Friday, April 15, 2011

An Article of an Atheist's Take on Aid in Africa - "Africa Needs God"

I love perusing a variety of online newspapers, magazines, articles, reviews, blogs, and photos from time to time - I am very inconsistent about it. I don't exactly know why I like to read these. Maybe because I love to learn, and I also love sharing the new things I learn with others. I like knowing what's going on around me, and especially what makes people think the way they do.

The most recent blog I read  ( had a link to this article, granted from 2008, but the immensity of an atheist finding value in Christianity, and Christianity in Africa boggles my mind! Jesus Christ is the only true hope and change - to some degree he got it and didn't get it. I don't know if he became a Christian. I'll have to research that, but I pray he does. And I pray his words into a glimpse of True Hope may lead others to challenge their world views and to question their beliefs.

Here's an excerpt:
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But traveling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God. 

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. 

Now off to write my book of Micah assignment.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thoughts on Leviticus - Unchanging God, Only Reality, Holiness

Leviticus is one of the most impacting books of SBS for me! I loved learning to look deeper as to why God set up these laws for holy living and the sacrificial system. I believe that it has opened up so much more of God’s character to me. I see through my own life that if people only read the New Testament they are not getting the full story – that the Old Testament also IS most essential to the story and is over 75% of the Bible! I hope that others make this same discovery! There is so much more that God desires to reveal about His character, love, and relationship with His people, not only to Israel but to His people today.

Below is a small portion of what I do in SBS - my final theme summary for Leviticus on holiness.

The holiness of God is displayed throughout Leviticus. God shows that His way for the Israelites to follow is DIFFERENT than that of the other nations, Egypt and Canaan. The offerings are specific and detailed, and each animal is perfect and the best. The priest is sanctified and atoned as also the people have to be atoned for. This process and atonement are defined by God and no one else. There are health laws regarding clean and unclean, from food to bodily functions and births, physical diseases and the state of houses and clothing. Uncleanness is not to be spread but eradicated and never near God. God defines the various aspects of society for the Israelites, economy, government, religion, and family. God defines laws for how to live holy for the priests and the common people. None are exempt. Some things such as blasphemy and idolatry have the punishment of death. God sets aside feasts and observances to remember Him, what He has done, and how He has provided. God who is holy gives a warning of blessing if they follow Him and of curses if they do not.

The Israelites are SET APART from the other nations, and chosen by God. This is the definition of holy, to be set apart. Through all of these laws and the sacrificial system, we see that God desires to dwell with His people. So the sacrifices and laws to be clean bring the people into God’s defined holiness and sanctification so that they can have relationship. Through the offerings and even the cleansing of daily life, Israel is reminded of their sin and their need for atonement. They CANNOT do this. God does this alone. This brings them into great reliance on God, in their thoughts and actions every day. As they enter into humility through God does and His dwelling with them, the Israelites are so thankful and worshipful towards God! So their holiness is fully reliant on the act and mercy of God, so also Israel’s holiness is also reliant on being upheld by the community. That is why they have sometimes seemingly harsh laws and thoroughly, painstaking laws! What they do affects one another, and a nation can downward spiral so easily if something is brushed over as permissible, even by omission. Also, God is setting Himself apart from the other nations! He is the only reality they are to know – He is defining true reality, which they do not know, as they only knew pagans gods and cultural practices before, as from Egypt - where they came from. God is holy, and the other nations are not! For God’s people to be holy, they need to fully reject everything of the pagan nations, even so that they do not fall into idolatry again. God is setting up an example to the nations of how to live for and with God, and He is setting them apart to use Israel to bring the full and true sacrifice that makes them holy – the better covenant that stands before the throne of God (from the book of Hebrews).

How could a list of laws, of sacrifices, blood spilt, killing of animals, waving of fat, burning of flesh (animal), do’s and don’t’s, and clean and unclean that we don’t understand be relevant today?! It SO is. Because what I learned this week is that it points to knowing God. It is defining His awesome and Holy character to new depths. He is so beautiful – His care, His desire for His people to know Him, and for Himself to dwell with them. “Jesus is coming but not yet,” He points out, “but you can know me,” He shouts! This God of Leviticus is the same God today – He didn’t change. He was taking care of His people in a rotten world – He was showing by their example, the true way for even the other nations to live. This is still God’s love for His people today! Bringing the healing of Jesus to make an unholy people holy. Only the holy can stand in the Presence of the Holy. I would encourage Christians today to study the Old Testament. Yes, God is God of the New, but He is God of the Old too. Pray for a deeper revelation of the character and nature of God – of who God is! And through that, He will show you how much He desires to dwell among you. (written Feb. 10, 2011)