The Most Overlooked Division In The Bible

andcontract torn

Heb 9:15  And for this cause he (Jesus) is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Sometimes people get so caught up in what I call “Christianeze language” that they overlook what a Bible passage actually says. By “Christianeze”, I mean that people have a particular religious meaning or ideology attached to a particular word that may or may not actually fit what the word really means. Rather, they were taught someone else’s interpretation of that word apart from the actual meaning of the word. “Testament” is one of those words. Let me give you a standard dictionary definition:

tes·ta·ment ˈtestəmənt/ noun
noun: testament; plural noun: testaments
  1. a person’s will, especially the part relating to personal property.
  2. something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality.
    “growing attendance figures are a testament to the event’s popularity”
    synonyms: testimonywitnessevidenceproof, attestation; More

  3. (in biblical use) a covenant or dispensation.
    • a division of the Bible.
      noun: Testament; plural noun: Testaments
    • a copy of the New Testament.
      noun: Testament

A testament is a will, as in “last will and testament. It is also a covenant, or in modern language, “a contract or agreement.” The verse I cited at the beginning references a “new testament (contract agreement)” verses a “first (or old) testament (contract agreement)” between God and humankind. When you sign a NEW contract, whether for refinancing a car, a house , a loan, whatever, what happens to the first (or OLD) contract? It becomes null and void! The same is true with the Bible’s Old Testament and New Testament, yet many who profess to follow Jesus and the New Testament are living as if the Old Testament is still in effect. I need to share something profound with you, so clear your head and focus for a moment:

I know why Christianity in America (at least in part) is on the decline. I’m not talking about just the rejection from non-Christians, but about the falling away of those who for years professed Christianity. Here’s the reason:

2Co 3:5-6  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;  (6)  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

The Old Testament is a KILLER! It’s all those rules. Try to live by it, and it will kill you. The OLD testament was never given for us to live by…we can’t…no one can; it was given to expose sin and show the religious and the world that we all needed a NEW DEAL! We got that NEW covenant….NEW Testament…in Jesus, and Jesus gave his followers something called, “The Spirit.” That word too scares a lot of people because a lot of very foolish things are done in the name of “the Spirit.” Its another word that the religious like to throw around but seldom know its meaning or what it is. Ready for a definition?

spir·it ˈspirit/noun
  1. nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.
    “we seek a harmony between body and spirit”
    synonyms: soulpsyche, (inner) self, inner being, inner man/woman, mindegoid;

    pneuma
    “harmony between body and spirit”
  2. those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period.
    “the university is a symbol of the nation’s egalitarian spirit”
    synonyms: ethos, prevailing tendency, motivating force, essencequintessence;

    atmospheremoodfeelingclimate;
    attitudes, beliefs, principles, standards, ethics
    “the spirit of the age”

The spirit is the nature, character, disposition, or attitude of a person. Simple right? But in the Bible, the word “spirit” is sometimes capitalized as “Spirit.” That indicates it’s a PERSON. So when Jesus gave his followers “HIS Spirit, the Spirit of God”, he was giving them, by the above definition, the non-physical part of himself that was the seat of who he was. And who was he? He was and is God in human form.

A big reason for the decline in Christianity today, I believe, is because of a rejection of the Spirit of Jesus (which our above verse said would bring life) in favor of trying to follow and adhere to a bunch of rules (which the above verse said would bring death). Whether you’re someone who is seeking or someone who is religious, stop and think about that for a minute. Most of the churches I’ve been to claim Jesus and his Spirit, but try to live by the Old Testament. It makes them judgmental and hypocritical. Judgmental because they try to impose all those crazy rules that don’t even apply to today, such as what clothing you should wear, what you should or shouldn’t eat or drink, what words you can and can’t use, where you should or shouldn’t go, and what you should or shouldn’t do. Meanwhile, the people judging can’t live by the standards they try to impose on others and are guilty of the hypocrisy of a secret, hidden, double life…except the problem is…it really isn’t that secret or hidden. Can you relate? I can, because at one time I was one of those, until it just got to the point I couldn’t play that game any longer, so I cried out,

“God, you know I believe you’re there and that Jesus was God in the flesh who died for me, but I’m missing something, and until you show me, I’m done. I’ll just go to work and do the best I can until you answer or until I see you when I leave this place.”

Guess what. God answered. And one of the first things he showed me was what I’m sharing with you in this blog, and it can be summed up as follows:

The Old Testament was never given to live by; it was given to expose sin and our need for a Savior, AND, The New Testament is not to be treated as the Old: it isn’t about setting up a new set of rules…its about KNOWING JESUS by giving us a reference to what the moving of his Spirit in history looked like so that we would know it 2,000 years later.

That is why the Spirit will always lead a person to the Bible, the written account of history from God’s perspective, not man’s. The apostle Peter told us that:

2Pe 1:20-21  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  (21)  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Yes, I know there are many who think the Bible is a man-made, man-directed book, but the part that undermines that idea is all the specific prophecies that have come to pass, some even in our lifetime, but I don’t want to get sidetracked into that here. My point is, the New Testament is the record of the life of Jesus and his early followers who were under the influence of his invisible Spirit after he left this earth…and do you know what the mandate is?

Rom 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Be careful how you interpret that…don’t get it backwards, thinking, “if I DO the New Testament, that’s loving people.” No, no, no, and  a million times NO! Those things are EXAMPLES for us of how the Spirit of God worked in that first century culture. I have news for you…it isn’t the first century anymore…the culture has changed…DRAMATICALLY!! Trying to make the New Testament a new set of rules to live by is like failing to follow an old set of rules, but thinking you can now somehow follow a new set of even more difficult rules! Come on, let’s be honest…I think we all know how hard it can be to love people…but I digress. It was never about keeping rules, it was about what those rules represented…loving God and others…and in doing that, the “rules” change from culture to culture, people to people, and from one time in history to another.

The New Testament gives a lot of grace and liberty, not a bunch more “new” rules! And not only that, but I’ve got news for you, that Old contract of “rules” was destroyed when the new one came out:

Col 2:13-14  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  (14)  Blotting out (synonymous with “to obliterate”) the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

The passages that follow then go on to tell us not to let anyone judge us in what we eat, what we drink, or what holy days (holidays) we celebrate or don’t celebrate. It even talks about people who “appear” to worship, but that its a show of selfish pride and accomplishment that doesn’t really worship God at all.

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why I believe Christianity today is in major decline. But I don’t want to end on that note because it is such a sad and sour note. There is a good note, and that good note is that, despite all the nonsense, God is real, Jesus is real, and you can get to know him and his love…and it’s utterly AMAZING! I guess that’s why its called AMAZING GRACE!

The grace of God in Jesus is second to nothing…ever…it frees your spirit and conscience…it frees your mind…it sets you in a place of peace in such a way that nothing in this world can truly shake you…and…AND…it drives you to really love those around you, whether they’re lost and searching or fellow followers of Jesus. Grace allows for mistakes and seeks to help and support, not condemn…people get enough condemnation from themselves and the world around them..I don’t want to pile on and give them more of that. I want to be someone who is known for loving others as Jesus did…because he does…and he wants to love others today IN THE SPIRIT through each and every one of us until his return. I look forward to that day and that kingdom…it truly will be a storybook ending with a climactic battle of good verses evil and everything…but that’s another blog for another time.

Until them, I love you all enough to tell you the truth, even if it makes you think I’m crazy. I just ask that you think on the things I’ve said, and may the Spirit and truth of God deliver you from the religion of the Old letter so that you may truly get to know Jesus and have LIFE!

Have a GREAT day!

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The Secret To Perfection: Part 2

perfectiondefence

In the last blog, I discussed the secret to perfection, and a question came up: Does discovering the secret to perfection mean that I’ll never sin again? And the answer is, no. Consider the following verse:

1Jn 2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate (defense attorney) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Now think about it: If a person could live a life of sinless perfection then there would be no need for the second part of the above verse! This gives rise to yet another question:

How can God pronounce a person “perfect” when very obviously they are not?

The first thing we need to remember when broaching a question like this is that God said:

Isa 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  (9)  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s thoughts are much higher than ours, as are his ways. This is because he is a higher being living in a higher plane. He does not see things as we do, nor is he confined to time and space as we are, but as the Creator of time and space, he lives outside of that realm. And indeed he tells us:

Isa 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Eternity is not confined by the time and space we dwell in, but is above and beyond it. We need to remember that when trying to understand the things God communicates to us. These are not just thoughts to make us feel good – they are REALITIES! That being said, here’s the secret to perfection:

God can say we are perfect (complete; whole – as in “holy”) because, dwelling in eternity, God sees the end from the beginning. He sees what we will be as an end product based on HIS promises and works, not how we are now based on our own works.

Dwell on that for a moment, because it is truly profound AND it will revolutionize how you see things and how you live!

The secret to perfection lies in understanding that, once I put my faith and trust (faith and trust being the operative words) in Jesus, who was God in human form (not just a good man, teacher, or prophet), God placed his Spirit inside me as an earnest payment (promise) that HE…not ME…would complete this work of salvation in leading me to perfection.

My role, and your role, is to discover God’s promises and to BELIEVE & RECEIVE them. One who truly believes, will FOLLOW or live according to that belief.

If you don’t believe you are perfect, as God says, then you will live short of that perfection; but if you believe that you are complete – perfect – then you will begin to live accordingly. That is why the sign at the beginning of this post says “Perfection – enjoy the journey”. God counts us as perfect because he has ALREADY covered all of our imperfections and sees us as we will be, not as we are. (God is outside of time and space, so he can see everything from beginning to end). A true believer in Jesus isn’t in denial about his sins and shortcomings, he or she just realizes that they don’t need to be focused on because they’ve already been covered!

My favorite illustration about this concept is that of a major league baseball player or pro football player. They are gifted athletes,but not free of mistakes. But listen to their interviews after games when they’ve made those mistakes. They always tell us how, once the mistake is made, they don’t DWELL on it, they shake it off, reset, and move on! As a matter of fact, they will tell you in many cases, that is the very difference between a pro athlete who is able to make a career out of his sport and one who fails to do so. One believes he can and should be there; one doubts and can never get his mind off his mistakes.

Now, contrast that with the too often promoted religious church concept of “searching your heart for sin” before partaking of the Lord’s supper or getting involved in some ministry. Why in the world would a believer go searching for all his own sins and shortcomings when at the same time saying they believe, “Jesus paid it all”? No! We are NOT to search our hearts for sin; we are to search ourselves to see if we are IN THE FAITH – truly trusting in Jesus! The Lord’s supper, we are told, is about remembering JESUS’ sacrifice for us – remembering that HE indeed “paid it all” for us – and if we truly BELIEVE & RECEIVE that revelation, the effects of a life in transformation should follow.

All of this helps us understand how we can be BOTH pronounced perfect by God now, yet at the same time see it as a journey or process to a future completion: it is because God sees it as already finished while we are still in the midst of the journey. I hope this makes sense to you.

One last thing to consider:

Php 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

In the above verse, WHO is going to PERFORM the good work started in me when I trusted in Jesus’ offer of salvation from sin and death? God is! Then what role does that give us? It gives us the role of BELIEVING, RECEIVING, and FOLLOWING? But what if we mess up? Remember 1 John 2:1 – it’s been covered. We can get up, dust ourselves off, put it behind us, and keep moving forward!

THAT is the secret to perfection ladies and gentlemen, and it stands in stark contrast to a lot of the performance driven “Christianity” that exists out there. The main difference being that the former sets you free, while the latter brings you into bondage. Thanks be to Jesus’ for setting us free and keeping us free and promising our good future:

Jer 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Have a GREAT day understanding that you are FREE from sin – wallow in it no longer!

 

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The Secret to Perfection

perfectionlilies

Luk 12:27-28 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (28) If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

One of the things that I have encountered that puts up a lot of barriers in churches is what I like to call, “The atmosphere of perfection.” Let me explain. An atmosphere of perfection is a condition that is created when people are made to feel afraid of discussing their shortcomings, struggles, or faults, for fear of judgement. The message from the pulpit is often, “This is a hospital for the hurting” or “this is not a place for perfect people”, but too often, the actions don’t reflect that. Many times, if a struggle is shared, it becomes an item of “gossip prayer.” Gossip prayer is a method of talking about someone and making known their “issue” in a pretense of prayer. Rather than looking to come alongside and help someone, they are kept at arms link or treated like a leper. The church coffee station talk becomes, “Did you know so-and-so struggles with this or that. What kind of christian struggles with that? His or her faith must not be very strong.” How do I know these things? I know them because I have been on the receiving end! Rather than being a place where sinners can come to get with Jesus, many church environments are more similar to that of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, and here is what Jesus had to say about that:

Mat 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (28) Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Now let me clarify: I am not saying ALL churches are like this, or that because it happens among certain individuals within a church body that it is an indictment on the whole church or the pastors. What I am saying is this: it is a big enough problem that it is affecting the world’s, and even christian’s, view of “organized religion.” What I mean by the term “organized religion” is what most people refer to when they are talking about a public church service in a public building where people go to congregate. As I stated earlier, I am not saying ALL churches are like this, that ALL who claim to be Christians are like this, or that you should leave a church because you have a negative experience with people who will do negative things: Satan has his implants everywhere, even in church. What I am saying is, especially if you are a pastor, is that you better be aware of the vibe (or “spirit” to put it in biblical terms) your church is putting off as a whole.

So how, or why, does this atmosphere of “false perfection” and hypocrisy creep into a church or even into individual lives? It creeps in because of a misunderstanding of the term “perfection.” The problem of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day is that they thought they were “all that” (perfect) because they “kept the law.” But the truth was, they didn’t keep the law, the actually broke it in many, many places. But then, rather than admit that, they made excuses or exceptions as to why it was really not breaking the law. In today’s religious world it says, “When you commit YOUR sins (break God’s law), it’s bad. When you commit MY sins (the sins I do), its bad. But when I commit sins, its not that bad, or, I had a “just cause” for doing so.” This is what Jesus meant when he addressed the religious of his day with their hypocrisy. Oh sure, it LOOKS great on the outside…smiling faces, greetings of “how are you doing? Nice to see you”, and answers of “everything’s fine, thanks for asking.” But behind all of that “false front” is the gossip, back-biting, never letting anyone get too close, and hiding of “secret” sins while judging others for theirs. So what is the remedy?

The remedy is getting Jesus’ take on perfection. Consider the above verse about Solomon and the lilies:

  • Solomon’s clothing was the work of man.
  • The lilies of the field are a work of God.
  • Between the two, there is no comparison. The lily is more perfect, more beautiful, and more majestic!

The teaching is this:

The works of man are NEVER perfect, but the works of God are ALWAYS perfect. That means PERFECTION cannot be based on one’s own striving to produce good works, but rather, perfection is found in the way of the lilies Their secret is…they ARE the works of God!

And in this, the lilies are wiser than many religious and secular people. Lilies neither toil or spin: they don’t TRY to produce good works or keep the words of the bible, Old or New Testament. Rather, they ARE what they are – a work of God. A life spent trying to produce works of righteousness and holiness will NEVER produce them! As a matter of fact, it will ABSOLUTELY produce the opposite – the judgmental “atmosphere of perfection” that I spoke of earlier, where people keep their own sins hidden or make excuses for them while judging others for theirs. This is because they are trying to “keep (do) all that the bible says.” It makes me wonder, have they never read:

2Co 3:4-6 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: (5) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (6) Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Living by the letter…the law…WILL KILL YOU! Why? Because no one is perfect in the sense of “sinless perfection!” The life spent trying to PRODUCE good works and holiness will inevitably become focused on the SOURCE of those works…THE SELF! But a life focused on the works of God will be focused on the source of those works…GOD!

So the SECRET is:

To NOT focus on your work FOR God, but to realize you are a work of God and allow yourself to become that work!

So how do we do this? We cease striving to do the work of God and start letting our lives BECOME what God promised! That doesn’t mean we do nothing, but it means we FOLLOW God’s lead, trusting in God to do in and through us what HE PROMISED! Let our doing BECOME the doing of God! Stop struggling to produce good works or to put on this “air of perfection” that isn’t real or true and let God produce his good work IN you! Let HIS goodness cause your life to become a good work. Let everything you do and are begin with HIM! When we learn to do that, we BECOME like Jesus, the man sinners and publicans loved! But remember, Jesus was also the man that most religious hated and wanted dead. Why? Because he was an indictment to who they really were – people who weren’t really trusting in God, but who were trusting in themselves. People who liked having the preeminence, who liked controlling others, who liked getting the accolades about what GREAT men of God they were.

Rather than “playing church”, let’s GET REAL. Let’s let our righteousness be the out-flowing of his righteousness through us. How? By acknowledging that, in ourselves, this is impossible; but, in Christ, well…

Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

And if we already know “we” can’t do it, and then suddenly we are able to do it after going to God, then we know it wasn’t really us, it was Christ through us. And when we know that, Christ will get our praise instead of praising ourselves. May our love be the out-flowing of Jesus’ love, and our lives the out-flowing of his life. In this, we will have discovered the secret of the lilies and the secret of perfection!

So today, don’t focus on your works, your sins and shortcomings, or the sins and shortcomings of others, but rather, discover the secret of the lilies and the secret of perfection – learn that in Christ, you are God’s NEW creation, you ARE God’s work, so just focus on allowing God to work in and through you to be like Jesus. And what’s a good sign of that?

Joh 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And if you want to know what love looks like, then you have to look at Jesus…God in human form, who IS love…not at yourself! Love you all and have a great day!

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Cause And Effect

The Law Of Cause And Effect

For thousands of years, the law of cause and effect guided scientific inquiry. In fact, the history of the concept of causality can be traced through Hebrew, Babylonian, Greek and European cultures. Certain Greek philosophers, however, introduced the atomistic concept of chance-events to oppose the common-sense application of causality. The resulting conflict between cause versus chance has not only shaped the history of science but has imposed lasting effects on Western culture as a whole. This conflict intensified during the Twentieth Century as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (HUP) became the leading tool of the proponents of chance. More recent findings have now demonstrated that the HUP fails in six actual cases. Common Sense Science counters chance-based philosophy by returning to causality and other principles of Classical Science such as the conservation of energy and the use of physical finite-sized models for fundamental particles (e.g., the electron). Physical models based on the laws of electricity and magnetism fully implement the law of cause and effect in the manner of the four causes required by Aristotle. Chance-based physics is exposed as false science based on erroneous assumptions about supposed chance-events instead of causal relationships. Interestingly enough, the scriptures spoke of a turn in science nearly 2,000 years ago:

1Ti 6:20-21 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: (21) Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

 

The law of cause and effect lies at the foundation of science, logic, and reason. For every effect, there must be a cause. For every phenomenon, there must be a reason. Nothing can exist without a cause behind it, for to do so, would go against reason, logic, and science. Only that which exists beyond the laws of the universe could cause the laws of the universe to exist. This is what the book of Romans describes when it says:

Rom 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

In throwing out even the possibility of a creator, much science today is based on an already biased premise. I find it amusing that someone such as Stephen Hawking, in an Origins Symposium presentation on April 7, 2009, can postulate the idea of finding alien life through the theory of panspermia – life being seeded here from elsewhere, yet a person who believes in a Creator (God) is mocked for essentially believing the same thing – that life was seeded here from elsewhere! The differences, of course, lie in what is believed to be the SOURCE of that life.

The Bible and Science

I’m not sure where the idea originated that the bible and science are mutually exclusive of each other. I love reading scientific periodicals and articles, about the topics of physics, quantum mechanics, and the growing evidence that there are dimensions above and beyond the ones we know. That is perfectly sound from a biblical standpoint:

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

What if eternity is not a mystical happy place bible people turn to when things get bad. What if it is another dimension, or dimensions, outside the ones we know? I believe the latter to be the case. Consider this from a scientific standpoint:

Isa 34:4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

If you’re going to roll something up like a scroll, then there has to be another dimension that exists outside of the scroll itself! The bible speaks extensively to this idea, even to the point that it suggests that other living creatures exist in those dimensions as well! My faith in the God of the Bible is not threatened at all with the idea of humanity finding life elsewhere in the universe, or even in the idea of humanity being visited by inter-dimensional beings. The greater question in all of that is, “what is the truth about them and from what do we base our assumptions?”

The Ultimate Question Of Science – Origins & Are We Alone In The Universe?

The question of science these days seems more bent on discovering our origins than anything else, and it seems to have decided that the answer lies in discovering life, even intelligent life, somewhere “out there.” So what if it does? What if we make contact with what we will call, “highly evolved beings”, who says they know about our origins? Question:

What is the basis for our belief in what we are told by those beings?

Scientific method? Approaches that exclude the idea of a Creator (God)? But what if…and I’m being hypothetical here…what if the bible account is actually true? What if Jesus is in fact, not just another good moral teacher, but our Creator come to us in human form, who…much of humanity has outright rejected in that sense? This is where the issue of prophecy comes into play, so please, humor me.

The Purpose Of Prophecy

I have a question:

What is the purpose of prophecy?

I can tell you what Jesus said about it:

Joh 14:29 And now I have told you before it come to pass (prophecy), that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

I can tell you what God said about it in ancient times:

Isa 48:3-5 I have declared the former things from the beginning (prophecy); and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. (4) Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; (5) I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.

In essence, God is saying, “Look…I told you things before hand (prophecy) because I knew your stubborn unbelief concerning me!”

The primary difference between the Bible and other religious works is the issue of prophecy. A search for origins is a search for a Creator, whether one realizes that or not. The problem arises with the matter of belief. But did you know that approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the bible, and of those, approximately 2,000 have already been fulfilled…to the letter…no errors!   If we would correctly interpret and apply prophecy which is yet unfulfilled, we should first discern the course or the path which fulfilled prophecy has historically taken. In other words, we should deal with unfulfilled prophecy according to the nature or course of fulfilled prophecy.

To throw out prophecy from consideration, one has to do what one might accuse the bible believer of doing, and that is, one must approach the topic unscientifically. I say unscientifically because to throw out prophecy, one would also have to throw out something called, “The law of total probabilities” (you can look that up on your own). Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000(that is 1 with 2,000 zeros written after it)!

Origins, Prophecy, And Truth

To be prophetic, one must not fear stepping up to announce what is coming in advance, before others see it. And at the heart of all of this is the search for something called TRUTH! Even Jesus stated that TRUTH was behind his coming to us as a man:

Joh 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Pilate’s response? (And I’ve covered this in other posts)

Joh 18:38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

What is truth? A question that is seldom, if ever, followed by a real search for an answer, yet Jesus said his whole purpose of being born was to bear witness to it. Like Pilate, a lot of people find no fault…no problem…with Jesus. Yet like Pilate, they also never search for the answer to the question of, “What is truth?”, nor how it might affect their lives. Finding no fault in Jesus is not enough: the question was, and is, WHO IS JESUS? The Question was and is, WHO ARE WE & WHERE DID WE COME FROM? Those questions are quite connected. Pilate said that he found no fault in Jesus, yet he failed to search for the truth, and ultimately, gave Jesus up to be crucified DESPITE saying he found no fault in him!

So what about you? What will you do with Jesus? Will you dismiss the truth and him to execution unjustly while you continue with humanities search for origins? Will you ignore the scientific laws of probability concerning all the prophecies of the bible because you don’t like or don’t yet understand the whole of the bible story or the goodness of God? Science and the Bible work very well together in discovering truth – its when we allow a no-God bias that we run into trouble. God gave us some prophecies about that as well. Read and consider:

Rom 1:21-32 Because that, when they knew God (as evidenced from his creation), they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing themselves to be wise (scientific?), they became fools, (23) And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things (the idea of evolution as describing mans origins from lower life forms?). (24) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: (25) Who changed the truth of God(there’s that pesky issue of truth again) into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature (creation) more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (28) And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (29) Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, (30) Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, (31) Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: (32) Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

When much of humanity is doing what is described in these passages, and with more intensity as time goes on, it is merely the evidence of a society and/or world that has rejected it’s Creator – the law of cause and effect, remember? People don’t know WHAT they are, WHO they are, or WHY they are, because they’ve rejected THE TRUTH about where they came from as an origin of species (and when I say that, please note that I am not vindicating the religious who misrepresent the God they claim to know, but that is yet another story) – the law of cause and effect yet again. If you dare, ponder that idea for awhile, also dare to ask, “God, If you’re there, show me the truth!” And then dare to look for and receive an answer. You might be surprised how the law of cause and effect plays out in that case! Have a great week, and may you discover, believe, and receive the truth…it is out there, and closer than you might even think.

 

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Worse Than The First

Abandoned

A few miles northeast of Burlington, Iowa lies the tiny unincorporated community of Dodgeville. I spent some of my earliest years just outside of the main town located on what is now called the Dodgeville blacktop. The house I got my first electric train set in now sits abandoned with a large oak tree growing right out of the middle of it. The house pictured above is not that house, but it does remind me of it in some ways. I bring it up because I enjoy finding old abandoned houses, buildings, or even towns, and then trying to piece together what happened that caused them to become abandoned or left in disrepair. I remember my Grandpa Dale taking me with him to an old tavern in Dodgeville that now stands like my old house that I told you about. The lives that inhabited those places are gone. I shared them with you because today, they reminded me of a story that Jesus once told about spirits and empty places that is not only relevant to individuals, but to an entire generation and nation as well, and we all would do well to think about what he said.

The Story Of The House Of Spirits

Mat 12:43-45 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (44) Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. (45) Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Intellectualism has taken hold in America to the point that some have no use for talk of a spiritual realm. That in and of itself is tragic. It reminds me of another passage in the Bible from the book of Romans:

Rom 1:19-22 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

In a nutshell, the passage basically says that the VISIBLE creation teaches us about an INVISIBLE Creator, just as a work of art testifies of an artist who may not be standing there at that moment. And like a piece of art can tell you a lot about the artist, so too does creation tell us a lot about the Creator, right down to the Godhead, or what is called the Trinity – one God, three persons. Ever heard of a proton, neutron, and electron (3 elements) making one atom? But the real issue boils down to this:

Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (fitting);

Man has come to the point where his intellectual smarts have no room for God, much less, a spiritual realm. For those who have concluded God and spirits are real, Jesus told a story about an unclean spirit coming out of a man and finding no other place of rest. Interestingly enough, in the story, as Jesus tells it, the spirit refers to the man as, “His house.” Man is, after all, called a “vessel”, and vessels are usually not meant to be left empty. They are meant to carry something. The vessel of man is to house the Holy Spirit of God so that with the Holy Spirit guiding him, he can be like Jesus. Unfortunately, there’s this matter of unclean spirits. And since we are talking about a spiritual, unseen realm, Jesus teaches us about it by giving us examples of what we do see – people moving in and out of houses.

In this story, this spirit, goes back to the man and finds him “empty, swept, and garnished.” When a house is empty, swept, and then garnished, it is usually because another tenant is expected. And so is the case here. This spirit is so delighted that we are told he goes and grabs seven of his buddies and we are told that the last state of that man is worse than the first. He is now home to an unclean spirit frat party!

The House Of Spirits Applied

So think about this with me: if someone “puts off evil”, but then fails to fill the void with something, the evil will come back SEVEN TIMES WORSE THAN BEFORE! I’ve known people who have had their problems, who then “dabbled” in the teachings of the Bible, but who never really believed, received, or learned what it taught. Those same people went on to not only “not believe it”, but actually moved to “set themselves against it!”

Have you noticed that, especially concerning religion, economics, and politics, the world is growing more and more POLARIZED? It’s not that we haven’t had issues, but its the INTENSITY of the issues that’s growing. That’s when I noticed something about what Jesus said:

Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Not only does that story have a personal application, but it also has an application for a generation or civilization! Whether or not America was founded on the principles of the word of God is less of an issue than “will America make the word of God its foundation now?” Even if one doesn’t believe that America was founded on the word of God, there is no concluding that the word of God has not at least come here! And it’s hearing the term “post-Christian nation” that makes my hair stand on end. Why? Because of the story Jesus told about the evil spirits – it applies to a generation, a civilization, not just to persons.

Whether you believe it or not, America has had the peace and prosperity it has had precisely because it honored the principles of the word of God. For a long time, we as a people have lived by “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We’ve also been “one nation under God”. Presidents have taken the oath of office, swearing on a Bible, which some now, want to do away with. Post-Christian implies a turning away from what is Christian, what is Christ-like! And Jesus told us what the last state of that would be like!

Before I conclude, I want to share something about all of this. I know about all the atrocities done, both nationally and personally, in the name of God. God himself said people would commit such things in has name. That is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about people being like Jesus – caring, compassionate, healing, refreshing – I’m not talking about those who misuse the Bible or his teachings. Just because people do that, it doesn’t make the word of God, rightly applied, untrue or unreal. America has known very little of the sufferings that have impacted the rest of the world – ask someone who has been to the middle east. More people who profess Jesus have been persecuted and martyred in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined – it’s a statistical fact! What we call “oppression” in America is almost laughable! But I do think oppression is coming, especially if we’re going to go the Post-Christian route. Just think about it, and remember, even if the whole civilization goes that way, YOU don’t have to. Jesus gave many promises to those who would believe and receive Him for who he was – our Creator come to us in human form! He is our hope when all seems hopeless.

Have a great week everybody!

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truth

Happy Friday everybody! I hope your week was a good one. From my last two blogs we left off with two basic questions:

  1. Why do you believe what you believe, and is there evidence that would support it?
  2. What is truth and can it be known?

So let’s talk about some of the post-modern concepts of truth and see if they hold up. First, we must start with a definition:

truth  / tro͞oTH     (noun)

1. the quality or state of being true.
“he had to accept the truth of her accusation”
synonyms: veracity, truthfulness, verity, sincerity, candor, honesty;

2. that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. That which is not false or a lie (noun): the truth
“tell me the truth”
synonyms: what actually happened, the case;

3. a fact or belief that is accepted as true. (plural noun): truths
“the emergence of scientific truths”
synonyms: fact, verity, certainty, certitude; law, principle
“scientific truths”

Non-truths about Truth

Now for some of the post-modern concepts of truth:

There is no absolute truth. All truth is relative.

Do you see the fatal flaw in this statement? It is actually built on what it says doesn’t exist! The statement itself is what is called, “an absolute statement.” Put another way, it is saying, “There ABSOLUTELY is no absolute truth. All truth is relative.” Ask yourself, “Is that ABSOLUTELY true?” If you say, “Yes, I believe that”, then you have contradicted yourself! As a matter of fact, if you REALLY believe all truth is relative, then it must also apply to that statement and you cannot force your “relative truth” onto others!

No one can really know truth.

Once again, I ask you. Is that statement true? If you say “yes”, then once again, you’ve contradicted yourself. If this statement IS true and you say you know it is, then once again, you claim to have something that you say no one can have….KNOWN TRUTH! Are we having fun yet? The intent of this blog is to make you think about what you say you believe and see if it holds up. This is because the TRUTH is, as stated in a previous blog, everyone living by what is right in their own eyes is not freedom: it’s chaos! The problem begins with this little wrinkle:

People tend to get offended when their particular set of beliefs and values are crossed by another individual or group and eventually insist on the idea of “you really need to believe and do what I do.”

In the modern Americana political party system, this has manifest itself through the following example:

A politician takes a general concept, let’s say, education. He or she then devises a plan or policy concerning education. When another politician disagrees with the PLAN concerning education, he or she is usually demonized as being AGAINST education. This is untrue: they are NOT against education; they are simply against that particular PLAN concerning education!

The same is happening sociologically among citizens now as well. People have aligned with different political groups: democrats, republicans, libertarians, etc. People have aligned with different religious beliefs: Atheist, Baptist, Catholic, etc. And each group today is becoming more and more polarized so that each is starting to label the other as “a problem and danger to liberty and society”, and this is a dangerous place. Do you know why? It is dangerous because once you go there, you are cracking the door open to oppression, violence, and even morally justified killings.

Jesus’ Days – Days Not That Unlike Our Own

Did you know Jesus was “put away” because his beliefs and ways were not consistent with the present religious climate of his day? We are told that sinners and publicans loved him….but the religious hated him…to the point they concocted a way to paint him as a THREAT to the safety of the community so that they could have him eliminated! You know the story. And it in the context of his “trial” that the issue of truth came up. Lets look at it again:

Joh 18:33-38 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? (34) Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? (35) Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? (36) Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (37) Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the TRUTH. Every one that is of the TRUTH heareth my voice. (38) Pilate saith unto him, WHAT IS TRUTH? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

Even the Roman procurator couldn’t find fault in Jesus. But what’s most interesting to me is Pilate’s question: “What is truth?” But did you notice what’s missing? He never really sought for the answer to his question: he simply dismissed it. People often talk about truth and wanting to know the truth, but then, when truth is standing right before their very eyes….they dismiss it.

Objective vs. Subjective Truth

There is subjective truth; but there is also objective truth. The difference?

Objective truth: “It’s 68 degrees in this room.”

Subjective truth: It’s cold in this room. (to which another might reply, “I’m rather comfortable.”)

You see, the Problem with Jesus has ALWAYS been, WHO HE CLAIMED HIMSELF TO BE! Even his enemies KNEW THE TRUTH about what he was claiming. They even tried to stone him for it!

Joh 10:31-33 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. (32) Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? (33) The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

Even today, this is an issue. Jesus never claimed to be just a good man or teacher – He said he was our Creator come to us in human form…he became one of us…and he became one of us to atone for a problem we all have…sin. It’s the underlying sickness (along with pride) that cause us all to war with one another and fight and fail to get along. And in stating He was our Creator, he also stated that he came to show us THE TRUTH…Objective truth, not subjective truth! About what? Life, us, Him, this place (the earth, outer space, the universe, etc), and places that exist in dimensions we struggle to even grasp (eternity, heaven, etc). He also came to let us in on where we are in this world and age and where things are going to go from here. And He said it’s critical that each and every one of us know the truth, because lies can (and will) destroy us. Regardless of whether or not you believe what I believe, I want you to know something about my mandate:

Rom 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. (18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (19) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

I want peace as much as the next guy. I don’t like what I’m seeing with these groups hating, destroying, and killing and JUSTIFYING themselves for their actions. But I also don’t like our devolving into the chaos of “every man doing what is right in their own eyes” either, because in the end, somebodies belief system is always trumping (no pun intended) another. Killing for truth or living as if there is no truth are equally bad. READ WORLD HISTORY!! This is not good! It’s time to wake up and ask the same question Pontus Pilate asked about Jesus:

What is truth?

But it is also time to do something Pontus Pilate DIDN’T do…

Honestly and objectively seek to find out the answer.

Until next time. Have a great week!

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CLEARLY…A Perspective On Perspectives In America

perspectives

The Topic Of Interpretation

Welcome back to the wilderness highway! I started blogging again at the request of friends and acquaintances who believe I have a knack for making them think. While it is true that I hold to certain beliefs, I never want to tell someone they have to believe what I believe. I want to give them a perspective: something to think about. A perspective is defined as:

per·spec·tive     pərˈspektiv/noun

1. The art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
“a perspective drawing”

2. A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
“most guidebook history is written from the editor’s perspective”

Synonyms: outlook, view, viewpoint, point of view, POV, standpoint, position, stand, stance, angle, slant, attitude, frame of mind, frame of reference, approach, way of looking, interpretation
“her perspective on things had changed”

I ended last weeks blog with a series of questions for you to consider that basically could be summed up as

Why do you believe what you believe and is there evidence to support it?

I then spoke about maybe getting into the topic of interpretation. Did you notice that a synonym of the word “perspective” is the word “interpretation”? I want you to imagine something with me.

Four Perspectives On A Quarter (or alternative title…CLEARLY!)

Imagine four people in a room around a table facing each other, as in the photo below.

facing

Now, imagine I place a quarter on a stationary stand in the center, with “heads” facing the person at position A, so that she only sees this:

quarter1-2

“Tails” then would be facing position B so that that person sees only this:

quarter1-3

Positions C and D then, would each be left seeing the quarter like this:

quarter-side

 

For sake of our demonstration, assume that these folks are not familiar with American currency. We tell each one that they are looking at a quarter and ask them to describe it. The woman at position A says, “its round and has the form of a persons head on it”.

The guy at position B agrees to the “round” descriptive, but objects to  the “head” descriptive, because CLEARLY it has the form of an eagle which he CLEARLY can see.

Meanwhile, the two people at positions C and D are looking at each other as if the two at positions A and B have lost their minds! CLEARLY, a quarter is not round, and CLEARLY, it has no bird or person’s head on it! And since positions C and D are TWO and are CLEARLY seeing the same thing, CLEARLY the other two are wrong about what a quarter is, and they are RIGHT because there is safety in numbers which is why the MAJORITY should always be trusted to rule!

Now…do you see where I’m going with interpretation and my perspective on perspectives? Let me give you a definition:

Interpretation (or perspective) is relative to position.

We know that there are various PERSPECTIVES when it comes to viewing the quarter and that ALL of the folks above are correct FROM THEIR PARTICULAR POSITIONS! But if each one insists that theirs is the ONLY position, then they would start in-fighting about correctness…and it would be ABSURD to us who are very familiar with the three dimensions of the American quarter…CLEARLY!

 

When arguing four perspectives, consider a fifth…I certainly have!

rum-gone

While clearly a play on words that is fitting concerning the modern political (and religious) climate in the U.S., this is not the fifth that I was talking about. CLEARLY you misunderstood! (ok, so I confess…you MAY have a case that you did not misunderstand me at all, but…I digress)  THE POINT IS, the fifth I was talking about is a fifth person walking into our little quarter scenario above who states,

You are all wrong. A quarter is square, thick, made of wood, has a picture of a bottle of rum on one side, and a picture of the jolly roger on the other!

Now what? The first four people were ALL correct, except that they discredited the others VALID vantage points. But what about this fifth person? Would you agree that his perspective is NOT correct? And if so, if he produced an object fitting that description that said “quarter” on it, would you trade your legitimate quarter with him? I hope not. If you would, contact me, I’ve got some swamp land in Arizona to sell you.

The Perspectives Battle In America Today – But What Is Truth?

The quarter scenario (with many more perspectives I might add) is EXACTLY where we are when it comes to debating politics, what America was founded on, right versus left, the topic of religion verses religion, or religion versus atheism, and many other topics!

Varying groups are claiming their particular “corner on the truth” while discounting other’s “valid perspectives”, and there is a lot of in-fighting. Meanwhile, there are some groups sowing and other groups believing COMPLETE FALSEHOODS that are WAY off base as to what the evidence DOES support.

So what is the TRUTH and can we know it?

Did you know that Pontus Pilate asked a similar question when talking to Jesus at the trial that led to his crucifixion? Yeah. Here is a transcript of the conversation:

Joh 18:37-38 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. (38) Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

What is truth? Now THAT is a good topic for next time! Until then, think about the illustration above and the definition of freedom. Is “freedom” really “the ability to do what is right in your own eyes” as many are defining it today, or is that really the definition of “chaos” which will eventually lead us to the place of in-fighting and war with one another? Think I’m reaching? If so, then explain why some have already concluded that violence, destroying property, and harming others is morally justified because those that oppose their viewpoint DESERVE IT!

Wow. Really? Have we really come to the place where we truly believe that those who disagree with our position are HATERS and that it is OK to hurt those haters because HATERS DESERVE IT? If you conclude that, then what’s to say the “other side” hasn’t concluded the same about you? So now what? As I said…think about it. Maybe we really can LOVE somebody while NOT AGREEING with everything they believe. We’ll get into that later too.

Meanwhile, try to consider “the other side’s” position and put yourself in their position before you conclude they’re all just a bunch of idiots…do YOU like it when people do that to you? Yeah, me neither. oh, and watch out for the “square-thick-wooden-quarter guy” too. Rarely are lies ever that blatant, but there are people out there who just want to rob us of what we have that is of real value. Until next time, have a great week, and thanks again for joining me on The Wilderness Highway!

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