Tonight I was just plain anxious. All of my friends were either hanging out at a Bible study potluck or recovering from vacation, so I ended up at home. After my Dad and his wife went to the local performance of "The Nutcracker", I was left alone to spice up my evening. And what do you do when you're bored and me? You do something magical and musical, like say, play guitar. Actually, that's the only musical thing I can do, and it's not really very magical. So boredom led me to play through the songs I plan on performing at open mic night this week. Two songs I wrote and a song by the Stray Cats called "Eighteen Miles from Memphis." In doing this I realized a few things. One, I need a lot more practice singing. And two, my singing greatly depends on who I'm singing for and the sound system I'm singing into. Unfortunately, the sound system will be terrible at Coal Creek Coffee on Wednesday night, and I will be singing in front of a bunch of ultra-leftist liberal folkies, who love the fact that I'm exposing myself in front of them (artistically, that is) but hate that I am a Christian. Sounds like a recipe for success, right? Okay, maybe not, but I'm going to hack it out anyway and hope that someday they will find someone who can do something as simple as balance a voice and a guitar in one monitor and the mains. I digress. Wednesday night, Coal Creek Coffee, 8 o'clock-ish. Be there or be square.
Back to my exciting Saturday evening. I finished going through my songs, knowing that I'm almost certainly setting myself up for failure, and then headed to The Grounds to read a bit. My friend Jason was working and it was great to see him, even if it was only a bit of chit chat. White hot chocolate in hand, I sat down and opened my Bible to Ephesians. I have been "studying" it lately and so I reread chapter one over and over. A few thoughts came to mind while reading, and I hope to be disciplined enough to meditate on them further in the next couple of days. First, the doctrine of election is beautiful, not just because it is neatly packaged and logical, but because it is beautiful to God. I'm inferring this from reading the apostle Paul's descriptions of it in the first half of Ephesians chapter one.
"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."
Election is not arbitrary or emotionless on God's part. On the contrary, our adoption is "in love" (v. 4-5), and "to the praise of his glorious grace" (v. 6). Our election and consequent redemption is "according to the riches of his grace" (v. 7), "which he lavished upon us" (v. 8). God doesn't just predestine just because he has to. He predestines because he loves us, and displays "the riches of his grace" (v. 7) through that. So, the next time I think of election as just being the U in T.U.L.I.P., I need to be convicted and look at election the way Paul did.
The second little epiphany I had while reading tonight was that I don't really believe that God is as powerful as He is. Verses 19 and 20 showed me that. "...what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places." The Christian's assurance for every part of life--physical, emotional, spiritual--is wrapped up in the word "immeasurable." Do I live my life like these verses are actually true? Do I trust that God is as powerful as He says He is? In a word, no. If I did, then when life overwhelms me I would know that this is the power available to me. When doubt assails my soul, I would remember that the same loving Father who raised His only begotten Son from the dead will raise me, His adopted son, as well. The resurrected Christ would be my proof that God can save the worst sinners and the greatest of hypocrites like me. This should drastically change how I look at the world. It should change how I live, how I pray. But first and foremost, it should fundamentally change how I think about God. He isn't just an old man with a beard, who only interacts with me abstractly through books written by dead people (inspired like paul or Puritan like Owen). He isn't only concerned with giving me a right intellectual understanding to prepare me for heaven. Rather, He desires that I know and rely on the immeasurable greatness of His power right here and now, in this present life. John Paton, the great missionary to the New Hebrides ( think Survivor: Vanuatu), said, "I'm invincible until God says otherwise." Now there is a man who rightly understood God's power.
More rambling. I just made you appreciate your Pastor or favorite author so much more. You're welcome and good night.