Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Most Wonderful Day in Eden

This evening one of our shepherds led our thoughts in devotion. He had us share what we thought might have been the best day for different people in the Bible. We started with Adam and Eve then Noah, Abraham, Paul and others. One thing he pointed out was how often good and evil come together in the same day. Similarly, the best and the worse appear seemingly back to back at the same time.

I thought, although I did not share it at the time, the worst day for Adam and Eve's life was their most wonderful day in Eden, also. The day on which Adam and Eve stood shivering in their leaf-covered nakedness was not because of the cold. Although they understood the obvious that they had eaten from the tree God had forbidden them to eat I doubt seriously that they understood the full impact and consequences: You will surely die resonated with a distant muffledness in their ears. I picture mirrored exchanges between husband and wife: Eve what have we done? Adam what have we done? Satan, who had succeeded in deceiving the man and the woman, must himself have been at a loss to understand, other than the fact Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, just what did it mean to die. Death was unknown prior to Eden.

I have often pointed out the first mention of the word love in the scriptures is a passage we readily recognize in Genesis 22:

Now take your son, your only son whom you love . . .
itself a portend of the gospel of John chapter 3:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . .
What turned the worst day for Adam and Eve also revealed the most wonderful thing about that day for them: God loves us. Still. Yes, we have sinned against him. He has cast us out of Eden, but he clothed us and continues to provide for us. Prior to that moment they had about as much understanding and appreciation for the love of God than they had about his stern warning concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The unconditional love of God is what turned the worst day into the most wonderful day in Eden. It's the same, ancient unconditional love which transforms the sinner who turns in obedience to the gospel message to become a child of God.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Humanists launch huge "godless" ad campaign

Humanists think. Indeed.  There's hardly anymore thought in the humanists' world view than his childhood school days show-and-tell: Just talk about what you can see with your eyes and feel with your hands. The "Humanists Think" slogan of humanists, atheists or by whatever stripe they wish to color themselves makes for a good sound bite, but like sound bites it too neither requires nor reflects any thinking. It's the same old oneupmanship of the American mindset: Thinking is better than believing. Of course, the reverse of that is no different: Believing is better than thinking.

The Speckhardt quotation illustrates this well enough: "We know that you can be good without God, but many folks in America don't know that," he said." I, as a believing theist, understand that without any problem. What Speckhardt and his brethren haven't and can't think about is how they would engage for a resolution in, for example, in a horrifically, all-to-common, (un)civil matter of homicide. One might anticipate nothing more than an adaptation of  the undiscerning Spechhardt's words, "It's quite obvious that  the Bible contains horrific material . . ." or something horrific has happened hereThe feeble, anemic inability of humanists to foster a godless world runs amok very quickly once he takes it beyond his personal comfort zone. Better yet, stay in the comfort zone. Let the advertising madman do it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What is Halloween?

This is an articleWhat is Halloween? I wrote a while ago.

I am not given to observing or celebrating Christmas, Easter, Halloween or an other holiday. I take no offense by my brothers and sisters in the Lord who choose to observe or celebrate holidays. My participation in these holidays is to join in their celebration without any violation of conscience on my part.

What I do find amusing and sometimes baffling is the impassioned, but uninformed message from the pulpits throughout the church. This is especially true of Halloween. What Halloween has become is a mix of various things.Some see it as a celebration of Satanic rituals, others engage in costume disguise and trick or treating. None of these can obliterate the original intent of Halloween. Briefly, here is the intent of Halloween. See the article for more detail.

1.  People observed a day at end of harvest season when they would invoke and invite the spirits of loved ones who had died.
2.  People set out treats for the spirits of those dear ones in preparation of their visitation.
3.  People realized an open door to the spirit world also meant unwanted evil spirits could come upon them.
4.  People disguised themselves in scary apparel to appear as evil spirits in order to escape harm from unwanted evil spirits.

What has come to be known as Halloween was not a worship or celebration of demonic spirits. Halloween was the belief of the Druids of enjoying a time of fellowship . . . with the dead.

A lesson Christians can apply to Halloween:

Jesus has been raised from the dead in spirit and bodily form. He comes, not for a visit, but to live in the heart of the obedient believer. The believer in Christ has been freed from the fear of death and of Satan himself who HAD (past tense) the power of death and has no need to disguise himself or to engage with Satan. Satan lost his power of death through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Christians do not seek contact or fellowship with the dead. We do not remember or serve a dead Christ, but a risen and living Lord and Savior.

Friday, October 1, 2010

22 days

On Wednesday September 08 I began a 22 day journey. The journey ended Thursday September 30.

I took to heart an idea which came to me in my Wednesday night Connect: 4 Bible study. As part of our discussion reference was made to the Psalms. Truth is, I have never been big on Psalms. Any reading in the Psalms was either a random verse here or there or if an entire Psalm it had to be a short one.

So, it was especially daunting as it was captivating to allow (how else could I say it?) the Holy Spirit to speak to me specifically as concerns Psalms 119: The longest Psalm . . . all 176 verses.

This Psalm follows immediately after the exact middle of the Bible, Psalm 118, which follows immediately after Psalm 117; the shortest Psalm, all two verses. Psalm 119 is written in groups of eight verses each with a heading denoting the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Actually, I started on Thursday 19 and backtracked to Wednesday 08. Then, I started. I wrote in my notebook the Aleph (verses 1 thru 8) for Wednesday. Then, I wrote the Aleph and Beth (verses 1 thru 16) for Thursday. The next day on Friday I wrote the Aleph, Beth and Gimel (verses 1 thru 24) adding a daily eight verses every day always starting with the Aleph, Beth, Gimel, etc until the twenty-second day.

On the twenty-first day I wrote the: Aleph,Beth,Gimel,Daleth,He,Vav,Zayin,Heth,Teth,Yodh,Kaph,Lamedh,Mem,
Nun,Smekh,Ayin,Pe,Tsadhe,Qoph, Resh and Shin.

On the twenty-second day I wrote the:
Nun,Smekh,Ayin,Pe,Tsadhe,Qoph, Resh,Shin and Tav.

If just these two sentences of the Hebrew alphabet seem long you can began to appreciate a little bit the true length of the entire 176 verses of Psalm 119.

I knew it was going to be tough, but except for a momentary bit of a foolish, fickle thought my resolve was steadfast.

I did not do it for penmanship, flawless accuracy (though I was conscientious about accuracy) or memorization. I did not know what I would glean or what the Holy Spirit would instruct me, but I did and He did.

Since the start of our Sunday morning study on Romans I committed to reading not just the next few verses in preparation, but to reading the entire book every week. This is where I saw one of those blessings from the work of the Spirit in me through Psalm 119. I found the Psalm to be a record of my own journey of faith with my stumblings, waywardness, restoration and always, my love for the love of the Lord for me and my love for His word. It is He who has been ever faithful and steadfast with me.

As I read Romans, and read going forward, it is as through a template, virtually. Romans, as I am sure is true of all other New Testament writings is replete with the references or allusions to those ancient writings which so shaped and filled the lives of those who love the commandments, the testimonies, the ordinances, the law of the Lord as did the apostle Paul. One such reference, for example,
Then I shall not be ashamed.
After emptying four pens and filling one notebook I am all the more filled. Psalm 119 is not the longest Psalm in the Bible. It's become the Psalm closest and dearest to me. Take your journey.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our moral code is out of date

Mr. Yaron Brook says,

If morality is about the pursuit of your own success and happiness, then giving money away to strangers is, in comparison, not a morally significant act. (And it's outright wrong if done on the premise that renunciation is moral.)

Personally, I would take no offense to Yaron Brook's moralist label for myself. I would state, for his enlightenment, I neither ignore nor condemn the earning of money. Yaron Brook's above statement with parenthetical is like the loaded mouse trap which failed to spring.

First, he packages an updated morality under the Science, freedom and the pursuit of personal profit label.

Then, he peddles his Science, freedom and the pursuit of personal profit morality dogma for our learning on Gates and Buffett's coattails, two men well-known of good reputation.

Brook won't thread the morality question on those who amass their fortunes in drug trade and other evils. Even less would he dare thread on them were they to give away their money as benefactors to charitable non-profit organizations. Furthermore, do you think he would pounce were a drug lord to renounce his riches and became an eager benefactor as the result of moral pangs in his conscience? Hence, Yaron Brook's moral argument could no more spring to catch a mouse than a evil doer among men.

This is not an updated moral code. However, it is quickly becoming known as the blind-folded atheists' anemic morality.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stumbling Over Things We See

Shooting these videos is a real grind on me. Between wondering whether the camera is rolling, am I on frame, the YouTube time limitation of ten minutes, and of course, do I have my thoughts in order.

Ultimately, it is the last of these -my thoughts, the unseen- which is of paramount importance in the entire process. Even then all these factors weigh and affect any would-be eloquence. Then, I am made mindful there is no question about my adequacy: I am not adequate, as the apostle Paul, declared for the task to which I and each one of us has been called lest we should boast.

As solid a sin track record as we have and given our inadequacies who would possibly commend us to task of reconciling men, women and children in the grip of sin.

God is He who has commended us to the task of reconciling men. It is He who has put himself to the test. He has not looked at our past and present tendencies to stumble and denied us or given us lesser or inferior a charge than that of ambassadors.

We are ambassadors, foreigners of the kingdom, serving in a world in which we have no citizenship.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The author of the book of Hebrews expressed what Jesus accomplished with these words: 
Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 2:15 and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
The fear of death at one time held us in its grip before we came to the knowledge and obedience of Jesus, the Son of God, as Lord and Savior. The bravado which characterized our lives with its coarse and crude speech and acts could never break the shackles of fear. Fear has a way of making one say and do the most mindless things. Furthermore, that same fear has a way of gripping those who are weak who draw near. Their weakness in their understanding of those things they profess to believe prevents them from standing firmly against or walking away from the those driven by fear.

Never, in the pages of the New Testament, did the followers of Jesus who had been set free from the fear of death by the love of God feel compelled to destroy or desecrate Jewish synagogues. They did not engage in burning rallies to destroy the idols or places of worship of the pagans. Some of those pagans as they left behind their pagan ways burned and destroyed their idols of their will. It was not at the urging, instigation or encouragement of the apostles. The first century Christians did not "unite, stop being passive and selfish and stand up and fight for the truth." (as Terry Jones calls for Christians to do). Even when they were given up as lion food or garden torches in Caesar's palace they were not consumed by fear. They were consumed by the love of God.

Since my crucifixion in obedience to the gospel of Jesus as Lord 33 years ago I have claimed only to know Jesus and him crucified. This same message consumes me, not the politically correct or popular hot-bed issues that stir the passions of men.

I wonder: Are those so vocal and opposed to the construction of an Islamic Center near ground zero in New York raising their voices in opposition to an American-made (it's certainly not Christian) product of fear and hatred coming from the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida? However, those voices raised in that opposition are as Americans, not Christians.

The acts of Terry Jones are those of a man consumed in his own fear. In our own time we have seen the countless who accepted the mindless words and deeds of another Jones; Jim Jones in Guyana 1978. The undiscerning did not see him as one consumed by fear. We marveled and were amazed that so many should follow such a liar, were appalled by his mass murder/suicide of the 909 followers.

One who lives in the bondage of fear is one who does not know the power of God. Jesus said as much to the Sadducees when they painted for him the resurrection scenario of a woman who had multiple husband. Jesus prefaced his response by telling them Isn’t this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God? He concludes in a similar manner: You are therefore badly mistaken.”

Jones acts are unabashedly, in the words of the apostle Paul, those of a carnal man. His message is disguised as truth with just enough holy speech for the weak who draw near and become engulfed in the flames of fear and hatred. Now, they have returned to be subject to bondage, the bondage of the fear of death. A humbled, repentant and converted Saul of Tarsus,  as persecutor of the church has set an example for Terry Jones.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The ground zero of the heart

The national fervor on the construction in New York City of an Islamic center (not a mosque) near ground zero is an ongoing revelation to America. What the fervor continues to reveal with every word spoken is an awkwardness? a fear? a hypocrisy? in the heart of Americans as well as Christians. While President Obama clarified he was talking about the right, not the wisdom, to build the center former Governor Palin and others have wondered about the wisdom to build the center at ground zero. Jesus reminded his disciples wisdom is vindicated by her children.

We Americans love to tout proudly the democratic foundation of our nation. Christians, too, have extolled the blessings of religious expression in worship. Suddenly, however Americans as well as Christians and vice verse are confronted in the ground zero convictions of their hearts. I daresay as political citizens, as Americans, we know without a doubt the ruling from our constitution on the matter of the center. It doesn't take a lawyer or the Supreme Court to help us understand. That's not to say we like it or heartily embrace it. Similarly, as aliens in America, on Earth, Christians know (for those who do not know the scriptures speak of Christians as being aliens in this world) without a doubt the guidance of scripture, the believer's constitution, on the same matter. That too is not to say we like it or heartily embrace it.

It is for this reason that in America, a land of law and order, we invoke the rule of law when otherwise awkwardness, fear and hypocrisy would rule the day. What many Americans and Christians have come to realize in this matter is they either do no know, forgot or have rejected what they professed as their conviction their entire lives. This realization is especially unsightly when Americans and Christians see the woeful shallowness of conviction of their professed national religious and political leaders and news media celebrities.

It is significant that neither Americans nor Christians who have weighed in on this subject have appealed to our constitution or the scriptures for their view on the construction of the center. It truly does result in awkwardness, fear and hypocrisy when people put aside, even if temporarily, their source of authority. They soon find they are unable to navigate their course without certainty or safety for themselves and others.

Jesus has a way of exposing the ground zero of the hearts of men. Jesus rebuked his disciples for their guised offense for the Samaritans rejection of Jesus. The hoped to rain the consuming fire of heaven on them. (Luke 9:54,55) The scripture, which is the word of the Holy Spirit, speaks on what might have been taken by some as Judas' concern for the poor as being greed in the heart of Judas (John 12:6).

What every disciple of Jesus has understood (even if at times some may forget) is that we by our own volition allowed that instrument of infamy and death on which our Savior was executed to be setup in the ground zero of our hearts. This is wisdom's vindication of her children.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Human Jesus video: a comment

My video comment is quite brief. My article is a bit more detailed, but it was not my purpose to delve into an exhaustive commentary on the documentary.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Gospel of Jesus

The message of the love of God

Our daily lives are filled with doing and acquiring. We have a clear date in mind when we got the job, when we got married and most everything which is special and significant to us. We are able to recount and retell specifics concerning those events and special moments years after their occurrence. Why then, are so many disciples of Jesus troubled and at a loss to recount and retell the moment of their commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior?

Recently, I found myself telling the old story of the gospel to a neighbor and to a dear sibling. That is a story which has remained as much a fire in my bones as ever since thirty three years ago. I rejoice in the telling of the story. It stirs in me a keen and wonderfully discomforting awareness for the lively and enlightening ancient story of the gospel. There is nothing like standing in the warmth of the fire with the one hearing the message of the love of God.

A lack of confidence

I feel for brothers and sisters in the faith who do not know and often are frightened by the intimacy and intensity of sharing the gospel. I can only wonder what they were taught at the time of their conversion. What I learn is often what they were taught is so scrambled and vague. It produced no confidence for them in the sharing of their own story. Some were told to repeat a prayer. Others were told to simply let themselves go and feel the spirit. Still, others may have great zeal and confidence, but they find themselves at a loss to find an example like their experience in the scriptures.

The first gospel sermon

The gospel is the good news. It occurs to me the good news of the gospel does not begin with the birth of Jesus in a manger. It begins with his death. The gospel is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. When Peter preached the first gospel message on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 he was clear and specific about the things he proclaimed to his audience. He proclaimed the death, burial of Jesus to his audience and made it clear to them they had crucified this Lord and Christ whom God had raised up.

him, being delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed; 2:24 whom God raised up,

The apostle Peter through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit clarifies for his listeners the interpretation of Psalm 16. He makes it clear the burial (Hades) in the Psalm was not about David, but about Jesus.

The conversion of Saul

When the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul, who was a persecutor of the church, he was struck blind and waited until Ananias was sent to him. Saul arose and was baptized as he was instructed by Ananias.

The teaching of Paul

The apostle Paul wrote many letters to the churches throughout Asia and Europe. It remained clear in his memory what he had been taught by Ananias. He was as specific when he recounted to the Romans his conversion.

Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6:4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

Note how Paul includes himself (we, us) with the Christians in Rome in what he referred to as a form of teaching later in verse 17.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul defined the gospel in First Corinthians 15:1-4.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

The confidence of our first century brothers and sisters was not in the wonders and signs performed by the apostles and those upon whom the apostles had laid hands. Their confidence was rooted in the keen knowledge and awareness of what the gospel they had been taught and how and when they obeyed it. Search the scriptures for that form of teaching you were taught and obeyed. There is confidence in knowing that what we teach others is what we ourselves obeyed ,and most importantly, according to the scriptures.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Marks of a Spiritual

Note: The RRMinistry is a twin blog to the YouTube site by the same name. My prolonged technical struggles on the video side are nearly over. . . Finally, SUCCESS!! These posts are not offered as manuscripts of the videos. The blog allows those with more extended comments the space to do so. Thank you. Walk in the Spirit. Gil.

Soundbites and implications

There is, for some people, no meaning in life. Just live and die. End of story. Others seek to understand and articulate in simple, clear terms beyond a superficial level those things which hold meaning for them.

There's an unfortunate fallout behind such a simple and clear cut approach. The fallout is that understanding and meaning are summed up in soundbites: I'm not religious. I am spiritual. It's an mistaken implication which places spiritual over religious. One would be no less mistaken to place religiosity over spirituality. Competitive ranking and one-upmanship are the way of the world. It does not take much listening to people's efforts to express themselves beyond soundbites before their lack of understanding becomes apparent. Perhaps even worse than trite soundbites is the extremely convoluted language surrounding the talk about spirituality. Many buy into it whether in the form of superficial soundbites or the extremely convoluted because, _ it's spiritual.

Spirituality on the Internet

A brief sampling of some offerings on spiritual/spirituality found on the Internet:

just be honest, listen to your inner self, be good, listen to your gut, listen to your heart, do what feels good, do what makes you feel good inside, be yourself, everyone is spiritual, everything is spiritual, you are already spiritual, you are god, be in tune with your energy, rocks are spiritual, trees are spiritual, animals are spiritual, get in tune with the universe; a list without end.

Can anyone who feeds on this walk away with a appreciable understanding they have been filled with anything substantive in their quest for spirituality or to be a spiritual?

How is a spiritual to be identified? What does it mean to be spiritual? The question, Who is a spiritual, emerged in the apostle Paul's admonition to the Christians in Galatia, you who are spiritual restore the one who has fallen in sin.

Commonly accepted proofs of spirituality

The answer to the question, "Who is spiritual/What is spirituality?" turns our attention to Jesus. If ever there were a spiritual in word and deed (curiously, he never made claims of being spiritual) it is Jesus. It is significant his entire life and ministry are a living model of a spiritual; one without vagueness, pretense, display or the bizarre acts some uphold as proof of the call of heaven. His spirituality was evident and lived out in the midst of everyday people not as something to impress others as a mountaintop recluse. Compare this with popular proofs some teach or embrace as spirituality so readily. I encourage you to Google YouTube video for spirituality for a sampling.

These accepted proofs of spirituality include prayer, singing, listening to Christian radio, fasting, being present in the fellowship of the saints, notable clothing and adornments such as pure white garments, crucifixes, aromatics, chants, pilgrimages, soft speech and more.

Understand, this is neither a condemnation or rejection of any of these. A spiritual may very well engage or possess some or all of these, but to pass these off and accept these as what makes one spiritual, _ in outward appearance and behavior, falls short of what Jesus modeled for his disciples. Certainly, writing, such as this article about spirituality, is proof neither of spirituality nor that one is a spiritual person. Jesus modeled what being spiritual and possessing spirituality as a pretext that, you too can be can be spiritual.

Jesus and Paul on being spiritual

There's an important value between Paul's call to those who are spiritual (and would-be spiritual) with what Jesus modeled. The importance of this is vital because today many have been influenced, or lured, by the self-proclaimed spiritual individuals who cast Paul aside as an irrelevant religious (as in, not spiritual) in favor of Jesus, the spiritual. At the heart of Paul's message is that there is more than declaring oneself spiritual or being spiritual: It is what the individual, the spiritual, does for another. There's no better example of doing for another than to actively engage in the restoration of their faith and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Discussions and claims of being spiritual, of possessing spirituality and what constitutes these matters of the Spirit are more often an abandonment either to emotional highs or an austere appearance and demeanor. It is left solely to the individual to craft his or her own spirituality; _ for themselves. The mere use of the word in their speech is, in some people's minds, proof of their spirituality.

Jesus subjected himself to the scrutiny of his disciples. He modeled and demonstrated repeatedly certain marks of a spiritual for his disciples. I refer you to the gospel according to John chapter 8 as just one example and which will be the focus of this article. The scene involves a woman caught in the act of adultery (the man is never mentioned). The religious leaders have engaged in a carnal spectacle of bringing her before Jesus.

Marks of a spiritual

Jesus modeled the marks of a spiritual. Those same marks were exhibited by the apostle Paul. These marks, or characteristics, are for all disciples to learn and live daily. These are just three marks. They are not offered as thorough or a complete study of spirituality as modeled by Jesus. Where the Holy Spirit dwells and fills the heart of the believer, these marks begin as a thought process 1) Wisdom to discern, to a decision process 2) Confidence to judge, to the action process 3) Authority to speak.

1. Wisdom to discern (a thought process)

Jesus knew what was in the hearts of men. They were relentless in their efforts to trap him. The woman cast before him was a carnal spectacle for them. Perhaps some looked on her with disgust, others with lust, others perhaps with shame and pain for her. These emotions are not readily apparent but the reaction of her accusers to Jesus' invitation for those without sin to cast the first stone would suggest that they were what Jesus saw in their own hearts: hypocrites.

Those who dragged the woman to throw her before Jesus had no more regard for upholding the law than to see the woman restored; a clear display of men without the marks of a spiritual. How does one acquire the wisdom to assess the dangerous condition of a brother or sister in Christ playing with temptation? It is acquired through personal observation, listening and conversing with them, what others confide about them to you, or even, gossip. Gossip may or may not be true necessarily, certainly not to engage in, not to be repeated, but to be noted. These are resources and means for acquiring an accurate assessment of the individual beyond mere superficial appearances.

Discernment is getting below the surface and it is the wisdom from above of which James speaks which shapes the spiritual person's' thoughts:

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Once the situation has been discerned wisely the danger or destruction of sin in a brother or sister's life it is still merely a thought hidden in the innermost heart. If it remains there it could well turn out to be our own hurt because we neglected so great a responsibility towards one in need. Too often fear is the reason the wisdom to discern remains an inaction, a mere thought.

2. Confidence to judge (a decision process)

There may be no greater misunderstanding, as much from believers as non-believers, than as concerns making a judgment and the fear associated with it. The idea of judging strikes an ugly, discordant note in discussions on this topic and is often promptly discarded. Most of all it is seen as not being spiritual. However, the text raises the question: Did Jesus judge the woman? Invariably, the quick response is, no. After all, did not Jesus say, Judge not lest you be judged? Indeed, Jesus did say that but a closer look of the Matthew 7 passage reveals his admonition to the disciples is to not be quick or hasty in their judgments.

There's another misunderstanding of scripture by disciples and one driven by the world's own misunderstanding of scripture, primarily. It's the lament, or the hand washing of all responsibility in the work of restoration, by those who cry, none of us are perfect. We all sin. Furthermore, they add, I'm not Jesus or the apostle Paul. True. However, disciples are called to be like Jesus and less like self in the work of restoring the fallen. It is about the one being restored.

Jesus judges a sinner

The confidence with which Jesus responds to the woman, neither do I condemn you implies He judged her. She is guilty of sin and deserving of condemnation. Her accusers failed to condemn her not so much because of their own sin (the law of Moses made no provision for anyone excluding themselves from stoning the accused because of their own sin) but because of the primary evil intentions of their heart towards Jesus. Jesus didn't condemn her because of the grace and love which he lavished on her.

What many overlook in their fear and aversion of judging is there is a judgment unto condemnation and a judgment unto salvation as concerns the restoration of a brother or sister who has fallen.

Certainly, there will be a judgment day of condemnation, but the concern in the text is the restoration, a judgment unto salvation, of this woman or a saint in Christ who has fallen.

Paul judged a sinner

When Paul learned of the Christians in Corinth (I Corinthians 5) boasting about one their own living an immoral life Paul did not hesitate to make a judgment on the matter. Although absent from their midst he judged the man and urged them to put him out of the church, that is, to break fellowship with him and have nothing to do with him. He did not give the church license to malign or otherwise vent their own personal emotions on the wayward brother. The church did as Paul instructed, the man repented and was restored (II Corinthians 2). Paul effectively modeled for them the marks of a spiritual not with vague words but through simple, direct words and actions.

Jesus, and Paul, judged these matters with the same confidence common among all believers in the Lord who rejoice in the love and grace of God. This is the confidence that comes from having been set free from fear and its crippling misery.

In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:17,18)

The disciple who, with confidence judges his brother or sister so as to rescue or restore them, may do so without fear of punishment. Yet, though that disciple acts with full integrity and honesty that will not exempt him/her or immunize him/her against a verbal assault from the one to whom they minister. Think of it as a test of your integrity and the sincerity of your motives behind your confidence to judge; your decision to follow-through on your thoughts.

3. Authority to speak (an action process)

The authority to speak is founded in scripture and not a church official or an individual in a position of authority. The words Jesus spoke are scripture and are spirit and life.

It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing.
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life. (John 6:63)

Scalpel or hatchet?

The rescue or restoration of those in danger or who have fallen in sin is not a work to be handled with opinions and good thoughts. Definitely, it is not the work of a novice in the faith. This is not to say we can not have opinions and thoughts of our own. The scriptures in the hands of a spiritual in restoring the fallen is as a scalpel in the hands of a heart surgeon. Opinions or scripture mishandled is like a hatchet in the hands of a fool. Which would you prefer in the hands of your heart surgeon: a scalpel or a hatchet?

The authority with which Jesus spoke to the woman, Go and sin no more is no less than as he has entrusted his disciples to do. Speaking with authority is not grandstanding to display one's own perceived spiritual prowess. The task of restoration is an awesome one. It is a time to speak with humility the authority of the word of God. It is a time to glorify God. It is a time for heaven to rejoice at the restoration of one who had fallen. Peter's words fit the work of the spiritual restoration of a fallen disciple.

If anyone speaks, let it be as it were the very words of God. If anyone serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 4:11)

Authority makes some people uneasy. It's an uneasiness some prefer to put aside by speaking their feelings and opinions rather than the voice of authority. What they soon discover is the inadequacy of those feelings and opinions to live by or to minister to one who has fallen precisely because he followed his own feelings and opinions rather than to obey authority. Truly, this is the final test of the individual's thoughts, decision and action concerning the work of restoring the believer who has fallen in sin. Actions may be louder than words, but actions accompanied by words of authority are clear, healing and restorative for those fallen in sin. This is the work of a the one who is spiritual. His spirituality is not for him to claim nor a badge to be displayed proudly. It is his humble service to those in need.

You who are spiritual who are ever growing in wisdom to discern, confidence to judge and authority to speak restore your brother or sister who have fallen in sin.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I do not remember her name. I do remember my joy at her startled reaction and then rejoiced for her as I turned to leave.

My wife and I were shopping clothes for our girls ages three through eight. No matter what the outing as much as possible I was always along. It was never, ever a question for me whether to stay home or accompany my family. I walked in from the office in suit and tie and turned right around to head for the mall. After we had the better part of the job done I told Nelwyn I was going next door to get a coffee. It was located between a real estate office and a travel agency.

The young lady welcomed me with a cheerful greeting into the empty restaurant. She took my order and turned to get my coffee immediately. I discerned a faint accent.

I asked, "Where are you from?"
She said, "Guess." with the same cheerfulness.
"Italy." I guessed.
"Actually, I am Persian but I speak Gaelic and grew up in England" she replied. "What kind of work do you do?" she asked.
"Guess." I replied.
"Are you a realtor?" she queried.
"In a manner of speaking." I replied.
"Are you a travel agent?" she asked.
"In a manner of speaking." I replied.
"Well" I said as she handed me my coffee with a smile, "would you tell me what is your father's business?"

All of a sudden her cheerful, smiling face flashed a serious look of alarm.

"How did you know my father had a business?" she asked.
"What is your father's business? I asked again.
"How do you know my father has a business?" she persisted.
"What is your father's business? I persisted.
"He owns a tailor shop in London." she replied.

"My Father has a business to which he called me. My Father's business is to cloth men and women in righteousness to prepare them for that time when they travel from this world." I said.

"You must be a priest. What church do you go to?" she asked; a question which too often receives the terse door-closer it elicits was not my answer. She had recovered her cheerfulness and smile as she immersed herself again into the warmth of our conversation.

"In that you ask me if I am a travel agent I can, in a manner of speaking, sell you passage for your departure from this world. In that you ask me if I am a realtor I can, in a manner of speaking, sell you a portion in the kingdom of heaven not of this earth."

The moment, for that's how it seemed and how I remember it, was captivating for her as it was for me. I remember being mindful of the Spirit's presence and utterance. Although she asked for neither passage nor portion she had engaged eagerly perhaps because of her own nature of challenging others to guess and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit I myself had taken her up on her guess. I thanked her for the coffee and turned to leave rejoicing with her for her evident joy at hearing those words.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jesus was crucified

Did Samuelsson not intend the sensationalist effect of his research? I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that was not what he intended mainly because he states Jesus was crucified. Still, there's some value to his contribution because he, a Christian, makes Christians mindful of how we speak matters of faith in terms other than those present in the scriptures. We engage in this when we speak, for example, of trinitarian and unitarian doctrines defining terms not present in the scriptures.

Much as I appreciate scholarly work I am leery any time the focus of a doctrine relies on drilling down on a single word. In simple terms Samuelsson's point is akeen to a defense attorney arguing for his client's acquittal because all the testimony states he took the victim's life, took him down but no one ever said his client shot and killed the victim. Is this not the case if the scripture testifys Jesus was suspended on a cross that he was indeed put to death by crucifixion?

Here's an example for my leeriness concerning scholarly findings such as Samuelsson's. He may be as loaded with those pictures of crucifixion when he says Jesus "was required to carry the 'stauros' to Calvary and they 'stauroun' him." The scripture says it was Simon of Cyrene (Luke 23:26) who carried the cross for Jesus.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Must be Tuesday

Why do I bother? Typically, I have a sense I have not accomplished much of anything. Yet, it remains something I am compelled to continue to do because the alternative would be more than a sense of doing nothing but the reality of having done nothing.

I know I am not commanded to fast. I know fasting is not a guarantee or the quick (given the topic I chose this as the best word choice) track to spirituality. Up until about eight months ago fasting had never been a regular part of my life in my thirty years in the Lord. Then, from what I can only describe as an inner cry for my family, I purposed a time of fasting. I determined to declare a fast of four days. I will say my sustenance was limited to water. I can not remember if I had any coffee (black, no cream, no sugar) but I honestly can't remember.

What I cannot say, I am ashamed to admit, is that I feasted heavily on the word. Yes, the word was very much on my mind. Hunger pretty much subsided after the second day. Sitting with my family or co-workers during mealtime was not a struggle. I maintained, as I determined I would, my daily two-mile walk regimen. My dedicated time of prayer was not such as I could commend to anyone.

So, as I reflect on that initial time of fasting what did I gain? I pose this question mainly to show yet another example of my (I may be the only one) problem thinking to think fasting is for gain. The fruit of my fasting is that the Spirit has started in me what has become a regular, weekly practice of dedicating a day of fasting unto the Lord. I accept the charge that this sounds pious, but I will stand by it that it is unto the Lord. I have learned through many experiences how God answers my pray and prayerful requests only to go undiscerned by me until much later. God is too good. How can I say that when I turned around one month and added a second day to my weekly fast? God knows. He knows whether it was from the perspective of God-did-you-not-see-did-you-not-hear or Oh-God-my-God.

I have an abiding conviction founded in Jesus. He was without a doubt the ultimate spiritual man. Still, he never claimed it. He never taught his disciples from the How-to-Be-Spiritual manual, but he did model it for them as for us. Yet, the most captivating aspect of Jesus is that with the exception of that purposeful 40 day fast in the wilderness everything he taught and demonstrated the life of a spiritual in the streets among men, not from a mountaintop refuge. I would rather stumble in the street than fall off a mountaintop.

I no more mention my fasting here as some achievement than I care to reveal that when co-workers ask why I am not eating. My tenuous, brief reply: "It's Tuesday." Should they inquire further I elaborate. Tuesday is coming and I am compelled to do _ something.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Holy Spirit

This is not intended as a scholarly or exhaustive study of this topic of the Holy Spirit. However, my interactions with so many atheists, Christians, Muslims and others reveals the lack of understanding on something so fundamental in the Christian's faith is often troubling and a spiritual shipwreck for some. My hope is you will find englightenment and courage to embolden you in the proclamation of your faith in the Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Love triumphs

"Science will win". It's juvenile and although he never says just what it is science wins Stephen Hawking knows the value of, and is not above using, a good cheer. This after stating the fundamental difference between religion and science: Religion is authority based, science observation and reason based.

Hawking (one could say scientists, but lets not) reveals some thinking on aliens much like that for which theists are mocked. Theists are mocked for making a human-like being they call God. Yet, he imagines (yes, that's the right word) human-like aliens and attributes to them the more violent and aggressive human-like qualities. How is this speculation in keeping with the ever higher ever-improving intelligence model of evolution? This is Hawking, an atheist, projecting on aliens the human behavior of aggression supposedly the by-product of religion and theists. Hawking sees alien life forms as the embodiment of not all that is human, just the negative, evil or worse, _ whatever bring harm for humans. Lets consider this possibility: The idea does not set well with Hawking to be upstaged by an alien life form which suddenly reveals the pitiful level of his intelligence. His daughter Lucy shows a more reasonable view.

Secondly, Hawking is familiar with the ridicule cast on theists as refusing to face the facts of reality. It does not sound true to form to hear Hawking advise man ought not be looking to make contact with alien life. An intelligent life form (humans) avoiding contact with intelligent alien life forms? How is that any different were a northernmost people on earth to avoid looking to contact any probable peoples in the southernmost part of the earth?

Hawking is undeniably quite knowledgeable in his field. Yes, science does work. However, he reveals a science which imagines freely and qualifies those imaginations as reasonable or logical. Furthermore, Hawking would just as soon science work at not working to search for or contact alien life forms. He reveals his lack of unbelief and faith, words shunned by scientists, so lets say he trifles the work of man (to say nothing of God) such that he has given up the fight before the battle even begins.

According to evolution an alien visit to earth would be like Columbus' visit to the Americas a catastrophe where the weak perish and the strong survive. Science, says Hawking, will win.

It is therefore no wonder that in the Hawking mindset an alien life not of this world which visited earth in human-form with human-like qualities should be rejected as was Jesus. He looked human. He acted human. He did not fulfill the human expectation of alien life forms of aggression and conquest. Jesus is the embodiment of the love God. Hawking advises his children: if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away. He may not have been lucky enough to find it yet, but it's there to accept or to throw away.
For God so loved the world,
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life

Love triumphs not in those who remember to reason and observe it at a distance, but in those who embrace it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Human Jesus: a response

This article does not attempt or profess to be a full response to every point in The Human Jesus video. (I see the video has undergone some editing and it has been broken up into multiple, smaller clips. Some of the specific references such as Rabbi Goldmark were omitted. I have renewed the video link on 12/25/15.) have been removed.) Undoubtedly, there will be misunderstandings and although great efforts were made to avoid direct quotations to eliminate misquoting and to prevent any semblance of personal attacks this will not prevent those intimately familiar with the video from recognizing indirect allusions. Despite the shortcomings every effort has been made to treat the documentary truthfully and accurately in hopeful, prayerful expectations. Readers are encouraged to view the documentary.

The Human Jesus video challenges believers to examine and reject beliefs concerning Jesus which are without Bible basis. That is a commendable biblical admonition. Certainly, both the challenge and the doctrinal belief behind the documentary have been around since the first century. The two-hour documentary references the familiar second century historic decision at the Nicaea council of 325 when (as it is said) Trinitarianism won out over Unitarianism. Although this article reflects a definite conviction concerning Jesus there is no preference for either of these labels which are as non-biblical as they are inaccurate. Believers flash these, as well as monotheist and polytheist, in lieu of teaching and understanding. Often believers are given to making sweeping assumptions about another’s teaching on the basis of a flash card approach instead of engaging in dialog.

The Ishango bone

It seems peculiar, if not telling, that the documentary should draw on the Ishango bone, an ancient mathematical system, to illustrate the introduction of the subject of discussion on the One-ness of God. It is amusing that the bone of a dead animal should serve to establish the antiquity of the concept of one, _ as in the One living God? Furthermore, it is ironic

Friday, May 7, 2010

God is (not) dead

It was Friedrich Nietzsche who declared, "God is dead.” Those words have been a rally cry for some, but anxiety and frustration for believers. However, Nietzsche may have unwittingly opened a window of discussion for atheist and theist alike. These theists, who are the focus of this article and for the sake of clarity, are referred to as fear-theists to distinguish, not disparage, them from other theists in this article.

Nietzsche’s declaration provides a vantage point for disciples of Jesus who believe and uphold Jesus’ deity claims to push back when pressed against. The statement spotlights not just God, but death for both; disciples who claim belief in Jesus but timidly wonder about his deity and fear-theists who deny his deity completely. A fundamental understanding of the scriptures by disciples on the death of Jesus is all that is required to appreciate Nietzsche’s statement as foul as that may seem for some. It is does not require a disciple delve into original languages or a philosophy discourse on Nietzsche or his writings.

A common belief between atheists and fear-theists

What atheists and fear-theists share in common is their belief in the finality of death. (Knowing the knee-jerk reaction by atheists to the term belief associated with them you may think of it as, understanding.) It is true fear-theists believe in heaven and eternity with God. However, to the extent fear-theists reject the resurrection of Jesus from the dead they live in fear.

Fear-theists have no more a response for the implications of his resurrection than the significance of his death to the claims concerning the deity of Jesus.

No wonder some fear-theists reject, not only the resurrection, but the death of Jesus. What fear-theists profess in faith does not agree with their view of death as being final.

Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood
he also himself in the same way partook of the same,
that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death,
that is, the devil, Hebrews 2:14

Spirited cheers, jeers and chants, spiritual words, holy things and acts of faith are nothing if they are mere distractions. One cannot ignore for long the spectacle of one's own death or the death of Jesus. Does the humorously popular American bravado come to mind: Ain’t skeerd. How ever well-intentioned any teaching which leaves alone the seeker with nothing more than bravado to standoff the persistence of death is little comfort. The implication of Jesus' resurrection is that the One who is able to take up his life is also the giver of life. The significance of his death is the extent of the love of God like no other.
No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. John 10:18

Did God die?

A theist's theology, that is, how one knows and teaches God and his will, that does not account for death comes off as not much more than a hollow corpse emptied of its God-given life to the atheist and fear-theist’s mind. The blunt, anxiety-filled question, Did God die? has long been an effective tactic to bewilder and disarm some theists when they affirm, yes, Jesus, God in the flesh, died.

There are two common questions/assertions which often come up in the discussion. Questions are vital and necessary to discussion but the assumption too often is that the questioner not only understands the subject about which he inquires, but surely must be a scholar.

God is not a man

1 This is true. God is not a man. However, does this assertion fear-theists seem to attribute an aversion (or fear?) on the part of God to take on form to become a man? This reasoning by man seems understandable. Man is not given to stepping down to a lower state in life to accomplish something great. It is especially true if it's nothing more than an accomplishment out of pure love. God becoming a man for a specific time and specific purpose is not the same as to say he is a man. Surely, he is not a bush because he manifested himself in a burning bush (Exodus 3) to Moses.

After successfully deceiving Adam and Eve Satan likely added to his tactics of mockery and ridicule. He added this script to his resolve to deceive people into believing death is a final act.
God cannot deliver you from death. God himself cannot save you.
After all, God is not a man. He can’t understand.
Satan missed the garden prophecy of the woman’s seed God said would bruise the serpent’s (Satan) head. It is more than mere curiosity that this early prophecy regarding the woman’s offspring clashes with yet another fear-theist chant: God does not have sons. God sent prophets to his people to proclaim his will and call his people to repentance. However, when it came to delivering Satan a death blow God did not send a boy, or mere man, to do God’s job. He did it himself.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will bruise your head,
and you will bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15

God cannot die

2 It is true God cannot die. A feat men boast in the fullness of their arrogance to show their power (such as gang members, KKK, Taliban and others who live in fear) is to take a life. Most humans know they possess that power but wisely never even think to act on it. Other men may lay down their lives in pure love for another person or a noble cause, but none can take it up again. This common misconception that God cannot die raises some other disturbing points to be considered by fear-theists:

a.) While God cannot die it is not the same to say he would not die. This goes back to Satan’s lie in the garden. Adam and Eve’s sin of disobedience was their unbelief. Through their sin of unbelief of what God had commanded death entered the world. This fact regarding death is known by fear-theists. Yet, since death remains today, but since the one (Satan) who had the power of death no longer has it is only those who reject the power of the resurrection over death that remain in its fear. Do the tactics of mockery and ridicule (and denial) of the death and resurrection of Jesus coming from atheists and fear-theists ring familiar like the dialog in the garden? Death is the ultimate litmus test for the claims of every prophet and holy man.

b.) Who better to willingly take on the litmus test of death and die than God himself? There is no greater act of love for God than to demonstrate to man created in his image of his will and power to overcome the death which separated God and man. The death and resurrection of Jesus goes far beyond religious, spiritual, pious talk about loving and serving God. The resurrection from the dead is the work of God. This work marked the confrontation and defeat of death by God and the exposure of Satan's lies. It was a work done for all who do not believe God to belief in God. I once saw a video of a man boasting about Americans being afraid of death. He said, "we," that is he and his followers, "love death". I thought to myself, Why are you alive still? It is far easier for him to send others to death and murder others than for him to lay down his own life as a demonstration of love, because despite his claims of loving God, a murderer lives in fear and knows not love.


God died. God did not remain dead. God is not dead. His willingness to submit to death was in order to bring to belief those who lived under the fear of death. Death remains a mere relic rendered powerless by the power of the resurrection until the final judgment day. Death is the ultimate litmus test for all who profess to proclaim the will of God. Make no mistake about it: This willful death is the renunciation of self by the individual. It does not involve the death of others by murder because they do not believe. This death is to live no longer for self but for Jesus as Lord and Savior as the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians. Yes, it is a spiritual death, but no less real than a physical death. The claims Jesus fulfilled concerning his death and resurrection bear implications and significance on his deity and are the living, lasting reminder of the love of God.

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me. Galatians 2:20

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

God preoccupies the minds of men and women in everyday life. Whether they cry out to him in time of need, to thank him, to praise him or to utter curses and blasphemies seemingly in his name, He is on their minds.

Christians who seek, know and serve God sometimes become similarly preoccupied in a maze to explain God in understandable terms. The New Testament (NT) references to Father, Son and Holy Spirit may seem insufficient for them to explain in numeric (singularity versus plurality) terms. However, resorting to the popular use of the term Trinity is itself a problem too. It is a problem for many primarily because it does not appear in the scriptures. The term is an invitation for erroneous charges of polytheism against Christians. My own reference to the term here is only to show my awareness of it. I do not to rely on it. I have no use for it as my explanation to a seeker of God. The scriptures, written by the apostles and men inspired by the Holy Spirit, remain the first and last resort, without substitute, for understanding God and his will as far as concerns written sources.

oversimplification and unity

In addition to the use of the Trinity term there are two common, but seriously mistaken attempts to explain what are clearly three different. terms and entities, or a plurality, in reference to God. These explanations are embraced by some Christians also. The explanations are: 1) Jesus is the Father and Holy Spirit, and 2) God is One.

The first explanation is an oversimplification of the subject in the extreme. It fails immediately. The first reason it fails is because the Father testifies of Jesus at the time of Son's baptism (Matt 3:17). Secondly, the Son speaks of the Holy Spirit as the One whom the Father would send (John 14:15,16) after Jesus ascended back to the Father. Peter declares to Ananias the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-9) is God and in so doing he ascribes the masculine gender to the Holy Spirit also. The Holy Spirit is He, not it. Clearly, three entities, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are referred to as separate beings.

The second explanation seems to be a lack of confidence and understanding. It seems more of a cheer or a chant. The explanation is to refer to God in quantitative terms of one as opposed to three. This explanation comes from verses such as The LORD our God is one LORD (Deuteronomy 6:4). This conclusion as to quantity is at best an oversight and at worse a error of interpretation of the scriptures.

The Deuteronomy verse (Jews know as the Shema) seems more a point regarding the unity between anything and everything God said and what was said in his name. It is about the harmony and unit of 1) what God spoke directly to Moses, 2) what Moses spoke to the children of Israel as being from God, and later after Moses 3) what God's servants, the prophets, spoke as the message of God all throughout Israel's history.
This same unity between Moses, the prophets and the Father were common claims of Jesus.

an illustration of one

The problem with illustrations is they can and will break down when pressed beyond the original intent of those illustrations to teach or clarify a point. Furthermore, they can be just as misunderstood as the scriptures themselves. Even worse is that someone will run with his/her misunderstanding of the illustration only to create even further misunderstanding. Still, here's my illustration. I commend all readers to search and understand the scriptures.

Ken, his wife, Patti and their son, Alex are a family well-known in their home congregation. Ken is a husband to Patti. Ken is a father to Alex. Ken is a friend to Robert. This represents one person, Ken, in three different relationships (husband, father and friend) with three different persons. The people in their respective relationships with Ken do not misunderstand or freely shuffle their relationship with Ken as they please. Attempts to shuffle the respective roles in these relationships can range from inappropriate to disrespectful or worse.

the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1

A similar point on relationships is made about God by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1. The Father is presented much like a master planner who conceived his plan to choose (a topic for another RRM study) a people for his own possession before the foundation of the world. The Son is presented as the one who redeems the chosen. The Holy Spirit is he who seals the chosen redeemed. Paul not only presents the three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but he explains their separate relationships towards man. There's a significant difference between the illustration involving Ken (1) in relationships (3) as husband, father and friend and the three beings, Father, Son and Holy Spirit described by Paul as God. Paul describes a transcendent, divine entity of three beings, not just three relationships of the one God.

This may not be as difficult to understand as it is to accept it. What is truly astonishing to man is not the question of three beings or three relationships. No, the greater difficulty for man is comprehending and grasping such total, absolute unity between any multiple of entities. We, from a human standpoint, know how difficult it can be to achieve a significant measure of unity with one other let alone two others. We might unite with others in a common cause, but to face the certain approaching footsteps of death as did Jesus in his cause as Savior is a bit more than most of us are willing to do for the unity of our cause or idea.

acceptance of one is acceptance of all

There are believers who profess to believe and honor Jesus, but deny and reject the claims which He himself made concerning his death, burial and resurrection. This is apostasy, that is, they have fallen away from the faith. There are some who deny and reject what Paul and other apostles wrote because, as they see it, Jesus never said something about which the apostles wrote. This has a reverse application on Jesus. Again, it is pointed out Jesus never said anything for or against homosexuality. This is taken as license for the silent approval or active embrace of homosexuality. However, what this reveals is an ignorance of the work of the Holy Spirit as Jesus told his disciples. They have, by rejecting the apostles' writings, rejected and denied the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the apostles the Holy Spirit, will bring to your remembrance all things and will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)

Similarly, the denial and rejection of the Father who sent the Holy Spirit reveals a lack of unity between what some believe and what they do. They can not grasp or accept the unity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and resort to an oversimplification or rejection of scripture. Rejection of any part of scripture is a rejection of all. Rejection of the Father, Son or Holy Spirit as divine beings or their respective roles towards man is to reject all. Conversely, acceptance of any part of scripture is to accept all of it just as acceptance of the Father is acceptance of Son and Holy Spirit. This is much more than simplification. It is unity.

A rejection of what Father or Son or Holy Spirit said or did is rejection of all. The corollary to that statement is that acceptance of what any one of them said or did is to accept all of which the others said and it. The same acceptance/rejection carries over to the apostles, the carriers of the message of the Father as revealed by Jesus, of Jesus as revealed by the Holy Spirit and of the Holy Spirit as Jesus gave him utterance for the apostles.

the unity of God in marriage

The intimacy of marriage as a relationship of mutual submission. It is where a man and a woman as husband and wife reflect this unity, this one-ness. Submission did not make Jesus less divine than the Father or the Holy Spirit. It does not make a man less than a man or a woman less than a woman by fulfilling their relationships in their roles as husband and wife. As you draw closer to understanding God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit seek His unity to in your heart and in your relationships and marriage with all glory, honor and thanksgiving to God.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marks of a Spiritual

Note: The RRMinistry is a twin blog to the YouTube site by the same name. My prolonged technical struggles on the video side are nearly over. Until I post the first video ( which will be Marks of a Spiritual) the site remains unaccessible. I'm not waiting any longer and have decided to move ahead with this post. These posts are not offered as manuscripts of the videos. The blog allows those with more extended comments the space to do so. Thank you. Walk in the Spirit. Gil.

Spiritual and religious soundbites and implications

There is, for some people, no meaning in life. Just live and die. End of story. Others seek to understand and articulate in simple, clear terms beyond a superficial level those things which hold meaning for them.

There's an unfortunate fallout behind such a simple and clear approach. The fallout is that understanding and meaning are summed up in soundbites: I'm not religious. I am spiritual. It's an erroneous, mistaken implication which would ascribe a greater value or even vice versa of the spiritual above the religious. One would be no less mistaken to place religiosity over spirituality. Competitive ranking and one-upmanship are the way of the world. It does not take much listening to people's attempts to articulate beyond soundbites before their lack of understanding becomes apparent. Perhaps even worse than trite soundbites is the extremely convoluted language surrounding their talk of spirituality. There are many who buy it whether in the form of superficial soundbites or the extremely convoluted because, _ it's spiritual.

Spirituality on the Internet

A brief sampling of some offerings on spiritual/spirituality found on the Internet:

just be honest, listen to your inner self, be good, listen to your gut, listen to your heart, do what feels good, do what makes you feel good inside, be yourself, everyone is spiritual, everything is spiritual, you are already spiritual, you are god, be in tune with your energy, rocks are spiritual, trees are spiritual, animals are spiritual, get in tune with the universe; a list without end.

Can anyone who feeds on this walk away with a appreciable understanding that they have been filled with anything of substance in their quest for spirituality or to be a spiritual?

How is a spiritual to be identified? What does it mean to be spiritual? The question, Who is a spiritual emerges with the apostle Paul's admonition to the Christians in Galatia you who are spiritual restore the one who has fallen in sin.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mistake-free trainees

During my years in International Export with Dell I was a one-man team in my operation. It's not rocket science and, yes, a caveman could do it. However, the exportation of product involves government, customs and international industry standards with serious consequences for the exporter, and, in some instances the individual employee too should a product be shipped without the required documentation. Although management had me train various associates to fill-in in my absence management never allowed those associates to do the job in my absence presumably for fear they would make a mistake.

I determined I wanted to do everything I could do in my training of associates. I developed a training philosophy around these three points to set them at ease in the training process.

1) There is no mistake you can make I have not already made.
2) There is no mistake you can make which can not be rectified.
3) You do not make mistakes.

The first two are pretty clear. It was the third point which had the desired effect on my trainee. I waited for their question: "What do you mean, 'You do not make mistakes?'"

Those of you who have been trained as the new employee know there are varieties of trainers; those who love/enjoy training and are competent, those who love/enjoy training but have little clue about the task, those who hate training despite their vast knowledge and experience, and, those who hate training and lack the knowledge, experience or aptitude to train others.

My point, by way of setting my trainee at ease, is that I take responsibility for any errors which might slip through my supervision. Too many people train from the perspective of fear: Don't mess up because I don't want to get yelled at or get fired.

I stand by and am accountable for the day's work. I can take the hit. I am confident about my tract record and my ability to give an account of myself and to implement the measures necessary to rectify the error. It is for this reason I see no need/have no need to, or in the language of the world, cover my ass. Fear produces lack of confidence which results in self-preservation and self-defense tactics. Mistakes are my responsibility and are not to be passed off on my trainee. It pleased me to know and to see trainees at ease in a learning environment free of fear. They knew there really were no dumb questions or dumb mistakes to be made only teachable moments to be captured by their trainer.

What was your experience as a learner of the fundamentals of the scriptures? I cringe when I hear of people's training experiences and what is passed off on them by those who profess themselves teachers. I love it when an unwitting visitor raises a tough question in a Bible study. The tension in the group becomes palpable, but I love it because it is the teachable moment for me to capture both for the visitor, for the regular class members and teacher trainees especially.

Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. 3:2 For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. (Epistle of James 3:1)

The passage speaks to those who would be teachers. If your view and approach of the task of teaching or training is with a fear of judgment for making a mistake you may be wise to wait a while before taking on that responsibility. In the meantime, challenge those who teach not as to oppose them but in the interest of a fuller, richer understanding of the scriptures for the benefit of all without fear of mistakes.

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Resurrection of Jesus

The meaning of the resurrection
There's a uniqueness in the message of Jesus. It is vastly, radically different from all messages delivered by leaders and accepted by men and women throughout the world. It is the resurrection. Some may argue over his claims of deity, but the point of the resurrection puts all other matters in perspective. How?

Recent online discussions with some who reject or diminish the resurrection of Jesus reveal a distorted perspective. Others, they state for example, Osirus, were resurrected long before Jesus, hence Jesus was not the first to be raised up from the dead. Lets look at two of these cyber discussion claims, briefly.

First, Lazarus could well be added to the list of individuals resurrected before Jesus, but the point of these individual resurrections (I will not speak of Osirus) is that those individuals never made claims of their own resurrection as did Jesus. Furthermore, the resurrection of Lazarus was not to show Lazarus was immune from death but to demonstrate Jesus' claim, I am the resurrection and the life (see, John 11). The reason some offer as their unbelief of the resurrection is that they were not there to see it. However, there were some present at the resurrection of Lazarus, who saw, did not dispute it, but refused to accept it so as to declare themselves disciples of Jesus. They hurriedly went and reported to the authorities what they had just witnessed.

Second, I marvel at the readiness with which resurrection claims of the likes of Osirus are accepted, _ on the basis of what evidence? Jesus made his claims to his own resurrection openly and publicly. His claims were not an inner secret known to his disciples only. His enemies, the Jewish and Roman authorities, were quite familiar with these resurrection claims (see, Matthew 27:62-66). These authorities even agreed to post a guard at the tomb precisely to prevent the disciples from stealing the body of Jesus and declaring he had risen from the dead. The meaning of what Jesus claimed and accomplished with his resurrection is captured in his words:

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again.

No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. (John 10:17,18)

The significance of the resurrection
The significance of the resurrection is that it speaks to two things common to all mankind: birth and death. We know of our birth because we are alive. Parents, siblings, family, friends tell us and documents reassure us of our birthdate and birthplace. Death needs no such reassurance. It is ever before us. All faith and piety, religious leaders, their deeds and teachings are nothing if all they can offer mankind is claims about God and how to please him. Similarly, chants, platitudes, noble and even the most bizarre of deeds as one's way of pleasing God or leading men to God are nothing if these fail to address the spectacle of death which haunts mankind. Euphemisms or the prolongation of life do not prevent death.

The best source for the study and understanding of the resurrection is the New Testament scriptures. Yet, as intriguing and perhaps fascinating as these points might seem it is when the individual considers the significance of the resurrection event for himself or herself.

The value of the resurrection
As with the value of all Jesus said and did it was not lost in the first century as some claim. Neither the claims nor event of the resurrection have ever been mere religious ideas for discussion. The value of the resurrection was evident from the beginning in the first century when lives were impacted and transformed radically as people understood the meaning and significance of just who is this Jesus raised from the dead. This transformation of lives was/is in keeping with this words of Jesus:

The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.

Those who believed the resurrection of Jesus as the Son of God were not left to wander in obscurity. They were among the first added to the number of the believers, the church. Their act of obedience of the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus resulted in them being added to the church to become disciples, followers of Jesus, or Christians. (see, Acts 2:37-47) This same transformation of lives continues today.