Is Following God a Covenant or a Contract?

Is Following God a Covenant or a Contract?

We live in a world today of contracts. It’s difficult to even buy a new phone without navigating pages and pages of contractual agreements first. Or think of how many pages of contractual terms you get every time you sign up for anything (and of course we read every paragraph). Contracts fuel our business interactions with those around us. Here’s what you agree to, here’s what I agree to, and here’s what happens when one of us breaks it.

Contracts are designed to help us navigate situations where no trust exists. This is extremely helpful in these contexts. If I don’t know you, I’m less likely to vulnerably trust you with something important. The danger is when we start applying contracts into areas that cannot function this way.

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"Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don’t ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don’t think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I am convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. My travels only confirm that the murmurings of revolution are everywhere. I am convinced that there is an uprising in the works and that no one less than God is behind it."

Erwin McManus
Does God Exist Outside of Time?

Does God Exist Outside of Time?

“Yes!” If that’s your default answer to the title of this post, you’re not alone. In fact, I would have even answered this way until just recently. A handful of years ago I was exposed to the open view of God and the idea that parts of the future could be open to possibilities (see: God of the Possible). Therefore, those parts of the future were also open to change and to the effects of our free will. Obviously, not everyone is comfortable with this view of God’s foreknowledge as it appears at first glance that He’s lacking something. Yet we also have to acknowledge that Biblically, as with stories of people like King Hezekiah, God sometimes changes His mind and what He intended to happen (see: 2 Kings 20:1-6). That doesn’t fit well with the typical Christian’s theology.

Now there are a number of ways I can explain how the open view of God makes the most sense to me. Yet I always did that with a shared assumption that God existed outside of time. I’ll admit this makes it trickier to understand how God’s created timeline could somehow be clouded or open to Him. What I hadn’t considered until just recently was that this very assumption is worth challenging.

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Bells Rung Simultaneously

Hebrew ThoughtI’ve been reading through a book called Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. Not likely to become a best-seller anytime soon but this book is loaded with interesting perspective. This is particularly interesting for a Christian since the Old Testament is written in Hebrew and the New Testament is written in Greek. One of the passages that stood out to me comes from John 1. The first three verses begin by explaining Jesus.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

In the Hebrew thought “word” is “deed.” As the book unpacks it: “‘Word’ and ‘deed’ are thus not two different meanings… but the ‘deed’ is the consequence of the basic meaning…”

In the Greek thought “word” is “meaning.” As the book unpacks it: “The deepest level of meaning in the term ‘word’ is thus nothing which has to do with the function of speaking… but the meaning, the ordered and reasonable content.”

If we consider both the Hebrew and Greek understanding of this idea we find that Jesus is literally the deed of God and the ultimate meaning of God’s intent. Words have meaning, and this one especially so. This word shows us God Himself. I love that it doesn’t matter what language or culture you pick between the two. Both expressions show us that in Jesus we see the fullness of God.

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Finding Truth in Entertainment

Finding Truth in Entertainment

I’ve always appreciated a biblical guy named Daniel. He can be found in an Old Testament book with his name. Daniel was an Israelite but found himself living in another nation under a foreign power. I find this to be incredibly insightful as America completes the transition out of Christendom (where Christians are the majority and have the power). Daniel also had a few friends who together modeled faithfulness to God in the midst of some challenging circumstances. One verse in particular stands out to me. In describing Daniel and his friends it says, “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds” (Daniel 1:17).

I love that God gives them something we don’t normally attribute to God: literature, learning, and the understanding of visions and dreams. This knowledge goes far beyond an understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. A modern-day parallel might read like this: “To these four young men God gave understanding of Dostoyevsky, Dickens, and Shakespeare. He also gave knowledge of string theory, quantum physics, and relativity. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams better than Sigmund Freud.”

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

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Top 20 Quotes from Leadership Summit (2016)

Top 20 Quotes from Leadership Summit (2016)

This is part of a series of posts on 20 quotes. Click here to see others.

I spent the last two days with about 2700 leaders in my community at our Mesa and Gilbert campuses. We absorbed insights and encouragement from speakers at this year’s Global Leadership Summit. For those of you who may be unaware, the Leadership Summit is a two-day conference hosted by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago.

Below I’ve selected twenty of my favorite quotes from the event. Each of these quotes is my best representation in writing of what they said verbally or a summary thereof. Any errors in wording are my own. These are in order of appearance at the conference, not in rank.

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