Tuesday, July 21, 2009

But, I don't want to go to Nineveh...

I'm always amazed at the ways God communicates with us.

This past weekend, I found myself in a discussion with someone about the New Age philosophy compared to Christianity. The point being made by this person was the New Age movement is a natural evolution of Christianity. The example he kept going back to pulled from the biblical verse that God will give you what you ask for in Jesus' name (John16:23-24), and that since God is omnipresent, He represents the universe. The connection was then made that asking the universe in the right frame of mind and the universe granting your request is no different from what the Bible already says. It's just an updated version for a modern time and not written for a more primitive culture 2000 years ago.


Unfortunately, I wasn't on my best game. My counter was found in the obvious fact that his modern version was nothing akin to what the Bible actually says because it leaves out the very pertinent point that the request is going to God through Jesus...that Christ is our way to the Father. The subsequent tangent discussion went to the relationship between man, the Son and the Father. I was left with the feeling my effort was seriously short on substance and filed it away for deeper research later.

I'm currently studying what Paul and James say about religion which is really good stuff when you get into it. But, that's another post at another time.

While I was driving to church Sunday evening, I flipped on my radio and picked up a speaker discussing the very subject of asking God and receiving what you request. Unfortunately, I only got to listen to about 10 minutes in the middle of the sermon before arriving...late as usual. I thought about the discussion off and on through Monday, but I didn't spend any time on the matter in prayer or reading.

Tuesday morning came with the typical morning routines. As I got into my wife's car to take our toddler to her at pre-school, the radio was tuned to a local contemporary Christian station...as usual in her car. Within a few short moments, the announcer stated that the days Power Verse was John 16:23-24, and he read the verses:

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Now, I'm by no means a Rhodes scholar...but come on...I obviously needed to explore the subject matter more thoroughly.

I worry that sometimes I come across in my postings as a super pious Christian who has all his priorities exactly in line with God's will for my life. Folks, that's not the case. I struggle daily with my devotions, my prayer time and other issues that should take lead in my life. There are days I'm all over it...there are days my focus drifts elsewhere. It too easy to come across in a Pharisee-like manner, and I truly don't intend to do that...just on a side-note.

So God...I hear You. Loud and clear. I was presented an opportunity for better field position, and I shanked the punt. I will focus where You want me to focus and not on my interest.

I've read and studied on what Jesus was saying in these versus, but I'm also very curious to your take on what He meant. Many of you don't comment and that's okay. If you're more comfortable sending me your thoughts via email...I'd be just as appreciative.


Help me out blogosphere. I need your input on the matter...

BTW: The toddler has been watching The Veggie Tales version of Jonah over and over this week...I'm just saying...little slow to pick up at times...just ask Mrs. Tony C Today...


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Just because God is everywhere, doesn't mean everything is God. That would mean I am God, just because God is in me. So you could ask me for what you want, and I'd say, 'No, idiot, go get a life...in Jesus' name. Amen.'

I should've been an apologist.

AtlantaMama said...

Right on. Just because God is everywhere doesn't mean everything or anything is "god". Agree with Matt.

I don't know if you've read "Revivals Golden Key" but there is some great stuff in there. The same author wrote "God Doesn't Believe in Atheist"

New Age is actually not new... it's similar to the pollytheistic culture of the native americans and native central american tribes. Maybe they like to think they are modern and progressive, but it's sorta a repeat.

I would focus on Jesus. Who was He? Was he who he said he was? And the scriptures that say He is the way to Eternal Life. The scriptures that are not so "nice" and open minded that say He's the ONLY way. What about those? It doesn't say Jesus or the Universe what ever, it's all the same (which is not that disimilar to what the Greeks and Romans thought in Jesus day, you know they were Ok with him, but they also wanted to have a party for Jupiter as another god, etc...) ... The Bible is clear about Jesus being the one and only. So... what about those things and what if that were true and Jesus was really the son of God and salvation thru him was the only true way!? What if that were true?
"The Case for Christ" book points the debate right there. Lee Strobel was not a christian, he was a reporter. He set out to prove it all wrong... christianty, Jesus, etc... and ended up writing one the best books on the debate because he saw both sides for so long.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Hi Tony,

I would like to respond to the title of your blog because it gets to the heart of things: When God tells you something, just maybe you ought to do it -- and if you don't do it on your own, don't be surprised when you find out that God leads you there, anyway.

I have a personal Ninevah story, which I have been planning to post on my blog this weekend, but will share it here first because I think it fits. I was unhappy with one aspect of my job that I thought has some queasy ethics in it and which I did not want to get involved with fixing. So, I started looking for another job, and got some "bites," but every bite seemed to be an unfinished nibble: the job disappeared for lack of money or the university re-thought the need for the position, and so on, until I got an interview for an executive position that would have been a perfect fit at a local university. I would not even have to move! Three days after I had the interview, which went well, the priest at the local retreat center, an elderly priest whom I love and who knew about my ethical concerns, showed up at my door Saturday morning with an article in hand related to my work situation. At that point in time, he did not know that I was looking for work, and he certainly had no hint about the interview. "I think you should stay where you are," he told me, "no matter how uncomfortable it is because you can make the situation better."

I had obviously been "told" something I should listen to, but apparently to make sure I went to Ninevah, the university never filled its vice-president position (not even to this day). Everything went silent. I have no idea why. (Well, maybe I do have an idea why.)

So, I stayed. I worked on improving the situation, and then, a deus ex machina in the form of a policy memo at the highest (human) level in our organization appeared to help me out, and, poof!, the problem was gone.

Yep, I was not allowed to leave Ninevah!

And yes, I am much more of a traditionalist because that is the way God has interacted with me. I wonder how much "interaction" New Agers experience -- I have not heard of much.

Mesha said...

If God CREATED the universe, how could the universe be Him? "New age" isn't nothing new at all - you see these same incent burning, idol worshipping, god fashioning(small "g"), earthy meditators in the old testament. "There is nothing new under the sun"...or should I say SON!!!

God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore...His word never fails...it's sharper than any double edged sword...ALIVE and active...there is no need for "revisions."

God's word IS and will ALWAYS be relevant even as society continues on this road of desensitizing and it becomes more and more evident daily what God means when he says the road is NARROW and few there are that find it. BROAD is the way that leads to destruction and many there are who travel it. scary. sad. eye-opening.

Ecclesiastes 1:9
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

There goes your NEW age theology.

Keep the truth coming Tony C...love following your blog bro!

NC Sue said...

Your New Age pal thinks the universe grants the request of those who approach it in the right frame of mind. But who created this benevolent universe?

Furthermore, I reject the notion that God - or the universe - is a giant-sized candy dispenser giving out whatever we desire if only we ask for it right and, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, simply

Tony C said...

Great stuff guys. I got several really good emails also (and one nasty one) on the subject.

I want to hear more of what you have to say!

Lula! said...

I once had a well-meaning (read: overzealous) pal tell me that our high school mascot was of satan. We were/are the Warner Robins High School Demons. The band is the Dixie Demon Marching Band. Now, I don't squabble over something as minute as a mascot. Being a Demon is something I was/am proud of...I was raised in that town and proud to attend that high school. It never occurred to me that our mascot was "demonic."

So...when I told her to "simmer down," she replied, "Anything that is not of the Lord is of satan."

I then pointed to a table and asked her, "So...that table is of satan? Cause clearly it's not of the Lord. Yeah, God is everywhere...but not everything is God. Duh."

She never said another word. Then and there I agreed to never argue "religion" with another person, even if they were on "my side." It gives me a headache...it makes me tired...and, like you, I don't want to go to Nineveh.

I also hate the New Age movement. And dream catchers. And yoga. And centering my chi. And feng shui. You know, all that nonsense. Like others have said, it's not new...it's the same ol', same ol'. Just recycled, repackaged, and reoffered to a new generation of sheep. Buncha followers. Sigh...

(I sound so melancholy today. I'm not. Really.)

Luke said...

I don't know which great thinker it was (Dallas Willard?), but someone said that the goal is that we will be like Christ and so our prayers match up with God's will, that our will becomes what God's will is, and thus our prayers will always be answered because we are praying the very heart of God.

Something like that.