Faith: March 2004 Archives

Waiting for God's will


I'm part of a group going through The Purpose Driven Life, and I've just read Chapter 5, which refers to the Parable of the Talents. That reminded me of this item from Lark News, a very funny Christian news satire website, which I meant to blog about months ago. Actually, the more I think about this the sadder it seems:

Man, 91, dies waiting for will of God

TUPELO — Walter Houston, described by family members as a devoted Christian, died Monday after waiting 70 years for God to give him clear direction about what to do with his life.

"He hung around the house and prayed a lot, but just never got that confirmation," his wife Ruby said. "Sometimes he thought he heard God's voice, but then he wouldn't be sure, and he'd start the process all over again."

Houston, she says, never really figured out what his life was about, but felt content to pray continuously about what he might do for the Lord. Whenever he was about to take action, he would pull back "because he didn't want to disappoint God or go against him in any way," Ruby says. "He was very sensitive to always remain in God's will. That was primary to him."

Friends say they liked Walter though he seemed not to capitalize on his talents.

"Walter had a number of skills he never got around to using," says longtime friend Timothy Burns. "He worked very well with wood and had a storyteller side to him, too. I always told him, 'Take a risk. Try something new if you're not happy,' but he was too afraid of letting the Lord down."

To his credit, they say, Houston, who worked mostly as a handyman, was able to pay off the mortgage on the couple's modest home.

Many evangelical Christians are afflicted with this form of paralysis, which is the result of defective teaching about discerning God's will and making decisions. There's this notion that God has a specific plan for your life that He expects you to follow, and if you don't, you've wasted your life, but He's not going to make it easy for you to find out what that plan is, or to distinguish between your own gut feelings and human advice and what God really wants you to do.

The truth is that God has revealed in the Bible everything He wants us to know about Himself and what He wants us to do. Within those boundaries, we have the freedom and the responsibilty to make prudent decisions. In terms of career, that means seeking the counsel of friends, parents, and mentors, and having a realistic view of our own gifts and skills, and even considering our own desires.

I could go on about this, but I'm too tired right now. Go look at and have a thought-provoking laugh. And for a more serious treatment of the issue of decision-making, vocation and God's will, check out this page of Q&A from Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Note particularly the entries under "God's Will" and "Vocation".

A glimpse into Reagan's faith


On the PCAnews website, there's an article by Paul Kengor, author of God and Ronald Reagan, about how Reagan's personal faith emerged in his speeches and letters:

In a March 1978 letter to a Methodist minister who expressed doubts about Christ's divinity—and accused Reagan of a "limited Sunday school level theology"—Reagan responded:

"Perhaps it is true that Jesus never used the word "Messiah" with regard to himself (although I'm not sure that he didn't) but in John 1, 10 and 14 he identifies himself pretty definitely and more than once. Is there really any ambiguity in his words: "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me?"… In John 10 he says, "I am in the Father and the Father in me." And he makes reference to being with God, "before the world was," and sitting on the "right hand of God."…

"These and other statements he made about himself, foreclose in my opinion, any question as to his divinity. It doesn't seem to me that he gave us any choice; either he was what he said he was or he was the world's greatest liar. It is impossible for me to believe a liar or charlatan could have had the effect on mankind that he has had for 2000 years. We could ask, would even the greatest of liars carry his lie through the crucifixion, when a simple confession would have saved him? … Did he allow us the choice you say that you and others have made, to believe in his teachings but reject his statements about his own identity?"

A politician who is just trying to adopt a veneer of religiosity for political convenience would not write a letter trying to persuade someone of the deity of Christ -- why risk offending a voter? This letter displays deep knowledge and the deep love of a Christian toward his Savior.

Reagan's critics, unwilling to debate the issues, would attack his intelligence, creating a false public image that has even seeped into the consciousness of his admirers. The publication of his private letters and his radio broadcast notes, memoirs by close aides like Peggy Noonan and Peter Robinson -- all have served to refresh our memories of his intelligence, his clarity of expression, his firm convictions, and his warmth and grace, even toward his detractors. We read things like this, from the period just before his 1980 campaign, and we remember why conservatives were so energized at the thought of him serving as our president.

Read the whole thing.

The Dawn Patrol


She dreams about non-existent train stations. She writes songs about historic events that occurred in Worms, Germany. She writes liner notes for '60s pop album reissues. She writes about replacement theology.

She's Jewish. She's a born-again Christian.

Her name is Dawn Eden, and she has a fascinating and well-written blog. Check it out.

Here's her story of coming to faith in Christ, and the perspective of her sister, a Reform rabbinical student.

Oh, and she's single. Here are her "looking fors" and "deal breakers". She has high standards, and although I don't aspire to be the one she's looking for (already taken, thanks), those are characteristics I aspire to have. And this "Salonica" she has planned for tomorrow afternoon -- "literate, Christian-friendly discussion and fellowship over Sunday brunch at one of New York City's best-loved Irish pubs" -- sounds like great fun.

Thanks to for linking to Dawn's song about the Concordat of Worms.

Remembering Abigail


Today is the anniversary of a suicide bombing of a city bus in Haifa, Israel, which took the life of 16 innocent people, including Abigail Litle, the 14 year old daughter of Philip and Heidi Litle, college friends of mine. In memory of her, I invite you to read an article I wrote shortly after the bombing, and an article by her dad, written a month after the attack, about Abigail's triumphant faith in Jesus.

Remembering Abigail, a victim of hate

Remembering Abigail, a victor in faith

In a recent letter to friends and family, Phil told us how Abigail's school planned to remember her and a classmate who died in the attack:

Heidi has focused for the past weeks on the upcoming one-year remembrance of Abigail's death. The Jr. High and grade school have begun a month emphasizing the value of human life. During the course of the next month in the Hebrew calendar they intend to discuss subjects such as how to cross the street with care and why not to use drugs. They will mark the anniversary of the bombing on the first of Adar (February 23rd) with a memorial ceremony and a march to the site of the bombing. During this month the school has planned a hike in memory of Yuval -- Abigail's classmate who was killed -- and an exhibition of Abigail's art at the school.

Heidi has been very involved with the administration in setting up this program, particularly in helping select and frame Abigail's work. The school has taken the song The Power of a Moment by Chris Rice as the theme of the exhibition. The page from Abigail's calendar on which she drew two clouds kissing as they partially cover the sun while rain falls, watering a tree and which included her paraphrase of Chris's song, will be the centerpeice of the exhibition. The school has translated the song into Hebrew. This translation will be displayed along side her drawing. During the course of the month, the students will study the text of song in their literature classes.

While holidays and days of remembrance follow the Hebrew calendar, most people here think in terms of the Gregorian calendar. So on March 5th we will hold a one year memorial service at the grave side. Children from school and officials from the city as well as members of our local congregation are planning to attend. Our children want to be involved in doing something to remember their sister. We've talked some about what we want the time to include, but there is still much to think about -- with a lot of that falling on Heidi to work through.

To read more about Abigail:

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a page about Abigail.

Here is an account of her faith and how it was expressed through her funeral.

Here is a Jerusalem Post story about the bombing, with links to other stories.

And here (scroll down toward the bottom) is an editorial by Israel's consul in the Midwest US:

Abigail Litle, also an American citizen, who died at 14. She was one of 17 innocent civilians killed (and 53 injured) by a homicide bomber while riding home from school on a Haifa bus March 5th. Litle, like so many of the 772 innocent Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism and violence, was simply involved in a normal activity in her daily life-coming home from school. She was not aware that her life was at risk simply because she was riding a bus with her classmates. The bomber alone made the decision that it was her time to die a horrible death.

Litle, the daughter of the representative of the Baptist Church in Israel, had lived in Israel since infancy. She lived in Haifa, a town with a large Arab population. Abigail had been part of the Children Teaching Children program at the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva since last September - a program that teaches pluralism, tolerance and coexistence. They and their classmates were preparing for the upcoming meeting with Arab youth from a neighboring town.

Abigail personified the promise of a future where Jews and Arabs could coexist peacefully. She worked for dialogue and understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims. She truly embodied a spirit that anyone seriously concerned with achieving a just peace in the Middle East, would do well to emulate.

Keep the Litles in your prayers, and pray for real peace (not just a phony "peace process") for Israel.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from March 2004.

Faith: December 2003 is the previous archive.

Faith: April 2004 is the next archive.

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