Who Am I?

Thanks for asking.

The simplest answer is, “I am a unique creation of Yaweh.” And, I’d like to add, “So are you!

I hope that doesn’t offend you; but if it does, I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with it. You can choose to ignore it, …but you can’t change it. And ignoring it isn’t going to work to your advantage in the long run.

You see, Yaweh is the one true God of all creation—the God of the Jews and Christians. Yaweh is the creator of the universe—and, every thing in it. Most importantly for this discussion, He created every human as a unique individual.

Have you ever really thought about just how unique you are? On the molecular level, consider your DNA. That alone distinguishes you from the vast majority of all humans wandering the planet. Other distinguishing physical traits are your unique finger-prints and retinal-prints.

Then there is personality—a small percentage of which you inherited from your mother and father. If you grew-up with siblings, think about the common experiences you shared. Did they effect everyone in the exact same way? Do you remember the tiniest details the same way, or would you even agree on what was “tiny” and what was “major”? Then what lessons did you carry away from those “common” experiences? And, how have they affected your psyche and outlook on life?

What you inherited, and what you have learned by formal schooling, street smarts, relationships, how it was taught and by who, your personal observations, and even where you learned it—it all works toward assuring your uniqueness.

OK. We’re both unique. So what?

Well, hang onto that thought while I tell you a bit about your creator YHVH.

“YHVH” is the Hebrew word that translates as “LORD”. This name is found more often in the Old Testament than any other name for God (approximately 7,000 times). The title is also referred to as the “Tetragrammaton,” meaning the “The Four Letters”. YHVH comes from the Hebrew verb “to be” and is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you… this is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations’”. [Exodus 3:13-14]. Therefore, YHVH declares God’s absolute being; and the source of everything—without beginning and without end.1

Now, let’s back-up for just a moment; and look at the very first name for God that we find in the Bible: “Elohim”. It is used about 2,300 times in the Old Testament and its first occurrence is in Genesis 1:1—the very first verse of the Bible. Elohim means, “all powerful”; and its form is, plural! Important? Oh, yeah! Originally a mystery, its meaning is slowly revealed throughout the rest of the Bible. While we worship the one true God, we (now) know our God is a triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It’s a bit difficult to wrap your mind around. It helps me to think of God as the spirit He is, with three different personas. Each of which can operate separately yet stay unified with the whole.

OK. I’m sorry if your head is spinning. I know it’s a lot for some of you to take in. Here is a quick summary of the critical points:

Our God has many names and each name tells us more about Him. The two names we have just talked about, tell us a great deal about God; starting with—our God is not a created being. He is an absolute being. He truly exists. And more than that…

He is an eternal being, or Spirit—without beginning or end.

Our One God has three personas—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit).

God is all powerful and the author of creation. The entire universe was set into existence by the spoken words of God. And that includes every living thing on planet Earth—including you and me. Mankind was created on the sixth day2 and created in the image of God.3

So just what is my point?

Well first, I have a question for you. Who are you?

Based on the above, you might reply that like me, you are a child of God.

And, while that would be a correct answer on one level, it may not be totally correct. You see, far… far… back in our lineage we have a set of grand-parents named Adam and Eve. That’s right. The first man and woman created by God. They knew God intimately. In fact, they physically walked and talked with God on their strolls through the Garden of Eden. They lived in a paradise with no rules—but one. They were instructed by God not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. It was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And God told them that if they did eat of it, they would surely die.

The short version of this story is that Satan, a fallen angel, deceived Eve by telling her if she ate the fruit, she wouldn’t die4. Rather, she would be like God, …knowing good from evil. Eve ate some of the fruit and then convinced Adam to also eat the fruit. And things changed—BIG TIME. Eve and Adam knew they should not go against the only rule God had given them, but they did it anyway, …and that is known as “sin”. Our grandparents, using their freewill intentionally disobeyed God and introduced sin into what had been a perfect environment. And their original sin has infected every man and woman born, or yet to be born, with a sinful nature5. It blocks our communication with God and condemns us to death and eternity in Hell. In fact, sin infected the whole physical planet; and caused God to withdraw to heaven.6

That’s It?

Oh, NO! Time passes. (And God had devised a great—an almost too incredible to believable, plan.) Out of God’s great love for His children, He devised a plan of grace7 that would blot out mankind’s sins for all time; provide for redemption, and restore us to God’s family for eternity. Many prophets (in the old testament) alluded to the plan. Some quite specifically, in retrospect.

Then, in about 5 BC, God implemented His plan. (If you get nothing else out of this post, read and consider the next two paragraphs. GET THIS!)

Out of Gods grace, He sends the Holy spirit to visit His children. The Holy Spirit looks into our hearts, and works to convict us of our sins and our inability to “fix ourselves”. Yes, we are all sinners, and we will be until we die, or are called home. No man or woman is perfect. It is impossible to live on this broken planet without sinning. Big sins, little sins, or both. (As we tend to think of them. Actually, to God there is no distinction. Sin is sin.) And, while God makes no distinction of sins, there is a distinction of sinners: Forgiven and Unforgiven.

None of us know the exact time of our earthly death. And in the meantime, the Holy Spirit is whispering, sometimes shouting.8 Trying to get our attention, fighting our freewill, convicting us to believe that God is God. That He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born of a virgin; to live a perfect life performing miracles and healing the wounds and hearts of broken people; and then to be sacrificed on a Roman cross—carrying the sins of every person who has, and ever will, repent of their sins, from a contrite heart, and ask for forgiveness while declaring Jesus as their Lord and savior. And then He arose from his grave three days later, thus fulfilling prophecies from both the old and new testaments; not only proving His Deity, but, also giving us the promise of a new (eternal) life as a Christian, following his plan for our unique gifts. And, it is free!

And, I actually have three points to make…

First: God offers us his plan at no cost. All of this, …for only believing and asking, …bestowed through the grace of God’s great love for His creation, …YOU and ME. But remember, God is not “only” a God of Love and Grace. He is also a “Just” God. He will never force you to do anything against your will. Your eternal destination is 100 percent your choice. And choosing not to make a decision, or saying “not yet” is the same as saying, “No.” God does not want to send anyone to hell.9 In fact He grieves over every lost soul that is sent there. Never-the-less, He will send you where you choose, and you MUST choose before you die.

My second point is: While it is a given that every one on earth is a sinner; there are those of us who have asked for, and received, salvation, redemption and restoration to God’s family. We are living new lives patterned after Christ’s example, and have a personal relationship with Him that assures we will spend eternity in Heaven with our triune God.

My Third point is: If you recognize that you are a sinner, and know that you cannot save yourself, the Holy Spirit is talking to you and leading you to take action and become a Christian by repenting (confessing) your sins to Jesus and asking his forgiveness. Tell Jesus that you want to become a follower (which is what a Christian is—a follower of Christ). Tell Jesus you love Him and are ready to begin the new life He has planned for you.

It is truly that simple. Yet, for many it is too difficult.

When you do establish this relationship something truly incredible will happen. The Holy Spirit will move into your heart to act as your guide and interpreter. Really! And never forget this scripture:

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:27-28. NLT]

My Prayer:

Yaweh (I AM),

Scientists tell us the universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago, when a tiny singularity (or vacuum fluctuation) containing (what we now call) the universe, and energy (known as a scalar field) suddenly appeared in space—out of nothing at all. The energy field in this singularity acted as “antigravity” inflating the bubble instantaneously to the size of a grapefruit. By this point the antigravity was converted to heat energy which kept expanding (at a more sedate speed) due to the push of the inflation. This is now referred to as the “Big Bang”.

I prefer the description of creation presented in the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1] And I see no conflict with the science. Now we know where the singularity came from and what triggered it—while providing the design, rules, matter and energy for the creation. Thank you, God!

Scientists tell us the earth is 4.5 billion years old. And mankind may be 50,000 years old. The Bible tells us you created Adam and Eve; but again, doesn’t tell us when. I do believe you created them. And would, if for no other reason than they are the most unique part of all creation. You created them in your image, and you gave them life!

Neither do we know when Satan seduced Eve into doing what she knew to be wrong—and, the same for Adam. Nor, do we know exactly how long it was before you chose Moses to lead your people out of enslavement in Egypt. But we do know the first book of the Torah (also the first book of the Christian Bible) was written about 1450 BC, by Moses.

Your Words, recorded in the 66 books of the Bible over that next millennium and a half, give me all the knowledge and instruction I need to know about you, the One True God. I know you love your entire creation—most especially, mankind.

40 Years ago, you chose me a second time; when I was as undeserving as I could ever be. You picked me up, dusted me off and led me into a new life. The path you set me on led to the perfect wife and life partner. Together, we have been blessed beyond measure. And now, we look forward to what you still have in store for us as we move forward loving God, following Jesus, and striving to love others as we love ourselves.

I know I am not perfect in my walk; never-the-less, your love, grace, and guidance, endure. I thank you, and praise you for your never ending love.

Your loving servant,

Larry


1. Although some pronounce YHVH as “Jehovah” or “Yaweh,” scholars really don’t know the proper pronunciation because the ancient Hebrew alphabet had no vowels. For pronunciation purposes due to the absence of vowels in the Tetragrammaton, Bible scholars have chosen to spell it either Yaweh, or sometimes, Yahweh.

2.There is much debate about the Creation of the universe. Some say in a great explosion of a singularity formed the universe.. Some say God started the process and the universe evolved over billions of years. Still others say; six days. And while almost all religions have a story of the creation, only the Bible postulates that one supreme God created the earth out of his great love; and gave mankind a special place in it. How long it took is unknown. The Bible does not say how long it took. Some take the term “day” to be a literal 24 day period. Others say the word “day” represents an indefinite period of time (even millions or billions of years).

3. What does it mean when the bible says that man was created in God’s image? Obviously, this is another occasion when God was not being totally literal. God is a Spirit. God can assume the form of man. What God did was create men and women as unique beings capable of communicating with him. No other part of creation can claim that incredible capability.

4. Satan was doing what he does best, …lying. And, using God’s children as a tool to attack God.

5. Except for Jesus Christ.

6. God is Holy and cannot abide the presence of sin.

7. Grace: unmerited favor. i.e. We didn’t earn it, nor do we deserve it. It is free for believing and asking from a broken and contrite heart. God also gave mankind freewill and the ability to reflect his (God’s) character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness.

8. You will not lose your freewill. God loves His creation and does not want robots who have no choice but to obey. At the same time it means you will never be perfect while on earth.

9. God created hell for Satan and his followers. While I cannot imagine exactly what hell is like, I can tell you that it is a place you DO Not want to be. I know it is totally devoid of God and any good thing. If you think life on earth can be difficult, try to imagine a place where there is no love, no kindness, no charity, no understanding, no truth, no mercy, no help of any kind, no music, no laughter. There will be constant pain and sorrow. And more filth.

 

 

 

 

 

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December 18th

Well, 7-days from today will be Christmas Day. The day that, in our society, is almost anti-climatic. In many cases months of preparation come to an end. The frantic shopping is done. Santa Claus, has made his deliveries, gifts will be opened and, hopefully, admired. Others will be slated for return. Large meals will be consumed; and thoughts will turn to beginning the cleaning-up, taking-down and packing-away of the elaborate Christmas decorations, lighting displays, etc. For some, there is the excitement of spending their gift money at the after Christmas sales. And many will be happy for the fact that they have the weekend before going back to work. But, of course that doesn’t apply to those who work in all those stores having the after Christmas sales.

I find it odd, maybe even ironic. For almost 1,400 years the Jewish people had looked and waited for the promised Redeemer and Messiah. Yet, they knew, or should have known when He was coming. There are many scriptures in the Old Testament that speak to the birth of Christ, making both the “when” and the “where” fairly obvious to both the priests and the scholars. They, at least, should have known where, and approximately when, Christ would make His appearance. And then, when He finally arrived, many of God’s chosen people rejected Him.

I see many similarities in the society I live in.

Isn’t it interesting that it was rough, dirty, lowly shepherds that God selected to be the first to hear the news of the birth of their Lord and savior. And, the only ones who figured it out on their own, weren’t even Jews. They were Wise Men, or Magi, …from the East—who were likely of royal birth.

May I humbly suggest that we take the next 7-days to get reconnected to the real reason for this season and holiday. Not the sales. Not the elaborate decorations. Not the gifts we buy, or make for one another; or even the great food. Rather, can we take some time each day to think about, and maybe even thank God for the incredible plan that was put into motion with the birth of Jesus. There are many wonderful stories of individuals who played greater and lesser roles. Yet all were intertwined in the big story, …The Birth of Christ.

Jesus, the Christ, is the best gift ever givenand, this gift was given to the entire world, forever.

First, I think of what it must have been like in heaven when God looked at His Son and said, “Well, son, I think it’s time. Time to send you to earth and begin the ‘Restoration and Redemption Plan’”.i

Jesus looked around. The Angels were in a state of surprise and shock. His Father was clearly in agony; and, at the same time, radiating pure love in a way Jesus had never seen before. He looked at everything He’d be losing when He went to the earth to be implanted in a single cell in the womb of a teenage virgin. He also looked forward in time and saw exactly what would transpire in about 34-earth years at a place called Golgotha; and that was too horrific to dwell on. Then He looked back to His Father and said, “I’m ready Father. Your will be done”. And it was.

Over a period of months God sent the angel Gabriel to earth to prepare some chosen people for what was about to happen. First to Zachariah, a priest. He was married to Elizabeth, a relative of Marywho would become the mother of Jesus. The angel Gabriel told Zachariah that his wife would bear a childwhich was something of a miracle in-and-of itself since Elizabeth was near 90 years old, and barren. Gabriel also said their child should be named John; and he (John) would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. Zachariah and Elizabeth went “all-in”.

Then in Elizabeth’s 6th month of pregnancy, Gabriel is sent to Mary. He tells Mary that even though she is a virgin, she will conceive and give birth to a son, and name Him Jesus. After asking several questions of Gabriel, Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true”. Wow!

Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and Joseph was unhappy. Mary was pregnant, and he had not had sexual relations with her. He was in an untenable position. He loved Mary. He thought she loved him; yet, she had disgraced him and his family. Legally, he could have her stoned to death; or, he could quietly break the engagementwhich would spare Mary’s life; but condemn her to a very difficult and degraded life. Gabriel shows up again, and tells Joseph not to break the engagement, that the child Mary carries is the son of God! And, Joseph takes Mary as his wife. They have no sexual relations until after the birth of Jesus.

Whoa! Imagine being told that you will have the responsibility of raising the Son of God?

In her 9th month of pregnancy Mary and Joseph are required to go to the town of Bethlehem, where Joseph was born. They must make the long and dangerous trip because of a Roman edict to conduct a census. To ignore it would be to invite death. They make the laborious (no pun intended) journey; and upon arrival, or very shortly after, Mary is in labor. Because of the census, the town is over-flowing. With no rooms available, they end-up in a stable. The son of God is born, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in the manger. Of course this particular stable had been cleaned, provided with light, running water, and made ready for the delivery of a baby with doctors standing by. NOT! Never-the-less, that’s how Jesus arrived on planet earth.

And yes, the aforementioned shepherds showed up to see this great thing the angels had told them of. And after seeing Jesus in the manger, they left and told everyone who would listen what the angels had told them. They had found, “…a Savior, who is Christii the Lord”.

Now, about the Wise Men (or Magi): We don’t know exactly when they showed up. It is evident that Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem for some period of time after Jesus’ birth. (It may have been (and I think likely) that it was between two and three years.iii

The Bible tells us that the Magi followed a star to Bethlehem. On their way they stopped in Jerusalem and made inquiries: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews”. Obviously, Herod the King, heard they were in town seeking the prophesied “King of the Jews” and decided to meet with the Magi. He told them, they should find this child in Bethlehem, and when they found Him, to bring back word so that he might go and worship Him also.

The star led the Wise Men on to Bethlehem and stopped over the very house where, “…the young child was”.iv After presenting their gifts, they were divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod. So they took another way home.

As soon as they left an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to “Take the young child and His mother by night, and flee to Egypt…” He was told to stay there because Herod wanted to destroy Jesus. And, further, he should stay in Egypt until the angel returned to tell him it was safe to return. (After Herod’s death).

When Herod realized the Wise Men weren’t coming back he was exceedingly angry. So using the timetable for the appearance of the star the Wise men had followed, Herod ordered his soldiers to kill every child 2-years old and under in Bethlehem and all its districts. Nice guy, that Herod.

Well, Herod did die, and God sent an angel to tell Joseph that he should return to Israel with his wife and child. On the way, Joseph found-out that Herod’s son was ruler of Judea. Joseph was afraid to return to Bethlehem; and, being warned by God in a dream, Joseph diverted around Judea and went to Galilee There they set-up house keeping in the town of Nazareth, where Jesus grew to adulthood.

Father God, In this country Satan has almost succeeded in eliminating Christ from Christmas. This is very troubling to many of us, while others who profess to be Christian seem to be oblivious to what is going on. Or, maybe they just feel powerless.

Father, we look at the story of the birth of Christ and see people just like us who played incredible roles in your name. And, I believe that is the difference. These people truly believed that with you anything was possible. And, you would never ask them to do anything that your weren’t willing to guide them through.

Father, I know nothing has changed on your side of the equation. It’s us who have let you down. I’d like to see a revival like the world, and especially this nation has never seen. I’d like to see this nation become the nation you once had envisioned it to be. Father, we can change. We can stand our ground. Restore our faith. Restore our trust in you. Use us, Father.

In Jesus name I pray,

Larry

i The material for this paragraph (and the next) is not found in the Bible. It is how I imagine it.

ii Jesus is His name. Christ is His title. The word Christ is the Greek word meaning Messiah.

iii My reasoning for more than two, but less than 3-years old, is that the Bible tells us that when the Wise men arrived, Joseph and his family were living in a house. Jesus was not referred to as a baby, but rather as a “child”. Herod would have had his “finger on the pulse’ of his kingdom. He was shrewd and competent ruler. He had likely heard about the birth of Jesus, but had no telling evidence. The Wise Men shared the time of the star’s appearance with Him. When he chose to kill all male children 2 and under, I presume that would mean, any male under three years old. Assuming that you are considered 2 until your 3rd birthday.

iv Matthew 2:9

No God? Know about God. Or… Know God! [Part 2 of 3]

Know about God.

Would it surprise you to know there has never been a group of people (tribe, nation-state, civilization) found on planet Earth that has not worshiped a god or gods?

And why does man, sooner or later, ask… “Does God exist?”  Or, “Is there really a God?”

The answer is simple.  We were created by God.  And, God created us in such a way as to need Him.  But, we have to seek Him out.  The problem is in the seeking. 

Over the millenniums, different people groups have found different answers to fill that ‘God shaped hole’ within their hearts/souls.  Many have found their gods in nature and the elements:  sun, moon, stars, earth, fire, wind, rain, and water for example.  Others have found gods for activities and events such as seasons, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, harvests, sickness, fertility, etc.  And religion has grown up around all of it.  So where does that leave us?

Good question.  My answer is, first, …we all believe in and worship something or someone.

Atheists will say they disagree; that they, “worship no god”.  But they do.  Most worship science and to some degree they all worship themselves.  Yet science doesn’t have all the answers – and many of the answers science does supply are only “partially right” or “temporarily right”; lasting only until proven wrong by a better theory or law.  Truly, in this day and age, it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I love science (and science fiction).  I follow technological advances via printed media, broadcast media and the Internet.  Science is not the enemy of Christianity, regardless of what Richard Dawkins and others, have to say.  Science, true science, will never disprove Christianity.  (It may give some religions a very bad time, but man’s relationship with God will NEVER be destroyed by science.  It simply will not happen.

Early scientists, for the most part, were educated in/by their churches – think, Buddhist, Hindi, Islam, Christian (Catholic).  In the West many early scientists were monks.  Of course, the word ‘science’ and ‘scientist’ didn’t exist at the time.  They were educated and observant people, with inquiring minds.  What drove these early pioneers in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, physics and other disciplines?  Interestingly enough, they most often attributed their work to, ‘…a search to discover the natural laws God set in motion to govern His Creation’.

Obviously, they had no trouble giving credit where credit was due.  And, of course not everyone was particularly happy about the advances  in science.  Galileo and his run-ins with the Church in Rome being a particularly well known example.  Yet, the pioneers in science persevered.  And modern science (and scientific method) is the result.

So what have we learned about God?

That is asking a lot!  Let me approach the answer this way.  Different religions will have different answers to that question.

For instance, it may surprise some of you to learn that Buddha is not a god.  The Great Buddha never referred to himself as god.  He sought only a path to enlightenment.  Buddhists do not believe in God (although offerings are made to him).  Buddhists don’t believe in sin, heaven, or hell.  The goal is to become enlightened and reach nirvana – which is a mental state of “non-existence” with no attachments to earthly belongings or desires.

Hinduism teaches that god is everything – including man and nature.  There are up to 330 million gods – all coming from the same god, Brahman. Since all gods are good, you can pick your own and make offerings to it.  Humans are trapped in a series of rebirths and reincarnations depending on how they live their lives.  Karma is the accumulation of a person’s good and bad deeds.  It will determine how you are reincarnated.  Bad karma can lead to being reincarnated as an animal. By living multiple good lives (moksha), one can be freed from the cycle of rebirth and reincarnation.

The supreme being of Islam is Allah.  Allah is not a personal god and can’t be truly known by men.  Allah asks his followers to fight against all who do not worship him as God (infidels).  Infidels are to be converted to Islam even if force is required.  You earn your salvation by following the Five Pillars of Faith and living a good life.  Good people go to paradise, bad people go to hell.  That decision is made by Allah. Your salvation can be guaranteed only by dying in battle while fighting in a holy war (jihad) for Allah.

In the Mormon faith each man has the potential to be a god on his own planet if he meets the requirements of Mormonism while on Earth. Women will live on the planet on which their husband is god.  Jesus, God (Judeo-Christian) and the Holy Spirit are three different gods. Mormons believe that God came to earth as a physical man.  Through his good conduct he became the God of earth.  (I have no clue who made/declared him God of earth. -AG) Jesus is the natural born son of God and Mary.  Satan is Jesus brother, conceived by God (I therefore, assume. -AG)

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe 144,000 people will go to heaven based on what they do; and, only church members can be saved.  They believe God is a single deity who doesn’t know all things and isn’t everywhere. Jesus is the human form of the archangel Michael – who was created by God; thus making Jesus inferior to God.  The Holy Spirit is God’s impersonal active force on earth.  They further believe, that (after death) if you are of the church, but not part of the “anointed class” (the 144,000), you will stay on the earth which will always exist.  All other people will die into nothingness (no afterlife for them).

The God of Judaism is revealed in the Old Testament of the Bible. There is no Trinity (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  God is both loving and the judge of the earth.  Jews believe they are a people chosen by God.  To live as a Jew is to pray, to do good deeds, and to be humble before God.  The Jewish concept of the afterlife is kind of a mixed bag.  Some believe there is no afterlife.  Some believe all Jews go to heaven.  Some believe the wicked go to hell. Non-Jews can be granted afterlife if they are righteous.  The greater focus for Jews is on the Age to Come, when Jews will live on earth in resurrected bodies.

Christians believe there is one supernatural God in three Persons – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All three Persons have existed for all eternity.  Christians believe that God is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  God is both loving and the judge of all the earth.  God is distinct from His creation; but is intimately involved with it – as it’s Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer.  God created mankind to do His work on earth, and to have a personal relationship with Him.  God gave man free-will; and, through original sin (willful disobedience to God), man and the earth have fallen from the “very good” state in which they were created. Because God is perfection and without sin, mankind cannot enter into His presence without being redeemed.  By ourselves, and through our own works, we cannot erase our sins or earn redemption.  Because God loves His creation, He has made redemption available to all people through the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Those who died (or die) without knowledge of Jesus will be judged as either righteous or unrighteous based on how they lived their lives, based on what they did know.

OK. That was a very quick overview of a subject that fills entire libraries.  But, I think it will allow us to make some quick comparisons.  What I think are the key points are these:

  1. Most religions fail to address where their gods came from, where the earth came from, where plants and animals came from, how societies/cultures and moral codes developed, etc.  (If they do, the parts about where the earth, plants and animals came from don’t match up very well to what we know from the scientific record.)  And some religions are quite vague about the afterlife.
  2. Most gods are impersonal and unapproachable.  They don’t want an intimate relationship with their followers.
  3. Many gods have limited scope and powers.
  4. Most religions rely on “works” to determine your destination after death (if there is an afterlife).  Since “works” are not (to my knowledge) given individual values, it is virtually impossible to be assured of your status with your god.  For instance, how many average goodies are wiped out by a big baddie?

In part 1 of this post, I said that I believe we seek God because God made us with an “empty spot” within us that can only be filled by Him.  I don’t know if you subscribe to that, but I have never heard a better reason.  And, you might want to ask yourself, “If it’s not true, why would I ask about God?  In fact, how could I even frame the question?“

One final thought.  When I said that we can make a god out of pretty much anything?  And that it’s purely a matter of what we choose to worship?  That is true.  Also true is the fact that “…man is destined to die once…”[Heb 9:27. NLT] (OK, that is from the New Testament, but even if you don’t “buy into” the New Testament, are you really going to try to convince me that statement  isn’t true?)  We are ‘terminal’ the day we are born. So, do you really think that’s all there is to it?  We live.  We die. The end.

Or, is there more to our story?  I believe there is, …a lot more. 

And, for that, you’ll have to read part 3, coming soon.

Avery Goodday

How’s Your Eyesight?

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am very aware that there are a great many events transpiring in the supernatural realm (or dimension) that surrounds us.  How can I be so sure of this?  Because the Bible is very specific about it!  But, as always, we have a choice.  We can go through life seeing with only our physical eyes; or, we can look at life through “eyes” that “see” what God tells us is true. 

 And, like most decisions God gives us, it’s a “one or the other” proposition.  But know this, while we cannot see (with our eyes) what is going on, we can be impacted by these events.  Thus, I’m afraid that picking and choosing when we will use our “Kingdom Eyes” and when we won’t, is not going to serve us very well.  In 2 Cor 4:18, we are told, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” [NIV]

Consider, God is with you right now.  There are, very likely, angels in the same room, as well.  Every person you know, every person you talk to, is an eternal being.  And, these are truths we ignore at our peril. 

Yes, I agree, we will seldom, if ever, know exactly what is going on at any given moment.  However, just knowing there is this huge unseen war going on around us actually allows us to better cope with the dimension in which we live … here on earth.  How so?  Well, suppose you are going through an extremely difficult period.  You decide that it’s just part of life and start working on solutions (based entirely on your own devices and skills).  Things start to improve; and about the time you are thinking you’ve got the situation in hand, the bottom falls out.  Now you are in real trouble and since you’ve already tried to resolve the situation and failed, you simply don’t know where to turn.  (Yes, I’ve, “… been there, done that, and have the T-shirt.”)

You might want to try thinking about it this way.  Ask yourself, “OK. God lives in me.  He sees everything that has, and is, happening. What does this situation look like to Him?”  Well, I can think of at least three possibilities.  Maybe this is an attack by Satan. Satan could be trying to hurt God through me.  Or, this could be a consequence of my own actions.  Something I’ve earned and need to use as a learning experience.  Or, maybe God is growing me and tempering me for a future “assignment”.

So, what is truly going on?  We may never know for sure.  But there are things we can still do.  Start thinking about what we know about God.  For instance, God is love.  All those ‘facets of love’ found in 1 Cor 13:4-8 – well, they show us an awful lot about who our God is, and how He operates His Kingdom.  Here is another list of ways to look at things with Kingdom eyes.  Paul is writing, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, what-ever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” [Phi 4:8 NIV]  Grace and faithfulness are a couple of other characteristics.   The point is, look at what matches up to God – and fight everything else! Having second thoughts about yourself (or your salvation)?  Satan at work!  Want to get even with the person whose lie started all the trouble?  Satan at work!  Having inappropriate thoughts about that super-hot girl who was just transferred into your department?  Satan at work!

Talking to God, and reading scripture are the absolute two best things we can do.  Prayer puts spiritual forces at work through the authority Jesus has given us.  And, reading the inspired Word of God does the same thing.  Remember, God lives in us.  When we engage God through prayer and scripture, super-natural powers go to work for us.  Rom 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Did you catch that “…all things,” thing?   I’m sorry to have to say this; but, what that really means is that we will still experience both easy things and difficult things; good things and bad things.  But, the difference for Christians is that all of it can be used by God to benefit us.  Yes!  What Satan intends for evil can be turned – by God – into, maybe not pleasurable experiences; but, experiences that move God’s plans for us forward!  And, can’t you just imagine how it must affect Satan, when something he intended to cause us harm – and thus hurt the God who loves us – is, instead, accepted by us as an opportunity to learn, to grow our faith, and strengthen our walk with God? 

Remember, having “eyes to see”, means not just seeing into (or having an under-standing of) the spiritual dimension.  It also means seeing events, people, our culture, – all things in the physical dimension here on planet Earth – through God’s eyes.  If we can do that, we will become vessels, the warriors, the servants, and the friends that God can truly use to grow His Kingdom right here, right now.  …Let’s get started.

Avery Goodday

How Big Is Your God?

 

NGC-3314

When someone asks us that question, we generally tend to say, “Big. Really BIG” or something to that effect.

But do we really believe it?  I mean, do we live it?  Does our prayer life reflect it?

I think, more often than not, we place limits on God.  We say, “God, could you…”; or worse, “God if you could just….”

When praying, have you ever started to ask God for something… and then stopped yourself because you suddenly think, “…it’s too much to ask for”? 

Do you mean, too much to ask for yourself?  (i.e. “I’m not worthy of it.”)  Or, do you mean, too big for God?  (“I can’t see even God making this happen.”)  Well, let me just say, WRONG …and WRONG. Oh, I’ve found myself doing (and thinking) the same thing.  But, I’ve also discovered the error in my thinking.

First, as a Christian, you are a child of God.  With that in mind, read Psalm 84:11.  “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (NLT)  Does this mean you will get everything you think is good for you?  Of course not.  But, it does mean that as His redeemed (blameless) sons and daughters, we can fully expect to receive all that is permanently good for us; and, that which will help us serve Him and bring Him glory.

Second, do not set limits on the limitless.  Because our lives and minds do have limits, it is easy  to listen when Satan whispers, “…well it’s too late now.  If only you had ….”  Or, “…but that would take a miracle, and miracles don’t just happen for someone like you.” Well, about Satan, Jesus said, “…He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44, NLT. 

So, look around you with your Kingdom Eyes.  NOTHING is beyond the power of God.  Worship your BIG God.  Praise BIG.  Pray BIG.  And expect BIG results.  Then give credit where credit is due!

* NCG-3314.  This Hubble photo shows two galaxies …not colliding. (One is 10’s of millions of light-years behind the other).  How cool is that!

Thank you Lord, for stretching my mind; and, showing me your beauty, power and majesty.

Avery