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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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The Buzz

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.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[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.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I'll be happy when such and such happens.

Maybe you've said something like that in your life. I know I used to say that quite often. For me it was a larger salary. No matter how much I made, I felt that I needed at least $20K/year more. I would be happy when that happened.

For some of you, it might be something as inane as saying you will be happy when your spouse learns to pick up after themselves, or stop leaving the lid off the toothpaste. Maybe you want someone in your life to start doing something, and you will be happy when they do.

The common thread is the notion that there is a lack of something, that if filled, would produce the happiness that we ought to be experiencing, but are not.

In a way it is a classic syndrome. Classic in the sense that it is a textbook expression of what it means to be corrupted by sin. We have a built in sense of entitlement, we deserve not only to be happy, but to be happy according to our own brand of happiness; the problem is, that even when we receive whatever it is we think we are owed in life, that sense of contentment continues to elude us.

Now Pascal introduced the notion of every person having a God shaped void in themselves - which, in their falleness, they attempted to fill with other things - but no matter what they poured into this vacuum, it remained. I don't care for that imagery however, because scripture tells us that there is no one seeking after God, and that image suggest that everyone is seeking after God - they just don't know it. I have heard this sort of imagery used to "witness" to people; that is, they use this imagery to suggest to people whom they are trying to "win" to Christ, as a way of suggesting that God is the "balm" they have always been searching for. etc.

I don't care for that sort of flimshaw, as I think it denies the power of the gospel, and relies instead on the power of persuasion and the promise of a better life - that is, it caters to their carnality - attempting to use the existing corruption of sin to the gospel's advantage - as though one could add such to the gospel to increase its effect.

In fact some of the people who use this imagery in their "witness" end up preaching that it is in fact God who has a man shaped hole, so desperate is He to see sinners come to saving grace.

But I digress.

So all Pascalian imagery aside, when I speak of an unquenchable desire to be happy, I am actually describing one aspect of what our fallenness looks like. Now, let me be clear: When I say happy, I mean contented. I don't mean happy in the sense of a yellow-circle smiley face. I am not talking about being joyous all the "live long day" or smiling all the time and being consistently "peppy". Nor am I suggesting a sort of vacant, "Ned Flanders-esque" clue-(diddly)-lessness that leaves one "happy" by way of blissful empty-headedness. No. I simply mean being free from the nagging frustration and resentment that comes upon us as we consider our life failing to be we believe we deserve it to be.

The key word in that last sentence is "deserve". Would you be truly surprised to learn that most people who feel entitled to something, really have no grounds for that sense of entitlement?

I remember years ago seeing a relative inherit a large sum of money. This relative was in a double income marriage, and already had a very fine house. I was in a single income marriage, and my house was not even a moderately fine house. I remember feeling frustrated by the fact that some people had everything handed to them in life, while I had to work for every thing I received. It ate me up inside to see someone else receive grace - it produced in me a sense of entitlement - didn't I deserve to inherit that money? Why not me??

You know, it is like the men who worked all day in the vineyard and thought that they were going to get paid extra because they saw the men who had only worked the last hour of the day get paid a full days wage. When they received what was owed them they were indignant because they felt entitled to more. They saw the grace extended to someone else, and immediately imagined themselves owed something more.

This sense of entitlement is just one expression of our fallen nature. No matter what we get, we will always imagine, deep down, that we deserve more. We will tell ourselves that we will be happy when we get such and such - but even after we get such and such, we do not find the contentment we imagined we would. So we set the bar higher, and should we achieve that higher standard, we find that even this did not satisfy our discontentment.

The problem isn't that we don't have enough; the problem is that we want -nay, that we feel entitled to more. But truly, the only thing that any one of us is entitled to is judgment. We who have sinned against God, have forfeit our life in the moment that we exercised rebellion against His command. Every second we are allowed to live after that first sin is the product of grace and mercy. Rather than be content with such - we go the extra mile in our sinfulness and imagine that God owes us more.

Do you know what I hear when I talk to an atheist? I mean, once I get past all the fluff of their justifying their belief that there is no God? The thing I hear is that even if God stood in the sky and showed himself to be real, they would still reject Him because they believe that they are entitled to live without His judgment.

Nevermind that they impose upon Him to sustain their rebellious existence. Never mind that they owe Him the food that they eat, the water they drink, and the air they breath. They honestly believe that God owes such as these to them - and the continuation of life. Deep down, it is always there. They reject God because His very existence disqualifies their sense of entitlement.

Contentment does not (and cannot) come by having more things. Truly, the reason why most people want to be rich is so that they can have everything they want without having to work for it. Yet time and again we find that people who are rich, and could be said to have everything they want, are just as discontented as everyone else. No matter how much they have, they want more.

Contentment comes when you are perfectly satisfied with God's provision. It follows that you can only be perfectly satisfied with God's provision when you are perfectly convinced that God's provision is perfect. That is, we learn to be content whether we are in prosperity or poverty because we learn that God is the one who gives, and his provision is always perfect. If I have less it is because God has determined that having less is the most perfect thing I need right now. If I have more it is because God has determined that having more is the most perfect thing I need right now. If calamity strikes, it is because calamity is the most perfect thing I need right now; you get the picture.

Contentment flows from faith. Faith is not a commodity that we get "more of" - it is just the word we use to describe trusting in something. Faith therefore cannot exist apart from the thing you are trusting. Faith then is more than just believing that God exists. The demons believe that, and it isn't counted as faith for them, it just shows that they are rational beings. No, you have to trust God in something for there to be faith. In this case, contentment comes when you trust God's provision.

Now, I did not say, "When you trust God to provide..." - because I have seen people use that kind of thinking to perversion rather than to God's glory. It isn't that you trust God to provide you with fill-in-the-blank. It is rather that you trust that what you have already is what God has provided. Contentment comes when you believe that this provision is already perfect. You neither want more nor less, because you trust that God's provision is not fickle, nor lacking, but carefully and lovingly ministered to us.

How could Stephen cry out to the Lord not to charge the sin of those stoning him to their accounts? He could say this because he truly accepted as coming from the Lord even the death of a martyr.

So I encourage you Christian, don't look for happiness in the things of this world, nor look to the Lord to provide you with those things that you think you need. The Lord knows what you need before you even ask it. Whether you find yourself in poverty or prosperity - trust in the Lord, and you will be content.
posted by Daniel @ 7:38 AM   4 comment(s)
Friday, November 18, 2011
I Spoke To You In Your Prosperity
Given that our God is sovereign, and that you are providentially reading this post, I thought I would pass along the thought God first expressed to those living in Jerusalem during the days before He exiled them to Babylon.

There, in Jeremiah 22 we read the following:

I spoke to you in your prosperity; but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ [NASB]

If there is any tug in your soul when you read this, I hope you will not ignore it.
posted by Daniel @ 11:06 AM   2 comment(s)
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