V. Help for a better “Quality of Life”
Now that we have studied why we need God to help us convert from our “kingship” to “kingship” by God over our life; let us take a look at how God will help us.
The Bible includes one clear revelation in the promise, birth, life, teachings, sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ is that God is full of “grace,” the Christian word meaning God’s love and help. Grace means God initiates movement towards us and takes helpful action on our behalf. In the Christian message grace means that God freely enters into our human situation, lives among us, takes into his being our pain, brokenness and limitation, and all the consequences of it. It means that he bears our burdens in his body and in his life. It means that he fully gives himself to us and for us. Grace means that he comes to be with us, to help us, to show himself as the way, the truth, the life – as our way, our truth, our life – and to enter into the human experience of death so that he overcomes the power of death for us. Grace means that God comes to us and reveals himself, to us, because by ourselves we can’t find him. God’s grace had to become the living Word among us – relating with people, speaking touching healing, giving life. And as we, through faith see God in human flesh, clearly he is full of grace. He who accepts God’s grace lives a life fully in harmony with God’s moral law. He is the obedient one who fulfills God’s law – on our behalf. When Jesus, our savior and model thought about the cross, his sweat became as great drops of blood. He agonized he prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39)
What is God’s will?
And obediently he went to the cross. Later, to his disciples, he said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
Of the four actions commanded, which one is central?
In creating us in his image, God implanted in our being his moral law, which is the law of love. Without it, we cant be persons created in the image of God. God’s moral law of love is essential to personhood, to relationship with God, self, and others. It is indeed the only way that we can have abundant life. part of our sinful nature is that we want to establish our own law. Christian living requires that the Christian has complete faith in his/her God and that He is alive within that person and He finds expression in their life. This is what is meant by, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” If it is their, it is their in their submission to God, and others.
Christian living is a behavior of believing in a God full of grace and believing that only a God of unconditional love can be our Savior. Faith is more than “Knowing about;” it is believing and accepting and living the reality of the revealed grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Christian living prays, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Christian living prays, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
In what ways can you fulfill the Great Commission in the context of your family? Work? Community?
how are we to make disciples? Of Whom? With what resources?
Toward what end?
Just as a child of earth learns submission in stages starting with total reliance on earthly authority as a baby; the child of heaven learns submission to God through being broken of reliance on himself and the physical world around him and transferring that reliance to God.
“Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do, and lead me along a safe path.”
Recognize that only God can assist when we stand helpless.
Waiting certainly plays an enormous role in the unfolding story of God’s relationship to man. It is God’s oft-repeated way of teaching us that His power is real and that He can answer our prayers without interference and manipulation from us.
But we have such trouble getting our will, our time schedules out of the way. Much of the time we act like a child who brings a broken toy to his father to be mended. The father gladly takes the toy and begins work. Then after a while, childlike impatience takes over. Why is it taking so long?
The child stands by, getting his hands in the father’s way, offering a lot of meaningless advice and some silly criticism. Finally in desperation, he snatches the toy from the father’s hands and walks off with it, saying rather bitterly that he hadn’t really thought his father could fix it anyway.
Perhaps it isn’t even “his will” to mend toys.
On the other hand, whenever we are trustful enough to leave our “broken toy” with the Father, not only do we eventually get it back gloriously restored, but are also handed a surprising plus. We find for ourselves what the saints and mystics affirm, that during the dark waiting period when self-effort had ceased, a spurt of astonishing spiritual growth took place in us. Afterwards, we have qualities like more patience, more love for the Lord and those around us, more ability to hear His voice, greater willingness to obey.
(From Adventures in Prayer by Catherine Marshall)
Do you catch yourself being impatient with God? Do you think you know the best way to handle a problem? While waiting, don’t stew over your problem. Praise God for his solution to the problem. Instead of focusing on yourself and your problem, focus on God’s care for you by his training plan for you.
n earth’s schools you have teachers, textbooks, school buildings, classes, pep rallies, etc.
(Psalms 26: 1-3)
Declare me innocent, O Lord, because I do what is right and trust you completely. Examine me and test me, Lord; judge my desires and thoughts. Your constant love is my guide; your faithfulness always leads me.”
Given a sincerity scale” of 1 to 10, how would you score on the Lord’s test? Why?
We see in God’s program, we have God’s love, examining, tests and faithfulness. In heaven’s training we have ministers, the Bible and other religious books, services, evangelization rallies, etc.
As on earth, there is a selection of schooling approaches, types of schools and training. There are various religions, denominations, and churches. Sometimes it’s hard to select the right “training camp” or church and remain with it. But we must remember that we are being taught by God.
(John 6: 43-45)
Jesus answered, “Stop grumbling among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him to me; and I will raise him to life on the last day. The prophets wrote ‘Everyone will be taught by God.’ Anyone who hears the Father and learns from him comes to me.”
Has your familiarity with Jesus (e.g. raised on Sunday School stories) ever kept you from seeing who he really is? What can help remove the blinders?
As part of earth’s schooling we learn that we must accept authority and be able to interrelate to others or else there are penalties we must suffer.
“You warned them to obey your teachings, but in pride they rejected your laws although keeping your Law is the way to life.”
Jesus told us we must be born again. The infinitive be is passive. It shows that it is something that must be done for us. No man can ‘born” himself. He must be born. The new birth is wholly foreign to our will. In other words, the new birth is a divine work – we are born of God.
Even though the new birth seems mysterious, that does not make it untrue. We may not understand the how of electricity, but we know that it lights our homes, runs our television and radio sets. We do not understand how the sheep grows wool, the cow grows hair, or the fowl grows feathers – but we know they do. We do not understand many mysteries, but we accept by faith the fact that at the moment we repent of sin and turn by faith to Jesus Christ we are born again.
It is the infusion of divine life into the human soul. It is the implementation or impartation of divine nature into the human soul whereby we become the children of God. We receive the breath of God. Christ through the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts…. That means that if you have been born again, you will live as long as God lives, because you are now sharing His very life. The long-lost fellowship man had with God in the Garden of Eden has been restored….
This new nature that you receive from God is bent to the will of God. You will want to do only His will… There is a new self-determination, inclination, disposition, a new principle of living, new choices. You seek to glorify God. You seek fellowship with other Christians in the Church. You love the Bible. You love to spend time in prayer with God. Your whole disposition is changed. Whereas your life once was filled with unbelief, the root and foundation of all sin, and you once doubted God, now you believe Him. Now you have utmost confidence and faith in God and His Word.
(From Peace with God by Billy Graham)
God saves us without expecting any additional payment. Those who love God, however want to obey him. Repentance is the first step in placing our lives under his authority. What area of life do you want to turn over to God?
With God’s schooling we learn that we must accept his authority and be able to share love with those around us, or else there are definite penalties we must suffer also. These penalties take many forms including earthly problems. Why are there these penalties? We will be looking at this in later lessons. But two answers that we must consider are:
(I Chronicles 16:14)
“The Lord is our God, His commands are for all the world.”
God really knows what he’s doing or “Father knows best.”
Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was; “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.”
Since we do not have control of our future, we need to act according to his plan for us, and to know the best way to.
“‘I have asked the Lord for one thing only do I want’ to live in the Lord’s house all my life, and to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance.”
people are not interested in changing their life to be successful at something they care nothing about. They have been told they can go to heaven to be with God forever. But this is in a uncertain future, not the certain present. They move on to whatever they really care about, making money, etc. They do not have the desire to meet God, so the promise has little effect on their life, unless they start to look at their life. Then purpose, values, meaningfulness and many other factors of life come into focus. These areas are better known as religion.
“Religion, after all, is the serious business of the human race” (Arnold Toynbee, Civilization on Trial).
Religion, the belief in a divine or supernatural power, is a universal cultural trait among humans. Throughout prehistory within the primeval rain forest, a staggering majority of human beings have been and still are prepared to accept belief in a supernatural force superior to themselves. No less a thinker than Albert Einstein once acknowledge that his idea of God included “the presence of a superior reasoning power… revealed in the incomprehensible universe.”
“I have noticed a similar phenomenon in Christians today. They can almost invariably make sense of their own history, they can look back over childhood, over early adulthood, over family troubles, over career choices and say, ‘I think Ii see what God was teaching me. I see what he was doing.’ They can look at the past and see more than change they can see growth. Christians need never feel lost in the cosmos, because the Holy Spirit identifies for us our place in the sweep of history; the Spirit assures us of our place in relation to God who loves us as his children. This knowledge of intimate love and purpose comes from Jesus through the Holy Spirit just as it came to the disciples at Pentecost” (Knowing the Face of God-Tim Stafford).
Having a personal relationship with God is truly a requirement if we are truly God’s children.
No matter how sophisticated or religiously well-informed we become at our simplest, most emotional level we long to see God. Children ask; “How big is God?” and “What does God look like?” until parents and teachers warn them away from these questions. But none of us ever totally shakes the feeling that some point in time we will meet God. Indeed something deeply hungry is touched by the thought of such a possibility. God is always present, we know but we wish he were visible.
John, who twice says that no one has ever seen God and lived, also says this “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2).
What motives for living a holy life does John give?
“Part of the difficulty, too, lies in our own sinful natures. If we don’t enjoy the full fellowship with God that we want, it is often because we went too see him only on our terms, as a possible addition to the good life we have made for ourselves. But we cannot see him that way. It is an absurd impossibility – like wanting to see the Grand Canyon on a small scale. Either we see God in grandeur and are transformed, or we do not see him at all… we cannot see God’s glory through dark lenses.
“…If we purified our lives of everything that distracts from God – such as unkindness, anger, greed – and devoted our daily lives to loving and serving him, we would see God much more clearly. Prayer and careful study of the Bible would sharpen our sight further in helping us see and understand Jesus as a real person and the real God” (Knowing the Face of God-Tim Stafford).
“Father” is not in itself a name, it is a title. It is a name only to one small group, the father’s children. Putting “our” in front of “Father” transforms it into something even more intimate than a personal name. A father is responsible for his children. They may leave him, as did the prodigal son, but the father cannot abandon them if he is any kind of father at all. He must feed and care for them, tenderly love them, and give them a share of the family inheritance. A father cannot change his mind and return his child to where he came from. Once in the family, the child deserves the father’s care and love as long as he the child chooses to accept it and be a part of the family. Thus “father” is a uniquely personal name for God that emphasizes his unqualified commitment to us.
It was God who planted in the human heart the desire for personal growth. We have been made in his image, one of beauty, hope, love and peace.
“Faith has such might because next to love it is the force most inherent in one’s own awareness” (Helen Keller).
“A simple child like faith in a Divine Friend solves all the problems that come to us by land or sea. Faith teaches us to use our talent to the fullest extent” (Helen Keller).
“Faith… directs to the light when darkness prevails it supplies incentive to action and converts ideas into realities. It fires the imagination, and that is essential, for one must envision the higher life and behave as if it were a fact before it can unfold” (Helen Keller).
“Through faith I create the world I gaze upon, I make my own day and night” (Helen Keller).
“We are finding that god is not an antique myth; rather, belief in God is the best way we know for relating to the mystery and the paradox that lie at the very heart of life. For when all is said and done, when we reach the outer limit of reason and is said and done, when we reach the outer limit of reason and knowledge, by God’s grace, the gaps in our understanding are filled with faith, with hope and, at last, even with love” (Charles P. Henderson, Job., The Christian Century).
A component of earth’s training is that there must be a concentrated effort by the student and development of his earthly character through practice at coping with difficult conditions (e.g. P.E., Sports, Studying, Tests, etc.). This allows us to be disciplined (in control of ourselves), in order to accomplish earthly things.
(Job 2: 9-10)
His wife said to him: “You are still as faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?”
Job answered, “You are talking nonsense! When God sends us something good we welcome it, How can we complain when he sends us trouble?” Even in tall this suffering Job said nothing to God.
God allows people to be tested and endure hardships, but his love for them never diminishes. In the end he is glorified, and they are made more mature.
The Bible is certainly not oblivious to difficulty. But it is critical that we begin to understand Scripture’s message that difficulty and joy are not exclusive entities, but mutual friends….
Most of the greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers of all time had to pass through the fire. Bunyan wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress” from jail. Florence Nightingale, too ill to move from her bed, reorganized the hospitals of England. Semi paralyzed and under the constant menace of apoplexy, Pasteur was tireless in his attack on disease. During the greater part of his life, American historian Frances Parkman suffered so acutely that he could not work for more than five minutes at a time. His eyesight was so wretched that he could scrawl only a few gigantic words on a manuscript, yet he contrived to write twenty magnificent volumes of history. Sometimes it seems that when God is about to make preeminent use of a man, he puts him through the fire.
Many people live as though they regret God’s incredible invitation to life. Avoiding pain becomes their chief occupation. And few of them realize that avoidance of difficulty only produces more pain in the long run.
(From You Gotta Keep Dancin’ by Tim Hansel)
Don’t get angry at God. Use problems to strengthen your character and to bring glory to God.
If Job did curse God, what would that prove about Job? About God? About Satan?
In God’s world we must undertake a strong effort and practice coping with difficult conditions (sickness, poor financial picture, hatred, etc.). All of this is to help us to submit our will to him so that we can make that decision to leave our desire for earthly things and change our desire to spiritual areas (Love of God, Glory to God, etc.) and thereby join him in Heaven. This may be part of why it seems that God’s people may suffer a little more. The child of earth, being of earth receives the benefits of earth (wealth, success, etc.). But all that comes to an abrupt end at death, and then there is nothing.
“You will always have the poor people with you, but you will not always have me?
What is Jesus trying to teach his disciples about priorities?
We see in the above statement, the importance of putting God first in our efforts. In earthly schooling we can get involved in extracurricular activities (debate society, sports, school paper, etc.). These activities help us grow and helps the people around us. This is true as long as it contributes to our completion of this training and our growth. In God’s schooling we can also participate in additional activities (church clubs, teaching, etc.). But this also must help us grow in our spiritual life as well as reaching our ultimate objectives or it defeats our training plan.
(Matthew 10: 24-25)
“No pupil is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master. So a pupil should be satisfied to become like his teacher, and a slave like his master. if the head of the family is called Beelzebub, the members of the family will be called even worse names!”
How has Christ’s teaching united the members of his church?
How has it divided them?
The essential point i want to share throughout this course is that the desire to know God’s will is the result of His much greater desire to have His children with Him in heaven. he is in search of us. he wants our life here on earth and in heaven to be maximum. As Henry Drummond has said, “The maximum achievement of any man’s life after it is all over is to have done any more with a life.”
But that means more than guidance for each day. As you shall see God’s will is that we know Him, live in an intimate relationship with Him, and as a result love, glorify, serve, and obey him. My hope is that this course will clarify that more vividly and will also provide practical steps in knowing God’s personal will for you.
My prayer is that this course will help you in a personal and practical way in your adventure of living God’s will.
“Our Father, who art in heaven”
“The originality of my life lies in it being rooted in two domains of life which are commonly regarded as antagonistic. By intellectual training i belong to the ‘children of heaven,’ but by temperament and by my professional studies, i am a ‘child of the earth…’.” (Teilhard de Chardin).
Let’s continue where it all started, at the creation.
“And then the people of Israel prayed this prayer.
‘You Lord, you alone are Lord;
you made the heavens and the stars of the sky. You made land and sea and everything in them, you gave life to all.’.”
if he made it all and gave us life; Why?
God exists in 3 persons (Triune). The triune God, has a need for others to love, care and nurture. he also has a need to receive in return love, reverence, and praise. This is reflected in our own basic nature. God created more than one of us, as he is 3 persons in one, because we have the same needs.
“indeed I do,” answered Jesus. “Haven’t you ever read this scripture? ‘You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise'”.
Theology provides us with our relationship with God. It helps us find answers to questions like: “What is your support in life and in death?”
“What is the chief purpose of human life?”
“What are we by nature?”
in other words; theology is the quest for the ultimate truth about God in relation to our existence along with the world around us. What is more important to study?
His Call (Phyllis C. Michael)
My load is too heavy;
My shoulders are broad!
My feet are too weary;
I’ll give you strength!
I can’t see the way, Lord;
I’ll be your guide!
The path is so steep though;
One step at a time!
I fear I shall stumble;
I’ll help you stand!
I’m poorly prepared Lord;
I’ll teach you all!
Lord, here’s a crossroad;
I am the way!
I’ll go then, where you call;
Follow thou Me!
It is every day’s life plan; which wrestles with the basic issues and decisions all of us face every day, whoever we are, whatever we do.
Our purpose in this course is simply to restate some questions that no doubt come to mind in your life and help guide you to some answers. Although “Theology” deals with ideas, truths and doctrines (“doctrine” simply means “teaching”); it points to a very personal and living area, our day to day relationship to our purpose and goals of existence.
if we the provider of this course and you the student are to achieve this purpose; you must be able to relate what follows; to your social, sexual, political, your individual life, your everyday work and play, and your worship of your God. We both will be satisfied; if after reading this, you will be able to make God a part of your daily life, True God dealing with real men in a real world.
Since we are basing our guidance to daily life on the Christian principals set forth by Jesus Christ; we will be relating much of the course to what he has left us in guidance. it is often said to know someone you only have to look at the people around them. Well who better to look at, then “God’s Son” to get to know God. If we want to relate to him, we must look at how God has provided some very solid guidance to humanity. We will look at the many forms of guidance God provided us; the Church, the Bible, other followers, etc.
(Charles P. Henderson, Jr., The Christian Century)
“These are just testimony of men and women who had neither axe to grind nor material product to sell. It is the testimony of men and women who in many cases laid down their lives rather than deny what they or their predecessors had seen and heard of Jesus the Son of God. And what is their for human eyes and ears to witness today – apart from this record of what happened long ago?
“There is the testimony of millions of men and women of all races and of rank, of all varieties of accomplishment, and of all levels of understanding, that they have found in a person Jesus Christ, a Savior, a brother, a friend, who has lifted the burden of guilt from their hearts and given them peace and stability.
“Do not, if you are an unbeliever, if you are skeptical be put off by the fact that this experience seems to mean a thousand different things to a thousand different people. In one man the heart and core of it seems to consist in a vocation of personal evangelism rooted and grounded in expounding passages of the Bible. In another man the heart and core of it seems to consist in regular attendance at Mass, regular confession to a priest, and the thumbing of beads in prayer. Do not make the mistakes of thinking that these two men are involved in essentially different systems of belief. For both of them devotion to their convictions. Indeed the variety of modes in which Christian devotion to Christ manifests itself is a strength rather than a weakness of the Christian religion. G. K. Chesterton told how he had been compulsively drawn to Christ by the fact that he was a person whom everybody praised for a different reason.
“As we read the Bible, and the works of wise Christian teachers, a hundred Christ’s pass before our eyes. There is Christ the King, and Christ the carpenter of Nazareth. There is the Son of God seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven and the child of Mary lying in a manger. There is the Good Shepherd and the true vine, the Spouse of the Church and its cornerstone, the Sower of seed and the Fisher of Men. Christ is the high priest standing at the altar and the servant with water and a towel kneeling at your door. he is the Lamb sent to slaughter and the promised Messiah.
“It is not surprising that those who claim to serve him can do so in fashions so diverse.”
We learn from, Christ himself that the whole world is God’s world. We shall learn to live day by day in the light of the truth about God, man and the world modeled through Christ.
We will be using the primary tool God has provided to get to know his son and a tool to get to know Him, the Bible. But the Bible alone, cannot provide us with guidance to life. There is always the danger that we will find in the Bible only what we take with us to it, use it to confirm what we already think, hear only what we want to hear.
To avoid this; we will listen to how other Christians in different times and places and situations, have understood it. We will look at how they define, men’s total dependence on God, the claim of God on every area of man’s life in the world. The truth is the truth about God, man and the world guided by Jesus Christ as we know him in the Bible and through others.
What is the living God we know in Christ and in the Bible doing and saying in our time, here and now where we have to live as Christians?
Why should we listen to these truths outside a church function?
- The church’s understanding of Christian truth is always subject to possible improvement and correction. Otherwise we would only need a set of laws as in the Old Testament. This understanding must change to meet the times we live in.
- Because the final truth of the Christian faith is the truth mediated to us by Scripture. Our first loyalty must be to God and his Word, not the words of men.
- Because we can serve the church only when we are free to remind it of who stands above it.
- Because the Holy Spirit who has been at work guiding the church’s thought and life in other times and places is still at work. We must be open to hear what he is saying and doing here, now, as well as what he did and said there and then. We have looked at the focal point of existence: “God,” within another lesson.
let us continue our search for answers to the theology of life. To help you continue, I will now state hopefully our common answer at t the end of this course. St. Gregory, an early Christian theologian stated it this way;
“I am connected with the world below, and likewise with the spirit. I must be buried with Christ, rise with Christ, be joint heirs with Christ, become the Sons of God.”
We will go on from these truths which help us to understand that God is not an irrational truth which we are asked to swallow at the cost of our intellect and understanding to other truths. These truths provide light for our way through life, and enlightens us as to the purpose of our personal experience, the desire of our hearts for a purpose, and the answer for the feeling within us that there better be someone in control.
We do not have to depend just on what God has shown us, through his creations. he has also revealed Himself to mankind through various means. he has made Himself a living Person; one who we can experience a relationship with, one who we can have a personal encounter. We need to interact with him and to have his love become part of our life. But even more important, we are created to be fulfilled by giving him back; the love, respect and glory he deserves as our creator and Father.
The real test of this love and respect is the submission of our wills and actions to his desires. We show our love, by desiring to do and actually doing everything desired by the person we love.
We will be looking at the specific ways we show our love and respect. Two of the ways we will concentrate on our beliefs and our actions.
This will be done, by looking at what has revealed about him and what he expects of us. We will be looking and discussing various information reflecting the signs of beauty, truth, goodness, justice, and compassion of our Father in Heaven.
Religion is a sigh of health. Skepticism is a mark of illness. Unbelief is abnormal; belief is normal. For the normal human being will joyfully embrace faith and belief.
Each time God helps us through a moral dilemma; we become a little stronger, a little better, a little closer to him. God allows us to have moral dilemmas not to destroy us, but to make us whole.
How do you plan on mastering your moral dilemmas (e.g. money)?
We will look at his Justice and Love. God exercises his justice because he loves. It is for our own good and the rest of his children; that he will not tolerate our rebellion against him. He acts in order to bring us back to him and to our true selves. He becomes angry because he cares for us and cannot stand seeing us hurting ourselves and slowing our growth to reach our ultimate goal. He wants to also see us live as the human’s he created us as; created for meaningful human lives. We only have to look at the following verses to see this: (Amos 3:2), (Proverbs 3:12), (Hebrews 12:6), (Revelation 3:19), (Romans 6:23), (Psalm 139).
(Christian Doctrine-Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr.)
“God treats men as persons. That means, he wants a two-way relationship. he speaks and he wants an answer. He loves and he wants to be loved in return. He commands and he wants obedience.
“If you turn to God, he will turn to you. his love, help and life-renewing power are available to all, but effective only for those who ask for it. Or to put it another way, Christ achieved potential salvation for all men, but it becomes real salvation only for those who decide to believe in him, depend on Him and follow him.
“Was it not emphasized in the Old Testament covenant that ‘it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he commanded us’ (Deuteronomy 6:25)? Did not the prophets promise God’s favor ‘if you are willing and obedient’ (Isaiah 1:19)? Dose the new Testament not teach that ‘whoever calls on the Lord shall be saved’ (Acts 2:21)?”
What are some of the ways we “try to keep God boxed up and out of everyday affairs?”
God through Christ loves all men, and desires all men to join him in heaven; “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). But he does demand obedience: (2 Chronicles 6:14). “You keep your covenant with your people and show them your love when they live in wholehearted obedience to you, Christ, the chosen one of God” (Luke 9;35), “God’s beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17), was chosen to be our perfect model and guide us to be God’s obedient Son or Daughter (Mark 10: 45), (Matthew 16:25).
God gave us the freedom to choose to be his Child when he created us as humans. How could we choose Him, if we did not have an alternative. No one forces us to choose the Family of God or the Family of Earth. But we must choose; or the Glory we would give to either family, would not be ours but our Creators. He wants our Glory, given from our whole committed heart, mind, and soul. you voluntarily give up your freedom, and select the enslaving power of Earth and the Glory of Man if you choose Earth’s family. If you choose God’s family, you choose freedom from the enslavement of earth’s standards, freedom of God’s Love and True Human fellowship as it was meant and created; and therefore the realization of our true purpose on Earth.
What does it mean for you to be part of this “Universal priesthood of all believers?” How do you feel about this role?
in order to fully understand our true purpose on earth, we must understand that we are created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26). One of the forms that this takes is; that humans are rational creations, with the ability to reason and to act in accordance with what is reasonable. But in addition to the earth based forms (e.g. rational ability) we have a spiritual form (a soul). This soul is what truly is of heaven, and “in the image of God.” One of the links we have between these forms, is our ability to make moral judgments; how our earthly qualities and abilities can be used to reach and satisfy spiritual goals and needs.
Since we are immature Children of God we must look at the first born, the model Jesus Christ, for a perfect picture of What a human and a Child of God (Son or Daughter) is and should be (Romans 5:15), 1 Corinthians 15:45). he is the man who is our model for all of us to be truly perfect “Sons and/or Daughters of God.” he is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1;15), “the likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4;4), “in the form of God” (Philippians 2:5). Christ showed us how we can blend our spiritual and earthly forms into the perfect man here on earth, and yet reach our ultimate goal, to be joined with our “Father in Heaven.”
J. Frank Norris
Future religious leaders are not exempt from growing up in dysfunctional homes, or from suffering the effects of turbulent upbringings. J. Frank Norris, the infamous Fundamentalist pastor of First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, provides a classic example. Not only was Norris the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, from 1909 until 1952; he also simultaneously served as pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Detroit for fourteen years beginning in 1935. During that time, over 25,000 people joined the two churches. Norris was a leading figure among Fundamentalist of his day. He published his own widely distributed paper, The Fundamentalist, and he was considered a spellbinding preacher. yet many people wondered why Norris had such a stormy ministry. His house, as well as his church, burned down, and in both cases Norris himself was accused of arson. he was embroiled in constant controversy, haranguing everyone with whom he disagreed. He sued his own church. Norris even shot a man to death in his church office. To comprehend Norris’s flamboyant and vindictive leadership style, one must consider his childhood. When Norris was a young boy, his father, an alcoholic, beat him mercilessly. Two gang members once came to the Norris home and began shooting at his father. The young boy charged at the two ruffians with a knife. he was shot three times. Norris was raised in poverty and turmoil. He later recalled the shame of his childhood:
I was about eight years old, one day I was standing on the porch of the public school in Columbiana, two boys came up, one was 12 and one 14, each one of them had on a nice suit of clothes, a nice overcoat. I had on a little cotton suit, no overcoat, and the coat was tight around me – these boys, sons of a banker – they came up, looked at me, and they said, “Your coat is too little” – well I knew it. Then none of them pointed his finger at me while all the boys gathered around and said, “Your daddy is a drunkard and mine is a banker.” I turned and went into the school room, buried by face in my hands … Mother said, as she put her tender arms around me, and brushed away my tears, “Son, it is all right, some day you are going to wear good clothes – some day you will make a man – some day God will use you.”
Norris’ turbulent past compelled him to strive for success, yet it also drove him into destructive, egocentric patters of behavior that marred much of what might have been a productive ministry. Garry McIntosh and Samuel Rima in their book Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership concluded that many of today’s Christian leaders continue to be motivated, albeit subconsciously, by their dysfunctional pasts. Interestingly, McIntosh and Rima observe: “In almost every case, the factors that eventually undermine us are shadows of the ones that contribute to our success.”
Dear God, help me to be obedient to your will. Please help me not to question your wisdom, but to always trust you. If I do, understanding will follow. Amen.