Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Faith and Feelings

As I shared with you on Monday, our home computer is currently haywire. We've made contact with Coy Thorp, resident computer guru in El Dorado Hills and he is an enormous help, but a combination of software and equipment issues is making it a rather prolonged repair job. Not being able to update my blog from home throws off my whole routine. So the blogs will be coming but the timing might be sporadic for a few more days.

Speaking of a few more days, it's only two days till the WAC Showdown in Bulldog Stadium. The non-BCS darlings of '06, the Boise State Broncos, show up in Fresno on Friday. Boise -- ranked #26 in the AP and #29 in the BCS poll, winners of 42 of their last 43 WAC games, and owners of the last 5 WAC titles -- shows up short-handed with Romeo himself, Ian Johnson.

I'll save my prediction till Friday but I'll give you a lean on what I'm thinking. Boise played last Saturday night in Ruston, Louisiana. That late night in Louisiana, followed by a cross-country flight, up against a short week plays into the 'Dogs hands since Fresno was at home last Saturday. Preparation-wise, the 'Dogs should be a day ahead. Add to that the Boise State defense has been gashed in the run game by their last two opponents. Both Nevada and La. Tech each rushed for over 200 yards against Boise. The run game just happens to be the strength of the 'Dogs offense with dynamic freshman Ryan Matthews, super sophomore Lonyae Miller, and Batman himself, Clifton Smith.


The World Series begins tonight. Can the Rockies continue their hot streak after a nine-day layoff? Will the Red Sox ride the wave of their three-game hot streak to close out the Indians? Undoubtedly, the Red Sox are the better team on paper...but they don't play the games on paper.

Rockies in seven.


It's hard to read Philippians without walking away thinking Paul was some superhero of the faith. His unconfined joy in the face of the most dire circumstances seem to be superhuman. Paul's in prison, but that doesn't rob him of joy. Paul is facing a potential death conviction for his faith, but he stares down the possibility with joy. Paul is opposed by partisan bickering that threatens his reputation, but he meets that opposition with joy.

How does one man beset with so many unfortunate circumstances hold onto his joy?

For the sake of balance, it's good in any expositional study -- such as our current Sunday morning series at Woodward Park entitled "A Journey into Joy" that looks at Paul's joy in his letter to the Philippians -- to look at other parallel passages. For example, to understand Paul's emotions in the face of struggle, it is imperative to read 2 Corinthians 1.8-11 alongside Philippians:

"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us..."

Reading Paul's letter to the Corinthians helps one see that while Paul's faith never wavered, his feelings did come-and-go. Emotionally, Paul speaks of "despair" and feeling "the sentence of death."

Isolating certain readings, to the neglect of parallel passages, can leave us with an unrealistic view of our faith heroes. Was Paul a stalwart of joy? Absolutely! But does that mean he met every circumstance throughout his entire life as if it were a source of personal pleasure? Hardly.

Learning to maintain faith even when the accompanying feelings are despair rather than joy is a part of mature discipleship. Relying on God even when relying on God doesn't feel good is a sure sign of a strong faith.