Wednesday, October 18, 2017

TRAILER FOR MY NEW BOOK:


One Covenant

We were always taught that there were two covenants with God: one of works and the other of grace. Paul revealed a little secret: Holy Scripture was always about grace! Furthermore, this grace was always through Jesus Christ, and grace was always for everyone.

The Jews rejected Jesus Christ when he was crucified. Paul dusted his feet from them, and began to preach to the Gentiles. The noun Gentile is used in practice as anyone who is not a Jew. By definition it includes barbarians or pagans. The Jewish people were God's chosen to bless. He did so with prosperity, and the Savior who came to the world by Abraham's seed. Ironically, Abraham is father of both Jews and Gentiles. One group obeyed God's Law, at their whim of course, and the other had no law.

Throughout history, the Jewish people fornicated with other gods. God knew they wouldn't abandon Him, and become pagans, and they didn't. The Jews took other gods besides God. Adopting other religions into one is called syncretism.  Most of the kings of Israel and Judah, not only attempted to serve God but Baal as well. God became jealous of His people. Finally, with the diaspora, they learned their lesson: they finally served JHVH alone, but served Him in a pagan manner - in obedience but without love.

In fact, this "lesson learned", to have no other gods before Him, became a barrier. The Hebrew people saw Jesus as another god, and steered clear of Him, and still do.

Let me give an example. Pagans appeased their god Molech by burning their infants in his belly. The Canaanite word for Molech means my king, and refers to the various gods of the pagan nations. Essentially, Molech is pictured as a standing bovine creature with an furnace in his belly. It appears to honor the same golden calf which the Hebrew people danced around after the Exodus. The Jews always seem to return to Egypt - sin, so to speak, for their rival God. Molech required obedience.

Appeasing Molech did not include love. However, the Hebrews were faithfully obedient. They were as pagan as the pagans, and with infant sacrifice as barbaric as Planned Parenthood!  It seems obedience was ingrained into them, and they always failed to get past their works, and be loving. God never wanted His people to obey out of fear. It was love He wanted and expected!

With Adam, God made one rule: Essentially, He said, "If you love Me, obey this one command - do not eat of the other tree!" Mankind could not even obey one command, showing a lack of love for God. The Hebrew people still continue their feeble attempts at obedience, but fail to love God in a way that He expects. God calls this loving Him with our all!

We were created to love God. That is our purpose. The creation was never about obedience because God could have made automatons to do His work. He created us in His image with His three substances: mind, body, and spirit. That is how he desires our love:

Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37).

The soul is the container for God's Holy Spirit, the mind what we think about God and is the source of our free will, and the heart is our humanity which is signified by our flesh or bodies. In other words, we are to love God with our all! He expects that! It is our reasonable sacrifice to present to Him our all. (Romans 12:1). How do we make the sacrifice? We show our love of God by obedience (John 14:15). The difference between mere obedience because of commands, and obedience because we desire it, is the emotion of love. It's actually love which is our reasonable service. The state of the mind is what counts. It is our purpose. Are we willing to obey God out of love or is it only out of fear? Willingness is the difference, Are we giving our free will to sin over to God to crucify?

There is no difference in the old covenant (the Old Testament), and the new covenant (the New Testament). Both were based on the grace of God, Him providing the sacrifice for all for all time.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
It was Jesus all the time! It was He who walked in the cool of the evening in the Garden, and His Voice which spoke to Adam and Eve. It was pre-incarnate Jesus who shed innocent blood which covered their shame. John Chapter 1 testifies to this.  Holy Scripture was always about Jesus. Where was He? Always there with His creature - saving them.

The biggest difference between the old and new covenants is this: the patriarchs of old looked forward to Jesus being the redemption for their sins, and in the new covenant the disciples looked backward on Jesus's sacrifice. The believers in both eras depended on the same grace - the shedding of blood by Jesus! In the old covenant, Jesus shed the blood of animals, and in the new, His own blood! Both were by grace. Hence, salvation was never by works but by grace.

Paul spoke often of this mystery:
Romans 16: 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. 25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.
Jesus Christ was the mystery of God. He was kept secret since the world began, and Paul revealed Him, as John did also. Jesus who was once Mind and Spirit was made manifest in the flesh. Hence, Jesus became just like us, or more correctly, because of God's foreknowledge, we were made in the image of Jesus!

Since Jesus was with mankind in the beginning, what was he doing? He was saving by grace. Adam, being convicted, tried to cover his own sin, but Emmanuel stepped in and shed innocent blood for him. He was saved by grace, and that he did not deserve!

When Abraham obeyed God by his willingness to sacrifice his only son to God, his obedience was counted as faith!  (Hebrews 11:8). Scripture tells us to have the faith of Abraham. The new covenant ties into the old. Rather than present our only heir as a dying sacrifice, we present ourselves a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1).  Abraham's reasonable service was to sacrifice his only (remaining) son. Ours is to sacrifice our will for God's will.

Mankind received free will by the grace of God. We are capable of exercising that liberty with which we are created. As such, we are free to sin! However, if indeed, we are new creatures, being born-again, the desires of the creatures are different. The old one loved sin, the new one loves obedience.

Just as Abraham obeyed and was credited with faith, our own works validate our faith.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
The assurance of salvation is if our will is in unison with God's will. It should be if we sacrificed it as was our reasonable service. Part of the mystery of God, is that it is our will that he wants, and has always wanted. By submitting this non-tangible faculty to God, we get off scott-free with all the sins which we ever committed. Our will to sin is turned over to God, and His Holy Spirit helps us with the sacrifice!

In summary, salvation was always by Jesus, for everyone, and was always by grace. There is but one covenant, and there has never been another. The mystery of God solved.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Called to Preach

I've always heard preachers say, When I was called to preach... That seems to make them special, and is the ticket to a public forum. All the apostles were called to preach. Paul's very purpose in existing was to preach the gospel. Just as John was born to present the Christ, Paul was born to tell the world about Jesus. He said:
1 Corinthians 9:15 ...for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16 ...woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
Here we have three points: (1) preaching is glorifying God,  (2) Paul was compelled to preach, and (3)  the preaching must be the gospel - to the glory of Jesus for He Is God.

Each of us are born with a purpose. (Proverbs 16:14). Jeremiah was much like Paul. He was ordained for a purpose:
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
What purpose did Jeremiah serve? He warned the Jewish people of impending doom unless they returned to God. He preached, they heard, and they failed to listen. When Paul preached the Jews rejected him too, but he turned to the Gentiles. Paul's purpose in life was to teach salvation to the Gentiles. I am a Christian because of Paul's preaching about Jesus. Paul's purpose was to spread the gospel, and hence, mega-millions have turned to Christ because of Paul's preaching.

Paul was called to preach. He knew his calling: he was struck blind. He was made blind so that he could see! In his blindness, truth was revealed to him. Paul changed. He turned from zealot counter to Jesus to zealot for Christ's sake. In order to teach others, Paul changed. He was Saul but in Jesus, he became Paul. It was much more than a change in name but his entire attitude.

God called all the apostles, event the traitor Judas. He had a purpose too, but it wasn't to preach. It was to be materialistic to the extent that he betrayed Jesus for thirty-pieces of silver. That may seem terrible of him, but how many people today still betray Jesus for gain? The answer is obvious. Most people are wannabe Christians but fame and fortune is too powerful. They are traitors, but their lives are still purpose-driven.

Back now to called to preach.  All Christians are called to preach! Why?
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light...
As peculiar people we are to be different. Peculiarity means change.  Just as Saul became Paul, we are to become righteous. Anyone who is of the holy nation, meaning the Church and part of Christ, are called to be royal priests, obviously to the King!

What is the vocation of priests?
Genesis 2:15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
It may be hard to detect, but Adam's purpose was to "dress and keep" the garden of God. How is that done? In the midst of the garden stood the Tree of Life. This Tree represents Jesus the Messiah. Adam, the first priest was to dress and keep that Tree. Let me add, it was to love and cherish it. He was created in the image of God, with mind, body and soul. How was he to love that tree?
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
It seems that God had a purpose for Adam - the same purpose he had for Saul!

Not only was Adam to tend to the Tree in the midst of the garden, but to tend to the whole garden. The whole garden were the other trees.  Does that sound familiar?
Matthew 22:39 Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Adam was to love the other trees just as he loved himself. Of course the other trees were symbolically other people.

Hence, Adam was the first priest. He had two duties: love God with his entire existence, and to love others as much as himself. These are the two requirements for a Christian, and simultaneously, the two requirements to be a priest! Imagine being a priest without loving God or others. Imagine even being a Christian, and not loving?

Adam was not only a priest, but a royal priest. As God walked through the garden, Adam served him. Of course he sinned, but his sins were covered by the skin of the first animal which died for mankind. By grace Adam became the first Christian because he was saved by the blood which God provided. A priest must be a Christian. Christians change - dying as the old Adam and reborn as the new Adam. (Creature if you prefer that word.)

All the biblical patriarchs were called to preach. All the apostles and deacons were called to preach. More importantly, all Christians, as royal priests and new creatures, are called to preach. We are to dress and keep God and the people.

In the garden God created the trees. The Tree in the midst of the garden provided the seed. Since Jesus is the Tree of Life, which still stands by the way on the River of God, we the people are his seed; not born of his flesh but of his Spirit! God wants a large family. He wants more trees grown. As God's gardeners, God wills that we plant many, many trees. That's our job as his royal priests! We are all called to preach, and as such the Great Commission is for everyone - all us as preachers:
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:..
Go out there to the other trees; dress and keep them. Tend to God's garden. Grow the seed! Jesus ordained the apostles to do this, but as royal priests, we are as well!

Ordination is God arranging in an orderly manner.  The Great Commission arranges that we're to go and teach all peoples, and what is it that those so ordained are to do: baptize and teach. That is the orderly manner, but teaching is to be of God - "to observe all things which Christ commanded".  Not just so-called preachers are to do that, but all who follow Christ.

Matthew 22:14 says that many will be called but few will be chosen. That's not because it's not our job, but because most will not accept their job assignment, remembering what all our vocations are: to dress and keep God's garden. God's desire is not that their be few, but many. All of us disciples must pick up our crosses and follow him. (Matthew 16:24). What does bearing the cross entail?  "Ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." (1 Peter 2:9).

Moses was called by God. He was ordained to speak for Him.
Exodus 4:10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 11  And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
God left out the part about Moses needing to go to seminary or bible college, let alone being ordained by Aaron the Priest. God does the ordaining. Men only pretend to! Right now, being part of the royal priesthood, God has ordained you to preach because you are his disciple. You don't need a denomination to sponsor or a preacher to ordain you since God already has! They may not want to share their pulpit for various reasons, but anywhere and everywhere is the pulpit. Those who would censure God's word would censor truth. Perhaps it's part jealousy and partly to prevent schizmaticism but the pulpit belongs to all who are his disciples. I suppose that the denomination is the church arranging in an orderly manner, rather than God doing so.



 Let me take this moment to recommend Pastor Gary Mitchell's Enter the Kingdom eBook on Amazon. 



Enter the Kingdom


Monday, October 16, 2017

Wisdom

Wisdom is the bridge between knowledge and truth. Below it runs the murky waters of folly.

Folly is sort of archaic now and is used little in modern society. It's merely the lack of organized thought. It's the chaotic waters which flow beneath the bridge of wisdom.

Knowledge is the totality of what has been mentally consumed. Within the body of knowledge are facts, fictions, and all that is consumed by the senses. Experience continually adjusts knowledge as wisdom analyzes it. Learning is the process of gaining knowledge. It is best learned by experience but formal education is taught. The most learned are those who combine learned knowledge with experience. Wise people are well-balanced in the sources of their knowledge.

In addition to physical knowledge are the spiritual. That body of knowledge cannot be proven, hence, spiritual knowledge is accepted by faith. For instance, eternal life cannot be proven. Most people desire eternal life, we are taught through scripture that it exists, but faith is all we have that it exists. After all, eternal things will never be history. We can never say mankind had eternal life. Therefore, it shall never be proven. On the other hand, glorification has happened, and is proven by the testimony of reliable people.

Theologians accept that the time of death is when Christians are glorified. God is glorified throughout scripture. To glorify God is bestowing honor, praise, or admiration on Him. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). His glory is God's existence. Therefore, it would seem that glorification is honoring God with our presence, and Him showing us His majesty. At the time of death, Christians are immediately in the presence of God, and incidentally, he is honored that his children rejoin Him.

On the other hand, Jesus was glorified at a different time. Let's look at some verses:
John 12:23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 
It would seem that this means that Jesus had not died yet. Not so! Read on: 
John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
At this time, Jesus had died on the cross, was physically resurrected but had yet to ascend. He had not been in the presence of the Father at this time. He had yet to glorify God. Therefore, to be a perfect sacrifice to God, he asked not to be touched. (Of course, with Thomas, he challenged him to touch, knowing that Thomas would not. He believed without touching).

After Jesus died, he was resurrected, ascended, and then his "Ghost" returned to comfort us. 
John 7:38  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Jesus's physical body remained in heaven - the place of glory. He ultimately glorified God, just as all the patriarch had by honoring, praising, and admiring God. However, he did so perfectly and without ever having the contamination of sin.

We know this happened!  For Christians knowing is knowledge. When one is born-again, this enlightenment happens. If one knows the truth about Jesus: his birth, death, resurrection, and glorification, then the person is born-again. This is spiritual knowledge, but it is derived from the physical.

Christians know that Jesus is God because he claimed to be, then proved it by miracles. Agnostics don't like it, but thousands witnessed the many miracles of Jesus. Sorcery could never do that, and why would a sorcerer come to die? That doesn't make sense. This use if logic is wisdom. Logic is taking the facts, assembling them to test the presumed truth, and then making a conclusion. Orderly use of the thought processes using knowledge is wisdom. A wise person seeks truth, and uses knowledge and thought to derive the truth.

Christians know that Jesus died on the cross because hundreds saw it happen, even high officials who reported it to Caesar. Christians know that Jesus arose from the tomb because they found it empty, and people saw Jesus alive after he was resurrected because hundreds saw him, walked with him, and spoke with him. Honorable people left legal depositions which would hold water in a court of law. Christian have this spiritual knowledge because they believe the truth about Jesus!

Hence, wisdom is also the bridge between spiritual knowledge and divine truth. Those who have faith in the integrity of the knowledge and accept it as truth, are said to be born-again. There is but one gate to paradise, guarded by seraphim, and the knowledge of Jesus is the bridge passing through that gate. If one is not born-again by being enlightened in this manner, there is no entry past the guarded gate.

Wisdom was characteristic to Solomon. God made him wise:
2 Chronicles 1:10  Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? 11 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12  Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.
God grants wisdom. Solomon was spiritually born-again when God made him wise. He was an imperfect specimen but because of God's grace, Solomon was born a new person who was wise.

On the other hand, those who are not enlightened are in folly:
1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise...
Romans 1:21 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. 
We know that Solomon did foolish things, but wisdom brought him back. Essentially, wisdom is the hedge God puts around Christians to protect them from evil. Remember that sin was eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Wisdom protects mankind from his own body of knowledge. That hedge of wisdom is the safety in which Christians live until they are saved by glorification. Yes, salvation is the instant a person is glorified! Wisdom is the enlightenment to accept that. We call that acceptance faith. Just as wisdom was a gift of God to Solomon, faith is to us (Ephesians 2:8)!  Faith is more than believing in and trusting God, but also believing the depositions the apostles left for us. Faith is demonstrated by our works. (1 Thessalonians 1:3). We have faith their testimony is true because all but John died for those truths. (John was boiled in oil which may have been even worse!)

Wisdom is also the bridge which carries a person from foolishness to safety - from unsafe to safety.
1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom...
Jews failed to be born-again because they failed to believe the miracles they saw. For them, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost came to convince them. That was the sign the Jews needed. Since the early church, salvation results from wisdom. Sinners examine the evidence that Jesus is who he said he is, and did what he said he did, use logic, are enlightened, and are born-again. Wisdom is what brings sinners to God, and that too, as a component of faith, is saving. 



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Shall it Be Science or be it Christianity

"The Age of Enlightenment" was when philosophers and elitists turned away from God and toward reason. Christianity is based on faith, whereas reason is alleged to be based on logic. As such, reason demands proof. The problem with logic is it's methodology. One can never "prove" anything; merely fail to disprove its null statement. Therefore, scientists misrepresent their findings, yet people accept science as infallible! Therefore, depending on man's reason takes great faith! Reason becomes another religion. Libertas is their God.

Most scientific studies are a result of the efforts of "scientists" - those who claim to be unbiased. Rarely, should one expect a scientist to refute his own religion - the worship of the goddess of Reason. In effect, scientists place confidence on the work of their minds in contrast to omniscient God. Scientists, because of faith in themselves, belittled their own creator. To be scientific means to be against the creation - thus expect scientists to believe in the evolution theory. They do and present it as fact, expressing the notion that to be scientific,  one must deny the claims of God.

If the reader is slow to understand, let me simplify: to qualify as a scientist, the person must give up faith in God, and accept his or her own reason as superior.  They examine closely our origins and look away from their Originator. Thus, science must be questioned because it's researchers have an inherent biasness.

Suppose a fundamentalist Baptist preacher attempted to prove the Creation. Because of who he is, few would accept the outcome of his research! It does matter who is doing what. In the same vein, it is wise to question the research of one who denies God. God's part in science is imperative. God says He did it, and if one questions that, their God is a liar god. The Christian God is a God of Truth!

Being an engineer, I am a scientist. However, being one, I know the inadequacy of scientists. I know their inherent biasness, and their faith in themselves. Scientists are arrogant in that their own life's work is more important than truth. I even had one scientist tell me that it was wrong to dispute the findings of his colleagues. In other words, their own reputation comes before truth.

Science, in my view, supports Christianity. All the laws are Laws of God. For instance, Newton's Laws of Motion are God's Law's because God set the laws into effect. Newton merely quantified with experiments and equations what God created.

Likewise, long before anyone, even Pythagoras, realized the earth was spherical, it was. God made it that way, and said so long before Pythagoras was ever born (Isaiah 40:22). Some theorized that the earth was a sphere, but Isaiah called it circular with confidence because he was inspired by God, not by reason.

Long before the hydrologic cycle was "discovered" God created it. The earth replenishes and cleans itself because God created it that way. King Solomon knew of that cycle but scientists did not define it until thousands of years later!

Not all science is wrong! Men are logical and reasonable much of the time. We cannot throw out all science because those who propose it are biased. That would be foolish. However, we must question science because it is not infallible or always right. We must also examine the hidden agenda of science. Let's take a look at one case:
Genesis 11:4 And they (the tower builders at Babel) said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves...
It seems that those early people were trying to build a skyscraper, a monument to themselves. However, archaeologists have found ziggurats with layers which taper as the apexes are reached. On each "story" are signs of the Zodiac, and at the top astrological symbols. Those early tower builders were looking for truth in the skies. God was perturbed by their research. They had before spoken one language, and God confounded them with many.

The linguists, a type of scientist, reject the word of God. They would not even consider this premise. They have an inherent bias because they reject what they cannot see or "discover". There is much beyond the naked eye or even the microscope. Even scientists will vouch for that, but they deny there is a supra-natural world. Scientifically, that would be crazy to propose, and impossible to test. We cannot prove that, but faith is just that! Hope lies out in the beyond, far from the instruments of science. In science, there is no eternal hope. Their gods and goddesses are each of them. In unity they offer no hope.

Being "as children" is how Christians are to accept Christ. We merely accept what scripture says at face-value. Children are not little scientists! (Matthew 18:3). We are to accept what we cannot see, and never be able to prove because that's where our hope lies. Agnostics seek proof for everything. If they need proof, all they need to do is look at the evidence of the creation. Their own numbers say a lot - chance could never have made what we can see with our own eyes.
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse...
Paul contended that the proof of God is what we see - "the proof is in the pudding" as we say. We know that the Creator exists because we see what He has created! There are no other suitable or even scientific explanations!

For those who think the "Big Bang Theory" explains it all, explain to me where the energy for the bang arose. Tell me also from where the container for the matter came. Darkness came from somewhere. It is something. This endless void had to be there. What bang created it? Only God explains the beginning,  for even nothingness defies explanation.

Nothingness was there before the alleged bang. It went from forever being to never ending. Who created space? There is but one answer: the Creator did!

When I set up a "scientific" experiment, I pre-determined my results. I was biased toward the outcome I wished to see. Sometimes I forced the outcome to support my theory. I "proved" what I desired to prove. Obviously, my provenance was deceptive. I was a shady dealer in science. I did that! I am honest. I would bet many dishonest scientists do the exact same thing. Where we are points toward intellectual dishonesty. They say, evolution is a given fact,  when it is not. Science teaches lies. Evolution is a theory, one that will never be, and can't be proven, yet most people support this contention!

Today I read the "proof" that there are no racial differences; that all nationalities have the same DNA for color, and color is just a matter of geographical influences. Those scientists never explained the physical differences of those of different colors. The "table of nations" found in the Bible does a great job of that. (Genesis 10). Jewish history supports what is written there, and does genetics.

Some science is truthful. Some is not! Christians must discern the truth. God's Word takes priority over science because God offers eternal hope; science does not! Can I prove all this? No! Can scientists prove their offerings? Nada! Both must be accepted by faith, but I put my faith in Christ!

Friday, October 13, 2017

A New Image

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them. Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Ephesians 5:1 (ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Both of these verses contain two points:
  • Mankind is to be like God.
  • God's Way is Love. 

I won't dwell on mankind's likeness to God because I have many times. One thing is clear: it is His likeness, but not as God. Endeavoring to be as God was the original sin. That's where the sin of pride comes in.  Pride boils down to one main idea: mankind is the master of himself. God's idea is that He is Master. Scripture says that no man can serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24). From that verse, it is clear that Satan is not the second master, but that people serve themselves. We are our own gods! (Genesis 3:4). 

What is God like, from that same verse? Knowing good from evil. Before that, Adam and Eve were innocent. Therefore, being made in the image of God, Adam and Eve were created without knowledge of sin. Sin is a learned "disease". However, it is not a physical malady but a decay of man's spirit. Being made in the image of God, Adam and Eve were endowed with His Holy Spirit. With original sin, God withdrew Himself from them, and inequity replaced God in them. 

Adam and Eve were born as "new creatures" because they had never existed before. God walked in the cool of the evening in communion with them. He loved them so! In the beginning they walked with Him as well. Their walk was love - much like the love a dog has for its master. They loved God because he was just there. There was no reason not to love God!

When sin entered in, like new wine on old skins, the two began to decay. Like the two women in the movie "Death Becomes Her" the two began to age quickly. Their spiritual part began to die rapidly, and they became ugly inside and pitiful. These two people became "old creatures". Because they sinned, even today everyone ever born, besides Jesus Christ, have been born "old creatures". 

This take us the second passages above. In the beginning, mankind was created in the image of God. We were endowed with His Holy Spirit. The old creature lost that aspect of God. We are born with an empty soul, and it is quickly filled with sin. God doesn't  walk with sin; He and sinners do not spiritually commune on an equal basis. We can only come to God with meekness.  When we come to realize that we are no god, and that only God can save us - Jesus, then we are born-again! We must accept Jesus's payment for our own sins.

The born-again person is the "new creature". In effect, we return to mankind's original state of innocence except for one thing: we have the knowledge of good and evil. Knowing those things, we are at liberty, even in our innocence, to choose. We are not as God, where we can never sin, but as Ephesians says, we are "to be imitators of God". We are to return to our origins and walk with God in the Garden, in full-communion - loving Him and each other. 

To be "imitators of Christ", Jesus gives us instructions:
Matthew 22:36 (ESV)  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
If we do what these verses say, we are imitators of Christ. Back in the Garden, that's what they did! However, it was not imitation; it was the real thing! Our goal is to be as much like God as we can without attempting to walk it alone. To do so is self-worship, and humanism.

"Walk in love!" That's how God walked in the cool of the Garden. He immediately "saved" his creatures! We are to become innocent again as we walk as Christ. We watch how Jesus walked, and walk the same Way. Adam and Eve watched Emmanuel walk in the Garden, and were ashamed. They had not walked in His manner.

To be imitators of Christ, we must have that pure love which mankind had in the beginning. To imitate that the best we can, we submit to change. We stand there guilty as charged and let God recreate us back to His own image. He takes our soul, washes it clean from sin, then fills it with the Holy Spirit with whom we were created. After the transformation, we are "new creatures"; just as mankind was in the beginning.

Like Adam and Eve, those transformed by being born-again, are innocent. Immediately, just as with Adam and Eve, temptation arises. We are not to walk there! We are to walk the Way Jesus walked, but not enter into temptation. (Matthew 26:41). If we imitate Adam and Eve, we walk right under the tree where the tempting fruit hangs. God didn't walk there in the Garden and Jesus didn't fool around with Satan. Albeit, Jesus allowed himself to be tempted, we are no gods! That is foolishness because we're not! Essentially, doing what is right in our own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8) is serving ourselves; trying to be our own masters.

To be imitators of Christ is to quit walking in the flesh; not walking like men walk. We are to walk right through the straight gate and keep on the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). That Way is paved with love. Love is not optional. That is the path to destruction.

Christians, not imitating Christ well, fail to love. Not only do they not imitate Christ, but they actually fail to love others. In order for the Holy Spirit to remain in us, we must be of one accord (Acts 2) -  just like the communion back in the Garden. That is not happening! It needs to.






Thursday, October 12, 2017

To Be Or Not To Be

"To be, or not to be?" that is the question. (spoken by Prince Hamlet in Hamlet; William Shakespeare).

Mr. Shakespeare had great insight. The state of being is profound. Our own state of being is our world. In fact, most people seek a state of eternal being. Indeed, the very question of eternal life is to be, or not to be part of it!

To be is to exist. Shall we choose existence or the only other choice - non-existence? That truly is the question because existence is a choice, even in temporal life, and for eternity. However, the decision to exist forever is made in the present state of existence. Existence in this world is a physical state, and existence in the next world will be at first spiritual, then after the return of Christ, a  physical and spiritual state. In order to adapt to our eternal existence, Christians are imbued with God's Spirit until they have their own.

A human being is different than any other animal being, let alone plant being or spiritual being. God, in the beginning, was a spiritual being. He created human beings in his own image. His creation, before sin entered in, was both a physical and spiritual being. When God said "thou shalt surely die", Eve thought that God meant her human existence. It became clear that God meant her spiritual substance would die immediately. With disobedience, mankind died that day, and a different creature was born. Adam and Eve's spirits (existences) were lost. They chose by their own free will not to be immortal.

After their spirit died, or as God left them, they had left remaining mind, body, and emptiness. The space where the spirit substance of them had been, was left empty. It's contents began to fill, albeit gradually, with sin. In order for them to fully be again, their soul needed to be emptied of evil and imbued with God's Holy Spirit. I use the word "imbued" for pimplēmi in the Greek. I use that definition because, since Christians will never be perfect, sin will always enter in. Even in the "spirit-filled" person some space for sin will remain until the person's death. Christian perfection is endeavoring to be as holy as one can be, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It can be endeavored, but never achieved!
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
With any amount of sin, the Christian separates himself from God:

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 
Repentance restores the sinner to communion with his Father. But until repentance, it's not as if God leaves a person, but His Spirit is separated from the iniquity inside. Fresh and salt water, so the speak, cannot be mixed. (James 3:12). Since God never leaves nor forsakes a Christian (Hebrews 13:5), sin can co-exist in the soul with the Spirit but they are as separate as oil and water. Repentance skims the sin from atop the water, which is to say anything which is not of the Holy Spirit.

At the time of remission of sins, at the new birth, is the most pure time a person will ever be because all the sin has been washed clean;  just as Adam and Eve's before the original sin. Their cup - soul, is empty, ready to receive. God then fills the soul with His Spirit, but immediately as mankind falls to temptation, sin seeps in. It is imperative to pray that sin out by sorrow, followed by repentance, and renewed cleansing by the Holy Spirit.

Scripture speaks of the hydrological cycle.
Ecclesiastes 1:7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
This symbolic description fairly well sums up the working of the Holy Spirit. As the soul runs dry, the Holy Spirit returns from whence it came, always ready to provide living water again. As a person sins, that becomes a cycle. Just as the right conditions must exist for the rains to come again, the soul must be humbled and contrite for the Holy Spirit to do His gully washer with the Christian!

Existence is a condition. Without the living waters within us we are only in existence at the present. However, forever, those who are not to be, will not be! Our existence - "to be", is dependent on whether God lives within us, since we are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:9). Adam and Eve died that day in paradise. They went from to be to not to be, as their soul was emptied of it's eternal existence - God within them. Ever since, the Holy Ghost calls us to be again!
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
I use the name Holy Ghost rather than Holy Spirit because He is Jesus who calls. I make that distinction because of pneuma in context.  After Jesus's death, the Holy Spirit is truly the Ghost of Jesus, because Jesus existed of human being substance, and His spirit was with him on the cross.

"To be" is to have within, God's Holy Spirit. Before we are, our existence is incomplete. Sinners sense an emptiness. Because the soul lacks light it is empty. Empty souls, to exist, must be filled with something! Sin- darkness, can never satisfy the soul.

Existence, then, is the condition of the soul. "To be" means that God lives inside us. Existence is a variable. Those without God seem to exist, but at death their existence is replaced by isolation in an environment of eternal death. Sinners die and no longer exist forever because torment is not existence. It's a living death if that could be called living!  The variable of "to be-ence" starts with zero - non-existence. Those never born again never really exist. Unfortunately, they sense that. Their life is never complete. Jesus knows that, and calls to fill that emptiness - the lack of "to be-ence".

When one is  born-again, for the first time they truly exist. They have hope for eternal life - eternal existence. They are "to be" forever!  The old creature without hope who didn't truly exist in completeness is made alive in Christ.
Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We never exist until Christ brings us to life. That reviving essence is hope. Jesus brings an ample amount of it - all that we desire! Therefore, existence can be complete, and only through the atoning blood of Jesus for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Life is existence and only through Christ can we really exist!

The repentant person moves from non-existence to existence by being born-again. It is by their own free choice - "to be, or not to be?" That is the most imperative question one can ever ask because that moment is decision time: Shall I chose eternal non-existence or eternal existence? All but a fool would choose death forever!

Choosing sin is foolishness because it's choosing non-existence.
Numbers 12:11 And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.
Some who danced around the golden calf believed they were truly living. They partied like there was no tomorrow. That is not existence. It is foolishness. By following God alone, and forgetting the golden calves we appease, we are choosing to be forever. Rejecting God is foolishness!  Sinners  pleasure themselves for a moment, never to exist in eternity.

When I was a child I thought on eternal existence, or actually an eternity of non-existence. What called me to seek the Lord, was not the fear of Hell, but the thought of ceasing to exist - never to be again! Some deny Hell. It does exist. Scripture tells us that, but it's not truly existence. It is more non-existence with it's isolation from love and God. However, as subjects of Satan, he can make sure your lack of existence is unbearable. Satan supplies the fuel for fools - eternally.

Even if there is no Hell, it's still difficult to imagine non-existence. Now I seem to be, but think of never being again. That is a dismal thought, and that is how God calls. He offers hope. That hope is to be forever! Because I made myself a living sacrifice (Roman 12:1), I submit this temporary existence for eternal "to be-ence"! That's a good and wise tradeoff - the temporal for the eternal.










Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dysfunctional Family: The Victim

When one person in the family is psychological "sick", it has an affect on the entire family system. "Sickness" is not a disease or illness but an imbalance from what should be.  It's how some people's defense system operates as a result of someone else's imbalance. Some degree of dysfunction is exhibited by all the family members. The individual cannot be taken alone but only with the whole. Without regard to the "sickness" which cause the dysfunctions, let us examine one of them - 'the victim'.

The victim is the person who has taken on the roll of self-pity. Everyone is against them, maligns them, and even the whole world is against them. Nothing is ever their fault, hence they are the most unforgiving of the family members. Added  to the victim role is that it also may be partially genetic. Perhaps the mother or father had the same characteristic, or even multiple ones.

People even become victims when they fail to get their way or even adequate attention.

Victims isolate themselves from further pain. Rather than coming to the realization that they create their own pain, they blame others and never forgive other people for their perceived wrongs. Of course, those wrongs can be real or imaginary. Victims create scenarios where others are against them, and they come to their own defense. Either they strike out at others or isolate themselves.

Both of these traits are part of the "sickness". Disguised angers or self-pity allows them to take it out on others for their own discomfort. They will never stand-up and arise from their self-induced malaise. They actually let the behavior of others set the tone for their behavior and emotions.

The "victim's" temperament is usually melancholic. That has three main characteristics: wisdom, analytical, and usually quiet. Of course, these three traits are used for them and against others if the melancholic person is the victim. However, they misapply wisdom, are analytical with a bias toward themselves, and use isolation as a tool of revenge.

When the victim analysis a situation, the facts used are ones which vindicate themselves and blame others. Without using true wisdom, they feel comfortable with perceptions without regard to facts. Even if thinking is factual, rather than accepting that the world is not "self-centric", the facts are used against their perceived perpetrator(s).

The victim dysfunction has a tendency to be angry at the world. They are sad or dismayed mostly because of others. With their malaise, others avoid them. Even their reputation becomes part of the "sickness". Other acquaintances avoid them because they are mostly bearers of bad news. Much of the "badness" they encounter is self-induced by their own personality. These people seem to be loners by choice or by reputation. Few want to encourage them in their negative-thinking.

Victims are pessimists by nature. Since the world is against them, they seek refuge from the turmoil and chaos they wish to avoid. The assumption is that things will go wrong and others are against them. They seek to avoid bad feelings by isolation. They even fail to enjoy their blessings.

Some family members may side with them. Dysfunctional families group by dysfunction! This grouping of similarly oriented victims are their own support group. They all become victims together, and take refuge together. The victimization is additive. When one member feels wronged, all the victim-group does as well. Then they huddle as a group, and make their assigned "culprits" into really bad guys.

As are all "sicknesses", psychological ones are viral. They are passed along to others if others fall into the trap of empathizing with perceived wrongs. With time, many others can be infected with some degree of being the victim as well.

Victims can be helped! They can step out of their malaise by being more positive, loving, and not so analytical - always considering how they've been wronged.  Even if they have been wronged, those with this dysfunction can help themselves by rising above it. They can forgive the perceived wrongs as well as real wrongs. Forgiveness is a characteristic of a loving person. Victims don't know how to love as they are more into themselves than others.

How often should victims forgive? As often as any other:
Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Seven is God's number. However, Jesus is not giving here an algebraic formula for forgiveness. His implication is that one never cease to forgive. It doesn't even matter who is wrong!
Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment... 23  Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24  Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 
You can see from this that forgiveness isn't based on who the culprit is or is not; forgiveness and reconciliation is expected regardless of the circumstances!

Incidentally, forgiveness includes forgetting and loving. What if Jesus forgave you, but still held a grudge, and then failed to love you anymore! Those who forgive but not forget are grudge-holders, and falsely claim to forgive. They only fool themselves by claiming forgiveness!
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
 The victim is bitter at being victimized whether it is real or not. That should be put away. Even when a bitter person denies anger, it is anger which rules them. Living in bitterness and rage makes one more sick. They are prone to get worse rather than better. Any dysfunctional person should want to improve but "victims" demand that everyone else improve for them to feel good.

The victim even has another god. Their god is their own "self". Without regard to what God expects out of them, they seclude themselves to protect their "god" from harm and from being toppled. Their own god rules their little world to protect them from further victimization. They seclude themselves out of harm under the protection of self-defense. They fail to depend on God when He is most needed.

I once had several people who either said they hated me, or I perceived that they did. I went to the lady most suspect, and did a good deed toward her. She responded with gratitude, and became a great friend and ally. That made me feel so good that I went to one who hated me. I apologized for my "whatever" wrong I did or even my "ways". He shook hands and graciously accepted my apologies for whatever made him a victim. He became a good friend. I kept doing that, and as I did, I got the rewards! I never felt better. You see, we are all "victims" at some time or another, and we should not want it to become a sickness. Forgiveness, kindness, and a loving attitude is the cure of feigned or real victimization.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Liberal Thought and Christianity

L"iberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality and international cooperation." It came about during the "Age of Enlightenment". (Wikipedia; "Liberalism") Before we look at liberalism let's take a peek at the age from which it arose.

During the eighteenth century, the thinkers, writers, and politicians turned away from religion and toward philosophy. Most did not abandon religion - Christianity, entirely but modified it using human reason. Hence, liberalism became the religion of man, albeit is was tempered with Christianity. Because of it's liberal direction - critical thinking and evidence, both being part of mankind's reason, became superior to what thinkers considered to be religious superstition or church dogma. The abuses of the Catholic, Reformed, and Anglican Churches steered some toward liberalism in that religion was denominationally dogmatic.

Early on, the Catholic Church had taught that scientific discoveries were heretical in that the church perceived that those ideas were contrary to scripture. Some were and some were not. Thus a battle of thought arose between the church and great thinkers. "Science" was taken to be truth over church teachings. Effectually, liberal thought is the abandonment of faith for reason. A new religion was developed, but not called that until later on - humanism, and since it took science and reason over Christianity, it was secular humanism. (If you'll remember, reason was a byproduct of original sin as our forebears placed their will over God's).

To be honest, liberalism has some great ideas: (see the first paragraph). All those notions seem to be fair. However, some do oppose Christianity. Specifically, I have written on gender equality in my several commentaries on feminism. Whereas, gender equality is found in scripture, feminism is opposed therein,. Hence, the Church should be dogmatic against feminism but in favor of gender equality. Equality was the springboard on which feminism was launched but the latter contains within it division, confusion of gender roles, dissension, abortion, homosexuality, and even worse perversions of morality. Feminism, thus while having some good, is essentially evil in practice. The Church should and must reject it as sinful, and Genesis 3 points toward a part of original sin as gender roles became reversed.

Feminism is just one example of good ideas gone sour. "Freedom of religion" was an excellent example of liberal thinking. It was designed to keep state churches from overly influencing monarchial governments as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and even the Reformed Church had always done. The idea was to keep the clergy from being "the first estate", even over "the second estate" (nobility). "The third estate" (commoners) were lorded over by the first and third. Liberal thinking originally was meant to break he power of the first over the second estate. In the twentieth century, the outcome was to eliminate the influence of the first estate over even the commoners. That is liberalism gone wild!

There was some fairness to the separation of church and state. Remnants of estate churches even existed through colonial times. They were "state churches", and there were even government penalties for poor attendance, failure to tithe, etc. The notion was a good idea. However, liberals added unto that the wall of separation of church and state. That wall was to prevent either side from going out of their boundaries but liberals took it to the extreme: the government could leap that wall but the church could not. Modern liberalism endeavors to prevent God's doctrines and his faith from even being allowed in the political arena. Even worse, liberalism attempts to move all mention of God from the public square while it allows all types of pagan statures and inscriptions! Even our statue of the goddess Liberty is left to be honored as Jesus is even removed from the conversation.

Civil rights is another liberal idea gone sour. It is liberals again gone wild! Slavery was a bad institution. However, even Jesus cohabitated with it without even condemning it. Liberals even see Jesus in a bad light through his Church. Hence, even in the realm of fairness, it is Christians which became the most unfair! Slave-holders used scripture, and rightfully so, to support their ancient institution. (Scripture teaches to treat slaves fairly). Slavery is a consequence of sin. God was the author of poverty because of mankind's rejection of their creator. As such all types of maladies were in the wilderness to which Adam and Eve were released. In the wilderness was freedom for mankind - he could do whatever he willed. Because of complete libertarianism- the ultimate liberalism, mankind was totally freed from God's control unless man came to God. In that wilderness were the consequences of sin: hatred, murder, lying, theft, and injustice of all types. Among those were slavery!

The slave-holders used scripture, and unjustly so, to continue the evil institution. They had a right to what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as their property, but the law doesn't make wrongs right! (Likewise, in modern times with the legalization of murder by abortion,)  Christians are to be better than the law. Oftentimes, they were not! It was the influence of injustice that allowed this institution to continue. Then after slaves were granted freedom, the South was over-penalized and made a lesser entity. Hence, liberalism fostered regionalism, and the bitter taste still remains. Even racial hatred is partially a by-product of the mid-1800s PC Police - the radical liberals in charge of the U.S. military dictatorships in the South.

However, now modern liberalism has gone wild on equal rights as well. The concept of white privilege is used for all types of abuses of fairness. It demands unequal opportunity in opposition to its foundation. Government affirmative action means that it's okay to be unfair to some to be more than fair to others - liberalism gone wild! Because mainly the black community provoke this idea into the national community, class warfare as resulted with racial division. Indeed, liberals gone wild have made worse what they portend to protect! Never before have I seen such racial resentment on both sides, and liberalism is the root cause! Liberals gone wild!

I can go on and on but will mention only one other: freedom of speech at one time was a noble idea. Liberals are now the dogmatic ones! It has become, and they even admit it, "freedom of politically correct speech" - or their speech alone. Somehow liberalism gone wild has become dogmatism. Somehow, by political pressure, a new code of speech has developed. We call it "politically correct speech", and that speech is monitored by P.C. Police. The totalitarianism described by George Orwell has came about. It is Marxism gone wild through the façade of liberalism. Liberal thought is dogmatic, hateful, dividing, unjust, and un-Christian.

In order to enforce P.C. (political correctness) liberals use hatred. They spew hatred for those who disagree with them! For instance, it's now  speech crime to even point out racial differences while their own ideas are based on racial division - pitting all races against our one! Likewise, liberals have divided the genders. The women are now approved to hate men! Men can neither criticize women's issues nor even compliment women or they will be labeled sexist! Because God is a sexist, and even made them different, the hatred goes toward the Church.

Liberalism has changed. Once based on fairness, and the love of mankind one toward the other, it now fosters hatred and injustice, one toward the other. With that class, gender, sexual, racial, religious, and party division comes discord in the nation. Why was Trump elected? The liberals caused him to be elected because of their division and hatred. People were tired of liberal fraud and victimization! It is no coincidence that Trump wanted to drain-the-swamp and at the same time "tear down that wall" separating Christians from government.  He knew that what stood in the way of uncontrolled government power was Christianity. He wanted that wall down!

Ironically, liberalism was originally in favor of individual freedom - including the freedom of religion, speech, the press, etc. Now their freedom's extend only to their secular humanist religion, to their press, and to their speech. They have become what they were once against. They are the dogmatists and the religionists. Unfortunately, it is autocratic dogma and their humanist religion. It seems that Christianity is the only religion that they deem repressive even in the face of the most dogmatic and repressive religion ever to exist - Islam!

My point is this: once in line with Christian doctrine, now liberalism has taken on a mean and spiteful stance. Where once philio love was their ideal, now hatred is their method.  Sure, they portend to love some, but those to whom they express love, are mere tools for controlling the government and society. Indeed, the liberals (socialists, Marxists, communists, progressives) are the seed for the end-of-time totalitarian government which will behead Christians for their faith. Those who join with them in evil will be safe at that time but damned for eternity. Now you may understand better why liberalism and Christianity are opposing religions!




Monday, October 9, 2017

Bragging Rights

I will brag a little here. There is much of which I am ashamed - even at this moment, but there is much which I can brag about. It's okay to "brag" of what one does for the Lord if the heart is not in it for God's credit. Even the apostle Paul bragged:
2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they (false teachers) ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Then Paul used the next several sentences to elaborate on his "bragging rights". None of those brags were for self-glory but to acknowledge his living sacrifices to Christ - i.e., his reasonable services (Romans 12:1).  This was not Saul speaking; it was the new creature - Paul. Paul was as zealous for God, as the old creature was against God. Paul took many of the same punishments which Saul had dished out - even unto death. Paul had bragging rights because he sacrificed himself to God.

Saul was struck blind by Jesus but in his darkness he saw the Light! Neither you nor I were struck blind to be born-again. However,  Paul was a zealot. God needed Saul the zealot to be Paul the zealot. Paul took the persecution as handily as Saul had implemented it. What Paul did was extremely hard work because he had a choice. His decision surely didn't come easy. Saul changed in attitude for the Lord, and God's new creature had a new name, and a new attitude.

Saul was part of God's plan from the Creation. The same Light that lit the darkness on day-one when the earth was born, is the same Light that lit the darkness when Saul was reborn. Pre-natal Paul lived in Saul. By God's grace Paul was delivered  from the gestation of darkness, and was crowned apostle as he emerged in the Light.

Paul had bragging rights; he changed. Paul worked hard to change but the Ghost of Jesus accompanied him through it all. Paul could have never persevered alone, let alone Saul, but with Jesus at his side, he came through until his service was done!

Paul withstood the thirty-nine knouts from the whip among other trials:
2 Corinthians 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27  In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28  Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
These inflictions were all "reasonable services to God". As he took the whip and the rods, my proposal is that he took them silently. I would bet Paul never even said "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" because Paul knew He had not. Jesus was right there Comforting Paul as he endured pain. The Holy Ghost made the pain bearable.

I would gamble that Paul never cursed, blasphemed, said evil or hateful things or used God's name in vain during his persecutions. For that, Paul has bragging rights. I would gamble that after the new person - Paul was born, that he never uttered a filthy word, drank unto insobriety,  partied with the world, or was neglectful in his worship. I would bet Paul never said Chese mas or Gamóto, common Greek expressions equivalent to English's most vulgar words.

I bet Paul never used dekára in reference to JHVH "damning" another person! In other words, Paul was holy. He was always Christ-like because he walked with Jesus!
1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

And Paul bragged again:
1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Paul followed Christ in his walk with him. He was Christ-like in attitude and behavior. He was even persecuted much as Christ was! Paul's attitude was WWJD? (What would Jesus do?). Jesus would never take his Father's name in vain, use filthy words, get drunk, party wildly or other things of the world which most in the flesh do.

Compared to Paul, I have very little to brag about. Like Paul, I am a "chief sinner". Unlike basketball where near-misses don't count, with sin we all miss the mark but it's the effort in it that matters. There are few layups, but if one cannot get the layups, the three-pointers are an impossibility.

I will brag on my layups. God took away my use of filthy or undesirable words at 22 years old, once I quit being a babe in Christ.  Before that, even as a chief sinner, did I ever use God's/Jesus' name in vain or ever damn anyone. (See, even sinners can obey what is obvious!) I quit using alcoholic beverages on my twenty-first birthday. (I have tasted it since and have no regrets).

Contrary to the excuse of Bill Clinton, and I am of his generation, but no, we all didn't smoke marijuana. To this day I have never even considered it because to take Jesus seriously we are to be vigilant and sober (1 Peter 5:8). Why would one choose inebriation or insobriety of any sort? The answer is simple: it removes inhibitions. That state leads to sinful behavior. If I choose to sin, I don't need the drugs because if I sin, at least I would want to be sober enough to enjoy it (sarcasm intended).

My list of bragging rights are short. However, I am in God's House about every time it is open. It's not I who goes there, but God who leads me to His House. I merely follow his Way. Of course, being in church doesn't cancel out sin, but it does keep one more conscious of righteousness. I always have  God's will on my mind, even though at times I am weak, just as Paul was.

If we do things for God, there is no shame in telling about it. It lets others know that it is possible to not sin, even though at times we fail. I find the layups easy, but still struggle with the three-pointers - loving God and others, and blocking the sins of the heart.

Satan knows my strong-holds. I quit stealing as a youth. However, at times I am still tempted to steal. Because I am at least in the game, Jesus blocks Satan for me, as I take these easy layups! Not stealing is a gimme! Most of the other layups are also gimme's with God's help. The Holy Ghost is there with me.

I still have so much sin on my life. God expects purity but I manifest impurity. Sometimes my three-pointers, which I get the credit for, are dirty-playing. I get the credit as I elbow God - my own team-mate Jesus out of the way. He's a sportsman; He still loves me because He knows that I know who my Captain is!

Enough of me but admittedly I am still ashamed since I am impure. Jesus is ashamed of me as well. My only bragging rights are that I take the easy shots even though I miss most of the long ones. Many others fail to even get the low-hanging fruits; they don't even attempt the layups!

Christians are assured that they are by their works.
Hebrews 10:26  For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.
Of course, those who misuse "by grace alone" don't buy into this, but our ability to not sin is by grace.  Each sin is a personal decision, and with the Holy Ghost at our side, He will make it possible. Therefore, not sinning is the evidence that we are walking with Jesus.

It bothers this sinner when others sin. Not because I am sin-free, but I have remorse for the sins of others, as I do for my own, for we all disappoint God. I just want to encourage other Christians to at least attempt the layups in practice for the longshots. God doesn't keep score, but that will tally up on your own score-sheet. If you are skilled at the layups, with practice, you will get more skillful at the tough shots which God likes best!




Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sundays: Whose Days?

It's raining outside right now. Perhaps that is an excuse. We know that baby, it's cold outside is as well, as any amount of snowflakes, or even the threat of heavy snow. Anyhow on Sunday, anything is an excuse. Family may be in who do not go to church or are of a different faith. No one wants to offend, so all stay home. For others, Sunday is family day. Any excuse will do for not honoring Sunday.

Sunday is the day of the sun. The names of each day of the week were given the Roman names of the planets and the sun. Because of the spread of an importance of Christianity, the day of the sun became the Lord's Day. Sol invictus ("unconquered sun") was the Roman sun god, and had its own cult which revived from the Latin cult of Sol - the solar deity of ancient Rome [See S. E. Hijmans, "The sun that did not rise in the east", Babesch 71 (1996) p.115–150]. 

In effect, to acclimate the Roman empire into Christianity after Constantine, the Catholic Church accepted pagan names as their own in naming the day of the Lord.

Look what Sunday has become, though! It is again the sun's day. If it is nice outside, the day belongs to the Lord, but if it is very nice, it's ownership is the sun's. That day becomes the day for golf, boating, the beach, or family get-togethers. Except for a slim amount of Sundays' the day belongs to the sun. It is only the Lord's Day when there is nothing better to do than go to church! 

At one time the day belonged to me. Not that I am the sun but because the day didn't belong to the Lord. I was a weak Christian who appeased my own god before God in heaven. The Lord's Day is not enslaved by rules, such the Sabbath is, because the Sabbath was for the Jews (historical Book of Enoch). However, the Lord's day is for remembering the Lord, and not for pleasuring the self. Remembering the Lord can take many forms, but usually all those would be where you nor I are not the focal point.

Sure, we can worship the Lord on the golf course, but do we? That is your day. We can worship the Lord at the beach, but again, that is your day! You get the idea. Every Sunday is your day.

When I bought my ski boat I made a resolution: I will not miss church to boat. (I meant for Sunday morning or Sunday evening church). I only remember one time when I misjudged the time. Note that I could have boated on Saturday - my day, but chose the Lord's Day. My excuse was that I worked on all the other days. Even with good intentions I still didn't honor the Lord totally on His day because I pleasured myself at the lake.

Pleasuring myself is the reason that I did not honor God. From the time of Adam, pleasure is what separated man from God. Adam and Eve did what they wanted in their own eyes because the tree of which they ate brought pleasure. God, being a jealous God (Exodus 20:5) Who warned not to bow down to them. Essentially, that is doing things we wish, rather than God's will. That makes God jealous, not of idols of material but those of flesh and blood. If we use the Lord's Day for us rather than the Lord, believe it or not, God is jealous of us because we put ourselves first!

I have changed since my early days. I am a new creature changed by the Lord. Now, rather than looking forward to Sunday as my day, it is more the Lord's Day. I make a feeble attempt to keep it the Lord's Day by going to His house - the church to worship. The feebleness of this is still the time before and in-between. Right now, I am writing these thoughts on Sunday before church. I am tithing some time for God because I not only owe God the pecuniary but myself.  In other words, Sunday is not my time, but belongs to the Lord. Where better to pay my dues than in His house where, if all are in accord, God reveals himself.

To be honest, many Sundays the Holy Spirit is there, but we can't detect Him because he is probably sitting in the back, so to speak, crying and praying for us. (I assume that God's Spirit prays because He is God's Power). Why? Because we are not in reverence to God nor in accord with one another. God knows the lack of love, even in the church, and shuns it. What are we to do? When in Church, whether it be God's House or our own, in His presence we are standing on Holy Ground (Exodus 3:5).

The place to be on the Lord's Day is standing on Holy Ground. His building should be the holiest of the holy in this day and age. That spot was where the priest was standing alone in the presence of God. Because Christians are of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), we can stand in the presence of the Lord in His Holy Place. In the patriarchal era, that was the priest standing alone in God's sanctuary, the inner sanctum of the tabernacle. Now that is each individual Christian, standing together in one accord in the Presence of God. 

Sanctuary is what church is to God, and for me! The remainder of the days I am in the world, but on the Lord's Day, I endeavor to be in that inner sanctum away from the world. I feel at one with God in His house, and should escape the temptations and chaos of the world. I look forward to Sundays because God's House - the church is my sanctuary to be safe from the world and at one with God!

As such, attending church is pleasurable to God, and me. You see, I get the benefits from praising God in His House! I guess, to be honest, I am there for me although for God as well. I don't believe God has a problem with that unless my mind wanders. Sometimes it does! 

Sometimes even in church, there is no sanctuary. We all bring some sin in there with us. Discord happens because of that. There may be animosities between people in church. God calls that hatred. There may be some who are less popular who are not included. James warns about that! (James 2:1-6). That is not being friends to all, and God despises that.

At other times some dress inappropriately, immodestly, or proudly; and rob the thoughts of others away from God. Royal priests should wear royal clothing. We think of royalty with grandeur but in God's eyes, the royal are the meek. (Matthew 5:5). With meekness is how John dressed - in plain garments - his of camel's hair.

Christians are Christians to save their lousy skins. Ironically, they desire that their own god - the self live for eternity. God is jealous of that but because he now wears flesh, He understands with empathy. As Christians, our desire is to have eternal life. That means living forever on Holy Ground in the Kingdom of God. There, we praise and honor God everyday - every day is the Lord's Day. Every day is Church Day, and every day is totally for God. Our reward there is to pleasure in the safety and magnificence of the Lord - forever!

Some resent Sunday. They don't even have a desire to spend one hour in God's House but yet expect to live every day forever in His Presence! That is foolish thinking, and is what Satan wants us to think. We should treasure Sunday in Church and do all that we can to take the focus off us, and put the emphasis on God. It is not music which we like but music which magnifies the Lord. 

Church is not for our entertainment or even our pleasure. Church has one purpose - to stand on Holy Ground and put God first. Part of that is the humility of removing our spiritual sandals as Moses did in God's presence. We are to make church entirely for God.

We may not enjoy the sermon. Satan's watcher's may be there if there is discord to take your mind off God. We may knit-pick the preacher or his sermon. Those are seeds of discord. He is praising God, and as long as its truth, his speaking dynamics is not of God's concern. Moses was even a poor speaker, yet the people listened to him. I would venture to say that Jesus spoke perfectly but in the common man's vernacular - for them Aramiac.

We must remember that church is for God, not us, except for the privilege of being in His House. With that privilege comes the desire to be there! And since we're there, we are to praise and honor God. 



Saturday, October 7, 2017

Truth

If it's truth, most won't like it! Truth offens those who deny it. Truth hurts because it is in opposition to us - the one premise, that we are not gods. That is ultimate truth!

Many philosophers have posed the question: What is truth?  Because reality is so hard to define, truth remains elusive if it must be scientifically explained. Ultimately, that is what philosophy is  - endeavoring to prove reality. Whatever the philosophy, truth will never be explained scientifically because human beings will never accept the truth.

As I sit here at the keyboard, I feel the response as I hit the keys. That is one of my senses. I taste my cappuccino as well. My taste testifies that that is truth. Essentially, I know that I am because I feel inputs to my mind, but what if all those sensory inputs are merely my mind's creation? What if I am only mind?

Of course, I feel pain but perhaps my mind creates the pain. In the end, I know that I exist because of my mind. What I accept as truth makes me exist.

Others can scientifically prove that I exist but perhaps it is only their minds which do. We interact with the world, but suppose the interaction is no more than a lucid dream? We accept that we are real because our minds accept our existence. All that we perceive makes us who we are. If we had no perception - perhaps comatose, do we exist? Science says we do not, and society agrees.

All this talk of truth is to get one to think. Our minds our limited in what we perceive, and what becomes our truth. When I tell people that they have horrendous looking creatures living in their eye-brows and lashes, they look at me with incredibility. I don't perceive them there, but microscopes seem to have revealed the monsters dwelling and feeding on me. I believe that to be true although I can't sense them at all. Others have convinced me that that is true.

I can't sense God. I can't prove his existence, but yet I believe that He is real and who He says He is. Even though everyone accepts that they are more than mind without proof, they fail to accept that God is real without being able to prove it. Although people can't perceive the mites dwelling in their own eye, they can detect God if they merely accept what they cannot see.

We can see the cosmos and giant red stars. Perhaps those are merely a projection on a dome over the world. Does that sound foolish? Not any more foolish than the belief that the earth is flat. However, we believe that there is a bizarre universe unseen to the eye - the matter of which we are told we're made. Just as the planets revolve around a great sun, inside us all, they say, are tiny electrons revolving around nuclei. I accept that as truth, although I have never seen that micro-universe.

That material universe is alleged to be my existence -  the matter that holds my mind. We can explain matter and mind, but what of our soul? I perceive my mind because I think, and I my matter makes me believe that I am real but what of my soul?

My soul is the container for God. My soul is filled with truth if God is in me. God is a God of truth. He said that I was made in His image. He called that our image! I think of me as one but I have identified matter and mind.  God says that I am different than the animals. I am told that I can be imbued with Spirit. That spirit must have a place to reside, and mankind calls that the soul. It's the container - cup, if you will, that holds the pneuma which flows from God to the Creation. Being told that, we are God's children and are in His image, God's most known attribute is His Spirit.  It's His Spirit which our mind has communion. Christians can actually sense God when they accept Him as truth - reality if you prefer.

At birth, our souls are empty. There is an unborn desire to have that container filled. Immediately pleasure starts to fill it, leaving little space for anything else. The mind becomes seemingly satisfied with pleasure, but inside the mind there exists the yearning for real meat. Our minds sense that. Perhaps yearning is another sense which cannot be measured.

God calls out: "I can sense your yearning, and I am here to fill it!" We can either accept that truth or deny it because God speaks only truth. That is circular reasoning but we seem to accept that often! Testing the existence of fact may all only be circular reasoning because we need to know.  The emptiness of the soul is a yearning to know the truth. Truth is calling to explain Himself. The emptiness of the soul welcomes God, or if we are so caught up in pleasure, we fail to sense this yearning.

Satan's way is to provide continual pleasure so that the yearning to know God - our Father, is held at bay. There is an instinctual need to know who we are. No orphan is ever satisfied not knowing his own parents. Satan, because he nourishes us with continual pleasure, becomes our father. He is always there, when we desire something, he always knows your pleasure. He knows what is in your cup, and has plenty more of the same. What he knows you like best is your stronghold. Those are the things which are so important to you,, that God is diminished in comparison.

Satan knows your heritage. You are the same as Adam who he tempted first. He knows that there is nothing new under the sun, and what tempted Adam to lust will tempt us all. As long as he provides what is our will, we will never realize God's will. Oh, we may sense it by the Spirit which calls often but we push God's will aside for our own satisfaction, never really being satisfied.

I know that I am tempted. Perhaps temptation is another sense. It must be because we can sense it. Temptation is therefore truth. It is because we are tempted and react to it. Our mind detects it although it can never be measured. There is much truth which we cannot see. It is real even though it can't be proven.

Our minds evaluate what we sense. It considers pleasure and compares it to hope. What is hope? Perhaps another immeasurable sense. I know that I have hope because I can detect it. Neither can it be measured but it is still real.

As our mind evaluates pleasure and hope, another unseen presence seeks in. Evil is its name. We can sense evil because we are somewhat receptive to the Spirit. We are not reprobate, or what psychologists call psychotic.  A new sense erupts. It makes us feel despair because it is the antithesis to temptation. It's the antibody which delivers us from future evil. It is of God as all things are. That is truth. God is always nearby, even to those whose father is the devil. When they disappoint God, He tells them how disappointed He is by His Holy Spirit. That is God convicting as He lets we realize how we are guilty. Guilt is a consequence of knowing you have wronged God. Your mind, realizing how disappointed your true Father is, ruminates unto sickness. You become disappointed in yourself. You come to realize that your other god - you, is imperfect. That is truth! We are imperfect. Everyone has sinned and come short of God's will.

Guilt makes divine criminals decide. We had the freedom to do God's will which we know by His Spirit, and our own will which temptation teases. We know it is our will, because we desire to do it. The Spirit changes our own will to God's. God wants us to sacrifice our own free will for his will. We all attempt to hang on to our own little other god and keep God at the same time. We serve two masters by doing so. We want our True Father, but our worldly father deceives us. By offering pleasure, we buy into his fatherhood. Ironically, parents in real life attempt to buy the same love by offering pleasure. In effect, they train their offspring to be children of Satan.

When we finally realize that our soul is empty, and that it must have hope, it dawns on us that Satan won't, and we can't in ourselves provide any real hope. Satan tells is that we can, but we can't. That is truth. We are born-again when we conclude that all this time, God offered hope, and we constantly rejected it. Our mind realizes - perhaps another sense, that we have been deceived. True hope lies not in ourselves, and it must come from elsewhere. Hope is very real and it can be terribly sensed when it is absent. Psychologists call this divine emptiness depression. The truth is, it's lack of eternal hope.

Depression is the extreme lack of purpose. Death is inevitable. There is a sense that there is nothing which can be done. Anxiety comes about when this distraught condition comes upon us: someday I will cease to exist.  Existence is of utmost importance. That is life.  We believe that we exist because of our minds. The thought of ceasing to exist seems to be unreal, but Satan plants within our minds to accept that as fate.  Ceasing to exist is deterministic. It creates a fear of death. Satan loves our misery, and tells us to accept his pleasure, that we have but one chance to enjoy it. We believe the lie!

Each time we do our own will, we obey the law of sin. It is Satan's law and we choose to follow it. It tells us, "What's the use, you will die!" On the other hand, the Law of God says, "Repent and you shall not die." We choose to believe the lie, if we even consider God, because with truth, pleasure is withheld - at least we're told. That too is a lie.

Pleasure is in the mind of the beholder. What is pleasure is in the attitude of the mind. The Spirit can clean the memories of pleasure, and give the mind a fresh start. This change in mind-set is the new creature. God changes the attitudes of the old creature back to what it was before Adam's fall. This is His new creation, and is called regeneration. When we are born-again, that's who we are to become!

Unfortunately, Satan never forgets. He remembers well how Adam rejected truth - you will die, and accepted the lie - oh, no you won't! He tempts the new creature even more than the first because he doesn't want to lose to God. Safety is a hedge which God provides to help protect the new creature from the devil's barbs.  God keeps us safe from the evil one until those who persevere are saved.

I can sense God's Safety. He comforts me. My soul becomes imbued with God. His Holy Spirit resides in me. I can sense Him. Perhaps that knowingness is a sense as well. It
is called the assurance of salvation.We know that our soul is no longer empty because our attitude changes. We go from unwilling to obey God to willing to do so, even in the face of temptation.

All these invisible and unmeasurable senses are as real as what  we can detect by the other senses. Hence, they are as much of truth as the reality of the other senses.

We must accept the truth which we know exists, and that is the reality of God. Even when our mind tells us that there is no God, our the lack of hope says there must be! Being born-again is when we accept the reality of that truth as God enlightens us!

By the way, what is this truth which I must come to realize? That I am a sinner and destined to die unless I am born again. That truth will set you free!