Tag Archives: Love

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

 

Are You A Lover or A Fighter?

In 1982 Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson made a very poignant statement in this song.  In the song Michael tells Paul that he is a Lover, not a Fighter.  Thereby setting up the premise that, at least when it comes to the love of a woman, you are either a lover or a fighter.  Of course this might beg the question: “Are you not willing to fight for those things you love?”  Certainly the WWII generation had a better understanding of fighting for love of country.  A concept, I’d dare say that has been lost on most today.

We have been permeated in our cultures around the world today of these concepts, that if you are one thing then you cannot be another.  When in reality it is not quite so stark a separation.  You actually CAN be a lover and fighter at exactly the same time.  Today I’d like to address one of these either OR’s that I’ve already addressed in this earlier post.  And that is “Are you a Lover or a Hater?”  I know I’ve stated my position on this in the past, but it is an important point for many different reasons and it is a topic that is important because it affords a foundation for many other understandings.

We seem to have this general understanding in societies around the world that you either love someone or something, or else you hate them (or it).  If you look them up in a thesaurus, you will even find that they are antonyms of each other (as is found here and here).  The idea is that they are opposite concepts of each other and are mutually exclusive of each other.  You either love, or you hate, but you cannot do both.

We tend to believe this despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary around us.  Consider love of country.  As much as you probably love your country, there are probably some things you hate about it as well.  You love your country, but you hate it as well.  We tend to assign degrees of strength to one concept or another such that one side or the other wins.  For example, if you mostly love you country, even though there are a few things you hate about it, you would say you love your country when asked.  And we even apply degrees of love to those objects we love.  I love my country, but l also love my wife’s country.  I just love my country the most.

Rather than considering the two concepts as complimentary forces, and in static degrees, we instead break them apart, make them competing forces, and add varying degrees of strength to them.  This does us a great disservice in understanding so many other Spiritual concepts.

For example, the Bible states that God is Love.  One might then conclude that the opposite of God is then hate.  Of course you are screaming at your screen right now that I’ve made a false premise.  But we are logically carrying the thought forward, are we not?  If I am to believe that the opposite of Love is Hate, and then believe that God is Love, isn’t the opposite of God then Hate?  The logic is not quite so convoluted as you might think, except for the fact that we know that (1) the opposite of God is that which is anti-God, generally Satan and his evil forces, and (2) that God does indeed hate.

But we don’t have to twist the logic to prove the premise to ourselves.  We only need to remove the degrees of strength we apply to love and hate.  If I say I love my country without any degree of strength, then I absolutely love my country.  I don’t have to say I mostly love my country EXCEPT for this grievance or that.  I don’t have to say I mostly love my wife EXCEPT for these minor annoyances.  No.  I love my country and I love my wife.

But at the exact same time I hate where my country is headed, as a society.  And if I remove the degree of strength, then I absolutely hate my country.  So I don’t have to flip my argument around and say I hate my country EXCEPT for these things over here.  I just simply hate my country.

In other words, Love and Hate actually do act as complimentary forces.  As to their degrees of strength, let me ask you this: “Does God love me more than he loves you?”  I don’t think so.  “Does God love you more than he does your parents?”  Once again, I don’t think so.  “Does God hate your sin more than he hates my sin?”  No.  Of course not.  “Does God hate the sins of all your friends more than he hates your sin?”  No, God loves (because he IS Love) and God hates (because he cannot stand to be in the presence of Sin), and each are equal parts.

And with this simple understanding, we now have Tough Love explained.  I never have been a fan of that phrase ever since it has been introduced.  Love has always been tough.  Love has never been weak.  And (so-called) Tough Love is some weak philosophical attempt of mankind to resolve the conflict within themselves that they absolutely love someone, but hate the destructive behavior they are engaged in at the same time.  Well how do you think God feels?  He loves us (he created us in his image).  He absolutely Loves us.  And yet he hates our sin.  He most assuredly, absolutely hates our sin.  But you have never, ever, once, heard God say that he needs to employ Tough Love.  Because his love is absolute, and his hatred is absolute.

We don’t need to sit around and come up with silly slogans like “Make Love, Not War“.  We simply need to let our love be Love, and our hate be Hate.  And let that be the balance and the guide to rightly dividing good and evil within our lives.

Hell: Is it For You or Me?

In my last couple of posts I’ve espoused the idea that Hell is God’s holding place for Sin for all of eternity.  But I haven’t fully explored what that entails.  Particularly, will we (humanity) find ourselves there?  It is a reasonable question after all, because we know there is evil in the world and if Hell is God’s prison for evil, will we (any or all of us) find ourselves there?

Unsurprisingly, this question haunts a lot of individuals in the world today.  Dr. Stephen Hawking is so disturbed by it, he has devoted his life to trying to answer it.  And if you think I stretch the bounds of reason here, look at the last few pages of his book The Grand Design. S.W.Hawking and L. Mlodinov (Sep 2010), ISBN-13: 978-0553805376.  Look at the last few pages of the vast majority of any Evolutionist’s book.  They usually conclude with the thought that if evolution is true, there is no God, and if there is no God, there is no Heaven, and by contrast, if there is no Heaven, there is no Hell.  Ahhhhh finally!!  We’ve escaped Hell.  The Evolutionist’s means of escaping Hell is by disproving it.  By-the-way, the Agnostic’s means of escaping Hell is to ignore it (after all, what do they care?  An Agnostic is impartial by definition).  The Theist however escapes Hell by trying to understand it.  It is up to you as to which path you choose.

The Creator’s answer is yes, some of humanity will find themselves locked away in Hell for all of eternity.  Jesus Christ himself told the story of a certain rich man who found himself in a place of torment (Hell) in Luke 16:19-31.  Here we have a man alive on the earth who died and found himself in Hell.  So if we are to take the Creator’s word for it, the answer would seem to be yes, we (humanity) can definitely end up in Hell.

However, knowing that mankind can end up in Hell, does not necessarily mean that Hell was created for mankind.  Actually Peter tells us that it is God’s desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).  In other words, God does not desire to see anyone in Hell.  That doesn’t sound to me like God created Hell for humanity.  Rather that he is saddened that some of humanity gets swept into Hell along with the rest of the evil host.

I was asked to lead a singles Bible study about 16 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,  One of the members of that study asked me what I thought the difference between angels and humans was.  The question really boiled down to whether or not an angel could experience mercy and grace. I do not (personally) believe they can.  We are two different types of vessels,  In the case of humanity, we have the distinct privilege of being made in God’s own image. When God created us, He made family, His family,  I, for one, am more than happy being the weaker of the vessels.  An angel will never know the honor and the privilege of being a part of the family of God.  Angels certainly get to watch God’s plan play out on a stage and an scale I could only hope to understand.  But that is not worth trading to be a part of the family of God,

So I believe that God created Hell for the vessels of dishonor He created for the purpose of introducing Sin into creation.  Mankind was created as God’s very own family and then was allowed to be put to the test with that Sin.  Adam, on behalf of all of mankind (yeah, I know, but before you give Adam a bum rap, consider that you or I would have done no different), failed that test,.  And God then had to set his plan into motion to rescue us by paying the price for that Sin in our stead.  Had we never been in that Sinful state we wouldn’t have needed rescuing, and by not being rescued we would have never known God’s Mercy, and Grace, and Love.

A few years ago, Rev. Rick Warren wrote a book titled The Purpose Driven Life.  You may take several things away from that book, but the one thing that kept hitting me in the face was It’s not about me, it’s all about God.  People keep asking question like “If God did not want anyone to perish, why didn’t he just put us all into Heaven to begin with?”  Well, it is His show, His plan, His design, and it is for His Glory and His Honor.  It is all to Glorify Him.  And that alone is good enough for me.  But my theology also allows me to reason that perhaps God wanted a family that actually knows Him on a personal level, that understands His Mercy and His Grace.  And knows of His Love like none other in all of creation.  And that required us to know what was NOT Him to begin with.

But God did not want just want dedicated servants.  I believe he has those with the Angels.  Both the ones created to serve His purpose in good, and those created to serve His purpose in evil.  No, God wanted his family to choose Him because they desired to of their own free will.  And thus he gave us a choice.,  We may choose.   Choose rightly, and spend eternity in Heaven, choose wrongly and spend eternity in Hell.

Astute theologians should recognize at this point that we have a paradox,.  The Youth Pastor and Worship Leader of my home church growing up pointed out to me that perhaps I was asleep during certain studies and that there actually is a study of these paradoxes in theology,  My Youth Pastor was Rev. Mitch White and he has been a great friend and mentor over the years.  The study he recently introduced me to is antinomy, literally two competing but equally true ideas.

I don’t know how it is that God can be 100% in control and that at exactly the same time you and I have the free will to live our lives and to either choose or reject Him.  Louie Giglio said in one his Passion Series that it is a great mystery that God can be completely in control and mankind can have free will at exactly the same time.  We cannot resolve or know all paradoxes in this life.  But I do know this, you and I have a choice, and that choice is Heaven or Hell.  And the choice is final, for all of eternity.

Hell: A Finality?  Very much so.  I would surmise that it takes an eternal Hell to offset an eternal Heaven.  I choose to believe on Jesus Christ, that He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  I believe with all my heart that I have chosen wisely.

Further Considerations of Hell

Yesterday I left you with my belief that God, The God, The One True God, Jehovah God, created Sin. and that he actually allowed evil to come into existence by design.  I also stated that I believe he did this by creating Satan (the Angel Lucifer) as a vessel of dishonor for the purpose of bringing evil into existence.

This thought probably does not sit well with most non Christians and quite a few Christians as well.  But let me ask you a couple more questions.  Did God create the Angel Lucifer (Satan)?  Of course he did.  We know from Scripture that God and God alone is the only being outside of time and space (meaning he just IS and always HAS BEEN).  And did God know that Satan was going to rebel (Sin) against him and take one-third of the Heavenly host with him at the time (at the exact moment) He created him?  Of course He did.  He absolutely knew what would occur.  To think that God did not know what Satan’s actions would be in advance of his creation would be to limit God.  And if you limit God against his nature, he would no longer be God.  In other words, God is either omniscient (all-knowing) or else he is not God.  You can not have it both ways.  If an attribute of God is that he is all-knowing (and this is a base characteristic of God for me), then he has to have full knowledge of the actions and their consequences that He is taking.  And by-the-way, if you want to bring a god to the table that is somehow only partially omniscient, I’ll tell you that is not my God or else your understanding of my God is incomplete.  My God is in full control, including in control of all of the evil in the world today, or that ever has been in the world, or ever will be in the world.

If you are with me up to this point, we are at the shocking (for some) realization that God carried through with a certain set of plans knowing that those plans were going to result in evil and Sin (that which is against the nature of God).  And that he did so with intent and that it is part of his great plan.

I believe the next question most reasonable people ask at this point is: Why?  Why would God allow evil, and pain, and suffering, and hurt, and Sin to come into the world?  Why would he do that?  And some might even ask (or state): Doesn’t that make Him a bad God?  Paul addressed this in Romans Chapter 9.  He asks this very question in Romans 9:14.  I hope you take time to read the whole chapter very carefully, but here Paul acknowledges that some would come to the conclusion that there is unrighteousness in God.  And if I may paraphrase his answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I have on many occasions mentioned Dr. Ravi Zacharias here.  I sincerely hope you take some time to follow this man’s ministry.  I can only hope to say this as eloquently as he would, but consider this:

Without evil how would you ever know good?  Without pain how would you know sorrow?  Without sadness how would you know happiness?  Without loss how would you ever know gain?  Without lows how would you ever know highs?  Without unrighteousness how would you ever know righteousness?  Without God’s great plan how would you ever, ever know of His great mercy and love?

Every scientific discipline I know of in the world today creates baselines of study.  In other words they collect data to establish what is normal.  They then conduct their experiments with-respect-to that baseline.  Looking for good deviations and bad deviations.  Without establishing the baseline first, the results are meaningless.  I need the baseline in order to determine what my data actually means.

Could God have created a perfect utopia without sin or pain?  Sure, he could have.  But then you and I would have not had any reference point when God told us about the suffering he had kept us from.  We would have existed without a baseline, without a reference point, and would have never, ever known God’s Mercy or his Love.

With this line of reasoning, Paul of Tarsus has brought us to the realization of two things.  One is that God is completely in control.  There is nothing more freeing (in my experience) than the understanding that Satan, Sin, Evil cannot (and will not) win.  This world can throw all the pain and hurt and sadness it possibly can at me and it simply does not matter.  In the end, God wins and I am his child.  The second is that God has established for us a baseline.  We can now know His Mercy, His Righteousness, His Love, His Grace, and we can know it experientially because he has shown us the unmerciful, the unrighteous, the hateful and the scornful.  We now KNOW what God means when He says He Loves us.  We understand His Mercy and His Grace.  We can fully praise Him for His Righteousness because we were unrighteous and He made us Righteous before Him.

But now that God has created the baseline, the contrast, the experiential part of this creation what do we think he will do with it?  Is it going to go away?  I believe the answer to that is No.  Humanity is a fickle set of creatures.  We need to constantly refer to our baselines and update our reference points.  No, I believe God is going to keep the Sin and the Unrighteousness around.

And He has a place for the Sin and the Unrighteous.  And that place is HellHell is where he will lock away Sin for all of eternity.  A constant contrast and an ever-present reminder of His Mercy and His Grace.

And now, from that perspective, Hell suddenly becomes a very real place.  Hell: Fantasy or Reality?  I assure you, very, very REAL.

What Are You Addicted To?

You may have noticed that the vast majority of my blog posts are titled with, or start out with, a question.  This is simply because when you study the pillars of Religion, Politics, Science, Philosophy, etc. you generally start with a premise which you then seek to disprove or prove.   When you state your premise (your proposition) it is usually best to phrase it in the form of a question (see definition #2) in order to generate interactive thought.  It also invites a response from your audience asking them to participate in the debate with you.

I start out with this bit of rather obvious understanding because sometimes, despite ones best intentions, some questions may still come across as offensive to your audience which, in some cases, will immediately put them on the defensive.  And that is the last thing I wish to have happen with this particular post because I would, literally, like to challenge (almost) all of the conventional wisdom out there on addiction and would urge you to consider it carefully.

Your first response to my title question might be “Why nothing!  I have no addictions!”  And I certainly understand why you might answer this way.  Given how we have come to define, understand, and treat addictions the world over.  But I’d like to propose a different world view, one that just might get you to rethink whether you are addicted to something or not.

Addictions come in all forms, shapes, and sizes.  We typically think of the “top five” and tend to lump everything together with them and exclude everything else.  Probably the number one or number two thought that comes to everyone’s mind when I say addiction is either alcohol or drugs.  And certainly no one should disagree that these substances are addictive.  Alcoholism has been around almost since the beginning of time.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism nearly 16.6 million people in the United States suffer from Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD).

I trust you will grant me the fact that I could come up with statistics on most (or all) of the common addictions and several of the ones you might believe are questionable as well.  For drug abuse statistics in the U.S., you might check the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  I am not discussing alcohol or drugs, but rather addictions.  These are just common and well known addictions.

We might also think of tobacco (listed on the NIH site), food, or gambling addictions to round out our top five.

We could even get into more esoteric addictions such as sex, compulsive spending, Internet, or even video gaming addictions.  But what if I were to propose Christianity?  Have you ever known anyone addicted to Christianity?  I have.  And let’s be clear here, what we’re really talking about is a Religious disorder, someone acting in a manner they perceive their religion would prescribe or require.  Recall our definition of addiction would include anything that would cause us to habitually practice something that is repetitious to the extent to cause anxiety upon withdrawal.

What about prayer?  Could one be addicted to prayer?  And if you were, what would be so bad about that?  After all, shouldn’t we pray all the time (I Thessalonians 5:17)?  I would submit that one can be addicted to prayer.  And that it is not a good thing.  I would even contend that we have been specifically warned against it (Matthew 6:6-8).  Praying with “vain repetitions” is a clear sign of “prayer addiction“.

My point here is that there are addictions far more reaching and more subtle than the vast majority of the world would ever give credence to.  And not only that, they also affect every single person who walks upon this Earth.  Given enough time and effort, I would guarantee you that I could find your addiction.  And addictions are not universal either.  Whatever you find addicting, may not phase me in the least.  And my addictions may be completely boring and unfathomable to you.  Addictions, physical and psychological, are a part of all of our lives and affect all us either directly or indirectly.

And yet with all of the self-help efforts out there, with all of the clinics, and the rehabilitation centers, and the support groups, I never hear anyone address or define addictions correctly.  It just doesn’t happen, or rarely happens such that it is hidden in the noise.

My explanation for addictions is: that compulsive behavior that takes over our lives when we allow our lusts to surge out of control.

Please allow me to establish a bit of a foundation here.  Because this is counter to popular thinking, and I would contend that what we have been taught most of our lives (if you are contemporary) is wrong.

First of all let’s examine love.  Why?  Because it is going to become very important in just a moment.  If you look at the definition of love I’ve linked to, it would seem to cover Eros very well.  It is how the ancient Greeks represented sexual or erotic love.  The definition might border on Philo (Philos-adelphia), or brotherly love.  What the ancient Greeks ascribed to family bonds and close friendships.  But it certainly does not even come close to Agape (see under Origin) which is a sacrificial love as only God himself can love.

When we think of love, we tend to believe that the opposite of love is hate.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Where this falsehood started, I’ve been unable to determine, but somewhere in human history we came up with the idea that you either loved, or you hated, and that the two were mutually exclusive.  But this is not the case.  If you don’t believe me, simply think of someone you love (that you really, really love.  A with all your heart type of love).  Now tell me, in all honesty, that there is nothing that you hate about that person.  Some quirk, or action, some little nuance about them that just rubs you the wrong way and just drives you crazy.  You hate it (go back and look at the definition again if you have to).  And yet you just love the person.  But there are things you hate.  At exactly the same time.  Ergo, the two are not exclusive.  I can take this a step further with God.  God hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19), and we are a sinful and wicked people (Romans 3:23), and yet God loves us (John 3:16).  God loves, and God hates, at exactly the same time.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

But there is something that is.  And that is lust.  God does not lust.  Neither can he lust (He is, after all, God).  And isn’t it interesting the words used in the definition of lust?  Words like uncontrolled, passionate, overmastering desire, and craving.  The exact same words one might use to describe the effects of an addiction.

God loves, but God does not lust.  The opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is lust.  And uncontrolled lust leads to addictions in our lives.  They are fueled by sin in the world and they are powerful and overwhelming forces.

And there is one sure fire way to deal with addictions in your life.  Replace the lust with love.  You see, when God’s love begins to permeate your life, it pushes out the lusts which curbs the addictions.

So, what are you addicted to?  Because I guarantee you whatever it is, (1) it is fueled by lust.  And (2) it can be overcome with love.  My prayer for you today is that you will allow God’s love to come into your life in order to drive out the lusts that fuel your addictions and in turn, make you a more balanced person for his service.

What Are You Going To Hell For?

Normally a good apologetics case for the truth of the Bible would be built upon a logical foundation.  One might start with the question “Is there a God?” and build from there.  Given the premise that there is a God, one might ask the question “Which god is the God?” or they might ask “Who is God?”  Once a particular god has been settled upon one might ask the questions “What is the personality of God?” or “What is the nature of God?“.  We might progress to the point of asking the question “Do I owe anything to God?” or “Does God expect anything from me?”  And finally we might ask the question “Are there any consequences to not meeting God’s expectations?

I haven’t quite built that case over the past couple of years but I need to jump to the end game here.  Hopefully you will see why in a minute.  I would like to consider the question “Are there any consequences to not meeting God’s expectations?” and allow me to express my belief that there are.

The other day a group of us were sitting around discussing this story about an 18 year old woman who wants to marry her biological father (this story garnered overseas attention here).  This prompted one of the members of the group to make the, rather emphatic, statement “Don’t they know they will go to Hell for that!?!

This is always an interesting statement to me because people (all of us here on this earth) tend to establish different levels of criteria for what will get us into Hell and what won’t.  I would like to say a whole lot more about Hell later on.  I believe it is a place.  A very real place.  But for the sake of time in this particular post, lets just agree that Hell (whatever your definition of Hell is – you will note that I have intentionally not provided any links to a definition or description of Hell, this is because I wish to revisit this topic in the future) is the consequence to not meeting God’s expectation.  So if we may agree, for the time being, that Hell is the consequence to not meeting God’s expectations, and it is obvious that we all establish different levels of criteria for what will cause us to end up in Hell, then the obvious question that arises is do we really understand what God’s expectations are?

In the particular case of the referenced story, some of the group either held a preconceived belief, or else had decided that their own threshold level for going to Hell was incest (this definition is a little broad.  I’m fairly certain the level of impact meant by the statement was sexual intercourse between immediate biological family members).  The implication of the statement is “Hey!  If you engage in this activity you ARE GOING TO HELL!!!” as opposed to some lesser (or perceived to be less offensive) activity.

If we follow this logic we are left to conclude that if one engages in incest, they are destined to go to Hell.  But is that really the case?  I don’t care what your Life foundations are, if you are an Evolutionist or a Creationist, we are all faced with the fact that at some point in the distant past of human existence, we all gained our bloodlines from a single set of parents.  Actually, if you are a Christian, you should believe this happened twice in human history because you should believe that the great flood wiped out all humans except for Noah and his immediate family.  And from both the initial creation, and the flood, all human existence grew from a very limited set of parents.  Hence, incest, on a fairly large scale.

The question then becomes, if incest is the criteria for failing to meet God’s expectations and thus ending up in Hell, what about all of those people in the beginning?  It would be a very cruel God to establish one set of rules for one person and a completely different set for another person.  So what are we to believe here?  Did incest used to be OK and pass God’s “stay out of Hell” test and now incest is not OK and actually fails God’s “stay out of Hell” test?  And is that the only criteria?  Because we, as human’s, want to believe that incest will send us to Hell, but a small lie, while not the right thing to do, is not quite enough to send us to Hell.

Now please don’t get me wrong here.  I am definitely not advocating, nor making a case for incest.  It was only the topic of conversation.  I could use any heinous sin such as murder to make the case.  The fact is, there is a line drawn in the sand with the belief being that when that line is crossed, you have failed God’s expectations and thus are destined to face the consequences of Hell.

I could make the same arguments about any SIN you want to put before the group for conversation.  There are examples of those that have committed great sin and yet God himself has brought to light their redemption.  Moses committed murder.  He killed a man in a fit of anger and rage.  And yet God himself buried Moses when he died, and when Jesus stood on the mount of transfiguration the disciples looked and recognized him (Matthew 17:1-4).  So here we have a murderer, and Jesus is standing with him on the mount.  That is quite a paradox.

Rather than focus on what we can, or cannot do to avoid Hell, it might be better to focus on exactly what God’s expectations are with-respect-to our response to him and try and determine if there is a level of expectation that avoids Hell.

One thing I can absolutely guarantee you of is that we all have met the threshold of SIN to deserve Hell (Romans 3:22-24).  No, I’ve never engaged in incest nor physically murdered anyone, but even that small lie, that moment of ill will toward another, those times when I’ve rebelled against God, those are more than enough to seal my place in Hell.  And you and I are in the exact same boat.  We are ALL headed for Hell from the day we are born.

So what then is the answer?  It is actually found in Romans 3:22, the beginning of the point where Paul tells us we’ve all sinned and are deserving of Hell.  The answer to the righteousness of God (meeting his expectations) is through Jesus Christ and is upon those that believe.

Jesus Christ himself told Nicodemus that those who believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

It is what we do with the person of Jesus Christ that determines whether or not we meet God’s expectations and avoid Hell.  Not who we lie to or whom we lie with.  We can live our lives by all the guidelines we can possibly establish, but if we miss the person of Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, God in the Flesh, and that he died on the Cross paying the penalty for our sins, that he and he alone is our answer to meeting the expectations of God and thus avoiding Hell, that our belief and our faith must be in and through him, then we have missed the mark.

So what are you going to Hell for?  Because if you feel safe having never committed murder or engaged in incest, you’ve missed the mark.  The one thing in life that will determine whether or not you meet God’s expectations and avoid Hell, is what you do with the person of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Are You Walking Through Fire?

Fire Walking has been a test of a person’s mettle for several thousands of years (or so the claim goes).  The afore referenced Wikipedia article places it at around 3,215 years old.

Today, many people attend seminars that supposedly help them build confidence by walking across glowing embers.  You can find a number of them with this search here.

The first one that showed up on my list (your mileage may vary)  (Firewalking Institute of Research and Education) suggests that:

“In just one four-hour seminar, you can discover your inner strength, power and confidence. Journey with us through the fire, and you’ll discover an exhilarating world where anything is possible. You’ll be guided through overcoming your fears, building your inner strength and finally, after a calm and confident walk across the red-hot coals, claiming the life of your dreams on the other side! You will profoundly understand that you can do anything you want.”

This quote is from their Seminars page.  Many of the other Self-Help, Motivational, Fire Walking symposiums will tell you the same thing in a very similar fashion, but with different words.  They are all here to help you gain confidence and change your life!

I can’t help but wonder though, if any of the gurus that guide these self-help events know about the most impressive Fire Walkers in all of history?  That would be my friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  You can read the accurate story of their encounter here.

You see my friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not just walk across some glowing embers that someone had spread out on the sand, they were cast, bound, into an oven that was so fiery, and so hot, that it literally consumed those that cast them into it (Daniel 3:22).  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego really and truly knew what it meant to walk through the fire.

I also can’t help but wonder if any of these self-help gurus are sensitive to the plights of folks all around them that Walk Through the Fire each and every day?  These would be the folks that face life’s most challenging situations head on without any or little support from those around them.

I know such people.  A coworker and friend actually.  I saw my coworker the other day, as I do most days, and he asked me what my plans were for the weekend.  I began to outline a weekend with family and friends spent at a local area theme park where we were looking forward to fun, and shows, and fine dining.  But I noticed that he had something much more troublesome on his mind.  So I paused and asked him about his plans for the weekend..

And that is when he relayed to me his story, a story he told me that no one else at work had heard yet.  My friend told me that for the past year he has been struggling to keep his marriage, and his family intact.  His wife has asked him for a divorce and he was facing some very difficult decisions regarding his home, his daughter, and his very future.  This weekend, he told me, he was going to have to sit down and have a discussion with his mother and ask to move back in with her.  And let me add some more relevancy to the story, my friend is an older gentleman and I gather his daughter is college/career age and we are talking an impact of a  marriage that spanned decades coming to an end.

My friend is Walking Though the Fire right now.  And he is walking through fire that is hotter, and more trying, and more damaging than anything the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education would ever have him walk through (or across, as the case may be).  He is walking through life changing, life impacting, and life scarring fire.  Fire that will try his faith and his very foundations in life.

So regular readers of this blog may ask the question, what exactly is your friends life foundations?  Well, he is a Theist.  He believes in God.  He gave his life to Jesus Christ some 44 years ago.  And he has grown in the Lord over those years and today serves as a Deacon in his church.  He was raised in a Christian home, and I believe (based upon his active Church life) that he attempted to establish his home as such as well.

And yet God is allowing him to Walk Through the Fire.  Why?  Why does God allow His children to encounter some of the deepest, darkest, and most trying times in life?  I believe there are several reasons, but one very compelling reason is that when standing before the Judgment Seat of God, no one will be able to claim that God favored those whom he loved in such a way as to provide them an unfair advantage in their path to seek him out.  As in the case of Job of old, God says to Satan (or anyone else who will listen) “Have you considered my servant …”?

God has allowed people to Walk Though the Fire since the beginning of time.  God did not take away the fire walk from Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego, rather he allowed them to pass though it to show that he was God.  And what was their response?  It is found in Daniel 3:16-18.  GOD IS ABLE TO DELIVER US!  They knew that God could deliver them.  BUT (and that is a very important but), If he does not, WE STILL WILL NOT BOW DOWN.  Rock solid Faith.  Even when faced with the fire, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, stood on their Faith in God, no matter what.

Every time I begin to think my life is not as good as it could be, I come across a friend or a coworker, who shows me what it is really like to Walk Through the Fire all the while keeping their Faith.

If you are Walking Through the Fire today (like my friend and coworker), I pray God’s Peace, and His Mercy, and His Love, and His Grace would touch you in such a way that you would have to know you have been touched by the hand of God.  And I pray that God would carry you safely to the other side.  BUT, If he does not, I pray that like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego you would KNOW that he still is God.