Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: life

Change and decay in all around I see

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis

It surely does seem that God is shouting at us right now. But what is He saying? Is he telling us to repent? Most likely that is part of it for most of us. But I can’t tell you what you need to repent of, that is a matter between you and God, No one else knows exactly what your need is.

What should be clear to everybody by now is that we have been trusting the wrong things. Money, jobs, health care, our own plans, all seem shaky now, not at all so sure and solid as we thought. One thing, one person, remains unchanged.

For I am the LORD, I change not (Malachi 3:6)

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses:
but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 30:6)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4)

The following hymn, written by Henry F. Lyte almost 200 years ago, is known throughout the English-speaking world. If anyone is thinking of singing something meaningful to strengthen and comfort folks in nursing homes, this hymn should be at the top of your list.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

A life-giving faith

We Christians have a lot to say about heaven and how we long to be there. Is anticipation enough to get us there? If we are not experiencing joy in the journey, will we make it?

Many Christians are experiencing a joyous and happy life, filled with joy far more abundant than they ever knew before they abandoned the way of the world. Others are burdened with care, wanting to always do the right thing and avoid doing the wrong thing. Their eyes are so fixed upon the ground, ever fearful of dangers that may lie on their path, that they forget to look up and see the glory of the Lord.

We don’t have to live like that. We don’t want to look for pleasure in things the world around us calls fun; but living with the dread of making a misstep is not the way Jesus wants us to live. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us on our way, to comfort us when we are on the right path and warn us if we are in danger of stepping off that path.

The fear of the Lord is an honest awareness of the seriousness of life, the seriousness of the choices we make every day. That kind of fear leads not to dread but to trust and joy.

May I offer this paraphrase of Romans 12:2;

“Don’t pattern your thinking after the things that are highly esteemed in today’s world, but let the Holy Spirit renew your thinking to understand the complete will of God so that your life can be transformed into what He wants it to be.”

A Mother’s Teaching from 1897

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Ma was telling us that there are always men rising up and declaring that Jesus could not be the Son of God, but was just a wonderful teacher. But she says not to let that bother us, for none of those men who undertake to explain all the works of God, have been able to explain very much after all. All the wisdom of all the men of all the ages has never been able to explain what life is, or the Power that with no effort at all can make the same kind of green grass turn into wool on a sheep, or hair on a cow, or feathers on a goose.

She says that Christ coming the way He did is really no greater miracle than the miracle of any life that comes to the earth, and is just as easily explained.

Only being we see so many forms of life around us, we have to believe in that whether we want to or not. A man who plants grain in the ground has to believe that some Power is going to make it grow. Otherwise he would do no planting, and so would starve. Everybody sees what happens there and so believes, but nobody yet has been able to explain how it happens. So they just go ahead and plant their grain and stop bothering their heads about what can’t be explained.

But in believing in Christ, God has kept for us the gift of faith, and has made it so-that people of earth can accept Him by faith, or reject Him by unbelief. He has not made it so we must accept His greatest gift if we do not want to do so. In the miracle of Love we are not forced to believe, as we are in the other miracles that God has wrought, and that no man-wisdom has ever yet been able to explain.

Ma says this one most rare and precious gift, is far too dear to the Heart of God to be forced on any man’s unbelief.

It must first become to us our hearts’ desire, and only then may we stretch our hands and take it.

-Christina Young, When I Was Thirteen

Questions of life and eternity

What is the most important factor in making a person want to be a Christian? Is it the fear of hell, or the longing for heaven?

Have you ever been in a discussion like that? What was the conclusion?

I think both factors have some motivational influence, but I do not believe that either is enough to empower someone to lead a victorious and happy Christian life.

For that, we need to find meaning for our life in an active relationship with the Creator and Saviour, and in serving Him and our neighbour. That relationship grows when we feed on the God’s Word and communicate with Him by both praying and listening.

That relationship must be the overriding guide in business, work, family and friendships. That does not mean that we talk of God all the time and try to force our views on others. All we need is to be ready to obey whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to do or say some little thing. A victorious and joy filled life is built by those little things,

The Gate of the Year

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I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known Way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart be still, what need our little life, our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things both high and low,
God hideth his intention.
God Knows. His will Is best.
The stretch of years which wind ahead, so dim to our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God, our fears are premature;
In Him all time hath full provision.
Then rest; until God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes, when, as the sweeter features
Of life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise God’s thought around His creatures
Our minds shall fill.

-Minnie Louise Haskins

Knowing who the true enemy is

While driving through downtown Saskatoon today, my wife and I noticed a billboard for the University of Lethbridge, which boasted “We teach you how to think, not what to think.” I wonder how true that is. As far as one can tell, the whole public education system in our country is committed to teaching and enforcing the doctrines of secular humanism – neo-Darwinism, atheism, the meaninglessness of life, etc.

The mass media are entirely supportive of this doctrine, acting in unison as a propaganda machine for it.  Some politicians may not be entirely at ease with this doctrine, but none dare say so openly.

Yet the “scientific” arguments of the New Atheists are incoherent and have no actual scientific foundation. Why is it that no one seems to be listening when it is pointed out that “the emperor has no clothes?”

It is because the people in academia and the media are only front men for a massive spiritual onslaught on mankind. Our true enemy is not people, but “the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Satan has duped people into seeing him and his messengers as angels of light, bringing the message of sweet reason to a world long held captive by belief in God.

However, the outcome of Satan’s message of light always tends to death. Christians are concerned, and rightly so, by the slaughter of millions of unborn babies and the creeping acceptance of euthanasia. There is also the slow and sure death of the soul as people are convinced that there is no meaning to life, no reason to hope, and no reason to care about others. Is it any wonder that suicide has become an epidemic in our day?

What the world needs is not better teachers, better reporters, or better politicians. They would all be subverted by the prevailing despair and spiritual darkness of our age. What the world needs is Christians who can explain why the existence of God gives meaning to all of life and to every individual life. God is not a vindictive monster who wants to make life miserable for us. He is a loving God who wants to give us a living hope that our life is precious to Him, that we can find joy and fulfilment in life, and that He has something even better planned for us in the life to come. It is true that “God is angry with the sinner every day,” but that is simply because sin leads to death and God wants us to live, truly live.

There are people who attempt to accommodate themselves to the thinking of the world, yet live as though they believed in God. They are attempting to appear intellectually respectable to the world, and at the same time fit in among Christians. Isn’t this the frog spirit described in the book of Revelation? Frogs are amphibious, able to seem at home  in the water (the world) and on the dry land (among Christians). This is not the way to lead an overcoming Christian life.

The meaning of Romans 12:2 is that we should not allow our thinking to be moulded after the prevailing thought of the age we live in, but that our thinking should be transformed by the renewing of the mind. That will set us free to allow God to use us to do His work here on earth.

The world needs such people. I believe that it would be possible to turn the world upside down once more if Christians could grasp the true liberating power of the gospel message. Yes there are people who desperately want to believe that there is no God to whom they will have to give account for their actions. Nevertheless, God has created all men and women with a heart that will feel empty and alienated until they experience the love of God. Don’t we have an obligation to speak plainly to the real needs of such people?

The apostle Paul makes three statements in Romans 1:14-16 that should be the motto of every Christian:

I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

I am ready to preach the gospel.

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

Do we feel that debt? Can we truly say that we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ? How ready are we to do something about it?

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