I asked if you could think of other ways God speaks to us. Here's one: He speaks through events. I'll use this blog as an example.  It worked just fine for months, but all of a sudden, it started giving me fits.  You may recall in August I took a little time off to catch up with other stuff. During that time something changed, and when I came back it no longer worked. I write my posts ahead of time in Word, then paste the text to the blog page, but suddenly the blog would no longer accept my pastes. It would let me write the post directly, but writing more than 300 words in something other than a true word processor is a non-starter for me. I need the ability to write anywhere I find the time, and Word is the only thing that works on all the devices I use.

I emailed support. They kept sending me messages saying they could post just fine, and would I try again. So I'd try again, still same problem (of course—since nothing had actually changed). I tried to cooperate, but you know what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Finally, I'd had enough. I told them that I needed them to look beyond that stock answer and help me find a solution. When that yielded no results, I told them I needed to speak with a manager.  That's when tech support stopped replying to my requests altogether.

So I went to the BBB website and posted my experience, and asked for either A) a solution to the problem, or B) a refund of the remainder of the contract so I could migrate my site to a different host.  

It took 24 hours for BBB to pass my request to the host, and within another 24 hours, I had a call from someone on the host's legal team, who hooked me up with a technician, and voila! They found a solution. All I need to do is first paste my text to Notepad, which strips out some little gremlins that sneak in with Word's formatting. I can then copy that and paste to the blog without any problem.  It's an extra step I didn't have to take before, but it's simple enough I'm not going to complain.

So what did God want me to learn from this?  Maybe it was a lesson about persistence—if you have something to do and it's hard, keep at it until you have success.  Or maybe it was an indirect lesson about the power of prayer. I tried and tried and tried to get the host to work with me, and I was getting nowhere. I had a site that I'd paid for that didn't work, and no way to make it work or find alternatives that worked.  Then I sought an intermediary, one that had some power and could wield it on my behalf—and that brought an answer.  

Obviously, it's a matter of interpretation. But I have a sense that God was speaking to me about using that most powerful intermediary—prayer—when my own efforts fail me. That HE can intercede for me and get results when nothing else can. I don't think to pray as often as I can or should, so this is meaningful to me.

Can you think of an event in your own life, and maybe see a lesson God wanted to teach you? Again, it's a matter of interpretation, but in my experience, when you hit on what it is that God wants you to gain from the experience, you'll know.

 
 
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When it comes to politics, I often worry about the church's witness to the unbelieving world.  Why?  Just say something nice about the President or announce that you favor gay marriage in a lot of churches, and then step back and listen to the reaction, trying to hear it as an unbeliever would.  Would you hear Christ's love for mankind—and that term includes the President and our gay friends—or would you hear hostility and judgment—even a hint of paranoia? If you were an unbeliever, would what you hear make you want whatever is at work in those people's lives?

Why is it, do you think, that so many of us insist on finding the worst possible way to see things when we're looking at people whose politics we disagree with? Witness the conversations going on with respect to the Benghazi attack.  It does seem that people "in the loop" knew fairly quickly that this was a deliberate, premeditated attack.  It's clear, too, that many of our leaders downplayed the question for several weeks.  How do you interpret that? Was the administration out of the loop? Lying? Confused? Or could it be what General Petraeus suggests—that our leaders decided not  to tip off the attackers just how much we knew during those first few weeks?

Why do so many dear, sincere Christians feel the need to assume the worst about those whose politics they disagree with? A political opponent can't just have a different, perhaps deceived, view of what's right and good for the country, they can't just make a mistake or use a figure of speech—they must be Satan's evil, willing minion whose every action is part of a conspiracy and whose every word is suspect.  Contrast that with how we'd view the same people if we looked through the lens of love. We'd assume the best, wouldn't we? We'd still disagree, but we wouldn't immediately conclude that they're not just wrong (because we're ALWAYS right, you know) but villainous. We might give them credit for trying to do right, even though we don't agree with them about what "right" looks like. We might even look for the areas where we have common ground and use that to build bridges.  

Our witness, frankly, is not ideal at the best of times, but put us to the real test of a political season and it seems like the worst in us comes out. How many people, do you think, were drawn to Christ by the behavior of the church during the campaign season? Not many, I fear.  Not many.


 
 
One of the things I hoped readers might glean from Mirror and from the planned (now unfortunately discarded) sequels was how God speaks to us.  One way he speaks is through allegory—through illustrations shown through the stories in the scriptures.  Do you speak allegory?

Let's talk about examples.  

God uses the relationship between man and wife to illustrate the relationship he has with his people. He uses firsts and seconds to illustrate the principle of works vs. grace. If there are two sons, the first will be a shadow of Adam, of the natural man, of a man trying to make his way through works, or a shadow of a works-based religion. And the second will be a shadow of the new man in Christ, the man who has cast aside works as a measure of his success with God, and taken on the mantle provided by Jesus, or a shadow of the true church.

Think about it.  Cain and Abel. Esau and Jacob.  Babylon, where they hoped to build their way to heaven, vs. Jerusalem, the eternal city established by God.  Leah, the wife who tried to win her husband's love by bearing many children, vs. Rachel, the barren wife who was, even so, favored.  

What do those types and shadows teach you about your own walk with the Lord? Will you be Leah, trying to win God's love through your fruit? Or Rachel, who eventually bore fruit, but that fruit was a miracle from God, and she was beloved even before she had Benjamin? Where is your focus? Are you worried about how you look? About your outward witness? Or do you simply love and trust God to make of you what he will? Are you still trying to shape yourself into an image that seems right to you? Or are you waiting on God to see what HE makes of you?

God doesn't just teach through words. He teaches through examples and illustrations in his word. He teaches in other ways as well. Can you name a few?

 
 
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I read the other day that Billy Graham's organization had removed Mormonism from the list of groups it describes as cults on their website.  I wish they would explain why. Do they now believe that the LDS Church is NOT a cult? What changed their minds? Can they reconcile LDS teaching about God and Jesus with their interpretation of Scripture?  How?  

No, I'd really like to know. Does Billy now believe that LDS teaching is compatible with the teaching of the Christian bible? Or has he decided that it's less important to warn those who might be deceived than it is that his candidate become president?

I wonder if he'll clarify. Or if he'll just quietly return Mormonism to his list after the election.