Infamous Days

It’s been 76 years since the “day that will live in infamy”. It’s important that we remember days like this one, days where tragedies altered history’s course. But we must not simply remember because of the tragedy, that would be defeating and defaming the lives lost in Hawaii all those years ago.
 
We remember to honor the men and women who stood in the gap to protect freedom. We also remember because they fought, bled and died to secure something better for the future, and we live in that future today.
 
In the moment, on that day, with anger burning towards the enemy that attacked our nation, there was no love for the Japanese people. Decades later Japan grew into our strongest ally in the region. Our cultures are still markedly different, but now we respect and support one another.
 
And if that isn’t the end goal of any horrid war, then what is? As God’s people we should seek peace whenever possible, and while we remember the lives lost and the sacrifices made on December 7, 1941, we must also say a prayer of thanksgiving that the war ended and our enemies became our friends.
So thank you to those who came before and laid themselves down so I could write this today. Thank you, also, to our former enemies who realized their errors and even helped us see some of our own. Peace is our goal and we have, for now, achieved it. May it last and may we have peace on earth and goodwill to men from now on.

Tick…Tock

Time is like a river they say.

Drifting at times, at others calm and steady,

Sometimes rushing headlong, rocks ahead, threatening,

Yet always moving at the same pace. Tick…tick…tick…

Moments caught up in white, foamy torrents lapping the banks of life,

And we are left remembering.

Looking back we may miss the next turn,

But looking forward we cannot see beyond the horizon…if that far.

Even on glassy waters inexorably forward we go, always toward something.

But what?

Tick…tick…tick…

Answer the question. Where are you going?

Only God knows tomorrow and He isn’t always forthcoming with information.

Clear sailing, destination known, stirs the heart and whips up joy,

Yet often we peer ahead seeing only high cliffs and unending water.

Peace arrives in the middle.

Tick…tick…tick…

Because a tock is coming. One last tock of the clock. One last second to breathe out.

One last breath.

Peace dwells in the ellipses.

In the in-between.

In the solace of faith in something beyond.

In the knowing that time is merely a construct, a means to an end,

Necessary water we fish must breathe until our wings sprout and we fly.

Tick…tick…tick…

I fear you not.

Peace like a river flows with me.

Whatever, whenever, my tock comes…however it comes…it leads on…

To greater things.

 

Why God?

Yesterday, as of this writing, a lone gunman fired on a church in a little town near San Antonio, Texas killing twenty-seven people. It’s the worst shooting in Texas state history. When we read about horrible, tragic events like this we inevitably come back to one question: Why, God…why? When we examine the history of our universe and read about its origins, we will find our answer.

In the beginning God created everything, including humans. He gave us planet earth as our home and began instructing us on how to properly care for it. But one day humans decided that was not good enough. We decided we wanted to be God ourselves, to be the same as Him, so we defied His one restriction. In that moment the creation broke as evil flooded into our universe.

Today we are living with the consequences of that fateful decision. We live in a broken world with broken people, and broken people often commit unspeakable acts. This is the result of sin and evil in the world, and God is not to blame. We must accept our responsibility for what happened and blame ourselves for the death and destruction we see around us every day.

However, if we left the story there it would be pitiful and tragic. But that is not the end. God did not simply leave us to our own devices, allowing us to rot away in our disobedience and evil. Instead, He began a centuries long plan and one day brought forth His son into the earth to reconnect Heaven with earth. Now that Jesus has completed His work, all of humanity has access back to the Father and we can overcome evil and sin through Christ.

I have heard people say, “Why would you take a tragedy and turn it into an evangelistic push?” My response is simple: because Jesus is the only answer for our questions.

We look at this tragic shooting and we ask, “Why, God…why?” His response every time is to show us Jesus. Because in Jesus we have freedom from tragedy. In Jesus we have a pathway out of the darkness. In Jesus we have peace even in the midst of heartbreak. And in Jesus we have a solution, an answer, to present to the atheists of the world that can finally answer their questions and bring them peace.

Why do horrible tragic things happen on earth? Because humans broke it, and because humans are broken. What is God’s role in all of this? He has provided a solution, a fix, a way back to Him through Jesus Christ.

And that’s the pattern for all of eternity. There is no other. We misstep, we mess up, we sin, and God’s overwhelming love offers a way to redemption. All we need to is accept and walk in that way. That’s the answer to the question, “Why, God, why?”, and it always will be.

It’s Supernatural?

Something that has always fascinated me is the ability of cessationists to attribute supernatural activities to the Devil while simultaneously denying any current supernatural works of God. Let me explain.

First, for those unfamiliar with the term, a cessationist is one who believes the supernatural gifts of the Spirit (e.g. speaking in tongues, miracles, healing, words of wisdom, etc.) ceased (hence the term cessationist) when the apostles died. Since they view those gifts as part of a special “dispensation” in a bygone era, any supernatural manifestation today must be of the Devil. And that’s where I get off the cessationist train.

Here’s the logical flaw in cessationist thinking. They claim that supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit died out with the original apostles, but since we still have supernatural occurrences here on earth they need an answer for those. Their answer is: the DEVIL. So in cessationist thinking, the Devil is still perfectly capable of instigating supernatural acts through his minions and willing human compatriots, but God is incapable of doing the same because He decided to stop doing miracles after John died.

Now, we can believe that no supernatural events happen anymore. That’s a logical possibility. If we claim that nothing supernatural happens anymore then we are off the hook, but as Christians what do we do with all the talk about the Devil in scripture? If supernatural stuff was just for a limited engagement after Christ ascended and we are totally submersed in a materialistic plane now, is the Devil just a figurative being now?

Hopefully you see how silly it all is. Either supernatural events still take place on earth (and there is ample evidence that they do…from both good and evil sources) or no supernatural events occur, at least nothing that cannot be explained by naturalistic science. So this is our choice. Do we believe that supernatural events occur or not?

For a Christian it seems foolish to take the anti-supernatural stance. After all, the core of our faith is belief that God caused a virgin to become pregnant, that child grew into a man, was unjustly killed, and then rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven where He resides today. And that’s what has always stunned me about the cessationist position.

Christians start from a place of faith and belief in the supernatural! It’s our home base, so to speak. For me, accepting and walking in the supernatural things of God is only natural. Just think about it. We believe that God Himself is dwelling within us and is connected to our spirits. We believe that God speaks to us through His Spirit. We also believe God created everything in existence. Well if we believe all that, then speaking in tongues, or healing, or words of wisdom aren’t much of a mental stretch.

So if you’ve been apprehensive about walking in the supernatural or accepting the things of the Spirit, take a little time and think through your position. God IS a supernatural being. We are inhabited by His Spirit. Surely that’s enough evidence for us to accept and believe in the supernatural lifestyle we were designed to lead.

Origins

C.S. Lewis wrote, “All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Why would humanity spend its existence searching for meaning and purpose? Why do we all desire answers to the questions of life? Where do these inborn traits come from?

The answers to those questions lie in understanding our origins. If we do not understand why God created us then we will never find our purpose because we will search in the wrong places. Let us consider our primary, original purposes and perhaps this will help clarify your purpose and destiny a bit further.

GOD’S IMAGERS

In the beginning God created Adam and breathed into him. This is incredibly important because God did not breathe into any other created being in this realm. Only Adam, only humans, have this distinction. Indeed, this is what separates us from the animals. Modern evolutionists are fond of calling us animals, and in a sense we are quite similar to many of the creatures on earth, but we are radically different because only we carry the image of God imprinted on us.

Being an “imager” of God, a term Michael Heiser uses, means we reflect His qualities and attributes. We are made to be like God. Within us we carry abilities and gifts directly given to us by God that we were created to use to bless humanity and the earth. When we discover these through prayer and meditation and study, we will walk in our purpose and destiny and find the fulfillment we desire.

GOVERN CREATION

God’s command to Adam was to rule over the creation. Humanity was to “fill the earth and subdue it”. We were meant to landscape and garden and coax the beauty out of the earth. We were meant to domesticate animals and care for them. We were meant to shape the earth into a paradise where all humanity could live in peace. We still carry that mandate even though sin and death have made these tasks much more difficult.

When we understand we were created to be rulers and have authority, we understand the inborn desire we all have to dominate something. Whether that something is art, science, people, ideas, machines, animals, mathematics, etc., does not matter. We all carry within us this desire to master something and our struggle is to do just that. This is because of our rulership mandate.

It’s important to note that we were not originally designed to rule over people. This is a result of the fall. When the people of Israel begged God for a king to rule over them, God told them no before finally giving in to them. God’s design is for Him to be the ruler and for us to govern as His subordinates in the earth. When we are properly aligned within that structure, we will not see other people as threats to our desires but as fellow imagers who need our help to carry out their purpose and who can help us with ours.

CREATE

God does not specifically tell Adam to create, but creation is so integral to God’s nature it seems obvious that we were meant to create. Creativity comes in many forms, so I am not referring to a specific type of creativity. Whether one creates art, science, math, mechanics, poetry, kinetics, or music, all these are some of the many ways we can create.

Creation is about bringing something new into existence that is filtered through your consciousness. You are the unique factor in the process. My music composition professor in college was a world famous composer. He was fond of saying, “There’s only twelve notes!” He went on to say he believed no one could compose a truly unique composition because there would always be some piece of it that was not original to you. I agree with him because we are incapable of creating as God creates, and only God can bring something that never was into existence.

In other words, we can create using the universe around us, our minds, our spirits, creation itself…but we cannot create something from nothing. That should not stop us from creating. As His imagers we inherently desire to bring things forth into existence, and even if parts of our creations are not original, anything we create will be unique simply because it passed through our being into existence.

LOVE

When the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with their question about which commandment was the greatest, Jesus responded with two commands about love. He said to love God and love people. Perhaps our greatest reason for existence is to be carriers of His love in the universe. Because God breathed into humanity, we have the capacity to carry a part of God within us. Indeed, when we submit and receive salvation we are “born again” meaning our original spirit is imbued with life and power from Holy Spirit.

Once we are regenerated, God literally dwells within us. This means we have God’s love at work within our physical bodies and within our minds and spirits. When we are regenerated we suddenly have the ability to be a channel of God’s love from heaven into the earth. We can bring His love into the creation and to other people because He lives within us.

We have no higher calling. Jesus made this plain. We were designed primarily to reflect God’s love back to God and to other people. When we walk in this love we are walking in our original design and purpose. Everything else in your life will flow from this place. We must start and end with love and allow God’s agape love to bookend our lives.

ORIGINALS

You and I are originals. We were created to be imagers of God, to govern creation, to create, and to love. Understanding these original design specifications helps us to understand ourselves better. Walking in these traits and allowing them to shape who we are through the power of Holy Spirit will bring us into alignment with God so we will have peace and joy each day.

I pray you discover your destiny as you journey this path of life. It is only found within a relationship with Jesus because He is the original designer. Remember that you are uniquely and wonderfully made and God has a purpose for your life. May you surrender to Him and discover that truth today.

Assumptions & Choices

One of the great divisive elements in Christian theology centers around assumptions and choices. No matter which theological camp you claim, certain assumptions and choices go along with that position. The decisions you make and accept regarding those things will align your thinking and theology in a certain direction.

An example is needed. Consider the weighty issue of salvation, specifically whether one can lose salvation once attained. Christianity is divided into two camps here: those who believe “once saved, always saved” or the “security of the believer”, and those who believe salvation is tied to sanctification and requires us to “maintain” it somehow meaning we can lose it.

Both camps have scripture to support their position. Rather than presenting arguments for both sides, just spend some time googling the two views and you will find interesting arguments both directions. The point of this post is not to focus on that particular issue. The point here is that we all must choose one or the other. Either you choose to believe you cannot lose your salvation or you choose to believe you can lose your salvation.

Whatever you choose will determine how you interpret a whole bevy of scripture, and that’s the point. When we begin studying the Word, we are forced to make many decisions that naturally affect our interpretation and theology. Someone who believes one can lose their salvation will see Hebrews 6:4–6 completely differently than one who believes in the security of the believer.

Our failure is to respect the choices of others. Some are capable of this, but most are not. Rather than respecting the choices another believer makes, we attack them because their position differs from our own. We do this while operating in self-preservation mode. If I am a “security of the believer” person and a “lose your salvation” person is making a persuasive argument or leads me to a convicting scripture, I react negatively because I’m afraid of what might happen if they are right and I am wrong. So the only thing left to do is to start tossing around the word “heretic” to get free of it.

This is our issue. We are hammering away at one another all while making the (false) assumption that we are completely right. But, as my mother is fond of saying, “Here’s a hot news flash for ya…” no one, NO ONE, is completely right. Only one human in existence was ever completely right and He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father.

As we journey with Jesus through life, we must learn to recognize our choices and assumptions and be at peace with them. Please understand that I am not advocating for relativism. I do not believe that each person makes their own truth. There is a universal truth we can know, but that truth is unending. We will never, for all eternity, reach the end of it. When all the millennia of time have passed to the nth degree, we will know one half of one percent of all there is to know about God. This is how majestic He is.

So when we get on our theological high horse and begin browbeating others because they’ve made a different set of choices and assumptions from us, let us recall our own position. We must always remember that we hold only the smallest fraction of divine revelation and we need others to help us see other facets of God. Indeed, this was always His plan. Jesus established His body to work together to reveal Him.

You’ve made assumptions and choices and so have I. They are based on our current revelation of Christ. Let us walk in what we have received, but let us not be content to sit and wallow in our little droplet of truth when there is more to taste. We can challenge one another. We can sharpen one another. We do not have to agree on everything. It’s ok if we make different choices and assumptions.

There is a small body of truth that must be adhered to for us to even be Christian. We must be in submission to Jesus. We must honor Him as God and Lord of the universe. We must recognize the authority and power of the revealed Word in written form (the Bible). We must accept and believe the miraculous.

Beyond those core beliefs, little else is self-evident no matter how clever your reasoning. In the end, to reach almost every conclusion in Christianity required either an assumption or a choice. So let us respect one another. Calvinists and Charismatics can learn to get along. Episcopalians and Baptists can fellowship together. Mystics and Methodists can share ideas and pray for one another.

We can find unity if we are willing to accept one another even as we disagree. Perhaps if we spend some time considering another viewpoint we can at least understand how someone reached their conclusions, even if we cannot share their convictions. Because in the end, it is possible we may both be wrong about whatever we are so certain about now.

And when we cross over into the glorious riches of grace Jesus has prepared for us, do you really believe any of our thinking is going to be fully accurate? Is anyone actually arrogant enough to believe that, standing in the pure light of Christ’s truth and love you will be able to say, “See everyone, I was totally right about all my theology!” And would you even want to?

Make your choices. Live with your assumptions. But have the humility to know there will always be more you don’t know. Always something else you can learn. Always another facet of God you haven’t seen yet.

As the great Bard wrote in my favorite play, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” That goes for all of us.

Songlight

Faded whispers race along the ceiling

Overtones left behind as the last chord

Dies away.

Notes have color. Blues and reds and greens.

Purples here and there. The odd brown. Perhaps a black.

Rarely a white. Maybe that’s why we call it white noise?

Not much call for white sounds. Colors are preferred.

Beaming from the speakers,

Resonating a rainbow,

Carrying forth imaginations composed of some part of those 12 notes.

One day, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,

Paintings will be the sheet music we play from.

Colors of sound.

Songlight.