Thursday, September 24, 2020

Change of Plans?

We had some spirited discussion in our ConnectGroup from church this week over the topic: "God is unchangeable".  We all agreed that his character, his purpose and his will are unchangeable, but one of the sections in J.I. Packer's book, "Knowing God", talks about his "ways" being unchangeable.  When we look at the Old Testament, we see some practices, seemingly condoned by God, that aren't accepted at all today - animal sacrifice, slavery and polygamy to name a few.  My pastors helped me understand that in the Old Testament, we see people reaching up to God trying to do anything and everything possible to get his attention and get closer to him.  In the New Testament, we see God coming down to us and showing himself to us through the person of Jesus.  This was God's plan forever, so his plan didn't change.  It is playing out in each one of our lives day by day.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Ancient History

 Our ConnectGroup from church met for the first time this week.  We are studying J. I. Packer's book, "Knowing God".   Most of the reviews I saw about the book were very positive, but there are a few recent reviews that said the book was old-fashioned and out of touch with today's world.  It was written in 1973, so almost five decades have passed since it was released.  In trying to learn a little more about Packer, I found that he was born in England and finished his career and life in Canada.  He was influenced by writer's including Charles Ryle, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen and John Calvin.  I was only familiar with John Calvin.  These men were born in 1800, 1703, 1616 and 1509 respectively.  If Packer can go back 50 decades to study the truth, I think we can go back 5. In Packer's own words, "I would rather be old-fashioned and clear than modern and muddled."  I can't wait to get some clarity.

Friday, September 11, 2020

From the tomato fields to the cross


Yvan Sagnet was born in central Africa in 1985, but dreamed of living in Italy someday, primarily because of the influence of one Italy's most famous soccer players, Robert Baggio.  In 2007, his dream was realized when he was granted a visa to study at the University of Turin.  After scoring poorly on some early exams, he lost his scholarship, and needed to find work.  He was introduced to the tomato-picking industry in southern Italy and accepted a position working there, but soon found that the position was more like one of a slave than an employee.  Over 800 workers labored for over 14 hours per day with no contract and below minimum wage, often enduring verbal and physical abuse from the caporali (gang masters).  Yvan wanted more for himself, but more than anything, he saw the struggle of his co-workers and wanted more for them.  He led a protest that eventually led to massive public support and new laws against the coparali.  In 2017, 12 members of the corparali were convicted of enslavement and human trafficking.  A Swiss filmmaker, Milo Rau, was moved by the efforts of Yvan, and has just released a film entitled "The New Gospel".  Instead of choosing an actor for the film, he chose Yvan.  The film is a parable of sorts, showing the parallels between Yvan's fight for his coworkers and Jesus's fight for each of us.   I haven't seen it yet, but I hope to.  In the meantime, I just choose to be inspired.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Q is for Question

 I learned some new words this morning:  QAnon, 4chan and cabal.  I am not too great at social media.  If I were, perhaps I would have known these words earlier.  I think I may be happy that I made it this long without them.  So for any of you that are as disconnected as I am, QAnon is a conspiracy theory started by a poster, Q, on an an anonymous message board, 4chan, that claims that a cabal of satanic pedophiles running a child prostitution ring will be taken down in a day of reckoning.  Qanon followers believe members of the cabal are Hollywood celebrities, members of the news media and powerful politicians, mostly democrats.  So why give QAnon even a moment's notice in this post or others like it?  It is now thought that there are hundreds of thousands of people following the theory, and regrettably, some of them claim to be Christians.  Some of the QAnon theories have even worked themselves into church leadership and the pulpit causing some churches to split over divided loyalties.  It breaks my heart to see people hurting so bad that they will crave anything that might explain why they are hurting.  I am broken, too.   I have craved other things besides Jesus, too.  But I am convinced nothing can help me but Him.  If you have more curiosity and more time, I found that this recent video helped to increase my understanding.