Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Take up your Cross(es)

When we weigh anchor, by pulling up those things that died on the "crosses" of life, we are pulling off the sea floor those things we need most for the journey. The trouble that came and the dreams that died will be the rigging on our ship that will prove invaluable on the journey of "following Him".

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I'm Back

I have had a long sabbatical. It has been wonderful. I am arriving back to find my country in much worse shape. I feel like I'm a different person now than when I left (after my last post). I see the challenges we face now and realize we are in a battle for our existence. Bravery and cunning actions will be required to right this ship now. Not just bravery and cunning but both of these under the direction of God.

Lucky for us this is the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.

My weekly dose of Ravi has me looking the full scope of the challenge in the eye and seeing the problem in proportion to God. He's bigger. Much bigger.

Endowed Freedom

A freedom, endowed by our Creator, that defined freedom for the world, cannot continue without Him superintending it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Fellowship of His Suffering

Sorry it has been so long...

That thing that we dreamed of for ourselves, the things we hoped for that never materialized, the life envisioned for ourselves that we were robbed of, these are the things I am talking about. The pain and suffering of watching them pass from our reach is so personal, so private that to speak of them with the chance that the hearer would mock, scoff or make light of them keeps them locked away from the sight of any other human.

Some of us, no all of us remain chained to these disappointments far longer than we should. A “self” we had hoped, planned and sacrificed for has died. This cycle repeats itself over and over in my life. It happened again this week. This morning while lamenting my case into my coffee, a very soft and sweet thought rose out of the cloudy gloom like someone whispered it to me. “Take up your cross and follow me.” Ever have that happen? A thought clear, bright and laden with hope emerge from the mess with such clarity that it captures your attention with its novelty and excellence.

“So what does that mean in this situation,” I wondered. The answer came as softly and sweetly as the statement. Take all the things that have “died” and the means by which they were killed and follow Him and in the doing of this, His purposes will supernaturally begin to materialize. Could accepting the losses as part of His plan for me and following Him while bearing them be the way to the exceptional life He planned for me? What wonders will unfold in obeying this command?

I’m no Bible scholar but I’ll tell you what my hope is: that the pain and disappointment that we find so personal and intimate is not just known by Him but understood by Him. I have reason to believe He understands not just the value of that which was lost but why it was important to me.  Pain is the canvas on which the strokes of courage and cowardice work themselves out in the light. He sees the beauty and the blemishes. Nothing is too graphic for Him to handle. His story is on the canvas too. We can take comfort in common experience, and TRUST Him.

Those persons and events that force their way into our lives and do violence to what we consider personally valuable, delicate, fragile, priceless… don’t relent despite our cries. The inevitability is at times breathtaking. They force open the door through which we enter into the fellowship of His suffering.  Philippians 3:8-10 really comes to life in this light.

Php 3:8-10 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

The valuable things that die don’t have to be an anchor to an abandoned, defeated life of disappointment. Christianity offers an amazing alternative to this. Instead of a life tethered to failure and disappointment requiring greater amounts of synthetic pain relief, Christ says,  "…If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Take up my cross? The things that cause those important, personal parts of me to die, I’m supposed to take them up and follow Him? Is it ok to think that our lives are sometimes crucified in small or large pieces of intimate personal matters, killed by circumstances beyond our control but certainly not His? Those events come and kill a part of what we held dear and leave us swooning with how beyond stopping they were. Sometimes the force of an event extends itself over years or decades and finally we realize this isn’t going to be what I had dreamed it would. It is a hope drawing its last breaths. Then it dies. What about these piecemeal crucifixions? Little parts of us that die. Do we need to include them on the cross of self denial? I think if we want to be free of the regret of their loss, yes. In the acceptance of the death and the cause for it, as a matter of trusting Jesus for the decision to allow it, we swing free of the restraints of grief, sorrow and loss to look expectantly toward His silhouette against a whited-out future following Him.

The phrase “take up” in Jesus’ command are a sailor’s terms for weighing anchor. What else would you weigh anchor for other than to prepare for a voyage. What grander voyage can there be than navigating eternity by the celestial references of the Maker of the Universe? “Trust Him?” you ask. After the damaging event that has changed the course of my life? Yes. This is definitely a big decision. Who will be the guide of my life, me or Christ? In my hands, my life will be held back by regrets and sorrows. Taking them up and following Him makes my life bigger than those regrets and sorrows. They are only mementos of a long and meaningful journey, a journey I still don’t know the whole significance of. Without Him they are a destination, a place I really don’t care to stay. I’m going to do everything in my power to weigh anchor.

I am often struck by the command in 1 Thes. 5:16 to “rejoice always”. Even while something important in my life is dying? It does say always. Another verse I have trouble reconciling with this one and my life is two verses past in verse 18. “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It really is a choice. Will the disappointments (as well as the triumphs) be a destination or a simply a port of call on a much bigger, more significant journey.  These two verses make much more sense when you put with them Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. “ If I really believe that then I really can rejoice always and in everything give thanks. Take a deep breath of freedom. Trust His judgment. Keep your eye on His form ahead of you. Are you sick to death of grieving the loss? Weigh anchor mate. Let the voyage resume. This port is not the final destination.  

I can weigh anchor and as the winds of the sea stir the sails and fall on my face I can rejoice, always looking forward to the next leg of the journey. I can give thanks in all things knowing my final destination is not in the port of Regret, Loss or Disappointment. There are adventures I have yet to experience on this journey.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Communism Kills

It is official, Communism Kills.Hat tip to Dyspepsia Generation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Great Blessing of Moral Absolutes

There is truth. Seems kind of self-evident doesn’t it? There is truth. I have taken a lot of comfort in that in my short life and more all the time. There is truth. After reading this I hope you will take comfort in it too.

Can we know it? Really, can you know what is true and what is not? If it is true for me is it also true for you? (Is the statement, “What’s true for you may not be true for me,” true for everyone? Defeats itself doesn’t it?) Yeah, real truth is true for everyone.

There is truth. So where does it come from? Are there a lot of places to find truth? I mean are there a lot of sources you can go to for ultimate truth? Is it easily found and have many sources?  If there are many sources then what if they don’t agree? If there are 2 sources of ultimate truth and they contradict each other then (1) neither are true, (2) one is wrong or (3) truth does not exist (and we’ve already settled that one.) No, no, no there can only be one source of truth if truth exists, and it does.

Now, if truth exists and there can only be one source then that one source is the author of all truth. Seems like a big responsibility. I mean really, the definition, meaning and purpose of everything is in those hands; one-stop shopping for all understanding… wow.

We all have to agree on my first two points (1.truth exists and can only have one source.) Everyone. It’s the next point that I am going to offer that we disagree on. Christianity claims that the God of the Bible is that one source. I would like to convince everyone that this is the case but I know that is not possible. But for those who will listen, let me give you a flavor of the truth(s) from this source. Then choose for yourself whether to keep evaluating the truth(s) the Bible tells us about. Let me choose just one truth the God of the Bible has declared. Just one truth, which is the core truth, I believe, of the Christian faith. It is the theme of the Bible throughout. It is God’s main truth to man. This one truth, the main truth, if it is true sets the flavor and meaning of all other truths. It colors the meaning of our existence and establishes the defaults of life in the excellent range. That one truth is that God loves us. Really? Personally? What a sublime thought to have the privilege to lay our minds on but is it really true? Does He love me personally? John 3:16 says “whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life...” (paraphrased, emphasis mine).  That sounds like individual persons… you and me.

So we have truth. Can there be absolute truths? Well, let’s put it another way. There are no absolute truths (except this one, which means there are absolute truths. The statement defeats itself.)Yes, there are absolute truths.

Love is true. Good exists. These are absolute truths. If you have never really known them, you need to investigate the Bible as truth. It will change your life elementally.  If you have experienced them but never considered that they are absolute truths, and have to be from one source, please consider reading more about the God of the Bible as the author of this kind of truth.

From what I read in the Bible it sounds like He has gone to great toil, trouble and sacrifice to get rid of anything that would separate us from Him. First of all the things we have done that would prevent a relationship with Him. How flattering is that? God is pursuing a relationship with me. Even when I am trying to avoid Him He continues to extend the invitation.  It sounds like it is important to Him to have a relationship with you (and me), a relationship based on love as the first principle. Now that truth is worth knowing.

If there are absolute truths that deal with morality does that mean there are moral absolutes? Yes. Take comfort in this Americans rather than hide from it or fear it. Remember what our forefathers wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are Created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” “Certain, inalienable,” rights sound like absolutes to me.  If they are not then we do not have certain and inalienable rights. That would be bad news.

Our Founders knew there was truth, that there was only one source and they were convinced that the one source was the God of the Bible. It teaches of these certain and inalienable rights. To them they were self-evident. A God that endows all men and women with certain and inalienable rights (moral absolutes) that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must be a God of excellence with good as His intent for us. He would be worth giving a chance. From my personal experience, He is worth investigating. He is worth seeking a relationship with. If life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are just a taste of what He had in mind for us, that deserves a look. As a nation we have come farther than any other country in blessings just by acting on these absolute truths or moral absolutes. What more is in store for those who seek more absolutes from Him and learn to build a life on them?

His sacrifice to know you and I started with sending His Son to die and pay for all the wrongs we have done. He, as the ultimate source of truth, knows what hurts and what we have done to hurt ourselves and others. As the Author of absolute truth he has the authority to forgive those wrongs based on His own criteria for payment. Frankly, the thought of absolute forgiveness of all my mistakes brings such peace to my mind and heart I don’t have a clue why anyone would not jump at the offer. In the acceptance of this forgiveness, you come to know Him for the first time and it is a real experience of peace, another of His character qualities. This is just the beginning. There is so much more to explore in those moral absolutes of excellence, adventure, relationship, trust, risk, sacrifice and yes above all else love. I absolutely dare you to seek a relationship with Him.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bolshevism and Societal Collapse

Every once in a while I get an inkling, a premonition? Or maybe just curiosity to go searching into a subject that I'm not familiar with because something in current events has prompted me. Recent events here in America seem to remind me of something I read back in high school history class about the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution of 1917. I Found myself wondering do we have the forgotten spirits of the Bolsheviks here among us influencing social, cultural and political events?

The more I thought about it the stronger the urge became to get brushed up on my Russian Revolution history. After a little bit of online research I discovered the name of the foremost authority on the Russian Revolution in Western culture. His name is Richard Pipes. He has written three major works about the Russian Revolution: The Russian Revolution, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime and Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution. I ordered two of them; The Russian  Revolution and Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution

The last of these being only 80 pages in length, I dove right in. By page 5 my blood was chilled. It was pretty much just the creeps until I got to page 40. Now I feel compelled to share with everyone this resource. The parallels between our current administration and the Bolshevik party warrant discussion. I would like to include a few excerpts from the book. I strongly encourage anyone reading this to order online "Three Whys of the Russian Revolution". In 80 pages you should be sufficiently alarmed.

The first excerpt is on page 40 describing Lenin:

**Lenin treated politics as warfare. Of course, all Marxists did so in a sense; to the Marxists, politics means class war. But the others did not take this dictum quite as literally as did Lenin. Whereas they thought of it as ordinary conflict, he and he alone saw its purpose as conquering power and annihilating all rivals. By annihilation, he meant, not merely eliminating them as competitors, but physically exterminating them. Such a view of politics, of course, gave Lenin great advantages in the struggle for power. Once power was gained, however, and the adversary was "conquered," such a view provided no guidance for running a society.**

Our current president has taken a lesson from Vladimir Lenin. Class war is a tool. The description continues on page 42:

**Lenin saw himself as the commander-in-chief of a organization committed to permanent political warfare. He unquestionably excelled in this particular pursuit. In the concluding chapter of Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, I maintain that he was never an outstanding statesman – he had few constructive ideas – but that he was one of the great conquerors of world history, a man who vanquished his own country in a way that no one before him had even attempted. The rival parties, the Socialists and, to some extent, the liberals, were populist, believing in the innate wisdom of the Russian people. They were not prepared to fight, and they lost out to a politician for whom struggle was a normal occupation, and peace emir breathing spell for war.**

If ever there was an organization bent on and committed to permanent political warfare it is the Democratic machine we are watching in operation right now. A good example of this is the reemergence of the issue of women in combat. The issue was settled some 10 to 12 years ago but not satisfactorily for the liberals and progressives in the Democratic Party. Here we are again fighting over the same issue that society had concluded a decade ago. This is permanent political warfare. On page 43 the description continues:

**Another advantage of Lenin's derived from the fact that he did not care about Russia. He cared about Germany and England in the sense that, for him, as a revolutionary, they were the key countries. Russia he viewed as nothing more than a stepping stone to global upheaval; a backward country, populated mainly by an uncouth rural "petty bourgeoisie" in the shape of self-sufficient "middle" peasants and "kulaks." Such a country could not make a world revolution: at best, it could serve as a spark that would set off the powder keg abroad. In his view, Russia was the weak link in the chain of world imperialism, the snapping of which would unleash upheavals in the heart of Europe. It was a profound personal tragedy for him that his expectations in this respect were not met and the Revolution remained confined to Russia and her colonies.
                Because he did not care about his country, Lenin was prepared to promise everybody whatever they wanted without giving much thought to the future. The peasants wanted private land for their communes? Let them take it: eventually all the land will be confiscated and collectivized anyway. Until then, "looting the loot" will win over, or at least neutralize, the peasantry. The workers demand to run the factories? Even though "workers control" is a detestable syndico- anarchist slogan, there is no harm in granting their desires – for the time being. Once industries have been nationalized and subjected to a general economic plan of production, "workers control" will vanish of itself. The soldiers clamor for peace? Give them peace; when the "proletarian dictatorship" is firmly in power, they will be duly mobilized for the global Civil War. The national minorities call for independence? By all means: they only have to ask. The "right of national self-determination," including separate statehood, is guaranteed, with the tacit understanding that, if exercised, it will be overruled by the superior right of "proletarian self determination." This purely tactical approach to all political problems was an enormous boon because no other party in Russia was prepared to engage in such demagoguery. Of course when the promissory notes were presented for payment later on, Lenin had to default, alienating all those who, passively or actively, had helped him come to power and forcing him to install a totalitarian regime which had not been his intention.**

It cannot be disputed that no other president in American history has promised so much to so many with no thought of how this will affect the future, just like Lenin.

And there's a lot to argue over whether Mr. Obama cares for this country or not. His being raised overseas with all his childhood memories abroad has at the least lessened his sentimental ties to an American raising and traditional values. After his election, his wife articulated the fact that she had never been proud of this country until he was elected. This speaks volumes of her sentiment toward America. And what else can we take from the fact that Mr. Obama spent 20 years under the pastor of “God bless America? No! God d**n America…”  More evidence is easy to find.  Mr. Obama's disdainful remarks about those who would "cling to God and their guns" is another revealing statement about his sentiment toward average Americans. It apparently parallels Lenin's thoughts of his “countrymen.”  

There are some striking differences between early 1900’s  Russia and the United States, however. For one, citizens of the United States have experienced and enjoyed all the amenities of real freedom. According to Natan Sharansky once you have tasted freedom, you will never be happy without it. And enslaving a people who have known real freedom is no small task. Yet we see the same tactics being used here in the US by an administration who has promised "fundamental transformation."

Please, please, please acquire this book. It is only 80 pages. Its contents may prevent us from experiencing a 70 year black abyss comparable to what Russia experienced or worse.

Bolshevism thrives and grows in a culture of discontent, dissatisfaction and conflict between subgroups of a society. It is simply a means for a narcissist to promote himself by creating crisis and dissension then taking full advantage to elevate himself to power.

Friends, unless I'm terribly mistaken the seeds of Bolshevism have been sewn here in our country. A second term to this administration will allow the crop to break ground. How will we respond?

Always remember we are Americans. Truly, united we stand. Disrespecting one another and disregarding the boundary markers our Founders left us in our State Papers will prove disastrous. Sound moral guidance, love for our fellow citizens is an antidote to Bolshevism. God help us to see in each other a God given, inherent value. Freedom is the longing of every human heart. It is not easy to obtain or maintain. Cling to it with all your might. Fight all that threatens it. Anyone who does not trust you with freedom should not be trusted of given the privilege of leadership.