Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peace on Earth

Our dreams can be no higher than our language. How often we take beautiful God-filled words and make them so banal and so far short of the wonderful pictures God has painted for us.

Even many secularists will exchange Christmas cards carrying the phrase "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men" - the Christmas angelic proclamation to the shepherds. It should be enough of a clue that if secularists would use the word "peace" then something (the meat) of the depth of meaning God intended is missing. Yet, could there still be a hint or clue there?

Most people first think of the lack of war or an unconflicted state of mind as the meaning of "peace", yet we are confronted with perpetual war and almost constant conflict - unless we find internal escape from the world with the Buddhists or accept the unreality of reality with the Hindus. We are all painfully aware there is a problem, we only differ on where the real problem resides.

The unbelieving world sees the problem as a correctable, superficial human problem (obviously, with other people) that will yield to liberal doses of education, law, and "I'm OK, You're OK" psychotherapy. But God has defined the problem as a hereditary illness and brokenness within called rebellion against God that we all have willfully embraced. We have estranged ourselves from home, and, like the prodigal son in a far country, we all long for home and the missing relationship - even when we don't know where home is, we simply know there ought to be a home.

The external wars and conflicts are just extensions of the sickness and longings from within. For those willing to admit this source of the problem - me - God sent a Son to be born in a manger to make the only way to restore the wholeness between Father and us, His children.

And so the angels proclaimed at the birth of Jesus, "Wholeness and restored relationship with the Father is available to all who will acknowledge the Giver and accept the Gift." Now, there can be Peace even when there is no peace. In fact, without this internal "Peace on Earth", there is no hope of external "peace on earth" at all.

Savor the full beauty and wonder of that night long ago. See the Glorious picture of when our Peace came.

p.s. - Just viewed a video post by Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason) on this verse from Luke 2:14. He added one additional perspective - horizontal vs vertical. Secular application of "Peace" in this passage is horizontal, man to man, but the Biblical application is vertical, God to man. This is very similar to the common distortion of Mt 22:36-39 - "Love your neighbor as yourself." It appears the vertical relationship always precedes and informs the horizontal.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Evolving to God's Image?

Which is the correct interpretation of Gen 1:26 - "Let us make/create man in our image" or "Let us evolve this goo so that it will eventually come to our image"?

If the later, does evolution make us "better" and more God-like? Have we arrived there yet?

Do we finally just evolve into pure immaterial soul and out of time into eternity?

I think the jury has already condemned us.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Love Your Neighbor or Hate Your Neighbor?

"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. " Mt 22:36-39 (KJV).

Many are familiar with this passage. The latter half of Jesus' saying, "Love thy neighbor," is so non-threatening you find parallels in other religions and even secularists can nod in agreement. However, this completely misunderstands, trivializes, and tramples the meaning and impact of what is intended. I don't know of a higher or more exacting standard of love for our neighbor than in the Bible, but this high standard can't be understood apart from the whole of Jesus' statement.

First, there is a clear precedence, first and second, 1) Love God with your whole being and then 2) love your neighbor. This implies you cannot really do #2 without doing #1 first, just as you can't stretch a single into a double in baseball by running from home plate across the pitcher's mound to second base bypassing first base.

Then Jesus says the second is "like" the first. How are the first and second alike? Both use the same Greek word for love - agape. The highest example of agape is Jesus' giving Himself to die in our place on a cross that we might obtain God's mercy rather than the judgment we all deserve. That's the kind of "love" we are commanded to love our neighbor with. A high love indeed. Imagine what that would be like.

But, unless we know that kind of agape love first expressed by God toward us, what example of love have we to share with our brothers? I have used the following to try to convey what I believe to be the enormous contrast between agape and the kind of love we settle for when we jump to #2 without knowing the love of #1 - "Compared to God's love shown to us through the cross, the highest love of natural man is but a better hate" ... so, without the high Biblical standard and with the dumbing down of love, there's little wonder there is real "hate" expressed in this world - even by some who can quote Mt 22:36-39.

Taking God, and God first, out of the picture leaves a pathetic, cheap, imitation love. So, do you love your neighbor or hate him?

Monday, October 05, 2009

In Need of Mercy

Some thoughts on John 8:1-11, the passage on the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus by the ruling religious leaders.

The woman was guilty of breaking the law and deserved punishment as the religious leaders claimed. As events unfolded, it appears Jesus convicted these leaders of their sins, yet, instead of staying and receiving mercy as the woman did, they left with their deserved punishment still hanging over their heads.

Jesus was the only one who could grant mercy. The just penalty of God's justice must be paid, and He alone could and did pay it. He could grant this woman mercy because of what He knew He would do in fulfilling His mission on the earth.

The religious rulers missed out because they desired justice over mercy and ending up condemning themselves.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

They Have Names, Too

(Below was submitted for publication in a local newspaper.)

The counter silently clicks over as 165 babies are aborted every hour:

50,844,537 50,844,538 50,844,539 50,844,540 50,844,541 50,844,542 50,844,543 50,844,544 50,844,545 50,844,546 50,844,547 50,844,548 50,844,549 50,844,550 50,844,551 50,844,552 50,844,553 50,844,554 50,844,555 50,844,556 50,844,557 50,844,558 50,844,559 50,844,560 50,844,561 50,844,562 50,844,563 50,844,564 50,844,565 50,844,566 50,844,567 50,844,568 50,844,569 50,844,570 50,844,571 50,844,572 50,844,573 50,844,574 50,844,575 50,844,576 50,844,577 50,844,578 50,844,579 50,844,580 50,844,581 50,844,582 50,844,583 50,844,584 50,844,585 50,844,586 50,844,587 50,844,588 50,844,589 50,844,590 50,844,591 50,844,592 50,844,593 50,844,594 50,844,595 50,844,596 50,844,597 50,844,598 50,844,599 50,844,600 50,844,601 50,844,602 50,844,603 50,844,604 50,844,605 50,844,606 50,844,607 50,844,608 50,844,609 50,844,610 50,844,611 50,844,612 50,844,613 50,844,614 50,844,615 50,844,616 …

In one hour on Sunday, May 31,2009, another senseless killing surfaces a name - George Tiller. Every life is a precious life – even that of an abortionist. Maybe one name will help us remember that the millions that have already died should have had names, too – while the killing counter continues to roll:

Shamika Abbey James Theodore Juan Becky Sara William Rose Jose Thomas Nathan Lydia Lee Mary Kyle Nancy Julie Yevette Iola Rusty Chuck Audrey Vicky Orem Jimmy Delissa Catherine Harry Kenny Glissen Julio Pam Lisa Terence Sergio Jason Paul Amy Tiffany Jermaine Avery Shayla Jason Britt Gabriel Alwonda …

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Legalizing Wrong as Right Sends More to Hell

Pain has a purpose - to let us know something is wrong and give us a chance to do something about it.

The social pain of disapproval serves the same purpose. When social disapproval is inline with God's Word, that pain has a greater possibility of leading people to examine their contrary beliefs/behavior and turn back to the right path - repent. Giving the legal permission to do what is wrong salves over the conscience and allows the lost a greater weight of comfort in their wrong doing.

Whether it is legalization of abortion, sexual deviancy, or any other of a myriad of things the Bible is abundantly clear is wrong, legalization has the effect of sending more people to hell. Or, at the very least, prolonging their self-deception until they finally come to the end of themselves and reach out for God but still suffer the natural consequnces of the much deeper hole they are in because of the comfort of legalization.

This is not a trivial matter - it is grave, immediate, and important. We should be saying to those we've elected, "How dare you vote contrary to God's Word!"

Monday, May 04, 2009

Can Atheists be Good?

This is a perennial question - can an atheist be good? My answer: they can only appear to do good things if we lower the standard for what we call "good."

Atheist, Christopher Hitchens, taunts Christians with the question, "Name one good thing a Christian can do that an atheist cannot."

Atheists can commit their lives to helping the poor, needy, and downtrodden, even "surrender their body to be burned" for their fellow man (i.e. "be good"), but they cannot fulfill the highest moral imperative - worship God. Apart from the Agape love of the cross, the highest love of man is but a better hate - and not really "good" at all.