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.