Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gone to the lake. Back next week.

How Good Should I Be?

Ginx the atheist made a comment a few days ago about what causes us to be “good” people. Much of what he said is true. Religion is not the only factor. Our upbringing / training does indeed play a big role.

Jesus spoke a great deal about being good, and the contrast between Jesus’ vision of good and a secular person’s vision of good could not be greater.

For a secular person, being good would look something like this. I’ll help those who need help, if I don’t have to go too far out of my road to do it. Like, I’d cross the street, maybe, if I wasn’t too busy. Or, the secular person would give away food or stuff to those in need, if s/he had anything extra to give away. ‘I’ll be good where it makes sense to be good.’

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s good. It’s certainly better than not doing anything.

So what’s the contrast between the good of secular people and that of Jesus and His followers?

Jesus said, “People will know you are My disciple (follower, student) if you love others as I have loved you.”

How does Jesus love us? He gave Himself. Not some of Himself. Not the extra. Not the left overs. He gave all of Himself. Think about that! The Creator of the universe stepped down from His throne and came to earth knowing in advance that we would do our absolute worst to Him so that we would not have His worst happen to us. And then He said, “Follow Me, be like Me, do what I did in My relationship with others.”

Feeling particularly generous one day, Jesus’ follower, Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive someone who keeps doing wrong to me. Seven times?” That’s how secular people think. At least those who want to be “good” think that way. Knowing that lots of people wouldn’t forgive at all, they think, ‘I’ll really overdo it and forgive seven times.’ Jesus says to Peter, “Not seven times but every time.” That’s what Jesus does in His relationship with those who have accepted His offer of forgiveness. His forgiveness is unending.

Jesus said, “Even secular people love those who love them back.” Jesus on the other hand took the lowest position in that society, that of a gentile slave and washed the feet of the man who He knew would betray Him to death. Then He said, “This is the example that I have left for you to follow.” Looking down from the cross onto those who were crucifying Him, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them. They don’t even know what they’re doing.”

In Jesus’ day, people were required to do what Roman soldiers told them to do. If a Roman soldier told a civilian to carry his gear for one kilometre, a secular person would feel pretty good about doing that without complaining. Jesus said, “If a soldier tells you to carry his gear for one kilometre, take it two. If someone asked for your shirt, give him your coat and your shirt.”

Jesus said, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you. Give to those who hate you.” The main fear that keeps secular people from doing this is, “I’m no doormat. No body is going to walk on me.” Jesus says, “Who cares if they walk on you? Let them jump on you.” Paul says, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”

Can you begin to see how far Jesus is from the secular mind-set? Don’t just help those who need help when it’s convenient to help them. Help those who need help, convenient or not AND even if they will ridicule and despise you for your efforts.

What did Jesus mean by “love”? The love that Jesus is talking about is the willed, volitional, desire to do good to another - even to the person who is out to destroy you.

Love one another – John 13:34

Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10

Rejoice with one another and weep with one another – Romans 12:15

Don't judge one another - Romans 14:13

Accept one another - Romans 15:7

Don't ignore one another – Romans 16:16

Don't be arrogant on behalf of one another - 1 Corinthians 4:6

Be courteous toward one another - 1 Corinthians 11:33

Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25

Comfort one another - 2 Corinthians 1:4

Serve one another - Galatians 5:13

Carry one another's heavy load - Galatians 6:2

Be patient and gentle with one another - Ephesians 4:2

Forgive one another - Ephesians 4:32

Submit to one another - Ephesians 5:21

Forgive one another - Colossians 3:13

Teach and admonish one another - Colossians 3:16

Be kind and tender-hearted toward one another - Ephesians 4:32

Be humble toward one another - 1 Peter 5:5

Be hospitable toward one another - 1 Peter 4:9

Serve one another - 1 Peter 4:10

Encourage one another 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Encourage one another to love and to good deeds - Hebrews 10:24

Don't tell lies about one another – James 4:11

Don't grumble against one another – James 5:9

Confess your sins to one another – James 5:16

Pray for one another – James 5:16

Enjoy and open and honest life with one another - 1 John 1:7

. Jesus’ kind of love is patient and kind.
Does that describe how you treat the difficult person in your life? Does it describe how you speak to that person? It does describe how Jesus interacts with you.

. Jesus’ love does not dishonour others, it is not selfish, it is not easily angered, in fact Jesus’ love refuses to keep a record of the wrong things that this difficult person has done.
Does that describe how you think regarding the most hurtful person in your life? I've encountered more than a few people who've kept a literal written record of the wrongs that someone has done to them.

. Jesus’ love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Jesus’ love never fails. 1st Corinthians 13:1-8.

The love that Jesus wants to impart to us is relentless, tenacious and even aggressive in nature. This love never backs down. The love that God places within followers of Jesus will not allow another person’s improper actions to deflect us from our goal, from our destiny to become people who are able treat with love those who seem bent on destroying us, to do good to those who despise us, to pray for those who persecute and betray us and who seem to ignore our deepest needs.

Again, don’t hear me saying that a secular person doing good to those who will do good back isn’t admirable. Lots of people don’t even do that much. But if you really want to live. If you really want to breath the rarified air of life as it was meant to be lived, consider following Jesus. Consider His offer of salvation. If you want to do something that will literally change the world for the better, ditch the third-rate secular life and sign on with your Creator. It’s better than any words I could use to describe it.

True change in our character begins when we seriously meditate on the cost of Jesus dying for us, even while we were still His enemy. Knowing what Jesus has done for me, despite how I continue to treat Him poorly and sometimes with complete disregard should inspire me to allow Him to change me into someone who is less angry, less selfish, less demanding, less controlling etc. Because of my sin, because of my anger, because of my refusal to love others as God has loved me, Jesus had to die for me. If He hadn't, well, in my Bible, next to Romans chapter 9:22-24, I have written in the margin, “It could have been me.” Jesus death, His shed blood for my sake was my only means of having my broken relationship with Creator God restored. Knowing this should change the fundamental orientation of my heart.

In Jesus, my corrupted self-love is forgiven.
How can I then turn around and hold someone else to account for h/her corrupt self-love?

In Jesus, my foolish self-esteem was transformed into Christ-esteem.
How then can I withhold forgiveness from those who push themselves to the head of the line?

If Jesus refuses to punish me for my anger, how can I punish anyone else for their lack of love / respect?

If Jesus refuses to condemn me, how can I then condemn my spouse, or in-laws, or co-workers, or anyone else?

If Jesus is generous with me, how can I not be generous with others?

If Jesus is faithful to me (“I will never leave you or give up on you”), how can I justify walking away from any other difficult relationship?

This, Bret, is the difference it makes to be a friend of God; to be in an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with my Lord, my Saviour, my King, my Master. This is the difference it makes from believing that I am an accident of nature who needs to take care of number one.
There is not a breath, not a heartbeat that does not contain the sovereignty of Creator God. Not a day goes by without His permission. No matter “my” plan, God knows the end result before it ever comes to my mind. Blessing upon blessing pour down upon me because of His great love. Every challenge can be entered into with peace and confidence, knowing that my Lord, my Saviour, my King is in perfect control.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No Life - No Meaning

If Creator God truly does not exist, then any chance for a life of ultimate meaning has been eliminated.

“It’s nearly certain that man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.”
Atheist Bertrand Russell

Either we were created by God with meaning, context and purpose, or there is no significance to our lives save what we invent for ourselves in this life. Without life beyond the grave there is no hope, no life, no purpose, no meaning.

In His Image

God created us in His image with desires for majesty, honour, and deep significant relationships just as our Creator has experienced for ever and ever.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Atheist World-view

Atheists frequently say that atheism isn’t a world view, it isn’t a belief system.

How silly. Atheism is one of the three most important world views that a person can hold.

. Creator God exists

. Creator God does not exist

. Creator God is irrelevant

A world view is made up of what we believe to be true about our existence. From our world view we develop beliefs about ourselves, about how the world works, about how life works. To say that atheism is not a world view when it plays a roll in the most important areas of how you respond to life is ludicrous.

Your world view determines what you believe about the meaning and context and purpose of life. What we believe about Creator God influences all our other relationships.
"Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases" (Psalm 115:3)

The fact that God does whatever He pleases, that He is not obligated to do anything, well, that means that He created those elect to be part of paradise because that is what He wants. If you are born again, that means that God wants YOU to be with Him in paradise; it means in fact that in God’s mind, it wouldn’t be paradise without you.

That of course means that it is all Jesus' love and all His doing because to know me or any other human is to know that there is nothing in us that would warrant our entrance into His family.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Go To Hell!

“I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian Church the most terrible of all accusations that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. It is, to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruptions; it seeks to work the ultimate corruption, nothing is untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthless, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseless of the soul.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Hmm, if he had only named the evil by its true name - Sinful Human Nature - the same nature that works in the hearts of religious people who spread corruption within the Church, he would have been bang on. But of course, self-centred atheists like Nietzsche never look at themselves as being possible contributors to the world’s woes.

I saw a video of Hitchens cursing God because there was so much misery in the world: starving children, women being abused, raped and killed, wars and pestilence and such. Funny for someone who says he doesn’t believe that God exists. And of course, since God is out of the picture in atheist world, just whose fault must it be that 25,000 children die every single day from preventable means?

Yes - That’s right.

And because God agrees that our self-centred nature is to blame, a nature that we refuse to do anything about, there is going to be hell to pay.

Or, you can allow God to do something about your nature. Looking out for the interests of others, especially for those in need of compassion is the main value of Jesus the Christ.

Compassion - an attitude that nauseated both Nietzsche and Ayn Rand.
Compassion, a characteristic that works against survival of the fittest.

Jesus put others first and all followers of Jesus feel compelled to care for the interest of others. Paul said, “In humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

This is the radical message that Nietzsche hated. In the first century of Christianity, the Roman Empire ensured that enslaving humans was common place. Abortion was openly accepted as was leaving handicapped children in the gutter or the fields to die.

It was during this time that Jesus’ brother and follower James wrote, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.” These Christians took abandoned infants from the gutters and adopted them. Out of compassion, the compassion that Jesus imparts to His followers, causes them both today and then to reach out to the poor, the sick and the homeless. All humans are seen as made in the image of God who gave them value, dignity and worth.

“[Because of Christianity] Many permanent legal reforms were set in motion. Licentious and cruel sports were checked; new legislation was ordered to protect the slave, the prisoner, the mutilated man, the outcast woman. Children were granted important legal rights. Infant exposure was abolished. Women were raised from a status of degradation to that of legal protection. Hospitals and orphanages were created to take care of foundlings.” Sherwood Wirt “The Social Conscience of the Evangelical”

And to this Christopher Hitchens, Nietzsche, Ayn Rand and other atheists say, “Religion poisons everything.”

It was the compassionate heart of the Christian that compels h/her to care for people that society has forgotten or rejected. It’s Christians who reached out to help the blind, the elderly, the mentally challenged, the handicapped, the poor when no one else would. And it is these people of compassion that modern atheists would like to do away with. Well, in hell they won’t have to worry about sitting with people whose main focus is compassion.
“We do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2nd Corinthians 4:18

I find it tragic that atheists immerse their lives in what is temporary and reject, on principle that which is eternal.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

“The Moral Landscape” by Sam Harris

Actually, this is a review of Sam’s book by Skatje Myers, PZ’s 20-year-old daughter. Pretty perceptive for a young person.

1. Utilitarianism is right, but not any more justifiable than anything else. But who cares what other people think, anyway?

2. Because utilitarianism is right, we don’t have to be loopy post-modernists.

3. Science can tell us what makes us happy. Here’s a smattering of scientific studies about the brain.

Why in the hell do they give out book deals so easily? This book isn’t about convincing others, or providing novel ideas. It’s about pandering to atheists with very little knowledge of philosophy and ethics and an abundance of arrogance, telling them science is with them, and then reiterating how immoral people who like FGM and throwing acid in girls’ faces are and how we don’t have to listen to them because We Are Right. This is nothing but a convoluted rehashing of utilitarianism that still falls to the same old criticisms, and an immense waste of time unless you really like a good ignorant circlejerk."

Like I said, pretty perceptive girl.


We’re back but I’m really tired

Broiling heat

Many surgically enhanced bodies at the pool

Many more that should have been

All of the kids and not a few adults had a blast with

Who knew that cactus grew in that area

Sandals and flip-flops not good footwear

Good, good family times - I have great sisters

Found out that a client from way back overdosed a couple weeks ago. I don’t remember grieving over someone’s loss this hard. Up all that night, walking around the lake in the dark. I wished purgatory was real. I loved that man. After three hours of walking I finally asked Jesus, "Please let G. be saved." I know it's too late but . . . He was so fragile. For me it’s always hardest with the ones I “know” will die early. I remember seeing him at a wedding about four years ago and my head filled with, “You’re still alive!?” His dad beat the ability to live right out of him. He soul was broken. His mind bent beyond straightening. Dear God that hurt. Every time I closed my eyes I could see his face sitting across from me in my office, his smile, his eyes, his awesome laugh. Had to push away a lot of lies: “If I played a role in his life I also played a role in his death.” Sometimes I hate counselling.

Refused to play Yatzee

Copious amounts of rain one night

Cabin stifling hot the other nights

Got stuck

Had a flat tire

Plugged up with a cold

Right now I’m sorry that we’re going again next week

We’re back but I’m really tired

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Greatest Gift

The longer I live the more convinced I become that knowing God, having God reveal Himself to us is His greatest gift to humanity. For it is in knowing God that we come alive.

Sceptics see arrogance or need in God’s command for us to come to Him, to honour Him, to worship Him. In reality it is God’s love for us that causes Him to direct us to where we will find life and live it abundantly. The place where we are able to live life to the full is in an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with our Creator.

“If you are thirsty for life, come to Me and you will never thirst again.”

Who would turn down an offer like that?

The people that I know who posses the most joy and peace and excitement about tomorrow are those who are in this type of relationship. I’m not taking about religious people. There are plenty of miserable people in Churches. In fact there are few ways of living that create more misery than pretending to be right with God. I’m talking about those who ARE right with God.

A Michael W. Smith song contains the line - “Everywhere I look I see You.”

We are with God in our relationships, in the outdoors, while reading His Word, while walking through trouble and sorrow. To know, to really know that He is always present and always ready to help fills one with gratitude and a deep desire to have more and more of what He has to offer.

This means of changing us (revealing Himself to us) never ends, and the glory of God in our lives only increases.

“But we all are being transformed from glory to glory, from level to level, just as from the Lord Jesus, by the Spirit.” (2nd Corinthians 3:18).

In His Image

God created us in His image with desires for majesty, honour, and deep significant relationships just as our Creator has experienced for ever and ever.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I’m All In

Some people like to just dabble in Jesus. They don’t really want to follow Him. They just want to watch Him and pick a behaviour here and there that they’re willing to obey. The thing is, if we don’t follow Him in everything, if we don’t give Him access to all of our life, He won’t be helpful in any area. He’ll leave us to our own devices and rather than being a follower of Jesus, we’ll just be a religious pretender.
If Creator God does not exist, we’re nothing but broken chemical machines with absolutely no hope of repairing ourselves.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Biblical Contradictions

John 3:16 says, “God loved the world so much, that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, so that everyone who believes in Him will not go to hell but will spend eternity in paradise with Him.”

Fair enough. But then Jesus is recorded as saying in John 10:17,18 -

“I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”

What the heck

How can the Bible say on the one hand, that God lays His Son on the alter, and then have His Son say that He lays Himself on the alter?

Or how about this.

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Yet he says just a couple verses later:

“Each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:5

How can “God’s Book” contain such contradictions?

Back from holidays

Thanks for the advice on Firefox - Good move.

On our way home, our six year old daughter asked, "If I climbed up into the cloud on that mountain, would I see Jesus?"

Before I could answer, our ten-year-old son, who was in a bit of a mood mumbled, "You don't need to climb it. You'd see Him a lot sooner if you just jumped off this stupid mountain."

I love these kids.

So - now that holidays are done, it's back to retirement (sigh)

Oh, and His Lordship, why would you show me some goofy poem from Leviticus?