“Why did it come to me?  Why was I chosen?”

“Such questions cannot be answered,” said Gandalf.  “You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate.  But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”

-Fellowship of the Ring, Ch 2

Need Career Advice

God’s purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower!

The house fell through. That’s the first thing you need to know. The second thing is that we’re going to have another baby.

When Gideon was confronted by an angel with the task of throwing out the Midianites, he asked for a turn of Providence to make his path clear: He’d throw out a lamb fleece with a challenge: one night, make the the dew fall on the fleece, but leave the ground dry. The second night, make the ground all dewy, and the fleece dry. There’s been a lot said lately against the use of “fleeces” in determining the will of God, but I find that, understood correctly, a fleece can be a very useful thing. In Gideon’s case, attacking the Midianites would have been a very, very foolish thing – apart from a miracle of God. So asking for a little token miracle in advance seems quite reasonable. Of course, most of us aren’t putting our necks on the line for a miracle, so asking for a sign on the same order of the miraculous would be a little presumptuous.

But what’s wrong with taking a few hints from Providence? For instance, if God makes a path clear for you to buy a house, it seems reasonable to conclude that you ought to live there for a year or two. In fact, only sheer bullheadedness would make you even consider taking up a chance to move. On the other hand, not buying a house… makes mobility more of an option. So it is clearly possible by a house to be fleeced. Continue reading “Need Career Advice”

Big Frothy Mess

I continue to be perplexed by the subtleties of the will of God. That’s probably a bad sentence to start on, but the other openers I thought of really weren’t much better.

I’ve just finished reading, at a friend’s request, a book on finding the will of God, and why you shouldn’t. It’s literally titled Finding the Will of God: a Pagan Notion? by Bruce Waltke. But it’s not nearly so bad as it sounds. He’s mostly against something he calls Christian divination – that practice of fumbling about looking for cryptological Providential hints God might have hidden concerning any major decisions – which admittedly sounds more like perusing the horoscopes than any faithful pursuit of God’s plan for your life. He also seems to be against asking God to communicate directly to you about your plans (a point on which I differ), mostly I think because he believes God does that relatively infrequently, and only on His own schedule.

The odd thing has been that, as Waltke pounds out his method of Biblically and theologically ciphering the will of God, he keeps undermining himself. And I don’t mean that he makes arguments I don’t like to support positions I don’t care for. I mean that, in the process of making a point with which I expect to agree, he makes frequent use of non sequitur and choppy reasoning. So by the time he gets to the finale of a point where I expected to agree with him 100%, he’s so bungled it that I end up suspicious of myself for intending to agree with him. It’s made it really difficult to finish the book. But finish I did, all the while dreaming of writing my own book, which says all the things he said, only… better, and in the right order.

Then I turn to the last chapter, an afterward, and everything changes. Continue reading “Big Frothy Mess”

Functional Trinity

It’s useful sometimes to think of the Trinity in terms of the work that they do in the world, so:

  • The Father’s work is primarily Election and Providence;
  • The Son’s work is primarily Propitiation and Intercession
  • The Spirit’s work is primarily Conviction and Empowerment

Of course each one of those jobs is worthy of reams of discussion, and that wouldn’t even cover the more difficult items like how they relate to one another and how they can be “one” and “three” at the same time. But I think it’s interesting to see how the roles that each one does relates to the others. Election, Propitiation, and Conviction kind of go together under the heading “salvation.” Providence, Intercession, and Empowerment kind of go together under the heading “sanctification,” or possibly “building up the church.” At the same time, Election and Proivdence go together in a way that uniquely says “Fatherhood;” Propitiation and Intercession go together in a way that uniquely says “Sonship;” and Conviction and Empowerment go together in a way that uniquely says “Spiritual.”

Two final thoughts:

  1. Can somebody give me some other word than “propitiation” for “Christ’s unique giving of himself in my place as a sacrifice for sins by dying on the cross”? I keep thinking there should be another word, but I can’t think of any.
  2. I really like the above rubric. It ties things together in a delightfully simple, thorough, interrelated way. It also makes me feel cool because I thought it up all by myself. Therefore, I don’t trust it. Can anybody think of any other “works” that God does that don’t fall neatly into these categories, or in any other way punch some holes in the above? I’d be much obliged.