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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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In an earlier post I mentioned an Adult Education possibility:
Another idea of which I am fond is called “Questions from the Heart.” You have an Adult Sunday school class explicitly devoted to questions people are wrestling with in their faith. When the class begins you ask people to come prepared with written questions – which they in their hearts really need answered – which the leader then reads aloud. After that first introductory class, the questions are then printed and numbered. The subsequent classes consist of taking numbered questions, several at a time, and preparing for them over the next week together. This is the kind of an environment which someone wrestling with faith sometimes finds inviting.
As it so happens, I am teaching just such a class in the parish in which I am now serving, and I thought you would be interested to see the questions which were submitted:
1. Over the past years I have lost a number of animals. This has been very difficult for me. Is it possible that animals have a soul and that there is a place beyond the grave for them? Will I ever see them again?
2. Does God change his mind? In other words, how effective are my prayers if God already has his eternal plan and has his mind made up?
3 I have a deep desire to be filled by the Holy Spirit and to live a life of "intimacy" with God. Is it right for me to desire a filling experience that engages the senses as well as the mind? (a vision, experience, etc.)
4. Does our church teach that infant baptism saves or in some way guarantees the future salvation of that infant? Do we believe in baptismal regeneration? In other words, if I have received the sacrament of baptism and confirmation does this assure some measure of salvific grace? I have been told that by some Episcopalians.
5. I struggle with the issue of innocents suffering. We are told that God's plans are always wise and always perfect, so why is there so much suffering? What's the difference between justice and punishment? Why the feeding of the 5,000 by Christ and the wandering Israelites being sent quail only to be stricken with a plague and killed? Why the stricken tribes in Numbers 16 and total grace for Christ's persecutors?
6. I also struggle with forgiveness. Before coming to the altar to receive I find myself asking for forgiveness for not being able to forgive someone. (I don't ever expect this person to ask for forgiveness) I think sometimes I have forgiven and feel wonderful about receiving communion, then something happens to remind me about the wrong and I have to start the process of forgiveness over again. Which is worse...receiving without forgiving, forgiving and taking back or not receiving at all (which I have had do at times)? I do realize there is a difference between forgiving and forgetting (I don't think I'll ever be there!!)
7. In the presidential primaries, with Mitt Romney running, a lot of attention was paid to his Mormon faith, but I found a number of the articles confusing. Is Mormonism Christian or not? Some articles said yes, but others said no. I need to have this clarified.
8. How can a loving God send someone—especially someone who is precious to me—to hell?
9. I have a personal issue in my family, in that one parent has treated the other parent and the children very badly. This would be an issue in either case, but in our situation it is the father. It has created a crisis of faith especially for the children—how do I help them deal with this?
10. What significance does the color blue have when you pray? Sometimes
when I'm praying I see the most brilliant beautiful color of blue and I'm not sure what it means.
11. How do you recognize God's answer to prayer?
12. One of the biblical concepts I struggle with the most is the idea of election, that people become God’s people only because God chooses them and enables them to come to faith in him. Does this not mean that God chooses some and not others? How do I reconcile this with God’s goodness and love?
13.besetting sin-- How do you truly pray for God to heal you of a besetting sin, that you know in your heart is wrong, and for the most part you can live in victory over this sin, But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (II Peter 2:22)
As the passage states you return to the sin ??? I have grown weary in the battle of this debt and the failure of company's bankruptcy only reminds me daily of the besetting sin in my life. I want to believe that the LORD one day will take all the failures of my life and use them for HIS good. But some days more now than before when I go to work I feel my self drifting into this state on mind that I would welcome the loss of every thing and just live a simple and uneventful life as [the rector] mentioned in his sermon today. Knowing very well the hurt and pain I would cause [my wife], my family and the dedicated employees that have been through the muck and the mire with me. one of our foreman told [my wife] last week that he will be with us as long as we continue.
So how do I release the slothfulness in my heart when I know it is wrong, but yet I really don't give it up to the LORD, I just wallow in it and pretend I am working hard, when I am really letting many people down and not really caring of the hurt that I may be causing ???
14. Discerning God's Will:
The words come easy, in the prayer for God to show me his Will, but the deep heart searching true discernment is not always truly there. I think sometimes I have a revelation that this is really what God is calling me to do then the reality of the commitment comes to the surface and I sink back into the routine of the day to day existence. So how do you know when it truly God's Will and not my own???
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