Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Conclusion

What I’m about to say probably in some ways contradicts what I’ve said before, but that is irrelevant. You would not call a man foolish for putting gasoline in his car once he found out water wouldn’t work.
I think we as Christians have reversed the process of faith and belief. The world lives on a system of cause and effect. This makes sense because this makes sense or this happens next because this just happened. However, I don’t think faith works the same way. We’ve been taught by the world that it must work that way because that way is the only way it could makes sense, but faith doesn’t need to make sense because faith is based on God and from God, and God does not have to operate in terms that we can comprehend. Anyone who has an objection to faith working this way (perhaps they arrived at faith through logic like C.S. Lewis) has in fact arrived at the conclusion that not all things do, can, and ever will make sense.
“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Faith comes by hearing. To believe in God is to say that it does not need make sense; what we call sense is based on our limited knowledge of what we’ve seen and developed. To believe in God requires some acceptance that we don’t understand everything, and some trust that God knows more and does things for our best with that knowledge. Perhaps at this point an  allegory will help.
If and when you teach a child the multiplication table, you do not wait until he understands it to decide it’s still true. You already know it to be true, and that is why you are teaching it to him. Furthermore, you would probably find it quite peculiar if the child said “I’m not going to believe in the multiplication table until I’m old enough, have more proof, and have more experience with it.” God tells us we must have “faith like a child.” What I think this means is we must believe in God and believe God somewhat blindly, then see that the results are all that has been promised. In the words of a small elf, “seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” In other words, it takes no faith to believe in something once you’ve seen it. We are told to have faith until we see it.
Paul tells us we are saved by grace through faith. To me, this means that if you have no faith, you aren’t saved. That is the difference between those with salvation and those without. Grace has been offered to all of us because Christ’s death was for the world; faith is the other piece of the puzzle, and the part that is dependent upon you. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. If you do not have faith, perhaps it is because you are not listening and hearing God’s Word. As an extra note, God is the Word, and God is limitless. If you’re looking for Him, you will find Him around every corner, not just in church and in your Bible. Pray that your ears may be opened, eyes may be opened, and faith may increase. Through faith mountains will be moved, miracles will be seen, destinies will be changed, and souls will be saved.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Raw

Who are you? Not the you that your Facebook says you are. Not who you’d like to answer as. The real you. Many of us put up a mask or facade in most areas because we don’t really want to be transparent or honest with anyone. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is always a bad thing, but we should get something straight. It is a simple truth that changing your mask does not change your face. Changing your “on paper” description will not change who you are in life. However, changing who you are on the inside will certainly reflect who you appear to be on the outside. We only put masks on that appear better than who we really are (unless it’s Halloween). It would be a rather foolish thing though to cover a beautiful face with an ugly mask.
Sort of as a disclaimer before I go on, I want you to know that I don’t say all of this to discourage you, nor to judge you or put you down. I say it because the only change that will matter is the change of your bare bones or raw materials. You would not say that a mean man who does a nice thing is now a nice man, and nor would you say that an apple tree that somehow bore an orange is now an orange tree. The mean man becoming nice will not happen by him doing nice things, but by removing his desire to do mean things and placing a new desire to do nice things. It has to do with roots; after all, the roots will determine the fruit.
These roots that I speak of are what God wants to take a hold of, and they are what you must surrender in order for any true and valuable change to occur. You will not become a better Christian because you go to a different church or become a better lover because you get a different girlfriend. You will not change by doing different things, but by changing your reasoning for doing the things that you do.
For instance, I can give you a hug so that you’ll give me a hug in return, or I can give you a hug purely to show compassion so that you feel better. It’s the same action for each, but the intentions are what matter.
God is creating people who, even when the outside fa├žade is broken down, will be pure and holy, even at their core. If we will stop focusing on the image we are putting up, and dare I say, on the fruit we are producing, and focus more on our roots and God’s heart, not only will we change but the world will change. If we will give Him even our most fragile and vulnerable parts in faith, we will be not be disappointed by the results. There is only love in Him.
Consider this. You would not think very highly of God if He was not showing you the real Him. If all He gave you were simply doctrines and facts, and a dose of peace here and there, you would not consider Him to be anything like the God we know He is now. There must be depth in this relationship, both on His end and on yours. That is perhaps the reason we are not, at our core, who we wish we were and ought to be. When we seek the core of God’s heart we will find it. When we find it we will conform to it; when that happens, we become a fire.
The reality is you are a holy potential living in a sinful body, but we desire far more than just potential. The reality is that God is an almighty and powerful being that many of us have limited to being only potential. The reality is that He loves you more than you can possibly fathom, and whne you give Him your pain, tears, struggles, worries, and will, He will not only measure up to what and who you need, but overcome it (through the power that worketh in you). 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Amazing

There are only two things that being in God’s presence can be. It’s either amazing or it isn’t. Furthermore, there are only two thoughts you can have on it (in the same respect)- “It’s amazing” or “it’s not amazing.” If you don’t think it’s amazing, I can tell you with full confidence that you haven’t experienced Him. To call something amazing is to call it above the normal, better, extraordinary. God’s presence innately must be amazing because all of the characteristics of God are amazing. You could not be in the presence of God and not be amazed anymore than you could be in water and not be wet.
Now that I’ve prepared a little bit, I’ll get to my main point. Since we know that God’s presence is amazing, we must ask ourselves, if we are not currently amazed, why does it not seem/feel amazing? The answer is simply perception. For instance, if I tell you that every woman is beautiful and you say to me “no, there are some ugly women out there,” we would be forced to break it down to saying that it’s only a matter of perception. Let’s say that I make the same argument again, but this time I say “every woman is beautiful because God has made them beautiful.” Did the reality of women being beautiful change? Not at all. What changed was your knowledge which directly influenced your perception.
In the same way, if you are in God’s presence and do not find it amazing, your knowledge must be incomplete and your perceptions fogged. In my opinion (of course because it’s my blog), you should ask yourself every time you enter into worship “is this amazing or not?” If it is, God’s presence may very likely be with you. If it’s not, the logical conclusion is that you are not in God’s presence, because if you were you could not answer like that.
One more point and I’ll be finished. We would be foolish to assume that we can fully understand the thoughts and actions of a God we don’t assume we fully understand. If God tells you to do something and it doesn’t make sense, that doesn’t mean it’s not God. If you ask a person what God sounds like and he/she cannot explain it that is fully acceptable because the reality of God is unexplainable. If you ask someone “how do you know it’s God” and they can’t explain it, trust them. They truly can’t explain it because God is so much greater and higher than we are. You could not explain quantum physics to a 1 year old.
I challenge you to experience daily this God I’m writing about. He truly is amazing. And when you do experience Him, do not reduce Him or deny Him because you can’t explain Him, rather, rejoice that this God of all power and knowledge loves you and is on your side.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Eternal

     Reflect with me for a second on not your life, or even your year, but your day. Did you do anything important today? If no, then I challenge you to simply find motivation and purpose in life- hopefully in Christ. If your answer is yes, I ask you by what standard was it important. If it is your own, I fear it may have been of little true value (though not necessarily). IF it is the world's standard, you are probably dreadfully off. The world clearly doesn't know what important, because if they did, they would be fulfilled instead of empty.
     If it was by God's standard, I applaud you. I don't know about you, but I will confess that much of what I do is not important in an eternal perspective. I was discussing arguments with my mom once and she told me something very wise. She said, "If it won't matter in 10 years, it doesn't matter at all." Please don't misunderstand  this. She was speaing of what's worth arguing about, and making the point that most things aren't. On a bigger scale, if what you did today won't matter in eternity, it really doesn't matter at all.
     I don't write all of this to condemn or even convict you; I certainly don't write it to press any law or doctrine on you. I write it to influence your perspective- in hopes that your life, if it hasn't mattered much yet, will matter in the future. However, I hope that you will not change your measure of importance because you are supposed to, but because you want to. This change must come out of love, and love is a choice, not a need or demand. When our actions and days are based on the perspective of eternity instead of the perspective of today, the world will change.
     Two things happen when we start living based on eternity. Firstly, the things of this world become so much less important and less bearing. We will not worry about things that do not effect eternity because, ultimately, they don't matter. This is a freedom. Secondly, the things we do become more important and more meaningful. We feel more fulfilled because our life starts to quite obviously matter more.
     You are the temporary; He is the ternal. By seeking Him, you will be seeking the ternal. The more you see His love for you (and others), the more you will love Him. When that happens, perspective changes, and so does everything else. We will begin to store up treasures in heaven and come to fully realize that the suffering and trials on this earth are truly not worth comparing to the glory that awaits us.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Attacking Religion

It’s often a brought up idea that everyone should be free to choose what religion they want to follow. While I believe that is good, I don’t believe it is an excuse to ignore or hide The Truth. As Christians, we’re not called to tear down other people or their beliefs. We are called to spread Christ because He is the real Truth. We can attack a religion without attacking religious people.
Firstly, people get very easily offended when you attack them on a personal level such as their religious beliefs. God has not called us to offend people.
Secondly, religion and idols are not the same. In the bible, especially in the old testament, it talks many times about how bad idols and false Gods are. But, the modern sense of religion is not the same as it used to be because your religion used to be based on your idol.
A religion is an idea that can be devoted to to edify one own’s spirit. The problem is that only Christ can edify your spirit. Just like only gas can run a car, and not water, so it is that Christ is the only one who can fulfill you. It would be inconsiderate and not loving to share this with those we love. As Christians, we’re called to love everyone, especially those we find hard to love.
Also as Christians, we should be excited about sharing Christ!
Example. Let’s say that Wal-marts everywhere are giving out free ipads. Now, I’d be considered a pretty big jerk if I went and got mine and didn’t tell all of my friends. Why wouldn’t i? It doesn’t cost me anything, and it’s a great deal. It’s the same with Christ. We should share Him because we ourselves have experienced a love out of this world, and love that can’t be contained and wants to flow out of us.
An idol is what you actually worship, and it’s usually something nowadays such as relationships, money, pride, beauty, strength. An idol is worshipping the creation instead of the creator. The big problem with this is that the Creator has all of His creation to give to you. When you worship His creation, not only does it not respond to you, and not only does it steal your life away, but it also limits you to receiving only that blessing. God wants to give you all things and all things abundantly.
In summary, don’t attack religious people, attack religions. Also attack idols of all kinds, and be anxious to share Christ whom is our true lord and Savior, the only thing that can actually satisfy us. I caution you with one thing though, do not be demanding or have expectations, and don’t assume that you know some one better than you do. You knowing the truth does not mean You know that person’s perspective on it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sin Doesn't Matter- Part 2


Now that I’ve laid the ground work for the ways sin does matter, let me go into the ways it does not. First, Sin does not control your future. The fact that you have sinned countless times is no reflection on tomorrow. You have been and always will be a sinner, and the best you can hope for in this sense is to sin less. God’s love for you is not based on your concrete past or your flexible and yet to be seen future. Also, as far as I can tell, sin has no specific will. The devil, to some extent, really doesn’t care if you steal or lie, so long as you are sinning and find no way out. Funny that God doesn’t care either in the same sense because any and all of His love has defeated any and all sin.
Secondly, as I said earlier, sin does not separate you from God. Yes, it does separate you in terms of being different from Him. He is perfect, you are imperfect. He is sinless and you are sinful. Don’t fret too much over that though because even if man had not ever fallen, we would still not be like God. He would still be glorified and you would still be a man. He would still be all powerful and you would still only have the power that He’s given you. He would still be the source and you still the vessel.
Sin separates your love from God (under certain conditions later discussed), but it does not separate His love from you. Nothing can separate His love from you, and nothing could make Him change the way He feels about you.
Based on what I’ve been taught and know, love works like this. God loves you. Using the love He gives to you, you love others and love Him in return. In theory, this means that nothing can actually separate Him from your love- because your love is His love redirected. I do not believe in man made love.
I’ve heard it said that sin and the enemy cannot resist your weapons; they can only influence your will to use them. I agree with this statement. If your love is God’s love, and nothing can stop God’s love (and God’s power), then nothing can stop your love. You’re like a gate. When it is open, God’s love flows. When it is closed, His love doesn’t flow. The difference is your choice to either open the gate or close it.
Lastly, sin does not stop you from being righteous and powerful. Christ tells us to be holy as He is holy, and He would not tell us to do something that could not be done. (Yes I’m veering away from the perfection argument). Though a righteous man falls seven times, he gets up again. I think as American Christians, or maybe as Christians all over, we’ve come to no longer believe that God can use us because we’re not good enough. It is precisely that belief that stops God from using us. We think that all of the “radicals” in the bible had some special anointing that’s no longer available to us, yet we also think that the New Testament rules apply to us.
One of my favorite people in the bible is Paul. The bible says he was so holy that people could just touch cloths and rags he had used and be healed. Crazy right? Yet this same man said “That I wish to do, I don’t do, and that I wish not to do I do anyways.” This is a clear indicator that sin is not what makes us any different from Paul. Paul was also a sinner.
What makes us different is that He completely believed in and surrendered to the power, and well, and self of God. That is precisely what we’re not doing, or at least not enough. When someone slips through the cracks of our common beliefs system, we call Him radical. We tend to think that he is better than us. We think God loves him more than us. It’s either that or we simply don’t understand and soon give up on understanding.
I don’t know about you, but I want to change the world. I hope you do as well. The way we’re going to do that is to believe how Paul believed. Then and only then will we see miracles and lives saved like Paul saw them.
Keep in mind motivations. You will not change the world if your reason for doing so is to be known. When you fall in love with Jesus, you also fall in love with His creation. Love must be your biggest motivation, and really very little of anything else. Those who seek Him find Him. If you haven’t found Him, you apparently haven’t been seeking Him. The devil is pretty happy about that might I add, and I’d suggest that you make him angry.
One last note. There is a cost. Just as we share in His resurrection, we share in His suffering. While that seems like a downer, we’ve also been told that our momentary troubles aren’t even worth comparing to the glory that awaits us. Me? STOKED.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sin Doesn't Matter- Part 1

I'm sure that when many believers first read this, they start thinking "David, I know you're a writer and you've been on point with a lot of stuff, but we're gonna have to talk about this one." I'm also almost certain that even non-believers will question this because they think the whole point of being a Christian is to be good and pure. Perhaps some others would say this cannot be true because ever man knows at least a small portion of his sin, and if nothing else, it leads to guilt or apathy, which are 2 feelings that matter very much.

Before I need to sit down at 200 coffee shops with a bunch of spirit-led and/or strongly opinionated people, let me clarify my view.

Sin does not matter. This in itself is a very absolute statement, and in one sense I believe it to be very true. But first I will describe the sense in which it is false.

Sin does matter very much in terms of perfection, God, purity, life and death, and probably a few other areas. First, sin separates us from God, and many times separates our love as well. This is caused by feelings of guilt and shame, and as far as I can tell, nothing else. Your sin does not separate you from God because it is sin or because you have a sinful nature. Christ died for your sin so that you would have access to God. To say that sin separates you from god is to say that Christ's death was in vain.

Secondly, the ends or wages of sin are death. The devil is living in a miserable pit of fire because of sin. One thing we all agree on is that sin is not good- even non-believers believe that (regardless of whether they define bad as sin or not). Sin is what separated us from God in the beginning, and is the defining attribute of our imperfection. It is what defines us as imperfect. God is perfect, and His standard is perfect. Anything less than that is not worthy of Him.

Thirdly, we can not have a sinful nature without sin, and our sinful nature is what causes a lot of the problems we have these days. In a strong way, our sinful nature is responsible for most if not all of the world we live in today. We know this because God created us as perfect beings in a perfect world, though I find no logic to that except from the bible saying so.

Later this week, I will put up part two which discusses the ways sin doesn't matter. Until then, happy pondering :)