Monthly Archives: August 2015

We’re Kind of Like The Minions Looking for a Purpose

In the latest Minions movie ‘ Minions’ –  we see a glimpse of the created purpose of the Minions. Or in the evolutionary framework the movie creators went for – the purpose they evolved towards desiring. Either way… The theme of the movie is their quest to fulfill their purpose – to serve an evil master.

Minions and theology?
Throughout the film’s beginnings you see them trying with various masters to quick or delayed ends with bad results. They missed the mark. They eventually found themselves in a remote ice village. They made comfortable homes for themselves. They had a comfortable existence – but they were torn up inside. They were listless and purposeless. So finally one left their home to go search out for an evil master to rule over them… The rest is the main point of the movie.

That movie and a conversation at an evening service at church got me thinking of a parallel between those minions, living their daily lives – plodding along not really joyfully, sometimes sadly missing a component of their purpose and the human being set apart from Christ… It’s a strange analogy perhaps. If you’ve seen the movie with your kids (Christian Liberty, right? 😉 ), you can picture that longing I described above… I think it sums up the human experience apart from Christ. (That doesn’t mean there can’t be happiness, success, etc. Common grace exists and the world benefits from it, but it is fleeting – temporary. Vanity as we’ll see in Ecclesiastes at the end)

We Aren’t So Different Than Those Listless Minions

I subscribe to the Second London Confession – but the Baptist Catechism that often accompanies that is lacking two questions found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, I think..

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

This isn’t just the word of men from the 1600s. This is scriptural truth – written by God Himself through human hands.

We were created to glorify God. Romans 11:33-36 is one of many places in scripture where this purpose is spelled out (bolding is from me, scripture is from ESV):

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

See that? All that is – is created under his will (from him), at his hand (through him) and for his glory (to him). We are, as scripture says elsewhere – clay vessels – and he is the potter. This doesn’t mean we are automatons – we are given a free agency and allowed to will and to act. But we are all created in His image. It is our duty to give him worship and adoration. It is our purpose to do these things. Not because he is a selfish God looking for a stroke of his ego – but because he is that he is. He is the almighty creator king over this world. And this glory is due to him. It’s the tune we were created to and sound the best at, too.

Our hearts and our bodies and our minds. They were made to fellowship and commune with him and to bring him glory.

What is life like without God? What is a life that doesn’t glorify God?

It can be a fine life from human standards. There can be wealth. Health. Wonderful memories. Family fun. Tasty food. Great music. Moments of selflessness with wonderful acts of service to others. There can be sad times but even the sad times can be buttressed around happy memories of the loved on you mourn, or the catharsis from letting all that sad out. If you ask the psychologists of the western world – if you ask the wealth managers of the world – a life apart from God can certainly match the “Life is Good” slogan you see everywhere.

Except. it isn’t.

Apart from a right relationship with our creator, we have a hole that Pascal described as:

There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.

Or Lewis hinted at in Mere Christianity with:

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.

You see. It’s there. This vacuum. This sense of otherworldness.  We may deny its existence. We may fill the gap with stuff, activities, accumulations, etc. We may deny the power of this feeling – but we all feel it.

We were made for another world we were made for a world in which our relationship with God was complete and our communion with him unbroken. One where our work was a gift from him and a way to return glory to him.

We lost our way though. In the garden, sin seeped in. Adam, acting as our representative as our federal head, allowed sin to touch this world and our hearts. Our natures have been corrupt ever since. Our work tarnished with sweat, agony and toil. Our efforts focused on ourselves. Our selfishness and pride a chief end of most when we think about it. We know something isn’t right so we try and do what seems natural to us – we try and make the scales tip more to the “good” side than the “bad” side. But it’s all for not apart from Christ. The end of this life is the same every time. We’ve gone astray and we are under sin. We can’t not sin, and our punishment is just, our end is deserved. It’s Grace to the believer that isn’t fair – that is undeserved or unearned.

Ecclesiastes 6 really gets into the pointlessness of life “under the sun” instead of under God. Some highlights from that chapter:

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-4 ESV)

This is the discontent life. It would have been better off to not have that life in the first place – it is wasted. It is vain. Striving for the wind as it says later in the same chapter.  Without God – Sartre, Kierkegaard or their contemporaries in existentialism nailed it –  life is absurd, irrational even – but here we are stuck in it. Might as well make the most of it for our short existence in it.. Pointless beyond whatever meaning we individually give it – then we cease to exist. Rinse and repeat.. That’s life under the sun instead of under God.

Just Minions – looking to find some purpose in our lives instead of a evil master. But look at what Paul says in Romans 1 or 2 – or what the Psalmists say. Our hearts are given an ability to take in grandeur – to know right from wrong, to look at the vastness of the created universe and desire to explore it. These desires – these things we know innately – these aren’t some impulses from some evolutionary framework or some primitive survival instinct. The ability to get lost in a sunset, enjoy a cool fall day under a tree shedding its leaves. This isn’t some chemical reaction refined over millenia. It’s our soul crying out to do what it was created to do. It’s a desire to glorify the creator. To stand in awe at his creation. To fill that vacuum in Pascal’s equation above.

I’m not writing this to try and sway you to Christianity. I believe this isn’t a faith you can be talked into, only made alive to by a sovereign act of God. I’m not writing this to emotionally manipulate you into saying some prayer that you may or may not mean. I am saying this to ask you – do you feel that heartbeat longing for more inside? Do you sense that maybe you are made for another world? Do you think there is more to your existence than existing?  Maybe that’s God beginning a work in you! Cry out to God if so. Don’t fall down and worship the animals or the plants – cry out to the creator God and ask Him to reveal himself to you. Ask him to grant you eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to receive. Check out that short video from John Piper I have here on my site. Don’t stifle that feeling. Don’t stifle that sense, maybe that is God beginning a work of conviction in your heart, chase after Him and see if it is.

“But God” What a Concept!

Today in a parking lot, I stumbled upon this license plate and asked the driver if I could take a picture of it and if it was okay if I shared it publicly. He said “Sure”.

But God - Awesome, Terrifying and Hopeful

But God – Awesome, Terrifying and Hopeful

I love this license plate. I never really ever dwelt on the phrase or “Holy Conjunction” before but it is in the Bible a lot. In one search of the ESV on Biblegateway I find the words together 48 times. But wow. What a phrase!

His plate gave me a sense of comfort as a believer straight away. Then it got me thinking about the phrase. Think of the time your faith has been tried by circumstances that knocked you off your feet. It is those moments that “but God” means everything to you. Richard Wurmbrandt, who wrote tortured for Christ, only had “but God” to keep Him going in his darkest hours. You know what, though, “but God” is all he needed. To this believer, the phrase invokes the same feeling that this verse from Rock of Ages invokes:

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling…

I’m a sinner. A reprobate with a wicked heart and mind. I have secret sins. I have selfish motives. Left to my corrupt nature I would perish in my angry, sinful state and spit in the face of the God who made me.. I had no hope on my own. No power to render myself clean. But God…  No ability to even desire repentance on my own. But God…

It is a phrase that is comforting to the elect, yes. But to those who aren’t secure in the capable and solid arms of Christ – it should be a phrase or concept of terror, of awesome fright. Sadly to many it isn’t though, it’s a phrase or concept worth cracking a joke at.

Romans 2 says:

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus Romans 2:14-16 (ESV – emphasis added)

We may do good. We may help that little old lady across the street. We may be kind to puppies, as Hitler could have said. We may love our mothers as most cruel tyrants can say. We may pour all of our heart, time and money into the lives of others. But God.. God sees our inward heart. He sees through our fog machines, even when we’ve fogged over the internal view. He judges us. For our complete record, even our secrets. By us – I mostly mean me, but the Bible tells me it’s not just true of me.

I love this license plate – because this is such an important conjunction for all times – though it seems especially poignant to us today in This America at This Time as I blogged about earlier. But God works in our present age as he has in all the ages past and will in the ones to come.

for example on abortion… 

Just today, somewhere around 1,000 lives were extinguished in America inside the safest place for them to be – their mother’s womb.. But God is victorious over death and He makes His elect victorious as well:

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our  Lord Jesus Christ.

– 1 Corinthians 15:53-5 7 (ESV)

This month or week even a person will be murdered somewhere and the criminal justice system will not reckon with the murderer while they are alive, But God rights all wrongs and exacts his perfect justice in His time and in His way. The unjust will not escape His wrath. 

Today nations make their own plans and put God out of their planning and out of thought, out of sightBut God is sovereign over the nations and works all things together in the end. And all humanity will stand in judgment.

So many hurt. So many have needs But God is there with his missionaries being his hands and feet. God is mourning with those who mourn, God offers a living water which quenches the deepest longing and thirsts of the heart, the Bread of Life which heals corrupt natures from their sin sick states.(though the church could and should do so much more.. We’ll be called to account for this life of complacency the Church in America is found in) But God…

Just some of the places where “But God” is found in the Bible are below. I encourage you to study the phrase and its occurrence more. Words don’t have special meaning, there’s no code to the Bible. But explore some of the verses and their context. Look at the truths Scripture reveals to us.

I’ll start with my favorite set of verses and share a few other random verses to get you started. What do you think? What does “But God” mean to you? What hope do you find there? (all verses are ESV)

But God… saves sinners

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

But God… shows His strength through working through weaker vessels. He counfounds the wise through the mouths of the foolish – by the world’s standards.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 1 Corinthians 1:27

He gives us much freedom and love and grace and compassion But God... has standards..

but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:3

He judges. He deals with sins and is righteous and shows his righteous anger. But God shows mercy and tenderness to we who don’t deserve either:

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. Genesis 8:1 (besides Romans 5:6 – I believe this is one of the sweetest, and most indescribably wonderful “But God” occurrences in the Bible)

But God.. can turn ash into diamonds

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20 (Joseph speaking to his brothers, who effectively left him for dead in a ditch someplace)

But God… sees through our selfish foolishness and is still willing to teach us through our stubbornness 

ButGod said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” Jonah 4:9 

I could keep going. But you can explore the Bible yourself. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know why you are reading this post. But God knows you. But God knows your heart. But God knows your secrets and your thoughts. If you are a brother or sister secure in Christ already – I pray that you find hope in thinking about the “Buts” God has put into our circumstances and this world. The Bible tells us that if we are His – we already overcomers. We’ve already triumphed over the worst that the Prince of lies has to throw at us. We ought to use that victory, that freedom, for His Kingdom. We ought to use this grace to throw bombs of grace at those around us. We ought to live like we were bought from our bondage to sin. I’m speaking to me as much as I’m speaking to you. Let’s not waste all of these But God moments.We can rejoice in God and what he has done for us in spite of us even in our deepest pits.

If you aren’t His – I pray that you will search your heart. That you will be open to God’s call on your life if He is calling you. I pray that you will realize that your sins are many – maybe not as many as mine – but even one is more than God can look upon without judgment. I pray that you will realize that the most powerful But God.. concept is Grace. We are sinners. We are selfish. We violate God’s principles, But God was pleased to punish Christ and put our iniquity on Him – as Isaiah 53 tells us. But God remembered Noah – and He will not let His elect perish. I pray that you will see your sins and see your need for a Savior and that God would be pleased to call you unto Himself.