Category Archives: God
(Continued from WHO MAKES GOD LOOK BAD: NON-BELIEVERS. . . OR BELIEVERS?)
Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I hide my blame and lack of Faith inside catchy but untruthful phrases like “I am just trying to do God’s will,” or “God has placed me in this circumstance for a reason!”
Maybe. On occasion perhaps God does do that. But how many times did Joseph or Daniel or Paul or John place responsibility for their Lives outside of themselves? They recognized (and almost certainly prayed) that if they were doing something against God’s will, He would thwart their plans. And then they planned and executed their Lives according to the Way they wished to Live.
And truth be told, my ‘troubles’ are quite a bit less daunting than doing a stretch in solitary confinement at Patmos State Penitentiary or a Cairo Dungeon – much less because I wrote incessantly of how humans should Love each other or because I refused to commit adultery with my boss’ smoking hot wife.
I have never been called on to be a midnight snack for a pride of lions; used Faith as the sole anti-venom for a snakebite wound; survived flogging, beating with rods, stoning, and five forty-lash punishments (but, hey, they really did forty minus one, yippee!); nor have I truly been called upon to labor and toil often without sleep, while cold and naked, while knowing hunger and thirst, and “facing daily the pressure of concern for all the churches”. [see 2 Cor. 11.28].
Nor have I been shipwrecked once. Much less three times, as the Apostle Paul was, once spending a night and a day in the open sea. But the reference to sailing provides an interesting platform for change.
Picture Life as a sailboating adventure. We need to stop worrying that we might be shipwrecked. It is certainly a possibility…but worrying won’t change the probability of it happening one iota. We need to quit complaining and moaning and gossiping about the wind strength and wind direction constantly changing. We need to quit wishing the wind would blow a different direction. The weather is God’s department.
Instead we need to decide on the destination of our Life and employ the skills, abilities, events and circumstances Life hands us; both positive ones and those that are negative. We need to Live by Faith and acknowledge that God has blessed us with both kinds of circumstances. And then, we need to respond to whatever weather God puts in our Lives by adjusting our sails to the prevailing wind to maximize our sailing efficiency and effectiveness.
The weather is God’s department. Sailing the ship is our department!
John Allen Paulos said, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security,” and that is so true.
Yet, as Christians, we Live with the greatest comfort imaginable when Life is unpredictable and insecure: If the storms of life rage and overwhelm us, or the tempest causes us to allow our Hope and Faith to waiver . . . we need only go below deck and awaken our Tender Master – just like the disciples did no a stormy night on Galilee over 2,000 years ago.
Because He is in charge of the weather. And He will never leave us to navigate alone.
Which should make us especially confident in sailing the boats of our Lives.
Is it difficult to follow God?
If it is, maybe WE are doing something wrong.
Because if God knows all about me, and Loves me, and wants me to be Saved . . .
Why would He make it so difficult?!?
Now that is something to think about.
In Who is God? Part 1, we touched on a basic understanding of God’s Nature. Although there is a ton left to discuss, one thing is immediately of critical concern.
Relationship with God and Keeping Commandments
The Commandments are designed to improve our Lives, not limit our freedom…but they are NOT designed to create a relationship with God.
We often forget that God told the Israelites that He would deliver them from Egypt. And then time-and-time again God worked gigantic plagues to convince ole boy Pharaoh that the Son of Ra might want to let the Sons and Daughters of God have some freedom.
And then, God parted the Red Sea for His peeps. And made this awesome hovering light show that went with them everywhere. And gave them plans such that a city of about 2 million people traveled from Egypt to Canaan (even though it took human technology more than fourteen centuries to witness more than a handful of cities with over one million people.)
(Oh, and we are talking about FIXED cities. You know, the kinds with farming land and foundations, aqueducts and grazing pastures, hospitals and workshops, and other seemingly important things for any civilization to thrive).
Yet God moved a city of two million people in a proficient, orderly, and awesome manner.
Yep, braggin’ a little ‘bout da Lord. (See Who Is God?, Part 1) He is good!
But here’s the thing we often forget about the Journey from Egypt to the Promised Land: God came to Moses and the Israelites and said, “Hey, Trust Me – I AM going to get you outta this slavery gig.”
And He did.
And when Egypt forgot how ravaged they were by the plagues and decided to pursue Israel: God Red them the Riot Act (never mind; it’s a Sea joke.)
God asked for their Trust, proved He was worthy of their Trust and Love, and cared for them and provided for them . . . and only much, much, much later did God lead them to Sinai where He gave them the Ten Commandments.
See, whether it’s God or People: When we Trust, we begin to Love. And when we Love, we want to make sure we don’t offend the object of our affection…so we want to know their boundaries . . . or their ‘rules.’
Another words, Trust leads to Love, which leads to WANTING to follow the Others’ rules.
BUT IT DOES NOT WORK IN REVERSE! When someone we don’t Love or Respect (or know) tries to slap rules on us, how does it make you feel? Say, like that annoying guy in the cubicle next to you. Or, perhaps your boss trying to enforce a no texting at work policy. Maybe your Mother-in-law. Whether we agree with the rules or not, what do we do? Yep, me too.
If God would have just laid out a bunch of arbitrary and capricious rules, Israel would not have Trusted Him. Or Loved Him. Or even desired to come to Know Him.
Rules can never lead to a relationship. And we can ONLY be Saved by a Relationship with Jesus!
So, a Relationship with Jesus ALWAYS leads to us WANTING to follow His commandments. But when we dump a bunch of rules on New Believers, we only ensure that we are pushing them away from a Relationship with the One Who SAVES.
I like how the Apostle Paul puts it:
2 For athe law of the Spirit of life 1in bChrist Jesus chas set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For awhat the Law could not do, 1bweak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in cthe likeness of 2sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the arequirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who bdo not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:2-4 NAS
Requiring Someone to Follow Rules NEVER leads to Love or Trust. Following Commandments does NOT result in a relationship (except for the relationship of dictator/oppressed, perhaps). But Trusting and Loving ALWAYS lead to someone wanting to be part of your Life.
Or, another way to say it:
“NO ONE WILL CARE WHAT YOU KNOW, UNTIL THEY KNOW YOU CARE.”
God knows this principle and works this principle when dealing with humans.
From my heart to yours,
Who is God? What is He All About? Can We Know Him and Understand What is Important to Him?
God is the author, architect, and creator of LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING.* God desires a personal relationship with each of us. By definition, that means He knows about us and is able to be known, by us. Not only can we know factual information about God, we can get to know Him as intimately as we wish.
* (Yes, Douglas Adams fans, the book by that title rocks!)
Check out Prof. Jerry’s insights on knowing God: This is what the LORD says: Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. If people want to brag, they should brag that they understand and know Me. They should brag that I, the LORD, act out of Love, kindness, righteousness, fairness, justice and with mercy on the earth. This kind of bragging pleases Me, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23,24)
God Love us and accepts us exactly as we are right this very moment. He doesn’t want us to wait until we “clean ourselves up” first. He just wants us to hang out with Him.
God yearns for us to talk to Him and connect with Him. He wants to hear about whatever troubles us. There is no secret formula to ‘prayer’ and it doesn’t even have to be a formalized prayer. He just enjoys hearing from us. God will always listen whether we know prayer protocol, whether we use manners or swear words, and we don’t have to be theologically correct.
He just likes hangin’ with us; because He Loves us.
He created us; so He Loves us. That simple.
And because He Loves us; he allows us complete Freedom of Choice.
(continued in Who Is God? Part 2)
Whoever does not LOVE does not know God, because God is LOVE. 1 John 4.8 (NIV)
Have you ever let that really sink in?
Have you stopped for a minute and thought about the implications of “God is Love.”
We can go to Church each week. We can try our best to follow commandments. We can give a lot of money to the Church.
None of it matters if we do not Love.
The Beloved (cool nickname, eh?) makes it unequivocal: If we don’t LOVE others, then all our little “Christian” behaviors and rule-following makes us . . . moral, I suppose.
But perhaps we need to adopt the nickname we deserve: “CHURCHians”
We are Boy Scouts who attend Church.
Real Christians. Real CHRISTians…LOVE. It is not a platitude, it is a job description.
Real CHRISTians understand that LOVE is a verb, not a noun.
Because how can someone be a real CHRISTian if they don’t do the One Thing that Jesus repeatedly said was most important?
In fact, we often pat ourselves on the back whenever we hear talk of the third commandment since we rarely, if ever, take God’s name in vain . . . by saying His name together with an expletive.
But do we not take His name in vain when we call ourselves CHRISTians, but do not LOVE others?
In verse 8 as we read above, John varies the thought of his previous versus, and again very remarkably. Instead of “love is of God” (verse 7), we have “God is Love” – a far deeper thought; and instead of “knoweth not God,” we have “knew not God,” or, as we would say in English, “NEVER knew God.”
Let that one sink in . . .
If I do not LOVE others than I NEVER KNEW GOD.
Being a CHRISTian is much easier than we make it with our rules and rituals: All we have to do is LOVE.
Conversely, being a CHRISTian is much more difficult than we can imagine: We are called on to actually LOVE people.
The person that is not Loving his brother shows that in no real sense has he ever in the past known God: he is of the world (chapter 3:1), not of God. We must beware of watering down “God is Love” into “God is loving,” or even “God of all beings is the most loving.” Love is not a mere attribute of God; like light, it is His very nature. As “God is Light” sums up the Being of God intellectually considered, so “God is Love” sums up the same on the moral side. Only when this strong meaning is given to the statement does John’s argument hold, that “he that loveth not knoweth not God.”
A person who has no idea of any one of the attributes of God, as order, or beauty, or power, or justice, has an imperfect knowledge of God. But someone who has no idea of Love has no knowledge of God, for LOVE is Himself. God alone Loves in the fullest and highest sense of the word; for He alone Loves with perfect disinterestedness. It is LOVE which alone can explain creation.
Consider this: Why should a Being perfectly blessed in Himself create other beings, but to bestow a blessing upon them?
Next time Life gets you down, try to remember that you were created for one primary reason: Because God couldn’t stand to not have you around and He wants to bless you. He can and will make your Life full of Joy, Truth, and LOVE. But He will not force you to accept what you do not want. Decide you want Joy, Truth and Love.
Decide you want God.
From my heart to yours,