Monday, December 7, 2009

Forgiveness…

Mark 11:25…“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

Matthew 6:15…“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Taken literally, these scriptures would not make much sense. Consider that God is love (1 John 4:16) and God directs us to forgive others….but then if we don’t….he doesn’t forgive us? Does that make sense to you? It sounds hypocritical to me, and I know God is not that. I’m convinced that these scriptures are really talking about fellowshipping with God, communing with God. You see, God doesn’t change (Mal 3:6). In Him is no shadow of turning (James 1:17). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). For us to commune with God, we have to go where He is. You might say that God lives on that narrow road that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 7:14. Indeed, if we fail to forgive, hold grudges and ill will, etc, we cannot stay on that narrow path because it is the path of love, light, and life. Indeed, anytime we allow bitterness, hatred, ill will, anger, vindictiveness to control us, we are tormented (gnashing of teeth), and you might say, cast out into outer darkness. We will stay there until we learn otherwise (pay the last penny).

Personally, I don’t think these scriptures relate to salvation. If you truly have accepted God’s provision…namely Christ....you are saved. That doesn’t mean you will not fail at times. What that does mean, though, is at times you will fall out of true fellowship with God. Hopefully we will notice very quickly, repent, and enter back into fellowship with Him.

Matthew 18:34-35… In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Matthew 5:25…"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.”

Matthew 13:34…Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Do you need to be loved…

…to love? In other words, can you truly love others, if you, yourself, did not receive that kind of love when you were growing up? Can it be formed in you without having learned it in that way?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Is God mad at you?

Everything going smooth in your life? No? Hmmm. Maybe God is mad at you? Have you been a good little boy or girl? Pretty good you say? Any ideas then why God would be punishing you? Let me think about that. Hmmm. Nothing really stands out, but I know I’m not perfect. I must have done something wrong that God is punishing me for. Ahhh. Maybe it’s not God. Maybe it’s just life? Maybe it’s the corruption of the flesh? Maybe it’s satan? I wonder, would great parents smack you in the face as a discipline but not explain to you what they are disciplining you for? No, you say? Interesting. Then I don’t think God would do that either, do you? I mean, if no one explains to you what you have done wrong, but only punishes you, how do you learn? You guess? You become neurotic? On the other hand, satan would love to confuse you, he would love for you to blame God for all the bad things that happen, wouldn’t he? We don’t need satan to explain his purposes, do we?

On the one hand I hate to give satan any attention whatsoever. On the other hand, he needs to be exposed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Helping others…

What kind of help do people need the most? For instance, If you know someone that is really unattractive, what might be the best way to help them? Tell them that they need plastic surgery? Point out their flaws? How about loving them, being a true friend to them, just the way they are?

If you know someone that is unhappy, what might be the best way to help them? How about telling them how stupid it is to be unhappy? Try to convince them that being happy is better? Or how about just loving them, being a true friend to them, just the way they are?

If you know someone that is judgmental, what might be the best way to help them? Pointing out the error of their ways? Judging them for being judgmental? Or how about just loving them, being a true friend to them, just the way they are?

What if a person is negative/pessimistic? What might be the best way to help them? Shoot them and put them out of their misery? Call them names? Insult them? Or how about just loving them, being a true friend to them, just the way they are?

In my examples above, I mentioned both physical and behavioral issues. Some might think that they are very different things, but I don’t think so in the context of this writing. If a person is physically challenged, indeed, they did not choose that. On the other hand, if a person was born into a family that exhibited negative behaviors, they would likely inherit those traits as well, and again, neither did they choose that. The behavioral traits of a person may even be more insidious in that they may be completely unaware that they even exhibit those traits. It’s who they are….not who they are trying to be. Therefore, when someone attempts to correct that behavior, they are, in essence, insulting the very person exhibiting the behavior. Make sense?

I’m of the belief that love cures all, and the lack of love is at the root of most human psychological issues. It seems to me that criticism (accurate or not) only makes matters worse and is fodder for the devil. Criticism does nothing to build a person up and that is what we are called to do (Eph 4:29).

As we all know, love in word only, is hypocritical and useless. My Christian Interpretation would be that true love is loving in actions and in truth (1 John 3:18), and a person that is truly loved will find healing without even looking for it. It takes time, though. In many ways, we are the sum of our experiences, and I’m certain that virtually every one of us could use and benefit from a heaping helping of love and acceptance.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

True motives?

First off, let me just say that I’m not a republican and I’m not a democrat.  I’m just an American.

As you probably know by now, we lost our bid to host the 2016 Olympic games here in the USA. You may also know that, President Obama, got personally involved in an attempt to secure those games. Why? The Fox News channel, of course, is spinning the negative and saying that the president did so for all the wrong reasons…selfish and vain reasons. Of course, they are not quoting the president, just telling us what they ‘think’. I also have a thought. Maybe the President went out of his way to try to bring business here? Maybe he was willing to humble himself and make a plea to the IOC for the games for the benefit of Americans? After all, we all know that hosting the games creates jobs and increases tourism which helps our economy. Right?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The power of thought…

How much real power is there in thought? For instance, if people around you are coming down with a cold or the flu and the thought crosses your mind that you, too, may be in jeopardy of that same fate, does that actually improve your chances of catching that same sickness? Have you opened the door? Have you given sickness permission just by considering the possibility? Or is it more about whether or not your body has built up a resistance to whatever germ is infecting people at that time? Does it have more to do with whether you have been taking good care of your body by feeding it properly, getting enough rest, fluids, etc. Could it relate to genetics and how well you manage stress? How about good hygiene? Could it be about a combination of any or all of the above? Some people seem to think that if you get a cold it’s because your faith is weak. If you get cancer, it’s because your faith is weak. For me, that begs the question. Why did Paul have the affliction he had? Did Paul try to just believe it away? Nope, he sure didn’t. He did pray, though…he did ask. What answer did he receive? Why did Epaphroditus almost die for the work of Christ (Philippians 2:27)? Was Paul and Epaphroditus’ faith too weak? What about Timothy?  Paul speaks of his frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23).  Was his faith weak? My Christian Interpretation would be that I don’t think so. Illness and affliction are a part of life on planet earth. Notice that children get sick far more often than adults. Why is that? Weak faith, or they haven’t built up any resistance yet? Building up resistance is part of life, too. In Matthew 5:36 Jesus informs us that we cannot make even one hair on our head white or black. Try it. Find a hair on your head, close your eyes and imagine (until you are blue in the face) it a different color (no cheating). Now open your eyes. Any luck? If it’s all about your thoughts…here is a better test. Stop the aging process. Do you want to get old and decrepit? Just don’t buy into it then.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Jesus’ name…

It’s no magic formula. Just tacking on ‘in Jesus’ name’ to the end of a prayer does not insure anything. There’s more to it than that.  Some of the scriptures below not only include the origins of the catch phrase, but an explanation of what’s required of us as well. Notice the conditions for receiving what you ask for: Faith in Him. Asking in His Name. Obeying His commands. Remaining in Him and His words remaining in you.  Doing what pleases Him. Loving one another.  But don’t be fooled!  Though your faithfulness testifies to your love for, faith in, and commitment to Christ, you still have no power.  The reason that you ask ‘in His Name’, is because He is the one doing the miracle!  When someone is healed in Jesus’ Name, it’s a confirmation, it’s a sign to the witnesses, that Jesus is who GOD said He was.  After all, there is salvation in no other name under heaven.  It’s pretty important that people know that. 

John 14:12-15…I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, you will obey what I command.

John 15:7-10…If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

1 John 3:21-24…Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

James 4:3…When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Acts 3:1-16…One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.  Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!"  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.  When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.  While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.  When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.  You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.  You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.  By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

Acts 9:32-35…As Peter travelled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda.  There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years.  "Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and tidy up your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up.  All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My, Me, and I…

How good are we at intercession? When someone sins against us personally, how often does that put us right on our knees asking God to please forgive them? I’m pretty certain that the collective answer would be ‘not often enough’. It would appear that the spirit of intercession is really quite foreign to us….as is loving our neighbor as ourselves, and yet that is the high calling. Indeed God’s ways are not our ways. Indeed God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). None the less the command is to be holy (Leviticus 11:45). Note below a few biblical examples of an intercessory spirit and one in which I’m certain God loves. Also, note that in some of the examples, how the person interceding identifies with the sin…includes themselves! Not the traditional, forgive THEM…but rather forgive US!  My Christian Interpretation would be that none of these prayers are about my, me, and I, but rather about the collective good.  How does our prayer life stack up against these examples?

Exodus 32:31-32…So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin— but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."

Exodus 34:8…Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. "O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord go with US. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive OUR wickedness and OUR sin, and take US as your inheritance."

Numbers 16:41-48…The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. "You have killed the LORD’s people," they said. But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the Tent of Meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and the LORD said to Moses, "Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once." And they fell facedown. Then Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started." So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.

Deuteronomy 9:6…When I looked, I saw that you had sinned against the LORD your God; you had made for yourselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you. So I took the two tablets and threw them out of my hands, breaking them to pieces before your eyes. Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD’s sight and so provoking him to anger. I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me. And the LORD was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too.

Acts 7:59-60…While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Luke 23:34…Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our, Us, and We…

OUR Father…

Give US…

OUR daily bread…

Forgive US…

OUR trespasses…

As WE forgive…

Those who trespass against US

Lead US not into temptation..

Deliver US…

Philippians 2:4…Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sharing the blame…

It appears that a country is like a child. It develops, and as it develops, it’s forced to make some changes. What was appropriate when it was young may no longer be appropriate after it fully develops. The trick is transitioning. You see, rarely does anyone want to change. Of course, if the change is directly beneficial to you, then change is easy. But what if the ‘changes’ mean some sacrifices? Any volunteers? Yeah…not many will volunteer for that. In a democracy change can be even more difficult to attain….because it takes a majority to make changes. That’s where the topic…sharing the blame…comes in. In large part, I believe the government is responsible for getting us into this economic mess we find ourselves in. They didn’t react/respond quick enough to the hand writing on the wall (and I mean for the last 50 years). It seems they sat on their laurels…kind of like the American car manufacturers did back in the 70s when the Japanese starting building better automobiles then us. They refused to change until it was too late and needed to be bailed out. The American government seems to be guilty of the same thing. Whether it’s due to corruption, self-preservation (afraid they will lose an election), short-sightedness, ignorance, or laziness…it doesn’t really matter. What matters now is ‘how can we fix it’? What’s it going to take? Are we, the people, willing to change? Are we, the people, willing to sacrifice? If not, and the system does collapse, then we also will share the blame on that day.

I read the news today…oh boy…

Things have changed. I remember when I was a kid, at some point it was just about every little boy’s dream to one day be the president. Remember those days? The president’s office was respected and revered. It was the highest office in the land and, for that matter, the world! Having the president stop by your school and give a speech was akin to the Beatles stopping by. Now, some parents are threatening to keep their kids home from school on the day the president is scheduled for a visit! Have things gotten out of control? You’d almost have to be crazy now to want to be president. What would you be volunteering for? Constant abuse? Continual attacks? Unrelenting scrutiny by the media?

It’s a slippery slope. On the one hand, you want the office to be under scrutiny. A respectful scrutiny, though, might be good. Instead we have a media circus that is powered by ratings and greed while parading as the savior of the world.

I guess I appreciate the ‘news’. But just give it to me…just give me the facts without bias. Don’t try to convince me of what I should think…or that I should think like you. I’m going to base my opinion on the facts. And if you try to force your opinion on me, I’m going to boycott you.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

To think or not to think…

Romans 11:33…Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

Indeed, God’s ways are beyond tracing out. I have tried, and continue to try tracing them out, and though I come up with a multitude of thoughts and angles, I’m never completely sure if any of them have merit. The question then becomes ‘is it worth attempting to understand’ the whys and wherefores of life and of God or would we be better served by just accepting whatever comes and not doing any probing for answers and/or understanding?

When you read the book of Job, I guess you could say that everyone was trying to put reason to circumstances. In the end, God basically said ‘just trust me’. Right?

I do think that the best case scenario would be that we ‘accept’ our circumstances gracefully and with humility, but it also seems appropriate that we should be introspective? How else might we uncover the error of our ways, if indeed whatever circumstances we find ourselves in are, in actuality, self-induced?

So, should we be looking for God behind the circumstances, or should we just be looking at ourselves? Or should we do both?

I suppose that would depend on the circumstances themselves. For example, if there is a tornado in your neighborhood and it misses many homes, but blows yours to smithereens? This would seem like a scenario that is completely beyond your control…you might even call it an ‘act of God’, therefore it could be a good time to apply ‘accept gracefully and humbly’. After all, what are the alternatives here? Blame yourself? Blame God? Blaming yourself, if you aren’t the responsible party, is self defeating…and blaming God is ALWAYS a bad idea. How do you benefit from that? Of course, if a tornado does blow your house to smithereens, you might want to at least ponder your relationship with God….just in case something is very askew.

On the other hand, suppose you are texting while driving and cause an accident? This would definitely be a time for introspection, and hopefully repentance and self improvement. After all, God didn’t cause the accident, you did. But what if you were in the other car and suffered severe injuries due to the negligence of the texting driver….what would your thinking be then?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just a reminder…

Luke 21:6-36 "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down." "Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?" He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.

"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The ‘full’ gospel series…

Sometimes it seems that only half of the message is preached. I think it’s because in our human wisdom, sometimes we think that we may alienate someone by telling it like it is. We want to candy coat it, so it’s more palatable. I’m of the belief that God didn’t make a mistake when He provided us with the Word in it’s fullness. For instance:

We’ve all heard that God is good. God is love. God is merciful.

But how about the fear of God? Did that get lost in the translation? The teaching is definitely in both the old and new testaments, and yet you may not hear that preached from the pulpit much. Is that wise…or is that human wisdom getting in the way of God’s wisdom?

Pr 9:10  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Lu 12:5  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where to draw the line…

1 Peter 4:12 ¶ “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Have you ever been persecuted for who knows what? I mean…it may be public knowledge that you are a Bible believing Christian, but you aren’t the type that is forcing your beliefs on everyone around you. You are just living your life, trying to keep a good attitude, and being the best person you can be. It’s not like you are living in the days of the early church where you could be seen as a threat or heretic to other established belief systems. It’s not like you are a missionary in a foreign land that is known to be hostile toward Christianity. You are in your own backyard, so to speak, a predominantly Christian country. But…the persecution comes and it’s ‘strange’ because it’s hard to identify why you are being persecuted and attacked. Ever been there?

In 2 Timothy 3:12-13 he says: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” I wonder sometimes about where that persecution comes from. Is it flesh and blood (Eph 6:12) or does satan do the persecuting? Does he take people captive to do his will (2 Tim 2:26)? Apparently so. Is satan persecuting you?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rush and Hannity…

In my opinion, ‘conservative’ talk radio is damaging the Republican party. People like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and others, that do nothing beyond complaining and spewing negativity and hate speech will ultimately turn people away from the party. I can say that, because it’s happening to me. I personally have tired of their incessant critical, judgmental, and negative comments to the point where I turn to a different channel/station when I hear their voices. They are utterly predictable at this point. My Christian Interpretation would be that they have gone off the deep end, that satan has taken them captive. The Bible says that a tree is known by its fruit. The fruit of their lips appears to have little in common with the fruits of the Spirit.

It seems kind of ironic that these folks that see themselves as the saviors of the Republican party are actually putting the nails in the coffin.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Prayer…

I once heard a joke of sorts….that went something like this:

A Jewish man goes into the synagogue and prays. "O Lord, you know the mess I'm in, please let me win the lottery."

The next week, he's back again, and this time he's complaining. "O Lord, didn't you hear my prayer last week? I'll lose everything I hold dear unless I win the lottery."

The third week, he comes back to the synagogue, and this time he's desperate. "O Lord, this is the third time I've prayed to you to let me win the lottery! I ask and I plead and still you don't help me!"

Suddenly a booming voice sounds from heaven. "Benny, Benny, be reasonable. Meet me half way. Buy a lottery ticket!"

Which brings up the question…when you are praying…are you meeting God half way? If you are obese and pray that God will help you lose weight and yet don’t diet or exercise, what are you expecting? If you are unemployed and pray that God will open a door for you to gain employment…and yet put little effort into seeking work, what are you expecting? If your business is not doing well, and you pray that God will prosper you, but do nothing to address the deficiencies of the business, what are you expecting? That old saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’ rings a bit true. The Word of God paints a pretty clear picture about the benefits of hard work, of self discipline. It also paints a pretty clear picture of the pitfalls of laziness. Read the book of Proverbs closely and you will find many references. Does that mean, then, that whatever success you do achieve is purely by your own efforts? My Christian Interpretation would be that I don’t think so. God is still the great provider, but He also won’t be mocked…and a man truly does reap what he sows (excepting in regard to salvation itself).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Social Security…

I think most Americans know that the government has totally mismanaged the social security funds. After all, the baby boomers have been paying in tons of money for many years now. Any intelligent, responsible organization/business, would have been investing those funds so that they grew. Instead, the government tapped those funds and used them in other areas. Now that the baby boomers are (finally) getting close to retirement, we are hearing more and more comments about how the whole social security system is bankrupt (or close to bankrupt) and something needs to be done. One suggestion I’ve been hearing is raising the retirement age.

My personal opinion is that if the government wants to raise the retirement age, then that should only apply to the people who sign up for social security after that new contract is put into effect. In other words, those new to social security would be signing a different contract. They would know the new rules, what to expect from the start, and have time to plan accordingly. My Christian Interpretation would be that it wouldn’t be ethical or appropriate for the government to renege on the existing contract that so many people have been paying into, and making plans around, for all these years.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

God couldn’t be more obvious…

I’m amazed at just how obvious God is in creation. There is a design to it all, and a ‘design’ speaks of a designer. Therefore, I’m even more amazed when people deny Him. This begs the question, what causes a person to deny God? Scripture speaks of men loving darkness more than light. I guess that would be one reason. They love sin more than they love God. They choose between the two and attempt to justify themselves by denying the choice even exists. Then there is the lack of humility. Sometimes people get mad at God and reject Him because He isn’t playing by their rules. I say ‘lack of humility’ because when you exalt yourself to the point of judging God, you surely are lacking in humility. It’s the old…if you are going to be that way…then forget you!

In pointing to a creator, I’ve been known to use the simple example of human hair. For instance, why do we have eyebrows? The obvious answer is to keep liquid (perspiration, rain, etc) from rolling right into our eyes. Why do we have eye lashes? The obvious answer is to keep things from getting in our eyes. There is a multitude of reasons for human hair in all its diversity. Every reason, though, speaks of a designer and a purpose. It’s so obvious that everything in creation was designed. The bible says that creation speaks of a creator and that on that day, men will be without excuse. In other words, God knows that you know He exists. You will not be able to make any excuses on that day and you will know that you have been purposefully denying and rejecting God.

Is choosing sin over God worth losing your life? Is rejecting God because of your anger, ignorance, and pride worth risking the loss of eternal life? Might not a God that has the wisdom, power, and knowledge to create the universe be worthy of your faith and trust in Him?

Friday, May 1, 2009

The issue of torture…

Noun: torture

1. The deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons in an attempt to force another person to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason

2. Extreme mental distress

3. Unbearable physical pain

4. Intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain

5. The act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean

Verb: torture

1. Torment emotionally or mentally

2. Subject to torture

So, using the definitions above, would water boarding be considered torture? Seems like it to me.

I have to admit, in a perfect world, torture of any kind would seem totally unacceptable. It’s a no-brainer. No one wants to be tortured, and therefore, if you don’t want to be tortured yourself, then you shouldn’t torture others. It does seem a bit contradictory, though, that in war…you can kill the enemy, but you can’t torture that same enemy to get information that might save others. Killing them on the battlefield…fine. Torturing them, not fine. Even if the torture doesn’t impose any real threat of death or physical harm, still not fine.

Imagine this scenario. Someone kidnaps your young children. The children are in a situation that promises they will be terribly abused and ultimately killed. You have captured one of the kidnappers. They have information that would likely save your children, but they aren’t talking.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

In conflict…

Is it me, or is it the country working against itself? You have this flawed two party system wherein currently the democrats, led by President Obama, are desperately trying to raise confidence levels and thereby hopefully stimulate an economy that appears on the brink of complete collapse. Then along comes the freedom of the press/speech wherein the media and the republicans undermine any gain in confidence that the public might have realized. Under normal circumstances, this would all seem just fine. But what about under dire circumstances where time is of the essence? My Christian Interpretation would be that it would appear that human nature could interfere with the necessity of a quick response.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Not to be an alarmist, but…

I suspect that throughout the ages, there have been many occasions wherein people considered that the times they were living in were Biblical.  As the world economy staggers and talk of doom and gloom increase, it would be a good time to take stock of our lives and our relationship with our Creator.  I don’t think doing so is ever a bad idea no matter what the underlying motivation.  In that spirit, I present to you the following scriptures:

Revelation 18:1 ¶  After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendour.
2  With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
3  For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."
4  Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5  for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.
6  Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup.
7  Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’
8  Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
9 ¶  "When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.
10  Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: "‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’
11  "The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no-one buys their cargoes any more—
12  cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble;
13  cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.
14  "They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered.’
15  The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn
16  and cry out: "‘Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17  In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ "Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.
18  When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’
19  They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: "‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!
20  Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’"
21  Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.
22  The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again.
23  The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
24  In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stimulating the economy…

I touched on a version of this issue many posts ago, but it comes to mind again.  I’m wondering if every time the President mentions the word catastrophe, he isn’t also accomplishing more than just motivating politicians to get off the pot.  Is the mere mention of the word ‘catastrophe’ also stimulating people to start buying things to help them survive in case of an economic collapse?  Wouldn’t that, in itself, temporarily stimulate the economy to some degree?  Of course, that kind of buying would not signify confidence…though I suppose it could be misrepresented or misunderstood as such.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Inflation

Maybe it’s just me…but amidst all the rhetoric concerning the current economic crisis, the one word that I am not hearing is inflation.  I don’t know about you, but my dollars don’t go as far primarily due to the fact that EVERYTHING costs more than it used to, and quite frankly, my wages have not kept up.  I have less money to spend.  Now, what strikes me as odd, is the government’s remedy for our ailing economy is to throw some money on top, the very thing, mind you, that causes inflation.  Once again, it would appear that this remedy is nothing more than a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable.  Not a cure, but rather a bandage. 

 

Which brings up the big question.  What is the cure?  How do you bring the costs down on everything?  How do you level the playing field?  Does anybody really know where to begin?  I sure don’t.  I keep hearing the S-word (socialism) mentioned.  Is that where we are heading?  Would that help in the long run?  I really don’t know.  I’ve never lived anywhere except here in America.  I have no way to compare life styles nor am I well educated in this area.  I think, though, that I would likely survive just fine under socialism primarily because I’ve never really been much of a capitalist.  I’ve never been motivated by a desire to be wealthy.  I suspect that the people that would object the most to socialism would be the people with the most to lose.  Would the majority of Americans benefit, though? 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Corporate America

These are interesting times.  It would appear that corporate America is holding all Americans hostage?  They’ve got their hands out asking for bailout money…but if the government doesn’t appease them, they threaten to close their doors.  Closing their doors would put many people out of work and puts the country at greater risk of falling into a depression.  Now, I wouldn’t necessarily be thinking that these huge corporations are trying to take advantage of us, but when I hear they are buying new jets, or giving out billions of dollars in bonuses, then I’m thinking….bonuses for what?  Running the company into the ground?  Either these companies are really, really, stupid (which could explain why they are failing)….or they are really, really, bold.  It appears to me to be the latter, and they are, in essence, extorting money from all of us.  If one of these large companies did fail, I imagine the CEOs still walk away filthy rich.  Therein lies their leverage.  They have little to lose personally, and are gambling with the fate of their employees and the economic welfare of the country at large.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Do you ever wonder why...

Do you ever ask yourself why? Why this…or why that? Why is my boss so challenging…why is my co-worker so challenging…why is my marriage so challenging…why is my job so challenging…why are my kids so challenging, why is life so challenging? The list could go on. Today, I’m considering that it is all about erosion. Huh? Yeah…environmental conditions that bring about some sort of wearing away of something or other. In time, even the most pointed peaks can be worn down to ground level. A sharp shard of glass tossed in a stream or the ocean ends up all rounded and smooth. Is that the reason for strife? Is it the shaping of our souls via abrasion, resistance, trial, conflict? It would seem likely. I think of Moses and the commentary about him…the meekest man in all the earth. Hmm. What makes a person meek? By trying, can you become meek, or is genuine meekness the result of environmental conditions, through experiences? I don’t believe it’s an accident that the majority of us start out young and strong and leave this life old and dependent. Surely, it’s part of the plan, true humility being the objective.