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The Great I AM

-Before the power and the presence of the Great I AM-

You know many of us are pretty pitiful as Christians.  We believe (hopefully) in God who is out of this world powerful and his mere presence makes

mountain  4-The demons run and flee-

just

-At the mention of his name, King of Majesty-

Do we understand that?  Really?

-The mountains shake before him-

Is there –any who can stand-?

Too often I think we actually sit back and think that “WE” actually have it all figured out!  “WE” have the solutions and “WE” just ask God to watch us do “OUR” wonderful works. Bless us God!!!!!!!!!!!…….we say.

So, let’s get this straight…-Before the power and the presence of the Great I AM- we are going to simply do what we want or do what we think that God wants, THEN pray about it and ask for God’s blessings, AND wonder WHY things didn’t work out?  Some of us get upset with God when something doesn’t work out.  We pray to the Great I AM asking him why?!?  WHAT IN THE WORLD DO WE EXPECT?!?

“But seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

“You do not have because you do not ask God.”

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Yes, -the demons run and flee- through the power and the presence of the Great I AM.  Mountains shake…but do we first ask God what he would have us to do, OR do we first make OUR plans, then seek God’s approval?  Do not let PRIDE, because that is what it is, get in the way of putting God first!  Do not let pride deceive us into following wrong motivations.  God should be #1 because he is #1.

-Lyrics between “-“ marks in italics are from the song “The Great I am”.  Take a listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_VR-zwp2KA

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Obvious (Hey, I’m back!)

[With the load of Cub Scout leadership off my table, hopefully this will get me back to a more regular blog post schedule!  I had 10 minutes and here’s what you get…]

The many things in my life that I have missed in the past and now understand, often to the point of having a “Duh moment”, is incredible.  Duh!  Hey this topic is way more than basic education and realizing the wonderful relationships hidden within mathematics.  Way more than  the quick realization that wearing a seatbelt IS a GOOD idea while you are airborne in a car in an ongoing accident.  So, what now?

I have a fragment of science background being a mechanical engineer and have often meditated (for lack of a better word) on the idea out there that we as humans are actually “getting better”, “evolving into something better”.  This idea is so often completely misunderstood.  Sure, humans could seemingly improve on themselves over time, generation to generation for reasons like:https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS1lcYYrLf8q9sVIPApaxb9QVz5CXISnKo0gt65hB_o7TXr2EVU

1)      Vitamins

2)      Eating antibiotic filled meat

3)      Not having a back breaking life

These things can lead to better overall growth, appearance and extended life.  BUT…are we getting better, OR are we simply just taking advantage of what is already available in our genetic code?

Doesn’t genetic code get diluted over time?  Think this through…Can a family that has bred out the gene for blonde hair have a blonde haired child?  Nope, and bleach doesn’t count!  How can blonde be reintroduced?  Simply marry a blonde and have a kid!  Now the gene “may” be available in future generations until it again is bred out.  Same principle applies to our overall genetic code.  We lose information over time, we duplicate genes, and we duplicate bad genes and mutated genes.  It’s no surprise we seem to have more cancer and genetically born diseases today.  It’s simple.  We are not getting better.  Our genetic code is slowly degrading.  We are losing information just like a small group of animals stuck on a deserted island.  That’s what happens.

Hey, vitamins can maybe make us live a bit longer or make us look healthier, but in the end the battle is with our genes.  It’s a losing battle, and it’s obvious.  Of course, if God were to create a new batch of humans who have that original untouched and perfect gene code, then we could gain back some of those wonderful traits through procreating and adding these genes back into the worldwide gene pool!  Yes, it’s obvious, but all too often ignored.

In the end, the best and only source for fixing our messed up bodies is through Jesus Christ.  Seek him out!  Just as our bodies are in a losing genetic battle, or souls are in a losing battle to sin.

One Sin

 must admit, at times I feel that it seems harsh that one lie would keep me out of heaven.  It’s true, but at the same time, hard to swallow at times.  So, like I usually try and do, I went to my trusty bible to try and make even more sense of this truth I have known for many years.  AND… I got my answer.

I’ve read the book of Romans a ton of times, but WOW, these verses in Chapter 5 hit home and really made this whole sin issue make a lot more sense.  If we read Romans 5:16-19, we see several references to the “one sin”.   This being the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Adam was right there with Eve, but allowed the “one sin” to occur when they ate from the tree God told them not to eat of.  Paul wrote clearly about this history as recorded in Genesis.  Paul is also clear that this “one sin” is why we all have a problem with disobedience, lying, stealing, lusting, hating, sin, sin, sin.

So, to clear up my original confusion in paragraph one, I came to the realization (again) that God is completely Holy, Perfect and Sinless.  To God, having sin around is kind of like throwing hot oil into water.   BOOM!  THEY CANNOT MIX.  So, no matter how I may perceive sin, or how bad “one lie” really is, God sees it ALL as hot oil that can be thown into that pan of water.  No amount of it is good, or okay, or just a white lie.  It is ALL worthy of hell.  Can you imagine trying to coax the water into not reacting to the hot oil being spilled into the pan?  This is the same as imagining God dealing with sin, any amount of it.

So, to sum up, “one sin” will keep you out of heaven just like water will explode with even a drop of hot oil.  That’s why we need a Savior that was meant to wash us of that sin, or in this context, remove that hot oil so the water will be pure and calm.  Pretty cool.

Blessings,

Jeff

-Original posting was June 5, 2008-

Church, Apples & Ideas

Get off your butt!  Get off your lazy butt!  What in the world are you doing?  I can hear these words being directed at me and at you.  I won’t sit by idly and ignore the prompting to call both you and me out.  What elegant pew sitters we have become!  Oh, the ways we justify our actions!

I give money to the church.  I know they are doing good things with it.  Therefore, I am off the hook!  … I worked in the church for ten years and now I am resting.  I did my part! … There is nothing for me to do!  Every ministry at my church is fully staffed! … WRONG!  ALL WRONG!

Let’s put it this way…show me in the Bible all the verses that support your thinking.  I’m waiting.  Still waiting.  I’ll be waiting a very long time.  We are to GO!  We are to DO!  We are to BE!

GO and make disciples of all nations

DO good deeds and works in the name of Jesus Christ

BE the Church

The Church is NOT a building.  The Church is a body of believers…THE body of believers.  The Church is NOT lazy, NOT full of excuses, NOT done working, NOT in need of rest & certainly NOT doing things solo.

There’s a great parable Jesus introduces about a tree that bears fruit.  The tree reflects our life.  Read DEEPLY my next statements.  SOAK them in.

Your life is like that sapling, that sprout, that new seed just starting to grow.  At first, there is NO fruit.  Heck, it couldn’t bear any fruit at such a young age, at such an immature time in your life!  God has prepared you to hold bushels of fruit!  As you have grown in your faith why do you only bear a few choice pieces of “available” fruit?  I say available because you ARE holding fruit…lots of it.  It’s just not appealing at all.  It’s rotten, worm infested or inscribed with your own initials.  Yes, much of your fruit is only available to yourself.  Are you following me?  You are selfish.  My fruit looks much the same.  Why?

We have this wonderful opportunity.  We have many branches of life.  We can reach out to many, many people.  Why do you quit on God?  Why do you even suggest that you CAN’T do it?  You can’t hold more apples?  Oh, so you feel you need to get rid of some choice fruit in order to bear more, huh?  So, you are saying that you have stopped growing?!?  How sad!  God tosses those wilted, unproductive branches into the fire.

Do you still have excuses?  Can I still sit back and watch hours of TV and then say I don’t have time to work for God?  Pitiful.  Truly pitiful.  My God is much bigger than my excuses, than my failures, than my own ideas.

I want my mind to be that of Christ.  I want my ideas to be godly.  You should want this too.  What is stopping you?  Put the DS down, the video game system in the trash, the romance novels, the TV shows, the innumerable kids activities, the “personal, selfish things that don’t matter, materialistic ways of this world” aside!  Yes, read that again, it’s a long sentence.

Here’s my idea…figuratively blow up the church so that The Church will be thrown out into the world where it’s supposed to be.  Prune that tree you call life and let it produce some fruit worthy of picking.  Bear some fruit that a lost person may want to pick.  Make God’s ideas, your ideas.  I think that’s a good place for me to start.  Are you in?

Acknowledgements:

Photo 1

Photo 2

The Old Bridge

If you live in my neighborhood you undoubtedly travel along Southport Road at times.  Heading east from I-65 you will pass the last stoplight at Arlington Avenue and very soon you cross a small bridge that is in disrepair.  Do you know that bridge?  If not, let me explain.

This bridge is slowly disintegrating due to age and water turbulence occurring under the bridge.  To present a quick fix, the government has placed a couple of steel plates on strategic spots and spread asphalt around them to keep them in place (and to keep us safe).  Of course, these plates have become a perceived obstacle in the roadway.

How do you react when you see a pothole ahead?  You try to avoid it, right?  Well, that’s what we Southport Road drivers attempt to do.  The problem is that you have to cross the yellow line in order to avoid these steel plates.  Inevitably, what occurs is that your right side tires hit the rough asphalt edge of the plates while your left side tires ride on the smooth road along the yellow line.  So…all this effort to avoid the perceived “bump in the road” and we still hit it.

Here’s the punch line.  One day there was a big truck driving toward me and I had no recourse but to stay properly in my lane as I crossed the bridge.  My right side tires crossed the plates with little more than a slight up and down “nudge”.  The left side tires felt much the same.  I was baffled.  For over a year I’ve watched cars swerved to miss these plates.  I’ve seen cars crossing the yellow line even with opposing traffic heading right for them.  Our perception had been wrong all along!  The road less traveled was better.

So, how does this apply to life?  Have you guessed?  Yes, the road less traveled is better!  When it comes to faith in Christ, Jesus tells us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV)  This whole idea can be quite the brain bender.  The cross Jesus took up was difficult and it led to his horrible death.  Jesus tells us that eventually, “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9 NIV)  You may be thinking, “How is this life the better road?

Is life on earth all there is?  What is eternity?  If you contemplate these questions you will come to the conclusion that eternal life is far more important than 70+ years on earth.  The road often traveled is the one that leads to instant pleasure and instant satisfaction, right now.  This road is one that seems right to us.  This road often leads to death (Proverbs 14 & 16).  For this reason I say that the road less traveled is better.  Remember, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14 NIV)  Have you found the road less traveled?  Find a Bible believing church and get your questions answered.  Just what is the narrow road?  Do you know?

The narrow road is like that decrepit bridge.  Do we cross it?  What path do we take?  Do we follow the path the “seems right” to us?  What happens when we take the road less traveled?  I found that, undoubtedly, the road less traveled was by far the better choice.  Hopefully, you will too.

What’s in a word? Love

We all know one word can have multiple meanings, but what happens when a word gets translated from another language?  Let’s consider feelings and words like love.  I’ve thought a long time about this topic, and it’s really been one that has encouraged me to study the Bible.  How much do we miss out on when we never get past simply skimming the surface of a text?

So, looking at the word love in the English language we have a pretty broad definition.  Merriam-Webster’s gives us:

Pronunciation: [luhv] \ˈləv\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lufu; akin to Old High German luba love, Old English lēof dear, Latin lubēre, libēre to please

Date: before 12th century

1 a (1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests b : an assurance of love
2 : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
3 a : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration b (1) : a beloved person : darling —often used as a term of endearment (2) British —used as an informal term of address
4 a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person’s adoration of God
5 : a god or personification of love
6 : an amorous episode : love affair
7 : the sexual embrace : copulation
8 : a score of zero (as in tennis)
9 capitalized Christian Science : god

at love : holding one’s opponent scoreless in tennis

in love : inspired by affection

Talk about a long list of uses!  Think about a more simple approach.  What does love mean in these sentences?

  1. I love my wife and want to spend the rest of my life with her.
  2. I love my friend and can’t wait to see him again.
  3. Tonight, I am going to love my wife.

Without a little understanding of the English language we could get quite confused!  So, in reading the Bible we need to understand a bit of the original language!  So, let’s look at the New Testament and the original Greek language in which it was written (Hebrew in the Old Testament).

In the Greek language we have FOUR words that are used for the English equivalent of “love”.  They are eros, philia, agape & storge.  It’s easy to look these up and do you own research, in fact, I encourage it!  Here’s a short synopsis of the uses.

Eros is equated to erotic love.  It’s not a deep love, it’s the love that’s akin to passion and action based on shallow emotions or attraction.  Often times, people can be swept away with Eros love, get married and then realize they don’t really “love” each other.  They reacted to Eros love and needed to wait to see if there was a deeper love, an Agape type of love to go along with Eros love.

Storge is equated to love within a family.  It’s how you love your mother or father, brother or sister.

Philia is equated to kinsmanship or simple love out of a general respect for other humans.  Love for a best friend would actually be a bit of Storge and Philia.  Is this getting complicated?

Agape is equated to unconditional love.  Agape love is most used in the Bible.  Agape love is the love described in the “Golden Rule”.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There are no conditions, you love , agape, no matter what.

Here is a good Biblical example of how meaning can be lost if you don’t do a bit of studying.  Read John 21:15-17 (NASB) Numbers and emphasis added:

15So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you (1.) love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I (2.) love You ” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you (3.) love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I (4.) love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”

17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you (5.) love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you (6.) love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I (7.) love You ” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

  1. Agape – Jesus was asking about true unconditional love
  2. Philia – Peter was responding saying he loved Jesus out of general respect or brotherly love
  3. Agape – Again, Jesus asks about unconditional love
  4. Philia – Again, Peter won’t go there, he only will admit philia love
  5. Philia – Jesus backs off and simply asks about brotherly love
  6. Philia – Peter is grieved because now Jesus has backed off from agape love.
  7. Philia – Peter is resigned and repeats himself a third time.

Does this passage mean more now?  It should.  There is a bit of an emotional battle line here that Peter is dealing with, don’t you think?  Can you see the disappointment that is most likely present in Jesus’ tone?  Kind of like hearing Jesus ask, “Peter, you don’t agape me?  You just philia me?”

To wrap up, we must look a bit deeper at the original languages of a text in order to best discern meaning.  The word love is very general in the English language, yet very specific in the Greek.  As an added challenge, you may want to research, “tend”, “shepherd”, “lambs” and “sheep” as used in these verses.

Happy studying!!

Recommended Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love
http://www.biblestudy.org/theplainertruth/what-is-love.html
http://www.greeceindex.com/various/greek_love_words.html

Two Minute Bible Study: Vol. 1, Issue 1

I love to study the Bible, so I’ll start with one of my favorite quick studies.  Many of you may have read a post of mine in the past that has mentioned this.  Here goes!

Read John 3:14 (Jesus speaking):

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (NIV)

Have you ever read this one?  Maybe you skipped ahead to John 3:16, you know, arguably the most popular verse in the Bible.  I love John 3:14 because it ties directly into the Old Testament and it shows how the Old Testament directly points to Christ.  If you have a study Bible you may see a margin reference to Numbers 21:8-9.  Go there and you will read about Moses:

The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. (NIV)

There you go.  Moses lifted a snake up in order for the Israelites to be able to choose to look at it and survive a snake bite.  Snakes were sent to remind them of the truth of God’s grace and mercy after they denied God and disobeyed.  The Israelites remembered and called on God to save them.  It’s a perfect analogy to Christ’s crucifixion and how he would be “looked at” to save us from our sins (the snake bites).  We could REALLY dive deeper into this one, but that’s more than two minutes!