Facts, Faith, and Feelings

In the eighties and early nineties I had a pastor who preached over and over that we base our opinions on (1) Facts (2) Faith, and lastly, (3) Feelings. It made a lasting impression on me, and now whenever I’m looking for an answer from God, I use that equation to determine whether or not I’m “hearing” the right thing.

This is where I become unpopular. We all too often form our spiritual opinions (answers) based on our feelings first, rather than the facts. The movie, The Shack,
tugs at our heartstrings, and causes us to question our belief in who God is. The movie leads you to believe that God is whoever you need Him to be at different times in your life. It’s a feel-good, carnival-ride kind of movie, and in a weird way it makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. I’m a bit relieved when we get to the end and the character, Mack, seems to awaken from a dream, or maybe even returns from the rabbit hole he fell into. I feel less like I have to defend the biblical principles I know to be true, and chalk it all up to a well-written piece of fiction.

For all the feel good in this movie, there are as many inadequacies, and they matter because they are about who God is.

I haven’t read the book, but have no reason to believe that the movie isn’t scripted closely. The movie causes us to believe that there is no repentance of sin. That there is no punishment for sin. Papa says, “Sin is its own punishment”. The movie says there is no wrath of God. Papa says, “Wrath? You lost me there”. The author might not intend to mislead, but he misleads nonetheless. He wants us to see the God of love, but not the God of absolute holiness, or the God of final judgement. For all the feel good in this movie, there are as many inadequacies, and they matter because they are about who God is.

There is no question about who God is, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is.

  1. God is God.  1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. ~ (John 1: 1-3) No mention of a woman named Papa. Who, by the way, looks more like a new-age Oprah than God.
  2. Jesus is God’s son. “Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:27) Whatever else Christians may believe, of greatest importance is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Apart from this profession, there is no gospel. The movie comes closest in it’s depiction of Jesus, portraying him as an Israeli carpenter. And I say that tongue in cheek.
  3. The Holy Spirit is the power of God, a comforter, a counselor. The Holy Spirit is someone to call on when you don’t know what or how to pray. The Holy Spirit is not an Asian woman that floats in and out with a glow surrounding her.
  4. This woman called “Wisdom”, she scares me. I don’t know what to say about her, except she’s scary.  In Ezekiel 28 God says about Satan, “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.”

I’ll leave you with this essay popularized by syndicated columnist, Paul Harvey, in 1965.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3Az0okaHig

If I were the devil … if I were the prince of darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness.

I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population; I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — thee.

I would set about, however necessary, to take over the United States.  I’d subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.”

To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is “square”. And I would teach the old to pray after me, “Our Father, which are in Washington…” Then, I’d get organized. Continue reading Facts, Faith, and Feelings

Car Session

You want to celebrate strong women? Think about the women you know and the battles they are facing, and how they handle them. My sister-in-law, Beverly, is one of the strongest women I know.

Sometimes when you visit someone in hopes of encouraging them, they always end up encouraging you. Anna and I visited with Beverly Friday night; we had a car session. Ever had one of those? They’re typically late at night and last anywhere from 1-3 hours. There will be tears, laughter, what’s, who’s, and how comes. Oh, and gasping for breath over some of the things discussed.

Beverly is Tony’s youngest sibling, the only sister. Though it hasn’t always been, or maybe it always was, they [the brothers] are quite protective of her. They’re all grown up now, and each of them watch out for her like big brothers do.

Beverly’s husband, Bill, is very sick, battling colon cancer, and quite frankly, he is not winning.  We love “Uncle Bill”, and have always half-joked with Beverly that he’s the best thing that ever happened to her. Bill would tell you that she’s the best thing that ever happened to him. We’ve surmised that they are each the BEST thing for the other. And we are all blessed for having them in our lives.

We talked about a lot of things in the car session: fears, finances, faith. Beverly is afraid, but she has great faith in the hopes and promises of God. We didn’t get to see Bill; he was sleeping, or at least trying to. Jack (the autistic dog) Russell was a bit restless, and may or may not have caused some commotion. The time we spent with Beverly was much-needed, and God-sent.

At the end of our car session Anna told Beverly, “I thought this visit was for you, turns out, I needed to hear exactly what you said tonight.” In the most terrifying time of Beverly’s life, she’s teaching life lessons, and doesn’t even know it. Thank you, Beverly, for our car session this week. I look forward to more of these in the future.

Beverly is one of the strongest women I know. She doesn’t borrow from tomorrow, and lives every day to the fullest.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

If you haven’t had a car session with anyone lately, you should consider it. You might learn more than you want, but I guarantee you’ll walk [drive] away with a new perspective.

Please pray for Bill and Beverly Hooper. Bill was diagnosed last year with colon cancer. After a couple of surgeries, Bill is at home fighting this battle his way.