Friday, December 19, 2008

# 267: When Bad is Good

This post will give a partial answer to the age-old, proverbial question of why bad things happen to good people. The title, “When Bad is Good,” sounds like a contradiction, but in the lives of genuine followers of Jesus Christ, it is a truth that most would rather not go through. When true disciples of Christ are going through hard times, they most likely desire more than anything to be in a better place: resting in the peace and comfort of God’s eternity.

What I mean is, when "Christians" are enjoying life on this earth as living the good life, their desire for anything better is being compromised. In fact, the good things this life offers will make heaven unreal: something strictly for the future, and of unimportance for the present. When life is such, that suggests their greatest and most dominant interests in life are things and attitudes of worldly value, of course, all in the name of Christ.

That is where many who call themselves Christians, in name only, are dwelling. That is a crying shame. With many churches promising material prosperity and freedom from adversity, it is no wonder that they (the churches and the laity) are growing in number.

The fact that heaven is not longed for as it should be means less of a chance that they are genuine Christians, without their knowledge. Who can convince this large group of their fatal destiny? Hopefully this blog, but chances are slim. The best, if not the only, chance is to study the New Testament (NT) and know it like one knows the palm of their hand. To refute that statement, some may profess to go to church and learn all that is needed from their loving and godly pastor. But God and Jesus Christ and I will unequivocally say that this is a false assumption.

The reason is, it would be impossible for churches, especially mega-churches, to stay in business if churches, who claim to be Bible- believing, in reality fail to mention many pertinent sections of the NT. The sections I am referring to are those that seem humanly impossible to live by. And, praise God, this blog that has been on the Internet for over 3 ½ years has brought them to light.

I mean those like the second greatest commandment of all, which teaches to love our neighbor/s as ourselves, and the greatest command of all, which is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Many churches teach that they are impossible to keep. Not true. What about the one the Apostle Paul teaches, which says to "consider others better than yourself"? Philippians 2:3. This blog teaches not only why, but how to obey them. We must always remember that love is the essence and core of the Christian religion. Without functional love as described in the NT, it would be only a religion of words.

I can tell you from experience that it is not easy, but many times, gut-wrenching and painful to put others as a priority over self and family. If any church was to go beyond words and attempt to enforce commands like these—and there are many of them—church membership would dwindle. In Christianity, it is not easy to produce good works/deeds, which is a must. Remember, we were saved not only for our Salvation and good, but more so, our part is to work night and day, as it were, to somehow get others to follow Christ and all that He commands. In short, that is the work Christ started, and it is our duty to propagate. There is no salvation without obedience to His commands. Do you and I know what is expected of us? Repeating, without knowing what is taught in the NT, we most likely will go astray, if we are not there already.

Now getting to another area of when bad is good . . . no one in their right mind would desire bad things to happen to them. But when they do come and possibly make life miserable, instead of saying to God, “Why did you let these horrible circumstances happen?” instead we should praise God for it; I mean things that are distasteful, extremely hurtful, mentally painful, undeserved or many other disagreeable happenings. After all, those hurtful things that happened will make us want to leave this unfair, evil world, thus making our faith stronger and bringing us closer to God and making our desire to be with the Lord that much more realistic. To put it bluntly, death would be welcomed.

Could that be one reason why God loves the poor, because their lives are in a constant state of want? When a poor person is a genuine disciple of Christ, that person can’t wait to leave this world and be in the peace and tranquility of Jesus Christ. Listen to 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?" In the complete NT, God does not say one bad word concerning the poor, whether they are a believer or not.

To the contrary, God does not have one good word to say, in the complete NT, about those who are materially prosperous. Isn’t that funny? Did you ever hear that message preached in any church? That does not mean that rich people cannot enter heaven. What it means is that once wealthy people do accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, their lives will have to make a 180-degree turn. They will have to be exceedingly generous to others who are in want. In a short time, they should be prosperous no longer; that is, if they truly love their needy neighbors and love God with their all. 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 . . . Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." The bad thing in their lives (having to share their wealth) was the very thing they needed. When the wealthy try to hide some of their wealth, they will be under the curse of Ananias and Sapphira: spiritual death. Acts, Chapter 5.

I am certain some who want to defend the ways of the rich as being good Christians, or know a few facts about the NT, or heard it preached a number of times, will quickly bring up two wealthy disciples: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Now I ask, How long would they be wealthy while Jerusalem was filled with poor disciples who were ostracized by the Jewish Ruling Council from their synagogue, their place of employment, and some of them even their homes? Equality is always the norm where selfless love exists. In a genuine Christian community, there can be no one with wealth while there are those in need.

It is a disgrace to Christianity that this Biblical truth concerning the harm that wealth can do will never materialize. The rich, including the rich clergy, control what is right, what is wrong and what is truth. They will never give up their wealth just to live according to the teachings of a book that was written by the unlearned 2,000 years ago. Wealth has such an unyielding hold on some that profess Christ, which not even common Godly logic can undo.

I have written extensively on the harm wealth does in the Christian community. It can all be said in one sentence: Money talks; that means that what rich "Christians" say carries a lot of weight in religious matters, in defense of the ways of the rich "Christians’" life styles, regardless of what the NT teaches. If they only knew that sharing their wealth, which would seem like the worst thing that could be asked of them, would in turn be the greatest blessing they could receive from God.

To sum up, bad things give us a greater incentive to want to leave this world, while good things make people love this world, confirming that life is great, though they wouldn’t openly confess it, especially if they believed they were Christians. Let us not forget that this rule of when bad is good pertains only to genuine disciples of Jesus Christ, since they "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1st John 2:15. Did you ever think about what the opposite of love is? Answer: Hate. By hate, I don’t mean individual people, but the ways of the world and all the niceties it offers. That means that if we don’t love the world, we hate it. I am certain not many will agree with my analysis, which has sobering implications.

I, personally am more than ready to leave this world. I am totally fed -up with this unfair and unjust world. Regardless, I still don’t especially enjoy it when bad circumstances come my way. There are enough disagreeable things in my life as it is, enough to last me the rest of my life.

Finally, remember this: God allows disappointments for our well-being, while Satan loves to give good things to God’s people in order to keep them happily glued to this world. Do you and I love this world or hate it? Our lives will give us the answer. This will need some honest and serious soul-searching. By the way, the message that Joel Osteen (the most popular preacher in America) preaches is the exact opposite of what this post and the NT present. He promises all good things will come to God's people. Who do you believe? You can see him on TBN, the largest TV station in the world. Let me hear your comments. Here is what Scripture says in Hebrews 12: 5-7. "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”

Let me end with the most convincing proof that many times bad is good: Jesus Christ, the perfect man, had a bad thing happen to Him. He was crucified (a very bad thing) so that a good thing (eternal life) might come to the world. Is He our example for life?

Monday, December 08, 2008

# 266: Who Loves the Devil?

I will bet my bottom dollar that if a million Americans were asked if they love the devil, their unanimous answer would be an astounding no. And that is understandable. To be sure, the only exceptions are those who are dedicated Satan worshipers. To my knowledge, hopefully there are only a few of those.

When a person claims that they don’t love Satan the devil, that claim does not change the fact that many unknowingly do. All we have to do is live as our human nature dictates and we become Satan worshipers. The reason that is true is because the devil most often works incognito.

If we just claim to be Christians, Satan then uses fine-sounding verbiage, pretending to be Jesus Christ, thus re-ensuring us of our "faith and love." If one is an unbeliever, Satan then uses the old adage: first comes love for self and company, along with survival of the fittest. In either case, that evil brute is extremely convincing via mind control.

The reason that deceiver is so successful is because he always uses ways that are very conducive to our sinful human nature. In other words, we like what he teaches. That teaching brings temporal feelings of contentment, excitement and/or happiness. And who doesn’t like to be content and joyful?

There is only one way to free ourselves from his grip. That way is difficult to believe and adhere to, since it goes against our human nature, but it can be summed up in one sentence: Believe in Jesus Christ by obedience to all His teachings, which is to love God with our all, and actively love our neighbors as ourselves, meaning those in need. That is easier said than done. To live that way would turn our lives upside down. And who wants their life changed to that degree?

But remember this: If every human on earth were to love as God dictates, there would be no problems on this earth. But as we know, as long as we are competing with each other in every way, that will never happen. But mark my words: Anyone who lives exclusively with love for God and neighbor will be living in their own little heaven, regardless of what circumstances come against them.

Now, let’s take a quick look at life in America to see whose side we are on. We have only two choices: God or Satan. To those who don’t believe in either one of them, that would mean they are unknowingly and automatically on the side of the great deceiver. To those who just claim to be Christians but for whatever reason are not aware of ALL that the New Testament (NT) teaches, quite frequently the devil says, "God wants you to have the best this world can offer." To atheists, he says: "Live it up while you have the chance, because your purpose and destiny are similar to those of the animal kingdom." All of the above unknowingly love the devil.

We in America love to say and sing, “God Bless America.” I ask, for what reason would God want to bless such an ungodly country? I can hear some saying, "What are you, some kind of a traitor?” Then I will ask you this question: What are we in America doing that even remotely resembles what the NT teaches? Before you read any further, please answer that question to the best of your ability. Of course, before anyone can come up with the correct answer, one must be familiar with what the NT teaches and not what one hears in church or how one is brought up concerning religious matters. As to what Christianity MUST consist of, the NT is the absolute and only authority.

The devil has many ways in which we unknowingly give him our allegiance. One of the most potent is that he inspires us to get as much of whatever as possible, which includes money. That is called greed. Greed is a natural tendency we are all born with. That is the reason it is so prevalent.

As genuine Christians, we must fight the inclination to be greedy with tooth and nail. Before we can do that, we must realize the long-term result of greed: Greed can never be satisfied. As the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:5, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: . . . greed, which is idolatry." To put that in clearer terms, we all have or should have an idol, and we, for the most part in America, have greed as our idol. Whereas, the NT commands that we have Jesus Christ as our only idol, even though it uses different words, such as: “We must follow the example of Christ,” etc. There are many NT verses that teach that holy principle. Do you know anyone who has ever verbally said, "I have Jesus Christ as my idol"?

Since most Americans claim to live in a Christian country, please name a few things we do which are taught in the NT that make our country Christian. Our capitalistic and democratic way of life is based on only one thing: greed, and not equality, even though our Constitution claims that all men are equal. Of course, we don’t call it greed; we have many beautiful euphemisms to take the place of greed. Greed always has a negative connotation. Just to name a few euphemisms: “economic growth,” “progress,” “getting ahead,” “prosperity,” “wealth,” “hard worker,” “seeking the good life,” “go to college with the hopes of making it big when we graduate,” along with many, many more. That is the American way.

If this last paragraph is true, and it is, we in America most likely love and worship the devil. Satan doesn’t want this fact known, but even if it was made known, it wouldn’t make much difference. Most of us are too far gone in the ways of Americanized greed to change our lives and make a difference.

What does your church teach on this subject? I can bet all I have—which isn’t that much—that this topic is never mentioned. By the way, there are 27 Bible verses which mention the harm that greed does. The punch line is that a genuine Christian will never be greedy, regardless of what one calls it. Yeah, sure. That is like trying to teach a cat to bark.

This wonderful country of ours is the most ungodly country on this planet, and most of it is in the name of God. And I am stuck right in the middle of it. The American way of life is the paradigm/role model for the world.

Let me give a few Bible verses to make my point: 1st Corinthians 6:9-10. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders not thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of heaven." And this wealthy country welcomes them all with open arms, under the mandate of liberty and justice for all; no one is excluded. Concerning gays: Even the Arabs and Iranians are more Godly than us when it comes to immorality, especially homosexuality. That liberty made us slaves to all that is evil in the sight of God. Regardless, we are taught to say, "That is their choice; who are we to condemn?"

Galatians 5:19-21. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions and envy: drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Doesn’t that sound like what we Americans engage in? Will we somehow acknowledge our ungodliness and go the way the NT teaches? Satan will respond for us by saying, "Never; my ways are too enticing and addicting."

Colossians 3:5-6. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry."

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, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

Well, if a majority of the aforementioned verses don’t resemble America, I don’t know what does. I ask, are we so stupid to think that we feel we have the right to ask God to bless this country? All the while, Satan is loving every bit of it. He loves to be worshiped in this way; in fact, this is his easiest way in which he deceives the masses.

Even though the book of Revelation is mostly symbolic by the terms and words it uses, it seems clear that Babylon/the prostitute very closely resemble what we now have in the good-old USA.

Just a personal note: The book of Revelation is not by any means my favorite book. As a matter of fact, in the second/third century—when the Christian churches in the Mediterranean area were in the process of deciding which writings were worthy of becoming a part of what we now call the Bible—the book of Revelation just made it by the skin of its teeth. Many of those early church leaders didn’t think it fit well with the other holy writings; they have, as individual sections, been floating around from church to church for many, many years.

For those of you who want to compare what Revelation says to what America is experiencing, turn to Revelation, Chapter 18, and also a few verses in chapters 17 and 19. The terms “Babylon,” “O great city,” “the prostitute” and the “woman” are all one and the same.

Next to greed, the most condemning endeavor we engage in that makes us devil worshipers is our love for entertainment. If it is not entertaining, we say "No, thank you."

Then comes our ravaging desire to do or have things that bring pleasure. I am certain many will ask, “What is wrong with having pleasure?” The NT gives over a dozen warnings concerning the desire for pleasure. I will give only two verses: Luke 8:14. ". . . but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and do not mature." 2nd Timothy 3:4-5. ". . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying it power. Have nothing to do with them." Ouch.

I think the devil gets more joy out of our love for sports than all other demonic things we do. The NT is explicit when it teaches that we must consider [treat] others better [of greater value] than ourselves., Philippians 2:3. In order to live that way, we need genuine humility, which is as scarce as hen’s teeth. This is one of the most difficult commands to obey, but nevertheless, without obedience to it, we will never make the grade. If we as Christians were to obey this command, it would put a big kink in our love for Satan.

As one can tell, it seems everything we do in America is making us lovers of the devil. God’s ways are not our ways and are not easy to swallow. To be sure, this author is not making up any of this stuff; it all comes from the NT. How could America have strayed so far from God and still believe we are a Christian nation? If the Bible is true, and it is, we are for the most part, without knowing it, a nation of devil-lovers.

Having or desiring everything to be easy is one of the main reasons for the downfall of the human race. We are a bunch of lazy critters who want all we can get with as little effort as possible. That is one of the main reasons for our ill health and weight problems, etc. We were created to move and not to sit. How many people in America get the right amount of daily exercise? Very few. We would rather sit and watch all the garbage that the human mind can conjure up. The more gross it is, the more we like it.

Living as we do enchants the devil’s purpose of keeping us in his grip. Who loves the devil? By the way we live, it is correct to say that the vast majority of Americans do. And yet, there are a few dedicated NT believers who live as we are commanded. My hope is that this number will increase. Our job is to multiply—not to be content with our own sanctity, and say to ourselves concerning others that, their lives of love for the devil are no skin off our back. That type of attitude is a sure road to damnation. Let us not share in Satan’s happiness.