Monday, June 26, 2006

Sola Fide and Psalm 116

Over the past year or so I have struggled greatly with the doctrine of justification. It is not that I have been tempted to abandon the orthodox position for a cheap substitute, but that it's a doctrine not easily applied to life. Maybe it's because most of the literature I've read on the subject is very intellectually focused, or my flesh desires to have the right answers without the necessary pain and discomfort that coincide with obedience, but either way, I know that this great truth doesn't really look that great when set next to my life. In short, something is wrong.

The Bible is full of absolute commands. Christ seemed to be especially fond of saying things like, "...if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) Or, "if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26) The problem I find with these commands is not that they are bad commands, but that they aren't the type of commands I want Jesus to give--they are too vague. They are too ambiguous for an aspiring Pharisee such as myself. What I mean is that they are not easily obeyed. Christ isn't telling us to make a big, wooden cross and walk all over the world with it. That is too easy. He doesn't demand that we never speak with our disfunctional families ever again. That's even easier (for me, at least). He is asking of us something much deeper than external obedience.

Yet my search for obedience is too often characterized by this type of external obedience. I go to church twice every Sunday. I play in the worship band. I go to bible studies, church work days, and potlucks. In short, I look good. Everybody sees my good works and I know it. But this isn't what Christ asks of me. His righteousness hasn't been imputed to me so that I can continue trying to establish my own. Paul puts it this way--"O foolish Galatians (Mike Gorski)! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal 3:1-3) So, what's a boy to do?

Psalm 116 says, "What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people." (v. 12-14) First and foremost, I am to give back to God the very thing which He has given to me, salvation. There is no greater work than God's own, and no greater thing I can offer than praise and thanksgiving for the saving work of His Son. Living in the light of this truth should completely change my life. It should cause me to deny myself and follow Christ, to love Him so much that any love I might have for family and friends will look like hatred. And the necessary and natural extension of this is external obedience. Not just an outward 'obedience', but obedience that grows out of a pure love for God and a realization that we having nothing good to offer Him in return. At the end of every day, I can truly boast in Christ alone. His life. His Death. His resurrection. His intercession on my behalf.

Praise God that "...whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."--Philippians 3:7-11

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hallelujah!...or...What Happens When I Lead Worship at Church

Wow. Today was awesome. The worship leader at my church is out of town, so he put me in charge of the music for today's services, and it was so much fun. We had a very stripped down 'band' (my church has a lot of decent musicians) consisting of me on acoustic guitar/vocals, the worship leader's brother on vocals, the worship leader's other brother on djembe and shaker, and a friend who played acoustic guitar/vocals/harmonica. I usually just play electric guitar, but these past two weeks I've done a bunch of different stuff, which has been a nice change of pace. There is something about the folk rock vibe that I love, something very organic, and when combined with hymnody, I just get giddy. Anyway, I introduced three new songs to the congregation--'the love of christ is rich and free', 'free grace', and 'father, long before creation'--and the congregation seemed to catch on quickly and enjoy the lyrics (I LOVE HYMNS!!). Anyway, 'Father Long Before Creation' turned out really cool. I hope we continue to sing it as a congregation.

After the morning service, I went to lunch with a few friends and then helped one of them move a mattress from my garage to his house. He is an Indian working on his PhD in chemical engineering and we had a very encouraging talk about many a subject. His name is Sanil and he is one of the coolest guys I've talked to in a while--very humble, very honest, very real. Plus, he doesn't mind it when I make fun of Bollywood movies.

Also, our church has a college-age bible study/barbeque/church volleyball extravaganza every Sunday night and we are trying to make it a bit more evangelistic. Not evangelistic in the sense of "hey, bring your unsaved friends here so they will see how (un)cool we are and become Christians", but evangelistic in the sense of teaching people about the various doctrines involved in salvation so that they are able to share the gospel accurately with the people they're around all day long. Tonight we talked about justification by faith (Sola Fide!) and it was a great discussion. The leaders are really teaching from a reformed perspective and I think it is making the muddy theological waters a bit clearer in many a young person's mind. The guy who led tonight even quoted John Murray, Daniel Ahn's homeboy from Westminster.

Another cool thing that happened tonight was that one of my ex-divers came to church and the barbeque. I haven't seen her for a few years and it was cool to catch up with her. I hope to talk with her a bit more and help her to get plugged in with some good solid people because she is starting college next year. She is also very interested in missions, so I hope to talk about that with her as well.

Well, it's time for bed, and I've got a long day tomorrow. Running at 6am, then spending the rest of the day working on five sections of scaffolding, wetting myself from being 30-35 feet in the air and fighting the beautiful Wyoming wind. Good Night.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mike Gorski and the California (Support) Raisins

Well, it's official, my blog is number one--all others are number two or lower. I can't quite remember where I got those statistics, but you'll just have to take my word for it--I know a statistics professor.

Also official, is my appointment as a full-time, short-term, missionary apprentice in Spain (don't ask me how I will ever fit that onto a business card). Although I was offered the position last week, I guess it wasn't "official" until I got the letter in the mail, which happened today. Maybe the reason they don't want you to trust what they tell you at the sending center is that faith, it seems, is blind, and they want you to have a Hal Lindsey type faith. Just like his proposed dates for the end of the world have come and gone, but he still hangs on, World Harvest Mission wanted me to trust that even if that letter of appointment never came, and my departure date passed by, I needed to believe that it would somehow miraculously happen. Ok, maybe a better explanation is that all the people in the Sending Center are really just super-intelligent robots, and the only way for their decisions to become "official" are to print them off in the form of a letter and send them to a guy in a white suit somewhere who looks like Colonel Sanders (like the architect dude in the Matrix), who then signs the letters "Ward Shope" and sends them off to Missionary Appointees.

Anyway, I'm a little nervous about raising support. I've never had to raise money for a missions trip before--granted, I've never gone on a 20 month long trip either--and since my move to North Carolina, I have grown increasingly averse to accepting gifts from people. I don't want to be labeled a free-loader, nor do I enjoy feeling like one. The fact that I am raising God's money for God's work among the lost will need to be an ever present reminder. Also, I am learning a few things about why raising support can be very helpful to whatever ministry a missionary might have. Here is a list of a few of those things in no intentional order:
1) It creates a community of prayer for the ministry.
2) It gives people an opportunity to be blessed by giving, to store up treasure in heaven by getting rid of it here on earth.
3) It connects those who have vocational callings within their home country to God's work in the rest of the world.
4) It builds stronger relationships, founded on the Gospel, between people who may have otherwise lost touch.
5) It creates reciprocal prayer as supporters pray for missionaries and missionaries pray for the needs of their supporters.
6) It causes all parties involved to live by faith, not trusting in their own self-sufficiency.

This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it my attempt to coerce you ('you' being the five people who know about this blog) to give me your money, but it is a few of the things I have been learning as I try to peel away my pride in preparation for support raising. Seriously, though, give me all your money (just kidding).

In more spiritual news, I'm going to see "Nacho Libre" tonight. Brian and Roseena said that "Bend it Like Beckham" was an accurate representation of South Asian culture, and I'm hoping that "Nacho Libre" will help me better prepare for ministering in Spain (even though the movie takes place in Mexico, which is nowhere near Spain). I'll let you know if it is funny and educational.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Comments--confusing, invisible, and yet all there

I thought that I would post instructions as to how one would comment on my blog posts should the desire so move them. It is a bit confusing, mainly because right now the comments aren't showing up in the tally at the bottom of the post. But be not dismayed, for when you click on the "0 comments" link, all the comments do indeed appear.

So, anyway, to leave a comment here is what you do:

First, click on the "0 comments" link under the post, then type your comment in the window that pops up. After that click on the button that says "other" (as opposed to, "anonymous" and "blogger", unless of course you have a blogger account), type your name and click the "publish" button. After that, your comment should appear amongst the ideas of lesser men, namely, the other people who will theoretically comment in the future.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hello David

Have fun in Illinois, even though you will bear the constant burden of knowing that you don't have your own blog for nobody to read. And say hi to all your family for me.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Is there anybody out there?

Well, this is my first venture into the world of the internet beyond having an email account. Up until recently, I didn't exactly know what a blog was, and even if I did, I just assumed that you needed to be particularly technologically savvy to have one (and you know what happens when you are sometimes found to be mistaken). Even now, while writing my first ever real post, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm going to finish typing this, push a few buttons and hope that it works. A monkey could probably do this--and who knows I may soon be looking for an assistant if you happen to see any runaways from the zoo--and so I'm going to learn. My hope is that eventually this will be a good way for all my friends, near and far, to keep up on what is going on in my life, as well as stir up some good discourse through comments left and responded to. But for now, I am the only person in the world who knows this blog exists, and so I can say whatever I want. Here goes--purple monkey bumblebee. Hmm...who knows what other profound thoughts are crying to be communicated to the world, just wanting to be noticed, like the scalp of a balding man (or eagle). Anyway, I'll start this blog out right, by thanking those who made it possible.

First, thanks to God, because if there is anything I will ever have to say that is worthwhile and meaningful, that will ever effect anyone's life for good, it will be owing to His infinite worth and beauty. Secondly, thanks to Matthew at World Harvest Mission for taking five minutes to show me how easy this really is. Thirdly, thanks to google for creating Blogger. Without this service, Matthew wouldn't have been able to take five minutes to show me how easy this really is (deja vu). Lastly, I would like to thank Al Gore for inventing the internet. What other ingenious inventions are we missing out on because the state of Florida is scenile (just kidding)? Anyway, I'm going to say goodnight to myself. I look forward to future blogging, hopefully with people other than just me.