Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Province Of God

“1 The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil,
2 He enters into peace; They rest in their beds, Each one who walked in his upright way.”
Isaiah 57:1-2

I don’t ever want to twist Scripture to say something it doesn’t, but I think that there is a passing truth here worth mentioning. In this chapter of Isaiah God is rebuking the leaders of Israel who did not honor Him, but were evil, living lives of idolatry.
The verses here were an indictment against those leaders, who had no compassion for those who were perishing under their administration. ‘No man takes it to heart’-rather than being good stewards, or shepherds, they were living carnal evil lives, uncaring as to the welfare of their people.
But there is something special, something more in this passage.
“For the righteous man is taken away from evil,
2 He enters into peace; They rest in their beds, Each one who walked in his upright way.”

We live in a world of trouble. When God wills it, he will ‘shorten the days’ of the righteous to rescue them from evil. What is that evil? Burden? How much burden is too much?
We can’t answer-it is all the province of God to decide how much suffering one of His children will endure on this side of death.
“He enters into peace”
Recently a young Christian man committed suicide. His troubled life ended, and he entered into peace.
There are churches which teach that suicide is unpardonable sin, one which would possibly exclude some one from Heaven. They are wrong about a lot of things, including this issue. How we die is never as important as where we go after death. God had decided that that young man had had enough. He brought him home.
As Christians we look to God for our providence. If we are truly His to do with as He wills, we are obedient unto death and beyond. I don’t fear.
May God put in your heart a desire for Him and His righteousness.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Inelegancy Of Manic Wide-eyed Panic

The more the ground shakes under one's feet,
the greater the calamitous circumstance...
the greater my faith in God.
A world filled with troubles has one message:
"There is much to fear."
But a heart filled with God's Spirit responds to a different message:
"God Loves you and all will be well."
The certainty in uncertain times is that God stands outside of Time-He knows
the end from the beginning, and assures us that someday all fear/troubles
will be past and forgotten.
May God keep you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

God Controls, Alters and Deletes

Just a genial conversation over malts about a Scripture reference. We didn't have Bibles open, so going on memory I was defending a point which I didn't remember correctly.
Though not stated, it was a question on the idea of 'Eternal Security'-whether or not a Christian could have his name blotted out of the Lamb's book of Life. In the book of Revelation there is mention of this, and, as I said, I got it wrong. My point was that from God's perspective, He knew who would or not be saved, as He was the one doing the saving. So talk of 'blotting out a name' was poetic language, not literal. When I got home I dug in to find the reference:

"4But you have a few there in Sardis who have kept their clothes unstained, so they will walk with me and will wear white clothes, because they are worthy. 
5Those who win the victory will be dressed in white clothes like them. And I will not erase their names from the book of life, but I will say they belong to me before my Father and before his angels. 
6Everyone who has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:4-6

God was letting the saints in Sardis who had kept their clothes unstained know that they would walk with Him. He was assuring their security; they need not fear losing their salvation.
But note that Jesus was talking to the righteous in Sardis. He makes no such promise to those elements of the Sardis church who had not lived righteously. He didn't need to blot out their names from the book because they had never been written in.
If Christ caught up His church today, I would love it if my church were represented 100%...as far as I know we would be. But God sees hearts and knows who is or isn't saved. Sardis had "just a few". Hhmmmm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The God Of Broken Hearts

God was the first one to get His heart broken. Adam and Eve, created to love and commune with Him, instead hid from His sight due to sin.
The record begins there, but continues down through today-this world, fallen, corrupted, is a world of hurt, pain, heartbreak. To be alive is to have had your heart broken at one time or another. God in His Grace restores us, heals our spirit as He would heal our bodies, otherwise who could survive?
Jesus had His heart broken more than once-as you read through the Gospels, you see Jesus being moved by the tears of Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus had died. He joined in their tears.
Jesus witnessed daily members of His creation who hated Him, rejected His words, at times picked up stones to kill Him. He was there to save them from Hell, and they declared Him to be of hell.
Finally, on the cross Jesus knew the heartbreak of being separated from His Father, who was too pure to look on sin. You might say that it was a "replay" of the separation of God and Adam in the Garden, but this time Jesus experienced it from the side of Adam's humanity.
"My God, My God-why have you forsaken me?" was followed by "It is Finished!"
Because of what Christ accomplished, we can sing the Scripture, "No Tears In Heaven". We will have no more heartbreak-it will all be past and forgotten. I would love to see you there.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm a Christian-It's Not Sharia If I Do It

Check your shoes before reading, friends-if I step on any toes, I hope you're not wearing sandals.
First and foremost, a group called the "American Family Association" is doing a bit of toe-stepping of its own, and I am kinda against it. Kinda.
They are Christians behaving very nicely. They oppose many of the same things I oppose, cherish many of the same ideals I espouse. Good guys. White hats. Big smiles.
But I have to get in their business a bit. Hear me out.
The AFA is big on calling out corporations for doing stuff Christians oppose-Sears was (according to AFA) selling pornography on their website, Home Depot is pushing Gay marriage, and they think that maybe, just maybe, Lady Gaga is nuts. (I just threw in the last one-she's goofy)
Well and good, AFA. Call them out. Shout it from the rooftops.
Then they call for Christians to boycott the nasty corporations. Wait-what?
Is that the purview of Christians?
Are we to punish someone who is not a Christian for not following Christ? For being worldly in their own world, within which we are merely sojourners?
Can we demand that corporations adhere to Christian morals? Punish if they do not? (hint-they won't. They are incapable of doing right, being righteous.)
I never gave it much thought until listening to Tod Friel's "Wretched Radio" He is the one who suggested that such economic blackmail as AFA is formenting against corporations is a Christian form of Shariah Law. We don't like it when Muslims attempt to make us live by their laws, so...
Lets go to the Bible. The prophet Daniel served under three administrations honorably. When his personal religious space was invaded, he stood strong. But he didn't tell any of the rulers of Babylon that they had to toe the line and worship his God. He didn't tell them to stop carving the fertility totems or he'd organize a work slowdown. He lived for God in an ungodly place.
As do all Christians. 
Here's a funny sidenote-Tod Friel? the Wretched Radio guy? AFA carries his program through their American Family Radio. Funny that.
My bottom line-I live for God, try to do right. But I don't fault the world for being worldly-if Sears and Home Depot were people, members of my church, THEN they would be called to adhere to Godly standards, as our church statement of faith details. But they are of the world, and not under our church discipline.
"But wait, Doug! I'm promoting Christian values when I attempt to make a corporation stop being so evil!"
Okayfine for you-and good luck with that. Maybe next you can empty the ocean with a teaspoon.
So Doug, how about you? You're a sinner with a Sears card in your wallet. I've seen you at Home Depot!
Yup and yup.
Here's what I think. I'm against abortion, so I wouldn't EVER encourage a woman to go to an abortion clinic.
I'm against alcohol consumption, as I see the heartbreak of alcoholism destroying lives...so I don't drink, and don't encourage others to drink. Those are just two of the two of the moral judgements by which I live my life.
But I can't demand that my friends stop drinking because I know it is wrong. That's not my place. That's not for me to decide...for them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Time On For Bad Behavior/Werewolves of London

Brits gone wilding. Riots and lootings and bricks through windows, oh my.
There doesn't seem to be any reason for all of the violence. I thought we had "Civil" in our Civilization, but maybe this is telling of our true nature: no matter how mannered and modulated our lives, under our collective skins we are still cavemen. Think about it-how do we describe someone who is an example of purity and good?
A Godly person, one like God-loving and peaceful, long-suffering and patient.
What do we see in the streets of London and Manchester? Other.
We ARE responsible for our actions, friends. These looters are not doing themselves any favors, are hurting the society they live in, are sinning against their world and themselves.
I doubt that you will find any Christians among the rioters. Just Other.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

USA! USA! AA+! All The Way!

Too broke to joke? Not me, brother- can you spare a trillion?
Those of you in the grey haired set might recognize the riff on the Depression era song, "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?"...or you may not. I'm not that old myself, but I'm a student of bad human history.
So...the Standard and Poors dropped our country's credit rating from AAA to AA+, and I heard this morning that some politicos (you know who they are) are BLAMING the S&P! This is like a bank robber blaming the judge for calling him a thief.
What comes to mind? Ray Charles, of course, with his song, "Busted".
"I went to my brother to ask for a loan cause I was busted
I hate to beg like a dog without his bone, but I'm busted
My brother said there ain't a thing I can do,
My wife and my kids are all down with the flu,
And I was just thinking about calling on you and I'm busted."

Flat broke. Bought the poor farming collective
"19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 
20“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 
21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

So far, our government is both financially and morally bankrupt. 2 for 2.
But the government can't break in and steal my treasure, can't tax it either.
If the company I work for went under, if I lost my job, if my 401k became dust in the wind...I'd still be fine.
My confidence is in God, and He will take care of me. If I starve to death, the best thing happens-I enter Heaven and live face to face with my Savior.
You don't have to take my word for it, though:
"7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 
8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 
9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 
10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 
11in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Imprint Non-sustaining

Try as we might, Mankind (which often isn't) has no effect on God's Creation. We can't deforest the Amazon-God keeps growing trees. We can't use up all the water-He keeps sending more rain.
Look at the picture. The building seen above the fancy car was a small cabin/sauna. All that is left now-a rectangle of cement floor. You didn't even know about the floor until just now, and would never have missed it in any case.
In Vilnus, Lithuania a mass grave was unearthed at a construction site-it turned out to be remnants from Bonaparte's retreat, when Napoleon failed to pick up Russia as a trophy for his Empire. All gone now. After Napoleon it was someone else's turn to play bigshot.
Once upon a time, Germany thought it would be darling if every country in the world was known as "Germany". Nope.
In the physical world, man fails. In Civilization, man fails. Alexander The Great may have had his likeness stamped on coinage, but his influence on the world died with him. You couldn't buy a cup of coffee with those coins today.
God does hold sway over His Creation with style that turns men green with envy. Where Man cannot keep a civilization going for more than a few thousand years, God is Eternal, His Creation will last until He replaces it with one fit for Eternity. Mighty cool.