Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Living Word.8

I do not pass judgment on those who hear these words and do not believe; for I have not come to judge the world, but to rescue it.

Be warned; those that reject my words will be held accountable: the truth that I have spoken will stand as their judge on the last day.

I'm 5'4". If you factor pygmies and NBA giants I am "average" height. 

Image result for basketball dunks imagesThe"truth" of my existence, however, is that I wasn't destined to receive pinpoint passes for high flying thunder dunks!

Truthfully, as I approach the age 63, I still have nagging doubts about my Being. I have been a child, son, student, actor, athlete, musician, husband, father, clerk, salesman, laborer, printer, designer, business owner, pastor, teacher, bus driver, carpenter, farm hand.

The measure of my success has not been thunderous ovations from adoring fans, but it has been regular paychecks I received from -generally speaking- ambivalent employers for the work I produced.  In one way, my Being was "judged" by those who used my varied skill set to achieve their goals.

As satisfying as it can be to be rewarded for labor produced (with the fruit of that labor I raised a family and achieved some of my own goals) there is still a longing to know and experience greater success. Not bigger paychecks or louder applause, but the knowledge that my Being mattered; that there was a truth to my existence for which I will be eternally satisfied!

The ultimate success, according to Jesus, is how our "Being" measured up to Truth.  Not that we merely spoke accurate facts or didn't lie but that as MacDonald states:
by "obeying the Will that is the cause of our Being,
the cause that demands us to be true, and that Will being
  • Righteousness and
  • Love and
  • Truth
we begin to stand on the apex of our being, to know ourselves divine and feel ourselves free."

When a man is, with his whole nature, loving and willing the truth, he is then a live truth.

He is the thing God created him to be.

Dr. Jordan Petersen, professor of clinical psychology, observes:
"At the beginning of time, according to the great Western tradition, the Word of God [logos] transformed chaos into Being through the act of speech. We also transform chaos into Being, through speech. We transform the manifold possibilities of the future into the actualities of past and present. To tell the truth is to bring the most habitable reality into Being.

  • Truth builds edifices that can stand a thousand years.
  • Truth feeds and clothes the poor, and makes nations wealthy and safe.
  • Truth reduces the terrible complexity of a man to the simplicity of his word, so that he can become a partner, rather than an event."
-Dr Jordan Petersen, 12 Rules for Life, An Antidote for Chaos

MacDonald expands on this "partnership":
"But a man has not originated this in himself. He has seen it and striven for it, but not originated it.
The one originating, living, visible truth, embracing all truths in all relations, is Jesus Christ.

He is true; he is the live Truth.

When a man is true, if he were in hell he could not be miserable. He is right with himself because he is right with him whence he came.
To be right with God is to be right with the universe; one with
  • the power,
  • the love,
  • the will of the mighty Father,
the cherisher of joy, the lord of laughter, whose are all glories, all hopes, who loves everything, and hates nothing but selfishness,
which he will not have in his kingdom."
Adapted From Unspoken Sermons III, The Truth

When I proposed marriage to my wife many years ago I told her that my one ambition in life was to do the will of God no matter where that might lead. His will has lead us to many places, with many chapters beginning with great promise and ending, more often than not, leaving my 5'4" frame battered and bruised wondering whether I'd missed a turn along the way.

For the way of His Will is not lined with cheering crowds urging us on. It is often dark and foggy, lonely and fearful with the only thing we can occasionally get glimpses of is the Savior in front beckoning us on into the light until we begin to see that following His Will is not simply altering our direction as we mentally brace ourselves for some new duty, but loving the Will that brought us safely to where we are. Stronger, Godlier, more manifestly True than when we started.

To be rescued from meaninglessness is the cry of every human heart!

To stand in the day and hear the thunderous ovation of an audience of One is the reason we're born!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Living Word.7

"Only the breath of God gives life. Your earthly body grows old and will eventually fail, but the words that I speak to you are filled with God’s breath and are life."

My cousin regularly gives updates on his mom's rehab progress. She suffered a stroke recently. I appreciate his gentle encouragement and care for his elderly mother, she is the last living member of the family from whom we cousins entered this world. But the truth of the matter is her body is failing. There will be a moment when she leaves the God-breathed clay tent of her earthly body and, because of God's redemptive revelation in Jesus Christ collaborating with our faith and will, she can enter into the God-breathed life of an eternal, celestial body.

It takes an act of the human will to accept the words of Jesus as authoritative, real and true. But there has always been competition for humanity's faith and allegiance. Today's penchant for trusting in technology to bring heaven to earth is no exception.

Diabolical Distraction or Dazzling Destiny?

"Imagine that you could live indefinitely in a world in which all poverty, pollution, and scarcity has been vanquished. Imagine that there existed no limitation to what you could do or be, except for those limitations that you imposed yourself.
This scenario may sound like a cross between Thomas Moore’s Utopia and Christopher Marlow’s Doctor Faustus, but according to Ray Kurzweil it is our real and fast-approaching future. It will come about as the result of an explosion in our technological abilities. We will incorporate more computer-based processes into our biological functioning until we transcend our crude, earthly bodies entirely and become machine-based, virtually immortal. This coming period of rapid technological progress and its miraculous effects will occur within the next 50 years and is what Kurzweil refers to as the Singularity.
The concept is both startling and optimistic,but it immediately provokes certain philosophical concerns. If nanotechnology allows us to create any object, will any object ever again be valuable? What role will responsibility, temperance,and discipline play in a world where any urge can be gratified at almost the same moment it is felt? What will pass for morality when there is no mortal consequence to any action?"
--Patrick Tucker, Asnt Ed,THE FUTURIST

An engineer from GM visited with radio host Glenn Beck recently discussing the fact that by 2030 self-driving vehicles will replace our need to drive ourselves. Beck asked how willingly people will accept that proposition since the automobile symbolizes our own autonomy and independence. The engineer responded that we are already accepting it with our growing dependence on "smart" devices, while Amazon, Google and other giant tech companies create more and more convenience that we hungrily accept, unaware or unconcerned that we are surrendering more and more of our own autonomy.

Follower of Jesus, the allure of the world and its technological advances (technology, by the way, born in the mind and heart of God as another of mankind's blessings) is as strong as it ever was. Now more than ever it is our responsibility to live out the God-breathed words of Life:
"There is but one plan of salvation and that is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, to take Him for what He is -- our Master, and His words as if He meant them, which He assuredly did. To do His words is to enter into vital relationship with Him, to obey Him is the only way to be one with Him. The relationship between Him and us is an absolute one; it can nohow begin to live but in obedience: it is obedience."
-MacDonald, The Truth In Jesus

If you realize how powerful the media is in selling the Futurist Vision of a Technological Utopia, how much it affects each of us even now, and how the next generation shrugs its collective shoulder in integrating this worldview into their everyday behavior it may give pause, perspective, courage and hope to the Apostle John's encouragement: 
"Greater is He that is in you 
than he that is in the world!"

Publishing this on SuperBowl Sunday highlights a truth that only superior opposing forces are worth competing for the time and attention of the public. The Truth of Jesus' words are the only Superior force capable of opposing the corruption and domination of this world's system. Their force is felt in and through His followers living out His God-breathed words daily!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Living Word.6

"I tell you now: I am the way, the truth, and the life; no on can recognize the Father, except by my introduction.

Image result for santa clausRumor has it that Santa has become a Calvinist! Realizing the gravity of 'inherent depravity' he's put us ALL on the 'naughty list!'

Oh my!

Image result for tim allen santa clauseI am a fan of Tim Allen's "Santa" in The Santa Clause movies. There are several scenes when, upon returning to his "normal" self, he still has little children recognizing "Santa" and lining up to let him know they've been good!Most movies about the Jolly Old Elf have much to do with 'belief' and the point when a person abandons child-like faith in the goodness of a benevolent, gift-giving Being who tracks and encourages good behavior.
Image result for tim allen santa clauseThe Santa Clause    does a marvelous job of portraying the joy of restored faith!

Icon or Idol

Interestingly, I recall my own moment when, in the same year, about the age of eight, I learned the painful "truth" about both Santa and the Easter Bunny!

Then as a mature and serious parent I thought it my duty to speak the "truth" about Santa to my children, "protecting" them from a similar painful fate, hoping to avoid the possibility that they, when they got older, might feel violated by my lack of candor when they finally realize "Santa" is not real!

(To demonstrate how effective we were in conveying the "truth" about Santa, son Stevie, at the manly age of three, squashed the giddy excitement of a little girl in a doctor's office waiting room. As she excitedly chattered about the things Santa was going to bring her, he stoically reprimanded her declaring "Santa is not real!" Shocked, she ran crying into an angry mother's lap! Painful...)

Having grown up a practicing Protestant, I really have little understanding of "Icons" in religious symbolism. But I recently read an interesting insight by writer Rod Dreher, a former Methodist turned Catholic turned Eastern Orthodox, in his book "How Dante Can Save Your Life":
"An icon is an image for contemplating a reality that transcends the specific image; the image leads the mind, through the senses, to direct communion with the intelligibles...icons, damaged though they may be, [are vehicles] through which the light of God [shines]. They [are] not ends, but imperfect means to the perfect end: God... 
[we ought to] judge all things by the degree to which the light of God shines through them, and to which they serve as a sign pointing toward God...The pilgrim’s movement toward unity with God is measured by his increasing ability to see things as they really are. Believing is seeing."
Dreher makes the point that icons can become idols when, rather then seeing them as pointing us to higher Truth and toward God himself, we put our hope or trust in the icon itself.

Jesus constantly repudiated the religious leaders of his day for their failure to recognize the truth of God in the things he said and did! And rather than offer himself up as some kind of imperfect icon hoping to nudge them toward truth, he made it perfectly clear that unless they recognized His divine Godness, the very God they purported to represent would be unrecognizable to them!

So have fun with Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, et al insofar as they give us an iconic view of the nature and character of God, and teach us and our children how to recognize Jesus in His grace and goodness!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Living Word.5

"Though not appearing to you personally, or speaking to you audibly, the Father has born witness of me.

By refusing to believe in me, the one sent to you by my Father, you close your ears from hearing the very voice of God.

How is that some of you say, regarding the one whom the Father has set apart as his very own and sent into the world,

"He commits blasphemy because he says,

'He is the Son of God'?"

The cultural landscape is full of craters attesting to the explosive battles waging war for the hearts and souls of mankind!

These battles demonstrate that there are always consequences for Refusing To Believe.

Refusing to believe in "man-made global climate change" incurs scorn from the media...or crippling lawsuits (ask author Mark Steyn).


Refusing to believe in "gender fluidity" arouses the wrath of faculty in taxpayer funded universities. (check out teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd's confrontation with Laurier University officials).


Refusing to believe in Democratic Socialism incites riots. (Here's looking at you Antifa).


Refusing to believe in open societies labels you racist. (Welcoming America isn't very welcoming to those who don't agree with them).


Refusing to believe in moral relativism gets you spurned as intolerant. (How's the "sexual revolution" working out for you Harvey Weinstein?)


Refusing to believe in "marriage equality" bankrupts you. (To all the Bakers, Florists and Pizza Makers standing against the LGBT assault).


Image result for deafness
image by Hariomji
Refusing to believe in Jesus results in spiritual deafness.

Inability to hear the Voice of God reduces people to slavery. They make themselves slaves to the Peddlers of Passion and Power.

As there was pressure from the religious and political powers of His day to disavow Jesus, so today growing opposition to faith in Christ and Truth, makes it crucial and costly to daily take up our cross and follow Jesus!

But the choice couldn't be more clear: Believe and Perceive
Compassion and
Perfecting Love

disbelieve and stumble in spiritual stupor!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Living Word.4

"You search the ancient prophetic writings because you are seeking the path to eternal life. The prophets themselves testify clearly of me. And yet, you hesitate to come to me that you might find new life."
-- Jesus

Any modern day traveler has most likely had a disturbing debate with a high tech navigator that goes something like this:
Automotive-GPS-Navigation-Car-GPS-product-gallery-driveassist-1-Garmin.png (450×267)
Garmin: "In one mile turn left."
Me: "I don't want to turn left."
Garmin: "In 500 feet turn left."
Me:" I told you, I'm not turning left!"
Garmin: "In 25 feet turn left."
Me: "Why aren't you listening to me...WE ARE NOT TURNING LEFT!!!"
Garmin: " one mile turn left."

Finding the right path has always been daunting...

Modern day navigation tools give us a wealth of information such as weather conditions, traffic delays, distance and time to destination. But whatever navigation tools we use, it is still up to us to accurately interpret the information.

And whether it is modern technology or ancient writings, what they can't give is a guarantee that we will like what we find when we get there!

Think of the unsuspecting women hoping to land a major role in a Harvey Weinstein movie...
Image result for nazareth jesus
So the problem with the people of Jesus' day wasn't in the navigation, the prophets took them right where they needed to be, it was that Jesus didn't match up to their pre-determined interpretation of doctrines and theories about Messiah!

Could modern day religionists possibly be guilty of the same: promoting doctrines and theories over The Living Savior?!

What's Not To Love?

Image result for nazareth jesusThe townsmen of Nazareth probably offer the greatest example in Jesus' life of how to be at the right destination with the wrong expectations!
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 'The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.' And he . the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, 'This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.'—Luke iv. 14-21.

MacDonald observes:
" Nazareth He comes with the sweetest words of the prophet of hope in His mouth—good tidings of great joy—of healing and sight and liberty; followed by the godlike announcement, that what the prophet had promised He was come to fulfill. His heart, his eyes, his lips, his hands—his whole body is full of gifts for men, and that day was that scripture fulfilled in their ears. 

The prophecy had gone before that He should save his people from their sins; He brings an announcement they will better understand: He is come, he says, to deliver men from 
  • sorrow and pain, 
  • ignorance and oppression, 
  • everything that makes life hard and unfriendly. 
What a gracious speech, what a daring pledge to a world whelmed in tyranny and wrong!

To the women of it, I imagine, it sounded the sweetest, in them woke the highest hopes. They had scarce had a hearing when the Lord came; and thereupon things began to mend with them, and are mending still, for the Lord is at work, and will be. 

He is the refuge of the oppressed. By its very woes, as by bitterest medicine, he is setting the world free from sin and woe. This very hour he is curing its disease, the symptoms of which are so varied and so painful; working none the less faithfully that the sick, taking the symptoms for the disease, cry out against the incompetence of their physician. 'What power can heal the broken-hearted?' they cry. And indeed it takes a God to do it, but the God is here! In yet better words than those of the prophet, spoken straight from his own heart, he cries: 
'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' 

He calls to him every heart knowing its own bitterness, speaks to the troubled consciousness of every child of the Father. He is come to free us from everything that makes life less than bliss essential. No other could be a gospel worthy of the God of men.

Best of all, the story of him who is Himself the good news, the gospel of God, becomes not only more and more believable to the childlike heart, but more and more ministrant to his life of conflict, and his assurance of a living father who hears when his children cry. The gospel according to this or that expounder of it, may repel him unspeakably; the gospel according to Jesus Christ, attracts him supremely, and ever holds where it has drawn him."

The Ignoble, Influential, and Indifferent response to The Infinite.

The Ignoble, like the men of Nazareth who, with fierce nationalistic pride, reserve the "right" to determine for themselves what claim Jesus has on their faith in Him while their supposed familiarity with the "scriptures" breeds the worst kind of contempt: truth in Him was not truth in them! 

The "truth" they were determined to find was a conquering King for whom they would gladly take up sword and club to break hearts (and heads) in the name of the Healer of Hearts!  

Jesus walks away from them...

As for the Influential, those who fancy themselves powerful enough to both insulate themselves from the miseries of this world and manipulate miseries in order to control others for their own pleasure, would find this good news, The Man, in a word, threatening!

Jesus calls them out.

The Indifferent, may stumble into Him, but will never really understand Him because of a greater commitment to their own ways than His.

Jesus keeps calling.

So then let us remember that doctrines and theories about the Creator, Redeemer, Savior and Messiah may help us navigate toward Him, but may be the very thing that keeps us from truly coming to Him!

(adapted from Jesus and His Fellow Townsmen, The Hope of the Gospel, by George MacDonald, emphasis added.)