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

Monday, August 11, 2014

So, this is it. I'm all done. I have Stage 4 Bone and Prostate Cancer.

To my brothers and sisters in the Lord, I look forward to seeing you as we celebrate with Jesus, the One before whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He and He alone is Lord of lords and King of kings.

Stay strong. Stay faithful.
See you there!

Rod Holmgren

Friday, April 4, 2014

I am going to stop blogging for awhile. I'm writing another book which is taking most of my time and energy. I want to thank all those who have been following as regular readers. When I'm back is TBA. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Existence of God

The existence of the universe is such a powerful proof of the existence of God that only a fool could and would deny that fact. Most people capable of reading and discerning are well aware of the multiple levels of “proof” for the existence of God.
The Bible presupposes the existence of God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.
While the First Cause does not automatically point to the God of the Bible, with a little thought it quickly becomes apparent that it can be no other. For example, there can be only one Greatest Conceivable Being. This fact eliminates all religions that are not monotheistic.
The Bible teaches that God can be known through faith, the result of which is a revelation from God to us about Himself. Even those fools who purport to live by reason alone soon succumb to the need for faith to support their own arguments. This is a result of the fall in which sin limits our ability to rationally understand anything. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of The peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon’
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Atheists Will Tell You

Atheists will tell you that there isn't any war on Christians. Nevertheless, twice as many Christians were killed in 2013 as in 2012.
from Open Doors USA in its report “World Watch.”

Monday, March 31, 2014

No Worries!

Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, or what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:25,33.
This is a radical statement. So radical is this statement that not only do atheists and pagans discount its veracity, many if not most of those who claim to be followers of Jesus also live out their doubts. Yet we have a guarantee of its trustworthiness. That guarantee is the resurrection of Jesus.
The same power that brought the material universe into existence out of literally nothing material, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is the same power that will bring security and safety and meet the needs of everyone who dies to self in order to follow their Lord and Saviour.
The resurrection is a powerful message to the whole world. Within 2-3 centuries after Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity supplanted the most compelling world-view of the time, the Greco / Roman philosophy of the time.
The resurrection is historical fact. It's certain and it's for you. The resurrection was proof to the eyewitnesses, and it's proof to you that you are not just dust in the wind. Creator God values you, His creation so much that He not only died to pay the penalty for your sins, He rose again to ensure the defeat of your greatest enemy - death.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday's Thoughts on Marriage

This is number 14 in a weekly series I began on December 21st/13 with a post called, “Married Forever?

Christian marriage is not lacking a supernatural element. As Paul highlights and John 17 expands, a Biblical marriage is to pattern itself after the union of the Trinity; a relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who live in perpetual love and sacrifice. Jesus on the Cross, speaking words “not My own,” was an example of this loving and sacrificial relationship.

We are created in God's image. 

We were not created to live in our own glory. 
We were not created to worship ourselves. 

“Love the Lord you God with all your strength, heart, soul and mind, AND love your neighbour as yourself.”

It we fail to serve God by loving others, by serving others, we fail live out the nature with which we were created. Violating our nature leads to misery and the breakdown of relationships.
Who ever wants to save his life must lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” If you seek life as this world understands life, seeking self-protection above all else, you will find misery. If you seek Jesus and put Him first in your life, in your relationships, in your marriage you will have a full and abundant life.

More on this next Friday

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Go Tell Peter

What I’m about to write strike so close to the heart that I can hardly begin. Go tell Peter. “Let him know that I want him to be there.”
You know where that’s from? Mark 16:7.
The disciples had all deserted Jesus. Peter’s knee jerk reaction to fight the Romans had been rebuked by Jesus and then, well, then, in the face of a crucifixion, confused Peter denied even knowing Jesus at all. And they scattered. Who knows to where? Hiding here. Skirting down darkened allies there. Somehow, all but Thomas had gathered again in the last place they’d been together with Jesus, the upper room. Was it prearranged? Who knows? It must have been terribly difficult. Losers and failures to a man. Each in his own way a coward. And Peter. He had only done what most every one of us would have done yet, betrayal is betrayal. 
The worst kind of betrayal - that of a friend.
And what does Jesus do? He makes extra sure that the message gets to Peter, “You’re not excluded. I want YOU to be part of My group. I don’t care that you turned tail and ran. I want YOU back.”
O God! How much love can You pour out on us? How much forgiveness can You grant us?

What kind of a person would turn away from that great a love?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

God is Just

While followers of Jesus do good, not to gain salvation but because we have been saved, we can know that our good deeds will be rewarded.
God does not give to those whom He has saved, what they justly deserve - eternity in hell.
He does give punishment to those who persist in evil because He is Just.
He does give good for evil, because He is good.
He does give good for good because His grace and mercy endure forever.
He will never give punishment for good because He is not unjust.

He will give punishment for evil and He will give grace for evil to those of His own pleasing. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Human Will

Are we at the mercy of our chemicals exchanges? Are we driven by a Selfish Gene? Do we have free will or are we robots?
According to Jesus, neither the elect nor those destined for hell have had their free wills removed. Rather the will of humans is either left in its rebellious state or it is changed to a will that is predisposed to accept the reality of Creator God. And whether we accept or reject the evidence for Creator God, our will is then assisted  toward one destination or the other.

It is God who converts bad wills into good ones. Both types of people, within the context of who they are, choose this over that, this one and not the other, evil or good depending on who God has made them. Those who reject God truly believe they are somehow free because, well, they are not under the spell of God. Wrong. Read Romans 9:22-23. Whether we are part of God’s family or part of those upon whom God’s wrath remains, it is the doing of our Creator and it is within that frameworks that our free will operates. The guilty cannot complain because they are in fact, guilty and the forgiven cannot brag because it is God who has chosen to forgive.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nothing Else Like It

I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue sticks to the roof of My mouth; you lay Me in the dust of death. Dogs have surround Me; a band of evil men has encircled Me; they have pierced My hands and My feet. I can count all My bones; people stare and gloat over Me.”

Jesus, the Son of God placed Himself into the hands of men and we did our absolute worst to Him. As the song says, “How can it be; that you my King would die for me?” God, nailed to a Roman cross by the humans He came to save from sin. The King of kings, Lord of lords, Creator of the Universe gave His life for ours. Such was the love of God for His creation, a creation that of its own free will turned against the greatest love in the universe.

And in that process, Jesus, by the same power that brought us into existence, defeated the great enemy of human-kind, death itself.

On the road to Emmaus, after His resurrection, Jesus spoke with two of His disciples. “And beginning with Moses and the prophets Jesus explained all that had been written about Him.”

Jesus came in weakness to save those who admit they are weak; to those who admit they need forgiveness. He laid down His life of His own freewill, for us. 

Once you know the ending of the story, it is impossible to read the Old Testament without seeing Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus; there's nothing else like it! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday's Thoughts on Marriage

This is number 13 in a weekly series I began on December 21st/13 with a post called, “Married Forever?

The title of this post could be called, “Squandered Love.” It is not uncommon in marriage to see one or both partners disregard one of the main tenets of, or one of the main definitions of “love,”

Real love does not keep a record of wrongs.

I remember working with a woman who was livid because her husband didn't pray with her. Never mind that he wasn't even a Christian. In her mind, a husband is the spiritual leader of the home and a spiritual leader should pray with his wife for the family. As time passed, she was able to nag him until he did pray with her from time to time. She was happy for one week; until she realized that he didn't pray with her all the time. Real love for another person simply does not keep track of offence, whether the offence is intended or otherwise. There is no need to keep track because real love is simply doing good to another person; nothing more, nothing less.

In many marriages I hear things like, “Yes he left me a nice card that said nice things, but they're just words.” When I ask for further explanation, the person relates that at some point in the past, the “offender” had criticized or said unkind things. Therefore, in this person's mind, any good that is now done is discounted as being worthless.

What a tragedy!

We, all of us have good days and bad. Some days we're able to act in love, and other days we're self-obsessed. Some days we say mean things and mean them, but other times we say kind things and mean those as well. It is such a waste of opportunity, such a squandering of the potential to be loved to push it away, to reject it, to lose the chance to absorb love because of a desire to cling to the past. This type of thinking is usually tied to depressive thinking; the all or nothing thinking.
. If something went wrong this morning, the whole day is ruined.
. If I failed at this, I'm a failure.
. If she was angry at me for not taking out the garbage, she hates me.

And it's the same with God. God, our Creator clearly dislikes those thoughts and behaviours that are destructive to ourselves and others. He hates sin. Some people read our Creator's views on the sin in our lives and completely ignore the fact that “All good things and every perfect gift is from God.” They completely ignore the fact that “If God did not withhold even God the Son, Jesus, from dying to pay the penalty of our sins, there is not the slightest chance that He will withhold anything good from us.”

Don't squander the offerings of love in your life. Grab them. Hold them. Cherish them, and then freely give to others what you have freely received.
More on this next Friday.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why No Unity?

Many a fool has pointed to disagreements in Church denominations and made some claims as to disagreements equalling irrelevance or worse. First of all, unity does not mean uniformity. Right from the beginning there were different forms of worship. The unity that Jesus demands is in worshipping Him as Creator and Saviour of the universe, regardless of the form that worship takes.
And regardless of what people think, those who have been born again into faith in Christ via the leading of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit are one in Christ. In my opinion, the many different denominations simply reflect the diverse nature of humans and the dynamic power of Christianity. Jesus relates to all people in all times in all cultures. The Bible appeals to different people in different ways, and Jesus says that in heaven there will be people from every language, race and tribe.
On the other hand, our fallen nature dictates that we see ourselves as right and others less so. This is wrong, and atheists are correct to criticize this fault in human nature, theirs included.
Paul understood that peace and unity cannot exist apart from the truth of the Gospel. To compromise the Gospel of truth would be to lose what creates our unity and peace. When a decision must be made between unity and truth, unity must yield to truth; for it is better to be divided by truth than united by error. We test the church by truth, not truth by the church. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Whatever Is, Is Okay

Yesterday I asked one of our 13-year-olds (who functions at about a 5-year-old level), "Why does God love you?"
He thought for a bit and then said with a tone of wonder, "I don't know. He just does. And that makes me happy."

That attitude is a sign that you have truly come to understand God's love and working in your life. 

For myself, after 32 years of learning about and revelling in my relationship with Jesus, I've come to know beyond a shadow of doubt that because of God's love for me, whatever is, is okay, i.e. whatever circumstance I face, it's going to be okay. 

A sure sign that one does not know God is when h/her life is not going as s/he wants, there is not just sorrow or worry, but a deep anger and bitterness.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Who Are We?

Modern secularists love to see present day humans as the pinnacle of evolution. In reality, human nature has change not one iota since Adam and Eve.

We tend to have this idea of Neanderthals as these stereotypical cavemen that must have been different from us because they're not around today,” Riel-Salvatore said. “And what we’re seeing, in fact, is that the more we look at the record of Neanderthals ... the more their lifestyle appears to have been similar to those of modern humans at more or less the same time.”
The big difference between them and us is shrinking by the day — literally, at this point,” Riel-Salvatore said. “And so instead of seeing them as this extinct offshoot on the human family tree, we should think of them more as extinct cousins, fairly close relatives.

Regardless of either option, monkey or man, Darwinists plead with us to believe that we are nothing more than a mass of chemical exchanges and firing neurons even as they, the atheists, display a whole range of personal thoughts, emotions and pseudo arguments when their beliefs in this area are challenged.

These people look at the human abilities of self-reflection, art, medicine, the enjoyment of music and say it comes from an illusory direction of will. In fact, they say that self-will or freewill choice are also an illusion. Even though the development of our vocabulary is enormous, our grammar complex and our conversations deep and meaningful, it all comes, say materialists, without purpose or meaning. These atheists look at the human ability to codify language, our unbounded creativity, selflessness, love, the exercising of our rational faculties, our ability to develop an argument, follow a line of logic, draw conclusions and frame hypotheses and call it the simple, random and unguided firing of neurons. 

Our strong spirit of enquiry, our research in the fields of astronomy, mathematics, medicine and physics while noteworthy for some, is nothing of lasting consequence to an atheist, for all will, according to atheists comes to an absurd and meaningless end. Yearn for meaning in life? It too is of no lasting import. It’s the same illusion that causes us to devote so much of our time to philosophy, theology and ethics. Or so the materialist world-view claims. Atheists say that our religious sentiments and practices and our intense and endless quest for meaning can be traced to some random mutation eons ago. 

The concept of atheism forces us to say that it’s only the illusion of the “I” that questions not only our origin but also our destiny. It’s only the illusion of the “I” that has a refined aesthetic sense that admires beauty and longs to be surrounded with it. When we cultivate a garden, put flowers in a vase, or hang up a painting, it’s the illusion of the “I” that is expressing a love of beauty and a strong creative impulse. Our poetry, painting, dance, drama and music, our weekly craft groups where baskets are woven, wool is spun, shawls are knit, and photo albums are covered, all this, says the ardent materialist, is carried out for no particular reason save to follow the command of chemical exchanges.

Reason, language, enquiry, wonder, longing, religion, morality, aesthetics, creativity, imagination, aspiration and humour, to such intangible but fundamental qualities, atheists like Bertrand Russel can only respond, and in the total absence of proofs or evidence, yet driven by a desperate desire to be free from all accountability to one’s Creator, they hope that you will agree: 

“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 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 . . . that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried - all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” 

The atheist’s philosophical and powerful emotional reaction to the fact of a universe with a beginning and to the impossibility of life arising unaided from non life shows that we are far, far more than a mass of chemical exchanges, more than mere thinking machines. Bottom line, we're a lot less simian than atheists would like us to believe.
From "Trolling for Atheists" Rod Holmgren

Monday, March 17, 2014

There's Nothing Like It – Anywhere!

The resurrection of Jesus, that is. The resurrection is an amazing event that changed history forever. It was an event that caused people to worship a nobody from a dusty Roman outpost called Nazareth. It was an event that caused people to be willing to die rather than deny what they claimed to have seen.
As today with atheists, there were those back then who were deeply offended that human beings could be so gullible as to believe that someone had come back to life. A man known now as the apostle Paul, especially took exception to the claim of several dozen people, that Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified and buried, had then risen from the dead. So offended was Paul that he tortured and killed followers of the risen Christ in order to make them stop talking foolishness.
And then it happened.
Jesus, the risen Jesus, stopped Paul in his tracks. Paul encountered the risen Jesus, and Paul was forever changed. A man who already had a world-view and a powerful religion changed them both, completely, because he met and was changed by Jesus the Christ who was raised from the dead.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else. But if their thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”
C.S. Lewis (1898–1963), The Business of Heaven, Fount Paperbacks, U.K., p. 97, 1984.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Atheists Fume Over Dalai Lama's Prayer

The Dalai Lama apparently said a prayer in one of the Houses of Government in the U.S, a few days ago. How dare that man bring religion into the political sphere?

Actually no. To the best of my knowledge, not a peep was heard from atheists regarding this prayer in the  public sphere. It's only Christian prayers that are raged against by the fickle hearts of atheists. 

However the prayer itself is of interest to me.

"Speak or act with a pure mind, and happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves"
Dalai Lama

That's true of course. 

The trick however is that according to Jesus, and any casual observer of human nature, who we are as humans precludes our ability to speak and act with a pure mind. So corrupt is human nature that even the teaching of Jesus, the most sublime philosophy on earth, becomes corrupted, leaving every generation shredded by those who claim to follow Messiah Jesus. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday's Thoughts on Marriage

This is number 12 in a weekly series I began on December 21st/13 with a post called, “Married Forever?

Self-centredness will destroy your marriage! Does that surprise you? If it does you're in more trouble than you imagined. A self-centred spouse will always trigger resentment in the other spouse. What I mean is, the self-centred behaviours of one spouse will ultimately trigger self-centred behaviours in the other spouse. Self-centred is who we are – Unless we allow Jesus to change us.

The problem of course is that a self-centred character is blind to its own existence. What's more, our self-centred character is almost allergic to the same characteristic in others, especially one's partner. Our corrupt self-love triggers thoughts like, 'Why weren't you thinking about me? You should have been thinking about what I want. How could you not be thinking about me?' 

Only an obedient relationship with Jesus can create an other-centred focus that destroys self-pity.

The Holy Spirit Who displays a giving and serving character will bring about this type of maturity in you. Jesus' Spirit destroys pride and brings about a humility that exudes generosity and deals with the selfishness of others in a mature fashion. The Holy Spirit does not keep score. As seen by the reaction of the world to the mere word “submission,” it's easy to see that without the indwelling of the Spirit, submission is impossible.

If your only source of love is from other people, what happens when those people fail to love you? As the saying goes, “To what will you look to for help if not to that which is stronger than yourself?” The love that we need to give away in order to maintain and grow a healthy marriage must come from a source greater than ourselves.

Here is a reality of life, You will not, and cannot find happiness until you've placed your own happiness in submission to that of someone else. Not just for today but as part of a commitment, a life-long commitment to putting the well-being of at least one other person (hopefully that of your spouse) ahead of your own. 

Christian maturity does this, not in order to get in return, but simply to give. Freely we have received. Freely we are to give. This type of obedience to Jesus, because of what He has done for you, cannot fail to provide peace and contentment.

More on this next Friday.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's Not Enough

Don't you ever wonder why it is that you long for something; for those things that you don't yet have? And then you get it? And not long after you get it you find that you're longing for something else?

Have you figured out why that is?

C.S. Lewis did and so has every Christian on the planet. Lewis wrote, “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We want and want and want, never seeming to understand that our deepest desire cannot be filled by anything this life can give. We continue to be unsatisfied after the new car, unsatisfied after the new love (I'm certain that 99.9% of love songs are written within two months or less of the start of the relationship), unsatisfied after the promotion.

The things of this world cannot give you what your soul longs for the most. And what your soul longs for the most is a healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus, your Creator.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rod Bell and satan

The more famous “Red Letter Christians” making the Christian News seem to have one thing in common. And it's not good. I'll use Rob Bell as my example but they all share a similar outlook – with satan -

satan speaks three times:
. Did God really say?
. You will not surely die
. You will be like God

Rob Bell et al. speak three times:
. Did God really say?
. You will not surely die
. You will be with God 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Peace!

Peace, Man”
Peace out.”
Peace to ya.”

It's coming back. The phrase that “my generation” made ubiquitous, is now being repeated by my grandchildren. “Peace.”

It's being said at a time in history, “when the third angel was given power to remove peace from the earth.” John's Revelation

Where is peace? How does one attain it? My generation thought, believed even, that drug induced feelings of peace and love were the real thing. Certainly they were more real than anything we'd found without chemicals.

Tragic but true.

And then, for some of us, we met The Prince of Peace. The One whose mission on planet earth entailed bringing Shalom. 

"Peace on earth to all those who please God." That line from Dr. Luke's biography of Jesus is oft repeated at Christmas. 'Peace on earth to all men . . .' Interesting how people almost always leave off the last and most critical part of the sentence - ' all men who please God.' And then they accuse Jesus of not bringing peace as promised.

By the grace of my Saviour I know shalom. I have shalom, but personally, I don't understand it.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus has done that for me and maybe that's why I don't understand it. Finding peace, possessing shalom had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with me. There was no effort on my part. It's a gift from Jesus to us.

"Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” He said." John 20:19

At one point I didn't have Jesus and I didn't have peace. And then, Jesus had me and I had peace. It just happens. It just happens.

I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

O, and what a gift it is. There is none better.

Don't miss Jesus' offer.
It's for you!
Jesus died for you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Into the Dark

I can recall at least half a dozen countries this winter that experienced a million or more people without power due to seasonal storms. That's a lot of physical discomfort. That's a lot of money spent on recovery efforts.

You think that's bad?

At any given time on this planet, there are several billion more people living in spiritual darkness with a corresponding level of misery and suffering as a result. Trillions of dollars in needless spending is required by our governments to deal with the results of the behaviours that come from spiritual darkness.

Trending forward does not look encouraging.

Forty years ago in North America roughly 80% of people said that Jesus was important to them. Roughly 20% said that sports were important to them. Today that figure is almost exactly reversed.

If we don't worship Jesus, we WILL worship something else.

Two Sundays ago was the Olympic Gold Medal Game in men's hockey. Canada vs. Sweden. The day before the game I heard on TSN, “If Canada wins, it'll be a great reason to get drunk Sunday morning.”

Now there's something to live for (sarcasm).

So important are mood altering chemicals to the lives of those who reject Jesus, that the liquor laws were changed in Saskatchewan so that Sports Bars could open at 5:00am Sunday morning so alcohol lovers could congregate to watch this hockey game.

Priorities of those who reject Jesus are profoundly disheartening. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there you will give the greatest among of time and energy and monetary resources.”

Some day, everything you see will be in the dump, rusted, rotted, useless. Yet those are the things that are important to those who live in spiritual darkness.

Where is your treasure?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday's Thoughts on Marriage

This is number 11 in a weekly series I began on December 21st/13 with a post called, “Married Forever?

I'd done a post yesterday referencing the human tendency to name as “love,” what is really nothing more than manipulation. That is, we are sometimes intentionally “good” to someone in the midst of a struggle, be it relational, or financial or addictions etc.. We call tell ourselves that these good behaviours on our part are motivated by love. The sticky part comes when, over the next few months or years, the person in need fails to change or improve. In that case many people become exasperated and pull the plug on what was termed love. The point I'm trying to make is that when we pull the plug, it wasn't love that was driving the “good” behaviours. It was an attempt to manipulated someone into change.

This pattern is seen no less often in marriage. We start off treating our spouses with kindness. We overlook their quirks – for awhile. In a few years however, we begin to think, “If I have to live with that behaviour for the rest of my life I'll go crazy.” And the quest to change another human being begins.

In a Biblical marriage that's not all bad. A Biblical marriage is a union of a man and a woman who have made a commitment before God to “love” each other until the death of one of them ends the union. In a Biblical marriage, this love entails submission to the other as well as a servant's heart. Just as there can be a subtle twist on love which is in reality manipulation, so too with serving one another. In fact, in a marriage there can be a double twist on serving. Here's what I mean.

The first twist is of course “serving” your spouse with the intent of motivating change. This is simply another case of manipulation. The second twist is more subtle. Most people know the parable of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man is beaten and robbed. Two religious Jewish people see the man lying in the ditch and pass by on the other side of the road. Each individually ignores the man's plight. Then a “despised” Samaritan comes along and without hesitation he helps the injured Jewish man recover from his injuries. He pays for his medical care. He shows him true love. When discussing the parable, we usually talk about those who help or refuse to help and see if we can identify their lack of love in ourselves. Not often do we talk about what it's like for the Jewish man to be helped, regardless of whether it's by a Samaritan. Not often we we talk about our struggle with allowing someone to serve us.

In marriage it's one thing to serve your spouse. It's quite another to be served by your spouse. Secular people gnash their teeth in outrage at the very thought of submitting to and serving one another. That should not surprise. It's pride and corrupt self-love that keeps us from wanting to serve, even the one we claim to love. However it's also pride and corrupt self-love that bristles at the thought of being served by our spouse.

When we serve someone else, when we do good for someone else, it puts us in control. Our worldly (un loving) thinking senses that at some level, helping someone else puts that person in our debt. That kind of serving, like the pseudo love mentioned earlier in this post is also manipulation. People with this mindset keep score regarding who did what for whom. Men especially cringe at the thought of anyone doing for them and this includes their wives. This is pride saying, “I am not going to allow you to put me in your debt.”

The thing is, in a Biblical marriage, there is no such thing as debt. We serve Jesus by serving others – Period. Jesus gave His life for us so we give our life for Him. In a Biblical marriage we live out the Gospel in which there is no score keeping. Jesus freely loved us and we are to freely love one another.

In a Gospel marriage we aren't loved or served because we deserve it. Real love comes with no strings attached. Real love is gladly given. Real love is gladly received. It's a wonderful thing to allow yourself to be fully accepted, fully loved. In Biblical love we don't earn our love. And again, as men, as the husband, as the spiritual leader of the home, we take the lead in demonstrating servant leadership. We model for our spouse and children grace and mercy and love and kindness, patience and submission. We freely give love because real love is patient and kind. Real love doesn't envy or boast and it is not proud. It isn't rude or self-seeking. It isn't easily angered and it doesn't keep a record of wrongs. Real love doesn't delight in evil but takes joy in Truth. Real love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Real love never fails.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

“I'm Done With Her”

Have you ever heard something similar?
Have you felt something similar?

I've lost count of how many people who have told me about trying to love someone, a friend, an acquaintance, a family member who was struggling in life. Perhaps it was drug addiction, or relationship issues, or maybe trouble with honesty or the law. The person in question may have had a mental illness or a personality disorder. Regardless of what was causing the problem, the person in front of me had resolved to demonstrate love to the troubled person. These “helpers” were reaching out because they sensed that the offensive person had never really experience proper love. The helpers wanted to show the troubled person what it was like to be loved. The helpers may have believed that demonstrating love was their real and only motive. Circumstances proved the lie in that belief.

The scenario usually played out like this. Several months down the road, perhaps even a year or two, the offensive person remained the same. “The nerve,” thought the helper. “All that I've done for her and she's still using dope, or she's still moving from one crappy man to another.” In more cases than we'd like to think, the troubled person even “used” the helper in some manner.

Can you imagine? That's about the time that the helper says something like, “I'm done with her.” Or him as the case may be. Were true motives known, this result could have been predicted. You see, real love never fails. Real love is not dependent on circumstance. When these kind of relationships come to an end, it's always always always because love was not the motivating factor in what the helper was doing.

The helper wasn't loving the other person. The helper was manipulating. The helper was doing something that was calculated to change another person and when that didn't work, the helper decided to withhold h/her fake love as punishment.

That's why the fact that Jesus died for us while we were still His enemies, before we even knew of His existence is so meaningful. God the Father loved the world so much that He gave God the Son as a means of forgiving our sins – no strings attached. The sacrifice was made. The debt was paid. 

Turn your allegiance toward Him in appreciation, or reject Him out of pompous self-adoration. The choice is up to you.

Regardless of your choice, God's love is the real deal.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's He Trying to Prove?

Jesus was forever telling people, “The Kingdom of God is near.” Okay, but what did He mean? What exactly was He trying to prove when He said that?

Well, He actually didn't stop there. What He really meant was, The Kingdom of God is near AND here is what it will be like.

The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
Matthew 11:5-6

While the miracles that Jesus presented proved that He is who He said He is, they also showed in part, what the Kingdom of God will entail, in full, when He returns to judge the living and the dead.

In the Kingdom of God, there will not be any sickness, no more death, no more injustice, no more tears, no more suffering, grief and unbearable loss. In God's Kingdom peace will reign. There will be no more storms or dangerous waters. There will be more than enough food for everyone. In the Kingdom of God, people will know how to love one another.

When Jesus told people, “The Kingdom of God is near,” He was showing in striking detail the difference between life as we have chosen it to be on earth, and life as God will give to us if we will only humble ourselves before Him and admit that we cannot fix ourselves.

For people like atheists, that is simply too much to ask.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

“All I Need Is The Air That I Breath and To Love You.”

That's a line from a song from when I was young. 
"All I need is the air that I breath and to love you."

The song writer's opinion on love may change over time.
The part about his need for air?
He's bang on.

In fact, he will breath that air in and out about 20,000 times a day; most of the time without even thinking about it. We are totally dependent on the air we breath.

It's the same for followers of Jesus. Jesus' gift to us, translated as Holy Spirit, comes form the Greek and Hebrew Wind or Breath. As Christians we cannot live the Christian life with Him.

A commitment to follow Jesus is in reality a promise to do the impossible. It's means losing this life, giving away this life along with its priorities in order to see and interact with others as Jesus did. We simply cannot do that > unless we are totally dependent on Jesus' Spirit for strength, direction, correction and so on.

Doubting that reality leads to tremendous harm to the Kingdom of God. As the prophet Nathan said to King David, "You have given great opportunity to the enemies of God to despise and blaspheme Him."

How long can you hold your breath? 
Little children sometimes like to try. 

Sadly, so too do immature Christians. They like to see how long to can live the Christian life without relying on the Holy Spirit. It takes some people a long long time to accept that life is much, much better when we have more love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more goodness, more faithfulness, more gentleness, and more self-control.

Breathing the stale spiritual air that the world offers grows tiresome after awhile. Taking in the pure spiritual air that Jesus offers is so worth it. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

“So Long and Thanks For All The Guilt”

I can't remember who it is but there is, or at least was an atheist blogger who had that comment as part of his header. 

Guilt! 

That pesky feeling that reminds us that we've done wrong. If only we could get rid of that feeling we could convince ourselves that we're good people. Atheists have actually perfected that practice. They actually believe they are good people, certainly better than others.

But is that a good thing to do? To purposely delude yourself about a crucial piece of information regarding yourself? Should atheists lie to themselves just to support a world-view that has zero scientific support?

One of the reasons that Christians are so universally hated by atheists is that we keep harping on our sinful nature. We can't help it. The Spirit of Creator God resides within us and “when He comes, He will convict the world of sin and of the judgement to come.”

Jesus' Spirit takes all the shine off our high opinion of ourselves. He forces us to face reality - And that's a good thing. For it is only when we see clearly the alarming nature of who we are, a nature that sustains hypocrisy, deceit, anger, bigotry, coveting, and lust; an innate nature that is acutely dangerous to life on this planet, only when we can see this clearly can we appreciate what Jesus has done for us.

For it is Jesus who came to rescue us from ourselves.
It is lying to ourselves that causes us to reject this offer of salvation.
It is lying to ourselves that causes us to choose an eternity in Hell.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fridays Thoughts on Marriage

This is number 10 in a weekly series I began on December 21st/13 with a post called, “Married Forever?

Because the command to Submit to one another carries such huge baggage for many people (sadly many Christians seem as confused as those who live upon the earth), I'm going to continue with that subject for just a bit.

I've said that instead of concentrating on the “behaviours of love,” we are far more successful when we focus on drawing closer to, and abiding in Jesus. I've also said that when couples focus on fixing a troubled marriage, they are not nearly as successful as when they focus on fixing their troubled relationship with Jesus. It is His Spirit that changes us which in turn changes our thoughts and behaviours. The former is little more than acting as though we're followers of Jesus. The latter provides genuine evidence of a changed character. Changing behaviours on their own ends in fatigue and failure. The indwelling Spirit of the Christ does the work for us, so to speak.

Having said that, in Ephesians 5:22,25, Paul instructs women to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church “giving Himself up for her.” The latter requires a far greater degree of self-sacrifice or dying to self, although each partner is called to a life of self-sacrifice for the other. The Holy Spirit can work this change of focus in us. I have yet to see anyone do it on their own for emotionally / spiritually healthy reasons.

For those indwelt by God's Spirit, giving others “preferential treatment over ourselves,” comes quite naturally and easily, without losing one iota of worth or value. This is not thinking that others are always better human beings than ourselves; rather it's thinking about ourselves less often and in turn treating others with deference. When the Holy Spirit forms our character, we simply view the interests of others before we notice our own, just as Jesus, the Creator of the universe stepped down from His throne to fix what we had destroyed. Just as Jesus the Christ did not “please Himself,” but did what was best for us, to save us, to love us and to draw us into a relationship with Himself. He came to earth, not be served but to serve us and give His life for us; then He says, “Follow Me in your relationship with others.” He met our needs at the cost of His own life and that is how husbands and wives are to treat each other until the death of one or the other ends the relationship.

In a Biblical marriage, as the spiritual head of the home, the husband is to take the lead in demonstrating servant-leadership.
More on this next Friday


Thursday, February 13, 2014

“All You Need Is Love!”

So sang the heroin addicted, wife abusing John Lennon. That's the member of the music group, The Beatles who actually thought that he could bring peace to the world by staying in bed.

On the other hand, all we do need is love; not Lennon's kind of love, but love nevertheless. That's because unlike the world's love (which actually means attracted to), the love that Jesus brings to His followers is patient and kind. It doesn't envy or boast and it's not proud. Jesus' love does not get angry easily and it doesn't keep a record of the wrong that other people do. It isn't rude or self-seeking. It doesn't delight in evil (either doing evil or watching evil), rather it rejoices in Truth of all kinds. Jesus' kind of love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and it always perseveres. Unlike worldly attraction, Jesus' love never fails.

We can show God's love in dozens of practical ways: feeding the hungry, adopting the homeless, visiting the elderly, fighting against the killing of the most vulnerable, sharing our wealth. That's what is meant when we read, “Let your light shine among others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Those are all good, but how is it of any benefit to anyone if they gain the whole world but lose their soul? To not tell people of the greatest love in the universe, to not let people know that there is forgiveness for real guilt, to not let people know that freedom from the power of sin is available is to not love others at all. As Jesus tells us, “You can give away everything you have, but if you don't have love you are just a useless noise that the world can do without.” 1st Corinthians 13:3.

God loved the people of the world so much, that He sent Jesus, God the Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not be separated from God for eternity but have eternal life in paradise.” John 3:16.