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.