Thursday, March 29, 2007
"Japanese scientists have developed an oral vaccine for Alzheimer's disease that has proven effective and safe in mice, the director of a research institute behind the project said on Thursday."
So tell me, how exactly did they come to this conclusion? "Safe" I can understand. It didn't kill them.
Effective?? Really??? So I guess the mouse stopped asking, "Who moved my cheese?"
I am trying to be more sensitive, so I am just gonna leave this alone, but Leno would have a lot of fun with it.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I have always loved this passage. I believe in God's goodness. I am convinced that at the center of His heart is a desire for a deep, intimate relationship with me. Its the reason He made me. Its the reason He went through everything He did to redeem me from my sin and rebellion. He calls us His Bride. His goodness is one of those ideas that is simply settled in my heart. It gets questioned and tested, but its one of those things that I just know is true. I can't prove it to you. Its not a product of my profound deductive reasoning. I don't "believe" it simply because "the Bible says so." Its just true. He is good. When I see or hear something that brings his goodness to question, I go back to a place that says, "There is more going on here than meets the eye." God is infinite. The universe is finite, but expansive beyond our comprehension. Every time scientists think they are seeing the edge of the universe, they develop some new technology that enables them to see whole galaxies that we never knew were there. I will never understand all the mysteries of life. I will never have enough understanding to figure it all out.
"When I consider the heavens..."
Darkness, or some guy you start talking to at Starbucks, will always come and ask the age old question, "Well if God is good then how come ____________." (Fill in the blank. Usually it has to do with pain and suffering and evil in the world.) And from the guy at Starbucks, its usually an honest question. I don't despise it. In fact, if you have never asked that question, well... I just can't imagine that. But, for me, its so settled inside, that the question usually turns into, "What am I missing here?" If I had all the facts, if I could see the big picture, I would see His goodness. Does that mean I think that everything that happens is good? Tsunamis, war, aids, the child sex trade? No... not at all. We live in a war zone. The world is a complex place. Its under a curse, brought on by mankind's rebellion that started in the garden. The cosmos are far more complex than I could ever comprehend, let alone explain. Man's free will, invisible spiritual forces, the inter-connectedness of all things. Too much for my pea brain. And I am okay with that. I have a core conviction that says God is good, in all His ways.
When it doesn't look that way, I understand that I just don't fully understand.
"Therefore my heart yearns for him..." His heart yearns for me? The eternal, uncreated creator of the universe yearns for me? He knows what I am really like, to the deepest, darkest corner of my heart, and He yearns for me.
Yet another way in which I understand that I dont fully understand. Not even close.
You are good, Lord. In all your ways.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I have little or no patience with bad attitudes. That in itself is a little inconsistent, but hey, that’s the way it is right now. I ran across a guy here in blogdom that I found really annoying. I agree with what he sees, for the most part, but also really hate the way he expresses it much of the time. Not always, but often. I am just being honest. He "sees" things in the church that are not good. Actually, its not uncommon for him to have some pretty deep insights. (in my not so humble opinion) And he tells everyone about those problems he sees. That’s where my problem came in. The way he does it often bugs the heck out of me, and I had let it get under my skin. Now, he is not the only one out there that does this. The internet is loaded with "prophets". You could spend your whole day reading their analyses of the church’s problems. My annoyance with many of them and their "bad attitudes" had been building over time, and I guess I crossed some line in my own heart a week or so ago, and decided to say something. I had written posts about the subject on my own blog, but now I took it a step further, and confronted this one particular guy. When I say "confronted", its not like I blasted him with my own prophetic indictment. "Thus saith the Lord, stop judging!!!." No, I took a more subtle approach. I wrote up a "gentle" and "soft-spoken" comment that in a general way spoke out against judging. I think psychologists would probably call it sort of a passive/aggressive approach. As far as I understand things right now, I still believe in the ideas that I wrote, but I shouldn’t have done it. There were things going on in my heart that I was blind to, and that is what the Lord wanted to talk to me about this morning.
I responded to what I perceived as judgment and a "bad attitude" with more judgment. If you read my words, they were measured and respectful, without any direct accusation. But they were motivated by judgment and a critical spirit rather than love. I didn’t think so at the time, but its pretty clear to me right now. And he was justifiably offended. Proverbs tells us that "the spirit of man knows the spirit of man", and that a brother offended is harder to win than a city with high walls around it. He called me on it, and I responded with more blatant sarcastic judgment. Great. Oh, I knew I was wrong, and I even apologized at the end of my reply, but I did it with a sneer in my spirit. How easily we are deceived. I look back now and see the self-righteousness of my heart, and I am pretty disappointed in myself, but hey, that is how this whole process of change takes place. We screw up, God shows us how we screwed up, we try to open our hearts to Him to let him change that thing He is showing us, and then we get up and get back in the race.
Probably I will do it again. I don’t want to, but the chances are that I will. This kind of change is usually a long slow process. At least for me it is. I am a very black and white person by nature. That in itself is not a bad thing, if your heart is motivated by love. And you have to have the necessary humility to recognize that your definitions of "black" and "white" may not always be correct. Jesus was pretty black and white at times. Read the sermon on the mount. He took the typical outward, behavioral approach to black and white, and pushed it deeper to the heart level. He took a lustful look and called it adultery. He took a harsh word, and called it murder. The thing is, He was always motivated by love. Always. My black and white thinking can be very susceptible to that judgment thing when I am not paying attention to the Spirit, and what I know of my own heart.
I so appreciate the mercy and patience of God. More than words can say.
And I am sorry to any who were offended by my foolishness. Really sorry.
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. I want to give life. Always. Even if it is necessary to confront someone. That will probably happen sometime. That’s why I need to listen to the Spirit, rather than my own internal agitation.
Paul told the Corinthians, "Let all that you do be done in love."
I want to live that way.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Psa 45:1 My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
Psa 45:2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.
Psa 45:3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty!
Psa 45:4 In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
2Co 10:1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!--
Col 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Col 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Col 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Col 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Col 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Jam 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Jam 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Jam 1:20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.
Jam 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Jam 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Jam 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
Jam 1:24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
Jam 1:25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Jam 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.
Jam 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
I want reality...
Mat 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Mat 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Mat 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Mat 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Mat 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Mat 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Mat 5:10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Gal 6:3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Gal 6:4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
Gal 6:5 For each will have to bear his own load.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I was chastised recently for using the phrase "kingdom of love". Its seems that this is not found in the Bible. Hmm... let me see. "God is love." I think that John wrote that. So thats in the Bible. And "the kingdom of God" is in there all over the place. In my mind, that would make the kingdom of God a kingdom of love. And Paul wrote to Timothy, "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." So I am thinking Paul would be cool with it.
It would seem that "kingdom of love" probably falls within the bounds of generally accepted orthodoxy, but I will try to remember to always clarify when I use it that it is not a strictly biblical phrase.
Pro 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Pro 16:21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Pro 22:11 He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Truly... thank you, Lord...
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Its all about motives. "Man looks on the outward appearances, but God looks on the heart." He is looking for a heart that truly desires to know Him, and to walk in friendship with Him. That will be a life of grateful obedience to His ways. There is no way to read the whole NT and deny that, (not that you would). The point, though, is the motive. You can obey out of a heart of loving devotion, or you can obey out of a desire to win God's approval and acceptance. The two can look just alike. One is a sweet aroma to Him; the other is worthless, even a stench in His nostrils. The challenging thing for us humans is that we can't see into people's hearts. God can, but we can't. Its one of those really important differences between Him and us. One day He will bring everything into the light. In the meantime, we just seek Him, and try to let Him have His way in our hearts. And we allow others the freedom to do the same. God will sort it all out. He lets the tares grow right there with the wheat. He's amazing like that. He knows who all the jerks are in the church. The real jerks. The ones with jerk hearts. And yet he patiently lets the jerks live right there among the sincere. It wont always be that way, but for now that seems to be His good pleasure. And for now He tells us to love our enemies. I am guessing that this would include those awful hypocrites in the church down the street. The jerks. Those people used to drive me crazy. They made me mad. They were dishonoring God with their unloving hypocrisy. I was filled with righteous indignation. Then He showed me my own heart, and He called me to love without judgment.
"Love your enemies, and pray for those who despitefully use you."
"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
"Blessed are the peacemakers."
God can clean up the mess in "the church" when He is ready. One or two Ananias and Sapphira episodes and He will have everyone's attention. He wants those of us who think we know better to demonstrate the meekness of His kingdom of love, so that He has something to point at when He gets ready to show them what He wants them to be.
The current revolution against dead religious tradition is good. I am all for breaking out of man's philosophical structures and really seeking to know and live in the truth. But that truth is rooted and grounded in love. Love can be tough, but it still places supreme value on the one toward whom it is directed. Ranting about how screwed up the church is can be just as screwed up as the problems the rant is pointing out if its not motivated by a redemptive heart of compassion. That isn't always apparent in a lot of the "angry prophet" blogs out there. I am not saying its not there. I am not God, and I can't see their hearts. Sometimes, though, the love is difficult to discern.
But God will take care of that too. I just want to bless their passion, and trust that Jesus will continue to take them deeper with Him.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us … made us alive together with Christ… so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
I love scriptures that reveal the purposes of God's heart. To the extent that my little pea-brain can handle it, I want to understand why God does what He does. Some would read that sentence and just say, "Duh. God is love, and therefore everything He does is motivated by love." I get that. Its a pretty simple idea. I just love those places in His word where He elaborates a little on the concept. And this is one of my favorites.
The second chapter of Ephesians is about as "loaded" with theological truth as any chapter in the Bible. If they were going to take away my Bible, and I could keep one chapter, this would be one of the finalists in my list of choices. And verse 7 is probably my favorite in the chapter. What it says to me is one of the most overwhelming statements of God's love in the entirety of scripture.
The first part of the chapter is pretty straightforward about the mess we were in. We were dead. Spiritually dead. Cut off from God. Then Paul talks about God's great mercy, grace, and love in saving us. Awesome. But then he takes it a step further, and tells us why God did it. The first time I read that part of the passage and received just a tiny bit of understanding of it, I was stopped cold. I just had to sit there and let it sink in. And it stunned me again today.
Why did God save us? Why did Jesus leave the beauty and glory of heaven to take on flesh and blood? Why did he live a simple life amongst a poor people under the domination of a powerful human empire? He did it specifically for the purpose of suffering His gruesome death on the cross, but why? Paul tells us in verse 7.
… so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Just stop and think about that phrase for a minute. He paid that massive price so that He might bring us back to a position where he could bless us. When we were "following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, ... live(ing) in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind..." we were not in a place where He could freely share His love with us in the way He wants to. We had turned our backs on Him, living in rebellion against His wise and loving ways, and all He wanted to do was bless us. In the coming ages He wants to shower us with the riches of His grace. He wants to share with us all the infinite kindness in His heart. He has gone to unbelievable lengths to reconcile us back to Himself, just so He could pour out His love in our lives.
That's an amazing love. Absolutely amazing.
Monday, March 19, 2007
I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.
For whoever might stumble across my humble words, I urge you to take some time, find a quiet place, and ask the Lord to give you a glimpse of the reality of this passage. Think about it and maybe pray it in the first person.
"I am my beloved's..." I am His. I belong to Him. I am loved beyond understanding. The Creator of the Universe has called me His own.
In another place in the Song, the Bride says, "I am my beloved's and He is mine." Its like a couple who stand and look at each other, and hear the preacher speak those words, "I now pronounce you man and wife." They have given themselves to one another. Its what we were created for.
He is hers. She is his.
We are His.
"...and His desire is for me." This is where speechlessness starts to set in. His desires, the longing affections of the heart of God, are for me... and you.
I am in awe.
He is good.
He is so very, very good.
I want to take this and just soak in it. I want to pray it every day, believing for just a little more depth of understanding each time. I want the truth of it to captivate my heart in a way that will set me free to give my self to Him fully and completely, as He deserves. I want to give Him the kind of love and devotion of which He is worthy.
Open our eyes, Lord. Show us the height and depth and breadth and length of your great love. Let that love be poured out in our hearts to be given back to you, and to all of those around us.
Friday, March 16, 2007
We don't just *commit* sins we *ARE* sinners.
Now, I realize that for the committed Calvinists out there, this is a no-brainer. Its a main point in that whole tulip thing. The problem is, like several other petals on that flower, it just doesn't jive with scripture. Here is what I wrote in his comment section.
I don't know, Robert. That's a popular refrain of the tulip people, but I think the scriptures say that when we are born again we become a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, all things are made new. Peter says we are given everything pertaining to life and godliness. Jesus, Paul, Peter... they all challenge us to a life of victory and loving obedience to the ways of God.
In his letter to Titus, Paul said,
"Tit 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
and a little bit later he continues,
Tit 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
The true grace of God doesn't just change our position before God. It changes our hearts and empowers us to to walk in victory over sin. Sinless perfection? No. Consistent and growing victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil? Yes.
I apologize for seeming to be argumentative here in your blog. I just get weary of our calvinized American version of Christianity that seems more focused on our "total depravity" than His total victory. He came to set us free from our sin, not just the guilt of our sin. The Spirit of the living God lives inside us. We forget that Romans 7 is immediately followed by Romans 8. I don't want to get into a debate. I just encourage you to focus on His strength in you rather than your weakness in your flesh.
How do you see yourself? Are you a sinner who struggles to love God? Or are you a lover of God who struggles with sin? Those are hugely different perspectives. I believe that God wants us to walk in the latter. As I read back over your blog entry, I think you do walk in this. I just want to encourage you to let the Holy Spirit fill your heart with the knowledge of His desire and power to lead you into all that He has for you.
I haven't achieved this by any stretch of the imagination, but with Paul, "I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own... I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Obviously, from the title of your blog, you are reaching for the same.
I am sorry, but I get tired of hearing, "I'm just a sinner saved by grace," as an excuse for a carnal self-centered religion masquerading as the salvation Jesus shed his blood to provide. I am not accusing Robert of this, but its a common malady in the church. And its a deception, and an affront to God. He wants to give us victory, but He also tells us to crucify the flesh. I struggle with sin. I am more thankful every day for the grace and mercy of God. If not for His incredible, incomprehensible patience and love, I would be in a whole heap of trouble. But He has called me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." Salvation is not a free pass out of hell. Its a restored relationship with the Creator and Lover of our souls. If we don't see that, we wont give Him the kind of love, and devotion, and worship of which He is worthy.
"This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God..." Jesus
I want that. More than anything. To know Him... deeply, intimately. And I want everyone to know that this is what He desires for them to have. His Spirit, living inside of them. This is the good news we are commissioned to take to the ends of the earth. He offers us the gift of righteousness, but He calls us to humbly bow before Him in full surrender. Its the only way that He can have His good way fully in us.
This sort of writing aggravates a lot of folks. American christianity is committed to avoiding any feelings of discomfort or guilt at all costs. We go to great lengths to construct theological systems that make us feel good no matter how we are living. As long as we think we are "going to heaven", then evvvvverything is okay.
Religious lies are the most powerful tools of the kingdom of darkness.
I am going to stop... for now.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Newt is simply a broken man, and probably not much different than the rest of us. We have no idea if he even really knows the Lord. The real problem is the illegitimate marriage of the church and politics. Whether its James Dobson on the right, or Jim Wallis on the left, its a mistake. Politics is about earthly government and controlling people's behaviour. The kingdom is about changed hearts and living like the heroes of Hebrews 11.
"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world."
Most of American Christianity wants all that this world has to offer, and heaven for dessert. Newt is not the problem. Our self-centered, carnal religious system posing as the faith of the Bible is our problem.
That was my comment. I am not against being politically aware, or even politically active as a Christian. Jesus calls people to be His body in every walk of life. I do have serious concerns, though, about the corporate church becoming a player in the political realm. Even a cursory survey of history will tell us that this usually turns out really bad. We will end up representing God as either Republican or Democrat, and I don't think He would run as either party's candidate.
"My kingdom is not of this world."
He really said that.
How many of us would do that. We are experiencing the power of God to heal the sick. People are coming from all over the place to be touched by that power. Good things are happening! The Kingdom is going forward! Then Jesus does the strangest thing. He leaves. He takes off into the wilderness to pray. Why? We aren't told specifically. We are told in a number of places that this was a regular habit with Him. And we see Him do it at critical times in His life. Jesus didn't just come to the earth with a plan and set out to execute it while His Father sat back on the throne with a bag of popcorn and watched the show. "Get 'em Jesus! Whip that devil!" This was a team effort, a joint labor of love. Jesus took on flesh and blood, the Holy Spirit empowered Him to demonstrate the supernatural love that brought him here, and the Father ruled with His divine wisdom from the throne. I am quite sure that Jesus knew how to "walk in the Spirit" while He went about teaching and doing the works of His kingdom. I am sure that He was mindful of the Father at all times. But He still took time on a regular basis to put everything else aside and go spend time alone with the other members of the Godhead. And He would do that right in the middle of really good things happening. I am not sure He "needed" to do that. I cant think of anywhere that it says He "needed" to get alone and pray. But He did it. Regularly. Consistently. Whether He needed it, or simply wanted it, or the Father would call Him to it, He did it. Time alone with the Father was a priority to Him. As His disciples, as His followers, I am thinking it should be a priority to us also. Prayer and meditation in His word; these need to be a regular part of our daily lives.
Pretty simple. Not particularly profound. Absolutely critical.
The question is, do I do it, or just talk about it? Americans in the 21st century may possibly be the busiest people that have ever lived on the planet. The demands on our time, the multitudes of options and choices we are faced with each day, it can be overwhelming. Good intentions about seeking God can be genuine and yet never experienced as the reality of life. He has wonderful truths and understanding of His ways that He wants to show us. He has a love beyond words that He wants to reveal to us and pour out into our hearts. The Creator of the universe wants to share the intimacy of friendship, and a father-child relationship with us. Do we give Him the opportunity? Or are we too busy chasing the American dream and all this world has to offer? When we look at how we spend our time and money, what does it reveal about the true desires of our hearts?
Jer 9:23 Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."
Jer 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Lord, give me a heart to seek your face.