Saturday, May 31, 2008

He’s So Close

Once you move beyond the initial stages of Christianity (Depending on one’s understanding of God this can happen an instant after conversion, it may take decades, or it may never happen), you can sense the reality of God’s ubiquitous intimacy. All of a sudden comes the realisation that you are safe. Not just eternally safe but imminently safe, moment to moment to moment. For those who have a healed relationship with Jesus, God is not just up there or out there or somewhere. For those forgiven by Jesus, God is right here, in the now, closer than your skin. Nothing can touch you, no harm can befall you without the permission of the One who knows what is best for your growth and your sanctification. Knowing this imparts to a person more strength, more peace, more rest and more contentment than anything that this world can possibly provide. God is as real, as near and as palpable as the chair upon which you’re sitting. God smiles at you. He appreciates your stuttering attempts to please Him. He is patient in your failures and encouraging as each new day dawns. His grace will wash over you like warm sunshine on a spring day. How great it is to have God reveal His love, His forgiveness, His desire to bless and especially to have His nearness.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Corruption as a way of life

I was reading through the last Time magazine. What I found profoundly sad is that every single article that was dealing with the troubles of the world had the word corruption in it. What’s so sad about that? A corrupt heart, the inner man, human nature is the one thing that the Bible keeps hammering away at, telling us that it is the root of all our problems.

“For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” Mark 7:21,22

“The heart is desperately wicked and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind” Jeremiah 17:9,10

While the corrupt heart seemed to be recognised as a “fly in the ointment” in the Time articles it was almost said as an after thought. Lack of education is the problem. Poverty is the problem. Too many people is the problem. Lack of food is the problem.

The fact that we are evil to the core? Well, no. According to the worldly wise, “Corruption is just what happens when people are hungry and poor and haven’t finished school.” Or so we are told. The fact is, it is exactly the opposite. The reason that our world is flush with hunger, poverty, HIV, lack of proper education etc. is because there isn’t a government, community or individual in the whole world that isn’t flush with corruption which arises from a wicked heart or nature.

The latest installment or example of this was on CNN online today. It was in an article dealing with a new tool that would allow drivers to continue to break the law without getting caught. Take a read.

“ Tenereillo said one thing that surprised him is that "about half of our initial subscribers were soccer moms. But, when you think about it, that makes sense, they're in the car the most, and they take a lot of short trips, driving their kids to and from school, soccer practice, music lessons, etcetera -- so they're the ones getting the worst tickets, like for driving 53 [mph] in a 35 [mph] zone. Those are worse tickets than the ones you get out on the highway because judges show no mercy when it comes to speeding in residential neighborhoods or adjacent surface streets."”
How awful! Imagine the nerve of Judges who show the least patience with those who drive too fast through the most sensitive areas of town! Who cares if these people are putting other people’s children in danger while driving their own children here and there? According to people like him, we should be allowed to break the law and this guy, Tenereillo is making a fortune by helping us do just that.

Awe me. How can God stand to watch us. I am so sorry Father for how wicked we are. I am so very sorry.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rick Warren - From my niece

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.

If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,'which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.

It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the chu rch had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?

Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.
That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.
God's Blessings on you today.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Protection - But at what cost?

In hindsight, I can see that Jesus was protecting me even before I wanted anything to do with him. I was so into evil at one point that I had pledged my life to the forces of evil. The people that I was hanging with and working for were into porn, selling drugs and illegal gambling. I had all the drugs and sex and money any hedonistic young man could want, and I wanted it all. Yet Jesus protected me through it all and brought me out the other side.

Jesus even sent me one of the women who was part of the business to “save” me. That might sound strange but here’s what happened. Every night, every single night after the Club closed, there was a party. One night, we were sitting on a couch while the usual gathering was rocking throughout the house. There was a couple having sex up against the wall in one corner. Another couple were having sex on a chair in another part of the room. We had just done some LSD and she leaned over and said, “Is life ever a bag of shit.”

I didn’t say anything but I looked at her like, “What are you talking about? I thought we’re having fun.”

That one comment of her’s was the beginning of turning my life around. That one comment forced me to look at my friends with a clarity that I’d never possessed before. Men and women who for years I had thought were the height of cool, now, in light of that one comment seemed like the most pathetic people that I’d ever met. And guess what? I was one of them.

At the time, I didn’t know that Jesus was behind that woman’s comment. In fact, it took another five years before I became a Christian, but that night, Jesus protected me from sliding all the way to the bottom, or perhaps more accurately, He protected me from remaining at the bottom.

Jesus has protected me from serious physical harm. He’s kept me from killing people. He’s protected me from long term emotional pain. He’s protected me from eternal spiritual pain. He’s protected me from destroying my wife and children. Jesus has protected me from completely wasting my life. In part, Jesus has done this by bringing me to a literal halt. Little by little over a period of 46 years Jesus used arthritis to turn the screws until I threw in the towel, I gave in, I quit trying to make it on my own for even the smallest detail of life.

Today, along with King David of the Bible I am able to say, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word. You are good and what You do is good. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees. The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. In faithfulness You afflicted me. May Your unfailing love be my comfort. Let Your compassion come to me that I may live. Psalm 119.

And with the Apostle Peter I am able to say with utmost sincerity, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. And the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1st Peter 5:6,7,10

I love Jesus so very much. He has been incredibly kind to me. I’ve deserved none of His mercy and love and grace. Yet that is exactly what He’s given me. Only because of His enormous love have I been protected from the life that I thought that I wanted. And what has it cost me? Nothing. While it cost my Saviour His life, it’s cost me nothing. What amazing grace that saved a wretch like me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Should I ask Jesus or Jamie in Accounting?

Should we live together before marriage? Is it ok if my kids look at porn? Is it ok if I look at it? Do I need to pay attention to my spiritual nature? Should I accept the offer from my neighbour’s wife? Is it ok to lie to my husband if telling him the truth would make him angry? Isn’t it ok to break this particular law when most other people are doing it too? Isn’t paying back wrong for wrong what justice is all about? Is there a set of guidelines to which I should adhere or can I make up the rules as I go along? Pride is a good thing, right? Should I kill my unborn child? Is there a difference between intelligence and wisdom? Is organised religion worse than disorganised spirituality? What will happen when I die? If I’m to love my neighbour as myself, just who exactly is my neighbour? Is homosexuality something wonderful or is it a relational disorder? So what’s wrong with prostitution if it doesn’t hurt anyone? Why should I forgive him when he’s not even sorry? Does God love me even when I do wrong things? Are heaven and hell real? Do we need to resolve the problems in our marriage or will our children survive a divorce unscathed? Can wealthy people really know how to live a high quality life? How about beautiful people? Do they have a corner on ‘right answers’? Do their lives show that they’re making the right decisions? What’s wrong with using manipulation to get my way? If I have a Creator who loves me, would that Being be able to provide for me the answers that I need? Can I ignore His advice without inflicting harm to myself? It seems like I’m worried and anxious all the time. How do I fix that? If some religions are mythological, does that mean that all religions are mythological? What came before the Big Bang? How good do I have to be before I can honestly say that I’m a good person? Why is there so much suffering in the world? If I take advice from Jamie in accounting instead of relying on what my Creator says about my situation, what does that say about my level wisdom? Do my actions and the quality of my life show to others who I go to for advice? Is my level of peace and contentment, fear and anxiety, anger and resentments the same as the local pagans or is my life characterised by a love and joy and excitement to be alive that radiates a Supernatural source? Why do most people, even some of those who claim to serve Jesus, seem to seek advice from almost anyone but their Creator?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Honest! You don't have to act like that.

Have you ever wondered why God came to earth in the form of Jesus? Well, ya, to pay the penalty for our sins, but beyond that. Why else did He come to earth? Ya, ya, to draw people to God’s kingdom, but why else? Why spend 33 years living as a human being? What was the point? What was He trying to do or show us or demonstrate for us? No, not just to teach about God’s kingdom. C’mon! You can do this.

Ok, let me ask it this way. Why would Jesus purposely come to earth into a rejected group of people, Jews, into lifelong poverty, and so on? Why would He live in such a way that He would become known as “A man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief”? Why would He do that?

Let me ask it yet a another way. If pain, or difficulty, or tragedy or suffering make up 40 or 50 or 60% of a person’s life on average, why would that be? Are we to say, as some love to do, that pain and suffering are proof that God is evil or impotent or that He simply doesn’t care about what’s going on? Is that really the God that you know? It’s not the God that I know and neither is it God as Jesus demonstrated Him to be while Jesus was on earth, “If you have seen Me, you have seen God the Father.”

It seems as though those who hate the idea of God the most, use the reality of life as their main grounds for “proving” His nonexistence. It seems as though they can’t conceive of any good reason for tragedy and suffering. This is unfortunate since even they, in hindsight often describe the benefits of the difficulties that they’ve experienced. But unless they are right, and I for one don’t believe that they are, then there must be a divine purpose for suffering and one of the many reason that Jesus spent 33 years on earth must have been to show us what that purpose is.

Do you know that when someone insults you, or treats you insensitively you don’t have to act or feel or be offended? Do you know that? When someone treats you unfairly, do you know that you don’t have to pay them back or hold resentment and bitterness toward that person? Do you know that? When you’re rejected by those you care about, do you know that you can still be ok as a person? Do you know that other people’s perception of you doesn’t have to become your reality? When you and another person compete for the same job and the other person gets it, do you know that you will still be taken care of? Do you know that no matter what happens to you in this life, no matter if you are healthy or sick, rich or in poverty, no matter if you are beautiful and desired or misshapen and people turn away from you, if you are living with Creator God as the foundation of your well-being, nothing will touch you?

How do I know this? How can I be sure that none of this is “easy answer” crap? Because Jesus came to earth to prove that it’s true. He lived it. He demonstrated it. He taught that we are to follow Him or to become like Him. More than that, anyone and everyone who has believed this and who has become a disciple of Jesus has found this to be true in h/her own life.

This is not some sort of mental gymnastics where our mantra is something stupid like, “Every day and in every way I’m getting better and better.” This is a fact. God is love. God loves you, and when everything else let’s you down, He will not let you down.

“Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered.” Isn’t that amazing? I detailed the sufferings of Jesus in another post long ago so I’m not going to do it again here. However, a fact of life is this. Nothing is more important than our relationship with Jesus and when we put Him first in our lives, He will and does take care of us with His presence in our lives. That is why people like Richard Dawkins find it so confounding and confusing when suffering and tragedy actually makes some people’s faith in Jesus stronger instead of driving them away from God. Those who know Jesus, and those who are known by Jesus, those who have an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus are impervious to life’s hardships. Dealing with the insults and rejections of other people becomes like flicking lint of your shoulder.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t cry or experience loss or that we don’t grieve when a child makes self-destructive choices or when we see others experience earthquakes and tornadoes etc. What it means is that we don’t grieve like those who don’t have any hope in the reality of Jesus the Christ. In fact, “In all these things we are more than conquerors.” We are made stronger by those things that satan brings into our lives to destroy us.

When someone in our family or in our acquaintance treats us unfairly, Jesus, our model and character goal has set the bar. He has shown us the way to peace and contentment. “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” And what does an attitude like that of Jesus bring about in us in the face of difficulty? See what the Bible says:

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 2:2- 4.

“Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” 2nd Thessalonians 1:4

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.” 2nd Thessalonians 3:5

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2 - 4.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” 2nd Peter 1:5 - 7.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:16 - 18

Who are the sons of God? “Those who love Me are the ones who obey Me.”

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2nd Corinthians 1:4-9

“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2nd Timothy 1:12

“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Hebrews 2:10,11
Did you get that? Jesus is not ashamed to call us part of His family because He has experience the same sufferings that we experience during our time on earth. That is one of the main reasons that He spent time on earth, to know what it is like to be us and to show us how we can deal with hardship; to show us that we have options. These are not options based upon our strength but upon the strength of the Lord. If we don’t depend on His strength we devolve into foolishness like Buddhists who try to deny reality and even deny their true desires. Or we become insensitive like the Stoics. Or we pretend that we are brave and noble like the atheists.
“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1st Peter 2:21

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” 1st Peter 2:23

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1st Peter 3:8,9

Jesus showed us by example that this can be done and He strengthens us by the power of His indwelling Spirit to follow His example.

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1st Peter 3:13 - 15

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1st Peter 5:1

Jesus came to earth, in part, to give us options; options in how we deal with others, options in how we respond to others. Regardless of what happens to us, we are safe in the arms of a loving, merciful, kind and generous Creator. He wants to grow us into kingdom people; people who are ready to reign with Him in eternity. It is a simple fact of life that we cannot become the kind of people He wants us to become in the absence of suffering and difficulty. Life as we experience it is no accident. No, it didn’t need to be this way. God presented us with a world exactly the way we claim that we would have made it had we been God. However, once that delusion is dealt with, and once we accept the fact that we chose this kind of world with all it’s suffering because it doesn’t include God, then we can also accept that God has taken the kind of world that we’ve created, a world with suffering and tragedy and He uses it for His own purpose. He uses it for our good, His glory and the furthering of His kingdom.

We don’t have to respond to evil with evil.
Instead, we can overcome evil with good.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Friends don’t bring warm pop

Many years ago, when I was running therapy groups, an elderly gentleman, 89 years old if I remember correctly, was taking his turn at ‘checking in.’ Referred by his children, this gentleman, I’ll call him John, had been a daily, all day long drinker until a couple years earlier. Some of the group members had been commenting on friends and friendship that morning and when it was John’s turn he said, “Let me tell you a story about friendship.” Waving a finger bent by arthritis, a finger that was attached to a hand covered with liver spots, while atrophied muscles made his knuckles seem unusually large, John said that for the last five years of his drinking he and a neighbour from across the street (both were widowers) would meet every morning around nine o’clock at John’s place. They would begin their day with a 26oz bottle of Vodka and discuss the news. When the bottle was done, usually around lunch time, this man’s friend would head back home and they would each go about their own business, meaning they would spend the rest of the day drinking by their selves. Someone from the group naturally asked, “Well, did you lose your friend when you quit drinking?”

“No, no, no,” John quickly replied. “Charlie still comes over every morning, just like we’ve been doing ever since our wives passed away. He still brings his bottle of Vodka, but now he also brings a bottle of Coke for me. And not just any Coke either. He brings cold Coke because friends don’t bring friends warm pop.”

Saturday, May 24, 2008

You Are Unique Among A Totally Unique Species

What a difference it makes to believe in Creator God or to not believe in Creator God. For those in the first group, life is precious. From conception to natural death, from physically disabled to amazingly physically gifted, from mentally damaged to extraordinarily intelligent, we are all created in the image of God and therefore we are of extreme value and importance. For those in the latter group, well, there are far too many of us and something aught to be done about it - soon. In fact, for naturalists, to be ‘just another one of those’ is agony. For a materialist one must excel at something, anything really, in order to be certain of h/her own value and worth. In order to feel ok about one’s self, a person who is God’s enemy must be better educated than others s/he knows, or have more possessions, or a better job, better kids, be better looking or excel in something. For a secular person, being ordinary or less than average is almost enough to make one not want to live at all. As nations proceed to greater and greater secularism, rates of pathological self-obsession, linked with the depression and anxiety that can only follow are rising to unprecedented levels.

On the other hand, a relationship with Jesus brings to a person’s life the knowledge of significance that isn’t based on anything that this world can take away from the individual nor does it deteriorate with time or diminish with the rise and fall of wealth, beauty, health or age. This awareness of value and purpose, that comes when the Spirit of Jesus inhabits one’s soul, requires no effort or conscious thought. Nor do you need special skills or training, or payment of dues or fees in order to be at peace with your surroundings. A follower of Jesus is caught up in a transformation that is brought about through a re creation of one’s character and destiny.

God has designed us to count for something and He will make that happen in the most ordinary of lives, IF that individual places h/her trust in Jesus and makes Him Lord of h/her life. With Jesus as one’s guide, you can and will change the world for the better in ways that no one else is able. You will have a special role that only you can play. God’s plan is your destiny.

That is why, after learning that his wife and children had been lost at sea, a song writer was able to pen:

When peace like a river envelopes my soul
When sorrows like sea billows role
Whatever my lot
I am able to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Friday, May 23, 2008

R. Kelly on sex with children.

“Acts you have never seen before. Vile, disturbing and disgusting sex acts, actions that were choreographed, produced and starred in by Robert Kelly.”

This comment was made by Prosecutor SHAUNA BOLIKER as he described evidence that was going to be presented against recording “artist” R. Kelly who has been charge with having sex with someone that the State deems to be too young to be doing such a thing with a famous person.

First of all only by the broadest definition possible can any product turned out by R. Kelly or anyone else in the pop industry for that matter be called art, but that's beside the point. Directly to the point, can you imagine the prudery? The narrow minded, bigoted, perhaps even racist, certainly Christian driven oppressive view of human sexuality that this Prosecutor, this agent of the State has demonstrated in a clear offense of separation of Church and State. Who does he think he is, taking thoughts and views and distorted, even perverted - Yes perverted beliefs from some bronze-age book and forcing them down the throats of freedom loving materialists everywhere? She wasn’t a child!! She was thirteen years old for crying out loud. She was a sexual being who longed to experience the beautiful thing that the entertainment industry has made sexual relations to be. Men on men. Women on women. Men having sex with men dressed up as women. Women having sex with women acting like men. Women and male children. Men and female children. Glorious freedom and all the marvellous STD’s and abortions and broken hearts and ruined lives that come with that freedom have been brought into our homes and some agents of the Government are trying to interfere with that. Who are these Neanderthal Judges with their tired old ethics and religiously based morals to tell the young and the pitifully desperate what they can and cannot do? It sickens any right thinking secularist or naturalist and rightly so. Let the children explore their sexuality. Don’t stifle the natural evolution of evil. Let it progress under the guidance and wisdom of those who are even more evil than they are. Then watch as our world moves to peace and wholeness and freedom from Christian tyranny everywhere. In reason we trust.

On Global Warming - "I told you so" - Jesus

Jesus said, “Notice the trees. When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. In the same way, when you see the events taking place that I am describing, you can be just as sure that the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

What I used to find alarming, but now see as amusing is this. As it becomes clearer that what the Bible says will happen in the latter days of history is actually coming true in our time, the louder and more stridently do secularists and naturalists proclaim that “This bronze age book is out of date and irrelevant to our futures.”

For me, this most astounding achievement begins with the rise of Israel as a Nation and the returning of its people to a homeland ‘forever’ destroyed in 70AD. Nowhere at any time has this ever happened to any other Nation or people, much less one about which its destruction and renewal was foretold 1,000's of years in advance.
Ezekiel - 37:21 (Written 597 years before the birth of Christ) - For the Lord God says, “I am gathering the people of Israel from among the nations and bringing them home [literally] from around the world to their own homeland, to unify them into one nation.”
Ezekiel 38:12 - “I will go to those once desolate cities that are now filled with people again, those who have returned from all the nations, and the whole earth revolves around them. This will happen in the distant future, in the latter years of history. The state of Israel now 60 years old, contains people who have come from 100 different countries, speaking 60 different languages and the trek homeward continues to this day.
Zechariah 12:2,3,7, & 9 (Written 520 years before the birth of Christ) - I will make Jerusalem and Judah like a cup of poison to all the nearby nations that send their armies to surround her. Jerusalem will be a heavy stone burdening the world and though all the nations of the world unite in an attempt to move her, they will all be crushed. For my plan is to destroy all nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 2: 4 & 7 - Jerusalem will some day be so full of people she won’t have room enough for all. I scattered you to the winds, but I will bring you back again.
This is the whole problem with Palestine and Israel right now. There is not enough room for all of the Jews coming home and they are building settlements in Palestinian territory.

. Jesus went on to warn those who are willing to listen that as history winds down, we can expect to see a rise in conflict as “Nation will rise against nation.” Our planet has not been without conflict since the Second World War, supposedly ‘the war to end all wars.’

. “There will be great earthquakes and famines in many lands and epidemics all over the world.” I read in National Geographic a few years back that there are 100 times more earthquakes today than there were 100 years ago. Some will probably say, There really aren’t more famines or wars or earthquakes. We’re just hearing about them more.
Ya, right.

. About Christians, Jesus foretold, “The whole world will hate you because you are mine.” I’ll repeat the now well known statistic one more time, More Christians have been killed for their faith in Jesus in the twentieth century than in all the previous centuries combined. The pace and scope of naturalist intolerance is growing exponentially as those who hate God are gaining power and influence throughout the world.

. For those attending to Global Warming, Jesus prophesied, “Nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. The courage of many people will falter because of the fearful fate they see coming upon the earth.” Jesus also talks about the earth winding down like “a worn out peace of clothing.” To say that this isn’t happening would make you a pariah and an outcast on virtually any college campus around the world. Yet to agree with it is agree that the Bible is bang on in its prophetic accuracy, as it has always been.

. First time in history that the human race has the power to destroy itself
Matthew 24:21 - Unless those days are shortened, all mankind will perish. But they will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen people.

. First time in history that the communication and data processing systems are available to control the world with one government; economically, politically and militarily.
Revelation 13:17 - No one could get a job or even buy in any store without the permit of that mark. He will rule over all nations and language groups throughout the world.

.Coming of the Apostate Church - I find this one most humorous because this is the one thing that naturalists hate most - a Hypocritical Church. Yet that very thing was prophesied by Jesus as being a clear sign that the end was near. Now, to be honest, all of us are hypocrites to one degree or another. Because of that there have always been hypocrites in the Church, as elsewhere. By never before have so many Church leaders, who are followed by so many Biblically ignorant people who attend their churches, systematically taught principles that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus.
Matthew 7:21 - Jesus said, “Not all who sound religious are really Godly people. They refer to me as Lord, but still won’t get into heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey Me.”
Matthew 15:7 - You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you. These people say they honour me, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is worthless, for they teach their man-made laws instead of those from God.
Luke 11:52 - Woe to you experts in religion. For you hide the truth from the people. You won’t accept it for yourselves and you prevent others from having a chance to believe it.
Romans 1:21,22 &25 - After awhile they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do. Claiming themselves to be wise without God they became utter fools instead. Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God they deliberately chose to believe lies.
Philippians 3:18,19 - There are many who walk along the Christian road who are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are proud of what they should be ashamed of, and all they think about is life here on earth.
1 Timothy 4:1,2 - But the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some in the church will turn away from Christ and become eager followers of teachers with devil inspired ideas.
2 Timothy 4:3,4 - There is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth, but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says, but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.
2 Peter 2:1-3 - There will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly tell their lies about God. Many will follow their evil teaching that there is nothing wrong with sexual sin. Because of them, Christ and His way will be laughed at.
Hosea 4:1-6 &9 - There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You swear and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing. It is filled with sadness and all living things grow sick and die. The animals and birds and even the fish begin to disappear. Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame. Look priest, I’m pointing My finger at you. As a sentence for your crimes, you priests will stumble in broad daylight as well as in the night because the people don’t know me, and it is all your fault you priests, for you yourselves refuse to know me. Like priests, like people. Because the priests are wicked the people are too.

Amazing, isn’t it? We can read all the other signs of nature and predict with a good degree of certainty what will happen next. But when we are exposed to signs about our future, more than that, signs that are just as clear about our eternity, we turn away and deny that these signs possess any necessary or urgent information. Yet Jesus warned us, “So when you see these things begin to happen, know that your salvation is near. Don’t let my sudden coming catch you unawares; don’t let me find you living in careless ease, carousing and drinking and occupied with the problems of this life, like all the rest of the world.”

So I wonder. What will you do with this information? Turn your allegiance toward God? Or play the fool?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Immortality + Spirituality

Some author was quoted in a magazine recently as saying, “I want to achieve immortality, not through my writing, but in actuality.”

What this woman apparently doesn’t realise, at least according to Jesus, is that she IS immortal. Her essence, her character, her soul will live on into eternity. According to the Bible, we are spirit beings inhabiting physical bodies. These physical bodies are essential to our training for the next stage of our lives. Why physical bodies? Why perishable bodies? Why bodies that are destined for decay when our souls are to live on into forever? I can’t presume to know the whole answer but it seems that death, tragedy, sickness, suffering and loss are inherent to the development of our soul’s character. This development of the soul’s nature or character is dependant upon the world being exactly the way it is, with all the seemingly unfair events that take place. Suffering is indispensable to our Creator’s plan. In fact He saw it as so important that even He, no, especially He when He was on earth in the form of Jesus lived and died in a manner that was grossly unfair. That was His plan. While we can’t possibly understand all the details now, it is obvious that this life and our response to this life is in preparation for the roles that we will play in the next stage of life.

Not least of the ways in which pain and loss develop us is in our decision to either follow God, or reject Him. Many a person has completely missed the designed role of suffering in this stage of life and has become enraged at h/his Creator. Those people become so incensed at perceived injustice that they demand the removal of God from any and all thought. Many a person who claims to not believe in God says to Him when disaster strikes, “See! This is why I refuse to believe in you.” Many a person who claims to not believe in God has said, “If He existed, I would refuse to worship or even acknowledge Him on the grounds that suffering in the world exposes such a God as evil.”

Once our allegiance to God has been established, our minds are able to "see" that the Bible is rife with explanations of how and why difficulties, tragedies and loss are a necessary part of our spiritual growth. Again, our Creator’s own birth into poverty, torture, and death is central to these explanations. Even more so is His resurrection in power and glory essential to show to all that there is indeed a next stage to life. The power of the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us from the dead. Some will ascend to everlasting glory with Jesus. Some will be cast into everlasting separation from Jesus. Both destinations are simply the end result of the choices made during this life.

Upon acceptance of God’s plan for our lives, upon an agreement to join forces with our Creator, our spirit or soul is infused with the supporting, strengthening, guiding, correcting and counselling Spirit of our Creator. Our perspective on life is radically changed. Verses like, “Those who wait upon the Lord are like Mount Zion, secure and stable through any circumstance” and “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will rise up on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” and “In all life’s tragedies we are more than conquerors” describe this transformation. When this born again experience takes place, the soul within the human being embarks upon an adventure and training program of eternal proportions. Exciting, exhilarating, thrilling, and bracing don’t begin to describe the ride that envelopes the person who has had h/her eyes opened to the spiritual reality that is the Christian faith.

In fact, Christianity is the culmination of all that is spiritual, for it originates in the reality of a Spiritual Creator from Whom all other realities have their origin.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Making Christianity Irrelevant for the Masses

It seems as though being a conscientious Disciple, Follower and Student of Jesus has become irrelevant to the majority of those who call themselves Christians. It’s not that Christians haven’t read Jesus’ statement, “Whoever hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a person who builds h/his house [life] upon a rock.” Christians hear those words, perhaps dozens of times throughout their lives. Part of the problem is, we also hear and obviously give consideration to voices that are pushing many differing thoughts. For some reason we’ve come to believe that pagan philosophies are just as relevant to our daily lives as are the saving words of Jesus.

Sadly, most Christians today simply do not give more than lip service to the thought:

‘Jesus’ teaching presents the best way to live one’s life’.

Christians tell themselves that being a diligent follower of Jesus is not as important as having faith in Jesus for salvation. As I’ve said in a couple other posts, we claim to trust Jesus with our eternity but not our today. There seems to be little comprehension that today is our training ground for tomorrow, and our eternal tomorrow is nothing but an extension of the direction in which we are travelling today.

If the teachings of Jesus are anything less than crucial and vital to how we live, work, and relate to those around us, what’s the point? Why would any pagan pay attention to our lives when our ways and means of coping with life are virtually identical to the behaviour of those who are on their way to hell? A casual look at the state of Christianity in Europe and North America would suggest that we’ve made Christianity irrelevant for the masses. Which leads me to wonder. If my witness has become irrelevant and ineffective, perhaps God will see my life in the same light when it comes to considering me for eternity in heaven. Perhaps He will be justified in saying, “Get away from Me. I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More atheist Nonsense

A few days ago I saw one of the clearest examples of those who are getting their wish to be forever separated from any and all presence of God, not being able to understand what the Bible is saying - 1st Corinthians 2:14. On this atheist blog some goof said that there is no indication, anywhere in the Bible that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus, who is Creator God or that we can have continuous communication with Him. Specifically, the writer said, “[Rick] Warren’s carrying on a continual conversation with Jesus seems ridiculous in light of scripture. The Bible does not even say anything remotely like what Warren claims, yet he sums up Christian worship as having this very relationship (which is notably absent from the Bible)!”

What then, I would ask, does this ignorant atheist think prayer is? One reason, among several, that we are told to talk to our Lord and Saviour is because upon salvation, we in fact do have a personal relationship with Jesus. In fact, in 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18, we are told that we should “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” Who does this foolish atheist think that we are praying to if not Jesus? What are we giving thanks for if not the constant, personal presence of Jesus in all things that take place in our lives? In the same book 2:13, Paul says, “We also thank God continually . . .” In 1:2,3 - “We always thank God for all of you mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember [you] before our God and Father.” Romans 1:9,10 - “God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times.” Ephesians 6:18 - “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Colossians 1:3 - “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you.” 2nd Timothy 1:3 - “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” There is no need to quote further to make the point that Jesus expects from us continuous interaction precisely because we are in an intimate, personal relationship with Him. To not do so would be like spending the entire day with a husband or wife that we claim to love and either through neglect or otherwise not say one word to that person all day.

Reality is, Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching his followers exactly how to have a personal relationship with Him after he finished His time on earth and returned to heaven. Among His “earthy” examples, Jesus admonished His followers to not just ask for what they needed, but to be persistent in asking, to be continuous in prayer. The type of prayer in which we are instructed is communicating with Jesus with the expectation that a good friend, a personal friend will deliver to us good and not evil.

Having said that, how can we call our relationship with Him who came to earth to save us from eternal damnation a personal relationship? Well, first of all John 6:44 tells us that this salvation, this relationship, this adoption into the family of God is by personal invitation only. Romans 8:29 tells us that “those God foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the character of His Son Jesus the Christ.” Jesus said to Peter as He says to every Christian since then, “Come, follow Me,” - Matthew 4:19. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5 that the kingdom of heaven, His kingdom would only be given to certain individuals, again those of His choosing. For example the kingdom of heaven is open to the humble, the meek, and the lowly. The kingdom of heaven is available to those who possess characteristics that are totally the opposite to the writer of this atheist blog. Jesus said that those who mourn will be comforted, not by just anyone but by Jesus himself. Jesus will show mercy to His own people. God will show Himself to those who have come into His presence to learn purity of heart. God will adopt into his own family and Jesus will recognise as His own brothers and sisters those who seek peace for His glory. Again, this is only for those in a personal relationship with Jesus. For those who are not in this relationship, even if they specialise in religious activities, Jesus will say to them, “Get away from Me - I never knew you,” Matthew 7:21-23.

As a born again Christian, Creator God says that He is my heavenly Father. This is a personal relationship even closer than the one that I’ve had with my earthly father. My relationship with Jesus is so intimate and so personal the He has given me detailed information on how to have the best life possible. Not only that but He personally strengthens me, guides me, counsels me, and corrects me. He has personally promised me that He will never leave me or give up on me. Of course He has sealed that promise with the most secure seal possible, His very own blood. Imagine! This relationship is so close, so personal that this Jesus, the best friend that I’ll ever have gave His life for me, and has ensured that He is with me every second of every day by indwelling me with His Spirit. Jesus, who is a Christian’s personal friend, has assured us that if we put our relationship with Him first, if we put it before any other personal relationship that we may have here on earth, if we make our relationship with Him the most important thing in our lives, then never again will we have to worry about our basic needs. That is not a promise that’s made to just anyone. It’s made to those who are in a personal, saving, intimate, healed, forgiven relationship with Jesus the Christ - Matthew 6:25-34.

Even though I used to treat Jesus shamefully, He has forgiven my sins and then He said, “Come to Me anytime that you’re tired, drained, worn down with cares and I will bring rest to your soul - Matthew 11:28-29. This is not something that He says to just anyone. This is an invitation to those of His personal choice. In fact, Jesus says to those who have a personal relationship with Him, “I will personally introduce you to heaven in the presence of the Creator of the universe, Matthew 10:32
We as Christians have such a close and personal relationship with Jesus, that He says that when someone welcomes a Christian because they are a Christian, it’s the same as if that person was welcoming Jesus Himself - Matthew 10:40.

These are the kind of things that Jesus is glad to reveal to those who have a personal relationship with Him and He’s just as pleased to hide this information from those who don’t have a personal relationship with Him -Matthew 11:25.

Now some would say that the word “relationship” only applies to kin or to a family relationship. That may be. That is why, when Jesus was told that His mother and siblings had come to see Him, He pointed to all His followers who were in the house listening to Him teach and replied, "Every single one of you are my mother and brothers and sisters" - Matthew 12:40. When Jesus taught, He used parables. In fact He never taught without using parables. The parables were in many cases difficult to understand, as our 21st century atheist blogger has shown. Jesus was questioned as to why He didn’t use an easier form of teaching. He said, and again this applies to our arrogant atheist blogger, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; otherwise they might see and hear and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your [my personally chosen followers] eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear [and you do understand] - Matthew 13:14-16.

At one point Jesus compared those who are invited into His kingdom to someone who sells everything that he has so that he can purchase something of great value. Upon completing the purchase, the valuable object is now owned. It’s his. It’s something that this person possesses. Jesus is the kingdom. He is the thing of great value. When we give up everything else in order to have a personal relationship with Him, He becomes ours and we become His. We have obtained a personal relationship with the Creator of the cosmos.

The relationship that we can have with Jesus is so personal, that He promises to reward any and every effort that we make to become closer to Him - Matthew 19:28,29. Jesus explained that the whole reason that He came to earth in the first place was so that He could serve us and to give His very life for us - Matthew 20:28. Jesus came to earth to ensure that our relationship with the Creator of the universe could be close and personal. Jesus emphasised over and over that a relationship with Him could be built on nothing less than a personal, open, humble, honest give and take interaction. Unlike the world in which we live and the surface relationships that are built on looks, and money and what can you do for me, Jesus said that our relationship with Him would be based on Jesus and us serving and caring about each other. That is why He was able to say that prostitutes and thieves who had thrown in their lot with Him were entering heaven before those who were trying to get in based on looking good to the outside world.

The greatest commandment, according to Jesus is for us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. On nothing less can a truly personal and close relationship be built - Matthew 22:37. This command of course did not originate with Jesus’ earthly ministry. In fact, the origins of a personal God go back to before time itself. We live in a Trinitarian universe. This reality is THE reality from which all other realities find their source. Three Beings in perfect unity, harmony, and relationship; personal relationship.

Colossians 1:16-18 tells us “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Some people, at this point in history are trying to figure out if our universe is held together with supersymmetrical vibrating strings or loops of gravitation force. Whether or not these theories prove viable or if even smaller particles are discovered at some point in the future, no thesis of who we are and what we are here for will make sense or prove accurate until we accept that a personal God created our universe and created our world in order to have a personal relationship with us. This was not because of who we are but because of who He is. From the very beginning, Creator God desired to dwell with His people.

Genesis 3:8 tells us, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” God had a personal relationship with Adam and Eve.

Exodus 29:44-46 tells us that God chose to dwell in a tent in order to be with His people in the desert. God had a personal relationship with the people of the Exodus.

In the New Testament we are told in detail about God coming to earth in the person of Jesus who took on human form, in part, to understand perfectly what it was like to be us. No greater personal relationship has ever been formed.

And finally, after Jesus’ resurrection, Christians themselves have become the dwelling place for the very Spirit of Creator God, Ephesians 2:19-22.

To suggest that we do not nor cannot have a personal relationship with Jesus, to suggest that we do not nor cannot have personal intimate continuous communication with Jesus, to suggest that “carrying on a continual conversation with Jesus seems ridiculous in light of scripture” and that “The Bible does not even say anything remotely like that,” is beyond the pale stupidity. Creator God is, among other things omnipresent. All of His traits, powers and characteristics are everywhere in full force. When I talk to God, I am the only person that He is listening to. Just as my wife, or Christian friends or you are the only person that He is listening to when you pray. I am the only person upon whom God is lavishing His care and attention. Just as my wife or Christian friends or you are the only person upon whom God is lavishing His full care and attention. Our God is an awesome God, a personal God, a loving God who desires personal relationship with His creation.

This of course could turn into an unbearably long Post, but that Jesus is a personal friend to those who have committed their lives to Him, that we as Christians can and do have immediate, intimate communication with Him is beyond dispute.

What I encountered a few days ago was just more atheist nonsense.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Believers in God are weak and childish

A News Article today states “Albert Einstein dismissed the idea of God as the product of human weakness and the Bible as "pretty childish"

So says a man who lied to and cheated on his wife. No weakness or childishness there.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Am I a Disciple of Jesus, Or Just a Christian?

This is just a hand-out that I use as a review with counselling clients part way into our sessions.

If you are a Christian who has a deep desire to follow Jesus, to be changed by Jesus, to possess the characteristics of Jesus, then what you now believe to be the major problem in your life is actually the answer to your problem.

Could that be true? Would you be willing to suspend your current beliefs for just a few moments and entertain that statement as a possibility? Let’s review where we have come thus far.

1st John 1:5 - “The main thing that we were taught by Jesus, and what we now pass on to you is, ‘God is light. In Him there isn’t any darkness. There is nothing wrong, or evil or deceitful, or mean or unjust in Him. He can be trusted absolutely’.”

God longs to bless us and it is only our refusal to follow His leading, it is only our fear of following His leading that blocks us from receiving those blessings.

Romans 8:28,29 - “In all things our loving Heavenly Father works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purposes. For those that He foreknew, like you brother or sister in Christ, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus the Christ.

While God may bring all kinds of good out of what satan has brought into our lives as a means to destroy us, the bottom line goodness, the main goodness, the goodness that at minimum you can count on God working towards, is making you into a person who bears the characteristics of Jesus. And what are those characteristics?

Galatians 5:22,23 “But the characteristics that come from becoming like Jesus are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness (which means Long-suffering > think about that one) Gentleness, and Self-Control. Bearing this type of personality and this attitude toward others means that you are completely fulfilling the Law of God.”

We need to trust Jesus enough to heed His message, “Follow Me.” What does Jesus mean by that? Jesus, our example and character goal, came to earth knowing in advance that He would be abused, misunderstood, mistreated, rejected, insulted, betrayed and ultimately have humanity do our absolute worst to Him. Yet He entered into a covenant relationship with us anyway because He loves us. And then Jesus said, “Pick up your cross and follow Me (become like Me) in your covenant relationship with your spouse / children / extended family / co workers / neighbours etc.. This isn’t a suggestion, something to ponder for a few minutes, a debating point or simply a nice thought. This is a command to be followed as surely as the command - “Don’t Murder!”

So why don’t we trust Jesus enough to obey Him? Why do we think that following Jesus will be something awful? Why don’t we want to live our lives the way Jesus would live our lives if He had been born into our circumstances?

This may infuriate you, but it is my strong belief that Christians come for counselling because God is trying to take them to the next level of obedience and growth and they are refusing to go along with His plan. Refusing to obey God brings great internal dissonance, emotional pain, confusion, anxiety and depression. Our inner contradictions between what we say that we believe and how we act make it almost impossible for clients to communicate with God in a meaningful manner.

When people come to me, almost always it is because they are either living with “the enemy” or they are in too close contact with “the enemy.” Because of this, they are confronted with Jesus commands:

Romans 12:19-21 - “Do not take revenge, my friends. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” And Matthew 5:44 - Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you.

Counselling clients look at these commands and to a person -
1) It seems too hard. It seems too much to ask. And / or
2) They have forgotten that in every previous case of obedience and dying to self they have grown in character and they have been blessed beyond their wildest dreams.

What we fail to realise is that responding God’s way to what seems to be our biggest problem, our biggest challenge, God’s most “unreasonable request” is actually His answer to our prayers for release from our problem. There is a really good line, “The fastest way to get rid of your enemy is to make him your friend.” Well, as we know from Jesus’ own life, loving someone doesn’t always make someone your friend, but it is nevertheless, always the right thing to do. We cannot overcome evil with more evil, nor can we overcome evil by running away from it or refusing to love the person displaying evil. That is why obeying God, when confronted with an extremely difficult person is actually God’s answer to our prayers. It’s His ticket to the next level. It’s the door through which we must enter to achieve freedom from our current pain and difficulty. Remember! This has nothing to do with changing the other person. It has everything to do with changing ME.

So the questions remain:
Why don’t I trust Jesus enough to follow Him?
Why don’t I trust Jesus enough to obey Him?
Why do I claim to trust Jesus with my eternity but not my today?
Do I love Jesus enough to obey Him (John 14:23,24)? And if not, why not?

These are not rhetorical questions and I’m not being reckless or insensitive in asking them. You may have what seem to be very good reasons for not trusting Jesus with your today. Perhaps a child has died. Maybe you’ve lost your job, your health, your family. Natural disasters and unspeakable abuse are constant reminders of the dangers that surround us. The Bible makes it clear that the road of life is not for the faint of heart. That is why Jesus tells us to follow Him through life, to follow His leading, to follow His example, thereby guiding us into a character and personality that makes us more than conquerors. This I know, Running from where God is leading keeps us less than conquerors.

Am I a disciple of Jesus or just a Christian? Without you deciding on becoming the former, counselling can achieve little more than a third-rate recovery.

Good luck on your journey.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


A U.S. official was quoted on CNN as saying that the Myanmar Government doesn’t seem to grasp the severity of damage caused by the cyclone that struck there last week. He described meeting with a Myanmar three-star general who opened up a map of the country and pointed to the areas worst-hit by the cyclone."[He] characterized activity there as returning back to normal -- his words," Keating told CNN. "[He said] people are coming back to their villages, they're planting their crops for the summer season, the monsoon will come and wash all the saltwater out of the ponds. "His manner, his demeanor, his attitude indicated something less than very serious concern.

Perhaps what the U.S. official doesn’t grasp is that according to Buddhism, this is all an illusion. Apparently, when your really good at Buddhism you don’t even experience emotional pain nor do you care when your desires have been dealt a devastating blow. Total inner peace reigns supreme, as is obvious on the News Reports. In fact, desires are a thing of the past - for the really spiritual I mean. Perhaps what Myanmar needs most right now are more secular Buddhists in power who aren’t so sure that this is an illusion, that in fact they’re in deep, deep trouble and that virtually all of the Buddhist survivors are realising that desires are actually necessary to one’s survival.

As a point of interest, leading atheists appear even more delusional than Buddhism in that, while Buddhism teaches that we should learn to repress our desires; to actually reach a point of nothingness, atheism teaches that desires themselves are an illusion.

You go boys; lead us into the brave new world.

Monday, May 12, 2008


As I was on my way to a certain channel the other day, I paused for about three minutes on the sitcom called “Friends.” As a point of interest this is a program, when it first aired that was not deemed suitable for younger viewers so it was shown in the 7:30 to 8:00 o’clock time slot. Now, of course, reruns of the same program with the same material is shown at 4:00pm, just as kids are getting home from school. Anyhow, in the scene that I saw, one of the characters walks into some sort of a bar and announces that she is celebrating an anniversary. Her “friends” begin to guess what the anniversary is regarding:
“Your first kiss?”
“Your first date?”
“Your first sex.”
To which she replies, “Yes.”
Cue the canned laughter.

I know, it’s just mindless trash, but it is such sad, sad and pathetic trash. People like that, women and men who behave like that are absolutely lost, clueless, morally and spiritually adrift, selfish and self-centred, absolutely unable to distinguish between life giving and life destroying behaviours. I know because I work with them on a daily basis.

Children who are raised by people like that also become incapable of distinguishing between life giving and life destroying behaviours.
Yet this, is what we are supposed to laugh about.

If there is any behaviour that is geared to getting and transmitting STD’s including HIV (like our world needs that) it’s first date, first kiss, first sex.
Yet this, is what we’re supposed to laugh about.

If there is any behaviour that requires a person to put on extra layers of insensitivity (like our world needs that), it’s first date, first kiss, first sex.
Yet this, is what we’re supposed to laugh about.

If there is any behaviour that leads one to become immune to giving and receiving genuine love (like our world needs that), it’s first date, first kiss, first sex.
Yet this is what we’re supposed to laugh about.

If there are any characters that our children admire and desire to imitate, if there are any 'heroes' who will virtually guarantee that our children will in turn fail to find caring, loving relationships (like our world needs that), it is those “stars” who in their real lives demonstrate a profound inability to connect in a meaningful way. Because of this our children suffer, our families suffer, our communities suffer, our world suffers.

Yet this is what we’re supposed to laugh about.

When it comes to relationships, healthy people attract healthy people and dysfunctional people attract dysfunctional people. Through picturing them as cute and humorous these type of shows actually promote the most dysfunctional people, life-styles and relationships that our society has to offer. The sad and deteriorating state of the world shows that our children are absorbing the message.

Yet this is what we’re supposed to laugh about.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Are You a Real Mother?

All of our children are adopted. In some cases this leads to some pretty strange behaviour on the part of some people. For example, no two examples. When our son David was about a year old, we were at some function and a guy sees me holding David. While David, at age 27 looks as dark as his East Indian heritage would suggest, at one-year-old his hair was actually fairly light brown. At any rate, some guy I'd never met before says, "Well he sure looks like you." I replied, "Really? That's odd because he's adopted." To which the man fumble, "Oh, I'm sorry. Well I don't need to be sorry. I mean, that's fine right? Of course it is."

The best story though, has to do with Mother's Day. Shortly after we adopted our first child who is now 30-years-old we were sitting in Church on Mothers Day. We had been attending that congregation for awhile so most people knew our situation. If they didn't, two Caucasian parents with a clearly aboriginal child indicated that ours was a bit of a different situation. Anyhow, as they do in many congregations on Mother's Day, a number of people began handing out flowers to all the mothers in attendance that day. When one young woman came to where Wendy was sitting, she began to hand the flower to Wendy, then took it back, and you could just see on her face the puzzled look and tilt of the head indicating the dilemma Is she a real mother who should get a flower? And then with a blink of the eyes and a shake of her head she handed the flowers to Wendy in a purposeful manner indicating that Of course she should get some flowers. After all,adoption is almost normal - although I sure hope that I don't have to do something like that someday.

Garage Sales:

Every year on May 10th our town has a Community Garage Sale. This is an event where members of the community collude in a non verbal agreement that goes -

If you take my junk and store
it in your basement, I’ll come
and get your junk and store
it in my basement.

Because this is obviously insane, an exchange of cash is mandatory in order to lend this practise a flake of legitimacy.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Things I Remember Most About Dying

I think it was the dampness that hit me first. 10:30pm sunlight was coming from somewhere but the dampness, the cool, spider web, mouse droppings, aging dampness that makes things eerie; slightly dangerous. That's what got my attention. I remember the quiet, utter quiet. No bright loving light like so many had told of before - before it happened to me, that is. Limbo. Nothing happening. Could the atheists have been right? I’m nothing but worm food? Something like a plastic sheet waves slightly and softly to my left. Did it move? Darkness covers over.

There was a warmth coming from somewhere. I could sense it on my right forearm and cheek. Too faint to make me look in that direction. Stuffy. Why is it so stuffy? Like white fungus all fuzzy and peeling from a concrete wall.

I’d like to go back now. This isn’t fun. Why can’t I move? Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

Is that humming? Is it in my head? Is it humming? There certainly isn’t any light; not coming toward me or otherwise. That part is a lie. Why would they lie about that?

There’s no pain. That’s a good thing. A lifetime of arthritis has not removed from me a fear of pain. And now - deathtime -

This is not fun.

I hope my mother's not here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Last Car

My wife and I tend to drive our vehicles until they barely stay together. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but not much. While our van is fairly new, our last car was a 1999. It had 220,000kms on it. A couple months ago I had to replace the ABS system which was an $800.00 touch. Then the head gasket went and the power steering pump was on it’s way out as well. Sooo, I traded the thing in and got a new vehicle. Anyhow, on the way home it dawned on me that given one’s life expectancy in North America and given the fact that I’ve been unwell for most of my life, and given a family history of heart disease, this could actually be the last car that I purchase.

I know, I know any one of us could breath our last at any moment, but seriously, I’m on the down hill side of life. At 57 years old, I’m just about out of here. Now to someone who is a lot younger, that might sound absurd, but at this age a week seems like two or three days. A month takes about a week and a half and a year flies by like it just started three or four months ago.

This is both good news and good news for me. I long for heaven. I can hardly wait to be welcomed home by Jesus, my Lord and my dear, dear Saviour. That of course is the good news. I'm a citizen of heaven. Heaven is my home and it's where I belong. On the other hand, the good news is that having just a couple decades left to live gives me a renewed desire to love those that I meet with an intensity that is God given. Knowing that my time is just about up jolts me to connect with others at a level that is deep and challenging. This type of connecting is a rush. It makes me breath deeply while colours become brilliant. I don’t want to miss a single chance to help other people. I don’t want to walk by one opportunity to make someone’s day just a little better. I want Jesus to see me coming and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I want to hug my ki

Ah crap! I just forgot to take my son to his piano lesson. It’s the second time that I’ve blown a lesson this week. Ugh. This is so embarrassing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why Do You Love Creator God?

Is it His concern for the poor? Or that He demands equality for all? Or that He has provided the only place in the known universe that is perfectly suited to our needs and our well-being? Is it because only He has set forth guidelines that protect the powerless? Is it because He unequivocally stands against any and all evil that could destroy you and everyone that you love? Maybe you love God because He is available 24/7; that He delights in your existence, that He loves you unconditionally, that in fact He allowed Himself to be tortured to death on your behalf. Do you love God because He formed you as an entirely unique individual among an entirely unique species? Is it because He longs to bless you and to provide for you a magnificently abundant life? Do you love Him because He has created an environment whereby you have freedom to accept Him or reject Him? Do you love the fact that His affection for you comes with no strings attached? Do you love that He is perfectly just and that He deals with you in utter fairness according to the Laws of the Cosmos? Do you love God because He doesn’t wait for you to find Him; rather He comes to you and His love pursues you relentlessly throughout your life here on earth? Is it because this is true even when your innate evil nature despises and rejects Him? Perhaps you love God because He is the one being in the whole universe who will not give up on you or turn His back on you. Only you can keep His love from embracing you in warmth and protection. Only you can cause a permanent and eternal rift in His desired relationship with you. Do you love God because He reveals Himself to the humble and to those from whom society turns it’s gaze? Do you love God because He will give you paradise at absolutely no cost to you? Are you drawn to the fact that the Cosmos is filled with and held together by this Trinitarian Being who dwells in perfect community with Himself, who, beyond human comprehension displays wisdom, intelligence, power, glory, knowledge, creativity and dazzling beauty? Do you love the fact that God hasn’t left us to guess at His glory? Instead He has revealed to us in word, in deed and in person His nature and character so there need be no misunderstanding with whom it is that we are aligning ourselves? Do you love God because God is Jesus and Jesus is God? That means that the most pure, kind, gentle, merciful, gracious, humble and without guile or pride, loving, compassionate, giving, helping, patient, selfless, genuine, honest soul to ever walk the earth, that very same person who longs to love you and who desires your friendship is God? Do you love Him because He, being Creator God longs for you, yes you, to become part of His family? Perhaps your love is practical. Perhaps you love God because He is willing to forgive every vile act and horrific thought that you have ever experienced or ever will experience. Maybe you love God because everything that’s good in life, everything that’s pure, wondrous, worthy and worthwhile comes to you from the Father of heavenly lights in whom there is no changing or shifting like shadows. Perhaps you love God because He and He alone is able to provide for you incomprehensible peace and joy. Maybe you’re grateful that nothing can separate you from God’s love. Or maybe you’re blown away because He loves you as you are. Maybe you love God because if you let Him He will change you into a person of integrity. Maybe you love God because He and He alone provides for a victorious life that nothing, not even death itself can destroy. Maybe you love God because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead will ensure that you too will live on into eternity. Perhaps your love for God results from the one and only Being who is truly inclusive in His offer of salvation. Does your love stem from the confidence of being under the care of Him who began and who holds all things together; that you can lie down and sleep in peace because He and He alone provides for your safety? Maybe you love God because He has freed you from anxiety and worry; He’s freed you from hate and anger; He’s freed you from the need for power and position and everything else that the world deems necessary for feelings of worth and value. Maybe you love God because He has freed you from real guilt and provided for you a salvation that is sure and eternal. Maybe you love God because of the clarity and understanding that He brings into problems that have baffled humanity for eons past.

Maybe it’s because of these things and more that cause you to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Whose Disciple Are You?

It’s been said from time to time that Jesus was not the only person to encourage others to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” or “Treat others the way you would want them to treat you.” In fact, no one produced that idea before Jesus. No one could have said it that way because the human mind does not work that way. That particular teaching of Jesus was as unique as any teaching of God has ever been when compared to the philosophy of humans.

You see people of the world are generally focused on NOT doing wrong things. I must not steal. I must not kill someone. I must not screw around with someone else’s partner. I must not tell lies etc. Because of that mind-set, all people, prior to Jesus, phrased the “Golden Rule” this way. “Don’t do unto other people what you wouldn’t want people doing to you.” And while it’s usually said with a smile, the more accurate yet rarely spoken creed is, “Do to other people before they get a chance to stick it to you.” You can see it in things like - Get that parking space before he gets it. There’s only one table left - go sit down while I stand in line and then order. Force your way through the sale-crowd to grab the desired object before other people take them all. Horde your money. Accumulate possessions. It’s survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog. You snooze you lose. Atheists didn’t invent this mind-set; they simply refined it and turned it into an “intelligent” philosophy by which they believe that we should live. I'll do good to you if it will benefit me in the long-run.

What an incredible difference between that and what Jesus taught. There is a light-year of space between simply not doing something wrong and purposely doing something right. And that was the gist of Jesus’ teaching as it’s recorded in the Bible, in the record written by Matthew, chapters 5 - 7.

When Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Old Testament Law, He was saying, “You guys aren’t getting it! Here’s what all those do’s and don’ts are supposed to mean. You are to treat everyone with respect and fairness. You are to directly and volitionally pursue what is best for your neighbour. Don’t just “Not steal” - give to others freely; go beyond what they need or ask for. Don’t just “Not kill,” help others to live life to the fullest. Love your enemies. Don’t just “Not commit adultery with your neighbour’s wife or husband” - view all people as much more than sexual objects. Don’t just “Not tell lies” - rid yourselves of verbal manipulation of any kind. Use words to build up and encourage.

Jesus isn’t giving a new set of rules to follow. He is literally showing his followers a way of life; an abundant life. He is saying, “If you follow me, if you become my disciple and my student, if you make it your life’s goal to become like Me I will come to you in my Spirit and strengthen you, counsel you, guide you, protect you and grow you so that day after day, year after year there will be a steady progression toward Jesus-like-ness.

Yes there is heaven at some point, but the riches of God are given to us now, if we choose to become a disciple of Jesus. The abundant life is in becoming recreated, born again, living life to the fullest as you were meant to live it. The abundant life is in being changed into someone who can look at h/herself in the mirror and not have regrets or shame.

Lord God Almighty, you alone are great, kind and merciful. Thank you.