Category Archives: Philosophy

Discussions about PHILOSOPHY. Because everyone needs to wax poetic every once in a while. This category will contain everything that interests me about PHILOSOPHY.

What is the status of your unbelief?

20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

There are many things in the world that we believe in.  And there are many things that we do not believe in.  And these beliefs and unbelief’s permeate every one of our lives.  From social, to political, to science, and even our theology.  But have you ever stopped to consider how much easier it is to not believe than it is to believe?

I personally believe that the USA sent men to the moon and that they walked upon its surface.  This is as much a fact for me as the house that I live in or the clothes that I wear.  But there is an entire subculture that does not believe this.  No matter the evidence put before them.

I personally believe the earth is round, like a ball, hanging in space.  But there is a considerable subculture today that believes the earth is flat and not round.

I personally do not believe in Global Warming, Man Made Climate Change, or the data and extrapolations that come from such theories.  But there is a considerable number of people who do find this line of reasoning credible.

I personally do not believe that the current US administration colluded with Russia to alter the 2016 election results. But there are many people who do believe this.

I personally believe that abortion is murder and takes the life of a living human spirit.  But there are many that do not believe that and view abortion as an acceptable practice.

I personally believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God and that He came to earth to die for the sins of the world and that on the third day He rose from the dead proving his deity and solidifying His claims.  But there are a vast number of people who do not believe that.

In all of these, my belief is much harder than my unbelief.  It is easy to not believe something. But it is hard to actually believe something.  This is because our nature, our very human nature, is bent towards questioning and a need for proof.  And what I may require as proof is probably different than what you may require as proof.  We all want to be masters of our own destiny.  We want to be the ones in control.  And we all want to be our own judges of what is true and what is not.

Oftentimes we blame our skepticism on lack of faith.  We say that we have a problem with something because we do not have any faith in it.  We lack faith in our political systems.  We lack faith in our in our scientific methods.  We lack faith in our society.  And we certainly lack faith in our theology.

But how much faith does it take to effect changes in these areas in the world around us?  How much faith do we really need to make a difference in the world?

The disciples had this problem when they tried, on their own, to accomplish a task.  That of casting out a demon.  And when they failed, they came to Jesus and he told them that if they had but a very small amount of faith, that of a single mustard seed, they could move mountains.  At least that is what we usually focus on.

What we miss is the reason why they failed.  Jesus told them the reason they failed right up front.  See it there?  He told them the reason they were not successful is because of their unbelief.  Unbelief is a powerful thing in our lives and it will weigh heavy on our beliefs, dragging them down.  And then he told them that if they had a very small amount of faith they could move mountains.

From this we can learn that it is not the size of our faith that hinders us, it is the size of our unbelief that is important.  We are way too busy running around trying to increase our faith when what we should really be doing is working on our unbelief.

As further evidence of this I would submit God’s one requirement for entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, that of belief on the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.   God did not require us to first have great faith.  That naturally follows once we take care of our unbelief. Rather God requires us to believe.  Belief is where we must start and dealing with our unbelief is a foundational piece of that.

When a troubled father came to Jesus asking for healing for his child, Jesus asked him if he believed (Mark 9:23-24).  The father emphatically proclaimed that he believed and then immediately asked for help with his unbelief.  Jesus had just told him that all things were possible to those that believed, and the father so desperately wanted to believe.  But he knew that there were still doubts that were in his heart and he asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief.

I can assure you today that I have great faith that God is upon His throne.  He is in control, whether I believe that or not.  Faith that could move mountains and that I will stand for even though I walk in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  And yet mountains are not moved, lives are not changed, and there seems to be little difference in the world around me.  Why?  Probably because I’ve been asking God for great faith when I should be asking him to help me with my unbelief.

How about yourself?  Are mountains not moving in your life?  Are you failing to make a difference?  And do you double down on your efforts because of your great faith only to no avail?  Perhaps it’s time for us to work on our unbelief.  Jesus, help me with my unbelief so that the faith you have given me in my life may move mountains for Your glory.

What Is Truth?

In John 18:38 Pilate asked the question of Jesus “What is truth?”  Dr. Del Tackett has referred to this as one of the most important questions of all time in The Truth ProjectRavi Zacharias has called it the most tragic question of all time in that it was asked of the purveyor of Truth Himself.

But it is an interesting question.  Truth.  What is it?  Really?  And more importantly, what is our perception of truth?  And how does it shape our lives and affect the outcome of our existence for all of eternity?

Here is an important consideration: Is there a God?  It is an important question whether you realize it or not.

Some, like Dr. Stephen Hawking and Dr. Richard Dawkins, state that it is a fact that there is no God.  They have many that join with them in their belief that there is no God.

I, on the other hand, and many others with me state emphatically that there is a God.

You have your own beliefs as to whether or not there is a God.  Neither side can prove beyond any reasonable certainty that there is, or is not a God.  I can certainly point to evidence that there is.  But others will build their own case that there is not.

So what is truth?  In this case the truth may be found to be subjective depending upon your own personal beliefs.  And yet it is the most important question of all time.  This is why I believe it is very important to guard certain principles in our lives.  Because believe it or not, TRUTH can be lost.  For example: lets say for argument’s sake that there really is a God.  Just for a minute let’s all agree that this is an immutable fact.  Now lets divide all the people who believe the truth from those that do not believe the truth.  All of the people who actually believe there is a God are on one side of the room, and all the people who do not believe there is a God are on the other side.  Now suppose we were to have a war between the two groups.  And let’s say that the people who do not believe there is a God win the war.  They completely annihilate those that believe there is a God.

Question: Does that then make the fact that God exists not true?  No, of course not.  We’ve already established that the existence of God is true for our scenario here.  And the truth does not change.  But would the truth be lost?  I believe it would.  Those who do not believe there is a God would continue to propagate that belief and there would be no reason for any opposing point of view to arise.  The truth would be lost.

Here is a more realistic example.  How old is the Earth?  You ask this question and about 98% of people today will tell you it is 4.5 billion years old.  But if you really examine the answer you will read words like “scientists estimate …”, or “scientists believe ..”, or even “scientists think …”.

It IS NOT a proven fact that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old (or that evolution is the mechanism by which we all came to be here on Earth).  It may be a theory or a belief (by some), but not a factual piece of truth.  And yet people treat it as if it were so.  If you say it often enough and loud enough, others around you eventually begin to repeat it.  But that doesn’t make it truth.

Why?  Because when the question of Evolution seriously first came up, around the time of my grandparents generation, it was not successfully challenged.  And then when my parents generation came along, they began to make compromises and to try to fit an evolutionary world view into their own Theistic world view.  And as a result, in most (if not all) public institutes of education, Evolution is now taught as accepted fact and Creationism or Intelligent Design is not even allowed to be mentioned because they are considered myth or fairy tale.

As a result it has become a very difficult up hill battle to challenge or countermand the Evolutionary world view.  Most people have abandoned trying to fight it within public institutions and have left those for private schools and home schooling.  But what if Creationism were the truth?  It is not completely lost, but if we continue to indoctrinate new generations in the classroom, it could be.

And there is another truth we are about to lose today.  That Freedom and Capitalism provide more for any given population than Socialism and Communism.  The number of young people who supported Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections has been placed as high as 56%.  This is very alarming when you consider that these individuals are essentially voting not to be free.  The movement away from Truth, Justice, and the American Way is alarming.  If we do not stand for the principles the United States of America was founded upon, actually built upon, we could lose the greatest nation the world has ever seen.  And we could lose the truth for generations to come.

This is the reason I have not, and will not, support the NFL until they acknowledge that kneeling on foreign soil while our country’s National Anthem is playing is traitorous and disrespectful.  And then to stand during the National Anthem of a foreign nation (having just knelt for their own) simply adds insult to injury.  And that kneeling during the National Anthem on any occasion is disrespectful and is essentially saying “I stand against the institution that provides me the freedoms to protest”.  You cannot tear down the house you live in and then expect to not sleep out in the rain and the cold.  Kneeling for the National Anthem is not a protest, it is a vote not to be free.

And I take it even one step further.  For all my life I have been taught (and believed) that sports taught young people how to be good members of society as well as proper values and character.  I would suggest that the evidence today depicts otherwise.  A significant number of athletes are not demonstrating good character and values.  Therefore I do not even support college football.  Because I don’t believe these traits just magically show up when they become attached to the NFL and I do not want them to believe they have a supported path to that end.

We could be on the verge of losing our country;  Freedom, Capitalism, Democracy.  And if we do not take a very hard stand today, if we are complacent in the matter, as previous generations were with evolution, the truth could change out from underneath us and it would be very, very hard to get back.

Are You In the Midst of Despair?

Here we sit on the eve of a New Year.  2017 is about to pass into the annuals of time and 2018 is about to arrive with all of its mystery, and fear, and excitement.  I don’t know what the New Year may hold for you, I don’t even know what the New Year holds for me.  But this is what I do know: GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL.  Praise Him!

I also know that it’s possible the New Year may hold despair for you and those you love.  But if this is the case then I invite you to consider the fact that: GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!

I also invite you to consider the fact that perhaps your despair is not as deep or as life gripping as you might perceive.  Consider this: have you ever walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death?  I mean the actual Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Have you ever found yourself there?  Before you answer that, lets consider where and what the Valley of the Shadow of Death actually is and where we might encounter it in our lives.

King David wrote in the 23 Psalms:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

The valley here (in verse 4) in not a happy place.  The depiction embodies a place of high mountain walls (that cast deep shadows) that are impossible to climb.  The valley is a place from which there is no escape.  It is a place where you feel trapped and vulnerable.  If you are a soldier, it is a place where your enemies are perched on the high ledges surrounding you waiting to rain down death and destruction upon you.  If you are a sheep, it is a place where the wolves roam the high ledges surrounding you waiting for the moment to pounce.  This makes it a place of fear and trepidation.  A place of never knowing when death and destruction are going to strike next.

There are shadows.  And not just any shadows, we are talking shadows that create a darkness like night.  If you were to look at Psalms 23:4 in the NIV, you would read “even though I walk through the darkest valley“.  Because the word shadows means an intense darkness.  The Englishman’s Concordance calls it “an intense darkness as night itself“.  So it is a valley like night, without any light.  It is a very dark place.  And even though the text does not say this, I would suspect that it is a cold place.  The lack of sunlight, being sheltered by the mountains, being at the bottom of those prepices, it must be cold there.

And finally, there is death.  You are in a valley that smells of death, it reeks of death, it reminds you of it everywhere you look.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death talked about in Psalms 23:4 is a place of fear and a place of NO HOPE.  It should probably have a sign at the entrance to it that reads” “ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE”.

I’ve seen these signs on people’s doors before.  They think they are being funny (and it kind of is, if you think about it).  But they wouldn’t consider it very funny if they really did have to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

It is a place of hopelessness and despair.  Complete hopelessness and despair,  Have you ever been there?  Completely and utterly without hope?  Few of us really have.  Sure, you may have your hard times, your trials and tribulations in life … but completely hopeless?  Probably not.  Most of us, the vast majority of us, always have at least some glimmer of hope in our situations.

This is a place of NO HOPE.  At all.  Whatsoever.  And yet the Psalmist writes: “I will fear no evil“.  The Psalmist IS NOT afraid.  Why?  Because King David had experienced the protection and the awesome power of the Rod and the Staff of the Lord.  And once you have experienced the power of God, not even a hopeless situation can sway you.  Once you understand the awesome power of God, you understand that it really doesn’t matter if he protects you or not.  What you understand is that God has the power to save, and if he chooses not to – HE IS STILL GOD.  That is the what the Psalmist understood and it freed him from the grip of fear.

The good news here is that few of us ever really do walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I personally believe that it is a place reserved for Prophets to walk through.  I believe God does this on purpose in order to keep the Prophets humble (a very hard task when it comes to Prophets) and to ensure they remain empathetic with the people (a very hard thing for Prophets to do).

So you can probably rest assured today that even in the midst of your pain and suffering, you at least have not yet come to the place of NO HOPE where all is lost.

And if God can take the Prophet through the place of NO HOPE and utter despair, the actual Valley of the Shadow of Death, and the Prophet can walk through without any fear of evil and be comforted at the same time, how much easier is it for God to take you through your own hard times?

Do You Know The Name Above All Names?

On January 6th, 2017 Hillsong Worship brought us the song What A Beautiful Name it Is.

In my estimation, this song is the full embodiment of Philippians 2:8-11 which says:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (KJV)

Sadly, there is not enough understanding in our world today of these simple words.  That the name of JESUS is where beauty lies.  That the name of JESUS holds all power.  That the name of JESUS is the point where the wonderment of Heaven bends down to meet the Earth.

If you are Atheistic in your world view you cannot possibly know the beauty and wonder of the name of JESUS.  Your rejection of a Deity, a Creator, a Heavenly Father, A Savior and a King keeps you from the experience of knowing the Peace and Comfort of the name of JESUS.

You might be bewildered by this statement, but the knowing, the real knowing I speak of is Spiritual knowledge not worldly knowledge.  It is not of this earth, but is of Heaven itself.  And it is the point that a loving and a just God reaches down to his very creation, mankind, and says “I Love you so much I sent My Son to die for your sins in order to redeem you back to me”.

Spiritual death is real.  Very real.  We, all humans, are triune beings created of body, soul, and spirit.  Our bodies are the physical manifestation you see before you in this world.  Our souls (our mind, will, and emotions) are the glue that binds us to our spiritual beings, and our Spirits are that which connects us with the Creator Himself.  That part of us that will answer to him one day.  And that is the part that is dead in sin, and puts our entire being; body, soul, and spirit, in separation from our Creator.

Some people have asked why God needed to go through such an elaborate scheme in order to have a family of his own.  For me, the answer is quite simple: You cannot know life without death, you cannot know joy without pain, and you cannot know salvation without first being lost.  God has established his family because he showed us what the price is for that family.  I could tell you all day long about the Joy found in the name of JESUS, but unless you experience it for yourself, they are meaningless words.

So the Atheist has shut out the one true hope for all of mankind simply through disbelief.  The one simple thing that God requires of all of us: BELIVE ON THE NAME OF JESUS.

If you are Agnostic in your world view, your apathy keeps you from experiencing the Joy and the Wonderment of the name of JESUS.  Our Creator demands  that the name of JESUS be embraced.  That the name of JESUS be held above ALL names.  That the name of JESUS be exalted and lifted up.

The Agnostic lifts up no name but their own, unless it benefits them in some way, shape, or form.  The Agnostic robs themselves of the peace and the comfort of experiencing JESUS through the self-centeredness of their own “it doesn’t matter” world view.

However, if you are Theistic in your world view, your only challenge is finding the one true God.  Being able to connect with the Creator you already know to be real.

There is one religious view that promises an eternal connection with that Creator.  And that is Christianity.  No other name has divided history.  No other name has endured such a test of time.  No other name has claimed to be before the world began and promises to be there forever after it ends.  No other name is both more revered and more hated amongst the earth.  And no other name has had people  try to  rewrite the history of it over and over again, only to continuously fail.

I believe the reason for this is because God has given Him the name above all names.  It is the name of Power.  It is the name of Wonderment.  It is the name of Beauty.  It is the name of JESUS.

As we approach this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, my prayer for each and everyone in the world today is that they would come to know the name of JESUS.  Not to have just heard the name.  Not to just know of the name.  But to experience the name of JESUS.

And you cannot experience the name of JESUS, truly experience it, in your Spiritual being, without BELIVING on the name of JESUS.  When you KNOW him, as He knows you (and I guarantee you He has known you from before the foundation of the world), then the name of JESUS will take on a whole new Beauty, a whole new Power, a whole new Wonderment, that will rise up in your spirit, spill over into your soul, and fill you with the Hope, Peace, and Comfort that only he can give.

And when that happens, you too, will join me and many others with me, along with a Heavenly host in proclaiming What A Beautiful Name It Is, The Name of JESUS.

 

The Way

Psalm 84:5-12 New American Standard Bible

5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion! …They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
…The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!

So…
Psalm 86:11
11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.

My GPS has changed my life! I’ve put all my maps aside for the most part. “She” always knows where I am and how to get me where I want to go…most of the time. I call her Jennifer.

It has taken much of the stress of travelling away. Having my own personal navigator aboard, assuring me of my next turn and happily re-calculating when I get off course, is a lifesaver.  It has removed the concern of ever being lost. Amazing…how does she do that?  My techie friends tell me it’s not that complicated.  Though I don’t get it, I do trust my way to her.  Though I don’t understand, I believe her commands and go where she directs, confident I’ll ultimately get home.

The application to these verses is obvious. The psalmist tells us that having God’s Way in our heart will always get us “Home”, to HIM and Zion, His dwelling place. It is there that every “good thing” we need for life is found. Everything required for my sufficiency, adequacy and security is there in great supply. He is very happy to deluge us there with His best.

No wonder, the psalmist would ask he Lord to teach him the way to walk and to revere HIM enough to stay on that road to His presence…the ultimate Destination.

Actually, there are only two ways in Life, God’s way or another one. There are many voices calling to divert us from His prescribed path. His word, The Bible, has been God’s GPS for me in this life for some time and is always spot on. My problem is, I too often take “side trips” and get lost in the complexities and troubles waywardness brings.

Psalm 139:23
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Knowing his vulnerability and predisposition to waywardness, the psalmist asks his Heavenly Father to search his heart for the entrenched habits and thinking that would upstage God’s way, and requests personal guidance in His eternal, life-giving, sustaining path.  Just think, having your own personal, resident Spiritual navigator with you, always directing and ultimately, to Himself.  It’s true! He wants to plug into your life and take you where you should go.  It brings the confidence He intends us to have in the difficult days we live.

The psalmist’s prayer has become mine every new day.  Wayward as I have been and still can be, I’ve put aside all other “maps” and trust His unfailing direction for everything. For me, that is making all the difference.

My prayer for you is to find His way and stay there. You will never regret it. Make your way “Home” to Him and know the best and most He’s gives.  For me, I’ve made up my mind.  I’m

Heading Home,

Mitch

Are You Standing for the NFL?

American Flag proudly flying above the U.S.S. Constellation in Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor.

I’d like to have a word with Americans today.  And when I say Americans, I not only mean citizens of this great Country, I mean citizens who are loyal to the Country and its Government.  Because you are the only true citizens.  Because that is what it means to owe allegiance.  It means to be loyal to the Government.  If you are not loyal to the Government, you are not a true citizen of the county.  You may be an anarchist or a revolutionist, but certainly not a citizen.  Because a citizen is loyal to their Government.

Here in the United States of America, we have many methods of demonstrating our loyalty to our Country, our Government, and our Ideals.  However there are three undeniable expressions of loyalty that every American has agreed upon for decades, that expresses our loyalty and our Allegiance to our country and our government.  And those three expressions are (1) To serve in the United States Military (the Armed Forces of the United States of America – the United States Navy, the United States Army, the United States Air Force, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Coast Guard).  If you serve in the defense of our country, and you serve honorably and loyally, you are proven to be a loyal citizen of this great country.  As a matter-of-fact, we have had a program in our past where we have extended citizenship to foreign nationals who have served honorably in our Military.  My wife has Filipino family members who are U.S. citizen today because they served in the United States Military.  (2) To salute and revere our flag.  Acknowledging our flag has been considered for decades to be a sign of patriotism towards our country.  And to salute our flag has always been considered to render a military salute for military members in United States Military uniform and to place ones right hand over the heart for citizens not in United States Military uniform.  And by standing, if one is capable of doing so, while rendering said salute, while facing the flag.  And (3) by reverencing our National Anthem in like kind.  These three methods of showing patriotism for our country has never been debated seriously in our history.

The acts of some of our professional sports players, most notably those in the National Football League (NFL), to not follow these practices (Jaguars, Ravens kneel at UK game) is, by definition, a disrespect to the American flag, the American National Anthem, and our country.  It can be perceived as nothing less.

The citizens of the United States of America have many divides over the course of our history.  However, other than the United States Civil War (where the South actually succeeded, set up their own government, and had their own flag), we have never not respected our country through our differences.

I have had lots of differences with my country during my lifetime.  Abortion for example.  I believe abortion cheapens life and kills innocent, defenseless, human babies.  And yet I’ve never knelt before the United States flag.  The assault on my Christian values.  Which I believe has led to many of the problems we experience today.  And yet I’ve never disrespected our National anthem.  And the protests against our great Military, during the Viet Nam War, and the wars that have followed.  And yet I have never not honored my country.  I love my country, as is evidenced by my actions and what I do.

I married a Philippine citizen (who is now a Naturalized American Citizen).  And we have traveled to the Philippines many times over the years to visit family and friends.  On some of those trips we have attended festivals where the Philippine National anthem was played.  I have stood respectfully, but I have never placed my hand over my heart or recited the pledge to their flag.  To do so would be to disrespect my country.

When American Football players stand on foreign soil (the United Kingdom) and kneel when the United States National Anthem is played, it is not only disrespectful to our country, it is tantamount to renouncing their citizenship.  And when they stand and place their hands over their hearts for the United Kingdom’s National anthem, it is not only disrespectful to our country, it is tantamount to pledging their allegiance to a foreign country and government.

The same is true for our members of Congress or any other citizen who does not honor our flag, our anthem, or our Government.

We must find ways to work together to overcome our challenges, but disrespecting our country is not one of them.  That is quitting the team.  We must support the team and work with it to make it a better team in the end.  And thankfully, here in this country we have the freedom to do just that.

Consider this, what if one of those NFL teams had some differences amongst the players on their team?  And what if some of those players chose to protest those difference by wearing the jerseys of a rival team?  How far do you think that would go?  What if they were to bring out the flag or team colors of a rival team and place them over their own team colors?  How long would it be before their teammates, coaches, staff, and owners sat down and had a word with them?

We may have differences, and we may have problems, but we are still Americans and we should still honor our country.  And quite frankly, if you cannot, then I invite you to leave and let those who do honor our country to hold up the flag.  Let me know how far you get in any other country on Earth disrespecting their flag, anthem, or government.  I’d suggest you try North Korea first.

Do You Stand with the NFL Today?  I hope not.  I hope you boycott the NFL until they learn to stand at attention with the rest of us, for the United States Flag.  If you want to kneel, try the altar at your local Church.

Do You Meet Minium Requirements?

A co-worker came into work the other day and matter-of-factly proclaimed:

“I met the minimum requirements of motherhood this morning.”

I had to chuckle.  We all have some set of minimum requirements we believe we need to meet in order to survive each day.

But there are also a set of minimum requirements that others depend upon us to meet in order for their own survival.  If we do not nurture and care for our young, their chances of surviving in this world go down significantly.  And the younger the offspring, the less their odds for survival.  There are those in the world that are critically ill or injured that have a minimum requirement upon others for their survival.  If they do not have some very basic needs met in their lives, their odds for survival begin to plummet dramatically.  And we all depend upon others in some way or fashion.  How many of us in the world today could get by without a grocery store for food?  If your livelihood depends upon a vehicle, could you manufacture your own fuel and parts?  How many of us could provide for our own clothing and shelter?  What would our world look like and what would we, as humans be like, if we were all suddenly responsible for our own set of minimum requirements?

These questions become all the more intriguing when considered from our base world views.

For the Atheist it presents a fairly severe conundrum.    There is no meaning, after all, the entire universe is simply a petri dish of chemical and physical actions and reactions.  The fact that the majority of us seem to do our part is some outrageous statistic that is difficult to fathom at best.  Even great minds like Dr. Richard Dawkins and Dr. Stephen Hawking have stated that the appearance of order within the universe and our lives is, in fact, an illusion.  The idea that we would all just happen to come together and work towards some greater goal of survival is statistically unimaginable.  Where did this magical inner drive come from?  What is it within the natural universe that drives a process towards propagation of a species (or kind)?  The Atheist is hard pressed to find an answer within the confines of their own world view.

For the Agnostic it really doesn’t matter what the answer is or where the drive to meet any set of minimum requirements comes from.  The Agnostic simply tolerates the status quo as it meets their own set of needs and desires.  If the Agnostic finds that any one set of their basic minimum requirements is not being met, they might become anxious, or desperate, or angry, but they couldn’t really tell you why.  Nor should they care if they are truly agnostic in their world view.  Why should the Agnostic care if suddenly the portion of the world’s food supply that they depend upon were to stop?  Sure it would threaten their very survival, but they are, after all, agnostic.  And for the Agnostic, Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.

For the Theist however, the drive to meet some set of basic minimum requirements for both ourselves, and for others, takes on a whole new meaning.  It is only within the Spiritual that we find real answers to the questions as to why we need to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Which is exactly why the founding fathers of the United States of America prescribed these basic unalienable rights as having come from God.  Because from whom else could they come?  Certainly I could not grant such rights to you, nor could you grant them to me.  And we cannot collectively grant them to each other.  Which is why governments of the world who set themselves up as the arbitrators of such rights fail and become oppressive to the people.  The Theist also recognizes that just as they have been granted these rights from a living God, they have an obligation outside of themselves or the rest of creation to protect these rights in and for others.  The Theist must meet a set of basic minimum requirements for both themselves and others because their God expects no less.  The mere fact that a God, a Creator, outside of our limited physical existence, has granted us life and given to us the pursuit of liberty and happiness, demands that we honor the Creator by protecting and preserving the minimum requirements  of life, liberty, and happiness in the lives of those around us.  It becomes our sacred honor and duty to do so.

However, as important as these questions are, and as critical the preponderance of our answers to them is, they are not what I want to settle upon today.

There is one greater question that faces all of humanity, from Adam and Eve to each and every person alive today.  It is a minimum requirement that every person that has ever lived, is living today, or ever shall live, faces in their own life.  And it is a minimum requirement that none of us can meet of our own accord.  We are all dependent upon a another to meet this requirement in our lives, and it is a requirement that, sadly, the vast majority of humanity never has, and never will, give careful consideration to.

It is the question of Why?  What?  And Where?  Why are you here?  What is your purpose?  What is the meaning of it all?  And Where will you end up for all of eternity?

There is one very eloquent answer to these questions.  It is found in the Bible, in John, Chapter 3, and Verse 16.  And that answer is:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

The minimum requirement to understanding why we are here, what the purpose of life is, and to securing our place in all of eternity, is to simply Believe on the Person of Jesus Christ.  That He is who He claimed to be, the Son of the Living God, and that He came to pay the price for all my sins by dying on the cross and rising from the dead on the third day.

A very important question, critical to each of all our eternities, and it has such a simple minimum requirement.  Believe on Him.

How about you?  Have you met your basic minimum requirements for today?  More importantly, have you met THE basic minimum requirement for all of eternity?

Are You The Redeemed of the Lord?

One of the more interesting dynamics of the Christian Faith to me is the argument that as the Elect of God, we are perfectly in his hands.  Never to have calamity or evil ever cross our paths again.  These are the “feel good” Christians.  The idea that “if God be for me, who can be against me?”

The opposite side of the coin however are the “daily struggle” Christians. The I must “work out my faith” Christians.  That every day of my life is a new challenge and I must face the Sin in the world against a constant barrage of ill will directed at me by Satan himself.

Both view points point to various Scripture to bolster their claims and to drive their points home.  They will preach that you should live your life secure in the knowledge that God only wants the best for you, or that you must constantly be on your guard and struggle in your faith.

What is interesting about these studies to me is that you never hear both sides at once (or so rarely that they are almost impossible to pinpoint).  You never hear someone preach “God wants to make you rich!” and “You have to put on the whole armor of God” at the same time.  And so you are left with the feeling that perhaps God wants to fight all your battles for you, but only if you take up the sword and do the fighting yourself.

There are many interesting concepts found within Scripture.  Some that are seemingly contradictory of each other.  But only when considered from humankind perspective.  When considered from God’s perspective, they begin to look a little differently to us.  I’ve talked about these Scriptural paradoxes in previous posts.  Perhaps the most famous one known is Calvinism vs, Arminianism, of which I have quoted Louie Giglio when he stated that it is a great mystery to man; that God is 100% in control and yet man has free will at exactly the same time.   I believe our “status” here in this world is exactly one of those cases.

Consider the words of Paul of Tarsus to Timothy in I Timothy 1:15.  Paul told Timothy that he was Chief amongst sinners.  He said “I am”.  I’ve looked up the Greek word for “I am” in this passage for you.  It literally means “to be”, in this case “to be found”.  It is present tense.  Paul was telling Timothy that he literally was the number one sinner in the world at that time.  Paul probably wrote this letter to Timothy somewhere between 58 and 64 AD.  Yet in his letter to the Roman’s Paul writes that it is not he who sins, but the sin that dwells in him: Romans 7:17.  Most scholars date the book of Romans to somewhere between 54 and 57 AD.  Before his letter to Timothy, where he is currently, at that time, Chief amongst sinners.

So which is it?  Is Paul confused?  Or do we have a Biblical paradox here?

I believe that both are true at exactly the same time.  At the same time Paul enjoys the completed work of Christ in him, and yet he remains Chief amongst sinners.  He is both redeemed, and within the sin struggle of this world at exactly the same time.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 8:17.  Paul is so bold as to point out that we are Joint Heirs with Jesus Christ, the Name above all names.  The Son of the living God.  But he points out that if we share in His Glory, surely we share in His suffering as well.  You might be considering that Christ’s suffering is over, and you are correct, but we should not be so naïve as to think that we can know Glory without also knowing Suffering.

So the question then comes “Does God own the Cattle on a thousand hills”?  Well of course he does.  He is God.  And “Does God want the best for our lives”?  Well of course he does.  He sent his only Son to die on a cross for our sin.  He plans to one day wipe away every tear and lift every burden.  But do we still have to put on the whole armor of God and take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus?  Well yes, we do.

Why?  Because there is little substitute for experience.  I was talking with a very well-educated person recently.  A person with many degrees and certificates.  But yet this person needed some advice, even with all of their studies and academic achievements, they needed some advice in life.  And the reason they needed advice is because they lacked experience.  You see, experience cannot be taught.  It must be gained though one’s own journey.  And God desires for us to experience Him.  He delights when we explore and strive to understand Him.  He delights when we come to Him in order to know Him more.

And that includes with both blessings and sorrow in our lives.  It includes when we struggle with sin in our lives and when we put on the armor of God and say No! to Satan.  We cannot know victory without knowing defeat.  And God’s blessings are all that much greater when they have been delivered in the midst of great sorrow.  It is when we are weak, that He can be strong in our lives.  Is it because we do not already have the Creator of all things living inside of us?  No, of course not!  If Christ be for me, who can stand against me?  No, it is because He wants us to stand in His strength and not our own.

Are you the Redeemed of the Lord?  I pray today that you are.  But if you are, I pray that you will recall that it is only because of what God has done for you and not what you have done for God.  Can God grant you all the blessings of Job in your life and much more?  Well of course he can.  However I, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, say that if God so chooses NOT to bless me, NOT to shower my life with all the peace, joy, and love, that only He can give, He is still God.  And He is still upon His throne.  God may choose to deliver me from the fiery furnace or He may not.  But He is still God.

A New Dynamic

When I started LRPSP three plus years ago, I had no intention or desire to have a blog.  I did not set out to simply archive my thoughts for all the world to peruse. If you have read any of them and taken pause, been blessed, or given new thought to some subject, then I am truly humbled and pleased.  However this was not my original goal.

What I really envisioned when I started this journey was a discussion. A debate of ideas. And debates and discussions take multiple parties. The Scriptures say that  “iron sharpens iron”. And one lone voice cannot sharpen itself nor lead others to sharpen themselves.

I have long believed that we must each run our own race. I can no more stand before God in your stead than you can stand before Him in mine.  Therefore you must grow as I must grow. And you must seek truth as I must seek truth. And hopefully I may intone a thought that inspires others to think deeper, but others will intone a thought that causes me to think deeper.  I don’t want to just share on a blog, I want others to begin or continue a journey in their lives that will lead them to a Creator that loves them and desires a personal relationship with them, as He does me.

I have also desired to consolidate voices into one strong accord. A choir of voices if you will. A choir is made up of parts, yet when they sing together, each part comes out in beautiful harmony that pleases the soul.  I know your time is valuable.  And I also know that there are many great voices, most much greater than mine, out there that may bring true value to your life.  I’ve desired to bring voices together here on LRPSP to help maximize your time and search for that material.  I’ve longed to build that choir.

Today I am very happy to announce that LRPSP is beginning to build that choir.  It is with great humbleness and honor that I welcome a new Contributing Editor to this site.  My Christian Brother Mitch White is joining LRPSP to add his voice and his part to the discussions that take place here.

This will afford you, those that linger on this site to read a few words, a new perspective.  You will now be able to consider topics from a different point of view and perspective.  And I know that will bring even greater insight and blessing to your life.

Welcome Brother Mitch, to LRPSP.  I, and I hope others, look forward to all that God has to share with us through your voice.  It is truly a New Day here on LRPSP and it is exciting to look forward to all God has in store for us as we each journey to know the Great I Am more personally in each of our lives.

Do You Make A Difference?

In 2008 The Oak Ridge Boys asked the question “Did I make a difference in somebody’s life?” through a pretty thoughtful melody.

They inspired people though song to consider whether or not they were making a difference in the world in which we all live.  The song is asking us whether or not we are making a positive difference.  And it embodies the idea of sacrifice in making that difference.  When the songwriter states “When my race is run, when my song is sung” it captures the idea of when at the end of my life, how will I be judged?

In reality, we all make a difference.  The very fact that you are alive and here on Earth means you have already made a difference.  Your presence has impacted the world.  All of our presence has impacted the world.  Some for good, and some for evil.  And using any reasonable world standard, we could all be judged to have impacted those around us with a little of both.

But what is the real difference we make?  Maybe I should ask what difference do you want to make?  Most of us want to make a difference, I might say that most of us try to make a difference.  After all, is that not how we are judged?  Isn’t that how we judge one another?  By the impact, or difference, someone makes in our lives?

When we are at our jobs we strive to make a difference.  That is the way we get noticed and are singled out for advancement.  When we court a sweetheart we want to make a difference.  That is how we gain their attention and eventually their love and affections.  When we interact with friends, relatives, and even strangers, we make a difference.  That is why we tell young people that first impressions are the most important.  Some of us make a difference by volunteering, helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, giving to the poor, or working in public service.  Some of us become Fire Fighters, Police Officers, Doctors, Nurses, or join the Military.  Because we want to make a difference.  Most of us want to make a difference, but few realize that we always do.  That we are constantly making a difference in someone else’s life with either positive or negative impressions whether we want to or not.

But to what end or gain?  What does it avail us to make a difference in the world?  What is the motivation?  What should be the motivation?  What do we hope to accomplish and how do we hope to be judged?  I’d like to consider this thought from our three primary base views.

If you are agnostic in your world view, I might ask (as I always do) why do you even care?  The agnostic is completely indifferent to making a difference or to those making a difference on them by sheer definition.  If the agnostic is working to make a difference, it is for their own gain or self-gratification.  Even if the agnostic is working “just in case there is a god”, they are hedging their bets and trying to garner good deed points in their own stead.  Just in case they actually are judged.  Since the agnostic is “rolling the dice”, as it were, they cannot possibly be working towards any other means other than their own good.

If you are atheistic in your world view, I have news for you.  It doesn’t matter whether you make a difference or not.  Void of a god, there is no moral relevance in your life.  I’ve had atheists argue that our moral values are a result of a common societal conscious agreement.  But that doesn’t hold water.  Consider the fact that the ancient Roman Empire considered it perfectly acceptable to put essentially defenseless civilians into an arena with lions, tigers, bears, and great Roman gladiators, in order to watch them meet their deaths for sport.  Today we would consider that barbaric.  The atheist would argue that our morals have evolved.  But that is exactly my point.  There is no relevance. No base.  And they cannot predict where evolutionary morals will take us next.  And whose to say what is right or what is wrong?  Perhaps the Romans were right in their time and we are wrong today.  Without a moral relevance it simply does not matter what difference you make other than for your own self gain.  And even then it is pointless given that all of the universe is just one great big chemical and physical reaction.  The true atheist, the one that has thought their world view through to its logical conclusion, realizes that it is all just natural processes following set laws and is completely without meaning.  And if there is no meaning, what does it matter whether or not you make a difference?

If your world view is theistic however, making a difference gains a whole new importance.  For the theist, making a difference is not about meeting man’s law, but rather meeting the law as prescribed by their god.  There are consequences to ones actions and making a difference determines how one will be judged by their creator.

There is one group of theists that have a quandary though.  For the Christian we are taught there is no one good, not even one (Romans 3:10).  Christianity is the only world religion that teaches there is nothing an individual can do to obtain favor with their God save he intervene in their lives.  Given that there is no one righteous in the Christian world view, even to the extent we cannot obtain our own salvation apart from our Creator himself, it is an amazement to me that so many Christians run around the world trying to “make a difference”.  How can you make a difference apart from The Great I Am, the Creator, the one true God?  You see, for the Christian it should be a different paradigm.  Not one of making a difference, but rather one of being made a difference in.

I wonder every single second of every single minute of every single hour of every single day of every single year if I ever do, or ever have, made a difference.

Which is why I have to constantly remind myself that it is not about me making a difference in the world, it is about Him, the Great I AM, making a difference in me.