Archives For Spiritual Formation

Hearing God’s Voice

Paul McMullen —  April 5, 2017 — 2 Comments

I recently watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge because I enjoy the occasional war movie—especially when it has some meaningful storytelling attached to it. This story is about a man named Desmond Doss, who was a conscientious objector to killing, but who still enlisted in the army as a medic during WWII. Two scenes in particular struck me concerning the idea of listening to God.

First, the army does its best to get Doss to quit after he enlists. They don’t want an unarmed, unwilling-to-kill man going into battle alongside them. At one point, he’s made to go through a psychiatric evaluation to see if he’s crazy. “Do you think God speaks to you?” the psychiatrist asks (or something like that). Doss answers that he doesn’t “have conversations” with God, but that he does pray. Though the movie is based on the true story of Doss, the dialogue of the movie is undoubtedly the writer’s creation. To suggest that God speaks to you is the equivalent of being crazy.[1]

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Jesus & Doubt

Paul McMullen —  March 15, 2017 — 4 Comments

Jerusalem_Gethsemane_tango7174

(By Tango7174 – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26323542)
(The picture above is the Garden of Gethsemane. The olive trees are thought to be millennia old, possibly the same trees that sheltered Jesus and his disciples 2000 years ago.)

Over the last two months, I’ve explored the topic of doubt in relation to faith through several posts. I’ve used the book Benefit of the Doubt, by Gregory Boyd, to help spur the discussion. In today’s post, I’d like to share some insights from chapters 5 in BotD.

The last biblical character we looked at was Job. Boyd suggests that Job’s faith was most on display through his honest struggle with God. In chapter five, we move on to Jesus himself.

If anyone had perfect faith it must be Jesus, right? And if perfect faith equals unquestioning certainty, then how do we explain the following two incidents in Jesus’ life?

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(Guest post by Julie McMullen)

temptation-of-jesus-in-the-desert

We are officially beginning the season of Lent.  At Storyline we join together through daily prayer as a community.  Each week we will have a different leader & some topics we don’t want to miss praying about.  To go along with our times of prayer we will post a weekly theme on the Storyline blog to encourage our prayers. This week’s theme is Preparation.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Read Luke 3:21-22; 4:1-15

Jesus is baptized and immediately goes to the wilderness, fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.  He was led by the Spirit. Luke 4:1 says “he was tempted for 40 days.”  Let’s just think about this for a minute – a desert (which means heat without relief, or maybe scorching days & cold nights), NO FOOD, and frequent meetups with the devil tempting him with desirable things.  This seems like a cruel thing for God & the Spirit to do to Jesus.  The Bible doesn’t include any of his conversations he had with God during that desert time, but we can draw conclusions on the importance of what happened here based on how Jesus responded to Satan & what he was like after this experience.  The tempter comes at him with temptation that includes a hook or a nugget of truth in each one…but Jesus doesn’t take the bait, he responds with a focused answer, with what is really true.  He does not waiver.

After the temptation, Luke 4:14-15 says, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.  He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.” In the desert, Jesus had removed himself from distractions, given God time and himself.  And God did something…God filled him up & prepared him.  He was “in the power of the Spirit.” He went on to call the disciples, teach, preach the good news of the kingdom, heal every disease and sickness among the people.  I’m in awe of Jesus and this mysterious Spirit.  And I have to say that even though I’m slightly terrified of it, I want this.  I want to live IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT, to walk in his confidence, his authority, his freedom, his plan & his love.  I want this kind of life for Storyline, I want this kind of life for all believers, I want this kind of life for all people in God’s creation. And I think the first step is joining Jesus in the desert, giving up distracting things; even giving up some essentials to make space for God, to make space for the Spirit.

So we prepare, we not only make room, but say we want nothing else to fill that space but God.  Father, lead us by your Spirit.  May the Spirit open us up to you in a way that hasn’t happened before.  Prepare us Father.  Those things that we are holding onto for dear life, give us courage to let go, to give them to you,

Questions for thought & prayer…

  • What is cluttering your calendar, life, or mind?
  • What are you holding onto tightly?
  • What will you let go of during this season of Lent?

Wrestling Match

Paul McMullen —  February 15, 2017 — 3 Comments

Randy "macho Man" Savage, Hulk Hogan

In the last few posts, we’ve worked through Gregory Boyd’s objections to “certainty-seeking faith.” For many folks, I suspect you’ve been interested in getting to a renewed biblical view of faith. It’s not enough just to deconstruct our understanding of faith (as idolatrous!); we want to know how to reconstruct a faith we can live in.

Others may be happy that we’ve deconstructed certainty-seeking faith (with some pushback), but may be hesitant to move toward the reconstruction phase. We’ve been burned once, and we don’t want to get burned again. If you’re feeling that way, let me encourage you to simply consider a fresh look at faith. Honest searching is good and healthy for the soul.

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walker

This post continues looking at Gregory Boyd’s 9 objections to what he calls certainty-seeking faith. The bullet points below correspond with objections 7-9. Boyd takes a whole chapter to work through #9, so I’ll spend a bit more time explaining it.

The Case Against Certainty-Seeking Faith

  • Feeling over-certain in your beliefs is the cause of religious extremism and acts of violence in the name of God.

It’s an interesting point, and certainly relevant to our time. Boyd contends that this wouldn’t occur if people were more doubtful and humble. But can’t we just be humbler? Does doubt have to be the reason we don’t kill each other?

  • The end goal of certainty-seeking faith is for the believer to feel good about themselves. It’s self-serving rather than primarily concerned with truth. “The goal of believing the truth and the goal of feeling certain you already believe the truth are mutually exclusive” (pg.51). Boyd presents the case that rational pursuits of truth involve individuals weighing available evidence in a highly ambiguous, uncertain world.

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