Archive for the ‘ Lifestyle ’ Category

Do you know where there are any personages of historical significance around here?

Earlier I talked about Bill and Ted demonstrating the most excellent story ever told, and really how we just need to always be ready to explain our faith to anyone we can.

If God can use this guy ...

Today is a short but sweet message.

Bill and Ted were two young men who lacked many intellectual capabilities, yet they changed their world (and ultimately the galaxy) into a peaceful and prosperous one.

You may already know where I am going with this …

If two know-nothings can change their world with a tiny bit of help from God, how much more do you think you can do? Believers in Jesus Christ are given His power through the Holy Spirit. You can deny He still works in us today. You can even deny that miracles still happen. I love to break it to you, but the Holy Spirit does indeed still work and perform miracles through His people.

Do not think for a moment that you are not good enough to ever do anything. With the power of the Holy Spirit working through you, you can make drastic changes to your own little part of the world and maybe even the rest of the world!

Remember that Billy Graham was a boy who heard a message in a tent and went on to become the most famous evangelist in the world. Bill Gates is a college dropout who is now one of the richest people in the world. Barack Obama is the son of a Kenyan foreign student and a middle-class woman, yet today he is the leader of the free-world.

Do not think you are any less. Jesus did say “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV … and I suggest reading the entire chapter).

You can do anything through the power of Christ. You were meant to do great things, even if it is “merely” being somebody’s friend.

What Religion Do You Follow?

Everybody follows a form of orthodoxy and religion.

Religion I have covered previously. Orthodoxy means right thinking or correct thinking. Therefore, if you are orthodox, you have a way of thinking that is correct.

Most people claim to have some form of truth … except of course for all the post-modern thinkers who claim there is no absolute truth. (Seriously think about that. They make an absolute claim there are no absolutes.)

Are you a Secular Humanist? Is humanity the highest form of life on Earth after millions and billions of years of evolution?

Are you a Theistic Humanist? Is humanity the highest form of life on Earth because a deity created us or effected evolutionary processes to get to us?

Are you an Atheist? Is there no possibility that there is deity of any sort?

Are you an Agnostic? Is there a possibility of a deity, but anything is possible?

Are you Muslim? Is Mohammed the last true Prophet?

Are you Jewish? Are certain things Kosher and others not?

Are you Christian? Is Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God?

What do some of these have to do with orthodoxy and religion?

Everybody who follows any of these has to put a faith in the parts they do not understand or for which they do not have empirical proof.

We do not have missing links for evolution, so faith is needed.

There is no proof denying the existence of God, but there is no empirical evidence of most biblical miracles. Again, faith is needed.

Many hold claim to truth, all offer proof of what they hold to be true (or hold some things to prove nothing can be proven), and all have to start with an idea of what they hold to be true or should be true. This means we all need some faith to believe what we hold to be true.

What we believe to be right (orthodoxy) shapes what guides our decisions and actions (religion/orthopraxy) which define the way we interact with life.

And now for an in-your-face, controversial statement:

If you claim to not have an orthodoxy and/or religion, you are a liar and a hypocrite.

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 05/01/2011

Today I bring to you one of the first poems I ever wrote for God, and it happens to be based on one of my favorite passages. The passage is a reminder to me that God works in and changes us to be holy, but He still requires us to do something. You can call it “God helps those who help themselves” (which I might explain my thoughts on this in the future) or “We have our role to play in our sanctification.” Either way, God gives us the freedom to either choose Him or choose ourselves in every moment.

i submit to You  God
daniel m  klem

if i draw near to You
You draw near to me
You will purify my heart
my hands will be clean
i am double minded
i am a sinner  indeed
i will now resist the devil
We will make him flee
i submit to You  God

so You are with me

****

 James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God,
and He will draw near to you. Wash your hands,
you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-
minded.

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 157.

I Fear God

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10, NIV

I spent my early life looking for answers. I wanted to believe anything that made sense. Fortunately, God found me, and I now seek to know and share this God more and more.

If you believe in Calvinistic election, you would call it my election showing itself. If you believe in God calling certain people to service (for example, Jeremiah), you would call it my calling beginning to manifest. If you believe in the prodding of the Holy Spirit, you would call it the Holy Spirit acting on me in my youth. There are many ways it can potentially be described. No matter what, as I said, God found me.

At the age of 16 I began this journey with God. I was taught to think critically, to know what I believe. This included that “fear the Lord your God” meant a combination of respect with some actual fear since He has the power to do whatever He wants (not in the tyrannical way it might sound, because God demonstrates so much grace and love to be that kind of King). It is not actually healthy to live afraid of God. That kind of fear hinders our commitment and actions.

Think about like mountain climbing. The extreme kind with cliffs and ropes and dangling from stupid heights. Any experienced climber will tell you that if you are terrified of heights or ever stop fearing the drop – basically saying if you stop worrying that you might fall to your death – you need to leave. Too much fear or no fear leaves you more open to lethal mistakes.

Likewise, if we are afraid of God we will not want to follow Him either at all or as we should. If we have no fear of God, we are apt to think of ourselves more highly than we should.

Now for my confession:

Sometimes, God scares me.

The fear that He will condemn me to hell? Well, sometimes, but I have found assurance in His Word that I am saved.

The fear that God may not exist? Not anymore. I have seen, heard, and experienced too much for that possibility.

No, God scares me when I look at the possibility of ministry, when I look at my marriage, when I look at my relationships, when I study for school.

In reverse order, I get scared that God has called me to study His Word and His Church and His world … and I will misunderstand, fail to comprehend, and, most importantly, fail to teach it. I get scared that God has given me friends and family … and I will hurt them, fail them, and disappoint them. I get scared that God has given me a wife … and I will neglect her, hurt her, or disappoint God in my devotion to her or Him. I get scared that God has called me to share His message … and I will mess it up, misrepresent Him, or just plain fail.

I mean on a daily basis. I get scared.

I get scared God could call me to leave everything behind. I get scared God could tell me I have it all wrong. I get scared God could call me to something difficult … which, really, life with God has a tendency to be difficult.

Who wants to love the unloveable? Who wants to forgive the unforgiveable? Who wants to think of others first? Who wants to deny themselves of their wants and desires?

However, it helps me understand a little better “deny [yourself] and take up [your] cross daily and follow me” and that saying “die daily to yourself”. It helps me understand a little better “What is impossible with man is possible with God” and “I can do everything through [Christ] who gives me strength.”

Fear can push us to love and trust and respect, or fear can push us run or hide or sit still. Sometimes I do the former, others I do the latter.

Fortunately for me – and I would assume most people, nay, every person – God can redeem and work through my failings. I pray He continues to let me help mess it up … I mean help Him!

The Gospel of Nothing

Nothing to offerWhat are we able to give God?

What is it that we can give God to get closer to God?

Creator of Everything

God is the Creator of everything. All things we are able to measure. Almost all things we are not able to measure.

God created light. God created atoms and molecules. God created mass. God created single-celled organisms. God created plants. God created animals. God created us. God created emotions and infact has emotions. God created and is goodness. God created and is truth. God created and is Life.

God did not create lies. God did not create hurts. God did not create pain. God did not create hate. God did not create evil. God did not create sin.

What we give God

This last line is what we can give God … at least at first.

This is the gospel: We have nothing to give God but our filth, our hurts, our lies, our hate, our evil, our sin.

In other words, nothing.

But we also give God our choice to follow.

In other words, we choose to love God.

God takes all this and gives us in exchange grace, forgiveness, grace, the Holy Spirit, grace, a new car new life, grace, and hope for a future in Eternity.

God also does not want us to continue living as we have. That is why there is new life with the Holy Spirit. This is also why there is so much grace: we will continue to mess up.

But God wants more.Empty to receive

After clearing us out of all of our nothing, God knows we need something.

If we present ourselves as ready and willing for whatever, God fills us with Himself – the Holy Spirit – to go out and perform good works for the benefit of others to bring glory to God.

After giving God our nothing, God gives us the ability to give our very lives, to give the Love given to us, to give forgiveness to ourselves and to others, to give our all.

Love the Sinner, Acknowledge the Sin

Jesus loves everyone!

Love the sinner, hate the sin!

That is a slogan we are used to hearing. I have used it myself.

Would it be better to say “Love the sinner, acknowledge the sin”?

I can already hear some people saying “But you can’t call people sinners! It is too offensive!”

My response: “I get offended the way some feminists say “man” or “men”. I get offended when black/dark-skinned-Americans (because, seriously, YOU WERE NOT BORN IN AFRICA! I am not a “European-American” and you are not an “African-American”! Most of your families have been in the United States for generations! I guess this is another offense. “Asian-“, “Mexican-“, “African-“, and any other “whatever-Americans” are those who have immigrated here and earned citizenship. If you are born here, you are AMERICAN.) … anyway, I get offended when blacks call each other (for those who are too sensitive, I will censor myself this time) “the n-word” but get upset when someone says it – even when quoting someone. I get offended the way some people say “Christian”. I get offended by the way some Christians say … a lot of things Christians say!

Therefore, perhaps it is not the word that is offensive, just the way it is said or used or perceived. I know I did not like being called a sinner when I heard “those Christians” say it before I became a believer. When I started going to church, however, it was presented as “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (see Romans 3:23, if you are wondering), and informed every single person who has lived (short of Jesus, but He is also God!) is a sinner. They explained why we are all sinners.

Get over yourself.

Back to the point …

Maybe we should just learn to love others. “But they party all the time!” “But he’s gay!” “But she had a baby outside of marriage!”

What did you do? Who are you?

“But God  demonstrates  His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,  Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NASB)

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:7-9, NLT)

I am pretty sure love is important (not mushy feelings, the willful decision to care).

We might also want to tread carefully if a something is the central focus of a person’s life. Homosexuality is not an act, it is a way of life. Alcoholism is not an act, it is either a mental disorder, a way to deal with life, or simply all that is known by them. This also goes for many addictions, habits, and lifestyles. I grew up gossiping, angry, and violent. It was what I saw all around me, it was all I knew, and it took a while to change.

I am not saying homosexuality and alcoholism are the same thing. Read my last post! Perhaps people really can be born a certain way! We do know some alcoholics are born lacking a chemical that alcohol (and sometimes drugs) fill (I read it in an AA booklet from a friend and have seen medical reports on it … I wish I could remember the name!) There are also women in India (I forget what the name is) who have very masculine features (and are considered holy).

Can I get some feedback?! (think black preacher voice for that question: “Can I get a witness?!”-style. I really enjoy their enthusiasm and the way their voices sound!) What are some thoughts? Let’s get some conversations started!