Monthly Archives: June 2016

On Writing To Glorify God

I have been thinking more about writing and how to glorify God by writing, but I want to take a step back and think through, “Does God want people to write?” On the surface, it’s rather funny to write down a question like this, since I am writing. However, the fact I am writing shows that I believe this presupposition. Of course I believe God wants people to write. In fact, as a Christian, I have been given a book by God with thousands of words: The Bible. He intends for us to have a language, and for that language to be communicated not just once to one audience but saved, or written down, to be given to many other audiences.

But, as I have learned, sometimes pointing out the obvious helps us move forward in answering the “practical” questions. If I want to know how to glorify God through writing, I first need to know what He says about writing. What is my theology of writing? And to know my presuppositions and where they come from is helpful in answering the question of “how to”?

So, to the question, “Does God want people to write?” The answer is a resounding, Duh! He even told some people to “write this down.” And some things were told to be written down, and other things were told not to be written down so they could remain hidden. And we know this because it was written down. Not the hidden things, because what was written was God saying not to write them… Which they weren’t.

Now, the next question is, what does God want people to write? Or more specifically, can people write fiction as well as non-fiction?

This needs to be answered before moving onto “writing for God’s glory,” because we have to define what types of writing can be used. What types of writing does God allow. And it is also plain that non-fiction is a yes. That can be written. That is what’s mostly written in the Bible. And there are two different types of non-fiction, poetry and prose.

But not all non-fiction glorifies God, because not all non-fiction is true. Not all non-fiction is from God. Satan spoke, and it was non-fiction, and it was a lie. And we know the lie Satan told because it was written down, but we know it was a lie because context tells us so. So the lie can be written, as long as it is shown as a lie, and shown that lies are bad. So non-fiction is bad only if it lies about lies. If it makes lies look good. If it makes lies out to be a great thing. The bible talks about lies and sin all the time. All of which are bad. However, the Bible portrays it all to be evil. Because it is evil. So, non-fiction is only good non-fiction when it not only tells the truth, but it tells the truth about those things which aren’t truthful. Which means if something is a lie but written as though it were true or good, then it’s bad-nonfiction.

How’s that for an easy answer?

Moving on…

What about fiction?

Well, we also see instances of fiction used within the Bible. We must be clear when we use the word fiction. Fiction is a manner of using words to weave a story that pushes an agenda. All fiction has an agenda. All fiction is trying to get a point, a message, an idea across. Though the events of the fiction may not have actually happened, it doesn’t mean that person is lying by using fiction. Instead, that person is often using fiction to push what is true. It’s creating a story to be used as an illustration to a point.

Some would say that Satan being in the garden as a snake is fictional and merely a story to portray a point. But that is itself wrong because Jesus not only spoke about the point of the Genesis account, but demonstrated to believe that it actually happened.

But there are plenty of places where a story, a tale, a parable, or fiction, was used to illustrate a point. Hopefully a few come to mind, such as Nathan’s story to David, or Jesus’ parables. But we also can see many instances in the world where this happens, and the world is also God’s spoken word.

When God wants to demonstrate his power, he uses nature, and he uses the vastness of the cosmos to demonstrate his power. And the truth is, the vastness illustrates his power. However, it only illustrates his power by demonstrating our smallness. It feels vast to us, and to God it’s small. This is one instance where you see the stars declaring the glory of God by being numerous and far apart, unstudied, unknown, inaccessible to us. But it’s fictional because it only illustrates God’s power, it’s not actually God’s power. It was made by his power, and it is being sustained by his power, but God’s power is not creation itself.

This is why some Christian fiction authors will say that we are living in a story, God’s story. We are God’s fiction. We are made up by God. We are created and used to tell a tale. God is using all of everything to demonstrate a point. There is a narrative in all of History that is going somewhere. There is a beginning to our story and an end to our story. God. God is the begging and end.

This is why fiction can be written. This is why God wants men to write fiction. Notice I said, God wants. How can I be so bold to say God wants something? How do I know?

I know because God had his words written down. Written down in two different senses: 1) Written down by men to be used to teach and instruct men in His ways, 2) Men are what’s written down; all of creation is God’s words written down. His paper is nothing. He created out of nothing. His words were made into something. Whatever you want to call it, nothing is God’s paper, his parchment, and God’s power, wisdom, goodness, and desires are the ink. He writes down using his ink on nothing and everything grows out of nothing.

To many this may sound weird, and not theologically sound. And it might not be. Why? Because I am grasping at what God did. I can say God created, but that’s not enough. That doesn’t portray what that means. I have to use what we all know to illustrate what creation looks like, and that’s grasping at something that I can never do, and I can only do it by mimicking God, which means writing my own type of fiction. But this fiction isn’t false, it’s merely an illustration. An illustration as to why fiction is good.

We are God’s fiction, his story. We are God’s imaginary people written down. However, when God imagines and writes, it doesn’t just stay in the mind of God. No, when God writes on his cosmic paper, which is nothing, it actually becomes something. When we write on paper, it is merely ink on paper, or pixels on a screen, a bunch of zeroes and ones. When God writes, it exists. When we write, it will only have existence because it is paper and ink, and the story itself will have existence in the minds of people.

So, should people write fiction? Absolutely. God did. But when we write fiction we are trying to take something and portray it in someone else’s head. We are trying to make our stories to existence and have an effect not on reality but on the minds of people in this reality. When God writes fiction, his fiction is the brains of people, and the people. His fiction is real. It doesn’t aim to shape minds, it is the minds. It doesn’t aim to shape people, it is the people.

With all this out of the way, which more could be said and explained, we now can ask the questions: How does God want writing to be done? What should be written about?

We do not ask

There is a command that Paul gives in the letter of Ephesians that says, “be filled with the Spirit.”

I want to simply say something that I believe it necessary in the Christian life. Regardless if you believe we can be filled with God or not. Regardless if you believe we can do something to be filled or not. No matter where you are or what you believe as a follower of Christ, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If Paul said it, as an apostle, then you better believe that it means something for you.

I believe we are not filled with the Holy Spirit it’s because we are not asking. God delights in our asking and he commands our asking. And only those who love God will even desire to be filled with the Spirit.

You may ask, “what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?” Or, “what does it look like?” The passage answers these questions, and the Bible answers much more. But I will tell you that no matter what it looks like or what it means, it is better if you bow your knees before God and ask Him. Do not think that intellectual ascent will make you filled with the Spirit. I guarantee you it won’t. Knowing what water filling a cup looks like and what it means that a cup is full doesn’t mean that the cup will be filled. You have to go out and find water before the cup is filled. Looking at pictures online won’t satisfy the empty cup before you.

So ask the questions, and answer them. But don’t wait until they’re answered before you ask God. Don’t wait until you have satisfied every answer you possible can about the subject before you ask God. God deals with children all the time. No man on earth has had too big a view of God or the perfect view of God apart from Jesus Christ. So don’t think you need to mature your thinking before you ask God for something He says He’d give you. Go to Him and ask. Ask him to fill you.

You may have the Holy Spirit. But to be filled with the Holy Spirit is different. Which is why Paul said that Christians need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Not because they weren’t given the Holy Spirit as a down payment, which they were as Paul wrote in chapter one, but because they were given the Holy Spirit, and now they needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Ask God. Ask Him daily. Ask Him hourly. No one has been filled with too much of the Holy Spirit. I can guarantee you that.

On Churches Today

Churches today believe they are obeying God and are truly loving the body of Christ because the people they are loving say they feel loved.

My question is simple: Why would the way someone feels determines if you’re following Christ? Wouldn’t the way Christ feels about what you’re doing determine if you’re following Him?

To feed a sheep what it wants would be fatal, and would kill it. But today, ministers give sheep what they want and feel they are obeying God because the sheep say they feel loved. The truth is a minister feeds the sheep what it needs, regardless of what it says.

Many Churches today call themselves a loving church because people leave feeling better about themselves. And then years later those same people leave the church because the pastor either: 1) Wasn’t preaching the truth and these people later realize it, 2) because the sheep are burnt out from being told to give everything to the pastor, instead of the pastor giving everything to the sheep,  which is not obeying the example Jesus set and commanded, 3) because the sheep find another pastor who makes them feel better about themselves than this pastor.

I know of a Church locally that talks about tithing 30 percent or more of the time. Why is this? Why would God need someone’s money to do as he desires? Why would God need to keep teaching about tithing to his people?

The truth is that these pastors want more money for what they decided God wants from them. What is ignored is what God has actually said.

We have tons of men of God who call themselves men of God who one day will be spit out by God. I don’t doubt if the Holy Spirit will come upon people by the hands of ministers that God will one day say, “I never knew you.” Why? Because God uses plenty of people who don’t love him.

It’s a sad day in our modern church when people are told to give and give and give to God. And they are even told to give cheerfully. And they are even told to give because God gave them. But, these people don’t know God, neither the minister nor the sheep, and they keep giving to God because they want God to bless them. There is a blessing in giving to God what is already his for sure. In the same way there is a blessing of repenting and turning back to God, giving yourself to Him even though you already belong to him. But there is a different in belonging to him as a vessel of glory and belonging to him as a vessel of wrath.

So to give God what is already his doesn’t show if you are a Christian or not. Plenty of people give to God, and they do it in their own strength and in their carnal desires.

A man of God must give because God commands it. A man of God delights to do God’s commands, even if it kills them. A man of God obeys God because it delights the man, not because the man knows that there is wisdom and there is types of blessings in obeying God. There is certainly a blessing in obedience to God. But a true man who loves God will obey God even if there is no blessing in it, simply because God is worthy of everything we are and have.

Our great God. Forgive us for holding onto ourselves. Forgive us for holding onto everything. May we give up everything for your sake. Fill us with your Spirit and purify us so that we may have more of you and have the strength to give everything to you. We cannot give up everything by our own strength, for even the faith required to trust and obey you is provided by and given by you. I cannot obey you apart from your work in me. Work in me and in us more I pray. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

White Privilege

Today there is talk about what was being called “White Privilege.” The conversation often goes nowhere because the terms “white” and “privilege” aren’t being well defined. Both are too lose and left up to everyone to interpret however they please. Thus, the discussions around white privilege often turn sour quickly, don’t forward the discussion, and end up being a waste of everyone’s time.

I’d like to talk about white privilege. However, I’m not going to define the terms. I don’t want to write a long definition of what I think it means and what others think it means. Instead, I want to look at the general concept, the basic definition that all sides agree upon, and comment on it.

Both sides, those who affirm and deny “white privilege” would, I believe, agree that whatever the term may mean it at least means people of white or light skin receiving some kind of favor, favoritism, or blessing just because of their skin.

This basic definition is why I believe both sides can’t get anywhere. They disagree on what constitutes white, and what constitutes privilege. The discussion ends because both are defining the terms on different sides.

I am most disheartened that this kind of silly discussion has entered into the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe it useless and fruitless because as Christians we are to only favor Christians over non-Christians. We do not favor poor Christians over rich Christians. Nor do we favor Pastors over laymen. We are to love one another and serve and build one another up, regardless of status within the church, gifting’s, or how big our pocket book is. The moment we start favoring certain kinds of Christians over others is the moment we lose sight of Christ. We then become like those Corinthians Paul spoke against who were causing divisions saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos.”

Now, I call myself a Calvinist. I do this because in general the term gets my general beliefs about man, salvation, the extent of God’s sovereignty, and who controls salvation, across. However, when I say I am a Calvinist, I do not mean it in the spirit of “I am born of or come from Calvin.” No. I mean it theologically. I mean it as a term that helps define my position quick enough for others who know the term to understand me. I believe these kinds of terms are helpful. But, the person that says, “I am of…” is a person that divides the church, because it’s a person that is trying to one up another, competing as though being from one man is better than being from another.

So, when I call myself a Calvinist, I am not trying to divide myself from Christ’s body, but I am declaring, as a part of Christ’s body, what I believe. However, what unites me with Christians isn’t particularly their view of atonement, or God’s sovereignty, or how dead man is in sin (as though people can be more or less dead). What unites me with other Christians is the Holy Spirit. We are Christians because of God, not because of our doctrine. We, as Christians, must grow and learn right doctrine, but my unity with Christ’s body isn’t how intellectual I am. My unity with Christ’s body is dependent upon Christ himself, joining His body together with His blood.

This is why the term “white privilege” is something I see as divisive. It ultimately is thinking outside of concepts God desires us to be conformed to. It seeks to define people based upon skin color and favor received instead of on who God is pleased with.

If I am jealous because another Christian is favored based on their color, then I am disjointing myself from that Christian brother or sister. Rather, I would rather both rejoice that they receive favor. I would pray that God gives them more favor. If society wants to choose someone to favor, I will pray they favor my fellow brothers and sisters. I will also pray that my fellow brothers and sisters use that favor to preach the gospel and to demonstrate the superiority of Christ. I will weep if Christians let that favor define them, and weep and pray that God protects them from the temptation of puffing themselves up.

What difference does it make to me if I am favored or not? I am a white man. Perhaps I have received privilege and perhaps I haven’t. But either way, if I am going to be favored, then may I use my favor to preach the superiority of Christ.

Ironically, I believe that once someone knows you’re a Christian in the USA today, then there are general associations made. Often I am seen as less intelligent. What I say is seen with little weight because I’m a Christian. And in the end, if I had received any privilege I lost it because I am a Christian.

But this doesn’t matter to me. My skin color will be used however it pleases God. I didn’t choose my skin tone, and nor will I rejoice or weep over my skin tone. I will rejoice in Christ and I will seek to gain Christ.

If someone simply views me as a white man and not a Christian man, then I believe my Christianity may have lost its simplicity and its power. Why? Because at that point I may be using the arm of the flesh rather than the power of God, which is the gospel.

To me, the only privilege I desire is the privilege of knowing Christ and the privilege of suffering for His name sake. Any other privilege I may receive is garbage to me. Why should I care why you favor me? Why should I care if you or others want to give me some privilege because I’m white? I care only if God is pleased. And if people are going to condemn me for being white or praise me for being white, I pray I will respond the same way both times: with the gospel.

This discussion about white privilege is nonsense. And some may say that I say that because I’m white and I don’t realize my privilege. As much as I would disagree, I don’t care to argue that. If they want to define me and try to tell me how I am experiencing life, then I cannot argue with that person. They’ve already determined who I am. And the only way of destroying their argument is to just preach Christ.

“You sir are privileged because you’re white.”

“Whether I am white or black, I don’t care. I count my race and my color as garbage in comparison to knowing Christ. And I would plead for you to, dear person, to repent of your sins and follow Christ because he is worthy and he doesn’t care what you look like. Your skin color doesn’t win favor with him. Those who love Him and obey Him wholeheartedly and with everything, hating everything else by comparison, are the people he favors. So turn to him, and repent.”

“You can say you don’t care that you’re white or black because you are white and you haven’t been through what I have. You experience the privilege and don’t realize it.”

“If you don’t think I can relate to you, you may be right. But Christ not only relates you to, but Christ stooped down and joined himself with man, even though He is God. I may receive privilege from society because I’m white, but God gives no man in his kingdom privilege because their white. He gives every man in his kingdom his Holy Spirit. Every man in his kingdom is of equal status. And even if I haven’t been through what you’ve been through, you and I both certainly haven’t been through what Christ has. And whatever you’ve been through is nothing compared to what Christ went through. So believe on Him, or perish.”

Don’t let the foolish talk of the world become the center of your discussions with them. White privilege may be utter ridiculous, but don’t answer a fool in accordance with their folly. Otherwise they’ll be wise in their own eyes. And the precious pearls of God’s foolishness are so wise and amazing that we ought not cast them before swine.