Archive for October, 2012

So I’m struggling with re-evaluating my goals and priorities.  I’ve always been one to set a lot of goals.  Big goals little goals, short-term, long-term, you name it I’m a goals kind of guy.  Over the past ten to fifteen years I’ve become pretty good at it.  Now that’s not to say I’ve been great at achieving all of them, and sometimes I’ve gone to redo them at the end of the year and some things that I thought were so important the previous year don’t make my top twenty the next or they evolve, but overall I’ve been pretty good about achieving them, until this past year.

After the first year, which wasn’t bad, I regularly made around six figures .  Not bad for a guy with a high school education. I regularly patted myself on the back. “Look at me” from the clothes, cars, house even relationships, not that any of these are bad in and of themselves.

What really matters?

But now I am wondering if all of this hasn’t been, if not a waste of time, at least a focus on things that don’t bring as much satisfaction as I thought they would.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for a living, real estate consulting if you must know.  I enjoy it, I’m pretty good at it, and I do feel like what I do is important.  But what is the motivation behind what I’m doing?
The bible says what ever you do, do it as unto the Lord.  So is it because of not doing it as if unto God?  Would I do it different if when I looked at a client, instead of seeing a person, I saw God.  Would I prepare more?  Use different words?  Have a different approach, or priorities.
How do I do my job as if unto The Lord?  To view every person that I work with or for as if I am working for God, because I am, seems almost overwhelming, but I am instructed to be a witness for Christ.
Do you see your self as working for God in the day-to-day actions?  What would you do different if it was God standing in front of you instead of some rude jerk?
While I understand that many may believe that the God of the bible expects blind faith, I wonder where this comes from?  I can not seem to find this teaching, this command anywhere in the Bible.

I recently saw a video by Aron RaFaith is not a Virtue, and he will contend that to have faith is to disengage your mind, to turn off your cognitive ability.  Just some examples are:
  1. “Faith is a secure confidence not based on evidence”.  Can’t speak for anyone else but my faith can only be based upon past experience, and the fact is the same with much of science.  After all what much of what is called scientific “fact” is taking multiple results to an experiment and based on getting the same result multiple times, believing that the results will continue to be the same ad infinitum.
  2. “Faith is unsupported wishful thinking”.  Christianity isn’t about wishing things were all puppy dogs and rainbows, but rather an acceptance of what is, not about how we wish it was.  We accept what is and make the decision to live our lives based on that, working to achieve what we believe to be the best possible outcome, even if we do not have the certainty of success.
  3. “Religion is a belief system that means you are required to believe this, and forbidden to believe that” – guilty as charged, however science is in the exact same boat, for example, if you’re a mathematician aren’t you required to believe that 2+2=4, and not 6? Or how about an evolutionary biologist?  If you don’t believe the theories of this discipline can you still call yourself an evolutionary biologist?
  4. “The real problem for empirical scientists and rational skepticism is we care more about truth than the religious do” – really? As a follower of Christ the pursuit of truth is a requirement, not an option.  The problem with scientists and skeptics is the refusal to admit, at least in public, that those data points most often used as “proof” of evolution, the beginning of the universe, and the like are assumptions, an if this then that, line of thinking.  Where is the willingness to stop and say clearly that ” We believe that The universe began because of X, therefore Y, but if the beginning is actually Z then the answer would be completely different and the truth is we can not know if for no other reason then there are different ways to get to this point and there is no empirical evidence which can say with absolute certainty that X is really the starting place.”  Will you ever hear a Hawking, Dawkins or other scientists who believe in evolutionary origins say this?  Will they freely admit to doubt or other possibilities?  I doubt it but time will tell.
  5. “All sin can be forgiven if you believe in Jesus, and simply because you believe in Jesus” – Close but not quite, yes all sin can be forgiven, however as James says “Thou believe that there is one God; thou doesn’t well: the devils also believe, and tremble”.  So no just belief is not the key, it starts there, but it also requires, a declaration of Jesus as Lord, see Romans 10:9-10, and if you think this is just some sort of lip service to God think again.
  6. “He(God) lives by those rules even when circumstances demand exception” – really and what exception would that be?

Not having the answers doesn’t make you wrong

Oh don’t get me wrong there are far too many who call themselves Christians, and even claim to speak for God espousing some of the things mentioned above.  Even saying some incredibly ridicules things as if they were a prophet.  Maybe according to some I am a heretic for even questioning their beliefs.  I think however that those of us that dare to claim Jesus as Lord should be neither closed-minded to what science has to say, or to take it on blind faith.
Unlike Mr. Ra I can freely admit my prejudices but also accept that at this point there are some things that neither science or Christianity can answer.  Things like how exactly was the universe created, when the Bible speaks of a 6 day creation is it 6 literal days?  Or is it like Peter spoke of that a day is like a thousand years?(2Peter3:8). Only time will tell.

I’ll keep looking for answers,thank you very much.

For now I must be content with not knowing all the answers, but continue to search for them.  I don’t believe God gave us a brain only to turn it off when the questions get tough.  Although I am a little frustrated with others, especially non-Christians, trying to define Christianity, I will continue to do my best to point out the flaws, even glaring errors in their definitions.  Maybe it won’t matter to them, but it matters to me.
What about you, have you encountered people mis-representing what Christianity is?  Did you speak up?  What did you do about it?
So the other day my mind started going places I really don’t want it to go.  To a life I used to live, and unfortunately with considerable zeal, & I find myself wondering why.  That life, that old me I gave up, turned away from, and made a vow to never return.  No I didn’t follow thru on the thoughts but only because of the grace of God, not to mention his strength/mercy.

Do you ever wonder if “Christian Living” is even possible?

I’m thinking is it any wonder that so many that are held up as leaders of spiritual matters fail (some not just falling but jumping off the cliff). Jesus said plainly that if a man even lusts after a woman he has already sinned, yet how many laughed at former President Carter over his confession of that very same sin.  Do we think Jesus was joking?  I cannot speak for anyone else if for no other reason than the simple fact that I cannot know your heart or your mind.  But for me I will take it literally and believe God meant it.

Is living a life for Christ too much to ask?

So can I be free of that?  This sin of thought.  I don’t know but it seems that God would not make us in such a way that sin can not be conquered.  After all how many times does Peter, Paul and others write that sin “HAS” been conquered.  Notice they did not say could but has.  So thru the power of God and by the holy spirit living within me it is possible.  And yet even Paul, old camel knees, speaks to doing what he doesn’t want to do and not doing that he wants to.  Not an easy path, this Christian life I’ve chosen, but what’s the alternative?
I suppose I could walk away from God, and the church but then what?  As the philosopher once said, “The problem with knowing a thing is that once you know it, you can’t un-know it”. I could pretend I suppose, but what good would that do?  What about you, do you sometimes wish you didn’t know what you should do?  Maybe thinking it would have been easier being left in ignorance?
Me either but some days I do have to take a step back, take a deep breath, and then push forward.  Usually changing location and a lot of prayer helps.  Other days I find myself not really wanting to avoid my old self.  “Should we continue in sin that grace may abound?  God forbid.” Romans 6:1-2.
When your on overload and ready to give up what do you do?  Is it getting better, or do you stop and wonder?
Want to make people uncomfortable, even angry? Accuse them of being religious.  Let the subject of religion, faith or belief come up & if there is more than 3 people it’s almost a certainty that one of them will preface their statement with “I’m not religious but…”
Why the fear or worse, anger over being labeled as religious?  Oh I know there are those so busy trying to walk the tight rope of “I’m not religious I’m spiritual” thinking, hoping, maybe even believing that some mamby-pamby amalgamation of oh there is this supreme being and if I try hard enough, not too hard mind you, but hard enough I’ll graduate to the next level.  Or “After all if there is a God he must love us, and he wouldn’t want to send anyone to hell, in fact I’m not even sure there is a hell.”
Having that kind of half-hearted, no real commitment type of feel good belief system is bad enough but that’s not what I am talking about here.

Who are we afraid of offending?

I’m talking about those of us who  ought to know better.  We get more worried about not offending someone then being real about who and Who’s we are.
Now before you think I’m getting all judgmental let me be clear I have fallen into this more than once myself.  But the question is what is it that drives this.
Is it because we are afraid of being labeled a bible thumper?  Maybe becoming an outcast? What?  And why do we shy away from those labels, JesusFreak, Christian, or horrors RELIGIOUS
How do we stand face to face with a God who embraced humanity, subjected himself to the shame and humiliation of being put to death on a cross, for our sakes not for his own.  Wanting nothing more than to give us a way to be able to embrace and have a real relationship with him, and we blanch at, even become defensive about, being called his.
Have we all become like the church of Laodicea in Revelations 3:14-22 no longer passionate for God.  More worried about what others might think of us, of me.  What does it really mean to be a Christian?
Maybe it’s time to be a certifiable religious nut.
Maybe it’s time to be a Jesus Freak.
Are you more concerned with what label someone else puts on you then what name Christ will call you?
Lately I’ve been contemplating what is the price that I would be willing to pay to show someone Christ.  Now I know you or I can’t really save anyone else, only Jesus can do that.  What I’m talking about is making the effort, putting in the energy to show another person who God is.

What does it really take?

What price in blood, sweat, or tears in order to help see one person find God?  I know that the first response is to say whatever it takes, but I don’t think I could say that with all honesty.  In fact I’m not sure what I would do?  What length or what effort would/should I would put in?  Would I give up my job, my money, my home?  What about just a couple of hours, a week, what if it took a year?
I don’t know maybe you don’t struggle with the question.  But I keep getting hit with it.  Have you ever stopped to consider what Hell will be like?  Have you looked at your friend, neighbor, maybe even relative who you know if they died tonight would be going there, and asked what price would I pay to see them saved?  Have you ever thought through that process?

What price would you be willing to pay to save a friend from Hell?

What if it was only a chance, no guarantee, just say a 50/50 chance?  What would you risk?  Would you risk your car, your home, your career?  What about their friendship?  I have to be bluntly honest.  There have been times when I haven’t even been willing to pay the price of losing an hour, or risking my pride.  Afraid of being ridiculed I have kept my mouth shut on more than one occasion.  Yet I claim to love and believe in a God that took on human form, and not only risked ridicule but payed the ultimate price.  Not just loss of a job, but real pain, suffering, a beating that would have killed most men.  Finally death.
Pretty wimpy of me to be afraid of MAYBE a little ridicule.
What about you what are you willing to do to see another soul saved?

Love your enemies.

Turn the other cheek
Bless those that curse you
Feed and nourish your enemies. – Romans 12: 17-21

Who does that?

Christianity calls for an extreme and radical lifestyle.  A way of life that is vastly different from the main stream.  God comands us to not just be a little different from everyone else.  I am not just asked, it’s not some suggestion, but a command.  Directed to be so different from everyone else that there can be no mistake as to who’s I am.
It does not say don’t hate, dont be mean to, it isnt even be nice to your enemies, it is LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.

It is supposed to be extreme.

Right now and for the past several years there has been a lot of talk about extremism in religion especially in regards to Christianity.  Now I am no expert on Christianity.  But here is what I do know.  The failings of the Christian church in society and culture is not because of people who call themselves Christian acting or being too Christian.  It’s not because we are taking the teachings of Christ too seriously, or working too hard to be like Christ.
In fact the way I see it is just the opposite.  The world, society, even the church is suffering from a lack of extreme Christianity.  Before you start the hate mail or trolling in the comments section.  Notice I did not say extreme Peter-anity, going and cutting off someone’s ear thinking God needs you to physically defend him.  I said extreme Christianity.  Real live dyed in the wool Jesus Freak Radical.

Loving people more than I humanly can.  To stop looking at people in the same way.  Instead to see people we meet as C. S. Lewis described them.  “You have never met a mere mortal.  Everyone you have ever met is either an eternal horror, or an everlasting glory.”

If I looked at everyone from that prospective, and refused to be anything less than an extreme, radical Christian.  I wonder how my little neck of the woods would change?
What about your neighborhood?  Your church, your city?  Does it need a healthy dose of extreme Christian hood?

So a couple of weeks ago my pastor was preaching about God’s forgiveness and mercy to man.  And trying to explain it he used the following example:

Picture God as a judge, one day they bring into his court a man accused of speeding.  Only the man standing before the judge is also his son.  The judge listens to the testimony of those involved, considers the evidence and because he is a just judge he is left with no choice but to declare his verdict. Guilty.
And then the judge rises, he takes off his robe, steps down from the bench and goes to his son.  He pulls out his check book and pays the fine.  Now forget for right now the whole “the wages of sin is death” argument vs. some little fine that’s not the point of this.
A buddy of mine, sitting not ten feet away hearing this says to me the other day “this really bothered me.  I feel like he’s saying just asking for forgiveness makes everything ok, like God is going to step in and make it all go away”.   After a little probing it came out that this friend had a cousin that had created a bit of trouble with the law and their Grandfather being what some would consider wealthy and having some connections in the community was able to grease  the wheels as it were & made it go away.  So based on this past experience he takes this to mean that our pastor is saying that if your a Christian there are no consequences to your actions.( we can talk about that in the comments section, because that is not what I think the Pastor was saying)

Too much inside baseball

But here is where I’m going with this(talk about burying the lead).  So often we, yes me included, say things that because of our background, history, education, and prejudices, seem so clear.  We use terms, language metaphor that makes so much sense to us, but is like speaking Latin to the person we are talking to.  Worse we sometimes can use language that not only doesn’t make sense to the person we are talking to but even pushes someone away that we are trying so hard to pull close.
Jim Rohn would use a great example of poor communication:
  1. What if what you meant to say was ” what’s bothering you”. And instead you said “What’s wrong with you” think that might bring a different response?
  2. Or how about ” we need to spend more time in the Word”. How small would you have to be?

Sometimes we don’t know who may be listening or what in their background may cause them to put the emphasis on the wrong sylable.  Sure I get it we can’t make our speech perfect for everyone all the time, but we owe it to our families, friends, and especially our God to do our best to communicate to the best of our abilities.

Wouldn’t it be a horrible thing to find out someone turned their back on the Father all because of something you or I said.  What if it wasn’t even what we were trying to communicate?  What have you said that wasn’t what you meant?  How did you fix it?

Believing hard enough, long enough, deep enough is NOT enough.

Everywhere I turn lately it seems like I am being told that I just need to believe. That if I believe enough everything I want will come to me. But what if I am believing the wrong thing? What if I believe that I’m a car and then go run on to the freeway? Or how about if I believe that all the money at the bank is really mine?
Now these may seem extreme, but these are actually some of the less dangerous false beliefs I could hold. In the first I might get hit by a car or a bus, the other I go to prison. But what if I believe Jesus was a good guy, a really smart teacher but not God in the flesh?
How much do you hate your neighbor?
Letting the people around me keep on believing something that is wrong is not loving them. As Penn Jillette states: How much do you have to hate that person if you see them heading to hell and you do nothing”.
Belief, if its in something that is wrong is still wrong no matter how much, how deep, how thoroughly you believe. I keep checking my beliefs to see where something silly or even dangerous might have snuck in.
What about you? Have you really opened up what you believe to look at all the implications?
Who is this God that cares for the weak, the rejects of society? What kind of God? A humble God who cares about the smallest, poorest, weakest. He loves those who can not even care for themselves let alone do something for him. You see he doesn’t need anything from you or I, God wants a relationship with us, but needs nothing.

God wants, but doesn’t need you help.

But don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean and I would never imply that God does not want us to do what we can and make an effort. Look at William Wilberforce who fought slavery for the majority of his adult life, 26 years to get England to outlaw the slave trade and 46 years to bring about the abolishment of slavery. Did God need William to end slavery? Of course not, but he used him.

Easier said then done

Would I risk myself to care for the weak, the powerless, those that can not help themselves. To my shame probably not. At least not on my own. Don’t get me wrong I care about people, but without the realization of what Christ did for me when I could nothing for him, I doubt very seriously that I would be inclined to do for others. Since I know what Jesus did for me, then doing for others is not just easier but required, even necessary. Not just because of what it does for someone else, but for what it does for me.
Has God asked you to do something for someone who can’t return the favor? Did you follow thru, what did it do for you?

Being Gentle

Gentle is not weak.

Now I’m not talking about that weak, mealy mouthed, “aw shucks” false humility junk.  Even though I have been guilty of falling into that trap more than once.  No I’m speaking about that real true gentleness.  Being gentle from a place of strength and security.  When you and I not just pay lip service to, but really believe that we should not fear men who can only kill the body, but rather fear God who can destroy the soul, then we can act with such strength that we have no need to be hard.

So why should we be gentle?  How about because we are told to.  1 Peter 3:15– “be gentle to all men.”  Even and especially when we disagree.

Gentle men is what God commands.

Christian men should be striving to be true gentle-men.  We don’t need to fight and strive against those that disagree with us. Instead we should have that calm, self-assured strength that comes from being right, (righteous) not the cocky(my weakness) arrogant, self-righteous approach, because we know we are not self-righteous but instead made righteous by God.
I have been guilty more than once of falling into the defensive mode when discussing why I believe in God, even with family members. And invariably latter that day I’m kicking myself for losing my cool.  I get all tied up in “defending” the faith and MY position?  When what I should be focusing on is letting God use me to say what he wants said.
God does not need me to defend him, but He is gracious to allow me to be part of that conversation and helping to strengthen my faith.
What do you think?  Can we confront others without being confrontational?