Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Truthiness from movies

If you haven't seen the movie IRobot, you should. Aside from it being a great movie, there is a rock solid concept for Christians in it: The Three Laws. The three laws in the movie define the robots actions to keep them from going rogue. They are appearantly so perfect that they are the only three rules needed to guide their actions into flawless service of their masters. We as Christians have an equivalent: The Bible. 

So many people have so many ideas on truth it is nauseating. It is easy to point to many of their fundamental flaws, but others are not so easy. The greatest deceptions come packaged in 95% truth, as the Devil taught us in the garden. The solution is two fold:

1. Read and memorize the Bible. We have varing personal degrees of importance for this, but if you find the Bible valid at all consider Deuteronomy 11, specifically 18-20: Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. 
God wants us to be obsessed with His word, so much that we wear it on our bodies and write it all over our homes. There are so many theologies and ideas based on only certain parts of the Bible, but not the whole. God never contradicts Himself, neither should our theology. 

2. Live by it no matter how rediculous and crazy it may seem.Spock in the new Star Trek movie has a great quote: " Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. "  First off, if you follow Jesus, the world will hate you, the Devil will be after you, and you are going to have trouble. So if you ever think that something can't be God's will because it is painful, unpleasant, or offensive you are starting off with the wrong mentality. His will will always be those things in this world and life. Second, If God said we have to make love to chickens to be saved, ya know what? I would be a chicken lover. God IS going to ask you to do things that put you in between a rock and a hard place for that very purpose. Just read the Old Testament! He was always backing the Israelites into corners so that when their deliverance came they couldn't claim any credit for it.

With this said, the Bible does not teach you everything you need to know for life. I know, I'll wait while you all gasp. But it does define the boundries such as the Three Laws do for the robots. Every heretical argument I have ever heard always begins with a ever so slightly skewed interpritation of a particular passage that under closed examination doesn't line up with the rest of the Word. But, in of itself it doesn't seem all that harmful or wrong. It is on that skewed foundation that concept after concept is built using part truth after part truth until the final product is brazenly in opposition to the Word of God, but the creators feel justified because they have built every step on some part of the Word.

Read books by every author you can get your hands on; any blog, essay, or sermon. But know the Word as the Berans did (Acts 17). And never develop a hard heart on things that are not clearly defined in scripture. I'm not saying be swayed by every wind that comes through, but keep in mind that, historically, every generation stands for something wrong, all the way back to the beginning. Even Paul had to rebuke Peter. Peter!!! Because he was discriminating against the Gentiles. The point of life is not to fit in, but to be an outcast. It is what our Lord was and is to this world and it is what we should accept and welcome even among our chruched breathern. Stephen Cobert coined a phrase that made it into the paper the other day. It is, "Truthiness". How true something can seem, though it be wrong. Beware of the truthiness of the world.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Respond before the Devil steals your seeds

             The title of this blog reflects a passion of my heart: the proper response to the Lord, lest you lose what you have gained. I urge you, before you read on, read 2 Kings 22-23:27. The key verse in that passage is 23:25, "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did-with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses." When Josiah heard the word of the Lord he tore his robes and immediately got to the business of bringing righteousness back to Judah no matter what the cost.
             Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 13:3-8 of the different types of soil that exist in the human heart. The one I want us to zero in on is the soil of the path. It is packed down with the everyday troddings of life. When a concept or idea is presented to us, if we let it linger, it is automatically imprinted in us with time. It is unavoidable. It is not a bad thing. If we were constantly questioning and changing our foundations nothing would ever be built. But how hard it is to change what you have built upon when it has existed for so long! The Devil understands this very well. Jesus says that when seed was thrown on the path the birds quickly snatched it up.
Jesus goes on later in the chapter to explain exactly what the parable meant. In verse 19 he says,
"When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path." We are presented with the truth everyday. How do you respond to it? Do you log it for meditation on a later date? Do you assume the seed will be thrown again for you to digest when you feel you have the time? Or do you immediately drive it deep into your soil though it be painful, traumatic, and disrupting as driving a seed in packed soil would be?
             There are so many false prophets and corrupt leaders all around us today. They are springing up like weeds in an untended field. They are also predators looking to steal your seed. Don't wait for the Devil to steal the truth from you. Don't wait for false prophets to rationalize and trick you into throwing it away yourself. The thing about seeds is that the first thing they do is take root. And the deeper the roots the stronger and heartier the plant is; and the more it can withstand attacks and droughts.
Be a Josiah, Paul, or Zacchaeus. God loves passion. He says in Revelations 3:15, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Did you catch that? He wishes that you were not even a Christian than to be half-hearted! He can work with cold. But, if you are going to be a believer he requires total submission, total abandonment. Remember Luke 14:33, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." There are no consolation prizes or participator awards at the end of this race. Either you do it or don't. If you don't want to do it I urge you to live your life fully for yourself and do everything you can to make yourself happy regardless of the consequences, because this is the only happiness you will get. If you are going for it, leave this world behind, when you hear the truth repent, respond, and mourn. Don't give the Devil a chance.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Judge! Because you will be judged

I am constantly being corrected by people with the Bible who don't even believe in the Bible, or the whole Bible for that matter. They know a couple of well rehersed phrases which only amounts to a drop in a 55 gal drum. The one that is so prevalent today is. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Most people interpret this to mean, "Don't tell me I am doing anything wrong. Keep your opinoins to yourself." That is not at all what Jesus meant by this. We are once again limited by not an incorrect translation, but and incomplete one, as all English translations will be. The word "judge" used in that Matthew 7:1 passage is 'krino', here is how Stong's defines it:

2919. krino, kree'-no; prop. to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication: to try, condemn, punish :- avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call into question, sentence to, think.

The difference here is the same as that between a policemen and a judge( interesting that that is the word we use to discribe that possision). A policemen observes you commiting, what appears to be, a crime, detains you, and then brings you before the judge who determines your guilt, severity, and sentencing. The police officer has no right to punish you (though some may feel like they are being punished just in the act of being arrested, but that is a whole nother discussion). He can rebuke you though; give you a verbal warning. 

This is what we are called to do, rebuke. Luke 17:3 states, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." This word is straight forward in Strong's. It basically means to give a tongue lashing. There are rules that we have established among ourselves that maybe based on God's law, we have also set up what we find are appropriate punishments. But we don't have a law for all of God's. We don't punish, anymore, for adultry, disrepect to elders, witchcraft, homosexuality, or many others. But that doesn't mean they are anymore acceptable. 

When you and I stand before the judgement throne we will not be able to hide behind the Cain defense, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Yes, yes you are. And if you have to look iin the eyes of someone who is being condemned and they ask, "Why didn't you say something then?" What will you tell them?

Now this has to be balanced out. It is not our job to go around pointing out everyone's faults. Don't forget that log in your eye. Nor is it our job to rail on someone until we guilt them into righteousness. Some secretly believe in this method but it only garners obedience while the pressure is on. And God will be judging the motivations of the heart. If you did wrong with good intentions there is mercy for that. Likewise, if you do good with evil intentions there is condemnation for that.

Now back to that log in the eye business. People of this don't-judge-me mentality love to quote that passage, but they always stop short of the, "first remove the log out of your own eye SO THAT you can help your brother remove the speck from his eye." We are comanded to help our brothers remove their specks. Also, not a good idea for people of the same 'speck' to help each other lest they become co-dependant. It is real easy to start telling all of your ex-co-offenders how wrong they are once you see the light, but you might not be out of the woods yet. Don't be the pot calling the kettle black. Make sure your eye is speckless, washed, and the redness and swelling have gone down before you start trying to poke your finger in your buddies eye through your still half blind eye. But, by all means, get your eye clean, because your buddy is walking around blind and he will fall into the pit if you don't help him. And then what?

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

I'm so full it's making me sick

Gluttony. It is the plague of my life. It is an addiction to be sure. And I am beginning to understand the nature of addictions more than ever. It's not merely something you don't want to give up; it is something you almost cannot give up. The process of detox is so painful and freedom a step farther than you think you can endure. That is what friends and family are for; to help carry your burdens when they are truely more than you can bear. 
I am so overly full I don't even know it. Most, if not all have been there. When you go through a spell of consistantly consuming too much you start to confuse your inner pains with hunger pains, you become so accustomed to being overly full that you don't even know what it means to be hungry. I am overly full of life, this life.
I need detox, but not the conventional kind. I don't know of a treatment center that I can check into or even a church outreach program to attend. I need to be detoxed from this world. In the last few months I have been fervently praying that the Lord would strip away whatever is in me or I believe that is a lie and replace it with His truth. And wow, what lies I have believed. 
When God created us in the garden, He gave us everything we needed for life. When we left the garden we still had everything we needed for life, plus the addition of animal skins to cover our shame. No t.v.'s, homes, cars, or grocery stores. We, humans, had no buildings to worship in or hospitals to treat us. We had our bodies, the ground beneth our feet and faith in the God who provides all things. 
Let me ask you: When you strip away all the concerns of life and be brutally honest with yourself, what is the goal of our lives and purpose of our being here in the Lord's eyes? Is it to establish a place of safety and security for ourselves? To develop a name to be proud of? An empire? Satan's sin that was His downfall was vanity. Self love. Pride. And how proud we are of our accomplishments. Our homes. Our jobs. Our families. Our churches. But as Jesus compared, what are any of these compared to the lilies of the field or the cosmos around us? 
I'm scared, real scared. And I mean that literally. I'm scared I won't do what it is God wants me to do. I'm scared that I will choose this world over Him. And I should be, because I do. Everyday i spend working tword my own ambitions, no matter how nobel I rationalize them to be, I choose me over Him. I'm scared to let go too. What if I abandon too much? What if I take this too far? Is God really going to convict me for my faithlessness and fear? 
I tend to go through spiritual swings. Ups and downs, endlessly. Classic of an addict.  I hate them, but I have no idea how to get out of them. I have been in one over the last week. I have been feeling so alone and directionless. I know in my heart that my destination in this life lies nowhere close to where I am now. However, that doesn't stop me from being fickel about my commitments in the here and now. I had $735 dollars put back for my tithe. I can't give it to a church, with a clean conscience, that isn't burning with passion for Jesus inwardly, not just in appearance. I feel the Holy Spirit leading me in this. But my wicked heart works on me; my selfish desires, my worldly ambition.
Yesterday, me and the family wanted to get out of the house, but were broke until payday on Monday. So we borrowed $35 for gas and also got some food with it. And then today I felt the cabin fever again and wanted to go see a movie by myself just to get a moment of peace to myself. I took another $100 dollar bill out. Between the movie, and eating out for dinner and them some more DVD's we bought after dinner, we now have $20 of that $100 left. And then I thought, "What's the point? The money is just sitting in there with no destination. What does it matter anyway? I'm in a slump and this will make me feel better.I might as well take the rest of the money and get some stuff done that is long overdue. I will repent, God will forgive, and then eventually I will be on the up swing again." And yes, I know how easy it is to read that and judge. How blatantly wrong it is! But we do it all the time! We submit because we rely on mercy to pick up the slack.
This is my addiction. I just can't seem to stop feeding my fears and weakness. I feel that all to familar ache. For anyone who has had a drug addiction, doesn't this sound familiar? You love the drug, but you hate it. If you could just endure the pain you would get out on the otherside of it and get the relief you need from the weight you have been carrying. But I would say it is an impossible road to go alone. 
I want to be free from the addiction of comfort. I want to be free from the addiction of safety. I want to be free from the addiction of security. I want to be free from the addiction of social appoval. I want to be free from the addiction of stimulation. But first I have to find a way to endure and push through to the otherside; to where I will be finally standing in the true light I so desperatly crave. 
The classic first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have one. Do you see this in yourself? Do you look around and realize that the life you are living "for Christ" isn't right? That when you read the lives of the apostles, that what we have is a faint shadow of what they had, if that. It's hard to do that. It means big changes. It means persecution, because you fellow addicts are not going to like you saying your's and their life style are an addiction to this world. But I tell you the truth: It is death we are walking twords. The Lord is coming, and He is coming soon. Come out from among them. Tune your ears to the master's voice. Walk by the Spirit and be free.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

Would you deny God?

If God called you specifically would you do it? What if he called you to build a thousand houses for the poor. What if He put 40,000 2x4's and 20,000 sheets of plywood in your yard. What if He told you use this wood to build the houses. Don't worry about building yourself a house, I will take care of that personally. You build houses. Don't worry man power, supplies, permits or skill. Just build. Would you do it?
He does this for every American. An "uneducated American makes about $1,000,000 in their life and "educated" American makes $2,000,000. Many make more than that. Do you know how many people could be helped with those resources? Or better yet, what if we actually trusted God to provide like He said He would. What if we went around like the great men of God and multiplied food, healed the sick, prayed for rain to come or stop?
What do you think God would think if you used some of the wood to build yourself a dog house? A shop? A garage? What if you took a night job to make sure you had enough food and maybe a little extra for whatever would come up? What if the weather got bad? Would you put it off until things got better? What if everybody told you the homeless already had homes and yours were unnecessary? What if you were no good at it?

  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them ina the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
-Matthew 6:25

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in
and steal." - Matthew 6:19

"Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep
warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?" -James 2:15-16

Jesus called us all to preach the gospel, baptize, and teach others to obey His commandments. What holds us back from that? If we are not supposed to even concern ourselves with what we eat and drink and wear, what is there to do but obey his command? Do we have a retirement accounts? A savings accounts? How does that show obedience to the command? Do we take care of the needs of others, not just in your neighborhood or town, but all over the world? We may say, 'I gave my 10% in tithe and then 5% in offering on top of that!" So what are you doing with the other 85%? If we are following the command of making diciples and we are not worrying about food, water and shelter, what on Earth are we spending all that money on? I don't know what obedience looks like. I've never seen it and I don't see it in my life. But would you pray with me that the Holy Spirit would show us what it really means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength? Our affections and hope don't lie in this world and life. We have got to submit ourselves to leading of the Holy Spirit and what it is that Christ wants His church to look like.

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

A mystical kind of healing

Larry the Cable Guy tells a story of a horse he owned: He was out riding in the back fourty one day when his horse tripped and broke it's leg. He called up the vet and asked what could be done for it. The vet told him, "You'll have to shoot it." Larry went and got his gun and did as the doctor ordered. A couple of days later the horse was worse than he was to begin with and Larry said, "If he doesn't get better soon, I'm gonna shoot him again!"
People love mystery and magic. No doubt there is a supernatual power out there that is beyond our comprehension. But, I think that we often read passages in the Bible and want to believe in a mystical power that can be called upon like something out of Harry Potter. I never understood peoples obsession with the King James Version as a teenager. Don't get me wrong. It served English speaking people for years and was a blessing strait from God when it was published. It brought the Word of God to the common man. But now it is full of ancient words and out dated phases. Swearing by it is the same as praying in latin. It doesn't accomplish any more because it sounds sacred. And I have heard those who say, "It's the only accurate one." How would you know? Do you speak Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek? The King James is as flawed as the NIV in this way: It cannot say what the original text says because it has words in it that we do not. English has one word for love, the original text use four. And they are very different kinds of love. Grammer, syntax, spelling. No of these translate directly. But we love the mystery of it all. As the old saying says, "Don't miss the woods, for the trees!"
If you will be honest with yourself, if you had never read the Bible before and been schooled to some degree in its wording and meaning, half the time you wouldn't even know what the heck the author was talking about and the other half you would probably miss the real meaning. When the Bible was written it was written in the coloquial language of that day. And all that means is it was written so that the people could understand. The epistles were especially in a conversational tone. The translations used by most Christians today are anywhere from almost 500 years out of date to 30 years out of date. There is a fear of updating the translation as much as we update our clothes, cars, and hobbies. And there is a certain amount of righteous fear of God in that. But leaving people in confusion because of our affection for the religious traditions we have know is as much a sin as not telling them anything in the first place. When we tell people about the message of the Kingdom, do we relay what God really intended or do we show people how wise and learned we are for our comprehesion of these mystical words, how nobel our traditions are? Or do we bring it down to it's intended words? Spelling it out plainly like the Lord did for us?  It is a matter of life and death you know.
I leave you with this passage from James from The Message translation, "Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like." James 1:22-24

Feel free to comment or ask questions! 

The message of the Gospel is not about love.

There is a age-old lie sweeping the country and churches today. That the message of the Gospel is love. You won't find it in the Bible. As a matter of fact you will hardly find the love of God in the Bible at all. Genesis: No. Exodus: 1 verse. Leviticus: No. Numbers: No. Deuteronomy: 1 paragraph. Joshua: No. Judges: No. Psalm: some. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel have 1 verse each. And Hosea is the only one of the minor prophets that speaks of the love of God. And I know what you are thinking. The New Testament! It's full of the love of God! Neither Matthew, Mark, or Luke make mention of the love of God. Acts, which describes the efforts of the early church makes no mention of the love of God. Romans has 1 verse. The epistles say very little of the love of God. And Revelations, which literally means: The unveiling of Jesus Christ doesn't say a word about it.  As everyone know John does, the famous verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son."  But, we will get back to that in a minute. Out of the 35,000 verses in the Bible only 1,000 speak of the love of God. Do the math that is only 2.85%. And every time the Bible does talk about the love of God it is always agape love. 
It is sad that we only have one word in the English language for love. There are four used in the original language of the Bible. 
Epetume(not sure on the spelling there)- The love of Addiction, lust
Eros- The love of Attraction, sensual love
Phila-The love of Affection, Brotherly love
Agape- The love of Action, Pity, compassion. Sees a need and meets it. 
Agape love is the only kind of love attributed to God in the Bible. "God so Agaped the world that He sent his only son." He acted upon it. Even in John though, Jesus never talked about the love of God in public, only among His disciples. It was a precious thing to Him. That is why He says, "Do not throw your pearls to pigs". 
The root of the problem is that we have overused the word like so many others. God is love, God is good. When a man said to Jesus, "Good teacher." he replied, "Why do you call me good, only God is good." But to day we say, "It's a good day." , "My lunch was good.", or, "Good dog." Good isn't okay, or mediocre it means perfect, complete. When God finished His creation He said, "It is good." and about us, "Very good." The best He had ever done. The pinnacle of creation. 
But God is also righteous without canceling out the others. And because He is righteous, everything He does is righteous. Whatever you think is wrong, if He did it, it is right. This is a very hard concept for some in the face of terrible times: disaster, destruction, death. But as a righteous God he must also punish. His justice requires it. First He will punish every evil deed, word, and thought. And then He will banish it. This is the good news. God is bringing a universe with no evil and no temptation. It's promised, which He is also obligated to otherwise He would be a liar. He made us good, but we refused. We said we want to be kings, not subjects. We want to be landlords, not tenants. He made us very good, but we choose self-righteousness. And, "Our righteousness is used menstrual  rags before the Lord." that is what it means literally. 
The Gospel is an offer of righteousness. This is what the second coming and the New Heaven and the New Earth are about, and invitation to be remade into a righteous being once more. And it is a cheap gospel that is going around that says all you have to be saved is pray a sinner's prayer and be dunked in water. Consider the parable of the wedding feast, 
"Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.'
'Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'
'But they paid no attention and went off- one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.'
Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out in to the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.'
'But when the king came in to see the guest, he noticed  a man there  who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend', he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.
'Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen."
The king asked him, 'Why didn't you bother to change. Why didn't you put on decent wedding clothes?' The man accepted the invitation with no intention to change. God offers an invitation, but you must dress accordingly or you will be thrown out. Many have accepted the invitation, but when they stand before the judgement seat waiting to go into the Feast of the Bridegroom He will ask, "Why didn't you change?" You must make a decision not only to accept Jesus, but to dress yourself appropriately.
God gives us this righteousness. How does He give it to us?
- He imputes it to us, invites us to be apart. He forgives us and treats us as if we never sinned. But isn't it immoral for a just God to forget sin? Yes, it must be paid for first. And this is what Jesus did on the cross. God was able to remain righteous while forgiving our sin. But, this is only the beginning of salvation. The work of atonement was completed on the cross, then began the work of salvation.
- He imparts it to us. Through the Holy Spirit, he convicts us and teaches us what the fruit of the Holy Spirit is. What are we saved from? Evil. We are still subject to it. We are not completely saved yet. We are being saved and will be completely saved when the new kingdom comes.
He is preparing us for His coming kingdom. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy. God's will is that we be Holy, set apart, in this life and happy in the next.  But, people want to be happy in this life and holy in the next. Holiness doesn't bring happiness in this life; it brings trouble. It sets the whole world against you. As Jesus said, "A servant is not greater than his master. If they hated me, they will hate you." That is why he says to take up your cross and follow him. Martyrdom is the natural end to a christian. 
There are two kinds of people that are very hard to get into the kingdom of God:
1. Unrighteous who like being unrighteous. They are fond of sin. There was only one heavenly creature that offered happiness, peace, prosperity, and satisfaction in this life: Satan. "Bow down to me and I will give you the kingdoms of the world."
2. Self-righteous. A form of pride. You are think you are good compared to others, but don't recognize your own unworthiness compared to Jesus. 
"Be holy, as I am holy." That is not a demand. It is the biggest offer ever made.

Feel free to comment or ask questions!