Saturday, April 21, 2018

How to Repent of all Sins in your Christian Life

Jesus in the Wilderness
Mark 7:20-23 (ESV) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Repentance is a beautiful thing. Repentance is a breaking free from the ties and bonds of this world, and the sins that so easily corrupt us, and a process of being transformed into the likeness of Christ. 

In the west, especially in the United States many Christians have been deceived by a dangerous doctrine called "eternal security."  Essentially this view indicates that "once you're saved, you're always saved."  This doctrine has led many people astray in their Christian faith. Many have assumed that given their salvation experience is legitimate, they don't need to worry about sin in their lives and repenting from it.

But the more I study the scriptures, the more concerned I am about sin in the life of a Christian.  We don't take sin near seriously enough in western Christianity.  And that's a big reason why the church looks a lot like the world.  We don't recognize the need for true repentance.  We're filled up on grace, but what we need is true repentance. 

1 John 1:8-10 ESV "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Our God is a gracious God, and He forgives the sins of those who put their faith and allegiance in Jesus Christ.  I used to believe that our sins, past, present, and future were all forgiven in the moment of salvation, in the moment of saving faith in Jesus Christ.  I no longer believe that, because there isn't much basis for it in the scriptures.  

I had considered a scripture in Hebrews a basis for this belief, that "Jesus died for sin, once for all time" (Hebrews 10:10).  But I realize now that on a firmer basis of good exegesis, this scripture is much more likely referring to the fact that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross transcends time in it's accessibility, meaning the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross redeemed people in the past, like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and so on.  And Jesus' sacrifice is also available infinitely forward to our present age, as a timeless option to receive forgiveness of sins.  

But I now realize that if we are in active sin in our lives, those sins are not forgiven, unless we repent of them and turn away from them.  That is why it's important for us to conclude each day in prayer, and make an inventory of our day, and confess and repent of any sins in our lives.  

It's important to understand that there is a distinction between active sin and being tempted.  To be tempted is not a sin, Jesus was tempted, but He did not yield to the temptations.  So to be tempted is not a sin.  But if we are tempted, and we give in and indulge in the sin, in thought or action, then we have sinned. But don't worry, God provides a way of escape for every sin that dares to beset us. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Galatians 5:16 ESV But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

We're given a clue as to how to overcome sin in our lives: To overcome, we must walk in the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was given to us, by Jesus, as a deposit in our souls, to help lead us into all truth and purity.  

We are already dead in Christ.  We were buried with Him in His death on the cross. We are therefore dead to the sin He died to destroy, and we are now alive to Jesus. We are reborn, as alive to Jesus, and dead to sin. So we must fight to walk in that Spirit life.  

But to live free of sin, I must emphasize is not a checklist of "to do" and "don't do."  To live free of sin is to live so completely yielded to the Holy Spirit, so utterly subjected to Christ, so completely adherent to the will of the heavenly Father that sin is rendered powerless. Temptations will come, but our yielding to the Father will win the day over those temptations. 

So the question must come up: What exactly is sin?  Well, we do get some lists in the scriptures.  Here is one such list, of 15 categories: 

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Sex always comes first.  God knows us so well. Sex is the hardest sin to overcome, because it's temptations are so strong.  The big three sexual sins are: masturbation (using lustful images in the mind or pornographic videos to sin), fornication (to engage in pre-marital/non-marital sex acts), and adultery (to have sex with a married man or woman, or lust after them in your heart).  Those are the big three, especially in our day and age.  I've done all three, sadly.  But I've also confessed my sins in tears before God, and asked for forgiveness, and repented, and I was forgiven and washed clean, completely.  The same repentance and forgiveness is available to you, today.  

But if we're playing a game with God, where we sin, then repent, then the next day we sin again, and repent, that is no good.  In that situation we need to ask God to help us fear Him.  Ask Him that again and again, to put the fear of the Lord in us.  Then we'll tremble before His throne, we'll tremble about the fires of hell, and we'll be zealous and repent quickly of that sin.  And that's true repentance, which is enabled by the Holy Spirit.  It starts with grief, then fear, then a sincere turning, and a practicing daily of a new lifestyle.  Once again, I speak from experience.  I played that game with God.  And I asked God for fear.  And He gave me fear.  Now I've repented and it's a real repentance, which is a gift.  

There is no distinction between sins in God's eyes.  God doesn't say "Well you were a Christian in active sin, but your sins weren't that bad, you were just doing smaller sins, so it's no big deal."  No, that's not how it works.  Say, that you repent of all the "big sins" but you continue to say, download pirated music online, or you continue to steal things from your work occasionally, or you skip tithing, because "no big deal."  God will come to you, in the Spirit, again and again to tell you to repent of those sins.  But if you keep resisting, and telling yourself in your mind that it's no big deal, well, you won't be in heaven, plain and simple.  You'll be in the other place.

This is not my favorite teaching.  I prefer to focus on God's grace, on the love of Christ, and on the forgiveness, mercy, and eternal life given to us.  That's what I love and like to think about.  All of those things are indeed true about God.  But I would not be a faithful minister of the gospel if I didn't warn those I teach and care for about the dangers of living in active sin as a Christian.

Yes, we can lose our salvation.  But it's not like you turn around and say, "Oops where did it go!?" God preserves us in the palm of his hand and he comes to us and rebukes and disciplines us when we get off track. But we know when we're straying from God's path, and we know when sins are active in our lives. And there does come a point when we step outside His will and plan.  We have those choices to make.  

Don't be deceived by elaborate theologies.  Put the scriptures before theological allegiance.  And the scriptures talk again and again about "falling away" and encouragements to "abide(remain) in Christ."  I'd commend John 15 to you, as well as 1 Timothy 4:1 ESV which states: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons."

I'd also recommend the following scriptures for your consideration in regarding to falling away/departing the faith: Hebrews 6:4-6 ,Hebrews 3:12-19 ,Revelation 2:4-5 , 2 Corinthians 11:3 , 2 Peter 2:20-22 , Romans 11:19-22 , Matthew 24:10-13 , and Revelation 3:11.

Please don't just take my word for this one, examine the scriptures yourself. But I would give you this one encouragement: Put the scriptures above a theological allegiance.  Don't try to force the scriptures into the theology you prefer.  Instead let the scriptures speak for themselves.  

I know many of you reading these words are Calvinists.  I want you to know I love you as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We aren't enemies.  We're friends.  And I know your going to teach your people to thoroughly repent of all sin.  But I'd encourage you to examine the scriptures and discern them in all wisdom.  

Just as Jesus Christ taught the seven churches in the book of Revelation, we must be focused, determined, and hard working in the Spirit to repent of sin, and ensure that we are in the will of God.  God will make His will for our lives clear and we must follow it.  The scriptures say that many will come to Jesus and say, "Lord, Lord, remember all we did for you in our lives, and the miracles we performed."  And Jesus will say to them: Depart from me, I never knew you (Matthew 25:31-46). We need to be obeying God's will, if we expect to share in eternal life.

Additionally, we must not harbor unforgiveness or hatred for those who have harmed us in the past or present.  Take some time in prayer, on your knees, to search through your heart for unforgiveness and anger/hatred.  Ask the Holy Spirit to search you and reveal these things.  Then declare forgiveness in your heart, and love in your heart.  Remember that the Lord said hatred is murder (1st John 4:20).  And also recall that Jesus said that if we don't forgive others their debts, then our debts won't be forgiven.  Jesus forgave us all our sins, and our response is to forgive those who have done unspeakable evil to us.  Or even just small things.  We've been forgiven, so we must forgive (Matthew 6:15). 

Finally, we must not be lukewarm.  We must work to be on fire for Christ.  We must truly follow and obey Him.  The church that Jesus addressed in the book of Revelation, the church in Laodicea had become lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-21).  They were so wealthy and affluent that they couldn't recognize that they were poor, blind, and naked.  They needed to cloth themselves in Jesus, instead of relying on their wealth and power.  I think we have the same problem in the United States today.  We need to truly submit to Jesus and rely on Him, not worldly wealth.

In conclusion, I want to tell you that this a very difficult message for me to write.  I don't like having to share this kind of message.  In fact I've tried to avoid this reality in the theological framework in my mind for years.  I've resisted it and fought against it, and desperately wanted to believe that sin wasn't such a big deal.  I wanted to believe eternal security.  I wanted to believe that active sin wasn't such a deadly foe to eternal life.  I wanted to believe that extra grace would cover over the sins I was practicing each day.  But I realize now, that for those in active sins, their lot is in the lake of fire.  It doesn't matter how well we've served Jesus or how many converts we've won, or how faithfully we've taught the scriptures.  God shows no favoritism.  So we must be careful not to disqualify ourselves while running this race of serving Jesus (1st Corinthians 9:27).  

Hell is a real place. If you go there after you die, you'll be conscious. You'll be able to feel and you'll have your senses. You'll have a body, you'll be able to think and reason, and you'll constantly recall all the chances you had to repent, and didn't.  I don't say that to scare you, but because I don't want you to go there.  And our God is a righteous judge, He will return in power and glory to rule His people. He will bring into judgment all things we've done. 

But don't be afraid. God will help you overcome all sin in your life.  And to he who overcomes, they will be given a crown by Jesus (2 Timothy 4:7-8). And once we're in heaven, with Jesus, there is no longer a danger of sin.  We'll be free to be holy and pure and clean.  And it will be wonderful.  Heaven is real! So choose heaven, instead of hell. 

This is such a hard message for me to share, but I believe with all of my soul that this message is true and of Christ.  We must take sin seriously, and we can and we will.  And if we do, and we cooperate with the Spirit in putting to death the sins of the flesh, we will make it to eternal life with Christ in heaven.  We will be pure and spotless in His sight if we are zealous and determined to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  Thank you for reading and keep on praying and seeking God! 

1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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  5. How to Serve as a Leader in Christian Ministry
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Should I Tithe 10% to my Church?

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce

Let's talk about tithing!  In my view, tithing is very important.  God gives us Jesus, he gives us life, he transforms us, and makes us new in Jesus.  He sends His Holy Spirit to live in us and make us holy.  

He almost always sends us to a church, to serve in some manner, and we become part of that family of believers.  It's a beautiful thing. We become part of a church, and we begin to serve and contribute to that church family.  Usually it's fairly clear where God leads us, for me, the Salvation Army, the best church ever in my humble opinion.  But there are many great churches out there.  If your looking for one, don't look for the one you like.  Look for the one that teaches the entirety of the scriptures, is Spirit-filled, and most importantly look to where God is leading you.  

And remember, when joining a church, it's not about the church meeting your needs.  No.  This is God's body on Earth, and instead our attitude should be: How can I serve God through this church's ministries?  How can I be a faithful servant of Christ? 

It's not perfect. And it's not always easy.  There are issues at churches, and divisions, and certain things that happen, but we work through those things, through prayer, conversation, and obeying the word of God.

So about tithing: What is tithing?  Tithing is a concept from the Bible, from the Old Testament, that we give 10% of our income to God.  Sound like too much?  It's all His anyway.  It's not ours.  God owns everything.  We're blessed enough that he gives us a great deal of wealth, especially in the west.  We're so blessed! Wow!

Tithing is very important. And we should take it seriously. We don't want to "rob God of his tithe" as was recorded in Malachi, in regard to Israel. Tithing is a big deal, it's a clear instruction from God.

Please take that command seriously, and if your a Christian leader, or a pastor or officer, you should tithe to your church just like any other would. The minimum is 10% but preferably more, because the New Testament standard is to give joyously of we all have! God gives us so much, and it all belongs to Him anyway.  So do give tithes at your local church.

Something I also do is I support charity work, I support Compassion International and other charities.  I give to The Salvation Army world services to help build the kingdom overseas in Africa and Asia and South America.  

2 Corinthians 9:7  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

God loves a joyful giver.  God loves those who give regularly to support His work.  And let me remind and encourage all of us: God will hold us accountable for our giving.  He expects us to tithe, as much as he expects us to serve the poor and needy, and stand up for those who are outcast by society.  God expects us to tithe, and he sees everything!  So please settle it in your heart and mind to give generously to your church family, and to charities as you feel led. 

I like David Ramsey's approach of starting at 10% and then slowly working your way up to 15% then even 20% and further.  I love that!  

Proverbs 11:24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.

God blesses us when we tithe.  When I didn't tithe it seemed like I never had any money, and kept struggling in debt.  But when I gave my first fruits to God, just writing out a check right when I got paid, God blessed me.  

Now today I have investments in the stock market!  Can you imagine that?  Me?  I could never get that going on my own.  God blessed me, because I honored him by tithing.  Do the same, and test God in that way, and He will respond. It's a promise for us today.

Malachi 3:8-10 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

God will Uphold His Army: Standing on the Truths of Scripture

Notice: The views and opinions expressed on this blog are solely of those making them, and they do not necessarily constitute the views of the Salvation Army, it's partners or affiliates.

Dialogue, discussion, a conversation, two different viewpoints... It all sounds so good, doesn't it?  We're on two different sides of an issue and we selflessly come together to find a middle ground on a critical issue.  That sounds reasonable doesn't it?

But let me ask you this question: Should we have conversation about if Jesus was really the son of God?  

Of course not.  We know as believers in the church, that Jesus is the son of God, and that he came to die for us sinners, to set us free and give us life.  

That's a fundamental truth of our faith, as part of the body.  If we don't believe that, we aren't part of the body of Christ, plain and simple.  

Another question: Should we have a conversation, in the church, among fellow believers, about if we should get rid of the Bible or not?  Of course not! We can't just toss the Bible out the door, and make up our own beliefs.  That's not a conversation we're going to have.  There are certain things that we must agree on, if we are going to declare ourselves part of the church.

3rd question: Should we have a discussion, as the Salvation Army, about if we should add a 4th person to the Trinity? Hear me out, listen, we can add William Booth as the 4th person of the Trinity, because, you know, progress and tolerance.  And grace and love, of course.  Alright, but at least we can find a middle ground between our positions.  You want the Trinity, I want the Quadinity, so we can find a middle ground between our two positions.  It's a conversation, you know, it's a dialogue.  

See how ridiculous that is?  It sounds so reasonable to have a dialogue, to find common ground, and to meet half way.  But what is half-way between truth and falsehood?  Half-truth?  Half-lie?  No, truth is objective.  And there is truth, and falsehood.  There's no middle-ground between them.

And in the same way, we should not have a discussion about endorsing homosexuality. We don't need to embrace a lifestyle clearly addressed in the scriptures multiple time (Genesis 19:1-13Romans 1:26-271 Corinthians 6:9;1st Timothy 1:10Matthew 19:4-6). We don't need to find a middle point between biblical truth and non-biblical worldly ideology.  We stand on the truths of scripture.

It's simply like this: We must love and reach out to people who struggle with the sin of homosexuality.  We must love them, encourage, and help them to repent of that sin.  We must invite them to church, help them to find the grace of Christ, by turning to Christ, and away from their sins.  That's what every sinner in this world needs, all of us included. 

The first doctrine states that we believe the scriptures of the Old and New testaments are trustworthy and they constitute the instruction, the baseline for Christian faith and practice.  Part of becoming a soldier, an officer, or even an adherent is agreeing that these are our shared beliefs.  

These truths don't change.  The scriptures are quite clear about the homosexuality issue.  The scriptures are clear. And it is wrong for us to go into the word with a black marker and cross out the scriptures we don't like or don't agree with and say that this is God's grace, and God is still speaking. 

God is speaking today, and everyday in our world.  But God doesn't change, and His word doesn't change.  The New testament is for us today, and the New testament indicates that homosexuality is a sinful practice (1 Timothy 1:10, Romans 1:26-27). God is not speaking in regard to a black marker coming down from heaven, to cross out the scriptures that we don't like.  That isn't God speaking, that's you speaking.  That's people speaking, about their own opinions, elevating their views above the scriptures.

It's easy to yield to the pressures of culture, to change the word, to change our viewpoints to match the worlds.  But that's not what we're called to do, we're called to be counter-cultural.  

We must trust the word of God.  Yes, the Holy Spirit is ministering in the world.  But once again, the Holy Spirit is not out there ministering in the world saying: "God's word is out of date."  No.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, it doesn't endorse it.  The Holy Spirit inflames the Bible into our minds, it doesn't change the Bible to fit our desires. 

To have a dialogue, and to find a middle ground sounds reasonable on paper. But it's simply a logical fallacy (appeal to moderation fallacy), to find a middle ground between truth and sin.  The scriptures say what they say, and they don't say what they don't say.  

The doctrines of the Salvation Army are what we all agree on when we participate in this Christian movement.  The truths of the Bible don't change over time because we decide they should.  Those viewpoints are gleaned from the scriptures, and they are true.  And part of coming to faith in Christ, and joining this army is to declare trust in the SA doctrines, as accurately interpreting the scriptures.

And if we are going to say that we need to change our view, we need to be more inclusive, we need to embrace and teach that homosexuality is holy and right and not sinful, then we've just stepped far outside the bounds of scripture, of William Booth, of the Salvation Army, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

There can be no compromise with lies.  There can be no dialogue with heresy against the foundational truths of the Christian Bible.   The Bible is the truth about everything.  We agree on that as Christians, as followers of Jesus.  

A dialogue sounds nice.  But it invites legitimacy to viewpoints that plainly contradict the truth.  We must not dialogue against the Bible.  There can be no discussion between the Bible and "incarnational" such and such, which is simply, embracing the views of the world, of sinful humanity, and forcing those views on the Bible, supplanting the Bible, with our own fungible opinions, opening up a doorway for such things to continue, until God forbid the army would crumble into a secular social services, social justice movement.  

What goes next after biblical marriage?  The inspiration of scripture?  God the Holy Spirit? Or even someday Jesus Christ himself?  This may seem unlikely, but often what begins with one compromise, can lead to a pattern of compromise. As the scriptures say: With the foundations gone, what can the righteous do?  (Psalm 11:3)

We as members of this team, this movement all agree on one truth:  The Bible is the wholly trustworthy word of God (Doctrine 1).  If we can't agree on that, then we're not really fighting on the same team.  That's the whole problem though, I suppose.  But I'm sure there are many out there who hold wrong opinions about certain things in the scriptures who really do love Jesus.  But that does not mean that these false viewpoints, and this heretical theology should be given any sort of legitimacy.  

But we do have a phrase to identify someone who is teaching something that is not true: We call that person a false teacher (2 Peter 2:1-3, 1 John 4:1, Romans 16:17).  And they will have to give an in person account to Jesus about what they taught (Matthew 12:36).  That's a fearful thing, especially since the word says we who teach will be judged more harshly (James 3:1).  

God is real!  And He will call us home and require an account from us of what we taught.  Was is true?  Or did we teach what we wanted to say, instead of His word? It's a fearful thing. Search the scriptures diligently, and humble yourselves.

The Army trusts in the scriptures above the ideas of secular humanity, period.  Let that never change. Yes we must love people.  Yes, we will love people.  But that doesn't mean yielding to sin, it means showing radical grace, while encouraging total transformation.  That's the power of the gospel to transform a person, inside and out.  

One final thought for my brothers and sisters: Don't be afraid. God will uphold His Army. This Salvation Army belongs to God almighty, and no other.  It is His instrument.  He will uphold His army.  He will strengthen us.  I encourage all of you, pray constantly for this army to hold strong, to stand firm, and to be bold in proclaiming the true, full gospel.  Believe when you pray, and pray often.  Prayer is so incredibly powerful.  And be brave, and bold. Take a stand without compromise.  God will honor that, though you may for a while have to endure trials of many kinds.  God is good.  He is with us.  Don't ever give up, and take hope and strength always in Christ.  Again I tell you: God will uphold His Salvation Army.  Amen, come Lord Jesus.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

God's Fingerprint on Reality: Emotions of Life, Freedom, & the Golden Ratio

Great trails extend between cities, connecting people, and we drive from here to there traveling the roads.  We go from here to there, day in and day out. Trees roll across the horizon.  Massive metal cities rise up from the fog of daily life.  We move from here to there, wondering at our lives.  Or maybe just rolling along completely unaware of anything?  

I often wonder what a single day will bring, blessing or disaster?  Chaos or cohesion?  The light wakes in the morning, the shades are drawn, and I shutter in anticipation.  Though not always, some days I wake up and realize I have no control and it doesn't matter anyway.  But I'm always slow to rise, and disturbed by reality itself.  Yet there are great joys in life, there are so many balancing themes, and so many contrasts in life... it's a consistent state of awe.

Suffering comes, it will in this life.  We don't know who we will meet or when.  Moments grow beautiful.  But not quite perfect.  In a beautiful interaction, with a group of people, when the Spirit takes over and synchronicity flows, still, something is missing.  And there are those times when we stand alone, lonely, bitterly sorrowful and wish upon wish that someone might come up to us, and tell us: Everything is going to be OK.  And you think of how beautiful it would be if that happened, and how it would touch your heart.  

But no one ever comes.  The dank alley remains dark, a few people pass by, but nothing happens.  That hope we hang out, unfortunately falters and disappears.  And the heart goes slightly colder, and more distant.  

The strongest emotions seem to dwell with family, and with romantic love.  And of course with God.  Nothing breaks my heart more like a simple infatuation, or an expressed desire left unrequited.  

To love at all is to be vulnerable, so said C.S. Lewis.  To really live our lives, to not hide away, but really live, and to really be out there doing this life, we must expose ourselves to the possibility of rejection.  This is necessary.  

These feelings we carry with us, they come to define who we are.  And if we've been through a lot of trauma in our lives, they can make us shaky, nervous, depressed, and even self-destructive.  Healing is necessary.

I listen to beautiful music.  It brings healing to my soul, through identification.  Music expresses feelings that our words can't identify.  It paints a picture that no brush can describe.  It defines emotions that our words can't.  

Time passes by and God does beautiful things. He's so mysterious in His actions, to attempt to predict how he'll work, is impossible.  To even notice, is astonishing.  To contemplate His depth, brings fear.  I whisper a question into the simple air of my familiar apartment and He does not answer.  So often He does not answer.  Yet in the span of a day, He makes himself known. He's great and far above us. Somewhere up there. But we're not up in the clouds overhead, we're in the mud below.  

And so often God's plans for us are so bitterly painful.  We must embrace the suffering, and suffer daily with a quiet strength.  This is nobility, to suffer quietly and bravely.  

God made us with the ability to reason, and God loves reason, logic, and science.  But there is a variable that affects everything we do, it's emotion.  Emotion isn't bad, but it certainly skews what might've been more simple equations.  But emotions don't rule us, at least they shouldn't.  Then again our current generation seems to do everything on emotion, and the guiding star is whatever feels good, regardless of consequences.

I've gone through the ringer of hedonism, of doing what feels good.  It's empty.  There's nothing there but madness, depression, and morning after syndrome.  It doesn't matter how many packs you smoke, or how many girls you sleep with, the hole keeps getting ripped open wider, it doesn't close and it's never satisfied. 

It's so hard to close a new hunger once it's opened.  Who can ever satisfy a drug addiction?  It's never satisfied.  What about pornography?  It never ends.  And it just keeps getting wider, that hole in our soul, and it needs more and more to satisfy it, until the hole is so large our heart falls out through the opening.  It's easy to die with a needle in your arm, stupified and exhausted in putrifaction.  

The three day hang over is really the best result of hedonism, because the misery demands our attention, and the suffering and pain demands a change that would've never come in any other way.  

You can lay on a highway, you can stand there and hope to be hit by a car, but it's not going to happen if God doesn't want it to happen. You can throw yourself off a bridge, and nothing will happen, unless God wants it to happen.

All our days are in his books.  Yet we have free choices to make.  The grand paradox of life, it is. God's fingerprint is on reality, it's on our souls, it's written into the code of our matrix.  It's the Phi of reality, the golden ratio, the infinity equation written into the substance of reality, replicated on every level from subatomic to galactic. God is love, infinite power, and an expression of glory, a word that depicts a reality beyond our reality, the otherness of God, the dimensions of Him that goes beyond all we can imagine. The fact is God made all these realities, he designed our genome, the laws of mathematics, physics, and the laws that govern space-time. 

Yet to feel a sunset, to read a lovely book, to write, to paint a beautiful painting, to consider the state of life, to give birth, to build a city, all of these are expressions of our own sharing in his creative genius.  God the creator of space, time, reality, consciousness, also created us His masterpiece with something special: The ability to create creatively.  So we build our little wonders, and tragedies, and beauties and mega-weapons on the platform he's created.  

He's made a reality for us to play in, but something's gone wrong.  It's like a holodeck in Star Trek.  But the safety protocols are offline, and the exit won't function. This is our block play-land.  This is our minecraft region.  And what a mess we've made of it.  Yet there is great hope, and future renewal of all things, in Jesus Christ.  That's where the revolution begins, and it's end is portrayed in the future, as the total destruction of the current matrix and reboot, no, not a reboot, not an update to the system, but a whole new system, perfect in every way, a preparation for those who reject the matrix and turn to Christ in humble need.  Then we know, the future holds a perfect reality beyond this broken one.  And that my friends, is the meaning of life.  

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