Playing God

My mother was a perfectionist. I remember taking my coloring book to her to show her my latest work. She said, “Oh, honey, that’s very good! I like the colors you used. And, if you had stayed inside line right there,” (pointing) “it would have been just perfect.”.

The funny part was, I was never disappointed. After all, she really liked what I had done. So I’d go color another picture – being very careful to make it, …“perfect”.

I became a Scout. Three years a Cub Scout. Three more as a Boy Scout. And, three more as an Explorer Scout. By the way, the Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared”. That was 9-years of “preparation”!

Later in life, I became an Air Force pilot. An occupation that left little room for mistakes and/or failures to plan. (A significant number of military aircraft are very unforgiving of mistakes!)

I became an Emergency War Order Planning Officer. We wrote the plans to implement the missions our Wing was assigned to fly if we went to (nuclear) war. We also wrote plans for deployments and emergency movements. After writing the plans, we would pour over our work doing “what-ifs”. Every sortie had a mission – and, a priority. “What if, sortie 3 doesn’t get started? Which sortie do we divert to take it’s place? What’s the ripple effect from that decision?” On, and on, and, …on.

I tell you this so you can see how I became something of a perfectionist, and a person who is always looking for the “potential point of failure, etc)”. I also want to share with you that this will affect your personal life; and more importantly, your walk with Christ

I can drive my wife to distraction with questions and what-ifs. She sometimes accuses me of negativity. I take umbrage, and tell her I just, “…want to be ready in case things go cross-wise”. She informs me our marriage is going to go cross-wise if I don’t let up. (But, she smiles when she says it.)

So here I am, constantly looking for potential problems or flaws in my plans: and the plans of others – when they involve my family or me . When I find flaws (or even just potential flaws) I start working to assure that I have the answers, solutions, explanations or whatever else may be required, instantly ready to be applied, when/if needed.

And that kind of thinking, folks, is bogus and sinful on many levels. It is also dangerous thinking. It gives Satan a foothold in my life – which I want to avoid like the plague. It’s a source of stress – which I don’t need. Sometimes it builds ego – which I don’t need. It causes friction within my marriage, and in relationships with family and friends – which, I certainly don’t need, or intend. But, most importantly, it is damaging to my relationship with Christ.

Have you ever thought about this? From the beginning of our life here on earth, (this applies to everyone), God knows our entire story. Everything! Nothing is hidden! Why is this important? Because regardless of everything else, God already has, or is going to offer you both adoption and eternal life. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [Eph 1:5, NLT]

I must tell you that it is not an open ended offer. It is good only until Christ returns to earth – or, we reach our departure date and time. Whichever happens, we will be “sifted”. Christians will join the family in Heaven. Non Christians won’t.*

So God, who is omniscient – meaning: having infinite awareness, understanding and insight; and, omnipotent – meaning: having unlimited power, force and authority, …actually made a considered choice to include me if I would subjugate my freewill, and trust in Jesus. I did!

In all honesty I’m telling you, I have a problem – of sorts. I find myself trying to play god! Not only that, I’m trying to play god while God knows, and, I should know, all that talk about trying to be perfect and having all the correct answers is so much, …fertilizer. Yet I turn my back on him to pursue my own plans. Now, …How. Dumb. Is. That?!

Then why did I say, “a problem – of sorts”? Because, I really do know exactly how to fix this Problem.

My planning for solutions to the unexpected – in an unknown future, is a oxymoron. It is also worry, arrogance, and foolishness! It is also Satan using me to take a jab at God. And, it’s time to repent; and, ask Jesus for forgiveness. It’s not that I’ve lost my salvation. I haven’t. But, I am sinning, and I need to stop. And to stop I need help. Supernatural help. And I need to apologize to my best friend.

Might there be consequences from the plans I’ve already set in motion? Absolutely! I’ll get what I’ve earned. And, both the good (if any) and bad consequences (much more likely) will be “good”. Good, like when even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn. And, the “unfavorable consequences” will be the lessons I need to internalize so that I don’t keep repeating my stupidity. I know God will help me. He chose me; and adopted me. He not only has a plan for my life; but, tells me time and again that He will never forget nor forsake me; that He has my back; and, wants only the best outcomes for me. He is slowly but surely perfecting me. But, because I live on planet earth, total perfection won’t occur during my lifetime. There is nothing perfect on earth, …yet.

Prayer:

Father, (Abba),

I can’t even begin to fathom your love for me. But, I do understand it well enough to know that when I come to you, broken and contrite, you never fail to set with me, brush away my tears, listen to my pleadings, and hug me close. Oh, how I thank you for those times.

Lord, you have blessed me greatly — far beyond my dreams. Yet I some- times get impatient or discouraged when dreams, plans, or prayers, seem to have gone astray. At these times, will you please remind me of all the times you have answered, …and all the times I have not even noticed or acknowledged your provision, …and it’s perfection.

Lord, please continue teaching me to rely on your love and grace. Forgive my egotism and conceit. Please help me to restore the relationships my pride and conceit have damaged. Show me the truth of your words; and make my testimony effective when talking with others in their times of need.

Lord I know you are still on the job and in control. Your provision has never failed me. I will praise your name forever. Amen.

Larry

* The straight truth is: 1. God loves his creation of man (and woman) more than any other. 2. When Adam and Eve sinned (by doing the only thing God told them not to do), they (not only) brought sin, separation from God and eventual death, into their own selves (body and soul), they also introduced it to the entire planet and all future generations. 3. God is Holy and cannot abide sin—in any form or amount. 4. But God is also love, …and grace. And so, from his great love and grace, God came up with a plan that could save mankind from eternal death. 5. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. [Jn. 3:16, NLT]

All we need do is: accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The only one who can forgive and cleanse our sins when we repent of them and ask for forgiveness. When we do that, we become Christians. The Holy Spirit moves into us; and will reside in us while we live our lives on earth. And then, let’s not forget that we will have a perfected body and soul while living an eternal life in the presence of God.

If you don’t take that simple step; or, you intend to – but just don’t get it done; or, you go through the motions thinking you can “fake it” and continue living your previous “good times” life; …PEASE believe me! You are doomed to eternity in Hell. Period!** A place were there is NO good thing. Not one!

Christ is offering you a new life. A “do over” of immense proportion. Jesus will be your guide. You won’t become magically perfect. But you will change. And God promises you will change far beyond your expectations; if, you give him the reins.

** God is Just. Children, too young to understand God’s plan, will not go to Hell. There will be children in heaven.

The bible tells us that we are born with the ability to know and search for God. As we find new cultures on earth, we have never found even one that did not have a god or gods; and, codes of “right” and “wrong”. The Bible also tells us in the Old Testament – before God sent Jesus to earth (as the only possible sacrifice for our sins) many people “found favor” with God.

So, I believe those who have never had the “Good News” of the New Testament explained to them will still be judged by God. And, those in whom He “finds favor” will go to heaven. But only God knows those “requirements”. I believe the great “I AM” will make “perfectly correct decisions”.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

“All In” Love

In the time leading up to the Christmas Holiday (and the days following) I have found myself thinking a lot about what is happening in our nation – and, about God.  Regarding God, I was thinking about His love for us; and, what it means to us in this day and age.

The birth of Jesus was not the start of “God’s Great Plan” for mankind.  Oh, no.  God was thinking about it way before that.  In fact, He was thinking about it before He started the Creation process – before time and the universe.  (Current scientific thinking would put that at some point about 13.7 billion years ago.)

What do we know about God?  Actually, quite a lot.  Just for starters, we know that He has boundless love; we know He hates and cannot be in the presence of sin; and, we know that God is just.  These three traits are vital to mankind.

Knowing this about God, it seems (to me) that God’s love must “trump” everything else.  Remember, God can look into time at any point – with perfect clarity and understanding.  Therefore, He knew before He even began creation that Adam and Eve, with their gift of free will, would choose to trust Satan over Him.  (He even knew exactly what you and I would (and will) do; and the tears that would be shed over our actions.)  He knew how sinful and evil the world would become – the centuries of pain that would be endured – not just by man, but also, by God; because of His great love for us – His special creation.   And yes, even then He knew the ultimate price He would pay to redeem all that was broken, stained, scarred and ruined by sin. 

Yet knowing all that, God created Adam and Eve.  The only part of creation patterned after Himself.  The part that He, personally, breathed life into.  To Him, we were worth it.  God went “all in” for us.

Thus, the earliest chapter of God’s Great Plan (of which the Christmas story is only one part) was written at Creation.

God went all in, and has stayed all in. Yes, God has, from time to time, felt regret for creating Man. (What does that say about our ability to bring pain and sorrow to our creator. And, how does that make you feel?) But, no matter how evil, how proud, how ungrateful, how _______ (fill in your own words) we have become, God has stood with us, and for us.

His ultimate sacrifice was sending His Son to earth (the first time). Imagine Jesus getting up from his seat at the right hand of God and walking away from that great throne-room knowing exactly what He would endure to redeem the sins of mankind. Yet, Jesus chose to enter a single cell inside a virgin teenaged girl, living in Nazareth, on planet earth.  Jesus was all in, for us.

Think, now, about all the people between Adam and Jesus who went all in… for God; and by so doing, went all in for God’s great plan for you and me.

Consider Noah.  God said, “Noah, I want you to make a BIG boat….”  There is no record that Noah asked a single question of God.  We are simply told, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” (Gen 6: 22) Noah went, all in. And, as a result mankind got a second chance.  And, the rainbow to remind us of it.  (Does it remind you of God’s great love?)

The story of Abram/Abraham tells us of another man who went all in for God.  He exhibited great faith.  He stumbled from time to time,  yet God used Him to found the Jewish nation –  and to begin making Himself known to all people. You can read all of Abram’s/Abraham’s story starting in Genesis 12 and continuing through Genesis 25:8.

David. Much is written about David.  You can pick-up his story in 1Samuel 16.  David loved God intensely.  (He wrote many of the Psalms as praises to God.)  David was a flawed hero.  But, when He screwed-up, he confessed his sin and genuinely repented.  And because God loved David He never held back His forgiveness.  But, neither did He hold back the consequences of David’s sin.  David keyed in on the joy of forgiveness and continued to praise God.  David was certainly all in for God.  (And, He is a many times great-grandfather of Jesus).

Mary, was a teenager.  A virgin, betrothed to Joseph, a man she evidently loved.  He had a good trade, the plans were made, and her future was looking very good.  Then an Angel showed up and delivered news that would sully her reputation, likely cause Joseph to dismiss her, and in general, forever destroy her future.  Yet, her response to the Angel was, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants.  May everything you have said come true.” (Luke 1:38).  Mary knew her God, trusted her God, and went all in.

Through out the history recorded in the Bible there is example after example of people – flawed people – going all in for God.

It will soon be 2013.  We find ourselves in a society and culture that is full of secularism and hypocrisy.   There are great forces trying to marginalize Christianity within our society.  Yet God is still on His throne; and, He is still, all inBut where are we, the “Christians” of this age?

Tragically, the majority of those calling themselves Christian are riding the fence between Heaven and earth.  By that I mean, they “claim” Christianity while they live something quite different. They have bought into the values of our culture.

One of the three characteristics of God, that I mentioned earlier, is that God is just.  Somehow, I don’t think playing both sides of the fence is going to satisfy God.  Among other things, one should consider that we do not live in a vacuum.  Virtually everyone we interact with throughout each day, may well be evaluating what it means to be a Christian… by our words, and more importantly, our actions.  If we, through what we say and do, are reinforcing and spreading Satan’s agenda….  Well, think bad… VERY BAD outcome.

OK. I hear you.  It is difficult to live a biblical worldview.* But, were we not warned? (John 15:18-19 and 16:33). God also tells us He will never demand more of us that we can bear. (1Cor 10:13)  And further, that He will always be with us in our trials and tribulations. (John 16:33). I think excuses will not be accepted!

Oh yes, we will stumble.  We are humans living in a fallen world, where Satan still has a great deal of power.  None of us is perfect.  But, we cannot, must not, use that as an excuse to take the easy way out of difficult situations.  God is constantly with us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  That, by itself, should be a huge help (one way or another) in keeping us on track.  Not one of the people noted above was perfect.  The only thing they had in common (that I can see) is that they all loved God and God loved them.  Just as He loves us. What may be the difference between them and us, however, is this: They trusted God. They were committed to God.  They were all in; and, they stood their ground.  When they sinned, they repented,** and asked for forgiveness.  They recognized that their sin would have consequences and they accepted them – knowing that God was with them. 

In our current society and culture it is difficult to live a moral life.  Never-the-less, we must do our absolute best.  We must look to God and the examples of those He used so might-ally.  I find it easier if I keep my eyes off the “wind and waves” and on Jesus.***

 Avery Goodday

* A person with a biblical worldview believes that God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today.  Satan is real and has a great deal of power on earth, but will ultimately be destroyed.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God and lived a sinless life.  Salvation is a gift from God available to all who seek it through Jesus.  Salvation cannot be earned. Christians have a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people.  The Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.  Unchanging moral truth exists, and such moral truth is defined by the Bible.

** Repent: to be sorry, to change heart and behavior, and to make a moral u-turn… from sin to God).

*** See my post of 11/20/12, Where Is Your Focus

Where Is Your Focus?

Well, at least some of the dirt and dust has settled after the Presidential Election.   And, as we should have known, we are obviously a nation divided – almost evenly.  It’s sad, and I’m not entirely sure how we got this way.

Perhaps it’s because we have only two major parties.  It would be interesting to see what would happen if we had a viable third party of moderates (people who can see both sides of an issue and seek the common ground).  But, in this election we didn’t have that option, and with the polarization factor where it is, I doubt we’ll find much agreed-on common ground.  As a consequence, our nation will suffer.

But, have you considered this?  Are not the elected officials (from both parties) merely a reflection of what is going on in our society?  Are they not a reflection of our culture?  Culture, you know: it’s what we “swim in, eat and breath” – without even realizing it. It’s TV, radio, books, magazines, movies,  videos, music, art, education, courts, religion, politics, societal, familial, and individual values, etc. 

And those politicians who are not reflections of our culture, when/if they somehow get elected, do we want them compromising on their principles? 

Think about it.  What principles, or values, will you not compromise on?  Where do you absolutely draw the line?  Know what?  I’ll guarantee you, many of the people you know, right now, will be somewhat to one side of that line or the other.  Some may be far to one side or the other!  In fact, more and more people will tell you that there is never a hard and fast line (or rule) about anything!

Why? “Well,” they will say, “… it all depends on the situation”.  Which is another way of saying, “…it depends on your point of view.”  (It’s called “Relativism”.  Yes, another “-ism”, along with Capitalism, Socialism, etc.  Relativism, carried to it’s conclusion, will result in Anarchy.  In which case, each person gets to make up their own mind as to what is right and wrong – i.e., there can be no generally accepted law.  Now, if that is where the United States is headed, I really and truly want off the train!

The reality of the situation is this.  It is where we are headed. And, the “train” is picking up speed.  I am living my 69th year.  (Start my 70th in about 3-weeks). I’ve seen change.  Much of it good.  More of it, in my opinion, …bad.  Am I surprised?  Not at all.  The Bible is very clear that this will happen.  Evil is being taught as good.  Good is being taught as evil.

Tell me, if you can, why kids in grade-school and middle-school have to make decisions about drugs and sex?  (And, why do I expect kids in high-school will have to deal with these issues?)  And then, why do so many make the wrong decision?  Why is the divorce rate so high?  Why is the abortion rate so high?  Why are so many husbands cheating on wives; and, wives cheating on husbands? What about spousal abuse?  Why do we have so many home invasions?  Fraudulent this, fraudulent that?  Embezzlement?  Child abuse?  I could go on… and, on.

I can also, give you the answer.  It is because we are looking to our society and it’s elected leaders, for guidelines and examples.  We have turned away from the only source of Truth. The only one qualified to tell us what is right and wrong is the Creator of the Universe.  He set it in motion, He knows exactly how it works.  He created life, He knows how it should operate.  And, no surprise therefore, He gave us the instruction manual.  Our society, in turn, chooses to mock and make fun of Him, and His instruction book, …The Bible.

God is a just God.  He will not forever put up with this behavior.  We want to drive Him out of our society… He will withdraw.  Personally, I believe that process is well underway.  Does this scare me?  Yes and no.  Not for myself and my loved ones who are followers of Christ.  I know Jesus is always with us: and, I trust Him to bring us through.  For others?  YES, absolutely!  For them I am greatly afraid.  They should be, too.

So, what can Christians do?  We need to stop focusing on the “wind and waves.”*  We need to focus instead, on the only One who can really save us.  Then, as we focus on Jesus, we need to get about doing His business here on earth.  We  need to model Christian behavior, and lead as many as possible to their own personal, saving relationship with Jesus.  Only He will be able to bring us through what lies ahead.

Avery

* Refer to Matt 14:22-33.

Seeing With Kingdom Eyes

First, a clarification:  In last weeks post I stated, “Jesus encourages us to speak directly to Him.”  And, that is true; however, there is another intimately involved in our conversations — and that’s the Holy Spirit.  Jesus referred to Him by several different titles.  Two that I particularly like are “counselor” and “advocate”.

When I’m so confused I don’t even know what to pray for, I know my “advocate” is doing His thing.  He takes my confused words and logic, parses it, boils it down, and communicates my needs to Jesus. Some times when I’m wrestling with an issue and seeking help by reading scripture, I will read a passage I’ve previously read many times; and, …BAM, just like someone flipped a switch, I see that scripture in an entirely new light.  One that speaks to me exactly what I need to resolve my issue.  Accident? Coincidence?  No, that’s my counselor, the Holy Spirit, interpreting scripture for me; and, leading  me to the meaning I had previously missed.

And that brings me to the subject I originally wanted to talk about in this post.  What I call… Seeing With Kingdom Eyes.

There is an interesting example of seeing with Kingdom Eyes in 2Kings6:8-23.  Israel and Aram are at war.  Elisha, the prophet of God, continuously warns the King of Israel of the the plans of the King of Aram.  Finally the King of Aram has had enough.  He sends an army to capture Elisha.  The army surrounds the town where Elisha and his servant are staying.  Elisha’s servant goes outside the next morning and sees the army, with horses and chariots, surrounding them.  He panics, and goes back inside to warn Elisha.  Elisha tells his servant not to worry, “…for there are more with us than there are with them”.  He then prays, asking the Lord to, “…open his (servant’s) eyes so he may see”.

I’m not going to tell you what he saw or how it turned out.  You can read it for yourself… and you want to, because it has a very cool ending.  I will tell you that God opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant; and allowed him to see into the spiritual dimension.  And, that is one form of what I call, “Kingdom Eyes”.  But, it is not the form I want to talk about, today.

I don’t know who said it first, but he was correct when he said, “I do not know who first discovered water; but, you can be certain it wasn’t a fish.”  Simple – and, profound.  As humans, we are not, normally, aware of the air around us – but, it’s there.  And, there is something else around us that shapes us, influences what we value, what we do with our time – and money; what we say and what we laugh at; what we wear, and yes, even what we think.  Yet, a great number of us seldom think about it, let alone consider it’s power to mold us to it’s whim.  Sounds a bit scarey, doesn’t it?  Well, it should.

I’m talking about our culture.  Have you ever thought about how much of your life is controlled by other people?  People who tell you what’s cool, what’s acceptable, what you should do, what you deserve, and what you, “…owe to yourself?  And that’s just the media and marketing.  What about the writers of the sitcoms and dramas we watch on TV and the big screen?  How have these people changed our culture over the last 20 years?  (Now I’m thinking about family values and morality).  Even our music has undergone a huge transformation.  J.S. Bach dedicated every piece of music he wrote, “…to the glory of God”.  OK, it was over 250 years ago. So what?  What percentage of today’s music could bear the same dedication.

Culture is the byproduct of many forces and institutions.  But here is what it boils down to.  Culture comes from people.  The ideas that flow from the minds of writers (media, marketing and entertainment), artists, politicians, educators, and many others, all impact our culture.  Obviously, not all these people view life from the same perspective.  They have different world views, beliefs and different motivations.  Thus, we end up with a myriad of ideas and beliefs being thrown at us – all promising popularity, power, wealth, possessions, beauty, sex appeal, happiness and true love in the form of uncommitted sex. 

And, these lies are supposed to fulfill our desires for contentment, satisfaction, intimacy, joy and peace.  The sad thing is they do – for a time.  But eventually we begin to feel discontent, used and empty.  Why?  Because what our culture provides is temporary, and a lie.  Our needs were designed by God.  Only God can truly satisfy them.  But, unless (or until) we realize this, we simply go back to the culture, with the belief, “It will be different this time”.

So what’s driving this dysfunctional system?  That’s a key question; and, the answer goes far deeper than most people care to look.  Would it surprise you to know that Paul spoke to this very issue nearly 2,000 years ago?  “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Ro12:2 NLT).  So, Paul was telling people, ‘Don’t blindly follow culture and societal norms.  Let God change your thinking!’ 

And, why was Paul concerned?  Two reasons.  First, Scripture tells us that Satan is “…the god of this age… (2Co4:4).”  Somehow (one more thing I don’t understand) Satan still has authority on earth; and, (a very BIG AND) Satan’s agenda is to lead everyone he possibly can, away from God.  Which is the second reason Paul was concerned.  

Satan hates God.  God loves us. So, Satan, who can’t directly attack God, attacks us… God’s creation.  Satan uses culture to lead us away from God, and into destruction.  The apostle John put it this way, “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in out possessions.  These are not from the Father.  These are from this evil world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.” (1Jn2:15-17 NLT)

Paul knew that if we just float along with the ideas from our culture without even being aware of what’s happening and where it’s taking us, it will lead us away from God – and to destruction.

So, what are we to do?  After all, we do live on earth.  We do live in a society with a constantly changing culture.  How do we ‘navigate’ this culture?  Well first, you don’t have to move to a mountain-top, and live in a cave.  There are some very good things within our culture.  Things that align to God’s heart.  They are good, true, and beautiful.  They are things God provides, and he wants us to enjoy them to the max.  These are things such as love, joy, intimacy within our marriages, peace, justice… the things that deeply fulfill us. There are movies that inspire, and challenge us to live moral upright lives, there is art that reflects God’s values.  There are also good foods, good friends, sights, and sounds.  The world is full of things God has created or inspired that we can explore and enjoy.  Not every aspect of our culture conflicts with God.

But, quite a bit of it does.  How do we know the difference?     

Remember Paul said we need to ‘…let God change the way we think’?  Well, we do that by knowing Jesus.  Jesus said, “If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is.  From now on you know him and have seen him!”  (Jn14:7 NLT)”  We begin our renewal process when we accept Christ as the Son of God, and our Redeemer; and then establish a personal relationship with Him.  We build on that relationship by reading the Bible, having frequent talks with Him, and opening ourselves to the counsel  of the Holy Spirit.  “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. (Jn16:13 NLT)  It just doesn’t get much plainer than that. 

Now a couple of personal thoughts/observations.  As new Christians, we have a lot to learn.  And, as mature Christians, we can still learn a lot.  This relationship we have with Christ, truly is a process.  We will make mistakes.  Then when we ask for forgiveness and experience the consequences of sin, we learn.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes not so quickly.  And, we don’t get to “perfect” while on earth.

Anyway, in the hundreds (thousands) of choices we make every day – most without much (if any) thought, we need to develop an ability to “sense” when we are in God’s plan and when we are getting outside of His will for us.  That “sense” is, in reality, our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  He is trying to show us God’s truth, and convicting us when we are off track.  However, we have to cooperate.  I ask for Kingdom Eyes so that I can “see” or discern that which is of God’s Kingdom, and that which is not.  Then I ask for the courage  to make the right choice and stand my ground for Jesus.  You might try it.  It helps me.

Avery

Choices (or, My Journey)

NOTE:  This is, likely, the longest piece I will ever post.  But, it is foundational to where I am coming from.  This piece was originally written several years ago. —lrd

Have you ever thought about how many choices you make in a day?  Now, I don’t know the exact answer to that question; but, in general, I know it is a lot – a whole lot. 

I once heard that the single hardest thing refugees from the former Soviet Union had to deal with when they immigrated to America was the number of decisions they had to make on a daily basis.  A trip to the grocery store for example, could almost paralyze them.  They could scarcely believe that there was shelf after shelf of different kinds of bread; and ditto for laundry detergent and many, many other products.  They had never before been in a position where they had to make so many decisions and it simply overwhelmed them.

Some of the choices we face seem insignificant.  Some are so simple we aren’t actually aware that we have a choice.  We simply do what seems best at that moment; often without giving it much – if any – thought.  But, every choice has consequences – sometimes BIG consequences. 

Belief in god is a choice.  If you agree with that statement, the first thing I want you to do is ask yourself, “Why is it a choice?” “Why did I ever even consider if there is a god?”  Well, if there is no god, how can one have any form of reference to even frame the question?  Why would it even come into your mind?  Have you ever asked yourself if you believe in rano?  No?  Why not? 

Yet, at some point in our lives we arrive at, ‘The Question’. “Is there a god?”  (Not coincidentally, even the most primitive cultures on Earth – or advanced cultures in the most remote places – have also asked this question; and come up with the answer… “Yes!”  But, why?  Why does our mind create the concept of some… thing, or someone… bigger, higher, more powerful …Supreme?  Why does everyone on planet Earth deal with this question? 

Some would say it’s because we cannot otherwise explain what we see and experience.  But the true answer is, “Because God ‘hard wired’ a bit of Himself into us”.  Think about it all you want, but I think you will come back to this: at some time in our lives, we think about God.

That is not the critical point, however.  What is critical is the choice (decision) you make.  It is a decision that will change your life forever.  (And, by ‘forever’, I mean for eternity).

And, yes it is a decision you make.  You have the choice because you have free will.  This tells us something about God.  He doesn’t say, “You must believe in me and do my bidding”.  Nor does he say, “If you believe in me, you must do my bidding”.  Rather, God leaves all the choices to us.

How do we know which choices to make?  This is what it came down to for me.  These are the conclusions I came to.

  1. There is a God.  (I made this basic choice when I realized it was no accident that I was wrestling with the question).
  2. O.K. Given that God hard-wired me to seek Him, would he then just leave me high and dry with no guidance?  No, there has to be directions (or at least clues) on who He is and how to relate to Him. 
  3. One thing I already knew.  God wasn’t going to force me into anything.  After all, I didn’t have to decide there is a God.  (That there is, seemed the logical answer to me, but I could have decided to be an atheist.  Or, I could (and did for a short time) claim to be an agnostic.  But then it occurred to me that agnosticism was just a cop-out and a very dangerous position.  If God doesn’t exist, no problem.  But if He does (and I had a deep conviction that he did), then claiming ignorance was – well, less than ignorant, it was stupid. 

So, given that God exists and I have free-will, I decided to exercise it. I was going in search for the truth.  (Once I decided this – I was 19 at the time – I started a quest that took me on a lot of false trails and tangents; and lasted 12 years.)

In (college) Comparative Religion 101, I learned about many religions I had never even heard of.  It took me years to distill it all down to this.  Most religions (and belief systems) rely on good works to admit you into the presence of god (or “enlightenment” if they don’t have a god).  So, all you have to do (pretty much) is be a little bit more “good” than you are “bad” and you are on the track to gaining Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, Heaven, whatever. Pretty simple, really.  However, it begs  several questions, “…just how bad can I be and still make it?”  And, “…how do I know exactly what “good” and “bad” is?”  Or, “…what are the different degrees of each? (i.e.  How many little goodies does it take to offset a big baddie?)”.

Then in Philosophy 101, I learned about all the secular …”isms” – pluralism, relativism, socialism, communism, etc.  Believe me there are a lot of them.  (And, coincidentally [?] they all make room for the atheist). 

Being honest, I have to tell you that relativism had its attractive arguments – at least to a point.  It was very inclusive.  One could say, all-inclusive.  After all, a lot does depend on your perspective or point of observation.  Let’s take a simple example. (If a train is moving east at 30 mph, and a child on the train is running west at 4 mph, which direction, and at what speed is the child moving.  West at 4 mph – if you are in the coach he is running through.  East at 26 mph – if you are sitting at the crossing watching as the train passes by.  But, how about if you are in near-Earth orbit?  That kid would be moving east at over a thousand mph – accounting for Earth’s rotation (at the equator) and not considering Earth’s movement around the Sun (approximately 67,000 mph).  But then there is also the movement of our solar system in the Milky Way and our galaxy’s movement in the universe.  So, really it is relative.  And further, since there are an infinite number of potential observation points, all possible answers are correct.  There is no one correct answer.  Or so a relativist would argue.  And, the inevitable result of that reasoning is the conclusion that there is no absolute truth. And, if there is no absolute truth, there is no God.  My, what a slippery slope!  (But, as I noted, it is inclusive, …except for God).

This led me back to questioning the existence of God, and the question, without God what is the basis for any kind of moral code.  If there are no universal truths, and everything is relative, then morals are strictly up to the individual aren’t they?  And, that begs another question, “…what about law and justice?”

My next conclusions were: 

  1. There has to be such a thing as absolute truth.  Again, given that there is a God, then God certainly knows exactly how things (and people) should operate.  He would have laws, guidelines and expectations for us.  Relativism as a moral code is a contradiction of terms.  Everyone can’t be “right”.  Everyone can be “wrong”.  Oh yeah, that’s going to work real well as a basis for morals and a legal code.
  2. Therefore, God has to be the source of all Truth.
  3. Reconciliation with God, based on works, can’t get me there.  For instance, how about that question concerning “multiple little goodies” making-up for a “BIG baddie?”  I know I’ve done lots of small and medium baddies, probably even some big baddies – that would depend on God’s definition of each, and how he “weighs” them. And what about “intent” and “motivation” – they too have to be weighed, don’t they?  This all gets very confusing. How can I ever be sure I’m “right” with God.  After all, if God is God (and He is), how can I ever begin to understand His mind?
  4. I ought not to presume that I will ever understand everything God does, or how he thinks.  My mind is finite.  His is not.  In other words, there will be questions for which I will be unable to find specific answers – or, answers that make logical sense. Therefore, I have to rely on faith.  (Just like scientists do with scientific questions for which they can find no answer.  They do not conclude there is no answer.  They have faith there is an answer that has not yet been found.  So, I have no excuse for not studying God and learning all that I am capable of learning about Him and His Truth.  But where do I find the information?
  5. Reading the various sacred writings wasn’t much help.  All it did was thoroughly confuse the issue.  The arguments that, “…all religions have equal validity” and, “…it doesn’t make any difference what you believe if you truly believe it and live it you will be all right” are wishful thinking and dead wrong.  This led me right back to Paragraph B) (above) …God has to be the source of Truth, Right, and Wrong.

All through this “journey” I had gone out of my way to avoid the Bible and Judeo-Christian thought.  Why?  Well, that was how I was raised.  I knew all the stories and most of it I wasn’t buying for one minute.  The Bible seemed too… convenient.  I didn’t trust its authenticity.  Also, I was simply rebellious, “…there had to be something else”.  Yet, I was coming up dry and finally, I begrudgingly looked to Judaism.  (Christianity was still too fantastic [think fantasy] for me to consider). 

I started with learning about the Bible.  I found many books have been written discussing the veracity of the Bible.  The net result was that while some things can’t be proven, (the meta-physical and the truly ancient history) much of the historical information (certainly back to 2000 years BC, or so) can be proven – with very good veracity.  Indeed, as archeology continues in the Middle-east more and more evidence for the accuracy of the Bible is found.  Prophecy was repeatedly proven.  In fact the early Jews had a stiff standard for prophets.  If they prophesied falsely they were stoned to death.  (A profession one would not have casually taken-up).  Anyway, this was encouraging (except, I was finding the same applied to the New Testament and I simply wasn’t ready for that encounter).

The more I read, and the fact that it was verifiable, the more convinced I became that the Old Testament was God’s Instruction Manual for Man.  But oh, what dilemmas that created for me!  The Jewish Law seemed impossible to live by.  Besides being incredibly complex it was based on keeping the Law, which to me was the same as works.  And I had already decided that “works” wouldn’t… well… work. 

If God not only exists, but also created this entire universe, and then put man on Planet Earth, I thought… He must have done it for a reason

And, according to what I now accepted as God’s written words, He originally made us as a reflection of Himself and actually communicated with us, one on one – or, (more accurately) One on two.  Therefore, God wanted a personal, intimate, relationship with us.  And, that being the case it just made no sense to me that my reconciliation to him would be through works.  That would be just too impersonal, too “iffy”, and too improbable.

With “works” being my first sticking point in the Old Testament, my second became the obvious references to, and prophecies about, Jesus that are found there.   I kept finding myself pushed towards the encounter with Jesus that I had been doing my best to avoid.  And finally, it was staring me in the face.  Either this was all so much fiction, or it was (all of it) THE TRUTH.  Again, I had a choice.  And again, I was free to make my decision either way; except, I had done my homework to this point far too well.  I was convinced it was True; and now, what was I going to do with it?

Well, if it was true, it was all true.  Any other decision was unacceptable to me.  (Kind of like saying 1+1 = 2, but 2+2≠ 4.) The Bible, both Testaments, are either true or they are not.  If God didn’t create the universe, then I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe.  (By the way, when I first started this journey, the scientific “truth” concerning time was that time was infinite and that the universe had always existed.  Of course now there is general (but not complete) agreement that space has always existed; but, time and the universe came into being at the instant of “the Big Bang”.  And, last I knew, the scientific jury was “out” regarding a forever expanding universe or a finite universe that will eventually stop expanding and collapse back upon itself.”  I find that I have two very interesting points of agreement with the scientists.  The first is that something has existed forever. That something is God.  The second is that time and the universe had a beginning.  It did, when God spoke it into existence.  And, it’s a lot easier for me to imagine God’s “Big Bang” than I can imagine how ‘nature’ violated its own scientific laws (the laws of thermo-dynamics) to create something from nothing – especially something with the energy and mass of the entire universe.  But I digress….

My question was, what to do now that I had come to the following conclusions: 

  • There is a God.
  • Jesus is God’s Son.
  • Jesus was sent to Earth to offer a Plan of Redemption for my sins.
  • God (the Triune God) wants a personal, intimate relationship with me.
  • It’s my choice to accept it or walk away.

There is a big difference between knowing something and doing something with that knowledge. Between knowing someone exists; and actually knowing that person on a personal level.  In this case, Jesus is the point.  Believe me; Satan knows Holy Scripture and Satan believes in Jesus.  Satan has chosen to contend with God.  The results have been catastrophic for Man and not too good for Satan either.  (And, prophesied to get much worse).  I made the choice to dedicate my life to Jesus.

When I made that decision, it was as if floodgates opened inside me.  Not that I had more knowledge; but rather, I had intimacy with God.  And, somewhere in my mind’s eye I saw Jesus standing there with his arms wide , chuckling and saying, “Well, it took you long enough”.  (And, it had.  I was 31 years old at that time). 

Let me be the first to tell you that since that fateful day I have not lived a sinless life.  I voluntarily gave my free-will to Christ. But, sometimes, I snatch it back.  It always seems like a good idea at the time, and sometimes it works out …O.K.  (But, then I wonder what might have been had Jesus taken care of it.)  And, far more often it doesn’t work at all to my advantage.  Then when I realize what’s going on and go back to Jesus, he still chuckles, shakes his head and says, “Larry, Larry, will you never learn?  Welcome home.”

Well, I guess it’s a process.  That type of visit seems to be less frequent as time goes by.  Oh, we still visit (not often enough, but that’s my fault): and trust me, there is never a shortage of things to “discuss”.

Anyway, after making my choice for Christ, I’ve learned more.  Such as…

  • I still get to make choices – and I still don’t always make the best choice.
  • Involving Jesus in my decision process helps immensely.
  • God’s Grace is boundless – and that’s a very good thing for me,
  • In God’s Grace is a very secure, although not always comfortable, place to be.

lrd, 09/22/2007

Some After thoughts… 

Even though this essay is entitled “Choices…”, belief in Jesus is a matter of FAITH. Yes, I used what seemed logical to me; but, it is ultimately, all based on Faith.  I have not seen God in any physical presence – yet, I know He exists, and loves me.  How?  Through Faith.  I would say fact-based Faith, perhaps.  But, Faith, none -the-less.

Some might argue that point about ‘God’s Grace being a very secure place to be’.  I understand why.  However, I think they confuse the terms security and comfort.  When you make your choice for God, you get Satan’s attention.  Satan recognizes that as a new believer you are more vulnerable to attack than you will be as you mature in your walk of faith.  Satan will attack – sometimes forcibly, some-times very subtly.  Either way, life can get …uncomfortable – sometimes, extremely uncomfortable.  You will need to stand your ground. Then, the more work you do for God, the more likely you are to again draw Satan’s attention, and life will again get quite uncomfortable.  (Satan hates effective witnesses).  Stand your ground. You quite literally have the power of God dwelling in you.  So, you are secure!

Don’t tell God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is”. *

You, in the security that God is with you, can always stand your ground.

And, another thing I’ve learned (the hard way) is that, as a Christian, we can exercise our free will and choose our sin.  But, remember this, we cannot choose the consequences of that sin.  And, oh yes, there will be consequences.  And, when they come, we must talk to God.  Ask for forgiveness, accept the consequences, turn it all over to Him and then, we just might be  surprised by the ultimate outcome. 

* I don’t know who fist said this, but, they have it right.  And, I certainly couldn’t say it any better.