Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why Christianity?

If there was the ultimate question at final jeopardy this would be it. First of all there is a question you must ask your self and that is, is truth important? Christianity claims to be the Truth, In fact, Jesus claims to be the “Exclusive Truth” meaning the only way to God is through Him. Secondly, Jesus said those who believe on him will not perish but have eternal life, be saved. These are strong, clear-cut statements, but are they True? Is there evidence behind the claims of Jesus being truth?

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 14:6

“that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
John 3:15-17

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he“.
Deuteronomy 32:4

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:32

We have all fallen short to the glory of God. Jesus died for our sins so that we are forgiven. By Gods amazing grace we are saved when we submit our lives to him. I ask you to imagine this. You are in a courtroom standing before the judge. The only difference here is you did not sin against the community but to him. He looks at you and reads off everything you have done… He then leans over and says I am going set you free and I will pay the price for you. The first thing that comes to your mind is “I don’t deserve this.” But God loves us so much that he does not wish to see anyone perish. We have an infinitely loving God who has called us to do the same. To love the unloved, to be there for those when no one would.

“Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”
Proverbs 10:12

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
John 15:13

"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
Exodus 15:13

God, who calls us friend, and children of His, loves us so much. Though we walk away from him and curse His name whether out of anger or ignorance He still loves us this unconditional love that will never die. This is God, this is Jesus who was crucified on the cross so that we may have eternal life and salvation in the kingdom of Heaven.

Right and wrong (Part 2)

Right and wrong Part 2

There are two main feelings someone faces when making a decision. What I ought to do and what I ought not to do. A lot of the time if the task undesirable or even dangerous the “ought to” is the weaker of the two decisions. For example someone you do not know is hanging from a cliff screaming for help. By helping them you put your own life in danger yet you don’t even know the person. The first reaction and sadly the weakest is “I ought to do something” immediately after that comes the rationalizing on if saving this person is worth the risk of your own life. There is one standard that stands alone in this and this is the little voice inside of all of us telling us to do the weaker of the two decisions. Even though we would be putting our own lives in danger the desire to rescue or to do good hits all of us it comes naturally almost as if written in our DNA. Now you may argue that this is nothing but a “Herd instinct” doing things for the good of society is the only reason why we do good, but this is false. C.S Lewis once said in his book Mere Christianity “Now I do not deny that we may have a herd instinct: but that is not what I mean by Moral Law. We all know what it feels like to be prompted by instinct-by mother love, or sexual instinct, or the instinct for food. It means that you feel a strong want or desire to act in a certain way. And, of course, we sometimes do feel just that sort of desire to help another person: and no doubt that desire is due to the herd instinct. But feeling a desire to help is quite different from feeling that you ought to help whether you want to or not.” So where does this come from? Not from us, C.S Lewis goes on by saying “The law of Human Nature, or right or wrong, must be something above and beyond the actual facts of human behavior. In this case, besides the actual facts, you have something else-a real law which we did not invent and which we know we ought to obey” This law which is above man comes from God, who has put in all of us this desire to do good. God is all true and all loving. He blessed us with free will and loves to see us use it to glorify him. We all know the good we ought to do and the conviction it carries. Your next question may be well there are so many religions out there why Christianity? Lets dive right into that on the next topic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No such thing as right and wrong

There’s no such thing as right and wrong its and there is no such thing as truth, it is only opinion….. I’m sure most people if not all have heard this statement. This “idea” has no foundation and is dismissed in virtually all arguments because of how self-defeating it is. For any Christian struggling in this area of evangelizing here is what you can do. This will be brief but I will be happy to go into more detail upon request.

First of all lets check out something’s in the past that both non-believers and believers can agree on. The mass extermination of Jews which was led by Adolf Hitler was definitely wrong to do. If there were no such thing as right and wrong the definition of murder(to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously) turns into… population control. Those who do not believe in morals do not realize that we live by them everyday…Have you ever thought about that? When someone yells at you for something you didn’t do you would say “that’s unfair or that’s not right”. You would not sit and be silent. We know right and wrong best not by our actions but our reactions. Lets dive into truth, a guy I work with once told me that he does not believe in truth. Such a trap because he is oblivious to the fact that he just made a truth statement. Recognizing this he said “things may be true for you but not for me”. Once again no foundation under this statement. Truth does not change depending on who believes it. Why is it that we demand truth from doctors, lawyers, employers and friends but when it comes to religion we cast it off by saying “well that’s true for you but not me”. There is only one truth and it is immovable whether we like it or not. If you are like him and believe that truth may work for some but not all then I have a mission for you. Go to a bank, and write yourself a check for an amount that reaches beyond your balance. When you do go to the teller and ask her to cash it… When she says “I’m sorry sir/ma’am but I cannot cash this for you because you have insufficient funds”. Use your statement “well that may be true for you but for me” and see how far that gets you. Later on in the week that same guy said to me “If there is anyone who deserves vacation its me”. Another truth statement. How do you think he would react if the supervisor looked at him and said “That may be true for you but not for me, get back to work”. Not only do we subconsciously live by right, wrong and truth but also judging. The definition of judge is to decide or settle authoritatively. When we decide what we want to eat we are judging one restaurant versus the other. When we choose to hang out with a group of people over the other we judge both options of people. When a person commit’s a crime we hope that he is judged accordingly and given the punishment he deserves. If you take an honest look around we live by this standard of right and wrong, just and unjust but where does it come from…. We will go over this tomorrow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trying or Traning?

John Ortberg said this perfectly "Then it dawns on you: Right now you cannot run a marathon. More to the point, you cannot run a marathon even if you really try really, really hard. Trying hard can accomplish only so much. If you are serious about seizing this chance of a lifeftime, you will have to enter into a life of training. You must arrange your life around certain practices that will enable you to do what you cannot do now by willpower alone. When it comes to running a marathon, you must train, not merely try."

A buddy of mine in class awhile back, told me that he tried but everyone and everything around him tempted him into going back to his old ways. I pray for this guy everyday. The devil will throw at us temptations that are so hard for us to drop. Whether it be one night stands, getting hammered, drugs, or even pornography. These are all corrupting temptations. We must remove ourselves from these situations and stay away from them until we feel strong enough to slowly come back and face them. I didn’t give up everything over night it took time and yes I did slip up several times but I am forgiven. Time with God, time in prayer and time in reading the bible is the training we need. I removed myself because I knew if I stayed I would not have turned into the man God wants me to be. In Matthew 11:29-30 says "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” What a wonderful picture, Jesus is giving to those who are exhausted, weary and burdened from carrying the load by themselves! What a comfort, peace, joy and rest it is to know that Jesus is right with us, walking with us, teaching us and strengthening us side by side With the love and help from God I was able to train myself into the follower of Christ that doesn’t give in to meaningless things. The greatest thing to remember is, is God is right there waiting for you to come to him wholeheartedly. He is ready to shoulder the massive stack of worries, pain, and doubts that you have. The real question is are you ready? Are you ready to take that step and change your life forever? I can honestly tell you I’ve been there, I’ve hit rock bottom. The only thing that brought me to my feet was God who was right there with me. I’m going to close this one with a story for all of you.

One Night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you you'd walk with me all the way, but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me." The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

No struggle for our God

“ Many people have to admit that most of what they really needed for success in life came to them through their most difficult and painful experiences.”

-Timothy Keller

Struggle its something a lot of us experience but none of us wish to go through. God said that this life will not be easy. Evil and suffering. A buddy of mine once asked me if I thought that God was fair. I feel all to often when something doesn’t go our way to exactly we let that two year old come out again and throw a big temper tantrum. We try manipulate God to fit our wants and needs when really we should be molding our lives around him. C.S. Lewis said explained this perfectly:

“ My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of “just” and “unjust”?… What was I comparing this universe with then I called it unjust?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too-for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies… Consequently atheism turns out to be to simple”.

We should learn to look at rough times as opportunities for growth with God. When we hurt we should turn to our rock, our strong pillar to lean on that does not budge. Better to have a shack on a rock than a castle in the sand. Would you rather have a solid foundation or a castle in the sand that will slowly sink? God is that rock that never moves. He is that pillar of support that will never snap. He is the strength that flows through us when we seek him in times of trouble. Maybe your nest question is, “If God doesn’t want to see us hurt why does he allow these bad things to happen to good people”. The answer is fairly simple. A lot of the bad things that happen to us fall back on sin and the corruption of free will. God does not like to see us hurt but He love it when we come to Him for the guidance that we all need. He does want to see us grow strong. When we turn to him we grow spiritually and when the next battle comes we know how to react and we aren’t afraid because we know that He is right there with us. Sometimes its hard for us to see what God is doing or if he is even there. He is always there watching you grow, Let him enter your life and you will see the fulfillment that comes with it. Id like to end this with a prayer...

Father God, We would like to thank you for how you have carried us thought out our lives. Lord we ask that you please forgive us for giving in to these common temptations and we ask that you please bless us with joy that this world cannot offer. God we ask that please be patient with us as we grow spiritually with you and Lord we ask that you wipe away the sorrow that we have felt. God we know that there will be a day when there will will be no tears and no more pain, and no more fears. God we thank you for the good you have done for us and the good you have planned for us. Its in the name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Man Vs. Chimp

The book of Genesis describes the creation of man. Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. God also created animal or “beast” the same way, Genesis 2:19 “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. This is where the similarities as far as; anatomical, physiological, and biochemical come in to play. Notice, though both man and animal were created by God it was Adam who God gave divine breath into his nostrils. Genesis 1:26-27 says “Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Only humans display unique nonphysical characteristics that reflect the image of God.
Lets talk about the similarities between chimp and man. The sub-cortical structures of the brain are located below the Cerebrum You have the Basal ganglia which involves motor control. The Limbic system which is not one structure but several; the hippocampus, amygdala, septum, cingulate gyrus, and others. The middle of the septum is where the pleasure centers are located. The amygdala is involved with emotions, fear, defensive and aggressive behaviors. The hippocampus interacts with the temporal lobe to help establish event memory. You also have the thalamus and the Hypothalamus. The thalamus which deals with control in sleep and attention. The Hypothalamus which involves the basic functions like eating, sex, temperature control, sleep, and aggression. It produces sex, growth and stress-related hormones carried down to axons to the pituitary gland, released from there into the bloodstream to activate and organize distant body systems. If you stop here you would definitely agree that Monkey and Man are virtually identical (excluding physical appearance). HOWEVER chimpanzees differ considerably in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is a structure within the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. Increasing Scientific evidence reveals that genetic similarity has no bearing on the biological and behavioral disparity between humans and chimpanzees. The way genes are regulated and expressed corresponds to the profound dissimilarities in human and chimpanzee brain structures and cognitive abilities (behavior), thereby explaining the crucial differences between humans and the great apes. I have only skimmed the surface of this topic but I will later talk about the significant differences between the Law of Nature and The Law of Human Nature. We will also go over the term “The herd instinct” which many non-believers hold onto as evidence for how society today has grown.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fear Not

A lot of the time we push Christ aside because we are afraid of what others me think of us. The saying “Fear God not man” goes along way. For if God is with you who in the world can be against you. Think about that. God created the Heavens, the universe, and the world. He has overcome the world. He is in control of all things good and bad. Nothing can be hidden from him. So when something bad happens to us it wasn’t something that slipped through his fingers and fell on you. There is a reason behind it, a reason for good. God wants us to be fearless when it comes to spreading the truth about Christ. We must have unyielding faith that God will protect us all the time. We are the light in the darkness that must shine so others may see.

Philippians 2:13-15

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God.” A lot of people hate Christians because Christians values differ from the worlds. Because Christ’s followers don’t cooperate with the world by joining in there sin. They are living accusations of the worlds immorality. The world follows satan’s agenda, and satan is the avowed enemy of Jesus and his people.
Jesus said in John 17:16 -18 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world”.

As Christians we face persecution. We face it fearlessly because we know God is there protecting us as we glorify him by enduring. With Christ all things are possible. So I urge you to be fearless and not let the evil of the world prevent you from growing into the person God wants you to be. All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed and it will grow. So for the first time I’m going to close this with a prayer…..

Dear God, We come to you right now thanking you for the wonderful things you have done for us. We ask that you please forgive us for the wrong we may have done or said that may have upset you. God we ask that you reach down and bless us with the strength to work through each day. For we will not worry about tomorrow because we know that you have already overcome it. Lord bless us with the wisdom to properly discern what is right and what is wrong. And lastly God we pray for the opportunity to grow strong and share your word without fear and without shame. We love you so much and We pray in the might name of  Jesus who willingly died for our sins, Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mountains Moved

Id like to start this topic off with a scripture, Ephesians 2:8-10 “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good work, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God does not have a tally of scores for the good things we have done in our life. Were are not given tasks that we are obligated to do. Why would God want that? Because what God truly wants from us is a genuine loving relationship with him that is not lukewarm. We would put ourselves on a pedestal for our actions and blow God out of the picture if actions are what got us into heaven, instead of God we would thank ourselves. There is no love when we go about each day saying to ourselves “Ok, I need to do this, that, and this to make sure God allows me into heaven”. That’s what is so wonderful about being a follower of Christ is because YOU have a unique one on one relationship with God. Unyielding faith in him that he is your father is what he asks. In the book of Matthew Jesus talks about if you have the faith of a mustard seed you could tell a mountain to move and it will…. I can see how an unbeliever would argue against this so allow me to explain. Yes , God does perform miracles to glorify him, however we are not to test the power of the Lord. If God revealed miracles like this Christianity would turn into a life insurance policy and faith would die. You may also ask “Well if all of these things happened back then why are his miracles so absent now?” God performs miracles everyday but we overlook them and shun them labeling it as coincidence or luck. When really it was God who intervened. Don’t be discouraged if you do not always see results as you faithfully teach the Word. Belief cannot be forced to follow a mathematical formula. Rather, it is a miracle of Gods Holy Spirit as he uses your words to lead others to him. We must endure the outside influence of the world which only contaminates the love between you and God. You may notice in the bible that peace will always follow grace. For it is by the grace of God in which we are blessed with peace. During my last few weeks of med school I worked in the geriatrics psych ward. I sat down and spoke with a very nice old man by the name of James Fitzgerald who I chatted with for about a half hour. He paused and glanced at the T.V. then looked at me and asked “Matt do you read the bible much?” I was blown away. This was not coincidence this was not luck that out of the entire hospital I was chosen to work in this area, and out of all the people I sat next to this man who wanted to talk about God. I was thrilled, we sat in his room and read scriptures from Galatians to Romans and even Proverbs. By the Grace of God this man was blessed with Peace even in a place that is not recognized for joy. This only one of the many miracles that God has done. Take the step and if you have drifted away from God I pray that you shake the worlds secular ideas off of your back and come back to Christ even closer than before. I’ll close this with a prayer.

Dear God, we come to you right now Lord just asking if you would help us find the courage and the strength to come to you wholeheartedly. God we ask that you forgive us of the many sins that we have committed against our brothers and you god. Lord we reach out to you God because you are the way. God we ask in the times that the world brings us grief we ask that you bless us with the endurance to persevere and grow even stronger with you as we are carried. Lord we love you and we thank you for these miracles, Its in the name Jesus we pray, Amen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Its time to Forgive

I’m sure someone has done something to you that came out of nowhere and you didn’t deserve any bit of it. I’m sure that person may have gotten away with it and left you there to take on the pain by yourself. I’ve well over my share of people stepping on me. There are a few cases where I ask myself why, why when I tried so hard to be good to them do they leave me high and dry not even looking back to see the devastation they brought me. Do we retaliate? Do we attempt to enforce the whole "Eye for an Eye" process. I’ve got a challenge for all of you who have been hurt by somebody for no reason at all.....Forgive them. Truly forgive them with all of your heart. Easier said than done I know. But let me tell you this story from the book of Matthew.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back. "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

For those of you don’t know back 1 talent was equal $840,000 and this guy owed 10,000 talents! So for the Master to forgive the servant of his debt of that amount was massive. But as soon as the servant was free he immediately forgot of how lucky he was. When the servant found the man who owed him 100 denarii which is maybe $10,000 dollars our time, He through the guy in prison for not being able to pay him. Believe it or not we tend to this all the time. God forgave our massive list of sins that we have committed against him, and we still insist on going after our brothers and sisters of Christ over that 100 denarii. We forget how wonderful God is to us and is blessings go unnoticed. I forgave that person who hurt me so bad because I was reminded of how bad I hurt God every time I sinned against him. Forgiveness the strength of Christianity is forgiving others that no one will. So I urge you to forgive that person who hurt you, forgive that guy who stole from you, forgive those who sin against you. Forgive as God forgives us everyday. If you really wish to live for God take the first step and Forgive. If you ever want to send me a message or talk in private id love to answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Loving the Unloved

There were three friends who were about to catch a train. They talked about what they were going to do after breakfast. This was the last weekend that all of them would hang out again so they wanted to plan the day well. Still waiting they noticed a guy who they worked with. This guy was known for having such a negative attitude towards things, he would swear all of the time. This guy was a social outcast. The three then looked at each other and made sure they were out of sight from him because they didn’t want anything to get in the way of there last day together. Each one quickly gave reasons on why he shouldn’t come. What it really was is three guys giving nothing but excuses to make sure that they had there fun even if it meant this guys spent the day alone. The three guys hopped on the train and were able to successfully avoid him….

We tend to formulate excuses for our wrong doings, we lean on these excuses while we commit the act. These acts could be anything; drinking away our sorrows, stealing because we wanted something at that very moment, doing drugs because we want to forget our problems. Unfortunately we as people have a nasty habit of putting ourselves before other people. We want to benefit ourselves before even thinking about the other guy. Being a Christian means loving others unconditionally when others wouldn’t. Its taking the time to serve when others wont. Its going against the flow of traffic and the ways of this world and allowing God to work through you, and lastly its weighing your temporary discomfort with anothe persons eternity. John Ortberg said this well “The ministry of bearing with one another is more that simply tolerating difficult people. It is also learning to hear God speak through them. It is learning to be “for” them. It is learning that the difficult person I have most to deal with is me.” Here’s a small story from this same book, “The Life you’ve always wanted.” “In an ancient Greek myth, Zeus and Hermes came down to earth for a brief time disguised as poor slaves. They did this to fool human beings, to get a reading on the level of homage people pay to the gods. When Zeus and Hermes found out what they had wanted to know, they threw off their rags and revealed themselves in all their Olympian Splendor. It was Clark Kent and Superman all over again. They took on the outward form of a servant, but that was just a disguise. When Jesus came in the form of a servant, he was not disguising who God is. He was revealing who God is. Serving others, Instead of constantly asking God what can he do for us, we should start asking him what can we do for him here on earth. Letting him work through us and giving him glory at the same time. Our God is awesome not only has he made everything we need but he is here at our beckoning call at the same time. It is pretty cool being able to tell people what my occupation is. I will honestly tell you though there is no greater feeling serving God, who has created eternity. We can all do this. The 3 guys enjoyed there day, but what about the one who they avoided. What about the people we turned away from because we feel we have better things to do or don’t want to be seen with that person. Extend a hand to those who no one will but do it humbly. Do not do it to seek the approval of others. If you are pulled aside and asked why you did what others wouldn’t, you can say “Because we have been called to love like God loves us, because the Lord has be graceful and merciful to me so I will be the same to others.” I’m going to close with a prayer…
Father God, We come to you Lord asking that you please forgive us for our brothers and sisters we have hurt. Lord we ask that you bless us with opportunities to serve others in a loving way. God we know you are good, we know you are merciful. Help us to overlook what others see in someone, teach us to love them unconditionally as you love us. And Finally God we ask that as each day goes by we grow closer to you. Its in the name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why do we have to suffer?

Why would a good God let us suffer?

The question that is in every non-believers arsenal is this one. “If there were such thing as a good God or even a God why would he permit suffering in the world.” Lets take a few steps back before we go ahead and make such an accusation. Suffering can be explained as both physical and emotional. One can be in agonizing pain do to suffering from a broken bone from falling from a roof, The emotional/mental suffering would be the mourning of a lost family member or even witnessing of others misfortunes. Lets go over mental and emotional suffering. Have you ever thought to yourself about “free will” and the fact that it has a large hand in our world of suffering. C.S Lewis writes

“We can, perhaps conceive a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by his creatures at every moment; so that a wooden beam became as soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in the sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them.”

C.S Lewis then goes on by stating “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself”. Could it be that the centuries of corrupting our free will, that some of this suffering is our own doing? Lets dive into things beyond our control such as mental disabilities and amputees. You may ask “Why then would God allow them to carry this burden, and what glory could God possibly seek out of this?” By asking that you immediately speak for that person without putting in the careful thought of their own views on suffering. A buddy of mine and I were walking down main street Huntington Beach the other day and we walked up on a wooden cross that was staked into the ground on it a man wrote how he is a one legged amputee walking around the coast of the United States praying for everyone and wanted to let the world know that a physical disability does not keep anyone from carrying out the will or plan God has for them. In the letter he asked if whoever found the cross to pass it on and share the love of God that he continues to feel, so we did just that (the man left a cross as a mile marker, we found mile #7606). Lets talk about mental disabilities in fact let me tell you a little about Jack. Jack, lives in a residential facility for the developmentally disabled in suburban Chicago. In his book “The unexpected adventure” Lee Strobel shares his experience with the young man named Jack who led one of the home attendants, Michelle to Christ through persistent invitations to go with him to Church. One thing Jack said in the book which was so profound was “ I come here…and hear…about Jesus…and I think about all the pain…He went through… for me…and I think this was nothing” pointing to the injury on his arm. Too often our pride gets the best of us and we judge others based on their mental capacity and we carelessly speak on there behalf whether they are suffering or not. Jack was persistent because he loved Jesus and wanted Michelle his attendant to experience that love as well. Gods work is not limited, He works through everyone even with physical and or mental disabilities. We have a great God who is incomprehensibly wise and beyond our understanding. God is good but we have grown into a “finger pointing” society and blame God based off of human error. Attempts to disprove God wrong are futile when the argument against Him is based off of “human error”. We are not perfect but God is. Ill close with what C.S Lewis says in his book The problem of Pain, “Any consideration of the goodness of God threatens us with the following dilemma. On the one hand, if God is wiser than we His judgment must differ from ours on many thing, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sweetly Broken

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on an end of a pole which he carried across his neck. He used these two pots for everything in his house. One day one of the pots formed a crack in it and water slowly began to dribble out of it. As weeks went on the crack leaked more and more but the man still insisted on using it. Finally the pot asked "Master why do you still insist on using me even though I bring so little water back to your home? Why don’t you replace me so you have two perfect pots to always use?" The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my masters table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house." Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table. In Gods great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in your weakness your strength is made. Don’t ever tell yourself I’ve screwed up so bad so there is no chance you could ever be accepted again by God. Never tell yourself that because you have flaws God cant use you to glorify his name. There is only one who was perfect and that was Jesus Christ. All of us have weaknesses but its from our weaknesses that God can really work through us. Though we recognize our limitations, we will not congratulate ourselves and rest at that. Instead, we will turn to God to seek pathways for effectiveness. We must rely on God for our effectiveness rather than simply on our own energy, effort, or talent. Our weakness not only helps develop Christian Character; it also deepens our worship, because in admitting our weakness, we affirm Gods Strength. There is nothing in this world God cannot overcome. I find myself repeating this because it is so true. God knows what’s going to happen tomorrow before you do. Give your worries to God and have faith that he will lift you up.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where Science shrugs, God answers (Part 2)

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

-C.S. Lewis

Have you ever wondered why it is that man cannot be fully satisfied by the things of this world alone. As humans we find ourselves saying “I’ve got so many things but, there is still that one thing that’s missing.” Could it be that there is something not of this world that does fulfill us completely. John 17:16 says “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” in this scripture Jesus is talking about how as Christians this world is not the one we ultimately belong to. There is something more than the material world we live in that is much more than we could ever imagine. So where am I going with this? You may be asking “wasn’t this supposed to be about the purpose of life?” Salvation in Gods kingdom is the ultimate purpose of our lives. Solomon known for being the wisest man who ever lived give this simple answer. In Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Solomon states “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Notice how Solomon says “for this is the whole duty of man”. If there is one thing I’ve learned about being in the military is that no person is a like, some may appear similar to others as far as personalities or character but none alike. Each of us has our own personal purpose her on earth. Our universal purpose though is fearing the Lord and keeping his commandments. I do not know what every ones different purpose is only God himself knows that. Ill use this analogy to hopefully explain it better. Lets say Gods purpose for us is the way mail is delivered. The mail man drops of envelopes to each person in the neighborhood, everyone receives some piece of mail but each one different and personal for that resident. Lets take a look at Psalm 73 which was written by a man named Asaph who talks about how he was tempted to envy the wicked who seemed to have no cares and built their fortunes upon the backs of those they took advantage of, but then he considered their ultimate end. Psalm 73:25-28 “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Our purpose in life is to; glorify God and enjoy a relationship with him, have loving and healthy relationships with others, and obey his commandments.

“The purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We glorify God by fearing and obeying Him, keeping our eyes on our future home in heaven, and knowing Him intimately. We enjoy God by following His purpose for our lives, which enables us to experience true and lasting joy—the abundant life that He desires for us.”

-Max Lucado

Monday, September 28, 2009

Where Science shrugs, God answers (Part 1)

I am not undermining science one bit, I believe we have learned so much about the world we live in and what goes on in it through science. Science plays a vital role in figuring out what went on in the past, present, and future. Through science we have learned to prevent illnesses and cure disease. Science has helped us to answer many of life’s questions and figure out ways to prevent catastrophes but it still has its limits. Tonight lets talk about miracles and purpose. If we rely on science as our foundation for all knowledge we may find ourselves to claim there is no purpose or reason for being here, our reason is to simply live by fulfilling our basic needs. What if I said there is a purpose to living and there is a reason why were all here? You would ask me where I got this information and be skeptical as to how I got it. Lets go back a couple thousand years to the days of Jesus. There are two things Jesus could have been, a lunatic who only sought after praise from others. Or He was everything he claimed to be. Lets first go over the miracles of Jesus. Gary Habermas once said “Why should miracles be rejected as actual events unless we have prior knowledge that they can never be factual.” Miracles happen outside the realm of science which allows God to demonstrate his omnipotence which cannot be explained through it. You may be thinking “ok, lets go back to Jesus where does he fit in with all of this?” Flavius Josephus published a history of the Jews in twenty books around 93 CE(1916 years ago). In Antiquities 18.3.3 he writes,
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day."

Notice how Josephus writes “Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him that.” Though he had the body of man Jesus was recognized as something more than a simple teacher or prophet. Lets check out the next sentence “for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure”. Jesus performed many miracles. He calmed storms (Mark 4:39-41), He healed the sick (Matthew8:16), Casting out demons (Luke 8:26-33) and spoke truth to others so that they may know the way to salvation which was through him, John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is the Christ. The resurrection of Jesus (a miracle) in the New testament is recorded as an actual event (Matthew 27). So many miracles then and so many now all still our Father in heaven. You may be asking right now “Why is it then that these miracles aren’t happening anymore?” My response to that is, they are, we have a terrible habit of labeling things as coincidence and overlooking the wonderful things that we have. God blesses us with a miracle everyday, when you get a chance I urge you to take some time to think about what He has done for us, and thank him for it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

God performs miracles, not coincidences.

For the Past few nights I’ve been praying for one of my roommates. I never really get a chance to talk to him because 6 out of 7 days he is drunk. Instead of confront him and judge him about (which is the wrong thing to do) this I chose to give it to God and pray for him, I prayed that God would in someway reveal himself to him….. Once again God came through. I was hardly awake this morning when my roommate got up and went to breakfast. He recently started asking me if I wanted to hang out with him off base which I took with a grain of salt because I wasn’t sure if he was just messing around. About an hour after he left I received a text message from him that which blew me away. It said, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24. This guy who has claimed to never even have looked into a bible is sending me verses via text messages and a good one at that. As I got back from my workout I was heading upstairs to grab a shower. I ran into him on his way out with a huge smile on his face. I told him how awesome it was that he sent that message and he responded with a simple “I knew you would like it”.

When I was taking my shower I took sometime to thank God for working through my roommate and revealing himself to him. I said a prayer for the day and at one part of it I asked God to please help us share his word in a loving way today… When I finished my prayer I wasn’t sure why I said “us” during my prayer and not “God please help me share your word in a loving way.” As my buddies and I went in the train station I took a seat while they bought some coffee. As I sat there, there was a man in his mid 50’s talking to new boot camp graduates about God and his love for all of us. IT WAS AWESOME, because at that moment I knew God had me pray for both that man and I when I prayed earlier to help us share his word. I was blown away by the way God worked that out. The first thing that came to my head was “Thank you Lord for blessing me with this experience”. I knew I had to make note of this, I then noticed a pen and napkin sitting right next to each other which was even more confirmation for me that God wanted me to share this. Psalms 69:13 says “But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.” It would be illogical to think that this was mere coincidence and it was one of those right place at the right time situations. It was God who had me pray for both that man and I to share his word today, it was God who inspired my roommate to send me that scripture, and it was God who made sure I had the tools to make note of what was going on (I still have the napkin). God is so good and his will is so perfect. I wanted to share this experience with you all because God does these things for us on a daily basis but the skeptic in us overwhelms our thought process and we disregard his miracles too often. Pray, put faith into the Lord that he will work through you and help you to realize how often he performs miracles for you DAILY.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eyes on him

What would happened if you tried to drive while constantly gazing into your rear view mirror? What would happen if you tried walking looking backwards? Let me tell you, you wont get very far, in fact you wont get anywhere. This goes for the way we live our lives, if we constantly look back on the things that happened to us instead of focusing on what’s coming in the past we will remain. We wont get anywhere. Every time we start moving eventually we will smack into a wall. Dwell in the past that is where our hopes will remain. We must use our previous experiences to carry on and prepare ourselves for the road ahead but use them positively. We must not fester on what went wrong but realize why it went wrong and understand why it didn’t work. Gods ways are not ours, In fact they are much better. WE must have faith that even in the hardest of times God will carry us through and provide us strength to endure. How can we strive to move forward if our hopes remain on past events. God ended my relationship because I was putting her first before him. I put God second when he should have been first all along. It took time to realize what was going on and the plan he has for me. I needed time with him and him only. Its when we look back at what we have overcome do we realize why it happened. You will find yourself saying “Of course”. If something in your past is eating away at you, I urge you to look to God for peace of mind. He will provide. In James 1:2-5 it says "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." When we have hit our lowest point God blesses us with the opportunity to look up to him. For it says in Psalms 55:22 “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”  I will close this with a prayer…

Father God, we come to you right now first of all thanking you for all the wonderful things you have so graciously blessed us with. Lord we are so undeserving of your love but still you are merciful. Lord, today we ask that you relieve us of our stress and our worries. We ask that you bless us with the wisdom to discern what is right from wrong and to keep away from what holds us back. Lord you are so powerful and so infinite, please guide is in the right direction because we know that your way is perfect. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, September 25, 2009

With love, We direct

I was watching a commercial of a car pulling up to a toll booth and the driver asked the employee for directions. With a smile the employee politely raised his arm to which direction to go and then gave quick detailed ways to get there. The driver thanked the employee and drove away. This was a commercial for a new car (which is totally irrelevant). This employee knew the proper directions and was more than happy to give them. He was not born with map quest hardwired into his brain, he had to learn. Either by traveling there himself or getting barked at for giving bad directions at some previous time. Lets change this story around. Say the man working the booth has no idea how to get to the place the driver wants to go. Having a personal panic attack he carelessly gives random directions because he felt he needed to sound like he knew what he was talking about. How do you think that driver is going to react when later on down the road he finds himself completely off course and lost. If your still taking the time to read this (which I hope you are) lets change this story for a 3rd time. Say once again the employee has no idea where the driver is trying to go. The toll booth operator takes a deep breath and says “Buddy, I don’t know the answer to that one right now, I apologize for the inconvenience.” The driver now has the opportunity to pull over to a local area and get directions from someone who may be able to help him.

Like the situation with the driver and the toll booth worker Christians tend to answer questions they don’t know the answer to in a careless manner. If there is one thing you don’t want to do its give a non-believer bad information simply because you wish to appear knowledgeable about your faith. The best response for those difficult questions sometimes is “I don’t know but I’d like to find the answer with you”. There are times when the Bible is silent on an issue, and it’s best not to hazard a reply that might not have a scriptural basis. In the book titled “The Unexpected Adventure” Mark Mittelberg once said “ None of us, however, knows the answer to every possible question a skeptic might raise. When a seemingly unanswerable issue confronts you, remember that Christianity has withstood similar challenges for two millennia.” I’ve caught myself in the “I don’t know” situation plenty of times, but I remembered the challenge or difficult question I faced and later found answers to it and thanked God for once again blessing me with a piece of his infinite wisdom. 1 Peter 3:15 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. Now just dishing out information to someone then pushing them aside does nothing to help them. Lets go back to the toll booth worker. When he gave the directions the first time he did I politely and gave detailed help. That’s what we as Christians are called to do sharing the Love of God to everyone bring glory to him alone. Psalm 145:13 says “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” Remember that… The Lord is loving to ALL he has made.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out of our comfort zone

“The desire for safety stands against every noble human endeavor”


When is it ever fun or attractive to step out of your comfort zone into something difficult. Isn’t it easier to swim with the current than against it or hike down a mountain, than go up it? What about in Genesis where when God told Abram to Leave his country, notice Genesis 12:1 where it doesn’t say the Lord asked Abram but said “Leave your country, your people and your fathers household and go to the land I will show you . Abram was not briefed or prepared for it ahead of time his faith alone was all he needed. Genesis 12:4 “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him”. God promised to bless Abram and make him great, but God had one condition. Abram had to do what God wanted him to do. This meant leaving his home and friends traveling to a new land where God had promised to build a great Nation from Abram’s family. I’m sure a few of us have watched or know someone who has watched the T.V. show “The apprentice” where roughly 30 people take there shot at working for a well known CEO and an extremely wealthy one at that. But wrap your mind around this one, imagine working for God… who created the heavens, millions of galaxies, the earth, and even life itself and yes he also created Donald Trump. Only this time you don’t have to worry about being fired. Though there will be times of discomfort and times of frustration please remember that by giving your worries and hopes to God he will sustain you. Pray not for a lighter load but stronger shoulders. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says “ To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” For when we are weak we open up a door that allows God to be our strength, Strength that does not fold or fade away. God may be trying to lead you to a place of greater service and usefulness for him. Don’t let the comfort and security of your present position discourage you from allowing God to work through you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our Incomprehensible Creator

TIME MAGAZINE: Could the answer be God?
RICHARD DAWKINS: There could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding.

Dawkins (an atheist) unknowingly described who God was without even realizing it. God is incredible, grand, and incomprehensible and far beyond our understanding. Our understanding….we can only fathom so much with what is around us and the research we collect here on earth. No matter how many manuscripts we find or debates we get good at. It narrows down to one thing, and that is FAITH. Faith in something far beyond our way of thinking and understanding. God cannot be fully understood because we are not on his level as much as we would like to be at times. It is impossible to pull something infinite down to finite, but you can bring finite to infinite. Things will happen during our short stay on earth both good bad and everything in between. When something doesn’t go our way its easy to be bitter towards the given situation. Remember when you parents told you that playing in the streets was off limits or it wasn’t safe to play outside by yourself at night? At that time we may have been bitter or felt rebellious because we didn’t understand or take the time to care to why it was that they did not want us to do these things. Now looking back you understand that you mother and father were doing nothing more than trying to keep you out of harms way, its called good parenting. Its really easy to question Gods motives when things don’t go according to plan especially when it hurts us to the very core. There was a story someone wants told me about a father who was walking through a forest with his 1 year old son in a carrier on his back. The weather was perfect and the air was warm on there faces. As they approached there destination clouds grew in the sky and it began to rain. At first it was a light drizzle but then began to pour, thunder and lightning cracked above there heads. The father quickly made his way back the cabin doing his best to keep his son dry. The infant began crying and screaming unable to understand what was going on. His father pressed him close to his chest and whispered to him “Its ok buddy, I am here with you, were going to make it home.” The father repeated this as his son screamed and screamed. Little did the boy know his father was willing to do anything to make sure his son got home safe. There are times where we will be in pain and we will cry, but never forget at that moment your father is there whispering to you “Its ok, I am here with you, were going to make it.” We must trust and have faith that through the tough and depressing times God is there with us to carry is through it.  If you are struggling or have given up because you just feel like you cant hold on anymore. I urge you to pray, God will carry you because as Dawkins said it so well God is incredibly grand, incomprehensible, and beyond our understanding.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Prison of Pride

Galatians 6:3-4
“ If any of you think are something when you are nothing, you deceive yourselves. Each of you should test your own actions.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were given everything we wanted and wouldn’t it be better if there were no consequences for our actions. I find that the reason why a lot of people don’t wish to believe in God is because it goes against there personal comfort of understanding. God is beyond our understanding he is infinite and we are not. We try so hard to understand something that is not even on our level of thinking. So many try to either disprove or prove Gods existence. The fact is when you make that your main focus you lose sight of what matters most and that is having a relationship with him is done genuinely by first of all believing and then having faith. Faith like Doubt must be learned. We have a God who would love to just open the curtains and show his face in plain view but that’s not what he wants. He wants a true loving relationship which doesn’t need face to face evidence to believe in him. Bill Weise said,

“ What loving parent does not warn his or her children not to play in a busy street? When the sky turns dark and the winds increase, we look to our local news channel to communicate tornado or hurricane warnings. So why is it that when God warns us of what will happen if we travel down the wrong road, we are quick to say that He is myopic and condemning? Or we say he is judgmental! The truth is that He warns us because He is a good God, one who loves us and wants to help, guide and protect us.”

Its like watching a Dog get struck by a car and he lives. He limps around whimpering but when you go to help him he growls and barks at you. “If only I could communicate with you and tell you that I’m just trying to help you,” you say to the dog. This is similar to the way God is with us when we are down he puts things in our lives and guides us but a lot of the time we retract and fight him. I’m sure we have all heard the phrase you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. Many of us are that horse that refuses to drink because at first we don’t understand. Once we do take a drink and we do take that step of faith do we see that it is good for us. Voltaire once said that within one hundred years of his time, Christianity would be “swept from existence and passed into history.” Yet fifty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used his house and printing press to produce stacks of Bibles. Jesus made this statement in Mark 13:31 “ My words will by no means pass away.” Dr. H. L. Hastings also said “If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they die and the book still lives.” Everyday we face opportunities to turn towards God. We must not grow angry when we don’t understand what God is doing at certain times. We are so small compared to him and his way of thinking. Our way of thinking is so limited yet we insist on attempting to question his every move. The devil is the one who whispers into our ears that we are above the knowledge of God.