If Jesus pulled in right now, appeared right now, would you run right out to him…or would you be torn? Just imagine, Jesus is outside and waiting to take you away. What would you do? Would you just drop everything and run right out there, or would you be thinking about what you should grab to take with you? What about your stuff, your ‘cloak’, your wife, kids, dogs, cats, whatever? Would there be something inhibiting you from just running right out to Jesus? The question is, if you have those thoughts, are you really prepared for His coming, and if not, are you really fit for service in the kingdom of God? I don’t know the absolute answer to this. It seems to me that wanting to take your kids, wife, husband, ‘could’ be a show of love and how could love be a conflict with God? On the other hand, wanting to go back to get your ipod could point to a real problem.
I guess that's the question for all of us that claim the name of Christ. What must we do, who must we be, to be considered faithful? Jesus said many things that are relevant, but two things stand out for me. First, in John 14:21, Jesus said "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." And then, in John 14:23, Jesus said "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching." If you had to sum up what Jesus's teaching was, my Christian Interpretation would be that it would come down to love (John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.)
If love is the commandment, how then are we doing? If you took a survey of yourself, and in one column you noted acts of selfless love, how many entries would there be? Are we making the most of every opportunity, or are we a bit like the person James describes (James 1:23-24 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.)? Do we walk out the door and immediately forget who we are, who we want to be? It's so easy to do that, and to be sure, satan doesn't miss an opportunity to attempt to derail the best of intentions.
You know, as I'm sitting here thinking about this blog entry, it just dawned on me that I have a heavy jacket in my closet that I rarely use and could live without. The weather is getting colder here now, and we have many homeless people in this area. Surely one of them could make better use of it.
Politics! Once again it appears that the politicians have fooled us. In an apparent effort to make an administration (or administrations) look successful, they (temporarily) stimulated the economy in a short-sighted and irresponsible manner. Surprised? I'm not. The two party system is wrought with this type of behavior. The politicians love to point to the stats. Look at unemployment...look at the housing market...look at this and that. But, so often, the numbers are deceptive because they are the result of, what amounts to, bad business decisions. Decisions that are based strictly on the here and now...without considering the future implications. Want to buy a house even if, in reality, you can't afford it? We'll still give you a loan even if there is a good chance you will default on it. One little hiccup along life's way and you will be over your head in debt.
The way I understand it, the government is at fault in all this, though business took advantage of the government's idiocy. Since the government mandated that companies give loans to people who basically couldn't afford them, these companies did exactly that. There were a lot of commissions on the sale of homes. Capitalism would say...who cares if the home buyer can't afford the home? What matters is that I get my commission. If the home buyer made a bad decision, that's their problem and not my fault. That's what capitalism breeds, greed, and shortsightedness. Who cares that the whole economy collapses later on...what matters is the money I can make right this minute.
imo, the USA needs a whole new government system, as the system we have now has it's origins in selfishness (me), and greed (me). A system that is based on 'me', is doomed to self destruction.
CDs. I found out a bit of information recently that seemed worthy of mentioning. I had a CD that had matured and was in the grace period. I needed to move around some of that money, so I went into the bank to accomplish what I needed. When there, I asked what the new rates were and was given the appropriate information. What I learned in addition, though, (for the very first time) was that if you just allow the CD to roll over without contacting the bank, the interest rate you receive is much lower. In other words, if you trust the bank to treat you right, you are repaid with a lower rate. THANK YOU! If you call in and ask about rates without informing them that you have a CD already in their bank and get them to give you those rates...then (and only then) inform them that you have a CD coming due or in the grace period, you can request that the quoted rate be applied.
This information annoyed me, and caused me to lose all trust in banks. I have been guilty of allowing CDs to roll over on occasion. I now wonder how many $$$ I have lost because of these unethical business practices.
Monosodium glutamate. It took me 30 years to figure out that I was allergic to it. For 30 years I suffered from frequent headaches. Headaches that didn't respond well to over the counter pain killers, caffeine, or much else, and lasted 12 hours or so. One day I'd get a headache, the next maybe not. Some weeks I'd have a headache almost every day. I didn't know what to think. A few months ago I was praying about this and MSG popped into my head. I followed through on that and did some research and found that MSG was in some of the foods that I ate regularly. Campbell's soups for one. I had been eating Campbell's soups multiple times a week for those 30 years. I also discovered it was in a lot of chicken products...and I was (I thought) healthily choosing chicken sandwiches etc over beef almost every time I went to a restaurant.
Long story short....I stopped the Campbell's soups and anything else I noted that had MSG in it and NO MORE HEADACHES! How ridiculous is that? 30 years of headaches!
There is a lot of information about MSG online and I would recommend anyone and everyone do their own research on it, especially if you are also prone to headaches. Don't rely on the labeling of the products to reveal that they have MSG in them, though, as the industry has found ways of concealing it. Do your homework.
1 Samuel 16:14-15 ¶ Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.
I find this to be an interesting scripture and one that many have pondered but few have agreed upon. Personally, I’m considering the possibility that Saul’s experience is not entirely unique…that even you and I may occasionally experience something similar. First, I think the stage has to be set. Something, or someone, has to really cause you grief. The more personal, the more painful, the more frequent, the more likely that you could fall prey….that a seed of bitterness could find root. If you water that seed, if you allow it to grow, it can create an opportunity for the devil to take advantage of you. For that matter, the devil can remind you of the injustices, he can stir the pot. The next thing you know, indeed the Spirit of God has left you (after all, God is love), and an evil spirit is left to torment you.
I believe it is likely that the above scenario is not uncommon. What is the cure? Faithfulness. We have to take control. We have to submit to God…to resist evil…to forgive…to pray. We not only have to read what the Bible says, we have to understand it so that we can be aware of the devil’s schemes, and we have to do what it says (put on the full armour etc Ephesians 6:11).
Something I think we have to remember is that evil can spread. If one person is taken captive to do the devils’ will…what do you think the devil would have that person do? Break someone else down? The person that has been taken captive needs our prayers, not retaliation (Romans 12:20). Retaliation only feeds the fire.
How does that work? Scripture tells us that we have to believe it first (Mark 11:24). hmm. I don't know about you, but I can't seem to control the degree of my faith just because that's what I want to be able to do. I know I want to be all that God would have me to be, though. At least I think I do. Therein, a theory is born. It's a natural progression. First you follow God's commandments (because you love them and you love Him)...or at the very least...try your very best (and I mean very best) to follow God's commandments. Not short term, mind you. Long term....committed. Incrementally your faith is increased. At that point, though, what do you think you would be claiming? A new car? Prosperity? Somehow, I don't think so. Surely, you'd be claiming things a lot more righteous than that.
Matthew 17:24-27 ¶ After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?" "From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."
I love that scripture. I giggle when I imagine the collectors going with Peter to the lake, Peter catching a fish (the first one, mind you), opening it's mouth and pulling out the coin! Can't you just picture the look on the collectors faces?
Jesus did some amazing things (miracles). Things that cannot be explained via the natural no matter how creative you attempt to get. Miracles like walking on water (John 6:19), controlling the weather (Matthew 8:26), turning water into wine (John 2:7), raising the dead (John 11:43, Mark 5:35), giving sight to the blind (John 9:6), casting out demons (Matthew 17:18), feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:15), etc, etc, etc.
Jesus is Lord.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if God had not set eternity into the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11)? If the human race believed that there were no rewards and no punishments and no having to give an answer to anyone? If the human race believed that they only had this one life to live, and no matter how they lived this life, the only thing they could anticipate was the finality of death? What kind of race would we be? What kind of a world would this be? Do you think the suicide rate would increase or decrease? Do you think the murder rate would increase or decrease? Do you think violent crimes would increase or decrease? My Christian Interpretation would be that life on planet earth would take a nose dive.
Thank God that heaven and hell do exist! Thank God that He has put that knowledge in our hearts, and given us His Word to help us in our understanding. Thank God for the gift of His Son and the forgiveness of sins.
A few posts back I spoke a bit about the wisdom of God. God tells us not to show favoritism, that He doesn't show favoritism, and that showing favoritism is, in actuality, a sin. If you have ever been discriminated against, you probably understand why favoritism is a sin. It's a potential breeding ground for all kinds of negativity. It can cause division, hurt, anger, insecurity, depression, vindictiveness, bitterness, hatred, etc. Does God want you to suffer that? Does God want you to create an atmosphere conducive to generating those kinds of feelings and emotions? My Christian interpretation would be....nope...He sure doesn't.
I guess one question we have to ask ourselves is....are WE showing any favoritism? Do we treat one of our children a little better than another? Do we show one of our employees more respect? Do we treat a race or gender better than another? We may be making one person feel special, and without realizing it, causing someone else to feel insignificant and unloved.
The other question we might need to ask ourselves is....what is our responsibility if we are the subject of favoritism? If showing favoritism is a sin, what about willingly, knowingly, accepting favoritism?
The writer of Ecclesiastes says:
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ¶ Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
If the whole duty of man is to fear God and follow His commandments, then I suppose, my Christian interpretation of the purpose of life would be to learn that. The purpose of life, therefore, could be summed up by saying we are here to learn about God and have a relationship with Him (could it be that simple?).
God, therefore, designed us, life on planet earth, and for that matter, the universe, to be conducive to learning about Him.
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
So right off the bat, you are confronted with a mind boggling universe and an innate understanding that this was no accident. The stage is set, God exists.
As you observe life, as you live life, you begin to understand that those living are not in complete control of their destiny. In the world around you, you see mortality. At the same time, man does not see death as finality because God has set eternity into the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This understanding lends itself to the beginning of wisdom, the fear of God (Proverbs 9:10). After all, we are going to have to give an answer for the things we’ve done while in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10). This fear of God can motivate us to learn what we can about God, and potentially, come to the knowledge of Christ and a real relationship with God. And so it goes.
Everyone needs to feel that they are valued. They thirst for it like a dry parched land thirsts for rain. In our world, too many live in a drought that lasts a lifetime. They reach out their hand, they hope, only to be rebuffed and disappointed. Though I’ve heard it said that hope springs eternal, and that the human spirit is resilient, I worry that some will quit reaching out and quit hoping. If that happens, it’s a tragedy.
We are so quick to give counsel, but so slow to give encouragement by way of warm acceptance and positive responses. How often do you feel really loved and appreciated? How often do you make others feel that way?
When the rains return and the dry parched land is once again watered, the apparent desert wasteland is transformed and springs back to life. Know anyone that is showing signs of drought?
Jesus speaks of a time when the love of many will grow cold. My Christian interpretation is that we may be entering just such a time. I only hope that I am not one of the many.
It's amazing how quickly things change. Not so long ago, the verse below was far more puzzling...at least to me it was.
Revelation 13:16-17... He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Now, I can see the virtual inevitability of a paperless currency. My Christian interpretation would be that currency will be digital at some point. Your ID will likely be some sort of technology implanted under your skin, probably microscopic. You won't need to carry credit cards, bank cards, drivers licenses, etc. All that information will be under your skin. Life in the real world will be a bit like surfing the internet is now. Everything you buy, everything you sell, and probably every place you go, will be able to be tracked. You will be a walking gps receiver.
Another interesting thing about this topic is that in some ways, the idea doesn't seem entirely bad. How convenient it would be to not have to carry a wallet, purse, etc around with you all the time. Everywhere you went, you would have access to your finances. Countries could eliminate the cost of running mints and printing money. Ecologically, it might be less of an impact. Being able to be tracked could have positives as well...such as if you got lost in the wilderness. Most likely, these implants could also have the ability to monitor physical vital signs etc. Undoubtedly, many would deem the benefits of such a system a blessing instead of a curse. Can you see it happening this way?
I'm a lover of the great outdoors. I've been hiking the hills and mountains since I was a child. I hike for a number of reasons. I love the quiet and privacy that being out in the middle of nowhere affords. I like spending that time in fellowship with God and in contemplation of the things of life. I like getting some exercise. I like to explore, to see what's around the next turn.
Recently I have been hiking in an area where there is a hawk nest along the way. Each and every time I stroll by there, at least one of the hawks is in the air. Usually both of them are. It doesn't matter the time of day, evening, morning, or afternoon, there they are soaring above. I presume they are looking for food and keeping an eye on their nest. I'm amazed at how hard they work.
This appears to be the fate of most that live on this planet. Virtually all life seems to be toiling to survive. I know that's no revelation, but planet earth is a pretty rough place to eke out an existence. Around every corner, and even up in the sky, there may be something hunting you and wanting to eat you, or in the case of man, maybe just to kill you for the fun of it. You have to work diligently to get enough to eat, which often requires you killing other things. Often times you have to come up with some sort of shelter as well. Then there are the invisible killers like diseases, etc. I guess it wasn't just Adam that was kicked out of the garden. This is a planet that requires you to work very hard at surviving.
The reason I mention all this is because on these very hikes that I often take, these very hikes where I observe the nature of life on this planet, I find myself asking God to help me to be more like Him. His Word says that He is love...and if you live in love, you live in Him. I'm asking that He help me to love like Him. And then I remember another part of His Word. It says that if you seek Him with your whole mind, heart, and soul, He will be found. I look up at the hawks...and there they are seeking to survive with all their hearts and all the effort that goes into it. I ask myself if I am striving that hard to be in God's presence...to love like He loves.
I'm a Christian and I've analyzed my fair share of my own dreams as well as a number of dreams shared with me by others, and in so doing, I've come to one primary conclusion. Dreams are almost always about what has preoccupied ones thoughts during waking hours. The interesting thing to me is how the mind recreates those thoughts. In my opinion, the only possible way to interpret a dream accurately is to know what is preoccupying the dreamer's thoughts during those waking hours. If you can identify those conscious thoughts and concerns, then you can begin to identify the images and words in the dreams and how they relate. Here's a little example:
As a new Christian I began having dreams that had coins in them. I kept finding or noticing coins in my dreams. At first I did not understand, but later realized that the dreams weren't about coins, they were about 'change'. You see, every day I was trying to be Christ like. I was trying to change. I was looking to change. I wanted to change. I wanted to please God, I wanted to be a better man. Change was my focus and the key word in understanding those dreams.
In my experience, nothing is wasted in a dream. Every image and every word has some significance. In the end, though, I don't find the analyzing of dreams to be very useful because you already know what you are thinking about during conscious waking hours. Watching how your mind reinvents, recreates, clothes, those thoughts can be interesting and amazing, but not that useful in the final analysis.
Obviously, you don't have to be a Christian to interpret dreams. You just have to take the time to write them down in as much detail as you can recall. Then begin to look at them from the context of what has been going on in your own head and life. And don't forget to hear (as in words) what you may see in the dream.
On a similar note to the post below, I've been noticing some weeds, dandelions actually, popping up all over the lawn on some property close by to where I live. There was a time when it was a rarity to see a single dandelion on those grounds. Now, there are more dandelions than grass. Just down the road, there is another piece of property with a beautiful lawn, meticulously manicured. Obviously, one is being carefully cared for, and the other is currently being neglected. Anytime our relationship with Christ is neglected, the tares begin to spring up. Anytime we are not careful to guard and build up that which is more precious than gold, which is our faith, the tares begin to spring up.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Is it time to get out the gardening tools?
Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the wall.
Nehemiah 2:17 Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace."
They started to rebuild and were ridiculed and plotted against.
Nehemiah 4:11 Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work."
But what happened?
Nehemiah 4:9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
Nehemiah 4:13-15 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
My Christian interpretation would go like this: Anytime we try to get back to God, to get closer to God, to strengthen our faith, to be more faithful, the enemy is going to try to stop it. We need to see the example set before us in Nehemiah and be on guard for the attack...being watchful, vigilant, and prayerful, while continuing to work diligently toward faithfulness.
Is it just me, or is the USA (mostly) run by a bunch of morons and populated (mostly) by the same? The country is over 9 trillion dollars in debt! The governments' answer for a slow down in the economy: give everyone that filed a tax return a rebate check for 300-600 dollars? What kind of answer is that? Let's go deeper in debt? Let's mismanage to even a greater degree? Let's show the world what a complete bunch of idiots we are? Oh my goodness.
Gas prices are too high. What to do? Oh, I know, let's do away with the gas tax at least temporarily? Well, what are those taxes for? Where does that money go...what does that money accomplish? Where is that money going to come from if it doesn't come from those taxes? Oh, I see, let's go further in debt...or rob Peter to pay Paul. We'll pay back Peter later. Good planning.
What plagues America that it has been reduced to a laughing stock? Could it be that the whole political system is based on a popularity contest? Could it be that anyone actually trying to deal with the real issues that the country faces has no real chance of ever being elected because changes of the magnitude necessary would require a complete restructuring of America and would likely impact just about everyone's current life style? Is the problem now too big to address responsibly? Must a new beginning be birthed from catastrophe?
My Christian Interpretation would be that countries rise to power and countries fall from grace. What precedes the fall? A distancing from God, and all things called holy. A man reaps what he sows, and so does a country.
There are different Christian Interpretations of the age of the earth. Some say the earth is 7- 10,000 years old. Some say the earth is billions of years old. If I am going to make a logical assumption, I'd guess the earth is in the billions. If I am going strictly by faith, then it's a bit tougher, but still not impossible to come up with a number in the billions. If you notice, the first verse of Genesis says this:
Gen 1:1 ¶ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
That whole 'in the beginning' thing is open to interpretation. There is no morning and evening assigned to this particular creative act. Therefore, I am not certain how long the earth existed before God created the 'light'.
Ever wish you could make an appointment with the Lord God and have a nice sit down, face to face, two-way conversation? I don't know about you, but I find myself needing guidance on a daily basis. I so desire to make the 'right' choice, to do the 'right' thing, to say the 'right' thing, and I know, at times, that the only possible way I can be sure I am doing what is best, is if I could speak with God and have him direct me. Yes, I pray. Yes, I listen. Yes, I read the Word. Sometimes, though, I need more. I need to be able to sit down and say "hey dad, I've got a dilemma. What would you do in this situation?" Then I need to hear His clear and precise response.
I just finished watching the movie 'Into The Wild'. It left an impression. One thing really caught my ear. To paraphrase, if you don't forgive, you can't love. I thought how true. They kind of cancel each other out, don't they? You can't really love someone that you are holding something against. In not forgiving, you reap the results. Jesus said that if you didn't forgive men their trespasses, God would not forgive yours. Now I think I get it. After all, God is love, and he who lives in love lives in God and God in him. If you aren't living in love, you might say that you are reaping the whole God not forgiving you in a way, because you are not able to walk in His presence in that state. This comment by Jesus could well have been about the present, not necessarily judgement day. There may be something huge here. The keys to the kingdom. What you bind on earth you bind in heaven. What you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven.
I do believe, though, that good can be a result of an evil or painful encounter in life (for those who believe), but evil cannot come from good. God is not the author of sin.
Just a couple of examples of the wisdom and love of God. God says that we should not seek revenge. He says to leave that to Him (Romans 12:19…Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord). Someone might think that God loves to take revenge. My Christian interpretation would be that I don’t think so. God knows what revenge and vindictiveness feels like and what it does to a person and He wants to protect us from it. He knows that it is poison and asks you to hand it over to him…to rid yourselves of it...to cast your burdens on Him. In like manner, in the Old Testament God forbid the Israelites to eat fat (Leviticus 7:23…Say to the Israelites: ‘Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats’). The fat belonged to God. Why? Was it because God coveted the fat for Himself? Did God so love the fat of animals that He didn’t want to share it with us? Today we know that the fat of animals is not healthy. Once again, God was trying to protect us. This is the theme throughout the Word of God. Is not every commandment of God really an attempt by God to help us, to protect us, to bless us?
Life is not discriminatory. If you live it, at some point, you will be challenged by it. God doesn’t play favorites. It would appear that part of the reason for living is the challenges. Most likely, a huge part of the reason for living is the challenges. It’s as if God is asking if we will remain faithful in all and any circumstances. For some, when life is going along without a hitch, that is a challenge. A challenge to their faithfulness. Will they stay focused on God when things are going so well, or will they find their focus is on other things. For others, it's when life is difficult that they may find themselves at odds with God and turning away from Him. It doesn't always work that way, though. As the bible teaches, God would actually draw the Israelites to Himself through hardship. They would turn back to God when things got tough.
On the plus side, capitalism creates incentive, incentive breeds competition, and competition breeds innovation. Capitalism motivated by a base nature of greed, selfishness, and vanity, is the counter weight to another base nature component of selfishness...laziness.
So here is the crux of the matter. Capitalism is inherently shortsighted. It’s about making as much money as you can as fast as you can. It’s about you, it’s about now. That makes for lousy planning for the future and future generations.
Have you ever witnessed an incandescent light bulb glass break while it was turned on? The now exposed element burns very bright for a couple of seconds before burning up and going out. That is my analogy of capitalism. Societies built on capitalism can indeed burn brightly for a moment in time, but then they will fall.
It’s an interesting thing…this thing called vanity. We can see the one that dresses up, albeit, with long hair or a beard or a mustache or a tattoo or body piercings or green hair or name brand clothing or expensive shoes or belt buckles or ball caps or jewelry, etc. Their costumes say ‘look at me’…I’m special…I’m cool…I don’t give a damn…I do give a damn….I’m a rebel…I’m successful, etc. This outer adornment may seem prideful on the surface, but sometimes this adornment of the outer is but a cry for self worth and approval. This one that dresses up may well be lacking in pride.
And then there is the one that may misjudge those that are decorated as being prideful. And though they that judge may not be dressing up, they too are caught in vanities snare.
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