Monday, March 20, 2017

Real yet Irrational

This past Tuesday math nerds around the world celebrated Pi day. Pi is the Greek letter used in math to represent the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. The value of Pi to the hundredths place is 3.14, therefore March 14, otherwise known as 3/14, is celebrated as Pi day. The real interesting thing about Pi is that it's value does not stop at the hundredths place.   In fact, the decimal goes on unending.  In other words, you can get close to writing Pi but you'll never be able to get it exactly.  Pi is a real number but is considered irrational.

In my high school math classes our teacher challenged us to memorize Pi to as many decimal places as we could.  I can still do it - 3.14159265. I was pretty proud but was reminded that even though I knew Pi six more decimal places than those who knew him only as 3.14 I still was infinitely away from knowing him completely.

For a long time I've felt some spiritual connection with Pi.  A real number that was irrational. A number you could know in part but never fully know. Pi reminds me a lot of God. Real but irrational.  Knowable yet incomprehensible.

My hope and prayer that in some way today as we pray, commune, sing, and go to Scripture that we could get just a bit closer to knowing this real but irrational God.  I hope today we can add one more decimal place in our pursuit of knowing this incomprehensible God.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Shack Attack

My name is Todd, and I don’t like The Shack!

And somehow, I am being made to feel like less than a true believer by voicing my concerns.  That’s my problem and no one else’s, but that’s how I feel.

I didn’t have the same heart-rending reaction that many Christians had after reading the book.  I wondered why.  Is there something wrong with me?  Am I cold-hearted and insensitive to human pain?  Do I not want God to be forgiving and merciful? Am I not forgiving and merciful? Why don’t I love The Shack? But then I found relief when I read of others who likewise felt uneasy about the portrayal of God in The Shack.

I feel that the concern has been misinterpreted or perhaps it has been miscommunicated, so please indulge these confessions of a Shack dissident.
  • I’m thinking The Shack may be like a song or a painting.  Some people love songs that I don’t, and I love some songs that others don’t.  Some paintings speak to some but fall mute to others.  It’s like modern art – I just don’t get it, but, obviously, some people do.  The Shack is a song I just don’t get.  It didn’t move me but that doesn’t mean I’m not moved by the immense love of God.
  • My concern about The Shack is not that God is portrayed as loving and forgiving.  My concern is that The Shack’s portrayal didn’t seem consistent with biblically revealed truths about Him. My concern is that in trumpeting God’s love and mercy that other spiritual truths may have been compromised.  God’s love and mercy need to be shouted from the mountaintops, but not at the expense of other truths about Him.  Others have expressed that same concern and that’s a legitimate concern.
  • I’m not calling for a ban or boycott of the movie.  I’ve not heard that from anyone.  There’s been a simple and legitimate call for discernment.
  • Just because something is moving doesn’t make it true.  Some reviews seem to give approval of the movie primarily based on its emotive effect. It seems that The Shack passes the “did it make me cry” test.  That’s neither good nor bad.  That doesn’t make the story true or false.  However, emotion cannot be the litmus test for truth.  I'm typing these words and I sound like some hard-hearted, passionless, old-school Christian.  I’m not anti-emotion.  I cry.  Contemplating God moves me to tears. But in a “post-truth” world, we must always be on guard of letting our emotions determine what is true.  That’s good advice for The Shack or anything else.
I may be totally wrong about all of this. And I’m truly glad that God’s love and mercy are being spotlighted.  But please, don’t assume me or others who don’t like The Shack don’t like the idea of a loving and merciful God. We’re really not bad people.

Monday, March 06, 2017


Whoever you voted for this past November, you must admit there’s been hardly a dull moment with the new administration.  Recently there have been allegations of wiretapping - a serious intrusion of one’s privacy. Who wants words that are intended to stay private made public for all to hear?

A few years back I had phone conversation with someone and later found out that person had recorded our conversation without my permission.  I felt violated.  I was angry.  Although I was confident I didn’t say anything that could be used against me, the whole idea of the possibility of others hearing a conversation that was intended to be private was maddening.

We usually assume and prefer that our words are to be kept private.

I’m teaching a men’s class on Wednesday evenings at our church and we’re going through a study by Tony Evans called “Watch Your Mouth.”  Last week he referenced Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 12:36–37: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Jesus puts a lot of weight on what we say.

Evans went on to emphasize that God hears everything that we say.  It’s almost like God has a wiretap on our mouths! That scared me bit.  To know that every word that comes out of my mouth goes to the ears of God. Imagine that every conversation you have, every word you utter, every text you pound out -- all routed right up to heaven.

That snarky remark to the cashier – straight to God.  That inappropriate joke – straight to God.  That insult whispered under your breathe – straight to God. Those screams of profanity – straight to God.

On a brighter note, isn’t it encouraging to know that God hears those kind words said that no one else know about.  That call to the shut-in – straight to God.  That word of encouragement to the struggling student – straight to God.  That heartfelt greeting to a stranger – straight to God. That whisper of praise as you watch the sunset – straight to God.

He hears it all, good and bad.  The words of a Bible class song I sang when I was child prove true – “Be careful little mouth what you say.”

It’s not uncommon that when calling a customer service center there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the call that your conversation may be recorded for training purposes.  Well, think of this.  Every conversation you have may be recorded for judging purposes.

God has a wiretap on your mouth, so speak wisely!