and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

God’s not Dead

       A good friend and I finally got to see the movie.  In it, a professor and a student have a conflict over the existence of God.  I think it was a good movie for certain things, and other things could have used improving, but the basic message to me is that Christians should be able to stand up for God no matter where they are- after all, we are still in a free country, right?

       Personally I would not even try to go up against any ‘intellectual’ types concerning God.  I can’t even read Christian apologetic blogs without it going over my head.  Also much of the ‘higher scientific’ things far surpass my thinking.  Having said that, if God told me to debate or such I’d trust Him to help and go for it.  Hopefully it will never come to that because I’d rather just speak as the apostles did: Jesus Christ and Him crucified (Acts).

because I will give you the ability to speak, and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to refute or oppose. Lk. 21:15 (Mixed versions by me)

       What is the point in the movie?  Don’t let others, Christians, atheists or people of any other beliefs prevent us from following God’s will- to spread His Good News.  Wherever we are, we should acknowledge our God openly, what we believe and act according to those beliefs.  We should not hide our light under a bushel (Mt. 5:15).  As for debating these wise scholars or intellectuals, I don’t think it is necessary for two reasons.  They can’t understand what the Spirit of God has not revealed to them and they don’t have His Spirit because they aren’t saved.  Also, the enemy may try to rob you through ‘higher learning’ which might create unnecessary problems.

For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God. 1Cr. 1:18
Beware lest anyone rob (carry off, lead away from the truth) you through philosophy (love of wisdom esp. in science or other branches of knowledge) and vain (empty, devoid of truth) deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the (basic) elements of the world, and not according to Christ. Cl 2:8
       God’s not dead.  In fact, God is life and all life comes from Him.  “For as the Father has (holds) life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life within Himself,(Jh. 5:26).  “…I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” (Jh. 14:6).  Personally, I have never experienced life the same since I surrendered as much of myself as possible.  Where I used to be ‘dead’ even as a Christian, just surviving, getting by day after day, now I love life (Jh. 10:10 abundant life) and like to encourage others in it.  So God is alive in the world… and His Spirit's alive in me.

Is He alive in you too?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hard Journey

       At fourteen years of age I began riding my bike to the other side of the county; a scenic 140 km round trip ride.  It was about my third journey on my normal route to the closest National Park when I experienced bad weather ½ way back home.  The wind shifted to become a very strong head wind.  I did not feel I could make it home without help so I called my Dad on the closest pay phone and he said something like, “You got yourself that far and you decided to make the trip, so you’ll just have to get yourself home.” 

       Every push of the petal was difficult.  Every meter achieved left my muscles straining.  I didn’t think I could do it.  What I had to focus on was a spot close in front of me and tell my tired, aching body, ‘Just one more meter.’  It was slow going and the lactic acid was rampant in my legs, but there was no way left for me to get home but to push on.  Meters turned to kilometers which ran through communities and eventually I rode into my own town.  Past exhaustion but with the closeness of home and the chance to stop riding, I focused on the goal.  ‘Just a little longer and I can rest for a while…’

       Looking back, it was shear force of will that got me back home.  Every push forward was tough and though I didn’t want to go through the difficulty and pain, I knew it had to be done.  This was a small thing.  Sometimes I think of Jesus’ life and wonder how He did it- right from the start of His mortal human life to the end of it.

I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. Is. 50:6,7

       Flint is a rock, a durable, hard rock we know that can be used to start fires.  In this Messianic passage it indicates Jesus set His face like flint (rock) to do the things He needed to do.  Now, in my mind that was day one from giving up His home in Heaven to live as a subjected, helpless, fragile, having to relearn everything baby, through a hard working childhood into common manual labour as a man who unable to just do what He probably wanted to- preach the good news.  But He had to wait until the right time.

       In ministry Jesus had to endure the taunts of family and friends who didn’t believe in His calling or who He was, and the rejection of whole communities.  And it just had to be frustrating working closely with friends that didn’t ‘get it’ or get You either- for three years!  All of this would have taken strong determination- focus on the end goal.  Jesus knew the end goal- His death and resurrection.  Did it make it easy for Him to endure those final days?  I say no.  It compelled Him forward every step of the way, but the walk to His death was hard, painful, humiliating, and

       He probably kept His mind on the goal of man’s salvation just to get through each step, through each beating, whipping, each nail...  In His last days He probably reminded Himself frequently, “I’m almost home, and then I can rest for a while.”  God in Heaven to ‘God with us’ human life on earth to God in Heaven once again.  That middle section a hard journey for anyone, let alone the Son of God.  But He set His face like flint and gave us grace to restore us unto our Father.

looking to Jesus
the Author and Finisher of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
Hb. 12:2

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Amazing Grace

       I’ve sung this song for years.  Been going to church most of my life, but I also sing it on my own.  Its verses have clear meaning to me.  John Newton published this song in 1779.  His past was one of rebellion, profanity, abuse as a servant, slave trading, and near death on more than one occasion.  I’m sure he was filled with a lot of regret for some of his past actions after he became a Christian, just as many of us are.

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

       It was a few years ago standing at a funeral in a Catholic Church that I raised my voice to sing this great hymn and discovered they had changed one simple word that only served to anger me: wretch* became soul.  Why?  Because of our feel good, fear of damaging self esteem, positive thinking only world?  Isn’t it true that we are wicked sinners before we are born again?  In fact, we are still sinners after we become Christians only Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to us.

       I still do not understand the need to forget our past in the sense that we should remember where God has brought us from.  Sure, it is good to not dwell (reside, stay, inhabit, settle) in our past, for this may hold us back from reaching forward to God’s will for us.  But we need to remember where we once were so that we also remember from where God has brought us.  Wicked sinner- redeemed sinner.

Should we forget?
And Jesus said to him, No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Lk. 9:62 (in context of people who have excuses for not following Jesus)
 (Paul) …but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, Php. 3:13 (forgetting past shame and accomplishments both which may hold you back from reaching the high calling of God v.5,6)

We should remember
you shall be on guard lest you forget Jehovah who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves. Dt. 6:12 (slave to sin Jh. 8:37)
Remember His marvelous works which He has done… Ps. 105:5
Give thanks to Jehovah, call on His name, make known His deeds among the people. 1Ch. 16:8
Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent… Rv. 2:5

       Yes, I was a wretch.  Yes, sometimes I still behave like a wretch.  I have no problem singing “that saved a wretch like me” for that is what God did- He saved me from my sin, my sins, my shame, my own wicked heart and the wicked life I lived.  He saved me from myself.  He redeemed my life from the kingdom of the enemy to His own kingdom.  Now I am His.  His child.  I did nothing to deserve it, but His salvation was freely given.  Given to this wretch.

I am forever grateful Oh Lord!

*Webster’s 1828 dictionary
   -a miserable person in deep distress
   -worthless and contemptible person
   -a person sunk in vice, shameless wickedness

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Abstinence is Not Good Enough

       There is a large percentage of Christians who want to see abstinence taught in the sex education classes- if it’s got to be taught.  I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.  I don’t even think we should teach our own children abstinence (restraining oneself from indulging in something, in this case sex).  Is that shocking?  The truth is that I don’t think abstinence is a high enough goal to aim for.  Those who teach it usually mean ‘all the way’ like half way isn’t sex.  And what about making 'second base?'  Is God okay with that?

       How’s this for an idea.  Let’s teach our children purity- physical, mental, spiritual purity.  Just because we do not engage in sex before marriage does not mean we are living pure: our minds could constantly be in the gutter thinking of doing things we shouldn’t, even laughing at perversity.  From personal experience as a teenager I can guarantee it is no better having a mind thinking perverse things than actually doing them.  Filth is filth whether it is evident or concealed. 

But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if your right eye offends you, pluck it out and throw it from you. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be thrown into hell. Mt. 5:28,29

       As I was reading Titus I came upon a verse that made me sad.  “To the pure all things are pure. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.(Tt. 1:15)  Pure (katharos) means clean, pure; physically; no uncleanness; free from corrupt desire, sin and guilt; sincere and genuine without falseness; blameless and innocent; unstained with the guilt of anything (Thayer).  This made me sad to read because we ALL fail to be pure and if WE are not striving to be pure, why would our children?

       In Mt. above, Jesus says if part of you sins, rip it out and get rid of it.  He wasn’t talking physical ripping but taking action (Dt. 10:16) to rid our lives of sin as much as it is possible for us to do so.  Turn it off, burn it, throw it out, block our ears, say no, don’t watch, don’t go, don’t buy, etc.  For the most part we can determine what comes in to our lives.  How can we be pure if we leave filth within?  Even doing our best however, we will fail because we are human.  That is why we need the Lord more and more in our lives, to make us new (2Cr. 5:17), help us transform (Rm. 12:2) and clean us up (Ps. 51:10).

       “To the pure all things are pure.”  Do we laugh at course jokes, look at inappropriate pictures, use foul language, speaking in anger, lie, watch questionable movies or TV shows, teach our children it’s okay as long as we don’t go all the way?  Is this a God honouring way to live?  Are we displaying purity / holiness?  “…Be holy as I am holy.(1Pt. 1:16)

but be an example of the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1Tm. 4:12
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man… Mt. 15:19,20 (note: not pure)
And there shall in no way enter into it (the New Jerusalem) anything that defiles… Rv. 21:27

       And just what does God think about our purity for He is the one whose opinion counts most.  We might think we are pure, but God sees our innermost parts and knows all the impurities remaining in us.  “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire...” (Ml. 3:2)  We need the Lord to set His refiner’s fire on us to remove the impurities left in us- that we may be pure gold or silver vessels for His use and glory.

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Therefore if anyone purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 2Tm. 2:20:21

Lord, help us set our goals high on holiness and purity, to do what we can, and to throw ourselves on Your mercy and grace to finish what we are unable to do.  Thank You for all You do!

Blessed are the pure in heart! For they shall see God.
Mt. 5:8

Monday, May 12, 2014

Major Freak Out

       On May 6th I wrote a post about my new camera I bought after years saving for it.  I’ve been having fun (with some frustrations in learning) taking pictures I couldn’t successfully take with my old camera.  Well, it finally needed to be recharged today, so I pulled out the usb cord, attached it to the camera and then to the surge protector’s USB charging port.  The charge light started blinking like it should, I waited 3 hours and the charge light was off as it should be, so I took it off the protector, pulled the cable off and turned on the camera.  Nothing. 

       Pressed the button again.  Nothing.  “Relax, this will be okay…”  Tried a few things each time attempting to turn on the camera and nothing happened.  Freaking out!  Can I still return it if it’s broken?  What do I do?  Breathe slowly…  Wait, check the manual.  Troubleshoot menu- not helpful.  Charging info- oh yes, this thing has an AC adapter that you can plug the USB cord into.  USB cord back in, plug into AC adapter, then into surge protector.  Three hours later the camera is actually charged and able to be turned on.  Big PHEW!

       My memory doesn’t always bring back the information to figure out what I need to do about a problem.  Sometimes I need to review the manuals to get the knowledge I need.  Just like when I experience problems in my life.  What do I do about them?  Do I run to my friends and family for advice?  Do I pull out the reference books on that particular issue?  Do I go online and search out answers?  What do I do first?

       When it’s an emotional issue it’s the Bible I run to for comfort, but not always for the helpful knowledge on particular problems.  I don’t know why that is, but it’s probably the same reason I take painkillers for pain before praying about it.  Habit.  There are over 80 different knowledge topics (about life) that we can find information on in the Bible.  For example, about panic (freak out) we can find Scriptures that may help us: Ps. 34:4; 2Tm. 1:7; Pr. 3:5,6; Php. 4:6,7.

       Of course, who remembers all the different Scriptures for each topic: certainly not me?  That’s where a search engine comes in- try “Scriptures panic” and up comes 1,630,000 pages of information.  Check out a few, get some verses, and look them up in your own Bible.  Perhaps some of these verses could have helped me earlier…  Why?

Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. Ps. 119:105
The heart of the prudent gets knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Pr. 18:15
The entrance of Your Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Ps. 119:130
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom… Cl. 3:16
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Hs. 4:6

       The Word of God, the Bible is our manual to help us know God and live life.  From it we can gain much helpful advice on how to live our lives and what to do about the problems that crop up.  There is knowledge (facts, information, skills), understanding (meaning, principles and reason from the knowledge) and wisdom (what to do next, application to life, actions to take from the understanding of the knowledge).

       Eventually I hope to master my camera and not need to return to the manual.  I don’t think the Bible can ever be fully understood by our finite human minds.  Thirty plus years later and I still increase knowledge and understanding every day- which helps me on my journey.  For me though, the most exciting bits are the ones that help me know my Loves- Father, Jesus and Spirit, all the more.  Lord, I am so thankful for Your Word that brings Life.

(Jesus said)
It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh profits nothing.
The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life.
Jh. 6:63

Father, please help me remember to go to You and the Word first!