Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 01/29/2012

I really like the way God works. Today’s poem actually lines up with the topic of the past couple weeks. Also, I attended the “Calvinism, Arminianism, and Free Grace Seminar” yesterday. John Correia was the main speaker helping everyone understand better what Calvinists, Arminians, and he and others within the Free Grace Theological background believe. (If you have not heard of Molinism yet, look it up!) Anyway, one of the things discussed by two of the speakers included justification by works and our own sinful nature. I thought of all of the “religion” talk of the past few weeks. Then I saw what poem I had for this week, and WHOA!

I hope you enjoy:

my greatest tempter

my biggest foe i cannot name

this person leads me astray

i cannot get very far from him

he is everywhere that i am

he constantly tempts me with sin

and keeps me away from Him

this enemy of mine you see

for this person is actually

                                                 me

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 23.

Imitating Christ’s Humility

I know this is a little later in the day than I have been posting these, but here is my follow-up from last week’s post!

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

There are not only denominational differences, regional differences, and even congregational differences, but it is very difficult to even find one or two other people who believe exactly the way we do as individuals on every little thing (theologically, biblically, socially, and habitually).

We need to stop assuming we are right about everything, or at least more right than everyone else. Unless someone is flat-out heretical and/or blasphemous, we can still get along with our differences.

Therefore, how can we fulfill what Paul (and God!) has commanded us here? How can we be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose?” With another quote:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Matthew 22:37-39

Seek out and love God, then seek out and love on people. Show God’s love. Indiscriminately.

I have friends who are Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, charismatic, fundamentalist, “free-thinking” (I honestly still have no idea what that is really supposed to mean!), non-denominational, denominational, institutional, etcetera …

We get along for one important reason: We love God so much that our differences seem like nothing.

We each reach out to others in God’s love for one important reason: We know that God loves us first.

I dare you to try it.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 01/22/2012

I have always enjoyed climbing trees. There have been trees I have climbed after my parents or someone said “Do not climb that tree!” I have not climbed trees after my parents or someone has said “Do not climb that tree!”

There are two trees to which I have listened and not listened the command “to climb,” to follow the lifestyle each tree represents. Which tree forms the basis for your life?

It Was a Tree

It was a tree in a garden
That had something special.
It had a fruit of knowledge
And a conniving snake.
The snake tricked humans.
We now live in sin.
It was a tree.

It was a tree near a city
That held something special.
It held a perfect man
And a loving God.
The man loves humans.
We are now free from sin.
It was a tree.

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 21.

Hating What I Love?

In my first official post ever (52 weeks ago today!) I made an argument of why religion is not as bad a thing as some people today make it seem. It seems fitting that on my one year anniversary with this blog I discuss the topic again!

Perhaps you have seen the video going around the web, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus by Jefferson Bethke, but, if not, go watch it now. It has caused quite a stir, especially between the liturgical sections of Christianity (Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, etcetera) and Evangelicals of various stripes.

I have found some great, balanced responses online, particularly from Richard who has covered it from top to bottom. He also shared a video from Make a Friar (find both videos here), and honestly it is quite amazing. (Even Jefferson Bethke totally dug the video!)

I have also seen people on both sides (and other sides, such as atheist and other faiths) attacking each other by calling names and questioning character and salvation.

To those people, I give a hearty GROW UP!

To everyone, I think it is time for a reminder.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

As some on the blogosphere have said, Jesus was also about religion. Consider His words: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) As a refresher, the only religion Jesus hated is what we now call “legalism“. Religion itself is not wrong, it just how people implement it.

Clearly (oh, yes, I said “Clearly”), Jesus does not hate religion, and there are certain things He expects of us. As listed above, some of those things are to care for others in need. He also calls for us to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world.

What does this mean?

We should look back at what Jesus said: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Now, Jesus did call some people names (such as “snakes”, “brood of vipers”, and even “Satan” … poor Simon Peter), but He was revealing their true nature or intentions for what they were: not godly.

When we do it, especially in circumstances such as over this video, it is nothing but childish name-calling and wickedness. When we do it, we are acting like the very people whom Jesus scolded. When we do it, we are being “religious” in the way Jefferson Bethke hates … the way Jesus hates.

When we do it, we are pushing our hate on Jesus.

It is okay to hate “religion” and love religion. It is not okay to hate each other. When we act this way, remember Jesus’ other words:

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 25:40

This is a little out of context, but hear me out. The things we do or do not do to and for people is done or not done to Jesus …

 

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 01/15/2012

I have been wanting to post this poem all year! (You know, the last two weeks) But I had decided months ago that I would post poems from my second book roughly in order. This is the third poem (technically speaking, as the “first poem” is a dedication for the book). I hope you find strength in its words.

God, Give Us Hope

Our future is looking grim.
Plans for peace seem far.
We do not know what to do.
God, give us Hope.

There is no peace in the world.
Things are all awry.
Our planet is torn apart.
God, give us Hope.

When things are getting worse,
Though times are getting tough,
We might be spiraling down,
God gives us Hope.

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 17.

Fearing God

Last year, I wrote on why I fear God. This past weekend I saw a video from Francis Chan on the topic, and I realized I did not finish my thought last year.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

I mentioned last April that fearing the Lord includes respect and awe at His Holiness and Awesomeness. This is true and necessary.

We also need to understand what it means to respect. In that post I had a picture of a man sitting on the edge of canyon wall. I think this image can adequately demonstrate the need for respect. Ask any rock-climber, highrise construction worker, bungee jumper, deep-sea diver, hang glider, or any other dangerous profession/activity, and (the honest ones) will tell you that you must respect the danger. If you forget to respect the danger, you are that much closer to death (because you can make a mistake that will cost you).

This is the other part of fearing the Lord we must remember. God is ultimately the One who has power over life and death and everything in between and beyond either end. Many have taken the verse from Mathew 10:28, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell,” to mean God is the One who should be feared.

“Die in your sins, and suffer in Hell,” is how many preachers have put it throughout history.

Let us not forget God is also the One with the wrath!

This is all very important and must be remembered. However, this is not my focus, today.

If you were to look up the phrase “Do not fear …” in the Bible, it is used every time the Lord or one of His angels appeared. Most of the time, the people who were approached were relatively good people. Why would they have to be told to be unafraid?

Here is my take on this:

  • Many times, these guys show up unannounced and out of nowhere! Here you are, sitting by yourself, doing work or minding your own business, when FLASH! “HELLO!” That would be pretty freaky, man! I know I would need to be told to calm down!
  • These people were always given pretty big news, and that can be over-whelming. Imagine you are hanging out at God calls you to sacrifice your son. Or you are preparing the ingredients for bread, and God calls you to lead an army to overthrow conquerors. What if you were sitting quietly and then told you would have to raise God’s Son? You have been going along attacking people, and now you get the word from the Man Himself that you are now going to be a leader of these people. Scary prospects.
  • I think this one is the real crux of the matter, though: Imagine you are sitting there when a perfect being with amazing power and radiating holiness arrives. You will immediately become aware of how imperfect, not powerful, and offensive you really are. Daniel was a righteous man, blessed in all he did. When the angel Gabriel showed up, he fell down in fear. Afterward, he felt ill for days. Isaiah was taken before God, and he was instantly aware of his sins, crying out how unworthy he was. Saul/Paul was confronted with the Lord and was so over-whelmed that he called himself “the worst of sinners.” (There is an interesting dialogue about this phrase over at 3-Fold-Cord)

To go back to my original analogy, we must remember that we are dealing with Something rather intimidating: God. Therefore, we have to remind ourselves of Who He is. If we approach God as merely our friend, it is like acting blasé about a cliff-face and slipping due to carelessness. Carelessness and a lack of proper fear and respect can be fatal. So it is with God.

Any thoughts? Have I over-stepped my bounds, not gone far enough, or do you think I am right on the mark? Have you learned anything about the fear of the Lord?

My Re-Birthday

On this day 12 years ago, at 6:46 PM CST, I began consciously following Jesus Christ as my Savior (arguably, it was another six months and 17 days before I consciously made Him my Lord).

I call it my Re-Birthday, because, at least in the Evangelical world, it is said you become born again when you believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ through His life, death, and resurrection. Therefore, I am re-12!

I like calling it my Re-Birthday, also, because it is fun!

12 years ago today, I began to willfully choose to at least try to listen to God and believe that He saved me through Jesus Christ. I like to celebrate this day as a special reminder (kind of like Christmas or Easter/Resurrection Sunday, but slightly more personal), and I encourage all followers of Christ to do the same. If you are not sure what day you truly believed, you can go off of your baptism, as most churches keep a record of that day. If you do not know what day you were baptized or were baptized as an infant, just use your actual birthday.

Honestly, this is something that should be done continually and every day, but it is also fun as well as one more way to share your faith.

Also, please join me in wishing my wonderful mother-in-law a happy birthday. It is her actual birthday today, and without her I would not have my amazing wife!

God bless you, and remember that Jesus Christ is the reason we live and move and breathe and have meaning!