THE MYSTERY OF GOD – # VI

What does God look like? Do we look like Him?  Does He look like us? We are told that human beings are made in the image of God. You gotta be kidding! Skinny ones, fat ones, tall, short, male, female, red-yellow-black-and white? Are they all precious in His sight? 

The image of God? Yes, but not what we ordinarily think because we only think of the physical.  We were made spiritual.  Do you feel, cry, suffer, love? Is your life a sacrament? Can you praise and bless and commune and give gifts?  Can you cooperate, create, have clarity of vision, write books and sing songs?  Do you have a will and can you hear?  Can you plant and grow?  

We are separate yet different. We like color and music and dreaming. We like beauty and cleanliness and honesty and goodness. WE WERE MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE! The Lord God did all this on purpose. 

“ … God’s kingdom is within you.”

Luke 17:21

Yes, we are far more through the Holy Spirit and He through us than our minds can conceive!

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”   Matthew 5:8

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“For He’s more wonderful than my mind can conceive. 

He’s more wonderful than my heart can believe. 

He goes beyond my highest hopes and fondest dreams. 

He’s everything that my soul ever longed for;

Everything He’s promised and so much more;

More than amazing,

More than marvelous,

More than miraculous could ever be. 

He’s more than wonderful;

That’s what Jesus is to me.”

(Sandi Patty)

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Dancing Through the Tulips

IF ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS think positive thoughts, eat broccoli, associate with happy people, make good money, listen to uplifting sermons, live in an upperclass part of town, read possibility books, … and BTW, don’t forget to plant your “seed money” with some TV preacher in the hope of being healthy, wealthy and wise [and helping him buy his new jet airplane],   WHY THEN, MY DEAR FRIEND –

DO YOU NEED GOD?

I agree with those who say that it is not necessary to have God in your life to be rich and happy happy!  Believe it or not, lots of money may be, could be satisfying … to a degree.  Reading positive books and attending  inspirational and motivational seminars/sermons can be inspiritive. You can live next door to a family with 7 beautiful kids, live in a 12,000 square foot home and make a ton of money, and you can be happy as you drive up to the portico of a prominent church with thousands of attendees in your European built car, … and still be lost!

As Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

You and I need God to give us liberty in our inner self.  All of us have probably known or heard of someone who had everything that this world could give, and yet were lost in their soul.  They spent their time with money, fame and fortune …; just before they committed suicide!  Many of those happy happy people turn to alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.  Hello out there!

Obviously, there are many who live their entire life dancing through the tulips.  You may be one of those.  Congratulations.  You may never need God to help you live an upper class life.

What happens thereafter …?

“Jesus said, ‘I AM the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”

John 6:35 (ncv)

“‘Whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty. The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside that person, giving eternal life.’”

John 4:14 (ncv)

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“All that I need He will always be,

All that I need till His face I see,

All that I need thro’ eternity.

Jesus is all I need.”

(James Rowe)

The Future of Religion

JUST SAYIN’ – There are a few articles addressing the topic, “THE FUTURE OF RELIGION.” If I am allowed to inject my insightful opinion – 😄😄😇 – (hold your seat): taking the position that religion will [of course I don’t agree] decline and ultimately disappear from the human stage 4 million years from now, the reasons, in my humble opinion,  would be:

1. Narcissism – worship of an objective deity will disappear because people will be too consumed asking,

“Whataboutme?!”

Whataboutme!?!”

2. Gradually, religion as it is now constituted will become more and more a shadow without substance.

3. Religion will morph into a quasi political philosophy. In Jesus’ day, His disciples were so busy following Jesus they didn’t have time to put their energy into clamoring for more political influence.

4. Then there will be “wars, wars, and rumors of wars.”

THERE ARE THOSE OF YOU WHO WITH KEEN ANTICIPATION DUTIFULLY READ MY MISSIVES, therefore, you know that I am of the opinion that Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. Those who know Him are believers, “born anew,” followers of Christ, The Way.

HOWEVER …

5. The more Christian preaching, teaching and music turn into a “whataboutme” entertainment venue, the more Christianity, church-goers, and followers will seek out Christian-oriented programs and services that tickle our fancy with a positive twist like our vodka martinis. 😳

“You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you —keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5  🎼🎶

“Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh! to be like Thee.

Oh! to be like Thee,

Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;

Come in Thy sweetness, Come in Thy fullness;

Stamp Thine own image       deep on my heart.”

(Thomas O. Chisholm)

WHY?

ISN’T IT  INTERESTING THAT IN EVERY BOOK OF THE NEW TESTAMENT THAT the Apostle Paul wrote, with the exception of Hebrews (he may have not written Hebrews), thirteen (13) in all, for his introduction he uses the words GRACE and  PEACE! Is there a subliminal message there?

The definition of GRACE is:  “a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:”  Synonyms are: forgiveness, charity, mercifulness, lenity, leniency, reprieve.  An allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied. Cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension, freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity, a state of tranquillity.”

In Theology GRACE may mean “the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. The influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.”

The definition of PEACE is: God’s plan for your life is PEACE!  It is “a state of mutual harmony.  The end of hostilities.  a cessation from strife and dissention.”  If you don’t have it, you may justifiably ask why.  It was understandable for Jesus to cry “with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is, being interpreted, ‘My God, my God, WHY have you  forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34 (kjv))

Jesus paid the penalty with his justifying Blood for our sin. SALVATION (1) TOOK PLACE AND (2) WAS TAKING PLACE!

Paul was the guy named Saul who went through the countryside murdering Christians.  The Lord saw fit to knock him off his horse, blinding him in order to give him GRACE and PEACE.  No wonder Paul spoke profusely of the GRACE and PEACE that Jesus gives!

“To all that be in Rome, … Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 1:7 KJV

To those in Corinth he wrote: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”   1 Corinthians 1:3 KJV

“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”   2 Corinthians 1:2

And to those in Galatia: “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,”  Galatians 1:3 KJV

Ephesus: “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 1:2 KJV

Philippi: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:2 KJV

“ … Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Colossians 1:2 KJV

“ … Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Thessalonians 1:1 KJV

“Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”             2 Thessalonians 1:2 KJV

“Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”  1 Timothy 1:2

“To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”   2 Timothy 1:2

“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”  Titus 1:4 KJV

“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Philemon 1:3 KJV

THEREFORE, THE GREAT GOD OF HEAVEN PLANNED FOR US TO HAVE GRACE AND PEACE THROUGH HIS JUSTIFYING BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.

 

LOSING SOMEONE

LOSING SOMEONE FOREVER – MAKES NO DIFFERENCE IF IT IS BY DEATH OR DIVORCE – IS A HEART RENDING EXPERIENCE.  THE HURT IS ALWAYS THERE.  I think it was in 1935 when a Rabbi by the name of Harold Kushner wrote his book.  For many years, I misunderstood the title.   I thought it was “WHY Bad Things Happen To Good People.”  The correct title is “WHEN Bad Things Happen To Good People.”

Too often we misunderstand what God’s role is in the grand scheme of human existence.  There is nothing in the Bible (with proper understanding) that promises absolute, 100% camouflage in all circumstances. Jesus, God in the flesh said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:45 (niv)

Cherry picking a verse of the Bible here and there without context may leave the impression that good people will never have problems; never suffer.  Even Jesus suffered.  The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down.  Saint Paul suffered as few have and St. John was banned to the Island of Patmos.  Please carefully read the following :

“People who do what is right may have many problems, but the LORD will solve them all.”

Psalms 34:19 (ncv)

It may be that, as Elkhart Tolle wrote in A NEW EARTH:

“SUFFERING has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.”

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”

Isaiah 66:2 (niv)

“So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.”

Isaiah 41:10 (ncv)

THROUGH FAITH THERE IS PEACE AND STRENGTH IN THE MIDST OF DESPAIR!

Where is your faith?  It may help to read Hebrews 11 again.

BELIEVING

BELIEVING THE FACTS ABOUT JESUS IS THE BEGINNING:

•That he was a historical figure

•That he actually lived

•That he died on the cross

•That he paid the penalty

•That he is God clothed in human

flesh

•That he exists somewhere today

Under the windows of a modern stucco house is something called a check throat. It is there, ostensibly, to prevent water from hitting the wall under the window, but usually for decorative purposes.  It looks strong and stable.  On newer homes it is made of foam with stucco plastered on it.  It has the appearance of a wooden 4X6.

In reality it is foam covered with stucco for appearances.

In many concerts today, the singer/entertainer is only lip-syncing the songs. The music is recorded somewhere backstage.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?

•First of all, He doesn’t talk to the back of your head

•Make the effort to turn around by saying, “I have sinned!”

•Talk to him and offer yourself to him by saying, “Lord, I may not understand it all, but here I am.”

•“Come into my heart and life, and take control.”

•“I believe you forgive me.”

HE WILL!  You are a newborn baby. Continue to walk in the light.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7 (kjv)

RIGHT BUT OVERWHELMED!

YOU CAN BE DOING THE RIGHT THING, BUT STILL BE OVERWHELMED IN THE MIDST OF YOUR STORM!

I had a church member back in the early 1960’s who had a bomb shelter.  It cost him a lot of money; money he could have used to better his life. He thought he was doing the right thing, but he WASTED TIME AND MONEY ON HIS FEAR!

Many of us, if not most, have some kind of fear; fear of spiders, animals (dogs, cats), elevators, etc.  This is the human condition.

Back in the day, the disciples of Jesus were out on the lake when a huge storm arose. (The first thing to remember about this story is that Jesus wasn’t with them.) When they were near death, they saw something or someone coming near them walking on the water.

“In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’”

Matthew 14:26 (nlt)

“But straightway Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; BE NOT AFRAID.’ [Peter got the bright idea to walk on water, too.]

“But when [Peter] saw the boisterous wind, HE WAS AFRAID; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, ‘Of a truth THOU ART THE SON OF GOD.’”

Matthew 14:27, 30-33 (kjv)

“HE WILL keep you in perfect peace as your mind is FIXED ON him: because you TRUST IN him.”

Isaiah 26:3 (kjv-paraphrase)

THE CHURCH IN THE AGE OF RELATIVISM

Next door to my daughter’s apartment is a prominent downtown church; a rather large one.  She invited me to go with her to explore the possibility of her making it her church home.  There was no one to greet us, only a sign notifying attendees to help themselves to the daily program.

After being seated, I opened the program.  The “service” was “Honoring Great American Feminists; Bella Abzug, Hillary Clinton, Angela Davis, Betty Friedan, Oprah Winfrey,  Gloria Steinem, and a few names I didn’t recognize.  The music consisted of the organ playing; no congregational singing.  The Pastor/Speaker reminded us of a few community activities and then directed those gathered to refer to the program.  His “sermon” started out by reminding us of the “The Day of the Woman.”  So far, we heard nothing about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Nicene Creed, Abraham, Samson & Delilah, or the Virgin Mary, nor was a Scriptural basis used, not even Proverbs 31:10-31.

We had enough so we left …; and a few others did the same.  If I’m not mistaken, we thought we would hear something about Jesus.  Sorry Charlie!

Relativism is the philosophy that truth is only that which stands side by side to each individual’s beliefs and experiences, or more authoritatively, it is “any theory holding that criteria of judgment as relative, varying with individuals and their environments.” [Webster Dictionary]. In English it means: truth is not absolute!  In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet and Rosencrantz are talking: “Since nothing is really good or bad in itself – it’s all what a person thinks about it.”  So there is no truth, it is only what you think about it through your experiences of life.  

Therefore, basic and fundamental truth does not exist according to relativism.  Everything is nuanced.  To be up to date and appeal to the younger crowd, the millennials, the hip Preacher/Speecher, is required to make the Bible “a living, breathing” document, relevant to todays way of thinking.  Forget theology.  Forget thee’s and thou’s.  OK?  Some will say, “Its better to get them through the doors of the church than to force them to stay at the nightclub!”

Activities, music and customs have always changed with the times.  No problem so far.  But wait a minute-wait a minute.  It has only been in the last 50 to 60 years that the Christian beliefs taught in the Nicene Creed have been deleted from our pulpits.  Consequently, most of the younger crowd today know nothing about the Trinity, or heaven or hell or sin.  They may know a little about the niceties of accepting Jesus as their personal Savior, but please don’t make them cry over Calvary or the blood.  If you preach too strongly about repentance and confession of sins, we’ll just go to another church.  We want to hear things that lift us up and make us feel good – “Lord knows how we need to hear some good stuff with all the bad things we see on TV news and besides, isn’t there only one God anyway?   We can be like Ancient Greece with many gods.  Since Christian theology and the Christian belief system has been thrown out the window, we can say that the golden calf, Allah, Thor, Jesus and whoever can be a god to us.  

Trinity?  “Forget it.  I can/t explain it anyway.”

Heaven?  “Do you mean aliens in spaceships?  UFOs?”

Repentance?  “Well, I’m sorry for a lot of things.”

Praying?  “Omg yes. I pray all the time.”

Living a holy life?  “You gotta be kidding.  I’m no monk.  And nobody’s perfect.”

“You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you —keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (msg)

What is the true church?  Is the church of which Jesus is the founder an organization, an ornate, architectural building or arena or auditorium filled with happy-happy people listening to the latest rock music and a Speecher who stands on stage with one hand in the pocket of his torn jeans wearing sneakers while he make everyone laugh?   Is it a place where you can live like the devil all week long and come to “The Place” or “The Center” on Sunday, get out early for lunch and head for the beach?  Is a great church one that attracts the most people?   What about the music?  Does it truly bring out praises to God or does it simply tickle your fancy? 

God’s holy place of worship is, according to the Word of God, a gathering of those who “testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.”

Acts of the Apostles 4:33 (nlt)

In the early church, the power of the Holy Spirit was upon them all; not trying to be relevant; not trying to make the Word a living, breathing document; no trying to be a late night comedian.  It was so holy that when a man and his wife lied about giving, God struck them dead!  I fear that too many churches today are too busy counting nickels and noses to be filled with the Holy Spirit; to testify powerfully and be a great blessing!

THE FORGOTTEN PAIN

THEY WHIPPED JESUS. THEY HUMILIATED HIM WITH TAUNTS. THEY SPAT ON HIM.  THEY SHOUTED SNEERING INSULTS. THEY LAUGHED AT HIM.

But there was a stabbing pain of the soul not recorded in Scripture.  Oh it’s there alright, but very little or nothing is written about the hurt, the disappointment Jesus felt when Judas stooped so low in his betrayal for a measly 30 pieces of silver.  Jesus loved Judas. He occupied an important position as treasurer of the group.

Jesus told the assembled disciples, “‘One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators.’”

Matthew 26:20-21 (msg)

It could have been any one of them.  Jesus didn’t name the guy because he didn’t want to embarrass anyone.

If your husband or wife or friend betrayed you, would you publicly hold them up for ridicule?  Jesus would never hold anyone up for public embarrassment.  He knew  the unexplainable pain of disaffection and deception.

“Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, ‘It isn’t me, is it, Rabbi?’ Jesus said, ‘Don’t play games with me, Judas.’”

Matthew 26:25 (msg)

Although nothing is mentioned of Jesus’ feelings at the time, but can’t you just feel Christ’s mixture of anger and hurt.

Arrogantly taking someone for a chump creates a toxic emotional poison in body and mind.  You may have read my article on oxytocin, a hormone associated with betrayal and revenge (“Love hath no fury like a woman scorned!”)  Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus.  In my book, WRITE IT ON MY HEART, I address the issue more completely, but suffice it to say that if you betray her or him, you better watch out!  In fact, if either of you starts to nibble around the edges of moral certitude, you’re a goner. Something crazy and destructive begins to happen and all hell will break loose. Your sins will find you out.   Have you noticed it in real life? Oxytocin & Cortisol – Tiger Woods, John Gotti, Charlie Sheen, and countless others great and small are gluttons for punishment?

Write It On My Heart – Speaking Truth in Love

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 9.13.36 AM.jpg

No, I’m not a molecular biologist so don’t get all freaked out that this is an illustrious article with ibids, op cits and quotes from noted scientists, PhD’s, DD’s, MD’s, DVD’s, and other learned D’s past, present and future.  Cortisol is a hormone finding its origin in the hypothalamus which then tells the pituitary gland to shoot out Oxytocin, known as the DEATH HORMONE. I think the medical name for it is hydrocortisone. Sometime, old people have too much of it, and then they kick the bucket. BUT, would you believe, IT CAN BE TRIGGERED BY GUILT!

It is a “stress” hormone.  Cortisol, the hormone,  can increase blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety and other stuff.  From a “ministerial” (😊) perspective, I might even jump to this conclusion: since guilt is  “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined,” tragic consequences occur in your body, daily activities and even in your thinking.

We know – it is proven – that the mind affects the body. I would submit that your spirit affects both mind and body.  The Psalmist wrote:  “Then I let it all out; I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to GOD.’   Suddenly the pressure was gone— my GUILT dissolved, my sin disappeared.”

Psalm 32:5

CORTISOL is the Death Hormone. Oxytocin is the betrayal/revenge Hormone.  It could be that Jeremiah is addressing this thought:

“All … your friends have forgotten you. They don’t care about you. I have hurt you as an enemy would. I punished you very hard, because your GUILT was so great and your sins were so many. Why are you crying out about your injury? There is no cure for your pain. I did these things to you because of your great GUILT, because of your many sins.”

Jeremiah 30:14-15

“Let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. … in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, GUILT, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!”

1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Jesus, being fully human as well as fully God, most assuredly had a broken heart beyond words when Judas betrayed him. But think of Judas – he “threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself.”

Matthew 27:5 (msg)

Oh the hurt that Jesus felt!