Thursday, April 19, 2012

That's a Great Question

For the next five weeks (six, counting last night), the Vineyard is offering a Wednesday night dinner/discussion group on the big questions of life and Christianity. Last night we had everybody write down their questions; we've collected them and will be basing the rest of the time on these. Some of these are "What would you ask God" questions, so if you see the word "You" it's referring to Him.

'Question mark made of puzzle pieces' photo (c) 2008, Horia Varlan - license:

There's a great (apocryphal) story about NT Wright opening up a semester by saying to his class "One third of what I'm going to teach you is wrong.  Unfortunately, I don't know which third."  That's essentially the spirit of the class.  These are great, hard questions.  Great questions usually don't have pat answers, which means the discussion around these should be phenomenal.

Without further ado, the questions:

  • Why do you remain silent? 
  • Can those who are resurrected after death hear or see those they leave behind on earth? 
  • How can I be sure of your will for me? 
  • How do I know if I am truly hearing your “voice”? 
  • How do you know the will of God? 
  • Why is it such a struggle to trust God with everything? 
  • What's the difference between your part and my part?
  • Faith and works? How does the time thing work? 
  • Why do bad things happen to good, faithful people? 
  • Why be so quiet after the resurrection? 
  • Why do Baptists and other religions not drink alcohol, but Catholics drink like fish?! 
  • What’s the deal with the dinosaurs? 
  • How do you get people to be content with what they got? 
  • Will I get to be with my grandad again one day? 
  • Why do people think that just because they have money they are better than other people? 
  • Why do it seem like the people that are living for the devil have it better than God’s people? 
  • Do you really hear every single prayer? 
  • What should I be doing? 
  • What should we be doing? 
  • Why do people have cancer, especially children? 
  • Why does tribulation come when I am trying/doing what I know to be a good Christian? 
  • The Bible is just a book that man wrote and it contradicts itself-How can we believe or follow what is written? 
  • When I am at work I am always trying to be the best person, why is it harder around other people to be who God wants you to be? 
  • Will we see and be able to talk to our loved ones in heaven? 
  • There are different words for spiritual realms. Are there in actuality different spiritual realms? 
  • Are there different types of salvation? 
  • Is there a difference between being saved and going to heaven? 
  • Will we see babies from abortions in heaven and will they be grown? 
  • Why do we sometimes lose faith in god? 
  • How much longer before you heal Pete? 
  • Why do some have so much and others so little? 
  • Why do you sometimes seem to hide?(when we can’t get a response from you when we are hurting) 
  • How does God view those who live near sinless lives and anonymously perform ”Godly” works, But not in the name of God? In other words, “unbelieving do-gooders.”
  • What about those who believe in other gods?(still living self-sacrificing lives) 
  • How am I supposed to do everything the Bible says, How am I supposed to manage that? and if not, How do I know which things I am supposed to do? 
  • Some people question about things mentioned in the Bible, whether it should be believed/followed as is, or taken into consideration of time, culture, & context? Developed somewhat from leviticus, and abominations=being gay, shrimp, selling daughters into slavery, wearing two different fabrics. 
  • Will only Christians get to go to heaven? 
  • How have you existed forever? 
  • What is your plan for me? What’s my purpose? 
  • What’s with dinosaurs? 
  • Why do His faithful followers, seem to suffer so much at the end? (death can be slow and painful) 
  • If you kill yourself do you really go to hell! 
  • If you're truly Gay can you still get into heaven! 
  • Why have you always been there for me? You never let me fall! 
  • When are you coming to get us?! 
  • Why are babies born with birth defects? 
  • Why don’t you do more to stop injustice? 
  • Why does it feel like your will is hard to find? 
  • Why do you allow so many people to suffer? 
  • Do we still follow the 10 commandments? If so, why do we not follow the sabbath and how can we have military( thou shalt not kill)? I believe the Bible says Jesus is the end of the old law but I’m not sure. 
  • How do you truly repent? 
  • How do I know that my Christian life/walk with God is enough or should it be? 
  • What does God expect from us? 
  • What’s next?
Phenomenal questions.  I'm really looking forward to the next five weeks.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

I've seen lots of people try to explain away this verse. Very few recognize that Jesus is actually quoting Psalm 22 (written a millenia before the crucifixion). Read this and tell me if it sounds like a man defeated.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.

But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!

Why is this night different from all other nights? Because one thousand, nine hundred and eighty three years ago tonight, Jesus the Nazarene died on a cross.

Thank God It's Good Friday.