Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Silence, Is It Golden?

I was driving home tonight (pretty late I might add), from dropping off Spiderman at his house. We had been hanging out with good ol Leroy Jenkins watching some episodes on Netflix like we usually do on Tuesday nights. It was a good time.

But on my drive home, alone, I had my stereo blasting from my rock playlist and I was just cruising down Rt. 1. "Sang" along to some of the songs, stayed silent for others that I just couldn't get the lyrics down for. It wasn't until the last few minutes of my drive that I came to a realization: I flood myself with music. If not music, then people. If not people, then videogames or Netflix. It has been a very long time since I've sat in silence and been left to my own thoughts (aside from the porcelain throne, but that's a distraction in and of itself). I do not know why I do this, not specifically. Hence why I am writing.

I know part of it is that I simply enjoy music. The rythms, the beats, the guitars, even the words most of the time. These are all enjoyable, and in some cases, edifying. But I also know that's not the whole of it.

In the car, I know that part of it is that I'm just trying to cover over the weird sounds my car makes, but that's certainly not the whole of it.

I'm worried that deep down there might be some desire to ignore God speaking, to not give Him an opportunity to speak. It would be like asking someone a question and then covering your ears and yelling "LALALALALA" when they try to answer. Recently I have asked Him a few questions, being very afraid of His answer, what it could be. But even if this is true, I still don't think it is the whole of it.

I don't want to be left alone to my own thoughts. Why? Because then I would really have to face myself. I'd have to look myself in the eye and be honest with where I am, who I have become, and how I have allowed myself to drop the ball on many of my responsibilities. I have a full-time job now, with a lot of responsibility. I don't treat it like a full-time job. I live in my own house now, and while I have done a fairly decent job of keeping it clean and maintained, I do a terrible job of holding myself accountable when it comes to going to sleep and getting up the next day. I used to rely on not wanting to wake others up with my alarm, I no longer have that concern (there is no one to wake up). And when it comes to my relationship with God, I haven't spent nearly as much time in recent months with Him as I should. What we have is hardly even a relationship. And even still, I do not think this is the whole of it.

I am afraid that If I don't fill my time with music, people, games, or shows, then I am wasting my time. Time in silence is wasted time, or at least that is what my subconscious is trying to tell me.

But I don't want that to be the case. I want to be able to enjoy the silence. I'm in a relationship now and I don't want our time together in silence to be considered as a waste. I honestly just enjoy spending time with her, talking or not. And I want to be able to enjoy all my times of silence, especially when I am sitting in the presence of God and listening for His voice. I don't want to be afraid of what He'll say. I don't want to be afraid of silence.

One thing I am endeavoring to do after writing this is find a day where I can spend my time in silence. No music, no videogames, no tv shows, and not just encircling myself with friends. I need to spend the day taking in what's around me, taking in my thoughts, and listening for God's voice. That is my challenge to myself.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Just Wanna Be a Sheep??

"But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness." -Psalm 78:52
"Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture." -Psalm 100:3
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." -Isaiah 53:6
"For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness." -Ezekiel 34:11-12
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." -Matthew 9:36
"You will all fall away, Jesus said to them, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." -Mark 14:27
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep." -John 10:14-15
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." -John 10:27

Throughout Scripture, those who follow God are likened unto sheep. I chose a couple of verses to highlight this, as you can see above. Over and over again, God refers to us as His sheep, and He as our Shepherd.

I get the analogy - sheep rely on a shepherd to guide them and keep them safe, and they will follow him wherever He leads. This is an excellent picture of how we are to follow God. But my question is, where does the comparison end? If you know anything about sheep, you know that they are commonly thought to be the dumbest creature on Earth (thanks to the Dodo bird going extinct). To be honest, I'm not keen on this comparison after thinking about that. So how far does the analogy go?

I like to use analogies a lot in my lessons, but no matter what I use, somewhere down the line the analogy breaks apart. It is next to impossible to come up with the "perfect" analogy that relates and aligns perfectly with whatever you are talking about.

So how far do we take this "sheep" thing? What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does that look like in life? What about ambitions and dreams? Are those okay? Are we supposed to blindly follow, just trust and obey no matter what? The Bible says yes to that last one, and I'm inclined to agree with the Bible. It is, however, a little less clear on ambitions and dreams.

There is no passage which says "Thou shalt not have ambitions or dreams." So it must not be a bad thing. But there is also no passage which says "Definitely have those things." So I guess it is kind of a grey area? Personally, I think it is natural to have dreams, hopes for your future and even ambitions. The trouble comes when those things get in the way of following God. When my hopes and my dreams pull me away from doing the will of God, I've got a problem. I'm left with a choice, do what God wants (follow Him) or do what I want (go astray). Many times, I find myself doing the latter. I let my desires pull me away from what I know God wants me to do, like a sheep going off the path to find a small patch of grass in the wilderness.

As I continue to think about it, I do kind of like the picture of us being sheep. It makes for a much easier life, right? We have God leading us, the Good Shepherd, and He promises to keep us and look after us. Wolves can't get past him, and He will always lead us toward green pastures. We find community amongst the other sheep, and receive love and care from our Lord. If we go off on our own, straying from the path He set before us, we become further away from His protection and the safety of the flock. We open ourselves up to attack.

And when I think about the Israelites as depicted in the Old Testament, I see them disobeying and falling away from Him all the time. I see myself doing the same. And in the grand scheme of things, our intelligence as compared to God's is probably even further separate than a man's and a sheep's intelligence. He's just that much bigger than us. I guess it just makes it easier for us to try to be more like sheep in our relationship with God. We have to trust that was He has in store for us is going to be way better than anything we could find on our own.

On a final note for this analogy analysis, God promises to search us out when we become scattered and alone. He will not forsake us or leave us lost. We can trust in that promise no matter what is happening in our lives. He will come through for us and bring us back to Him.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Future, Free Will, and Prayer

So I have been reading through the Screwtape Letters recently, and I must say it is a great read. C.S. Lewis uses the perspective of demons tempting mankind to talk about the dangers of temptation and also to highlight how we might be tempted without even realizing it. He also uses the context to bring up some otherwise difficult-to-discuss topics and concepts that we might not otherwise contemplate.

In one of the chapters I was reading today (I've tried to only read one or two at a time, because otherwise it is too difficult to reflect on the topics brought up), Screwtape (the experienced demon writing to his less-experienced demon nephew) brings up the prayer life of the man Wormwood (his nephew) is in charge of tempting. While the man has been concerned about the oncoming war with the Germans (he is English at the onset of WWII), his prayer life has reflected that concern as well as many petitions for virtue and safety. Screwtape voices his concerns over the man's prayers, as even simple prayers can bring one closer to the Enemy (God).

He goes into a short discussion of the efficacy of prayer as it relates to free will and God's omniscience, which got me to thinking about it myself. The problem is as follows: God knows everything, including everything that we are going to think, say, and do. However, He also has given us what we call Free Will, the ability to pick and choose what we say and do, and to some degree what we think as well. But if God already knows what we are going to say and do, and consequently what we are going to ask for in prayer, if He answers it, did we really have free choice to pray that to begin with? The example in the book was in regard to the weather. If I pray for good weather for the weekend, and it happens, did it really matter at all if I prayed that? God set in motion natural laws that dictate how the weather functions at the beginning of Creation, so wouldn't the weather have been nice regardless of what I prayed? Or, on the flipside, if God is answering that prayer, He knew I was going to pray for that when He set everything in motion, so hadn't He already set the weather patterns in motion then to make it nice weather, before I had technically prayed for it? The dilemma is whether or not I really needed to pray for it, or if I my prayers really had any impact on the outcome at all. Does God change the natural order of things to answer our prayers?

To answer that immediate question, I would say there are evidences in Scripture that on occasion, God does step in and alter the natural order of things for the sake of us. Joshua with his Sun Stand Still prayer, Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus with his feeding and healing the multitudes, and so on. But I think there is more to it than that. I do not believe that God has alter reality to answer every single one of our prayers.

I think I share the conclusion that Lewis was alluding to in the Screwtape Letters. Where we typically fail in understanding this is in our perspective. Being men and women created within the confines of time, we are bound to a perspective that sees life in a "Past," "Present," and "Future" tense. There is stuff that has happened before, stuff that is happening now, and stuff that has yet to happen. But from God's perspective, all those distinctions are washed away. He exists outside of our concept of time, and therefore sees everything as one cohesive whole. Where we see Past, Present, and Future, He sees What Is. I like to think of it as a massive tapestry that He has woven together.

With this perspective in mind, I then approach the concept of prayer and His Omniscience. He hears our prayers, all of them, and weaves His answers into His Creation, as He is creating it. He has an overall, big picture, plan of how His Creation and His Will are going to play out, but within that there is freedom for diversity, change, and answering the prayers of His people. When it comes to answering prayers that fall outside the realm of His overall plan (meaning they do not affect it), there are some He can say yes to, and others He cannot. Maybe a "good weather weekend" would affect the flowers as they come into bloom, so He chooses not to acquiesce to that request for the sake of the beauty of His Creation. Or perhaps without the rain other people would suffer (like farmers). Either way, there would be a lot to take into consideration when looking at it from this grand a scale, so it would be hard for us to pinpoint why God answers some prayers with a yes, and not others. I think ultimately, however, that He takes pleasure in granting our requests and seeks to do so. He is a good, good father after all.

To put it a little more clearly, I think that God is able to see/hear all prayers from outside of time, which allows Him to put the world as it is, answering those prayers in the process.

I think He uses those times when He "breaks" the natural order of things to demonstrate to us His power more directly. Many times we need those "signs and wonders" to wake us up to who He really is, not just some old guy in the sky, but the majestic ruler of the universe.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Sinless Man, or was he?


So as I was attempting to go to sleep last night, I got this thought in my head. We teach constantly that Jesus was a sinless man, and make the claim that His sinlessness is necessary for salvation to work. If he wasn't sinless, then His work on the cross had no purpose and accomplished nothing for us. That is what we are taught. Well, as I thought about it, I couldn't immediately think of a passage in the Bible that said "Jesus never sinned."

Sure, there was the part at His crucifixion where Pilate "could find no fault in Him," but that doesn't mean He was necessarily sinless, just that He hadn't broken any laws that would constitute crucifixion, or even legitimate punishment by Roman standards. We know the Jewish leaders were mad at Him for claiming to be God, but if that's true, it is not a sin. But that doesn't make Him sinless just because He was telling the truth there.

So I have decided to embark on a several week process of studying the New Testament and the life of Jesus to discover what the Bible really says about the sinlessness of Jesus. I am not trying to say He was not sinless, but I want to have my faith in Him be based on Scripture, not what I've grown up hearing. I want them to line up, and be able to distinguish what is true about what I learned growing up, and what may not actually be backed up by Scripture. So here we go...

Break for time of study...

Okay, so this kind of embarrassing. I very quickly discovered how much evidence there is supporting Jesus' sinlessness in the Bible. Here we go:

Romans 8:3 - "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering." Paul very carefully distinguishes between being a sinful man and being in the likeness of sinful man.

John 8:46 - "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?" Evidently no one was able to prove anything.

Matthew 27:4 - "'I have sinned,' he [Judas] said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood.'" Judas admits his own sin and describes Jesus as innocent by comparison.

John 8:29 - "The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him." We hear in Matt. 3:17 that God claims Jesus as His Son, with whom He is well pleased. And hear Jesus claims to ALWAYS do what is pleasing to God. Not sometimes, but always.

1 Peter 1:19 - "...but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." There was nothing wrong with Him, no fault found with Him.

1 Peter 2:22 - "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth." Getting a little more pointed here, a direct claim that He did not sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." This verse not only claims His sinlessness, but also suggests that it was His sinlessness that made it possible for Him to pay for ours. This idea is far more heavily laid out in Hebrews.

Hebrews 4:15 - "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin."

Hebrews 7:26 - "Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens."

Hebrews ultimately lays out the whole parallel between the sacrificial customs of Jewish culture as found in the Old Testament and what Jesus did for us on the cross. He acted as the sacrificial lamb which atoned for our sins, and in order to be that lamb, he had to be blameless, without defect, without blemish, without sin. He had to be perfect so as to be able to take upon Himself the sin of us all. He went through temptation, just as we do, and He overcame it. Every time. The Bible is actually a lot clearer on this than I had remembered (can't trust my memory ever, it seems), and very directly depicts Jesus as sinless and without fault. So not only did He not break human laws and regulations, but He didn't break God's Laws either. And it was because of this sinlessness that He was able to take the mantle of Savior of the world.

tl;dr Jesus was indeed sinless, and His sinlessness allowed Him to die for our sins. He did what we could not do, and saved us when we could not save ourselves.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

So is he saved... or not?

It certainly has been a while since my last post. I guess I've been distracted by other things, no time given for writing...

Well, this past week in Bible Study we were talking about John 5:43-54 which is the section where Jesus heals the royal official's son without being there. We were particularly focused on the official's faith and whether or not he believed in Jesus before the miracle. Somehow, the discussion led to salvation and we were discussing evidence for someone's faith and if you could definitively tell if someone else was saved.

As they were discussing this, I was sitting on the floor contemplating whether we should even be making that kind of judgment call. Who are we to determine if someone else is saved? I was directly asked what I was thinking about, having been quiet for a while, so I answered. I think I came across as little judgmental myself, because the Muffin Man (the one who asked) immediately got defensive.

In his defense, he brought up the fact that as the leader of a ministry who appointed leaders, spiritual leaders, over students, I inevitably had to make that call for people. I had to determine to some degree whether or not I thought someone was saved before I could confidently appoint them as a spiritual leader over my students. He was right of course. I do have to make that call. God has entrusted me with the care and spiritual development of the students in my ministry, and I have to ensure that I am wise about who I appoint as leaders over them. If I just appoint anyone (because who am I to judge their salvation), am I really being responsible with my position? No.

So this of course got me to thinking: By what means can we, as humans, judge the salvation of another? And should we at all?

In 1 Timothy 3 Paul gives instructions on who to appoint as leaders in the church. He gives qualifications like: "above reproach" and "self-controlled" and "able to teach" and "respectable." Paul warns that he should not be a recent convert, or he might become conceited. He also talks of deacons, that they must "keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience." (1 Timothy 3:9) In the next verse he says they must be tested and if nothing is found against them, appoint them. So there is obviously some amount of external evidence that should be there pointing towards someone's salvific status. There is observable evidence that is meant to guide our decisions in appointing leaders.

Galatians 5 has a list of the "fruits of the spirit" which are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are fruits in a person's life which are born out of life in the Spirit. So, it would seem to follow that by observing these kinds of behaviors in a person's life, you find evidence of their salvation, right? I would think so, and Scripture seems to think so too. James 2 talks about faith and deeds. In verse 17 he says "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." There seems to be an element of action that accompanies our faith. When we have truly put our faith in Jesus, out of that faith is born action - obedience to the calling of God. So when you have really put faith in Jesus, that faith leads you to then obey His commands and teachings. Your life changes, and you begin to live the way He has called you to live and not just whatever way you want.

Which leads me to believe that I can at the very least determine whether or not someone shows evidence of salvation. I may not know what is truly in their hearts, but so long as they demonstrate the kind of life that God calls us to, then I can put them in the category of "most likely saved." I say most likely because I won't ever know for certain about someone else's faith, which was my concern in the discussion in Bible Study, but in that regard I simply have to trust that God is in control.

I think the Muffin Man had a good point. In my position, I really do have to determine whether someone is worthy of leading others in the faith or not. But I cannot make that decision on my own. None of us can or should. I have to remain in constant prayer, and trust that God will guide my decisions and bring the right people into leadership over His people.

And I think the danger I was worried about when I voiced my thoughts was that we would start to think that we were judge. That it was up to us to decide if someone else was saved or not. And thankfully, that is not the case. I am not the judge of someone else's salvation. God is the judge, and I gladly relinquish that responsibility to Him.

tl;dr God has given us certain evidences that can be observed that point to someone's faith (or lack thereof). We can use those evidences to help us appoint leaders in the church, but we cannot use them to definitively determine whether someone is saved or not. We are not the ultimate judge, that's God's job.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What if I'm wrong?

So we took Communion in church today, and for the first time since what seems like Middle School, I was sitting with my parents. Before Communion the Pastor always calls the congregation to contemplate their current relationship with God. It is a time of reflection and the confession of sins. It is the time to make sure you are focused completely on the presence of God and are prepared to "commune" with the Father alongside your fellow believers. Communion is also the time for us to remember Christ's sacrifice of body and blood (the bread and the wine) for our sins. This act is what pays the penalty for our sins, which is death. Jesus paid it all on the cross, so that we could be redeemed before God, saved from our sins. It is the foundation of our faith, and the hope for which we live.
Well, during this time of reflection a thought came to me, a perturbing thought that every man has when arguing with a woman. The same thought that pervades our minds when pursuing what we believe to be the right path. "What if I am wrong?"
My whole life has been steeped in Christianity and the Church. I've been spoon-fed God since infancy, and I have not known any other way of living than what God laid out for us in the Bible. My immediate family is Christian, my extended family is Christian, I grew up in a Christian school and the majority of my friends are all Christian. So naturally I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a young age and have lived a life of faith ever since. It just made sense.
Now, don't get me wrong, it still makes sense, but I'll get to that in a little bit.
I asked myself this question and contemplated through the "What if"s. If there is no God, then I've been wasting a LOT of my time and energy at the church. I've wasted opportunities for personal advancement and missed SO MANY opportunities for worldly pleasures. I've ignored potential mates, meaning I could have already had children (and sex, obviously), and I've restrained myself from engaging in activities that don't actually have any impact on my life after death. So in a worldly sense, my life has been so wasted (and not in the good sense).
But, let's look at the flip side (and this is what always brings me back when I ask myself this question). What happens if God does not exist? Nothing. I die, and that's it. Blank space, like T. Swift's song. Except this blank space stays blank, forever. No God means I get maybe 90-100 years of life, which would amount to very little in the grand scheme of the world, and at the most leave some kind of semi-lasting legacy that could be completely wiped out by WW3. It means that no decision I make really means anything, and it essentially means that I have no higher power which I am held accountable to for my actions. I'd be free to make any choice, and not have to feel guilty about it. Of course, having grown up religious I'd probably still feel guilty, but I wouldn't have to. I'd have the room to justify anything  and everything I do. And guess what? It still wouldn't really mean anything. Maybe I'd get to commit mass genocide like Hitler, or conquer most of the known world like Alexander the Great, but since there is no God, no Heaven, then it would be meaningless, without purpose.
You see, God gives me perspective. He gives me purpose. He gives me meaning. And He gives me hope. There is something beyond the next 75 years of my life (assuming I reach 100, lol). I would so much rather live my life with hope and meaning then surrender to hopelessness and depravity. I have put my faith in God, and He has continued to reveal Himself to me through life experiences, people, and answers to prayer. You may or may not believe as I do, but I really can't imagine living in a world without God.

P.S. I purposefully did not mention evidences for the existence of God as that will probably be addressed in a future post. So you can look forward to that. =)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why did God bother?

So this question came up recently in a sermon I was listening to in church on Sunday. The pastor did not directly ask this question, but something he said triggered this thought in my head, "If God knew who was going to accept Him and who would not, why did He even create those who would not accept Him? Why not spare them the torment of Hell?"

I admit, I do not have an answer to this question, but I would like to put my thoughts here, if that's okay with you. (Considering this is my blog, I don't foresee any problems ;))

So, I think I've talked about God's plan and His purpose in creating us before (or I have at least touched on the topic of free will in one of my previous posts), which is the ultimate and complete glorification of God. I believe that God deserves to be glorified in all His power, knowledge, and love. And I believe that He needs to be glorified in every aspect of His being (meaning every attribute that defines Him). He needs to be glorified in everything. I also believe that our purpose here on Earth is to give Him at least a part of that glory. As we are finite beings, naturally we couldn't offer Him all the glory He deserves, Him being infinite. We could not possibly grasp His whole being in the century or less that we have to live here. So if that is indeed our purpose, then it would follow that God would seek to reveal Himself to us in ways that we could understand, and then glorify Him in response. We can see much of His power, complexity, intelligence, wisdom, and understanding as we perceive and continue to learn more about the universe which He created. We can also see much of His love, justice, grace, wrath, mercy, and jealousy as well as His power, complexity, intelligence, wisdom, and understanding as it has been revealed throughout history and specifically in His Word, the Bible. And now, as Christians, we can experience first-hand His presence, His holiness, His peace, His understanding, His compassion, His comfort, and His grace in our personal lives as we walk with Him in faith. It is as we come to better understand who He is that we can more confidently and accurately glorify Him in all His Being. I see this as our prominent purpose in life.

Something else I've talked about in previous posts is God's goodness, and the problem of evil in relation to God as the Creator of all things. My conclusion there was that in order to better understand God's Goodness, evil was required. It is not a created thing, not in the sense that we think of the sun, or people, or rain. Evil is more accurately described as a lack of good. Just as darkness is a lack of light. It is an emptiness which needs filling. We can better understand the usefulness of light and the joy of being able to see when we have experienced a time without light, a time of darkness or blindness. In the same way, we come to more fully understand God's goodness when we have experienced a lack of it, or rather, what we call evil. Make sense? If not, just spend some time reading nonsense and you will have a better appreciation for logic and sentences which are actually thought out and structured. (Even if they do sometimes run on and on.)

Now, back to the question at hand, "Why did God bother?" It can be argued that God, being all-knowing (Omniscient), already knows exactly who will accept Him and who will not. Even if you do not believe in God, and treat the Bible as a fictional collection of stories concerning some deity, you can still perceive that this deity as portrayed in the stories claims to be all-knowing. If in fact He already knows who is going to accept Him and who is not, then why did He bother creating all of the billions (trillions?) of people who would not accept Him? Why did He bother creating the Philistines or the Amorites (enemies of Israel), or the Buddhas or Muhammeds (creators of other religions), or the Bill Nyes or Richard Dawkins (atheists strictly opposed to Christianity)? If what the Bible says is true, and those people mentioned who have rejected God are going to Hell for eternity, why didn't God just spare them the torment (since He claims to love us all) and not even create them?

This is a similar argument that some mothers-to-be make before getting an abortion. "I don't want to raise this child into a life of poverty, or hardship, or suffering, so I'll just deny them their existence." In case you couldn't tell, I am not a fan of this argument.

Free will is all about choice. We have the choice to love God. And He wants us to choose Him. Love is not love if it is a forced thing. We must choose it. We must choose God. However, if God gives us the power, the authority, and the responsibility to choose, then obviously there is a risk. We could choose something or someone other than God. We can choose to reject Him. We can use the same power, authority, and responsibility that He gifted to us to turn our backs on Him and walk away. But that doesn't quite answer the question, does it? The argument continues that God already knows what choice we will make, so why not save time and effort and remove those who will not choose Him?

I choose to believe that it is because that would deny them their choice. If you have ever seen the movie Watchmen, then you know Dr. Manhattan constantly abused his knowledge of future. He knew what decisions people would make, so he made the decisions for them. No need to consult, no need to have a relationship, he just knew. You would also know that he was not exactly personable, or intimate, with anyone. This is not who God is. He actively pursues a relationship with each of us, a loving, intimate relationship which allows us to come into His Presence and experience His fullness and glory. It is due to this pursuit, I believe, that God refuses to deny people their choice in choosing Him. Scripture tells us that it pains Him when people turn away and reject Him, but that is their choice. God will not deny someone their existence purely because of the decisions they will make.

My final thought here is this: just as darkness helps us to better understand the light, so Hell helps us to better understand Heaven. I've talked before about what I believe about Heaven and Hell. Heaven is essentially the Presence of God, and Hell is God's absence. Hell is absolute aloneness. No friends, no family, no God. We are each born into this world separated from God, we have a void in our soul which can only be filled by God. And it is our experience of this lack of God which allows us to more fully understand the glory and peace of His presence. God "bothered" with those who would not choose Him because 1. He wanted them to have the choice and 2. it allows us to more fully comprehend His sense of justice, His mercy, and the joy that can be found in His presence.

I must admit, I often suppress thoughts about how many people have rejected God over the past few millenia. Its horrifying to think about. But every now and then, in moments of clarity, God reminds me that I have a second purpose here on Earth. Its really an extension of the main purpose, but it is to make disciples of all nations. God has called me to go out and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations. This means that part of my job is to spread the good news of salvation, the message of God, to all the world so that everyone has an opportunity to at least make the choice.

Let me end by asking you this: What choice have you made? And what are you going to do about it?