By request: The Trinity "explained"

First off, I want to thank Faith for requesting that I tackle this question (in Faith’s words):

“On your blog you should explain the difference between Jesus and God… it always confuses me! Are we praying to Jesus or God?”

It’s a great question, and one that I hope to handle with deep respect for the profound mystery that it represents. I’d like to take Faith’s question and broaden it to a discussion on the Trinity.

First off, I want to give a disclaimer. The trinity can’t be explained. It’s far beyond our human mind’s ability to comprehend. But that’s good, because that fact testifies to how mind-blowing God is. I mean, who wants a God that can be explained? If I can explain God, that means I can understand everything about him. If I can understand everything about him, then that means we’re on the same level. And I don’t need or want a God who’s on my level! I need a God far above and beyond where I am! I can trust a God like that!

St. Augustine once said, “…anyone who denies the Trinity is in danger of losing his salvation, and anyone who tries to understand it is in danger of losing his mind.” So true!

But there ARE things that we can grasp.

First off, we believe that our God is ONE God. Read Deuteronomy 6:4. (By contrast, Mormonism teaches that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are 3 gods, not one. Hinduism has over 300 million gods.)
Second, we believe that there are 3 persons that make up the trinity. “Trinity” is literally “tri-unity” and it tells us that there are 3 distinct persons who dwell perfectly together in one God.

The “Triune” God is:
God the Father: The Father points to the Son, Jesus. The Father is fully pleased with Jesus, who is the incarnation of God to mankind. Jesus came to earth to live, die, and be raised again so that all of humanity can be reconciled to God.
God the Son: Jesus came to earth to connect us with the Father. He also came to show us what a holy life in a human life looks like. Jesus is fully God and fully man (known as the “hypostatic union”), another concept beyond human capacity to understand. Jesus departed earth so that the Holy Spirit can come to us.
God the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God alive within us. This is taught in Romans 8 and in other places in Scripture. The Holy Spirit has many roles; teacher, joygiver, convictor, guide, among many others.

I was reading in Genesis yesterday, when God created Adam. Check out Gen. 1:26:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”
You see that in the same verse is both “singular” (God) and “plural” (our image, our likeness).

Some have tried to analogize the Trinity, explaining it through a shamrock, water, or even an egg. All of these are understandable human concepts trying to grasp a non-understandable spiritual/divine truth. The fact is, the Trinity isn’t “like” anything. And that is why we find it so hard to understand.

So, when we pray (to get more toward Faith’s original question), we pray to God. That’s it. And all three persons of the one God are participating in that conversation. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit helps us pray. The Bible teaches us that God the Son intercedes on our behalf. The Bible teaches us that God the Father hears and answers our prayers according to His “good, acceptable, and perfect will.”

Thanks for the question! It was a good one!

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Jesus had 12, too.

Over a month ago, curiosity got the better of me. You see, as someone who writes and likes the idea that someone besides me and my Mom are reading it, I get a bit curious as to who’s out there reading what I’m writing. Egotistical, you say? Fair enough.

If the poll that I set up for the past month is any indication, I’m a blogger for a sum total of 12 individuals. And to those 12 I say, “Thanks. A lot.” I’d certainly continue writing without any readers, but honestly you 12 help me keep going. You bug me when my blog gets stale and a few of you have even dared to comment on one or more posts. And to this blogger, that’s fuel.

Here’s a snapshot of the stats collected by the poll:
This is my first time to Jerry’s blog:
4 readers (We may never see them again.)
I have read it once before:
1 reader
I have read it several times, but I’ve never posted a comment:
3 readers
I have read it several times, and have commented:
4 readers

So, instead of analyzing what all these numbers mean (which I think is impossible), I’d simply like to dedicate this post to those 12 hearty humans who took a split second to vote on the poll.

Here’s to you and here’s to 12 more!

Sin….bbrpgrruh….again.

My family and I were invited to a Memorial Day cookout yesterday at a friend’s house. In camping chairs and patio furniture, we sat around shooting the breeze, laughing, and generally enjoying the day. In the center of the circle was their dog, Noah. As I enjoyed listening to people laughing and sharing, I watched Noah move from inside the circle to outside, where he was a little less the center of attention.

Through the legs of a camping chair across from me I could still see Noah and what he was doing. I thought he was yawning until — oh yeah — up and out came whatever it was he had eaten most recently. Whatever it was, there was a lot of it. I shuddered inside at what I had just witnessed. Everyone else seemed to be oblivious to it.

And then I watched Scripture come to life. Look up Proverbs 26:11 and you’ll read…
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”

As if Noah had instantly forgotten (or most likely didn’t care) where that mound of warm yuck had just come from, he began sniffing the pile and then — oh yeah — licking, lapping, and chomping it up for round two. I shuddered inside again at what I was now witnessing.

And my level of disgust brought to mind the ugliness of my sin. As I watched that dog do what dogs sometimes do, it occured to me that when it comes to the sins I repeat, God looks at me in just the same way. Loving me (as undoubtedly my friends adore their dog), but simultaneously sickened by the sins I choose to commit, no matter what they are.

I’m not sure I’ll look at repetitive sins the same way again.

We just wanted a walk…

My wife grew up walking with her family in the evenings. And not a walk around the block, a walk around town. And that’s literal. They would literally walk from one end of town to the other and back. For fun. Seriously.

And so, she has a deep desire to pass on that tradition with our family. Fair enough.

As for me, I generally take the logic of Willy Wonka, “If the good Lord had intended us to walk, he wouldn’t have invented roller skates.” But I’m a sport. Not to mention, I like being married. So, I choose to walk.

Well, before getting to the end of our street I had serious doubts as to whether this walk was a good idea. Yesterday we got our kids new Crocs for summer. They like them so much that they wanted to wear them on what promised to be a long walk. We encouraged our oldest son to wear his sneakers instead. Nothing doing. He was sticking with the Crocs. Fine.

But our youngest son didn’t get a choice. We pryed his Crocs from his feet and put on his socks and sneakers. That fight set the tone for the first 300 yards of our walk. In that distance, I think we threatened to go home, threatened to carry him (he hates that), and threatened his life more times than we can remember.

We just wanted a nice family walk….was that so wrong?!?

Once we got the youngest one going in the right direction he was a champ. No complaining or whining after the first 20 minutes of complaining and whining.

Then it was my oldest son’s turn to break down. Remember that strong suggestion we made for him to put on sneakers? He was regretting that after the first half mile or so. After flipping the Croc straps to the front and walking slower than my grandmother who doesn’t walk at all, he gave up on the Crocs all together. Off they came and he inched along the asphalt street with his tender soles of his feet causing him to grimace with each step.

Did I mention that my wife and 3 other kids were so far ahead they were out of sight? Ah, what a nice family walk this was–if we had only been 2 families.

Then my superhero instincts kicked in. He and I stopped, sat in someone’s driveway and I took off my socks, put them on him, and put my sneakers back on. I wasn’t even laced back up and he was gone. He took off like lightning in his Crocs and socks. Looking quite German, but no longer in pain.

And then it was my youngest daughter’s turn to complain. She too had chosen her Crocs and she too was now regretting that choice. Thankfully, her personality is such that you can talk her out of being in pain. She just flipped the straps and was good to go. Slowly, but going. However, I don’t think it was the pain that was slowing her down, but instead the thought that if she walked through the neighborhood too quickly, someone might be deprived of catching a glimpse of her glory.

When all was said and done, we had a walk to remember. Or forget. Whichever.

I’m just glad to be home.

Revelations

For as long as I’ve been a youth pastor, few topics pique the interest of teens (and adults too) as much as the book of Revelations. And I have a theory as to why that is.

The book of Revelations, which is the last book in the Bible was written by God through visions given to John while he was exiled on the isle of Patmos. It is the recording of exactly what John saw and was instructed by God to write down (Rev. 1:19).

As we learned in the “Digging Deep” series (which birthed this blogsite), we can confidently know that the Bible is truly the Word of God revealed to humanity. It passes all types of bibliographic, historical, extra-Biblical, and even archaeological tests. And since that is true, we can know that what we read in the book of Revelations is also true. And if that’s the case, that would explain why so many people (even non-believers) are fascinated and often confounded by what the book holds. Every other book in the Bible records what has already taken place. Revelations holds prophecies yet to come about. In essence, its a window into our future that cannot and should not be easily dismissed.

Through the centuries many people have come and gone trying to predict when the “end” will be. But let me remind you of the words of Christ Himself and I think you’ll agree that any such attempt at prediction is futile…”No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36)

Its not our business to know when the end will come. It IS our business to ready for it! Jesus spoke parable after parable after parable which gave clear instructions for us to be ready, and not to be caught unprepared for the Lord’s return. It is when we lose sight of the fact that this world is temporary that we start living like this is all there is. But what if we actually lived as if heaven were a real place? What if we truly believed in hell (which Jesus speaks of more than heaven!)? What if we lived with an eternal perspective instead of a temporary one? What if we lived as if Jesus were returning an hour from now? What would change?

No, we can’t know exactly when Jesus will return, but we can live a life that clearly says that He WILL return!

Being okay with not knowing

It’s early morning and my day is filled with uncertainty. I’m traveling 2 hours east today to look at probably a dozen or so houses that are going to get a major facelift next month at the hands of 60-70 middle and high school students and about 20 adult leaders I’m helping to lead. So, today I and my 2 other directors are going to choose the houses that we will be working on next month. Pretty cool.

But still, there’s a lot I don’t know about what’s going to happen today. What will I see? Who will I speak with? What will we speak about? How will we be accepted? How will travel go? And even, will I return home safely to my family?

For some people, not knowing things can be unnerving. And I’m definitely a guy who likes to have a plan and know what the plan is and have the plan play out the way I planned. But I’ve learned that if I get too wrapped up in that, faith can lose its place and when unanswered questions arise I don’t have the spiritual, faith-filled footing to stand.

I went to visit a young person in the hospital yesterday. Without disclosing the details, I can tell you that he was a rough shape. And I stood with his dad there bedside over his son and watched his eyes. Uncertainty. But a stark absence of fear. You see, uncertainty is okay and even welcomed when you walk with the God who knows it all and will only give what’s best for us.

Believe it or not, when I was a teen I was in a singing group. Crazy to think about it now, because if you’ve heard me sing you’d say, “Yeah, right.” One of the songs we loved to sing and people loved to hear was an old hymn with the words, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.”

A day filled with uncertainty? Bring it on.