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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Fear of God/Jesus?

Let’s start this post with two short definitions of the word, “fear”. We will be dealing with both:

    1. …to be afraid of something or someone.

    2. …profound, overwhelming awe and reverence.

Over the years I have had many opportunities to talk with non-believers about Christianity. Some have been “Seekers”. They know their life is off-track. But they don’t know what to do about it. These people are usually anxious to talk about religion, even though they often come out of those conversations more confused than they were going in. These people we can help.

The “Confused or Disillusioned”. Frequently the next stage after seeking, for those who don’t find true Christian help. They may think it’s too late for them because they believe they have done things God would never forgive. Or, they have such low self esteem they think God just doesn’t want them.

Others have tried living the Christian lifestyle (on their own) and failed miserably. Many of these are, or were followers of Christian denominations. Others are those who seriously do not understand God’s plan; but think they do. They may have grown-up in a home with Christian parents—faithfully attended Church, were baptized, and are now living a good and successful life, even helping others here and there. And then there are those who say, “…of course I believe in God. God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. So, all religions, if followed faithfully, will lead to heaven.” And, some have seen people who claim to be Christians, quite obviously not following a Christian lifestyle. They may or may not be Christian. That is between them and God. I will point out that when you become a Christian, you do not automatically become perfect. The Christian walk is a process that you will work on for the remainder of your life on earth. So do not let someone else disillusion you.

We also have those who have heard the Holy Spirit’s murmuring but have taken no action—for one reason or another. Probably the most common reason is they are quite comfortable in their current lifestyle and do not know what to expect, “…if God gets a hold of them”. After all, they don’t want to end-up somewhere in Africa, or South America. They are afraid of the unknown.

And then there are those who have also heard the Spirit’s murmuring; and just flat-out said, “No”. They are Atheists or Agnostics.

If this describes you, OK. It is your choice to make; you have free will. But I encourage you, if you still hear those murmurings, open your mind enough to reconsider your position. e.g., Who, or what, triggered the Great Expansion resulting in the Big Bang? How did life come into existence? Why are more and more scientists accepting that there had to be a grand design/designer. You are in a particularly dangerous position. If you continue to deny God, the murmurings will cease, …and it will be too late. (Jn 12:39-41). God is Love. But, God is also, …Just. You can’t ‘flip God off’ forever. Please think about it.

You should NOT be “afraid” of God! Instead let the following seven characteristics of God show you why.

  1. God is the designer and creator of the universe. God is a spirit. He does not have a body. He is omnificent—meaning unlimited in creative power. He is omnipresent—He can be any place at any time; He is omnipotent—almighty with unlimited authority. He is omniscient—all knowing. (Gs 1:1-31; 2:7; 18-24). Please pause and consider each of those characteristics.

  2. God loves His creation, especially mankind, who He created in His image. (This does not mean that we are spirits, or omni-anything!) However, God did give us free-will. We can reason; we can communicate with one another—and, with God. (Jn 17:3). It didn’t take much time for Adam and Eve to “get the hang” of using their free-will. They committed the original sin by disobeying the only rule God had given them, and mankind has sinned ever since. But what is sin? Who has sinned? And what’s so bad about sin? These verses will answer those questions. (Jas 4:17; 1Jn 3:4) (Rom 3:23; 5:17) (Rom 6:23; Is 59:2).

  3. God created you—and, He wants to have a personal relationship with you. In order to have that relationship, God sent His son Jesus, to the earth to be the only possible sacrifice for forgiveness of our sins, restoration in God’s family, and eternal life with Him in Heaven. (Jn 3:16-21; 14:6).

  4. But, we must personally respond to The Spirit’s call by believing in and trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. God will not force anyone to become a Christian. It is your choice. (Rom 10:9-10; Jn1:12).

Now that is a lot to take in—but, there is more.

  1. In number “1.” above, I said that God is a Spirit. And while that is true, God also has all the attributes of a person: He thinks, He speaks, He communicates, He loves, He becomes angry, He grieves, He is compassionate, and He experienced sorrow. He feels what we feel! (Mt 1:20-23).

  2. So, no matter what you have faced or will face, He understands! He even understands our temptations. And, He stands ready to forgive us once, and for all time! (Acts 2;21; Heb 5:9).

You say you can’t get your mind around all that? Yeah, well neither can I! What you are likely experiencing is FEAR! Profound awe and overwhelming reverence.

Summary:

Yes, a lot of people are afraid of God/Jesus. I was one—quite a few years ago. I always pictured God/Jesus standing up there in heaven; long white hair, long white beard, stern look on His face, looking down on me, and just waiting for me to make a mistake. I knew my “sin-list” had to be long. Maybe even, record setting. But, you know, when you actually develop that relationship with the entire God-head—meaning, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit (who lives inside you after you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior)—God is anything but scary. (Jn 14:16-20. It is empowering and, …liberating.

After reading Jn 14:6, some will say that Christianity is arrogant and intolerant. Consider this. Christ is God’s appointed means of salvation. Only Christ died for our sins. Only Christ rose from the dead. We are saved only by God’s grace—in no way do we deserve it. Yet God offers His free gifts of salvation, restoration, and eternal life to anyone and everyone on planet earth who chooses to believe in Christ, turns to Him and asks Him for salvation and a new life. Arrogant? Intolerant? …Really?

Finally:

Look at those seven characteristics again. That’s exactly who I want on my side. You do begin a new life. And, yes, you are going to change in ways beyond what you could ever have dreamed. And, yes again, God has plans for you. Trust Him. He always wants what is best for you, and knows you better than you know yourself. And remember—no religion can save you.  Only Jesus can do that.  It’s truly just about you and your relationship with God.

Abba God,

Every time I think my awe and reverence for you can’t be stretched any further, you show me something in nature, or about myself, or a miraculous happening that often leaves me in tears.

Father, search me and you will see that I truly want as many of your creation as possible to come to a saving knowledge of you—and accept your free offer of eternal life. Yet, I have also read in Your Word about the world events that will usher in the end times—and, I believe I am now seeing them. And, while I look forward to our meeting in the sky, my heart is troubled for those who will not join us there.

So I ask Lord, that you use me to help all those who come under my sphere of influence.

In the name of Jesus, your son, my savior, I pray. Amen.

Avery Goodday

Does Jesus Know You?

Believe it or not, that is the most important question of your life!  Does Jesus know you?  Why is it so important?  Consider the following: Jesus is speaking:

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me you evil doers!’” (Matthew 7:21 – 23, NIV)

OK. I hope I have your attention.  This concept that some who call Jesus Lord, will not enter into Heaven is difficult to grasp.

Let’s start here:  Jesus tells us exactly why those people won’t get into Heaven.  That reason is, He doesn’t know them. Let’s go to another brief passage of Scripture, this time from John. To say  the Pharisees studied the Scriptures is a gross under-statement.  Never-the-less, Jesus told them:

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  (John 5:39-40)

There is a common theme here.  The Pharisees were the experts on the Bible of their times – the Old Testament.  They knew the Scriptures “backwards and forwards,” but failed to apply them in their lives.  They knew the Old Testament prophesies; but either could not, or would not, recognize Jesus as the Messiah to which those prophesies pointed.  Blinded by their religion, they did not let Jesus change their lives, …for Eternity. 

Now, why would the Pharisees not get into Heaven?  Because they would not go to him for Life.

And now some of you are saying, “Wait a minute, that’s not the same thing at all.  The Pharisees didn’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God.  All of us who call Him ‘Lord’, do.  That’s a big difference!” Well maybe there is a difference and maybe there isn’t, …from God’s perspective. Therefore, we must understand what Jesus means when He says, “I never knew you”. 

But, everybody knows that Jesus already knows EVERYTHING about them – not only what they do, but even what they think, Right? Yes, He does.  So, evidently that is not what Jesus is talking about. 

To know what Jesus is talking about we need to start way back in time. All the way back to a point shortly after the creation of Adam and Eve.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to walk and talk directly with God?  Now, in Genesis 3: 8,9 we see that God has come to talk with Adam and Eve. They hear Him approaching.  And for the first time, they hide from Him.  Why, because they have disobeyed Him; and, they are experiencing strange new emotions… shame and fear. 

Their disobedience (or sin) broke the direct relationship God desired with man.  That relationship would not be repaired for thousands of years. Not until Jesus died on the cross; thus “covering over” our sin, did we regain a pathway to direct relationship with God.

The sad part is, that “wedge of sin” remains firmly in place for anyone who does not re-establish a personal relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. And, by relationship, Jesus is not talking about mere knowledge or simple recognition.

We each establish our unique and personal relationship with Jesus when we believe and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior (Christ).  We commit our will to follow Him at any cost.  We can not acknowledge Jesus as our Savior today, and withhold making Him our Lord until a later date.  This acknowledgment must include all of yourself, leaving no part of your being unaffected. You, all of you, must move under the Lordship of Christ.

A.W. Tozer put it this way:

To accept Christ is to know the meaning of the words, ‘And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.  So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world.’ (1John 4:17).  We accept His friends as our friends, His enemies as our enemies, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His cross as our cross, His life as our life and His future as our future.”*

That’s not always easy.  You will be changed.  God will change you. There are things you will have to give up.  God will provide new interests.  Some life directions will change, some may not.  And, you will struggle with this (off and on) for the rest of your days here on planet earth.  Why?  First, and very important:  it is not a sign that you are not saved.  Rather, it is because you live on a broken planet; in a broken culture that is more in tune with Satan than Christ.  But clearly, that is not a blanket excuse to sin!  Jesus “knows” those who are truly working for God’s Kingdom.

<<< Please stop right now and read Psalm 139. >>>

David was a man who knew God, and God knew Him  (Imperfections and all). He talked to His God …frequently and frankly, …hiding nothing. What He wanted from God, He asked for …bluntly.  When God spoke to Him, whether directly or through others, David listened and took action …immediately.  We are not “David”.  But he’s a pretty good role model; and, Christ is our ultimate role model.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: “Are we committed (“all in”) for Jesus?   He is our Lord.  Are we under His perfect Lordship.  He has great and glorious plans for every one of us.  Why would we withhold anything from Him?

In His plan I will reach my maximum potential and richest contentment. (It took me a very long time to really believe this).  There are times I realize I’m still taking “baby steps”.  And sometimes my big steps are in the wrong direction.  There are times when I find myself hanging onto …things. O.K, let’s call it what it really is – sin.  Things I should have let go of, or changed, long ago.  Things like grudges, fantasies, values, hurts, guilt, idols – oh, I could go on; but, I think you get the idea.

Yes, Jesus already knows every bit of this – with far better understanding than I have.  But, it makes all the difference when I sit down with Him, and He hears it directly from me.  And then, together we work on a course correction.  That’s building our relationship and that’s what my Lord, and best friend, is looking for.

And, like I’ve said before, it’s a very good thing for me that His love is unconditional – and boundless.

Avery Goodday

* The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book One, pg. 103, compiled by Warren W. Wiersbe, WingSpread Publishers, 1978, 2000.  (Scripture from New Living Translation).

Lies Christians Believe

Very often, when I visit with other Christians, we begin to talk about our walk with Christ.  And, sooner or later, the conversations begin to at least border on the topic of apologetics.  (Apologetics is simply logical discussion in defense of what you believe.  In this case, Christianity). 

Peter tells us, “…And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”(1Ptr 3:15, NLT).  Yet, I’ve noticed that many Christians are reluctant (or unable) to defend their belief to others; or even to discuss it among themselves.  I suspect it is because many Christians have bought into Satan’s lies; and our culture’s miss-information – which is the same thing.

Lie Number 1:  Keep your religion in church where it belongs.

Every American should be extremely thankful that our founding fathers did not believe this lie.  If you read our founding documents and look at our system of law, you will see the fingerprints of our God throughout.  And, when (in Matt 22:39) Jesus commanded us to “…love our neighbors…”, He did not add, “…as long as they go to the same church as you.”  Although, based on observations of all who say they are are “Christians”, one might think that He did!

I’m not saying to go out to the busiest street corner you can find, and start preaching.  I’m saying, simply take your faith into your every day life – as Jesus told us to do.  “The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done….” (John 4:12, NLT) and, “…All those who love me will do what I say.  My Father will love them, and we will come to them and love them and live with them.” (John 5:23, NLT).  Be an example of what it means to be a follower of Christ.   When (not “if”) someone notices and asks you ‘why you live the way you do’, you can answer them.  And, then followup  with a question of your own, like, “…what’s your idea of God?” Or, “…how do you see God?”)

Chances are they will describe a very different figure than the loving God who so deeply cares for us.  You will then have the perfect opportunity to describe our God who desires nothing more than to have a personal relationship with us.  A relationship that leads us into the fulfilling, joyful life that God intends us to live.

Too scarey?  Well maybe that’s because you’ve bought into the 2nd or 3rd lies I want to talk about.

Lie Number 2:  Science will triumph over Christianity.  Believers are either ignorant or gullible.

First, science and faith are not at war with one another.  Einstein said, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind”.¤ And, in the greatest commandment, Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (Matt 22:37, NLT). Jesus is telling us to be totally involved (heart, soul and mind) in loving God.  Yes, we are instructed to engage our minds when pursuing God.  But, at the same time, we must not concentrate on knowing about God to the exclusion of not making connection with God on the levels of heart and soul. (Think about it: Satan knows God.  He knows Jesus is God’s son.  So, obviously, knowing about God is not enough.) 

Think, also, about this:  From the mind of God and the heart of God, comes our entire Universe and everything we “see” (with or without understanding it).  God has surrounded us with evidence of His power, majesty, and love.  James Tour, a nanoscientist, said, “Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith.  If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.”  And this leads us directly to…

Lie Number 3:  Christianity is based on faith.  There’s no real evidence to support it.  In reality, it’s just an opinion.

The interesting point here, is that Darwin unwittingly did Christianity a great service in his proposal of the Theory of Evolution.  It has lead to an immense amount of scientific research which has proven a major part  of his theory (macro-evolution) to be false. (Macro-evolution is the part of the theory that predicts one species can evolve into a completely new species).  There is simply, no hard evidence in support of macro-evolution.  The research has, however provided a great deal of evidence for what scientists call “intelligent design”.  (I call it “creation”.)    Plus, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics makes it impossible that life could have started by random processes in the “primordial soup”.  Many scientists have tried to replicate this process, and all have failed. Which should surprise no one because they are trying to contradict the, all together now, …2nd Law of Thermodynamics!  Additionally,  mathematicians have shown the mathematical impossibility that random process could have produced life on our planet.  There simply hasn’t been enough time for the necessary amino acids and proteins to form …even assuming you agree with the scientific dating of the earth at 4.5 billion years.

A couple of books I would recommend:  I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, by Norman Geisler and Frank Tourek, (Crossway Books, 2004) and, Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey, (Crossway Books, 2004).  I’d also recommend approaching them in the above order as the 2nd is rather intimidating – in size, (but is, never-the-less, quite readable).  These books will change your thinking forever.

About faith:  There are many things in life we accept on faith.  Does that mean all such things are bogus?  Hardly.  It simply means that there are things we accept as true without proof.  The atheist accepts on faith that all things can be explained by science – even those things which can’t.  Their “faith” tells them to add the word, “…yet” at the end of the previous sentence.  There are many things about the mind of God I accept on Faith.  My mind tends to think in finite terms (facts and concepts I can understand) while God’s mind is infinite.  Imagine a God who can look into the past, present and future with equal clarity.  Can you understand how that’s possible?  Neither can I.  But I believe God does it.  I accept it on faith.  And, the more I learn about God (by studying Jesus) the stronger my faith becomes.  Not surprisingly, science continues to prove my faith well grounded.

So, get these lies out of your head.  Rather than fearing science, embrace it.  Trust God.  Understand that true, factual science (conducted using scientific method, and going only where the evidence leads) will only strengthen our position.  God created the Universe.  God created the earth – in its perfect position in space, with its perfect atmosphere to support all 6.5± billion of us here on His planet.  God offers all of us the best possible lives on earth –  and, a perfect eternity with Him.  But, the best part is, it’s a gift.  It’s free for accepting; and available to all who make the choice* to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died as atonement for our sins, and ask Him into their lives as their Savior and Lord.

* Believing in God is not an opinion.  It is a yes or no choice.

Satan’s lies cannot stand in the light of God’s Truth!

Christians are responsible for sharing the light of God’s Truth!

 

Avery

¤ I got this quote slightly wrong in a previous post.  This is the correct verbiage.  My apologies.  …AG)

Unity Within the Church(s)

As I start this post, I know right up front, I am going to seriously offend a lot of readers.  So, maybe I just shouldn’t say it.  But, I need to say it.  And, I will say it, with the hope and faith that you will understand the point I’m trying to make.

Has it ever occurred to you that all Christians belong to the same church – God’s Church.  And what have we done to it?  Those of us who are Christians need to take a big step back, and examine our hearts as God would (and will).

I frequently use the term, “unity without uniformity”.   And, I also speak about “…unity within the body of believers”.  Yet, when I look around, it seems like I see far more division and dissension than unity.  Yes, within the body of believers.  How can this be?

I’m no expert on church history.  I did read about the Reformation in a college course entitled Western Cultural Traditions.  But, the Catholic Church was already split by the time of Martin Luther; and look at what has happened with the Protestant Church in the (almost) 500 years since its formation.  How many denominations are there?  Do you have any idea?  I certainly don’t.  A better question would be, “Why are there so many denominations – or any?”  Oh, and what is this thing we call ‘church politics’?  And, why is it so important that it splits churches, even denominations?

The answer to those question is, “It’s all tied up in Religion.” And, Religion is an invention of man.

You have probably heard, “…God reaches down to man through His great love; and, man reaches up to God through his (man’s) Religion.” Sadly, I think it’s a true statement for both God and man.  I also think, man is dead wrong (pun intended).

Man has taken something that should be pure and simple (our love relationship with God); perverted it through pride, greed, and ignorance, and called it Religion.

Let’s look at the basics.

1. Through God’s Grace, Christianity is available to the world. All, people are God’s creation.  Every single one of us was intended to have a perfect relationship with God – for eternity.  But man, using his free-will, ushered sin into the world and drove a wedge between himself and God.  God, through His Grace, then sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to become the blood sacrifice required to cover our sins, so that we might once again enter into God’s presence.  Romans 3:23,24 states, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

In John 17: 13-18 Jesus makes it very clear that just as He was sent into the world, He sent the Apostles into the world so that they could spread His  message of truth.  What is Jesus’ message of truth? 

2. Jesus is the only way to the Father and eternal life.  In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  But how is that actually accomplished?  Very simply.  We must recognize that Jesus is the Son of God,  and ask Him to forgive our sins. Jesus says that when we do that, several things will happen.  Through God’s mercy we will receive forgiveness for our sins (Acts 10:43); the Holy Spirit will come to live within us (John 16:7-15); and our faith is established.  Thus begins our walk, or relationship, with Jesus.

Jesus tells us that when the Holy Spirit enters us, He will be our advocate, and our counselor.  (The Holy Spirit performs many more functions, but these two titles are key, at least to me).  As my Advocate, the Holy Spirit interprets my prayers to God.  As my Counselor, He interprets scripture and leads me into all truth. Whoa!  Now those are two things I really need when struggling to live a Christian life in modern American society.  And note, all this is just between me, or you, and God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is how I worded it in a previous post – slightly edited…

… it truly is all about Christ and what He offers each and every one of us. 

It will make no difference who we are; who our parents were; what color we are; what nation we are from; what church we go to; how much power we have, or how little; how much wealth we have, or how little;  how many charities we support with our money, or with our time; how good we are, or aren’t.  How many mission trips we have or have not been on.  All that, …will make no difference! 

We do, however, share two common traits.  We are, all, His creation; and, we are, all, eternal beings.  The day will come when we will stand before the one true God who created the Universe.  On that day we will enter either into God’s Kingdom or into eternal separation from God, aka hell.  The only way into God’s Kingdom is if we individually, are covered in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ.  If we have subjugated our free-will to His will.  It is the only way, and it is available to everyone… anyone.  FREE. You can’t buy it.  You can’t earn it.  It as simple as believing, asking and committing.  (end previous post)

OK. Now it may get a bit more dicey.  Folks, I don’t think it matters if we serve communion at every service or only once a year.  I don’t think it will cost you your salvation if you’re not baptized by immersion.  I don’t think dead saints need, or can, intercede with God for us.  Candles are pretty; but they play no role in my relationship with Jesus.  Tithing is not a condition of salvation.  I’m pretty sure rote prayers have no value.  (Intentional prayers, on the other hand, have great value).

Now, if you believe otherwise… I’m fine with that. Because that’s your Religion; and, it’s between you and God.   What church you go to is also immaterial to me.  What counts is this: If you have accepted Christ as your Savior; and, if you are striving to live a life patterned after, and directed by Jesus, that’s good enough for me.  I should be able to work with you in Christian love. In John 17:22,23 Jesus is praying for future believers – that’s you and me. Here’s  what He asked His father for:

22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they might be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

I don’t expect to start a great ecumenical movement of church unification.  But, we can start by simply loving our brothers and sisters in Christ – in our own churches for crying out loud.  Instead of looking for differences, why don’t we look for ways to help one another? Then, maybe, we could look outside the walls of our church.  After all, we do share some critical (and common) ground. 

What could God accomplish through us, if we start working together?

Avery

Avery Goodday – The Mission

Lately, I’ve been thinking that I need to give my readers a better understanding of Avery Goodday’s mission.  In order to do that, I must first provide a bit of insight into Avery Goodday’s past.  If you have read Avery’s first post, “Choices”, you already have an overview of where I’ve been in my walk with Jesus.  Now, I will “flesh-out” at least a portion of that skeletal history.

The Back-story:  I was young, but I knew what I was doing.  The problem was, I didn’t know what to expect going forward from that moment.

It was February,1955.  I was 11 when I walked down the aisle of Park United Methodist Church and accepted Christ as my Savior.    I immediately went through Catechism and was baptized.   Essentially… that was it.  I had been moved from the “unsaved” side of their ledger to the “saved” side… and, that was it.  No discipleship, no follow-up of any kind.  I was there; and, they could keep an eye on me.  But, talk to me or ask me how it was going? I don’t think it occurred to anyone.  Predictably, within a few short months I was having serious problems.  You see, I had no idea what it meant practically, to be a Christian.  I had all kinds of questions; and, no one I could ask for help.  Very quickly, I was lost in religion. 

I thought that after accepting Christ, everything would be perfect.  No temptations, no problems, …perfect.  Well, of course that’s not what happened.  Within a few months I began to question my salvation. Maybe it “hadn’t taken”.  To whom in that church, could I make such an admission?  NO ONE. 

For years, knowing what was expected – and believe me, the people in that church had expectations, I struggled on.  I tried to live the best life I could by my own resources.  Inside, I knew it was a sham. But, everyone in my church just knew I was headed into the ministry.  (I guess I was pretty good at faking it).  Actually, I had no interest in the ministry.  And still no one I could confide in — not even a brother or sister.  Parents?  Out of the question.  So, I struggled on for the next six-years, trying to do what I knew to be right, and more often actually doing what I knew to be wrong. I felt like a total fake.  I was filled with guilt and self-doubt.  As time went on I added fear, resentment and anger to my emotional mish-mash.

And, more importantly (although I didn’t realize it was happening), during that period, I lost my integrity and my self-respect.

At 17, I graduated high-school and started college.  Wow, did I ever get “educated” in a hurry.  It was the early to mid-’60’s… an interesting time in America.  College was a blast.  Fraternity parties, sorority parties, beer… like I said, “…a blast”.  My biggest concerns were my social life and doing just enough to stay out of  academic probation, in that order.

In my second semester I discovered the university actually offered courses on religion.  Great.  I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about God and religion.  I learned a lot more about religion.  (Exactly what I didn’t need). 

Comparative Religion 101 taught me a lot about religion; and, lots of religions. Religions I had no idea even existed.  Philosophy 101 introduced me to  Relativism – made to order for a party animal like myself.  So, to net-out two years of elective studies, I concluded it probably, didn’t matter what religion you were as long as you were a good… “whatever”.  And, it was all pretty much immaterial to me by then anyway, because I was having such a good time.  (Which is a lot easier when you have no integrity or self-respect).  Parties and girls were way more fun than worrying (or even thinking about) God.

All my fun, and major changes, resulted in my being able to compress a four-year college education into only five-years and two summer-sessions.  Even then, I have my first wife to thank for finally giving me the motivation I needed to get serious about completing my degree.  The day I graduated (06-06-66), I was also commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF and assigned to Pilot Training.  My wife was pregnant with our son.

To make a long and ugly story short, I’m just going to say that during the next ten-years, I made every mistake a man can make as a husband and father.  I came dangerously close to following my own father into alcoholism, in the form of binge drinking.  Marriage vows, meant nothing to me.  And nothing outside my AF career carried any value.  In 1976 I found myself truly at the bottom.  I was in a very ugly divorce process from wife #2.  I had (maybe) $5 in my pocket, a mountain of debt and no true friends.  I was in trouble and I knew it.

For about a year I had been trying to improve my life… on my own.  One night, maybe a two-weeks into the second divorce, I was lying in bed on an emotional roller-coaster.  Feeling sorry for myself, I started mentally listing the flaws of wife #1 and wife #2.  Right then I literally heard a voice say, “How about you?  What kind of a bargain are you?”

That caused me to take a serious look at how I’d been living my life.  It wasn’t a pretty picture.  I remember thinking “…well, I guess I got what I asked for”.  And this time I heard, “Yes, you picked them; and what’s to keep you from doing the same thing again?”

Right then, I just knew it was God actually speaking to me.  Folks, I am “drop dead serious” about this.  It was the first time I’d ever heard God speak directly to me, and it got my attention – BIG TIME. 

This lead me to the a long hard review of my life; and, what I’d learned about “religion”.  I, also, re-examined what I had learned and then “buried” about the one true God and His son Jesus – who I had long ago accepted, but never come to know.

And everything changed overnight, right?  NO!  An ongoing process began.  There were many consequences to the life I had lived to that point.  Most were difficult, many downright painful.  It took years to work through them.  But, it was also the start of my true walk with God.  Looking back it seems I was taking baby steps – wobbly ones at that.  And oh yes, I got off-track and had to recover… many times. (I was an infant in my life as a Christ follower).  And, like a loving parent, God was always there for me –and still is.  Our relationship is more mature (for the most part); and, I learn more just about every day.  I can’t imagine any other life.

Now, part of my process is Avery Goodday’s Blog.  Which brings us to…

Avery Goodday’s Mission. 

  1. To show people that life is a series of choices.  Choices that have both short-term and long-term, (including eternal) consequences.
  2. To lead people into a saving relationship with Jesus.
  3. Stress that it is about relationship, NOT religion.  Christ did not die on the cross for any religion – or denomination.  He died for all mankind… individually.  But remember, individuals who are united in Christ, can accomplish great things for God’s Kingdom – right here on planet Earth.
  4. Equip new believers – and longer term believers who need it – for their journey with Christ and their battle with Satan.

Note: I’m definitely not a preacher; so, I try not to preach.  Primarily, I try to teach by relating personal “issues” and “trials” I’ve had to work through.  I hope that by relating my experiences I can help people either (and preferably) avoid my mistakes, or (next best) gain some insight into what is happening in their own lives; and how they might, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, improve their situation.

Avery

As a New Christian… What Do I Do?

Think about it.  After I accepted Jesus as my Savior I found myself wondering, “…now what?”  I mean, I was excited, but …in what direction?  At that time, and in the church I was going to, there was not really any discipling.  It was kind of, “O.K., we got his name in the book.  Who’s next!”

So, what is the “new Christian” supposed to… well, do?  I had a pretty good idea of what I wasn’t supposed to do.  You know;  all those, “Thou shalt not-s…” that you’re familiar with.  Problem is, that’s hard to just shut off, and so I then began to wonder if my salvation had “taken”.  And, the worst part was I didn’t have any one to talk to about it.

So, let me give you a few tips I’ve learned over a lot of years, a lot of trials, and in general a lot of stumbling around.

When we accept Jesus we invite Him into our lives.  What does that mean? Well it means, for one thing we literally get the Holy Spirit as a resident in our body.  It also means, that we are committing ourselves to not just following Jesus, but also working to become more like Him – one day at a time, every day.  And the key word here is “working”.  We are all works in process.

Now, in the interest of helping others avoid perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life, let me start with something that took me a long time to learn.  Tip one:

To become more like Jesus you have to get to know Jesus. 

Most folks will say you do that by reading the Bible.  I disagree.*  The Bible will tell you a lot about Jesus.  And that’s both good and necessary.  But, the goal is not to just know about Jesus; our goal is to know Jesus.

Here’s what I mean.  Let’s say you make a new acquaintance.  You decide you’d like to know this person better,  perhaps even become good friends.  How would you go about this?  I presume you would arrange to spend time with this person, during which you would communicate.  You would talk, they would listen.  They would talk, you would listen. And chances are very good that the more time you spend together, and the more talking back and forth you do, the more you’ll come to know one another.  And, even though you may learn that you come from very different backgrounds; you might also, find a bond developing… a true friendship.

Now, let me remind you of something that should totally blow your mind. The Great and Awesome God – the Creator of space, the universe and time – wants to have conversations with you!  You were created for that very purpose.  So, talk to Him, then listen for His answers.  Oh yes, He will answer.  Maybe directly – but, maybe not.  Read your Bible, and be ready for God to speak to you through what you’re reading.  And, be aware that God will sometimes speak to you through other people.  It may be soon; or, it could be later… sometimes much later.  Wait for it.  Again, it’s a process.  You will get better at hearing God the more the two of you communicate.

You may feel silly at first.  That’s perfectly acceptable.  God understands.  Just tell Him how you feel, and what your thinking. Tell Him that you want to hear from Him.  That you want a relationship with Him.  Tell Him you know He wrote the book on you, and you want to start living your life according to His script. (O.K., I get it.  That’s scary.  But, consider this.  God created you.  He knows you.  He accepted you as you were.  He loves you.  And, He wants only what is absolutely the best for you.  If you live your life according to His plan for you, the rest of the world had better just stand back; because I can guarantee you, it is going to be very interesting (not always easy, mind you) but, it will be one awesome life.  Period.

Tip two.  Remember God created and still creates truth, beauty and goodness. Since God creates truth, beauty, and goodness; and, since we are to pattern our lives after Him, we pursue these things. No, I don’t expect you to create another universe.  But, we can create beautiful things.  We can design things, build things, work on projects, compose, paint, dance, sing, play music, teach, form positive relationships, restore broken relationships, help others… well, I hope you get the idea. 

Satan works against God.  Evil, pain, sickness, immorality, depravity, etc. do NOT come from God; and, we must fight against them.  When we see broken-ness, we need to work to repair it.  For instance, we were assigned (by God) to be stewards (caretakers/guardians) of the planet and all life on the planet.  So cleaning up our oceans, the air, restoring habitat for animals, recycling, etc. would all fall into that assignment.  Helping other people?  Of course.  On a personal level, forgiving people who have wronged us, is a pretty good way to move forward in our walk with Jesus.  The point here is, if it’s not of God, we need to fight against it.  AND REMEMBER, take your best friend with you – right from the start.  (I’m talking about Jesus, here.). Doing battle with Satan is not easy.  For starters, he doesn’t fight fair.  He’s sneaky, slimy, the master of lies, disguise, and deceit.  You will need Jesus for these battles. Trying to do it on your own, is dangerous.  The good news is, Jesus is on your side and that dramatically changes the odds.

My third tip is:  Don’t get hung-up on that last paragraph. Concentrate on the one before it.  The one about pursuing goodness, truth and beauty.  After all, even when fighting Satan – that’s how you do it.  Everyday, make it a point to make someone smile.  Do that good deed.  Go that extra mile for someone or something.  Ask God to make you aware of opportunities to serve others… and, by extension, Him.  Then keep your eyes and ears open.  You’ll be amazed at what you see and hear!  Look for God in what we call “coincidence”.  I bet you’ll decide true coincidences are at least quite rare… and, just maybe, nonexistent. 

My last tip.  Read and commit your life to what you find in Matthew 22:36-40.  Jesus made it simple and clear.  Don’t let your ‘religion’ cloud your vision.  Jesus went to the Temple; but, He didn’t hang out there.  He was too busy encountering the people who needed Him… where they lived.  Today, He still does.

⃰   Let’s get back to that reading the Bible thing.  It’s good, even important, to also know about Jesus.  (I just think prayer is more important in a new Christian’s life than anything else.)  That said, you do need to read the Bible.  Reading the Bible will teach you more about more subjects than you can possibly imagine at this time.  You will also find Jesus speaking to you through what you are reading. Prayer and reading the Bible are mutually supportive (symbiotic even?) of/with one another; and a beautiful example of how God’s very presence is everywhere… if you’re looking and listening.