Flashback Friday: A Wife, Sister And Aunt — But Am I Like The Trinity?

Originally posted January 30, 2018:

Shamrock ShadedThroughout church history, people have attempted to explain the Trinity. Patrick, the 5th Century missionary to Ireland, famously used the shamrock to illustrate how God can be three distinct Persons and yet one Being. Others have likened the Trinity to H2O (water, ice and vapor) or and egg (shell,  white and yoke). There are other analogies, most of which I happily don’t remember.

A friend recently reminded me of an analogy that used to be my favorite. I would explain that, though I’m DebbieLynne in all situations, I am a wife, a sister and an aunt. As such, I have three different roles. Ignore all my other roles (friend, employer, niece, blogger, church member, patient to my doctors and  so on).

Obviously the analogy breaks down very quickly. And it should for a few reasons. Two of those reasons particularly trouble me, and I think they should trouble most Christians who really give serious thought to their implications.

Firstly, my roles as wife, sister and aunt depend on how my husband, sister and nieces are related to me. Apart from John, I would not be a wife. If John dies before I do, I will cease to be a wife. Therefore, my identity as wife relies completely on John rather than being intrinsic to my nature.

Yet the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit exist independently of Their roles in relating to the Church. They have definite roles in bringing about salvation and in sanctifying believers, certainly, and we ought to rejoice in how intimately each Person of the Trinity works in our lives. But if God had never created anything, each Person of the Trinity would still exist in His fullness, not needing us to define Him. My various roles hinge on my relationships with others, but God is Father, Son and Spirit eternally, with or without us.

Secondly, and more importantly, it borders on blasphemy to compare ourselves to the Triune God. I tremble in shame at the thought that I ever did such a presumptuous thing! Although He created us in His likeness, we cannot — and indeed, must not  — consider ourselves models for describing anything about Him. Especially the Holy Trinity!

God commands Christians to reflect His character qualities like love, righteousness, patience and above all holiness. But He never suggested that anything about us could explain His very essence. My roles as wife, sister and aunt in no way demonstrate the astounding mystery of the Holy Trinity, and God never intended them to do so. Again, the very idea creeps dangerously close to blasphemy, in my opinion.

Many non-Christians dare us to defend the doctrine of the Trinity because they view it as illogical. Consequently, we concoct analogies that seem nifty, supposing that we can convince people with our little illustrations. But in truth, the Trinity lies well beyond the grasp of human reason. Instead of presuming to explain God’s triune nature, maybe we should stand in awe of this marvelous mystery.

Luxurious Bible Study? Oh Yeah!

Bubble BibleWhen I hear the word “luxuriate,”  I generally envision a nice long bubble bath in a jacuzzi. Preferably by candlelight.  Chocolate and/or cheesecake should definitely be involved. Maybe even some soft music in the background, Hey: an old lady can dream, can’t she?

But I woke up this morning knowing that I would luxuriate in my favorite passage in all of God’s Word. I’ve been working through Paul’s letter to Continue reading

Apostasy Is The Hot Topic Now, But Should It Be?

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Last week it was Josh Harris. This week it’s Marty Sampson. Next week it could be another high profile Christian, or it could be someone you know personally. But someone somewhere will turn away from the faith, openly declaring that he or she no longer believes Christian teaching.

A number of solid believers have used blogs and podcasts to comment on these two most recent cases of apostasy, and they’ve all made some valuable points. Indeed, Scripture addresses the topic quite forcefully, particularly in the book of Hebrews. The author of that book wrote it as a response to professing Christians who reverted back to Judaism, warning them against neglecting their salvation. So the Word of God definitely sets a precedent for talking about apostasy. Therefore I appreciate the willingness of people to use current events to discuss the matter.

I worry, though, about this issue becoming too dominate in our thinking. In a perverse sort of way, it Continue reading

Praise God I Have A Place To Put My Hope

As John and I exited Boston’s Prudential Tower Wednesday, we started down Boylston Street toward the Public Garden. Just outside the door, I noticed a saxophone player.  Now, it’s not really unusual to find musicians scattered throughout the city, especially in areas that have a high amount of foot traffic. Most of the time, I pass by them enjoying the music momentarily. They’re part of Boston’s charm.

This particular saxophone player intrigued me because the first five notes he played sounded just like the first five notes of the hymn, My Hope Is In The Lord. I strained to hear whether or not he was actually playing the hymn, but I couldn’t quite tell. I rather doubt it.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about the hymn, and about where I place my hope. Certainly, this world offers little hope as it gleefully plummets toward its endorsement of sin at breakneck speeds. Christians who refuse to acquiesce to the demands of the liberal culture must expect increasing levels of pushback and eventual persecution. Even denominations that, a mere three years ago could be counted on to stand on the bedrock of Scripture have begun bowing to the world’s corrupt values.

We can’t hope in anything or anybody!

But we can hope in the Lord. And maybe our crumbling society reminds us to keep our hope fixed decidedly on Him. When we recall His sacrifice for us at Calvary, we can rest confident in His faithfulness toward us. Against the darkness, we can sing cheerfully that our hope is in the Lord.

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God Doesn’t Restrict His Glory To Mountain Top Experiences And Neither Should We

Summit of Mount Tam

Photo taken from the summit of Mount Tamalpias in Marin Country, California

Often, we think of God’s glory in relation to the beauty of nature. As well we should! Scripture repeatedly makes that correlation,  leading us to follow its example. For instance, consider this beloved passage from Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat. ~~Psalm 19:1-6 (ESV)

I well understand why this psalm proclaims that nature showcases God’s glory. When I lived in California, I loved going to Mount Tamalpias. How often I enjoyed the wheelchair accessible Verna Dunshee Trail at the summit of the East Peak! A few days before I moved to Massachusetts to marry John, my friend took me up to Mount Tam one last time. That afternoon had crystal clear weather that allowed us to look down the plummeting ravines and out across the San Francisco Bay. We looked down on the back of a hawk in flight — a heady experience, I assure you!

My friend savored the magnificence of the moment (as did I) before remarking with a baffled voice, “I just don’t understand how anyone can deny the existence of God.” I shared her sense of awe at God’s creation. Looking out from the mountain at the sparking waters of the San Francisco Bay, and then at the golden grasses and green shrubbery cascading down the mountainside, I couldn’t help seeing what a wonderful Creator I serve.

But I didn’t stop to think that the breathtaking splendors of Mount Tamalpias pale in comparison to the glorious God Who created them. To really appreciate His glory, we need to look at Jesus. The apostle John actually described Jesus in terms of God’s glory.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~~John 1:14 (ESV)

Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, manifests God’s glory in a myriad of ways, most of which we won’t fully appreciate until we behold Him in His heavenly kingdom. Yet we see enough of Him in the pages of His Word to know His majesty. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John regale us with accounts of Him healing the sick, casting out demons and exercising His divine power over the wind and sea. They describe His sinless life, His authoritative teaching and His astonishing humility as He endured a crucifixion that He did not deserve. Most glorious of all, they describe His resurrection, which proved His victory over sin and death.

As we read God’s Word, we constantly see His glory in the Person and work of Jesus. And when we encounter Him, even the beauty of something like Mount Tamalpias seems trivial.

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Mary Understood What She Needed (Or, How Do You Stop A Runaway Blog?)

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In the past couple of weeks, I’ve blogged about some fairly important topics, and I don’t regret addressing those issues. Since publishing the Open Letter To Beth Moore, my online life has been a bit crazy, taking my thoughts in unanticipated directions. At times I’ve felt somewhat frustrated that I wasn’t taking my blog where I believed it should go.

As I thought about the disconnect between what I’ve wanted to write and what I’ve actually been writing, my mind went back to the familiar story of Continue reading

Let Every Kindred, Every Tribe

At the time, I chuckled when my Welsh friend pictured American clouds and United Kingdom clouds in heaven. “As much as I like you,” he informed me, “I don’t want to visit an American cloud.”

Not only did he have an unbiblical concept of heaven, he infiltrated it with a nationalist lens that now, 34 years later, saddens me. Does he still anticipate that sort of division in the New Jerusalem? If so, I don’t believe he properly understands the depiction of heaven that the apostle John presented in Revelation.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” ~~Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV)

Heaven unites Christians from every tribe and nation so that we might all worship the Lord together. Rather than allowing our differences to separate us, we will celebrate our unity  as we worship Him along with the angels and the elders. Our individual distinctions won’t be erased,  but neither will they separate us from one another.

The glorious harmony between people groups will happen as we concentrate our attention on the King of kings and Lord of lords. My dear Welsh friend will be so enamored with Christ that he simply won’t care about keeping his distance from Americans! All of us will joyously join the everlasting song as we crown Jesus Lord of all.

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