seeing yourself in faith

7 11 2009

Do you ever see areas in your life that need improving?  (Hopefully so, because unless you’re like Jesus at all times, there is room for improvement.)  I know I need to make changes in some areas.  I’ve also learned that it’s sometimes quite difficult to change.

It can be hard to see ourselves making a big change, but that’s where faith comes in.  We must remind ourselves that by the power of God it is possible for us to change.  And not only is it possible, but God will help us, if we depend on Him and let Him direct our steps.  Of course, we must do our part also, but it’s comforting to know that we don’t have to rely solely on our own strength and willpower.

It’s important that we learn to look at ourselves through faith, to see who God wants us to become, and to believe that it is going to happen.  Many times we want to change, but it never happens.  Part of us wants it, but perhaps we don’t fully believe it will happen.  It can be harder to apply faith to ourselves than to others.  It’s easier to pray with a friend that they’ll have the peace of God than to believe that we will.  And perhaps we pray more for other people than ourselves.  That seems like a noble notion, and it is good to sometimes put other people first, but we must take care of ourselves, too.

If we don’t believe we’re going to change in a certain area, it won’t happen.  Our unbelief will keep us from trying our hardest (or from trying at all), and it will keep God from helping us.  For example, if a person wants to learn to play piano, but they make some excuse as to why they can’t, then they most likely won’t even try, and their failure is almost guaranteed.  And while God can help you, if you don’t get a keyboard / piano and you don’t take lessons and you don’t practice, what is there to help?  It’s similar to how the Holy Spirit will help you understand the Bible, but if you make excuses and don’t read it, what is there for Him to explain and reveal?

I’ve been thinking about this lately, because I need to change in some areas.  Some parts of my personality I’ve struggled with for years, so it can seem like I’ll never change, but I must not give up hope.  (And to my friends, please don’t give up hope for me!  Prayers are welcome!)  One thing I must remember is that things have to change for things to change.  I know, that’s obvious, but how easily do we forget that one, where we want to change — we have good intentions — but we aren’t doing much about it, so things aren’t really changing?  We need to set goals and determine our priorities, and of course, believe that we will change.

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how do you know what you know?

7 05 2009

Have you ever wondered how many facts you “know” that you have never seen proof for?  There are a LOT of things we are taught in schools that we accept as true without ever seeing any amount of proof.  Of course, we have scientists and researchers who conduct studies to figure out what is true, and they then report it to us.  But how do we know what they are saying is true?

My point in this is not to get you to doubt everything — because some of what we’re taught is true — but I want you to consider how much faith you put in other people to validate what you believe is true about the world.  I’m sure we can think of examples where “facts” were incorrectly taught, such as that the Earth is flat, that the Earth is the center of the universe and everything revolved around it, and how old the universe is (which has changed several times since I started school).  Are there “facts” being taught today that are not accurate?

I started thinking about this after reading an article called “On Some Epistemic Pathologies, or Why the Human Mind is a Terrarium for So Many Lies“.   This was my first visit to this blog, so I don’t know anything about the authors, but a few articles gave me some things to think about.  This particular article started out mentioning some historical events that some people don’t believe in, such as the Moon landing, William Shakespeare writing the works he’s famous for, the Twin Towers being destroyed by terrorists on 9/11, the existence of Jesus Christ, and the Holocaust.   There’s proof that all these things happened, yet there are people who believe some of them never happened.

The article doesn’t offer proof of those events — that can be found elsewhere — but it does discuss why people might choose to not believe in them (from a sociological point-of-view).  It also discusses why most people tend to believe research studies, even though it’s been proven that some are wrong.  (I once read that something like 1/3 of medical research is proven wrong within a year or two of its release.  Thinking of all the claims I’ve heard about whether eggs are healthy for you or not, I’m inclined to believe that number.)  Before I ramble too much (if I haven’t already), let me quote a part of that article for your convenience (because if you think this post is long, then the linked one may overwhelm you):

Leaving aside questions of outright fraud, media gullibility, and PR spin, the lay public must also now take on faith (no other word will do) some very counterintuitive claims by honest scientists, such as the wave/particle duality in the behavior of light, the constancy of the speed of light, the relativity of the contraction or expansion of spacetime according to the speed of the observer, and the origin of the universe in a “singularity” that was at one time, roughly fourteen billion years ago, infinitely dense and infinitely small.  If the lay citizen — a resident of the Show Me State of Missouri, for example — were to demand irrefutable evidence for any of these assertions, how could he be answered?  But the problem goes deeper than the suspicion that science has turned the universe into a vast Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.  The real problem is that almost all of what people claim they know — and not just the esoterica of science — must be taken on faith, from the number of planets in the solar system (who, by the way, demoted Pluto from the pantheon of planets, and on what grounds?) to the age of the earth and the chemical composition of water. ~ Edward T. Oakes, S.J.

Think about how many things you accept as true but have never seen proof for.  (Feel free to pause reading for a few minutes to let your mind ponder that.  Continue when ready.)  🙂  I’m going to mention a few things here, for your future thinking and/or discussion.

* politics — When we hear politicians make claims about their values, do we check if they are speaking in accordance with how they actually vote?  This is also important for claims they make of other candidates — they do lie.  In fact, in the 2008 Presidential campaign, both Barack Obama and John McCain were caught lying in their own TV ads in the same week.  So it’s known that politicians lie.  But do we have any idea how often they do and how often we believe their lies?

* Global Warming — This is an issue that has scientific facts which supposedly support both sides on whether it’s occurring now and whether it’s man-made.   Yet there is a lot of disagreement, and there are respected scientists on each side.   How do you know who is right?  Do you actually look at facts and research from both sides?  If not, how do you choose who to believe?

* faith / religion — This is the biggest issue.  Why do you believe what you believe?  Obviously this question is huge and we could discuss it for a LONG time, so this is just an intro to it.  Some people believe what their parents told them to believe, which has led to many believing in false religions.  Some people believe what seems right to them or what is most convenient for their lifestyle.  Some people make up their own beliefs and call it Christianity (or some other religion).  Obviously some faith is required, but we should also have some proof — that is, actual encounters with God — which lines up with the Word of God (the Bible).  We must be careful to not blindly follow others, because even some well-meaning people teach false doctrine sometimes.  But the truth is out there, and God wants you to find it.  (I discuss this more thoroughly in other parts of my blog, so I’ll stop here now.)

I could go on, but more examples are left as an exercise for the reader — that’s you.  🙂  You’re welcome to share your thoughts in a comment.





According to your faith…

30 03 2009

Yesterday and today my church had revival services with evangelist Marvin Gorman, and it was awesome!  We witnessed the power of God!  We saw people get saved, people baptized in the Holy Spirit, and people physically healed instantly.  The services were definitely what you would consider revival services, but I’ve been thinking that this is how the Church should be all the time.   And by Church, I don’t mean just church services, but the Body of Christ.

I’ve been wondering why we don’t see more of the book of Acts Church these days.  I think there’s numerous reasons we could list, but one Scripture passage that came to mind was Matthew 9:29, where Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”.  How much are we expecting of God?

You read the Bible, and you notice all kinds of miraculous works that Jesus and His followers did.  I know some people make the argument that miracles have passed away, but I don’t see how that could be scriptural.  Jesus said in John 14:12: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”  Have you ever thought about that?

I realize it’s difficult to imagine ourselves walking in that kind of power, because we know our weaknesses and struggles.  But we must remember who we are in Christ and what we are anointed to do.  (Of course, we should also do our best to live a pure and holy life.  That’s required, too.)  If we don’t have that kind of faith right now (and likely we don’t, or we’d be using it), we can grow our faith.  (For references to growing your faith, see 2 Cor. 10:15-16 and 2 Thess. 1:3.)  To grow our faith, we need to do more of the things you probably expect: praying more, studying the Word of God more, and praising and worshipping God more.  And talking with fellow Christians who are seeking more of God helps, too.  Basically, “feed” your spirit.

I encourage you to regularly look at your life to see what you’re believing God for.  Are you expecting Him to minister through you in awesome ways?  And when you go to church, are you expecting the manifest presence of God to show up (and thus His power)?  Remember, Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.”  Believe for more than you have been.  Remember, God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think (Eph. 3:20-21).