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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just Think About It!

If you're wondering about whether Creator God exists, well, good. That's all God asks you to do.

"For this is what the Lord says - He who created the material universe, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, like all the other heavenly bodies, but formed it in such a way that it would be inhabited - He says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in the outer reaches of darkness; I have not said to people, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.” Isaiah 45:18,19

Just think about it with an open mind. Do that, and Creator God will begin to open your mind to the truth of His existence. In reality our Creator has made it nearly impossible to not think about Him.

As stated above, He has given us a material universe that proclaims day and night the reality of His existence. For if God did not exist, nothing would exist. Matter as we know, cannot create itself.

No process that is required for our universe to exist, and for life upon this planet to exist has ever – EVER – been observed, tested or verified via the scientific method.
. matter is not eternal
. matter cannot create itself
Either matter is eternal (and it's not) or the immaterial Creator of matter is eternal. It's one or the other and it's not the former.
Just think about it!

Monday, December 30, 2013

You Wanna Be a Christian?

Ironically, this is a question that is asked, perhaps in different words, by those of us who too poorly represent the image of Jesus the Christ.

We've evangelized others even though:
. We had little idea what Jesus was like. We thought we could know Him without actually studying the documents that spoke about Him.
. We had almost no understanding of how the Old Testament related to the life of Jesus. At best we saw the Bible as a collection of unrelated stories.
. We thought that going to Church was enough to transform us into the character of Jesus. More Church = More Christian. Or so we thought.
. To say that we were ungracious and unloving toward those who believed and lived differently would have been a generous assessment of our character.
. We believed that being a follower of Jesus meant nothing more than not doing what sinners did.

If you want to evangelize, know your Saviour first.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday's Thoughts on Marriage

The 2nd in a series:

Have you got a marriage partner who doesn't treat you good? It's not all h/her fault. You cannot expect a person to treat you good, if you chose to marry someone who is not a good person. In fact, you will not attract a good person if you yourself are not a good person. Health attracts health, sickness attracts sickness. I've said these things before on so I won't go into it further here.

The reason that I love working with married couples, particularly couples in a Christian marriage, is because there is no relationship in all of humanity better suited to helping us learn to love than marriage. Of course any relationship can help, but none is better than marriage. I've long said,

We get married because we think we're in love. In reality, it's marriage that teaches us what love is.”

Marriage as the Christian paradigm intends, mimics Jesus' philosophy of life, “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life . . .”

In the Christian paradigm, the man is the Spiritual Leader of the home. As such, he is to model for the family:
. submission
. love
. patience
. gentleness
. forgiveness
. mercy
. kindness
. faithfulness
. grace
. self-control
. servant leadership, and so on.

Ultimately husbands and wives show their love for Christ when they unconditionally love their spouse. If you are not loving your spouse unconditionally, you are not loving Jesus. This is a huge, huge difference from what marriage means to most modern day couples.

In fact, completely ignoring empirical evidence regarding longevity of marriage, today more than half of all couples live together before getting married. That may not surprise you, but consider that only 40 years ago, only those on the dysfunctional fringes of society lived common-law.

It used to be that marriage taught dedication and commitment. It used to be believed that marriage provided a safe environment for children to learn about all aspects of life, since in the absence of safety, children function less well in all areas of life. Again, studies are congruent on this conclusion. Today marriage is all about self. I purposely leave out the term “secular marriage” because more and more marriages of couples that would call themselves “Christian” copy their secular neighbour's reasons for getting married. Marriage no longer has anything to do with reflecting God's nature, or trying to better society by bettering oneself. It's no longer about “us” and has become totally about “me”. In fact, the very thought of having a spouse who helps you to change let alone expects you to change is anathema to modern marriage. Not so for Biblical marriage.

More next Friday.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

And So This Was Christmas

Jesus was the only human who ever was or ever will be totally and unequivocally committed to peace. The rest of us love violence. We watch it for entertainment. We enjoy the thrill that it gives us. Watching violence allows us to vicariously view ourselves as powerful and dangerous.

If you ever doubt the evil that resides within human nature, just consider the vile and disgusting war that rages within the human heart. Our movies, not to mention the atrocities that take place during real violence stagger the imagination.

So corrupt is our nature that we took The Prince of Peace and killed Him.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. These will be His royal titles:
Mighty God,”
Everlasting Father,”
Prince of Peace,”
His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world.” Isaiah 9:6-9

Isaiah was given the prophecy of Jesus' coming to earth. To us was given the person Who fulfilled that prophecy. Isaiah enjoyed the expectation of Jesus' coming to earth. We get to enjoy the experience of Jesus' Spirit living within us, guiding, counselling, comforting, saving, and giving to us His peace.
Who wouldn't want that?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Seeing is Not Always Believing

The early Jews believed that the coming of the Messiah would bring God's judgement against evil. They were correct. So right they couldn't see the truth of what was happening right before their very eyes.

The Jews of Jesus' time “knew” that anyone who was crucified, or “hung on a tree” was under God's curse. To be under God's curse AND to be the Messiah seemed an unresolvable conundrum.

In reality, Jesus came to our planet to bear the judgement and wrath of Creator God against evil and those on the side of evil. Jesus, our Messiah, our Saviour came to die in our place.

What kind of a person would push away, or reject that kind of an offer?

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Bible – Full of Contradictions

My nephew told me that during a family gathering. This is a man who uses these supposed contradictions to keep Jesus at arms length. Because sin makes us stupid, and because atheists are by nature spiritually dull of mind and slow of thought, this man is incapable of discerning between contradictions and different descriptions.

He really can't see that expecting four different individuals to describe any event, word for word the same, is preposterous. He can't see that having for "reporters" highlight exactly the same aspects of the account is preposterous. In reality, my nephew has only heard that the Bible contains contradictions. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, but when I asked for examples, he could not give me a single one, although he thought the accounts had a differing number of angels and women at Jesus' empty tomb. Sadly, this is enough for him to justify his refusal to examine Jesus' offer of forgiveness.

In order to change the subject, he brought up the “identical story of Mithras and Jesus.” When I asked him to elaborate for the rest of the group; those who may not know what he was referring to, the dear boy did not have a clue. Again, he'd only heard that they were the same.

There was a time when I would have expended great energy in attempting to correct his faulty thinking. I now realize that until Jesus opens this person's spiritual eyes, until God begins to draw this person to Jesus, like all atheists he is incapable of understanding anything regarding his Creator and Saviour.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Married Forever?

The 1st in a series:

Woody Allen, in speaking about being “married forever,” said, “Forever is a long time, especially the bit towards the end.”

Because I'm mostly retired from marriage counselling, I think I'm going to do a number of posts on marriage as it exists from a Christian or Biblical paradigm.

When one is living in a marriage that runs by the rules and values of the world “Praying for the end of time” (Meatloaf 'Love by the dashboard light') is not at all unusual.

Marriage as set up by our Creator however is so radically counter-cultural that few people, even among those who claim to be Christians fathom the deep and personal transforming power that Christian marriage entails.

So, each Friday for a few weeks, I'm going to share some things that my own journey through marriage, as well as marriage counselling with thousands of people has taught me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Dynasty – 1984

We live in a society that watches murder, and lying and adultery and corruption in all its forms as evening entertainment. We love it. We practically worship it. We certainly pay those who live out these behaviours our highest honours.

Shows like “The Real Housewives of (pick your area) is wildly popular. That is a show that revels in the bottom feeding characteristics of human nature, and we as a society care not a bit. And then comes Duck Dynasty. I've never actually watched an episode, but apparently a lot of people do watch it on a regular basis. I think I heard it's the top rated show on that Network.

I do know this. The show does not put forth human behaviours and thoughts that we wouldn't want our children watching. Unless you're anti hunting I suppose. But let one of the characters express an unpopular thought, and the show is cancelled. Cancelled by the Network! Not because the ratings were bad, but because during an interview one of the characters was asked his opinion and when he gave his opinion people who are afraid of secular bigots, or who are themselves secular bigots decided that this character must be punished for his thoughts.

One person who represented GLADD was outraged – outraged I tell you – that the Bible compares homosexuality to bestiality. He was referring to the Duck Dynasty character's reference to a couple verses in the Bible where homosexuality and drunkenness, and idolatry and yes, bestiality are all listed as practices that will ensure the person does not spend eternity in heaven.

Well, in that passage, homosexuality and bestiality are similar the same way that jay-walking and credit card fraud are similar. The latter are both wrong in the eyes of the civil law code, while the former are both listed in the Bible as sin. 

Which, for what it's worth should not bother heathens and pagans and atheists in the least. If you don't care about God, why should you care about what He says?

This GLADD representative tried to say that the tv show's character has the right of free speech, “while we have the right to turn your show off.” Technically true, but now, because of the secular thought police, those who overlook the show's character's belief while still enjoying the show, can no longer choose to turn the show on. Secular bigots and those afraid of the power these bigots wield, have taken away the right to choose. In reality, secular bigots have made free speech a thing of the past.  

Addicts, adulterers, wife abusers, those who neglect their children or raise them in the most horrendous conditions, those people are still our Stars and tv heroes. But find out that one tv personality holds a politically incorrect belief and he's gone. Not just him but the whole show.

Amazing stuff. You got it right George Orwell. You got it right. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

That's Disgusting!

In yesterday's post, I included a famous, or perhaps infamous picture by Kevin Cartier. It's of a vulture waiting to feast upon a nearly dead child. I forget the location, although it's coming to the point where the picture could be labelled “anywhere – planet earth.”

Anyhow, I've had this same picture as the desktop background for a few weeks on the computer my eight-year-old daughter uses. I thought it appropriate as Christmas is coming and the kids are dreaming of iphones and tablets and ipads and so on.

She has said three times, “Take that down. It's disgusting.”

It certainly is. I believe that is exactly what Jesus is saying as He watches our behaviours, those of us who are wealthier than 90% of the world's people. In fact, “disgusting” hardly begins to describe the way we ignore the needy or pay token respect by donating a goat or a chicken or volunteer for a couple days at the soup kitchen.

How magnanimous of us!

We, the people of the world need to change.

A friend noticed the picture on our fridge of a little girl in South America that we're sponsoring. Our friend's response was, “Well, most of those people live in hot countries where they don't need to spend money heating their houses. Their money goes farther because of that.”

We, the people of the world need to change, because the way we are is disgusting.

Monday, December 16, 2013

“The Poor Will Always Be With You”

Photo by Kevin Cartier

This statement of Jesus is one of the most stinging condemnations of human nature in the whole Bible. “For our hearts are desperately wicked” comes close.

Regardless of atheist protestations to the contrary, a secular utopia is not something that humanity will experience at any point in the future. Today, 3.8 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day. This despite trillions wasted on defence programs and preparations for war, as well as 100's and 100's of billions being spent on mere distractions. Our corrupt self-love will prevent any success regarding justice and mercy for all.

The concept that “all men are created equal” is distinctly Christian. It cannot possibly mesh with “taking care of number one.”

Believing the lie, accepting the great delusion that humans can improve themselves through self-effort is the cause of atheist's relentless assault on the One Whose kingdom is not of this world, and against those who follow Him.

Does that mean that we shouldn't try to help our brothers and sisters in need? Just the opposite. It's our duty to fight against the evil that rests so comfortably and securely within each of us. We must do this despite knowing all along that peace on earth will not be brought about till evil and those on the side of evil are banished forever from God's Kingdom.

The concepts of sin, freewill, conscience, eternal and divine justice, these things have no place in the atheist mind-set. On atheism, Might is Right. The end justifies the means of the atheist mind and stands in stark contrast to Objective Morality which condemns our lack of love for the needy. That is why the poor will always be with us. That is why we can and will continue to justify our greed and self-effort.

Becoming a Sobresaliente

That's what Jesus did for us. He was our substitute. A Sobresaliente is a substitute matador. He stands by, in the ring, un noticed behind a wooden barrier in case the main matador runs into trouble; the kind of trouble from which he cannot extricate himself. The Sobresaliente is willing to give his life in order to save the life of the main matador.

That's what Jesus did for us. Thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, we abandoned God and went our own way. We broke a relationship that we could not heal. Jesus, our Sobresaliente stepped in. He sacrificed His life for ours. He died so that we might live. He not only defeated satan and his plans for our destruction, Jesus made a spectacle of satan and his rebellious hoard before all the powers of heaven.

For that we owe Jesus our deepest gratitude. For that we owe Jesus our very life.

Friday, December 13, 2013

“ ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.”

atheist scientist Francis Crick

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rules? Or Mercy?

 We’ve had this ugly, ugly thing happen in our church. A young man, early twenties has left the congregation. I’m sure he felt as though he had no choice. He’ll have felt as though he was run out of the congregation.
For what you ask?
Well, it wasn’t because of some grievous sin. It wasn’t because of gross hypocrisy. No, this young man who loves Jesus, who longs to serve Jesus was run out of the congregation because - wait for it - he was wearing sandals and bare feet. When he plays the guitar (worship team) he rocks and I mean he REALLY rocks. I love it. Some people, people in power positions complained. The kid got word of their small mindedness and he left. Which, in itself is small minded.
Oh Christians, what a nauseating group we are. While I can cut the young man some slack for his small mindedness, the atavistic behaviours of his elders makes me squeeze my eyes shut and sigh with spiritual weariness.
So what would Jesus do? How about what DID Jesus do?
Read Matthew 12:1-5. David, a man after God’s own heart broke the rules. He didn’t just break a dress-code he really screwed up. He went right into the Holy place and took something he had no business taking. And when Jesus was commenting on this grievous offence He said in both the Old and the New Testament - “I desire mercy.”
Yes rules have their place but mercy is better.
Our sanctuary needs to be exactly that - a place of safety, not attack.
Our sanctuary needs to be a place of mercy, not a place of destruction.
I attend a really, really fine congregation. One of the best I’ve been in. Sadly, even in the best of us, evil and pettiness lurks. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let’s Make A Deal

Muslims, atheists and come cults that call themselves Christian, like the Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons would like to make a deal with God. It goes something like this. You let me say that Jesus wasn’t God and I’ll say that He was a really good man, a moral teacher, a good example.
Some (read atheists) think that’s too extravagant and will only go so far as to say, You let me say that Jesus wasn’t God and I’ll agree that Jesus might have existed - He probably didn’t exist but He might have. These people think that because they’ve been so gracious in their estimation of Jesus, should the existence of God turn out to be true, He’ll overlook their vile and evil character.
Actually, those are not options. I mean, if Jesus wasn’t who He said He was, a liar is the least of names that we could call Him. If Jesus is not exactly who He said He is, there should be a crime against His words and actions for they are vile in the extreme. If He was just a man, then Jesus was an imposter, a fraud, a monster. Think about it! If Jesus wasn’t who He said He was, then:
Jesus conned people into dying for Him.
Jesus told people to worship Him.
Jesus told others to be honest, while He lived a lie.
Jesus told others to trust Him to save their souls.
If Jesus was not who He said He was then He was a blasphemer of the highest order.
If Jesus was not who He said He was then He was a megalomaniac and a psychopath.
In the account of Jesus saying, “Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or “Get up and walk,” Jesus was NOT saying to the Pharisees, “You’re wrong to say only God can forgive sin.” They were bang on for that point. Their error was saying He was not God.
There are no deals to be cut here. Jesus left doubters with absolutely no middle ground. He’s either a fraud and blasphemer or God incarnate. Jesus was saying to them and to us, “I can do things that only God can do.”
Unlike present day fraudulent healers, Jesus healed instantly, completely, permanently. In the account just mentioned, where Jesus said, “Which is easier, to forgive this man’s sins or heal him?” the man’s atrophied muscles, brittle bones, bent and twisted arms and legs were made whole; strength and dexterity were restored in a moment of time. It WAS something that only God could do. Even with the proof walking out the door right in front of them, the Pharisee’s, as with today’s atheists, looked only for a way to deny who Jesus was.
Like holocaust deniers who live on the fringes of reality, for those who don’t want to believe that Jesus is who He says He is, no amount of evidence is enough.
And no deal with be made.
You do the crime.
You will do the time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Clever? You bet!

In Luke 9:46 “An argument started among the disciples about which of them would be the greatest.”
Gee, I wonder who would tempt someone in that direction?
satan uses the same characteristics that brought about his own downfall to wreak havoc in our lives as well. Pride and striving, two things that set satan against his Creator sets us against our Creator and against each other.
President Reagan had a sign on his desk that said, “There is no limit to how high and how far a person might go, as long as he doesn’t care who gets the credit.”
satan, and those who follow his lead strive for credit and applause. Sadly, those in the Church are not immune from this tendency. What led to satan's downfall will destroy us as well, unless we cease our striving and allow God to be in control.
That is after all what it means to be humble. “God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

“We Broke the Ocean”

I remember someone saying that many years ago when there was a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

We broke the ocean.”

That's a bad thing, but we can fix the ocean if we have the will to do so. I think that our greed and corruption will prevent such action from taking place but we could fix our planet if we wanted to.

Our relationship with our Creator is another story. We broke that relationship and we are incapable of doing anything to fix it. So Jesus did what was necessary to restore that relationship. And He did that before we even knew that we needed His help.

Amazing grace!

Sadly, that's not good enough for atheists. They demand that this offer of forgiveness be imposed on everyone – even on those who don't want this forgiveness – or more importantly – upon those who believe they don't need forgiveness.

In this regard, atheists seem impossible to please. Atheists rage at a God they don't believe in for allowing good things to happen to bad people (some of them the worst humans who ever lived) by bringing them into a heaven that the atheist doesn't believe in.

AND atheists rage at a God they don't believe in for giving atheists what they want most, a life and an eternity without God. He does this by allowing the atheist to choose an eternity in hell (the complete and utter absence of God) which they also don't believe in.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

“Without God, We're All Good!”

That's a line from a recent atheist bill-board.

Without God, we're all good.”

Could there be a more puerile line of thinking?
Wishful thinking?
Psychological blindness?

Without God, we're all good.
Without the police, we're even better.
Without any external measurement of morality, without any conscience at all, we're sociopaths – I mean, atheists.

Atheism – a say anything world-view geared to appeal to those who exist on the fringes of reality. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tolerate You – OR – Exclude You

Sadly, that's a tough decision for many people – Christians included.
Sadly, many people see the solution only within this dichotomy.

The fact is, excluding those who wilfully live a sinful life lacks Jesus' kind of love. On the other hand, tolerating a sinful life lacks the kind of courage that Jesus displayed.

Jesus rejected both tolerating and excluding.
Jesus came to those who rejected Him in order to bring them safely home. He said in effect, “I'm going away to prepare a place for you and in the meantime, I'm going to purify you from your sin so that you will become the kind of people who are prepared live in that place.”

To prove that He was serious about this, Jesus came from His throne in heaven, to live among us, with us. He became one of us, identifying with us in our lost and lonely state. And He walked with us all the way to the cross, taking upon Himself a punishment that we could not bear so that we might one day spend eternity in His presence.

Can't we do that same for those who today reject His offer of love and forgiveness? Can't we go to them? Can't we show love to them? Mercy? Kindness? Compassion?

We can't do this while excluding them from our presence. Nor can we do this by excusing or merely tolerating their sin.

All that God has asked us to do is to love others. Love them. Be gentle and understanding and merciful and to point them toward the greatest love and forgiveness this universe will ever know.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If You Have Seen Me . . .

That's what Jesus said. “If you have seen Me, if you have observed what I'm like, if you have listened to My words and understood the grace and mercy and love that I shower on those who come to Me, then you know what Creator God is like.”

We who know Jesus want others to know God as we know Him. That's part of what it means to be created in His image. We are to be image bearers so that others will want to know Him also. We are to point others to the greatness of Creator God.