Doctrine of Healing

As I write this I am sitting in the surgical waiting area of a hospital. My wife is upstairs being prepped for surgery. So today for Theology Thursday I will post about a doctrine of healing.

I believe God wants us to voice our concerns to Him, including asking for healing. He hears our prayers and I believe changes the world based on our requests. Christians should never hesitate to share their fears, concerns, requests and pleas for assistance with God

I believe our faith has something to do with whether or not God answers our prayers. This is why Jesus often encouraged faith before responding to people’s needs with miracles. But I also think God is always sovereign. He can choose to do or not do anything He wants. He can choose to heal the worst of sinners, and He will eventually take, even the best of saints, home to heaven.

I think our faith needs to be correctly placed. This means trusting Him and His choices. If we think we must believe God will heal us before He will heal us, that is to say, we must place faith in our healing instead of or in addition to placing faith in God, then we are misplacing faith. This is a form of idolatry and bossing God around. My Christianity makes Him my Lord; rather than Him my servant whom I control by expressing my faith.

I believe illness and injury are quite often a tool God uses to better our character and eternity. We may not see how, we may not understand the details. What difference does that make? Do we expect to understand everything God does? Trusting Him without knowing the details is one of the first lessons we can learn from illness, but God may also use it to increase our wisdom, patience, humility, servitude, and more.

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Riding a Tiger

Last week I mentioned I was going to use Politics Monday to talk about church politics at times.  Let me repeat a post I have put up in the past about what it means to be a church leader.

Being a pastor is a lot like riding a tiger. You can sit up there and proudly tell yourself you are in control. But you must always remember, job one is don’t get eaten. I am aware this thought can be taken as a negative bit of cynicism, but bear with me while I flesh out some details.

First this analogy will help you to always remember the church is a living and breathing thing. Together you will not make progress unless you and it find some form of cooperation. If you decide to lord your authority over it with a fierce domination, then sooner or later it will show you what fierce is. The fact is you only hold whatever authority over a tiger, which it allows you to have.

Second I want you to be careful how dearly you hold to the idea your church loves you. It might eventually learn to love you, and it might not. But if it does happen, it will take longer than you think. Your church will only love you if they have first learned to respect you. They will only learn to respect you after you have proven they can trust you. Trust is earned, respect is built, but love only comes by the free will of the giver. Even after respect is solidly in place you cannot make them love you. Nor should it be your goal, you are not there to be adored, but to lead them to adore their Savior.

Third I want you to realize, if you get eaten by the tiger, the tiger will also be harmed greatly. Just as a captive animal that kills will have to be put down, the church which has eaten a pastor is always a horrible mess. They dishonor their Lord, do great harm to the kingdom, and become known by their injuries. But it is not their responsibility to prevent eating pastors, it’s the pastor’s job to not get eaten. When the rider blames the tiger he is not doing either of them any good, and when the pastor blames the church he is setting aside his calling to be the leader.

Before I quit, I should acknowledge the many other people who used riding the tiger as a teaching allegory. There are at least two books by this title, a blog and where I first heard it was as a descriptive of what it is like to be president of the United States. So the idea is not original, but very useful.

Theology of Death

Few things will test our belief system as much as death. If we claim to be Christian it should improve how we handle death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (HCSB) says “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” This verse says our belief in Christ should help us to handle death better than the rest of the world.

Grief will still invade the life of believers, but it should be a different experience than the hopelessness of those who don’t know anything about what is coming after death. So let me give you a brief discussion of death.

First I believe that the human soul has a starting point, but no ending point. Every person on earth is going to spend eternity somewhere. Scripture indicates the majority of them will spend eternity in torment. Please don’t think it’s more polite to remain silent about hell. Letting people walk unknowingly into a deadly trap is less polite than discomforting them with a warning.

I believe a person is placed into eternity the minute they leave this earth. For the believer this means to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Some believe in soul sleeping, but not many. This phrase means a person goes into a sleep like state at death and doesn’t wake up until the resurrection. The resurrection is when the soul is united with a body again, although the new body will be eternal. It will not grow old or suffer decay. I do not believe in soul sleeping, and I do believe in a bodily resurrection.

I believe the circumstances of the body at death or after death have nothing to do with the person’s eternal state. Being buried is not spiritually better than cremation nor is it better the other way around. The state of a person’s remains will not affect their resurrected body.

I believe Christians who are incurable, suffering and only surviving by medical means can be allowed to die without guilt. But I also believe all three of those conditions need to be met before giving up on a person. When this believer leaves this earth their suffering will cease and they will enter the eternal bliss of our Savior.

For the non-Christian in the same situation there is no good option; to continue to live is to suffer and to die is to lock in eternal suffering.

Northern Mockingbird

Mockingbird

The Northern mockingbird is a remarkable mimic. What this means is it is a bird which will imitate the calls of other birds.

A male will learn up to 200 songs in its lifetime, and it will maintain a different set of songs for spring and summer than he uses for winter.

Any sound he hears repeated often enough will become a part of his repertoire. This has included doorbells, cell phones and car starters.

May I suggest believers should imitate the mockingbird? No, I don’t think you should go around mocking your friends and coworkers. I do however think we could learn to listen better.

The primary person we need to listen to is the Lord. He can and will direct our lives but I am sure our spiritual habits hinder this process.

We often do not think of listening to Him as a part of our daily spiritual routine. We might include intercession without expecting Him to lead our hearts in prayer. We might read our Bibles everyday but forget to open ourselves up to the application of it. We might be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but not give Him time to speak to us in the course of our day.

But listening to God is a central part of our relationship with Him. In Matthew 13 Jesus emphasizes this by using the word listen six times in a short span. Half of those uses were a repetition of the phrase first used in verse 15, “Anyone who has ears should listen!”