Category Archives: Religion

Discussions about RELIGION and THEOLOGY – as in the study, pursuit, and understanding of God. This category is everything that interests me about RELIGION and THEOLOGY.

What’s In Your Seed Bag?

The other day a friend remarked to me that sometimes he wished he had the audience of Joel Osteen. I asked Why? And he said that if he had the audience Joel Osteen has he knew exactly what he would say to them and the opportunity to reach so many lives must be a fantastic thing.

My response to that was “God has entrusted to Joel Osteen whom He would entrust to Joel Osteen and He has entrusted to you those whom He would entrust to you.” And then I told him our job was to simply scatter seed.

My experience is that when people consider the parable Jesus told about the sower, as recorded in Matthew 13:3-8 they tend to focus on where the seed fell, how the seed grew, and how much fruit was brought forth. Seldom, if ever, have I heard any emphasis upon the sower. The very first thing Jesus told us was that a sower went forth to sow.

I grew up on a farm. And I’ve planted (sowed) a lot of seed. And I’ve seen a lot of seed grow producing good healthy plants that yielded a very rich crop of great looking fruit. I’ve also seen seed that has produced some pretty awful looking plants that never produced any fruit at all. With corn the unhealthy plants always seemed to be the ones at the edge of the field. The plants at the end of the row or the outside of all the rows. I’ve also seen a lot of seed that went into the ground that never grew.

I watched my dad when he planted the fields, and when he got to the end of the row and still had seed left in the hopper (bag) he scooped up the remaining seed that had not been planted and just scattered it down the row. We never left the field with seed in the bag.

I learned something on the farm that I did not even realize I was learning at the time. And that is we never had any control over the seed. Dad bought the best seed he could and we planted it, fertilized it, kept the weeds (tares) out of the fields, watered it, and hoped that the weather cooperated and that we would get a good crop. We would protect the plants, tried to keep the insects off of them, and we nurtured the plants as best as any farmer could and then we picked whatever crop was yielded. Some years we would get a great crop. More food than we could hardly deal with. Other times we would not get such a bumper crop and I would wonder why we even planted anything at all.

Another thing that I learned was that farming is hard work. And I definitely knew that at the time. The more you planted almost assuredly translated into the more you had to pick. And the more you had to pick, the more you had to help mom can. We had to shuck the corn, clean the beans, and cut the roots and stems off the turnips, potatoes, and pumpkins. Farming was hard work. And the bigger the crop, the more work there was.

But the one constant from year to year, season to season, was that we were going to plant seed. Dad never bought seed just to have it remain in the seed bags in the barn. Our seed was for planting. Whether it got planted in the rich soil of the field or whether it got planted in the bad soil at the edge of the field, all seed was going to be planted if dad had his way about it. We hoped every seed planted was going to grow into a huge healthy plant, and we tried to control the few things we could control in planting and watering the seed, but regardless the outcome, we planted the seed.

Too many people when considering the parable Jesus told focus on where the seed fell, or how the seed grew, or the crops it produced. All of the things the sower had little control over. And not enough of us focus on the one thing the sower had complete control over, sowing the seed.

Some of us think we would like to plant a huge bumper crop like some vast country field. We never realize just how much work that is and we complain because God hasn’t entrusted a huge multi-acre field to plant in. And so we hold onto our seed and wait for God to provide us a field worthy of us planting in.

God hasn’t given every one of us a large multi-thousand acre farm to plant. Some of us have just been entrusted a garden. Others of us have only been entrusted a few pots in the kitchen window. But the one thing I am sure of is we all have seed to plant.

I have to imagine that there are Missionaries in the world today looking at the Christian family of God and are just wondering why don’t we just plant our seed?

How about you? If you are a Christian, what are you doing with the Gospel seed you’ve been entrust with? Are you planting it? Or are you just leaving it in the seed bag from one planting season to the next?

I can think of few things sadder than standing before the Throne of a Holy God and having him ask you “Why is your seed bag full?” My prayer for you today is that you would plant the Gospel seed you have been entrusted with. In whatever field you have been given. Don’t wait until you stand before God with a full bag of unplanted seed. Go plant the seed today.

What is your cause?

Pastor’s are not supposed to have a “cause” other than preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was always taught that you preach TO the people not AT the people. Unfortunately, even preaching TO the people (or just being a prophet in your own time) is more often than not interpreted as preaching AT the people. But fortunately we have the Holy Spirit and it is between you and him as to what you do with the Holy Word of God. My calling is simply to expound on the Word of God and leave the rest up to him (and of course you – of which I am included). The Word of God is the Word of God and it stands for all of eternity. I’ve actually had people come up to me in the past and say “give us a word from God”. As if people cannot get their own word from God. It doesn’t exactly work that way. God gives a word (wisdom) to those whom he chooses. Even with the prophets of old (Biblical times) God rarely gave a personal word for an individual to a prophet (unless it was to another prophet).

And don’t believe for a minute that I do not believe in preaching Hell Fire and Brimstone. I do. People need to understand that there is a great destiny in life. And you can either spend that destiny in Heaven or in Hell. But it is not my place to preach AT the people. Even Jesus Christ himself made it clear that God sent his Son into the world to save the world not to condemn the world (John 3:17). Which is why I try to be careful not to care about your sin, but only to point out that there is sin and that I am included. Indeed, I am chief amongst sinners.

But I must confess that indeed I do have a cause. I’m only human (which is just a fact not an excuse) and there are a couple of things that raise my ire more than anything else. And the biggest cause that gets under my skin is ABORTION.

I just do not accept that abortion is a woman’s right to choose. It is not their right to do with their body as they see fit. That fetus is a human life. It is not some forming mass of tissue. It is a life formed by a Holy and Righteous God that has all power and authority over life and death. And the reason we (humanity) fall into this trap is because of my second top cause – the lie of evolution. The lie of evolution has tried to teach us that there is no God and that everything we see and experience is just happenstance without any Devine providence or guidance. And I’m sorry, but that is just a lie. I believe possibly the biggest lie ever told. The lie of evolution allows us to believe that God does not form a life in the womb and that a woman has a choice over her body and the life that it contains. Which simply is not true and I’m sorry, if you believe that a woman has a right to choose you are just wrong.

Abortion is murder. It doesn’t matter what any of us believe. The simple truth (and it is simple) is that there is a God and he does hold all power and authority over all of human life. And when we unjustly take a life, including through abortion, it is by definition murder.

And this bothers me greatly. US President Ronald Regan said that if you could not state for certain when human life begins (and I can, it begins when a Holy and Righteous God forms it in the womb. On day one.) then we owed them the benefit of the doubt. And we should give this cause the respect that it is due. None of us can definitely prove when human life begins. Neither science nor religion nor philosophy can definitively prove the start of human life. Science struggles with the conundrum of human life and denial of God. They can’t explain the miracle of life to begin with let alone Define the exact start of it. Religion obviously defaults to a God creating that life and has no choice but to accept the moment of conception as the definitive start of that human life. Philosophy tries to find a happy medium that fails on both fronts. On all fronts humanity has no choice but to accept human life beginning at conception. And by not doing so we allow for the murder of hundreds of millions of unborn babies worldwide every year.

Rush Limbaugh wrote that his problem with abortion is that it cheapens human life. And this is an excellent argument. Abortion takes a human life created by a Holy God and formed in his perfect image and reduces it to an inconsequential event of less than the miracle it truly is. And this is having severe consequences on our societies worldwide. It is tearing our world apart.

However my reason for carrying abortion as my cause is that it brings evil incarnate into our world. If a Holy God is the author of life, then the undeniable enemy of life is none other than Satan. Life is the gift of God and that makes Satan it’s number one enemy. Satan is the antithesis of life and his hatred would have him destroy it at all cost. And abortion is a huge lie that allows him to further his cause.

And if I’m not being plain spoken here, let me just state that the people that participate in this industry are godless, evil people driven by the forces of darkness to include Satan himself.

And if you think I’m being overly dramatic here, may I bring your attention to this story that recently emerged in the news. An abortion (so called) doctor (the irony of referring to these individuals as medical professionals makes my blood boil) for years stacked up human remains at his home and he wasn’t found out until his death. If this isn’t an atrocity on a par with the actions of the Nazis during WWII, I don’t know what you could use to make an argument for what is.

Planned Parenthood and the (once again so called) doctors that practice under their umbrella are the agents of Satan and they represent evil manifested in our world. An abortionist who collected over 2,000 human remains and kept them at his personal residence is sick, evil, and disturbing on all levels. As an ambassador of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry this doctor shows us to what depths of human depravity we’ve allowed to grip the world. It is horrifying to realize that we have come to accept this culture in our societies and the world.

Obviously my desire is that your cause would be that all would be saved and come to know Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. But if there were one (or two) causes that you had to take up, how about carefully considering the lies of abortion and evolution? I truly believe that if anything could make a dramatic change on our societies and bring the world closer to a Holy God, it would have to be honestly and ethically dealing with the lies of abortion and evolution. With the evil that abortion manifests in the world (as demonstrated by this recent story) I pray you would join me in my cause (and that you would forgive me for having a cause).

Do You take Jesus with you?

I’d like to address Theists today. Specifically those theists that identify as Judeo-Christian. And the question I’d like to ask is “Do you take Jesus with you everywhere you go?”

OK. Not really, I would not ask such a question. I’ll explain that in a minute. More to the point, what I’d like to discuss is people who actually do ask that question.

If you’ve never been asked the question, stick around long enough and you probably will be. it usually occurs in situations like the following:

You are having a conversation with a friend and you tell them about how the night before you had gone out to some event, usually an event of which your friend disapproves. It could have been a movie (perhaps a secular R rated movie), or maybe a rock concert, or perhaps you went to a party where there was (Oh No!) alcohol. Or perhaps it was none of these. Perhaps you just went to Disney World but you happened to go on the Sabbath (Sunday for a lot of us). But when you tell your friend about your experience you immediately get the question: “Did you take Jesus with you?” (to this event or place).

My answer is always: “Why Yes. Yes I did”. Which usually leaves my friend somewhat taken aback. I’m always left wondering does my friend ever stop and think about what they are truly saying or does their own world view just cloud their understanding?

I am not a fan of this question for several reasons. Primarily it smacks of self righteousness. As if your friend would imply that they would never have taken Jesus to the place you’ve just described. In some instances I’ve even been asked the question with a holier-than-thou air as if to say “You sinner. How dare you take Jesus to such an unholy place”.

However, I always like to assume noble intent (even if I don’t succeed) so let’s suppose that your friend is asking the question in order to get you to think about where you have just taken Jesus. OK. Well my question is “Why do you care?” I never question where you take Jesus. Its not really any of my business. And quite frankly, where you take Jesus is between you and Jesus, not between you and me, In other words, when I am asked this question, my friend is more concerned about me than they are about themselves. And I have enough to worry about with just myself than to be worried about everyone else.

But there is a second reason I’m no fan of this question. Its not Biblical. First of all it is not up to me to either take Jesus somewhere or leave him at home. Jesus says He is with us. Not that we are with Him. Jesus knows that if it were up to us we would all too often go off on our own and leave Him behind. So Jesus made us the promise that He would be with us always. No matter what or where. And secondly, what does my friend think they are protecting Jesus from? Is there any sin that I already have not been forgiven of that I can expose Jesus to? Obviously the answer is No. Jesus himself was accused by the religious leaders of the day of consorting with sinners. They charged him of being with sinners (you can see the self righteous attitude in their accusation). So Jesus himself took himself to where the sinners were. And I for one, am quite grateful he did. Because had he not, I would never have been found. You find lost sheep by leaving the fold and going into the wilderness to search for them. Not by keeping the Shepherd in the fold with all of the found sheep all of the time. You cannot possibly take Jesus anywhere He hasn’t been before or expose Him to any new depths of the depravity of mankind He is not already fully aware of. And thus from a purely biblical point of view why are you even asking the question?

But thirdly I am no fan of this question because it presupposes the asker has some greater knowledge or morality that indeed they do not possesses.

There was a lady in the Church I grew up in. She was a single mom and she visited a bar down the street from her home every week. She literally went to this bar every week for multiple years. And rumors began to spread about her actions in the Church. One Sunday the Pastor called her out and told a story about how she had been going to the same bar on the same day of the week at the same time for well over a year. He told of how her routine was always the same. She would go to the bar and always sit in the same place. She would always purchase a coke. And she would spend the time in the bar praying for the place and the people in it. She would take her Bible with her and she would witness as opportunity allowed to whomever would listen. He also told of the persecution she had undergone. How the owner/bar tender had asked her to leave. How she had the police called on her. How the bar patrons had ridiculed and despised her. And yet she persevered. And eventually over time she won hearts and minds. She began to be loved even as she loved and the regulars at the bar began to respect her and to welcome her. All because she was brave enough to take Jesus with her to a bar.

That lady was a missionary to that bar. And I’m sure all of my friends who have ever asked the question “Did you take Jesus with you to the bar?” would never suggest that missionaries not take Jesus to a lost and dying world. Surely we wouldn’t suggest that missionaries leave Jesus at home when they go to the depths of the mission field. So why would we leave Jesus at home when we go out into the world?

So my question to you today isn’t whether you took Jesus with you or where you took Jesus to. My question to you is “Is the Jesus in you the only Jesus that someone who needs Jesus got to see today?”

Perhaps if we were all a little less concerned about where the rest of us are taking Jesus to and more concerned with showing Jesus to those in need, a lost and dying world would get a little more of a glimpse of Jesus and have their lives changed because of it. So go ahead, take Jesus into the world. It’s better than hiding the light of Jesus in some holier-than-thou sanctuary you’ve created for yourself and are trying to force everyone else into.

Who Are You?

We all want to be somebody.  And we all want to be somebody special.  We want to be somebody unique.  We all want to know that we are the most unique human on the planet.  Beyond our fingerprints, beyond our DNA, beyond our talents and our personalities, we want to be unique.  And we want others to know just how unique we really are.

So Who are you?  Are you an American?  Are you Asian?  Are you Indian?  Or Middle Eastern?  Are you African or from the Himalayan Mountains?  Are you rich or poor?  Gay or straight?  Are you a transsexual?  Do you want to be everything or nothing at all?  Here in the United States we might ask if you are a Conservative or Liberal.  Are you adventurous or timid?  Are you a doctor or a lawyer?  Are you an artist or an engineer?  Are you a rock star or a country music star?  Or perhaps a little of both?  Do you have tattoos or piercings?  Do you color your hair or shave your head?  What is it that makes you, well … you?

We all want to be somebody.  And we all want to be somebody special.  So who do you want to be and how do you want to be that person?  And to what lengths will you go to be that person?

It has occured to me that given our three base world views, the vanity found in who we want to be takes on a different meaning and significance.  By that I mean we should consider the impact and worth of our desires to be special through the lens of our world view.

If your base world view is Atheistic, then you are clearly trying to be whatever person you are for yourself and noone else.  After all, what does it really matter?  Given enough time you will be forgotten and any small impact you may have made on the cosmos will have been so insignificant that it wouldn’t even be distinguishable within the annals of time.  There is no higher purpose, no afterlife, no worth, no rhyme or reason.  For the Atheist we are all just one great big cosmic accident and whatever you can grab in the here and now is the sum total of significance you can apply to life.

If your base world view is Agnostic, then I’m not really sure why you care.  For the Agnostic, the true Agnostic, one wouldn’t care how special or unique someone else is; so why should we care how unique you are?  An Agnostic trying to stand out in a crowd has got to be one of the most confunding things you would ever come across.  The Agnostic is supposedly indifferent.  Uncaring and just wanting to be left alone.  The Agnostic could either be special or not.  As long as they are happy and they aren’t bothering you, you shouldn’t bother them.  So for the Agnostic world view, why even try to be unique or special at all?  None of the rest of us really care.  Any more than you care about how special we are.

But if you are Theistic in your world view, then your uniqueness or specialness takes on an entirely different prespective.  A Theist will claim to be created, and that they are made them special.  I’ve heard a lot of people make this claim; “Well that’s just who I am.” or “Well that’s just the way God made me.”.  When in reality, they are just doing what they want to do and God probably has nothing to do with it.  At least the Theist understands (or should understand) that they are a uniquely created being even before they strike off on their own to prove to the world just how special and unique they really are.

For the Christian though, who you are should take on a slightly differnt perspective.  When talking about who they are, most Christians will use words and phrases like: “Saved”, “Redeemed of the Lord”, “A soldier in God’s Army”, “Of the Family of God”, “Saint”, “Sinner saved by Grace”, and “Joint heirs with Jesus”.  When describing who they are, most Christians will describe themselves as “who they are IN CHRIST” first and who “they used to be” secondly.

Let me preface what I am about to say with I think knowing who you are IN CHRIST is vitally important.  There is nothing wrong with knowing who you are IN CHRIST and you should strive to understand the new position in all of time and creation that he has afforded you.  However, what is interesting to me is that we know more about who WE are in Christ than we do about who CHRIST is in us.  There is a subtle distinction here.  And that is where the preimminence is placed.  Knowing who we are in Christ is all about US first.  It is all about me.  Knowing who Christ is in us is all about Him first.  It is all about the Lord Jesus Christ, and actually nothing about us at all.

When I consider all of who Christ is, I am simply amazed by His Glory and His Splendor and His Wonder.  Sure, I can tell you all that Christ has done for me.  The many times he has watched over my life and carried me through the fire.  But we have the Gospels.  We have the Old and the New Testaments.  They speak for what God has done in an indivdiduals life.  You don’t really need mine.  What I really want you to know is “WHO CHRIST IS”.  And I want you to know that I can sincerely and honestly tell you WHO CHRIST IS because I know who Christ is in me.  And that is much, much more important than who I am in Christ.

My desire today is that I would decrease and that He would increase.  And that means it is not all about me but it is ALL about Him.  I don’t need to be special or unique, but I do need to tell you how Special and Unique God is.  And I can tell you He is Special and Unique IN me.

Plainly Spoken…

I’m certainly no theologian. But because of the “business” I’ve been in for several decades, it has been incumbent upon me be somewhat of a dilettante in it. I’ve attempted to explore some of the mysteries of the scriptures and understand the difficult passages there.

It’s not the hard to understand or disputed passages that concern me.   Rather, it’s the ones that are plainly stated..

You see, it’s the very clear imperatives that measure every life, the criteria that all are evaluated by.  They keep me humbled, expose my deficiencies and ask the highest of me, for HIM and for others.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (NASB)

16 Rejoice always;
17 Pray without ceasing;
18 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in       Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit;

Here are a simple few of them, in my words: Always praise and have joy; Always pray and never quit; Always, in everything, have a gratitude attitude; AND NEVER hinder or squelch the work of the Spirit of God in or around you.

Pretty simple…plainly spoken… easy to understand and talk about…DIFFICULT to live. Probably, it’s just me that struggles with the basics…manifesting essential and validating virtues that should always be seen in the life of a believer…the convincing proofs of HIS presence in me, that require no words to defend or prove.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (NASB)

3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Not only does Jesus ask these things of me, but HE gives me all I need to pull it off. 2 Peter 1:3a reminds me HE’s provided everything I need for life and godliness. How great is that!!? He tells me what I need to BE, and has provided the necessary resources to DO it. Phew!! So good to hear because I’m thoroughly convinced I don’t have the ability, and that,  proven by my many failures. So, what’s MY problem?

Well, the hymn writer said of himself: “…Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.  Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for your courts above.”  (Come Thou Fount, verse 3)

Yep! That’s me. But I’m learning how to “write checks” out of that resource He’s given; I am aware that becoming like Him (godliness) is a process. But I’m such a slow learner, a bit more recalcitrant than I want to admit, and humiliated by it; incorrigible….  Despite this, I’m finding HIS Life-force is at work and greater than my “less thans”.  He’s letting me see that I am being changed.  His compelling “energy”  is indeed getting eternal things done in me…so exhilarating,  humbling.  Amazed by His kindness and enduring love, I continue to be.

I’m convinced He is able to change any leopard’s spots, even mine; in spite me, this dark world and our enemy, the devil. Need not succumb…but will continue to aspire…stretch toward the upward call of Jesus Christ in every thing. Even though I struggle consistently living the fundamentals, and chagrined to admit it, I know this acknowledgement is the wide door to His Kingdom (“…Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God….”  Matthew 5), His rule and reign in me. Agreeing with God concerning my condition and predispositions, He forgives AND keeps on cleansing me from all sin (1 John 1:9). And one day, HE will “… Present me blameless in His presence, spirit, soul and body…my, our glorious hope!!

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NASB)

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

How about you…if you haven’t, won’t you join me and millions of others in this divine spiritual rehab, relentlessly amazed at His ability to change our lives, to restore us to His intended functions that have been marred by the damage sin brings, and all this, for His glory here, now and in the life to come. You’ll never regret it. Being changed,

I am,

Mitch White

The LORD, My Keeper, Part II

The LORD, My Keeper  Part II…

So, what does HE know that uniquely qualifies Him to be my keeper?

“My wrongs are not hidden from You.” Psalm 69:5,6
“All My desire is before You.” Psalm 38:9
“All my adversaries are before You” Psalm 69:19b
“My times are in Your hands” Psalm 31:15
“You know the path I walk.” Psalm 142:3
And, as Psalm 139 declares, He knows when I sit, stand, when I lie down, every thought, even before a word is on my tongue. Wow, wouldn’t our intelligence agencies love to have that kind of “technology”. If they could, terrorism and many other dark things emanating from the hearts of humanity could be averted.

But, being rightly related to Holy God makes this kind of personal oversight and security available to us in this life… the kind of help to “Keep Us”, even from the sinister strategies and “covert” plots of our enemy, the devil, who is the father of terror, the author of fear.  The LORD has even dispatched HIS “helpers”, Special Ops, to a staging area near us, our own personal, spiritual CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit), if you will.

Psalm 34:7 (NASB)
7  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

Don’t miss the privilege / opportunity of such loving, divine, sovereign care…belonging to all who are HIS via the Saving Life of Jesus Christ.  In Him…

Be Blessed,

 

Mitch

The LORD, My Keeper

Psalm 121:5-8 (NASB)

5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

For those who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ, the LORD has promised to “keep” us in this life. HE is uniquely qualified and alone possesses the critical capabilities to do so. He knows everything there is to know about us. Because this is true, He is able to design and carry out the strategies that “keep”.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NASB)
God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.

1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

HE is “intimately acquainted” with all of me / us and that information should blow our minds, even as it did King David in verse 6. To think that He is acquainted with me, an infintessimaly small speck in the context of an infintessimaly big universe, IS mind boggling. The Hebrew word translated “acquainted” in verse 3 is “sakan”, literally meaning “acquainted, knowledgeable to the degree that HE can be of great benefit to us”. (Source: Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, 5532, NASB)

So, what does He know?

That is for “Part Two” coming soon.  But do read and meditate on these passages over and over.   Let God’s Spirit cause this truth to penetrate your soul.  Take comfort that the most significant personality in the universe knows you, loves you infinitely and is ready to care for you perfectly.  Such peace, rest and quietness this brings, and all of it a gift through the person of Jesus Christ.  Savor, and be forever blessed.

Indebted,

Mitch

 

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.

Humility’s Reward

Proverbs 22:4 (NASB)
4 The reward of humility and the fear (reverence) of the Lord are riches, honor and life.

Isaiah 33:5-6 (NASB)
5 The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
6 And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the Lord is his treasure.

James 4:6-7 (NASB)
6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

So what does all of this fearing God and humility add up to?  To regard, seek, love and obey Him above all else, versus pride and rebellion which resists Him and all His higher purposes.  This command, invitation to regard Him is motivated by His unfailing love; His desire that we know “success” and provision as He defines it in this life.

1 John 2 warns us to not love the world or anything in it.  Jesus gave  the foremost command, that being, to Love God above everything.  (Jas. 4:6-7)  This is uncompromised, unmitigated allegiance, giving Him the “space” in us that He rightfully owns by virtue of creation, formation, sustention, salvation….

James 4:4-6  (NASB)
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

These verses need little to no commentary.  His very best comes via fearing (reverencing), loving and acknowledging Him above all in this life, in everything we are and do.  In spite of the many voices that suggest  otherwise, seek HIM first.  Oh that we would indeed “humble ourselves under His mighty hand”. Reverencing HIM is His treasure, the way to the stability we need; access to all the saving helps, wisdom and knowledge, making us equal to everything that life can bring.  We’re invited to test Him in this.  He is true (faithful) , and we will never be disappointed.

After (in pursuit) Him, I am,

Mitch

Are You Living on the Other Side of the BUT …?

Three friends of mine, whom I’ve mentioned in the past, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, found themselves facing quite a predicament one afternoon.  They faced a situation where they could do what God had said to do, or they could do what man had said to do.  But they couldn’t do both.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that God had commanded them to have no other gods before Him.  They knew they could not bow down to idols or graven images.  They knew the word of the Lord (Exodus 20:1-6).

Unfortunately for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded that they do exactly what the word of the Lord told them not to do (Daniel 3:4-6).  And the King’s commandment carried quite a heavy weight along with it.  Anyone who violated the commandment would be thrown into a burning firey furnace.

And thus their predicament.  If they did what King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded they do, they would end up violating what God had commanded they do.  And if they did what God had commanded they do, they would end up violating what King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded they do.  But they couldn’t do both.  They had to please one and risk angering the other.  They had to make a difficult choice.

Interestingly enough, I believe every person in the world today faces the exact same choice as my three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  We all have an impossible choice to make.  We may either bow down and serve the images of the world, or we may serve God.  But we can’t do both.  We must choose one or the other.

And our choices have consequences attached to them.  Dire ones.  Severe ones.  Serious ones.  Literally as scary and fatal as being thrown into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.  We are talking life threatening endangerment here accompanied with violent pain and torture.

If we examine our choices in light of our three base world views, we begin to unravel what drives us within our lives.

The Atheist has no problem whatsoever bowing down to the King’s idol.  It is a mode of self-preservation.  Which is disingenuous in and of itself.  Because if you are Atheistic in your world view you have no belief in any God.  So why would you be inventing one and serving one?  The Atheist has no reason to be motivated by their own self-preservation to the extent of violating their own personal beliefs, they simply set their World View aside and in the interest of continuing their life journey, they bow down.

The Agnostic is completely indifferent to bowing down to the King’s idol.  The Agnostic most likely wants to hedge their bets.  But in situations like this, they cannot.  The Agnostic lives in real confusion at times.  They would like to please both God and man, just in case one or the other happens to come true and they find themselves facing consequences they cannot deal with.  Unfortunately for the Agnostic, there are some questions in life that require a real choice and a single action.  You must choose one or the other.  You cannot choose both, and you will face consequences for your actions whether you want to or not.  In most cases the Agnostic will join their Atheist friends and bow down to the golden image and worship it in the interest of self-preservation.

For the Theist however, the choice becomes a lot more granular.  Unlike their Atheist and Agnostic neighbors, the Theist actually believes both choices to be solid and real.  The commandments of their God are true and define the core of their beliefs.  The Theist really must stand on the principles of their world view if they are to be true to themselves, and that means they must accept the consequences of violating the commandments of the King.

The Theist, especially Christians, have an out though, right?  After all, the Theist serves a God that can deliver them for any consequences of man.  And yet, 99.999% of all the people in the world today choose to bow down to the King’s idols.  Why?  It makes sense with the Atheists and the Agnostics, but why do the Theists, for the most part, give in and bow down?  Especially when they supposedly believe that their God can save them?

My friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the very small minority in their answer to the King.  Here is what they said:

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  Daniel 3:16-18 KJV

Most Christians familiar with the story of my three friends shout triumphantly and proclaim victory through God’s hands.  Yet the evidence remains, that the majority of people bow down and worship the idols.  Why is that?  Why do Theist Christians so adamantly believe that God can save them yet they go ahead and bow down?

I believe it is because the vast majority of us do not live beyond the BUT.  Do you see it there?  The BUT at the beginning of verse 18.  You see, it is very easy to proclaim that God has the power to save, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to go beyond that.  They were willing to say BUT “if not“.  If God chooses NOT to save us, then we still will not bow down.  Because God is still God.

Here is the bottom line: you cannot truly be free until you are willing to live beyond the BUT.  It is easy to stand and proclaim that God has the power to save, but it is hard to say I trust him even when he chooses not to rescue me from the burning firey furnace.

And God cannot work in your life until you are ready to put your complete trust in Him.  Until you are ready to say to Him “God, I trust you to save me.  But even if You choose not to, I still trust and worship You, and You alone.”

I told someone recently that when I stand before the judgement seat of the Holy God, my only plea is the Blood of the Lamb.  I’ve put my complete faith and trust in Him and I know He has the power to save.  BUT if Jesus looks at me in that day and says “I’ve changed my mind and you are not to be saved.”  Then know this: as I am on my way to the gates of Hell, I will be singing “Praise Him!  Praise Him!  Praise Him.  For He is Just.  He is Holy.  He is Righteous.  And He has given me what I deserve!”

And I know this to be true because when you live on the other side of the BUT … you live a life that accepts whatever decision God makes for you.  Whether it be to save you from the burning firey furnace, or whether He chooses not to.  Either way, He still is God and I will bow down to no other.

What about you?  Are you ready to live on the other side of the BUT and to serve Him, to worship Him, to Praise God no matter what decision He may make for your life?