The full music video is here.
Today is one of those days that far too many of us have forgotten the significance of. Or maybe we’ve never really given it much thought. And I don’t know what your views are on God and spiritual stuff. (If you are up for and interesting thought excersize, check out this article on the logic of believing.)
But the reality is it doesn’t matter what you believe, at least in one respect. Choosing to believe or not believe doesn’t make an event that happened in the past any more or less true. It either is or isn’t, whether we choose to believe or not.
I’ve been reminded once again this week by John Eldridge how we are all part of a grand epic on the scale of The Lord of the Rings. Think about it.
You have a distinct role to play in the battle of the ages. And I bet you don’t even know it.
If you are anything like me you certainly don’t act like you know it.
And here’s the kicker. By not acting like we know we are actively a part of a larger war that has been raging throughout the ages, we are actually playing a part anyway. It’s just probably not the role we’d want to go out and audition for if we were going to be in the movie.
The war we are a part of is the ultimate struggle of Good vs. Evil. The battles themselves often go unseen. What we see in the headlines every night are the results of those battles.
A drug deal gone bad and another child’s dead. A politician or a preacher has a moral failing. Bombs going off killing dozens. A child predator was caught only to be set free.
Rescue workers risk their lives to save natural disaster victims. A charity is gifted with millions that will allow it to greatly expand the work they do. An athlete overcomes a significant handicap to win the prize.
The Key Players
In any epic tale there are some key players. There is a nefarious villain who is out for total domination and wants to enslave as much of the world as they can. Whether it is the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, the truly gripping tales have an evil villain who is a force to be reckoned with and who has the upper hand when we enter the story.
The other player each of these stories has is a champion who plays the role of guardian of all that is good. Edmund comes face to face with Alsan the lion, rightful but displaced ruler of Narnia. Middle Earth had Gandalf always showing up at the hot spots, laboring long and hard to protect the remaining free peoples.
And the thing about these stories is that at some point the champion is faced with a hard choice: Are they willing to lay down their lives for their cause?
Aslan chooses to offer his life in exchange for the wayward Edmund who’s life is forfeit because of his poor choices.
Gandalf stands to fight the overwhelming power of the Balrog and plunges into the depths of Khazad-dÃ»m.
Both of these heroes give their lives in exchange for their companions.
In the same way, as the ageless story goes, Jesus offered up his life in exchange for his friends. Mel Gibson covered that whole side of the story quite thoroughly in his movie, The Passion of the Christ.
We see Aslan on the table being humiliated, tortured and killed. Gandalf falls to his demise in the depths of the mountain. And Jesus is beaten, hung on the cross and dies.
Jet Mel sort of glossed over the most exciting part of the story.
Both Aslan and Gandalf return to lead the armies of the free people in a final battle and ultimate victory.
Today’s the Day
Today marks the anniversary of the pivotal day in our own ongoing war. It is the day when Jesus rose up from the tomb where he’d been buried after he died one of the more horrible deaths imaginable.
You can dismiss that story of Jesus being alive after he died as a myth or a work of fiction along the lines of the other two stories I’ve been talking about if you like.
But please understand you must do that in spite of the overwhelming evidence that says it’s true.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is arguably the single most well documented event in history. It is a historical record that has withstood countless assaults over two millennia.
Choosing to disbelieve doesn’t alter the historical record. Making that choice doesn’t make the event any less real and true.
Do you not have enough faith to believe history? The truth is it takes more faith to disbelieve in spite of the evidence!
Today marks a great victory in the epic battle of the ages. Today the enemy of all that is good and wonderful thought he had the upper hand only to be sent scampering off into the darkness.
But that’s not the end of the tale. Just like Aslan and Gandalf still had to lead their people in desperate battles yet to come after they returned, we still have fights to face. A battle is coming that is bigger than any of us can imagine.
What role will you be playing when it happens?
The recent discussions with Marcus highlight an interesting challenge for Christians. How do we discuss the things Jesus said about truth when talking to folks who have a fundamentally different understanding of what truth is?
Folks like Markus don’t believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth and even if there was, there is really no way we could ever know it anyway. Because Christians belong to another school of thought that says that truth is absolute, fixed and can be known, we can come off appearing intolerant, judgmental, and even bigoted.
Now some of those labels have definitely been earned by some folks on our side of the discussion. But the question remains how do we have meaningful discussions when we don’t even agree on the terms we are discussing?
Many folks seem to think that this shift by many away from the idea of absolute truth is something new because it is part of postmodern philosophy. But differing understandings of truth have been around at least since Jesus’ day.
There is an interesting exchange recorded in the Bible between Pilate and Jesus during his trial. Take a look.
Pilate said, â€œSo you are a king?â€
Jesus responded, â€œYou say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.â€
â€œWhat is truth?â€ Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, â€œHe is not guilty of any crime.
Pilate asks Jesus what truth is. But it doesn’t appear to be a sincere question. He certainly doesn’t put any effort into getting it answered. It is almost dismissive, like Pilate is saying, “Look, Bub. All this blah, blah, blah you keep spouting about truth is a waste of time. We all know truth not something fixed that we can actually know. Besides truth isn’t important here anyway.”
Jesus took a different view of truth. In the four gospel accounts, Jesus is recorded saying the word “truth” over 100 times. Most often he says it in the phrase, “I tell you the truth” when he prefaced some particularly important point, for example when he says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.”
Jesus also said, â€œYou are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.â€
To him the subject of truth was fundamentally important to those who would follow after him. He said that not only was truth knowable, but when we found it, truth would be the very source of freedom for us.
And here’s the kicker. Jesus said that truth wasn’t some abstract set of thoughts or ideas that we had to hunt for and try to assemble. He rocks our understanding of the whole concept of truth by claiming that he himself is that truth. Jesus said of himself, â€œI am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Philosophers go around hunting for truth as though it is a collection of ideas, when in actuality the thing they are looking for is a person. Is it any wonder so many miss it?
When you read through the gospel accounts with an understanding that when Jesus speaks of the truth he is really speaking of himself, statements like the one he made to Pilate above take on a whole different level of meaning.
And that also may explain why folks like Marcus may be offended when we quote scriptures such as the one I mentioned in The Source of Wisdom, which says, “Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.”
From the perspective that truth is relative and unknowable, than any statement that claims to state truth in absolute terms must be offensive.
But that still doesn’t answer the question of how to have a meaningful dialogue with someone whose understanding of truth is fundamentally different from our own. Is it even possible?
It doesn’t appear Jesus made too much headway with Pilate. Should we even try?
Or should we simply state the truth, allow others to take it or leave it, and move on?
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Update: Marcus has posted a very well thought and reasoned response over at his place, titled simply Truth, that deserves your attention. Head on over. Check it out. Maybe even drop him a comment giving your two cents.
Note: This post came out of a comment thread from the other day. Marcus took issue with what I had to say about the Source of Wisdom. Marcus has been a regular commenter here at CREEations and really challenges me to refine and better understand my own views. Yesterday he brought up some good points and, since my reply started to get rather long winded I decided to bring it out in a whole post. (I hope that’s OK, Marcus.)
If I sound pissed, I again apologize. It is definitely not the case, and I know it does nothing to detract from the stereotype of the “angry Christian”. I have a tendency to express my opinions strongly and can come across as angry when it is just the New York in me and the strength of my convictions coming out. My wife will attest that this phenomenon is much more pronounced in person! (“Its not so much what you say, Chris. It’s the tone.”) Really I’m not angry. I’m working on that. Sorry if I come across that way.
And I certainly agree as you mentioned that the followers of various religions all believe they have found the truth. And I really do respect differing beliefs, even though I disagree with them. It is one thing for various individuals or groups to believe they have found the truth. But there is no way we can stand on the outside, look at these different beliefs and say, “They are all true.”
Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Lao Tzu, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, and L. Ron Hubbard (to name only a few) all said different things from each other that they each claimed to be true and have adherents that also claim that what they said is true. They each have given vastly different “instructions” on what it takes to have a fulfilled life and to be prepared for the afterlife.
But, Marcus, you and I appear to have a fundamentally different understanding of what truth is. Either that or maybe we place an entirely different value on truth.
I look at a diverse declaration of truth like that and say, “Because they make differing claims, they can’t all be right. Let me do my best to find the one who actually has the truth.” For me, my path to religion was a rocky search for truth. I wanted to know God no matter how much it challenged my understanding. And I looked at a lot of options before I landed on Jesus.
I’m not sure whether you are coming from a place where you see that they could all be right or if you are trying to say that it doesn’t matter what folks believe, because if it works for them it must be true.
When you boil it down to their essence, most all belief systems out there at their core are some flavor of “do the best you can (or follow this code) and hope it works out OK in the end.”
Then there’s Jesus. What he said was radically different in part because he said there is no way your best can possibly be good enough. He said that the standard for pleasing God is simple: absolute perfection. In order to please God we have to be just as perfect as God himself. Because there is no way any of us could possibly measure up to that perfect standard we are all doomed.
But, just as in any great epic story, after he hits us hard with the idea that it is impossible for us to ever measure up, Jesus says there is another way.
And this is where it gets really nutty because Jesus says some totally outrageous stuff. Basically he says that we’re in luck because it just so happens that he himself is God incarnate and if we follow him we’ll be OK because his God perfection can substitute for our impossibly flawed imperfection.
I mean, Marcus, here’s a guy that looks just like you and me (only more Jewish) who flat out says that he is God and we should follow him. It is totally preposterous, goofy, insane, and not much different than the leaders of most cults. Downright evil, really.
Unless it is true.
So after years of dismissing Jesus’ claims (mostly because people I knew who were Christians were so messed up and treated me poorly) and looking at many other options, I eventually decided to take a closer look at him. The evidence I found was really surprising.
Jesus validated his claims by performing a variety of different miracles including changing the nature of matter (turning water into wine), controlling the weather (calming a storm at sea), healing people of numerous infirmities and even raising people from the dead.
Impressive for sure, but the written record of miracles performed two thousand years ago by some guy was not enough for me.
But then, after he says all those crazy things about being God, he dies in a way that is pretty much beyond his control and that is accurately predicted in Bible passages from the Old Testament hundreds of years before. Interesting. But maybe it was luck? Perhaps. But looking at his life I found there are several things about him that were accurately predicted which he could not possibly have controlled, even things like where and when he was born, who his parents were, and the circumstances of his birth.
That’s even more impressive, but it’s still not enough for me.
Then Jesus takes the whole “I’m God” thing to a whole other level by refusing to stay dead after he is horribly executed. Even his enemies acknowledged that he was no longer dead in their bumbling attempts to cover it up. If he really was still dead, all they had to do was produce his body and the whole thing ends right there.
But he wasn’t dead any more. Hundreds of folks saw him alive after thousands saw him executed. It was no clever parlor trick or deception on the part of his followers. He really was alive.
This one fact of history is what sets Jesus completely apart from all the others. There is no cult leader yet who has raised himself back to life after he’s died.
I used to think that, well his followers made the whole thing up and then wrote about it a hundred years or more later and put down the stories in such a way as to make it seem true. The trouble is that modern archeology has put some of the New Testament writings to within 30 years of Jesus’ death. That means there were still people alive at the time who lived through the events and would have refuted them if they were not true.
Then there’s the lives of his followers. Would they have all gone to gruesome deaths, almost to a man, and hold to something if they knew it not to be true? I mean we are talking about horrific things like crucifixion (even upside down), beheading, being boiled or burned alive – no “humane” lethal injections for that group. No way they’d all face that horrible an end for something they knew not to be true.
Anyway I bring all this up, simply to point out why Jesus’ claims are different than the claims of others, before and after him. I don’t expect to convince you that Jesus is right. I just felt I should explain where I am coming from and why I believe his outrageous claims about himself.
But that brings up another interesting question. Should a person share with someone else information that he understands will vastly improve that other persons life, even if it conflicts with what the other person is currently believing?
Let’s say I see that you have some problem. It doesn’t matter what that problem is, a cocaine addiction, you eat too much and are obese, you spend money like a drunken sailor and are drowning in debt, or maybe you just drive without a seatbelt and are at a higher risk for getting smeared on the highway. It doesn’t matter.
If I see that there is a simple solution to your problem (and yes even something as overpowering as addiction has a simple solution. Abstinence may not be easy, but it is simple.) am I a better friend if I point out the problem you are having and offer up a solution? Or am I a better friend if I just let you wallow in your issue and eventually cause serious harm to your own life?
I would say the better friend is the one who speaks up and offers to help his fellow man.
Now that offer of help may be rejected outright. And it might even make the fellow angry. “How dare you say that I have an addiction! I can quit any time I want.”
But the rejection of that help doesn’t make the helper any less caring. And it certainly doesn’t make him hurtful or judgmental of his friend heading for trouble.
That’s the same way followers of Jesus perceive the issue of truth. Only it is even more urgent than a life and death issue. We are talking not only about a better life here (along the lines of a life free from addiction) but we are talking about the hereafter, which goes on for all of eternity. And forever is a long time. Too long to be wrong.
So when I get a little passionate about sharing what I understand to be true, Marcus, please understand how urgent I see the issue to be. As a former military guy I understand the importance of life and death issues. Eternity is the one issue that make life and death stuff look like choosing what clothes to wear to a party by comparison. Compared to forever, to me, life and death is small potatoes.
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Gorgeous got home the other day and found the air conditioner had quit. Not a good thing to happen down here in Georgia. Fortunately for us the nights are starting to get a little cooler.
The other good thing is that we called our home warranty folks to arrange for a technician to come out to look at our A/C. No problem, they said, and arranged to have a technician head over to take a look see the next day some time.
We had a house guest who fortunately was a good sport about the whole thing. So we just opened the windows, got some fans working and made the best of it.
But then when I got up the next morning I realized the problem might be a little bigger than just a faulty a/c unit.
I got up at my customarily early hour, shuffled out to the kitchen, clicked on the light over the microwave (no bright lights first thing in the morning for me) and got started on my morning coffee making ritual. When I turned the coffee pot on I immediately noticed a couple things.
First the nice, not so bright light over the stove dimmed down to about half as bright. And I heard the box fan we had going in our bedroom stop. I poked my head back in the bedroom and saw that our alarm clock was also off.
Back in the kitchen I turned the pot off again. The light went back to normal and I heard the fan again. Yep. The alarm clock was back on, blinking 12:00.
Hmmm…. Ver-r-r-y Inteh-rehs-tink.
I decided maybe I better not make any coffee if the process was going to stress out the rest of the house like that.
Our house guest had also had to get up early to catch an early flight back home. Fortunately her alarm clock was battery operated and went off in good order. She had a fun time getting ready until we worked out that every time we turned on a light somewhere in the house it seemed to make the lights in the guest bathroom dim a little more. When we turned them back off, the brightened a touch.
Nothing like getting ready for the dawn patrol in a disco bathroom!
I decided a call to the power company was in order.
After a frustrating couple of runs through the voice recognizing automated menu (technically our power wasn’t “out”. It just wasn’t all on.) I was put through to an incredibly helpful and nice lady who took down all my weird symptoms and assured me they’d send someone out right away.
And she wasn’t kidding.
Right about 30 minutes later a Georgia Power truck drove up. Actually the side of the truck still said Savannah Electric, but they were just bought out this summer. The repair man did his electrical voodoo and said, “Yep. You’ve got a problem.”
Fortunately for us the problem was on his side of the meter.
Unfortunately he didn’t have the equipment needed to fix the problem. He said another truck was heading our way and they would take care of it.
A couple hours later another, bigger truck pulled up towing a trailer with an excavator on it. I had visions of them digging up our entire lawn. But the guys told me they could probably get to the problem with shovels.
Sure enough they got our power fully restored. Total time from first dialing the phone to the power company: less than 4 hours.
When they were finished, the guys explained to me that sometimes other utility companies accidentally nick the main power line going into a house when they are burying their cabling. The damage causes the power line to fail slowly over time. It is not unusual to have a problem like ours rear its head years after the damage was originally done.
I’ve had some time to think about our little power struggle this week with all my time in the car (I think it can find Jacksonville without me at this point).
Our struggle this week is a strong analogy of the struggle that followers of Jesus face every day. Jesus himself promised that we’d be plugged into the power of God in one of his last recorded statements.
But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
All in all the New Testament contains well over 100 references to power. Most of them are talking about the power of God or of Jesus himself. But there are several that speak of the power of Jesus’ followers. For example check out these passages:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. *
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. *
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. *
Yet somehow most of us believers operate as though we are only partially connected to our power source.
Sometimes things are like the air conditioning unit and simply just don’t work in our lives. Maybe we have some addiction or bad habit that we want to be free of, but can’t seem to shake no matter how hard we try. Maybe we are drawn to alcohol, smoke too much, have angry outbursts, eat way more than we should, spend time looking at pornography, whatever. Because we’re only partially connected to our source of power, we aren’t getting enough juice to overcome the bad thing which has control over us even though maybe we desperately want to.
Or maybe we seem to be tapped into our power source, but like turning on the coffee pot, we get unexpected results because we are not fully connected. Maybe we are very successful at work, but somehow our home relationships self destruct at the same time and we end up divorced. Maybe we pray though a big decision, feel we hear from God, step out and then, Kaplewie! Things blow up in our face. Not the result we expected.
Was God trying to trick us into making a mistake? Or is it more likely that somehow we were not fully connected to our power source?
Perhaps the reason so many see Christianity to be irrelevant to our society today is that we are so weakly connected to our power source that we don’t seem to be any different than anyone else. The only difference in many of our lives from those who don’t believe is that we get up early on Sunday morning while everyone else sleeps in. That’s not a great a selling point! Why would anyone want to follow Jesus if that is the only difference?
We were meant for more. More power. And more results.
Let me close out today with words that Paul wrote to one of the New Testament churches
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
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Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
If you arrange the Gospels chronologically, this is one of the first things that Jesus was recorded saying to his disciples. It’s a very big question that encompasses a whole slew of other questions.
What do you want?
- What is it you are looking for?
- What do you want to see happen?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What do you want to be a part of?
- Whom do you want to get to know?
- Where do you want to go?
- What do you want to possess?
- What do you want to give?
The is an unbelievable depth to those four little words in that question. I’m just scratching the surface.
Just like the disciples Jesus first asked the question just scratched the surface. Their answer? “Where are you staying?” Very superficial. It was sort of like asking, “Can we hang out with you for a little while?” I’m not sure the disciples really knew what it was they truly wanted.
I’m not sure I know what I want either.
As usual, Jesus answered their question and a whole lot more at the same time. “Come and see,” was all he said. Basically Jesus was telling them to spend some time with him. Then they’d find what they really wanted, that thing they were looking for.
Most folks don’t see Christianity as very relevant to real, day-to-day life these days. Yet the first thing Jesus asks his would-be disciples goes right to the core of who they are. By extension he is asking us the same exact thing.
What do you want?
You may have your life’s plan all figured out. If you do, I’m genuinely happy for you.
But I’m not there with you, though. Even though I’m rapidly approaching 40, I still don’t really know what it is I want to be when I grow up. One thing I learned flying in the Navy: You’ll never hit your target if you don’t decide which target to aim at.
Therefore I am going to take some down time by lowering my priority for the blogging scene while I wrestle with the question. When I come out the back side of the process I fully expect some things will change. What, exactly, I have no idea at this point. Nor do I know how long it will take.
But I’m sure it will be an interesting process.
Do you know the answer to the question?
What do you want?
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I’ve been saying it for years. Unfortunately this weekend I was shown to be right.
I don’t feel good about it at all.
Years ago I said, “One day that Crocodile Hunter guy is going to get too close to some nasty creature that is going to kill him. And the cameras will be rolling as he dies.”
That is exactly what happened to Steve Irwin this weekend.
Apparently he was filming an encounter with a stingray when it flicked its tail into his chest. The stinger went right to his heart.
His death is all the more tragic, not only because it was senseless and entirely preventable, but because it was so very predictable. We can discuss how relatively safe stingrays are and how few people are actually killed by them until the cows come home. But that misses the larger point of the pattern of behavior that totally tempted the odds which were heavily stacked against him.
We are all wired with certain healthy fears which help us to live longer and have better lives. Steve either ignored his fears or didn’t have them in the first place. The results speak for themselves.
There are some who will try to lesson the tragedy by saying things like, “Well at least he died doing something he loved.” But I’d be willing to wager that if he knew when he got up that morning that he could have the choice between one last swim with the stingrays and watching his two small children grow up, he probably would have been willing to never go in the ocean again.
They say that the most common fear we all have is the fear of death. No one really knows for sure what is beyond life. Some speculate that it is just nothingness. Other people have an understanding of paradise and hell – places of everlasting pleasure and suffering respectively.
But the point is none of us really knows for absolute certainty. Even the most sure are exercising a degree of faith because they have not seen it with their own eyes.
Perhaps the clearest picture of what happens after we die was given to us by Jesus. Here is what he said about the subject.
Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed and who lived each day in luxury. At his door lay a diseased beggar named Lazarus. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Finally, the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham.”The rich man shouted, `Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in these flames.’
“But Abraham said to him, `Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. Anyone who wanted to cross over to you from here is stopped at its edge, and no one there can cross over to us.’
“Then the rich man said, `Please, Father Abraham, send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them about this place of torment so they won’t have to come here when they die.’
“But Abraham said, `Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read their writings anytime they want to.’
“The rich man replied, `No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.’
“But Abraham said, `If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’ “
Jesus shows us there are two possibilities after death. Taken on its own this story might be interpreted to mean that rich people will never get to heaven and poor people are guaranteed a ticket in.
But that is not what Jesus is getting at here. The one who ended up in heaven read what the Bible had to say on the subject and took it to heart. The one who ended up suffering either chose not to read or read and didn’t believe.
The Bible is very clear on what is required for a person to “make it” into heaven. There is no reason for anyone to doubt. And we can face even death without fear.
The Bible explains it this way:
For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.
I can’t make it any clearer than that. I only hope that Steve Irwin chose to believe before he went swimming with the stingray this weekend.
I pulled a book off my shelf this morning as a reference for an article I was writing. It is not at all a spiritual book. In fact it is a book about how to make money.
I only bought it because I heard the author speak at a conference one time years ago. I liked his story and what he had to say. In fact I caught up with him for a second afterwards to let him know that I appreciated what he had to say and he offered to sign my book.
Being a book guy I think it is pretty cool to have the author’s signature so I gladly handed my copy over for him to scratch his name in. Instead he wrote a short, personal little note. It took him maybe 30 seconds.
I’ve had that book 10 years now. No, I’m not a millionaire. But then I haven’t really applied many of the principles he wrote about, so I can’t pretend it is the fault of the book.
Regardless, today I picked it up from my shelf to look through it and I took a closer look at his note. At the end, after he signed his name, he put a scripture reference. Now I know I’ve looked it up before but I couldn’t remember what it said. So I looked it up again this morning.
And I was blown away. Here is the passage:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgeâ€”that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I’ve seen that passage before, especially the second paragraph. I talked about it a couple weeks ago in this post about Big Questions from Stepping in Something Squishy.
We say those words about God being able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine every week as we head out of church.
But until this morning for some reason I never associated them with the knowledge of how totally consuming and all encompassing the Love is that Jesus has for each of us.
The Bible says that perfect love drives out fear. And I am dealing with a little bit of a fear issue as I start something new.
Perhaps God is trying tell me that I should put a little effort into understanding how much Jesus really loves me so that I can get a grip on the whole fear thing. Frankly the whole concept of “love” is one of those squishy things that I mostly don’t want to think about.
I’d honestly rather think about guy concepts like victory, conquering, overcoming, power – pretty much anything other than love. (You gotta read it with a sarcastic emphasis on the word love to get the full effect here.)
But maybe that is the basis of my fear thing I’ve got going on. Until I get over my infantile aversion to the concept of love (I can’t help the sarcasm yet. Sorry.) maybe I’ll never move forward.
So. As I go through the day today I am going to be thinking about Christ’s love for me. And I’ll work at not giggling or getting weirded out while I think about it. Because this whole fear thing is for the birds.
I’ll let you know how I do.
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Yesterday someone left an insulting anonymous comment here at CREEations. I had to think about how I responded.
My fist instinct was to simply delete the comment. Hey, it’s my blog. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. There are only about a hundred gazillion other websites and blogs out there. If you stumbled on my blog and don’t like it, hit the back button. Don’t insult me. Right?
But then I remembered that my only real policy here is to edit out profanity. Since the comment managed to steer clear of that even though it was insulting and hurtful, maybe deleting it wasn’t the right answer in this case.
I could have simply ignored the comment and left it there. But that’s really never been my way.
I chose to respond. Keep in mind that I can be very sarcastic and cynical. In fact that is the way I usually respond to things in general. So I wrote a response that was rather harsh.
But Jesus said we should turn the other cheek. Listen to his words:
“But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you.”
That’s pretty strong stuff. Not much room for harsh sarcastic cynicism.
I deleted my first response.
And I’m not sure I really succeeded in purging my sarcasm from my second try.
So my question is how would you have handled it better?
Let’s all learn from this and become better people for it. Leave a comment and let me know your suggestions.
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I’m around a person quite a bit who seems to complain a bunch about her with poor health. And I feel bad for her because she is obviously suffering miserably much of the time.
She struggles with keeping weight on and every day talks about her headaches, lack of energy, and sinus issues. And I suspect she may have some more serious things going on that I don’t know about.
She also smokes multiple packs of cigarettes a day. I don’t know how many but to me it seems like a lot.
Now I suspect that there is a strong correlation there. I’m no health expert. And I’m not really anti-smoking from a regulatory sense. But I do know that every time she lights up on her way outside to smoke my own sinuses react as they try to purge the junk I just breathed in from my body. It’s spooky how fast it happens to me. Wham! Before the door even closes behind her I’m having trouble breathing. By the end of the day my contact lenses feel all crudded up too. And sometimes I’ll get headaches myself from it.
If the tiny little bit of smoke I get makes me feel so cruddy, I can’t imagine what the mass quantities she is throwing at her body are doing to her.
I asked her if the doctors ever said anything about her smoking being related to her health issues.
“Oh, yea.” was all she said.
So I gently probed a little further by asking her what she thought about it.
“Well, there’s a big difference between knowing you should quit and being able to actually do it.”
And that is when my heart really ached for her.
You see she genuinely doesn’t believe she can quit.
And that is a lie from the pit of hell designed to keep her suffering until her life is cut short from some entirely preventable disease that she’d never encounter if she never was exposed to the smoke.
The truth is thousands of people successfully quit smoking every day. I know it isn’t easy. But it is possible. For her too.
I’m not sure any amount of talking on my part would convince her to make a change that would have such a significant positive impact on her life because she seems determined in her choice to believe a lie.
What we choose to believe determines our reality.
Read that sentence again. In fact I’m going to change it to big bold words so no one can miss it.
My smoker friend believes she can’t quit smoking. And you know what? She’s right. She can’t. Even though she seems to really want to, as long as she continues to believe that way she’ll never be able to.
But if she was to change the way she thought about it and began to believe that, yes she could quit smoking, she’d find something amazing happen. That belief would likely change over time to thoughts about how she would quit smoking and eventually get to the point where she started to believe “I will quit smoking.” Not long after that she’d put the cigarettes down.
The Bible has a lot to say about believing. There are nearly 300 references to the various forms of the word believe and just about as many references to faith. The vast majority of those references are in the New Testament when Jesus came on the scene.
Here’s how the Bible defines faith:
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
Faith and belief go hand in hand. There was an incident in the life of Jesus that prompted him to explain how powerful belief really is.
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs on it, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
Then Jesus told them, “I assure you, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, `May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and it will happen. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
What we choose to believe determines our reality. Some may ask where the limits are on that principle. I really don’t know. My subjective self says, “Come on! Make sure you are realistic about the things you choose to believe.”
But how realistic is it for a mountain to be thrown into the sea? Not exactly something rational to believe, is it?
Yet that is the example Jesus chose to make his point. I think as humans we draw the line waaaay too far over to the rational side limiting side of our willingness to believe.
What do you believe about belief?
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