Sunday, September 30, 2007
Sometimes you get where you need to be without knowing that you've arrived.
Sometimes an event comes at you like a train, analog, with you being it's one possible destination.
Only pessimists expect to be blindsided.
Sometimes the field is so littered with possible paths that you aren't sure which way to face.
I look down and see feet of clay.
I look up and see Holiness out of my grasp, higher than me.
But God came down to my level, lifting me up.
and I will someday lose my clayfeet, the imperishable swallowing up the perishable.
God knows everything, every millisecond of what will happen to me, for me, by me,
between now and Eternity.
God is an Optimist; He hasn't given up on me yet.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Here’s my Dad in front of the Ghost House. I’m heading in to see him at the hospital in a few minutes; his knee replacement surgery went fine.
It isn’t really known as the Ghost House; I was being dramatic. The house was built by my Dad’s grandfather, and there have been reports of ‘spooky’ activity going back 70 some years. My Dad was born (at home) right next door to this house back in 1930. No one lives in the Ghost House now, and it will be torn down next year; the present owners, cousins to my Dad, want nothing to do with it.
Here’s my take on it all: leave it alone. God commands us to not have anything to do with spiritism, sorcery, witchcraft, astrology, demonology, idolatry, etc. for our own good.
I’ve had experiences, and I shun them. It might be cool to stay in the Ghost House overnight, but I know that, even though it might be exciting, it would be wrong. Daniel describes some of the spiritual battles going on in his day, King Saul broke his own law and went to see a conjurer, Jesus delivered many people from possession by demons-it is very clear throughout the Bible that we are to stay away from the occult. I don’t fear demons, but I know better than to unwittingly trespass onto the spiritual battlefield we’ve been warned away from.
Boo! Who? You? Shoo!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
God's Sovereignty may seem disconnected from the world you see going mad outside your window...but He is Sovereign, and the world is in denial. That denial, that refusing to acknowledge the existence and Sovereignty of God is the very reason the world is so messed up.
We all struggle, we all hurt and feel helpless, hopeless at times. But I have hope, even when I see a world that looks hopeless. Globally or personally, that Hope is the same: God exists and is in charge.
26“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. 28“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”
29His disciples said*, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. 30“Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” 31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32“Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:26-33
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
What is the opposite of “Love your neighbor as yourself?”
“Hate your neighbor as you hate yourself.”
Do you see any of that these days? How about in every news report, newspaper, or hourly update on the Web? You can’t throw a stone around here without hitting someone who is actively hating his neighbor as he hates himself. Go ask Israel.
But I’m not talking about you. You love yourself so much that you wish to preserve your life- for example, if you were on a sinking ship, a hundred yards from dry land, you would swim to the shore. No question.
But do you love yourself enough to care where you will end up in Eternity? Christians are often characterized as hateful when they mention Hellfire and damnation. As if we cherish the idea of you going to Hell.
Nothing could be further from the Truth. We have gained Heaven, not because we loved ourselves so much that we demanded entrance, but because Jesus Christ loved us so much that He made Heaven possible for us. And when He moves us to share the Gospel, we are motivated by His Love, not His hate. And that makes you my neighbor. As myself.
Monday, September 10, 2007
There are all manner of people who identify themselves as Christian who won’t be in heaven. There are those who go to church on Sundays and are on the member roll, or those who tithe religiously, or those who fulfill all religious requirements, or those who have parents who were members of a congregation or Christian denomination, or those who have been in a church or two a few times, or those who believe in an almighty presence, or those who believe that if they do good things they will be judged as okay in the end, or those who believe Jesus is just all right with them, but they don’t need to be born again. There are countless who lie or deceive themselves into believing they are Christians who won’t be there. [Matt 7.21] And there will even be those who perform miracles in His name who will hear these words at the judgment, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'” Acts 8.20
Jesus identified Himself as The Way, saying, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me,” [John 14.6] and scripture shows that early Christians identified themselves as Followers of the Way [Acts 9.2, 19.9]. There was simply one Way, and that way was Jesus Himself. But very soon after the first Christians began to meet, there arose among them those of whom Jesus had warned when He said in Matthew, “"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Christians are warned repeatedly to zealously protect the gospel of Jesus from those who would bring in destructive doctrine, even for instance, denying Jesus Himself [1 Pe 2.1], because as scripture notes, “A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church].” Gal 5.9 Because of this desire to keep the faith from being corrupted, Christianity has been divided. In many instances, this division was absolutely necessary for the preservation of sound doctrine. We cannot, for instance, take lightly the practice by church members or leaders of disregarding God’s Word. We cannot allow behavior that does not exhibit the love of Christ and the truth of His teachings. We cannot allow false teaching to corrupt the Gospel of Christ. In fact, we are to regard the Gospel as treasure to be protected, and since our highest duty is to spread that Gospel, it is imperative to the Christian faith that the Gospel is rightly proclaimed. It is not wrong to condemn bad doctrine.
You Call Me Master
You call Me Master and obey Me not.
You call Me Light and see Me not.
You call Me the Way and walk Me not.
You call Me Life and choose Me not.
You call Me Wise and follow Me not.
You call Me Fair and love Me not.
You call Me Rich and ask Me not.
You call Me Eternal and seek Me not.
You call Me Noble and serve Me not.
You call Me Gracious and trust Me not.
You call Me Might and honor Me not.
You call Me Just and fear Me not.
If I condemn you, blame Me not.
(Engraved on an old slab in the Cathedral of Lubeck Germany)
There is only one Way to salvation and that is through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. No amount of works, even what the world would label as good works, will get one into heaven, and neither is the performance of sacrifice or ritual sufficient unto salvation. [Rom 3.28] This is the Good News, the Gospel, of the free gift from God, salvation through Jesus Christ. It is the antithesis of the law. As Luther said, “By the law, nothing else is meant than God’s word and command, directing what to do and what to leave undone, and requiring of us obedience of works. But the gospel is such doctrine of the word of God that neither requires our works nor commands us to do anything, but announced the offered grace of the forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation. Here we do nothing, but only receive what is offered through the word.” If a church that puts itself out as a Christian church teaches doctrine that suggests that we must do this or that to be saved from eternal damnation, that is a perversion of the glad tidings of Christianity and must be roundly condemned.
Further, scripture teaches, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. "1 John 2.3 – 6
This is one way that we know we have truly received Christ—when our hearts grieve when we disobey God’s law. Before I became a Christian, I made all types of excuses for my bad behavior, and even more, I didn’t really care or feel I had to answer to anyone for the things I did. Now, when I willfully disobey, I am convicted to quickly repent, ask God for forgiveness and make things right. (Today I had to apologize to my boss for getting angry.) I am compelled by my love of God to keep His commandment to love, and by loving to be joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Against this type of love there is no law! I am freed from the bondage of religiousness! [Gal 5.23] I am also now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, another sign that my conversion is real. [1 John 4.13] And how do I know that I have His Spirit? I can tell by the measure of how much I am loving people, because the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. When we walk in love, we are imitators of God and behave as though we are imitating our Father. We are commanded to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Gal 5.1,2 We are to make every effort to be loving, because if we practice loving, we make our election sure. [2 Pe 1.5 - 10]
Love does not mean accepting any interpretation of Christianity so that no one’s feelings are hurt. We are not required to tolerate lies or misrepresentations. We are simply required to speak the truth, and to speak it with love. We are commanded to treat people in the same way that we would like to be treated [Luke 6.31], i.e., the Golden Rule, and this ought to lead to gracious and gentle discourse. But it does not mean that we set aside truth.
It is God’s will that while we live out our numbered days here on earth, we are still strapped with the rotting flesh that envelops us. Many times we fail, and many times we repent and begin again. This is how God is perfecting us. We need often to be reminded that we are citizens of God’s kingdom, his representatives on earth. In fact, Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within His followers! God help us to glorify His Name by being good ambassadors!
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3.3 Other scripture puts it quite succinctly: “…. if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10.9 It could not be much clearer.
“You will not see the Kingdom of God unless you realize who Jesus is. You won’t have the Kingdom inside you until you open your heart to Him. And you will not be in the Kingdom eternally unless you’re born again.” Paraphrased from Courson commentary
It has nothing to do with the church you attend and everything to do with the condition of your heart. Consider these words today. Repent and believe on Jesus. You will never be the same. The outcome of your faith in Jesus and His acceptable sacrifice will be the salvation of your very soul. [1 Pe 1.9]
Sunday, September 09, 2007
“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
You’ve never eaten manna, but you have eaten. You’ve never walked 40 years in a desert, but you have walked on the planet He placed under your feet. Man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Your very existence, all that you know and love and hate, comes from God.
What do you say to your Creator? Thank you? What do you say?
Friday, September 07, 2007
“This Way To The Egress”, of course, is the sign made famous by P.T. Barnum. Humanity’s Circus spans from left to right, here to there and back; it isn’t merely the Greatest Show On Earth, it is THE Show on Earth. And our tickets aren’t Golden, good forever and a day. Eventually we all make our way to the egress, and then, for us, Humanity’s Circus is over.
I hope that you will think about this, friends. Any Christian who has made you angry, failed you, made you want to turn away from God…and I’m talking about myself here…that (this) Christian will stand in judgment for every dishonorable word he has spoken. However you may judge me, I have a greater Judge who knows every careless word I’ve ever said. I know that I have upset many people in my life, not just online. Of course, many people have also upset me; friends have failed me, family have turned against me; it’s all part of the Big Top, Humanity’s Circus.
If I have made enemies instead of friends, I am sorry. But there’s a distinction which needs to be considered.
If anyone has been upset with me because of my general obnoxiousness, rudeness, etc. I regret that.
But…if someone is upset by my belief in God, my theology, how I exercise my faith in Jesus Christ-sorry, but I’m not sorry about that.
Here’s an example which should clarify what I’m saying. And I’m only using this example because it seems to be one of the most offensive stumbling blocks:
Homosexuality. If I call it sinful and wrong simply on my own authority, due to my own heterosexual prejudices, my word/opinion means nothing, and can be rejected out of hand. I have no authority.
However…if God calls homosexuality sin, then I’m stuck. Do I listen to God or those who think He has no problem with homosexuality? In order for anyone to believe that, they must ignore God’s Word, reject God.
And that makes a wall, a separation between us. Because I cannot ignore or reject God’s Word. Even if it upsets your worldview. Even if it makes you my enemy instead of a friend.
By the way, if anyone thinks that I’m simply trying to justify my prejudices by wrapping them in Scripture…not guilty. I encourage any of you out there who think I’m wrong to show me my error in Scripture. If you don’t know the Bible well enough to prove me wrong, consider asking God to open the Scriptures for you-you’d be surprised what can happen when you do that. I will never claim authority that isn’t mine, but I will point to God’s authority as being the only Authority by which to live while enduring Humanity’s Big Top Extravaganza.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Sometimes a surmise is as good as a smile. I have no way of knowing how the young lady had arrived at such a point in her life that she felt the need to have “Karma” inscribed on her neck, but there it was.
Sixty-five years from now, if karma hasn’t caught up with her yet, it will still be there each times she looks in a mirror.
From a few minutes spent talking with her, my surmise is that her desire for the tattoo sprang not from any adherence to Hindi or Buddhist philosophy, but a great affection for it’s most unlikely hero, Earl.
As in, “My Name is Earl”, the sitcom. Fictionalized Karma is readily available, as the scripts are written so that Earl does act as its agent and sometimes puppet. And sometimes victim.
In truth, there is no Karma. Some think that it is analogous to the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ But that doesn’t quite fit, as each of us is daily slogging through circumstance which does not change no matter how well we treat others. The same circumstance will happen even if we are villains. Karma doesn’t look high enough.
Yes, I’m reminding you that this is a Christian blog. Our Creator, the One who knows us intimately to our very molecules is in charge of every event, the Master of all circumstance.
“23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.” Psalm 37:23
“37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass,
Unless the Lord has commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That both good and ill go forth?” Lamentations 3:37-38
Karma doesn’t allow you to control what will happen in your life, even if you tattoo it on your skin or repeat the word two thousand times a day.
It is indeed good to live by ‘The Golden Rule’. But it is more important to live for God, to seek His Will for your life.
In case anyone was wondering, I didn’t photograph the karmic young lady; I “borrowed” the neck of a friend, which looks much better without the letters photoshopped onto it.
My name is Doug.