Would Jesus ever go on Facebook?
Would he ever take to a public forum for the purpose of stirring up a red hot debate?
No, he came to bring peace, didn't he? He would never want to get people all riled up? He wanted to smooth things over, end the ceaseless debating, and join arms within the brotherhood of man. Too bad they didn't have Coca-Cola back in the day, he could have brought a giant cooler to the temple and handed out the ice cold refreshments to all.
Imagine him and all the fellow Rabbis joining hands, grabbing a Coke and singing: "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..."
But sometimes when I read the scriptural accounts, it seems like he would go to the temple courts almost to incite aggressive debate and not just merely to...
(1)... respond with love, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness. I mean seriously, wouldn't that be more productive than returning arguments of arrogance?
(2) ... follow the proper protocol of Proverbs 15:1 and give a gentle answer to turn away wrath.
Often, in the four gospels there were specific times when he was intellectually attacked by adversaries, the integrity of his teaching was impugned or his character was maligned. Did he back down to in order to keep the peace? Did he aim to not make a public spectacle? Or did he once in awhile lay down the gauntlet to get people thinking through the art of disputation?
If you think he always aimed on the side of caution and tolerance you must have never really read chapters 22 & 23 of Matthew. I will bet, as you listen to his tone in those passages, he even sounds a bit arrogant to a casual passerby. In Matthew 22:29 (Mark 12:24) he has the nerve to tell those he is debating with, the sophisticated and highly cultured Sadducees, that they know nothing. Listen to his exact words, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God."
And in Matthew 23 he certainly didn't always play nice. What would people nowadays say if someone used the same descriptive adjectives on Facebook that Jesus used towards the Pharisees? He would be excoriated by the tolerance police! Just listen to him...
23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites..."
23:15 "...you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."
23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides,..."
23:27 "For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.
23:33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?"
Wow, was Jesus just having a bad day? Was he simply a hater? Or were people blaspheming his God in a public manner and he couldn't just sit by with a schmaltzy smile on his face while they think they won the day?
Sometimes the point of public debate is to silence the critic that may be swaying the innocent and ignorant listening in the shadows. If the critic of our God goes unanswered without a whimper, the naive will often feel there is no defense against the smear of their God. "Is there no champion to stand up against the blasphemous Goliath?" Sometimes the only way to silence a fool is to expose their bluff. Did Jesus' methods in Matthew result in the "winning of friends and influencing the antagonists?" No, they killed him a week later -- but they did not get away with disparaging the scriptures and throwing mud on the majestic character of God.
When someone tells me on-line that my God is a fraud or that he will no fulfill his promises, that is not an offer for friendship and goodwill. It is public challenge as they are ridiculing my God! If it was just an attack on me, that is fine, I have nothing to prove. But the same can not be said when people try to drag my Father through the mire of ridicule.
Try going into the inner city and ripping on someone's Momma; they are not gonna play nice.
Sometimes we Christians want so badly to look like the "stoic, dignified, reasonable debater online" in order to garner respect from the antagonist, that we easily brush off and ignore the dangerous smearing of the Name of our God. But at least they will like me and I will may have a chance to win over the alligator to be my friend. Remember what Winston Churchill said about the alligator, after it eats your friend it will come after you.
What does it mean to take the Lord's name in vain? It isn't only a swear word, but it can also be allowing doubt to linger about his goodness and power. My God is coming back, he can rescue and he is not to be messed with. To say that strongly is not arrogance, but truth.
One last thing: The majority of my purpose to be on Facebook is to inspire and try to educate those who like to wrestle in an honest dialogue. But every once in awhile you will have a wild boar whose only purpose is to trample the grapes of truth underfoot while mocking your God. It reminds me of playing tackle football: "Friday Night Lights!" I loved it. I can remember running out on the field and even shaking hands with the other team during the coin-flip before the game. I was a super-nice guy.
But I also was a kick returner. I can remember catching the ball and then getting hit. The other team had the nerve to hit me! Hey, I just shook their hand, how dare they! Do I continue to smile, be peaceful and kind? Do I let them have the football back and go score on me at will?
No! I snap on my helmet and "Hit Em back!" Sometimes we lose when we are always playing the nice guy.
What is ironic to me is how we as a culture love the competitive nature football and UFC. We love the stiff competition in a world cup match, we love to see the Olympics and the incredible effort the athletes exert to win. But when it comes to debate and argument people get all up in arms when you voice a little bit of disagreement or use sarcasm and exaggeration to bring home a point. Apollos in the New Testament seemed to rather enjoy a vigorous debate (Acts 18:24-28).
If you ask me, to call someone a child of hell directly to their face is about at harsh as it gets...and Jesus is the one who said it!
Millions perished in the great purges of Lenin and Stalin. Stalingrad, one of the bloodiest WW2 battles, recorded over 1 million Russian Army casualties in a single battle; 13,000 of which died by a direct bullet in the back by their own Soviet authorities. Mao, also a disciple of Marx, unleashed his own killing spree when he authorized the executions of over 30 million of his own Chinese people during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
As bad as these atrocities are, they pale in comparison to the most tragic and voiceless victim of Marx's ideology: human dignity and pride.
When you force all the people of any given society to be economically equal - - casting aside all effort, incentive, merit and skill - - something in the human psyche dies. The spirit and grandeur of man is reduced to a mere nameless cog in a pitiless machine.
I came across this quote a few years ago that I think perfectly expresses the "death of the soul" when the government takes over and does the thinking for people; which naturally, all Marxist regimes are designed to do. This quote is written by a European writer from the 1920's as he editorialized on the rise of repressive governmental control all over Eastern Europe that he witnessed firsthand. What surprised him the most was how the minds of the younger generations were so malleable and susceptible to government indoctrination. And he says this was achieved through "gratis"- handouts and top-down manipulation of the press, industry, education and commerce. He writes:
"This generation has become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deepest emotions, for love and hate, joy and sorrow, but also their sensations and thrills...they had never learned to live within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting.
They also were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk...The menace of monotony hung with their colorless towns; and they had a yearning for "salvation" through alcohol, superstition, or best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap intoxication.
There were some, however, who learned, as it were, how to live. They began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sport of revolution, and started to develop their own personalities...there were a few who learned to appreciate, what a wealth of simple joy and what a pleasure you can find from simple eating and drinking, intellectual debate, cultivation of gardens, the companionship of animals, and the sports and hobbies one pursues with childlike gravity.
Instead, young people themselves were familiar with nothing but political clamor and anarchy. They viewed private life as "boring," "bourgeois," and "old fashioned."
Three things caught me eye with this statement:
(1) The concept of gratis. "Without charge, free": This is the same word for grace. But this kind of grace is different than the biblical concept of grace, it is not God's love expressed for his people, it means the handouts given to the people from the government. The root of governmental gratis is not based on love but the attainment of power. The trade is simple: money for power. Power can be bought, but where does any government get it's money? They take from one group of people (usually the group that threatens their power); and they give to another group of people they are aiming to enslave and own. They pass this economic exchange off as compassion, but it often is a manipulative tool to subjugate the citizenry. As a result, the government becomes a god of sort, but a passionless god, a manipulative god, a corrupt god.
(2) People who receive reward without earning it, over time, become bored. People are made to work, to dream, to accomplish things. Marx himself praises the different trades and skills of people. But if reward and compensation is not predicated on degree of skill and risk, but only on equality of outcome, humans will get lazy...they will sulk.
(3) We become happy people when we become personally independent people. Marxism makes you wait for the state to provide your identity...and they wont leave you alone to decide this on your own. Everything becomes political, from fatherhood, to how you treat your neighbor. The state decides morality, and the majority of people will gladly let them decide morality. So the advice we once received from parents, pastors and priests have been replaced by politicians and public school teachers.
What once was a European problem has seeped into every corner of American life. People must now care about what the government tells us to care about. Currently, the number one concern and crisis that we must all have an opinion on is racism and police brutality. Don't you realize, it is everyone's fault for this national crisis and lack of dialogue on racism. The state tell us it is a systemic problem that can only be dealt with by the Whitehouse. Next week we must all be up in arms against the minimum wage. Next week, we must all buy into the propaganda about the fairness of Obamacare or we will be labeled as cold-hearted bigots.
The ultimate crime is to lack compassion on a national level. The needs of your family and friends are dwarfed by your responsibility to support the most recent legislative decision made in D.C. And all the major media outlets insist you form an opinion on these decisions. Of course, it must be their opinion. You better support and fight for equal support of gay marriage, because if you don't you have no moral grounds to feel proud of your child's right to have a traditional marriage?
Everything is now political. Nothing can just be personal.
That is the nature of Marxist thought, it is parasitical: it is designed to live off of the healthy and good lives of the people who just want to be left alone. So to survive, it kills your freedom and leaves human dignity in it's wake!
What is the difference between hope and expectation?
Hope, in a biblical sense, is trusting in the certain promises of God. He said he will rescue and deliver me, provide for me, pour grace out on me, and I believe him for that.
Expectation, in a human sense, is wanting certain things 'performed' for me by others. In other words, they are more often than not unspoken demands I have towards other people and situations.
What are your hopes for 2015 and what are your expectations?
Most of the time we confuse these two ideas. We will us the word hope in situations that are nothing more then my personal expectations. How many times have you heard your mom say when you were a kid, "I was hoping you would grow up some day and finally clean your room on your own?" That is a wrong use of the word hope.
I myself was hoping this past year that God was finally going to let me win the million dollar lotto. It didn't happen. That wasn't hope, that was foolish & false expectation. Especially when I never even bought a lotto ticket. But God can do the impossible, right? Well he didn't for me, and I am sorely disappointed!
You can live and thrive on real hope; but you can not live for long on expectation. That is why in this new year of 2015, you need to know the difference. I find when people replace the word hope for expectation in their minds - - they grow bitter, angry and they are perennially disappointed when things don't turn out the way they were hoping; or should I say, naively expecting.
What are things we can hope for this year?
* God is working in all things; situations, relationships and crises (Romans 8:28).
* God will pour out his grace and mercy when you call to him in your time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
* God will never leave us or forsake us in our darkest hour this next year; even when we are financially strapped (Hebrews 13:5).
* God will provide if we keep our eye on Him and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33-34).
We have been given certain promises concerning these items. You can bank on them - - and that is biblical hope!
What are things most of us expect for a new year?
* People will not lie to us, forget about us, insult us, or cheat us.
* Circumstances will not be too much to handle, they will not overwhelm us, they will not catch us by surprise.
* The Government will make decisions I agree with.
* God will give me whatever I want, even when I don't pray about it.
* My spouse will always be smiling, happy, smelling good, buying me presents, taking me to exotic locals, complimenting me, be able to read my mind before I even talk, and will watch my favorite movie with me every night.
Let me break it to you now: Not one of these expectations will be met in the next year. Maybe some bright rays of sun will shine through once in awhile, but I can guarantee you it won't happen everyday. So, as the old saying goes, "If you are waiting for these things to occur, 'Don't hold your breath!'"
I was reading recently the book "The Great Divorce" by C. S. Lewis; and through his brilliant use of metaphor and imagination he describes the attitudes of people who will be living in hell. He depicts hell as the "grey town" where everyone living there does nothing but quarrel with his neighbor. It is so bad that all the citizens of "grey town" keep moving farther and farther away from each other so that the city itself goes on for millions of miles with nothing but lonely and vacant streets in between them. Some of the reasons why people quarrel and distance themselves in the "grey town" are because:
- No one ever felt "recognized" or "appreciated" by others.
- People always felt badly treated in all their relationships so they figured they were better off living separated lives.
- People always viewed themselves as unlucky and were jealous of the luck the undeserved seem to always have.
- They perceived their neighbors as being boorish, idiotic or unintelligent.
So the result is that people isolated, moved away and grew apart. Sound familiar? But if you look closely at these descriptions that C. S. Lewis uses, each one is the direct fall-out from unspoken expectations not being met. We expect people to recognize and appreciate us. We expect people to treat us good. We expect to get lucky. We expect people to be interesting, smart and intelligent. And when these expectations are not met, like a child who didn't get what they wanted for Christmas, we pout.
So, how are you going to prepare yourself for this coming new year: With hope or expectation?
Here is my wish (I was going to use the word hope, but I am not sure I can bank on it): That instead of waiting for everyone to meet your needs, why don't you serve and love others first? Stop expecting and start loving. If you do that, here is my guarantee: You will be too busy enjoying others that you will start to forget about yourself and all your expectations will disappear as a mist does at mid-day.
And when that happens, you might even begin to smile again?
4 days ago, CNN published a very provocative article about how a team of 13 judges selected a new set of ten commandments that all concerned and caring atheists could now embrace. Jews & Christians have traditionally held the moral upper-hand on society ever since Moses brought down 'those two infamous stone tablets off the mountain. But not anymore, the poor little atheist who has felt left out of the conversation on righteousness can stand proud, because you now have your very own Decalogue. The beauty of the atheist's new ten commandments as CNN writes, is that “There's nary a ‘thou shalt’ among them.”
Ah yes, it is those rotten moral limitations and guilt laden conditions that made religion and belief in God such a drag. So instead, as the article posts, “the atheist ‘non-commandments’ display a robust faith in humankind, as if Silicon Valley had replaced Sinai…this is an open-ended, and hopefully progressive, process, one judge said.” Boy oh boy, nothing like having a robust faith in nothing...oh I'm sorry, they said faith in human kind. Is that even possible? Well, it depends on which human kind they are talking about: the Genghis Khan kind, the Idi Amin kind, or the Honey Boo Boo kind? Hopefully not the Miley Cyrus kind...anyways...
Here are the "Ten Non-Commandments" chosen as the winners:
1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
4. Every person has the right to control of their body.
5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
9. There is no one right way to live.
10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.
At first as I read through this list, two immediate thoughts came to me (1) "What happens to the rebellious atheist teen or the atheist backslider if they chose not to listen or follow any of these laws (especially number 10)?" Probably nothing - - so really then what's the point? I think the reasonable atheist parent or guide would say that the teen or backslider would be missing out on having their best life now. Guess what, the atheist with a gun who shot a man, robbed his store, and got away with it would strongly disagree; especially after he is drinking and eating to his heart's content with other people's money. (2) “What if believers in God were allowed to challenge their opinions and take pot-shots at the atheist’s conclusions in the same way that they have taken pot-shots at us for the last couple centuries? Hmmm, could they even handle being mocked and belittled in the same way all us simpleton, silly naive, and very thick-skinned Christians are used to on a daily basis?”
Well, let’s see, I have three thoughts:
(1) They keep speaking of evidence, scientific method, and accept only those truths that are most likely to be true: O.K., so what if there was evidence to say that the odds of a human being coming from a big explosion and evolving from fish, to apes, to men who shave is around zero to the hundredth power? Would they listen to that evidence? Doubt it. As one scientist writes, “the chance that any kind of a 200-component integrated functioning organism could be developed by mutation and natural selection just once, anywhere in the world, in all the assumed expanse of geologic time, is less than one chance out of a billion trillion.” (see article http://www.icr.org/article/493/) Those are some pretty outrageous odds. Even a good atheist never expects to win the million dollar lotto and yet they will bet all their intellectual assets and faith certainties on a theory that is a mathematical impossibility. Question: Maybe, just maybe, their motives for believing in evolution have nothing to do with science, but rather they are merely "wishing that God, hell and eternal punishment" is not true; so they place a completely illogical and unscientific bet that life was made out of non-life?
(2) Who determines good? Oh that’s right, our DNA decides (even though enzymes can’t think). Through evolution atheist theorists say we naturally know what is best for us to thrive and survive, and that is what is deemed to be good. But wait, what ever happened to survival of the fittest? Don't you know Chris? A man named Hitler came along, and after he took power survival of the fittest was no longer considered a good explanation at the time; because it really turned out to be bad. Gas chambers and furnaces have a way of changing people’s opinions about things. So maybe what is good now may not be that good tomorrow. That's the beauty of atheism, they can keep moving the target whenever their previous conclusions fall flat. So then who decides when the good changes? I don’t know. Maybe smart liberal professors like Peter Singer, that philosopher from Princeton, who thinks suicide is always a good choice no matter if you are sick or sad or just bored with life. Ask other liberal atheist professors if they really want to adopt commandment number six as a good thing? If they say yes, then ask them to give you a reason why should we have government benefits for the poor, why help the homeless, and why love your neighbor? I think compassion for others is a character quality stolen from Christianity by athiests, so they will look good to others so suckers will vote for them.
(3) Finally, any way to live is right, right? But tell me, is there any wrong way to live? What about Luka Magnotta, he is a Canadian who was a former pornographic actor and model accused of killing and dismembering Lin Jun, a Chinese international student, then mailing his limbs to elementary schools and federal political party offices? Do you find anything wrong with that? I hope so…but if you are an athiest you really have no grounds to protest. Again, if you do protest, you are stealing our Christian values of justice and value for human life. But if you were a consistent atheist you should applaud Luka's own individual life expressions.
Nice laws guys, but totally useless. When there is no God, there is no way to regulate behavior. The panel of 13 is just that, a panel of opinions that will last as long as the next Luka Magnotta comes along. Way to go smart atheists, you win again, but we all lost.
One last thing: Christmas is ours, and if I catch any of you singing one Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole song about a baby born in a manger, shepherd, or a star in the sky; I will raise up my crooked angry finger, point it at you, and scream, "Hypocrite" just like you have been doing to people like me every day of your angry atheist existence!
(M & M Mondays are back again, thanks to friends like Keith who adamantly demanded for them to be brought back. Sorry Jesse, you will have to put up with more of my socialist tinkering…so here we go with another Marxian installment!)
When the land is thirsty, what is better a light drizzle, a steady down-pour or a massive flood from a monstrous monsoon?
When it comes to economic equity, what is better “trickle-down”, “personal flourishing and mutual generosity”, or a “revolution of the proletariat”?
The Marxist will choose the monsoon every time: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." They believe that the only way to bring the poor up to rich, the rich and their riches must be brought down to the poor - - and boy do they bring them down, just like a monsoon. In an ideal world, Marx and his followers want fairness and equity; but in a real world, his theories fall hard on a nation like a ravaging flood.
In the early 1900’s when Russia was experiencing the full flowering of Marx’ principles, the German thinker and economist Walter Rathenau saw firsthand the devastation of the ideological monsoon. In his Kritik der dreifachen Revolution (Critique of the triple revolution) he noted that:
“We cannot use Russia's methods, as they only and at best prove that the economy of an agrarian nation can be leveled to the ground; Russia's thoughts are not our thoughts. They assume that a single good, the destruction of the capitalist class, weighs more than all other goods, and that poverty, dictatorship, terror and the fall of civilization must be accepted to secure this one good.
‘Ten million people must die to free ten million people from the bourgeoisie’ is regarded as a harsh but necessary consequence. The Russian idea is compulsory happiness, in the same sense and with the same logic as the compulsory introduction of Christianity and the Inquisition.”
On a practical level, the Marxist believes that a single good, “bringing the rich and poor on an equal playing field,” is worth the destruction that naturally comes with it. Take a simple lesson I learned while visiting a couple kindergartens in Russia. All toys for the boys and girls were public property. Even the little dolly in the corner was not individually owned, but she was there for everyone to enjoy. Question: how well do you think the poor little dolly was treated? Do you think she was treated better than if she was individually owned by a single caring little girl? I think not. Actually, that little dolly became an item of tug-o-war, a pugilist stick to beat boys with, and a mop to wipe off spilled apple juice on the floor.
Poor little dolly, owned by everyone, loved by no one.
As it is with the resources of a country: When they are owned by everyone, they are loved by no one. Marxism is devoted to equality, and in this pursuit the gears of the Marxist machince doesn't mind destroying the value of property, natural resources, and even human life in order to get it. Have you ever read about how many people Stalin liquidated to realize his collective farming dreams? Estimates range from 4 million to 10 million in the Ukraine alone. (See this article for more information: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/ukra.html)
But the Marxist will counter: “So what do you want, Reagan’s silly ‘Trickle Down Economics’ that only benefit the rich while barely offering any help to the poor?" Economist Thomas Sowell has made the case that no economist has ever advocated a "trickle-down" theory of economics, which is rather a misnomer attributed to certain economic ideas by political critics who either willfully distort or misunderstand the actual stated goals of their political opponents. His praise of free-market capitalism is actually designed so that “the actual path of money in a private enterprise economy is quite the opposite of that claimed by people who refer to the trickle-down theory…money invested in new business ventures is first paid out to employees, suppliers, and contractors. Only some time later, if the business is profitable, does money return to the business owners—but in the absence of a profit motive, which is reduced in the aggregate by a raise in marginal tax rates in the upper tiers, this activity does not occur.”
The Biblical worldview sees each individual human being as an autonomous agent who is personally responsible to God. If a man wants to flourish, God allows him to flourish. And in his flourishing God wants and expects for that man to share his blessings. Like a well regulated rain shower, mankind under the care of a good God, learns to participate in fair economic exchange that helps bless everyone through mutual generosity. Yes, this too is an ideal, but when fair and democratic laws are enforced (laws that are debated on and are brought about by compromise and proper legislative processes) this goal doesn't bring with it a scorched earth policy like Marxism (Progressive Liberalism) does.
Human selfishness will always throw a wrench on human theories; but the operative question is to ask which theory has the highest potential for devastation when selfishness does rule?
In a Marxist world, since God is kicked out of any decision making, the result is that the rule of broken institutions of men must take over. Corrupt hearts become the brokers of societal blessing. And this is usually done through bureaucratic red tape, interfering with free trade, imposing punitive tariffs, bribery, kickbacks and other varied forms of corruption. The worst part is that forced equality breeds state dependency and has tremendous dehumanizing effects.
One example of this is the public transportation system. If you have never taken a Russian bus, you have never experienced the daily dehumanization that your average Russian must endure. Russian buses are rolling sardine cans where people are stuffed in like a bunch of smelly fish. Since no one pays for the bus (everything is free, and the truth is no one really has enough money to buy their own car), no one really cares about how well things are treated around them…including buses, subways, and most especially, people.
The naive Americans who currently are asking for economic equality don’t realize what they are asking for: broken baby dolls, rolling sardine cans, and people who are less than human.
Think people, think!
Definition of Flattery: "excessive and insincere praise, especially that is given to further one's own interests."
Definition of Self-Flattery: "convincing self that you shall escape final judgment. There are two results: you put 'that day' far away from your mind; and sin no longer seems to be so toxic or despicable as it once was. On the contrary, in a state of self-flattery sin has never tasted so sweet."
The perfect sermon for our current 'age of the selfie' was surprisingly written way back in 1738 by the famous American Theologian Jonathan Edwards. He is the man who is known for writing two early Christian classics: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and "Spiritual Affections." Personally, I think his message on "Self-Flattery " is the most relevant and accessible of his writings for the contemporary ear.
His thesis in this message is based on Psalm 36:2 which states, "For in his own eyes (the wicked man) he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin."
Self-flattery is not something Americans give much thought to; in fact, promoting self through social media is now considered one of the best ways to spend your day. Instagram, Face-book and Pinterest is calling for us to post the latest cute selfie and random shot of "me, myself and I." Even "your's truly" is known to flash to the media universe a dazzling self-portrait picture every now and again (see last photo above)! Like the selfie, self-flattery causes a person to have a completely unnatural and inflated opinion of oneself...so much so that the mere mention of final judgment seems more like a punch line of a bad joke than a serious warning from a holy God.
In Edward's sermon, he lists numerous ways people flatter themselves. By spring-boarding off the sentiment that is expressed in Deuteronomy 29:19 ("When a person turns from God and thinks to himself, 'I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.'"), he lists very common everyday feelings and thoughts that shield us from the convicting work of the Spirit of God - - who wants you to have hatred toward your sin. I have tweaked some of his insights and have come up with seven common ways we flatter ourselves. Ask yourself this while reading the list, "Do I think like this?" If the answer is yes, you probably think too highly of yourself...
SEVEN ROADS THAT LEAD TO DEATH
(1) THE SECRET HOPE: "This world and the immediate present is all that really matters." (Luke 12:18-20)
People of every stripe these days seem to have a very low view or no view of heaven; and the topic of hell has become especially out of vogue. If you were to mention the word Hades, Damnation or the "Lake of Fire" to the average person, you are more likely to get a smug snicker and an eye-roll than actually being taken for a credible believer. People will see you more as a bull-horn blowing kook than a lover of Christ. Amateur cyber theologians all over the internet love to dismiss the wrath of a God as nothing more than a sign of an emotionally immature and not yet fully evolved deity. They figure God needs to grow up and leave behind his childish 'fits of rage' if he is ever going to attract a strong following. To most modern believers, the court room of heaven has gone on an eternal recess; and God the judge has taken off his robe, put on his best cologne and skinny jeans, and now he is waiting for everyone to join him for the heavenly happy hour that is now in process. Since the sophomoric modern thinker believes he is winning his little one-sided theological debates online, that must mean they are brilliant enough to ignore the scripture that declares "Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him and all around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people." (Psalm 50:3-4)
(2) THE PERSISTENT BELIEF: "I have plenty of time to make a decision." (Psalm 49:11b)
We have become a nation of control freaks who really believe that since we have written down on our Ipad planner our 5 year &10 year plan - - God will just have to wait his turn with me because he doesn't really come into the picture until we start our 25 year plan. We really believe because we go to the gym our health will hold out, our money is secure in the banks because they are backed by the government, and our collective minds will keep getting smarter and smarter, a cure for cancer will be found and I "will not be moved." So why worry? Especially when it comes to eternity - - it seems like an eternity away.
(3) THE UNIVERSAL CONVICTION: "Everything is relative, and relatively speaking, I am really a good person." (Luke 18:9)
I am not breaking bad, so that must mean I'm breaking pretty good. I deal honestly, I am nice, I smile at the movie "Frozen" with my daughter, I drink Biggby coffee.. so...hey, I can't be all that bad? And come to think of it, there is no good reason for God to be unreasonably angry with me. I am not a part of ISIS, so you can't really expect God to harshly judge me? Right?
(4) THE FALLACY OF ASSOCIATION: "I am definitely am a Christian because I am surrounded by Christians." (John 8:33)
I am an American, and I cry during the Fourth of July parade. I cheer for soldiers. My grandma prays for me. I have a plaque in the living room that says "Live, Laugh, Love" and I know God has to like that? So I must be on God's good side...I even eat apple pie!
(5) GOD KNOWS MY HEART: ("Even if my actions right now don't show it.") (Acts 24:25)
I sincerely am sincere about being sincere. And what happens in Vegas isn't really me doing the happening. You see, when I act out, it isn't me acting out, it is the stress of life. And "so what?" if I have a pet sin that soothes me, someday when I finally get better I will be better. Until that time, God knows all this, and I know he won't judge me...so shouldn't you stop judging me too?
(6) GOD SEES HOW HARD I WORK ("What more could he want?") (Romans 3:23)
Look at the years of service I have given him in the church, or volunteering at my kids kindergarten parties. I have worked harder than most, sang songs louder in church, I cry at "Little House on the Prairie." God has to see all I have done.
(7) NEW INNOVATIVE THEOLOGICAL TREND: "You are in if you haven't opted out."
Wow, the new theologians have redefined grace to be something that you immediately get. Sure you have sinned, but you have been set free without even knowing it. Love always wins. Only those who don't volitionally want his grace and mercy can opt out of receiving it. So salvation isn't a matter of faith as much as it is a matter of not refusing it. Only those who want to go to hell get to go to hell - - the rest of us, even those of us who are ignorant of God, are "in" until we choose to opt "out." One of the main teachers of this new theology is named Rob Bell. Ironically, Rob Bell has a dad who happens to be a judge in Michigan; last week he sentenced a prominent radio host in Grand Rapids to 40 years in prison for sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography. But it seems Rob's dad doesn't know God's new justice system because he never gave the convict a chance to opt out. The courts instantly threw the books at him, and he was thrown out and in to prison! So it seems even Rob's dad understands that when you are guilty, condemnation isn't something you can choose, because it already is.
THE DAY WHEN SELF-FLATTERY NO LONGER FLATTERS
Jonathan Edwards ended his sermon with this chilling statement, "If you could have access to the damned, you would hear many of them curse themselves, for these flattering themselves while they lived in this world; and you would have the same doctrine preached to you by their wailings and yellings which is now delivered to you."
In other words, if you were to go to hell and interview those in prison, they would be the first to say they were wrong for thinking so highly of themselves. There is only one who is good, both inside and outside: Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He knew you couldn't work off your condemnation, he knew your guilt was all consuming and he knew sin was killing you. So he let it kill him on the cross. He paid the price the courts of heaven demanded, and he set you free. But you have to accept this payment by faith - it isn't just handed to you - you have to ask for it.
You are out until you opt in by faith, and don't flatter yourself...only Jesus deserves the favor of God. But God is pleased to accept the Son on your behalf. Get over yourself, because only Jesus deserves our praise.
Can you figure out what is going to be preached Sunday by pictures alone? Give it a try...
Why do human beings care so much about so many things? Why do people have to be right? Why do we often despise those who disagree with us? Why do you want to control everything (I know at times I do)?
Oh sure, we want the best for others, we want loved ones to thrive and survive...but I think it is easier to explain than that: We are proud people.
Personally, I am weary from war...so I am calling a truce, and my new life slogan is "You Win." I will bow my knee and admit to you that you are better, you win. Congratulations, you get to rule the world! Meanwhile, I will just slip off quietly to my own little island, and there I will sit, lost in the fascinating world of my own personal dementia. "ha ha ha, he he he..."
And since you will be busy ruling, can I borrow your boat and fishing poles?
When Friends Grow Stale
Why do those you once knew and loved now hate you...well maybe hate is too strong a word...how about being repulsed by you? You know what I mean, when they pinch their brows in disgust after reading your post or hearing your name? Distance and deafness. When you were close friends you had actual face-to-face time where you could look them in the eyes, you could understand their non-verbals and you knew their heart. Distance causes deafness to what you can only hear up close. You can't see their individual nuances, and all communication seems to be replaced with malice as you try to read between the lines in your far away world. When that happens you become deaf to the intentions of the heart.
Now I know why scripture says,"better a friend nearby than a brother far away." So I have learned two things: (1) Try to give the benefit of the doubt (2) Be there when you are there.
Football...the Jokes on All of Us
Think about it, every season has only one winner. So how many lose? How many people are crushed at the end of the year? How many people forfeit a good night's sleep because their team fumbles, threw an interception or lost their best player to injury? How many useless hours have ticked away while you anticipated the upcoming game only to be disappointed again?
I have found the best way to enjoy football is to hold lightly to your loyalty. Enjoy the sport without being consumed by it. Go outside and throw some passes to your kids. Even if my team wins I still lose because it immediately starts all over when the last whistle blows.
Enjoy the simple pleasures of a sport without losing your soul. If you lose you soul over a pigskin, the jokes on you.
Hey, Gotta' Go...
Jack Sparrow just informed me that he found the stash of rum...want to join us?
Marx and his minions never, ever wanted a peaceful world. Desiring to live a "peaceful & quiet life in all godliness and submission" as 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 exhorts us, is not in the Marxist's DNA. In fact, it is an anathema to them. War, conflict and perpetual struggle is what makes for the material of Marxist clay. Listen to one of the most respected and brilliant of Marxist theoreticians who ever lived, Leo Trotsky,
"The permanent revolution, as Marx defined it, is a kind of revolution that cannot negotiate with any form of class domination. It does not stop at the democratic stage, but implements socialist measures and declares war on reaction abroad. The seed of each phase of this revolution is contained in the preceding one, and it will only stop with the liquidation of all class distinctions. Democracy was not considered an end in itself, but an an immediate prelude to the socialist revolution to which it is linked indissolubly."
Notice his caustic choice of words: "Cannot negotiate", "Declares war", and "Liquidation." Liquidation was the early 20th century's favorite euphemism for annihilation and death. It was used because it has a more sterile, almost cleansing ring to it. What did the Marxist want to cleanse? Any semblance of capitalistic profit , ownership and superiority of the richer classes in any given society.
To give you a template to better understand the Marxist worldview, I want to use a common story found in the bible. I know that no analogy has a perfect correspondence; but I offer this story to give you more vivid teaching points to see clearly the two Marxist players in his "permanent revolution." The story can be found in 1 Kings 3:16-28:
Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. And we were alone. There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house. And this woman's son died in the night, because she lay on him. And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.” But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.” Thus they spoke before the king. Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’” And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.
Here is how the Marxist Worldview would place definitions to interpret this story...
A) "Limited Resource": a limited resource is something of value that two classes of people want; and as members of the collective the specific resource is something we all should have equal rights to. You may be thinking that no one has the rights to another person's baby, but you are thinking with a Judeo-Christian mindset. In the Marxist world we all should have equal access whether it be to a country's natural resources (oil, steel, lumber, grain) or human resources including the children of the people. Subtle Marxist teachings have been leaking in to our common language for years. Do you recognize these phrases by our popular politicians -- "It takes a village to raise a child," "You didn't build that," "It is child abuse to raise your children to hate certain sexual lifestyle choices."
B) "The Bourgeoisie" (pronounced the 'burr-zhwa-zee"): these are the owners and controllers over the means of production. According to Marx, the bourgeoisie plays a heroic role in history by revolutionizing industry and modernizing society; however, it also seeks to monopolize the benefits of modernization and exploit the property-less proletariat which creates the revolutionary tensions. In this story, the lady whose baby lived was claiming and demanding sole ownership over the child because she produced it from her loins. But as any good Marxist knows, her loins are actually the property of the state and therefore, so is the child.
C) "The Proletariat": this is the lowest and poorest class of people (often it represents the majority) who have not had the good fortune of being placed in the natural advantage of possessing property or the means of production. Because of this inequity in material standing and ownership, the proletariat feels unjustly exploited by the bourgeoisie. Therefore, as Trotsky explained, they hold the moral right to demand a permanent revolution until total equality for all people is achieved. In this story, the poor woman had the simple misfortune of losing her child by suffocation. As a result of this unforeseen calamity, she is put at an unfair disadvantage as compared to the other women. The state should fight for her rights to have what the other woman has - - do we not use this same reasoning for those women who have children outside of wedlock? How can they be held responsible for living in abject poverty?
D) The "Organ of Justice": Historically, government in the mind of Marx, has been designed and put in place to keep "hegemonic control" (fancy word for power) in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Those who profit from their economic advantage, are in turn able to buy and pay for those who run the government to keep power in their greedy, dirty hands of oppression.
E) "Repressive State Apparatuses": The use of force that keeps power in the hand of the ruling classes through threats, terror and recrimination. The police are the agents of the bourgeoisie, and naturally, they can't be trusted.
F) "Alienation": The wall of separation that is between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat which causes disconnect from one fellow human being to another. This condition of alienation is used to explain why such things as crime occurs in society - the social bonds that should tie people together are fatally weakened by the exploitative relationship between Capital (bourgeoisie ownership) and Labor (proletariat sweat equity).
**This is just a small sampling of how Marx viewed and described the world that he saw. I just have two conclusions for you to chew on before we continue our M & M study. I believe these conclusions are true in every Marxist revolution:
(1) In order for true equality to occur, Marxism cannot provide real answers to lift the proletariat up to the level of the bourgeoisie; but they can bring the bourgeoisie down to the level of the proletariat. The lady couldn't raise her baby from the dead, but she could kill the other woman's baby. In her jealousy and demand for equity she had no care for the feelings of the other; all she wanted was material fairness. Marxists by nature are deconstructionists, they are destroyers, they often are cold and calculating. Claiming compassion for the poor, they can only really reach out and grab a pound of flesh from the rich. That is why when you live in Russia for any amount of time you don't see any real long-term development; only the mind numbing sameness of the collective. You can travel to Bulgaria, East Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia and you will see the same monotony of grey concrete and stupid slogans promoting solidarity and unity. And everyone walking by wearing their shapkas and long scarves to stave off the Siberian winds, knows those promises have yet to fully be realized.
(2) In this biblical story, Solomon clearly derived his power from God. This can not be tolerated by the Marxist who wants the collective to determine who should rule and control the means of production. To the Marxist, God and his religious system is nothing more than a man made repressive construct that is designed to maintain the status quo and keep power in the hands of the nobility & aristocrats. God, to the Marxist, is nothing more than a fanciful myth put in place by the bourgeoisie to keep the poor under submission; he is a poor man's opiate to keep them ignorant and malleable. So, if you can kill God, you immediately level the playing field. However, if you allow God to live, you have to admit he has the Sovereign right to pick winners and losers - and this is simply not fair nor can be tolerated in an equal society.
Take your time on this page...the more you digest the definitions the more every day political speech you read in newspapers and hear on television reports will make sense.
Good luck digging in the clay!
Human beings are made of average clay. We know it as skin.
Nothing special. Skin is a normal, everyday part of life. Some is smooth, some is wrinkly, some dark, some pale, some freckled and some itchy.
Most faces you see are average. Any given face walking by is any given face: two eyes, two ears, one mouth and a strange thing called a nose. Hair is hair - - it rarely behaves. And there are eyebrows too!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, tell me something I don't know. O.k. Take a moment to read this statement by C. S. Lewis concerning the "Weight of Glory":
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you see them now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Have you ever thought about what we will become?
Glory will change us. Some to princes and princesses of the eternal God; and others will display the scourge of being a rebel to holiness. You are no mere mortal. You some day will rule, or some day you will be a horror. Glory is not something to trifle with.
Jesus left glory and entered humanity to take humans up with him to glory. I am afraid most of you reading this don't believe this.
What you currently see is not what you are going to be! Take heed.