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My faith

(What I Believe)

I am a contemporary Calvinist. I hold to the historic Reformed understanding and seek to express that biblical faith through words, symbols and actions that speak to people today. I ground my faith in a serious and unqualified reliance on Scripture as God's Word.

Far from this making me narrow in my theology and spiritual practices, I have found myself drawn to Christian traditions across all spectrums and divisions, finding those gifts given in Jesus in all parts of the church and church traditions. Taking seriously all of the Bible leads me rise above the many historic theological divisions in the church. I believe that I can learn from and minister in a wide variety of Christian churches.

My life is not my own. I belong to Jesus Christ who purchased my life back from sin and guilt with his life, death and resurrection. Because of Jesus I entrust myself to the God of the Bible: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God who is three persons and three persons who are eternally and equally one God.

The Father created all through the regency of the Son and the activity of the Holy Spirit. Nothing outside of God exists that He has not created (visible and invisible) including man and both angels and demons.

The creation exists because God graciously provides existence to it moment by moment through Christ, in whom all things hold together.

God created all things good, and man, in his disobedience to God, brought sin, misery, guilt, shame and decay into the world.

The Son was sent by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit into the world and became a human person: Jesus Christ. Being conceived in his mother Mary by the Holy Spirit without the help of a man, Jesus took on our human existence, setting aside his power and prerogatives as God. Yet he remained completely God and completely a man, one person with both natures. He lived a human life, empowered by the Holy Spirit, without sin and in perfect harmony with the Father. From his conception and through his death at the hands of the Jewish and Roman authorities he suffered the penalty for my sins and the sins of the World. He died on the cross and was buried.

On the third day he rose from the tomb, a glorified savior, still God and a man, never to perish or suffer again. He appeared to the apostles (God’s envoys) over the next 40 days. He ascended to heaven where he reigns as the Father’s regent and intercedes for us. He will return to judge all people, living and dead, and to restore all creation to God’s original intended perfection.

The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to speak through God’s prophets and apostles, and to empower the church to serve Him. The Spirit, because of God’s special love for us, inspired the prophets, apostles and their followers to accurately and completely set down in the Scriptures of the Bible all that we need to know and do to faithfully live in gratitude to God.

These Scriptures are the Word of God spoken in the words of men, so inspired that they do not falsify or err in facts or fail in their promises and yet reflect the individuality of the writer. The Scriptures are to be read as they were inspired (history as interpreted facts, poetry as crafted evocative imagery, prophesy as God-directed dream, proverb as the intersection of experience and God’s will, etc.).

The Spirit also moves people to believe God, empowers them to serve God, applies to them the goodness of Christ and cooperates with them in transforming their lives to bring them into Godly, Christ-like, Spiritual maturity. In the course of maturing they increasingly love God with all that they are and have, and love those around them with the sacrificial love of Christ. Indeed, those whom God calls he molds through the power of the Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus into the image of the Son, ultimately glorifying them at their death or at Christ’s return.

The Spirit creates and molds one universal church, gathering together the followers of Jesus to serve Him. God’s will for the church is to make everyone into apprentices of Jesus. We are therefore to go to those around us and around the world, tell them the Good News about Jesus, embrace them in the church through baptism in the power, presence, authority and reputation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach them how to live a life that conforms to the life of Jesus.

For more information see:

My Spirituality

(The Ways I Stay Close to God)

“Spirituality” is more than a replacement for “organized religion”. The three commands of love (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart… Love your neighbor as yourself… Love one another as I [Jesus] have loved you”) show that spirituality is about love - loving God and people around us, both non-Christians and Christians. I define spirituality as those practices that I use to deepen my love in these three directions. My spirituality reflects whom God has made me to be: my gifts, talents, experiences.

Bible Reading/Study
Over the years I have read the Bible in 17 translations and parts of 5 more tranlations in two languages. This (and my fundamentalist Baptist upbringing) has given me a depth of knowledge in the Scriptures that grounds me deeply and broadly in who God is and what he desires. I enjoy exploring and understanding especially the “obscure” books of the bible (Leviticus, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, the Revelation, etc.).

Spoken Prayer
My spoken prayers focus around my understanding of the Lord’s Prayer. I see it as two movements with three focuses:

  • God’s will for my life
    • Love God (as Father)
    • Honor God
    • Obey God
  • The power to carry God’s will out
    • God provides (daily bread)
    • God pardons (forgive us)
    • God pilots (lead us)

Unspoken Prayer
Many years ago I had a Spiritual Director from the Nazarene Church (who had, himself, been discipled by Franciscan Monks). Through him I learned many important aspects of prayer:

  • Listening as well as speaking
  • Centering Prayer to clear my noisy mind
  • Kinetic Prayer to release me from the bounds of words
  • Orientations in prayer (lying, kneeling, standing, raising hands, etc,) to open me to the emotions of prayer

Serving the Poor
My love for others includes finding ways to restore people to the self-sustaining life that God intended for all of us. Recently I have come to accept that there are levels of love in how we help the poor.

  • Lowest: Give a Person a Fish (Giving something to them something to alleviate their present need)
  • Next Lowest: Give a Person a Fishing Pole (Giving them something which empowers them to become self-sustaining)
  • Second Highest: Sell a Person a Fishing Pole at a Price that They can Afford (Empower them to seek dignity of earning the empowerment of becoming self-sustaining)
  • Highest: Exchange a Fishing Pole for a Canoe Paddle (Working beside them personally, accepting from them their aid in my life as I help them toward becoming self-sustaining)

While my mobile life rarely affords opportunities to love at this highest level of love, I have found several ways of seeking the other levels:

  • Living Simply and giving my surplus items to Goodwill, etc.
  • Micro-loaning around the world through Kiva.com

Living Reconciled
I cannot be at peace with God if I am at war with others. Therefore I seek always to work the four disciplines of Reconciliation:

  • Confronting sin in love (Matthew 18)
  • Confessing sin in humility
  • Making amends for damage done
  • Granting forgiveness freely (often even when no forgiveness is sought)

Walking by Faith in the Spirit
On a daily basis I find it important to sense the nudges of the Spirit. Though I find it hard to explain, over the years I have found a particular sense of being “directed” to do something quite unexplainable. Over the years I have found that this particular sense has a definite “feel” of the Spirit. When I follow that nudge (going up a particular road, visiting a particular person) I find the most remarkable “coincidences” happening.

Music
Music stands central to my life. I wake up with a song “playing in my head” most every day. As I work, exercise, relax I find myself surrounded by music, even when I am alone in the woods.

I have a large play list of songs that help me to reflect on my connection with Christ. The genres range from Gregorian Chant and Classical works to Contemporary Christian Music, Rock, Country and Jazz. Whether it is the Gregorian “Kyrie”, Guardian’s “Bottle Rocket”, Bach’s organ pieces, the dazzling Jazz piano of Thelonius Monk, or Nickelback's pleading “Savin' Me”, or Eric Church’s honest “Sinners Like Me” God breathes new life into me as I bathe in His creativity through the hands of people.

Other Spiritual Disciplines
Over the years I have practiced several other spiritual disciplines. I engage in these from time to time:

  • Fasting
  • Vigil
  • Spiritual Appointments
  • Prayer Walks
  • The Confessional