Tuesday, April 26, 2005

An Interview...

What do you mean by “The Grace-Driven Life”?

“Well, I guess what I mean is, a life that is encompassed and infused by grace. Specifically, God’s grace, what is sometimes referred to as unmerited favor- and that grace is the power, the motivation, the root cause of all that happens in my life. Sometimes, or more likely, most of the time, I’m not even aware that His grace is driving and directing my life, but it’s there anyway- doing work in and around me that maneuvers me into a deeper intimacy with God by continually changing me to make me more like Jesus.”

You sound as if you have nothing to say about the process.

“I’m not sure I do.

“I know that’s an area that lots of people disagree on, but what I read in Scripture makes me think that I didn’t have any choice about getting saved, or being God’s child, or however you want to put it, and that I don’t have any choice about becoming conformed to the image of Christ. The Bible tells me that God knew me before I was created, every day of my life and every step I would take. It tells me that God created me to demonstrate His mercy, for His glory, and that the Spirit of God controls me. I am convinced that it is not up to me, and I am not convinced that I have much, if anything, to do with the process.”

So when the Bible says you are supposed to work out your salvation…

“I don’t believe that has anything to do with accomplishing or maintaining my salvation. I think it has more to do with believing my salvation- learning what God has already done to me and for me and in me- and getting it into my head and heart so that knowing, I can live out the truth of what already is.

“God has already accomplished my salvation. I don’t see or experience all of it yet- that won’t happen until we are face to face. And God must be responsible for maintaining my salvation- I know myself well enough to know that if I had to maintain some set of standards to stay saved, I wouldn’t have a chance. I know too well what I’m capable of. My only hope, and I believe the Bible says this, is that God will never let me go, will never allow anything to separate me from Him.”

Are you aware that some folks think “The Grace-Driven Life” is some sort of response to Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life”?

“I suppose that’s inevitable, and I actually have to express my appreciation for his book, in that it helped me clarify some of my thinking. And I do think that it’s good and important to know God’s purpose for myself, for my life, but I think that’s just a piece of a bigger truth. Which is to know that Grace alone is the primary motivator of my life, whether I like it, or accept it.

“I prefer what I’ve learned from sources like John Glenn’s Alpha Series teaching and VCLI- as human beings we each have a need to have purpose in our lives. We were not designed to wander through life aimlessly. And God has provided each of His children a divine purpose- from the Church-wide, such as bringing glory to God, and being conformed to the image of Christ, to the specific details of how these are uniquely worked out in the daily life of each of us.

“But that purpose, along with needing to know that our lives are important, and needing to know that we have the ability to accomplish the purpose God has given us, is what makes up our personal significance. We need to know that our lives are significant somewhere in this world. That we have importance, and meaning, and adequacy. And the other half of that equation- that we are secure: loved, accepted, and forgiven.

“I believe our purpose falls into that context. And that our security and significance are only achieved through Grace.”

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Grace Driven Life...

is the title of my book. Or will be (and now it's the title of this blog). And no, it's not a direct response to Rick Warren. It's hopefully less of a response to anybody, other than God, and more my perspective, my attempt to put into words what I believe.

Actually I'm hoping to write a series of entries on what I believe. Because I think I need to get my thoughts in a more concrete form. Right now everything just floats around in my head, some times seriously jumbled. And I think it would be good for me to sort through them and write it all down.

So, I here by make the public proclamation that I am going to attempt to organize this mess and create some kind of semi-formal structure from it. Ben's systematic theology? That's a scary concept...

Here are some potential chapter titles-

"Free Will Versus The Kind You Have To Pay For."
"The Promise Of Eternal Security- Or Why Won't God Leave Me Alone?"
"Predestination By Election: How Many Votes Does It Take?"

I'm open to suggestions if anybody cares to contribute- as long as you keep in mind that the final result has to be what I believe, and may not necessarily be what you believe.

Monday, March 07, 2005

I was gonna' hold out...

a few more days to make it exactly four months, but alas, I couldn't do it. Not that I have anything in particular to say...

I have figured out a big part of why I've been unhappy with church lately (lately being about nine months). Over the last 15 or 20 years many churches have started adding or changing over to a 'contemporary' style of worship (worship referring primarily to a style of music) in the service. For a lot of people, including myself, this was a fresh perspective that added a lot to their experience of God. And we needed to get away from the 'old' ways of doing things- that were, for me, dry, stale, and sometimes irrelevant.

And that was good, for a time. But, for me, after many years in a service that is primarily 'contemporary', I've come to a place where 'contemporary' is becoming 'same-old'- dry, repetitive, and sometimes irrelevant. And I long for some of the traditions of my childhood. Some of the liturgy, some of the hymns, some of the formal structure.

And I long for something else as well- more creativity, and openness, and variety of expressions of worship. I don't remember the last time I heard a poem used in worship. I don't remember the last time worship was a gathering of individuals sharing their individual expressions of worship as a body.

And I'm not sure how my two longings could come together. They almost sound mutually exclusive.

But there I am. I realized some time back that most of my children are growing up with no exposure to great hymns, that have so much depth both scripturally and musically. That makes me sad, because so many of those hymns are very powerful to me. My children are growing up without learning any of the great creeds- My background is The Apostles' Creed - which makes me sad because they don't have this form of basic truths, that I have hidden in my heart, and had opportunity from time to time to draw on.

And of course I miss those things myself. I am not trying to say that my church should be responsible for teaching these things to my children, or that without them my children will have no faith. After all, I have them, and that certainly hasn't made my life free from error. God works as He will, and I am confident that He will, in my children.

And this is not meant as a criticism of my church. While I don't think I'm alone in some of my discomplacency I do think the majority of the folks in our church are happy and getting what they want/need from the service.

And I don't have a solution in sight. I don't really expect to find what I've described, and I have no desire to start my own church. I could be persuaded to participate in an alternative service in my own church, but that's something else entirely.

A lot of words for not having anything to say. Hmm...