Christian based commentaries and observations.

Quote of Note


At the end of a nation:
The people say, "all religions are the same"
The Atheists say, " all religions are wrong"
The politicians say, "all religions are equally useful".

Who is Jesus

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Meaning of Life



In comprehending the meaning of life one could get lost by just dwelling on the end result. Consider first what things bring meaning to life and how we get there. It is much easier.
I picked this up from a question and answer session following a Ravi Zacharias lecture. He had lectured on pluralization, secularization, and privatization. The series had to do with how we got from of God fearing unified society to the empty, divided, and depraved one we have today.
On his topic of pluralization he argued that, since in Post Modernist society, pluralization has come to mean and equality of ideas with no way to test for truth, the end result is a loss of meaning!
This prompted a student to stand during the question and answer period and ask." since post modernist pluralization resulted in a loss of meaning, what was the meaning of life"?
Ravi answered by stating what brought meaning to ones life. They were WONDER, LOVE, TRUTH, and SECURITY Now lets unwrap these simple answers and see where it is that each on eventually is fulfilled and yields meaning.

Wonder

Wonder is euphoria of excitement, awe, discovery, learning, and revelation. It is the primary driver in a humans early years. As wonder is realized, it takes greater and greater experiences to stimulate an episode of wonder,enchantment.
An infant might be awed by the music and turning of a mobile hanging over the crib. Eventually wonder wears off and the parent must find a new way to distract the infant from its discomfort. The parent may stick a rattle into the hand of the infant, and in a feisty cry the rattle is shaken. The child hears this new sound and begins the realization the it is in control of making the sound.
Next comes the Fisher Price activity station with a beep, a ratcheting sound, a squeak, and a bell. As the child grows and there are dogs and frogs, balloons and baboons, planes and trains to be taken in. Not satisfied the growing little person wants to know how each of them works!
Extreme sports, the latest special effects movie, the newest euphoria producing drug, and fads are all the result of our quest for wonder. It can become a dangerous, and even deadly quest, if there is no moral compass applied in the chase.
The person who gets off on the tangent of fulfilling excitement through drug may start of with a cigarette or a beer, but the need for greater stimulus leads them down a path of addiction and slavery. Eric Clapton in his song, "Cocaine" included these words about that first euphoric high: "just remember this fact, you can't get it back"!
A lost soul finding wonder in sexual passion will travel down the road to perversion and fetish.
We never completely out live the need for wonder. In fact, it is the wonder filled need to learn, that drives our discoveries into the next 3 topics. Eventually, however, there is very little in the created universe that is shocking and awe inspiring enough to thrill.
I remember Steven Hawking narrating a program on physics. In describing a Black Hole, he began to turn the mathematics into a picture of what it would all look like. He had to admit that the math model broke down at the bottom of the black hole. To know for sure its shape would be, "to know the mind of God". Ultimately in the human learning experience, when you seem to have done it all, only God is big enough to still inspire wonder, excitement, awe, discovery, learning, and new revelation!.
It seems that this is true of every endeavor of serious study. When you have torn apart every aspect of a subject you find that God is at the bottom of it all.

Love

The quest for love starts as early as infancy. The child cries not because it is hungry, or in pain, but because it just wants to be held, and feel loved. The drive for finding love does not really kick in gear until the teens and twenties and is dominant into the 30's.

There are 4 kinds of love: four Greek words for "love" in the New Testament.
Eros: "is passionate love, with sensual sexual, desire and longing".
Philia: "...means friendship, a dispassionate virtuous love".
Agapē: "...self-sacrificing, giving love to all... divine love or the love of God
Storge: "...natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring".
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_four_greek_words_for_love_and_their_meanings
Whether or not you agree with the Bible as God's word, you probably don't argue with the title "the Book of Love". If you give it some contemplative thought you will agree with these 4 very different loves. The individual looking for love is seeking fulfillment in all four categories.

Erotic love is generally not the first kind that we learn. I think that there is a reason for that. If we did not first learn friendship love (philia), then our Eros love would be relegated to rape and prostitution. Erotic passion can be completely selfish and mechanical. Such love would leave both participants empty, without joy, or fulfillment. Passion with a friend is far better and more enJOYable.

We learn friendship love even before elementary school. The give and take, sharing, and caring is fundamental for human development. We finally “get it” when the day comes that we realize there is joy in giving a gift to others.
The formation of a cities and countries, is the out working of friendship love. We make a pact of friendship to create an atmosphere where we can live, work, love, have families, and grow with those of like desire. We join together in a pact of mutual protection, raise armies and build defenses for mutual protection. In the nuclear age people are trying to create a unified world. It is a desperate attempt to stave off self annihilation.
Friendship is more than just protection though. We also need these friends to help keep us in line, sort out answers to problem, shoulder some of our burdens. The warmth of a smile or hug is both contagious and encouraging. We make friends because we need each other!
All of this is set up to care for our basic needs in life. It is a foundation from which base our quest for Meaning. Not much else takes center stage in our minds until food, water, and shelter have been set up.

Agape love is the highest form of love. Agape love is a spiritual heart felt love that is above self interest and cannot be destroyed. Once you have given this love to someone you cannot take it back. It will tug or tear at your heart but it cannot be forgotten. It is binding. It cannot be explained in Darwinist terms. It cause the strongest to sacrifice themselves for the weakest! NO ONE is happy or complete without giving and receiving this kind of love! It is a most important part of a MEANINGFUL life.
The Apostle Paul in the letter to the Church at Corinth perfectly described and listed the laws of this kind of love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1Co 14:4-8)

There is NO greater, or perfectly executed example of, Agape love than that of God, who left heaven, entered time, put aside his power and authority, and gave up his life, willingly, on the excruciating and humiliating cross, to ransom humanity. Once again the quest for meaning, through love, finds its ultimate in GOD. In fact what you even think about Agape love shows what you think about God.

What passes as love or a loving act brings up the questions of MORALITY and ORIGIN. If the Theory of Evolution is based on survival of the fittest, then what is the PURPOSE of a love that causes the strongest to sacrifice themselves to protect the weakest? It takes no love whatsoever to make offspring it does however take loving sacrifice to nurture them to adulthood. Finally there is always the question of DESTINY in love. The couple in a relationship ask. "where is this 'love' relationship going? Will it last? Is it real? All responses to the above questions are shaped by the respondent's view of God!

The Bible says, "...God is Love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God"(1John 4:16). If God is Love then it follows that, love comes when God gives a part of himself, to another, as a gift. (If, it is not a free gift then, it is not love.)
The one who receives God's gift of love must now decide what to do with it. Here are the options:

1) Dwell in it, enjoy it, and give it back to God (love God). The result here is the love multiplied and sent back from God. Thus a relationship is established with God. To succumb to love is to die to self and be made alive in Christ.

2) Give the love to another person. The result here is that, when the cup is poured out, it is refilled by God, with the same measure that it was given out. The more you give the more you get. The new receiver of the love must now also decide what to do with the love that was given to them, because, "Love continueth"(never fails, never stops, 1 Corinthians 13.) They might return it to the giver and a relationship is established.

3) Taint the love with selfishness and use it to enslave another for selfish purposes. This person perverts love, abuses it, and tries to keep it manageable, it is the same way they think of God. They want a humanized, manufactured, manageable God. In this case the love grows cold. "In the last days, do to increased wickedness, the love of many will grow cold.(Matt 24:12)

4) Reject the love, deny its author, and call it a genetic weakness. This person sees love as purely chemistry and hormones. To him there is no God we evolved from a bath of chemicals. This person runs from love so as not to give up self on the throne of their heart. Sometimes this person rejects the love because of feelings of guilt and unworthiness The result is death of the spirit, leading to death of the wretched soul, and finally merciful death of the depleted body.

In each case; what a person does about Love is what they believe about God, and influences their answering of the other four big questions of life.
George Herbert understood that Love was a drawing card from God to pull humanity closer to himself when he wrote "Love bade me welcome"

Love Bade Me Welcome

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.


-- George Herbert

Truth

Post Modernist thought says that , “everything is relative, there is no such thing as truth or absolute”. If that is true then the statement is also untrue. The statement obliterates and disqualifies itself. One has to wonder how it ever got taken seriously.
I can see where such a thought might be a good frame of reference for an attorney. It would free the lawyer from the inhibitions that would prevent him from doing everything possible for his client. It could never be a valid philosophy for life, however.
A lie is cruel. The purpose of a cruelty is to enslave. The post modernist not only puts the lie into the soul of humanity, but also takes away the possibility discovering the lie. The enslavement becomes permanent! The cruelty is absolute!
Each and every man, in a desire for freedom, embarks on a quest for truth!

As part of the search for truth we must all answer for ourselves the questions of origin, morality, purpose, and destiny. Where did human life originate from. What is right? What is wrong? What is life’s purpose? What happens to me after life?
The search for truth and an absolute reality becomes a dominant drive in the ages 30 to 50. It seems to really start during the rebellious adolescent stage though. During that rebellious stage we throw off all the morals, values, and teachings that were given to us by adults. We then begin to test for ourselves what is truth and worth keeping. It is a dangerous time. If, the methods of testing for truth are not sound, the result can be death, insanity, enslavement, or incarceration. We can become lost, in soulish anarchy, never to be found.
One may start by asking , “are there any absolutes”? “Are there any moral absolutes”? The answers become frames of reference for establishing a personal philosophy and world view. Those asnwers become our personal government. As we divide truth from fiction, for ourselves, we pick these up and make them permanently our own.
If you examine humanity’s cumulative collective union of truth, you will find universal agreement on some fundamental truths regardless of teaching, social status, culture, or upbringing. These are called Moral Absolutes. There are some who would like to deny that Moral Absolutes exist. They want to deny it because, if Moral Absolutes exist then, it means there was a Moral Law giver that put it into the conscience of every person. Either Moral Absolutes exist, and God exists, or no Moral Absolutes exist and God does not exist!
Now if you decide there are Moral Absolutes and God exists then you have begun to answer the question of origin and purpose. If you deny Moral Absolutes then you have some more questions to answer.
Even those that deny the existence of Moral Absolutes will point a figure at another and angrily proclaim them to be a liar. They will balk at saying, “murder is O.K. for personal gain.” They will call the police when they have been robbed. (for what if not to exact punishment, restitution, and stop the “crime”) Even atheists are upset to learn that their spouse or lover has been sexually violated by another etc.etc.
Ultimately there will neither be peace on Earth or in a man’s heart outside of a moral law equal to the 10 commandments given to Moses by God.
Let me illustrate this with the life of Martin Luther the Reformer.
Luther was in the middle of his own quest for truth when Rome began selling Indulgences to raise money for cathedral building. In effect this was selling the Right to do what was wrong. Luther had subjected himself to various kinds of self flagellation in a futile attempt to reconcile himself to God. He said, “though I subjected myself to wakings, freezings, and fasting, I could not reconcile myself to my baptism”. He knew deep from within that he had not yet discovered truth. The fire to find it exploded at the careless treatment of morality by Rome. When he nailed the “95 thesis” to the Wittenberg door it was a challenge to other professors to debate the questions. It was an effort to collectively come to some truth.
Later when he rediscovered, “salvation by grace through faith“, he knew in his heart that it was truth. No one could ever tell him differently again. No one could ever again enslave him with “salvation by works”.
God was the creator of reality and truth. Any altering of the reality is a lie and an attempt to enslave. Jesus said, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life…” He was either a liar, a lunatic, or creator God. Each and every human must put this statement to test.
Once again the search for meaning ends at God!

Security

The drive for security takes center stage later in life, 50’s to 70’s. This is the need to know that as our body weakens, we will be safe and cared for. It is also the need to feel secure in our love. Will those we love be safe and secure? Have we saved enough for retirement? Is our home, neighborhood, and nation safe? Have we made good relationships with others or will we age and die alone? Are we secure in our belief about what is truth? Have we made the right decisions? We want to know that our life HAS meaning. Can we sleep at night with our expectation of destiny?
We want to know that as we give up control, or as we loose control, that everything will be alright, that all is not lost. Can we sleep at night with destiny we have carved out? As we fall backwards, from the stage of life, into the mosh pit of the grave, can we trust the arms extended to catch us? Can we “go calmly into the night “ with our expectation of destiny?



If you say there is no God then you are saying there is no meaning. If there is no meaning then there is no purpose to life. If there is no purpose then, as Sartre said, “why not commit suicide”? Jesus said. “ I am the way, the truth, and the life…” ( John 14:6) He backed it up with his own resurrection and made us this promise of security: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life( John 3:16).
Paul wrote: “ By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.” (1 Co 3:10-13)

It sounds like a better way to go to me! Again we find meaning for life in God!
There is nothing that can ultimately bring security, at the end of your days, like God! You can spend a life of restless nights, in a quest for meaning, and end up at God, or go through life with God, and have a life full of meaning!
To quote Ravi, meaning comes to your life when you can, "combine a sense of wonder, under girded by truth, experience the richness of love, with the knowledge of security".
I will add that only God is great enough to establish that, and only in a relationship with him can it be obtained securely!

“ Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil."
((ECC 12:13&14)


For those of you who already have put you trust in Jesus Christ and the Bible, let me give you some Biblical examples that support this “Meaning of Life” idea I have written. Each of these examples went through the same stages and principles.

John the Apostle

The New Testament account of John Shows that he saw the miracles of Jesus This was awe and wonder. He was being taught who Jesus was. (Matt 8:14,15, Mark 5:37, Luke 5:10, Matt 17:1, Rev 1:1 -22:21)
He had a deep friendship love with Jesus (John 13:23-26, John 21:20) Knew family love (John 19:26)
Came to know it all as the truth after the resurrection ( John 21, 1 John 1:1-8)
He was secure in his destiny (1John 5:10-12)


John the Baptist

John was in awe at the presence of Jesus before they were both born! (Luke 1:39-45) Awed at Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3: 21&22)
Knew the truth of Jesus (Matt 3:11,12 , John 1:6-8)
John questioned his security in the truth of Jesus (Matt 11:2-6)

Israel

The Children of Israel were brought out of Egypt with much awe and wonder. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the Pillar of Fire. And all of the miracles in the 40 years of wondering. (Ex chap 1-Jos chap 1).
During this time they were given truth (Ex 20:3-17, Ex 28). As they entered the promised land the learned the importance of the responsibility of community. (Jos chap 7). Throughout their history God showed them his love, even during times of devastation and discipline. (Isaiah, Jeremiah Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, MT 23:37 and others. Just pick a page!) You can’t forget the Song of Solomon!
Israel’s security is garunteed forever but they knew times when their security was in jeopardy for disobeying.

The Church

The Church also had it beginning in awe and miracles. I’d have to begin with the resurrection of Christ, but then there is the whole book of Acts. This is the Churches infancy of awe and wonder driven growth. As the New Testament proceeds love of all men, each other as a family, and of the savior is taught. The learning of the Epistles becomes the entire message of truth. Security is promised in eternal life and the Church is established as the Bride of Christ to reign forever and ever (Rev 22: 1-6).

Quote of Note from June 09

"Who am I? This or the other? Am I one person today, and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved? Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, June 22, 2009

Worship: Creation or Creator


There has been a disturbing trend in churches in the last few years. After a Song or play has been performed, there has been applause!
I was in a church a few years ago when a woman with an obviously trained and developed voice sang a powerful number. The song itself had something to be desired spiritually. Although it spoke of spiritual things, it could have been played on any secular radio station without complaints from the anti-God squad! When she had finished the congregation jumped to their feet and cheered, clapped and even whistled. This was not a special event this was Sunday service!! I sat there embarrassed, in shock, and fearful. As I looked around only the man seated beside me was not also in standing ovation. We shook hands and introduced ourselves in a diversion from the embarrassing show!
At another large church This was the scene during praise and worship:
A praise band took the stage. The lights were dimmed, colored stage lights and a spot were turned on. Dry ice fog rolled across the stage. Three large flat panel television screens broadcast close-ups of the singers.
I remember being taught in Jr. high school that we don't applaud sacred numbers. I guess that since the sacred is not allowed in schools any more they don't feel the need to teach it any more. I don't blame just the Schools though. Churches have become entertainment centers under the "user/seeker friendly" plan. What is wrong with applause? Everything!
The only two reasons that I can think of to take the podium in God's house is to glorify God or to build up, edify, encourage the body. In either case the inspiration is to create worship to God. The proper response from the body is "Hallelujah", "praise God", "thank you Jesus", "Amen" etc. When inspired by truth and testimony we worship the creator not the created!
When you place your worship on to an person you kill them. Remember what happened to Herod?
AC 12:21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

There is another way in which you kill them. Look at these verses which speak of the day when Satan fell from heaven:


ISA 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!

ISA 14:13 You said in your heart,
"I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

ISA 14:14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High."

" `You were the model of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

EZE 28:13 You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
ruby, topaz and emerald,
chrysolite, onyx and jasper,
sapphire, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.

EZE 28:14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.

EZE 28:15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.

EZE 28:16 Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.

EZE 28:17 Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.

EZE 28:18 By your many sins and dishonest trade
you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you,
and it consumed you,
and I reduced you to ashes on the ground
in the sight of all who were watching.

Some Bible scholars believe that His body was actually a musical instrument. In his position, at the alter, the argument can be made that he was a "praise and worship" leader. At some point in the heavenly proceedings he took his eyes off of God and duty, and noticed that he was beautiful. He allowed for just a moment some of God's praise and worship, coming up behind him, to be for him. It filled him with pride, puffed up like a blow fish. He had stolen what belonged to God. According to Pagan tradition, "he then flew up to God and asked, "why should you be the one to be worshipped?" The result was pride, ego, and fall.
A short time later Satan found Adam and Eve worshiping God in the Garden of Eden with their love and obedience. Satan enticed them to take their eyes off of God and consider that they had something to gain, by disobeying God, and eating from the forbidden tree. The result was pride, ego, and fall.
2000 years later Satan inspired Nimrod to break the covenant of Noah with God. He ordered the building of an unholy mountain, the Tower of Babel, so he could ascend it "push back the heavens" and be god of his domain. The result was pride, ego and fall.
2000 more years go by and: LK 4:5 "The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours."LK 4:8 Jesus answered, "It is written: `Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'
2000 years later Some young people are singing in the church choir. Tina, Whitney, Aretha, and Elvis perform a inspiring number. Everyone tells them how wonderful they did, and how great they sound. One of Satan's servants takes note. He waits for them outside.
"I'm from R-E-S-P-E-C-T Records. That was Great! I'd just love to get you down on trax. These are my assistants Turner and Brown. We're staying with Proud Mary, Down by the River, At the Heartbreak Hotel. I can make you a star".
A few year later after performing for and audience of 5-10,000 the jubilation of being worshiped by so many gives them such a high that it must be rounded off with alcohol and barbiturates. A few days after that cocaine and amphetamines get them up for another performance. A few years go by and the result is early unexpected death.
Meanwhile, back at the church The pastor is having trouble getting up a choir and finding a piano player. Our best, our first fruits, our utmost, ought to be for the Lord.
When a crowd worships an entertainer, politician, or spiritual leader, they are calling up that spirit that wants to be worshipped. Humans weren't made for worship. Their souls cannot handle the role of God, or the guilt of playing God. They are destroyed.
American Idol is the show on T.V. that I dislike the most. The honesty of the show's title. It is an in your face trivializing of idolatry. The performers are given huge doses of pride, ego, greed in exchange for promoting the World's system. A system put in place by Satan after the fall of Man. Praising that system is praising it creator. It is Satan worship!
Please don't turn our churches into another episode of American Idol! Please worship Creator God, and not the created persons!

The Heart of a Home


On the Piano Man album, Billy Joel, sings "You're My Home", with the lyrics:
"...Home could be the Pennsylvania turnpike
Indiana's early morning dew
high up in the hills of California
home is just another word for you".
It was a fancy way of saying, "home is where the heart is". A person tends to think about these things when they are away from home for a while. When we say "home is where the heart is, aren't we saying that, "a house with love is a home"? What makes a house a home?
Before I begin to relate my observation, I will state that this is decidedly a man's perspective. Much of the same principals make a house a home for a woman, but there are differences. A woman might include safety and protection on her list, and although a good man will seek to provide that for her, it is not high on his list of needs. There are several blogs written by women that I regularly read to get an honest view into the soul of a Christian woman. I will leave it to one of them to pour out their side of the equation.

There are four greek words for "love" in the New Testament.
Eros: "is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing".
Philia: "...means friendship, a dispassionate virtuous love".
Agapē: "...self-sacrificing, giving love to all... divine love or the love of God
Storge: "...natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring".
.http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_four_greek_words_for_love_and_their_meanings Most Christians have heard these preached on many times from the pulpit. I want you to consider that as a "homemaker" a woman, plants, promotes, and nurtures, these four "loves" in her house. It is these that turn a house into a warm and fuzzy nest called "home".
In his lectures at Georgia Tech, Ravi Zacharias uses a story by the philosopher Camus. In the story, a simple married country woman, gets an opportunity to fulfill a youthful sensual fantasy, during a visit, with her husband, to a city. After an emotional mental struggle she gives in, leaves him sleeping in bed, goes out into the night and indulges in the passion. She then comes home and cannot sleep but sits up in bed weeping. He awakes and asks, "what's the matter". She replies, "nothing, nothing"!
Ravi's take on the story is that, just when you think life has delivered the ultimate in fulfillment you find it leaves you empty chasing after the next excitement. He adds a few more examples to the point that God is needed to fill our emptiness and that secularization of society will result in hedonism and a loss of shame. Later during the question and answer session a student had the presence of mind to ask that, "since we all struggle with the desire for the sensual, had the professor found any means of fulfillment in this area". Ravi related the "four loves" and that only within the framework of marriage do they all come together, in an uncorrupted fulfillment".
We don't usually think of it in such terms, but imagine the heart of a man when he understands the way in which a good wife has made his home. Behind the scenes she has been creating fulfillment without his even knowing it. She has allowed/promoted herself to be the object of his lust and then risen to indulge his passion. She has not only been his best friend, but also allowed/promoted good friendships with others. She has encouraged his relationship with God, prayed for him, and prayed and worshipped with him. She has provided him with family both close and extended. How much more will that man look on love at his wife and praise God for her?! How much greater will the bonds of marital union be when he sees this with "the eyes of his heart"?!
There is a flip side to all of this. Woe to the woman who has selfishly withheld these loves, so that she can have him completely for herself. If love is the perfect expression of the Holy Spirit, in and through a woman, a perfect gift, then the withholding of it is the perfect cruelty! The purpose of cruelty is enslavement. Enslavement is the perfect result of selfishness and there is no love in it! No MAN will remain a slave if there is any way out.
It doesn't take much time to come up with living examples of people we know, both men and women, who withhold, deny, and fight, to keep their significant other from one or more of these loves. Think about them momentarily and you'll notice a few similarities. They are very unhappy, hurt and hopeless. They chase fulfillment in other ways/things, and are never satisfied. They are probably on your prayer list!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Point of Focus


If the photographer focused on the dark background the flower would have become blurred.

This is going to be a different kind of post for me. This is not coming from out of some cerebral cleverness, but from a long worked out churning in my spirit. I cannot attest to the fact that it is finished, but some important points have finally come into focus. I want to get them down so as to have a solid foundation to build on.

It is so easy to FOCUS on light. Even while still in my mother's womb, I could see no light, but I could feel the darkness in my soul. We are so sensitive to light and drawn by it, because it overpowers our senses and obliterates the darkness. This is the reason why the prophecy of Christ's birth stands out from all of the others prophetic scriptures.
ISA 9:2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

ISA 9:3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

ISA 9:4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.


This is the reason (Luke 1:41) When Elizabeth [the mother of John the Baptist] heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. John knew immediately the presence of that great light. Later, as a man, surrounded by the darkness of prision, John lost FOCUS and fell into of doubt. MT 11:2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

MT 11:4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Jesus set is FOCUS back on the light!

I have been in a small bit of a darkness for a couple of years now. I knew it was true but could not put my finger on it. It is actually possible for the Christian to be depressed, although difficult. I made this statement to my Pastor recently and his take was that it is a "conflict of interest" for the Christian. It is so because in Christ there is hope, and all things are new. His mercies are new every morning, and in his presence there is joy. All of these things are true and it is often sung, "turn your eyes upon Jesus and the things of the world will go strangely dim". We however walk in the spirit through a dark and dying world, and live in a body. I could stop here and say "consider the lillys...", "think ye on these things, whatsoever is lovely...", and be done with it: lesson learned. The depth of the truth would be lost and forgotten as soon you click the little red "close" box in the upper right corner. The impersonal shallowness would insulate me, but be of no service to the reader.
First I want to say, I think depression is mourning the loss of life. In this case it is one's own life. I'm thinking it would be the result of bad decisions or situations that have reduced the hoped for fullness and richness of life. The song "wasted years" comes to mind here. In such as state one is putting themselves in a coffin. A difficult condition to maintain when you have the uplifting life giving resurrection power of the Holy Spirit living in you! Never the less there is a time for mourning. Mourning is needed to put a loss behind you so as to move on.
My coffin is different though. It is a coffin with both ends knocked out, also called a rut! This rut seems to be dug in a circle. There are actually several of these, in which, I'm walking at the same time.
You've heard that definition of insanity, where insanity is: "doing the same thing you always did, in the same way you always did it, and expecting a different result". What could be more insane than spending your life going around and around a circular rut.
Does anyone remember that movie where an American got caught trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey. He ends up in a prison walking round-n-round a circle, and told the broken machines must stay on the path. They attempt to institutionalise him. A visit from his love helps him reFOCUS reality and he breaks in the other direction. He plans an escape, from the prison, and announces "he's going, to go, to the place, where they fix the broken machines". Lets go there.
I have two jobs both pretty much full time, low level, menial task. Of course the Bible says, "MT 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other....". Those words come from Jesus. You just know they've got to be truth! They are truth! I love on of these jobs and hate the other. I will use my enjoyment and lack thereof to illustrate how FOCUS can influence joy and depression.
Job #1 I've done for 18 years. I stock shelves third shift in a grocery store. I have taken on the responsibility of being the overnight boss, but the mundane menial repetition is maddening. Round and round in a circle we go. Bring in the load, put it on the floor, put it on the shelf: repeat! The only thing that ever changes are the supporting cast of people I work with. If I do my job of training them properly, they become clones of each and every co-worker previous. The problems I encounter and solve on this job are trivial, unnoticed, and forgotten. Notoriety is almost always a bad thing, insignificance is a virtue, but an almost unbearable humility. The darkness I go into each night is a weight. If we have done our job properly the bosses of the daylight never have to bear us in mind.
Job #2 I have done construction and remodeling since, I put nails into siding, on a barbershop, at age 5. I have done similar Job #2 only 5 months. It would be too easy to think that I haven't yet had time to observe the rut. While, it is possible there may be a rut yet to develope, it will be a straight line rut, not a circle. On job #2 I maintain 27 "timeshare" condominiums. They have aged and need some reconstruction and much repair. Each task is different however, and although it is sometimes performed 27 time over, at the end, it will not have to be done again in my career. There is a sense of progress and accomplishment. AS time goes by, and tasks are completed, the property looks increasing better. Variety yields excitement and accomplishment stokes pride. Compared to the suppression of the night job, the day job is a lightness of being!
O.K. I laid it on pretty thick, but the result put you into my shoes and mood in each case. Why bother you with all of this because all of the institutions of life are the same way. And our enjoyment of them is a matter of FOCUS.
Didn't your thoughts shout at the screen, "why not quit Job#1, and just do Job #2, if its that bad"? Well, I thought the same thing. I discovered, that in answering that question, my displeasure was a matter of FOCUS. The grocery job has twice the pay, all of the extra-benefits, job security, and prospect for advancement. It enables me to enjoy the day job without all of the other pressures. That is not to say that the maintenance job could not be built into one with greater pay, security, and advancement potential. Breaking out of a rut takes some work and planning though. The American in the Turkish prison movie did not just decide on a whim to make a break for it. He saved, planned, had help from the outside and bought help on the inside. (I don't remember it in the movie, but you better believe that a person in his situation prayed to God for aid as well!)He waited until all of the pieces came together at the right moment, then he made a break.
I mentioned that I'm walking several institutional ruts simultaneously, some hand in hand with others. Grieving be done. It is time to focus on the lillys. Focus on looking into God's eyes. FOCUS on the good aspects of the current institutions, and make an exit strategy. Work a plan, assemble the pieces, pray, and go for the breaks, as each one comes.

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K.Chesterton

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Quote of note from May 2009

" If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear"
George Orwell

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Knowledge of Good and Evil : Knowledge of God


How many people have said to you, "How can you believe in an all knowing, all powerful, all loving God, when there is so much evil in the world"?
In seeing all of the evil they fail to see the good around them. The typical apologetic answer for such a person is to point their eyes to the good saying, "how do you know there is "evil" except that there is "good" by which to draw a contrast? How do you know that there is "good" except that there is a "moral law" by which to differentiate between "good" and "evil"? How can there be a "moral law" except that there be a "moral Law" giver, which is God? No God - no moral law, no moral law - no good, no good - no evil! If you believe in evil you must believe in God!

It is interesting that in the Garden of Eden, when there was no "evil", and there was full knowledge of God, there was also implanted, in the very first act of evil, the seed for the acknowledgement of God. The very act of rebellion, that was the first sin, included the sequence for not being able to deny that God existed!

GE 2:9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil... GE 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."...
GE 3:4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Knowing good and evil makes it impossible to deny the existence of God, the giver of the laws of morality.

When Adam and Eve did sin they instantly know the difference between right and wrong.
GE:9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." 11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

When God said, "who told you that you were naked", it was like saying how did you know that it was wrong/evil be naked?
Then God went on to prove that he was all loving. Speaking to Satan in the serpent he said."GE 3:15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel."
This was the first promise of Christ the Redeemer of mankind from the bondage of Satan and sin.

"Plainly speaking, there are only four possible worlds. The first is that there be no creation at all. Would it not have been better for God to have not created a world than to have created ours—where good and evil are both possibilities? The second is a world where only good is permitted, a kind of robotically beneficent universe. The third option is a world where there is no such thing as good or evil, an amoral world. There, right and wrong would not even be legitimate categories for consideration. The fourth is the world that we live in, where good and evil exist with the possibility of choosing either.In the final analysis, our world is the only one where love is genuinely possible because freedom is a precondition for authentic love. We intuitively recognize that love is the supreme ethic and where love is possible, freedom is necessary. Where freedom is real, so is the possibility of suffering.{Four Possible Worlds, Ravi Zacharias}

So why would God create such a world? He would create such a world because he was all knowing, all powerful, and all loving! What other kind of world could he have created where real love between creation and Creator could freely exist, but this one completed through the suffering on the Cross of Calvary.