Friday, June 23, 2017

TRAILER FOR MY NEW BOOK:


Top Philosophical Questions for the Christian

My list of the top twenty questions about life in a spiritual context:

  1. Who is God?  Do you know and understand God? Do you know God? How? What is it God wants from you? What is God's substance? Who is God's competition?
  2. What is the natural? What is the supernatural? 
  3. What is love? What is hatred? Does everyone love? Hate? At what point does hate condemn one?
  4. Does heaven exist? Does hell exist? What is heaven? What is hell? Who made them? Why?
  5. Who am I? What is your substance? Why do you exist? Do you know what you are?  Do you know who you are? What is will. What is free will? Why do we have our own will? What is your own character flaw? What is the flesh?
  6. What is pleasure? Is pleasure from God? Are pleasure and happiness the same? What is pleasure for? How is pleasure abused?
  7. Are all things of God? Is Satan of God? What is the purpose of Satan?
  8. What is goodness? What is evil? Are their shades of gray between good and evil?
  9. What is life? What is death? What is my purpose in life? Are you achieving your purpose? 
  10. Do I deserve anything? From what source do things derive?
  11. What is work? Can everything be achieved by hard work?
  12. Is nothing something? How did nothingness come about? What is the difference between nothing and something? What is something? Why do things exist?
  13. What is time? Who created time? When? What is its purpose? What does time have todo with us? What is eternity? How can the time it takes for light to travel exceed time? How much of eternity has life existed? How much of your own life?
  14. What is the most important thing in one's life?. What is it that mankind wants to most achieve?
  15. What is it that can keep us from our goal? What is it that can obtain our goal?
  16. What is truth? What are lies? What is faith? From where does faith come? What can man do with faith?
  17. Why do we need Jesus? Is needing Jesus more about God or about us? How do we get Jesus?
  18. Who is the Holy Spirit? What are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit? Do ghosts exist? Who is the Holy Ghost? Is eternity occupied by ghosts? The natural? Supra-natural?
  19. What does "born-again" mean? Is it something done, thought, or realized? Are you born again?
  20. What happens with the first birth? How can one be born again? What happens to the person at the second-birth?  
As you cans see, the twenty questions are expanded. There are actually many more than twenty. The extra complementary questions are thought starters. One reason that people don't understand is that they don't ask themselves questions. Do you understand existence? Do you understand God? Do you understand time and its limitations? Do you understand you? Do you understand your choices? Do you understand the consequences of wrong choices? Ask yourselves the questions above and reflect on them. Hint: Use scripture to learn about them.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Born This Way

Christians are accused of being hateful because we believe what God says. However, confused society pick and choose how hateful we are! Rather than using God's standards, each uses what is right in their own eyes, and unfortunately, with the unsaved, there is little which is wrong from their viewpoints. Perhaps the most wrong in the eyes of the world are Christians!

God is all about love. He even loves us when we're in disobedience for God so loved the world. The world is not the sphere which accepts these billions of parasites onto its skin, but the people everywhere without regard to identity. The EEO has set up the following employment guidelines:
"[Company Name] provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics."
In terms of God, this can be said:
 "Jesus died for all who trust Him for the hope of salvation (HOS) without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics."
I started to strike out "religion" because it first occurred to me that God does care what religion you are! However, God is religiously fair as well. Those of other religions are loved by God as well! God loves everyone even when we err!

The most important of these protections are genetics.  It's how people are born, and they can't influence their birth conditions. I'm sure that sexual orientation is included under the broadness of genetics even thought there is no scientifically conclusive, or even acceptable evidence, that indeed homosexuals are born this way! In fact, scientific studies by design never can by definition prove any hypotheses - they merely fail to disprove the null of them.

Psychologists are by nature biased. All their training is humanistic in nature. They need to have their beliefs validated. Hence, with any study, there is a desired outcome. I learned well in my career how to influence the data to agree with what I wanted the outcome to be. Psychologists are masters of biasness, not only sub-consciously, but often times with intent. Their religion, for that's what psychology is (the study of the soul), demands that their unknown god be appeased. Sinful behaviors appease the unknown god.

(Note: In my graduate studies in family counseling it occurred to me one day that what I was studying was just another religion. When I exclaimed that to Dr. Fong at WKU in class, she replied, "Are you just now figuring that out!" as if I was dim-witted or something.)

Pagan religions had what is called "sacred prostitution" -  female and male.
1 Kings 14:24 (ESV) "...and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel."
Most versions use the word "Sodomites" which were specifically males who had sexual relations with other males. Of course, cults are those pagan religions. Indeed, psychology has adopted homosexuality as their sacred cult prostitution.

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a paraphilia in DSM-II back in the 1970s. The DSM manual is a book of abnormalities. Paraphilia is defined as "a condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities" (Google definition). Thus, homosexuality was considered abnormal and even dangerous! Paraphilia includes mental disorders - "obsessions with unusual sexual practices, as pedophilia, sadomasochism, or exhibitionism." (Dictionary.com).

DSM-VII changed the classification to a sexual orientation disturbance. In that view, it's not the act of same-sex attraction that is wrong, but the rejection one feels because of societal attitudes. With DSM-VII, homosexuality became normalcy and normalcy became the abnormality! At that time homophobia blamed society for the affliction of homosexuals. That change was Orwellian doublethink and newspeak at its finest - 1984 had gradually came about!

What caused the change? Let's ask Wikipedia:
As described by Ronald Bayer, a psychiatrist and gay rights activist, specific protests by gay rights activists against the APA began in 1970, when the organization held its convention in San Francisco. The activists disrupted the conference by interrupting speakers and shouting down and ridiculing psychiatrists who viewed homosexuality as a mental disorder. In 1971, gay rights activist Frank Kameny worked with the Gay Liberation Front collective to demonstrate against the APA's convention. At the 1971 conference, Kameny grabbed the microphone and yelled: "Psychiatry is the enemy incarnate. Psychiatry has waged a relentless war of extermination against us. You may take this as a declaration of war against you."
Psychiatrists were intimidated, and changed their diagnosis! Society became the sick people and sick people became the normal! The threat of being symbolically lynched by the mob changed minds. Now psychiatrists who were converted with the symbolic blade of the sword, just as Muslims are, changed their religion. Truth was not the aim, but deception. Satan smiled! His work on that front was finished. Now society is forced to watch abnormal people accepted as normal in all forms of the media. Satan not only smiles, but he is ushering in the end of days!
Matthew 24:37 "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Even the psychiatrists believed that homosexuality was a behavior until herd mentality intimidated them! Now, the media is driven by dollars. The U.S. Census has shown that same-sex couples are more educated and higher income than heterosexual couples. Money speaks, and the sponsors are after that money. If Christians want a return to sanity, we must put our money where or beliefs are! It was reported on FOXNEWS that Republicans watch the sit-com Modern Family more than any other program. Since the base of the Republican Party is evangelical Christians, Christians are watching what should be anathema to them! Where are principles? Standing outside the ark laughing at Noah!

Born this way? God calls homosexuality an abomination throughout scripture. That means "disgusting". God didn't create mankind disgusting... they chose that with their own free will! What we were all born with is original sin. That is the predisposition to pleasure oneself in unrighteous ways. Unfortunately, all types of sexual pleasures are how mankind is all pre-dispositioned. In shame, Adam and Eve covered their genitals because for some reason, that was their downfall. Somehow the tree of pleasure offered some type of sexual offense in God's viewpoint.

Sexual sin grew until all the earth was involved in sexual sins. That was rampant lasciviousness and homosexuality in the days of Noah. God washed the earth clean of abominations, and gave mankind a fresh start - all onboard the ark were heterosexuals. With time, the earth became dirty again. It started with a little wine, and immediately Ham saw his father naked. The implication there was that Ham looked back to the desires of the flesh in the ante-deluvian world, and lusted after a mlke - his own father. It is likely that lust returned full force because his descendants were punished.

Then, whole cities were soon destroyed - Sodom and Gomorrah, the former which became the name for male homosexuality. God was gracious that time. He didn't destroy the whole world but only two cities. In the end of days, it shall be the whole earth destroyed by fire!

In summary, sinners are born to sin, but chose their mode of sin. Just as those who lust after women must do, those who lust after men must do the same - self-control. Neither can control their thoughts, but they certainly can their behaviors, just as thieves, murderers, and liars must control theirs!

Obedience is refusing to act on temptation, either by deed or thought. To control our behaviors, our thoughts must be controlled. Lust is the thought and transgression is the deed. It's hard to not sin, but it is possible. Each sin is pre-meditated until it's rationalized as acceptable, or performed as a lifestyle.  That's where God comes in! He is the Comforter. We are not alone. God in Spirit is always with us, and God is stronger than Satan or any of his cohorts!

Obedience is theologically a work.  Rather than obedience being a sacrament (saving), it is a outcome of salvation. We are to obey God because we love Him. When we love God the Abrahamic Covenant promises success. It wasn't just for the patriarchs but an everlasting covenant. If mankind obeys God, we will be blessed. Psychiatrists say that homosexuals cannot be restored to heterosexuality. God says they can! There has even been a law proposed, and I believe passed, which prohibits counselors from treating homosexuals back to heterosexuality. Even the law says it can't be done, but God says it can!

What are we to think of homosexuals? As lost people who God loves. Christians don't hate homosexuals but we do hate anyone going to hell! Ultimate love is even when being persecuted, that Christians desire that all shall be saved. There is nothing more that I want, and is God's will, that homosexuals be rewarded with heaven. However, there is one condition for that - the homosexual, just as the rest of us, must sacrifice our fleshly desires at the altar. We must change as we're born-again. God does accept us as we are, but then his expectation is that we obey Him. If we are not willing to obey, it shows a lack of love of the One we claim to follow!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Garden of Eden: Jerusalem?

Scientists are searching for the Garden of Eden all over Mesopotamia and lower Iraq. My contention is that they are looking for a place that is no longer there for two reasons: (1) The face of the earth has changed, and (2) the Garden of Eden no longer exists. I address the former in my blog (http://kentuckyherrin.blogspot.com/2016/10/eden-pangea.html).  Of course there are numerous maps showing the pre-continental divide - Pangea, because geographers have drawn different maps. I have seen none which fit all three conditions for the Garden: (1) eastward in Eden, (2) four rivers, and (3) one great body of water as the headwater of the four rivers.

First off, I believe that Eden exists in a different form. Eden is how the earth existed before continental drift. It only remains to locate the Garden. It may be that the Garden no longer exists. Just as New Jerusalem will come down from heaven after the end of days, it may be that the Garden went up to heaven at the beginning of days. I base this on my proposition that Jerusalem is the location of the Garden of Eden.

Before the fall of mankind, the earth was without sin. Consequently, it was at peace with itself. Not only was the Garden in Eden paradise but so was all of Eden. After mankind sinned, the world changed to allow Adam and Eve to face the consequences of sin, but the Garden never changed. In fact, after the fall, man was only isolated from it!
Genesis 3:23 "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
To till the ground was where Adam was to earn his keep by the sweat of his brow - one of the penalties God placed on Adam. As such, Eden was divided into two places: (1) beyond the way of the tree of life, and (2) the place to keep the way of the tree of life. The former was Eden and the latter the Garden of Eden specifically. Keep in mind that the tree of life is Jesus, and that he still stands today. Where is the tree of life at this moment? Let is find Him in scripture:
Revelation 2:7 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
Just as the tree of life stood in the center of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9) which was a paradise, it still stands in the midst of Paradise. The Garden was in the beginning paradise, and it still is! Paradise is a word which describes the realm of God. This passage could just as well have said "Garden of God" because it fits the description. The Garden, after the fall of mankind, was the only place without sin. Heaven or Paradise is still the only place without sin!

The reason the Garden can't be found in this world because is that it is no longer of this world. I propose that it was taken up to a supra-natural abode, and is no longer extant on earth. The only way to find heaven is to die and return "home" by grace.
Revelation 22:14 "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
This passage is important. The place of the Tree of Life is in "the city". What city do you suppose the Tree now stands? Perhaps the City of God, which is New Jerusalem! To obtain entry in the city is the same credential as leaving the city. Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden because they failed to do God's one and only command. They, and the rest of us, can gain entry into the Garden by obeying God. Love is the ticket to the New Jerusalem -  the only command that we ever had!

In order to enter the Garden of Eden was by one gate which was guarded by cherubim. It was guarded to keep those who don't love out since the Garden was the place of love. There were no back entrances. There was only that one guarded gate. Likewise, Heaven can only be entered by one gate:
Matthew 7:14 "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Life began in the Garden. Mankind was, in the beginning, immortal there. The Garden was the only place where eternal life ever was, and New Jerusalem is the only place where eternal life shall ever be! Few find peace because it is no longer here. Peace can only be found in Heaven - or Paradise, the City of God!

Peace is a key word: peace is the atmosphere of love found in only two places: (1) the Garden of Eden, and (2) New Jerusalem - the City of God!  Both places have an atmosphere of love because each are one and the same!

Eden, which was originally all peaceful, means "delightful place". (etymonline.com/index.php?term=Eden). Eden - Pangea (aka the land mass of the world), was in the beginning a "delightful place". The most delightful was in the Garden where the Word dwelt - right there in the middle of the other trees. I believe that the Tree of Life is real and spiritual at the same time. The Word always had form, and his form was symbolically described as a tree. (More on that in http://kentuckyherrin.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-tree-of-life.html?m=0).

I believe that the entire Tree Is symbolic of God and consists of (1) what can be seen - Jesus, (2) what cannot be seen  supporting the Tree - the root or God, and (3) what nourishes the Tree -  the water below, i.e. the Holy Spirit). Paramount to my contention is that the Tree of Life is representative of the Godhead, it stood in the midst of the Garden, and still stands in the City of God! Where it stood has always been a most delightful place, and the center of delightfulness was the Garden.

If the Garden is now Heaven, where was it in the beginning? I suggest Jerusalem, which means "foundation of peace" (Wikipedia). Foundation implies in the beginning. Jerusalem was founded on peace, but ironically, it has never in its written history been peaceful! It was in the beginning, but all that changed with sin. The place of the city was founded on love because I believe it was the place of paradise. It's now only the foundation because the Garden is no longer there. Just like Jesus did four-thousand years later, the Tree ascended with the Garden. The whole kit and caboodle because it is the place where God lives. Since God cannot live in sin, paradise must have ascended. Is that too great a feat for Almighty God? I think not!

When Jesus ascended (Acts 1), the Holy Ghost descended (Acts 2). "Ghost" is used for the first time there for the Greek word pneuma because that it was a particular spirit - pneuma mans "spirit". The Holy Ghost is the specific Spirit of Jesus, called the Holy Ghost. (See my video on this subject https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOzZfN_nLps and my blog http://kentuckyherrin.blogspot.com/2016/02/afraid-of-ghosts.html).

As the Garden ascended, Jerusalem descended. God built it on the foundation of the Garden. Someday, the City of God will be where Jerusalem is now. Until then, we will have to be satisfied with the ghost of the Garden -  Jerusalem.
Revelation 3:12 "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name."
 Ironically, New Jerusalem will come back to its foundation in Eden - where the Garden once was! Coming back with the City of God will be the Tree of Life. He will stand where he once stood -  back home in the Garden! Some believe that the entryway to heaven is in Jerusalem. People go there to die so as to be the first to go to heaven when the time comes. I propose that this gateway to heaven is guarded by cherubim and it's the access point that the Garden took as it ascended, and the gate the City of God will return to it's foundation!

There were four rivers in the Garden flowing forth from one large river which was the headwaters of the four:
Psalm 65:9  "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it."
Where is that river now?
Revelation 22:1 "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
In Paradise is where the river of God presently resides. It was once in the Garden, but now it's in Heaven - right there in New Jerusalem! It flow flows forth from God as it did in the Garden, and the Tree of Life still stands next to it still yielding the fruits of love; those which heal or bring peace.

Jerusalem is cursed! It has been since it was founded. Revelation 22:3 says that "there will be no more curse", just as in the Garden - the way it was before the curse.

Geologists are continually looking for four rivers. I propose that there were not four rivers! The rivers were a representation of something else!  These four "rivers" may have been four angels, referred to as "beasts".
Revelation 4:6 "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
From the description, these angels' duties were to praise God. I believe that they were seraphim which we know existed in Eden. Their descriptions fit the descriptions of seraphim. These beasts worship God in heaven. It seems logical that seraphim praised God in the Garden as well. Perhaps these rivers were these four beasts which represent a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle.

Eagles represent in scripture beasts which clean up decay filth for God. Fatted calves represent sacrifice to God. "Lion" is one of the titles of God and represents his power. That leaves man. He is the heir of God. He's God's favored. Thus, perhaps these four rivers were four seraphim. Like the rivers which cannot be found, these four angels are only in the City of God!

Pishon means "to scatter" and may represent mankind wo scattered after the days of Noah. Gihon means "to burst forth". Hidekkel means "to prick" or "to separate". Euphrates means "good to cross over". (All from the Online Etymology Dictionary).  Words mean things in scripture. How and if these represent the four beasts is conjecture, but it is fair to ponder.

Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek, the King of Salem. This king is alleged by many to be the Word (Jesus) in human form. Who was king of the Garden? God Himself, the same King as in Paradise. This "Melchizedek" was both king of Salem (Jerusalem), and ruled in the Kingdom of God, or the New Jerusalem.

And by the way, according to my book The Skull of Adam, Golgotha (Calvary) is "the place of Adam's skull". What more likely a place for Adam's skull to be than in the Garden of Eden? Adam came home to be buried. Death allowed him back through the guarded gate because God made him righteous.

In summary, I don't believe the Garden of Eden nor its rivers will ever be found because they are no longer extant. I believe that Jerusalem is built on the very foundation of the world, and that it is where the Garden once was! Ironically, Jesus sweated as if blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. Gethsemane means "olive press". Olive itself represents "the best".  The water from Jesus represents the fruit of the olive tree which was pressed out. The olive tree is a prime candidate for the tree of life, representing both the fruit and the body of Christ. That olive grove was in Jerusalem just as it was in the Garden!

Farfetched? Yes! Possible? Yes! Probable? It seems so. It makes sense to me from scripture. You decide for yourself.









Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Evolutionary Christianity

I'm not even going to attempt to prove how the universe was formed. It is unprovable! Whatever belief that you have must to be accepted by faith. Scientific evidence is meaningless when viewed through the lenses of an Almighty God. Just as God claimed to make a mature Adam, He made a mature earth. A powerful God is not limited by the minimal things mankind has learned about the mystery of existence.

The origin of the universe is the most profound thought that can possibly exist. It's asking: "Who is God?" Eternity is unfathomable because life itself is just a blip on the eternal clock! Let's say formation just happened. That implies that the improbable took place. In other words Chance, which has no existence, created it all. The Almighty God is not Chance, and if there is an Almighty God, He is the One and Only!

Physical evidence does point toward evolution. However, supra-natural evidence points toward the creation. For evolution to occur, there had to be a starting point for it to evolve. Everyone should agree that in the beginning there was nothing - not even space because if matter can be contained, the container has existence. Even if Higgs Boson was the beginning, were did the space for it's flowing forth originate? Rational people would admit, "I don't know!" because, face it, not even scientists have a vague idea. We accept their theories prima facie. However, they are not gods and are subject to error. Their theories are all mere conjecture.

God claims that Holy Scripture is His Word. In scripture God's Word says this:
Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
That's a profound claim! Did God say that, or did people? In order to accept this claim, one must accept scripture as holy.  Those who wrote the word claim that it is:
2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..."
The inspiration of God is the English transliteration of the Greek word theopneustos which means divinely breathed. Scripture is specifically the Old Testament because it was all that was extant when that was written. The apostle Paul wrote that about other writers of old, not about himself. He accepted Holy Scripture as truth even though he persecuted Christians before he was divinely convinced. Paul was so sure that God breathed the Word that he was persecuted for Christ's name sake - dying by crucifixion. He was convinced without any doubt! Why? God spoke to him directly!

My argument is circular reasoning: God's Word is truth because He says it is, and it must be because He is God. However, it's not merely God's claim, but the claim of those who walked with Him, talked with Him, and died because they trusted Him. Him is God Himself -  Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, evolutionists are those who trust the words of fallible and biased men. Part of their theories are to have a legacy. If what they claim is accepted, their name is magnified and will go down in history. Those who dispute God are those other gods which we are commanded to not worship, but even Christians worship them by what they accept. Evolutionary Christianity is an oxymoron believed ironically by morons. Scripture refers to them as fools!
Romans 1:22 "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools..."
Those who are not Christians by definition believe the lie. Therefore, unless they are enlightened by divine truth,  they will stay fools. Why fools? They jeopardize eternal life because they insist on hanging onto their fantasy. They are willing to die forever rather than admit that they could be wrong. They cannot possibly prove they are right, but they gamble with their souls. Chance created their universe, and Chance causes them to continue the gamble with eternity, the other end of the beginning.

My concern is with those evolutionary Christians -  the ones who claim Jesus Christ as Savior -  the One who can create a paradise for eternal life, but is too weak to create this world! One of the most important passages in the Bible is this:

Romans 1:17 "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."
The short explanation of this is: Faith is obvious. It is looking at the Creation and trusting that God is who he said He is - the Creator. Unseen faith is validated by the seen!

In short, to even be a Christian requires a belief in the Almighty Creator God. Evolutionary Christians cannot exist based on God's own words!

Now to address those foolish enough to be evolutionary Christians: you need to change what you believe. You're not born-again because you're not truly enlightened! You are like those children of God in the wilderness who placed their faith in the golden calf. Your golden calf is named Chance, and you bow to him. God is pretty much fire insurance in case you find that evolution is wrong and that Chance is powerless! You need to be genuinely saved -  from yourself and your false beliefs! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Friendship

Friends are forever. That's implied with friendship because love is enduring. It can't be turned on and off like a light on a switch. Former friend has no meaning. A true friend enters into a binding everlasting relationship. To do less is not friendship, but usury. As long as things go your way, then that relationship is beneficial. When things don't go as you would like, then the other person is abandoned.

Personally, I don't even claim to have former friends. Once people are my friend, they are always my friend. Love of others means that they can't be unloved. Often, the best friends are siblings, yet sometimes they abandon their friendship. Who gets in the middle? You guessed it - Satan! However, let's not over-empower the prince of the air. He only pollutes the atmosphere. We must inhale the pollution even as God gives us freshness to breath. That freshness is an atmosphere of love. Of course, I'm not speaking of the physical but the spiritual.

Look at the characteristics of friendships:
  1. Mutual love.
  2. Faithfulness
  3. Camaraderie.
  4. Mutual pleasure.
  5. Togetherness.
  6. Respect.
  7. Trust.
  8. Common interests.
  9. Grace.
  10. Forgiveness.
There are probably many more but these are all important. Agreement is not a trait of friendship. Friends can disagree amicably. In fact, the ability to love unconditionally is a key characteristic of friendship. Let's say that George does wrong. His friend Henry chastises him, not in a mean spirit, but out of concern. Henry may be George's best friend because friends want the best for friends.

The biggest conflict in friendship is he wronged me. We must remember that the self is our other god, and how dare anyone insult my god! For various reasons, friends sometimes do hurt each other. Friends are two discreet entities whose boundaries overlap. Since no one is exactly the same as the next, world's collide! Twins get along so well because their worlds are much alike. 

The collisions occur because of human nature. We are  born with the desire to nourish and protect the self. That's how we protect our little gods! When a friend infringes upon that self-worship, unless God has instilled a sense of understanding and forgiveness, world's collide. That's what Satan wants because he sows hate. Anytime a friendship is disrupted, there is only one winner - Satan. He smiles.

Right now if there are hard feelings against a friend, or even an acquaintance, you are doing your own will. Don't give Satan too much credit because it's you who chooses not to have unconditional love. You become an automaton doing what is right in your own eyes as you often do without regard to what God wants!

I'm sure some friend has indeed hurt you. It's easy to collide with other gods. Scripture tells us exactly the right recourse - love that other little god as you love your own god. God knows your fidelity to yourself, and he commands fidelity to others. He established the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Nobody wants to be hated, so we must never hate! No one wants to be the focus of gossip, so we should never gossip. No one wants to be ostracized, but yet even Christians do that. I have even had people in church who refuse to look my way! No wonder sinners stay out of church. That's where people often hate. Sinners can be hated outside!

People go to church because they believe in God or are have a spiritual hole which needs filled. People pick a particular church because they seek friendship. In order for that to happen, newcomers must be included. Inclusion is more than a "hello" and a smile. It's being allowed into the community of friendship. Most churches have independent groups of friends whose relationship to other groups is mere acquaintance. Others are not allowed into the groups. Those little groups are cliques, and can be made up of family members or friends. They can destroy the church!

If people come up missing in church, it's often for two reasons: (1) Worlds collided with other(s), or (2) they have not been included. Lack of inclusion is the greatest reason but many leave with hard feelings. People get offended easily and don't get over it. We sing, "We Have a Friend  in Jesus" as we don't befriend others. It takes friendship with others to even be a friend with Jesus. His command is to love others if you love me. How people can go to church week after week and despise others is beyond me, even beyond God! They miss the whole point of Christianity if they fail to love.

What is it that Christians can do? They can quit being offended at the slightest transgression of another, even a huge transgression. The best way to overcome hurt is to forgive. Jesus even loves the transgressor, and so must we, but Christians often place the sins of others greater than their own sins. Satan smiles.

Friends trust each other. Something may sound preposterous but a true friend gives the benefit of the doubt. To assume dishonesty is not friendship. I like the expression accredited to Groucho Marx: "Are you going to believe me or your own lying eyes?" Our eyes do lie to us. We see what we want to see. Court testimony reveals that people have tunnel vision. We have the sub-conscious ability to focus narrowly, thus missing the wide scope of things. Trusting a person before discarding is a great trait; it's what you would want for yourself!

Jesus forgives, forgets, and continues to love. His friendship is not based on congruence, but is unconditional; we are to have the same type of love. To be a true friend of Jesus means befriending the unfriendly, and having mercy on the unmerciful. Friendship can never be based on goodness because then we all fail!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Narratives

My brother and I sometimes missed curfews, were guilty of wrongdoing, or just felt guilty because we were. We knew that when Mom or Dad confronted us, we had better get our stories straight! Indeed, even when a crime is committed one technique the police use is separate interviews with the suspects to get their account of events. Usually, they confess when confronted with the fact that their stories don't match up. When confronted, they usually, and very quickly, develop anther narrative. Given that they have more than one narrative implies guilt.

Narratives are not always lies but are well-pieced together stories to make sure all aspects are covered. Even the innocent don't want to trip up, so they spend and inordinate amount of time ensuring that their story is straight. Liars have to spend even more time to get their stories convincing, and in harmony with the story of another.

This is the era of narratives. There are people in public life whose job is creating narratives, and rehearsing them before they are publicized. Usually the stories are not wholly true, but cleaned up versions of what really happened. The most notable recent narrative was the blame of a film for the Benghazi killings. In that case, there was coincidentally a film, but it was not the cause of the killings. The producer of that amateur video which few had even seen was blamed and arrested quickly for another violation.

In the first few days, the narrative was repeated so many times that it seemed to be rehearsed. The general public, the media, and even the government all heard that same story. The existence of the film was not a lie, it's ability to incite violence was not a lie, but the big lie was it was not what incited the violence. Because confidants told the real story in confidence, the narrative fell apart. Hillary apparently told Chelsea another true version, and it caught up with her. Also, research showed no cause and effect between the film and the violence. It was a palpable narrative. Many believed it. Some doubted but with repetition it almost became truth.

In fact, some person of notoriety said, "I heard a new version of the truth and I did all I can to further it!"  Truth is finite. There is one version, and that is the facts. False versions are derived from either misapplied facts or falsehoods. The world is so full of false narratives right now that the truth is somewhere deep down, maybe buried forever. Fake news has finally been exposed. Sometimes it merely exaggerates the story, tells it out of context, is biased, or is spun. Children are quick to spin stories, and the press and politicians are indeed as the little children! (I don't think that's what Jesus had in mind though when he encouraged that).

My own awakening to false narratives was regarding the Civil War. I grew up in Indiana and was taught the winner's version because the victor does write history. However, over the years, I read first-hand accounts which reduced the biasness of the story. In other words, I read the loser's history and compared the two, and discovered what I had been taught as fact was merely a false narrative. Of course much of it was true, but much wasn't. As time went by, the victor's version of truth became ultimate truth, and now most people are in harmony with that narrative. I don't care who won the war or who freed the slaves. I only care that the war has ended, and the slaves have been freed. What I do expect, though, is the truth about how it came about. Truth is hard to sieve from all the falsehoods, especially when those deceptions created heroes who don't deserve the accolades.

Soon Alexander Hamilton will be replaced by a law-breaker on the twenty-dollar bill. That bothers me because the underground railroad did not respect the law, yet the lawbreaker will be on currency. We have listened to the narrative that breaking laws with which we disagree is noble, but Jesus never ever encouraged disrespect for authority. I suppose that it's time to have a woman and a minority on currency as a show of respect, but we need to be careful who it is. One that helped the criminal John Brown, who was hanged for his lawbreaking, doesn't seem to be a good choice. Perhaps George Washington Carver would be a better choice for more general acceptance. The narrative circumvents that choice.

The ultimate narrative is the story that we have prepared for God! We know our nature, but on a daily basis, we create a cleaner narrative. Narratives of sinners, even Christian sinners because we do still sin, is concocted with excuses. In each of our minds our two very different people: (1) one that is willing but fails miserable, and the other that (2) just wills to fail. I say that because every time that we sin, it's a choice until we peak out - that's when we sin as a lifestyle and without ever being convicted of our sins. When people reach that point they approach reprobation.
Romans 1:20 "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse..."
They who are without excuse are sinners. Even those who have never heard the truth, look at the creation, and must seek truth! The narrative right now, and it is accepted as fact, that the universe evolved. This passage points to the creation as truth which men must seek, but then even enlightened men accept the lie of evolution. That's the scientific narrative, which even fails scientific tests, but that's the story that all the world tells. In effect, they imply that Christians have a liar God, and those Christians who accept the narrative agree as they say, "Yes, we do!" That's because the world has accepted a false narrative!

My narrative that I practice often is: "I'm not so bad. Even Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and sometimes lose to temptation." Do you suppose God will buy into that narrative? He will think: "Poor excuse, Larry - you chose to sin." The only valid narrative that I have is: "God have mercy on me, a weak sinner who failed you!" There is no other narrative that He will honor because any good that I did is as filthy rags to Him. All He wanted was my love and obedience which I never gave Him His due.

True narratives are honesty to oneself, others, and God. We all wish that the narrative Me was in harmony with the real Me, but most often, that's not the case. I sometimes say, "If people could read my mind they would scream!" because at times my mind thinks hateful and awful things. Our assignment is to control our thoughts, and make our life more than a false narrative.