Blog

Unseen Danger

coronavirus-photo-1Today as I sit in isolation and recognise that we all face an enemy we cannot see, the effect of this enemy is evident not only in the physical sense but also in what we hold as being important. I don’t know how or when or even why toilet paper became the most sought-after commodity, but it surely says a lot about our character. Even though we have been assured there will be no shortage, there is widespread panic that as the shelves are emptied by people hording it, we will be left out. I can certainly think of things that would be more important should there be a shortage – things like common sense.

Quite a few people are worried about the economy and how much money would be worth. Many places today will not accept cash as it may be infected and so prefer plastic. Maybe paper money will become the new toilet paper. President Trump warns about the possibility of mass suicide of businessmen who are suffering as the economy tanks. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas made the statement that seniors are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the country, as though their lives meant less than the economic prosperity of others. What has happened to us as people, that profit and power has more value than life?

Wars, rebellion, terrorism, fires and earthquakes have become a footnote as news of this deadly virus infects the whole world. While we sit in our own little space, nothing is that was not before. We will come through this. We will focus on being better as a society and for a short time, much like a new year’s resolution, we will try by our own strength to live according to humanistic belief.

There is another invisible enemy only seen by the results of his devastation. Evident by greed, pride, selfishness and death – an enemy warned of for thousands of years and yet ignored by many: his strength comes through denial of his existence. At this point many of you reading this and thinking I am overreacting, much like the first announcement of the coronavirus, will ignore what follows. There is one who desires to destroy us – physically and emotionally and spiritually. His goal is to rebel against God. Ephesians 3:10 “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” That manifold wisdom refers to salvation made available to all through the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. It demonstrates to the princes and powers in heaven that God is indeed in control and the followers of Satan have lost their bid to rule.

In Luke 21:10-19 Jesus tells us what the end will look like. This and Revelation 6:1-17 give us insight as to why things are happening now. I am not being a doomsday prophet, but I believe that God’s plan is unfolding just as he said it would. I am taking seriously the great commission of Matthew 28:18-20. It is the only purpose of the church. We are to make disciples (students who copy Christ, the teacher) who observe everything that Christ has commanded. We are to baptize believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The church is to witness and to teach; confident in Jesus who is with us forever. Do not be fooled by following only what you choose to believe because God is the same today as he was in the beginning and always will be. The result of having knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3) is that we have taken it upon ourselves to decide what is good or not. We have, to our own detriment, judged God.

I’ll Be the Judge

Have you ever been accused of judging someone because you don’t agree with them? I believe we all have at one time or another. After all, isn’t our life determined by the choices we make, based on the judgements we decide are good? The real question is, what do we base our judgements on, and should we make it a rule that the majority is right? Of course not, because what’s right for me may not be right for you. However, the question remains; Is there a universal moral law? I mean we can all agree on certain things like slavery, murder and exploitation are wrong. Where did the idea that we each had the right to determine what is good for me or not come from?

In Genesis we read how God took the man he had created and placed him in the garden where the tree of knowledge of good and evil was planted. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of its fruit under the warning they would die.

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.” Gen 3:4-5

The key to justifying our judgment is found in the statement, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” This says that, like God, we can determine what is good or not. By this we can even question God’s wisdom and judge whether it even applies to us. We determine which sins are worse than others. Murder we say is a greater wrong than gossip, yet the Lord says all sins are equally wrong.

Based on the story in Genesis, it is easy to say God is at fault for planting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first place. Kind of like saying, if I wasn’t tempted by the fact that the keys were left in that car, I never would have stolen it. It is the car owner’s fault for being careless. God was not tempting us to choose evil. He was giving us free will to choose between Him and our own desires.

I’m OK – You’re OK is a 1967 self-help book by Thomas Anthony Harris. The title was often quoted to say, “As long as what you do has no direct affect on me and whatever I do has no affect on you then we are okay and there is no need for judgement.” We do not live in independent universes and our choices do have an affect on others. Would you watch a friend spiral into addiction and not try to help prevent the danger that may follow? I hope you would at the very least tell them you are worried.

I may not understand all that God has decried but I trust in His wisdom. I cannot justify my sin by saying I disagree with God and I can never agree with the idea that we can declare what is good or not.

Anonymous

You Can Quote Me by Someone

When someone stands in the shadows casting stones while being protected by anonymity, they should then be considered as having no credibility. Truth stands in the light while Satan hides in the dark.

From the cover of the shadows lies are given credibility and truth becomes questioned. As no one is willing to step up and identify themselves as the someone responsible, why do we even think about what they say. Why do we judge others based on the sayings of anyone who will not put their name to the comments they make? In the meantime truth, without the benefit of being heard, is seen as a lie and a lie as truth. It is for this reason that hearsay is not acceptable in any court except the court of unfounded gossip.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Hans Christian Andersen wrote a fairy tale titled, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It is a story of two tailors who convince the Emperor that they can weave gold and fine silk into a magnificent fabric that is light weight and invisible to those who are incompetent, dull, or stupid.

They present the new clothes to the Emperor who decides to show off his novel threads in a parade. As he proceeds down the road with two servants holding on to the tail of his fine new cape, no one dared make a comment for fear of being seen as a fool. At the end of the parade a young boy called out, “Come see – the emperor has no clothes.”

Don’t be intimidated by what political correctness implies is right. Don’t be deceived by what others tell you is truth. Check it out for yourself. The bible has been a source of truth for thousands of years and is as valid today as ever. You need to read it for yourself without relying on others to tell you what it says. Next you need to share your thoughts with others who have read it. I pray that the Holy Spirit will shine a light on your path and guide you as you seek truth.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

The Good Thief

The Good Thief

What motivated the thief on the cross next to Jesus to ask that he be remembered by Jesus? Was fear, a last chance insurance, the reason?

I believe that the thief had come to the point where fear was long past. As he hung on the cross there was nothing left to fear. He reviewed his life recognizing that he and the other thief were judged fairly and deserved the penalty. As he looked at Jesus, who was judged innocent by Pilate, he saw a man who was about to die without complaint. A man who was being mocked, a man who had suffered scourging, beatings and now the agony of crucifixion and yet he did not complain and even asked that those who torture him be forgiven.

The thief confessed his sin and repented and asked Christ to remember him in heaven. What this is can only be seen as repentance, acknowledgement of Christ as Lord, and public confession of his faith.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Free Will

Did God create evil? If He did, would He be a holy and perfect God? We know that evil cannot stand in the presence of God any more than darkness can exist in the light. We could describe darkness as the absence of light and in a similar manner we could call evil the absence of God.

If God did not create evil, where did it come from and why did He allow it? God permitted the rebellion of Lucifer and did not put an immediate end to it because if He had, free will would not exist. If there is no evil, then there is no choice.

Christopher Kitchen was asked if he believed in free will he answered,”Yes, I have no choice.”

A Time for Every Season

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace. [1]

 

If this is all there is to life; the best, we can do is to eat drink and be merry. However; God has placed eternity in the hearts of men. We talk about riding the streets of gold with brothers in an eternal chapter. This life after death has been made available to us through the sacrifice of God’s unique son, Jesus.

Though we talk about forever brothers, most of us have been disappointed at one time or another as we stood abandoned and alone. Christ has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. He is the faithful one even when we are not.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ec 3:1–8.

Run to Win

I am always amazed at the skill almost supernatural performance of those Olympic athletes. What we don’t see is the dedication and drive that goes into preparing for every competition. Every contestant spends their life in perfecting the skill they seem to demonstrate with so little effort. They are directed by sports psychologists, fed strict meals at set hours, have time management experts, work out trainers, and coaches who guide them trough countless hours of practice in the hopes of improving by the slightest of time. They do all this to win a gold medal and temporary fame. Has anyone heard of Larisa Latynina? She was a soviet gymnast who is still the record holder for most individual medals won at the Olympics (14). She competed in 1956 and 1960. Michael Phelps is a close second with 11 individual medals. Maybe you heard of Teofilo Stevenson who boxed for Cuba. He won 3 heavyweight gold medals. (1972, 1976 and 1980) How about Emil Zatopek who won the 5,000 meters, the 10,000 meters and the marathon at the same Olympics handily beating all competitors in the 1952 event.

I am sure that the Apostle Paul would have been a track enthusiast as he describes what it is like in 1Corinthians 9:24-27:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Paul described the training need to run the race of eternal life in Hebrews 12:1-3

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

We will never be perfect till Christ returns, but let’s not give up trying.

Russian Athletes Have Been Disqualified from the Olympics

We hear of a culture of cheating to win. If we are honest, we know that every country does whatever it takes to be in the medals. I compare this to the shift in Christian organizations to be more concerned about numbers than preaching truth. The victory is not given to those who are admired by mankind or have the largest following. The crown is given to the faithful few.

Are we preparing for the future witnessing of Christ? Have we been faithful with the responsibility entrusted to us by Jesus?

Paul expresses the need to teach others who will be able to teach. He further asks that those who teach must not give into social pressure but remain faithful, enduring any suffering. We are to be like soldiers standing our ground and persevering all manner of opposition. We are to be like athletes who train and keep the rules lest we be disqualified.

No soldier determines his own objective but does what he is commanded, and no athlete makes his own rules. We have been commanded by Christ. To receive the crown and share in the harvest we must prepare future generation to follow in like manner.

Paul writes in 2Timothy 2:1-7:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

As Red Green would say, ”keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together.”

Everyone has an opinion

puppet godI asked a young man if he was studying for his high school exams and he answered, “I don’t need to. They just ask my opinion.” I was quite sure that the opinion had to be based on some material he had learned in class, but apparently he did not think so. His logic would be good enough. I cannot tell you what the result of the exam was though I would guess he failed.

This got me thinking about how we approach our faith. Many of us simply assume that our opinion is right even if scripture says contrary. We tend to read only what supports our opinion. We are all sinners but are forgiven yet we justify our continued sinning.

1John 3:4-10

 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.  But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.  No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Don’t let your opinion overshadow truth.