Thursday, January 15, 2015

Loving God With All Your Heart

I wrote this while thinking about our meeting in the jail last evening:

In the jail ministry, I always try to emphasize that the relationship with God must come first. If we attempt to live for God without loving God first, we are really bound for failure. Love Him first, and that love will mold you and shape you into something you never expected. There is within you a beautiful new creature awaiting to be released by God’s love. . .

Mar 12:28-31
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? (29) And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: (30) And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (31) And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Always looking for a way to trap Him, the scribe asked Him a question that He was sure to get wrong. . . but Jesus hit it out of the park. His answer was irrefutable. . . indeed probably the only answer which could not be criticized on some level. . .

The most important commandment had no mention of sin in it. Jesus answer was all about love. . . all about our relationship with Him, and our relationship with our fellow man.

Shouldn’t we then place more importance on, and give more effort to learning to love God with every fiber of our being, for if we fail to love God totally, then living for Him will be at best fruitless, and at worst impossible.

How do we fall in love with someone?

1. God loved us first

The foremost, and by far easiest way is to fall in love with someone who already loves us, and this surely is the case with God:

1John 4:19
We love him, because he first loved us.

This is difficult for us to comprehend. King David couldn’t figure it out either:

Psalm 8:3-9
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; (4) What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (5) For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. (6) Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: (7) All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; (8) The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. (9) O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

How can He love us, knowing everything about us. . . knowing the blackness and ugliness of our innermost thoughts. . . But He does love us, and He has even given us dominion over His creation. . . a gift of great price only exceeded by the gift of robing Himself in flesh, coming to earth, enduring the humiliation, rejection, and pain. . .and finally becoming the sacrifice for our sins.

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He died for you. He died with you on His mind. He died so that your life could be saved. He most willingly ran into the burning building and carried you out, fully knowing all the while that He would perish in the act. . . .

2. Compatibility

When we consider falling in love with someone, we want there to be a compatibility between us.

Psalm 139:1-16
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. (2) Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. (3) Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. (4) For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. (5) Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. (6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. (7) Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? (8) If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. (9) If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; (10) Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. (11) If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. (12) Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (13) For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. (14) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (15) My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (16) Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

My back was turned to Him for 45 years. Most of that time I claimed that He did not even exist. . . that He was the equal of the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus. I cursed Him, and those who believed in Him, and when my eyes were opened. . . when He revealed Himself to me. . .the warmth of His embrace was total. There was no holding back on His part. His Spirit merged with my spirit, and came to live inside of me. . . I utterly fail to convey just how compatible we are. . . He is endlessly patient. He never grows bored with my ramblings to Him. He never leaves my side. In the darkest hour of my night, He is awake and ready to listen. He leads me and guides me around pitfalls. He knows all my weaknesses. . . better than even I am able to see, and yet He still loves me. . .Yes. . . we are totally compatible.

3. Short term benefits

Every aspect of my life has been positively impacted in coming to God. . .bar none! I am a better husband, my finances are better, my health is better, I am a better employee, I am a better co-worker, I am a better father, and neighbor, and citizen. I am happier, more at peace, less tense, more satisfied, more joyful. . . I sleep better at night. My depression, while still present is lessened in intensity and of shorter duration. He is always with me. I always have someone to talk to.

4. Long term benefits

Eternity. . . Our soul is eternal. Death is a doorway, from the physical to the spiritual.

Mat 25:31-46
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (35) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (42) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (43) I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. (44) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? (45) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

We go from this life to a place prepared for us, according to our righteousness in this life. It will be wondrous beyond comprehension. It will not be the eternal strumming of lyres, while dressed in white robes, of that I am confident. My opinion. . . the universe will be ours to explore. We will be able to spend a day or a million years sightseeing in the rings of Saturn if we wish and other wonders of beauty incomprehensible and unknown await us. . . gathering around the throne of God worshipping with a million or a billion other souls. Can you imagine?. . . no words I think can describe the experience of that. . .

5. The Costs. . .

Is there any relationship which has no costs? Has there ever been a successful marriage where the man and the woman are not both changed for the sake of the relationship? In my marriage to my wife I have been greatly changed for the better. Learning. . . giving up of self. . . becoming less self-ish. . . and this relationship with God was not. . . is not without cost. I have had to give up much. I am greatly changed by my love for Him, and His love for me. I will be paying a price for as far as I can see into the future. . . It has cost me my pride. . . I have had to give up bitterness, and unforgiveness. Resentment, envy, greed, pride. . .again self-ish-ness arises. . . I battle, and stumble, and come to repentance at the altar again and again. . . asking Him for forgiveness, which is freely granted. There has been nothing shed which I am not glad to see depart. . .

I am unabashedly in love with God. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me. These last 15 years of living for God have surpassed the first 45 years of my life in every respect. I look forward to tomorrow, and an eternity of tomorrows after that walking hand in hand with Jesus.

I love you my God. . .
Thank you for loving me first. . .


Friday, January 2, 2015

They began as servants. . .

First seen as curiosities. Room sized behemoths. . . massive complexities consuming vast quantities of money and power to operate. . . 98 pound weaklings in strength. Soon reborn as servants. Doing menial tasks. . .calculating, filing, sorting, printing, mailing. . . the drudgery of low level clerical operations. . . ever onward they progressed to playing games. . .chess, Jeopardy. . .Now contemporarily driverless cars, trucks, planes, and ships. . .Again still newly rising to medical diagnoses, traffic control, systems management, law enforcement. . . currently robotic domestic help is being offered to the cutting edge market. . .almost invisibly a line will be crossed where there is nothing that a man can do, which a machine can not do better. . . quicker. . . more accurately. . . more creatively.

And what then was there left for mankind? What purpose is there in doing anything, when what you do is always second best. . . when there is no market for your efforts. . . no demand for your labor. . . no purpose. . . no drive. . .

The great experiment of communism/socialism has clearly shown the effect upon man’s productivity, and happiness, when he is deprived of motivation and incentive to accomplish and produce upon his own. What then now in this fast approaching new world? Can we find happiness in virtual realities alone?

Will tomorrow’s vacation be to spend a week on an assembly line laboring, and having a temporary pseudo-sense of productivity and worth? Will quaint cottage industries spring up, marketing their crude and costly wares as 100% human-made.

No matter what the government sets as the official ‘minimum wage’, in truth the minimum wage will become, the level of cost at which an auto-man can operate. The government might say that $15 dollars is the minimum wage which can be paid, but if a fast food franchise can put in a system which cooks burgers and fries and serves drinks more efficiently, with fewer mistakes. . . without pregnancy, illness, or hangovers, etc. and replaces 5 workers, while only costing them $50/hour to operate, then the true minimum wage in effect has become $10/hour, for any job which costs more than that will be performed by a machine.

Huge social upheavals can be foreseen in the beginning, when even the limited present opportunities for those without skills disappear to progress. . . and this will begin, but not end with the lower social strata. Eventually it is foreseeable that all trades, and finally professions of the highest skill levels will fall to the axe of artificial intelligence. . .

What then? Will all mankind enter early retirement?. . . Can this be possible? Can we somehow have our sustenance provided for and spend our days idyllically golfing, watching movies, and playing video games? How can this be? If it is somehow so, will this be heaven or hell? What will this new day bring?

I ponder on the dawn of a new year. . . the dawn of a new age. . .

I love you my God. . .
Help us my God. . .
I thank you my Lord. . .