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We must experience things to understand them - On Religion

By Bill Clements

I'm setting off on a real adventure in April. ``If the Lord wills,'' my wife Susan and I will fly out to Southeast Asia, Thailand and the Philippines.

For 10 years now, my congregation, Redeemer Lutheran Church, has been supporting a missionary family in the Philippines.

As a congregation and personally, we have been praying for the advancement of God's love and grace. We pray that we take God's whole world into our heart and become informed about urgent needs throughout the world.

The recent tsunami was a ``wake-up call'' to consider the needs of the world beyond our boarders. We are excited, yet we have a certain amount of apprehension.

We have an idea what to expect. We've read the travel books and I am in regular contact with our missionary friends with whom we will stay. We've met many people who have been to Chiang Mai, where we'll spend a week at a missionary conference. Even with all of that, we know we won't truly appreciate traveling to Southeast Asia until we see and experience the wonderful people and the places ourselves.

That's how life is: People can try to explain things to us, yet we realize that we have to experience some things before we will truly understand them.

Our faith, however, is not based on our understanding everything; it is based on God's ability to hold us in his hands no matter where we might be. We must come to grips with the fact that we just don't have the ability to understand everything about all spiritual matters.

I don't know if you have ever noticed that the phrase, ``like unto'' (in the King James Version of the Bible) is used over 30 times in the New Testament.

That phrase is God literally saying, ``I want to try to explain this to you in terms you might understand, so what I am trying to explain is `kind of like' this.''

Some things are simply beyond our limited comprehension as humans to fully grasp, but we can respond to God with faith and let our Father reveal them to us in His time. In this case, believing is necessary for our seeing many of the things of God.

A perfect example of this is Abraham. Paul wrote the following about him:

When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed him. God had also said, ``Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars,'' even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible!

And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of 100 and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised. (Romans 4:18-21)

How about you? Can you be absolutely convinced that God is able to do anything He promised? The Holy Spirit reminds us that Faith ``is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.'' (Hebrews 11:1)

Now, on another subject. I have a request. If you have read my columns over the years, you might know that I serve as a chaplain at the King County Jail System. I've found a wonderful resource and structure that translates well into the lives of men and women in jail. Maybe it has for you too!

That structure is a book many of you have bought called ``The Purpose Driven Life'' by Rick Warren.

Since I don't have the funds to buy enough copies of the book to hand out, I'm asking if you might like to donate your used copy. I guarantee it will be re-read with enthusiasm.

You could drop it by my church at 6001 Island Crest Way or maybe I could even pick it up. Help me out here, will you!

Clements can be reached at Pastor@redeemerlutheranchurch.us or phone 232-1711.

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