Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

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TRUSTING AN ENGINEER – Dec.28

December 28, 2015

“As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you.”  Jeremiah 44:16

Not every problem requires an engineer.

Many problems can be solved by substituting calculations with trial and error.  Most people have experimented with trial and error problem solving.  You try one solution, then check to see if it worked.  If it didn’t, you try again, making a small adjustment in the variables.  By this method, one iterates their way into an approximate solution.  We have all trialed and errored our way into the perfect cookie recipe or a parking slot.

While trial and error may work for some problems, it is frowned upon in the design of buildings, bridges, refinery plants, etc.  Therefore, engineers are called upon to calculate solutions for these problems whose failure poses too great a risk to lives and pocketbooks.

Engineers are the ones who have the task of applying the current theories and laws of science to the problems of our everyday lives while keeping everyone safe.  Every day, people drink water from faucets, drive across bridges, fly in airplanes, and enter elevators.  Every day people trust their lives to the calculations of engineers.  Engineers who are placing 100% of their trust in the science of cause and effect.

This is my world.

I am an engineer by profession.  My education has been in engineering.  My work experience has been in engineering.  Over half of my life has been spent learning and practicing the art of engineering – cause / effect.  I am a firm believer in the laws of physics.  It is how I see the world.  I am more aware than most of how often we trust our lives to engineered solutions.  However, I know the limitations of our knowledge.  I have never completed a design with perfect knowledge of all the variables.  Engineers are just really good at buffering our lack of knowledge with factors of safety.

Yet, engineered solutions require at least a fundamental knowledge of causation.  If one does not know the cause, then we are left with mere trial and error solutions; very risky.

The following passage from Jeremiah reminded me of the importance of correctly identifying causation.

But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour drink offerings to her…(f)or then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster.  But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.  ~ Jeremiah 44:17-18

The Israelites incorrectly identified the cause of their prosperity.  They arrogantly thought that they knew the source of the food, prosperity, and safety they had experienced while worshiping the queen of heaven.  Having lost those blessings, they logically inferred that the cause of their desperate condition was an abandonment of the queen of heaven.  They got the cause wrong.

The Israelites proved that you will never get the desired effect by starting with the wrong causation.

Their knowledge was limited.

Today, many will arrogantly criticize the Israelites lack of knowledge by substituting science into the “queen of heaven” role.  However, we know that our knowledge of the physical universe is limited.  We also know that our knowledge of the spiritual world is limited, if one will admit that it even exists.

The limited knowledge of science does not rescue us from inferred causation.  Therefore, we don’t escape the risky world of trial and error by putting all of our trust in science.

The Israelites got themselves in trouble when they went outside the revealed knowledge of God.  They entered a world of trial and error with deadly consequences.  Their error is still a temptation today; maybe even more in these days dominated by science.

It is the temptation in every undergraduate science class;
It is the basis of most philosophical urges;
It is in the desire behind “what does this passage mean to me” question;
It is the allurement in religious “gray area” discussions;
It is the error lurking in every comparative religions class;
It is the comforting scratch to that troubling “meaning of life” itch.

We want to think that we have all the answers.
Knowledge is a comfort.
Intelligent decision making is empowering.

The reality is that most of our elegantly engineered solutions are merely an iteration toward a solution whose consequence has yet to be revealed.  However, no one knows the number of iterations that they will get, if any.

As Christians, we believe that there is only One who has complete knowledge; there is only One who knows all causation.  We believe that our eternity is dependent upon the right solution to the problem of our lives – sin.  We believe that the risk is too high to place our trust in limited knowledge and trial and error solutions.  We believe that God has given us the perfectly engineered solution in His son, Jesus Christ.  We believe that all the knowledge that we need to live in His engineered solution has been shown to us in His revealed word, the Bible.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks of mankind is intellectual arrogance; that refusal to acknowledge our limited knowledge and the resultant implications.

Intellectual humility is a gift that keeps us from wandering down the path of false causation.  It does not mean that we cease to study or investigate.  However, it means that we study from a basis of faith and not doubt.  It means that we investigate the mysteries of God in order to increase the treasures of belief, rather than balance the scales of unbelief.  Intellectual humility enables us to receive the perfect engineered solution.  It is the basis of faith.

There are limits to every mind.
We have to trust an engineer.
The risks are too great.

The engineer you trust will be either yourself or God.

Just remember, we will live with the consequences
of the solution  we choose to follow.
I am not going to trust that to iterations.

I choose Jesus Christ.

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”  ~ G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving us an engineered solution.   Thank you for not leaving us in our limited knowledge.  Thank you for saving us from our trial and error solutions.  Lord, keep me from sliding back into intellectual arrogance.  Keep me from the temptation of modifying your revealed Word based on my limited understanding.  Humble my intellect so that I will trust you in all things.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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THE DAY FOR MEDIATION – August 5

August 5, 2014

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6

 Mediation is a process intended to intervene in a dispute in order to resolve it. The success of mediation depends upon the disputing parties’ willingness to resolve the conflict. A mediator will never be successful if either or both disputants are unwilling to resolve that which separates them. 

Mediation%20BacksI was reminded of this prerequisite during a mediation I recently participated in.  I have blogged several times about a dispute that has entangled my company for several years.

 But I Don’t Wanna to be Slapped
Dealing with Troubles
A Prayerful Run
Struggle to Forgive – Again

 As you can see, this lawsuit has been looming in the back of my mind for years. While confident that a court will vindicate our reputation, the cost and uncertainty of litigation motivated us to count the days to mediation.  I was looking forward to the appointed day of mediation.  I was optimistic that our antagonist was finally ready to resolve this seemingly endless dispute.

It has been over five years since this chasm destroyed the relationship of a long-term client. We had been their trusted advisor for more than ten years and had successfully completed hundreds of projects. Yet, that history was tossed away like rubbish when a problem arose on a significant project.

Millions of dollars (literally millions) have subsequently been spent in adherence to recommendations of new advisors. Advisors, who have reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying a relationship based upon lies and mis-information in my opinion.

They have thrown treasure after a course of action without ever seeking a response to their accusations. They have readily believed the words of  “professionals” with whom they have no history, without even inquiring the opinion of the professionals with whom they have known for years to faithfully pursue their best interest.

They have swallowed the lie and have become liars. They only know one-side of the story yet they willingly followed the lie because it promises to provide the delight of their eyes that their accounts cannot afford. They believe it to such an extent that they cannot conceive of a necessity to mediate. Therefore, they rejected the opportunity to resolve our dispute and will continue their legal intrigues, sacrificing their integrity in pursuit of misguided opportunity.

The failure of this mediation means that this all too familiar burden will probably be carried into the coming year and beyond. This blog post has taken me several iterations to write as I have once again been confronted with the anger and forgiveness that this conflict distills to the surface of my mind. It is difficult to sit across the table from individuals who have plotted the destruction of your livelihood.

Yet, I should not be surprised by the conflict I find myself entangled in. I should be thankful that it does not happen more often because the basis of the dispute has been the scourge of man since the beginning. I am reminded of the first ancient lie that was blindly followed.

 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4)

 Adam and Eve believed what the serpent said; willingly accepting this new advisor because his words promised the delight of their eyes. They blindly followed words that they wanted to be true and never went back to God to confirm the words of the serpent or to get the other side of the story.

Since Adam and Eve, all of mankind has followed in the legacy of that first lie. The result of blindly following lies has resulted in conflict between God and every individual who has walked the surface of this earth. Every person has broken the righteous requirement of God’s law.

We all have a choice – take our chances in front of the judgment seat of God or meditate.

The good news is that God has provided us a mediator. He has sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, to condemn the sin in our flesh and to resolve our dispute with Him.

Art4TheGlryOfGod / Foter / CC BY-ND

However, the success of mediation depends upon the disputing parties’ willingness to resolve the conflict. God is willing. He has done His part. He is willing to accept the ransom of Jesus Christ, the propitiation for our sins. However, this divine mediation will never be successful if a person is unwilling to resolve that which separates him from God.

Divine meditation is God’s greatest gift to mankind.

Don’t reject His mediator, Jesus Christ. Don’t blindly believe whatever lie that promises to grant you the delight of your eyes. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as the ransom for your sins, then you are still in conflict with the God.

Come to the mediation table God has prepared. Come with a willing heart and receive forgiveness of your sins and be reconciled with God.

The opportunity to mediate will not last forever – today may be your appointed day for mediation.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the gift of mediation.  Thank you for giving your Son as a mediator.  Forgive me for so often believing the lies of the world and following after whatever is delightful to  my eyes.  Thank you for forgiving me.  Help me to forgive others.  Thank you for reminding me that our greatest need is to resolve the dispute with you caused by our sin.  Open the eyes fo those who do not know you.  Call them to your mediation table and show them their need to mediate.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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THE AGNOSTIC WILL NEVER BE AN IRONMAN – April 13

April 13, 2014

“But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” Luke 14:16-20

 

Windows Calendar

As the calendar on my computer screen rolled down into the month of April, I noticed a deadline for a decision I have been avoiding. I placed this reminder on my calendar when the leaves were beginning to turn in the previous year. The number of days ahead comforted my indecision.

Yet, the mill of time has ground those days away, the leaves are budding anew, and I remain as indecisive as the day I typed my reminder. I have often picked up this decision in the intervening months, examined it from various perspectives and left it on the calendar. Time remained, so I cherished my indecision.

ironman%2070%203%20boise%20eventpagelogo%20200x70April’s sunshine, fair weather and dwindling time have forced me into a corner – will I register for the Boise Ironman 70.3 or not.

I have clearly made more of this decision than it merits, but my list of excuses has been extensive:

I am not sure I have enough time to get into half-marathon shape.
I am not sure I want to get into half-marathon shape.
I am not sure my knees can take the training.
I am not sure I want to spend the money.
I am not sure I want to spend the time.
I am not sure I want to suffer – especially through that run.

130608-F-IZ428-500

All of these concerns have caused me to delay a decision until my deadline. The delay comes from the unanswerable nature of the concerns, manifested as excuses. I have no idea what competing in an Ironman 70.3 will feel like. It is unknowable until one commits to competing.

What I do know is that competing in an Ironman has been a goal since I started doing triathlons.  I also know that I will never finish a race if I remain agnostic to competing.

I realized that I have been largely agnostic to the Boise Ironman. I acknowledge that it exists, but based on the unknowable aspects of the race I had remained uncommitted. I was awaiting answers that would come only after I had committed to accomplishing the goal that I have set for myself – completing an Ironman race.

I was awakened from my agnostic indecision by Jesus’ parable of the great banquet and the excuse makers. I have known many of these excuse makers. They cloak themselves in the philosophical coverings of the agnostic. They believe that there is a divine being, an ultimate cause, a mysterious entity behind everything …They believe there is a God. However, they will not commit to any religion or specific belief because they want to know more.

They cherish their intellectual indecision as they claim to be seeking answers to their questions. However, I have met few who are really seeking with any urgency. They pick up the consideration of God periodically and examine the questions from different perspectives but always place it back on the shelf of indecision. They rarely actually examine the information given to them to help in their decision.

Mary at the finishline

They are comforted by the perception of time. There are no deadlines that force a decision. There is no countdown to consequences. Therefore, the months and years slip past as the excuses of indecision mount.

They fail to acknowledge that indecision is a decision. It is like my indecision to compete. If I do not decide to enter the Boise Ironman, then I am guaranteed to never finish the race. Those who believe there is a God, but live in indecisive unbelief, are guaranteed to never complete that race that leads to eternal life.

We have been given all that we need to know to make a decision.  The Apostle Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke so that we could have certainty in what we have been taught:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

The Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John so that we would believe:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

The answers to the nagging questions about the nature of God will only be revealed after the commitment to believe. Understanding comes through faith, not before it.

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)

Those cloaked in agnostic indecision should not rest comfortable due to the seemingly endless number of days ahead. No one knows the number of days they have. You have all that you need to make a decision. Read the Gospel of John. Read the Gospel of Luke. They were written so that you would have what you need to make a decision.

Decide to believe or not believe but just stop the excuses of indecision.

The mill of time is grinding away your remaining days – you know not how many you have left.

PRAYER: Father, I pray for all those who read the words written so that they may believe  that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life in His name. Lord, I ask that you remove all the questions of unbelief that they have used to remain indecisive. Draw them to yourself. Give them the gift of faith and reveal yourself to them. I pray that the power of the Gospel will flow over them for salvation as them come to a belief in you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

P.S. – I did register for the Boise Ironman.

Related Post:
“COST OF AN IRONMAN” – Nov 2
“2014 Resolutions” – Dec 29

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“WORSE THAN A SCAB-PICKER” – Mar. 2

March 2, 2014

“For no one who has a blemish, shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.”  Leviticus 21:18-20

caribb / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

My last business trip involved an airplane ride to Sacramento, California.  I was acutely aware of all the engineering involved in the optimizing of economy class passenger seating.  I am not a particularly tall person but I am at the limit of the “design passenger” used to arrange seats on airliners.  My knees just fit within the space allotted.  However, I often feel as if my fellow traveling companion in front of me is in my lap when he reclines his seat.

caribb / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

This was particularly awkward on my last flight.  The passenger ahead of me was a business man judging from his attire.  He had a nice business suit and leather briefcase.  He was attentively groomed with hair cut close enough to reveal his scalp.

His scalp became of particular interest to me about half way through our flight.  I became aware of a habitual hand motion to the back of his head.  Through the flight, he continued to reach to the back of his head with a scratch, pick, pinch and rub ritual.  Due to his short haircut, I could easily observe the source of his discomfort.

He had two massive zits at the base of his neck, just inside the hairline.  It was apparent that these twin mountains of acne had been bothering this polished business man for sometime since they both had thick scabs.  However, my traveling mate had no intention of allowing his sores to heal properly.

I squirmed in the limited confines of my seat each time I watched his hand reach back.  A couple picks around the edges and then would come the pinch and my real concerns.  With each pinch, I cursed the airplane designers for placing me in the splash zone of this man’s clogged pores.  Obviously, the scenario that I was experiencing was not accounted for in their calculation because if either of those inflamed cannons burst, my flight was going to get really bad.

Airplane seating

Fortunately, the flight mercifully ended without fluids erupting into the air or onto me.  The scab-picker stood from his seat and straightened his suit while he retrieved his briefcase from the overhead compartment.  He gave a pleasant glance in my direction, completely oblivious to the duress he had caused me.

He had no idea how gross he was.

I completely understand God’s prohibition of scab-pickers from the priesthood.

For no one who has a blemish, shall draw near, a man blind or lame, … or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.  (Leviticus 21:18-20)

I don’t know anything about the man who sat in front of me but I did find the blemishes on the back of his head and his chosen remedy very unclean.  I can understand why God would not want him to approach His altar.

However, I realized that I was equally disqualified by the very same passage.  Thankfully, my testicles are fine but my sight is not so good.  I have the blemish of nearsightedness.  While I might be able to argue that my blemish is not as bad as scab-picker’s blemish, I have to concede that at least his blemish will heal if he were to leave it alone. My eyesight is only going to get worse with age.  Therefore, I am forever disqualified from coming before God in my physical condition.

That is a rather shocking revelation.  God does not accept blemished people and it does not matter whether they were born with the blemish or if it was their own fault.  We live in a blemished world so I think it is difficult to understand God’s insistence upon perfection.  I don’t think any of us understand how blemished we really are in comparison to God.  Scab-picker did not know how blemished he was.  I had never really thought of nearsightedness as a disqualifying blemish.  Yet, the standards of God’s law are so exacting that no one is qualified to stand before the altar of God on their own merit.

Herein lays the good news of the Gospel.  Christ came to fulfill the standard for us.  He is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 2:2)  Christ is the sacrifice to God that takes away the enmity of our blemishes (sins) that stand between us and God.

We should never deny our blemishes because the glory of the Gospel comes from the reality that in Christ we are new creations, pure and blameless.

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling and questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…  (Philippians 2:13-15)

It is in Christ and Christ alone where we will be without blemishes.  It is only when we are blemish- free that we can enter our rest in the presence of the Lord.

Therefore, I don’t want to feel good about my blemishes.
I don’t want to be convinced that my blemishes can be overcome by thinking positively.
I refuse to live like my blemishes are irrelevant to God’s love.

My blemishes remind me of my need for a Savior.  My blemishes draw me close to my Lord, Jesus Christ because without him I am without hope.  I leave my blemishes at His feet, emerge, cleansed in His blood, and live in the joy and hope of a new life founded in Christ and Christ alone.

To God alone be all glory.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making me pure and blameless.  Thank you for cleansing me of all my blemishes.  Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to be my propitiation.  Thank you for making a way for me to come before your altar.  I praise and glorify your name for all that you have done for me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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“SEEKING A MISSING BOLT” – Jan 22

January 22, 2014

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” Psalm 14:1

I nearly missed my first outdoor bike ride of the year.

English: Taken by Andrew DresselI had set out with the intention of doing some adjustments on my triathlon bike.  I wanted to get lower and I needed a little more stretch over the front wheel.  I figured that the stem on my road bike was the perfect solution.  The stem is the part that joins the handle bars to the headset / front forks of a bicycle.  I thought it would be a quick switch to exchange the stems between my two bicycles.

I proceeded to remove the stem from my road bike, setting the cap and bolt on a nearby stool.  I then proceeded on to installing it on my tri-bike.  I carefully tightened the stem in place, inserted the bolt into the top of the forks and tightened the entire assembly into place. Now, it was time to put my road bike back together with the tri-bike stem.  I completed the assembly and reached for the bolt that holds it all together but it was gone.  I looked under the stool; it was not there.  I looked under some exercise equipment; it was not there.   I looked throughout the house but the bolt was gone and I eventually gave up.  Amid the contemplation of a return trip to the bike store, I recalled a previous experience when I accidentally removed the compression fitting that I was now trying to screw a bolt into.  That didn’t make any sense.  Why would they put bolt threads inside the exact hole that takes the wrench to loosen the compression fitting?  Doubt began to enter my recollection.

I loosened the compression fitting and pulled it from its place inside the headset tube for closer inspection.  I looked at the fitting.  The top looked a lot like a bolt with a hole in the end.  There were threads on the outside.  I looked closer at the cap.  It has threads on the inside – it is a nut.

It was then that I remembered that my road bike doesn’t need a bolt.  I don’t know why I didn’t remember that.  I have taken the stem off a dozen times.  I simply got distracted by the knowledge of how one bike worked and convinced myself that everything has to work the same way, even when I had experienced the truth.  I was foolish to search for a bolt that did not exist.

No GodI have talked with many people who say that there is no God or that it is highly unlikely that there is a God.  They think that the guilt of religion is keeping them from happiness and enjoyment.  Often, they are truly sincere in their conviction that a deity does not exist.  Basing their convictions on observations of the physical world and being persuaded that the world is held together by the laws science.

However, we all, Christian and atheist, recognize that there are many questions in this world that science does not answer.  There are some people in a diligent search for those answers.  They spend their careers diligently searching for a bolt that they are confident exists. CARMA Radio Telescope, Big Pine, CAI argue that most who are looking for the bolt to hold their worldview together, the solution to their life of worry and sadness, have given up in either frustration or apathy.  They may pick up the search periodically but the results are typically the same – deeply unsatisfying – so they try not to think about it.

The problem with all these potential bolts is that they prove to be incomplete and unsatisfying.  Some seek assurance in science, but that is just the start of the list of potential bolts: money, status, appearance, relationships, education, popularity, pleasure; all have been tried in an attempt to hold a person’s worldview together.

I hold that people are searching for bolts that don’t exist.

There is no solution to what this world seeks to appease troubled minds and give meaning and purpose to short lives.  God is the only solution to holding our world together and He is not a bolt.

He has designed our hearts to be perfectly threaded to Him.

Most children start their lives without any difficulty in believing that there is a God.  It is typically through a lifetime of observing worldly solutions (bolts), that a person comes to the conclusion that there’s probably no God.  A close inspection of our hearts will reveal that God is not the source of our anxiety and disenchantment.  We are broken.  We cannot be who we aspire to be.  We will never be deeply satisfied even if we were to obtain every goal  we set.  A close inspection of our hearts will reveal that we were designed for something other than this world.

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. ~ C.S. Lewis

Our lives were designed to be held together by the perfect connection between the God of the Bible and the new heart that He gives us when we receive the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  It is only through that connection that we will ever stop worrying and enjoy life.

It is foolishness to seek a bolt that does not exist when the solution we desire is already at hand.
It is even more foolish to reject the true answer to our created desire.

All we have to do is thread them together.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that this world is held together by your mighty hand.  I know that my life is held together by your loving grace and mercy.   Father, I pray for all those who are searching for something that does not exist.  You know those whom I am specifically lifting up to You.  Show them that their particular bolts are useless to satisfy their need.  Open their eyes to your Son.  Draw them to the door of salvation and create a new life in them..  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“ELF-LIKE ENTHUSIASM” – Dec 27

December 27, 2013

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  Matthew 7:21-23

Cover of "Elf (Infinifilm Edition)"

My family and I fulfilled what has become one of our Christmas traditions.  We watched “Elf”.  One of our favorite scenes is when Buddy learns that Santa will be coming to the Gimbel’s department store.  Buddy’s pure enthusiasm upon hearing of Santa’s pending arrive is contagious.

Elf the movie:  Santa Announcement

The divergent realms of religion and spirituality all proclaim to know God with as much enthusiasm and confidence as Buddy the Elf.  They shout out with certainty that they know God.  Their great works are provided as proof that they really do know and have experienced God.  However, Jesus tells us that they will be proven as false as a Santa that smells like meat and cheese.

Jesus teaches us that we must know Him and also be known by Him.

There are many voices who encourage us to explore the spiritual.  Some deem all spiritual experiences equal.  Others preach a religion devoid of Christ.  Others have cast Christ as a good teacher, a prophet, the brother of Satan, or a mere created mortal.  Yet, they all claim to know God.

Enthusiasm does not make us known by God.
Extreme devotion to a belief does not merit recognition by God.
Even an intellectual knowledge of Jesus does not obligate acknowledgement by God.

There are few things more tragic than a life led in devotion to a false belief.  We are told that there will be many devoutly spiritual people, even professing Christians, who will be rejected because they are not known by Christ.  They were never one of His.

Jesus knows who are His own.  He is the good shepherd – He knows His sheep.

I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  (John 10:14-15)

Reza Vaziri / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Jesus calls out to His sheep.  His sheep are the ones who know His voice and follow Him.  They are the ones who believe that He is the one Shepherd who laid down His life for them.  They are the individuals who trust His leading as the Shepherd of the one true flock.

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  (John 10:3-4)

The ones, who change the gospel of Jesus Christ, proves that they are not one of His sheep because they don’t know His voice.  They don’t believe that He is the one shepherd.  They don’t believe in the one flock of God as revealed in the Bible.

We must be very careful of the voices that we listen to in this confused and deceitful world.  There are many voices shouting, with great enthusiasm, a false spirituality that will only lead to rejection by the one true God.

We can easily recognize these false voices because they lie about who the one Shepherd is and what He did for us.  Don’t be led astray by enthusiasm or miraculous works.  We all need to listen to the voice of the one Shepherd and follow Him alone regardless of all the noise going on around us.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for calling out to me.  Thank you for drawing me to yourself.  Thank you for being a shepherd to me.  Father, attune my ears to your voice.  Help me to discern your leading from all the false teachings vying for my attention.  Teach me to set my eyes upon You, my one Shepherd.  Enable me to trust your leading and create in me a desire to follow You wherever You may lead.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“CHRISTMAS COEXISTENCE” – Dec 25

December 25, 2013

“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”” Genesis 11:4

What is the Greatest Threat to Mankind?

Drugs
Intolerance
Global Development
Genocide, International Conflict
Wealth Distribution, Destructive Technologies
Power, Global Environmental Degradation
Religion

I listen to solutions proposed by political, business, technological, and cultural leaders.  I have read books and articles by academics, think-tanks, and journalists.  I rarely hear any new solutions and every solution has an ancient commonality.

TED (conference)

It was this familiar commonality that was included in Jamais Cascio’s proposed solution which he discussed in a TED talk entitled “Tools for a Better World”.

We can save the planet, but we can’t do it alone – we need each other.  Nobody’s going to fix the world for us, but working together, making use of technological innovations and human communities alike, we might just be able to fix it ourselves. ~ Jamais Cascio

The ancient solution is the thread in various forms of  “Let Us Come Together”.

On one of the TED conversation strings, Kieran Sharp posed the ancient solution in response to the question, “How do we create a better world for all of us and future generations?”.

One thought I have had recently is to unite 3 areas of society to help lead a real change.  If we could bring the current government, economic and political leaders into one group, spiritual and religious leaders of all religions and spiritual directions in to another, and scientists ecologists and environmentalists in to a third. In this system, we could possibly make it that these three sections of leadership must agree upon all decisions made for the planet unanimously. ~ Kieran Sharp

I am reminded of the quote:  Our true nationality is mankind. ~ H.G. Wells

Mankind has always thought that if we can just eliminate the issues that separate us then we will be able to coexist.  Nations separate people.  Cultures separate people.  Ignorance separates people.  Religion separates people.

If we can just come together then we will be able to solve our greatest problems.
If we can just come together then we will not hurt each other.

Zé.Valdi / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Coming together always seems to play a role in mankind’s solution to eliminate what we perceive as the greatest threat to our existence.

If we can come together, we will be able to solve a lot of problems.  The removal of the issues that separate can be an excellent and necessary stage in the solution of many problems.  Learning to coexist can be an admirable goal.  However, the coexistence of people of different nationalities, races, and religions is not mankind’s greatest problem.

Mankind’s greatest problem is that we
cannot coexist with a righteous God.

The people of the land of Shinar coexisted.  They had the same language.  The call for unity when out and they came together to build a city of renown.  Their unity was so great that God acknowledged that, “nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6b)

Probably the first example of large scale human coexistence was shattered by God.

So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.  Genesis 11:8

God destroyed the coexistence of the Shinarites (people in the land of Shinar) because it contributed to their pride related to independence and disobedience.  God knew that the greatest need of the people of Shinar was not their coexistence.

Their greatest problem was coexisting with a righteous God.

Their act of coexistence was actually an act of disobedience against God.  That is often the result when mankind makes coexistence their primary solution.  It gets stated like this comment in the same TED conversation strings about “How do we create a better world for all of us and future generations?”.

Look at America and look at your question. Religion is the problem. God tells a preacher to tell his congregation that jobs for white people are more important than the water and air we need to survive and an entire political party begins working on destroying the environment in the name of God. God tells a preacher that women are lesser beings and not entitled to equal rights – and is inferior to a fertilized cell – and women’s rights are set back 50 years almost overnight. God tells a preacher that homosexuals choose their gender attraction and homophobia sprouts up. Christianity is frequently referred to as the American Taliban.  It has become so aggressive in the last 20 years, that I fear it. These people are so cruel that they don’t honor our Constitution now. What will cause them to honor some other laws that their God doesn’t like. ~ Grace Greene

I can understand Ms. Greene’s concerns.  She attributes to Christianity all of the responsibility for preventing a unity that would solve the problems that she perceives as greatest. For many people like Ms. Greene, toleration is their religion.

Toleration is the best religion. ~ Victor Hugo

Coexistence, that ancient solution to create a better world, will inevitably collide with a God determined to separate a people for Himself.  Christmas represents this fundamental problem for the people of the world.  Many believe that Jesus came to bring peace on earth for all people.  They think that the message of love that Jesus preached will bring about a coexistence of all people.  The peace that came with Christ was for those who God is pleased with.(Luke 2:14)  The coming of Christ did not usher in an era where the people of all religions and atheists will coexist as if that was the solution to our greatest problem.

Jesus came to transform people.  When Jesus saves people, He separates them.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Matthew 10:34-35

The Gospel of Jesus Christ separates people;
it always has and it always will. 

The gospel calls all men and women to repentance.  Repentance requires that we acknowledge our unrighteousness and separation from a righteous God.  Those who reject the gospel hate to be told that they are unrighteous and need a savior.  They hate the concept of needing to turn from the sins that they love.  They hate the division that acknowledging sin causes.

Repentance is not just the way into salvation, it is the way of salvation. ~ Timothy Keller

We, as followers of Christ, are called to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) but we need to be careful about the peace that we are trying to make.  The creation of a peaceful coexistence does not help those who do not have a spiritual peace with God.  A peace worked through by the ancient trap of coexistence is not a real peace.  During this season of Christmas, we should be intentional peacemakers for the peace that was ushered in by the coming of the Son of God.  However, the great joy of Christmas is that we have been saved from the greatest threat to our existence.

Christ told us how to be peacemakers of separation in a world clinging to their solutions of coexistence.  We are to speak the truth in gentleness and meekness, with mercy and a pure heart, and a willingness to be reviled and persecuted.  (Matt. 5:2-11)

It is a message that the world needs to hear, especially on Christmas.  Mankind can now coexist with a righteous God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  However, we should not be surprised by the push back that we receive when Christmas crushes any hope of the coexistence of mankind.

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  Matthew 25:32-33

Coexistence is an illusion.  We can either coexist with mankind or we can coexist with God.  We cannot coexist with both.  The choice we make is a reflection of what we deem our greatest threat to be.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for sending your Son into this world to solve the greatest threat to my existence – my fallen, sinful heart.  Thank you for making a way that I can coexist with You.  Lord, I pray for all of those who hate the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I pray that You will open their eyes.  I pray that You will show them that the separation that comes from acknowledging sin in true repentance is truly good news of great joy to all people.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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