Thursday, December 17, 2009
Some may think that all of this is merely an illusion life grants us for a short period of reprieve each year. However, what if instead of seeing it as an escape from reality, we see it as the first time we really stop to taste reality each year? What if all this creative wonder and spirit of joy is not an illusion, but a taste of something we ought to be enjoying all year. What if our lives are consumed with an illusion of reality, and Christmas is the time where we allow ourselves to stop and smell the roses?
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
To continue on the theme of chivalry, when I read Lewis’s essay on the topic, I couldn’t help but see beyond what he was saying. I am not sure whether he was thinking in this direction for he did not take his essay there, but I instantly saw something more.
There did not seem to be any disagreements on the point from my previous post that, “A soldier without gentleness would be apt to be barbaric, but a gentleperson without valor may be cowardice.”
Nor was there disagreement that “chivalry is a combination of the hero of great valor on the battle field and the mild mannered noble. For example, Aragorn of Lord of the Rings was both a valiant warrior and a kind gentleman. He was both severe in battle and kind hearted in life.”
We all seemed to agree that chivalry as described is a good and honorable thing. A thing that is neither a brute nor a coward, but a well rounded, just, and good attribute artfully maintained.
The thing that instantly came to mind when reading Lewis’s essay is that chivalrous is a good descriptive word for God. The picture he painted as ideal was that which describes the God of the Bible; the valiant warrior justly upholding all goodness while at the same time kindly and mercifully bringing the way of salvation to all sinners. God is the ultimate King with full qualities of Knighthood.
The reason we admire and have honored the chivalrous is because we see and are drawn by the goodness therein of such a character. We see such people as deserving of honor and knighthood. These people are shining an attribute of God. Chivalry is good, not just because it benefits survival of civilization, but because it mirrors the One who is Good.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
He writes to the naturalist (the one seeing nature as all there is and lacking in real meaning and purpose):
"You can't, except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with a girl if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties both of her person and of her character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by the collision of atom, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from the behaviour of your genes. You can't go on getting very serious pleasure from music if you know and remember that its air of significance is a pure illusion, that you only like it because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like it."
He also writes that "If Nature when full known seems to teach us (that is, if the sciences teach us) that our minds are chance arrangements of atoms, then there must have been some mistake; for if that were so, then sciences themselves would be chance arrangements of atoms and we should have no reason for believing in them."
Moreover he writes, "All Naturalism leads us to this in the end- to quite final and hopeless discord between what our minds claim to be and what they really must be if Naturalism is true."
Naturalist must either choose to live in accordance with their philosophy and accept the meaninglessness of all our experiences, or meaninglessness must be rejected and life lived contrary to that reality. If the latter is possible, and more desirable, could it be that the latter has more merit because it it closer to the truth than the former?
Lewis opines that, "the very ground on which we defy Nature crumbles under our feet. The standard we are applying is tainted at the source. If our standards are derived from this meaningless universe they must be as meaningless as it." Thus we have not escaped into something better for better has no meaning for as Peter Kreeft writes "without an unchanging goal you cannot judge any change as progress. So you can have no hope."
If there is nothing unchanging by which to anchor our standard of life then there is no progress made no matter what way we chose to live, nothing gets in reality any better for all semblance of "better" is a mirage. But there is hope, one can give up the mirage of "better" for the authentic "better" which is eternally rooted outside nature.
Excerpts are from "On Living in an Atomic Age" an essay by C.S. Lewis reprinted in Present Concerns edited by Walter Hooper
Friday, December 4, 2009
I found a book of essays by C.S. Lewis in an old antique mall while I was visiting family for Thanksgiving. The same evening I cracked open the book to read the introduction as I was not previously aware this book even existed. Even though I am already in the middle of two books, I found myself reading the first essay entitled The Necessity of Chivalry and was quickly drawn in for a good read.
In this short essay Lewis talks about the development of the knight of the Middle Ages. He explained that chivalry was a combination of the hero of great valor on the battle field and the mild mannered noble. For example, Aragorn of Lord of the Rings was both a valiant warrior and a kind gentleman. He was both severe in battle and kind hearted in life. He is depicted both in the books and the movies as a mysterious fellow and yet noble and kingly. The mystery was in his knightly character while appearing as a lone traveler.
Lewis eloquently writes, “The man who combines both characters—the knight—is a work not of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium.”
He begins to analyze the culture that would say that softness is preferable over severity and finds that mellowness alone is not as virtuous as a proper usage of both severity and gentleness artfully employed. It is a virtuous art to be a good combination of both characteristics. A soldier without gentleness would be apt to be barbaric, but a gentleperson without valor may be cowardice.
Lewis puts it this way, “The medieval ideal brought together two things which have no natural tendency to gravitate towards one another. It brought them together for that very reason. It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson. It demanded valour of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was as likely to be a milksop.”
Chivalry, Lewis argues, brings about the merging of two valiant characteristics that if left separate would only amount to brutes or softies. There is something good in the warrior and in the gentleman and both are necessary to cultivate. This is not to say in our culture that most people will face an actual battle or face some enemy. However, we all identify with those in the stories we read or watch who do face such adversity.
Modern civilized society has not done much to cultivate the knight outside of those who are members of the military. It seems that chivalry ought not be left in the middle ages and ought to be resurrected in our day.
While chivalry is historically a term applied to knightly men, this post is not exclusive of women. Most everyone has at least some desire to be a hero or heroine of an adventure no matter how stifled and dormant that desire has become. I think it ideal for a culture to cultivate such people. Reading the stories of the knights of old or modern stories that encapsulate these values can bring to life those dormant desires and allow one to begin to grow into such a knightly person.
Quotes from Present Concerns Essays be C.S. Lewis edited by Walter Hooper
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I was out in the mall tonight with a guy from California and I saw people feel God for the first time. I saw a guy who didn't want to come near us when we prayed for two girls who were amazed by what they were experiencing come and track us down in the mall. He came up to us and said I don't believe in this, but if you show me something real I'll believe. The pastor I was with asked him to stretch out his hands and promised he wouldn't even touch him. He placed his hands about six inches above the young man's hands. I watched as the guy swayed a little on his feet and said he felt something he couldn't seem to describe. Then he said again that even though he felt something he doesn't really believe in this. He then said I have a headache right now. The guy from CA without touching him spoke to his head to be healed and it was. He said it the pain was gone. He thanked the guy and headed off with his friends and that was it. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he knew something happened.
I started thinking of you guys and I started thinking that if you really did experience for yourself Jesus you would know the reality of what I have been speaking about. However, I don't know how to help with that over cyberspace. Anyway, I'm not crafting a post, but just writing out what I'm thinking at the moment. I just really wanted to tell you that I appreciate you all letting me see into your world and taking the time out of your day to talk to me even though I say things that sound crazy and ridiculous right now. And I just wanted you all to know that I always speak well of you to my Christian friends and I consider you friends and not foe. Take care. Have a great week and I'll resume answering any comments once I get more free time.
I do try to answer comments in a way as if I am answering questions and not as if I am debating or arguing with any of you, I really don't want to even interact with people on an arguing level or debating level and if I ever sound like that I apologize because that's not who I am. It's who I was in the past, years ago, but it's not me now. I'm just a person who is really excited about God and who loves to write and God is who I write about.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The nature of what I speak of isn’t just a proposition of a different way to see the world. It’s a proposition that this is really real and knowable. If I were merely advocating a set of doctrines, or dogma, as what everyone ought to believe there would be no way to prove them as better than another view of the world. However, what I am talking about, while a worldview, is more than a worldview, it is something one can experience as true.
The Bible isn’t a book designed to be dogmatically adhered to, but a book designed to point to something far greater than itself. If one reads it as only pointing to its contents as the end all of truth, one misses the point of the whole book. It is a story that points to a Story. It is a book that points to the Author. It is a narrative of the Narrator.
There is a scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where these children are in a bedroom talking about the land of Narnia. As the two children who have been to Narnia explains it to the third child who disbelieves them they notice the painting on the wall has a ship very much like the ships in Narnia. They see the ship moving and the feel the moist ocean breeze. Looking closer they are swept into the world of Narnia and embark on an adventure on the high seas. The picture wasn’t just a picture of a ship as it was pointing to something greater than itself; a real ship, in a real place, with a real adventure.
Some will only see the Bible as a book of information; some will see it as factual information and others as myth while still sharing the commonality of it being simply informative. Others, however, have experienced it coming alive. Something takes hold in their being and they realize there is something more than information there is something greater being revealed. Then they will see there is another world to explore and they can find their place in the story for the story is more real then anything they have experienced. Moreover, this story doesn’t negate the world they were living in for it enhances it. It’s like seeing the world in HD for the first time.
Friday, November 6, 2009
I said I would do a post on the nature of what is a “spirit.” To do so I am going to use Scripture and I am going to talk about it from the Christian perspective. I am not versed in what other religions say about the topic. I’m just providing a framework of what Christians believe about the topic, nothing more, maybe less because I’m not going to be exhaustive by any means.
Let’s start at the beginning. As the story goes, God created Adam and breathed the breath of life into him. Genesis 2: 7 reads “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
This distinction was not made in the creation of animals. They were created alive, but not given the breath of life as was Adam. And so from Adam to Even and on to all men the breath of life is a part of our existence.
Now the point of this is the “breath of life.” This is where humans got a spirit. The Greek word for “spirit” literally means “breath.” Genesis tells us that we were created in the image of God. John tells us God is spirit. But we also know that God took physical form in Jesus who is the exact representation of the Father.
Man was created physical and given a spiritual dynamic when God breathed His breath into man giving Him life. John 6:63 puts it this way “The Spirit (meaning the Spirit of God) gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”
Life doesn’t come from our flesh it comes from His Spirit and flows to our spirit which He gave us. Psalm 146:4 reads, “When their spirit departs, they return to the ground.” Meaning when the essence of our life, our non-physical being, leaves our body returns to the dust. For the body is not the essence of who we are. Who we are continues after the body is gone. Ecclesiastes 12:7 states “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
David writes in Psalm 31:5 “into your hands I commit my spirit, redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.” And in Psalm 51:10 we read “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Proverbs reads, “the lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of man; it searches out his inmost being.” God is very much concerned with the state of our spirit for a redeemed spirit connected with Him gives us life. Life, more than physically being alive like an animal, but having a restored contact with Someone greater than ourselves that is full of this kind of supernatural life.
God calls for us to connect with Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24). This means our spirit can connect with His Spirit and we connect with Him in truth, it’s not just a mystical symbolic faith experience, it’s a real tangible encounter that is true.
We were designed to live fully connected in His spirit, but sin severed that connection and made connecting difficult. Our spirituality is still very much a part of our being, but we it’s like the light went out and that part of us is dark and unused or sometimes ill-used. We need to be spiritually and truly connected to the ultimate life giving source in order to have a resurrected spirit that enables us to connect to God in spirit and in truth.
Let me say once more, this is the story of our spirit and His Spirit according to the Biblical narrative. A story I am very much invested in and living out. But the above content isn’t an apologetic for that story, it is simply the story. I find we need to know what we are talking about before we can delve deeper into it. I said I would provide more information from Scripture regarding “the spirit” I believe is inside each of us and here is my first attempt to make good on my word.
I welcome clarifying questions and ask that we start there on this subject.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
There are, of course, variations of these two themes. Not every postmodern welcomes every religion on the planet as equally good, nor does every atheist think religion ought to be forgotten. Some atheists are quiet open to religion continuing as long as it doesn’t cross any lines into their freedom to non-belief.
Even within Christian circles these ideals aforementioned are close to many a heart. Some professing Christianity aren’t so sure it is alright to believe Jesus is the only way and think it more progressive for Him to be their way and keep all doctrine loose enough to never exclude falsehood from truth.
However, whatever the philosophical affiliation most believe that truth ought to have no boundaries. Certainty carries an arrogant connotation. Asserting a truth with conviction makes people uncomfortable. Even in politics there is a grass roots call for bi-partisanship. Asserting something as the right way is taboo for many ways can be thought up and no one should exclude anyone, or so the thinking goes.
The problem is there are foundational logical issues with the idea of perpetual uncertainty or the acceptance of all ideas. America is a melting pot of ideas designed for iron to sharpen iron to keep the debate open by holding fast to your convictions and making sure the other perspectives are recognized and considered. Truth comes in all packages, but when it is true it also necessarily excludes what is not true.
Truth is simply that which really is. And that which is not is false. We seem to have lost sight of these simple logical truths. A claim to knowledge of what is should not be shunned, but tested. A claim of something being false is based on something else being true. Both claims need testing, but it is okay to draw conclusions.
“Dogma--an evil word,” commented a blogger recently. Is that true? Dogma means “An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true.” Sounds like an “authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion considered to be absolutely true.” The commentator said he preferred “theory.” Then it has to be his uncertain theory that dogma is evil, anything else would be dogma.
I’m not trying to pick on anyone so I’m not going to provide the link to the comment I recently read. It just aptly illustrated my point. The point is that no one can get away from dogmatic statements, even those who protest dogma, and that’s okay. We can firmly hold different ideas about the world and still all love each other unless one of our ideas about the world doesn’t allow for such love. I would need to watch my back if I were to befriend a terrorist or someone of that nature.
To anyone who says it is impossible to be certain about truth. I would retort, are you certain? The thing is the necessity of an open mind is to seek the truth and close it around truth and open it to more truth. It’s a process of learning. If it remains open all the time the person is always a seeker and never a finder. Why should anyone seek what cannot be found?
Granted there are many things we will only ever know in part, but we can know a part, or a shadow of the real. But there are other things that we can know and people do know. The problems of doctrine and dogma are not problems of truth claims, but making what is only a part the whole.
You may have heard the story of the three blind men touching an elephant and being asked what the object is. One who has the tail says it is a piece of rope. Another touching the leg thinks it is a trunk of a tree, and so one. Each only experiencing a part of the whole and each firmly believing they know the whole from the part.
Knowing something as true isn’t arrogance, but steps along a journey of truth. Anything can be used in a harmful manner, but that doesn’t make the thing bad. A person can use a firearm in a crime, but that doesn’t mean all guns are bad (though some think so). A person can start a forest fire with a match, but we don’t need to remove all matches from the country. Doctrine, dogma, certainty, knowledge, truth claims, all these are tools of our lives and they can be used in a way that gives life or they can be used in a way that brings bondage.
The problem isn’t the tool it is the heart of the one wielding it. And that heart that wields it wrongly is in each and every one of us and it is that condition of the heart that needs repair and not the tool that needs to be dispensed with. Each of us, whether religious or secular, will bear it in error at times, let us all practice caution and bear truth, as best we know it, ensconced in real love.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
What we truly believe is what we live. Our beliefs and values are deeper in our being than just our intellect. They reach the core of who we are and why we do the things we do.
Believing a series of facts in ones mind does nothing for the person if those beliefs haven’t reached into the core of a person. This is why it is written in Scripture that if I say I love God, but hate my brother, I am a liar. Because the reality of what I truly believe is what I truly live. If I live out hate, I don’t know the love of God. The love of God is something that changes the core of our self and when that has been changed it will be expressed outwardly.
If I say I trust God with my money, and I freak out when I encounter a financial obstacle, I don’t really believe He will carry me through and my purported beliefs are shown to be false.
This is why it is written that faith without works is dead. Not because we need to muster up good works to be accepted by God, but because our faith has already made us the righteousness of God, and if our faith is true our actions will be a true reflection of that inner reality. If there is no change on the inside, there will be no change on the outside.
Now, this change on the outside is a process for a person changed on the inside has been born again. Just as a child needs to learn to adapt to his environment, so does a new creation in Christ need to go through a process of living from a new reality. The Bible uses the analogy of being on milk or solid foods to depict the maturity of a new believer progressing from a diet of milk to a truth of solid food.
Belief, then, is not something that is only facts in ones mind that one has to believe despite evidence to the contrary. Belief is something that your whole being identifies as reality and lives accordingly. If “belief” is only a system of facts mentally ascribed to, then most people would be living in contradiction to what is only believed in the mind.
(to be continued)
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
However, upon opening the door, stepping out into my yard, feeling the breezy 63 degree weather and the slight over cast of the sky I have now experienced the truth of the information given on the television. A new dynamic has taken place, I haven’t just a series of truth statements in my head, but my body has experienced them. I may not be able to tell its 63 degrees if the meteorologist hadn’t provided that information, but I could experience what 63 degrees feels like. I would then be experiencing the truth of 63 degrees on a cloudy day.
I recently went to see the movie Surrogates. In this movie all the people on the planet experience life through a robot. A person will purchase a very technologically advanced robot that looks like a perfect person with perfect agility and performance of all life’s work and pleasures. They will lay back in their chair or bed and hook up to a virtual system and live life without ever moving from their chair while their surrogate lives out their dreams each day. The idea was that no one would get hurt, if the surrogate got damaged sky diving a new unit would be purchased and the person would have experienced the virtual thrill of sky diving without ever leaving their bedroom.
Something goes terribly wrong and life as humanity knows it is shaken. I will leave out the details so as not to ruin the movie. At one point, however, as people emerge from their homes into sunlight they wake up from virtual reality. They experience touch and sound and feelings in the real world rather than through their virtual subconscious. Experience of reality occurs again as a novel thing and a man touching his wife’s cheek softly with his hand is so much more glorious than any of the greatest dreams lived out through a surrogate.
There is something innate to humanity that we have to experience life. Virtual experience is not good enough. We need to experience reality. We need not only to read books about adventures; we want to go on our own adventure. We need not only read about exciting places to visit, we want to go there. We don’t only want to decide on a spouse by reading a bunch of facts about who they are, we want to experience who they are and fall in love and enjoy life together.
The question is, then, why do we forget this when it comes to matters of God? Why is God only a potential fact that matters not either way? Why is He relegated to what we believe in our minds, but not understood as someone, if real, to be experienced in the depths of our person? It would be such a waste of time if all conversion or salvation was about was changing someone’s mind to believe a different set of facts about life as if that’s all there was to it. Some people have only experienced Christianity as a social club of people who believe a set of doctrines about life and try to live by them. Such Christianity is understandably found wanting and dismal. Such a reality would have nothing to offer anyone.
However, what if, it’s not just a series of facts akin to a meteorologist telling someone the weather report? What if it can be experienced like stepping outside your door and feeling the cold air of a coming blizzard or the warmth of a summer day. What if God isn’t looking for people to adhere to certain facts, but to know Him, experience His love and have a home in Him? What if our knowledge of Him grows not only in learning about Him, but in first hand experience? What if there is something amazing about life that is still left to experience that is greater than anything the natural world can offer a person?
Anytime I speak of the existence of God or the reality of Christianity, I am not talking only about a set of ideas that one needs to intellectually ascribe to and all their hearts desire will be satisfied. No, I am talking about ideas that lead to experiencing the reality of the glory of God. I am very much concerned about the reality of things, and the truthfulness of things, and if I hadn’t experienced God I wouldn’t be telling you it was possible. But I have experienced Him, I have seen His mighty works, I have felt the life that flows from Him into me and I have shared that love with others and seen them transformed. I come not with opinions, but with truth, truth I have experienced with awe and wonder as my soul leaps at the joy of His reality.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Many who believe there is a heaven believe that it is a place of continual praise along side the angels before the throne of God. This place of heaven is to be the place of ultimate satisfaction and joy where no more tears, pain, or evil exists. However, in all reality, whose heart leaps at the idea of having an infinitely long church party before the Lord even if it is in such a place?
I love and adore the Lord and yet I have never gotten too overwhelmingly overjoyed at the thought of eternity in the heaven I typically hear described. For many years, I figured I simply would be satisfied because I would be before the Lord and what more could I want out of life than to be physically with Him with no division between us. I trusted that it was true that such an existence would be of the utmost glory and satisfaction beyond my wildest dreams.
I knew that all the good things of earth were a mere shadow of the glory of heaven and if the shadow could be so wonderful then the actual would be fantastical in comparison. Notwithstanding, I have come to realize that there is more to the story than I once thought.
God created mankind to live on earth and gave earth to man to have dominion and cultivate it. Man was designed to live in relationship with God on the earth ruling over all creation. (Genesis 1:26-29) So when man sinned and subjected the creation to the death and darkness of sin redemption was required to pay the debt of sin. So when this redemption is procured in Christ, it makes no sense for suddenly the lot of man is to die and go to heaven. Christ has been given the inheritance of all of creation and we are heirs with Christ to that creation. Why then would we not gain that inheritance, but gain life in heaven instead?
I think the following is more accurate: Life in heaven is available upon a person’s life merging with God’s through Jesus. We instantly have available to us a heavenly reality. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 6 that we are to pray for His Kingdom to come to earth and that the will of God in heaven will be made manifest upon the earth. God’s created earth was paradise and while paradise was lost it can be regained. God’s plan is far more expansive than having a bunch of people have a heavenly party with Him for eternity in heaven. His plan is for man to regain his rightful place to cultivate without laborious pain or effort the earth to be paradise once again.
Heaven is still a real place one can go and some I believe will live in heaven. Others will live upon the new earth and still others might come and go between the realms. I’m not sure of this, but I think it could be possible.
The last book of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, magnificently captures this idea of a restored earth in his fictional story. The children find at last that Narnia was a shadow of an even greater reality and that even greater reality looked very much like Narnia, but only the good parts the most wonderful parts. This Narnia was purged of anything that could tarnish it and perfect goodness reigned free. Narnia came into alignment with the greater reality of heaven, so to speak. Such is God’s plan for this earth. It will one day become new and in line with the glory of heaven as it was always designed to be thus.
This will happen not by God waving His hand and making all the evil go away, but by man working in tandem with God by making manifest His truth in this world. The good news of the Gospel isn’t relegated to save and disciple people, but also for the discipling of nations. Just to clarify, I am not talking about politicizing the Gospel.
Each of us in this world have particular dreams and talents that we were born to live and those do not expire, they are useful for eternity. We each have a role to play and a plan that is uniquely ours that when used in tandem with God’s righteousness and in the context of community all things are possible. Just imagine an entire community of billions of people each empowered to do what they were born for free of entanglements of sin and the laborious pains of working for money. Each person would be working together as a harmonious body—each needing each other and each loving to work as a team full of the righteousness of God. I fully believe that such a world is not only possible, but will be made actual in the future.
This will be the fulfillment of our greatest dreams and desires as we live out what we were born for to the fullest measure and enjoy the company of others doing the same thing all the while experiencing the fullness of relationship with God all truly being in one accord.
When we hold to the theology that life is all about going to heaven when we die, we are very likely to abandon our job upon the earth. We are also very unlikely to realize and experience all that is available to us now for eternal life is Christ and we have the fullness of the Godhead living in us now. We don’t have to wait to experience the reality of heaven; we can start living that now. Many don’t because of our ignorance of its availability. Christianity is often seen as fire insurance and of no earthly value. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I wish I had known years ago what I have learned in the last 5 years, but it is so exciting to come to the knowledge that eternal life is here now and isn’t relegated to a future existence.
Learning how to live out that eternal reality is a moment to moment journey in Christ where we stay close to Him and learn from Him how to bring forth His truth in our lives. It is all about manifesting that internal truth to the external reality. We are all living in different stages of that process and we learn from each other and from Him how to live this life. While the Gospel is a simple truth, there is a vast creative expanse of knowledge and experience to explore in the
Monday, October 5, 2009
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Thursday, October 1, 2009
The Bible has several levels of revelation and requires several levels of acquiring that revelation. There is the straightforward reading of the text that anyone can read as reading any other history or literature book. One can interpret things in context of the whole and in the context of the culture in which it was written. Furthermore, one can study it in its original language of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. The principals therein can be helpful to a person even when only learning about them in this manner.
However, no matter how far one studies in this manner there will be a vital missing element to understanding the fullness of Scripture. The Bible says that there are things that are spiritually discerned and the man without the Spirit cannot discern them. It is like it is muddled to that person and makes little sense. There is a deeper revelation that is not contradictory to the surface exploration of the text that can only come from having the Spirit of God. For His Spirit witnesses with our spirit and reveals truth that is locked away and only revealed through that relationship with Jesus.
Why is this? It is because if it were even possible for us to know the truth fully without God’s aid it would not be good for us to have such knowledge apart from His life flowing through us. The Scriptures are to point us to Him and when we are connected to Him the Scriptures take on a whole new dynamic previously not available to the man without the Spirit. Even without the Spirit the Scriptures are sufficient to point to the truth of needing Christ, but once that truth is taken hold of and that relationship begins, deeper revelation begins to be made available. This deeper revelation is more than ethereal; it is more than intellectual for a third dimension opens up of experience. Once one experiences the truth through the person of Truth, Jesus, the truth of Scripture can be experienced in a whole new reality. The mystery begins to be unveiled and the seeker steps into more and more truth the more they seek it out for it is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of Kings to search it out. We are those
The path of truth doesn’t stop with finding God; it starts afresh with finding God. It’s like opening the wardrobe to another world complete with beautiful and fascinating things to explore. In the fantastical movie InkHeart, a few people have the special ability to read a book and bring what they read to life so that they are not just reading words on a page and imagining the story for the story is coming alive as they read. When a person reads the Scriptures without the presence of God breathing the life into them, it is like watching a 3D movie without the glasses. One can still see and hear the movie, but something is missing, something is cloaked until one watches through the 3D lenses. We need to see with Jesus so that we can experience greater depths of truth.
Jesus told the religious leaders in his day that they search the Scriptures, because they think in them is life, but the real life was Him whom the Scriptures are about, and not the Scriptures themselves. They only point to Him and reveal Him further once He is connected with the reader. Even the Scriptures can be used to bring bondage and harm to people, if they are used without the life giving true revelation that comes from relationship with Jesus. When we use them solely with human reasoning apart from Jesus we enter dangerous grounds of harming people and stealing their life and only giving them empty religion and life-less doctrines. This is why a person, Jesus, is eternal life and not a belief in proper doctrines. Life is tangible and requires tangible experience to gain it, and does not rest upon intangible doctrines of the mind, for God looks not on the mind, but on the heart. The aim is our heart to be intertwined with His so that all the life that is He is also apart of us for He is where our hope rest secure.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Paul Johnson challenges historical and contemporary assumptions regarding those hailed heroes in his scholarly work entitled "Heroes." Heroes is the third in a series that commenced with the book Intellectuals. Next Johnson published Creators and presently Heroes.
Paul Johnson is a renowned British historian who writes on a vast array of subjects and historical periods with full eloquence of style. In Heroes, he examines the lives of many people from both genders and from a variety of cultures and walks of life.
Click Here to Read More at Helium.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Eternal life needs to be understood as existing within Someone rather than being a state of existence a far off. I John 5:11 tells us that “this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” Notice carefully that 1 John 1:2 states clearly that “the life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” John says they proclaim that “the eternal life . . . has appeared to us.” This is not speaking of a day in the future when we go to heaven, but it is speaking of the person of Christ Jesus. Jesus is eternal life.
Click here to read more at Helium.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
God does not wish anyone to do wrong/bad/sinful things. Doing these things harms the person and other people.
We all do these wrong/bad/sinful things. We have all sinned. God takes this seriously, He even equates thinking murderous thoughts as being as bad as doing the deed. Naturally, it’s not as bad for the victim if it wasn’t carried out, but to the person doing the thinking it is harmful to them to have such malice in them.
However, we sin because our nature is sinful and we are bound to that nature by birth since the first sinners sinned because something changed in the very core of humanity and the world when evil was actualized.
Now the way to doing righteous things is to have a righteous nature. But we don’t have a righteous nature in our fallen state, we have a sinful nature. God makes possible for each and every person to have a new nature given as a gift and that gift is Jesus. That new nature is the eternal life of Jesus. This isn’t something bestowed to us from Jesus, this is something Jesus is in His being and when we are in Him we have this new nature too. So from this new nature, righteousness is our being, and when we act according to our new nature righteous good acts are the result.
When a person with this new nature does something sinful they are acting according to a false reality – their old self. It is not who they are anymore, but learning about our new selves is a process that is worked out in time and as we grow in that new reality we grow in external expression of that goodness which is within us.
So it isn’t that God isn’t concerned about our actions. The truth is our actions are a result of our living life from the fallen nature. Our only resource in that situation is to adhere to moral laws of goodness – laws we gain from society, from our conscious, from religion, from culture, etc. But this moral knowledge can point us to the real Answer and are not the Answer in and of themselves. They are a tool to point to Him who can provide a real change in our nature, which will fulfill the law better than any human effort can before redemption.
Paul wrote in Romans that our newfound righteousness does not give us licensee to go on sinning as we please. Quite the contrary, our job as new creations is to make manifest the true reality of our new identity in Christ. We are called to live from that place of righteousness and bear the fruit of such living. This means that others, by watching our lives, ought to see this righteousness that is on the inside flowing forth on the outside.
Thus, what I am speaking of here is very contrary to the idea that God does not care about us not harming ourselves and sinning as we please because He cares very much. So much so that He provided us the ultimate solution to this problem of sin, His own Son.
Also, the reality of heaven isn’t just some place we go to when we die. It is a current reality from which we live as we gain access to the fullness of heaven when we come into God’s Kingdom. Again while it is a reality we have such full access, we are all learning to what that means and how to walk that out in this world.
There is far more available in the Kingdom than finding forgiveness of sins and freedom from our sinful nature. There is a whole new world available that only starts with redemption and salvation. Salvation is not the end of the Christian life, but the beginning.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The word “good” seems to be an ambiguous term at times especially when it is used without reference to a constant anchor. When we speak of the “good” or “right” with regard to morality there are multiple levels of discussion that can ensue. I will not be covering them all in this post. We could discuss how we can know the good, or how we can’t, or how we decide that in each society, or how it is artificially created versus being discovered and uncreated by humans. . . Even then we could discuss the reality of some of what we consider moral as being artificial and some as being discovered and how to unravel what are cultural mores and what are timeless truths.
Most debate for any of these discussions will have some truth. One can’t say that all rules of living were discovered, because we have obviously as humans invented prudish or practical rules of living that have been abandoned by other generations. However, we also have true good principals for living that have been abandoned at times and rediscovered. Thus, abandoning them doesn’t equate with their artificiality.
It is human to be moral beings concerned with right and wrong in some form or fashion whether in extreme or in balance. Thus, we transfer our desire to “be a good person” to a God who we extrapolate to think like we do who equates goodness with moral actions. In reality, God does not equate goodness with good actions. He equates goodness with His life and He gives us that goodness so that we can live a new life from righteousness instead of as slaves to unrighteousness. So we no longer have to pattern our lives trying to figure out whose rules to follow to be good, but we begin a life learning how to live from the goodness of the life within us. We learn to live from His life rather then by rules. That doesn’t exempt a person from the goodness of the rules; it just means the person goes about it by a different method. Good actions become a by product of knowing the Lord rather than the moral goal of life.
Now this is why there is not much use in morally condemning people because of their sinful actions. A person is not morally “bad” or “good” based on their actions. Goodness doesn’t come from “good actions” it comes from a good God. Bear with me for a minute, I know this has not been proven to you and that many of you do not believe it is possible, but I am trying to help you understand the Christian position before you argue against it, or for the sake of argument, my Christian position. We need not divert on debating whether or not every Christian sees it this way.
Now, like I indicated above, the discussion of the good is multifaceted. There is a difference between not condemning and not helping a person doing something that is not good for them or others. For example, a friend of yours is cheating on all of his college exams. If you condemn him you may say something like, “Frank you are a despicable person cheating like that you should be ashamed of yourself—you are so stupid.” Then think to yourself how much better you are because you don’t participate in such sinful things. Of course, most who think this way are doing a plethora of their own “bad” things they fail to see. However, the non-condemning, but helpful option might be to talk to him about how he is hurting himself by not learning the material legitimately and offer to help him study. The second option is out of love and concern for your friend where the first would be an indignant tongue lashing that only leaves him feeling terrible and worthless. The first response might cause him to continue his behavior, where the second might set him on a new course of life that validates his learning ability and keeps him from a life of cheating.
So while cheating or not cheating doesn’t make people more “good” in their being, there are life problems that are caused by making bad choices and doing bad things. So it wouldn’t be love to ignore a loved ones bad choices or to keep them from consequences of them by enabling them. This is to say that there are times where consequences for actions that harm others or oneself is necessary especially in a society where laws are established to protect the society and enforce obedience to those laws. However, laws are not always matters of right and wrong, but matters of legality as we have agreed. Sometimes they correspond to something really wrong, but most of the time they are a matter of safety of the individual or group rather than ethics. Love isn’t blind to a person’s faults, but loves despite of them.
God isn’t after us to earn moral goodness
We become righteous when His life merges with ours
God gave external laws and wrote them into our consciousness so that those who did not know Him could keep from doing things that harmed them – not as a rule book for gaining goodness. This was for our well-being.
We don’t have to live by laws when we know Him for He promises to show us how to live from our new identity as righteous beings which will manifest externally as we grow
It’s not necessary to condemn someone who lives in sin (at any level of sin). This does not mean a person who harms another should be brought to justice according the laws of the land. But it means our heart attitude is forgiving despite the necessity of the person enduring consequences for the sake of justice, for the good of the society, and for their own good.
Many of these things I am talking about may be foreign concepts and some may seem preposterous. I am not asking for you to believe this is true, but to understand this in the way you would seek to understand a view point on a topic for a college essay. It doesn’t mean you agree with the view, but you would be seeking to explain it fairly. Once I see there is understanding, then it is much easier for you to give a counter argument. Please ask questions so I can clarify anything that needs to be explained more fully.
Friday, September 11, 2009
The truth is that Christians have done the world an injustice in producing such negative connotation of this word. The truth is everyone misses the mark. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and those who believe they have found forgiveness so quickly have forgotten that they are no different in worth to the Father than those who have not. In fact, Jesus said he would leave the 99 to go after the 1 that is lost.
The reality of sin is that it is a cancer to our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. Love does not rejoice in wrong doing, but in the truth. Love keeps no records of wrongs. A person who loves doesn’t relish pointing out another’s faults, but always hopes and preservers along side a person struggling in sin no matter the sin and no matter how long that road last even if they never change. Love always forgives. If someone is stuck in a muck of sin, love helps pull them out rather than point fingers at their dirt. However, if that person is content in their muck, maybe because they can’t see it, or does not have hope for freedom, love sits with them and shows them grace and compassion.
The only time Jesus rebuked someone was when he was talking to religious leaders who acted piously like they had it all together. When he came across a woman caught in adultery, he protected her from being stoned and said that he who was without sin was the only one who could cast stones at her, and He being that One extended mercy and grace to her.
This does not mean that God is complacent about our sin, for it concerns Him greatly, not because it hurts Him, but because it hurts us. That cancerous sin distorts our being and it weighs us down unnecessarily with baggage and bondage. Have you ever been really angry at someone who did something wrong to you and that anger just grew and caused a huge rift in the friendship and weighed you down? Have you ever experienced that freedom that comes when you forgive and release that anger? It’s a freeing lightness that most describe upon forgiving someone. It is like this with other sins, when they pile up and are continually happening in our lives they bind us and often times we don’t even realize how bound we are until we find release and then we feel like we can fly.
The good response to sin is compassion. It’s realizing that sin entangles and binds a person. It’s realizing that sin isn’t something to be scoffed at or offended by, but something to be saddened by and angry for the person not at the person. I sometimes get angry when I see someone trapped in sin, and it’s not anger at the person, but at the entanglement. It’s like finding a person tied to a tree with a gag in their mouth and being angry that they were hurt that way. We can’t turn things that are sin into non-sin because the person is more hurt by calling bad good and good bad then they are by correctly identifying the source of their pain and helping them free of it without any condemnation.
I think Christians have a lot to apologize to people for due to our unjust handling of sin. And I apologize as a Christian to anyone who has been hurt by Christians not showing them love. I have been such a Christian who has not responded with love where I should have. God has broken my heart for people trapped in sin. He has shown me through a very personal encounter with someone struggling in sin that broke me forever to be for people and not against them. He gave me compassion and love for those entrapped in vices that so easily entangle. Sure I don’t do this perfectly, none of us can, but I aim for this. As a Christian, I choose to stand along side those so ensnared and to never be against them.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Locke’s Second Treatise of Government was instrumental and encapsulated into the formation of the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution. In fact, a signer of the Declaration of the Independence, Richard Henry Lee is quoted as saying that that the Declaration itself was “copied from Locke's Treatise on Government.” Joseph Carrig, Ph.D. who specializes in American political theory and government and is well versed in John Locke wrote in the introduction to the Barnes and Nobel Library edition. He writes emphatically, “The Second Treatise should be read by the citizens of any liberal democracy as a reminder of the principles upon which their government is based and the reason for which they believe it is preferable to any other.” John Locke refers to Scripture 157 times in this work. In his previous work the First Treatise he cites Scripture over a thousand times! He also frequently cites theologian Richard Hooker in his Second Treatise. To quote Locke from the Second Treatise:
- “[T]he Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God.”
- “[L]aws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.”
- “[B]ut this I am sure, they [the governing authorities] owe subjection to the laws of God and Nature. Nobody, no power can exempt them from the obligations of the eternal law.”
- “Men being the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker.”
Locke addresses what it means for those who forfeit their rights by breaking the laws of nature and entering into what he terms a state of war with a person or people. He opines that those who enter this state of war are subject then to the enforcement of the law put in place by consent of the governed which could lead to their imprisonment and loss of freedom. Even still, he argues that they must be treated fairly and justly and that their punishment cannot carry over to their family and future generations. He also elaborates on what constitutes a just war between nations and what the parameters ought to be for the conquered nation that adheres to their value as fellow humans with respect to their rights and liberties.
Locke eloquently illustrates the ideals of a government by the people and for the people under the sovereignty of an infinitely wise God who made us as free people with respect to our fallen nature and need for limited government.