Archive for November, 2008

Giving Thanks

November 28, 2008

“giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph5:20 NKJV)

At Thanksgiving certainly we should remember to give thanks for the many blessings that we have received.  God is good to his people.  If we think about it, there are many, many things for which we can be thankful.  I am reminded of the old song “Count Your Blessings” which includes the line “Count your many blessings name them one by one, and it will surpise you what the Lord has done.”

This verse in Ephesians however, reminds us that we can, and should,  give thanks in ALL things.

How do we thank God for the things that are bad, or even awful?

By recognizing that God is with us always.

By remembering that God will give us wisdom, strength and grace in time of need.

By remembering that “all things work together for good” (Rom 8:28 NKJV)

By remembering that we are called to “walk by faith, not by sight”. (IICor 5:7 NKJV)

In everything let us give thanks.

Advertisements

Who Are We?

November 26, 2008

Will the real Mr Brown please stand up?

Back in the sixties there was a game show where contestants would ask questions of three individuals.  Two of them were pretenders and one was the real person, the contestant would decide whom they thought was telling the truth.  Actually, I believe the name of the show was “To Tell the Truth”

Who are we anyway?  Are we the things that we do?  The things that we say?  Are we the physical blob of matter that exists in this world?  Are we a spirit, contained within that physical blob?  Are we the things that we write?  Are we the person that we are at work? at school? in public? with friends? with family? when we are alone?

Who knows the real me?  Do even I know?

Who are we anyway?

Who knows?

God knows.

Time Out

November 25, 2008

I can’t remember the details, but the other day I saw a cartoon on television where a little girl quietly asks a monster that is running amok if they needed a time out.  Children are sometimes given time outs as punishment, but sometimes as an opportunity to simply wind down.

Last night, I sat in our living room watching a fire burn in the fireplace, listening to Christian music.  In a way, I was doing nothing, but in a way I was doing something very important.

I was taking a time out.

I suspect that we have a tendency to be way too busy.  In my life, I know that between church, school and home, I have enough work to do to be busy all the time.  That is not a good thing.  I think that we all could use a time out now and then.  Actually, I think it should be a regular part of our life.  By the way, watching television is not what I mean by a time out. When we watch television we are processing incoming information.  There is a steady stream, and we are constantly receiving additional input.  Watching television is not the same as quietly sitting and thinking about stuff… or simply letting your mind and spirit settle down. 

Do you need a time out?

Flourishing

November 24, 2008

Aristotle believed that the goal of human existence was eudaimonia, a Greek word that means basically happiness, but is also translated as flourishing. 

I like the word flourishing to describe the ideal human condition.  I believe that it is indicative not of a single area of our lives, but of the sum of our lives.  If we  were to put it in religious terms we could say ‘blessed”. 

I believe that we are both blessed, and tried in our lives.  God is good to his people and is always with us, but there are times when the spiritual conflict in which we are involved can take its toll upon our minds, bodies and spirits. 

We have houseplants that my wife takes care of in our home.  I enjoy them but leave their care to my wife.  Every once in a while If they are not watered they will start to look droopy.  Give them a drink, and they perk right back up.

Our lives can be like that. Sometimes, we are getting too much sun and too little water, so to speak.  The work that we do, and the trials that we face, drain us and leave us feeling a little (or a lot) wilted.  When that happens we need to drink deeply of the living waters of the Holy Spirit so that we can be revived.  So that we can indeed even flourish once again.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Godliness

November 22, 2008

God has given us life…twice.  Our physical life and for those who have come to faith in Jesus they are given a “new life”in the spirit.  They are “born again”, a “new creation”.  These are all wonderful and good things.  Who wouldn’t appreciate an opportunity to start over?

We are also given liberty, or freedom if you prefer to continue to make choices.  God does not make us follow him.  He invites us to follow him.  He agrees to go with us through this journey of life.  He will provide direction and strength but will not force us to do his will.

The pursuit of godliness is something that we ought to be doing.  To  “cease to do evil, and learn to do good” is the basic instruction that we are given.  We combine this with the command to love God and to love our neighbor and we have the basic idea. 

Now we have to learn how to live out those simple sounding directions.  It is a pursuit.  A lifelong process that we should continue to refine in our lives as long as we remain on this earth.  God will be with us, and by his word and by his spirit will continue to shape our lives; with our cooperation.

Gay Rights and Wrongs

November 20, 2008

I remember back in the seventies when young men would go “gay bashing”.  A group of guys would drive around looking for someone who “looked gay” … and give them a beating.  It was a terribly wrong thing to do, and I said that to any guys who ever talked about it around me.   The gay culture was just beginning to go public, and it was a dangerous time to be openly gay.

Gay people have the right to live their lives without fear of being beaten.  What consenting adults do in private should not concern the rest of the world.  They have the right to not be discriminated against in the job or housing market.  Their sexuality should not be considered in their applications for loans, or in a wide variety of other areas.  The list of rights in this blog is not meant to be exhaustive, but merely representative.

However, a small minority of gays in trying to advance their rights, have done some things that are wrong. 

It is wrong to assume that a person preaches hate, simply because their religious convictions includes the view that homosexuality is a sin.  To say “homosexuality is a sin” is not to say “I hate homosexuals”.   

It is wrong to insist that everyone agree with you.

It is wrong to riot when a vote does not go the way that you want it to go, as happened recently in California.

It is wrong to invade a church service, set off fire alarms, act provocatively, seeking to provoke a response; all while you videotape it, hoping that you can then use the tape to show the “hate” of the Christians in that service, as happened recently in Lansing, Michigan.   

I appreciate and respect the right of people to hold different opinions, but not to bully or “bash back”.

“Stop the Hate” should apply to all.

A Risky Gamble

November 19, 2008

Blaise Pascal once presented the choices facing a person regarding faith in God in the form of a wager. 

Does God exist? 

If you answer yes and serve him throughout your life you will die not knowing if you are right.  After you die, if you are right you will be received into heaven for all eternity and rejoice forever in the knowledge that you were right to believe. 

If you die and God does not exist, you will never know that you were wrong for you will simply cease to exist and have no knowledge of being wrong.

If you decide to believe that God does not exist and you live your life accordingly, you will die not knowing if you are right.  If you are right, you will cease to exist and will never have the satisfaction of knowing that you are right. 

If you are wrong, you will face God, who will judge you for your sins and your unbelief, and you will spend eternity in hell knowing just how wrong you were to not believe in God. 

So, the believer cannot really lose, and the unbeliever cannot really win.

Many people know the famous verse John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJ)

Not as many know John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (NKJ)

Does God exist?

Wanna bet?

Oblivious

November 18, 2008

I just noticed that my 100th post has came and went.  This is post 106.  I wasn’t paying any attention and so missed the opportunity to celebrate my 100th post. 

Sometimes when I am driving, I will be involved in a discussion, or perhaps I will be deep in thought about something else, and I will miss my turn.  Sometimes driving for a ways before realizing that I am no longer going in the right direction. 

When I am watching TV, I can become completely absorbed in the story.  I normally do not try to do anything else while watching TV, because I can be completely oblivious to what is going on around me.

If we are not careful, our lives can be like that.  We can be caught up in something that is trivial, and miss things that are important.    

May God help us to have open eyes, ears and hearts to what is going on around us.  May we see those things which are important.

Faith Works

November 17, 2008

I teach philosophy at a community college.  I have the opportunity to meet a lot of young people who are just getting started in life.  I know that many times children who are raised in church go off to college and leave their faith behind.  I also am firmly convinced from what I have seen in my own life and in the lives of many others, that faith works.

By that I mean that maintaining our faith in Jesus gives us a wonderfully stable foundation upon which to build our lives.  We are able to live rich, fulfilling lives, by continuing to live in a relationship with God through our faith in Jesus. 

It is OK to question our faith.  I believe that the pieces of this life fit together well if seen through a religious worldview.  God is not afraid of our intellectual curiosity.  His Word and his ways are worth pondering.  They provide a lifetime of material.

Credit Crunch

November 12, 2008

“The secret to obtaining wealth is to live well within your means.”

I don’t remember who said this, but I remember reading it many years ago.  I suspect that there are many problems in our economy today that were created by people who try to live beyond their means. 

People want things that they do not have the money to buy, so they use credit.  Buy now, pay later.  The problem is that sooner or later, the debt, which will grow substantially,  will have to be paid.  Living on credit is like living in a house of cards, sooner or later, a breeze is going to come up and the house will come crashing down.

That’s what is going on in our economy right now.  The house of cards is coming down all around us.  The government is trying to prop up the house of cards, but there is a pretty strong breeze.

We will have to pick up the pieces and try to build a stronger economy on something other than the unreliable foundation of credit. Individuals, families, and businesses should learn to make more prudent decisions about their spending habits. 

More savings, less credit. 

Buy now, pay now. 

Save some for the future.