Friday, March 13, 2015

SPRING IS NOT GOD'S WAY OF SHOWING US HE LOVES US





Riding home tonight on my bicycle, I passed a church, which had this for the message on their sign:

SPRING IS GOD'S WAY OF SHOWING US HE LOVES US

The thought immediately sprang into my mind, then winter must then be His way of showing us that He hates us. . .

I understand the metaphor that the sign writer was trying to make, but spring is just the season that follows winter. A pleasant season in many ways, but it is also a season with tornadoes, floods, and killing frosts. . .From personal experience, it is a season of seasonal depression for many. The point being that for some the season is a blessing, but for others it may be a season of destruction and despair.

To attribute every happening to the hand of God is not helpful, nor is it reality. I do fervently believe that God answers prayers, but I just as sincerely believe that a rainstorm which brings needed moisture for one, may just as well bring wind and hail which destroys to another.  If you are going to give Him personal credit for your beneficial rain, then it is hard to see how He isn't also responsible for any damage that same storm may bring.  It is just a random rainstorm and nothing more.

In short. . . good things happen to good people. . .good things happen to bad people. . .
bad things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. . .Not every event should be measured as blessing or cursing from God.

Good Christian people face bankruptcy. . . get cancer. . .endure earthquakes. . . face famines. Plagues and poverty both strike people who dearly and deeply love God.

Look no further than the Apostles. According to history, only the Apostle John died a natural death. The other 11 apostles. . .His beloved students. . . His personal disciples, died violent and painful deaths. Was this somehow God’s retribution for failings on their part. . . or just outcomes of who they were. . . where they were. . .what they did and the times they lived in. In other words, what happened to them was not divine intervention, but the workings of the world. There does look to be the hand of God on the way of the Apostle John’s passing.

Jesus speaking to the Apostle Peter:


John 21:18-23
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. (19) This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (20) Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? (21) Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? (22) Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. (23) Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

Jesus prophesying that Peter would be in captivity when he was an old man, but regardless of this Peter was to ‘follow me’, and irrespective of what happened to another apostle, Peter was to focus on his own walk with God.

History tells us:
John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/apostles-die.html#ixzz3UGRREUrg

So the Apostle that Jesus loved, as he was known, was delivered miraculously from death and died peacefully an old man.

Does that mean that Jesus did not love the other Apostles? No, not at all, but Jesus did have a unique relationship with John:


John 19:25-28
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. (26) When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! (27) Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (28) After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

After Jesus death, John took Mary into his own home and cared for her as for his own mother. . . and alone of the Apostles, John died of natural causes. It surely looks as if the hand of God was upon John protecting him.

I talk to God all day long. Before my eyes are open, I am speaking to Him. As I drift off into my dreams, I whisper of my thanks and love for Him. I give Him thanks almost continually, but I don’t blame Him every time I stub my toe, and if I find a quarter on the sidewalk, I give Him thanks, for He is the creator of the universe, but I really do not think that He placed the quarter there for me to find.

That takes nothing away from my thanks or gratitude toward Him. . . My thankfulness comes from a much deeper level. . .I fully well know that even though I love Him and He loves me that I will face trials. . .illness. . . loss, hardship, and grief in my life. In spite of that, I am determined to continue worship Him and give Him all praise and thanks for what he has done for me. . .

That church sign is wrong in one respect, and misses the point in another. The season of spring is not how He shows us that He loves us. . . Robing Himself in flesh. . .coming to earth to become the needed sacrifice for our sins. . . enduring the horrible pain and humiliation of his scourging and crucifixion . . .THAT is how He showed us that He loved us. . . and everything else pales beneath that glorious monument of His love for us.

I thank you my God. . .
I love you my God. . .
I owe you my life. . .
I owe you my eternal life. . .
I owe you everything. . .

Dave

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cafeteria style Christianity. . .





I am so thankful today for this new life that I have found.  I am grateful for the lifelong journey where I have come from to where I am today. . .Pondering on this verse from Jeremiah started all this.

Jeremiah 29:13
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.


In the picture above, the intensity of my grandson looking at pretty pebbles on the beach. . .Perfectly reflects I think, looking for God with all your heart.  There must be a passion in our relationship with God. . . a focus. . . a single mindedness. . .This is no game we play.  Having a correct relationship with God is essential. 

Notice what it says. . . with ALL your heart.  Jesus requires everything. . . Again this is repeated in the New Testament:

Jesus said:

Matthew 22:35-38
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,  (36)  Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  (37)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  (38)  This is the first and great commandment.


With all your heart. . . with all your soul. . . with all your mind. . .

God requires your everything. . .

When you look at what I will call Christian ‘non-believers’, they can be divided into maybe 3 different classes:

Those who have never heard the Gospel
Those who have heard the Gospel and have rejected it
Those who have heard the Gospel, and have accepted a portion of it, but not all of it.

As an atheist, I fell into the second category. My knowledge of Christian doctrine, was very imperfect, but I rejected it all. I rejected the very existence of God.

I thought myself a good man, and in some ways I was. I was kind to animals. At various times, I was kind to people. If Jackie and I saw a homeless person walking down the street, it was not uncommon for us to pull over and give them $20.  I held these memories of my goodness in my mind, when judging myself.

Looking at me from the outside, I appeared to have everything all together. I had a good job, a pretty wife, a nice home, a nice car. . . I was clean shaven. . . I read good books. . . I could speak with a degree of knowledge on a variety of subjects. . . .Yes. . . It looked as if I had it all together.

I judged myself good, because of the little good things I did.  I judged myself better than Christians, because I did my good deeds without the promise of or reward of heaven for doing them.  In my mind my doing good for its own sake outshone a Christian's doing good in order to go to heaven . . but. . . but. . . but. . . I completely ignored the blackness within me, and to focused only on my good.

I ignored the times I stole. I ignored the people I cheated. . .I ignored the lies I told. . . I ignored the promises I broke. . . I ignored my drunkeness. . . I ignored my immorality. Yes, I thought I was a good person, but I was not.

There was no hope for me. I had rejected God, and I had no excuse. If I had died in that day, I don’t know that I would have been all that surprised to hear the judgement of God. It did not take much, for me to see what a fool I had been.  When God opened my eyes to my wickedness I immediately saw my sin.  I once was blind, but now I see. . .

There are many others today who believe in good standing with God, who consider themselves Christians and yet who will be shocked on the day of judgement to find that they too. . . just the same as the unbelievers, have fallen short of the requirements of eternal life in heaven.

They have been taught and have accepted a lie. Many churches today espouse the doctrine of easy believism. Just accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and you are assured of going to heaven. I actually heard a man say to a group at the jail, I know that you are drug dealers, drunks, wife beaters, child molesters, murderers, and rapists, and I know that you will continue to sell drugs, get drunk, hit your wives, molest children, etc. etc. etc. but now that you have accepted Jesus you are 100% sure of going to heaven.

REALLY???? What a cruel joke that is. What a surprise is in store for those who bought that lie. Christianity is all about being transformed. . . being reborn. . . being remade as a new creature in Christ, and not about continuing in your ways of sin.

Jesus said:


Matthew 7:19-23
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (20) Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Jesus is clearly saying here that even people who were doing ministry in His name, and yet continued breaking His commandments will go to hell. They thought that the good that they did somehow gave them a free pass on the sin in their lives.

Jesus was not casual, and to be like HIm is not to be casual either. I've had people tell me that I’m going way overboard with my religion. . . The things I won’t do. . . The things I won’t watch. . .The places I won’t go for my relationship with God, I’m told that I go way overboard, but what did Jesus say???

Jesus speaking:


Matthew 5:27-30
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: (28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (29) And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (30) And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Does Jesus sound casual here?  The flesh must be overcome at any cost, even to the plucking out of your eye or the chopping off of your hand, rather than to commit sin.  Watching a movie with nudity in it, is designed to create thoughts of lust within the viewers. Jesus states here that those thoughts of lust are the same as committing the act of adultery, and that anything which leads you into sin must be removed from your life.

There is no such thing as casual Christianity or lukewarm Christianity. There is no such thing as part-time Christianity. . . There is no Christianity cafeteria plan. You cannot be fooled into thinking that you can pick and choose what you will follow and what you will not follow.

Again Jesus speaking:


Revelation 3:14-18
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Luke warmness will not work. . .casualness will not work. Don’t bother. Give up the pretense, rather than to try to fool yourself with Christianity in name only. There is no Christian cafeteria plan. We are not walking through a doctrinal cafeteria line, taking the mashed potatoes, and rejecting the brussel sprouts. The doctrine of Jesus is to be taken in it’s entirety. You need to be baptized in Jesus name. You need to be filled with the Spirit of God. You need to live a righteous and holy life. You need to follow the word of God.

Jesus speaking:

John 14:15
If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Above we read where Jesus said that the most important rule of the Law, is to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. . . Here He says that you will demonstrate that love for Him by by obeying His commandments.  

 but this is not an onerous task.

The apostle John writes:


1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Jesus speaking:


Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


For all it appears from the outside looking at the Christian walk, this task of obeying His commandments is not a heavy task.  As an atheist, to me the Christian life looked to be the most utterly boring way of living that I could imagine.  No drinking. . . no gambling. . . no smoking. . .no drugs. . .forcing myself to go to boring church each Sunday.

But the reality is just the opposite, this way of life is head and shoulders above any other.  I remember the pain, and misery and sickness and shame of my drunken days.  I remember the tension, and anger and meanness. . . I remember my unforgiveness and bitterness.  I remember the lying. . . the hatred within me.  I would hold a grudge for months, if not years when I thought I had been wronged.

His burden truly is light.  There is peace to be found here. There is joy, and strength, and happiness beyond anything the world has to offer.  Being filled with God's Spirit is indescribable joy.  I still remember that day almost 15 years ago now.

It was about 2 months after coming to God. . . about 1 month after being baptized in Jesus name.  There was an evangelist preaching at Life Tabernacle. In church over the couple of months I had attended Life Tabernacle,  I had seen others around me speak in tongues, as they prayed or worshiped, but truthfully I thought they were faking it.  I didn't believe in it, but that evening, in spite of my unbelief, I went down to the front of the church at the altar call, and the evangelist, Keith Mendenhall came over and prayed with me.

My hands were raised in the air, as I called out to God.  When Reverend Mendenhall placed his hands on my head, the most incredible, most glorious thing occurred, I found myself speaking out in a language which I did not understand.  I was filled with the most wonderful feeling of joy, and happiness.  I tell you. . . I smiled for almost two weeks.  It was amazing.  It changed me completely.  To this day, I can remember. . .I can see my old  thoughts. . . my old ways of thinking hanging like cobwebs in the corners of my mind, but I had been reborn. . . a new creature in Christ.


Paul writes:


2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The name of this blog is in reference to this verse. . . to this event in my life. . .In the twinkling of an eye. . . old things were passed away, and all things had become new in me.  I was no impressionable 14  year old kid.  I was 45 years old.  I had very strongly held opinions and values, but in a mere moment my old ways of thinking were gone.  It was amazing.  This living for God, is not for the benefit of God, but for our benefit. On every level. . .in every way this is a gift to mankind of the highest magnitude.

Do not take comfort and be deceived by what you see in the world around you. The world has largely abandoned respect for God and His Laws, but there will be a day of reckoning.

Again Jesus speaking:


Matthew 24:37-39
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (38) For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, (39) And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

It is not self-righteousness happiness with which I view the world. . . It is horror, and sorrow, and fear I feel for my friends, my family, my neighbors. . .

This evangelism. . . this telling of people about God and the good news of Jesus sacrifice for our salvation. . . I have heard it described as one beggar telling another where he found bread. . . I found bread. . . I found rich sustenance. . .and I want to share it with you. . .


Isaiah 55:1-2
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (2) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

There is no comparison, my old life to the life I have found with Jesus. I implore you. . . Open your heart to Him. . . Seek Him with everything you have. . . and find treasure beyond counting. . .


Jeremiah 29:13
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.


I love You God. . .
I love You my God. . .
Thank You for everything You have done for me. . .
Thank You for forgiving my past foolishness. . .
Thank You for loving me. . .

Dave