WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Under Dog or Mighty Mouse? – 8/20/2017


Who’s stronger?  Underdog or Mighty Mouse?  Silly question but we humans will often have conversations based on absurdities.  Especially where God is concerned.

His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power. If you choose to say “God can give a creature free-will and at the same time withhold free-will from it,” you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words
“God can”. It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains non-sense even when we talk it about God.

~ C.S. Lewis; The Problem of Pain; Chapter 2, Divine Omnipotence

C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain is a heady read.  More than once I have been forced to confer with the dictionary and read then re-read a chapter to grasp his meaning, but it’s a good read if you are so inclined.

I chose the above paragraph because I really appreciated the line that “nonsense remains non-sense even when we talk it about God.”  I appreciate it because I think that much of what is talked about is indeed non-sense.

Often people talk that since God is love, we humans should be happy.  But God’s love for us does not necessarily equate and manifest into the happiness of man; but rather the love of God manifests into what is best for us.

But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. if we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God — though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the divine life, a creaturely participation in the divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to “put on Christ”, to become like God.  That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.”

~ C.S. Lewis; The Problem of Pain; Chapter 3, Divine Goodness

Ultimately, we humans have to take time to examine what we consider happiness to actually mean.

The other day I watched an interview of Floyd Mayweather and listened to him talk about the $350,000,000 that he was going to make on the Macgregor fight.  Then the next day I heard an expose about a man from up-north Michigan who did over $100,00,000 in revenue from his tee-shirt business, and added to that was the Powerball lottery was promising $700,000,000 to the winner.  I found that I was feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with my life because I was not wealthy but then I got ahold of myself and started re-ordering my thoughts.

When I thought about it, I remembered that when I was 24 years old I was not in a position of success, but rather I was seriously in a place in my life that I figured I would be living under the board walk in Atlantic City; bankrupt and living off dropped quarters.  But now, almost 30 years later, I am married to a woman I do not deserve, I have four children that tickle me to the core, and I work as a minister doing what I know, without a doubt, that I have been created to do.  After assessing the reality of my life I know that I am certainly happy, and money really has nothing to do with it.  I am reminded about a line from the movie Cool Runnings with John Candy where he tells his athlete that if a person needs a gold medal in order to be enough, then they will never be enough when they get one.  I think that is how happiness in life is.

Ultimately, Lewis writes, humans make stuff up in our own thinking; even utter non-sense in order to explain away the realization of God in our lives.  But for those of us who actually care about Truth, we will assess the meaning that we assign to the words that we use and really grapple with how we define things.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Behold the Strange – 8/20/2017


Exodus 3:1-3

1Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

I have heard a thousand reasons why people don’t follow Jesus.  Some are very honest like the person who said “I want to live life my way and according to my terms.  I don’t want anyone dictating some moral code to me!”

Fair enough, at last this reasoning is honest.

Others will reason that God doesn’t really exist and Jesus never actually rose back to life from the dead. 

That’s less honest, for History doesn’t allow that reasoning to hold under scrutiny.  It would be like telling a Jewish child that the Holocaust never actually happened, or that it really wasn’t that bad. 

There are plenty more reasons people give for not following Jesus than the two I’ve presented but you get the point.

In the Exodus 3 passage, Moses was at work one day; his job, his daily grind, when he had an inkling.  It wasn’t like a burrito rumble in the tummy type of inkling, more like an overwhelming sense that God is really trying to get my attention inkling.  A bush was burning and wasn’t burring up.

I don’t know how often random bushes in his country would just be on fire but apparently the fact that it burned was not a big enough deal to notice it.  But the fact that it didn’t burn up was.  So Moses thought to himself that he would go over and “see this strange sight.”

It was at that point; the moment in time when Moses went to “see this strange sight” the world for Moses changed forever -- because God called his name and he replied.

There are a thousand excuses (or reasons if you like) that we do not go to God, but the one thing we need to do is take notice of the burning bushes in our own lives and go see the strangeness. 

Just As I Am

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Our Holy War – 8/13/2017


Psalm 12:1-4 (NIV)
Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
    they flatter with their lips
    but harbor deception in their hearts.
May the Lord silence all flattering lips
    and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
    “By our tongues we will prevail;
    our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

I want to make a comment on Man’s cry for justice because it’s something that everyone of us has done before.  We’ve all cried out, at one time or another, for justice: to our parents, to our teachers, to our friends, family, the countless service operators at the cable or cell phone companies, and anyone else who might listen.  When that internal justice meter in our souls tell us that we’ve not been treated fairly, we raise up the banner of holy-hell and we begin a battle to demand justice.  We may have even asked God to mitigate that justice as well.

While it may be true that we have been wronged, there is a reality that we need to take a breath and inspect ourselves when we call upon God to go to bat for us.

In Isaiah 58 the Israelites were constantly calling on God for justice but nothing they did seemed to get through to Him.  They wondered what the deal was, why God was not responding to all of their churchy and religious actions.  I add the text to Isaiah 58:2-9 here because; well because it is just so priceless.

For day after day they [the Israelites] seek me [God] out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,

    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

What we need to pay attention to is if we are calling to God for justice on our behalves, are we also giving justice to those around us?  This may very well be the original Pay-it-Forward human effort.

At the end of the day, God’s true justice is not just for me[1], but it’s for us.  It was for the sake of Justice that Jesus went to the cross (Isa 42:1)[2], and he said that if we would be his disciple that we would pick up our crosses daily and follow him (Matthew 16:24)[3].

[1] Me stating this did not cause me to give Verizon a pass.  For the record, I will never do business with Verizon again.
[2] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+42%3A1&version=NIV
[3] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+16%3A24&version=KJV

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What Gives You Value? – 8/6/2017


Genesis 1:26-31

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis explains to us that God created the heavens and the earth and everything else – even mankind.  And behold, God found it to be very good.  God created the heavens and the earth exnilo which means He created it from nothing at all. 

In my family there are two ways to bake a cake.  Way number one is to buy a Bette Crocker cake mix and add the egg and oil then bake it for 30 minutes - done.  The second way is to make it from scratch; this is where you get raw flour, add baking powder, salt, vanilla or chocolate flavorings, eggs, and oil and mix it with beaters then bake it.  Generally I use a cake mix but it’s always a treat when my mother or grandmother would bake a cake from scratch.

But how does one bake a cake from exnilo?  Mustn’t we get the ingredients from someplace?  In fact we do, so it is impossible to bake a cake from nothing – exnilo.

Then we look to the creation of man.  Man was created, not exnilo, but from scratch.  For we men were created from the elements of the earth and so it is said that after we die, it is back to the earth we will go.

Neil Anderson is a missionary with the Wycliffe Bible translators who translated the Bible into the language of the Folopa tribe in Papua New Guinea.  Neil explained that the Folopa people had no concept of how they came to exist and when he translated the first couple of chapters of Genesis with them they were amazed to learn that they were created of the earth directly by God Himself.  And this revelation changed the way they conducted themselves and how they viewed themselves in the world.  However, the biggest and most drastic change came in their view of the females among them.

The women in the Folopa tribe were somewhat considered a different species from the men and they acted and were treated as such.  But when the Folopa people learned that God created man from the earth and then created women from the rib of a man they changed.  The men recognized that the women were not another species but were extensions of themselves and when the women learned they were intentionally created by God they realized their value and began to walk with dignity; for they finally understood that they had value among the men and this new found value for both men and women transformed the entire community.

Many people today consider themselves to be valuable by what they are able to earn or do in this world, but the reality is that each person has value simply because they have been intentionally created by scratch by God.

Do you know your value today?  If not, maybe you need a refresher course in Genesis 1 and 2 so that you will know that you are the intentional creation of God.