Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Our essence/Gods essence

The essence of our being is the desire for *love.

The essence of Gods being is the desire to give love (God is love).

When God joins/unites his being with ours we become like him in our desire to give love. We are freed from the need to get/take love because we now have it fully in and from him. Now his love can flow freely through us and out to others, reflecting love back to him first, then to our neighbor/others.

To know, believe and act upon this is to participate in and conform to our original design and where we find greatest joy and bring him greatest glory.

1Jn 4:16  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1Jn 4:19  We love because he first loved us.

Joh 3:16  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

Mar 12:29b-31 "...'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

1Jn 1:3-4  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Rom 
11:36  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.


*our desire for love is in fact actually a desire for God i.e. we are the way we are because God is the way he is and has made us in his image. We just don't recognize it because we seek to be our own god and suppress the truth in our unrighteousness (unbelief) i.e. we seek to be dependent only on ourselves and not God, because we don't trust God, we only trust ourselves and that which we think we can control. God is controlled by no one. That, in part, is why he is God and we are not. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Church and State

Does government play a role and have a responsibility to the church (and therefore ultimately to God)? 

Yes, to the church as well as society in general; which is to reward those who do good and punish those who do harm (wrong). 

Rom 13:3  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

1Pe 2:13  Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 

If the government abdicates this role should the church be indifferent or silent? The following indicates otherwise. 

Do we as believers have a role and responsibility toward government? 

Yes. To pray for those who rule over us so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God.

If we neglect this role to faithfully pray for those in authority, we are allowing and even inviting a government that works against rewarding good and punishing evil, to grow and eventually thrive. This is not honoring or pleasing to God, in great part because it brings harm to us (his image bearers) and his creation, as well as dishonors him.

1Tim 2:1  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior...

Is prayer the only thing the church should engage in regarding government?

We have no direct commandment on this but we do have an example in Paul. Whether this is an example we are to follow or simply how one man handled his situation is up for debate. 

However we do have indication he was following God's lead. 

Act 23:11  The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” 

This was after Paul had asserted his political affiliation (i.e. citizen of Rome) to gain a hearing and protection from the government. 

Act 21:39  Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city (i.e. Rome). I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”

Act 22:25-29  But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?”  

When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 

So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 

The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 

So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him. 

Act 23:27  This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen.



For an extended conversation on the role of government and the believer click here. 


Saturday, January 21, 2017

The law saves?

The Law does not save us in the legal sense (for we could not and cannot perfectly keep it, and never will).

But it absolutely *saves us in the practical sense by giving us clear direction on how to operate to the maximum of our capacity and design and fully participate in the purpose we were created for. Without clear direction we are a rudderless ship, tossed in the storms of life and our fickle emotions, ready to be cast onto the rocks.

The law is only a problem for us legally (which only Christ can and did address) but not practically.

Practically it delivers us from mediocrity and gives direction in the pursuit of excellence to the glory of God.

Legally it's impossible to fulfill.

Our problem is not the law but complete trust in the law giver;

It is his provision that fulfilled the legal obligation to it and deliverance from suffering the just consequences for violating it (legal).

And 

Giving us clear guidance on how to best live according to his will and our design (practical).

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the SpiritRom 8:1-4

Psalm 119

* not directly but as a means or vehicle by which God guides and directs us. 

For more discussion on the meaning of "according to the Spirit"and related terms or phrases click here



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Means and ends

The end we seek often determines the legitimacy of the means we use. e.g. Seeking great wealth (a means) so that we might have great impact on others for God (our end) is legitimate.

To not utilize the gifts resources and opportunities God grants us simply to avoid fame or glory is not the appropriate response regarding those gifts. Instead we should seek to use them for the glory of God. 

The fact that we often use the gifts and resources we are given, for the wrong ends does not negate the value of those gifts or the necessity of having and using them to advance good ends. The question isn't whether we can or can't, should or shouldn't use them but why do we wish to use them; to what end do we seek them?

If our desire and goal is to honor God we are to act with all the power and resources he gives us. The question is no longer should we exert ourselves but rather why are we exerting ourselves. Once we have the why question right, we are to work with everything we have (Col 1:29). The issue is not productivity but motive. Whenever we move forward on a project we must always ask why. 

Some would say we should not seek great things in life i.e. a great name, great fame or great wealth or success etc. Because we don't often know the true intend of our heart, this is usually true. However the more important question we should ask is why do we seek these things not if we should. Are they an end in themselves or a means to the greater end of God's glory. For example, if I am well know as a professional athlete (a gift granted by God through the exercise of the gifts and abilities he gave me) I have an opportunity and platform to give glory to God in a way someone else doesn't. Seeking a platform to honor God is an honorable pursuit.

What is certain is we should never stop seeking to have a great impact i.e. seek for others (the more the better) to experience God in a powerful life transforming way (quality) OR seek this for as many people (quantity) as possible (and to diligently pray and work toward that end), while at the same time always recognizing the outcome is ultimately up to him, not us. We sow and water but he gives increase.

We don't control the results, only our faithfulness. We are simply to be faithful (and the greater our faithfulness, the more fruit we see). Again, not for our honor but his. 

Seeking great things to bring great honor to God is not only a good thing but in fact what we are called to do. This is bearing "much fruit" in contrast to bearing little fruit. This is being a faithful servant instead of an unfaithful one. But our objective is being faithful to God. The kind and amount of fruit is up to him. 

And if we are given great gifts/resources and the opportunity to be a faithful servant, than we should seek to accomplish great things for God i.e. to whom much is given much is required. 

Our challenge isn't if and when we can or can not seek great things, it is in so doing, are we seeking them for the right reason i.e. for the glory of God to the benefit of others. 

Our true challenge is not whether we should or should not seek to accomplish great things (bear much fruit) it is knowing the true intent of our heart.





Monday, January 16, 2017

Instructions

If you "wander off" to another link, such as this one you are now reading, simply hit the "back" bottom on your browser to go back to the original article you were reading. 

If this is unclear click here to take you back to the article that pointed you to this instruction page. 



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Welcome! How to navigate this blog.

Before I address the logistics of how to navigate this site, it may be helpful to know exactly what this site is about and why I have it up and offer it to you. 

Simply stated, this site consists of my thoughts about God as I have pondered him in my travels through this crazy, messed up, broken and beautiful world; what does it look like to walk with God and how do we best travel this pilgrimage for his highest glory and our greatest joy (these are not in tension or opposition by the way. Dig in to this site and discover why).

These thoughts are conclusions I have come to based on what I have seen (an ongoing process by the way) in scripture first, the human condition (my own and others) and how to apply those conclusions (hopefully accurate ones) to real life problems and challenges. 

In short, I share those things God has helped me see that have freed me to better honor him in hopes they will also help you to do the same in your own spiritual journey.

God speed and happy navigating. 


·        Navigate this blog:

This blog is organized primarily through the navigation bar immediately above.

Just mouse over the categories listed in the horizontal bar above (if you are on a mobile device the topics may display horizontally) and click on a particular topic of interest in the drop down menu. When you click, several articles will be displayed that deal directly or indirectly with that topic (you may have to read the entire post to get the connection). 

There may be as many as a dozen or more articles that will display for the topic you pick. Keep scrolling down and/or click on "next post" under the bottom right hand side of the last displayed article, and keep clicking to see them all. Pick and choose the ones that sound most like what you are looking for. 


Also throughout my posts are embedded links to other posts, which display in a lighter blue font as you see here (whenever you "mouse over" a link your cursor pointer will display. Try it). Most of what I post are singular points of discussion that are also tied to a unified whole. So each post, though somewhat a stand alone article, is also often best understood in relation to other topics, therefore the embedded links. 



·        Search this blog:

You can also search this blog with the search feature near the top of this page, on the left, under the above navigation bar.  

Just type in a word or phrase such as "love" or "the image of God" etc and a list of articles with that word or phrase will display. Again, there may be as many as a dozen or more articles that will come up. Keep scrolling down and/or click on "next post" to see them all. 


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If you find the articles I post interesting or helpful click here to subscribe. All you need to provide is an active email address. Just click on this link and follow the directions. The instructions immediately below are available only if you have further questions. 

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Feel free to recommend this blog to others. 


·        Ask questions:

If you have any questions or comments on any article/post, you can submit them at the bottom of each post just like you see below. 

IF a comment field is not showing, you will see "no comments", "1 comment" etc., at the end of each article. If you do, simply click on it and a field to make a comment will appear.  


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Monday, January 9, 2017

Abiding vs being our own god.

What is a key indication of our inclination to try and be our own god? 

A clue? How often do we battle with whether we are abiding or not abiding in God's love? In other words do we find ourselves ever wavering between trusting or not trusting in his love for us? 

Our answer to the second part regarding trusting his love will give us an idea of our answer to the first question regarding being our own god. 

The extent to which we accept his love is the extent to which we will no longer feel the need to try to generate love on our own i.e. be our own god. 

Until we wrestle with this question of abiding, we do not have a clear idea of how inclined we are to not abide i.e. to attempt to sustain ourselves; to be our own god; to trust ourselves instead of God.

To appreciate the significance of this we must first know what it *means to abide. 

In short abiding is to *remain, stay or stand firm. But in what? In our trust of God's love. 
Joh 15:9  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 
We are to never move from a posture of trust. It is knowing that even though our faith/confidence (and especially our feelings) in God's love waivers, God's love itself never does. Gods love is fixed and set upon us, because of Christ i.e. it is based solely on what he did, not what we do or feel. We are called to never waiver from confidence in this reality i.e. to abide in it. 

It is a call to have a trust in his love that is equal to (mirrors) that love. Our faith should be as steadfast (firm, consistent) as his love set upon us is steadfast, fixed, firm i.e. our trust (abiding) in his love is to be just as relentless and immovable as his love for us is. This is what he calls us to. 

Abiding is knowing/believing God's love for us is relentless, fixed, complete and never ending regardless of our feelings or our circumstances. God says he loves us (as well as proved it by making a way to freely pour it out on us in Christ) and because he does it is so

His love is not deterred or determined by what we think, feel or experience. 

And that is because his love is not based on any of these things. It is only based solely on what Christ has already done on our behalf. God has proven what he says is trustworthy because of what he did to restore us back into a relationship of complete love with him. He gave us his Son while we were yet sinners. This is the demonstration of his love and proof it is there, real and complete i.e. it is finished. There is nothing else left to do by him or us. End of discussion. 

We may feel and say in any given moment we don't sense God's love. But once we are in Christ it doesn't matter. It is there regardless. And the work Christ did on our behalf is the only proof necessary (Of course if he "...did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"). The invitation to abide is to remain steadfast in believing this objective reality of God's love for us regardless of whatever else we are experiencing or feeling.

True belief translates to action

But it doesn't just end with belief. The degree to which we believe this is the degree to which we will act for God's honor by displaying that same love to others, we are given. All true believing results in action. Jas 2:17-18; 26 Joh 12:47,14:15;1Jn 2:3,4; 1Jn 5:3. If there is no action, there is no true believing.  

It is in displaying that love that we also more fully partake (abide) in it and experience it as it flows through us to others (for more discussion this click here). 

In short, abiding is first recognizing, believing and receiving God's love for us in Christ. Than acting in and by that love toward others for his honor, their good and our joy.

*abide - μένω - menō; a prim. vb.; to stay, abide, remain: - abide (16), abides (22), abiding (4), await (1), continue (4), continues (1), endures (3), enduring (1), lasting (2), lives (1), living (1), remain (20), remained (6), remaining (1), remains (8), stand (1), stay (11), stayed (11), staying (3), waiting (1).