His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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Independence Day – Are We All Celebrating the Same Thing?

As I begin to celebrate the independence of the United States of American, I wonder… how many of us really know what we’re celebrating? What does this day mean to the different people I see in the store or on the street? For some of us who enjoy the rights and privileges of being US citizens, has this day morphed into just another excuse for a party?

Also, as a nation, how does our condition today compare with what was envisioned 241 years ago, and then codified in our Constitution several years later? What has sociatial evolution, along with the strife that currently chokes many aspects of our lives, done to our countries original values? How far have we drifted from some of the things we should probably be celebrating?

Here are a two things that are different today from what the founders fought for, and died for:

  • Free speech is under attack. 241 years ago, we fought for free speech, not against it.
  • The United States is far from being united—with division, conflicts, and even hate being the norm. Well, there was indeed division 241 years ago, but there were also common goals and ideals that helped keep us together. Maybe we’ve lost that common vision of “United States.”

The shackles on speech, along with our fractured unity has fed the plague of dysfunctional government, fear, mistrust, and more hate. And this all continues feeding upon itself.

So, what’s behind all this? Well, I’ll tell you my opinion. And if you disagree, please, please, please… speak out. Express your opinion, allow my opinion, and in that small way, allow free speech to have a small victory.

Anyway, here it is: at the heart of these problems is arrogance and selfishness. Arrogance is not willing to listen to an opinion different from its own. Arrogance demands that everyone agrees with it, and if you don’t agree, then arrogance will declare you a bigoted idiot. And such idiots should not be allowed to speak—so demands arrogance.

Selfishness is all about self (duh), at the expense of others. This is at the core of the division within the United States. Selfishness, being a sibling of arrogance, abhors the same things that arrogance does, but selfishness suffers in a different way. Selfishness is very weak and fragile. Selfishness cannot listen to opinions other than its own because selfishness is easily offended. Selfishness is the little toddler who has a tantrum when it doesn’t get its way. Selfishness demands safe zones on college campuses so it has a place to be insulated from different ideas that it does not want to hear.

To give strength to those who suffer from selfishness, soothe the angst of those who are arrogant, and re-unite our country, we need humility. Humility will heal the wounds, ease our fears, nourish trust, and give us the courage to let go of “me” and wrap our arms around “us”. And we will again be united.

Humility accepts the rights and opinions of others, whether it agrees with them or not. Humility is willing to listen to other opinions, without getting offended and throwing a tantrum.

Humility does not always require its way. Humility is willing to compromise. In fact, true humility desires compromise. For humility sees that with compromise, all sides win something—there are no losers with compromise, there are no losers with humility. Humility is kind and compassionate and desires that others do not feel the pain of losing. In this way, the only path to civility is walked in the shoes of humility.

Again, please, what do you think? Speech is free… use it. Let us at least be united in this—to willingly allow each other to express our opinions.

On this 241st anniversary of what may be the most amazing event in democratic history, I will humbly pray for humility.

 

“I (may) disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire (or maybe his biographer)


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Buffet for my Ego

buffet

Life is a smorgasbord for my ever-ravenous ego.

So many choices, all feeding my ego’s need for attention.

At work, the buffet sometimes overflows.

At home, there are snacks on every table.

Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, my ego finds something to devour.

Yet my ego is not my friend.

It resists my desire to wrest my eyes from the buffet,

and look more to the Holy Spirit of Jesus within me.

My hearts desire is that Jesus become greater within me,

and my ego becomes less.

It feels like the never-ending on-again, off-again diet.

Yet my diet coach is the very Son of God.

My ego against Jesus – guess who’s winning.

My ego keeps fighting for attention,

but Jesus in my heart is stronger.

And I’m so grateful.

For life is limitless without my ego holding me prisoner.


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Don’t You Trust Me?

potter and clay

Very gradually, over many years, God has been forming me into the person He wants me to be. He’s been going very slowly – I think because He knows I couldn’t handle a faster pace.

Yet sometimes I resist, pushing back on His efforts to shape me. Other times, like today, I wish He would work faster. Even though God has made some great changes in my life, I rarely seem to be satisfied with where I am in my journey to be less like me and more like Jesus.

So this morning, while spending my favorite time with God, I asked Him to speed things up. What came into my mind was this: “Don’t you trust me?” Well, of course I trust God. But I think He was reminding me that His pace is the best pace. I just need to relax and trust Him to mold me in a way that I can handle.

God works in each of us in a very unique way, each at the pace that is best for us. And I’m grateful.


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Grateful for the Flaws

flawed

By reading my complaints about my flawed humanity in many of my blog posts, you might think I’m a miserable person. Well, I’m not.

It seems that most of the time, my life is dominated by my relationship with God, Jesus, and their Spirit who shares my life with me. By the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, I have found true meaning, peace, excitement, and love. Life has never been better.

Yet I’m grateful for the flaws of my human nature: my pride and selfishness, my anxiety and worry, my anger, my natural temptations. For whenever my flaws capture my present, they remind me of how much I need God. Yes, my flaws may make me miserable while in the midst of them. But God has taught me to use my flaws, to steer my mind back to Him. And I’m grateful.


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Lifting me out of this pit

Out-of-the-Slimy-Pit

This writing gig gets me all confused and stressed out. To self-publish my book, or chase after a traditional publisher? To try to lure an agent, or not? Should I even bother trying to publish? How to attract followers to this blog? How to increase page hits? Should I even bother trying to attract followers, or instead focus on a simpler motive for writing blog posts?

Today is a typical morning for me; my mind is a jumble of random thoughts and questions, all in search of a purpose and direction. And in the middle of this mess is my selfish beast, wanting it all MY way.

Some mornings I get bogged down in the muck of my own self-centeredness. But today I was lifted out of this muddy pit and set down on the higher ground of solid humility. Of course, the Holy Spirit within me did the lifting.

Now, the stress and confusion are gone. My only desire is to be hands and feet for God.

Dear Lord, dear Spirit who shares this body of mine, I am yours. These hands are yours, resting on this keyboard. This mind is yours. My heart and soul are yours. Why? Because of love. I love you so much dear Spirit of Jesus. You’ve given me life. You’ve given me purpose. You’ve given me love beyond understanding. Please help me to not waste your gift of love. You came for me… I’m here for you.

Amen


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My Prison of Pride

prisoner of fallacy

Pride is my self-imposed prison. Pride ties me up with strict rules and expectations. Pride wraps me in a straightjacket of stress when things don’t go MY way. Pride pushes my heart, soul, and mind to me, rather than God.

Pride is misery.

Yet Jesus has set me free from my prison. He has opened the door and shown me the path to humility… and love… and others… and our Father. There are still traces of pride clinging to me, but it’s not the prison it once was.

And the Holy Spirit within holds onto me, stopping me from returning to my familiar prison cell. And I’m so grateful.


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My Apology to Catholics

About five years ago I wrote a post about my dad’s experience when he decided to join the Catholic Church of my stepmother. He first had to sign some Catholic documents resulting in the annulment of his marriage to my mom. From what I heard, the church had to erase the sin of his divorce before they would accept him into the church.

I admit I was a bit upset by the episode and I wasn’t very kind to the Catholic Church in the words I posted. Over the years, many people have commented on that post, and it’s clear that I caused them pain. Another such comment showed up today. And I’ve finally come to realize that it’s time I apologize.

So to all Catholics, I sincerely apologize for my harsh words of five years ago.

All I was trying to do was testify to the truth of Jesus. And the truth is, Jesus forgave my father’s sin of divorce. More than forgive, Jesus and God have effectively forgotten my father’s divorce.

As God said, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

And as Paul said in his definition of love, “Love … keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) As God is love, God keeps no record of wrongs.

Forgive and forget. What a great way to live, for all of us. It’s just not easy.


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“Sorry” from the Holy Spirit within

Im sorry

“I’m sorry.” It’s maybe not too difficult to say, but often very hard to sincerely mean. There have been times when I’ve been able to force it out of my mouth, but something leaves a bitter feeling in my heart. I believe that’s the insincerity of my apology, irritating me like an itchy scab.

I came across a good blog post this morning about the difficulties some of us have with sincerely apologizing to God for our sins… repentance. (see it here). Why is it hard for Christians to sincerely repent?

For me, it takes true humility to admit our mistakes and repent, or tell a friend we are sorry. That’s why repentance is so difficult, because humility is not part of our prideful human nature. I believe the remedy for our lack of repentance is to focus our attention on the Holy Spirit, rather than on “self.” And if we can muster enough humility to let the Spirit into our lives, He will show us the path to true humility… and true repentance.

Yet, we shouldn’t stress about our lack of repentance. We should instead focus on our relationship with the Holy Spirit. He will then lead us to repentance.


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Forgiveness or Misery

scale

It takes humility to really forgive, to take your eyes off your SELF long enough to waive goodbye to the hurt. I found myself thinking about forgiveness yesterday – don’t know why. I guess I was just struck with the thought that everyone needs forgiveness of something. And it seems like there’s not enough humility to counter the hurtful acts needing forgiveness.

Then this new thought crashed into my Sunday-slumbering mind: humanity, by our sinful and prideful human nature, is all messed up. It’s just part of who we are. Therefore, by our nature, we will all hurt others, intentionally or not. And we will all create a need for forgiveness.

Then this thought hit me: for those who cannot learn to forgive others, they are doomed to a life of unforgiving misery, for there will ALWAYS be hurt needing forgiveness.

Maybe look at it this way: visualize an old-fashioned scale with the cross-arm and a bowl hanging off each end. In one bowl are all the hurtful acts that need forgiveness. In the other bowl is our capacity to forgive. The hurtful bowl is overflowing – again, it’s just who we are as humans. The forgiveness bowl is often nearly empty. Our life is out of balance, unless we are able to increase our capacity to forgive.

God can give us that capacity, if we desire. God can show us the futility of holding a grudge, since humanity will always create hurt. God can bring balance to our life.


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The Shark within Me

shark

Ever circling. Lidless eyes, ever searching. Jagged teeth, ever ready to devour innocence. Ever within me, part of me, torturing me. Ever my ego, my pride, my self, my shark.

My ego is the shark within me, always searching for something to capture and make its own. For example, since I started posting again on this blog after taking a long break, my ego has become intoxicated over things like number of page views and number of followers. I keep telling my “self” that none of that matters, but I often lose the argument.

Whenever I win the argument, it’s because I walk away from the argument. I win when I ignore my yammering ego and instead focus on the Holy Spirit within me. The shark has no chance against the Spirit. Dear Jesus, thank you.


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Scary Christians

scary Christians

I’ve commented on a couple of blogs recently, where the topic was Christians who scare others away from Christianity by their behavior – judgmental, hypocritical, arrogant, etc. I agree that the biggest hindrance to Christianity is Christians. And I relate to something Ghandi once said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ.” Yet the truth is, none of us is like Christ. Some get close, but none lives the completely humble and love-filled life Jesus lived.

I can be quick to criticize ugly Christians. But that just brings me closer to their level. And the truth is, we are all broken humans, with a human nature that is so unlike Christ. For our nature is filled with pride and selfishness, some more full of themselves than others. But it’s who we are as humans. For me to criticize ugly Christians is hypocrisy.

Might an ugly Christian be a sign that the person doesn’t know Jesus very well? Could be. But who am I to judge?

By the way, most Christians I know are not very scary. Except maybe for my friend who is a Third Day* groupie, chasing their concerts all over the country. Happy Birthday dawg.

*Third Day = Christian rock band

(btw, my Third Day groupie friend isn’t scary in the context mentioned in this post. His friends just like to tease him because of his obsession.)


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Creepy Christians?

Here are some of the ways I used to feel around Christians; see if these sound familiar to your experience:

  • I felt like Christians were constantly judging my behavior and actions.
  • It seemed to me like Christians thought they were better than everyone else.
  • I felt like Christians disliked me and everyone else who wasn’t a Christian.
  • I thought Christians were flat-out weird whenever I saw them praying in public, and I’d stay far away from them, as if I didn’t want to catch whatever sickness they had.
  • The worst was that I always felt like Christians were trying to pressure me to convert and take on their beliefs. Just leave me alone and let me be how I want to be!!! – that’s how I felt.

Than I became a Christian. I remember my sister saying, “Oh no, are you now a Jesus Freak?” The answer was yes. Yet even though I had become crazy about Jesus, I sure didn’t want to become creepy. Ever since I decided that I really like Jesus and believe in Him, I’ve been searching for the truth of what a real “Christian” should look like. In other words, how would Jesus have Christians appear to non-Christians?

For all who call themselves “Christian,” here’s some advice from the experts (note, I like to put Jesus’ words in red, since He’s the best expert on the subject):

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1)

“But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:5, 6)

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men.” (Hebrews 12:14)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

“Be merciful to those who doubt.” (Jude 1:22)

All Christians should pay attention to the advice of the experts.


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It’s a Cold, Cruel World

It’s difficult and often dangerous out in the “real” world. As I raised my children, I protected them, fed them, taught them, cared for them, and loved them. I did my best to create a safe, joyful and loving environment at home. Yet they left.

Well of course they left; that’s the way of our society. Raise your children and then send them off on their own, to fend for themselves and put what you taught them into practice, hopefully.

It’s part of our nature to want to go out on our own, and live independent of our parents. We want to make our own decisions and direct our own life, without having to report to someone else. And along with this comes the responsibility of dealing with our own problems, on our own.

Of course for many of us, mom and dad are no farther away that the other end of the telephone, and they are often willing and able to help us deal with our problems. We may have left them when we moved out of their house, but they never really left us. Loving parents make themselves always available to help and guide their adult children.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I think this little scenario illustrates our history and relationship with God.

Humanity, in the persons of Adam and Eve, were lovingly raised by God, who offered them a home with Him, forever. He would protect them, feed them, teach them, care for them and love them. But the independent nature kicked in. Adam and Eve wanted to leave home and go out on their own, make their own decisions and direct their own lives.

I know some self-proclaimed atheists who make a case that all of the world’s problems are evidence that there is no God, for how could a God possibly allow so much evil. The truth is, God does not allow evil, in His home. But humanity struck out on their own, into the cold, cruel, evil world. We left God to go out on our own, spurred on by our prideful ego, which told us we were smart enough to live independent from God.

Yet we are not alone in this cold, cruel world. God is always just on the other end of the phone, lovingly willing to help us deal with our problems. All we need do is call, and listen.


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What is love?

When I was young, inexperienced and foolish, I had a very cloudy concept of what love was. In my search for the meaning of love, I didn’t realize I had to first experience it in order to understand it.

My concept of love gradually clarified and grew as I worked my way through a succession of girl friends, until I finally met the young woman who would become my wife. My feelings for her were like none I had ever experienced before. The emotions were intense. I was totally distracted from other things going on around me.

Love felt great. I became totally immersed in the emotions. I smiled almost all the time. Friends at work would tease me when they spotted me smiling while doing tiresome tasks. “He’s thinking about her again,” they would groan. But is this all that love is meant to be, some euphoric roller coaster ride? What is true love? What is the truth about love?

Now that I’m older and full of wisdom (that’s a joke – I’m still foolish), with help from God I believe I finally know the truth about love. I no longer look upon love as a goal, but rather as a journey. And I see two main stages of this journey.

The love of my youth was the first stage of the journey. As much as I am reluctant to admit it, the love of my youth was selfish love. Even the love for my wife was initially selfish love. Yes, I was very considerate and did any kind thing I could possibly think of. I so wanted to make her happy. But in digging down deep inside my self, I now realize that my foundational motivation was all about me. Making my wife happy makes me feel good. My love for her was actually rather self-centered.

Yet on the journey of love I believe it’s a very short step from this selfish stage, to the next; the self-less stage. True love, love as God would have it, is other-centered love. How might a relationship look with this kind of true love?

Image a relationship where the motivation behind each person’s actions has to do exclusively with the welfare of the other person. The husbands’ only focus is on the wellbeing of his wife. And her only purpose is looking after his wellbeing. In this way, they take care of each other’s needs. I don’t need to be concerned about my self; my wife is doing that for me. Can you imaging any better relationship? This kind of love feeds on itself, gradually and continually growing, for each person is constantly giving, rather than taking.

Paul saw this and defined it quite clearly in his first letter to the Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)

This is other-centered love. This is a love rooted in humility. This is true love.

Looking at the last line in the verse above, the divorce rate would have us believe that love indeed fails. Yes, selfish love fails. Why do people get divorced? Because, “my needs are no longer being met by my spouse,” as someone once told me. Selfish love breads divorce.

But true love, the love that is focused on the other, that love that gives rather than takes; this never fails. God’s love never fails.


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The “ME” Generation Gone Wild

“City council drops moment of silence” – so stated the headline of the lead article in today’s local newspaper. The article went on to say, “The City Council has dropped its ritual moment of silence at the start of meetings, and some members questioned whether the Pledge of Allegiance should go next.”

As I read on, I wanted to know why. Why get rid of the moment of silence? The answer came two paragraphs later…

“The change came at the request of one of the council’s newest members, who said the practice could be seen as a form of prayer and might offend those who don’t want to participate.”

It didn’t really answer my question, yet there were clues. But it got me thinking about a more general issue which goes far beyond whether or not to observe moments of silence in small-town council meetings. There is a movement underway endeavoring to wipe out anything religious. Our country which was founded because people were looking for freedom of religion, is now a country where there is a strong push for freedom from religion.

Again I ask why, yet regrettably I think I already know the answer, and the answer actually goes far beyond the anti-religious movement. Why are people anti-moments-of-silence? Why are some anti-anything-religious? Why are others anti-(name any group of people, political party, belief, etc.)?

It’s all about selfishness and arrogance.

The new city council member either wants to exert new-found power because of his arrogance, or he just cannot stand the idea of other people believing differently than he does; again, because of his arrogance.

Arrogance is why the minority side of any issue thinks they should have it their way. People in our society are just unwilling to loose. They are unwilling to accept something they don’t happen to personally support. It’s the “me generation” gone wild. There is an epidemic of arrogance, selfishness and even bigotry, on the rise in our generation.

The anti-religion movement is rooted in selfishness as well. An atheist wants to make a name for himself, and becomes intoxicated on the power of his influence. Or maybe because of their bigotry (which is another form of self-centeredness and arrogance), they despise those who are different from themselves. Had you ever considered attacks on religion by atheists as an act of bigotry? Think about it.

And the “religious” are not immune. No one is immune from the diseases of the ego. All of the world’s conflicts, whether among nations or married couples or just two co-workers, are rooted in self-centeredness and arrogance. Get over it people!

We need to all grow up and stop acting like spoiled brats. We cannot always get our way, and we just need to accept that. And we need to start thinking more about others, and less about our selves.

What our society needs more than anything is a good old-fashioned dose of humility. And this actually gets me back to the bible, where humility is held in high esteem. For as Jesus said,

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)


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Faith of a Child

My sister once told me that she couldn’t believe what was written in the bible because Genesis talks about people living hundreds of years, and she just didn’t think that was possible. All it took was one thing she couldn’t understand for her to discount the entire bible.

I suspect we’ve all come across people like this, maybe even ourselves at times; there’s something in the bible we don’t understand, and since we feel we should be able to understand, we choose not to believe. After all, why should I believe in something (like God), I cannot possibly understand?

I was reminded of this tendency last night, as I was channel surfing on the TV. I stumbled upon a movie where the particular scene had Jewish concentration camp prisoners putting God on trial*. Their verdict was that God was guilty of putting them in the concentration camp (since I didn’t see the whole thing, I may be wrong). They came to that verdict by analyzing God’s actions as recorded in the Old Testament. There was so much about God’s actions that they simply did not understand, so they condemned God because of that lack of understanding.

* (it was a Masterpiece Theater show appropriately titled, “God on Trial”)

What might Jesus have to say about our apparent need to understand all His ways?

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Jesus is telling us that we need to have the faith of a child. Look at it from this perspective: in no way can a child understand all the ways of their parents. Yet, the child still believes in their parents, and loves them unconditionally. So it should be with us and God. True faith is accepting the fact that we cannot possibly understand why God allows certain things to happen. We just accept and believe anyway.

Also, why is it that so many of us have this need to understand all? Simple… ego. Our ego is hungry and wants to understand. And if our ego is not satisfied, it may cause us to act like a child who throws its toy because they are not happy with the answer.

So I guess we all have a choice. We can be a spoiled brat type of child, or a child whose love is not tied to conditions of needing to understand all.

Something to think about on Martin Luther King’s birthday.


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A love that doesn’t give up

I never followed them on their visits to the prison. But the pain in their faces, as they later told me how my brother was fairing, showed how heart wrenching those visits had been. My adopted brother refused to accept the love of my parents. Contrary to their efforts to love him and “save” him, my brother ended up following a path that landed him in prison, where he has been, off and on, for the past 25 years or so.

My parents’ love has been real and sincere, yet it wasn’t enough to save my brother from a life of crime. My brothers’ heart remained shut, like those prison doors. Yet my parents’ hearts remained open; still pouring their love on my brother, as you might pour water on a thirsty man who refuses to drink.

I like to compare parents’ relationships with their children, to Gods relationship with us. As our heavenly parent, God wants to love us and save us. And contrary to His efforts, many of us refuse to accept His love. Yet like my parents, God doesn’t give up.

I have seen the pain my parents endured, and continue to endure, by loosing their son to crime and prison. Imagine the pain God must feel for every one of us who turn our backs on His love? But like the father in the story of the prodigal son, God never takes His eyes off the horizon, looking for us to return to Him.

You see, God doesn’t love us because we first loved Him. God’s love comes first: “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)


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Same-sex marriage – tearing churches apart

Chatting with a couple of friends over coffee the other morning, they both mentioned how their churches are being torn apart by California Proposition 8 (ban on same-sex marriage). Both of their churches are formally taking a stand for Prop. 8 – against same-sex marriage. The outcome is a mini-exodus of members. Some who are advocates of same-sex marriage have apparently decided they cannot remain in a church that disagrees with them. Presumably, and hopefully, they will find another church they can live with.

I wonder; is God using this effect of Proposition 8 to separate the sheep from the goats? The sheep being those who are willing to humbly accept what God teaches us. The goats, by their pride and arrogance, are unwilling to accept God on His terms. They can only accept God on their terms. If God won’t accept their terms, they leave. Yet I hope they come back again.

The general mess that’s illustrated by this example of the effect of Proposition 8 is that we human beings are not always willing to accept God on His terms. Yet how many people are you willing to accept, even when you disagree with them on significant issues? It’s considered a virtue to be accepting of others. Should we be accepting of people, yet not accepting of God? Should I welcome a gay friend into my home even though I consider homosexuality a sin, yet not accept God because I disagree with Him about the fate of sinners (for example)?

Fundamental Christians are often labeled as intolerant; not willing to accept people who are different from themselves. Well, that sounds a lot like the same-sex marriage advocates who leave churches that disagree with them. But look at the difference: a fundamentalist Christian may be unwilling to accept the ways of other people, while the same-sex advocates are unwilling to accept the ways of God.

Now I could also add that some fundamentalist Christians, by their behavior, clearly illustrate that they too are not willing to accept the ways of God. You see this in their bigoted and hateful response to those who don’t stand up to their criteria. This is not the way of God, who showed us a way of love, not of hate.

But the bottom line of all my blabbering is this: we tend to be willing to accept other people on their terms, but many of us are not as willing to accept God on His terms. Our top priority relationship should be with God.

I pray for the goats, that they may find their way back to the truth of God, on His terms.

For some related thoughts on Proposition 8, please see the following post: “Putting Words in God’s Mouth – talking same-sex marriage”


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Ego earwax – some just don’t like to hear the truth

I’ve posted 10 separate comments on the Westboro Baptist Church web site. The instructions for submitting a comment state:

“Remember, personal responses are not guaranteed. If we find you to be asking foolish and unlearned questions, making comments not worth response, or being generally profane, we will not respond.”

Please check out this example of one of my comments, and see if you think it warrants a cold shoulder:

Hello Mr. Phelps,

This morning, as I was reading the first of three letters from the apostle John, I again thought of you and the Westboro Baptist Church.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:7-21)

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.

Please reconsider the origins of your message of hate. Does it come from God, or from you?

May your hate be overpowered by the true love of God.

Sincerely,

E.D. Jones

I’ve never heard a peep out of em. Playing the odds, I would think that out of 10 comments, I would have heard something. They’re ignoring me for a reason. I like to think it’s because they see the truth in my comments, and the truth makes them feel ashamed about their behavior (if even only subconsciously). Of course there could be another reason, maybe even a technical glitch.

Yet it’s difficult to hear someone tell you that you’re wrong, especially when they’re right. Our ego resists the truth in these circumstances. I myself especially have a tough time being corrected. My family or co-workers will tell you that.

Ego stops up our ears. And maybe it’s ego that’s stopping up the ears of those at Westboro Baptist Church. It takes humility to have ears to hear, and eyes to see. It takes humility to accept the truth of Jesus. Humility will show you the truth; the truth will set you free; therefore humility will set you free.

Finding freedom in humility; what a concept.


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Bringing people to Jesus – by throwing a bible into their face

Julie is a friend who has a passion for “bringing people to Jesus.” Her passion comes from a sincere conviction that God is calling her to this task. Her energy and dedication also come from a heart-felt concern for anyone she knows who does not also know Jesus. Her motivation is honest and completely centered on the well-being of the other person. There is no selfishness or condemnation in any of Julie’s efforts to introduce someone to the love of Jesus. She lives in near-poverty just so she can be close to the people she feels called to save.

Many people believe that we Christians are responsible for “bringing people to Jesus.” After all, Jesus Himself told us to: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19)

By her desire to bring people to Jesus and the salvation He offers, my friend Julie does tend to take her calling to extremes however. Packed with emotion, concern, zeal and a real sense of urgency, she tends to push pretty hard on her prospective converts. And many times I fear she pushes them right out the door.

Do you wonder; is Julie an example of what Jesus really meant when He instructed us to make disciples of everyone? Or is the truth somewhere else? I believe that it’s not my job to “bring people to Jesus;” I believe its Gods intention to do the hard work of actually bringing someone to His Son. As Jesus said…

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” (John 6:44-45)

He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” (John 6:65)

I believe the truth is that we are just to be a witness, to testify to what we know:

“And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:27)

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,” (Matthew 24:14)

In a complex court trial, it’s rarely the testimony of just one witness that sways the jury; it’s the testimony of all the witnesses, who were paraded past the jury by a skilled attorney. In our efforts to evangelize and help “bring someone to Jesus,” we need to realize that we are just one in a potentially long line of witnesses. And God is the skilled attorney, bringing forward the right witness at just the right time. It’s God who does the hard work of bringing the “jury” to the desired conclusion.

If our efforts to help bring people to God end up pushing them away, we need to look at our motivation and methods. Compared to my friend Julie, my methods are very passive. Outside of this blog site, I’m not very outspoken when it comes to talking about the salvation of others. I never hesitate to divulge my true faith, but I try not to push my faith upon others. I like to subscribe to the advice of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Though I like to change it a bit to, “Preach the Gospel at all times, using words only when absolutely necessary.”

I wonder if it was that kind of wordless evangelism that Jesus had in mind when He said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.(John 13:34-35)

While Julie’s motivation is based on humility and a sincere concern for others, I’ve seen other evangelists whose motivation appears to come from a different source. I’ve met many who sincerely believe they are fully qualified to be both witness and attorney; to take someone and lead them all the way from their old life, to a new life with Jesus. They believe they have the wisdom, knowledge, power and perseverance to do the whole job. Where does this belief come from?

As is the root cause of most of our problems, here again is the ego. It’s our ego and hunger for pride that draws us to the belief that we are qualified to do the hard work. After all, if all we do is the easy work, the work of just telling the truth, and letting God do the hard work of bringing others to salvation; then where is the credit for us? As a witness we get no credit, since all the credit goes to God, the attorney.

But that’s just it! Credit is not what it’s all about. A sense of accomplishment is not what we should be after. We shouldn’t witness for Jesus out of a desire for a pat on the back. We should witness out of our love for Him. All the credit for anything good that happens in our lives should go to God.

So as I’ve said before, humility is the secret. If you really want to be a servant for God, helping bring others to Jesus, then cultivate your humility first. And leave all the hard work for God. As D.L. Moody once said, “There is no better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit.”