Tag Archives: God

Enough…

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way…
[Isaiah 53:6]

The Jewish prophet Isaiah wrote this sometime around 700BC. I think that was also around the time that I made the last post on this blog.

However the drought is over. I am no longer going to keep quiet for the sake of a false peace. Starting tomorrow (November 1st, 2011) I am planning to post something at least six times each week. There is so much to say, and so little time to say it.

I am going to begin this hopefully permanent flurry of activity by explaining why the Bible refers to us as sheep, and what it means to have gone astray.

And then I am going to talk about the wolves that have infiltrated the flock. God’s flock.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
[Acts 20:28-30]

He doesn’t like it when wolves masquerading as shepherds attack His sheep.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds”, declares the LORD.
[Jeremiah 23:1-2]

“Wail, you shepherds, and cry out, and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock, for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come, and you shall fall like a choice vessel. No refuge will remain for the shepherds, nor escape for the lords of the flock. A voice–the cry of the shepherds, and the wail of the lords of the flock! For the LORD is laying waste their pasture, and the peaceful folds are devastated because of the fierce anger of the LORD. Like a lion he has left his lair, for their land has become a waste because of the sword of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.”
[Jeremiah 25:34-38]

Of course, much of the trouble with contemporary Christianity cannot be blamed on the leaders of the churches. We are all responsible before God for our own actions, thoughts, speech and attitudes. We have all – with few exceptions – become lazy sheep, lounging around in the swampy pasture beside stagnant water. We think we can cuddle up with the world – join in with its pagan, occultic pastimes such as Halloween, or its twisted ‘holy’ days such as All Saints Day – and avoid any negative consequences.

We can’t.

Enough.

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Filed under Sheepish Thoughts

Why?

I am a Christian. Why? What IS a Christian? Am I a narrow minded bigot for telling the world that Jesus is the only way to God? And what exactly does THAT mean? Why do we need a “way to God” anyway?

There are people who claim to not believe in a God at all. Am I in any way worried that they might be right? And then, of course, there are many people in this world who believe in God, gods, goddesses that are very, very different than the God Christianity is supposed to follow. Others simply say that faith itself is all that is need. After all, faith is it’s own object. Surely it doesn’t matter what you believe in – you simply have to believe!

And then, I’m also obviously anti science, because I’m not just a Christian – I actually take the Bible literally! I have to – I simply don’t have enough faith to believe in the alternative (in the beginning was nothing – which then exploded, and x-billion years later, via rock soup and monkeys – here we all are).

So – there’s my first point. It’s actually easier to define and accept God than it is to define and accept the concept of “nothing”. Try it one day!

Some will try and get round that problem by hypothesizing that prior to the “Big Bang” there wasn’t nothing after all. There was some sort of quantum energy field, or perhaps there was an eternity of universes before this one – a sort of cyclical crap-shoot of infinite meaninglessness. After all, if life is just random chance, and all we are is a bunch of chemicals that just so happened to bump into each other at exactly the right time (in millions of different, logical and irreducibly complex combinations) – then there is indeed no ultimate meaning. How can there be? I am a cosmic accident. Sorry about that.

Believing in God as the “beginning” is more logical than any of the alternatives.

What then? How can we possibly know enough about God to decide which of the myriad of confusing religious and spiritual traditions are correct? Perhaps none of them are, maybe we all need to find our own individual path and simply do the “best we can” to live a “good life”. Well let me get something out the way right now. If that is indeed the case, then I’m screwed. I KNOW that my best is not good enough. I’ve done things, thought things, said things, that make me unfit to be in the presence of any God worthy of the name “God”. Indeed – if God thought I was acceptable the way I am in and of myself – then sorry God – your standards aren’t high enough, and we’re back to living a meaningless, miserable existence that will end in disappointment. How BIG is your understanding of God? Is God perfect? And if He is – what does that mean for us?

Like I said – I’m screwed if it’s up to me to meet the standard laid down by a perfect God. Screwed. And so are you.

Religion as a rule is sadly based on works. Rules… you must… you mustn’t…. say that prayer at this time…. give 10% of your income to pay for the priest who tells you to give 10% of your income…. feed the poor…. but if they had enough faith they wouldn’t be poor anyway so you can just look the other way apart from at Thanksgiving and Christmas…. go to church every week (and don’t forget that 10% – of your GROSS income by the way you worm)…. …. ….

True Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP, not a RELIGION.

So:

a) I believe in God because I don’t have enough faith to accept any of the alternatives, and
b) I believe in the Christian God because that frees me from a bunch of impossible and all too often man-made rules.

Sound good, yet?

Time to define “Christian”!

A Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. More technically, Wikipedia tells us that “the word comes from Greek Χριστιανός (christianos) which being translated means “follower of Christ.” It comes from Χριστός (christos) meaning “the anointed one”, with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.

Woah! SLAVE OWNERSHIP? Back the truck up, buddy. That doesn’t sound so good, does it? “I am a Christian” SHOULD mean that “I am the devoted slave of Jesus Christ, and will follow Him even if it means DEATH”.

I am a Christian.

I would rather DIE than deny Christ. Yeah – easy enough to type on Facebook. And yeah – I do NOT want to ever have to put that statement to the test. But I DO mean it.

Wow, you mutter. The poor guy has been brainwashed…

To tell you the truth, I actually wish my brain was MORE washed than it is! I still think thoughts that bring dishonor to the name of Christ. I still fill my mind with garbage. I still fail to control my tongue and my actions and my emotions…. Yeah. I want to be washed MORE from the filth that fills this world.

Filth. Ahhhh – there’s a question that no-one can answer! If, then, there IS a perfect God who is – as Christians SHOULD believe – perfectly loving, perfectly holy, perfectly powerful, perfectly just, perfectly knowledgeable…. EXPLAIN THE FILTH AND EVIL AND POVERTY AND MISERY AND DEATH AND SUFFERING AND CRUELTY AND RAPE AND MURDER AND HORROR THAT OOZES FROM EVERY SICK CORNER OF THIS PLANET?

More than any other, this quandary is perhaps the one that keeps people away from the Christian faith.

The answer is simple.

God hasn’t abandoned humanity. Humanity abandoned God. God is the perfect Father, who gave His children the freedom to choose whether or not to follow His perfect path. God is not a puppet master, making us dance on a string. He watches and weeps as His children choose dark, rather than light. True love does not FORCE obedience. And, like in any human father/child relationship – disobedience brings consequences. A child reaps what it sows. Humanity is reaping what it has sown.

But wait. Here is reason number three that I am a Christian. Even amid the calamity of humanity – there is beauty. We have done our very best to ravage this planet – exploiting, polluting, burning and crushing…. yet there remains breathtaking beauty everywhere we look. EVEN IN THE VERY CENTER OF SUFFERING, THERE IS JOY. A dear, dear friend of mine nursed her sick husband for years. She watched him die – day by day. She did everything for him. He was helpless. A 90 year old baby. She cared for him to and beyond the point of exhaustion. He has passed now, and recently she shared with me a moment of absolute brokenness wrapped in pure joy. She was ready to quit. Give up. Stop caring. Physically, emotionally and spiritually spent. Yes, she had been a Christian for decades, and had a strong, simple faith that could move the mountain of my cold young heart with a simple smile and warm hug. But she was empty.

She heard a voice in her ear:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

She picked herself up from the dirt, and carried on proving the truth of that verse.

The Apostle Paul was the first one to hear these words in his ear, and he recorded them for us in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are the words of Jesus. He speaks to His children. He is REAL. He is ALIVE. He lived a perfect life, He gave that life for the world, and He defeated the power of physical AND spiritual death. His grace IS sufficient. His power IS made perfect in weakness.

You see, life is all about death. For thousands of years, humanity has mistreated and abused itself to the point where most of us need a cocktail of drugs to keep us breathing. Our once perfect race has fallen – our ultimate parents unplugged themselves from the power source of life, and since then – life has been all about death. Avoiding it for as long as possible is the goal. We all have a list of things we want to do before we die.

Here’s one:

Get right with God.

You see, Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. But that relationship starts out broken. We are born SPIRITUALLY DEAD, and we spend our lives getting closer and closer to PHYSICAL death. There is only ONE way out of that dead end.

Jesus said, “I am THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life. No one comes to the Father except through ME”.

Some people say that Jesus was just a good man. A very good man. But of course, who seriously actually believes that Jesus was somehow God as well as a man? Nonsense. Well, to our human minds – yes. Nonsense. Thankfully though, God’s ways are higher than ours. His understanding is greater. I ask you again: How BIG is your understanding of God? Is He GOD or is he a god? Is He on your shelf and in a box, sitting patiently there until you pick him up, blow the dust off, and say a prayer for some money? OR IS HE THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE? IS HE BEYOND ALL UNDERSTANDING IN POWER, WISDOM AND LOVE? IS HE THE ONE WHO “MADE THE STARS ALSO”? IS HE THE ONE WHO CREATED TIME AND SEES THE END FROM THE BEGINNING?

Put away your limited view of who God is and what He is capable of. Jesus Christ was NOT just a very good man. How could He be? He claimed to be God. If that is not true, Jesus Christ was either a liar, or a lunatic. Good? Insane or evil, take your pick.

Jesus Christ is the absolute beginning and end of God’s perfect plan to fix the broken relationship between Himself and humanity. The entire Bible – from beginning to end – is the tracing out of that plan. Prophecy after prophecy – written hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus was born – pointed towards Him in incredible, perfectly fulfilled detail.

Jesus was, is and always will be God, and as God he CHOSE to WILLINGLY give up the indescribable position He had and clothe himself in human flesh. God incarnate! Christmas! Emmanuel, God with us!

a) I believe in God because I don’t have enough faith to accept any of the alternatives, and
b) I believe in the Christian God because that frees me from a bunch of impossible and all too often man-made rules, and
c) I believe that the presence of beauty and joy amid the filth and suffering points to a God who IS love, and
d) I believe that Jesus Christ was everything He claimed to be, because of the proven historicity of the Bible and the fulfillment of the prophecies written in it, and
e) I am a slave of Jesus Christ because He gave His perfect life to save my wretched soul.

That is why I am a Christian.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment, share with friends, ask questions, or simply go on with your life’s journey on the road to the future. What will that future bring for you?

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Filed under Apologetics

A Little Bit Of Everything

Until the 1800s, nearly everyone (including the vast majority of scientists) believed in a Creator God. Of course, that didn’t mean that there were no problems and life was a breeze – but it DID mean that most people had a definite understanding that there are moral “absolutes” that it is wrong to violate. People still did bad stuff – but they FELT bad about it! Sadly, this guilt gave organized religion a stranglehold over kings and kingdoms, and many terrible things were done in the name of “God”.

Over the last 150 years or so, a number of things have changed. Firstly, although many people would still say “yes” to the “Do you believe in God” question, MANY of those people will also say that they believe that they are the great great great great etc… grandchild of a pair of gibbering monkeys. Darwin started it, and now neo-Darwinists have a large percentage of the “civilized” world believing that in the beginning was nothing – which exploded, and billions of years later via rock soup and primates – here we all are.

In other words, a vital foundation of MEANING has been removed from existence. After all, we came from nothing for no reason by a series of astoundingly improbable, random chances. Why bother trying to do anything other than prove that it’s all down to the “survival of the fittest”?

Hello rampantly destructive, self-centered, consumer driven, capitalistic society. Whoopee.

Did you see the recent articles in English newspapers featuring the photography of someone who has spent years documenting night “life” on the streets of Cardiff?

Click this link if you dare. Humanity is reduced to wallowing in it’s own filth – COMPLETELY VOLUNTARILY!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/maciejdakowicz/sets/1391696/show/

Belief in evolution and the “fact” that “humans are just another animal” has also cracked open the door to the horrifying holocausts perpetrated by, for example, the Nazis and the abortionists.

Schools no longer really teach that there is such a thing as absolute truth. You can, apparently, do what you want to do without any moral consequences. Just protect yourself whilst doing it! What’s right or true for one person no longer has to be right or true for anyone else.

Self has replaced God as the ultimate authority in the known Universe, and humanity is busy proving what a monumental screw-up it really is. The sexual revolution and militant feminism of the 60s have contributed to the desperately sad fact that there are now far more children who have no idea what it’s like to have loving parents than ever before. Life may well have been a struggle through poverty for many families prior to (and during) the two World Wars, however people at least knew the warmth and love of a genuine, close family. That counts for more than most people realize.

These days it’s all about a bigger house, a new car, a better job to pay for them, a bigger TV to go in the Master Suite, an IPOD and cellphone in every hand…. and no time left to have even one meal a WEEK at the same table as the strangers living with you under the same satellite dish encrusted roof.

What does it all MEAN?

Absolutely nothing.

Life without absolutes is meaningless.

Thankfully, there IS absolute truth, and although I certainly didn’t come to be a Christian as the result of a dedicated search to find that truth, one of the reasons that I STILL AM a Christian is that ALL of my personal investigation and research confirms my faith in one Creator God who is perfectly JUST, perfectly RIGHT, perfectly LOVE, and perfectly HOLY.

Why do I believe this?

Firstly and most importantly to me – I believe because of my personal experience of faith that confirms itself as it gets stronger over time. That is something that I cannot describe or share. True Christians are spiritually given a sure and certain hope that cannot be taken away. Sure, it gets shaken (sometimes very roughly) by life, but God NEVER lets go!

Then, in no particular order:

The Bible

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t003.html

 

Israel (and Biblical prophecy in general)

http://brittgillette.com/WordPress/?p=28

http://brittgillette.com/WordPress/?p=16

 

Evolution

Of course, this is a VERY controversial debate (even between Christians!), but I simply believe that it takes more blind faith to believe that in the beginning was nothing, than it does to believe that in the beginning, God… Sadly many, many evolutionists freely ADMIT that they have ignored the Scientific Method by refusing to consider the possibility of Intelligent Design/Creationism. The “smarter” people are, the more they seem to believe that they should have nothing or no-one to answer to. People really don’t like the idea of a God who is ultimately in control…. and evolution has given scientists a way out of this uncomfortable spot.

 

Good/Evil

What drives some humans to commit the type of horrific things that are reported daily in the news? If humans ARE just another animal, then we’ve certainly found a way to become far more addicted to random, senseless, gut-wrenching violence than any other member of the animal kingdom! Some of the things humans do cannot be explained apart from by admitting that there has to be some dark “spiritual” force at work. In fact, the more you think about it, the more you will probably see that the vast majority of human activity makes no sense from a pure evolutionary/survival of the fittest point of view. Just as some people exhibit what can only be described as senseless evil, other people spend their lives quietly exhibiting just as senseless (from a humanistic/evolutionary perspective) good! Do other animals do this?

 

Spiritualism/Occult/UFO…

Just where does the almost universal belief in the world of the “other” come from? So much human attention, entertainment, thought and research involves “phenomenon” that have no explanation unless there is indeed a spiritual side to existence. More and more apparently sane people are starting to talk openly about these things, yet fewer and fewer people seem willing to turn to the most complete, logical and hopeful source of information about what truly goes on “out there”… (the Bible, of course!)Here’s just one link discussing a recent “manifestation” (haha) of this subject:

http://drywind.net/blog/ufo-bible-prophecy/indiana-jones-and-the-crystal-skulls-a-movie-or-propaganda-for-the-luciferian-end-game/132/

 

I honestly believe that there is NOTHING IN THIS LIFE more important than the two questions:

1) Is there a God?

2) If there IS a God, what does that mean for me?

As I said earlier, most people would still say “yes….” to the first question, but few people really try to answer the second one properly.

In the Bible, we are told:

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient,

you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel,

you shall be eaten by the sword;

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

(Isaiah 1:18-20, ESV)

Scientists (and many other people) will try and tell you that Christianity (and all other religion) is illogical, blind and mentally shallow. However the God of the Bible asks humans to reason with Him! Imagine that? We are NOT asked to follow blindly like sheep into a mindless cult! Of course, as soon as someone starts quoting Bible passages that mention things like “sin” and being “eaten by the sword” it is undoubtedly difficult NOT to think of cults and mind control and all the bad stuff that “religion” has been responsible for over the centuries. However, even Gandhi (certainly not Christian!) had the right idea when he (allegedly – haven’t seen the original source) said:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”

Of course, the answer is that there have been far fewer TRUE Christians than there have been people CLAIMING to be Christian. So just what IS a true Christian?

This is what the Bible teaches:

In the beginning God created the Universe and everything in it.

He created humans “in His own image” (meaning with free-will, and an eternal spirit)

Humanity has individually and collectively exercised free-will by turning away from God and becoming prideful, self-centred, spiritually-disconnected “orphans”.

God DID NOT abandon humanity and leave us to get on with it (Deism)

Humanity abandoned GOD and tried to “get on with it” without Him!

After a few generations, the human race became so hopelessly evil that God was “sorry” that He had made us at all and opened the flood gates….

http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html

http://www.worldwideflood.com/

By the way, just what effect do you think a global flood would have on a freshly made planet? Incredible earthquakes, volcanoes and general landscaping, wouldn’t you think? Plate tectonics is an interesting subject! Catastrophism was an accepted science before the rise of evolution required scientists to rethink their understanding in order to build in the billions of years that their theory needs…. Creationists can quite happily explain geological data in logical terms that suggest a much, MUCH younger planet than we are now taught about…. Pangaea and continental drift? No problem! Grand Canyon? No problem! Marine life fossils on the top of the world’s highest mountains? No problem! Here is a link with some more examples of how the evidence can be interpreted as pointing towards a young earth:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4005.asp

Of course, this is not the most important issue (but it’s one I’m very interested in – hence the rabbit trail!) Back on track now…

After the flood, Mr & Mrs Noah & their three sons “got busy” and soon the planet was full of the same old same old goings on.Basically, the Old Testament of the Bible is a history (with poetry and prophecy mixed in) of the Israelite people (a.k.a the Jews). It obviously deals with the other nations that rose and fell, but it’s primary purpose is to tell the story of “God’s chosen people”. As I mentioned earlier, the incredible history of the Jews is one of the “proofs” of my faith. Anyway…

The OT shows how time and time again people turned away from God, got taught a lesson, turned back to Him for a while, drifted away again…Through Moses, God gave the people the basic laws that are STILL used as the foundation of human moral and legal system understanding the world over. “Sin” in the Bible is quite simply a thought, act or desire that doesn’t meet God’s standard (perfection). Perfection is an impossible standard (how can something imperfect make itself perfect?)God of course knew this, and the idea of the Law is to show us that we simply cannot meet God’s standards. The concept of “Original Sin” is a tough one theologically (not even a newborn baby is free from the effect of sin), but sometimes we have to let God be God and realize that if He is truly who the Bible says He is, everything is handled with perfect justice by a God who is not willing that ANYONE should go to hell….

ARRRRGH! I said HELL!

🙂

Heaven: Eternity WITH God

Hell: Eternity WITHOUT God

Anything else that the Bible may or may not teach about the “afterlife” is (by comparison) irrelevant. Christians believe that humanity was created to have an individual, personal, perfect relationship with the Creator. Sin has broken that, and by our own, individual choices we continue to do things that grieve our Creator and make us unfit to be in His presence. God does not send anyone to hell. People choose that for themselves when they reject the truth. Of course, not everyone throughout history has heard of the central truth of Christianity (I’m getting there, honest!) and many theologians believe that the Bible teaches that God will judge people based on how they respond to the truth that they DID hear. Ultimately, we are told that “the heavens declare the glory of God” and that no-one will have an excuse for rejecting God.

However, for almost everyone who has lived in the Western World since the Reformation, the central truth of Christianity HAS been heard…

Even before creating the Universe, God knew what He would have to do to save us from ourselves.No human since the first act of pride and selfishness (read Genesis 3) has ever been perfect…Apart from Jesus. Endless debate has swirled over the theology of Jesus and the claims that He made. Basically, we have to believe that He was either:

1) A Liar (nothing he said can be trusted)

2) A Lunatic (said some wonderful things, but was obviously a bit crazy because He claimed to be God)

3) Or He was LORD (In other words – everything He said was true, and He was God in the form of a man)

This link explains this proposition well:

http://www.existence-of-god.com/lord-liar-lunatic.html

So – I for one believe everything that the Bible says about Jesus (including the many things the Bible reports Him as saying himself) is true.

Therefore:

I know I am a sinner without hope of reaching God by myself or through any “religion”. I know that God WANTS me to be able to reach Him, but He cannot overlook my sin – just as in any democratic country on Earth, there are crimes that deserve and receive just punishment. It would be insane to suggest that all criminal activity should be forgiven because that would be the “nice” “loving” thing to do. Yet some people believe that GOD is simply going to overlook all the horrors of human history and open up His loving arms to one and all. Some (amazingly respected) theologians fully expect to be shaking Hitler’s hand in Heaven. Of course, that WOULD be possible, but ONLY if Hitler had:

Realized that he was a sinner, repented, raised His eyes to God’s mercy, and accepted the fact that Jesus gave His perfect life as an offering to satisfy God’s holy requirement of justice.

Because Jesus lived a perfect life, free from ALL sin including original sin (supernatural conception) He was legally able to “defeat” death (which is the “wages of sin)! God didn’t create death. It was only after we turned away from the source of life and “disconnected” ourselves from the power source that decay started to creep in! You may have noticed through Bible history that humans used to live a lot longer than we do now. Modern medicine has reversed this trend, but almost 1000 years? I don’t think so….

Like a laptop computer that will run forever when it’s plugged in to the AC power source, but slowly dies when running from it’s internal battery – death has overtaken the planet.

Anyway, back to Jesus!

Isn’t is strange that one of the marks of rebellion against authority is to use the name of Jesus as a swear word? Why don’t rebellious teen Muslims use the name of Muhammad in the same way? Why don’t those who were raised Buddhist but have left that philosophy go round saying “Oh Buddha” when things go wrong? Why has the name of Jesus seen worldwide, cross cultural, inter-“faith” acceptance as a swear word? Maybe there’s something incredibly powerful about the man most associated with this name….

Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP, not a religion. If anyone tells you that you have to DO something to be saved be VERY careful!There is NOTHING WE CAN DO to be “saved” in the eyes of a holy, perfect God! It was all done for us.

God has offered us a free gift. He’s even placed an inherent understanding of it into our hearts… (Ever heard the phrase “God shaped hole”? Too many people go through life feeling as if “something” is missing, but they refuse to invest the time and effort to figure out what it is. After all, that bigger house and faster car won’t buy themselves, will they? Must work and play!).

But as with ANY gift, we have the option of throwing it back in the Giver’s face. Crazy, huh? So (for those humans who have heard this core message of Christianity) it’s by consciously REJECTING the gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus that we REFUSE to be made acceptable to God.

And then, we have the HUGE problem facing Christianity today…

Many people are indeed “nominal” Christians, they have accepted the gift (or perhaps more accurately not rejected it). And there it sits. It’s an incredible gift! More amazing than the highest of high tech new-fangled computer controlled anythings! But what do you have to do once you have received an incredible, life changing gift?

READ THE MANUAL!

The Western World is full of people who THINK they are Christians, but they don’t LIVE, ACT, THINK, TALK or WALK like Christians. In order to learn how to do that, we need to read the Bible, pray, and spend time with other Christians who are serious about letting their new life “take over”.

When a person truly becomes a Christian, a spiritual transaction takes place. A Christian is transformed from someone who is spiritually “dead” to God to someone who has NOW IN THIS LIFE a reborn spiritual relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Sadly, it is tough to let this show in this skeptical, mean, hating world – and there are many genuine Christians who struggle against letting the “Light” shine. Fear of embarrassment, bullying at school, inability to answer the mocking questions…. I went through all that and to a large extent still do. People take it more seriously and openly if you say “I was abducted by aliens last week” than they do if you say “I trusted Christ as my personal Savior last week”!

Maybe I should stop now.

If you ever make it this far, I’m sure you’ll have some questions!

I’m not so sure that I’ll have the answers, but I’ll give anything a go.

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Filed under Apologetics

Will You Go Through?

To God be the glory, great things he hath done!

So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,

who yielded his life an atonement for sin,

and opened the lifegate that all may go in.

(Fanny Crosby)


To God…..

God. Believe in Him or not, He is real. If you don’t believe it now, one day (fairly soon I think) you most certainly will.

…..be the glory,…..

When us mere mortals think of glory, our programmed minds usually spring to something like a sporting victory, and the glow that surrounds such a thing for some people. That glow, my friends, is a false god. There is only One who actually, truly deserves glory.

…..great things He hath done!

He created the stars also. If you are grimly hanging on to the religious belief that in the beginning was nothing, which then exploded, and billions of years later via rock soup and monkeys here we all are – then you have infinitely more blind faith than I do. The heavens declare the glory of God. Open your eyes.

So loved…..

Wait a minute? What IS love? If you listen to the “experts” at Fox News or most other media outlets, you may be forgiven for thinking that it has something to do with diamonds, dimensions, or determination. If you love someone, so we’re told, we’ll do stuff for them, with them, or to them. We’ll buy them stuff, and never expect anything in return. Apart from being “loved” right back of course. Yup – when it boils down to it, love is all about the exchange of stuff. Right? We give and we get. Fair and balanced.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

(1 John 4:10, NLT)

No. Love has absolutely NOTHING to do with us at all. On our own, we are absolutely INCAPABLE of anything even remotely approaching true love. God alone IS love, and God alone has demonstrated what love IS.

…He the world…..

Wait a minute? What IS “the world”? And why does God love it? Good question. The world is us. You know – “we are the world” and all that cutesy philosotainment they feed us:

“We are the world

We are the children

We are the ones who make a brighter day

So let’s start giving

There’s a choice we’re making

We’re saving our own lives

It’s true we’ll make a better day

Just you and me…”

I’m not going to be PC here. That, and almost everything else like it, is garbage. You know the song. It talks about God, so it must be OK right?

“Send them your heart

So they’ll know that someone cares

And their lives will be stronger and free

As God has shown us by turning stone to bread

So we all must lend a helping hand…”

And there, my friends, is the ultimate lie of this and every other age:

WE ALL MUST LEND (God) A HELPING HAND.

God AND…

Jesus AND…

God’s sacrifice of His own Son AND….

That is what the world is. Arrogant, prideful, blind. We ALL think from time to time that we (the world) can do something to help GOD! Astonishing.

The world is indeed us. We are imperfect, God is perfect. We can do NOTHING to bridge that gap. We are lost, and without hope. We have collectively and individually rebelled against the One who created us and the universe we see stretching out into apparent infinity. We nailed the One who came to open our eyes to a cross. We crucified God.

But, He still loves us. He loves us enough:

….that He gave us His Son

Who yielded His life….

So while we are all singing blindly along about “saving our own lives” and lending God a helping hand, God Himself has given absolutely EVERYTHING to get our attention. He gave His Son to save our wicked souls. But we are so full of our own importance that we simply (if anything) say: Oh! Thanks God! Now what can I do for you?

One of the unique truths presented by Biblical Christianity is that there is, as I’ve already said, NOTHING that we can do to help God save us. Think about it. True Christianity teaches that ALL humans are so far gone that it took the death of GOD HIMSELF to meet the requirements for our recovery. Christianity is not some sort of “sinners anonymous” 12 step program during which we feel better and better about ourselves as we check each box off.

WE CAN NOT DO ANYTHING TO MEET GOD’S STANDARD.

God has done it all for us.

….an atonement for sin.

There. I said it. The “S” word.

So – what is sin?

There’s nothing complicated about sin. It simply refers to the fact that we are imperfect. One of our biggest imperfections is to look at everyone else and point out their imperfections. We are very good at that. The problem is, though – we are imperfect at it. Sometimes we look at people we love and overlook certain things that drive us crazy about people we don’t love. Most of the time we look at other people and point out things that drive them crazy about us. And we end up hating the sinner instead of the sin.

God, however, is perfect. He hates the sin, not the sinner. And that is why He can still love US. But even though He loves us, we are still fully, completely and eternally responsible for the things we do that God hates. When society sends someone who has committed a crime up before a judge, we don’t expect the Judge to smile sweetly and say “it’s OK. I love you Mr. Criminal. What you did was very, very bad, but you can go free anyway.” We expect the Judge to lock the rapist up and throw away the key… or send him to be fried. So WHY do we expect the ultimate, perfect Judge to overlook our crimes? WHY do we think that a perfectly holy, righteous God is going to smile sweetly and usher us into heaven without demanding that we pay the price for our sin?

But we can’t. We can’t pay the price. Why? It has already been paid for us, that’s why! Paid with the life of the One who created the universe.

The absolute uniqueness of true Christianity is that it tells us that God came to us, rather than tries (like all other religions – including much that calls itself Christianity) to teach us how to get to God.

Jesus Christ is not a swear word. He was and is God made flesh, a willing and perfect sacrifice for a fallen creation. His perfect, sinless life met the requirements of a perfect, sinless God. And when Jesus freely offered His life for us, He became the atoning sacrifice that satisfied the righteous anger that God has towards sin.

So, there is nothing complicated about sin. There is nothing complicated about the solution. God has answered all the questions, done all the work, offered the only way out. He has offered it to everyone – regardless of race, wealth, intelligence or anything else. Nobody can buy it. Nobody can earn it. Salvation is a free gift.

The lifegate has been opened for us. Will you go through?

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Wild Angels

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone….

(Psalm 91:9-12)

Nobodyʼs leaving this World tonight
The way Iʼm feeling weʼll be alright
So many people going nowhere
The poor forsaken nobody cares

I wonder what youʼre thinking
I donʼt know where you are
Canʼt stop my heart from sinking
Before it gets too far

Wild angels in the sky…
Diamonds fall like rain
Nobody told you why…
Isn’t that a shame?

Wild angels in the sky…
Thunder in the air
Donʼt let it make you cry….
You wonʼt have a prayer

The room is empty, the city sleeps
We pass by gently and shadows creep
But come tomorrow thereʼs no relief
And Iʼm still looking in disbelief

I wonder what youʼre thinking
I donʼt know where you are
Canʼt stop my heart from sinking
Before it gets too far

Something out of nothing
Tell me if Iʼm right
Stranded here forever
Take me home tonight

Maybe let it happen
Keep it in your mind
Maybe thereʼs no answer
Donʼt get left behind

(“Wild Angels” by Tony Clarkin; from the new Magnum album “The Visitation”…)

Psalm 91:11 is the verse featured on my daily calendar this morning. I love thinking about angels – what they are, and what they do…

Since 1988 I have listened a great deal to music by an English band by the (unfortunate some may say) name of Magnum. I have always been intrigued by their lyrics, which with very very few exceptions have all been written by one man. I have no real idea what his motivations are, and he usually refuses to talk about what his songs ‘mean’. But Wild Angels (and other songs) from their new album (released here in America next Tuesday) does nothing to lessen my interest in what he is wanting to get across.

I have no wish to impose my faith on this band, and they have never marketed themselves as “Christian”. I DO, however, know that one of the members at least professes Christian faith. So I don’t think I’m doing too much harm to them by taking these lyrics and examining them through the lens of a Christian worldview….

The first thing some people may ask me is why are you looking at “secular” music lyrics when you have all that you need in the Bible? Well, because they are there, they appeal to me, and I love listening to the music that goes with them! But, as with EVERYTHING else in this life, it is vital that a Christian looks at “secular” things THROUGH the Bible. In other words, Bible first, everything else a distant second.

If you’re like me, though, the things of this world often initially seem more “exciting” than simply opening up the Bible and reading it. I’m afraid I sometimes need a trigger to get me fired up again about digging in to the mind of God as EXCLUSIVELY (yes, I do believe that) revealed in His Word.

For the last few weeks I have been preoccupied with stuff, and haven’t been focused on the right things – or perhaps I haven’t been focused on things in the right way. So Psalm 91:11 suddenly leaped out of the page to me, and my mind (full of lyrics to an album I haven’t even heard yet) took the verse and ran with it…..

The first thing you MUST do when looking at a verse from the Bible is examine its context! Psalm 91:11 is an excellent example of this. Taken by itself (For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go) it could be understood to mean that everyone has this incredible ‘security detail’ with them at all times.

Nope.

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone…. [Psalm 91:9-12]

Looking at a few more verses quickly tells us that this protective force is conditionally, rather than universally, available. Taken in its context, the awesome fact that angels are available and able to protect us wherever we go pales into insignificance compared to the truth revealed in verse 9. These are very, very BIG ‘IFS’ we’re given here! Let’s look at the first one:

IF you make the Lord your refuge…

I have to assume some prior understanding and belief here. For instance, if you don’t believe in God as revealed in the Bible, then you need to dig a lot deeper than we’re going here. Please feel free to contact me if you like – I would be happy to help you dig! For now, we’ll simply say that these 7 words tell us that we have a CHOICE. Without exception, human beings crave a “safe place” from the storms of life. Even the most extrovert, adventurous person realizes that he or she needs a place to retreat to. This verse, of course, is talking of a spiritual refuge perhaps more than it is a physical refuge. And we for sure all need that! So, the Almighty Creator God of the universe and everything in it is available to be your refuge. Your choice.

Then:

IF you make the Most High your shelter….

If the idea of a refuge (safety, but quite possibly uncomfortable) isn’t enough, we are told that God will also SHELTER us. A refuge is a passive idea. It is somewhere we can go, but it doesn’t necessarily convey the idea of our needs being met and our comfort being addressed. When we truly grasp the fact that GOD wants to SHELTER us…..

Wow.

Your choice.

…Evening has come
Flickered in candle light
There must be some
Spirit in here tonight

…And do you know
Someone looks out for you
But they will show
Patience in getting through

The visitation yeah
Will bring you nearer
And give you comfort so
Youʼll see things clearer

No conversation will
Explain the feeling
But when the moment comes
Thereʼs no concealing

(excerpt from “The Visitation” by Tony Clarkin; from the new Magnum album “The Visitation”…)

Again, I must stress that I do not know what the writer of these words is wanting to convey through them. But to me, the message (when placed in context with the other lyrics on the album) is very clear.

In order to make it through this life to ‘the other side’, we need the help and guidance of someone greater, more powerful, more loving, more knowing than we are. When the shadows fall in our life, and we are looking at things through the dim flickering of our own understanding, we will get lost. There MUST be some Spirit in us if we want to understand what is going on! Now, there is only one GOOD Spirit out there, and that is God’s own Spirit. Anything else is counterfeit, evil, and deadly. But if we are filled with God’s Spirit, then we indeed know that Someone is looking out for us! And if we don’t yet have that, let me tell you that God is incredibly patient in His attempts to get through to you.

When we yield our life to God – admitting that there is nothing WE can do to reach Him therefore we have only one choice; allow Him to reach us – we will receive comfort and understanding. We will see things clearer. We will be sheltered in a refuge that can NEVER be breached.

There is nothing I can write that will explain that feeling.

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