Tag Archive: Christianity


You can give without loving, but not love without giving.

Christians should be wildly generous because God has been radically generous with us by giving himself freely.  When I did not deserve it God loved me.  When I was not only apathetic but out right hostile, God came to this world to show His love to me.

Who does that?

Or the even bigger question is why.  Why did God choose to give himself to us?  Why would he choose to love us?  I’ve heard some speak of God loving his creation because he made us.  That doesn’t sem to satisfy me, does it you?  Never the less He does, which then leads me to consider how then should I live my life?
As much as on one level I tend to be selfish and self centered I have to ask myself how can I not be generous with others.  Since God loved me how can I not love others?  After all they go hand in hand, being generous and loving people.
But being generous isn’t just about money.  What about time or talent?  I don’t know about you, but I get just as much if not more out of investing my time and energy in other people.
Now that’s all well and good when it comes to people I like or at least tolerate.  It’s easy to be involved with people who are like me, or people I like.  But what about people I don’t?  It’s easy enough to say love your enemies, even easy enough to say “yes I love those that persecute me.”  But what about actually being generous with yourself towards those people?

God’s love is radical, His generosity is incomprehensible so I must be generous, not just with other Christians but with

those that are hostile.  After all His love was radical, so I need to be as well.

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Over-Zealous

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the guys at my church has a tendency to be a bit aggressive, at least for my taste, when it comes to talking about Jesus to people outside the church.  Am I being overly sensitive? Too timid?  Maybe his approach is needed more, but I think for me if I did not know Jesus I would be turned off by his way of doing things.

I was thinking of Peter cutting off the ear of one of those sent to arrest Christ, John 18:10.  I hate the idea of “balance” when it comes to living the Christian life.  I don’t think it’s about balance, it’s about being extreme.  How else do you explain ideas like love your enemy.  But do we try too hard to bring about the good while not understanding the great?
Do those pressured into a profession of faith stick?  Or is the gentle reasoned approach more likely to produce a changed life?  I’m sure there is a place for both, a time to push and a time to pull, but what is the best.  Does the highly aggressive approach to evangelism work, but when it doesn’t does it bring reproach?  Does a more gentle approach produce fewer results but leave room for follow-up?
What brings the greatest glory to God?  After all isn’t that what we are created for?  Maybe it’s just my bent to want to take the more gentle approach, 2 Timothy 2:24, but am I doing all I can?
Not sure there is a best answer and I suppose different personalities would have different answers,

but I am wondering what you think.

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Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Ch...

Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Christians to the Lions). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notice I didn’t say like.

Our command, our marching orders are to love.  Not because it’s easy, or even fun, but that’s the Christian ethic.  Sometimes we have to love people we may not even like very much.  We are not told to revolt, rebelling against the rightfully, God established government.  Neither are we to collaborate, trying to reach some weak-kneed compromise.  And don’t even think about withdrawing, if Jesus wouldn’t pray that we be taken out of the world, then why would we ever think that’s the best answer.

I am still hearing all kinds of goofy talk about revolting against the authorities in place.  Not sure what part of Paul instructing the early Christians to submit to the magistrate some people are thinking does not apply to them.  Lets be honest any kind of “persecution” you or I face today as a result of our Christianity is little more than a pinch compared to what the early church went thru.  I don’t know about you but I have not heard of a single Christian in America being used as a living torch for an executive BBQ.  No reports that I am aware of a circus lion noshing on anyone for claiming the name of Christ.  So let’s get real about persecution.  Let me be blunt and probably irritate more than a few, but the Church in America should be so lucky as to come under real persecution.  Before you rant go look at what is happening to the church in China.

Love isn’t compromise

The another option is to collaborate.  I know some would say let’s find the common ground and work on that.  Now I’m not saying be antagonistic for the sake of argument.  But what is going on when a church leader is ignoring the Christian ethic we are commanded, not a suggestion by the way, to tell and show the truth.  For example what the heck is the snuggling up to Hinduism, Buddhism, or some other ism because there is 10-15% similarity.  Are you really going to try to convince me, or worse yourself that God is going to someday in the future tell you that since you had good intentions that is good enough?  I would love you to show me where you read that in the Bible.
Finally, disappearing into the mountains in Montana with freeze-dried food and a handful of guns isn’t the answer either.  If Jesus wouldn’t pray for his disciples to be taken out of the world, what makes you think your special?  What’s more the world needs you, your salt, your light.  You have an obligation, a duty to show people Jesus, in word and in deed.  If you’re not then what value does your “Faith” really have?

Not easy doesn’t mean hard.

What the heck made you think it was going to be?  Maybe someone told you when you came to Christ the suffering would be over.  “Just come to Jesus and it’s all going to be  rainbows and unicorns.”  I hope not, but if they did I’m sorry.  It’s not easy, but compared to the alternative what else are you going to do?  Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart.  On the upside the one who runs the show has said he will be there no matter what happens.
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I’m reading “God, no” by Penn Jillette, yes I think reading these types of books are just as important as things like “Mere Christianity” when it comes to being able to explain what you believe and stand for.  Anyway so one of the theory’s about the foundations and reasons of religion discussed is that religion was a system developed by men in order to control others, to keep the masses in line, to give religious leaders wealth and power.  On the surface this has a certain possibility to it, although I cannot speak to any religion besides Christianity, once I look a little deeper this starts to crumble.

Christianity calls for obedience that is a fact, but obedience to what?  God and the teachings of Christ.  Yes render to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s, but what about the believers refusing to deny Christ, to the point of death.  Well that doesn’t seem to get everyone in line.  So how about as a way to increase the wealth of the religious leaders?
 

What men do vs. what God commands

Have there been those in positions of leadership in organized religions that have lived off the work of their followers?  Of course, you don’t have to look to far back to see more than a few, Jim Baker ring a bell?  And there is no need to list all of those just in the past 10 years have lied, embezzled, even out right stolen for their own gain.  But that’s what men have done, in stark contrast what God actually does say?
 

To obey is better than sacrifice 1Samuel 15:22

 
So how does that bring power, wealth, and prestige to the leaders of Judaism, and Christianity?  Here is  a book written to control saying to obey, but is that to the benefit of a priest, a preacher or some other leader?  Power maybe but what are we being told to obey?  The Rabbi?  The local preacher?  No, God.  Not man that’s the point.  Christianity calls time and again for the leadership to be servants.  “Let he who is greatest among you be servant of all”. I know that is a radical thought.  No Muslim, no Hindu, no Buddhist would ever teach such a thing.  Only Christianity would dare equate service with greatness.
 
So Mr. Jilette may be correct with regard to some religions in the world, he is most certainly wrong with regards to the religion know as Christianity.
 

If your religion brings you into line with the leaders are you submitting to the civil magistrate? Are you ignoring your real leader?

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.

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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.

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.

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English: Penn Jillette at Rio Las Vegas

English: Penn Jillette at Rio Las Vegas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Issac to God.  But what if God never intends to accept or allow this sacrifice to take place?  If God is all knowing then the plan and the outcome are already known by God.  If on the other hand God does not know what Abraham will do and what’s going to happen then God is not God, but god.

So which is it?

“If god(however you perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child- would you do it” …….”if your answer is yes, please reconsider.” Penn Jillette
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me.” Genesis 22:12

Is God different?

What if instead this is looked at in the context of what was unfortunately all to common place in the region at the time.  We know child sacrifice was not uncommon.  What if instead of Abraham being asked to be like those around him, God was showing him that Yaweh was nothing like what others thought of  as God.  “I will provide the sacrifice” says God.  And your children are not what I desire.  If you are going to take a portion of the narrative of what is going on then don’t you have to take it in full.  The account does not give the option that part is true and the rest is not, the sacrifice is required, and the type is stipulated.  Do others make human sacrifice?  Does God ever accept it? Or does he make it clear time and again that those that do as much bring his wrath down on their own heads?
Do we really think that God who is unchangable, has changed his mind?  Or is it any wonder that God no longer blesses a country that sacrifices her children by the millions on the alter of convenience?
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Would it be enough?

I see and read the story of Moses and see him being propelled forward because of glimpsing the tiniest sliver of God’s glory.  After losing his place of prominence in the court of Egypt Moses sees the burning bush.  He watches as plague ravages the land.  A walking stick becomes a serpent.  The Red Sea parts, and water flows from a rock.  All this and more happens in Moses life.  And yet Moses says ” And he said unto him, If thy presence go not [with me], carry us not up hence.” Exodus 33:15.

How easy to say “What a loser, how weak in faith”.  And yet am I any different?  I’ve seen miracles, heck I am a miracle.  Still I dare to pray to God for a glimpse of his glory.  A sign to confirm what I should do.  I have the audacity to cry out, “God just show me you, not just what you can do, not your miracles, your favors, but You.”
If what God has done is not enough, what would be?  Walking on water?  That wasn’t enough to stop Peter from denying Jesus a short time later.  How about talking to God face to face?  Didn’t stop Adam did it?
So what would be enough?  At last I must say that the problem isn’t with God the problem is with me.  I must get up,everyday and seek God. Persue him relentlessly.  Make the decision that

Moses before the Burning Bush

Moses before the Burning Bush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

whether or not I see Him today I know He is there and because of that I will do what I can to live a life that pleases Him.

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