Pickin’ and choosin’

Religion is an easy thing in America. We have the freedom to pursue and
worship whoever or whatever we wish to or even to not worship
anything at all. Being religious is very easy and there are many
people who are very religious about their chosen religion, some even
to the point of being fanatical about it. So what is it about this
trend in America? Mainly it is because for the past fifty or sixty
years, we have been searchers and seekers. Not so much as seeking out
God and His ways, but seeking that which suits us the best in a
church or religion.
That is not such a bad thing because many times in this searching, people
will be called to faith in God and give their hearts to Jesus.
Although, some may not listen intently to the messages that are
presented to them and they want to pick and choose whatever they want
to believe. This is a dangerous way of doing things and for an
illustration of this I propose this:
A man was building a platform from pipes and boards so that he could have some
people singing and just presenting music for those who wanted to hear
it. He went through the hardware store and picked out the most shiny
pipes and bolts and nuts that he could find because they would look
good in the lights. He didn't pay any attention to the sizes that he
chose, just that they looked nice and shiny. When he got home to put
it together he found that he couldn't get anything to work very well
together because even though they were pretty and shiny, their sizes
didn't match well. A few were the same size and would go together,
but the next one in line would not. What went wrong?
Well, he had some that were quarter inch and some that were a half inch in
size, these were mixed and matched and he even had some bolts and
nuts that were in the same shape, being different sizes so that few
would work together. It doesn't work in construction and it works
even less efficiently with religious beliefs. 

Picking and choosing one or two verses from the Bible to believe and then
discarding much of the rest of it doesn't work, just as choosing
parts because they look good rather than because they fit together
doesn't work. Except, that is what many people seem to be doing
today. Why are people trying to “make their own god” as some
claim? Mainly because they don't like the message that they have
heard from the Bible or they don't want to be told that their
lifestyle is wrong or sinful.
God Himself is Holy and He won't allow an unclean sinner into Heaven
unless they have repented (turned away from) of their sins and the
lifestyle that went with them AND they have asked Jesus into their
life and their heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to change them
spiritually so that they can be a true Christian. Christianity is not
based on going to church at certain times or participating in rituals
once every month or every six months. You can go to church for a
century, every time the church has services, and if you haven't
accepted the call of Jesus in your heart and life then you haven't
changed much. You may know the Scriptures and have read the Bible
through and taught a class or two in that time, but if you haven't
given your life to Jesus then you aren't saved!

How to begin….

This year is coming to a close and a new one is beginning at midnight, so what can we do to make sure it is a good one? Is there anything that each person can do, big or small, that will make this year better for us and for the world around us? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Have a more positive attitude toward life
  2. See the world as your ministry, whether you are a Christian or an atheist, and not as an enemy
  3. Do something for someone that you don’t know without expecting anything in return, regardless of how small or how big it is
  4. Give your time and energy to your family more than you do to your job

Read God‘s Word at least three times a week, one chapter at a time, before you begin any of the suggestions above. They are not in any particular order, they are just suggestions, but the reading of God’s Word is the key to all of them. It will give you insight and wisdom to follow through the days and weeks to come.

Why do I advise even an atheist to read God’s Word? Because it is far more powerful than my words are and because they need to get to know the One that they claim doesn’t exist. Whether they get to know Him personally or not is not my concern, although I think that they need Him and should get to know Him. God knows whether they will decide to believe in Him and ask Him into their lives or not, regardless of their belief or lack of it.

So, what will your year be like? Will it be filled with money and all  sorts of adventures? Will you get married this year and embark on a new life with someone? Will you give your heart to Jesus and walk with Him in a new life that can be fruitful for His kingdom and glory? All of these things, these possibilities are waiting for you but it is your choice which ones you will go after. Some offer rewards here and now, some offer companionship and love and a life that can be better than it was before. At least one possibility for your life offers rewards which can never be taken away and will last into eternity regardless of what your life on earth turns out to be.

So, which one will you seek?

Hypocrites, who wants ’em?

When I entered Heaven’s door
I was stunned and confused
Not by the beauty of everything
But by the people in the pews.

There were some there that made me
Ashamed to be seen there, and some
That I thought were surely in the
Wrong place.

Because when I looked around,
There were some that I found
Who I knew were alcoholics, thieves,
Liars, and sinners, and trash.

A kid that I knew from sixth grade
Who took my lunch money more than twice.
Then there was a neighbor of mine,
Who never said anything nice.

I walked over the Jesus and asked Him,
“What’s the deal? I would like to know, how did all of
These sinners get here? And why is everyone so quiet and
Somber, please give me a clue?”

‘Hush, child’, He said, ‘they’re all in shock. Not one of them
Thought that they would ever see you.’

So, remember, Judge not lest ye be judged! Just because you go to church, it won’t make you a Christian any more than standing in the garage makes you a car. Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future in Christ! Just because the local church is full of hypocrites doesn’t mean that heaven won’t be too!

Pain, why do we suffer from it?

In many lives today…there is pain. Pain from the loss of a loved one, or from the loss of a job. Pain from the result of disease and sickness, like cancer or auto-immune diseases and sometimes from some process that doctors can’t pin down. Pain is in many people’s lives due to something that they have done and sometimes it is there just because of age. We all have experienced pain in one form or another, whether it is emotional or physical and it is something that we can’t escape.

Is pain a necessary part of life? It is to an extent. We experience pain because of the fallen nature of the world that we live in, but the pain that we experience doesn’t have to take over our lives. I say this because many people allow it to do that, but it doesn’t have to do it. The people in our world that are experiencing cancer and other diseases which can cause pain as well as the treatments that are used in treating them experience pain that many of us would not wish on any human being. That is why I think that people that are going through this are some of the bravest, strong people in our world.

Life can truly be hard to live, although people that live in countries which are “developed” may not know it, unless they are sick in some way. But what about those who are sick in their soul? Many of them don’t know that they are sick, or that they are missing something very important to their lives! Some don’t even think that they have a soul that lives for eternity. They are under the impression that when their life here is over, that’s it. There will be no accountability for anything that you have done in life because God doesn’t exist.

What do you think about that? God doesn’t exist? How can that be? Did all that you see just happen? What about everything that is going on in the world today? All of these wars and droughts and tornadoes and earthquakes are just random, natural events that are under no one’s control at all, is that it? I know, the wars are mankind’s way of dealing with or causing problems in the world, depending on which side you happen to be on.

Contrary to these beliefs about randomness and accidents, God is in control of and knows about each aspect of our lives regardless of where we live or who we are. He doesn’t care if you know Him or not, but He knows you and has known you since before the world began, just as He knew me before all of this was put into motion. God loves each of us more than we can imagine and He provided a way for each of us to be forgiven of our sins and be able to come into His presence. Do you know what it is? It is simple, maybe too simple…believe that Jesus died for your sins and ask Him into your heart so that you can become more like Him.

That’s it! Believe that He died for you and your sins and ask Him into your heart to forgive you of all the time that you wasted while you were not His. Once the change in your life is begun, your life will change because you have changed and others will see it and they will want what you have. Tell them! I promise that if you have given your life to Jesus, your life will never be the same…it will be better!

 

Today is the day!

How far in the future do you make plans? I really don’t think that there is a way to truly make plans ahead of time. Many times people ask you questions like “What will you be doing five years down the road?” or “What about ten years down the road?” Can you really plan that far down the road in your life?

What can we do about the direction that our lives take or rather, do we have real directions in our lives these days? Living in the moment, today, now is all that we have but we need to treat it as if it may be the last day. Why? Because we are not guaranteed tomorrow, let alone next week or next year. This bit of wisdom is found in God‘s Word and it is from Him, so it is the truth. It cannot be changed and no one can show that they know the future well enough to see exactly what they will be doing tomorrow or next year!

Life is a gift for each of us, what happens to that gift is up to you. You can use it in a positive way and make a difference in other people’s lives or you can use it in a negative way and cause other people’s lives to implode because of something that you did or caused to happen. Each person on this planet has the capability to be or do many things, good or bad, each of us must choose the path that we will take.

Some may say that their path has been chosen for them because of circumstances in their life. I don’t believe that your circumstances and your position or your parent’s position in life really has that much influence over your life. If you choose to make something out of yourself, you can. If you don’t decide to dream or to make a difference, then you won’t. The difference is your decision!

Your decision also can make a difference in your life, not just here but in eternity too. Because it is your decision that will decide the direction that your life takes and the path that you ultimately follow.highway2heavenhell You don’t see your destination in this life, but after you take your last breath here, so which one are you on? Eternity is a long, long time so make the right choice while you can.

I know that someone will have issues with my subject, but that is fine, as long as it gets you to thinking about your salvation and your relationship with Jesus. Today and in the past fifty years or so, people have pushed God out of their lives. Many are trying to forget God entirely. How can you do this? How is it even possible to forget Him?

When a baby is born or you see a newborn puppy or a beautiful sunrise or any number of gloriously beautiful scenes on Earth, how can you possibly believe that God doesn’t exist? I know that some look at these things and say that they are just natural processes, part of nature itself and all of them were brought about by natural processes and that God has nothing to do with them. Really?

I want to challenge you to read a few chapters in a book called Job in the Bible. The chapters begin with chapter 38 and go to 40. It is not much, but it is God speaking to Job, His righteous servant. As righteous as a man can be at least, but he was trying. Many people in our world and our society today don’t want to try. They just want to go to work, come home, drink a beer and watch some shows on the tube and go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow. Men have forgotten God.

Why have they done that? Because they don’t want Him mucking up their lives or getting into their heads. They don’t want God anywhere near their children or in their life. But, God does want to be in your life and in your children’s lives because He loves you and He cares for you. It has nothing to do with power or money or greed, God owns it all and can create anything that He wishes to so why would He want what you have?

Many people wonder why He would want a relationship with them? It is because each one of us is special to God because He designed us that way. Each person can do something for Him that nobody else can do and if they will come to know Him and follow Him, then they will find out what that something is. It may not be something which the world would recognize as great or stupendous, but God knows what you and I can do and that it is specific to each person.

I am the only one that can write this blog, with these words. If someone else wrote it, it would be different. That is what I mean and what God needs from each of us…our individuality and our personality. Each person is specific in their own way, like our fingerprints, we are all different because He designed us that way. Think about it while you read those chapters in the book of Job, you’ll see and maybe He will help you to understand too!

Do you feel like a rebellious Christian?

There are likely many people who do feel that way. They call themselves Christians but they want to do it their way. It is true, we each have our own way of doing things and our own talents which God uses for His purposes, but we have to allow Him to control what we are doing for Him. We have to allow Him to come into our lives and prompt us to do things His way with our talents that He has given us.

Rebellious Christians, those who want to do things their way, are the ones who want to follow their own way. Yet, God has given us the talents and the way to follow Him and to be able to do the things that we need to do for Him. The reason that they are rebelling is because they don’t realize exactly what Jesus did for them. He gave His life for each of us, not just those who lived during His time.

How or even if you believe or don’t believe, may not matter to some right now but it will matter when you come before Him when this life is over. Just as your belief in or lack of belief doesn’t negate the existence of gravity or light or heat, the same goes for belief in Jesus and Salvation through Him. Whether you believe it now or not, it will become truth to you one day and if you don’t believe in Him before that time, then your eternity will be far different than those who chose to follow Him.

You don’t have to like the things that I write or even the subject that I write about, but the result of your unbelief will be apparent to you one day. Pick up the Word of God and read it with an open mind, not a closed mind.

Irrational belief

“If there is a textbook example of being irrational, then irrationality believes in something without any evidence.” – Atheist reference to Christianity

What about the seemingly universal belief, in most of academia, in evolution? Do they truly have proof of something evolving into another type/kind of animal? Is there a fossil of an evolutionary form that anyone can recognize as being between (transitional form) from one animal and another?

The most famous claim that I am aware of is that whales came from hippo-sized land animals many millions of years ago, and yet there is not one fossil that has been found that shows such a transformation. It didn’t happen overnight, because evolution takes millions of years, right? This “hippo” just didn’t jump into the ocean and its legs automatically shrank to the size of flippers?! Irrationality and insanity go hand in hand it seems. Thinking that just by belief and the so-called “fact” that there is no evidence for such a thing happening automatically makes evolution the correct assumption! Really?!?

Come on, if there was a shred of evidence that I could look at and perceive that one animal is changing/evolving into another, then I would believe it. But, there isn’t!

The statement at the beginning of this article is really a definition for a type of faith, so this person is not talking of irrationality it is really a jab at Christianity. Actually, it is a definition of “blind faith”, the kind which goes along with things like theories that have no proof but if enough people teach it for long enough it is taken as fact.

Christian faith is not blind faith, it is backed up by history and by eyewitness accounts from historical documents, so the recorded stories in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) can be traced to historically documents and other proofs. Can anyone show proof positive that evolutionary processes took place to create man or are those skeletons just skeletons of apes from thousands of years ago?

I don’t think that there will be any such evidence because it doesn’t exist! Many of the biological life that has been on earth since its creation are still in the same forms that they always were to begin with, so where is the proof of evolution?

Belief in evolution is backed up by this phrase: Insanity that is backed up by enough people to make it acceptable to all.

If you don’t want to believe in Christian beliefs or an afterlife or anything to do with the Bible, then do what most people do when they find something that they don’t like…change the channel! Don’t listen to Christian radio or to television programs that have things which you don’t agree with in them. That is exactly what Christians do! We try to tell people what our faith tells us to say, just as Muslims or Mormons do, but when we do it we are called insensitive, irrational, and narrow minded. Any other religion in the world is tolerated except Christianity.

So, if you want to be irrational then go ahead. I just want to ask one simple question: “What if my faith and its beliefs are right?”

Job 19, “I know that my redeemer lives!”

Job 19:25-27

It is at times such as this that we are sure that no one else as ever experienced the pain and loneliness that we feel. That no one understands what we are going through. Although it is true that no one knows exactly how we feel, others have experienced the devastation of the loss of a loved one.

The experience of one such person is recorded in the Bible in the book of Job. Job had it all, he had ten children, fields of livestock, an abundance of land, a houseful of servants, and a substantial stack of cash or the equivalent at the time. And then, without warning, like an avalanche, adversity struck. He lost his livestock, crops, land, servants, and if you can believe it all ten of his children.

Soon thereafter he lost the last human vestige of hope, his health. He had experienced his own sea of pain and he could therefore write from experience of his own intense inner suffering.

But in the midst of his pain he made a profound statement of faith and hope recorded in Chapter 19, verses twenty-five through twenty-seven. I would like to share that with you now.

Job writes, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; (26) And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, (27) Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Notice Job’s certainty. Like Job, even in our pain there are some things that we can “know” that is be certain about. Twice in this passage Job states there are some things that he “knows” (vs. 25, 26) with certainty.

First, Job states that he knows that there is a Redeemer. In verse twenty-five “I know that my Redeemer lives….” Job states that he is “my” redeemer; he had a personal relationship with the Redeemer. This is a personal statement, born out of personal conviction, not hearsay, not speculation, but truth uttered from his heart with assurance and firm conviction.

What is a redeemer? “One who re-purchases” and “One who delivers from bondage by paying a ransom”. Now Job could have said, “I know that my Savior lives”. He would have been accurate. He could have said, “I know that my Champion lives”. He would have been accurate. He could have said, “I know that my Advocate lives”. He would have been accurate. But he didn’t use any of those terms or any other. He said, “Redeemer”. That means that Job knew he needed to be purchased back. He knew that he ultimately belonged to God, but that sin had interrupted that relationship. He had the confidence in God and His goodness and faithfulness to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives.…” The One who buys me back.

Do you know that? Is that your firm conviction today? Can you say that with confidence, “I KNOW that my Redeemer lives”? Jesus loves you more than you can imagine and He is with you every day in every situation, no matter what it may be!

What do you believe?

Are you a theist or an atheist? Do you really think that everything around you was caused by an accidental convergence of matter and protein or was it created by God?

These questions are being asked all over the Internet, on news and talk shows and by people who are just curious, like me. So, what do you believe? Do you have a belief in anything or nothing or is this just existence and when we die, we are dead, period?

From other posts here, it is easy to see what my beliefs are: I believe in God and that He created all that is here and in the universe. I don’t think that anything is an accident, all of it has a purpose. We all have a purpose, and whether that purpose is to oppose others or to agree with them in one sense or another, then each of our purposes are fulfilled.

Truly, my belief shouldn’t offend you, whether you agree with it or not. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you and we can agree to disagree on any number of subjects. Your belief or lack of belief doesn’t offend me, unless you are trying to be offensive.

We cannot all agree on our beliefs in a higher power or our lack of belief in one. It just can’t be done because, beliefs are like opinions everyone has one to some extent. So, what separates people in their belief systems? Is it personal or corporate? I am not sure. It seems that very few people really know what to believe any more, the different research groups have done some polls and it seems that belief is waning in America.

For those under thirty, very few people believe in or even go to a worship service of any kind on a regular basis. Our country, and its citizens are going through such a terrible time, financially, morally, physically for some who have cancer and other diseases. So, why is this happening? What caused all of this and is there a solution?

For those who don’t claim to have a belief in any god or God, there is no human solution that will work. We are not good enough to fix what is happening or what has already happened. It is done and we will just have to deal with the consequences of it. The other problems that plague people daily are some that have come through disease, lifestyle, abuse (whether of substances or people), stress, depression, heartache and fear.

How can anyone, whether they are an atheist and believe in humanistic solutions to our problems or if they are believers, think that there is a solution that mankind can come up with to handle the problems that we are facing today? Most of the problems that we are having today, have actually been around for hundreds of years (with the exception of fossil fuel problems and nuclear problems). So why haven’t we found a solution to them?

If mankind is so smart and so capable, then why hasn’t the overcrowding, war, hunger, and housing problem been solved before now? We are no closer to finding a solution to these than we were a century or more ago! In fact, they have all become worse in the past century. I think that the solution lies not in something being done, but in the One that we are counting on. I am not saying that belief in and dependence upon Jesus will solve all of our problems, but if we truly followed His example of living a servant life toward others, many of our problems would be fixed.

Belief in or about something doesn’t make it true or false. Take the Sun rising tomorrow, is it sure to happen or do you have to believe? What about gravity? This is a force of nature and our own star, they just are, so we naturally know that both are what they are and no more. We don’t have to have faith in the Sun or in gravity to know what it is and that it is there, just as the moon rising at night is nothing that has to be believed in to be seen.

The truth of our existence is that we are beings created in the image of God, and our Creator came in the form of a man to die on a cross so that all of our sin debts have been paid. All that we have to do to receive His Grace and forgiveness is believe in Him and receive it by faith. Forgiveness is God’s love expressed toward us by His Grace and we can’t feel it or touch it, but it is there. I can’t touch my wife’s love for me, but I know it is there. The sinful ways that we live day in and day out, when we are rejecting Jesus, are hurtful to God in ways that we cannot understand. He has loved us and did love us enough to die for us and rise from the grave so that one day, we will as well. Please do your research to find out the truth about Him, before your time here is up, because you won’t get another chance to accept Him after your last breath in this life

 

As man thinketh

The book that was written in the early part of the twentieth century that has a similar name tries to get us to believe that we can cause our problems to go away simply by thinking rightly. Does this sound like it would work? Not really, at least not in my experience nor in any of my friends either.

Think and grow Rich” was another of the books that wanted people to believe that the way that you think about life and your situation in it can be changed by your thoughts. I want to ask a question in that regard and if you wish you can comment on this: “Since we are not gods, how can our thoughts have any effect on our lives?”

I know that how we perceive the world is governed by our thoughts and by our beliefs, but perception of something doesn’t affect what you perceive. Whether it is life, money, relationships, jobs (careers) or the amount of wealth that you accumulate. I know that there are many “self-help” books out there that have championed thinking about wealth and the “stuff” that you want, the life that you want, etc. so that you could “program” yourself to move toward these things. In some aspects of your life, this might work, but what kind of life would you have while achieving those lofty goals? Do you really want to live life as a greedy, self-centered person?

It might be fun for a while, but what happens when, like the prodigal son, the life that you have been living comes crashing down around you? You might have enough cash saved up for a cushion to get you through for a while, but what happens when that runs out and all of those credit cards and other bills come due? Thinking about it won’t help then!

I am not going to tell you that your life will be all roses and wine if you are a Christian, but it couldn’t hurt! Being self-reliant and not depending on others or on Jesus for your self-esteem, is a real American way of thinking but does it get the job done when you are given some really bad news? Relying on yourself does you very little good in situations that you have no control over and cannot exercise control over.

What would you be thinking about if you or your spouse went to the doctor’s office and came back with a diagnosis of stage two or three cancer? I really don’t think that positive thinking will help much during chemotherapy. I must apologize here because I know that there are many people out there who are going through this same situation right now, young and old, cancer doesn’t care what age you are.

The point that I am trying to make here is that the only way to truly have peace in your soul and calm in your life, regardless of the situation, is to have Jesus as your anchor and your Rock! He is also the Greatest Physician because He didn’t stop performing miracles when He went back to the Father. He is still in the healing business, if it is part of His will to heal you. But, it will be done His way and in His time, not yours!

Many people get frustrated when they turn to Jesus during an emergency or crisis and He doesn’t come through for them in the way that they think He should. He is not a Creator that is on call to do your bidding, He does whatever it is that is in line with God‘s will for your life. So, if you have to die in order for God’s will to be done, it will happen, if He sees fit for you to be healed then that will happen but it will still happen on God’s time-table and not yours!

It is God Who can see your life from beginning to end and not ourselves. We can’t change the length of our lives or the color of our hair (without chemicals), but many people act like they are in charge of their lives and nobody else. This is why Jesus said that we are not to worry about tomorrow because by worrying we can’t change anything about tomorrow. Whatever is going to happen then, will happen, whether we worry about it or not. All that worrying will do is give you an ulcer or make your health worse in some way. It will not make any difference in your situation, regardless of what it is.

Belief in Jesus and His atonement for your sins on the cross is the only way to get into Heaven, and that is where most of us desire to go when we die. So, if that is your ultimate destination, why not prepare for it now while you can? After all, the only chance that you get to make that eternal decision is while you are alive. Once you have passed through the door of life into the life that comes after this one, you can’t fix a bad decision or no decision at all.