Thursday, May 29, 2008

What is the purpose of life?

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.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Valued

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.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not so long ago...

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?

Ufos

Can the prospect of life on other planets live in harmony with Christianity?  Currently, my Christian interpretation would be 'yes', but what is your opinion on this potentially controversial topic? 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Toiling...

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.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Christian interpretation of dreams

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.  

Wheat and tares...

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?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Protection

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.

and...

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.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mismanaged to the nth degree...

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.

How old is the earth...

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'.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Scheduling an appointment...

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.