Monday April 24, 2006
Have we lost the ability to meditate?
We have ever more distractions in front of us. Our personal persuits, our ambitions, even the mechanics of serving in the Kingdom of God can become distractions. At the heart of the Gospel message is the fact that our Heavenly Father wants a relationship with us. He wants to commune with us through His Word. These days there are cell phones, TVs, movies, going to and fro to occupy our minds with anything but just being still and knowing that He is God .
I‘ve decided that I need to recultivate the skill of being still. Every Monday for the forseeable future, I am turning off all the distractions. The only computer use will be for work and to seek God (with my online Bible, or journaling here). No TV, no photography, the only books I pick up will be the Bible or ones that teach how to be more holy.
The Bible speaks of continuing always in an attitude of prayer. Of always having everything you do to honor Father. In many ways I have lost that focus, and I need to get it back. So why just Mondays? It‘s a start. The TV isn‘t evil in and of itself; however, if you let it rob your time with God, then it is sin. I‘m using a day at the start of the week to help me discipline my mind and get in that habit for the rest of the week.
Sunday December 18, 2005
Picking apart Pen and Teller
I'd like to spend some time picking apart Pen and Teller's episode of Bulls*&t;, exposing some of the logical falacies they use to "prove their point". Things such as trying to make the atheist sound more credible because he doesn't use "Doctor" in his title even though he is a Ph.D. There are lots of little things like that where they loose some credibility.
Now, I did stumble across someone who was offended by them and used four letter words like they were seasoning. As soon as you resort to language like that, you've lost all credibility.
Sunday December 11, 2005
To Muse, Opposite of Amuse
These days it seems that our lives are so full of amusements that we no longer take the time to muse. To muse is to ponder, think deeply, consider our lives, to introspect. To amuse is to distract our minds with entertainment. That comes in different forms like movies, surfing the net, video games, etc. In the past, before all these different amusements were widely available, we used to think deeply. Sometimes that deep thought brought about new inventions, but many times it brought about a revelation about ourselves. Something we hadn't thought to consider yet.
I'd like to offer a challenge. Tonight, turn off all your amusements, unplug, go completely analog. Then ask yourselves the following questions: "am I happy?", "what have I become?", "do I like what I have become?", and "is there power in what I believe?", "is my life empty or fullfilling?". These are the questions we run away from. Take the time to answer them truthfully with yourself. You don't have to prove anything to me. You just have to be honest with yourself.
I dare say that most people I've run accross are not happy with themselves, and don't like the person that they have become. They also don't want to change. If you do want to talk about it with me, you can email me directly at my personal email address. I've turned comments off for this post.
Thursday December 01, 2005
Leadership, Worth, and Rank
I don't want to alienate a certain segment of population because of a comment I made in complete innocence. I didn't think that the word obey was considered as offensive as other four letter cuss words. So, let's take a look at what the the Holy Spirit said through the Apostle Paul on the subject of a modern new testament marriage. The blueprint is outlined in Ephesians 5:20-33. You can take a look there. Feel free to read some of the context before and after, it's all good stuff. Oh, and this passage is written for and to believers. If you aren't a Christian, it doesn't apply to you.
First, as believers in general we are to submit to one another in the fear of God. That means if we are two average folk in the body, and you being a woman challenge me with the word of God, I being a man have to submit to you. In reality my submission is to the Word of God, and not directly to you--which is a vital point to be brought out again dealing with marriage.
In verses 22-24 it provides the guidelines for the wife's submission to the husband. It is critical to realize that this submission is not blindly to the husband, but to God through the husband. (See just like the above paragraph). Now, within the context of this passage, the submission is not a blanket everything. There is the implied constraints of within the confines of Biblical conduct. If a husband tells a wife he needs a shirt cleaned before he meets with a client, then yes the wife would be submitting to God to obey the husband. However, if the husband steps out of his role and tells his wife to sleep with another man, the wife would have to refuse and obey God rather than man. Sad to say, but some uneducated, misguided, and foolish people in the past thought they could do just that and indulged in wife swapping. That is sin, and no man has the authority to overrule God on that.
There is another side presented in the following verses 25-29. The husband has the role and responsibility to love his wife, sanctify his wife, and be able to present her to God holy, without spot or wrinkle. Now this is a very high calling. I may be able to abdicate my authority and force my wife to make all the decisions, but I'll never be able to abdicate my responsibility. If I am going to present my wife holy to the Lord, I can't make her sin by abdicating my role. Such an act would be unloving and uncaring--also sin for the husband.
The remainder of the passage provides the context for the whole. Where we (the believers) are all members of one body, and God has put us together as He sees fit. He has put us where we need to be to provide strength and unity.
Now, in all of this, nothing is said about the relative worth of individuals. As believers we are keenly aware that we are all worth the blood of Jesus because Father God said we are. (If you aren't a believer, you are also worth the blood of Jesus, but for some reason you have chosen not to accept it). The fact that one person is required to rank under another to glorify God does not mean they are worth less. We just have different roles. I believe it is also important that even apostles still need to submit. The least in the Kingdom of God has the right and the responsibility to remind an Apostle of what the Word says if they start getting off base. God wants his church pure. And that is what it is all about.
So yes, I love my wife. I am thankful for the example she is to me. I know that at times I can ask difficult things of her. As a result I try to make her life easier. I don't make rediculous demands just to "prove who's boss". If I ask her to resign, you can bet on two things: 1) there is a good reason for it, and 2) I've properly communicated that reason to my wife. We are a team, and while I am team captain it does not negate the fact that we work together. She has commented that it is easy for her to obey because while I have the authority, I don't lord it over her or play macho. It's not my style. My job is to set the vision and direction for the household, but we work together to obtain it. I'm sure this is a very different picture than what some people have in mind when they hear the word "obey" and "submit".
My wife's worth to me is more than my own worth to me. I know she has Godly council and I would be an idiot to ignore what she contributes. But even in the secular, every team has a leader. Once all the council is received, someone has to make a decision. I know modern folks think "we talk and come to a conclusion together", but in the end one person is usually the one who says "we should do this" and the other one goes with it. In some households its the woman, and in some its the man. As a believer, I've been given my marching orders, and its my responsibility. Does that mean my wife is unfit to lead? Hardly. She just has a different sphere of influence.
The most effective leadership is leadership by example, not leadership by coerscian. That's my philosophy, and that's how I operate. I would never ask my wife to do something I wouldn't be willing to do myself. That would be provoking her, not loving her.
Wednesday November 30, 2005
So many 'isms' which to choose
I find it both funny and sad that people somehow feel threatened by my faith in Jesus Christ. It's as if they need to prove my faith is unjustified to prove their faith correct. Something most folks fail to realise is that they all believe in an 'ism'. All 'isms' require a certain amount of faith because none of them can be proved logically. Every 'ism' has a presupposed set of assertions that one must believe to be included in that 'ism'.
Let's take a look at humanism. Humanism believes that man is the center of all intelligent existence. Man is basically good, and therefore what seems right to man is good. Most people are humanists as opposed to atheists or scientists. In the basic sense humanism is the worship of man.
Now, atheism. True atheism beleives that there is no god, not even man. We simply exist and die. If there really is a God--oh yeah, there can't be....
Scientism is the most fun. Scientism is the worship of science and the scientific method. While they won't call it scientism, it makes the fallacious assumption that if it can't be proved with science it doesn't exist. Science can't currently prove that there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe, but that doesn't mean that the possibility can't happen. Just for the record, I don't personally believe in intelligent life in outer space but I'm open to be proven wrong.
Is Christianity different from these other 'isms'? That is a fundamental question to ask yourself. I personally have experienced the power of God in my life, yet if you asked me to explain it I would not be able to do so. Words are feeble things. They can only convey part of the picture.
I could offer all kinds of arguments for my faith in God, and I can offer explanations for many things in the Bible. However there are two things that I have found to be true: if you argue someone into the Kingdom of God anyone can argue them out, and "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44).
Why do Christians evangelise? Because they were told to by Jesus: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20). I agree that the tactics of some well meaning Christians are annoying and offputting at best, but that doesn't make what they say any less true.
My basic approach is to spread a little seed (some simple principles, etc) and see what takes root. I try not to prolong meaningless debates if at all possible. Neither side can prove with pure powers of logic their argument, and in the end it comes down to the power behind what you believe. That is where the real difference lies. That is why a man with experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument. It's one thing to wax philisophical about the conditions of war or even how soldiers conduct themselves, but its another thing to have been there and know why soldiers behave the way they do. The man with philosophy is never at the mercy of the soldier. There is power in experience.
Sunday October 16, 2005
Premium Pain Job: a Metaphor for Sanctification
I was thinking back to when we had our house painted by a brother in the Lord, John Zarou. (J.Z. Painting in the Northern Virginia area, no web site sorry). Something that stuck out to me was the meticulousness he went through to fix the imperfections in the wall before roller was touched to paint. He would first shine his "search light of the Holy Ghost" as he called it on the wall to reveal the hidden imperfections. In fact, calling it the search light of the Holy Ghost is rather ingenious. After all, He is searching our hearts and trying our reigns to reveal what manner of man we truly are to us. In other words, we can't know ourselves completely--we need the Holy Ghost to reveal those hidden areas laying beneath the surface.
As John's search light revealed all the nail pops that have not yet appeared and the places where the old dry wall tape was coming separated, he went to work. First he would cut out the surface of the dry wall over the nail pops. Then he would drive the nail deep back in its place--or in some cases he would remove the nail completely and replace it with a screw. He would also remove the old dry wall tape that was separating from the wall and replace it. You can liken this job to the process of breaking up the fallow ground in our lives. Digging deep and reaffirming the foundations of the Word of God in our lives.
The remaining part of the preparation is to fill in the holes created from the first pass. After he let the dry wall compound dry he sanded it smooth until the wall was actually flat. This process would take most of the time. It was only when the walls were smooth that he would finally put the paint on the walls. Again, we can liken this to filling our lives with the presence of God. After the rough repair work that was necessary to lay the foundation, we need God's presence and reassurance that He still loves us. It is then that he can work through us to shine in other people's lives.
Thursday October 13, 2005
Attraction and Distraction
The Bible has much to say on the subject of fornication, attraction, and distraction. Almost as much as it does on idolatry (as an aside, idolatry comes in different forms now adays such as the worship of prosperity, sex, etc.). There is an old English adage that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", meaning that different people like different things. In short, what may be attractive to you may not be attractive to me. And to a certain extent there is alot of truth to that. Before I go too much farther, let me provide a few definitions here.
Fornication: Any sexual stimulation outside the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. You can object to that definition, but that is how the Bible defines it and so that is how I define it. If you don't like it, take it up with God.
Attraction: A force acting mutually between particles of matter to draw them together and to resist their separation; a characteristic that provides pleasure and attracts.
Distraction: A condition or state of mind in which the attention is diverted from an original focus or interest; diversion of the attention.
My pastor once said that if you can be attracted, you can be distracted. It is very true. In this day and age it is increasingly difficult to maintain your focus. The god of this world is at war with the one true God in heaven, and his goal is to attract or distract Christians from serving God. One of the main tools Satan has used is fornication--after all "sex sells" is a mantra in the advertising industry. It is interesting to note that there is an entire industry that studies how man is attracted for the purpose of manipulating them to buy whatever trinket is being sold. They have it down to a science.
So how do you remain pure? How do you remain faithful, both to God and to your spouse? To answer that you have to understand the true meaning of the word "love". To love someone is to choose that the object of your love is more important than yourself. In short, I love my wife more than I love myself. A key word in there is the word choose. I choose to see my wife as the most beautiful woman on the planet. I choose to consider her whole person (which includes the personality, convictions, and mutual love for Father God) above anyone else's physical person.
As an example, I would consider that Halle Berry is one of the most attractive women I know--however, I don't consider her beautiful. Why? Because she is not the one I have a covenant with. She is not the one whom I promised that I would lay my life down for, which includes my own personal desires, to lead her into the Kingdom of God. My wife proves time and again that she is a Proverbs 31 woman, and I love her for it (she doesn't always see it but she is). Anyone else that might try to distract me from my wife or attract me to herself is a Proverbs 7 woman, and therefore I find her quite undesireable. There is something to be said for choosing to see your wife as the most beautiful woman alive. It helps you to remain attracted to her, and keeps you from being distracted by someone else. It might sound dispassionate, but it really isn't. You can find beauty in anyone if you choose to focus on that area. You just have to be careful where you put your focus.
Monday October 10, 2005
The Law is Good, Perfect, and Just
It seems that people's actions in reguards to the Bible's teaching on law, liberty, and lasciviousness is like a pendulum that swings from liberty to law and back. In this particular area God's word is particularly clear: we are saved by His grace alone, our freedom from sin being purchased by the blood of Jesus. We can do nothing to earn salvation, and while it is Father God's good and perfect will that all be saved he cannot allow sin in his presence. That is why Jesus came and took our place on the cross. Nevertheless, He didn't die so that we could reproach His name by the way we act.
We are not excused from the moral law of God. If we are indeed bought with a price, we owe it to the one who bought us to behave in a way that honors Him. That means you should never see a Christian fornicating, lying, cheating, etc. How is it then that people who once honored God with their conversation (in King James this is the same as their entire lifestyle) can start justifying their sin calling it a "liberty" or a "disputable matter"? The answer is one bad decision at a time. Like the proverbial frog in a pot of water, you boil it by slowly increasing the heat over time. That is what you are doing to yourself every time you try to inch closer and closer to the world.
What is interesting is that these days there are so many avenues for us to "dabble" with sin. The Greek word for fornication, pornia, (where we get the word pornography from) is pretty interesting. It is talking about any method of inciting passion in an individual. With guys a picture will do the job just fine, but women respond more to the written word. Sending a text message with the intent to illicit a romantic response is in the Biblical sense fornication if it is not with your spouse. That is how a great number of kids are getting into trouble these days.
Our pastor tends to here a phrase from the Spirit of God, and then fleshes it out in his study. The one phrase that kicked off the recent teaching is, "Maturity is the proper application of temperance". In other words, a mature person isn't seeking how much like the world they can become and still be considered a Christian. They are seeking how Christlike they can become. Paul taught that "All things are lawful to me, but not all things are expediant (necessary); and I will not be brought under the power of any." In context, the "all things" refer to what is not explicity addressed in the moral law. Any time you are under the power of an aumoral activity--it ceases to be aumoral and becomes immoral and it needs to be brought in subjection to Christlike living.
All this said, if we find ourselves where the pendulum has swung past liberty into lasciviousness (loose living), we can't fall into the temptation to let the pendulum swing past law into legalism. Legalism is the thought process that we do something to earn forgiveness or salvation. Salvation is a free gift, and nothing we do can make us any more right with God. We either are right or we aren't (kind of like a switch being on or off). If we aren't right with God, we can repent and He is faithful and willing to forgive us (I John 1:9). Just remember that repentance is a complete change in purpose and direction--not just an "I'm sorry".
Friday September 16, 2005
Even As... Tough words to live by
Recently, Pastor Scott has been teaching out of acts, and when he got to the part where Stephen was martyred for his faith Pastor took some time to teach on forgiveness. In several places in the New Testament, the Bible instructs us believers to forgive those who wrong us "even as Christ has also forgiven you". It might sound like a rosy picture of "if only everyone could live that way" until something happens that really puts it to the test.
About the same time, my wife has been going through issues of discrimination with one of her company's clients. The person she is required to work with hates her because of her skin color and the fact that she's a woman. Her boss has been trying to put pressure on here to lash out and verbally put him in his place. Now, my whole family are believers, and we hold ourselves to a different standard of conduct. That different standard isn't because we are better, but because we realize that we are bought with a price and we are representatives of Jesus who purchased us. Yes, we are slaves--unprofitable servants--yet Father God loves us and has adopted us into His family.
Getting back to "Even As...", my wife has refused to stoop to the level of the person opposing her. Again it isn't something where she thinks she is better than him. This whole situation has caused her much emotional stress and it isn't easy for me to watch her go through it. Nevertheless, in the light of eternity, it is our sin that has caused the Jesus to have to die on the cross so that we can be redeemed. Despite our own ugliness and sin, God has chosen to forgive us our great debt because we asked him. How can we hold this little $15 debt against this heathen that hates our Lord? God loved us when we were unlovely, and He requires us to love our enemies. It's been a daily choice to forgive this heathen for doing what is natural to him. Knowing that he is a slave to sin, we actually need to pray for his salvation. There is always the possibility that God will use this to supernaturally bring him to his knees so that he can repent and be saved from his sin.
The fruit, albeit painfully grown, from this whole experience is that her boss is seeing the power of God at work in her life. He is behind her as much as he can be, and can't explain why. He has made comments about her being a real class act, and even being more professional than him. That testimony could lead to an opportunity to share the Gospel. Nevertheless, even if it doesn't, when someone else shares the Gospel with him, he will know that there is something real and something powerful behind a life surrendered to Jesus.
In the mean time, I have been praying for my wife, encouraging her, and I'm waiting on the Lord for the release for her to leave the job. It hasn't come yet. There is still something Father is going to do. There is still something that Father is working in our lives. Running away from a situation before we know what it is that God wants to do means that we might have to go through it in different areas. All I know is that sometimes those haunting words of "forgive ... even as Christ has also forgiven you" is a daily choice. God is in control, and he doesn't allow us to go through things He has not equipped us to handle. "In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you." "All things work for [the] good to those who are in Christ Jesus."
Friday June 24, 2005
I've been waiting, praying, and seeking God for this...
Something we have been believing for in my son is that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in toungues. While I believe you can still make it to heaven without taking hold of this promise of God, the power that God gives to those filled with the Holy Spirit to live righteously in this day and age is indespensible. It isn't about the badge of speaking in toungues. Its about allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through you on your behalf. He knows better what you need than you do.
To set up the importance of a particular event I need to give some background. In one of our satelite churches in Africa, one of our pastors was falsely accused of murder and thrown in jail. The justice system is nothing like we have in the USA, and powerful people are easily bribed. Pastor Chacha (the one unjustly encarcerated) took the opportunity to share the gospel with all the inmates and some accepted Christ while others didn't. We were favorably expecting his release at any moment.
After pouring my heart into my son on Wednesday night, sharing with him more of my testimony and how I dealt with the same things he is going through, we all prayed together as a family. We prayed until God was present, and then until He said we were done. The power of God was there that night, so real you could almost touch it. He wasn't filled that night, but we encouraged him some and were going to pray again Thursday night. On Thursday we were at our Church's corporate prayer, and Pastor Chuck LaRock announced that Pastor Tony picked up Pastor Chacha to take him home--he was released with all charges dropped! Upon hearing this news, we all started praising God, and at that moment my son was filled with the Holy Spirit. I was doing backflips on the inside when my son told me what happened! An answer to prayer.