Saturday, November 18, 2017

Celebrating our design and our Designer

The creative efforts of people may be carried out for the wrong reason (i.e. to exalt and advance self not God) but the fruit of those efforts is evidence of the image of God within us all nevertheless. For this reason we can (and should) fully appreciate the results of those efforts for what they are; evidence of the majesty wonder and creativity of God within each of us, his image bearers. 

Our creative abilities show us something significant about both God and us. Something that can be legitimately appreciated and admired (even the ability to design and construct the Tower of Babel  gives evidence of the image of God within us).

Nevertheless if these efforts are not carried out in an attempt to honor the one in whose image we are designed, they ultimately are all for naught i.e. they will have no eternal value.

We can and should celebrate humanities design and our ability to create but in doing so we must recognize the Creator (the giver of our abilities) and our utmost Designer is the ultimate reason for our celebration.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A divided nation

Why is our *nation so divided? What are the factors? Some are external and objective (i.e. there are outside forces deliberately attempting to "divide and conquer" us [though some would say this is conspiracy theory]) but whatever external influence there are, these objective factors could not have influence and take hold if there were not subjective issues first. The following deals with the subjective.

Ultimately the solution to our (or others) national woes is not political but spiritual.

For example, in government you can put forth the right policy but if the individual hearts of men and women are not submitted to truth (or **recognize there is such a thing as objective truth and morality), right policy will not change their hearts (or their minds). They may comply but only to avoid the consequences, not because they agree.

Right policy only addresses external behavior not the internal desire to live truthfully with integrity or even the recognition of an objective moral standard.

Without an objective standard such as loving God equal to his loveliness and treating others as you wish to be treated, you only have "every man for himself" with a commitment to doing what is right "in their own eyes" (i.e. your "moral" standard is your subjective values/beliefs and unchecked desires).

Should we engage in the political process and seek to implement right policy? Absolutely! But we must also recognize that until the hearts of individual men and women change, right policy will only be looked at as an obstruction to happiness not a means to it. We should be praying for our nation as much it not more than we seek to promote right policy.

For more on the importance of praying for our nation click here.
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*Though I have the America primarily in mind, the same need for spiritual focus applies to any country or group. 

**In order for unity to occur in a society or a nation (or any other social unit such as a company, a family, marriage or a church) there must be a commitment to the same primary values. In order for this to occur there must be recognition there is such a thing as absolute objective truth; that our values are not simply subjective; that there is such a thing as objective and absolute good and bad values. If they are only subjective, who decides what values (or who's) take priority over another i.e. there must be either an outside arbitrator or an objective standard. 


Thursday, November 2, 2017

God's wrath...reasonable or unreasonable?

The wrath of God seems unreasonable and the election of God unfair unless (and until) we understand the *greatness of our rebellion and how infinitely short we come in giving God his just and due honor. 

It is only as we **wrestle with the depth and extent of our own rebellion that we begin to see how truly just Gods wrath is. The greater our wrestling the more we see this.

Why are we not struck down on the spot for our disregard for God's infinite greatness and our total rebellion towards him? If God's majesty is that great and our rebellious refusal to acknowledge it/Him is that pervasive, shouldn't we be? 

We assume God's ***lack of action means our rebellion must not be that big a deal. When in reality, it is only because of the kindness and mercy of God that we are not destroyed, not because our rebellion is insignificant. 
2Pe 3:4  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”... The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Christ...a key reminder of our true condition

The reason the humbling, rejection, suffering and death of Christ is so offensive to many is it screams out that our rebellion towards God is that great and offensive; so great it required Christ to go through all that pain in order to restore us back to his Father. The dishonor our rebellion brought (and brings) to God and the resultant harm it causes others is very real, not ethereal and without real consequence. It could not be casually dismissed and ignored. Christ's suffering and death (for us) is our greatest proof. 

It is only when we wrestle with the extent of our own rebellion that we fully appreciate the necessity and extent of what Christ went through to restore us.

For a further discussion on the necessity of God's judgment click here
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*the unexpected irony is the greatness of our rebellion is seen clearest against the backdrop of God's greatness; his love and mercy.  

**our wrestling only comes through persistent pursuit of God over time. There is no short cut to experiencing this struggle. It is something we must go through/experience not simply grasp in our heads from stories of others. The greater and longer our persistence in pursuing God the more we wrestle and the more we see by first hand experience the depth of our own rebellion. 

This truth is captured and illustrated well in the struggle of Jacob when he wrestled with God the night before he faced the wrath of his brother Esau. 
Gen 32:24  And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27  And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28  Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29  Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.   
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel (the face of God), saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31  The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32  Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh. 

This event resulted in two permanent changes to Jacob... 

A change in his identity (he was no longer Jacob the clever and self reliant "heel grabber" or "surplanter" but Israel, the Prince of God) and 

A physical change (vs 25, 31) as a reminder of his dependence on God. 

It was also expressed by Job after a period of intense suffering. 
Job 42:1  Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3  ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 4  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” 

And of course the experience of Joseph from the time of his vision as an adolescent until he was reunited with his brothers and father as an adult with a family his own. 

**I find it interesting whenever a nation experiences great calamity of some kind (such as the recent hurricanes) that we begin to hear whispers this is evidence of God's judgment. It's as if we have this intuitive or instinctive sense we are not giving God his due honor and therefore under his just judgment. 




Sunday, October 29, 2017

Spirit driven

How do we know if a deed is Spirit driven/empowered? 

If it is done to bring honor (glory) to God out of love for and trust in God i.e. if it is from (caused by), through and to Him it is Spirit driven. If it is a response to God's first treating us with love, honor, value. 

Operating in the Spirit is the interaction (reciprocation) of the object and source of love (God) and the subject (us). He (the object) is lovely and trustworthy (and has already fully proven his love in giving us Christ). His great love that was poured out on us in and through Christ (without our doing anything to provoke/cause it), awoke our hearts to love, calling (wooing) us (the subjects) to love and trust him in response.

It (a deed) must always start with God i.e. there must be a lovely and trustworthy object (God) in which the subject (us) can place their love and trust. 

Why? 

1. Without a worthy object there can be (and is) no love and trust in and by us. 

2. Their is nothing worthy of our complete love and trust other then the infinitely lovely and trustworthy (infinite love can only be evoked and drawn out of us by an infinitely lovely object).  

3. God is the source/cause of love, not us.

4. We are designed to receive and respond to love, not initiate it i.e. as God like creatures (in his image) we are hard wired to respond to love. 

It (a deed) also must end with GodThat which is Spirit driven is also God focused (targeted). God is not only the cause/source of love he's also the end/object of it. 

God is both the beginning/cause (the Alpha) and end (Omega) of all our actions/deeds. 

This means we are all about "showing him off" to others. To say it another way, if you are truly God focused (all about advancing his honor/worth/glory) you are Spirit driven.

But it doesn't stop here 

This is only where it starts. God is the cause and end of our actions but to know this fully (for it to be perfected/completed), we must act on who he is for us by faith. Our faith must be perfected/matured (just like Christ also learned obedience). 

To see, enter into and experience him as lovely and trustworthy in ever increasing degrees we must pursue him as such i.e. by faith. In other words our (subjective) experience of him as being (objectively) loving and trustworthy is contingent upon our acting accordingly i.e. that he is loving and trustworthy. This goes beyond the proof of God's love already demonstrated by his past sacrifice and involves our present engagement, ongoing experience and participation in that love.

This doesn't mean he loves us more when we obey him, it means we enter more fully into that infinite, unobstructed love he has already totally and fully secured for us in Christ now and had for us long before we ever lifted a finger for his sake (Rom 5:8). 

True faith always results in acting upon what we believe. As James said, "...Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works..." There must be movement towards (attraction to and affection for) the object of love, otherwise our knowledge/understanding of God is only in our head and not in our heart. 

If there is no attraction, affection and resulting action, there is no real and true love i.e. we really don't know his love for us. If we did, we would (and will) act accordingly. To truly know his love is to be moved to love him in return i.e. moved to action/obedience. It is not possible to truly know we are loved by God and not be moved to love him back.


1Jn_4:8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (i.e. it is impossible to know the God of love and not be moved to love) 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

1Jn_4:19  We love because he first loved us (and only because he first loved us)

1Jn_5:2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 

1Jn_5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Jas 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing...

2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?...

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. - James a disciple of Christ. 



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The life love and Spirit of God

God's life consists of the Father and Son blissfully existing (abiding together) in infinite love.

The life of God is the love God has (experiences) eternally as the Father and Son affectionately behold and enjoy the infinite glory, beauty and worth of the other in, by and through the Spirit.

This is referred to as the beatific vision.

The life, love and Spirit of God go hand in hand. 

Wherever the life of God is present so is the love and Spirit of God 
and 
Wherever the love of God is present so is the Spirit and life of God 
and 
Wherever the Spirit of God is present so is the life and love of God.

For...

God is love 1 John 4:8
God is life 1Jn 5:20  John 14:6-9
God is Spirit John 4:24

The life of God is the dynamic of God that moves him to action. 

The love of God is the holy affection that God has within his being that emanates outward toward others.

The Spirit of God is that distinct being that consists of God's life and love.

Everything regarding the Spirit has to do with affections (emotion e.g. passion, love and joy) which move him to action (willing, choosing).

The essence of God's being is infinite worth, beauty and glory. It is the joyful beholding of these qualities within and between the Father and the Son that generates and sends forth the love, life and eternal Spirit of God. 

Walking in the Spirit is our believing this very same love that God has for and within himself is fully ours (in and through Christ); then receiving, participating in and responding back to God in love first and then out to our fellow image bearers (other God like beings) thereby bringing him honor in and by displaying his glory beauty and worth to others.

When we come into God's presence through Christ via his Spirit we are made fully alive. Why? Because our life consists of being valued/loved (just as God's does). When we are in God's presence we experience our greatest sense of love/value because He is most lovely and valuable. We are able to enter into and enjoy this overflowing God of love, joy and bliss because we were made to i.e. in his image.  

For more on the empowering of the Spirit click here

For more on our love being a response to God's love click here


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Becoming an author

Hey guys, just a heads up that I hope to pursue writing as my a full time vocation. If you wish to, you can help. The following link will tell you how. Thanks for any support you can offer. Grace to you all.

https://www.youcaring.com/jimdeal-986599 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

the greater the evil the greater the healing

When we hear of an incredibility heinous violation of someone, such as rape, or kidnapping of kids and selling them into sex slavery, what possible good could come out of such horrendous actions? How could God possibly use something of such a destructive and heinous nature for good? (It's actually the same question we can ask about the unjust murder of Christ himself). Can God bring good out of such evil? 

3 Things to consider. Such evil results in...
  • A greater awareness, by anyone paying attention, of how desperately evil man's condition and heart is without God (proving the futility of being disconnected from God and the importance and necessity of knowing Him and being restored to Him).
  • How evil and destructive our rebellious distrust of God can be and is
  • How Christ fully understands the pain evil causes by going through his own at the hands of evil actions i.e. his trial and crucifixion. 

Suffering is not the last word. 

We should also consider the suffering someone goes through, no matter how wicked, does not have to be the end of the story or the ultimate destruction of ones soul (though it certainly has that potential if one becomes embittered and more firmly committed to their distrust of God). God can (and will) truly and fully restore those who go through such overwhelming abuse and suffering (and beyond) if they allow him to. If not in this life certainly in the next. In fact, because Christ fully took on all our pain, the greater the losses we suffer in this life, the greater our *potential gain in the next. 

Also, some of the greatest testimonies of his love and grace are from those who have come out of the most abusive pain and are now brilliant lights for him. 

*(it is a potential gain and not certain, only because our trust in God is uncertain, which determines if we do or do not gain from such events. If and when we fully trust him the gain is certain).

In fact he will use evil to do a healing in them they could not and would have never known without that evil. The extent of the healing is (and can only be) in proportion to the evil experienced i.e. the greater the evil the greater the potential healing and appreciation for it. 

Healing occurs precisely because damage is done and is needed most where the damage is greatest. Without damage no healing is required. Without great damage there is no great healing.

What about the next life?

One of our biggest mistakes is to only view things from a temporary perspective. This is the opposite view taken in scripture (2 Cor 4:16-18). If this life was all there was, these horrendous deeds would only be devastating if not irreversible.

This is precisely why the resurrection is so vital and significant. It shouts that pain and death is not the final word... life is!

As Christ said, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his on soul. Wouldn't the opposite than also be true? What great gain it would be to lose the world with all it's benefits and blessings if it became the means of gaining our eternal soul and ultimate bliss (far greater then any pain that brought us to it)? And if we did, how much greater and more appreciated that gain would be. If the pain, suffering and destruction lead to the saving of our souls, would this not indeed be a great gain beyond all comparison. 

Some may argue the wound is too great and deep. How could God heal it? However because the wound is so deep is exactly why the healing can be so great. Even greater and deeper than the wound. As Paul said, where sin abounds, grace super abounds i.e. the abounding is far in excess of the loss. 

All of this is possible only because Christ took the evil of our brokenness into his own body and let it wound and destroy him in the most painful and humiliating manner. An evil more vile and unjust than any of us could know; a wound and pain far greater than any wound we could experience or ever suffer. Our wounds do not carry the full weight of humanities sin. His did. Part of what also makes it so great and distinguishes it from all our pain is his was a wound he was no more guilty of then those who suffer the kind of abuse mentioned at the beginning.

And because he rose to life after his terrible abuse and wounding, those who are so abused can also be raised to life and will be if they are in Christ. Some have testified of the delivery of knowing Christ's love after coming from such a background. This is the work he has done on our behalf and the promise he offers, if we will receive it.