Tag Archive: wisdom


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?

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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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Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane), oil painting by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Heinrich Hofmann). The original is at the Riverside Church (Riverside Church, New York City). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Working thru some things at the weekly men’s breakfast, the idea of God’s wrath came up.  We were looking at the fact that God is unchanging, and a couple of the guys who are newer to being disciples of Christ were asking about the God of the Old Testament vs. the God of the New Testament.  They had been given the idea that God pre the incarnation of Christ was mean, and punished and was full of wrath.  But now, since the life of Jesus, God is love.  Kind, loving, gentle, God is now different.

How can God be Loving and Wrathful?

So is God different?  Has he changed?  My Bible says he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  So why the disconnect between the perception of what God was like in the Old Testament, vs God who is in the New Testament.  The one that created the biggest discussion is the wrath of God.
So did God stop being wrathfull after the crucifixion of Jesus?  First God released his wrath on Jesus when he was put on the cross.  When Jesus took my sin on himself, taking my place, he not only took my sin, my failure, but he also endured God the Father’s wrath.

Doesn’t seem to me God’s Wrath is gone

Secondly look at Revelation 6:16 which says “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:”
That’s not the wrath of the Father, the Lamb is Jesus and His wrath is coming.
Now that’s not about trying to scare you.  Hopefully you are a disciple of Christ, a Christian, and the wrath mentioned above is not directed at you.  But it does go to show that God’s wrath did not go away, or stop.  He may withhold his wrath for a season, for a time, but patience isn’t the same as forgetfulness.
On the other hand if you have not made Jesus Lord, my question is what are you waiting for?  God may be long suffering, that doesn’t mean He is asleep.
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What is enough?

Who am I to expect more?

Ask – sure
Want-ok
Work for – of course
But expect?
How dare I. How presumptuous of me to expect anything beyond the grace of God.  Even expecting that seems, as I am writing this, to be the pinnacle of arrogance.
Max Lucado in his book “In the Grip of Grace.” Tells the story about praising God for saving his daughter from drowning.  “As clearly as if God himself were speaking, this question came to mind: Would I be less wonderful had I let her drown?”  I have to admit I probably would scream YES, yes you would be less wonderful.

What is the right perspective?

Right now I do not have the perspective to even really know what is good for me.  Yet I actually try to make that decision.  Should I keep working to build a business that is struggling?  What about being single, when not only do I not really want to be, after all didn’t God say “It is not good that the man should be alone.”  Yet if I was married I don’t see how I could work full-time(and then some), teach a couple of small-group classes, write this blog, study trying to better understand God, and love a wife as Christ loves the church.
My humanity, my desires, seem in conflict with my Christian ethics, my belief that God’s best is best.  Knowing that I just don’t have the wisdom to make the call, doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it does make it do-able.
I may not have the answers, but I do know the one who does.
 Now if I would just be ok with that.
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What have I been accepting without really looking at the truth behind it all?

Bored and also to avoid doing some writing I decided to to put on a movie.  So as I am watching this movie, which by the way I liked enough to purchase on DVD several years ago. While I was watching I became aware of several flaws in the philosophy of the story.  I won’t go into allow it here, otherwise this would turn into a 10,000 word post.  But here is the thing, just like blind faith,unexamined acceptance is not what we as Christians are instructed to do.
Before accepting a philosophy of life I should be looking deeper at what it really means, how does it line up with Christian ethics.  For example the idea of caring for the poor is a great, but it is not meant to be a blanket statement.  Now there are those that thru birth, disability, both mental and physical, can not and may never be able to care for themselves, but as to those who through bad choices are poor Leviticus speaks clearly on how to care for these, and Paul says “He who will not work, shall not eat”, and Jesus says “you will always have the poor”. Yet I have more than once bought into ideas that run counter to this.
That is just one and a very simple example of it.  I am becoming more and more sensitive to this.  I need to slow down and take the time to examine what I have bought into  and what it is  I am really accepting when I accept these philosophy.  After all Colossians 2:8 makes it pretty clear: “Beware lest any man spoil you thru philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
This is just one example, what other areas have you found a flaw in your thought?
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?
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?

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?

Theology

Defined- The study of the existence, nature, and attributes of God. To know God

Now I am no theologian, I only know an infinitesimally small aspect of who/what God is. What I know is only because this magnificent, beautiful, all knowing all powerful being has, for a reason I cannot fully grasp, chosen to reveal himself. Not just to me or just to a few, but wants to be known by everyone.

And yet today so many seem to want to place this immense being (how else do you describe infinite) into a neat little box. But how can we do that? That somehow if God is not completly and wholly understandable he must not exist. Maybe trying to understand the Father is messy, not because God is messy and all over the place, but because we are. Ok maybe not you, you probably have it all together. Let me rephrase that I am messy.

Because I’m messy, when I try to know God I fall short of understanding. Some of it I get, but a lot I don’t. I get that God is love, but other things are beyond my ability to understand. As I try to see the face of God I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by who & what God is & overwhelmed and mightily aware of what I am not. Like David searching to know God better I can only say “What is man that you are mindful of him?”

Is it really any wonder that some search for God, and upon facing what God must be, can not wrap their heads around it and pronounce “There must be no God? Is it because while searching they are expecting to be able to confine and define God inside some neat little box, only to find that He won’t fit? Still others lightly say they believe in God yet make no effort to know who God really is.

Christ says to know God is eternal life (John 17:3) This doesn’t speak to just some book knowledge; this is about an intimate knowledge, a knowledge that permeates everything.

No I’m no theologian, but I want to be.