Sunday, December 31, 2006

Universal Unspoken Questions

Here is a comment sent in by “Anonymous”: how is it possible to love God, if you do not have this so-called love in you, what is it, where does it come from, how do you get it, or how much does it cost, i accepted Christ 12 years ago, and according to you, i have wasted my time, 12 years of my life trying to please God, and a lot of money in church, this tells me that God does not accept everyone, only the ones he wants. if love is a gift from God, then the Bible is a lie he gives it to certain ones only, this would mean it is immpossible for me to go to heaven, because i do not have this so called love.

“Anonymous,” your excellent, candid and down-to-earth questions are worthy of being published in the main section of this blog for the sake of others that may have the same questions.

First of all, it sounds like you are a member of organized religion. That is one strike against you. Exposing what is kept silent by religion is what this blog is all about. Enough of that. The whole Christian faith is based on a mutual love between God, Jesus Christ and His disciples (us). Even though human love is powerful—e.g. love between husband and wife or parents and their children—Godly love makes that love look wimpy; however, it is nice to know that someone loves you and that you love in return.

Godly love is similar, except that God is the one who dictates how to love and who to love since He created us; therefore, He is the one who knows what is best for us. Much of my adult life, I have been looking for human love to satisfy a deep inward need to be loved. And no matter how genuine that love of another was, be it parents, siblings, mate, etc., sooner or later, one way or another, it always fell short. Human love or Godly love cannot be fabricated. You see, human beings are love beings, in that love is the only attitude that truly satisfies. To put it another way, love makes us feel needed, wanted and important.

All those words and I didn’t even start to answer your first question. Love for God/Christ is to obey His commands. John 14:21. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John 14:24. “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” John 15:10. “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.” Obedience to Jesus Christ and love for Him are inseparable. That is the main atrocity organized religion is guilty of. “Obedience” is a dirty word to them, and is avoided as much as possible. In fact, even though obedience (good works) can never save anyone, it is the crucial evidence that a person’s faith is genuine. John 15:8. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, SHOWING yourself to be my disciples.”

There are dozens upon dozens of hard-edged verses that are avoided by religion per se. I have written on those verses several times; the latest is in post # 170: “Crimes in Christ’s Name Exposed.” If a person doesn’t have a desire to start to obey those commands, there is no way in hell he can have love for God or God have love for him. Many of those verses sound ridiculous and impossible to implement. And yet there is a reason for every single one of them. They are not in the New Testament just to make things hard for His disciples.

I am answering your questions in a roundabout way. When you said you don’t have this love in you, I say, “good for you for being honest with God and with yourself.” You asked what it is. It is a response to God’s call, displayed by obedience. It is evidence that His disciples believe God and desire to obey Him. You asked where it comes from. It comes from God, in response to your belief. You asked how you get it. It comes from belief in what Christ said. You asked, how much it costs. Not a red cent, only your complete life devoted to promoting the cause of Christ.

You said that God does not accept everyone, only the ones He wants. That is a lie. God accepts everyone who believes in what His Son did for humanity. But it doesn’t end there. As previously mentioned, evidence of that belief is obedience to His commands. No obedience, no love or Salvation. You said, He accepts only certain ones. Wrong. It is more than possible for you to go to heaven if you go along with His plan. But if you stay on the course you are now on, most likely you may end up in . . . .

The best advice I can give you is to read the New Testament. Read it and reread it, and never stop reading it. Highlight certain verses that you want to be reminded of. Keep reading it or get a set of the New Testament C Ds and listen to them every day until it becomes an intricate part of your life. As you get acquainted with what God desires, start to change your life according to what Christ commands. And before you know it, guess what? Your love for God will gradually manifest in your life, and God’s love for you will become real. But before all this can come about, you must have a desperate need for all that God has for you. Another suggestion: It might seem difficult, but it will do you much good if you separate yourself from the church you have been attending for 12 years. By all means, stop giving your hard-earned money to people who unknowingly are sending many to hell.

Here is the answer to your main question: How do you get to love God? Here are two human analogies: You are in a burning building screaming at the top of your lungs; flames are shooting out of every window. You are as good as dead. One brave fireman/lady throws a soaking wet blanket over his/her body and darts inside in an attempt to save you. As he/she comes out of the burning building with you safely wrapped inside the blanket, people start shouting with joy. In the process, the fire person was severely burned. The burns were so bad that he/she died on the scene.

Miraculously, he/she is revived. How would you feel about that person who was your savior? You would love that person and feel indebted to him/her for the rest of your life. Now I ask: Where did that love come from? Answer: from the gratitude and appreciation for being saved by this person.

That is exactly what Jesus Christ (God) did for you. By His death on the cross, He saved you from the pains of eternal hell. Where is your gratitude? Is the occurrence a reality to you? If you truly believed it actually happened, you would automatically love Him for the rest of your life. The question is, what type of belief do you have concerning Christ saving you? I would say that you don’t, at this time, have the belief needed to make that event a reality.

Here is another analogy: Most young children love their parents. Why is that? Their parents love them and therefore care for their every need. Where did that love for parents come from? You guessed it. Children know it would be almost impossible to live without the loving care of their parents.

God is called The Father of all who believe and obey in what He commands. Why would anyone not love the one who is their heavenly Father? Good question, because their heavenly Father is not a reality to whomever. Belief/faith is the quality that makes The Father a reality. He becomes our Father if we obey Him, and God counts obedience coupled with belief as LOVE for Him. John 14:23-24. “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’”

So the definitive answer to “how do you get it?” is that your belief needs serious work, and it will come when you make every effort to keep your mind and soul on the things of God. And one of the best ways to do that is to become intimately acquainted with the New Testament.

If you decide to go along with those aforementioned words, and you have more questions—I am certain you will—throw them at me. I need a good challenge once in a while, like the ones you just gave me today. May God bless you with all you allow Him to give you. jc Check the comment section below. “Anonymous” presented further and more complete details, and I gave my response.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

# 181: Christian Perfection

# 181: Christian Perfection Over the years, quite often, I have heard this Christian adage: “No one is perfect.” That seems like an open-and-shut case, and yet that statement is true and at times is false. Those who believe it is true lean on that alibi in an attempt to “cover their tush,” while other sincere believers may be demonstrating their need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. But it doesn’t end there.

The word “perfect/ion” has several implications in the New Testament. And yet, most are referring to excellence of certain Godly qualities. This post will explore them; then we may be able to acquire a more complete understanding of God’s truth as it pertains to the Christian life.

Let us first examine the fact that Scripture says every disciple of Jesus Christ is perfect, making the above saying also untrue. Listen to this one: Hebrews 10:14. “. . . because by one sacrifice he HAS MADE PERFECT forever those who are BEING MADE HOLY.” [emphasis added]. Exactly what does this verse mean? Simply put: God the Father freely considers as perfect in His sight all who have made a commitment to believe Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That is astounding; of course, “being made holy” implies only those who are/will be continually striving to experience higher levels of holiness. Scriptural evidence: 2nd Peter 3:14. “. . . make every effort to be found SPOTLESS and blameless and at peace with him.” Luke 13:24. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” [emphasis added]

Now the question remains: How should we respond to God’s action, in that he gave us an undeserved status of perfection? Our main reaction must be to make it our sincere desire to attempt to live up to the perfection given to us by the creator of all things, God Almighty. Before anyone can start to live in that manner, one must, wholeheartedly and with every fiber of strength he/she can muster up, believe our new holy status is an ACTUALITY (for real) and not just holy words. When one makes every effort to truly believe they possess a perfect standing with God, then and only then will/must one’s life start to change dramatically.

What if a person merely says she/he believes their new standing with God, but whose life changes little or not at all? Then what? That is concrete evidence for the lack of genuine belief in his/her initial response, and/or lack of belief that God sees him/her as perfect.

Belief in what God has said and done is the motivating factor for acquiring holiness (living a life of love for God, which is evident by obedience to Christ’s teachings). These are the words of Jesus. John 14:23-24. “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.’”

God does not want us to merely be in a perfect honorary position with Him, via the perfection He freely gave us; more importantly, He also wants us to experience that perfection. Matthew 5:48. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Here are several ways to increase one’s level of perfection: Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We do these good works not as a means of justifying ourselves—we have already been justified—but as a result of our belief in the perfection God freely gave us. Here is more evidence of how God sees us: 1st Corinthians 6:11. “But you WERE washed, you WERE justified, you WERE sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” [emphasis added]. Matthew 19:21. “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”’

This last verse sounds kind of nonsensical; that is the reason that kind of talk is rejected in our modern culture by organized Christianity. They say that verse pertains only to a very few extremely wealthy people, which is truly a destructive lie. But still, the logic behind it is embraced by the true family of God. Logic says: it is almost impossible for a wealthy person to be obedient. The second MOST crucial/imperative command in Scripture is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and still have more than enough of whatever, while others go without. Said another way, the aforementioned is also a prerequisite to becoming a disciple of Christ, when he said “THEN come, follow me.” Jesus in essence is saying that in the Kingdom of God on earth, equality is the norm. Repeating, there can be no wealthy disciples while another doesn’t have the basic essentials. Generous Christians who are obedient to this command are experiencing Godly love, and exposure to Godly love is to touch the hand of perfection. That doesn’t mean that tomorrow, one cannot acquire a greater degree of Godly perfection.

Here is an aspect of the word “perfect” which may be difficult to understand in this power-hungry society. 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10. (The Lord speaking and the Apostle Paul’s response): “But he [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made PERFECT in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I DELIGHT in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak [adverse worldly circumstances], then I am strong.” [God’s power is activated]. Who in their right mind desires to be weak? Only those who are out of their mind, for Christ’s sake.

Jesus Christ desires us to rely on Him and his strength when promoting His cause; thus, when His power is being exerted in our lives, it gives us a greater degree of perfect (we are made stronger). We can possess Christ’s strength when everything seems to be falling apart in our lives (hostile conditions occurring) without many worldly accolades to rely on; whereas, when we have many great human attributes, qualities and characteristics in our back pocket, as it were, we attempt to use our own meager strength to do His work. That may be one of the reasons Christianity is in the pitiful shape it is in. Therefore, the word “perfect,” when used in this context, implies growing in strength to do God’s work, because of Christ’s power resting on us, or better yet, allowing Him to make us more perfect as He works through our bodies.

In this next verse, the word “perfect” is used in a way that is contrary to the aforementioned uses. Philippians 3:11, 13. (The Apostle Paul speaking): “. . . and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made PERFECT . . . Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” Because of the supernatural powers that Christ was using through Paul, some envious peers badgered him, saying his (Paul’s) Godly power to heal materialized because he was raised from the dead.

Here is the reason why: Acts 14:19. “They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.” Repeating, that was the reason some thought his GREAT COURAGE and supernatural powers came as a result of him being raised from the dead, and therefore couldn’t die again in a human body. I truly believe that stoning did kill Paul—did/could anyone ever survive a stoning?—and God, in response to the prayers of the disciples, gave him life, but not the final resurrection; but just like when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Therefore, when Paul used the words “made perfect,” he meant literal eternal perfection. This is the only time the word “perfect” was used in that context.

While we are on the subject of being raised to life, which has little to do with perfection, I present several verses that have mystified me and millions like me for many years. These verses are only in the book of Matthew and not in the synonymous books of Luke or Mark. Matthew 27:52-53. “The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” I ask, then: What happened to them? Also, I ask, in an event as significant as that, why wasn’t it mentioned in the other two harmonious gospels? Many theologians believe the book of Mark was written first; then Luke and Matthew were, in many ways, copies/holy plagiarism since many identical verses appear in all three Gospels.

Here is one theory for the reason those two “off-the-wall” verses were in Matthew and not in the other gospels: an overzealous scribe-turned- disciple—a scribe is a person who was taught to copy Scripture verbatim—wanted to counter the story that Jesus was not resurrected and that His disciples took the body of Jesus, as stated in Matthew 28:12-13, and 15. “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, “his disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were sleeping.”’ . . . And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” Just remember, this is holy speculation, even though it makes more logic than to leave us in silence as to what happened to all those holy people.

I am of the belief that when a single verse pops up that seems a bit contrary to all else said on any subject, it is best not to give it too much credence even though it is in God’s Holy Book. If you think this theory is all hogwash, give me a better reason for the above incident.

In ending, the punch line is that when the word “perfect” is mentioned in the New Testament or in this blog, most often it means some sort of Godly excellence, or the perfection that God prematurely bestowed on all true believers, and not the ultimate perfection we will receive in eternity.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

# 180: The Diversity of Christmas

This post will tell the history—the good and the not-so-good—of the most popular holiday in America. First, the history: The main quote is from the Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia. Christmas: “Scholars believe that it is derived in part from rites held by pre-Christian Germanic and Celtic tribesmen to celebrate the winter solstice. Christian festivals, generally observed by Christians since the 4th century, incorporate pagan customs, such as the use of holly, mistletoe, Yule logs, and wassail bowls [used for much drinking]. The Christmas tree, an evergreen trimmed with lights and other decorations, was derived from the so-called Paradise tree, symbolizing Eden of German mystery plays. The use of a Christmas tree began early in the 17th century in Strasbourg, France, spreading from there to Germany and then into northern Europe. In 1841, Albert, Prince Consort of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, introduced the Christmas-tree custom to Great Britain; from there, it accompanied emigrants to the United States. Meanwhile, Dutch settlers had brought to the new world the custom of celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6, and they especially celebrated St. Nicholas Eve, when gifts were given to children, of whom the saint was patron. British settlers took over the tradition as part of their Christmas Eve celebration. Santa Claus, the name of the legendary jolly, red-garbed old man, who in the United States is said to make and distribute gifts and greeting cards, is a corruption of the Dutch “Sint Nicolaas”.

The lack of one person in the origin of Christmas was Jesus Christ. He was not mentioned once in all the early history of Christmas. I am not certain when the official name “Christmas” was given to that holiday, but I do know that somewhere along the line, Christ, the nativity scene, and December 25th as the day of the baby Jesus’ birth were later incorporated into the holiday. Going to the Roman Catholic Church on that festive day became a tradition; thus the name “Christ-Mass” was shortened to “Christmas”–the word “Mass” indicated/s that the “Roman Catholic Holy Eucharist” would be served (bread in the form of a round thin wafer, and at times, wine). Also, many Bible scholars seem to agree that the birth of Jesus was sometime in late September in the year 3 or 4 A.D.

The good: What would life be without Christmas for most children in America? They get several weeks off from school, which is looked forward to all year long, and then they get all the presents under the Christmas tree along with other amenities (travel, special privileges, etc.) that come with that holiday. If anyone attempted to take Christmas away from children because of its pagan origin, there would be the most gigantic revolt this country has ever seen, and all by the little folks. And I am certain that parents would also put up a big stink. Without Christmas, adults wouldn’t have a paid holiday—no excuse to drink and get a little tipsy, rewarded by a big head in the morning; no rich food to gain a few unwanted pounds, and then have to diet for the next few months; no good excuse to have a merry time and be your uninhibited self; no maxed-out credit cards or debts; just think the thought of no Christmas with all the hustle and bustle, with no Christmas music or cheer, no stupid presents from friends and relatives. That could give most adults a good reason to start the mother of all demonstrations. What about the merchants? They are the ones who benefit the most from Christmas. In fact, many commercial establishments earn more money—as we go deeper into debt—during the Christmas holiday season than they do the rest of the year. Therefore, regardless of the origin, or who in the early festive era was left out of Christmas, I will unequivocally say that it is here to stay.

The not-so-good: Although Christmas is supposedly a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in the USA, most non-religious people also engage in its personal benefits. First, atheists, who don’t believe in Christ or God , still they buy their children presents, and may even have a Christmas tree, eat a big meal, go on vacation to see relatives, and the like. Most get paid for the holiday without working. As it seems, Christmas could be a big event even for nonbelievers. Second, people who do not categorize themselves as atheists yet wouldn’t step foot in a church might call themselves Christians since they think they live in a “Christian country.” At Christmastime, they engage in most of the same activities as church-going Christians do and reap its benefits and joys. Third, the Jewish community, although they don’t believe Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah, are the biggest benefactors of Christmas in a financial way. Jews own more corporations in America, and maybe the world, than any other religion or race. I believe Mormons come in second, at least as being the richest “Christian” church in America. Therefore, Christmas is a holiday when many in the Jewish community just can’t wait to celebrate by going to the bank the day after Christmas with big bucks in their satchels. Fourth are the non-Christian-religions: people such as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. who live in America celebrate Christmas by taking advantage of the amenities it offers to Americans; still, they don’t believe in Jesus Christ other than possibly as a prophet or some historical figure. So, what is wrong with that? I am certain they still look forward to Christmas for having the day off, and maybe even a big meal, and of course like others, they enjoy the discount on merchandise the day after Christmas. As one can see, Christmas, though sacrilegious in the eyes of devout Christians, is not that bad for the secular folks. Here is a little-known fact about birthday celebrations in the Bible. Did you know that only two times in the whole Old and New Testament were birthdays celebrated? Both were the occasion for executions. In the New Testament, it was when King Herod was celebrating his birthday; he had John the Baptist beheaded at the request of his stepdaughter. Matthew 14:6-12 and Mark 6:21-25. In the Old Testament, as Pharaoh was celebrating his birthday, he had the chief baker hanged just as Joseph had predicted. Genesis 40:20-22. This is a ghastly history of Biblical birthdays. It seems to indicate, when it comes to birthdays in the Bible, that birthdays should not be a time of joy but of gruesome murders. So I ask, is the celebrating of birthdays a good/holy event, let alone for the birth of our Lord and Savior?

There is a large class of people in America that, if asked, would classify themselves as Christians. For example: If people are not atheists since they believe there is a God, yet are not secular or orthodox Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus, they believe they must be Christians since Christianity is the prevalent religion in America. I am certain that this type of Christians-by-name-only won’t be affected by the disturbing information of Christmas being of pagan origin. But the question I ask is how genuine Christians should respond to the fact that their favorite Christian holiday was not originally based on the birth of their Savior. This is an extremely difficult question. Who has the correct answer/s?

First and foremost, I don’t think little children should be told outright that there is no Santa Claus. Let them learn on their own as they get older, because for kids, Christmastime is the most exciting time of the year, to say the least. Older children, as they start to understand the importance of Jesus Christ in their parents’ lives, should be told how Christmas originated, and go easy on their reaction. Remember, they still are kids. Christmas as a holiday for kids is okay. But with the commercialism of Christmas along with all the money spent on that holiday, it could/should be classified as a secular holiday by leaving Jesus out of the holiday. That may sound sacrilegious to some, but I am certain Jesus would approve of having His image removed from that materialistic and gluttonous holiday, without doing away with the holiday altogether. This is a difficult question to grapple with, and there is no absolute answer. There is a religious group (Jehovah’s Witnesses) that did not celebrate Christmas years ago. I am not sure if they still refrain from celebrating it. I am certain it is/was tough on their kids, especially in school, when all the other kids are talking about Christmas and presents. I ask you, the readers, to give me your input as to what is right for kids and adults. I think I know what is best for adults; it is a personal decision for every true believer.

For people who understand what pleases Jesus Christ, and only for that group, here is my thinking on Christmas: Most, if not all, of the money spent on gifts, food, travel, drinks and whatever else is spent on Christmas should be given to those who are without the basic necessities at Christmas, regardless of race, creed, color, or religion. Better yet, that giving would be more memorable, of greater value, and more meaningful if it was done on a personal basis (one-on-one), thus circumventing organized charities. Then, a day or two before Christmas, adults, and especially their children, could go to preselected homes to give toys, money, food, clothing or whatever is needed. This giving experience by children will leave an indelible mark on their memory. Will they do the same as they grow older? There are several ways you can find out who is in need; contact the Welfare Department, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or get in touch with the local newspaper and ask if they can put a small article in their paper to see if anyone knows of families in need. If the family needs groceries, go with them to a supermarket and buy what they need. If you smell alcohol or tobacco, in their home or on their breath, it is best not to give money. If they need their rent to be paid, make a check out to the landlord; if they need clothing, toys, or grown-up presents, go to several department stores, etc. This could be expensive. To help one or two families may be all one can afford. The following year, you may be better organized and able to do much more. If you are doing this with the right motive, God will bless you more than you can ever imagine, although not necessarily in a monetary way. His blessings are spiritual. When doing this good work, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (don’t tell anyone what you have done, not even the IRS), or it may lose some of its value in the sight of God. Then, on Christmas, stay home and treat it as any ordinary day—though a very special day spiritually—by praising and thanking God for giving you and yours an active desire to help the needy. There is one stipulation: The recipients of these gifts must be told that the gifts are from Jesus Christ Himself and that we are only His helpers doing the delivering. If Christmas was celebrated in that manner by even a few of God’s people, for them, I would call it a Christmas which God would be pleased to glory in. However, He would still be unhappy with the remainder who celebrate Christmas in the ordinary, secular, and self-centered way. Actually, I am certain there are holy people who are already doing that kind of giving, but only for those in need in their own church. But it could easily be expanded to all the poor in the United States and then to the world. To make it truly Christ giving, there must be no administrative cost, only Christian volunteers.

To have genuine compassion and empathy for the poor, I believe it would be beneficial—though undesired—to have/make an opportunity to live in God-inspired poverty oneself. This Bible verse comes to mind from Luke 6:20, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God/Heaven.” Now I am sure some are saying that I must be off my rocker.

As a child, I was raised in the poorest of poor conditions. Let me elaborate: My mom and dad were from the Old Country. They came to this country without a cent to their name. My mom was not allowed to go to school since she was too valuable on the farm, and therefore could not learn how to speak or read a word of English. My father could speak only a few words of English. He was a cripple, and was therefore limited as to what type of work he could do. My sister and I were born in that type of environment. The sad part is, it wasn’t bad enough to be poor, not being able to speak English, but ignorance about what life in America was about made it even worse. Therefore, now that I am an adult, I know firsthand the pain and suffering of being poor and ignorant. Possibly adults can understand why they are poor, but try to explain poverty to a child.

Let me tell you of two incidents from my childhood which are vivid in my mind. My mother sat me on an old trunk to put some winter clothes on me. As she was dressing me, I asked her, as best I could (of course, I was not speaking English), “Mama, whata Santie Clausie givea me for Christmis?” She didn’t know how to respond. She reached for a small ceramic container which was sitting near the trunk. It was made up of a black girl and boy; they looked like they were drawing water from a well. Again, not knowing what to say, she gave that ceramic piece to me and said, “This is all I have to give you; we have no money.” I must have thought to myself, How could I play with that? I didn’t want that ceramic figurine because it had been in our house for a long time, and it didn’t seem like a Christmas present to me. I am certain the pain she had for the little boy she loved more than the world was much greater than my broken heart.

Here is another heart-breaking story about Christmas: I am not certain if it was the same year as the above incident. My sister and I were going to bed in an uninsulated, drafty attic–that was the only place we had to sleep. It was Christmas Eve; I was two years younger than my sister. In order to prepare for Santa, my sister got one of my mother's old stockings and neatly draped it over the back of an old chair and put it near her bed. I told her there was no Santa Claus. She argued with me, saying there was. When morning came, you’ll never guess what happened. Her Christmas stocking was still empty. If I remember rightly, she cried and cried. I am not sure if I cried along with her, but I am sure making up for it now. They say men aren’t supposed to shed tears; crying is reserved only for sissies. Well then, I guess I must be a sissy. Case in point: These stories are not mine only; they belong to every poor child that doesn’t get at least one nice present at Christmastime. Therefore, one can understand why only poor children truly know the inexpressible sorrow of being without at Christmastime, with no happy endings in sight. As you can possibly tell, when Christmas is combined with poverty-stricken families, especially with young children, I become a bit effusive.

In conclusion, as we examined Christmas from many angles, it is good, in one way or another, for all except those in desperate financial need. We as Christians can change that, if even a little this year, and hopefully more in years to come. With Jesus Christ doing the giving through our efforts, that generosity may/will bring some of the unloved poor into the reality that Christianity may be for them also. Remember, God loves the poor. We should also love the poor by allowing Jesus Christ to do His giving through us.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

# 179: Disciple: the Forgotten Word & House Church

Webster’s definition of disciple: “a pupil or follower of any teacher or school of religion, learning, art, etc.” Why don’t we who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ instead of Christians, believers, brothers, etc. Disciple is mentioned over 300 time in the New Testament; the word believer/s is mentioned approximately 20 times; the word brothers/s, as brothers in Christ and not blood brothers, almost 300 times; the word sister about 6 or 7 times; the words ‘The Way” as used in Acts, 5 times; the word Christian/s 3 times.

Some will say, “That it’s all semantics.” And that is mostly correct. But more realistic, the word disciple has a negative connotation: to be disciplined in the ways of Lord. Who really want to be disciplined according to ALL He commands? It is a crying shame, from the looks of things, especially in the U.S., it doesn’t seem like many. The word Christian has various meanings to complex mortals: one born in a Christian family; one who goes to a Christian church; one who believes that Jesus Christ saves all who call themselves Christians, regardless what type of life they live, since no one is perfect; one who is not an atheist, Jew, Muslim, etc. therefore, must be a Christian. The reason those who call themselves Christians is because it is a good and holy name, making them feel holy, of sorts. In other words, the word ‘Christian’ becomes a catchall for those who want to put on a holy perception/heir about themselves. Here are a few definitions the dictionary gives for Christian: “a decent respectable person; humane and decent; having the qualities demonstrated and taught by Jesus Christ . . .” [But, I say, without the commitment needed to become a real Christian]”

Here is another reason why many Christians are in the “spiritual” condition they are in: It is being brutally blunt, but it must be said. Many American Christians and clergy are overweight, obese e.g.Pastor John Hagee, of Trinity Broadcasting Network--a disgrace to the profession--and physically out-of-shape. The reason: they lack the discipline to eat healthy foods, while overeating. No discipline to engage in a moderate amount of daily exercise/workout, which takes physical effort; one of the most avoided of all activities. But even just as destructive to a disciplined life is living with health sucking stress; in fact stress is the most unnatural and destructive attitude we can harbor.

That unhealthy type of living brings on a myriad of other degenerative and deadly diseases-–a great bonanza for the greedy pharmaceutical and doctors, who capitalize on our misfortunes. These physically lazy Christians reject discipline. Consequences: their non-disciplined living habits rub-off on their Christian life. They say “We’ll take it if you make it easy, sweet and fast.” It is easy say, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” but most difficult to be spiritually disciplined according to all that God commands--I am not talking about the 10 commands in the Old Testament. In fact, for some undisciplined believers, it may be impossible to admit it, or extremely difficult to change or even modify their lifestyle. That may be the core reason the word ‘disciple’ has been replaced with the word Christian.

This upcoming fact, most likely, is the main reason some/many Christians don’t want to be classified as disciples: Through the years, as I traveled through the religious circuit of churches, I would hear many church-goers . . . . say, “ I am a Christian but not a disciple.” Let me quote just one verse that explicitly says that belief is not true. Jesus speaking; Matthew 28:19. “Therefore go and make DISCIPLES of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them [disciples] to OBEY everything I have command YOU.” [emphasis added]. Even with the mountain of evidence in this verse and many like it, some believe when Jesus was giving those seemingly impossible commands, they were meant only for the 12 disciples. These Christian sluggers were taught they could become ‘believers’ in Christ without having the burden of being disciples. The only thing is, Jesus had many more than 12 that were following Him, and all that followed Him were called disciples. Like the 72 disciples He sent out ahead of himself to the towns and villages. Check Luke 10:1.

How did such a beautiful word like ‘Christianity’ get so corrupted? And how could such a descriptive word like ‘disciple’ get buried in the dark halls of mediocre religion? As early as the first century the clergy quickly learned that sweet honey draws more flies than vinegar. And the New Testament contains much that is not palatable for those who are fudging their way till graduation. The New Testament is a God-send--as difficult as it may seem--for all who are continually searching for more of God’s truth, so they can live it and bring much needed glory to the Father.

One of the problems is that most Christian books and those that read them (preachers) that espouse Christian protocol, were reared in the mediocrity of modern Christianity. Just propagating an easy does it, all smiles, half-baked, money making religion.

Here is one stark truth that tells all: if a person–regardless how esteemed he/she is in Christian circles, is not actually experiencing the Christianity truth (the life of Jesus) they can never in a million years, write or preach the complete truth of the gospel message, including all the hard-edged verses; and there are many. That is what this blog is all about, with no excuses. If you like only Christian honey, you will detest most of what is written hear-in. Some accuse me of having the easy job of just writing this blog while doing nothing else. That is a flat lie. I cannot boast of what my ministry consists of, or it would be worthless in the sight of God.

If you do any cooking, the next time you are making a salad, put your salad dressing to one side, instead, add vinegar and honey/sugar, mixed with a little olive oil, spicy Italian cheese, chili powder, a little onion, garlic, etc. You will have a healthy, scrumptious mouth watering salad. In other words, the mixture of sweet and tart of God’s Word makes an excellent combination.

The question I pose is this: are you a Christian and a disciple? If you truly believe you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then this blog is just what the doctor ordered. The only problem is, living as Christ commands is not in vogue. Quickly, you will be look-on as an outsider, a religious nut, an eccentric, etc.

What is in style is to go to church dressed in one’s Sunday best, say a prayer, sing a song, listen to a ear-tickling sermon, shake a few hands and be on one’s way, believing one has done his/her weekly duty as a devout Christian. When home, get on with the daily routine which, most likely has nothing to do with promoting the cause of Jesus Christ to this lost world. That type of “Christian” life has been going on for so long, that most don’t know any better/different.

I, many times said to myself, don’t those church going naivete ever read the New Testament? What about obedience to God’s commands. There are so many, many verses that teach obedience to His commands is super imperative. Beyond faith in Jesus Christ, without obedience, discipleship, and genuine love for God, there is no Salvation. They, most likely, are the most redundant type of verses in the whole of the New Testament, and the most ignored.

As many of you have already figured out, the ignoring of what the New Testament commands, by the majority of professing Christians, inspired the genesis of this blog. And what bugs me is when confronted with the truth as recorded in the Good Book, there is very little, if any change in devotion by the vast majority of church goers. I am talking about intelligent, educated, honest, loving people. How can they be so ignorant of what God requires? If anyone has a good answer to that question, please send me the answer. If you are in that ignorant category, God says, “Shame on you.”

When it comes to Christ’s disciples--did you notice I didn’t say Christians--getting together to share each others experiences, good and bad news, and whatever else is new, is essential. As in the days of the New Testament, the groups should be small, as not to lose intimacy. In Hebrews 10:25 the disciples are encouraged to get together, so they can encourage each other in whatever ways are needed.

Large church buildings, as we see in every city in America, are not mentioned in the New Testament. It mentions only small groups meeting in various places, mostly in the homes of the disciples (house churches). Here are a few of small gatherings mentioned in the New Testament:

Acts 2:2. “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole HOUSE where they were sitting.”

Acts 16:13. “On the Sabbath [Saturday the 7th day of the week] we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.” Click on # 137: Something to Remember.

Romans 16:5. “Greet the church that meets at their house.”

1 Corinthians 16:19. “Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the brothers that meet at their HOUSE.”

Colossians 4:15. “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her HOUSE.”

Acts 20:8. “There were many lamps in the upstairs ROOM where we were meeting.”

Philemon 2. “. . . to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your HOUSE.”

That is the way it should be. And the reason is because in a church gathering the disciples must be allowed to express themselves in many ways. Other than individual social interest, members must correct, encourage, show empathy, help any in need and admonish whatever members are out of line with Biblical commands. That is impossible in a large group. Every disciple must get to know each other in as many ways as possible. They are all members of one family, God’s family. As in a worldly family, everyone knows all other members weakness and strengths. For spiritual success, that also must be the case in our house churches. Disciples have a responsibility for each others spiritual and material welfare. That is the reasons all churches must be confined to small groups in house churches. For that reason, when it comes to churches, big is bad in the sight of God.

This loss of intimacy as a result of church buildings, large and small, most likely, is responsible for Christianity as it is today. Formalities tend to replace spontaneity. And without spontaneity, separation will be the result. Just to hear the same person preach a sermon each week, instead of different disciples giving their vantage point, weakness, strength, desires, needs, etc. whenever, is what makes family life what it is.

If a few disciples desire to start a house church, the disciple’s values must be fairly similar. Of course, just to bring big church rhetoric without obedience to God’s commands into a small group will give intimacy, but without Godly substance. There are not many disciples around that could/would leave the comfort and ways of organized religion, just to let the New Testament be their guide.

The problem is there aren’t many churches that don’t claim the Bible as their guide. And at the same time leaving out many verses that are difficult and seemingly impossible to implement. Instead they are content to preach holy-bull. That is their crime against God.

Only those disciple who truly love and obey God-–not those that merely say they love Him--are the ones who will have the desire and ability to obey ALL the teachings of Jesus Christ. One cannot love God without obedience and one cannot obey God without love for Him; they are inseparable. John chapter 14:24. “ He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

I will leave you with this Scriptural reminder in Acts 14:21, to prove that even new converts to Christianity are disciples. “They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples.” We also must considered new converts as disciples. Anyone who belongs to Christ is a disciple. No ifs, ands, or buts. The song goes like this: “How do I know? The Bible tells me so.”

For more information on the house church, click on # 96.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

# 178 Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Most of us like to be in the company of our own kind (people with whom we have many things in common) or with people we love, emulate or highly esteem. That is only natural. There is a law that governs our actions, "The law of attraction," in which one person draws others to oneself. Another person is attracted/drawn by another. With very few exceptions, the same is true in the insect world and in the animal kingdom. We all were preprogrammed that way in the beginning by God’s nature.

That is also true of other physical objects. For example, the clouds have their own power of attraction. Have you ever gazed at the sky as a thunderstorm is about to form? Here is what happens: Under certain atmospheric conditions, a cloud that is slightly larger than the surrounding clouds, starts to attract smaller ones to itself. Meteorologists call that “when a storm is building." Within a short while, that cloud has made the sky overcast. It grew that much, that fast. The stronger clouds overpowered the weaker ones.

Then there are the universal laws of "gravitational pull" we experience here on earth. A large solid object (earth) attracts smaller ones. The smaller ones (people, etc.) cannot get away from the drawing power of the larger one without help from an anti-gravity source (airplanes or rockets). That is the reason we don’t/can’t float away into space. The uniform gravitational pull of the earth keeps us secure on its surface. If the universal attraction was not constant, just a little bit stronger, it would be exceedingly difficult—if not impossible—for us to move from one place to another. And at the same time, the moon would come crashing into our planet, and possibly the gravitational pull of the sun would suck our planet into itself.

If that constant pull was just a little bit weaker, the sun would not have the strength to keep us at a constant distance from itself. We would float away into space and away from the warmth of the sun that makes physical life possible; in fact, our sun would not continue its orbit around the Milky Way galaxy, but float around wherever. If that were the case, there would be no galaxies or solar systems. The whole universe would be a big bunch of floating debris, and it would be absolutely useless.

There is a law that is similar in the spiritual realm. All that is holy will automatically be drawn to God the Holy Spirit. How does this happen? Once a person makes a commitment to believe and live as God requires, that person’s spiritual faculties will start to be influenced by God in the person of the Holy Spirit. That attraction between God and the individual is the connection which makes a person a follower of Jesus Christ. Some church groups call that the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9. “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Truth are one in the same.

Then, think about this: Humans give off invisible vibrations which consist of attributes/qualities/thoughts which may produce identical emotional reaction in others whose spiritual antennaes are in tune to similar qualities. Some describe it as people with the same vibes or soul mates; therefore, they tend to get along well. This principle is also the same in mob violence. What many would not do when alone, when in a crowd, the overwhelming influence of hatred, etc. in that crowd persuades them to act according to the prevalent attitude.

In the spirit realm of God, there is one quality that is the most powerful and important of all—not that all others are not important—which is holiness. The end result of Christianity is holiness: becoming more and more holy every day. Those who possess this God-type holiness are the ones that God the Holy Spirit draws to Himself. Holiness is something in which a person cannot trick God just by going to church, saying holy words, and acting holy, while secretly engaging in an unholy/ungodly life (living according to worldly standards.)

Let me clarify one thing. Actually, we are made perfect and holy, sanctified and justified, in God’s sight. That is God’s work. 1 Corinthians 6:11. “. . . But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Did you notice that verse is in the past tense? Once we realize we are recipients of a priceless gift which was given to us free of charge, gratis/by grace, then if our commitment was for real, we will, because of Godly influence, start to live a holy life; it is impossible not to start changing. God the Holy Spirit has that much effect when we are actually drawn to Him. John 12:32. “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” The word "men" also includes women and children, but excludes all that don’t belong to Him.

In time, if the holiness which was graciously given to us because of our initial commitment, belief and faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, doesn’t continue to produce a holy life, that holiness was given in vain. Some large denominations believe otherwise. They believe "Once saved, always saved." There is no Scriptural evidence whatsoever for that false belief. Prove me wrong! There are DOZENS of verses that say the exact opposite. I will present just one: In this verse, the word “if,” presented twice, shows that a person’s relationship to Christ is conditional. John 15:5. “I am the vine: you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him [that is the spiritual connection that makes a person a Christian] he will bear much fruit; [obedience to Christ’s commands that produces holiness] apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

For any church to teach contrary to that teaching is one of religion’s gravest crimes against God. With the lack of holiness, there can be no attraction or drawing of us to Jesus Christ. Holiness is not only the evidence of our love for God, but also the glue, if you will, that keeps us in the safe keeping of our Lord and Savior. But just as important, living a holy life is confirmation that our commitment to Christ is genuine. Said another way: Holiness can’t save anyone; still, it is the most necessary ingredient in the Christian life. Even grace, as wonderful as it is, can’t negate holiness. It is because of God’s grace that we have the desire and ability to live holy lives.

In short, if we are genuine Christians, it could be said that we will have two forms of holiness. The complexity of holiness is the combination of: 1) as mentioned in paragraph 8, the God-given holiness which is far superior to: 2) “acquired holiness,” living holy lives, which is a result of our love and obedience to all that God commands, etc. This next sentence is the most descriptive and important of all else in this post. Read it several times and keep it on the tip of your mind at all times. Our “acquired holiness” is a life-long process of activating our God-given holiness (that of Jesus Christ) so that we will actually be able to EXPERIENCE His holiness to a greater degree every day. The life of Jesus is or should be every Christian’s only role model.

To be holy means to be concentrated on and dedicated to the works of God; at the same time, it means to be separate from the things of the world; they may not seem evil or sinful in themselves, but they have nothing to do with holiness. A person cannot be a follower of Christ without living a holy life. They who belong to Christ are becoming holier as they continually grow into the likeness of Christ. Holiness is the combination/sum total of all other Christian requirements, qualities, etc. There are many, many Old and New Testament Scriptures that emphasize the absolute need for holiness in the Christian life.

We, with our sweet-talking words and smiles, can fool many of those around us, even ourselves. Also, we may be deceived/tricked into believing others are holy. One who cannot be deceived is the Holy Spirit. Ted Haggard deceived thousands in his 20 to 30 years in the ministry. But his preaching gives him away to anyone who truly knows the Lord. We have to be extra cautious aboutto what church we belong to and who we listen to. The Christian life is like going through a mine field. The land mines are placed where a person would least suspect they would be. Not organized religion, but the New Testament, with a little help from this blog, can help anyone figure out exactly where those land mines are.

One of the best ways to avoid false teaching, even if it doesn’t sound false, is to become intimately acquainted with what the New Testament teaches, and then adhere to that Godly intimacy with obedience to what it commands, regardless of how unnatural it seems, or what people like Haggard say. In their sermons, these heretics don’t include things like sin since they say, “The sin issue was dealt with by Christ. Anyway, people don't want to hear about that." That leaves the door wide open to live as one pleases, in the name of Christ. Then that false expression of the Christian religion is looked upon by unbelievers as a Christian hoax, or worse yet by many who see it as an easy way to slip into heaven while still having a hell of a good time (doing what comes naturally). Remember this: Sins that don’t seem like sins are the ones most likely to send us to hell. That could be one of the worst heresies in all of Christianity.

Another heresy that is prevalent in organized Christianity, which I have written about extensively, is the preaching that God wants all His people to be materially prosperous. That is a blatant lie. Anyone that is into that type of theology is for certain without the Spirit of Christ. Those people lack holiness, and without holiness there can be no drawing unto God. Rather, God desires all His people to be spiritually prosperous (His life).

There is no way we could ever make ourselves holy enough to be accepted by God. That is the exact opposite of what many religions are teaching in their attempts to live holy lives. We as Christians, as previously mentioned, are made holy by God’s grace. Grace means free of charge. There is a catch, however. Why does God give us His/Christ’s holiness? Answer: so that we can live holy lives. If we say we have accepted His gift of holiness and then do not start and continue to live holy lives (works), guess what? There can be no way Christ through the Holy Spirit can draw us unto Himself. He couldn’t even if He wanted to, because it is a violation of God’s law of attraction.

The end result of Christianity is living a holy life. That is what Christianity is all about.

Let me try to end with these thoughts: We have a wonderful God, don’t we? If, by some chance, we inadvertently and on a very rare occasion were to slip and miss the mark, no problem; God looks at our motives, desires and determination as much as our actions. And if our motives, etc. are in line with God’s purpose, we have someone who will speak in our defense: Jesus Christ the Righteous One. 1st John 2:1-2. Though this verse gives us hope if we were to sin, God’s kindness is not available when we use this verse as a catchall to live as we please, as some do by silently changing the word “if” into “when.”

Concluding thoughts: For those who desire to be the very best Christian they can be—that should be every Christian’s goal—it would be wise to reread the complete book of 1st John. He is an extremely holy Apostle and makes the sin issue very clear with no ambiguities. Actually, it would be a holy idea, if one has the time, to memorize the whole book of 1st John. It is only a few pages long.

To sum up, I hope: Another aspect of Christianity to consider is that we must make certain we are doing all that we should be doing; if not, the deadly sins of omission come into play. Whatever we are doing or not doing, we must always remember that “Birds of a feather flock together.” Laws cannot be broken or compromised, especially in the spiritual realm, where cheating may take a person where he/she doesn’t want to go: Ouch.

This post is easy enough to understand, even by unbelievers, but it cannot be put into practice unless that person is continually drawn by God. Where do you and I stand?

Monday, November 27, 2006

# 177: Exploring God's Secrets

What do we as humans know about God? Not much more than what the Christian Bible tells us via His holy prophets and Saints. Nevertheless, when we take past Biblical events and combine them with our knowledge of the present, there can be great spiritual growth from how much more we can learn, experience and become more familiar with God and His creation than was known 2 to 5 thousand years ago.

The five times the word “universe” was mentioned in the New Testament, its writers were referring only to the area around the earth (as far as the eye could see). What they couldn’t see of the physical universe didn’t exist to them. They believed the stars—instead of being gigantic suns of other solar systems—were small, shiny objects that would fall to earth during the great tribulation. Revelation 6:13. “And the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs.” The Bible writers of 2,000 years ago could never in their wildest dreams ever fathom the latest scientific figures as to the size of the universe (I say infinite); astronomers tell us about 12 to 14 thousand light years plus, in diameter, if there is a diameter. Either way, the enormity of the universe silently tells us more about God and His creation and how complex He is.

Bible writers believed the earth was flat and square: Revelation 7:1. “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth. . . .” The sun revolved around the earth, and the earth was the center of interest of all God’s creation. I am certain if somehow God could have taught His ancient writers of the enormity and complexity of our universe—approximately 50 billion galaxies—He would have done so. Can you imagine God attempting to describe to them what a light year consisted of, the speed of light, the size of other galaxies, etc.?

Now that we know so much more about how the universe and our own solar system function, it is our holy endeavor to update our knowledge of God Himself. First and foremost, the potential is enormous (I actually think it is a certainty) for other planets similar to earth in our Milky Way galaxy and other galaxies to exist that already had (past tense), have (present tense), or will have (future tense) hospitable and congenial environments for life to thrive.

Our universal laws of physics explicitly dictate that physical matter cannot create itself out of nothing. So it is only logical that a supernatural being (God) created the universe–which took no time at all, since time does not exist in God’s spiritual realm. If God created the universe, which many deep thinkers, Christians and even a few atheists, believe, then there must have been a very specific purpose. Answer: to create physical environments that could sustain intelligent life—something like life on planet earth, but hopefully much holier—that could believe and live as God requires.

All that is required for other planets to produce life, besides large lumps of soil, rocks, etc., is water (H2O), air (chiefly nitrogen and oxygen, etc.), the right distance from their particular sun, and of course, GOD. Whammo! Life can/will make its presence. I am implying God-guided evolution, which Darwin explained to a small degree and was given credit for, while leaving God out of the equation.

Then, 180 degrees to the opposite of God-directed evolution is a large group of Christians who are a disgrace to the unequivocal logic the Christian faith presents; they have their heads stuck in the sand, still believing the universe is only 6,000 years old and that earth is the only planet that supports intelligent life. I could assure these naive Christians that the odds are more than 50 billion to one, and many times more, that they are wrong. Why would such an enormous (infinite) almighty God create a colossal universe and then put all His eggs in one small basket: earth, as if it were the only place where He can scrounge up a few faithful believers to be with Him for all eternity? These are the people that give ample ammunition to atheists like Richard Dawkins, and therefore, also make deep-thinking genuine Christians look like idiots. In other words, contrary to the opinions of hardened atheists and foolish Christians, there are areas where God and science can peacefully coexist.

Then these atheistic intellectuals believe the whole universe is just a bunch of chemicals that came from nowhere (the Big Bang), and then on their own, as time passed, came to form all the intricacies required to sustain the billions of galaxies, and better yet, for no specific purpose—just for the hell of it. There is no logic to their argument. A more logical probability is that God created the physical universe, while scientists with their fancy hypotheses attempt to study and manipulate it to their thinking, all the while ignoring the existence of a Creator.

I ask these unbelievers just two “simple” questions: Where did that physical stuff, energy, force or whatever it was that started the Big Bang come from? Along with that, of the six or more constants that exist in the universe, specifically referring to the gravitational constant, if it were off by one part in a hundred million millions, then the expansion of the universe after the Big Bang would not have occurred in the fashion that was necessary for life to occur. It is exceedingly improbable that it could have happened by chance. If they can’t answer those questions, then the logic to all else concerning “God is an illusion” and the origin of Big Bang is absolute foolishness. The one thing these nonbelievers don’t realize is that without God and the love He propagates, all activity on earth would have no specific purpose except for what atheistic human minds can conjure up: hurray for me, boo for the other guy.

Of course, if they were to concede to a theory that a supernatural intelligence created that initial stuff, and fine-tuned the universe so that life could exist, then a few of us could halfway agree with them. As they know, it is poor science for them to combine a metaphysical force in the formation of the Big Bang theory, as to the start of the universe. For that reason, they can never include God in the Big Poop [oops] theory.

This next paragraph is an excerpt taken from Post # 143:. “Creation, Evolution and Intelligent Design.” This post is extremely interesting and worth reading.

“That is what I am doing at this time: giving you a cutting-edge disclosure. I am mostly referring to the first four chapters of Genesis. In order for the creation of the universe and of mankind to make any sense whatsoever, those four chapters—actually, only the first chapter—of Genesis, which talk about the six-day creation period, must be expanded into about four and a half, to thirteen billion earth years. Then another question: Did God create Adam in a single 24-hour day, or was he the product of God-guided evolution? The answer seems clear. God mentioned Adam as the first in a line of people who would represent Him. Only thing is, Biblical evidence seems to indicate that God still created Adam through the natural process of evolution that took much more than 24 hours. Here is vivid evidence that Adam was not the only person on earth when God introduced him in Genesis 4:13-17: “But Cain said to the Lord, ‘ My punishment is more than I can bear . . . I will be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him . . . .” Verse 17: “Cain lay with his wife . . .” I ask this poignant question: Who were these other people, and where did they come from? These Biblical verses alone should make us believe there were other humans on earth who got there through God’s—not Darwin’s—evolution process at the time when Adam was first mentioned. Therefore, Christians can still believe the creation story and also continue believing the Bible. I do; it makes all the sense in the world to smooth (make more understandable) some of the conflicting material. For those who don’t believe the aforementioned, please give me a more logical reason as to where those other humans came from.

Continuing where left off: Though nonbelievers will never admit it, a large part of their denial of God is that they don’t want or need to be under the thumb of (subjected to) an almighty God that requires a life of holiness, belief and obedience to His Law of selfless love (altruism). In short, the above sentence can easily sum up the whole of genuine Christianity. Worse yet, many atheists/agnostics believe God is a fabrication of a needy humanity: those who can’t stand up on their own but need an invisible crutch to get them through the night (a lifetime). These atheists are self-sufficient, and don’t need antique rules and regulations as to what they can and cannot do, or how to live.

In fact, in the last few years, a large company of prominent atheists have written many books that were/are in the top bestseller list; they are increasing insistently to discredit the existence of any type of supernatural God. In order for Christians not to get sucked into their way of thinking (human logic), we must, more than ever, get as close to God as humanly possible by fervent prayer and strict obedience to all He teaches.

In general, the following are the attitudes of many scientific intellectuals: They have most likely had schooling for 20 years or more to get where they are now. Their studies, most likely, do not include a supernatural (God). Then, if they had to conform to what God requires, they would have to abandon much of what they have learned in their higher education. That sounds foolhardy to them. So they rationalize through evolutionary science that the reason for human existence is just by chance (make the best of an “I want it my way” situation).

In most religious circles, it is common knowledge that God is considered to be eternal. “Eternal” and “eternity” are words that are foreign to humans regarding their true meaning since we have never experienced either one. Since eternity and infinity are synonymous, the universe could just as well be infinite as not. Only thing, the human mind cannot start to comprehend anything that is infinite. That may be the reason why many reject the thought of the universe as being infinite and attempt to put limits on it as to its size, although I have talked to atheists who for some reason feel the universe may be infinite. If it is infinite, which I strongly believe, then any place in the universe is the center of the universe. Wow—for a universe that is infinite, there is no need for millions of universes as some will have us to believe, since one infinite universe is larger—if size could be put on infinity—than 300 million gigantic universes that have size.

Many Christians often wonder how God can be at all places at the same time (omnipresent). I would amend that: God is at all places where intelligent life exists for this reason: He set the laws of physics in place before there was a physical world, and those laws cannot be violated by anything physical that is inanimate. Said another way, there is no need for God to watch the inanimate universe while it continues to evolve, as the laws of physics—which are a law unto themselves—play their steadfast role in continuing to form and reform while creating new worlds.

Wherever God is, He is the exact same concerning His law of Love, etc.; there is not one iota of difference in Him. Where God is different than humans is that He has total unity within Himself as He multi-tasks an infinite number of assignments, if you will, in an infinite number of planets and individuals. To put it another way, He responds to everyone and every situation personally and individually through His Holy Spirit. This is difficult for us humans to comprehend. It is having an infinite number of identical Gods in One God.

For example, while God is dealing with affairs on earth, He is in touch with every person at the same time that belongs to Him through His Holy Spirit. And when necessary, He silently responds, as He remains behind the scenes, to all that come to Him with love and faith. And many times His response is not what we humans desire, although it is what is best for the particular situation. To make it more clear, each Christian has his/her personal God (the Holy Spirit). That sounds great. Click on posts # 82, 83, 84: "Your Own Personal God."

Some of the Christian clergy postulate that our heart, spirit and soul, and even the Holy Spirit—to those to whom these qualities are given—are independent from our brain. That is an error. Those spiritual parts of us function through and in conjunction with the workings of the human brain. That means the brain is a semi-spiritual organ. Of course, neuroscience completely rejects that thought. They have enough to be concerned with without applying the spiritual to the equation.

Still, I am not certain if brain imaging has been performed to corroborate the brain as being a semi-spiritual organ. Yet, in years to come, one’s connection to God may be confirmed or denied by brain imaging. And even if that is not possible, here is another reason for the brain being a semi-spiritual organ: Are thoughts physical? No. They are invisible/spiritual. Are emotions physical? Absolutely not. And yet they are generated in the brain. Then if it is offensive to call the brain a semi-spiritual organ, it is unequivocally a physical organ that produces invisible/spiritual substance (our thinking process) that can have physical and spiritual results.

Since we are on the topic of thoughts, think about this: Thoughts are permanent. I can hear the laughter. Okay, then; try to destroy one. I didn’t say “forget,” I said “destroy.” So we must be careful what we are thinking about because thoughts may last until the end of time. Here is the dangerous part of thoughts: Anyone in the same wavelength as the sender can receive their thoughts regardless of where they are on earth. Thoughts are spiritual; for that reason, they are powerful. I wrote extensively on thought-sharing, but I forgot which post it is in. Sorry.

Back to the topic at hand: God’s secrets. You see, God’s hands are tied, so to speak, when it comes to violating our free will. But no problem:, Since He knows the end result, He has the ability to work around our free will and still have favorable results. The advantage God has in being secure in all He does is that He is omniscient (knowing all things). To God, every event is like watching an instant replay or rerun. There will be no unexpected events. It sounds like divine cheating, although it is Godly love and power in action. Godly love is always certain of the results and will always win in the end. That is an excellent reason for all of us to make absolutely certain we are on the winning team. When we are involved in a life of selfless Godly love and obedience, which comes as a result of faith/belief in Jesus Christ, we can know with certainty that God is behind all the good we do and all the evil we don’t do. Philippians 2:13. “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

1st John 4:8. “. . . God is love.” Although it is not apparent at this time on this planet, love—that is, God’s love—is the most powerful force in the entire universe, bar none. What does that tell us? It tells us that we live in a universe that was created because of love, for love, and by love. How does our planet fit into that category? As things have been going on for the last several thousand years, especially the last fifty years or so, it doesn’t sound like planet earth fits into the Godly love description.

Is that the way God feels? Yes, and He is making the best of a bad situation by gathering the few He has and going on His way to places where there are better pickings. Are we on God’s side?

Some might be asking, “What does it mean to be on God’s side?” Answer: Anything and everything that conflicts with wholehearted love for God and selfless love for others in need is ungodly.

Concerning caring/helping the needy, we must decide who to help and who not to help; we must be extremely discreet and make sure that we don’t throw our pearls (hard-earned bucks and effort) before swine, the lazy drunkards, those who would use our love gifts for unhealthy purposes like smoking, drugs, sex and anything that is physically or mentally destructive and not up-building.

In summation, in this modern complex culture we live in, there are many secrets God through His Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us. The only way God can do that is for us to be fine-tuned to His desires and motives. That is easy to say but difficult to do. For many, it requires a drastic lifestyle change. Think about it: Wouldn’t most of us love to learn about other’s secrets, especially those in high positions? Who is in a higher position than Almighty God?

Friday, November 17, 2006

#176: Joy and Contentment

The joy of the Lord is one of many earthly rewards Christians will experience as a result of being content (a satisfied spirit) with their love connection with God as their lives continue in holiness, love, obedience, etc. This Godly joy is not an effect of circumstances as happiness is, but an enduring, euphoric attitude/feeling that rises above all unpleasant circumstances. Said another way, as happiness comes and goes according to what happens in life, Godly joy rises above whatever nasty stuff the world throws at us, and remains intact.

Could joy and contentment be concocted just by thinking joyful thoughts? No. That would be a form of happiness. As soon as something unpleasant happens, those thoughts of joy and contentment would fly out the window. Christian joy is a continual, multi-purpose result of knowing with certainty Christ’s acceptance of you, His unfailing love for you, and of looking forward to being in the presence of Jesus Christ, along with adherence to, belief in, and obedience to the truth as displayed in the Christian Bible.

Let’s explore a few other aspects of the Christian life that produce contentment and joy. How often do we meditate on the thought that, through our personal faith, we are actual PARTNERS with the creator and designer of the universe, and none less intricate, He is the designer of human life, which He is created in His image?

Above and beyond all the above, we as humans desire to be loved, wanted—and if it is not sacrilegious, I would also say needed; the love God Has for us does exactly that, and it is mainly love that truly satisfies our spirit person, even though human love does fulfill a needed purpose. If that thought doesn’t send one flying, so to speak, I don’t know what will. Only one condition: We must keep our Spiritual Lover on the tip of our mind as much as possible; as said in 1st Thessalonians 5:17, “pray continually” in order to enjoy the contented outcome.

As humans, we are elated when we touch, talk to, or even see someone famous. That will be a great moment we may never forget. Compare that with seeing, talking to, and touching Jesus Christ through faith. That is not a hyperbole, but an actuality. Christian faith/belief is that potent.

There are many New Testament verses that tell of how Christians will be mistreated and persecuted, and how we will/should respond. Here is just one: Luke 6:22-23. “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Joy that is real and comes from God is one of the necessary attitudes/ingredients to get us through tough times. And obedience gives us the ability to live up to many of the difficult and seemingly ridiculous, hard-edged New Testament verses that many believe are not meant for Americans, especially in our modern culture. Enjoying or desiring “the worldly good life”’ is by all means our most ubiquitous and revered lifestyle. It may be, but not for genuine Christians. “The good life,” pertaining to having life easy along with material prosperity, is full of many seemingly pleasant, though unexpected, pitfalls.

Any Christians that are not continually experiencing the joy of the Lord in all circumstances must examine where the cracks are in their Christian lives, a difficult job to do. This blog can help. Joy is there for the taking. It has already been allocated and paid for by the life and death of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. It would be next to impossible to live as required without joy. Start believing and living in a way that generates contentment and joy; it is contagious.

Let God reveal a mystery, which should not be a mystery to those who are in tune with the Holiness of God and Jesus Christ. Genesis 1:26. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . . ”’ It is common knowledge that God and Company are spiritual beings and not physical. Since that is the undeniable truth, God did not have a physical likeness to pass onto humans; therefore, with certainty, He created us in His spiritual image. That means that fundamentally, all humans are spiritual beings (potential gods) with physical bodies, and not physical beings with a spirit. Our spirit is all-important, and maintaining its health must be our primary objective.

Here are two extremely interesting New Testament verses to collaborate the aforementioned: John 10:34. “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are gods”?’ The man, Jesus Christ, is the end result and our only role model of God’s creation of all humans. Also, it was Jesus Christ who said in John 14:9, “Anyone who has seen me [God with a human body] has seen the Father.” [Emphasis added]. They are the most audacious words Jesus ever spoke in the entire New Testament.

With that said, all humans were born with an emptiness of spirit. In fact, the majority of humans may not believe they have a spirit, let alone be a spiritual being. Then, at an early age, we/they attempt to fill that empty spirit (trying to find fulfillment, contentment and satisfaction) with worldly things and self-centered attitudes.

Our God is a joyful God since He knows the very end results of what will be in the future. That means joy is—or better yet, should be—one of many intricate parts of all spiritual beings. Then our desire to be content becomes one of the major attitudes needed to start to fill that spiritual emptiness.

The problem arises because many of us are separated from God—though we may still call ourselves Christians—because of our ignorance/disbelief, and therefore, God is unable to inform us of what’s what. That is the reason we continually are attempting, without knowing it, to satisfy that need for spiritual/Godly joy with material things, relationships, and other worldly accomplishments. It just won’t work. It is like a trying to put a square block in a round hole. Before you read any further, please read the last four paragraphs again and maybe again. What they reveal is that important. In fact, those four paragraphs most likely contain the most poignant revelation thus far published. The above truth is what is missing in most religions, including the Christian religion, and the reason for the mess we humans have made from day one of a potentially joyful, loving, and peaceful world. That also is the reason wars and all other forms of malice are contrary to the kingdom of God.

Here is another potential problem: When people, especially Christians, have many worldly circumstances and happenings to be happy about—like a good family, a wonderful wife/husband and close relatives, a good job, obedient children, living the “American dream,” great health, an excellent reputation, etc.—then the need for heavenly joy may not be apparent. In turn, they may mistake worldly happiness—which could be classified as joy since some may be long-term—as if it comes from God. That is disastrous. Therefore, the spiritual is what should rule who we are and what we do, and not success, which more often than not goes to our head, resulting from our physical niceties. Nevertheless, a few of the above-mentioned family conditions could be acceptable as long as the love, joy, and contentment are received from God, and as long as believing and living as Christ requires is not usurped by family and company.

And yet there is room for serendipitous happenings in Christianity. The only thing is that when this unexpected luck comes our way, we could thank God for it. And then we must be cautious because it might be no more than the great joker (Satan) attempting to distract us from our dedication to Godly affairs. In these circumstances we must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. The main thing is, we must recognize it as worldly happiness that we are most likely experiencing—not Christian joy. These circumstances may sometimes be tough calls; without patting ourselves on the back, we need, in order to recognize which is which.

In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4, Verse 12, he expresses his thanks for the help he received from his followers in that city. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content [joyful] in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. . . .” Please don’t take that word “plenty” as living in wealth. “Plenty” most likely means not being in want of the bare necessities. The reason I say that is because this letter to the Philippians was known as the second of four prison epistles, written in a Roman prison during Paul’s first imprisonment. Their gift to Paul made him feel as if he was living with plenty. The main punch line in this paragraph is that even in “want” we can be joyful since our joy does not come from pleasant and congenial circumstances or surroundings.

In conclusion, see 1st Timothy 6:6. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Genuine Christians are the ones experiencing the love, joy and contentment we receive while remaining active in the mission that the Son of Man left for us to accomplish. For that reason, it can honestly be shouted from the roof tops (letting the world know) that we are the most fortunate and blessed people on the face of this earth. What in heaven’s name is of greater value than that?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

175: The Dark Side of Money

When it comes to religious matters, tell people what they WANT to hear and there will be a seemingly endless line willing to break the church door down, if need be, to get front row seats so that they won’t miss a word of what will be preached. Tell people what they NEED to hear and understand, and the likely result is that the pews will be near-empty. This post will be the type that NEEDS to be heard and understood. Takers will be few. Just remember this: God weighs His (quality), while Satan rejects no one, since he is interested in large numbers (quantity). Actually, it would be more complete to say that all the devil’s cohorts are rejects.

Do you know of any churches on earth today that do like Satan does, rejecting no one? I know of many. Reason: It is in vogue to be tolerant of other religions, regardless of what they teach or believe. The word “tolerate” is a kissing cousin to “condone”; by our silence we condone the ungodly. What is needed in its stead is to expose instead of tolerate. You say, “We can’t do that; who are we to judge another’s beliefs?” Who said so? Actually, everyone whose life is lived in obedience to the New Testament of the Christian Bible (taking plank out of one’s own eye first) has a holy obligation to publicly bring to the surface the heresies or sins of other churches.

That was what Jesus and Paul did, and that duty was passed onto His disciples (us). Remember that whatever else anyone tells you, that book is the only reliable spiritual touchstone in existence. It tells us, plain and simple, what is right and what is in error. And for those verses which are hard to understand, this post can help. No excuses.

Everyone in the world, regardless of their religion—even skeptics, atheists, and agnostics—needs to know what the Bible, especially the New Testament (N.T.), teaches. But along with that teaching, they should also know there are many extremely important N.T. verses that seem absurd and nonsensical. These unique verses are difficult to understand as to their true meaning, except for what the PAID clergy has taught for years; many times the cleric’s interpretation of such verses is watered-down, or worse yet, completely ignored so as not to offend the laity and loose members.

What is needed is an unbiased understanding by some spiritual organization that is not paid to preach, though still has a thorough knowledge of Scripture. For those who cannot tolerate compromise, this post comes to the rescue as a unique resource.

The verses which are most contentious and difficult for many to accept/obey, or to understand as to their function and how they apply to the lives of genuine Christians, are: money, wealth, riches, material prosperity and possessions of monitory value, etc. I will mostly use the word “money,” which will apply to these various terms. Those who ignore these verses will, most certainly, inflict a deadly breach on their relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words, these scriptures have an extremely crucial purpose for their presence in the N.T.

This message is not for people who, by the way they live, are silently rejecting Jesus Christ as the only source for their existence. For those without Christ, the desire for money (wealth, riches) is an absolute necessity. For them, their rewards in life are material and worldly.

How God views money in the N.T. is by all means a concept which is extremely unnatural to our human nature (survival of the fittest). There are many ways money can/will damage or destroy a person’s relationship with God through Christ. This section will bring them to the surface.

Of all the powers that exist on this earth, money is God’s most formidable competitor. It is Satan’s secret trump card. Whenever money is involved as to its place in the Christian life, the devil, most likely, has his way 99 times out of 100.

Some may ask, “How can money be more powerful than God?” Actually, it isn’t. But the great trickster has the cunning power to make money, monetary and material possessions seem indispensable, and because of our survival instincts, he doesn’t have to say a word—“Money is the most desired commodity in existence”—then tricks us to use it in ways that trump God’s purpose and all He stands for.

There are over two dozen verses that will be displayed at the end of this post, telling the harm/danger money can have when in the hands of Christians. Nevertheless, there aren’t many that will agree with them, but they still must admit, as it will be described in detail, that money has the potential to make God second in one’s life. The only thing is, God can’t function as required in one’s life when He is in second place–if even that. Remember that all-important verse “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” That doesn’t leave much, if any, room for love of worldly attitudes, things, etc. other than love for one’s neighbor (anyone) who is in need.

Actually, money, per se, by itself is not the culprit; it is the power money has to buy or do whatever. How can that offend God? Answer: The primary reason is that when there is no limit as to how much money one can possess and still be a Christian, having money and the nice things, attitudes and feelings it can give becomes a distinguishing mark to others, as if it has God’s favor and approval. Let’s put it another way: Then, instead of seeking holiness, obedience, humility, love, etc., wealth becomes a sign that God is blessing that person. That is exactly what has happened in the Christian world today. Having extra money and all that it can procure has become the Christian paradigm. Repeating, then, genuine Godly attributes would have been slowly but surely snuffed out–if there ever were any in the first place—as being of primary importance.

There are many essential ingredients in the Godly lifestyle: One of the most crucial is Christian humility. This type of humility is different than all other forms of being humble. It is not a false humility, just acting humble as a paid actor, or acting humble to get another’s favor. It is not the humility of an uneducated or partially handicapped person who gives -in to the wishes of whomever; it is actually being humble in a way that considers/esteems others over self.

That trait is badly missing in America. We are proud people, where humility has no part. And guess what makes us proud? Our wealth, strength, and superior technology. That is one reason why having more than needed is a destroyer of humility. Said another way: What reason or need do most Americans have to be humble when they have all they need and then some? Money makes people feel–actually believe—that they are better than many others who are not as well-off as them. Listen to this verse in Philippians 2:3. “Do nothing out of selfish ambitions or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.” To the word “better” I would add the words “more important.” Consider others more important than self.

It would be next to impossible to live as is required by God and not have Christian humility. The reason is because we are here to serve others. Matthew 23:11-12. “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Then, for the next 23 verses, Jesus rips on the rich Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, because they truly believed God was blessing them with wealth for their adherence to the law. Jesus dispelled that notion. Therefore, in a direct way, all other Godly attitudes depend on genuine, God-given humility.

Here are just a few attitudes that spring from having more than necessary: Everyone desires to be successful in life, and when one is successful, they believe they have done just about everything perfect to acquire that success. This feeling of perfection that money gives is where much of the damage originates. I don’t know if any of you remember that country-western song popular 30 some years ago; it goes something like this: “ Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way . . . I get better-looking each day.” That says that being perfect/successful in one’s own eyes is a destroyer of humility. And wealth gives its benefactors a much higher esteem than anyone deserves.

I believe a person can be greedy without knowing it. The reason is that their wanting more wealth is camouflaged by their use of many different euphemisms; ask them why, and they will give an assorted number of excuses. Money, and what it can do, has greed as a tagalong—which is almost impossible to shake off.

Money makes people feel secure in more ways than one. And who doesn’t want to feel secure in such an uncertain world? Then what happens is that worldly security lessens the need for the security that God gives. Result: mediocrity.

Pride is one of the most desired attitudes that money easily gives to those who have more than enough. That pride may be openly displayed, or attempts can be made to keep it a secret and remain silent. Proverbs 16:18. “Pride goes before destruction . . .” In fact, there are many verses in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, warning of the danger of that wonderful feeling when pride sets into a life.

Contentment that worldly wealth gives is a sure thief; it robs us of the NEED and desire for contentment that come from belonging to Jesus Christ. 1Timothy 6:6. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Another thing that happens when people have extra money is this: Aside from saving some, they spend it on things they WANT but don’t really need; then with time, those “wants” get transformed into “needs.” To put it more bluntly, extra money gives many the incentive to buy unneeded items. The N.T. tells me that no Christian has the right to have more than they need while a multitude of Christians, etc. don’t have the bare necessities. This truth will never fly in the majority of Christianity.

Then there are those who are super-wealthy and still claim to be Christians. They continue to receive all kinds of accolades from the Christian community for all the work they are doing for Christ. They, with their great wealth, have the means to support the spreading of the gospel in countries all over the world. That giving is above and beyond what large amounts they give to their local churches as a form of tithe (10 % of earnings).

That seems all well and good. But is it? The harm they are doing, without even trying, is making the N.T. a joke. They are setting an example–contrary to Scripture—for all other Christians who don’t know better to have a desire to become rich like them, so they too can give large amounts in the name of Christ wherever it is needed. Then, they also can receive all kinds of praise and standing ovations for all the work Jesus Christ is doing through them. As I have already mentioned in paragraph 9, what happens is that becoming rich automatically takes priority over the many Godly qualities that are absolutely necessary.

Then, everyone will be aiming for wealth as a Christian attribute. Isn’t that where the majority of organized churches are at this time? Therefore, having money or the desire for it could be the slyest trick the devil uses. The truly disheartening aspect of this scheme is that these rich people actually believe God will continue to bless them financially since they feel they are special in God's sight.

The only way for those with extra money to conform with Scripture is to be generous and willing to share to the point where they sell their palatial mansion, their luxury vehicles and all other signs of wealth, to the point where people would talk, saying, “With all their wealth, they should live as wealthy people do, and not as if they are paupers.” That is the kind of example the rich should set for all others that desire to be rich for Christ’s sake. I say, “Sure; that will be the day.” It just won’t happen. Living a wealthy and flamboyant lifestyle is the main perk, as it were. Without the privilege of sitting on top of the world with their wealth, who would want to become wealthy?

Here are several N.T. verses that will substantiate the above.

1st Timothy 6:17-18. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command those to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share.”

2 Corinthians 9:11. “You will be MADE RICH IN EVERY WAY so that you can be generous on every occasion . . .” [emphasis added]. There are many other ways of being rich besides material wealth.

Webster defines generous as: 1) “of noble birth [I like that. Jesus is nobility]; 3) giving or sharing liberally and willingly.” Generosity is the key for all people who claim to be Christians. Repeating, along with that, the rich must not live in a way that glorifies wealth, because it is the poor that are blessed.

James 2:5. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

Luke 1:53. “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Matthew 11:28. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Did you notice Jesus did not call those who are rich, prosperous, and are living the “good life”? This tells me that Jesus Christ is for those who truly have needs in their lives which this world cannot suffice. Are you one of them? I am.

Money per se is not the culprit, but as I have already mentioned, it is the power money has to have and do whatever one pleases. Of all the ungodly attitudes money creates, the most destructive is the example it leaves for other would-be/existing Christians. Therefore, if a Christian wasn’t rich but lives as a wealthy person, that person would be just as guilty as the one with money. This is done is with good credit. On credit, a person can have a gigantic mortgage on a splendid home in a rich neighborhood, new vehicles on low-interest payments, credit cards taken to the max, and other commodities that display wealth. Of course, this type of non-wealth doesn’t give the security that real money gives, but it does give the people many of the other attributes of just having these things that give an appearance of wealth. Most likely there are more of these credit-rich Christians than the actual wealthy ones. Try to convince them of the harm they are doing to the cause of Christ.

As you read the following two dozen verses, keep in mind that God's perspective is TOTALLY opposite from what our human nature dictates. At least now some will be able to understand why the N.T. denounces and condemns wealth and prosperity. Should we obey our sinful human nature, or obey what God dictates in the N.T.? For Christians who are truly serious about their relationship with Jesus Christ and believe what the N.T. teaches, this has to be a poignant topic. For others, this subject will, most likely, soon be forgotten.

Click on the Table of Contents. There are two other posts: #153: “The Anatomy of Wealth” and #116: “What Money Can and Cannot Buy.” These are a bit redundant, especially with similar N.T. verses, but there will be many insightful truths that this section did not mention.

As you read the following N.T. verses, let God’s Spirit guide everyone as to the course which is correct for them.

1st Timothy 6:17-18. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good and be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Mark 4:19. “but the worries of this life, the DECEITFULNESS OF WEALTH and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” [emphasis added].

1st Timothy 6:6-10. “But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men [money] is detestable in God’s sight.” [emphasis added].

Mark 10:21-23. “. . . ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.’”

James 5:3. “Your silver and gold are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.”

Matthew 19:21-24 is similar to the verse above. “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ [There are prerequisites before following Jesus]. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” Jesus, in essence, is saying that it is impossible for prosperous, rich, or wealthy men/women to be Christians.

Hebrews 13:5. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”

James 5:1 “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.”

Luke 16:13. “ You cannot serve both God and money.”

Luke 16:14. “The Pharisees [the guys that Jesus loved to bad-mouth], who LOVED MONEY, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” [emphasis added]. Will some readers also sneer at Jesus and me for being so hard-edged? I think so.

Luke 6:24. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your reward.”

James 1:10. “In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”

Luke 12:15. “‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Luke 12:16-21. “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said to himself, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Matthew 6:19-21. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

2nd Timothy 3:1-5. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, LOVERS OF MONEY, boastful, proud, . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” [emphasis added].

1st Timothy 3:3. “. . . not a lover of money.”

Luke 14:33. “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Some may be thinking, “Does this leader of His stupid religion think we are jerks? What we have worked hard for all our lives, he wants us to give it to some poor bas . . . .? No thanks, I’ll stay where I am and enjoy listening to a pleasing and relaxing Gospel.”

Luke 16:19-25. “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. . . . The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, . . .[Abraham speaking to the rich man in hell] ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.’”

1st Peter 5:2 “. . . not greedy for money, but eager to serve;”

Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted . . . ”

1st John 3:17. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

This is not a complete list of verses that do not speak nicely of the wealthy; there are many more.