Monthly Archives: April 2014

Sin – confession of necessary to be forgiven – I John 1:9

Well, officials of Sweetwater Union High School District, in National City, California, have finally come to judgment.  A chief participant in the corruption between school board officials and contractors looking to personally profit by getting a share in millions of dollars of school bond contracts, actually got 90 days of home confinement and a fine of $7,994.  90 Days!  Prosecutors had requested jail for six months.

During the trial the defendant admitted that she accepted responsibility for her mistakes.  Yet, she claimed that no malice or ulterior motives promoted them.  Further, she knew she “was wrong” but didn’t do it intentionally.  After the judge delivered the feather-sentence, the defendant expressed disappointment – San Union Tribune, 4/29/14.

Question:  did she desire a lighter sentence?  Dismissal of all charges?  Or, in a moment of honesty, the jail time prosecutors wanted?  GUESS!

Question:  how could she KNOW she was wrong, but claim lack of intention?  How could she at once KNOW she’s guilty, yet claim innocence?  That’s an ultimate oxymoron.

But no more inconsistent than we when we confess our sins to God—with conditions, explanations, and justifications.  In the context of I John 1:8-10, verse nine glows as the sinner’s best hope:  if we CONFESS our sins, God will forgive.  But please note:  the verses before and after that promise warn us against any effort to qualify our guilt, to reduce our shame, to explain whey we felt compelled to violate God’s holiness.  If we claim to be sinless, we deceive ourselves.  If we claim to be sinners, but with justification, we equally deceive ourselves.  And, unlike that cotton-ball San Diego judge, God will not wipe out our sins if we insist we had reasons to commit them.

Arrogance – allied with amazing stupidity

The 18th century Enlightenment thinkers decided that the universe obeyed “predictable natural laws”—not the “arbitrary dictates of an inscrutable God.”  American Colonies, 446.  How utterly fatuous!  How could there be “predictable natural laws” without a Lawgiver?  To deny a Lawgiver predicates chance as the source of “predictable natural laws.”  But when has CHANCE ever been predictable as a basis of consistency?

That’s the same stance taken by university teachers in American schools.  Using evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” as an example, they say that it’s child abuse to teach children that God gives meaning to life.  Following that, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, in “A Universe From Nothing” says “Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born.”  Krauss admitted to once believing the myths of the Bible—to show his monumental ignorance, he equated the Koran with the Bible—but he “grew out of it—just like Santa Claus.”  And he labels the Christian beliefs of a brilliant geneticist as “wacko.”  San Diego Union Tribune, 3/31/14.

Consider the inconsistency dogging these fools.  Their brain, which they had absolutely no part in forming—nor did any of their ancestors, some of whom may have believed in God—came from outside ALL mortals in EVERY age.  Yet, in defiance of all logic, they declare debt to no one outside themselves:  for the life they have; for the ability to think and form value judgments; and, outrageously arrogant, for the intellectual insight to KNOW that God Almighty doesn’t exist.  How easily arrogance becomes equally

Salvation – only by grace alone

The solo hike into the Cascades at first exhilarated him, the exact medication his flagging spirits needed.  But he sensed impending doom as dark clouds on the third day began dropping heavy snow.

As the snow thickened he found it increasingly difficult to find his way.  He stopped to get his bearings, squared himself with the tree line, and plunged on.  Stopping again, he raised one shoe, banged it on his other leg to clean it and stepped forward.  The ground instantly gave way and he plunged into the blackness.  Thumping against the canyon floor, he quickly rose from its waters, chilled to the skin, but thankful to have broken no bones.

He grasped for a candle in his backpack, lighted it and found himself in a cavern 10 feet wide and nearly 14 feet deep.  Above him he could distinguish the patch of gray light where he had broken through.  Below him a foot of water washed his rubber-soled boots.

After exploring the cavern he determined that it had no exit other than the small hole so far overhead.  As he ate sparingly from his food supply he tried to think of a way out.  When he remembered the 30 foot climbing rope in his pack, he formulated a plan.  He would tie a stone to one end and throw it up, out of the hole.  It might catch on or between something and he could haul himself out.  Not the most hopeful of possibilities, but at least something and…by far, better than doing nothing.

At first light he began.  Looping the rope securely around the rock, he flung it as a missile up and out of the cave.  More than 20 times it went up and out, only to fall back in, clattering against the walls and splashing in the brook rushing through the crevice.

He decided to pitch around the entire hole, figuring the systematic effort would bring success.  All day long he tried, only to see the rock hurtle back each time.  That night he napped, standing against the wall, his boots soaked in the water.

The next morning he returned to the routine:  throw, pull, dodge the falling missile, then return to throw, pull and dodge.  Late that afternoon the rock caught.  When he yanked on it, it held.  So, laden with his poles, pack and snowshoes he began the hand-over-hand effort to hoist himself up and out.  To his bitter disappointment, the rope went slack and he plunged back into frigid isolation.

He fell into a fitful sleep that night, having thrown the rope over a tree root and fixed it as a sling.  After sleeping 24 hours, sharp pains in his legs aroused him and he instantly ate to gain strength.

He threw the rope again, and it held.  But as he put his full weight on it, back it came.  Several hours later it caught again, with the same result.

Aware of the need to keep his wits, he realized that hypothermia had begun sapping his strength.  He wobbled as he walked and spoke to himself in blurred undertones  More alarmingly, the stream had begun to rise, washing at his knees.  He had to get out, and soon, or he would die.

He grabbed the stone, flung it with all his strength out into the night.  It came back in.  He threw it again, with the same result.  He threw it again and again, with no result.  And then…the line held.  More encouragingly, when he hung from the rope, it held his weight.

Once again he tied his equipment around him and began the hand-over-hand effort.  When he needed to rest, he seized the rope in his teeth, and bit till he could pull again.  By inches he toiled upwards, every second climbing to safety, each moment bringing him nearer the opening.  Then, suddenly, he felt rain and wind on his face.

At the surface he tilted his upper body back and kicked up with his right leg, slamming it into the snow outside.  He twisted over backwards, his whole body came out and he tumbled from his prison, free at last.

Forcing himself to walk, he plodded ten miles through the rain until he reached a highway.  As he climbed to its surface headlights approached.  He stuck out his thumb and was picked up.

He had found himself in a do-or-die situation.  It was save himself or perish.  No one could help.  And, though his friends had reported him overdue, and volunteer searchers in snowmobiles searched his map route, they found nothing.  Helicopters had also searched, but to no avail.  He was dead unless he could extricate himself.

Because he tried, and kept trying, time after time, hour after hour, day after day, he succeeded.  The toss that saved him had wound its way around the limb of a dead tree.  (Reader’s Digest, Date Unknown)

Try, try, try again.  Never, never, never give up.  It saved him.

An amazing feat.  A fortunate man, indeed.

Spiritually, the man represents many who seek to be saved by their own efforts, who keep trying, whatever failure they experience, who never give up, however much they are shown it can’t be done.

Maybe by a superhuman effort we can save ourselves from physical death the way that man did.  But in being saved from sin, never.  We can’t find that dead tree limb around which we can wrap our hopes and toward which we can haul ourselves to safety.  There is no way…none…zero…for us to be saved by personal effort.  That must come from God.

Some people may not realize that God has provided the way out for us, and they search, panic-stricken, for a means to find salvation, to appease the deity they believe in and trust.  They need to be told of the way God has already provided; many of them will accept.

Others know that a way has been provided, but they have little faith in it; they think it’s too simple, foolish, ancient, etc; or they want to find their own way.  They must be warned that no other way exists.  Jesus has made access to God possible.  We must seek it through him or we’ll never find.

Whoever it may be, all must know:  Christ alone saves us from sin.  No one else…not we or another can.  Only He.  He will save all who come and ask forgiveness, none exempted.  But all who seek elsewhere will never find and…be forewarned,  everyone…they will die in their sins.

 

 

Serendipity – example of; Experience – everyone has an

A young doctor, checking on one of his own patients in a private hospital, was asked to certify the death of a premature baby born hours before.  Instead of assuming the child’s death, the doctor detected life and began resuscitation procedures:  in this case, his mouth covering the baby’s mouth and nose, while holding his four fingers “under the baby’s spine”, and the thumb of the other gently compressing the baby’s chest.  A faint heart beat resulted and an “umbilical catheter” was inserted to feed fluids.

  1. While in the hospital other pediatricians asked the doctor why he hadn’t attended their meeting.  He told them he had received no memo of the meeting.  It also struck him that he, of all pediatricians in the hospital, had experience in resuscitating a preemie.
  2. His job completed, he pushed the baby across the street to the critical care team. He didn’t bother to enter the mother’s room to ask her name, to offer sympathy or encouragement, to explain what he had done to save her baby, or even to learn the baby’s sex.

In church the following Sunday, the church pastor stopped services to “pray for a family with a sick baby” at the hospital.  It occurred to the doctor that it was the baby he saved from death without realizing it belonged to a church family.

That interrupted service, seeking God’s help for a family’s newborn, got Doc’s attention—and he began regarding his patients as real people.  A year or so later an article appeared in the Charleston paper about a baby who “survived after months of care at” a local hospital.  The doctor knew that was his baby and “he started thinking more about how he practiced medicine”.  Nevertheless, medical expertise, not pastoral care, occupied his time in the next ten years.  Then as a Bible teacher at church, he realized “he was missing something.  He realized it was compassion.”  It surprised him in relating to patients after this that he would quite unconsciously find himself emotional and tearing-up.  It took him awhile to diagnose it as the compassion he prayed for.

In January, 2013, in the hospital he was serving, another premature baby—a 23-week preemie—was anticipated.  Since the hospital neonatologist wasn’t on duty, Doc offered to stay to deliver and care for the preemie.  As he waited, he shared with a nurse his experience of 37 years before with another preemie.  Another nurse overheard, came over and got involved in the conversation.  She asked if he knew the baby’s name and the newspaper article about it.  He remembered neither, but he did recall that the newspaper article was titled something like, “The Million Dollar Baby”—the hospital bill.

The nurse corrected the title—from Million Dollar Baby to “The Miracle Baby.”  In fact, she knew the name of the baby, the name of the mother and the name of the father.  Because, “she was that baby.”  A 36 year old neonatal nurse herself, and the mother of two, she had worked with the doctor for five years taking care of newborns, without knowing their life-connection from 37 years before.

The revelation jolted him.  He hadn’t taken time 37 years before to have compassion on a crisis-ridden mother and father.  In the three months the little preemie stayed in the hospital fighting for life, the doctor had made no effort to visit the parents.  And, until the meeting 37 years later, the parents didn’t:  know their daughter had stopped breathing before the doctor revived her; know he should have been at a meeting, not in the neonatal care unit.  And, while they viewed him as hero, he considered himself a “jerk” for not having compassion equal to his technical skills.  (World Magazine, 52-53, January 25, 2014)

Whatever our task, and however skilled we are at it, Jesus reminds us that it’s his LOVE, not our skill, which identifies us as his children John 13:34-35.

Animals – a continuing source of division among people

When the horse transformed Indian culture it also changed the role and status of Indian women.  In a good way, the animals substituted for women, children and dogs carrying heavier loads.  The animals brought greater access to buffalo herds, resulting in improved health, better food source and personal reproduction.

In an unpleasant way, the work of carrying for the animals fell to the women.  The greater volume of animal skins meant more labor in tanning and drying them, and in making increased amounts of pemmican.  In addition, the four-legged leviathan regularly stomped on and over village crops women had painstakingly prepared, planted and cultivated.  The ultimate insult—really a tribute in their society—women became targets of raids by other tribes, who needed to add to their work force.

A 19th century missionary to the Pawnees noted that the village horses occasioned more jealousy and family quarrels than all other reasons combined.  Differences over the animals became so  heated husbands and wives separated, “sometimes for life.” American Colonies, page 409.

And we thought most marriage disagreements centered on sex, money or in-laws.

Fact is, humans will always find points over which to disagree—and sometimes so violently divorce occurs.  And, indeed, the animal rights movement has so vigorously pushed their agenda that Biblicists refuse to be pushed any further.  Taking dogs as representative of all, animals are beasts of the earth and nothing more.  They are family pets, not members of a family.  Except in rare cases, where their presence is essential to a person’s welfare, animals should be kept outside, not pampered inside with their own beds—sometimes the human bed.  They are beasts and their owners are master and mistress, not mommy and daddy.  They should be allowed to die when they contract cancer or get hit by a car or get too old to navigate.  The attention paid to animals now spits in God’s face, and scripture tells us God won’t tolerate that long before he condemns Galatians 6:7.  Listen America; this is only one of any number of ways we should repent before Judgment falls!

 

God – his Fatherhood and ours

Christians are sometimes the victims of great faith in God.  Consider that in the context of ancient Greeks.  If they sought favor from their gods/goddesses, and didn’t receive, they could always ascribe it to the dueling competition between deities:  what one would give another wouldn’t allow.  The Christian believer knows that God can answer any appeal because he does whatever he pleases.  It’s never a matter of can’t with God, but a matter of won’t.

With this in mind, if a human father has a child in need, he feels compelled to help.  What kind of parent would he be if he didn’t?  That being true, why doesn’t our heavenly Father respond quickly, generously and mercifully to us, especially since we derive our parenting skills from him?

Because divine and human parenting operate from separate perspectives:  ours most often from our child’s immediate need and God’s always from his ultimate goal.  What satisfies us by meeting an immediate need may be unsatisfactory to God by interfering with his ultimate goal for us.  Read Romans 8:28-29 before continuing.  Having read that helps us see that God has our spiritual purpose and destiny in mind, not merely our physical or economic or social comfort and well-being.  And he can be faithful to his Fatherhood only if his response to any request brings us closer to his goal for us.

If any good he gave would lead us further from Christ-likeness, God won’t give it.  Period.  He will never be faithless to himself in order to keep faith with us.  And, especially true, if God determines that hardship or discipline of some kind will hasten our development in Christ-likeness, he will impose the hardship/discipline.  If that means we have to tough through whatever experience we’re in, we have to tough it out.  Faith in God demands our willingness to let God’s will be done in order to make us more like Jesus—even if in the process we find life difficult.

The casual believer in general, and the unbeliever particularly, can never understand this.  They think too much of self-fulfillment, self-desire and self-pleasure to willingly undergo experiences that challenge them to go beyond comfort to Christ-likeness.  In that sense, it’s a lethal blow to the human ego to ask for God’s will to be done in us.  For that may involve costs we never thought to pay; moves we never thought to make; and generosity we never thought to afford.

The worth of any experience is its end result.  If success leaves us less like Jesus, it’s venomously dangerous.  If failure brings us closer to Jesus, it’s irreplaceably valuable.

Only those who refuse God’s will can be exempt from God’s discipline.  All desiring Christ-likeness must undergo it.  But look at it like this:  do we prefer to pay the price of discipleship now or the price of unbelief later?  What will we want to hear at Judgment—“well done—enter”; or “I never knew you—depart”?