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.

Which Side Are You On?

Yesterday I passed along my thoughts on the two different cultures manifesting themselves in America today. I said that I didn’t have a question, only an observation, but that was not entirely accurate.

I do have a question. The point of the observations, naturally, was to cause you to consider which culture you fit into and whether it is the right choice or not. In other words Which Side Are You On?

The second phrase of the opening sentence of Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities (see yesterday’s post) reads:

it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,

A Tale of Two Cities, Chapter I. The Period

And if that doesn’t describe today’s America, I don’t know what does. One side of the culture screams about the foolish tweets from President Donald Trump and then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes the totally nonsensical statement:

“a wall, in my view, is an immorality” and “the least effective way to protect the border and the most costly.”

Fox News Story

A view not exactly shared by the rest of her party.

But it is crazy, right? One view is shared and the opposing culture hears it as total foolishness but yet the agreeing culture hears it as great wisdom.

One can certainly understand the pain, anguish, and shear lunacy Charles Dickens was attempting to describe in his book A Tale of Two Cities.

But what if I were to tell you I believe this division has happened much earlier in history? Consider the words of John:

37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

John 18:37-39

Pilate was completely frustrated with the foolishness of the day. On the one hand he could find no fault with Jesus but on the other there were cries from the people for his crucifixion. In his frustration he asks “What is truth?

It is this very same struggle for truth that is plaguing all of us today. It is the confusion on one side of the culture when #BlackLivesMatter calls out for the destruction of (so called) racially offensive language, monuments, and the erasure of American history itself. And the other side of the culture is confused because these exact same people align themselves with Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the mayor of New York City Bill de Balsio. If these people were actually intellectually honest with themselves and us they would be calling for the abolishment of the Democrat party itself rather than aligning themselves with it.

It was the Democrat party that championed slavery and racism. It was the Republican party that freed them. It was the Democrat party that voted for Jim Crow laws and segregation. It was the Republican party that fought for inclusion and the idea that ALL people are created equal. It is Democrat party members that held positions within the KKK while the Republican party did not. It is the Democrat party that continues to this day to enact laws and policies that disadvantage more people of color while the Republican party has established a record of providing more jobs and opportunity to all of Americans. If #BlackLivesMatter is really so incensed with being reminded of the history of slavery in America, then they should be for the complete abolishment of the Democrat part as well.

There are so many that have fought to bring the light of truth to this history. Alfonzo Rachel for one. Dinesh D’souza for another. People of color who would certainly have no agenda for furthering “white supremacy“. And there are so many others that continue to educate, inform, and offer alternate points of view. But our culture is divided. And people ask what it is divided over. The answer is quite simple and is very plain. We are divided over the TRUTH.

This is why I am passionate about the state of our country today. Not only for the very survival of America, but for the souls of so many people who are lost without TRUTH.

For you see, there is another interesting phrase in Charles Dickens opening to a Tale of Two Cities. As he sums up his setting he notes:

“… we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

A Tale of Two Cities – Chapter I. The Period

And as another champion of American History, Rush Limbaugh, would say – “for those of you in Rio LInda” Charles Dickens reference to those “going direct the other way” means Hell. And that is the real crux of the problem with Which Side Are You On? Because one side leads to Eternal Life and the other side leads to Eternal Damnation.

As for me, I chose the side of TRUTH. Because there is only one person in all of history that could (and can) credibly claim:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

And that is the person of Jesus Christ. And I believe the TRUTH because only He, the creator of all the universe, can establish TRUTH. The only thing that remains (for both the survival of American history and people’s souls) is to determine which truth you will believe. Which side are YOU on?

A Tale Of Two Cultures

In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote the historical novel A Tale of Two Cities. A story centered around London England and Paris France before/during the French Revolution. It has been referred to as the best selling novel of all time (and certainly must be in the top 10, assuming it is even taught in schools these days) and it opens with the iconic line:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

You can find an online copy of the work here (at Project Gutenberg).

Today I do not have a question, but rather an observation of how little things change and what great opportunities we (as a society, as a Nation, and even as a World) have before us to learn Truth and to apply lessons from history in order to help make all of our lives better.

One might consider the similarities between the events of 1789 in France and what is occurring in the USA today in 2020 (231 years apart) in that both are predicated by social and political unrest that affected (and affects) everyone in the land. In other words, it was a National, social and political upheaval. Oh sure, there were pockets of events, within cities, small towns, and even neighborhoods, but the prevailing mood was not just contained in small areas. It was felt Nationally and was seen around the world.

And before you get too far down the path trying to pick the analogy apart, let me just point out that it is not all that original of an idea. This story from the Daily Signal references a tweet from Senator Lindsey Graham with the same observation.

And No, I did not know of Senator Graham’s tweet when I started authoring this post, but I generally like to do a little due diligence before I post something. And even with Senator Graham’s tweet, I decided to go ahead with the conversation because I believe it is relevant.

And yes, I also realize there are those that are simply going to dismiss the analogy because it is Senator Graham‘s tweet. Because those of you who hold such wisdom have been elected to (what is arguably) the most significant legislative body in the world today. Right? Perhaps you might want to rethink your ability to assimilate and interpret data.

And whether you agree with the analogy or not, there are a couple of very interesting comparisons. You might say that today is “The best of times”. In all of human history we, as a people, have more than has ever been had before. Which is pretty funny when you consider that the #BlackLivesMatter revolution is being fought out of air conditioned homes, run off an abundance of fine food (and I don’t care if we’re talking McDonalds hamburgers here, compared to what the French were eating during their revolution, that is pretty fine dining), enjoying the benefits of social media, and traveling around in air conditioned autos with Dolby stereo systems in them. The French revolutionaries had it much harder I assure you. You might also say that today is “The worst of times” in that there is more political and social upheaval in the country than any of us has known within our lifetimes. Another interesting comparison is that both periods tried (and are trying) to remove perceived ills from the world. When the French tore down the Monarchy, they ended up with a Dictator (in Napoleon) before they got to the desired democracy. Let’s certainly hope that history doesn’t repeat itself there.

But the comparisons of the French Revolution and the state of social and political upheaval in the USA today are not what I want draw your attention to. They are merely illustrative of how history repeats itself and how we can learn valuable lessons if we only open our eyes and our minds and seek wisdom.

What is a little closer to home is the sheer lunacy that is occurring with the #BlackLivesMatter movement ripping down statues of Christopher Columbus, Frederick Douglas, and our founding fathers (stories here, here, here, and here – search for ‘statues torn down’ if you want to read more). The argument for all of this wanton destruction and terror is that they depict ‘white supremacy’. We cannot know the pain that a black person feels when they walk past one of these statues or memorials.

Well guess what? You cannot possibly know the pain that I feel when I visit a WW-II memorial, or an American Civil War battlefield where #WhiteLIvesMatter fought and died just so #BlackLivesMatter could have the privilege today to tear down all the memorials because they are too painful to walk by. But I don’t want to tear any of them down. Rather the contrary. I want my children’s, children’s, children to see them and to understand that freedom isn’t free. It is bought and paid for with a price.

What my friends over at #BlackLivesMatter might want to consider is the consequences of their actions (and I mean for their children’s children). Take another group, #JewishLivesMatter. Do you think the Jewish people want to erase all remnants of WW-II and the holocaust? Quite the opposite. They build memorials and museums all over the world to remind people of what they went through. Why? Because they don’t want people to deny that it ever happened. They don’t want history swept under the rug. And if you think that #JewishLivesMatter are being a little too paranoid, consider these kooks here, and here, and the fact that it is a prevalent enough theory to warrant a Wikipedia article (here).

And the sheer irony of the matter will be, that one day, when slavery has been erroneously erased from American History, it will be #BlackLivesMatter that will have been the cause and will have brought down the consequences upon themselves.

So before the protesting continues, before more statues and memorials are torn down, before we rewrite any more of history than has already been rewritten, perhaps #BlackLivesMatter might want to take a page out of #JewishLivesMatter playbook and consider:

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;

Deuteronomy 4:9

How Do I Know If You Trust Jesus?

The other day in my last blog post I talked about people at the George Floyd protests carrying No Justice No Peace signs (as those found here) and I mentioned how ridiculous I find that slogan. I also mentioned these people don’t know peace and that peace dependent upon justice is worthless peace. But I left it at that because my previous post was a comparison of the circumstance of George Floyd and those of Jesus Christ and why I found it both ironic and sad that people would jump to champion the cause of George Floyd, but not so many jump to champion the cause of Jesus Christ.

Today I’d like to expound on those comments a little because I don’t want to just make a blanket statement without others understanding that I actually have thought about it, prayed about, studied it, and drawn some conclusions about it that I believe are in line with the Holy Scriptures. That and I really do think it is something for all of us (especially me) to consider.

But the way I’d like to explain those comments is by answering a question that anyone might ask of me. So I’d like to propose that a question one might ask of me is how do I know if you (or the person asking the question) really and truly trusts Jesus Christ? I could have titled today’s post “Do You Have Trust Issues?” but perhaps if I explain it from my perspective it will ring a little truer.

So lets start out with the answer before I get to the logic and explanation. The answer is simple. By observing your level of PEACE with life. However, allow me to explain that by trust I don’t mean the way you trust your bank to keep your money safe. I mean a faith that is unwavering and unshaken. A faith that cannot be moved. The trust I am talking about takes all of your heart, and all of your mind, and all of your soul, and all your strength (Mark 12:30). The trust I am talking about takes place on God’s terms and not on man’s (or our) terms. And likewise, when I say peace I am not talking about the human definition of mutual harmony between countries, friends, and neighbors. The peace I am talking about is inexplicable. We are told it passes all of our understanding. It is literally incomprehensible peace. And it is peace that comes from God (John 16:33). Your level of TRUST in God (the person of Jesus Christ) is directly proportional to the level of PEACE you experience within your life.

So how do I know this? Well first of all allow me to debunk the myth that peace is somehow tied to justice. If I am to assume that those who brandish this slogan mean that we cannot have peace without justice, then clearly they are wrong. Justice is indicative of a moral or righteous code of conduct. And there are injustices all over the world each and every day. How about the injustice of abortion? Something that bothers me greatly. But my peace is not dependent upon it. By point of reference, those that brandish the slogan are usually talking about what they would define as justice not what would necessarily be just within the eyes of God. If by their slogan they mean we cannot have peace without first having their brand of justice, then I submit to you it is a lost cause and we will never have peace. As long as justice is arbitrary and defined by the whims of man then peace will be elusive. We are told that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19) and that we are not to be given over to wrath. So clearly my peace isn’t (or shouldn’t be) tied to whatever justice I find or experience here on earth.

On the other hand if if those that brandish this slogan mean that they will not allow peace without justice, then once again I would submit to you there will be no peace here on earth. How can there be when we’ve tied it to some warped sense of justice? I am almost positive that those that brandish the slogan would have a problem when I tell them that I find those that call for the destruction of Israel, unjust. I am sure they would have a real problem with my views on abortion and how I find that practice unjust. I’m sure they would have a problem when I point out the unjustness of a cake decorator in Colorado (story here) being taken to court for not making an LBGTQ cake because it is contrary to his faith while at the same time they are calling for the tearing down of crosses (an example here) all over America. So whose justice are we talking about before we make peace not war? Certainly not what I (and hundreds of thousands of others) find to be just. Are we to go without peace for the sake of others? Or have these fools mistakenly tied peace to justice because it furthers their world view? (Just to be clear, I’m going with the latter).

So peace is not dependent upon justice, but what is it dependent upon? I would submit to you that peace is dependent upon trust. So how do I know this? Well I believe it is born out in Holy Scripture. Take Psalm 18:2 for example. What is your rock, your fortress, your deliverer, your very salvation, if not your peace? Is He not your place of refuge? Where all your needs are met? Where you find tranquility and where you are safe from all terrors? Is He not your PEACE?

And how do you obtain that PEACE? Through TRUST of course. You observe this almost everywhere in life. Missionaries exhibit this behavior every day of their lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Missionary friends in seemingly impossible circumstances. And yet totally at peace. They look at you and say “God WILL provide.” And they know this because they trust Him.

I don’t lose my peace because God is my VENGEANCE, God is my FORTRESS, God is my SALVATION, God is my ROCK, God is my EVERYTHING and I TRUST Him. And when my trust wanes, and worry creeps into my life, and it seems like terror is closing in, I cry out to Him to help me in my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

So how do I know if you trust Jesus? I look at the level of peace you exhibit in your life. The more peace, the more trust. And the more trust, the more peace there will be. Try it yourself and see if I’m right.

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).

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.

The Greatest Teacher

Psalm 119:33 (NASB)
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.

The most transformational, defining moments of my life have been when the LORD has reached down, enlightened and taught me.  All the great teachers I’ve been privileged to hear, and my best times of study and seeking don’t compare.  Those defining times with Him have always been the most memorable and they’ve moved me forward in His purposes in and around me.

The Psalmist most notably cries out for God’s personal, private instruction as the life changing impetus he needs to keep moving godward.

Psalm 119:17-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Gimel.
17
Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18
Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.

Psalm 119:33-34 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
He.
33
Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
34
Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.

Psalm 119:65-68 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Teth.
65
You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word.
66
Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.
67
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
68
You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.

Thomas a’ Kempis, in his noted work “The Imitation of Christ” writes: “Oh Lord, with the Prophet Samuel I humbly and earnestly beg, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant listens….’  I am your servant; grant me understanding that I may know your testimonies…Incline my heart to Your words.  Lord, who inspires and enlightens the Prophets, let not Moses or any of the Prophets speak to me but rather YOU speak.  YOU alone can instruct me without their aid, but without You, they can do nothing.

The Prophets can preach the word, but they cannot bestow the Spirit.  They speak most eloquently, but if You are silent, they cannot fire the heart.  They instruct in letter, but You open the understanding.  They set forth mysteries, but You reveal the meaning of all secrets.  They teach Your commandments, but You help us observe them.  They point the way, but You grant us strength to follow it.  Their action is external; You instruct and enlighten the heart.  They water… but You make fruitful.  They proclaim…but You impart understanding to the mind.

Therefore, let not Moses speak to me, (or any other) but You, oh Lord my God, the Everlasting Truth, lest I die and bear no fruit if I am warned in word, and not kindled in heart; lest it turn to my condemnation, if I hear Your word, but not obey it;  know it, but do not love it; believe it but do not keep it….  YOU have the words of eternal life.  Speak to me, comfort my soul: order my life to YOUR praise, glory and eternal honor.”

May HE indeed increasingly grant us all of His Spirit, Who has promised to personally “guide us into all Truth“…for His words are truth indeed.

Amazed,

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.

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.