Saturday, September 29, 2007

# 220: Inwardly Satisfied

What are some of the things, attitudes, etc. that could satisfy us inwardly? This is an extremely complex question that will not be easy to answer. In fact, this may be the most challenging post I have ever attempted to put together.

When we are dissatisfied inwardly, we will be groping and grabbing, without even knowing it, at whatever in order to somehow find satisfaction. This could be the genesis for much of the world’s problems. Most of us don’t consciously think about whether we are inwardly satisfied or not. Instead, if circumstances are going our way, we are happy and we feel satisfied. And when things are not going our way, we feel sad and unfilled.

The problem could be that we are attempting to cater to a spiritual part of us with worldly events and things. Even though we can see only our physical body, we are just as much a spiritual being (in our cognitive, emotional, reasoning, etc. attributes), which is extremely elusive in pinning down. In order to function in a way that leaves us inwardly content, we must feed that invisibly spiritual part of us.

The secret to actively accessing the inner self comes when a person is discontent with one’s life to the point where there is a desperate need for something—anything that sounds like it may relieve the disappointments and “humdrumness” of life.

To the contrary, like the song says, when "Everything’s going my way," there is little or no hope of tapping into real life (life’s spiritual enigma). The reason for that attitude is because our spirit being demands/requires to be “front and center” in one’s life, with little or no competition. That is where the difficulty comes in and never seems to end.

The reason that spirit is all-demanding is because it will be God’s Holy Spirit which will be activated. And that Spirit insists all our love and devotion go to Him and His Son Jesus Christ. This type of tough talk, which is prevalent throughout the New Testament, is what will disqualify many from tapping into the source of real life. "We want to have our cake and eat it too," or as some of the masculine gender would say, "We want our Kay and Edith too."

In reality, this puts humans between a rock and a hard place. We want to be content inwardly, but the price we must pay may seem much too high even though, through God's grace, entering into God's heavenly kingdom is a free gift. Here is the reason why: Our physical bodies were created in the likeness of animals (primates) whose nature is sinful (me first), while our spirit was created in the image of Almighty God, whose nature is love. For that reason, when a person desires to allow the spirit being to come to life, there may be a continue struggle: What is good for God’s Holy Spirit within us is usually distasteful to our physical instincts. And what is pleasing to our physical being is most often contrary to what our spirit desires.

That doesn’t seem fair. That is the very reason living the Christian life will be difficult; the closer we get to Christ, the more demanding our lives will be. 1st Peter 4:19. "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinner?" For that reason, in the eyes of the world and those who just take on the name Christian, there is no logic in living as Christ commands.

The earthly reward for living as our spirit life requires is a satisfied inner being. Living as our human nature demands gives transient satisfaction, if even that, while always searching for something better or more of whatever.

So what are we to do? Is it worth it to sacrifice many of our worldly joys and activities in an attempt to achieve a lasting inner contentment? In order to answer that question, we have to look at the whole picture concerning God’s plan of Salvation. Our satisfied spirit is only a fringe benefit, or a windfall; the main object of our Christian life is to allow God’s Spirit, through the holiness and love in our lives, to draw as many people as possible to Him, but more importantly, it is to live our holy lives of faith in obedience to Christ’s commands. And yet, the greatest blessing of all will be the eternal benefit of spending eternity with God and Christ.

The answer to the above question is yes, it is worth it, and here is why: The joy and satisfaction of living the spiritual life will eventually make the worldly joys we used to indulge in frivolous and a waste of good time. In fact, there is no comparison between the two forms of satisfaction. And the only way I can describe the difference is that worldly satisfaction is dependent on what happens, while the spiritual contentment is lasting in all circumstances. That doesn’t mean the Christian life will be easy. Temptations and hardships will continually be around, always trying to trip us up, and we will be hated by many because we will no longer conform to their way of life, be what it may. Matthew 10:22-23. "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another."

Here is the crux of having a satisfied inner being: Luke 11:13. ". . . how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:7. "Ask and it will be given to you. . ." Those who actually receive God’s Holy Spirit will have God living in them. This is not such a great mystery. You have heard of people who are possessed by demons or even the devil himself. It becomes clear by their demonic action. They are tormented by their inner spirits.

Therefore, when we are indwelt by God’s life, our desires, actions, life and inner being are allowing Jesus Christ to control much, if not all, of what we do and desire. That Spirit is a serene Spirit, and that is where our satisfied inner being comes from.

We must remember that there is a multitude of people who claim to have been baptized with God’s Spirit, but live and act like worldly people, and have anything but a contented inner spirit. Anyone can tell when God’s Spirit is in us; it becomes evident through a dramatic change in who we are being controlled by. Matthew 7:20. "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."

As previously mentioned, the main reason God gives us His Spirit is not to give us only a placid inner being, but to continue the work that Christ started 2,000 years ago. Regardless of what gift we have received, it is every person's job—by those who call themselves Christians (disciples of Christ)—to actively make Christ known as He is described in the New Testament. Other than the Holy Scripture, I believe this blog is invaluable in making our mission clear, and gives the reasons for such action which sometimes Scripture does not give. But don’t take my word for it; find out for yourself.

Read or listen on your CD player to large portions of New Testament Scripture daily, and put into practice what you read. Luke 8:21. "He [Jesus] replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’" Better advice could not be given, even though there will be many verses that cannot be understood or make no sense. Don’t be concerned with them: Just obey the ones that can be understood. Then we can be more certain of how to live, love and believe. Don’t take the opinions of the professionals who get paid; they must preach what sounds pleasing to our worldly ears. Don’t even trust what this blog says. You be the judge of how to live according to your understanding. And if one is truly sincere, regardless of what Scripture commands, the correct meaning will be given to whoever continues to seek God’s truth.

In conclusion, the human benefits of being obedient to all that Christ commands are contentment and serenity under all circumstances, which human words cannot accurately describe; it must be experienced. For whatever reason, God has blessed this author with that gift, which makes for a complete person. Believe the above words, since this message is coming from the horse’s mouth, as it were. God will expediently bless with a Godly contentment all who have a wholehearted desire to actually—not only in word—live in a way that is in accordance with the New Testament.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

# 219: American Idol

The K.I.S.S. acronym, “Keep it Simple, Stupid” is fitting to start this post. We all know what an idol is, and what idolatry is, or do we? Just to keep the meaning straight, let’s quote Webster.

Idol: 1) “an image of god, used as an object or instrument of worship; 3) any object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration; . . . .” Idolatry: 1) “worship of idols; 2) excessive devotion to or reverence for some person or thing.”

In the Old Testament, most often an idol refers to statues made by the hands of Israelites, for purposes of worshiping gods. This infuriates/ed the Lord God more than most anything else.

In the New Testament, idolatry is used several times as things other than statues of worship. Ephesians 5:5. “For this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such as an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Colossians 3:5-6. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

What is the most desired and worshiped object in America, actually the world? Answer: MONEY. Yes, money is one of America’s most adored idols. And it is not money itself that is worshiped, but the power to give the possessors just about anything their hearts desire. Money makes life controllable, like living in heaven on earth. Putting it another way: find a hundred people in America who would refuse to be materially wealthy people. I doubt you will find them. Wealth—most often unknowingly—becomes a much-adored idol. That is the reason why God detests wealth; it replaces Him as the main object of power and superiority. Whatever the idols are, be it wealth or a person/s, those idols become the object/s of adoration/worship.

When a wealthy or prosperous person is called “greedy,” that handle is worse than a dirty, multi-lettered expletive. Therefore, they don’t use it to label anyone, at least to their face. They use countless ubiquitous words that make the word “greedy” into something honorable and respected. Let’s name just a few: “one is doing well, has reached the American dream, is ambitious, a go-getter, wealthy, prosperous, wise when it comes to money, a financially successful entrepreneur, has a good head when it comes to financing, knows where to put his/her money so that it grows leaps and bounds,” etc. All these people are looked up to by the majority of Americans. They love that feeling of superiority and they cherish the good feelings money brings. Can anyone blame them for embellishing an “Easy and Secure Life,” which is their idol?

Another way we don’t use the word “idol” is when we admire a person/s much more than is warranted. In fact, we silently look up to them as gods. I am speaking of church leaders, especially the loving ones and those of large and successful churches. They (the laity) believe that, regardless of what their clergy preach, it is gospel truth.

Then there are the dignitaries and high officials of government, along with those who have made names for themselves in business, sports, and many other respected endeavors. They won’t say it, but they worship these people and make them their role models, or paradigms. In short, they would love to be in their shoes. Of course, the majority would deny that accusation.

This verse has been used dozens of times in this blog and it would readily apply in this context: Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Another verse that gives an explanation is in Luke 16:13. “You cannot serve both God and money.”

One reason God abhors wealth and highly desired things or people is because they bring secret pride, and pride in worldly things leaves God out in the cold. Our only pride must be in God and Christ.

That is not to say that wealthy or prominent people can’t become Christians. They can, but must not continue to be role models for other Christians who aspire to their stature. They must give generously to the work of Christ and devote prime time to knowing Christ and His holiness. They must denounce their wealth by generously helping the less fortunate and living a modest life. In no way are they to exhibit any signs of wealth, like large houses in exclusive neighborhoods, expensive motor vehicles, etc.

The main reason for the transformation of their lives is so that other people who are wannabe rich Christians, etc. won’t seek wealth as a Godly attribute. If they do, all other absolutely pertinent to Godly virtues, like love for God and neighbor, faith in Christ Jesus, obedience, etc., will unknowingly be put on the back burner. Money is that powerful and deceptive. As said previously, money and the power it gives are God’s biggest and strongest competition and Satan’s best friend.

Another must: When the wealthy give generously to charities and other notable avenues—can the rich be overly generous with all the needs in this world? It is impossible for them to be too generous—they must be certain their generosity is being channeled only through establishments that teach according to New Testament directives. The reason I say that is because if their money does not somehow lead a few people—hopefully many—to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and thus being saved, their generous giving will have no Godly value. Nothing will be added to their heavenly account. They will only be giving as secular charity does, and as important and necessary as that is, Christ and the giver receive no eternal credit or glory.

Here is a verse which tells what the rich, wealthy or prosperous who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior are to do with their wealth. 1st Timothy 6:17-19. “Command those who are rich in this present age 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, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of life that is truly life.” In contrast to this single section, there are dozens upon dozens of verses that condemn wealth. I have already brought them to the surface in other posts, so I won’t be redundant, as I often am. Click on post # 175: “The Dark Side of Money” and post # 153: “Anatomy of Wealth.”

Do you and I have a firm foundation for the coming age? 2nd Peter 1:10: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall . . .”

Do we in the world, especially in America, know the difference between good and evil? Or have we blurred the dividing line between the two and made it into an overwhelmingly popular gray area that has taken over the arena of moral values? Ouch.

I am certain this type of teaching will not go over well in our materialistic culture. And that is sad to say. Many conventional churches promote wealth and back it up with the Old Testament, which has been revised/fulfilled by Christ. This is worthy of a loud repeat: From Matthew to Revelation, the New Testament says the contrary. There is only that one section, as mentioned above, in the New Testament that CONDITIONALLY justifies wealth in the genuine Christian life. Why is that? Please answer.

In conclusion, the overall lifestyle in America unequivocally says that the American Idol is people and/or money. What does God think about our condition? Is that a blessing from God, or is it something else, like condemnation? Remember, the title of one of our most patriotic songs is: “God Bless America.” In what way is/has God spiritually blessed America in accordance with the New Testament? This is an extremely important question. If you remain silent, your silence will speak louder than words. Leave your comments and criticisms.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

# 218: What is Love?

Love is the only answer to all of the world’s problems. Love is the solution for the Christian church’s complacency. Love is the fulfillment of all good things, as God puts it in three little words: “I love you.” All true and lasting love originates from God since God says, "I am Love." And yet, we don’t see much of His love in the world. Why not? The main reason is that Godly type Agape love is contrary to the love our human nature produces. Another reason is because it isn’t easy to reciprocate God’s divine love to others as He requires. Still, that love is the main criteria for living in a way which pleases God. Without it we are living in a glorified, worldly self-centeredness.

Although we may not be aware of it, love for God and from God is the most valuable possession we could desire or possess. And if/when that love is not fulfilled, we turn to humans for love. That is where the problems start and never end. If it is love for a mate, a parent, a child, a friend or whatever other type of human love, it will not totally satisfy. We still have a silent but gnawing need to be loved with intimate desperation. There remains an emptiness within us that continually says, "Please love me; I need/want to be loved." What we are crying out for is wholehearted, mutual devotion with God. And when we become aware of and start to experience that form of love with God and for God, we, for the first time, feel complete, even if every person in the world hates us.

That type of love doesn’t come suddenly or without much cultivation. It comes from our continual devotion to God and all that He requires. God’s devotion for us is already there, just waiting to be received; and when received through faith, we will start to reciprocate that love.

God is not able to bless us with His love unless and until we get ourselves out of His way. Let me explain: Even if we desire to know His love, when we are concerned with only our spiritual needs and wants, along with our material wants (how am I going to make out?)—and many other things that have to do with our own personal lives—there is little room left for God to squeeze in even a bit of His love into our busy lives.

We can know with certainty we are equipped with God’s love when we are concerned with others’ needs: spiritual, material, etc. God desires to reach out to others through us. Jesus Christ can continue His work only through His people. We are his hands, feet and mouth. Repeating, when we start to get ourselves, with our many needs, out of God’s way, then He can start to give us His love. Then, armed with His love, we will be genuinely concerned about others. That is one sure way we will know we are experiencing that life-giving love.

Several reminders: 1) It is next to impossible to have God’s love and keep it to ourselves. 2) We activate God’s love when it is shared. 3) The more of God’s love we are experiencing, the less human love and attention we will need or desire. That is another way we can know God’s love is working through us; the only thing is that we must be honest with ourselves.

Scripture could rightly be called the book of love. And 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13, could without a doubt be, the chapter of love. Verses 2 and 3 clearly tell that no matter what heights we acquire/d in our Christian walk—whether it’s to speak in the language of angels, have the gift of prophecy, fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, have the faith to move mountains and surrender our bodies to the flames, etc.—without love for those in need, we are nothing.

In God’s plan of Salvation, repentance of our sins—which gives us a complete pardon and belief in Christ—starts the ball rolling, but it is an active love for God, coupled with God’s love for us, which keeps it going. Without genuine love, that priceless faith fades into the shadows of death. To be brutally honest, without an active love for God and our neighbors in need, we are no more than gonging disks (false brothers and sisters). It is hard to believe that when one vital component is missing, all other Godly virtues we thought we possessed are trash waiting to be burned in the sight of God.

This truthful fact presents a gigantic issue in Christianity. We can rightfully say that Christianity is a system of obedience based on faith/belief, but even more importantly it is a system of faith expressing itself through love. That says that faith without love isn’t worth a diddle. Galatians 5:6 confirms that principle: "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Ouch!

Do you and I have that holy love which is required by Scripture? Let us live with Biblical love. Continuing with the love chapter, starting with verse 4: "Love is patient." Do we have patience when other Christians/people malign our dedication to Christ? Do we have patience when we don’t get what we want when we want it? Do we have patience when things just don’t go our way? Without painting honorable pictures of ourselves, are we patient in all circumstances? Personally, I can’t give myself a very high grade on patience.

"Love is kind." Webster’s definition of kind: “sympathetic, friendly, gentle, tenderhearted, generous, etc.” I get a fair grade on this virtue. How do you see yourself? We have to be honest; if we are not, we are cheating only ourselves. Remember, we are attempting to discern if we have the required Christian love.

"Love does not envy." Definition of envy: “a feeling of discontent and ill-will because of another’s advantage, possessions, etc.; resentful dislike of another who has something one desires." There isn’t much more one can say about envy. I truly believe every authentic Christian—which excludes those who just take that holy name—has no desire to envy anyone, since they desire others to be better than themselves in every way, material and spiritual. Yes, lack of envy is a sure sign of having love for others and for God. If I were the judge, I would give all mature Christians, meaning those who possess God’s Spirit, an “A+”. For myself, I also would get a high grade.

"Love does not boast, it is not proud." The main reason we boast or are proud is because we are attempting to make up for something lacking in our lives to prove we are as good as or better than others. Any person who has the life of Jesus Christ should be lacking nothing. Completeness is waiting for us in Christ. The only virtue we should desire is to be more like Jesus. Yes, we should boast in the Lord and of His greatness and love, but not to display an air of piety or pride, tacitly saying, "Ha-ha; I am better than you because I am a disciple of Christ."

I have an ungodly though silent pride in my physical health and youthful physique, but I have been doing my best to somehow destroy that feeling of pride and have made some gains. I am an older man and most old people are dilapidated in one way or another. Because of that pride, I give myself a lousy grade of “C-” or less. I am not pleased with the fact that I am proud. It is an extremely difficult attitude to conquer. But now that I have spoken up, it will be easier to get an upper hand on my secret pride. James 5:16. "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man [woman] is powerful and effective." Let us exchange prayers; I will pray for you and you pray for me. My question is this: What am I lacking inwardly to need this pride? I should lack nothing, but evidently, I do lack something. I welcome comments and suggestions. Also, check your own life to see if you have pride, and then ask yourself, What am I lacking? This self- examination is only for people of God who desire and know the value of spiritual house-cleaning. The reason I say that is because pride is greatly valued, and rightfully so, by people who don’t belong to Christ. Find more info. in post # 187: "Anatomy of Pride & Humility."

"Love is not rude." We all know what it means to be rude. The question is, Why are some people rude?. It certainly is not a Godly trait. I am certain there are several reasons. I believe the main reason is that a rude person is not concerned with others’ feelings, and most likely is selfish. I don’t think there are many real Christians who are rude. Most of us get fairly high marks on rudeness.

"Love is not self-seeking." That is self-descriptive. I believe the majority of Christians get a failing grade when it comes to our “me-first” attitude. Although I am not aware of my own self-seeking attitude, I am certain I am guilty. I don’t think many of us, with a few exceptions, deserve any more than a “D-” if even that. The reason I give us a bad grade is because we are so used to catering to our own needs, or having others waiting on us, without thinking of those without. It could be that if we don’t change our ways concerning our self-seeking attitude, we may end up in a place we don’t expect.

"Love is not easily angered." I believe the key word is “‘easily.” What is the core reason we get angry? I believe there are legitimate reasons for getting angry when evil people do evil things to innocent people, and at the same time, not being easily angered at petty things. My anger comes out in this blog when people call themselves Christians and at the same time live ungodly lives. If you have a strong stomach, click on the first post # 145: "Just a Touch of Hell"—I accidentally have two # 145s—but basically, I am not an angry person. There are people—hopefully not Christians—who have an attitude of anger. How do you grade yourself when it comes to getting angry? I will be generous with my grade and give myself a “B.” There is a time to get angry.

"Love keeps no record of wrongs." This is where forgiveness can help; even forgive when there is no repentance on the part of the offender. If we don’t forgive with our heart, we are only hurting ourselves more than the offender. This is easier said than done. I don’t even know how to grade myself on this one. But, let’s continue to think about the harm we cause ourselves when we keep a record of wrongs.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." Is the Apostle Paul saying that anything not connected with God’s truth is evil? It sounds that way to me. I honestly believe Christians do not delight in evil. I am certain most American Christians get high grades on this one.

"It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." I ask this question: protects what or whom? Give me your answer. When it comes to “trusts, hopes, and perseveres,” I say yes, in God and Jesus Christ. My complete trust and hope are in God’s blessed plan of Salvation. And I pray I will persevere. Other than the protecting part, I give myself an “A.” I have no place else to turn to. I am lovingly stuck with Jesus Christ. Where is your hope and trust?

Galatians 5:22. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These virtues are self-explanatory, and don’t need any commentary.

There are many more aspects of love not mentioned in this section. The greatest is: Do we really love God? We can easily tell if we truly love Him by asking ourselves this question: "Do we obey the teachings commanded in the New Testament?” Amen. To find out what a few of these commands are in Scripture, click on post # 170: "Crimes in Christ’s Name Exposed."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

# 217: Global Warming and God’s Part

The status quo the world dictates is this: "Birth, self promotion, and finally, death.” That’s life: no more, possibly much less. And yet, a hidden lie lurks in that widely- accepted hypothesis.

Those who believe intelligent life made its appearance on this planet just by chance, via Darwin’s natural selection—through an unguided evolution process—should think again as to what the overall accomplishment/s is/are for this continual cycle of birth, change, and finally, death. When one looks at our form of life with a weebit of an open mind, along with out-of-this-world seriousness, it is utter nonsense, since nothing is being achieved physically which has permanent value.

Then some will quickly say, "Our great technology is our achievement." That much-worshiped technology—since we think we just can’t live without it—is what will eventually be our doom. The reason our seemingly heaven-on-earth technology has/will continually work against us is because it is contrary to nature. We are no more than hybrid animals who were for eons physically active (made to move)—click on post # 109: "Creation, Evolution and Intelligent Design." When we wander from that form of natural activity, our slow demise will be what we reap. It is already happening: the 66% obesity rate in America, along with the myriad of other chronic diseases we have never seen to this degree in past generations, along with a prescription medicine for our every boo-boo. The majority of those medicines do work well in covering up our symptoms or whatever else they accomplish, while at the same time contaminating our bodies with their side effects; some are evident almost immediately, while others may never be known until it is too late.

In short, already our technology has spoiled us rotten to an unprecedented degree: laziness, which gives us much more time to engage in entertaining activities, which will increase our visits to the doctor and hasten our appointment with the undertaker. That sounds like technology in reverse.

The fruit of that technology has so far given us a toxic atmosphere, a polluted environment that is insidiously killing us, and now global warming, along with global dimming. That warming and dimming will, in a few generations (about 50 to 60 years), make life on this earth unbearable.

Let me explain: As most already know, greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and several other greenhouse gases) get trapped in our upper atmosphere, acting as a canopy, slowing down the release of earth's heat beyond our atmosphere. As those gases continue to accumulate in our atmosphere, the result is the warming of our planet.

A new phenomenon we were recently made aware of is “global dimming.” The way this comes about is particulate matter (from the combustion of diesel fuels, smoke stacks from electric power plants, from the exhaust of the thousands of airplanes flying day and night over our skies, etc.) gets trapped in the clouds and the upper air itself, thus restricting the amount of sunlight passing through them. That dimming has increased in the last 50 years or so, 22% in the U.S. to about 10% to 30% in other continents. The countries with the greatest amount of dimming are the industrial nations of China, Russia, the Unites States, even India and Europe.

In a way it has been a godsend, by cooling our planet a bit. Here is the problem: As we attempt to lower our CO2 emissions mostly from smoke stacks—we will succeed to a small degree—we also will lower the amount of particulate matter being released. That will lessen the global dimming, which will in turn slow down its cooling process; the result will be more global warming. If you have any comments or questions concerning global dimming, click on the comment section, or search Internet Explorer.

This is the pending paradox: As we decrease the amount of greenhouse gases we emit, thus having a slight cooling effect, we inadvertently decrease the particulate matter, which will have a warming effect. At this time, no one knows exactly which one will have the greater effect on the temperature of our planet. They are just shooting from the hip.

There has to be a delicate balance between CO2 and particulate matter. We have to figure out a way to continually decrease greenhouse gases—regardless of what it takes—while maintaining or increasing the particulate pollution. Good luck!

What will somehow have to happen is to install super-effective scrubbers in every smoke stack—a gigantic expense—or eliminate/replace them altogether with a clean source of electricity and have a mandate to dramatically increase solar energy on an individual basis, along with utilizing clean energy like wind, water, mandatory conservation and rationing. Eventually, gas-powered motor vehicles will have to be phased out of production. All these efforts will do little to reduce the present amount of greenhouse gasses already giving us problems; scientists say that a significant reduction of greenhouse gasses presently in our atmosphere will take up to 10 to 20 years to reduce, but that is only an educated guess.

If the global dimming is not decreased, the rate at which the polar icecaps are melting, along with the continual melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, our planet will be in the neighborhood of 18 degrees F. hotter by the end of the century. But if the earth’s dimming is weakened significantly by our efforts to clean our air, that catastrophic result may be in our midst much sooner, not to mention the rise in the levels of the oceans. I heard that by the year 2100, if drastic measures are not taken now, all the oceans may rise about 20 feet. That does not include some of our low-lying freshwater lakes. They will also, to a degree, be affected by that rise. A vast amount of the world’s real estate will be under water. Some of us may not be around if and when that happens. I really wonder if those “in the know” (atmospheric eggheads) are really aware of the propensity of the total damage to our beloved planet.

That is not the only problem. Our food supply will be lessened to a great degree, since many of our plants cannot tolerate that kind of heat. Even worse than that, a vast majority of the world's trees will die. That will mean less oxygen for us to breathe since those trees give us much of the oxygen we breathe on a daily basis. And the loss of trees and other vegetation unable to withstand the excess temperatures will mean more CO2 for earth, since CO2 is consumed by most, if not all, green life. In fact, greenhouses that grow green leafy plants inject CO2 into their greenhouses to produce a larger crop. I participated in that study when it was in the experimental stages.

Taking all the negative effects of global warming into account, the most devastating result of all may be the erratic and unpredictable weather changes: droughts in some places and floods in others. We have seen that happening this year and with severity. And that is with only ½ of a degree of increase of temperature worldwide. What will happen when it increases two- or threefold? In that same category, the oceans will also increase in temperature. What can we expect from hurricanes? Many, many more that will be super severe, which will be the norm. We have already had two Category 5 hurricanes reach landfall this year. That was the first time in the recorded history of hurricanes that it happened. These predictions are not wild guesses of a mad man, but actual predictions of known data.

What can we do about this pending catastrophe other than living green? One of two things: Buy some property in northern Canada or above the Arctic Circle while the price is still cheap (or in the Scandinavian countries or Siberia); or better yet, believe, love and live as God dictates so that death and suffering will not be a devastating event, but actually a blessing. That is the reason I previously used the clause, “it will be unbearable.”

Doing what we will in living green, the damage already incurred will not just disappear. As has been said previously, "The writing is on the wall." To believe otherwise is nothing less than being pollyannaish.

Could these upcoming verses be speaking of that unbearable period? Revelation 6:15-17: "Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the thrown and from the wrath of the lamb.’ For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" This scenario may be only a bit of holy conjecture. Nevertheless, now is the time to repent and change our ways; read large portions of the New Testament daily and believe what it says with action, with no passivity. God is waiting with open arms for all who are real, or desire to be real, disciples of Jesus Christ.

Even though God knew the end from the beginning, many times God works His ways through nature—even man-/woman-made nature, which is not really nature. Therefore, God through Christ will capitalize on these extreme conditions to draw more people to Himself when all hope of living a normal life on earth has vanished.

When we think highly of our human status, just remember that about 96 % or more of our DNA and physical makeup is the same as the chimpanzee and the orangutan. That tells us that we are animals with intelligence. Some will say, "How can you say that? The Bible says we were created in God’s image.” That is true. But our physical bodies are animal and our potential spiritual bodies/lives are made in the image of God. To give these words a finer point, being created in God’s spiritually image gives us the potential to become children of God; I like using this phrase: Clones-of-Christ-in-the-making.

Now if our intelligence came about without any help from God, then we could boast of our human greatness. Only thing, that boast would last until our death. At that time we will end up as a pile of bones and ashes. There isn’t much greatness in that except as fertilizer for the garden. Without God, life would be meaningless, except to live as educated/conniving animals. Isn’t that the way a majority of us are living? Without God, life would be a free-for-all: “Hooray for me and screw everyone else.” Of course, most of us do that in a dignified way. Like the philosopher once said, "I love me; who do you love?"

What does Christ say? John 12:25. "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Some will say, "Christ couldn’t really mean that." If one believes the New Testament, they will believe it and make maximum effort to live accordingly.

Jesus reiterates that verse in Luke 14:26. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Also, Matthew 10:37: "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." The apostle Paul gives us the essence of those commands when he says in Philippians 2:3-4, ". . . but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." You say, "But, to actually live that way is not normal or natural." That is absolutely true. But the true Christian life takes one big giant step above the natural.

This teaching of having greater love for others than self is underscored by the fact that our God is a jealous God. He commands us all to love and worship Him more than any other person or thing. And we display our love and worship for Him by our obedience to His command to love our neighbor. Matthew 22:27-39. "Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Those two commands must be every genuine Christian’s holy grail. Also, Biblical evidence as to God being a jealous God: Nahum 1:2. "The Lord is a jealous and avenging God." Exodus 20:5. "‘I, the Lord your God am a jealous God . . .’" 1st Corinthians 10:22. "Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealously?" Most churchgoers may never have heard about our God’s jealousy.

Could you imagine what a wonderful world we would be living in if every person was living as God commands? Guess what? Every genuine Christian is, or will soon be, living that way. Is that one of our Christian criteria? That is a command, not just a friendly suggestion. I am not saying that; the Bible says that, and I am just repeating what it said. Yes, having belief in and obedience to Almighty God is that important. Listen to what Paul said in Romans 1:5. ". . . we received grace and apostleship to call people from among the Gentiles (us who are not Jews) to the obedience that comes from faith." If we truly have faith, we will be obedient. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Although this is mandatory, it is not an easy teaching. But when one starts to experience this type of love for God and others, it will be easier. Does your church preach this type love and obedience? If not, they are suspect.

In ending, those who don’t believe in God, either by flatly denying the existence of God, or by not believing what His Son taught by ignoring His commands, are living in an animalistic world without God.

Although it doesn’t seem this way at this present time, God is fulfilling His prophesy as a result of our selfish free will. That means He is in control of global warming and all other earthly situations. A time is coming when it will be best for us to be certain we are in God’s favor. Now is that time. Where do you and I stand?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

# 216: The Blessed Thorn

This post will help to explain the reason God’s ways are not our ways. Many of us wonder why God’s favor goes to the poor, the wearied, those in need, those with a quarrelsome and/or ill-tempered spouse, the lowly, the burdened, the weak, the humble, the downtrodden, those in dire straits, having an unruly or disobedient child/children, the gentile, those loaded down with continual problems, the destitute, those with physical handicaps, the underprivileged, the despondent, those caught in the grips of constant tribulation, etc. This list could be endless.

There is a story of a poor saint who kept praying to God to give him patience. He said to the Lord, "Lord, I keep praying and asking you to give me patience, but all I keep getting is tribulation." The Lord said to him, "Through tribulation comes patience." I believe at that time he may have stopped praying for patience. There may be some truth to this story.

1st Corinthians 1:27: "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” As one can tell, the apostles Jesus chose were simple fishermen, the unlearned/unschooled and those of no account.

Luke 9:48. "For he who is the least among you—he is the greatest."

Luke 14:11. "For he who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Luke 16:29. "But Abraham replied, ‘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 agony.’"

Luke 18:17. "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Wouldn’t you think God would have chosen the learned, the talented, the gifted, the brilliant, the stately, the wealthy, the prominent, the prosperous, the proud, high officials, the strong, and the lazy religious leaders? The religious leaders of today are not much different than those of 2,000 years ago, except there are thousands upon thousands more, making their influence much more formidable. And guess who is caught in the clutches of their beautiful religious words?

Matthew 11: 28. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Did you notice that Christ did not call any of those listed in the above paragraph?

There are several reasons for His selection: Those that have it made on earth have little need or hope for the good life in heaven since they already are living the good life, and they are proud of it, and their minds are set on enjoying their worldly pride and this present life. Some might ask, "Can’t those that are content in this world still be looking forward to eternity?” Absolutely. The only thing is, there is one big problem: The ones who truly live as required by Scripture are those that have a desperate need for the hereafter. And the falsely "blessed" group does not need what they already have. Need is one of the attitudes which keeps God’s less-fortunate people faithful, loving, hopeful and obedient.

You might ask, "Does that mean those who constantly have the theme on the tip of their mind that ‘life is good’ are excluded from becoming disciples of Christ?" Again, no. But in order to qualify as the less fortunate, the privileged and the wealthy are commanded to relinquish much, if not all, of the good things they have in this world. And that just doesn’t happen very easily or that often; they make deceptive alibis as to how their money can/has helped the cause of Christ. Sure, while they enjoy the good things this world makes available, but only to those who can afford them.

Luke 14:33. "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything, he has cannot be my disciple."

That is why the apostle Luke devotes a good portion of the 16th chapter of the book of Luke to the good life on this earth and the harm it will do—by the way, the book of Luke was a personal letter to “the most excellent Theophilus,” most likely a wealthy dignitary, possibly already a disciple of Christ, but not aware of the full gospel massage. I have often wondered if Theophilus was able to accept all that Luke was teaching in his letter about, of how God views the wealthy and privileged.

This teaching condemning wealth and prosperity is the most contested of all teachings by the wealthy and the wannabes because it is the most natural desire for all peoples to desire to be wealthy. They call it “survival of the fittest.” And that belief is understandable to those who do not possess the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit). Again, they attempt to prove the value of their wealth by all the great things God is doing by spreading the gospel where it has never been heard. The only thing, the gospel they are spreading is contaminated with much of what organized religion has been spreading since who knows when.

I have already written extensively on God’s attitude toward the wealthy—click on post # 133: "Anatomy of Wealth"—therefore, I will just mention it briefly in this post. Luke 16:13-15. "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. . . . What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight."

Scripture uses the word “thorn” as any disagreeable condition one has to live with. As one can plainly tell, because of their discontent with their lives, they are the ones most likely to become true disciples of Christ while they are eagerly looking forward to a better life. However, for those who love singing the song, "Everything’s going my way," they may profess Christianity since they are readily accepted by most established churches because of their status and the large sums of money they place in the weekly coffers. Also, it is nice for them to be respected and looked up to by others, since being a Christian usually means a person/family is honest and possesses many good and holy qualities.

But, as mentioned several times in previous posts, the greater damage done to the cause of Christ by those who live the good life is that they put wealth and prosperity in first place as a holy status in the Christian life. They do this without saying a single word to anyone, or even being aware of it. Then those who emulate them will also desire to be blessed by God with wealth, and thus have others’ respect and admiration. Then, what automatically happens to those who have been deceived into believing the great value of wealth in the Christian life? They will place the acquiring of good things first, then put love, faith, holiness, obedience, etc. on the back burner. The reason for this demonic distortion in Christian values is because money and wealth, which are highly valued by those who don’t know God, trump anything and everything which God has to offer.

From a human point of view, the above is understandable. Yet, it is totally contrary to all that New Testament Scripture teaches. Then many churches go to the Old Testament to validate the physical blessings God gives His people; that was before the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of the Old Testament. That old dispensation was a failure, except for a few of His holy people, in producing people who live as God’s love dictates. The Pharisees, Sadducees and the religious leaders are a perfect example of the harm wealth does in the hands of people who just claim to be people of God. Read Matthew, Chapter 23 to see how Jesus treated those religious fakes. Is it any different today? Did the clergy have the right/power to change Christ's teaching since the New Testament was written? Absolutely not.

Therefore, it is those of us who are living with a thorn in our flesh who are the most eligible, because of the great needs in our lives which this world cannot suffice.

Listen to what the apostle Paul had to say about his thorn: 2nd Corinthians 12:7-9. "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassing revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." To learn what Paul’s thorn was, click on post # 145.

Let me bring up another Christian group. There are many people who are not wealthy or prosperous and who don’t have a thorn of any sort. They are fairly content with how life is treating them; their need for Christ as their Savior is not apparent to any great degree. They have to make certain their Christianity is in tune with all the requirements as presented in the New Testament. That is of vital importance. This applies especially to those who are members of Christian churches. They should examine how their church leader believes about the privileged few, and what their stance is on wealth and prosperity. By making these inquiries, they will know if their clergy is attempting to pull the wool over their eyes for material gain.

When all things are considered, Christians with a thorn, of one sort or another, are blessed to a greater degree than all others. Although they would give their right arm to be relieved of their thorns, those thorns are the very things that keep them on the straight and narrow. They can’t afford to mess up since all their eggs are, or should be, in the Lord’s basket. This world is of little value to them, except to somehow continue to make the cause of Christ known. Amen.

How and why has the Christian church per se gotten involved with such unbiblical beliefs? The answer to that question is what this blog is all about, along with a remedy. Even though we are mostly Biblical, very few can or will embrace it, because as the apostle Peter wrote in 1st Peter 4:18, "And, if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinner?" That is the churches’ major problem. They have made it easy and enjoyable to live the Christian life. No thorns allowed. Those who have thorns are, to a great degree, shoved by the wayside.

Believe what is written in this post, not only because it is based on Biblical truth, but it is like words coming from the horse's mouth. This author is one of those with a blessed thorn, and if it wasn’t for that thorn, who knows where or what I would now be doing.