Friday, September 30, 2005

# 90: Trust: A Priceless Gem

“Trust in the Lord WITH ALL YOUR HEART and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” [emphasis added] Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trusting in the Lord is the most difficult topic to describe to anyone who is not already experiencing some degree of trust in God, so I imagine this post will be a challenge to write. The best way to convey Godly trust is to put ourselves in the body of an infant being nursed by its mother. That trust comes gradually; the nursing is but the first instance of a trust that becomes strong and abiding. The same contentment can be ours as we nurse on God and His life-giving substance. Godly trust cannot be obtained by any kind of self-imposed magic or hypnotism. Concocted trust, like that of the wild-eyed, imposing zealot one might meet in an airport terminal, is expressed only by words and not by the life, and it can easily be revealed as fraudulent to any person who enjoys genuine child-like trust in God.

Trusting God depends on one’s life of belief; that is the secret ingredient that produces the power to live as Jesus Christ. Trusting God means one is living in a private world (Christ's world) which is controlled by one’s own personal God for the good of all and for His glory. Trust can come (be given by God) through two discreet routes: (1) one desires to trust God, to which God will react; and (2) one perceives the spiritual need to trust God like that little baby. The latter is the best and produces the most results, but is the most difficult to receive or initiate. When a person needs something as opposed to wanting something, they have no choice. Without fulfillment of that need, the results will be detrimental, whereas mere discontent will come from an unfulfilled desire. That’s the fundamental difference between wants and needs.

God loves to give and respond to the kind of trust which is needed as opposed to desired. As confident, accomplished adults, human beings don't relish the prospect of putting ourselves in that position. Adulthood in the modern world trains us to feel that we’d rather trust up to a point and hang on a little to the perceived control of our surroundings and circumstances. The ability to trust in God will be given according to our degree of belief in God. The secret: God penetrates Man’s outward requests with His X-ray vision and always responds to a person’s innermost desires. Looks like everything depends on God and we just seem to play along, doesn’t it? Though He acts through our free will, this is essentially true. Using the exercise from a previous chapter concerning who God has chosen, we look at the trust situation from God's vantage point; He simply knows our free will before we put it into use. That trust comes as we give our all in desiring to do everything that pleases Him—“letting go and letting God,” if you will. The more of our all we give, the more we are able to trust God. Trust is always given only in proportion to one’s belief. If we say we trust God and do little to please Him, our trust is not much more than wishful thinking. I repeat: This trust is reciprocal; it is given only when one is committed to living out Christ’s purpose on Earth to the greatest degree possible. We do not manufacture or personally acquire it as we do for our physician or plumber. Trust in God may be the most valuable attribute that can be received from God.

What does trust in God do for those who are one with God through Christ? Our trusting Him with our whole being, as we allow Jesus Christ to live out His life in our bodies, pleases God more than anything else He does through us. Trusting Him is more pleasing to Jesus than if one gave one’s life to the flames for a holy cause. I mean, dying for a holy cause is quite noble, but it is a rather extreme circumstance. To our loving God, the proof is in the living, not in the dying; however, God receives more glory from one dead holy soldier who died trusting in His cause than millions who live for their own cause in His name. Trust is the essence of Christian life; it opens the flood gates for all of God's precious blessings. As I indicated previously, where would Christ have been without it?

Trust cannot be given to us in a hurried fashion however; it takes time to cultivate. As we truly experience the trust that Christ had in His Father, then and only then, as we are dominated by Christ's Spirit, will our every thought and action be made with certainty. God can do very little, if anything, with someone who believes Him but does not trust Him, since this is neither true trust nor true belief, according to the criteria for belief. The emotions produced when trust in God is present are inexpressible within the confines of human language. The best examples this author can give to describe the positive emotions that trust in God produces are: contentment; peace of mind; the assurance that all will go well no matter what happens; sound sleep; good physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health; a loving and continually joyful disposition in all circumstances; having great expectations from God; and a feeling of power and invincibility since we know God is caring for us. At the same time, there is a lack of many negative emotions such as: fear; worry; stress; hate; jealousy; anxiety; envy; anger; bitterness; regrets of past failures; lack of concern about what others think of us; and lack of needing recognition from man. Having said all that, I still maintain that words generally do a poor job of expressing these emotions. If even half of the above is true, what do you say when someone says to you, "I don't want to become a Christian because I would have to give up too much”? It’s practically laughable.

These emotions are just a derivative—not only of trust in God, but also of His love for us. We must remember: If Biblically sound fundamentals are not practiced in our Christian life, we will never experience these and more life-enriching emotions that result from trusting our Lord Jesus Christ. When the faithless clergy teaches the mastery of these good emotions and the eradication of the bad ones without touching on genuine Christ-like belief and the paramount importance of Jesus Christ in our lives, he not only is barking up the wrong tree but is teaching others to bark where there is no tree at all. This last statement is one of the most important in this complete blog. Maybe the lack of real trust in God is the reason why many "Christians" live the way they do. I believe this is also the reason why atheists laugh at us when we approach them. They say, "No thanks; my god comes in green. I can find him in my pocket when I need him. You can preach your poker-faced, phony-baloney religion elsewhere." This author echoes their sentiment. It is better to be a skeptic than a fool.

I said that trusting one’s life to God would be difficult to write about. Trust does not come easily in this world or in the spiritual realm. It is like trying to explain the birds and the bees to a six-year-old. They can write down what you say and memorize it, but they won’t have any idea what you are talking about until they reach adolescence and can comprehend it. Trusting in God is putting the whole matter in someone else’s hands. You are completely out of the picture in terms of having any control of life’s situation. That can be scary. Trust is frightening unless one intimately knows the one they are putting his/her trust in. No one can even begin to know God unless and until He reveals Himself to that person; God won’t reveal Himself to anyone who does not desire to live a pure, holy and loving life. Here we get back to the fundamentals of living a Christian life, and why developing trust in God takes time; one has to get to know Him first. If a person’s life is not balanced—without compromise or concessions in all aspects—it just won’t work. Let me say at this time (as sort of a personal testimony) that he greatest treasure I have received from God is the gift of being able to trust my complete life to my precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You see, when I use the words “complete life,” it doesn't mean that I can't trust Him in a more complete way tomorrow. With His permission, I will trust more completely tomorrow because my understanding, my awareness, and my very essence grow and change the more and the longer I know Him. Trust is the necessary ingredient which produces the power that makes obedience to God come easily. Trust, like many other aspects of the Christian life, is self-propagating; or rather, it is God-propagated. In any case, the result is the same: Trust breeds more trust. Christ-like belief in God, in order to be valid, will always have a corresponding amount of trust and obedience. As Jesus Christ was armed with these two spiritual instruments of God, what was there that the Father could not do through His only Son? Absolutely nothing. The same is true of us (His brothers and sisters). When we believe and trust as Jesus did, what is there that the Father cannot do through us? Absolutely nothing! Read Philippians 4:13. So be it. Amen and Amen. Let it be the will of God to arrange our lives in such a way that we will need to trust God with our all. It won't come easily, cheaply, or quickly, but with Christ as our only example, God will give us that trust to the degree that our need-to-trust cavity makes room, using the vernacular, "If you don't got it, you better get it." God loves us like no other. We are important and valuable to Him beyond words. Our personal God has only us to trust Him. What else can He say to us?

Please note: Many times in this blog, I mention, as does the New Testament, that Jesus Christ is the Christian’s only example. Now, this does not mean that we can’t marry or have children or have a home, or that we have to die on a cross. What the Bible and I mean is that He is our example as to how to believe, trust, obey, love and all the other attributes that He displayed in His life.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

# 89: Joy Versus Happiness

Quite often, unpleasant circumstances come our way and seem to rob us of our happiness. At other times, good things happen to us which make us feel happy. All this is understandable; the more good things that happen to us, the better. I would have to add, however, that it is only better if those good things advance the kingdom of God. It is very natural that we want to be as happy as God will allow. Most often, happiness is a result of a pleasant happening. Therefore, one's happiness goes up and down depending on the circumstances. Quite often, this happiness can be described as joy, and rightly so, especially when it is of extended duration.

There is another type of happiness that is from a totally different source; it is of longer duration and is not contingent on circumstances. That happiness could be called joy in a more accurate sense. The source of this kind of joy comes from how one feels about oneself as he or she relates to the world around, or from other sources of good self-esteem. Circumstances can't affect that person’s joy to any great degree, though happiness will naturally fluctuate.

Then there is a joy that the Bible describes as "The Joy of the Lord." What is this “Joy of the Lord” and how does one acquire it? It comes through the belief process: 1) knowing who you are (having the status of a child of God and having an active desire to live up to that status) and 2) who you belong to. That's it—one's life of joy will always demonstrate those two beliefs. It is a brief statement, but the implications are of astounding importance. Those two facts alone will make the difference between a miserable person who claims to believe in God and a person who truly believes and whose life confirms that fact. This Godly joy will not only be persistent, but will contain a visibly evident exuberance under all circumstances. Worldly happiness doesn’t even run a close second to this potent, life-changing, continual eternal joy. This joy is not the foundation of belief but a derivative (frosting on the cake) of belief: a gift from God to every true believer. If one is not experiencing this death-devouring joy, the depth of one's belief should be closely examined as to its validity.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

# 86: Miguel & Dialo

This story concerns an ongoing conversation between Miguel, a young boy, and Dialo, someone who has been around for many years...

Dialo: “You are sure a fine young boy. Let's be pals. You and I will go far; we’ll be great together.

Miguel: How come you are so beautiful and smart?

Dialo: When I was born, I knew I was great and it felt good. I just want to share all of these great things with you.

Miguel: My father told me I am very special just to be his son.

Dialo: You are very special. If you want, I can help you become even more special.

That evening Miguel was talking with his father...

Miguel: Dad, I met someone today. He is nice and very pleasant.

Father: Where did you meet him, and what is his name?

Miguel: I met him at the gate where all of the boys play. His name is Dialo.

Father: Though he looks and acts very pleasant, he will try to trick you to do what feels good, and even may look good. You will not do what he suggests.

Miguel: Sure, Dad. You are so great. I will listen to you always.

The next day...

Dialo: Hi, Miguel. Let’s go play with the other boys. They are having a lot of fun.

Miguel: I talked with my dad about you last night and he said you like to trick boys and girls into doing things that are not good.

Dialo: Oh, your dad is just being overprotective. Sometimes he doesn’t tell you all the truth. He just doesn't want you to have any fun and be like the rest of the boys. He is merely a killjoy. I will never lie to you, and you will never get into trouble with me. Do you think a person as beautiful and loving as myself would ever do anything wrong? Anyway, your father is just a lot of words. You can't even tell me what your father looks like. Be careful; he is up to no good.

Miguel: OK, I will just come along, but I am just going to watch because I don't know if I should believe you, even though you seem very nice.

Sometime later...

Dialo: What are you doing?

Miguel: I am learning to read. I have been learning for a whole year and my dad says I am a fast learner.

Dialo: That’s no fun. It’s hard to learn how to read. None of the other kids can read. Put that book away and let’s have some real fun.

Miguel: No. I like to learn, and if I go with you I might get into trouble. That will make my dad very sad. I like to do what pleases him.

Dialo: Oh, brother...

A few years later...

Father: Son, I am very happy that you listened to me. You are the very best boy in the whole world. In fact, you are never going to get into trouble. I know that for certain. You always believe what I say.

Miguel: Dad, what about when Dialo comes around again? He is very nice also, and it is easy to be like him.

Father: Though he looks nice, feels nice and acts nice, he is not nice at all. You will never listen to him.


Dialo: Now, what are you doing all by yourself? Looks like you are trying to read that old Bible. Don't believe everything that you read in there. It’s just a lot of plain stories of history, and a lot of them are fairy tales.

Miguel: My father said I will learn everything I need to know by reading this book, so I will continue to read it. I will not listen to you even though the things you say sound great.

Years later, when Miguel was turning into a fine young man...

Father: Miguel, you are my only son. I love you very much. You have never disappointed or disobeyed me. Now listen to what I am going to tell you: You will never disappoint me because you and I are one. What I like, you like. I am the good father. I raised you for one reason: so that somehow I can ransom you for many of my other lost children. I don’t think you understand now, but as you grow into my likeness, I will tell you more. You believe me and will act accordingly.


Dialo: I overheard what your father was telling you. I think he has flipped his cork. He has been reading too many comic books. He knows and you know that you are just another Joe. Your father is lying through his teeth to you. I don't think he is even your father. If you listen to him, all you’re going to do is miss out on life. In fact, all that he promises you is a life of self-sacrifice, without any fun. What type of life is that? Now, if you do things my way, you will have the best of both worlds. I can teach you many things, how you can be the best that the world has ever seen.

Under his breath, Dialo was saying, “I am jealous of you because I am so beautiful in the bodies of my followers and there is nothing appealing about you. I am rightly worthy to be in your place and to keep my kingdom forever. I will, I will, I know I will. I don't care what your father says . He doesn't know everything. I have many more tricks that your dad knows nothing about. With these I will surely triumph. Just wait, I am more beautiful and powerful than your father...”

Meanwhile, Miguel continued to study the Bible of his day and saw how it coincided with what his father said to him. Soon he knew for sure that his father was telling him the truth—though it often was difficult to believe—and that Dialo was lying—though it would have been easier to believe him. Therefore, Miguel continued to believe his dad and completely discounted Dialo’s persuasively pleasant words.

As Miguel entered full manhood, his belief in his father paid off. He got to know his father intimately and also learned the Holy Scriptures as no man ever knew them. Of course, Dialo continued to badger Miguel, accusing him of being a fake, a heretic, and a lunatic. By this time, Miguel knew all the tricks that Dialo had up his sleeve, and in order not to fall for them, he listened to every word that his father said. As Miguel grew in power and holiness, Dialo knew that his chances to get Miguel to do things his way were growing slim. But his followers weren’t quite as sharp as he was. In time, he would surely win everyone over to his side without their knowledge. Or so he thought.

A short time later …

The story continues at one of the weakest moments of Miguel’s life...

Dialo: I have never seen anyone as stubborn as you. Quit this fake life and be a real man. It is still not too late for me to make you a great ruler of my nation.

Miguel: Dialo, you are the lowest of all creatures; you have never said a truthful word in your life, and only a fool would believe you.

Dialo: You will prove to me that you are the son of your father, if you do just one miracle for me: Give me authority to do great miracles in your name.

Miguel: I will not give you that authority, though at this time I cannot stop you from doing so on your own.

Dialo: Thanks, I needed to know that. With this power I will make you regret your decision not to follow me. You are just hurting yourself. You wait and see.

As Miguel continued his life of making his father known, Dialo for the most part left him alone, though he continued to badger Miguel through his (Dialo’s) religious leaders, hoping to trip Miguel up through the words he spoke.

The story continues when Miguel is in his early thirties. The time had come for Miguel to lay all of his cards on the table.

Dialo: Now, this is ridiculous. You say your father loves you. What kind of love does he have for you? He is going to allow men to kill you. He is insane, and you are too if you go through with his plan. When you leave this world, your followers will fall apart and you will lose all that you have gained these past few years. Do it my way and you won't lose a thing. If you do, I will use a scapegoat like Abraham did and spare your life because I love you much more than your father does.

Miguel: Father, I have always believed you. I still believe you. Is this the only way to destroy the power of death, or can you somehow arrange for a scapegoat?

Father: My son, I love you more than words can express. If there was any other way, I would do it.

Miguel: Father, I will gladly do whatever you say. Amen.

As Miguel was being put to death, tears of love fell from his father’s eyes. Those precious tears had the power to bring Miguel back to life. At that moment, Dialo knew with certainty that all his efforts to get Miguel to worship him had failed. By this time, one might think that Dialo would give up the ship and admit defeat...

Dialo: OK, Miguel, you win this time, but you can bet that I will arrange it so that you take no one with you.

To this day, Dialo couldn’t figure out how Miguel’s father was actually going to make Miguel’s followers perfect like himself.

Miguel: Yes, I know: “Misery loves company." But be sure of this: Love will always conquer.

Dialo: Now that you are in my realm and your followers cannot see you, I am going to put almighty fear in their hearts so that they won't show one toe outside the door.

Miguel: Well, you know, one advantage I have over you now is that I can see the future. What little you know about it is totally distorted.

Dialo: I don't believe that. You can't see the future any better than I. You are a born-again liar and powerless without a body.

Miguel: You forget one thing: I know that my father gave you birth with my help, and in His good time we will give you what you are due, and then some.

Dialo: Now I know that you are full of bull, and so is your so-called father. I am the greatest, and I will prove it. Just wait and see.

A few days later...

Miguel: Surprise! I am going to give my precious followers my life and spirit, and instead of one of me there will be many of me. Just watch and see what happens now!

Dialo: Well, if that is the case, I am going to have my disciples (Jews) who bear your name kill many of your so-called followers.

Miguel: I may not be able to stop you from your evil works, but remember: My father gave me power over you, even if only in the few who are faithful.

Dialo: You forget one thing: People are weak in themselves and have no power to overcome my great persuasive beauty.

Miguel: For every evil thing you have your stupid people do, my father automatically turns it into good. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

After much persecution, Miguel's people were dispersed throughout the world...

Dialo: You see? Wherever they go, I am right there. They can't lose me. I will bring them suffering, persecution, hunger, pain, torture—everything that is unpleasant. Soon they’ll leave you flat.

Miguel: That won't work. The worse the conditions, the stronger my people will become.

Dialo: Well, if that doesn’t work, I bet I know something that will. I will transform your religion into a popular one. I will deceive your followers. I will give them perfunctory rituals, formalities, liturgy and morals. I will use this as an outward show of devotion but leave them empty of any belief and love for you and those around them. I will make this universal church for myself, but in your name, with such power that anyone who disobeys my rules will surely die.

Miguel: Like I said, I may not be able to stop you from forming your false religion in my name. But be assured that there will still be a few who won’t bow to you in self-love. These will endure to the end with faith in my father.

For a period of several hundred years, there was a dry spell with respect to the number of true believers Miguel had. But one day, someone invented a machine that could make many inexpensive copies of the holy texts in a short time (previously only the big religious cheeses could own copies). It would be translated into every language, and for the first time, those who were interested could read for themselves what Miguel’s father had said and what he expected of his children. They protested the universal church and many started to worship in keeping with the Word.

Dialo: Now, this calls for a different sort of strategy on my part. Now, some of my servants can read the truth for themselves, but I will not let them go. I have another plan. I will let them worship you, but I am going to deceive them by keeping some of the main elements of your plan for salvation away from them. That way, their devotion will be invalid with your finicky old man. I will make them believe they are saved while they do my work without their knowledge. I know what church leaders want more than anything: lots of worshipers. With that, they feel successful. I will teach my leaders to preach a message that indulges my followers, all the while assuring them your father’s OK. They will do this so they can have the fools back the following week to pay their share of keeping my servants in silks and satins.

Meanwhile, the world population was growing. The eastern religion also grew.

Dialo: I must start paying more attention to my eastern religions. I will encourage them to keep striving in their own strength for self-improvement and perfection. I know this type of religious life style is totally in vain regarding any attempt toward selflessness, but they put on a good show and probably live a better moral life than those of my people who have taken on the name of Miguel. The better their life, the happier I am.

As the modern age came into existence, the world population grew into the billions.

Dialo: I must get on the ball. There are so many people now that I really have my work cut out for me! I think my best strategy is to get educated and intelligent people to believe that Miguel’s father is just a myth. I must make them strong in their belief using these new scientific facts and figures; I will show them how impossible it is for his father to even exist, much less do all that he has claimed. I probably ought to introduce these teachings in every school. Yes! I’ll make every student truly believe that they came about by chance, without Miguel’s father; and that there is no special reason for their existence!

But toward the middle of the Modern Age, a big regrouping of Miguel's disciples came into being.

Dialo: If I let this go on I, will be in big trouble. Time to regroup. I will give people wealth, prosperity, comfort, and convenience. That will surely throw a damp cloth on their religious fire. Hey, it’s working. I love it . They are praising Miguel while living in my world of self-glory. Cool.

Miguel: It’s no surprise to me that many people worship you in my name. For when you give them the good things of this world, like you gave my nation Israel in the past, they will not seek me and the good thing I offer: my father’s life, with the joy and peace that comes from belonging to me. But even in these prosperous times, I still have a few people who have my life. Though they are few in number, I receive more glory from them than all the millions who take my name but make no room for me in their lives.

Dialo: I don't want even a few going to your side. I want them all to be with me! I am going to exert more energy on these few who you say are yours. I will not admit defeat! I will wait for a more opportune time and I know for certain I will get them.

A few years later...

Dialo: I’ve got it! I will make the masses who think they are with Miguel believe they have his life. They will show it by outward religious works. I will assure them of their salvation and their new spiritual birth. I will make sure they are living a good, clean life, but at the same time I will still allow them to live for self-interest.

Miguel: Dialo, you know the truth though you won't admit it. You know that no matter how good and religious a person is, if they don't allow me to destroy their ego (the most precious thing they possess) and make room for me, they still belong to you. Nevertheless, I will inspire a few of my people to teach this truth with their lives. I will give them the strength, courage, and wisdom so that you cannot deceive them. This is what I will teach them: Belief in my father and myself is of no value whatsoever unless my life is starting to form within them. Without this life, they will not be able to love me or their neighbor; they will not be able to obey me, and they cannot trust or serve me in any manner. I will make this great truth known from one end of the earth to the other through them, my holy saints. I will give many the power to die to self and then you, Dialo, will be put to shame and your end will come.

Dialo: That is a lot of bunny bull. In this age of material prosperity, no one is going to give up their pleasant, comfortable life for one of poverty, hatred, suffering and despair. I will make sure of that. I never lie. I love everyone with unconditional love. I want the very best for everyone. I will show them this truth through their greed; being better than the Joneses is what it’s all about. My kingdom is the only one of lasting value! Don't believe Miguel! He lies! He is the father of lies! If you must, swear to Miguel, but make sure you know who your real master is. ME! I love you! Let’s live it up.

Miguel: My dear children, do not believe your old heart, which is deceitfully wicked, because through it, Dialo speaks. Receive your new heart and mind which I give you. It will be just like my father’s heart and you will never again be deceived. The end.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

# 85: Is Christian Salvation Selfish?

The first stage of Christianity is, in itself, selfish with respect to our desire for salvation. Though seldom mentioned, this fact is nevertheless true. Although it is good to desire to be saved from hell and to be with God, it is still basically selfish when saving one’s skin is the motivation. However, one cannot remain there. How does this selfish motive get converted into a selfless life? Answer: Salvation through genuine belief makes Christ one's Savior. That job is done, finished—there is nothing else we can do about being saved. Let’s leave that selfish motive behind, without forgetting the price to acquire Christ’s life and get on with it. The second stage is the start of the Christian life: making Christ our personal Lord, the absolute boss of our lives, which is the corresponding action to our belief. If the second part doesn't materialize, that is undisputable evidence that the first part was no more than an intellectualized system of belief. The last statement should be plastered on every available billboard in America. People who call themselves Christians because they live in a “Christian country” must be made aware that the first component by itself is not Christianity. I often wonder what these people did to become Christians. I am sure I would get a thousand different answers.

Jesus Christ is Lord of all and in control of the whole situation; He knows the final outcome even though it is not evident at this time. Therefore, we must make Jesus Christ our personal Lord by having an active desire to obey all His commands. Many inward changes in one's motive for living take place as these modifications continually manifest themselves in one's life. This is according to His commands regarding love of God and neighbor, and dying to self-desire. At that time, our concern becomes focused upon the spiritual and physical needs of others: God doing His work through our lives with our permission. We become less and less concerned about our own salvation, which should be no more than Jesus was concerned about His eternal destiny. Our belief will make our position secure as our lives center around continually living to please the Father as Jesus did.

The first part is only Christ's work, making us His and giving us entry into His Body. The second stage is our part: living up to Christ’s standard, of course by grace. No matter what one does or says, you can't have one without the other. The first part is an absolute must and is greater value than the second—if they can be rated in degree of importance—but as I said, one can't stay there. If one does stagnate there, that religion is no better (and probably worse) than most other selfish and false religions. Under that condition, it is of absolutely no value to anyone but the enemy. Could this be one of the major problems with the organized church? Absolutely!

In practice, organized Christianity as a whole has been transformed into something that is not absolutely necessary: merely suggestions for right living. All that is desired is the Christian semblance of goodness. One goes to church with little or no concern for the needs of their fellow man or of God. Their thinking is thus: “I must be concerned about my spiritual needs. I must go to church to do my duty. Ah, now I can feel holy for another week." Sure...I'll bet you do. “I” has become a very popular word in the Christian vocabulary, but it has become a selfish, dirty, four-letter word to God. Remember, Christ came to destroy sin, which gets its origin from self-enthronement. Sin cannot be eliminated without destroying its source, which is ego. When we are accused by outsiders and skeptics of participating in a selfish religion, what should our defense be? The most legitimate argument should be our life of loving concern for these unbelieving accusers. No excuses!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

# 82: Your Own Personal God

This post is truly serendipity in that it is sent down from Heaven, as it were, to inspire all who have an active desire to get as close to Jesus Christ as humanly possible. Read on and make this prediction come true in your life.

One of the most difficult things in the Christian life is to believe in an invisible God to the degree that such belief has a dramatic effect in one’s intellectual and emotional processes. This is even truer with respect to today’s modern, educated, technological human being. Consider with me for a moment the possible reasons for that difficulty. I think the old cliché "seeing is believing" is the biggest hindrance to faith, because we are asked to believe in the invisible. We are, to some extent, physical beings with physical needs. When these needs are met, we see and feel the effects. These effects are satisfying to the physical portion of our being. When these needs are met and no more is desired, we have raised ourselves no higher than those in the animal kingdom.

There is another part of us which the material world cannot satisfy. It is the invisible part of us. Some of us wonder if there even is an invisible part of us. Most religions, including Christianity, call that part the soul/spirit. The best way to enrich that part of us is to be loved and to love in return. When a person has a good measure of that love—which is invisible, though it has its physical effect—that person has one of the most valuable commodities there is. That love may come from a person or many people. Even the affection of a pet may be perceived as love. Either way, it gives a degree of fulfillment. What makes that invisible love real is that it comes from visible beings.

One advantage man has over all of God's other creatures is that he possesses the faculty to believe almost anything in his quest to find reality, and therefore feel complete or self-fulfilled. If this is true, then man has an innate ability to believe in the invisible as a source of completeness. Here is where Jehovah (the name of the Christian God) can make an entrance as a poignant figure in one's life. Why would anyone want to believe in the existence of an unseen God and accept Him as a source of love? How might such things be accomplished? These two questions, like many along the road to truth, are difficult on one level, yet simple on another. I truly believe that we need to take as much mystery out of this invisible-God business as possible. This is one of the main reasons I am writing this post. God will always be a complete mystery to anyone who does not truly believe that He exists, or who believes that He is indifferent to humanity’s struggles and its destiny.

Do we who have a desire to take a step forward in deepening our belief in God and raising the Christian standard to its highest level of excellence? The question of why one would choose to believe in such a God is answered simply: We desire and need more of a good thing. How to make that belief into a tangible source and an object of love is not easy, yet it is simple, and becomes more so to those who believe. In other words, it is a simple concept, but a difficult one to practice. The reason belief coupled with grace is used by our Lord is because human belief is the strongest, if not the only, avenue of access to God. The only requirement for that belief to be effective is that it must be genuine and real, without any doubt. When there is any doubt as to the reality of that object of belief, it is no more than a wishful thinking, “I hope so" situation.

You may agree with me that the main reason God is not really real, even for most Christians, is because God is not given top priority in our thinking process. That is one of the main reasons Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray continually." Why would he give a command that sounds nearly impossible for anyone to actualize? The reason is thus: He knew that what people think about the most are the things which are most real, tangible and valuable to them, whether or not one believes it or admits it. Many of us will say, "But there are so many things we must do and think on that have nothing to do with God in a direct way." I personally will admit that this seems true. So, how can we accomplish this difficult discipline and minimize the impact of these “seemingly important” things in our minds and our daily lives? First, we must admit that God is not yet real to us in a way that produces undoubting belief. Second, we must actively desire for Him to become real to us, so real that the material world is somewhat eliminated from our lives as a thing of great value to the highest degree possible. I am not advocating that we retreat into a little shell and hide away from this godless world. That would be the most devastating thing we could do. God wants us out there among the Lost, as He was.

Jesus had his Father's business on his mind at all times. How? Well, here comes the bombshell: Does the amoeba or common bacterium have something over our God? No. They have the ability to divide themselves, keep all their characteristics intact, and produce a clone of itself, except in the case of a mutation. In the right environment, this process will continue indefinitely. This is true of other single-celled critters. When God gives His Holy Spirit (the essence of His very life) to someone, that Holy Spirit is God in His completeness, lacking nothing of substance. Yes, God does divide (as it were) and yet, still remains one. Therefore, since Jesus had God's Holy Spirit, He had His own personal God to listen to His every thought, and to be with Him at every moment. The Father was still in Heaven, yet at the same time on Earth in Jesus. Jesus knew that God’s Holy Spirit had only one thing on His mind as He lived in Him, and that was to do the work of the Father.

Quite often, what makes God unreal to many is that they wonder how God can hear the prayers of so many all at one time. It is simple. Though God is one in the person of the Holy Spirit, He is also many, yet still with one mind and one purpose (Unity of the Spirit). When a person is born again in the Spirit world of God, God enters that person in the form of the Holy Spirit. At that time, ONE HAS HIS/HER OWN PERSONAL GOD to respond to his/her every spiritual NEED. Mind you, I didn't say “wants.”

With the nature of this transfer of essence, one now has all of God’s love—as being loved any less would not totally satisfy—and He/she is aware of this fact. By this love, God demonstrates that you are the most important person in the world. Love always makes a person feel important and complete. When you know for certain that you are totally loved in this fashion, then for the first time you are not inclined to seek that which the material world and human love offer. As you experience this love, the power produced by the Spirit of Christ will motivate (lovingly compel) you to love others selflessly, without need of love in return or fear of losing love or significance.

When this occurs, a human being becomes a god/goddess of love, Biblically speaking—a child of God. Though this concept may sound strange to some and even sacrilegious to others, it is very true. How can I qualify this type of teaching? Let me ask you this: Is anything too hard for God? Check Genesis 18:14 and Jeremiah 32:17. Our Lord does not make it hard for us to believe. In fact, He has spared nothing to make it as simple as Godly possible for us to believe in Him. But we complicate/destroy it because we don't obey. To obey His every command will put us on easy street in our quest to believe Him more completely. In fact, belief without obedience will not only hinder our belief, but will in time destroy it altogether. Another way we make it difficult to believe God is when our ego is geared toward things that don’t pertain to furthering Christ’s cause on earth.

In an attempt to measure God's love for you, let us use this analogy. Because you believe what God has done for you through Jesus Christ, you were given the same status of Jesus Christ in exchange for that belief. This means that you are now looked at not merely through rose-colored glasses, but through Christ-colored glasses, as perfect, pure, holy, and the most loving person on Earth. Speaking allegorically, suppose a vote was taken worldwide to discover the most important person in the world, and every living person unanimously voted for you. When you saw the results of that vote, how would you feel about yourself? What type of life would you now start to live? Would you go on as usual, affecting little or no change in your life? Of course not! You would quickly realize that you have the most awesome obligation in the world. It will take your every effort and then some to live up to your new status. God loves you for the same reason because of your new status of perfection, with only one exception: His love for you is greater than all human love put together. Your personal God voted you the most important person in the world. Although the following statement may sound selfish, the end result is selfless love for others: If you had a choice, would you desire a God that had many beloved, or a God that loved just you and was just concerned only about your need of making Him known? When we know we are loved to the utmost degree, we can then love others and not need or expect their love in return. Our personal God is the only source that can satisfy our soul’s need for love. He is at the same time the personal God of all other true Christians on Earth. This is without a doubt the greatest miracle that God continually performs. This is the kind of God we all truly need. We were made with an innate desire that only He can satisfy. The nice thing about the Holy Spirit as He becomes our own personal God is that He still is one with Himself; He is still aware of all things at all times.

Here is an added benefit, one that was touched on previously, but noteworthy enough to reiterate: The reason the Holy Spirit could not be given before our Lord's ascension to be with the Father is because the Holy Spirit that we were to receive would also be the Spirit of Jesus. For the first time, The Father could identify with man through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. As a result, we now have a common denominator with God through His Son. For the first time, we can actually allow Jesus Christ to live His life through our bodies. To put it another way, we can tap into His life as he lived on Earth, and let Him live again and again in the present time through our lives because we have Him via His Spirit. That type of God can much more easily become real to us. He is much easier for me to believe in than a God who is sitting in Heaven trying to listen to millions of people, all with conflicting needs, at the same time.

Let’s get back to the topic at hand: the conflict between the world and the spirit. He, the Holy Spirit, is concerned about the things of God. We may be interested in things of the physical world. God, our great and wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, wants to become so real to you and me that the material world becomes but a mirage. Now, you might be saying, "that's a lot of high-sounding stuff, but it’s impossible." Jesus Christ gives us the formula in the Bible, but being as worldly as we are, we reject it as an unattainable goal. In fact, I can say this dogmatically: If and when Jesus Christ does become as real as the material world to us, for the first time, the world and the people in it will lose importance in giving our lives meaning.

You might be thinking, "Is this ‘making-God-real’ stuff absolutely necessary for salvation?" I can't answer that question, but I can say this: If you purposely and deliberately avoid this teaching because it might spoil your agenda of life’s aspirations, I personally wouldn't want to be in your shoes on Judgment Day. I will add, however, that we cannot simply choose to live this type of life (one free of materialism) in order to gain God's approval or for salvation. We live it as a result of our salvation and His gift of love to us, as a means for God to become real, so that He can use us to display His love to the fullest degree. Remember, we are dealing with a God that is our own personal God. He continually gives us His personal and undivided attention. With that type of God, what is there that He cannot do through us? To quote Jesus, He said, "All things are possible to him that believes," to which I add “to him that believes that God is real, displayed by a life of God-given holiness, love, purity, and power.”

Our modern version of Christianity has been watered down to fit our lifestyles of convenience and comfort. Anyone who does not conform to fundamental evangelical dogma is labeled as a heretic. I have heard leading Christian speakers say on several occasions, "I have never been persecuted for the cross of Christ. . .” They contend that the reason for the existence of this type of Christianity (where persecution is nonexistent) is because they live in a country of religious freedom. I disagree. If only one of those big-shot big mouths preached a message that rubbed fundamental doctrine the wrong way, they would get persecution of the kind that Jesus got, believe you me! Jesus rubbed the outwardly upright the wrong way and willingly and knowingly paid the price. That scenario could be duplicated in modern times, right here in the good-old U.S.A., if one of your prominent evangelicals took to preaching God’s real Word. But why should they preach against the deadly sin of spiritual lethargy? Why rock the boat? They figure “We have our Salvation. It's not our business to dig deeply into why some things in the church smell like holy bull. Besides, we have it made in the shade here in America. We can have our Kay and Edith too.”

Now we get to the core of the matter: why God must be real beyond words in order to be effective in our lives. When He becomes real, then His love for us becomes real, and love from God is the tool that we need to love our fellow man. In fact, without that all-consuming love, all our effort to love the world will only be an outward show, something we don't really possess. Let's get to some practical applications of appropriating that Godly love so that it has an effect on how we feel about and treat others. If you remember when The Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the first four pertained to love for God, and the next six told how we must regard our fellow man. What was being said was that we cannot love others until we receive that love from God. And how can we love and be loved by a God who is little more than a vague, far-off Pa-Pa The Friendly Ghost? He must be more real than some shadowy figure whose love we occasionally acknowledge. When He does become real to us, only then will we will start to be and act like Children of God.

His love for us will not become real and effective until He himself becomes real. Our attitude toward others will in every case demonstrate whether we are accepting God's love as an active and potent substance in our life. Without that love, it is totally impossible to have the right motive, if any motive at all, to truly care for others. It's like asking a dog to act like a cat. But asking man to act like God. . . . His love for us can do just that. His love makes us His children, and when we appropriate that love, Christ walks the Earth again in human form. It may be all well and good to say that God's love for us can satisfy our every spiritual need and emotion, but how does this actually happen? I’ll give you a powerful example; then you may get the picture.

One of the strongest and most destructive emotions we harbor is envy. We try not to display it openly, but it cannot be hidden. When we have all we desire because we have God's love, who would we envy? With God’s love, we want others to have what we have in Christ and more. We consider others better than ourselves. We don't desire the things the rest of the world pursues. And when one of our own is gifted with something more than we have, we rejoice and bless them. Where did the envy go? Out the window for the rest of the world to enjoy! When we are loved by God in the true sense, we know that we (all true Christians) are the most valuable and important people in the world. When we feel that way because it is true, what harmful attitudes and emotions can we harbor? None!

God's love makes us feel safe because our lives are in His control. Fear is a thing of the past. This love is so dynamically strong that we not only want to tell and show it off, we want the world to have it also. We now have the best motive for outreach; the more love we experience, the more active our Christian lives will be. That love has such force and is so compelling that it can be no other way. I write these words with tears in my eyes.

God's love for us is the powerhouse that makes our life pleasing to Him. Any other motive will fall short and fail in a misguided attempt to live the Christian life. All of the above words are null and void until God ( our personal God, The Holy Spirit) becomes real, more real and valuable than the world we perceive around us now. I could mention a dozen Bible verses that have real meaning when one’s life is lived in this fashion, but not until then. To most, they sound like pie-in-the-sky aspirations, unreachable goals. This is worth repeating: The Bible, God's Holy Word, can never be understood in its full meaning apart from good moral teachings until God's love and life get into the picture. God Himself is the switch that will activate those words into a holy life.

Yes, Salvation is received by grace, but when we start to experience His love, then the old life—however good it may seem now—will be totally shattered. Christ is the disturber and disrupter of all our human devices for security and contentment. But we must make a choice. Why don't you give your personal God a chance to give you new life? If you truly do, watch out! You are the one God has been waiting for. Yes, He has been waiting almost 2,000 years for you to give Him the go-ahead sign, and He guarantees that the world will not be the same because of you. I know God will bless you beyond what you can hold. God is speaking to you. Go for it. Amen, Amen, and Amen!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

# 81: Short but Not So Sweet

When you know who you are (a Christ), who you belong to (Jesus Christ), and what you are here for (to live for Christ and like Christ), you can joyfully handle whatever God allows to come your way.

Since “love” is a verb, it requires some sort of beneficial action.

The main obstacle that stands between God and sinner, most often, is their virtues.

Our modern society possesses more worldly knowledge than it ever did; however, it is just as ignorant of the true meaning of life as it was in the Stone Age, if not more.

The spirit world is not a mystery to one who is experiencing it. Unbelievers don't have the desire or ability to examine the true facts about belief in Jesus Christ.

Life is a series of choices, and the spirit we possess will determine the direction in which we will go. Let our lives praise Jesus Christ.

We must make the gospel relevant in every aspect of our lives.

The present is always unique. Without genuine God-given love, we are nothing.

We may be right in what we believe, but fearfully wrong in how we live it.

The best proof that God has reached us is when we demonstrate His life.

One cannot teach an intelligent, know-it-all anything, but a person who is aware of his/her ignorance can at least be informed. Hard questions are as important as knowledge.

Don't let the devil fool you; he doesn't have a clue about God's secret plans for you and me.

As we become more Christ-like, people—even our families—may think we are screwy.

When we actually have something of great value, it doesn't matter a hoot or a holler if no one knows it; we don’t desire to show it off for world acclaim.

Beware of paid professional Christians (those who require our money for their services).

The closer one gets to Christ, the more amazing the value of grace becomes and the more we are aware of our constant need for it.

By our lives, we will affirm or deny the importance of Jesus Christ. Love is always optimistic.

No matter how evil people are, we must look at them in the best light. Our lives in Christ are for the less fortunate to enjoy.

To live for ego is to regard ourselves as the supreme being.

In dealing with the modern world, remember that sugar-coated evil has the power to spread itself like a deadly fungus. Teach men/women they are nothing more than intelligent animals and they will act that way (if that isn’t true).

We must thoroughly examine and make known the overwhelming evidence for the existence of God.

If we died today, what would be said of our accomplishments? Would they die with us or live on?

Love brings out our greatest potential (to be the best we can). Being loved, especially by God, makes us feel valuable and needed because someone thinks we are valuable enough to love.

We don't know what our itinerary in life will be, but we know the One who is scheduling it. The power of God will animate us to do the impossible.


The biggest, if not the only, hindrance to God in making himself known to us is our selfish concern over how we will “make out” in life. We are so important to ourselves. If and when we get ego out of our way, the sky is the limit as to what God can do through us.

Death of the self is easier said than done, although there are many counterfeits deaths in the Christian realm displaying themselves only in words. True death to self (ego) is a mystery experienced only by those who belong to God. Amen!

Monday, September 19, 2005

# 80: The God of Benevolent Underdogs

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20. The question remains: Why are the poor blessed by Christ? And are all the various types of impoverished groups equally blessed? First we must separate them into categories. There are mainly two types. The first type is those whose poverty is beyond their control—they, most likely, are the benevolent. They consist of the physically handicapped; those who through no fault of their own are unemployed but truly desire to work (and are not choosy); those who love God; and those whose poverty is inspired by God. I am sure there are other legitimate reasons for being poor. These are the reasons they are most likely blessed by Jesus Christ.

Then there are the drunkards, the drug addicts, the lazy, and others that are poor because of negative lifestyles/habits. These are the beggarly poor—always looking for a handout from individuals or charitable organizations. Although they are human like you and me, they are unworthy of God’s blessings.

Another question comes up: What types of blessings will they receive? Neither group can go to Heaven without actively accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior. Then, what type of material blessings can they expect? There can be only one possible answer: The first group is more likely to be aware of the need for a Savior than the latter group. What I mean is that they may be more receptive to the Gospel message and have a desire to love God. That may be their only blessing. Is there any better? “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit a kingdom he promised those who love him?” James 2:5. Then, those who lived vile lifestyles lose both a good life in this world and eternal life in God’s world.

Still, there is a very special group briefly mentioned above that is poor because of being inspired by God. Could this be the special group that Jesus is talking about in Luke 6:20? Let me tell you about their reasoning behind being poor. First of all, they know the dangers of being wealthy and gluttonous. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” Luke 6:24. “Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” Luke 6:25. Also, they care not what people say about their lifestyle of poverty. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:26.

But is there a noble reason for their unique lifestyle? Absolutely. Since they don’t need fancy houses, motor vehicles, or all the other niceties of this world, they can earn a lot less money. Therefore, they can work on a secular job much less than 40 hours a week, and thus spend more time doing the things of God. Of course, in a family situation, there has to be a consensus between all the family members or it just won’t work. It probably will be harder on the children because they may not understand all the benefits of life as Jesus Christ described. One of the biggest benefits is the lack of responsibilities and obligations that things demand. Another is the lack of stress, a bedfellow of those who desire to get ahead in a material and financial way. One particular stress comes because of wanting nice things; therefore, both husband and wife have to work, and that can be a killer, which is common in America today. And still another is the joy of helping those in need when there is extra of whatever. And believe it or not, as poor as they are, there always seems to be extra. But one of the very best things is having no debts, especially credit-card debts. And probably the greatest joy of all is having an all-consuming passion for the cause of Jesus Christ, knowing that their lives are being lived to the fullest.

You may be asking yourself, “How does this guy know all this stuff?” First of all, there are dozens of New Testament verses that tell of the deadly harm of wealth. Many verses preach the absolute need for a life of austerity and frugality so that one can then spend it on the less fortunate and especially on the things of God. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It could be—true Christians worship a crazy God. From a worldly point of view, He is crazy, but to those who follow his ways to the letter, it is the only life that makes sense. It is called the desire for equality. “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality." 2nd Corinthians 8:13. The main reason I know firsthand about this type of life is because it is the life I now live. I was a wealthy house-builder most of my life and know all about having money—what it can do and is supposed to do but lacks the power. All the money in the world cannot give a person what one truly needs inwardly. And I don’t have ample time or space to attempt to tell what human words are incapable of describing. Repeating, that inward joy is something the world cannot give.

One might ask why we don’t hear this type message in our church or in the religious media. If you did hear this type of message, there wouldn’t be any organized church. Who wants to hear this kind of message? Christ says that not many do. It is not a message that makes one jump with joy. The Gospel is hard-edged. But still, it is good news to those who desire to live according to what the Bible dictates instead of what the clever clergy says. Just remember this: Being part of the clergy is similar to being in the restaurant business. If you don’t give the people what they want, they will go elsewhere. The sweeter and more convincing their message, the more naive listeners will be attracted. Remember the old cliche: "The devil counts his followers (quantity), while God weighs His (quality)." This saying is truer than we think! So don’t be tricked by big numbers. These easily can be the most truthful words you have read in a long time. I neither count nor weigh. I tell it like it is and leave the rest up to God. I have nothing to lose and much to gain, although I may never know what God will do with these words of His. If, by some chance, there are readers that need more Bible verses to substantiate this unique message, I can give them dozens more. Just leave me a note by clicking on the “comment” section.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

# 79: The Perfect Bride

Once upon a time, there was a King who had a wonderful son. As a Prince, this son was the pride and joy of his father. When it became time for this son to take a wife, the Prince left the royal castle in search of a bride, knowing that it would be his father’s joy if he could find a wife of royal blood. The Prince went through town and country and all the neighboring villages, first looking for royalty, but because he was not handsome or of great stature, the royal ladies were reluctant to have him. Finally, out of near desperation, he went amongst the common folk. After looking high and low, he found a wonderful peasant girl and they instantly fell in love. They were the perfect couple.

The Prince told his future bride that he was a noble Prince and that his father wanted him to marry royalty. He didn't know if his father would receive her with congeniality or not because she was a commoner. The bride-to-be told the Prince that before she could accept his offer of marriage, she had a confession to make: A few years before, she had lived as a prostitute out of financial necessity. This fact broke the Prince’s heart, but nevertheless, he loved her dearly and still wanted her to be his bride.

After a short courtship, it was time to bring her to his castle to meet the King. When the son introduced his bride-to-be, his father immediately threw his arms around the girl, giving her hugs and kisses with no time wasted. Because of the love the father had for his son, he accepted the son's choice of a bride with joy. He didn't see the new bride’s flaws. All he saw was the perfection of his son in his new daughter. Upon the marriage, the King gave the new daughter full status of Princess and loved her as he loved his son.

Despite the King’s acceptance of her, however, the young girl had her doubts, such as “How can the King and the Prince have so completely overlooked my previous life?” She began to feel that she didn’t truly deserve her new life, and doubted the sincerity of her new husband and father-in-law. As time went by, she started to think that perhaps her husband was just a fool in love, and that the King had merely agreed to the marriage in order to please his beloved son, all the while maintaining an unspoken grudge against her. Still hardened and suspicious due to her old life, she never said anything to the Prince about her fears, so he was unable to comfort her. After a while, this sadness on the part of the new Princess resulted in a deepening coldness between her and the prince. The underlying reason: The Princess believed that no matter what she did, the King would never truly look upon her with favor, despite his outward acceptance.

In a desperate need for love, she went into town and met up with some of her old cronies. This quickly became a habit, and soon she had all but reverted to her old lifestyle. When the Prince found out, he was heartbroken. It was one thing for his wife to be distressed and unhappy, but now she had disgraced the throne. The sad result of the Princess’s action was the marriage ending in separation.

Now, there is a similar story of another King who had a son ready for marriage. The story went the same as the first, in that the son brought home a bride of ill repute. Upon meeting her, the King threw his arms around the girl and gave her a big kiss and a hug. Only this time, her reaction was different. Instead of being doubtful and suspicious, the new Princess was thankful and full of joy at being treated like a precious daughter by the King. This was the perfect motive for the young woman to leave her old life of sin entirely behind her and start living up to her new status as Princess. It wasn't difficult for her because of all the love she received from her new husband and father. She eagerly adopted the lifestyle of royalty. As time went on, no one would have guessed that the Princess was of common blood, let alone a former prostitute. She was transformed from the inside-out, by love and by the belief in her acceptance. Love and acceptance gave her the motive to live like a Princess.

As documented in several places in Scripture, the children of God are called the bride of Christ. The only way we could have come into the presence of the Father with all His purity and holiness, without being destroyed by the brilliance of His love, was to attach ourselves to Christ (become one with Him as bride and bridegroom) as His beloved. The Father loves His perfect Son above all things. Whatever the Son loves, the Father loves also. Because of Jesus’ love for His bride, the Father will see us as beautiful and perfect. Remember, beauty and perfection are in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, He gives us the status of perfect sons and daughters. The Father loves us in the same way He loves his only Son and the Son loves us, and the only thing we have to do is hold the hand of our loving Jesus as His bride (remain united as one person). There is no other way to get to the Father. If we go on our own, He cannot accept us.

The nice part of this arrangement is that we have been given the same status as His perfect son. What do you think we will do? I hope you guessed it. Yes. Believe it and live up to the status that was given to us by The Father, because He loves us as much as He loves the Son. His love for us is the only perfect motive to live pure, holy and perfect lives, just to live up to how He sees us. If we believe the above words, the Father will give us an added benefit: the life and spirit of His Son, empowering us to live up to our new status and the strength that Jesus had while living as a mere man for thirty-three years. That is how we will be able to live in a way that pleases God, through Jesus Christ. Living that way is ONLY EVIDENCE of our belief in what God did for us through Jesus Christ. His love for us always brings out our greatest potential: to live in a way where we desire to love Him in return. As mentioned previously, with the security of God’s love, we will not desire or need the recognition that comes from men/women. Therefore, after living in the company of His love for a while, we can’t help but tell others about Him firsthand without depending on what others (the clergy) say about Him. What a privilege it is to be chosen and accepted as the bride of Christ. All we have to do is believe Him.

Was Christ concerned about Himself and His Salvation? Certainly not. Therefore, the closer we get to Christ, the less we will be concerned about our Salvation. The most important thing to God and Christ is people, and that will be the most important thing in our lives as we grow into our spiritual maturity (experiencing the fullness of Christ). No one is worthy to be the bride of Christ, regardless of how good they are, but Christ’s love for us gives us the status of Christ, making us worthy in the eyes of The Father. His love will—in every case—consume us to the point of perfection. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:11, "Aim for perfection." THIS IS A REALISTIC CHALLENGE!

When we claim we believe the aforementioned but our lives do not demonstrate that belief as an example to others, we really don't believe, no matter how often we say it or how loud we shout it from the rooftops. How can anyone believe it without living it? If the Princess didn't really believe that the Prince and the King loved her, she might secretly go back into town to visit with her old friends and allow them to seduce her back into a life of ill repute, just like the peasant girl in the first story. If she did this and the King found out, what do you think the Father and the Son would, in all good conscience, have to do? I will let you answer that one...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

# 76: An Excuse That Makes Sin Acceptable

I am writing this post to reveal the truth behind a small section of the Bible—in the Book of Romans—that many millions of people who call themselves Christians have been relying on as a reason to believe that it is normal for them to sin. The false understanding of this section has done more damage to the Christian faith than any other heresy in the entire New Testament. I have heard this minute section used as an excuse for sin more times than I can count, and from many individuals from different denominations. In fact, I think it may be a universal excuse for sin in all of organized Christianity. It is that serious.

If one is not familiar with the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, much of this post will sound like Greek. To avoid confusing anyone, it might be best for some to skip this post until a better, more complete knowledge of the Bible has been acquired. I have put many, many painstaking hours into the writing of this post to make absolutely certain that the information in this series is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the absolute truth. How do I know that? Because this section contradicts all other New Testament verses that dogmatically tell us what we must believe and how we must live concerning sin. Although this series may be difficult for some to understand, it is a truth that all genuine Christians may have to read and reread to get to the depth and damage it has done. Please take time to double-check all the Bible references I mentioned to make sure I did not take any out of context. Again, please take this section seriously. It could be a matter of one’s spiritual life and death.

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—tthis I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” This is the Apostle Paul speaking in Romans 7:14-20. This portion of Scripture seems contrary in comparison to other Bible teachings; for that reason, it has been universally misunderstood since the first century. The result has been a general consensus of “Christians” thinking lightly of sin, thus secretly condoning what they know is wrong; moreover, they believe that giving in to the desires of the flesh (lower nature) is acceptable in the Christian life. Although it is said taciturnly, some go so far as to believe that it was about time the Apostle Paul, author of Romans, confessed to what a weak-willed person he really was while still professing to be a great apostle of Jesus Christ. At this, I am appalled.

It is not uncommon for some Bible writers to use the singular pronoun (I, me, you, etc.) to denote the nation of Israel. There are several such verses in the New Testament and many texts in the Old Testament. Here are a few: In Revelation 3:17, the church of Laodicea is speaking. "You say, ‘I am rich: I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’" In Romans 9:25-26, Paul quotes Hosea 2nd chapter though not verdatim. ". . . and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one . . .‘You are not my people’, they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’" The Old Testament is rich with writings which use the singular to denote a group of people, usually the nation of Israel. “Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink. Therefore I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first.’” (Hosea 2:5-8). ‘“Now then listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security [sounds like America] and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood.” (Isaiah 47:8-9).

Lamentations Chapter 1 is the best example of a Bible writer who spoke of himself in the singular—Biblical muscle to the truth—to tell of the wretched condition that had befallen the nation of Israel. Jeremiah used the identical singular pronouns as Paul did in Romans Chapter 7. Lamentations 1:11: “Look, O Lord, and consider, for I am despised.” And continuing in verse 14: “My sins have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together . . . He has handed me over to those I cannot withstand.” 1:15: “ . . . He has summoned an army against me to crush my young men.” [That last statement is conclusive proof that Jeremiah is not writing about himself.] “In his winepress the Lord has trampled the Virgin Daughter of Judah.” 1:16: “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears.” 1:18: “The Lord is righteous, yet I rebel against His command.” 1:19: “I called to my allies but they betrayed me.” I am sure we all know what a saintly man Jeremiah was in God’s sight. Without question, he was not writing about himself, although if someone did not know God or the Scripture, it could be taken that way.

I believe God inspired Paul to write Romans 7:14-20 as he did so that those who do not truly believe and yet call themselves Christians will have more than enough rope with which to hang themselves, so to speak. Why? Even though the New Testament is filled from cover to cover with evidence that Christ came to destroy sin in our lives, many people don’t believe that simple truth. Here are just a few verses that tell of the great work Jesus did to destroy the power of sin.

Romans 6:1: "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:6: ". . . That we should no longer be slaves to sin. . . ." Romans 6:10-11: "The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, COUNT YOURSELVES DEAD TO SIN but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Then there is Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death." One more! 1 John 3:9. “No one born of God will continue to sin . . . ” Shall we disregard these verses?

When one studies Romans, one will quickly see who Paul is writing to, especially in this chapter. Romans 7:1: “Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law.” It was Jews he was speaking to who knew what it was to live under Jewish law. Starting with Romans 1:19, Paul points out that Jews—as well as Gentiles—are all living under sin, apart from Christ; he also begins to tell of the wicked condition the nation of Israel was in, according to the Old Testament. Romans 1:19: ". . . since what may be known about God is plain to them [Jews], because God has made it plain to them." Romans 1:21: "For although they [Jews] knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him . . .” Romans 1:22: “Although they [Jews] claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God [only Israelites knew the glory of God] for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." Romans 1:32: "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death. . ." Romans 2:1: "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself . . ." Romans 2:17: "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law. . ." Romans 2:23-24: "You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’"

Isn’t this still true today? Atheists and skeptics everywhere blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ, and rightly so, because of the ungodly lives of counterfeit Christians. This fact alone pains me more than anything else, and gave me the incentive to do this writing. Romans 3:9: "What shall we conclude then? Are we [Jews] any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin." This last verse is very important in seeing what point Paul is trying to get across to his readers: the fact that in his reference to Jews, he means those who were familiar with the law.

Starting with Romans 7:5, the Apostle Paul is desperately trying to explain how it is impossible to be obedient to the old Jewish law while under control of sinful nature. Romans 7:5: "For when we [all Jews] were [notice this is past tense] controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death." In Romans 7:7, Paul uses the word “we” in reference to the Jews for the last time: “What shall we say, then?” As he continues, he starts to describe what a wretched condition they (the Jews) were in under the law and without Christ as their Savior. In subsequent references, he uses the word “I” allegorically instead of “we” to denote the nation of Israel.

Conclusive proof of this is displayed in the next several verses, but only to those who don't justify their life of sin by this portion of Scripture and those who have an active desire to live a sinless life by God's grace. "Once I was alive apart from law." Romans 7:9. Now I ask you this question: When was Paul ever alive apart from the law? Answer: Never. But the nation of Israel was alive apart from the law before God gave them the law of Moses. Sin could not condemn to death without the law. Romans 5:13: ". . . for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law." Romans 5:13. “The law came so that sin might be recognized as utterly sinful.” Romans 7:13 paraphrased. The desire of the flesh [sinful nature, ego] continually won the inward battle against their desire to do good. This is the reason the nation of Israel as a whole could not please God, and the very reason for the coming of Christ.

I believe that the subject of sin is important enough to repeat what I have written earlier, using a few different words. The point I am trying to put across is this: Before the Law of Moses was given, the sins of the nation of Israel were not taken into account. Romans 5:13, paraphrased: Although, at the judgment, Israel will have to account for her action. Even though they did not have a law, they were a law unto themselves. But when the Law was given by Moses, sin was truly exposed for what it was, and the knowledge that was good brought death to the Jews. That Law, as good as it was, did not give Israel the power to overcome its sinful nature. Because all have sinned, all are condemned by this Law that is holy and good. Although they wanted to do good, they could not because of the power of sin living in Israel. Before the Law, Israel was alive apart from the Law. But when the commandment (the Law) came, sin sprang to life and Israel (I) died. Israel found that the Law that was intended to bring life actually brought death. Romans 7:8: "For apart from law, sin is dead." The Law was spiritual, but Israel was unspiritual. In this unspiritual condition, Israel could not do what God wanted her to do. But the things she did not want to do, she did. Since Israel did what it did not want to do, she agreed that the Law was good. In this unredeemed state, nothing good lived inside Israel; that is in her sinful nature. Though she had the desire to do what is good, she (Israel) couldn't carry it out. The evil she did not want to do, she kept on doing. What a wretched condition Israel was in. Who would rescue Her from this sinful nature which lives in all Israel? Jesus Christ would. He arranged things so that all of Israel and the world could be rescued from the power of sin.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross without sin, He defeated the power of sin; consequently, when He rose from the dead, sin had no power over Him. Christ destroyed the power of the flesh (sinful nature). This is the essence of the concept of being born again. We, too, died with Christ and rose never to sin again. Romans 6:11 “. . . count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Jesus Christ.” Now since we died with Christ through faith—that means we really believe that fact—we will live according to His Spirit. This does not happen automatically. It happens only when we believe we actually died with Christ. We inherit His death and victory over sin simply because we believe Him. However, when this belief does not spill over from our intellect into our lives, our belief is not valid and in God's sight does not exist.

Now, read carefully Romans 8:9-14: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Emphasis added).

Is it even remotely possible that the same person did not write Romans 7:14-25 (using the word "I" to mean oneself instead of "Jew" or "Israel") and Romans 8:9-14? Impossible! There will be those who will say, "Don't confuse me with the facts; I have had my mind made up for years as to what Paul was saying in Chapter 7." If Paul meant “self” as that bad guy who could not do what was right but did the evil that he knew was wrong, he would be totally out of character with regard to all of his other writings as a redeemed man of God.

As we know, Jesus was perfect in the true sense, and Paul fashioned his life after this perfect Jesus. Paul was a perfectionist before his conversion and continued to be a perfectionist in his redeemed condition. This is evident as Paul writes to the Philippians, telling of his life before conversion. ". . . a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." (Philippians 3:5). After his conversion, Paul's life was in every sense as pleasing to his Lord as any New Testament character ever could be. Here is scriptural evidence of that fact. Paul says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1 Corinthians11:1. "Therefore I urge you to imitate me." 1 Corinthians 4:16. "For you yourself know how you ought to follow our example." 2 Thessalonians 3:7. "We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow." 2 Thessalonians 3:9. "Aim for perfection. . ." 2 Corinthians 13:11. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thessalonians 2:7. "I wish all men were as I am.” 1 Corinthians 7:7. "But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16. "Join with others in following my example, brothers. . . ." Philippians 3:17. "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice." Philippians 4:9.

Some, however, will use Paul’s reference to himself as "the chief of sinners" to substantiate Romans Chapter 7 and Paul’s inner struggle with sin. Some might say, "If Paul was a wretched sinner, as a redeemed man, should I be expected to live any better?” This conclusion indicates a misunderstanding of the passage. To keep it in context, let's look at what Paul said before and after that verse. 1st Timothy 1:8 paraphrased: "The law was made for bad guys. But no matter how bad a person is, he is not so bad that Christ can't show him mercy." Then, in Verse 13, he tells how bad he was, and how God had mercy on him anyway. That is the reason why Christ came into the world: to save sinners—even bad sinners. What better way to illustrate the power of Christ? Surely it is easier to redeem the pure of spirit than one who is enthusiastically mired in one’s own sin. In Verse 16, he says, ". . . of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was [past tense] shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."

In his redeemed state, Paul was no doubt the greatest, purest, holiest, and most Godly man that the New Testament reveals to us, apart from Christ. For early Christians, he was the prime example of someone who overcame a sinful life. His example still speaks to us. To be absolutely certain that Paul was talking about his past and not his present condition, let’s look at 1st Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst [Chief].” Now watch how Paul switches from the present to the past tense. 1:16: "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” Now, if Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners in his (present) redeemed condition, what right did he have to preach to all the churches about good moral conduct and to live pure and holy lives? It's impossible. Even an unregenerate moron should be able to see this simple truth when it is put in context with Romans 7th chapter.

What kind of a hypocrite would Paul have been if he expected the followers of Christ to do and be what he could not do or be? Was he giving the “OK” sign for everyone to desire to do good, yet continue to do the evil they knew was wrong? Remember 1 John 4:4 paraphrased: “The Holy Spirit, who is in us, is greater and more powerful than our sinful nature.” When people have the Holy Spirit of God living in them, they will not do the evil they hate. As a person is controlled by the Spirit, he/she will be empowered to do the good he/she wants to do, and the desire to do good itself comes from God’s Holy Spirit that dwells in us. By grace, we have Jesus Christ to forgive our sins; grace is no excuse for abuse, or grace will cease. Grace gives us the ability to love and live to please God, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Living in God's grace and living in the flesh are not compatible. Belief that gives us the power to overcome sin will not work so long as we refuse to believe that we can live without giving into sin (our sinful nature). Faith gives us the victory and in every case will cost us our desire to do as we please. Bible verses taken from New International Version Bible.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

# 75: Life Should Not Be Taken Lightly

There are approximately seven billion intelligent human beings on this complex planet. It is a shame and a disgrace that the vast majority of us are not tapping into the great potential we have of excelling in many fields. I am not specifically pointing my finger at the uneducated. Those that have a higher degree of learning are also included in not taking life seriously. What I am alluding to is the capacity of the human brain to better our lives and especially others’ lives. Our brains have such an immense ability to accumulate and utilize much more information and knowledge than we are aware of. Of course, some are born with brains that have superb memory, the ability to solve complex problems, and other unique abilities. Then others may have brains that are normal—whatever that means—and yet others may have mental disorders that can’t be amended. I am not sure if the latter could be included in this topic.

The biggest injustice we are most often guilty of is wasting time. Of course, we never call it that—we have given it more honorable names such as “leisure,” “entertainment,” “vacation,” “goofing off,” “sleeping in,” “sports,” and a multitude of other respectably named activities. And there is nothing ethically wrong with wasting time. However, what we may not be aware of is that the more we use our brains, the more we will be able to use them, and the more they desire to be used. I often wonder why we—who evolved—were given such an astounding instrument.

Then one might ask, “What is in it for me? I have everything I ever desired. What more can I ask for?” And I am sure many feel that way. The only objection that type of thinking puts up is a roadblock as to any more mental advances—not so much for one’s own benefit, but for the betterment of others. There are many ways we can assist others—I am not only talking financial help, but intellectual, academic, physical, and, since this is a spiritual blog—spiritual. Please don’t be surprised as to my next comment. I truly believe we innately have, per se, one ultimate goal in life: to help other in whatever way we can. If that is true, then whenever we are wasting time—which can never be reprieved—we are taking away or stealing from those less fortunate than ourselves. Before this, you thought I was crazy; now you know for sure I am a lunatic. But wait a minute.

Now I will get into the spiritual aspect—my forte. I will give you scriptural credence to back up my logic. Mark 12:28-31. One of the teachers of the law asked Jesus a question: “Of all the commandments, which one is the most important? ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” [emphasis added]. Is any genuine Christian, including myself, aware of the implications this most important command really is saying? In most organized religions, people use that command as a lovely cliche of excellence, and go no further. In order to actually put this command into practice, all that we have learned in life would have to be turned upside down. And then, we don’t live this way to become Christians, but once Christ has made us Christians. That is the proof in the pudding. That means that the more one loves him/herself, the more he/she is obligated to God to love others more. Some may say, “This is a hard teaching; can’t we water it down a bit?” That is what organized religion has been doing for the last 2,000 years. Now some of you may understand why I am so emphatic in the words I use in this post. We cannot live in this Godly manner when we are not exerting our every effort to love others in whatever way we can, so that they can reciprocate the same to others. With this type of life, wasting time is a bigger loss than wasting money. But no matter what way we are loving others, the main goal is to somehow lead them to genuine belief in Jesus Christ, and by all means not to a church building. The only church building I personally approve of is the “Home/house Church.” I don’t mean leading them to a religious organization and then going to each others’ homes for Wednesday-night prayer meetings. I mean excluding all contact with the formalities of organized religion. In the environment of each of these closely-knit house churches, people will become one big intimate family, with one super Holy Grail: loving one’s neighbor as oneself. Everything that is taught and lived is centered on that command with no limits as to where the Lord will take them. Of course, all this is done because a person desires to love The Lord God with all one’s faculties.

# 74: Your Choice of Evil

Let’s say we have only two choices in life regarding the type of evil that could/would confront us. Which one would most of us choose: a thief whose only bad habit is to steal, or a sneaky, deceptive evildoer? We know the thief would steal from us when given a chance; therefore, we would be on our guard. As for the deceptive evildoer, we wouldn’t know what he/she was up to until the dirty work was done. He/she could kill, rape, lie, kidnap, deceive, blackmail, cheat, etc. As the word “etcetera” points out, the list could be endless.

In life, we have basically five types of people: 1) atheists, who firmly believe there is no God; 2) agnostics, who question the existence of God, and are unwilling to accept supernatural revelations; 3) skeptics, who don’t believe in the existence of a God but sometimes have doubts about their choice; 4) a large group that definitely believes there is a God (some may even go to church regularly), but they do not live as believers in God are required to live; and 5) a small group that not only believes in the existence of God but also has an active desire to live as He commands.

Now, let’s attempt to look at this world’s religious situation from God’s vantage point. How would He grade these groups from the best to the worst? A score of “10” would the best and “1” would be the worst. How well do you know God? Before you read any further, test yourself to see how close you come. I may not know much, but from living in God’s company for many years, my answers will hopefully be close to His. Here goes. The first group, atheists, I will give about a “3”. The second group, agnostics, I will give a “1”. Skeptics I will give a “4”. The fourth group, “churchgoers,” I will give a “2”. And the last group, true believers, I will give an “8”. Let me tell you why I was kind of tough on some/many church goers. Though they may not be aware of it, many are being deceived and are unknowingly living a life of deceit. “Having their cake and eating it too,” they unknowingly deceive others including their children–modern kids are wiser than we think, so they may not be deceived or swayed by their parents’ facade. Why was I so easy on the skeptics? I truly believe they can convert to genuine Christianity much more easily than churchgoers or people who already believe they are on God’s side and believe no conversion is necessary.

The reason God is intensely tough on the church crowd is because the devil (Satan) is the greatest deceiver of all. It is not godly to steal, but in comparison to deceit, a thief’s occupation is like playing the part of a holy angel. What I am attempting to say is that there is a wide chasm of difference between a thief and a deceiver. Again, I am in no way attempting to justify thievery. It is a sin against God and mankind.

Let me put it another way. To get the most beautiful thing on earth (a genuine, close relationship with our Creator) and make a deceptive ritual of it is the most grievous act that can be committed against God. Here is another way of putting it: The most reputable jeweler in a large city has been selling diamond rings to brides-to-be for years. After many years, this jeweler is exposed as selling nothing but fake diamonds. What a shock for many, many people. Their wedding rings were all fake. In other words, a thief is expected to steal, but not a reputable jeweler. In this world, “men of the cloth” are seen as good and honest men/women. And that is the way it should be. But it is a godly shame to say that most are money-hungry leeches that will preach anything to keep/get spiritually naive people into their church buildings. Again, it is not so much what they preach—most will have a Bible in their hand when preaching—but their deceptions lie in what they don’t tell their followers. Then a few guys/gals like me come along and fill in those deleted verses, which are not easy to digest.

Here is a good analogy: All of our lives, we were told that ice cream, cake, burgers and fries, and all other junk foods were healthy for us. Then, after eating this tasty food most of our lives, we were told by nutritionists that we have been tricked by the makers of these popular foods. We were also told that broccoli, spinach and other distasteful foods are super-healthy for us, and that those other popular, good- tasting foods will send us on a LONG, SLOW, PAINFUL, trip to our graves. Can you see multitudes changing their eating habits? They now may believe the food they have been eating is not the best for them, but to change, they may say, “No way in hell am I going to change.” And believe it or not, it is even more difficult, if not impossible, to change how we live and what we believe. The two cannot be separated. Am I exaggerating about “Religion's Crime Against God”? I don’t believe human words can begin to tell the scope of this worldwide catastrophe. The sad thing is that this blog alone can’t even start to make a dent against these godly abominations. And still, God wants everyone who knows Him to just keep exposing these deceptive atrocities, and He will take care of what we can’t. If you are one who is in this unique category, just keep plugging along. May God bless all of you with the best He has to offer, which is Himself.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

# 73: Two Gospel Messages

In America, we have two main Gospel messages. One of the messages is extremely prolific and popular, and it tells us what we WANT to hear: a feel-good, happy-go-lucky message. Its door is wide; it opens onto a broad road that leads to destruction, and many will travel on it. The other Gospel message, which most have never heard before, is unpopular; it tells us what we NEED to hear. It is hard-edged and takes much effort to obey. It has a narrow door, and the road it takes us on is narrow, thorn- laden, and few find it. Are you and I one of those few? If we are, I guarantee this blog will be a treasure chest of spiritual gold, without a word concerning that happy-go-lucky religious entertainment message. But, if we are one of the happy-go-lucky crowd; this blog will annoy us to no end, although we may be the ones who need to hear it most. (Matthew 7:13-14 paraphrased.)

This parable was given to us by Jesus because He is attempting to tell us that it is so easy to do the things that are pleasing to our human nature, which are contrary to what is good and right in God’s sight. But it is extremely difficult to continually live in a manner that is in conflict with doing what comes naturally. Living as we are commanded by God is accompanied by a bittersweet joy—bitter because it grievously pains us to see the multitudes that are being deceived, and joyful to know there are a few living life as it was meant to be lived (by following that narrow road). It seems only natural for atheists to travel that broad road, but it is heart-wrenching to see those who THINK they are on that narrow road because of their religious affiliation, but are actually on the wrong boat going in the wrong direction.

The problem is that many people love to lie to themselves and then believe the lie. For that reason, it is almost impossible to convince those on the wrong road that they are on the wrong road. Even if they suspect that they may be wrong, as humans, it is extremely difficult to change, even when they know a change is in order. That can be called “Between a rock and a hard place.” To know the right way and then not have the willpower or desire to change is the plight of many, many intelligent and good people. That is a crying shame. Also, there are many atheists and skeptics that are very good, kind, loving, and generous people. We must remember that hell—whatever it will consist of—will be full of good people that have been deceived, or are outright unbelievers, along with the overtly evil ones. However, being just good is not good enough to be in the company of God. To share in God’s abode, we must have Christ-type goodness, which consists of BELIEF and OBEDIENCE to all that is commanded in the Christian Bible (the New Testament). And even with that all-important belief and obedience, it is God’s grace (undeserved kindness) that allows us to share in His Heaven. No more, no less.