Friday, August 21, 2015

The Gospel According to the Chicken and the Egg

The age old question of "which came first; the chicken or the egg?" has baffled people for ages.  I find this question a bit of a no brainer if you believe in a world created by God, which I do.  The chicken came first.  Duh.  On the day God created the animals, chickens were first.  He didn't create an egg that hatched one day and "poof" - chicken.  

Now that you can sleep better at night because you know the answer to that question, I'll pose one that is similar to the chicken and egg debate.  "Which came first; faith or works?"  In a recent time of personal study, I re-read the passage in James 2 that discusses this very topic.  Let's look at verses 14-26:

?What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?  In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?  Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected.  So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
So, is it faith that saves you or your works?  This question separates the wheat from the tares, and one denomination from another.  The Bible teaches here that faith does come first, but faith alone without works (or evidence, we might call fruit) is dead.  Some religions believe that you can do enough good 'works' and earn your way to eternal life with God.  But the Bible teaches that works are merely the evidence of your faith.  We don't do works, and then have faith.  We have faith that produces works.  The theological Chicken and the Egg.  
The verse that always causes me to pay attention is verse 19 "The demons also believe—and they shudder."  Just believing is a dead faith.  It requires works to show your faith is real and active.  I'm not better than a demon if I say I believe in God, but I have no evidence in my life to reveal that belief.
You may think you are on a journey to earn yourself a ticket to Heaven.  But, dear readers, this passage very simply shows what faith looks like in those who know Jesus personally and will spend eternity with Him.  Faith first, works second.  Knowing I possess a living faith, also helps me sleep at night.

Monday, August 17, 2015

My Post-MBA Bucket List

It's been a month and a half since I finished my MBA.  My friend, Amy, told me, "when you finish, you are going to be so bored, you'll need to find things to fill that time."  Um, that's a negative.  I'm never bored, and finishing my MBA didn't change that fact.  Quite frankly, I don't understand people who get bored.  That is beyond my ability to understand.  I surmise it is because I'm an only child and we types grow up learning how to entertain ourselves.  That translates to adulthood and we're quite content because we can find a myriad of things to keep us busy.

About one-month away from my MBA completion, I decided to put a lot of things on hold to accomplish post-MBA.  This might have been tasks around my house to promised lunch engagements with friends.  In any case, it got me thinking that it would be good to think bigger picture and outline a "Post-MBA Bucket List."  Those things I want to accomplish now that the last two years of intense study are over.  In no particular order, here it is...

1.  Read more - Ironically, I read a lot during the last two years, but more about business, strategy, organizational theory and the like.  When I say I want to read more, I mean for pleasure.  Fiction.  Novels.  Escapes.  I've already begun to accomplish that by starting the increase through audiobooks in my car.  I'm listening to my first one from the Public Library post MBA and almost done.  I'm seriously considering joining since the Public Library selection is limited, or the wait is a bit redonculous.  Reading from the written page, or listening as it is read to me, I'm sure to increase my reading, and hence my knowledge.

2.  Journal - There have been many seasons in my life when I journaled.  But I haven't done so in probably five or six years.  I recently posted a Table Topic on Journaling on this blog because I was surprised at the number of men who journal.  I've purchased my first notebook and now just need to start the exercise.  I've stopped in the past because I was very regimented to do it every day.  I'm not going to put that requirement on myself so that I'll be more consistent in my journaling.

3.  Vacation in Hawaii - Most of my vacations entail visiting friends, which I adore.  But, one of my friends, Ashley, has wanted me to go to Hawaii with her for a while.  I figured what better time than post MBA!  I've never been to the islands and I'd love to go and experience it.  I hope to plan this for sometime next year with the help of my Hawaii veteran, Ashley.

4.  Craft - I love to craft.  Love it.  It's so soothing and therapeutic.  I've done a bit of it while in school, but I really want to spend more time doing it.  I love to crochet and I started an afghan during my holiday break last year, but obviously haven't gotten far.  I'd like to pick up the pace on that, and sign up to take craft classes to learn other crafting techniques.  I took one craft class during my MBA stint and loved it.  But, when you work full-time and are in school full-time, the involvement in doing something like that is limited.

5.  Get Published - For as long as this blog has been alive, I've wanted to write a book.  The problem is two-fold: (1) What type of book? (2) When do i find time to write it?  I'm currently writing curriculum for our preschool ministry at church, which I'm really enjoying, so these types of projects come up, deterring me in a Mr Holland's Opus fashion.  I've also wanted to start smaller and just get articles published.  I think some experience in publishing consumable content, I'll have a better foundation for a full book.  In either case, getting published is on the list.

6.  Personal Retreat - I realized that I need some time away from the distractions of life to rejuvenate, reflect and retreat. (See: only child)  Not to sound all new-agey, this would be a time where I could spend time communing with the Lord, and also just relaxing away from the hub bub of life.  I'm on the pursuit of a good location where I can not feel compelled to leave the place where I lay my head, yet not be too far from civilization that I can go to a coffee shop or restaurant.  Don't suggest camping.  My idea of roughing it is no cable in an air conditioned facility.  

Those are just the first things that come to mind, but I'm sure there will be more.  Though the official structured learning is complete, the lifelong learning and growing continues.