Category Archives: Ramblings

Jesus the mathematician!

 Matthew 28: 18,19,20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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My path has been far in traveling.  I have not come to its end.  I would have liked to have traveled further, to see all the mercies God has in store for me down the road.  My steps are sometimes belabored.  My burden causes my back to scream in pain. I trod my road set before me and am winded. “God, why can’t this be easier?”

What I have discovered along my path is that God seldom takes things away.  Instead, God is in the adding.  He is more a giver than a taker.  When I run along my path in darkness, he does not take away the clouds but increases the sun.  When my path seems terribly dry and my lips are parched, he does not heal the thirst but brings gifts of water. When my path is lonely to a point of panic, He does not take away the terrible foreboding isolation, He simply comes near Himself. He adds. When I stop and take a rest because of pain in my old joints, He does not take away the pain, but adds joy to the steps I can make. He adds.

What shall we call Him? Jesus the mathematician.

I Can’t do it!

Titus 3:7 “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

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I can’t do it. If I depended upon my own merits, I would never make it. It just is not enough to overcome the negative ledger of my life. Fixing myself, again and again, to straighten my soul out, will never be sufficient. I must resign to the failure of every effort to measure up.

Jesus told the story of two men in the temple. One said, “God, here I am—all fixed up. Every hair is in place!” The other said, “Oh God, I just crawled in off skid row. Have mercy on me!” God forgave the skid row bum, but sent the other man away, hardened, unrepentant, and unforgiven.

When I come to God, I must know that all that is provided is out of God’s mercy.  It is not my work.  It is not a clever well-turned phrase that earns my mercy. It is not my effort to work out my own salvation. I come to Him just as I am in humble repentance.  When the human spirit comes to God knowing that anything it receives will be out of God’s mercy, then repentance has done its proper work! God promises to forgive and forget and to take that man into His heart and teach him that all of God’s kindnesses are due to His mercy. What more can a sinner ask?

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Dear Lord, You know me as I really am, yet You extended Your great mercy toward me. Thank You for Your divine love and forgiveness. I come to Jesus as I am!

The Word or the song?

MARK 6:34 says,  “And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them because they were as sheep not having a shepherd:  and He began to teach them many things.”

I have searched for a place to exercise my spiritual gifts.  I pastored four churches, taught hundreds of Bible Studies, written hundreds of devotions, yet as I sit in my local church as a congregant, I feel there is a gap between my expectations and reality. This situation has caused me to think that there is a pandemic within organized Christianity. The common thread is a subtle change from the centrality of the Word of God to something that could arguably be considered as important. Worship is a good thing but is it enough?  The change is from discipleship to worship.  I deeply understand and seek to worship my God in word and deed but I struggle with the lack of spiritual depth that a constant diet of worship and praise seems to provide.

So what is the reasoning behind this subtle change in style and methodology?  Is it easier to sing and raise our hands than to rightly divide the word of truth?  Is it more palatable to feel good by ecstatically repeating words over and over in the cadence of a snare drum and brass cymbal than to dig deeper into the Word of God and perhaps find something in our lives that requires change.

So who within the church today is supporting this well-meaning paradigm?  Today, in America, churches are full of sheep not having a shepherd.  Within these churches across our country, hungry sheep wait to be fed and to be led into the things of God.  Unfortunately, these same multitudes are being shepherded by someone not willing to, as Jesus stated, “If you love me feed my sheep.”  Barna’s studies state that two-thirds of all those who classify themselves as regular attendees have the primary desire for their attendance is to discover more about God.  But when asked if their last church service meet that need, only six percent responded that the last church service they attended met that expectation.

And, unfortunately, while there is a yearning for God in the pew, there appears to be a falling away in the pulpit.  I not saying that much of today’s clergy is spiritually bankrupt, I am just saying it is easier to go with the flow.

Paul speaking to the Roman church said “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”   I long for the day when more and more preachers begin refusing to “trim the truth in the name of tickling the ears of the people.

Not wanting to be a part of the problem and becoming part of the solution, I have found a better solution to sitting on my holy petard. I am actively finding my place in changing the Church. I must change it from the inside of a church.  I can no longer just point fingers.  I must be a change agent. Spiritual gifts are not to be hoarded or kept to myself.  I will make every effort to stick my foot in the door and make a difference where I can.

I will not do only what is expected but do as much as I can without incurring the wrath of the church hierarchy.

Peculiar

Isaiah 25:9 “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

I am peculiar.  I act peculiar.  I have a belief that is peculiar.  I have a faith that is peculiar.  I am so peculiar that I believe God caused a virgin to give birth.  I am so peculiar that I believe in walking on water, healing the sick, raising the dead, and a man being God simultaneously.  I am so peculiar that I believe that the same man who was beaten, spit upon, and died on a cross was raised on the third day.  I am so peculiar to believe that this same man now sits on the throne of the universe. I invite you to join me in my peculiarity!

Everlasting Love

Jeremiah 31:3 – The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

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The age of Jerimiah was a terrible time. The invasion was inevitable. It was a test of the whole land of the Hebrews.  It was a test of Jerimiah’s home in Judah. It was a test of Jerimiah’s tribe of Levi.  The greatest test was Jerimiah’s test.

All faith and belief are the solitary. I do not live in the times of Jerimiah, but there are still threats to my peace. How am I to find peace in a world that seems to be upside down.  I must find peace based upon something more than a hope of someday. “Hey God, are you up there?”, flashes across my soul. Even though I may not see God’s omnipotent hand reaching down and changing the world around me, I must acknowledge God in my past.  I praise God for all the mercies shown to me.  He has protected me and mine millions of times.  These past mercies are great and warm thoughts.  God gently whispers in my ear, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” In that assurance comes a quietness, a settled peace in the middle of the turmoil

Crazy Talk

Matthew 6:25,26  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

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Crazy talk!  Jesus, what are you telling me about how I should live my life? “Do not worry about your life”, sounds like a command. I may not worry as much as others I may know, but there are times when an emotion that could well be characterized as worry does pop its head up in my life. But Jesus, does this mean that when my brakes on my old pickup start to grind and the pedal is as soft as an over-ripe peach, I should not worry about going down the interstate at 70 miles an hour in rush traffic?

Perchance, I think what he is really saying is “Don’t let worry become my response to circumstances out of my control.  I must rely moment by moment on his provision, promises and plan. First, I must realize God is the source of my peace, and second get my brakes fixed.

Redemption

He was born in Boston the last of seventeen children. His parents He wanted their little boy to have a career in the church. He attended school only two years before giving up on formal school and thought being a tradesman was a better life. Working for his brother as an apprentice, he learned the printing business.When he submitted a letter to his brother for publication he was turned down as simply to radical. Undaunted, he began writing to the paper with a false name and the identity of a middle-aged widow. When his brother was jailed for three weeks , he was released from the constraining editorial comments. His pseudonym said, “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and not such thing as public liberty without the freedom of speech.” He left town and his brothers’ business a political fugitive.No one thought Benjamin Franklin would ever amount to much.2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here.”We all need redemption!

Faith and Science: a political viewpoint

The defining difference between Liberals and Conservative has often been proposed as the acceptance of science over liberty.  One group would include a scientific reason for any proposal.  Whether it be Global warming, wearing masks for all time, universal healthcare, wealth inequality, and identity politics, each may well be associated to a statistic, scientific study, authority of record, or cultural norm. 

As we enter the holiday season, mandates have been set as to the size and place of our celebrations of love, thanks, appreciation, and fellowship.  And these mandates are all made by scientific reasoning.

But where is the liberty of free choice?  Why does science seem to overrule our own ability to determine for ourselves a personal response to risk? In 1966, a distinguished Canadian-born anthropologist Anthony Wallace confidently predicted the global demise of religion at the hands of an advancing science: ‘belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge.  Science over the free exercise of faith was his prophesied result of our culture. Social sciences, either presuming or sometimes predicted all cultures would eventually converge on something roughly approximating secular, Western, liberal democracy.

If prediction is true, I want no part of it. Give me the liberty to make my own decisions.  Yes, I will be accountable for my decisions, but I was created in the image of God.  And with that image comes the possibility of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control.  And all these things cannot be legislated against or demanded from anyone.  Science does not provide any of these things. All science provides is despair, turmoil, cruelty, apathy, greed, and legislation.

Tell me what you think.

The Intent of God

Fear does not rule my life. I live in hope and great expectations.  Never-the-less, I look at our current place in history and perceive a radical change in our culture.  The number of persons which have no belief in God it at about 7%. Further 16% of the world’s population do not identify with any religion. Both these statistics suffer from the ebbs and flows of perception.  That is not what is disturbing me.

What brings me to a point of consternation is the change in the loss of the understanding of the true intent of God. Theology (Study of God), Christology (Study of Christ), Ecclesiology (Study of the Church), and the plethora of Bible resources all have become entities in themselves without much on the intent of God.  Study for study sake has taken the place of study to discover what God wants. To discover what God’s intent is toward me.  What does God want for me?

What does God’s intent mean to the way I live my life?  What does God’s intent change me?  Or for that matter how am I to know that I need to change?

Maybe I it is just to late for me to embark on a quest for God’s intent for me and simply and blindly follow all those who have boldly gone before.  Or just perchance there is an inner need that has to be satisfied.  A need to know.  And in knowing, a chance to change.

Why?

In my later years have been accused of being a little over inquisitive. I ask questions which cause seeming discomfort to myself and those who I ask. Asking why is the measure of my quest.  I can look up the how; there is always a video on YouTube to show me that.  I can weigh all the factors like my bank account and my calendar to determine the when.  I can even analyze the best person to do the how.  But when it comes to why, that question is different. 

Why? Why? Why? Any statement of fact can well be answered by the dreaded “WHY”. I was never satisfied with the, “because I said so,” in response to why I needed to clean my room. There is always a question in my mind. I can be annoying if you are the victim of most of them.  I am a curious sort and want to know everything: its origin, meaning, cause, and consequence. It can be profound or mundane. I have asked the great questions of life (or so I think) and also the base queries about ordinary stuff.

My why today is about the motive of those who express themselves in response to those around us.  It has been called peer pressure, or crowd think, or herd mentality. Why do we seem to want the acceptance of everyone around us even it may cut at the edge of public morality and personal ethic?  Why loot a store just because someone else broke the glass in the first place.  Why go along with the crowd and carry signs of solidarity with those who know little about? Why complain about the amount of cows that are in danger of being slaughtered when your own ox in the ditch (to use a biblical expression)? Or like Jesus said why worry about the speck in the eye of someone else when you have a log in your own.

I will keep asking why.  And if you don’t want to answer, Why not?