Friday, September 30, 2011

The Best Known Verse in the Bible

The most well known verse in the Bible is also one that can create some serious conversation about what God REALLY meant. Questions like, who is included in "world", does God love everyone, does He not give eternal life to some- to name a few. These are hard questions because we like God to be "fair" like we aren't, oh, did I say aren't? We generally only want things to be fully fair toward us and if others lack then we are not losing much sleep over that.

So let's take a look at this, and this will in no way be exhaustive and I am not a Bible scholar, so it should come out pretty simply.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Let's take that at face value- God loved the world- whatever that means right now- that He gave His one and only Son, BTW I would never do that for you, especially knowing how they were going to treat Jesus, to die for sins He didn't commit so those who believe in Him might be saved from eternal wrath and live with God forever.

17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The purpose for God's sending His Son to live, die and be raised to life on earth was not to condemn but instead that the world would be saved through Him. This was the plan all along and there is no other way.

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Some are going to believe and those who do believe are not going to be condemned, but those who do not believe are already condemned bc they don't believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Ok- this is where it can poke you in the eye. There is judgment in Jesus coming into the world. God didn't send His Son into the world to condemn the world, maybe this was not the primary purpose, but in His sending of His Son He knew there would be those who would not believe and in not believing there is judgment. God sent His Son, the only way to Heaven, to earth as a free gift and there are many who will not accept the free gift and this brings judgment to them. People make a choice to love darkness rather than the light of Jesus' message and person and in making that choice they are rejecting the other option. They exchange darkness for light bc their works are evil and they like living there.

20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

This choice is evident by the works they do. They do wicked things; they can't help it bc they love doing the things they love to do. Previous to accepting the best gift we will ever be offered there is no way to actually do good things. Some things are seen as nice or kind, but the motives and intentions of the heart are not seen and truth says that we will always be selfish and proud w/o the Spirit working in our hearts and giving us a new heart. Before salvation our works are evil we choose to live in darkness so that those evil works are not exposed like they will be in the light.

21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."

After salvation we have a desire, given by super natural indwelling, that enables us to love truth and light because we desire to have our true nature revealed so God can grow and change us and as we move along in this change the works we do will be seen as good works, carried out in the strength that God gives.

This is all a process and is the reason we were created, to do good works so that others may see those good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven. Those who know should only be able to attribute this change as from God, if we are giving the glory back to Him.

These are hard things to wrap our finite minds around, but God can move us along in this understanding if we ask Him for wisdm to do so. I hope this is helpful.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'll Help You Cry

Last night in our Life 2 Life group I could not help but notice the amount of hurt and pain so many are going through, both in our group directly as well as being connected to friends and family who are experiencing the same.

Having been through some testing myself over the years has given me some insight into where they might be and I know that God's grace is sufficient for everything we are going through today as well as what we will be going through tomorrow. I am reminded that there are no left overs of His grace, we are given the exact amount necessary for today and tomorrow the cup of grace will again be filled to the necessary level- much like the manna in the desert. This correlation just clicked into my brain as I was typing.

There hurt is real and people often need someone to talk to and share their heart and often it is just a shoulder to cry on. Not because they are feeling sorry for themselves but because it really is hard. Larnell Harris sang a song some time ago that was entitled "I'll help you cry" and I think that is fitting.

Solomon told us that there is a time for everything, to laugh and to cry, and often we just want to help the laughing but the crying is hard because we are not quite sure what to say and it makes us uncomfortable but it does help at times to have someone that you can just cry with; someone you love enough and that loves you enough that it is ok to let down your guard and just weep. Those friends are the dear ones.

I remember at the outset of this blog a day filled with tears and there were only a few who I considered friends enough to really cry with. My son was lying almost dead in another room and was I supposed to be strong for the 75 people in the waiting room or were they supposed to see my crying? I knew God was in control- I really did- but it was still really hard and when Sean came up and gave me a huge hug and just held onto me, that was the right place to cry.

I hope that if tis finds you hurting that you a friend who will help you cry and will then help you to look to the One Who is able, in all things and times, to heal those hurts and use these circumstances to bring you closer to Himself. We often know what we are supposed to do, but maybe we just need a little time to get past the really hard part before we can start moving forward.

Look to Jesus. For those who are not hurting so much today may we be ready to be a balm for those who are.

Monday, September 12, 2011

For-earthly-ever Changed Security

As we fly past the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack I am reminded of where I was that morning and how different things are around us now. I am reminded that often I take life for granted and that until that day I took my security for granted.

Somethings in our lives were changed "for-earthly-ever" that day. We will never get to just hop on a plane without be asked to disrobe and jump through a bunch of hoops, but it still beats walking or swimming. We will not have the freedom to walk into a court house in any large city without doing the same. There will always be increased threats on our freedoms from those who don't really care about freedom and sometimes they will just be threats to see if they can disrupt and sometimes they will be very real and we won't know until the precise moment comes which is which.

So, we can live in fear the rest of our earthly days, thinking that someone is always out to get us, or we can know that at the precise time, and not a moment sooner, that God has determined to take us home is the ONLY moment we can be taken home and so we can rest knowing He is in control of all things.

Picture for a moment a battle field and bullets flying all over the place; some ricocheting off of tree branches so small they are barely seen, but changing the trajectory of a bullet by a few degrees, just enough to either miss a soldier or hit one in exactly the "Wrong" spot and their life is for-ever earthly changed. Millions of bullets fly and some hit and many miss; one soldier goes through the entire battle w/o a scratch while another is killed and many are injured. Is it fate that chooses who gets which?

Who sets the course of those bullets? It is not God who is evil and makes war, but all does fall under His devine control. Why were you or I not on those plans or in those buildings? Why does the car in front of you get t-boned and not yours'? Why does yours' get t-boned? Why does one person get cancer while another live in abundant health?

The peace and security we enjoy everyday does NOT primarily come from the government we are under, though we do have freedoms that other countries never could imagine, our freedom inevitably comes from God and our security comes from Him as well. Was Daniel concerned about the evil government under which he lived? Were early Church Christians concerned that their freedoms or security would be taken away? They weren't looking at life here on earth as a picnic that should not be interrupted.

If our peace and security is wrapped in a government blanket and we expect to live a quiet and peaceful life w/o disturbance maybe we are living in Mayberry; but even the Mayberrys of the world have their peace and security stolen- Columbine.

So if you are thinking that you deserve to live in harmony with all who are around you and that the government is going to keep you safe, think again. That can change in an instant, like 9/11 changed our lives for-earthly-ever. If you are looking for a life on earth where everyone just gets along and is helpfully serving his brother; keep looking but you're not going to find it on earth.

Our security is given and kept ONLY by God-period. We can and should do what we can to bring terrorists to justice, but when all is laid out the evil people in this world are going to be evil and that might overlap into your life or mine. Will it cripple us or be our "spiritual-therapy"? If it brings us to our knees in thanks and praise to God for His care for us and our loved ones, then those who are trying to take it away have lost, but if we curl up in a fetal ball bc we are too worried about going outside then they have won.

Looking to the right One for security is the most important part. If we are to be safe here on earth then great, but what if He understands it is best for is to suffer- then it is still best. Do you trust His plan? Are you looking for your security in the right place or are you worried? The only real security is being IN Christ, all else is temporary and may end in a moments notice. May He give us peace beyond comprehension.