Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Human Hunger for Two Fundamentals: Love and Truth

May the uncharacteristic love of Jesus Christ be fluent and powerfully working in your life.   It's certainly been working in mine, when I get my ego out of the way.  That's how people will know us friends, by our love for one another.  When we stand on a pedestal and judge, or coldly turns those in need away, we do not represent Christ in the world...  We represent self righteousness in the world, and we have enough of that in the secular world.

I'd like to tell you that I love you :)  And for no particular reason.  Just because you're human and you're reading this, and you're you.  You're my sister, my brother, and my friend on this journey called life.  

I want to encourage you to pray for the Father to change your heart.  That is often part of my ardent prayers.  "Please Father, change my heart."  I have a heart conditioned to love the things of the world.  Jesus Christ freed me from alcohol and drug dependency, but there is still a world of desire in my head.  I want this, I want that, and I want it now

Your allegiance to God will be tested today and everyday my friends, by an onslaught of desires and beautiful distractions. Hold strong and pray hard!

Phili. 4:6-8 ESV do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

How do we as Christians combat temptation? 

Prayer is good.  Bible study is good.  Attending a God honoring church is good.  Those are all maintenance steps.  We can consciously cut back on indulging our desires.  When we do that, we can see them start to diminish and eventually disappear.  There is also a clue in the above passage.  What is true?  What is honorable?  What is just?  What is pure?  What is lovely?  What is commendable?  What is excellent?  What is worthy of praise?  Think about these things.  Think about them.  As we focus on the positive, as we focus on honorable and good things, our thinking process changes as a result over time.  This requires us to challenge negative thoughts, but eventually we are focusing on positive and righteous things.  And you know what?  Then we start becoming those things.  We stop constantly thinking about our wants, our desires, women, men, alcohol, drugs, cars, tv shows, sex, and all of that.  Because we have actively attempted to alter our thinking in a healthy way.  Naturally, it's easier said than done, but it can be effectively produced over time.  Remember it's not a race.  Just patiently adjust day by day.  In months, years, you'll see incredible results. 

We know this Christian journey isn't particularly easy.  In fact we come against trials and troubles that most wouldn't normally come against.  If we're actually sharing our faith actively with those around us, be become a target for spiritual warfare, as well as ridicule.  But we can do this.  I'm telling you the truth, we can.  But we've got the share our faith.  We've got share love and compassion utterly and completely.  And we will, yes will be cut down, hurt, bruised, verbally attacked, and even physically attacked.  Show love and compassion anyway.  Complete and utterly uncharacteristic love, compassion, and support.  Long term!  We're in for the long haul.  But if we could just get vocal and public about this love, and learn to apply it everywhere all the time (a tall order) we can change the world. 

I've experienced the kind of anguish and sadness and isolation many of us know quite well.  I've been shunned by many who used to be my friends.  I wasn't trying to push my faith on them, but I would offer encouragement.  Some people don't want to hear it.  We're also faced with the task of attempting to share joy and wisdom with others.  Again and again, endlessly, I have seen so many people walk away from the possibility of a better life.

Many of the people I know and talk to are active drug abusers and alcoholics.  To the very breaking of my heart, virtually none of them have any interest in getting better through recovery.  They choose their addictions and can hear nothing I say about recovery or 12 step work.  There is no interest in anything better, despite constant griping of their ugly situations.

But how can I fault them?  For years and years I was impervious to any encouragement or information on recovery.  I just didn't care.  There was nothing more or less to it.  I was simply not willing to do the work required to get clean and stay clean.

It was the same with Christianity.  For the longest time I was simply not interested in God or faith.  Occasionally I'd read a bit or look into it, but it always sort of faded into the background.

How can I expect all those around me to suddenly jump on the band wagon because I did?  Perhaps I cannot tolerate their apathy because the thought of my own past apathy is so repulsive to me. 

That is our calling, to vocally and publicly share our faith in any and all ways we can.  We will feel the pain and shout to God "who has heard our message?"  And God will calmly reply, "All who I want to receive it, have and will receive it."  God is a calming force in our lives.  Remember that.  I was not raised on that kind of God.  I was raised on a fear invoking God.  But that isn't the true God.  I read something recently, and it was so simple, but so powerful in it's implications.  It said, "Relax in his presence."  Just relax and be in the moment with God!  I try to think of that line when I start getting upset about the sins that linger in my life.  Relax, keep learning, keep growing, these sins are temporary. God will help me at the appropriate times.  Don't worry, have faith.

 "Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell"  -Charles Thomas Studd  

It's isolating, and let me tell you, that has been bothering me lately.  I've learned to not mention that I'm in college at all anymore.  Because when I mention I'm in college, the question that immediately follows is invariably, "What's your major?"  And then I say, "Religion."  And then the conversation dies.  It dies so quickly...  For several months I tried to figure out what to say instead of "Religion" without outright lying, but I couldn't figure anything out.  If anyone has any ideas about this one, please leave a comment with a suggestion.  God forbid anyone find out I'm studying to be a Pastor.  I've seen the look when I say that one!  Like a deer in the headlights, like I'd suddenly become a mind reader capable of seeing right through them to their worst deeds.  Have past church leaders been so traumatizing to these people in the message?  I'm guessing the answer to that is "yes."  Sad, but true. 

Oh well, what can I do, what can we do, but continue ardently serving the Father?  Unending service, day by day, and try to survive that.  The louder we become about it, the bigger the target on our backs gets.  Spiritual warfare is very real.  I've seen church planters literally so sick they can hardly converse, not sleeping for weeks, discouraged and troubled. 

2 Cor. 9:8 ESV And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency£ in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 

Don't fool yourself.  This stuff is real.  Jesus was a real flesh and blood human being born and lived, two thousand years ago.  This is considered historical fact.  The scientific method is incapable of proving or disproving Christianity.  So don't let anyone fool you on that one.  The scientific method itself is incapable all together, because it relies on the ability to reproduce and examine.  History cannot be reproduced.  It's interesting to note that Napoleon or Washington cannot be "proven" by the scientific method, but history's method proves their existence to the best extent we know how.  You may find this interesting, that a noted applied mathematics professor once stated and I'm paraphrasing, that the possibility of the enzyme in human DNA forming by chance is 10 to the 40,000th power.  Do you know what that comes out to?  It's more than all the atoms in all the galaxies of the known universe.  This mathematician concluded that it is mathematically impossible for the human enzyme to have come about by chance.  If you have further questions, consider reading Darwin on Trial by Philip E. Johnson, or The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins (head of the human gnome project.)

A noted atheist and post modernist died, and her extensive journals were auctioned off. Among her writings, in the margin three separate times was this phrase: "Would somebody, somewhere, please love me."  Love is our default as humans.  We want and need to be loved.  However, no human love seems to complete us (those of us who are married can attest to that) no matter how great, something is always missing.  If not God, then what?

You will discover in your journeys that atheists are not intellectually rejecting Christianity, so much as morally rejecting Christianity.  There is a lifestyle there that they are simply not willing to change.  No matter what argument, no matter how convincing, most ardent atheists would not convert.  Well why doesn't God just show himself in a dream or vision?  Well let's really think about that one.  Can we really say they would believe?  So Jesus shows up in a vision and says here I am, I'm God.  Well, then time starts going by.  And the individual starts to wonder, was it real?  Maybe I was over tired.  Maybe I had food poisoning.  Maybe it was just a delusion.  In a few months, the person in question is probably back at square one, complete disbelief.  See what I mean?

I'm not trying to demonize atheists here.  I love seekers, more importantly, Jesus loves seekers.  But if we're truly seeking, we must seek unbiasedly.  Otherwise we're just looking for what we want to see.  I have little respect for jaded and angry "seekers" full of arrogance and denying all contraries to their well established systems of blindness.  

Jesus said it best in John 8:42 (NIV)

42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." 

Why is it that they cannot believe? Their ears cannot bear to hear the truth. So much said, in so few words. That's why I love the Bible.  You can tell Jesus was upset.  He desperately wanted them to know the truth and accept it.  I remember the scene from the movie The Gospel of John, and the dialogue in the movie is straight from the Bible word for word, and Jesus is preaching in the crowd and they just aren't receiving his message.  He pauses for a second saying to himself, "Why can you not hear my message?"  As if talking to himself, and then he looked around, and burst out "You are the children of your Father the devil!"  One of my favorite scenes from that movie.  Obviously it's just an attempted depiction, but it seemed to sit right with my heart.  It was as if Jesus was scanning their hearts, upset, searching for the reason for their rejection of his simple message.

As I have said, I love seekers.  I love political activists.  I love people fighting for truth.  I love seekers.  I believe that at the heart of every true libertarian, anon, occupier, intellectual, and seeker is one thing: A desperate desire, and more so, need, for one thing: the truth.   

It's that search that compels us forward.  Whether exposing media blackouts, gathering to protest, hacking into government data to expose corruption, studying books in a college library, or quietly searching out for a primary purpose in life... The search is absolutely insatiable.  I love these types.  They love truth, pure, powerful truth.  They can smell disingenuous motives from a mile way, and they check their sources.   Some have become jaded, but others have starry eyes, as they find nugget after nugget, progressing forward to the one truth that binds all man kind.  I do love them so.  They are so rare, so beautiful to watch, so incredibly vital and necessary.  And for the greatest part of them, they are completely sincere in their desire for that one thing, complete truth!  God bless these men and women.  God bless them and keep them, until they reach the point where you show yourself to them in a powerful way.  On that day I hope and pray, that their hearts will receive Jesus Christ as an inescapable reality that is both tangible and utterly undeniable to their minds and hearts.  

Prov. 1:5 ESV Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance

To me, such people are so rare, so beautiful, so creative, so incredible, so wise, so stunning, so bright to the eyes of a gray world that I must and absolutely must, must, must, bring them to eternal life in anyway I can.  I wish to God I had the perfect words to explain it to every one of them.  The loss of such souls would be an unspeakable crime against all being and existence.  I point to the path, that they might choose to walk it and see for themselves just what truth, justice, morality, peace, and liberty really mean.   

James 1:5-6 ESV 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.


I pray that when I die, all of hell will rejoice that I am no longer in the fight. -Charles Thomas Studd

In closing, I'd like to suggest to those who still have questions or are uncertain about this God thing: Ask God.  He will show himself to you, just remember to be patient and open to the process of awakening.  It will happen.  All of those who call out to God in times of trouble are delivered.  For those who have trouble intellectualizing their faith, and let me tell you I was one of them, try listening to one of my favorite speakers, Ravi Zacharias.  If you search youtube for his videos you'll find lots of his talks.  He's gone all over the world, spoken all over the world, and has gone to campuses like Princeton to field questions from atheists and agnostics on Christianity.  His arguments literally changed my world.  He has several wonderful books as well.  I'm still in the process of reading them.  If it's more about experience and the heart for you, ask God to show himself, and start watching for experiential evidence of his existence. 

And to all the Christian brothers and sisters reading this, I'd like to thank you for what you do everyday for Jesus and his kingdom.  You do not work for nothing friends, in fact you work for everything.  You are my spiritual family, the family I was adopted into just a year ago.  I encourage you to start actively sharing your faith in any and all ways you can.  You'll know what to do, God will guide you.  Let me leave you with this statement made by Ravi Zacharias regarding apologetics and intellectual defense of the Bible.  He was holding a Bible as he spoke, and when he says "this" hes referring to the Bible in his hand.

"If the world wants to believe a noble lie, and we believe that this (the Bible) is the truth, and this is the word that defines reality, there is only one question for you and me to answer in this apologetic conflict: Why do we believe this to be true? When was the last time you walked into a church and heard a sermon on why the Bible is true? This is our problem. Our young people want to believe this. But they're not getting answers on why this is true. We tell people they are framing their lives by a lie, we have followed the truth, and the biggest question in our churches is why is this the truth? Why have you traded your life for what genesis 1-12 says here, and the rest of it? If this is true then we better tell our young people why it is true because they can't go into their colleges and universities and just say "the Bible says" We tell them they are living by a lie and we tell them we are living by the truth and they wanna know who says so! The biggest failure we are doing as Christian leaders to our young people is that we have not taught them how to defend this. That is the failure of the apologetic movement over the last 20-30 years." - Ravi Zacharias