Archive for May, 2013


The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If everything was torn away could I, would I still praise God?  A hard question to contemplate.  An even harder one to try to answer honestly.

This year, actually the past couple have been hard on my career, my financials, even my personal life.  Two years ago a romantic relationship I thought would never end did, in an ugly way.  My career ears has been one set back after another.  Friends I thought, believed I could count on won’t even return a phone call.  And yet thru it all I am more thankful to God.  Not for what has happened, but because He keeps picking me back up and helping me to take one more step forward.

A shift in priorities

A few dollars I was not expecting showed up, just in time for new tires for my truck, which needed them desperately.  This past year God has provided, some times from places I never saw coming, other times from friends, family, or work.  Never too late, I haven’t missed a meal, but rarely early or more than just enough.
Not that long ago I would have been a mental disaster trying to deal with all the stuff.  Stressed out over where the money was going to come from or how to pay for this or that.  But now I find myself not just learning to be ok with not knowing, but laughing at how God provides, even when I can’t see how it will work out the night before.
It has brought me to a place of trusting and leaning more on the Father then I ever have.  However that said, I was reading Philippians this morning and I was thinking about Paul, hungry, beaten, all that he went thru and it started me thinking.

Could I praise God in that place?

I don’t know, and I am thankful I will probably never have to find out.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

Assumptions

I was just reading the story of Jesus and the woman at the well and had a new thought.  This woman had been married 5 times, was living with a man she was not married to, but she was not an outcast.  When she went into the town and told people what was going on, they did not mock her or tell her to go away.

Was this woman exceptionally beautiful?  Powerful, rich beyond words?  There seems to be more here.  She is drawing her own water, and yet people will listen to her.  She has been married five times and still has men risking shame and being ostracized to be with her.

I wonder what the whole story is?

I wonder what else do I see, but not see?  Where else in my life am I making all kinds of false, or at least uninformed assumptions?  Often not knowing or even considering the whole picture.  Maybe I should be a little bit slower to react, ok JUMP to conclusions.  Perhaps using a bit more of the Christian ethic, you know that whole judge not thing, would be in order.  And maybe a little more curious about asking questions and willing to learn more.

What about you, are there areas where you have assumptions that might not be true?

As a Gentile by birth, but a Jew by adoption, see Galatians 3:29, how do I interpret the Old Testament?  Is it to be viewed as history?  Or better said history only?  After all we are no longer under the law.  Is it only instruction in the New Testament that is required, such as dietary?  Or should I be dualist in my approach, strive to live by the law while being aware that:

1- I will never be able to fully obey or live up to the law.
And
2- realize that I can not earn God’s approval on my own no matter how good I become at following the law.

But shouldn’t I do the best I can because I desire to please God?

Isn’t that part of loving God?  I love my sons and because I love them I enjoy pleasing them.  For those of you that are married, if you love your spouse don’t you experience joy when they are pleased with your actions?
These are fallible humans capable of being greedy, self-serving, even wrong, but is it possible for God to be any of these things?  of course not.  So how much safer to strive after pleasing God?  Not in order to win His favor, or earn salvation, or force Him to bless us.  But because of loving God.

Because I love God I desire to please Him

And I please Him when I do His will.Do I fail?  Oh much more than I care to admit to anyone else.  I think I have one area down cold, and BAM, I screw it up.  Or I actually get one area of my life under control, in-line with God’s standard only to have Him point out something else and ask, “That’s great, but what about this?”

Will I ever get there?

It doesn’t seem so, but it’s not about what I am achieving as much as it’s about what I am becoming.

Enhanced by Zemanta

“The real problem for empirical scientists & rational skepticism is we care more about truth than the religious do.”  Aron Ra, “Faith is not a Virtue”

Interesting thought.  Especially since Mr. Ra also believes that those who believe in God have no interest in the truth.  But is the truth rational skeptics, as Mr. Ra identifies himself as, care about the whole and complete truth, or is any partial truth ok?  Or is it that since, in Mr. Ra’s estimation, Christians have no real care for the truth that any care for the truth no matter how small or partial , would be more?  Somehow I get the impression that neither of these is what he meant.

Or, perhaps truth isn’t really all that important to some rational skeptics after all.

So if Mr. Ra is so committed to truth why does he have such an aversion to it?  While busily stating over & over , I suppose in the hope that repetition will make something true, that evolution has been proven, he steadfastly avoids calling evolution a law, the scientific proclamation of true, provable, and reproducible fact.  Fair enough, part of scientific law requires a theory to be reproducible, ie: standing on Earth, let go of an object and it will fall to the ground.
But here is where Mr. Ra’s statements start to break down.  At 10:01 of his recorded lecture at Eastern Illinois University “Because it’s called the theory of gravity”.   Yes that’s right the theory of gravity.  Do you find it interesting that it is now the theory of gravity.  Has gravity been “Plutocized” from a law to a theory?  My guess is that the hope is by reducing certain laws of science to theories it will help elevate the theory of evolution in the public eye.

Change what words mean and change the past.

Once again trying to change the meaning of words to alter the discussion, like an illusionist tying to draw your attention to one thing, while distracting you from noticing the elephant walking off stage.  The desire to alter what words means is a dishonest attempt to win the game by changing the rules.  Hopefully Mr. Ra will move to his stated desire, to be more concerned with the truth.

Although I doubt it

“But God commandeth his love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

God commands his love for us.  Not suggests, not hopes for or wishes, but commands his love for us.  Unshakable, unmovable, unchangeable.  His love for us can not go away.  His love for you, for me is immutable.  It doesn’t diminish when we put on a few pounds, or 50. It doesn’t fade when our hair turns to grey, or falls out.  And his love doesn’t turn to another if I become wrinkled, feeble, lose my job, or any other thing you ca do or even imagine.
And when did God love us?  When we were yet sinners. Our God, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob doesn’t demand that we stop sinning and then He will love us.  God does not say to you or I “Be perfect, get your act together, and THEN I will love you and care for you.”  No, No, No.  He says to you and I come to me all you who are weary, carrying a load that is too much to carry and I will give you rest.
He could have said, Russ once you do X then I will care for you, then I will love you.  God could have said show me you love me, then I will love and care for you.  But instead God says to mankind, I will love you no matter what.  I will love you day or night, summer or winter, when you do right or when you do wrong.

God’s love for you is not dependent on your past

I can hear you now, “But Russ you don’t know what I have done.  If you only knew the inside, if you could see my thoughts, my heart.  My own family won’t have anything to do with me.  My marriage is in shambles.  I can’t find my way out of the bottle.”
Your right I don’t know you.  I don’t know what you’ve done.  I don’t know your faults, your failings, your foibles.  I don’t and maybe if I did I wouldn’t like you much.  But God knows.  God knows each and every lie you have ever told.  God knows every porn movie you’ve ever watched, every curse word that has come out of your mouth even when no one was around.  And every wicked thought that you have ever had.  And in response God says- “I love you.”
I love you when you don’t deserve it, when you haven’t earned it, even when you have abused it.  For you see God says “my grace is sufficient for you.”
Grace: Gods unearned favor, blessing, love.  The gift of Gods grace can not be earned, it can not be bought at any price, for any amount.  You and I can never do enough good things to earn or deserve it.
So you say “I don’t deserve it, God would never give it to me.” So who does God give His grace to?  Who are the heroes and saints God poured out his grace on.
Genesis 6:8- “but Noah found grace in the eyes of The Lord.”- Noah a drunk
Genesis 19:19Lot says “behold now thy servant hath found grace in thy sight.”  Lot a man who less than 48 hours earlier was ready to turn over his daughters to be gang raped by a mob outside his home.
Exodus “For thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know you by name.”  Who is God speaking to?  A hot-headed, spoiled, murderer by the name of Moses
Or Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication.”   David war-monger, adulterer murderer.  David who had a loyal soldier murdered because David had seduced his wife while he was risking his life in battle for his king, David.

So what is it again that you think is so bad that God’s grace is for others but not for you?

God’s grace is a gift given freely from God to anyone who asks.  Not something you can earn and certainly not what you deserve.  But just because it is free does not mean it is cheap.
Romans 3:4 “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”  So what does God say?  Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin IS death.”  Justice requires death, someone must die.  Justice was satisfied by death, just not your death.  God came in the form of man as Jesus. He paid that price so that God the Father can give you and I grace.
This isn’t just going to Macy’s with the credit card to pick up a bunch of Christmas gifts.  These aren’t a few trinkets purchased at the Dollar Store.  This is the biggest gift, this is the most costly gift of all.  This is the gift to end all gifts.  The gift of grace is free but is not cheap.  Make no mistake it cost the giver dearly.  And grace alone, God’s grace alone is enough.

God’s grace is sufficient, no matter what.  And best of all it is your’s for the asking.

Enhanced by Zemanta
I’m not talking about deserters but those walking wounded that have stepped on a landmine and need a caring, gentle hand to nurse them back to health.  Yes the great physician may have amputated a hand, maybe even a leg, but are we then court marshaling our brothers for being damaged?

We all are walking wounded.  Your limp, my missing limb, we all are damaged.  Yet I see time and time again we look at someone failing, and that being used as a reason to shoot our wounded.  I’m not talking about those instances like those referred to by Jesus in Matthew 18 where a brother is in opposition to God.  But what about the sister who way back when did X, and so today she is still being shunned?  The recovering addict, the former gang member, the ex-con, or even the divorced.

Those people

“People will know you are my disciples because of your love for one another.”  Sometimes we, yes we, get so caught up in what someone else might think, that we lack compassion for those around us.  The congregation(church) I attend used to be known as “the drugie” church.  I almost wish we still were.  Not because I want to see people addicted, but because it is up to us to make God known to those who need Him.  It’s all well and good to belong to a congregation where everyone comes dressed up in their Sunday best.  But there also needs to be a place for the hurting, the damaged, the lost, the Christian ethic demands it.

Love others well.

Expect the best of people.  Raise up God’s standard.  But don’t go adding to it.  Yes Jesus said “Go and sin no more”  but He also made a point of reaching out to Peter after the resurrection.
We, you and I, are not suffering from an abundance of love, and grace towards those around us. Maybe it is time to change that.

Perhaps we should try to love too much.

Yet how often do I do this?  Oh not regarding other people.  I have an easy enough time seeing others and accepting that God is more than gracious enough to forgive them, but me.  Well that’s another story all together.  I think, “But you don’t know what I’ve done.”  The very height of pride, to presume that I am capable of some heretofore unreached depth of depravity.

Compared to what?

The thief on the cross – forgiven, Peter who denied even knowing Jesus, not just once, but three times – forgiven, a man who didn’t just pick on God’s chosen ones but hunted and killed them, yea that guy Paul – forgiven.  Maybe there is a reason God chose Paul.  Not just for 2,000 years ago, but also for today.

Not just for others.

Yes I struggle with forgiving myself, that’s my pride getting in the way.  What about you?  Does your pride get in your way?  Do you repent, ask for, even beg for forgiveness, only to not forgive yourself?

Isn’t it time we stopped playing god and instead,  let God be God.

Or is it?

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” John Adams Treaty of Tripoli signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796
“We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion……Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams. Address to the officers of the Massachusetts Militia 1798
“Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters friends and mutual assistants.”  James Wilson, U. S.  Supreme Court Justice, and signer of the US Constitution
“The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws…….  All the miseries & evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”  Noah Webster.
And from what is generally regarded as the least religious of all the founders “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.  As nations become corrupt & vicious, they have more need of masters”. Benjamin Franklin April 17,1787

So which is it?

Are we or are we not a Christian nation?  It would seem to me that our founders did not see America as a Christian nation in that there would be no official religion like England, setting up a system that would prohibit any sect or denomination from forcing its beliefs onto the citizen.  We, America, would not be a theocracy.  But also it was a nation that was for Christian ethics and could only succeed if the leaders held Christian values and let those values inform their decisions regarding the governance of the nation.

Have we gotten off track?

I don’t see how anyone could think other wise.  We allow the wholesale murder of a defenseless group.  The government steals from its citizens on a daily basis, taking the fruits of their labor to give to those who have not produced,( for an alternative view on how best to care and provide for the poor see the Acton Institute) .  Not only failing to protect the weak, but taking advantage of them and using, these the weakest, as an excuse for much of it.  And treating different people differently the very definition of discrimination all in the in the name of justice.

Would the founders recognize the government we have?

Worse still does God see us as a nation that seeks justice and loves mercy?

If this then that.  

It is the IF that brings about the Then.  It all begins with a presupposition, an idea that if this, then that.  If there is a God, then he must have created everything.  Or conversely if we evolved then what was the origin?  But always there is the presupposition that begins the theory, the hypothesis, and therefore impacts the answer.
Richard Dawkins states “Christianity was founded by Paul of Tarsus”, this is the if.  If this is the founding, the beginning then the rest is laughable.  It is not based upon the reality of Christ.  Christianity then becomes a what should be, not a what is.  But if instead Christianity was founded by Jesus of Nazareth, what is the then?  Now it’s a truth system based upon factual accounts, grounded not in a way things ought to be but, on the way things are.
So what are the proofs, facts, and truths, that Christianity is based upon?  Mr. Dawkins would have us believe that it is based upon not the teachings of the Christ, but of Paul.  While it is true that much of the New Testament was written by Paul, not all of the New Testament, his were not the first writings, nor the last.
If Paul was the founder of the Christian faith then we Christians are to be pitied more than any others for we are not only following a religion that can not do what it claims, but leaves no hope for those that would trust in it.  One of the foundational truths, in fact I would say the foundational truth is the claim by Jesus “I am the way the truth and the light, no man comes to the Father but by me.”  How can Paul make such a claim for the Christ?

Or if ? then?

If, on the other hand, man is the result of matter+time+chance then there is no right or wrong.  Can one be moral without a Creator?  Not if we are the result of evolution.  If we are evolved then morality is whatever society says it is, but society can only declare what it must declare.  Gone is free-will, instead is instinct.  And morality determined by each society is anchored in nothing.  After all as Ravi Zacharias points out “some societies love their neighbors, others eat them.  Do you have a preference?”
On the other hand if there is a creator, then even the atheist can be moral.

For only with a moral law giver then there can be a moral law.

Enhanced by Zemanta
R. C. Sproul in “The consequence of ideas” examining the portrayal by Kirkegaard of religious stages states “Obedience is motivated, not by a zeal for conformity to an abstract precept but by a passionate love for the law giver who says “Thou shalt.”

What a wonderful picture, obedience flows out of spontaneous love, not external coercion.

What a great way to express the call of the Christian to love his neighbor. Not because the other person is worthy of love, because maybe they are not.  Perhaps they have wronged you.  Maybe hurt you beyond description.  Or what if like the Samaritan you have never seen them before, and will likely never see them again?  Then what?
Instead to love your neighbor, or your enemy because you love God with a love that overwhelms everything else.  That is real, true love.  Love that loves because it can do no other.
Enhanced by Zemanta