#IreadthereforeIquote: Jason Boyett ~ faith isn’t the absence of doubt.

thereforeiquote slides Jason Boyett o Me of Little Faith is not absence of doubtthe quote:

“…faith isn’t the absence of doubt. It’s believing and acting alongside your doubts…

…faith wouldn’t even exist if doubt were not also present, because the essence of faith was the leap taken in the face of uncertainty. Faith wasn’t a set of beliefs, or an ability to hold onto those beliefs without wavering. Faith was action – action taken right in the middle of your doubts.

If there were no uncertainty at all, a leap of faith wouldn’t even be necessary. You could just keep on walking.

from O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling
by Jason Boyett


thoughts:

I used to think that doubt was evidence of a lack of faith.

Not so much anymore.

These days, I’d probably say I’m a bit of a “doubt snob.” By that, I mean that when I hear a Christian say they’ve never doubted God, I would wonder if:

1) they are lying. (let’s just get that one right out of the way)
2) they have forgotten. (kinda like childbirth. The memory of that kinda pain fades with time)
3) they haven’t actually thought things through. (see what I mean? “doubt snob”)

I’ve spent my life trying to figure things out. If God ever gave me a new name, it probably would have been “Madua” (in Hebrew, it means “why”…what is the reason…what is the cause). I’ll pull and follow a “why” thread as far as I possibly can go.

In all the question asking and thread following and reading and learning and studying I’ve done so far in my life, the one fact I know for sure:

Not everything can be known for sure.

What do I do with that?

Do I only take action if I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the action will result in success?
Do I only believe in God if I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that He exists?

No one can prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that God exists. I can’t prove that God answered a prayer. Or led me to a decision. Or provided an opportunity. Or equipped me for one of those opportunities.

So, again. What do I do with that?

In the absence of certainty, I choose to act or not act.

In faith.

Personally, I choose faith in God. I can have some faith in myself or in “the system” or in other people, but at some point, they’ve all let me down. I can have some faith in reason and science, but when you drill down to their root, neither can be employed to prove their own foundational claims without some core assumptions as their bedrock.

Assumption is a synonym for faith.

We all have faith in something. And we all act on our faith, in spite of our doubt.

#IreadthereforeIquote: Steve Fry ~ the desire to act independent of God

thereforeiquote Steve Fry Root sin of all sins is desire to act independent of Godthe quote:

“I don’t know that Lucifer’s sin was rebellion in the full sense of the word. He did not seek to replace God or overthrow God. He simply sought to act independent of God…

the root sin of all sins is this desire to act independent of God.” (emphasis added)

from True Freedom: What Christian Submission and Authority Look Like

by Steve Fry


thoughts:

I don’t use the word “sin” much.

Not that I don’t believe it exists and that I’m prone to it.
I believe it does and I know that I am.
It’s just one of those words that has too many interpretations to be used effectively in casual conversation.

(I don’t use the word “Christian” so much either. Way, WAY too many interpretations of THAT word.)

In certain company, if I were to utter the word sin, I would find myself standing all alone holding my own personal (Jesus) Freak Flag, listening to crickets.

Because not many people want to talk about the word sin. But when you don’t talk about something, meaning begins to take on more and more personal connotations. Definitions aren’t globally understood and accepted when they’re formed and sequestered inside a vacuum of individual history and experience.

“Sin” can mean different things to different people. But my thought is that before the word sin means something to me, it means something.

When I think about the multitude of sins in my life, at the core of each and every one of those sins, I recognize a desire to choose for myself what is right and wrong rather than look to God and submit to His authority. That’s why Steve Fry’s statement: “the root sin of all sins is this desire to act independent of God.” hit home with me.

Regardless of the actual behavior, the choosing to decide for myself – to act independently of God – is rebellion.

Rebellion against God. It’s the heart of the nature of sin.

It’s not my actions alone which constitute sin and separate me from God. My actions are an expression of the state of my heart and my mind. And the state of my heart and mind are a reflection of the state of my relationship with Christ.

I can admit my dependence on God, live under His authority and experience abundant life in Christ.

Or I can act independent of God, choosing to rebel against His authority and separating myself from Him.

#IreadthereforeIquote: Brother Lawrence ~ on forgetting God

thereforeiquote Brother Lawrence No further uneasiness about itthe quote:

“That when he had failed in his duty,
he only confessed his fault,
saying to GOD,

I shall never do otherwise,
if You leave me to myself;

it is You who must hinder my falling,
and mend what is amiss. That after this,

he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.

from The Practice of the Presence of God
by Brother Lawrence


thoughts:

This is one of my all-time FAVORITE quotes. Let me paraphrase and give you an idea of how I process these words.

paraphrase: “I forget, I remember, I repent and I COME BACK.”
(don’t be freaking out about that word “repent.” I’ll get to it in a second.)

my interpretation:

“…when he had failed in his duty” means when I forget God.
And I will forget. I do forget. I fail to remember Him. Over and over and over again. When I first read this little book and began practicing the presence of God, my thought was, “I am SO gonna start doing this!” Less than 24 hours into this new way of living in relationship to God and I realized how difficult it was and how often I found myself just flat out forgetting – not only to practice God’s presence – but forgetting God altogether.

I quickly realized that practicing God’s presence wasn’t something I could just decide to do and then do it. I had to PRAY and ask God to “remind me to remember Him.” And I had to pray it multiple times per day. Some days, I had to pray, “Lord, please make me WANT to remember – bless me with a desire for You! I realized:

if my goal was to be aware of God’s presence in the minutiae of my life and
if my plan of action to achieve that goal was to “just do it” that
ON MY OWN, I would never achieve it with any kind of consistency.

EVER.

My goal had to be prayer –
first, a prayer for a desire to practice God’s presence and
second, the prayer “Lord, please, remind me to remember You. Relentlessly. Any and every way possible.”

The truth of the next part of this quote had hit home:

“I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself”

God had quickly shown me that HE would be the one to “hinder my falling.” I would never be able to remember Him on my own.

And finally, the best part:

“after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.”

pragmatic thoughts Romans 8 1 guilt vs repentI’m going to forget God. But when I remember and go back to practicing His presence, I’m not going to waste a minute of the time that could be spent with Him by beating myself up because I forgot Him AGAIN. When I do that, I’m punishing myself for something JESUS ALREADY DIED FOR.

I’ve repented. There’s no room or need for guilt. Guilt is different from repent. Guilt is a noun. Repent is a verb.

guilt: (noun) “a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong”

repent: (verb) “express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.”

I need to remember and relentlessly claim the promise of Romans 8:1:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”

So, to paraphrase this quote from Brother Lawrence? “I forget, I remember, I repent and I COME BACK.”

ad nauseam

#IreadthereforeIquote: Philip Yancey ~ We can say anything to God.

thereforeIquote Philip Yancey Lesson from Job Can Say Anything to Godthe quote:

“One bold message in the Book of Job is that
you can say anything to God.
Throw at him your grief, your anger, your doubt,
your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment

He can absorb them all.

As often as not,
spiritual giants of the Bible
are shown contending with God.
They prefer to go away limping,
like Jacob,
rather than to shut God out.”

from Disappointment With God
by Philip Yancey


thoughts:

When these words first sunk in, they were liberating for me.

I was taught that we should always be reverent toward God because, well…He’s GOD.

We make requests – respectfully.

And we thank Him.

No yelling or complaining or whining or blaming – that would be DISrespectful.

But I’ve realized my holding back in prayer was the equivalent of holding my hands over my face like a little kid playing hide and seek who thinks nobody can see him because his face is covered up.

There’s no authentic relationship when there’s holding back.

Telling God everything – expressing bitterness, revealing and exploring doubt and even angrily listing for Him all the reasons something isn’t fair – was strange at first.

But good.

Now?

I tell God everything I’m thinking and feeling. He can take it. Because He’s GOD. Besides, He already knows what I’m really thinking anyway. Sometimes even when I don’t. Sometimes I discover what I’m really thinking and feeling when I’m right in the middle of telling Him.

lessons from the book of Job: you can say anything to God

Philip Yancey quote Disappointment with God Message of Job“One bold message in the Book of Job is that you can say anything to God.

Throw at him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment— he can absorb them all.

As often as not, spiritual giants of the Bible are shown contending with God.
They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out.

In this respect, the Bible prefigures a tenet of modern psychology: you can’t really deny your feelings or make them disappear, so you might as well express them. God can deal with every human response save one. He cannot abide the response I fall back on instinctively: an attempt to ignore him or treat him as though he does not exist.

That response never once occurred to Job.”

Philip Yancey
Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud

therefore I quote: “violently face to face”

CS Lewis Quote Reading Violently face to face Letters to Malcolm

“C.S. Lewis (on reading another author):

“He brought me violently face to face with…”

from Yours, Jack by C.S. Lewis

YES!

I LOVE it when that happens! It’s why I read dead guys and footnotes when I don’t have to. I love it when a writer makes me think. I love it when my beliefs are challenged, when my complacency is given a swift kick in the pants, when my arrogant assumptions are blindsided by something I never considered before.

Why do I love it when a writer brings me “violently face to face” with a new perspective I hadn’t considered or a truth I hadn’t realized?

Long story short? Complicated and detailed reasoning summarized? I have an extreme aversion to uninformed myopic opinions being spouted as declarations of objective truth.

I like to learn. To think. And I learn a LOT from books. I like to plow into what other people have written. Reading and learning fuel me and fuel the conversations I have, the words I write and the decisions I make.

You don’t have to be a reader to be informed. In the age of Google and Wikipedia, you can find out whether what you believe is hooey in a matter of seconds.

I’m allergic to hooey. The last thing I want to do is spread it around.

therefore I quote: overcome? or on the wrong tract?

CS Lewis QuoteI read, therefore I quote:

“It is hard, when difficulties arise to know whether one is meant to overcome them or whether they are signs that one is on the wrong tract. I suppose the deeper one’s own life of prayer and sacraments the more trustworthy one’s judgment will be.”
Yours, Jack by C.S. Lewis

Yet even then, I doubt. For me, the challenge is to take a step instead of standing still while waiting for a sign or a confirmation. Praying like a widow that God won’t allow me to be unintentionally disobedient and that He won’t allow my actions to cause harm to anyone else – or to myself. And not just physical harm, but spiritual or emotional harm. The thought that I might do something or say something that would hurl an obstacle in front of someone seeking Him. That’s the paralyzing fear.

But I have to move. Life isn’t Olive Garden. God does not serve me. I have to get my hands dirty. Sometimes all I end up doing is trashing my kitchen. Sometimes, the results are “meh.” But sometimes? Sometimes I get a God story that blows me away.

So. First, PRAY. Abide. Listen. Seek wise counsel. PRAY again. Abide and listen again. But then, take action (action that’s not out of line with His Word) and keep praying that God will either throw barriers in my way if I start heading the wrong direction or that he would work my latest mistake for His ultimate good and Glory.

But doing nothing? Going through the motions? Playing it safe? Settling for “meh?” How is that abundant life in Christ?

the efficacy of prayer.

“Can we believe that God ever really modifies His action in response to the suggestions of men? For infinite wisdom does not need telling what is best, and infinite goodness needs no urging to do it. But neither does God need any of those things that are done by finite agents, whether living or inanimate. He could, if He chose, repair our bodies miraculously without food; or give us food without the aid of farmers, bakers, and butchers; or knowledge without the aid of learned men; or convert the heathen without missionaries. Instead, He allows soils and weather and animals and the muscles, minds, and wills of men to co-operate in the execution of His will. “God,” said Pascal, “instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.” But not only prayer; whenever we act at all He lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so. They have not advised or changed God’s mind—that is, His over-all purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of His creatures.”

C.S. Lewis
The Efficacy of Prayer

grace is FREE.

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“God does not ask us to work to achieve salvation. All he asks us to do is believe. There is not one verse in the Bible that says anything about believing and doing good works so that you will be saved. Not one.”

“Our works are evidence of our new life. They don’t cause our new life.”

“So stop trying and start believing. Take the free gift.”

from Saved: Answers That Can Save Your Life, by Troy Schmidt