Monthly Archives: February 2015

Truth – God’s is absolutely essential

This writer recently attended a minister’s meeting.  Good fun, fellowship and food existed.  Even better, a church funding organization paid the bill.  A couple good speakers shared some insights.

What impacted me most, as happens in every gathering of Christians, was how confidently we declare Christ’s word among ourselves.  We really believe it.

The problem is:  we believe it OFTEN because we believe it.  Our faith makes it true.  Which the slogan underscores:  God says it.  I believe it.  That settles it.

In reality, it doesn’t matter if we believe it.  If God says it, THAT settles it.  Neither we nor skeptics have anything to say about the production of evidence.  God determines when the evidence he presents is sufficient to prove that he IS and Jesus Christ is his Only Begotten Son.

Which is why apologetics needs to be an essential in church programs and Bible College curriculums.  We need to believe because God’s evidence demands acceptance.  I’m presently writing a series of books called Their Own Best Defense.  The series offers a text-by-chronological-text study of the Four Gospels.  Each text surfaces evidences that the Four Evangelists correctly and authentically recorded the life and ministry of Jesus.  The first volume is published and available at:    https://www.redemption-press.com/author/18630/virgil-hurley (both hard copy and E-book).  It’s also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The point of all this is:  when we tell seeking-unbelievers or skeptics that we believe the Gospels’ record of Jesus, we have proof of it in each text of the Gospels.  While it may be comfortable living within our subjective belief, outsiders may consider it good for us but not for them.  (The old post-modern view, still the basis of much religious thought.)  However, if God says it, and proves it in his Word, all of us better pay attention.  Since Jesus Christ is exactly what the Four Gospels say, honesty demands we accept him.  We’ll be glad now and forever.  God warns us:  if we don’t accept him, for whatever, reason, get prepared.  In the world to come we’ll never be happy again.

 

Christ – unspoken message of

Revelation 3:20 surfaces Christ’s unspoken message.  He wants to re-decorate our interior; to re-arrange our life and bring it into harmony with God’s will.  That’s why he knocks at every heart’s door.

Invited in, he takes every needed measurement, notes the architecture of our personality and drafts a tailor-made plan so that each life can perfectly praise God in its own way.  The Holy Spirit superintends the work.  Through baptism he first washes away the ugly flesh color in our mind and, by his indwelling Presence, paints us with Heaven’s effervescent hues.  Then, not content with a clean but empty room, he lavishes gorgeous ornamentation.  He weaves tapestries on our mind’s walls that dramatize God’s mercies and everlasting love.  On other walls—our heart, our will, our intentions—he hangs the pictures and figurines of faith:  “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right…. Philippians 4:8.  A beautiful mosaic of faithful service covers the floor, as varied as all the talents of God’s people.

For finely-made furniture, Christ provides faith on which the life can rest.  For light, the Spirit’s own brilliant illumination.  For entertainment, music piped from heaven to the soul.  For relaxation, the constant awareness of mental and emotional peace.  For windows, the single-minded purpose of obeying God’s will.  For drapes to accentuate that purpose, the all-covering, blood-bought salvation of Christ.  In a small closet of our heart, tucked inconspicuously to the side, is the sacred place where we keep God’s Word that we might not sin against Him.  When he is finished re-doing our soul, we look in and the sight catches away our breath.  As it was in the beginning, so it is now, “very good.”  That’s what happens when Jesus comes in to re-decorate our interior. Every time.  Without fail.

Truth – the disregard of in our culture

A professor emeritus at San Diego State University comes with first-hand knowledge of Nazism.  Born in 1932, before Hitler gained power, he lived through the short years of Nazi triumph and what seemed longer years of Allied bombing and Germany’s destruction.

In an interview with a Union-Tribune reporter, the now 83 year old pondered the evil loosed by Nazis in WW II.  Perhaps he’s unaware of, or ignoring, the equal depravity loosed by Stalin and his ilk before and after WW II.  Anyway, he concluded that individuals in Germany, hardened “by grievance of social conditions,” were capable of unleashing their privations, prejudices and fears on innocent people.  He noted that ISIS is a similar organization today.

The good professor doesn’t note the influence of the Koran on ISIS and its assorted fraternity.  Notwithstanding the incorrigible unwillingness of Obama to see Islam as the cause of terrorism, the Koran and its teachers, and the nature of Islam, account for it.  As an expert on the Koran and Islam says, there are enough differences in the Koran’s teaching that any interpretation, from tolerance to patience, is possible.  The notably violent terrorist interpretation is presently dominant.  As usual, moderate Moslems remain silent.

But let us look at the professor’s explanation of evil.  He’s too well educated not to know that Nazi theorists-philosophers adapted Darwin’s biological evolution to Germany’s social and political evolution.  Where Darwin developed the “survival of the fittest,” Alfred Rosenberg and others speculated the Nazis’ as the “fittest of the fit,” the superior race destined to rule 1000 years.  Union-Tribune 2/23/15

True to his evolutionary peers, the professor refuses to admit publicly that those Nazi theorists led to the development of Hitler’s social and intellectual superiority.  On that those leaders then recruited ruffians to take the practical steps the theorists theorized:  a master race has the right to punish all sub-human species.  (Southern slave owners used just that theory to establish and perpetuate their penitentiary culture, recruiting slave catchers to pursue fleeing slaves.)

As the apostle Paul discovered in Thessalonica, the leading Jews decided he was a nuisance they hated.  (Their theory being the superiority of Moses to all other religious thought, including Christianity.)  Not wanting to do the actual dirty work of persecuting him, “they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city” Acts 17:5.

That neat bi-furcation of thought and wickedness remains formidably strong in America.  The liberal intellectuals—in charge of America’s colleges and universities, and allowing no positive reference to God—see no nexus between their evolutionary, anti-God theories AND the continuing decay to depravity in American society.  Because they remain in their ivory towers speculating this and that baseless, damned theory—the word dammed describes a condition, not a profanity—they consider society improved by our tolerance of all lifestyles, not the sign of depravity.

The intellectuals—the highly-paid and honored mind-benders—are the criminal origin of godless theories.  The Hollywood moguls, the New York publishing industry, the T.V. executives—are simply the street stooges purveying the dirty work.  They put on celluloid what those professors speculate in academia.  Those stooges, once the students of the Ph.D.’s, and now in charge of movie and T.V. productions, fling their profanity, gratuitous sex and violence around like they’re virtues, not Satanic lies.  They have simply adapted the atheism of the universities to the screen for public consumption.  The result is immorality in its depraved form of  homosexuality; a cesspool of violence, profanity and anti-God propaganda.  Why should Christians actively support an industry that has so corrupted our country?

Life – one day at a time

In a vicious battle with the Cimbri, Marius’ Romans had to fight the dust as much as the foe.  Conditions caused the armies to actually miss each other when they first attacked.  The legionnaires afterwards swore that they had never fought at such a disadvantage.  Yet, the dust served the Romans well.  It exposed only a few of the enemy at a time and hid the great host they held in reserve.  Thus encouraged, Marius’ troops whipped every detachment confronting them.  And, in the end, won the battle.

When the Persian navy arrived at Salamis, Themistocles kept his smaller forces inside the harbor.  His lieutenants demanded that he foray outside and attack.  By instead enticing the Persians to sail in shifts into the harbor to defeat the Greeks, the Greeks defeated them in detail.

A colonial girl was taken captive when Indians attacked her village.  She bolted to freedom when her guard got careless a few days into her captivity.  She wandered into a valley that night and found it surrounded by what seemed incredibly steep hills.  Feeling trapped, she contemplated recapture or death.  However, morning light showed that she could scale the mountains if she took but one hand and foothold at a time.  In this way, she returned to freedom.

The greatest teacher EVER taught us, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6:34.  Jesus obviously didn’t eliminate planning for the future.  Marius marched his army to where it could fight.  Themistocles built the Greek navy so it could win.  The captive seized the advantage of an unguarded moment to escape.

Nevertheless, all long-term planning eventuates in daily activities.  God gives us life day by day for one reason, if no other:  if we saw all of life at once, the very complexity, uncertainty, disappointments, defeats and victories would intimidate and terrify.

Living one day at a time renders life manageable and conquerable.  Let us be wise enough to follow Christ’s teaching.  Let us not borrow trouble tomorrow may have.  Use God’s strength to contest the trouble today likely will have.

 

Having only one day at a time might seem a handicap.  In reality it has one great merit:  it breaks life into manageable portions.   One day at a time is what we do best.  That’s particularly true of discipleship.  While we could faint before the prospect of a life of self-denial, anyone can practice self-denial today!  Permanent discipleship consists of repetitions of daily self-denial.

Check out my new Ebook (Love is Like That) at www.smashwords.com/books/view/521088.

Crime – does pay

While in probation for possessing heroin, meaning he couldn’t have heroin in his possession, the man was arrested for possessing it.  He died two days later in the County jail.

His parents promptly sued the county of San Diego for “wrongful death and cruel and unusual punishment.”  The jury sympathized and rewarded them a $3 million settlement.  They based their reasoning on 1) a denial of his civil rights; 2) the testimony of a forensic pathologist who said he died from an asthma attack caused by withdrawal; 3) their determination that the jail staff used improper procedures, including inadequate supervision, for a detoxing-inmate.

Let’s see if we understand this.  The man had been jailed at other times on drug charges.  Both his addiction and medical condition were documented, including his previous withdrawal procedures.  When symptoms of withdrawal occurred, he requested help.  The staff gave him a different anti-nausea medication because he didn’t want the prescription previously given for asthma.  They also provided an emergency inhaler.  Still, he died.

The lawyer representing the family assured the reporter that “more than anything,” the family wanted the litigation to bring “change” in police procedures for such inmates.  Since he stressed “principle” more than anything, did the lawyer forego his 30%, or whatever percentage he gets, from the $3 million?  Union-Tribune, 11/11/15

Crime does pay if you have the gall to sue the police, the courts, the doctors—anybody but yourself or the person guilty when drug or alcohol addition kills unexpectedly.

Lawyers, in the wake of the disastrous decision to let them advertise, must MAKE work.  More than enough opportunities exist for them to use their education.

Think, however:  why should those parents be rewarded for not putting their wayward boy in recovery programs earlier?  Or why should that recidivist be the cause of rewarding vast sums because he wouldn’t commit himself to a recovery program?  Or wouldn’t take the usual medication offered in jail?

Check out my new Ebook at www.smashwords.com/books/view/521088.

Conversion – our second chance

A San Diego man co-owns a wood reclamation shop, where he turns different kinds of old wood into useful benches, tables, flooring, and doors.  Driving some 50,000 miles a year in Oregon, servicing the ATMs owned there, gives him splendid opportunities to find unused wood barns, houses, outbuildings, and fences.  These he has dismantled and shipped to his San Diego shop.  Among the rough boards sent south were wood from an 18th century Oregon monastery and a 200 year old barn in Delaware.  Union-Tribune, 1/17/15

Two pictures in the article had special interest.  The first showed the usually two-four inch thick boards piled high, the various colors identifying the wood to their practiced eye.  The second featured a conference table he made from such boards.  The table revealed its age and its true-wood look.  The craftsman preserved the identity of the resource while creating a useful tool for humans.  Union-Tribune, 1/17/15

Conversion to Christ is like that.  We come to him with all the imperfections years of sin have marked on us—with holes, splits, cracks, nails protruding.  Then the Holy Spirit, God’s Spiritual Master Craftsman, sizes us up, spies along all our sides and breadth and colors, sees how each can best be fashioned to get the most out of what we bring to him.  When the Spirit finishes we’ll have all the marks of our persona left, with every imperfection removed or covered, fit to be a spiritual instrument of Jesus Christ.

One might wonder if it wouldn’t be better to leave our imperfections as scars, to be a witness of our perseverance in discipleship.  Probably not.  The only one in Heaven with scars will be the Lord Jesus.  For a definitive reason:  his will be the scars of redemption, which only he achieved.  Ours would be merely of service, maybe of sins, mistakes, or accidents.  Hardly worth mentioning, let alone remembering.

Nature – the wonder of its Creator

A Union-Tribune article featured the birds frequenting San Diego beaches in wintertime.  Some, like the Sanderling, have flown here from Alaska’s North Slope and will continue in stages to the tip of South America, something of 6,000 miles.  Others, like the Whimbrel remain shoreline winter guests until the mysterious instinct that called them south from Alaska’s north will send them back to mate and nest.

Among interesting facts in the article, the writer noted the specific coloring, beak size and body size of the aviary wonders.  Birdwatchers have categorized and described them in enough detail that, given enough study, amateurs can discern a Whimbrel from a Sanderling.

The greater mystery of the birds is that their devotees never stop to inquire into their origin; or to ask how such frail creatures, on spindle-legs, seeing through beady eyes, and thinking with a microscopic brain, could make such journeys yearly—where many had not been before.  How would they know when to make the long flights from north to south, and back again?  Union-Tribune, 1/17/15

The Christian looks at all creatures and delights in God’s genius as Creator.  The naturalist looks at the creatures and marvels at what they can do without wondering WHY.  Who made it possible?  What was the Creator’s purpose?  How was it done?

Genesis 1-3 answers the basic questions of all articles, books, lectures, and sermons on the subject of:  Who, What, Why, When, How?  But so few take Genesis literally, as a six-day, 24 hour-day creation. And those of us who do are considered naive and ignorant.

Let us be warned.  There are many ways to take God’s name in vain.  And the greatest profanity against God is to deny his significance as Creator of all through Jesus Christ John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-16, Hebrews 1:1-2, etc.  Once we deny him as Origin of all, sin against God is possible, nay necessary.  God warns us that we cannot mock him—Galatians 6:11.  The word means “to turn up one’s nose.”  It referred in the Greek language to those turning their bloody noses up to stem the bleeding.  Note:  Paul didn’t say we shouldn’t turn up our noses at God.  He did say we can’t.  It’s impossible.  We may do it, but it’s useless.  Holding up one’s bloody nose can alleviate or stop the bleeding.  Sticking one’s nose up at God guarantees his wrath and condemnation.  Yet, we continue think that no retribution occurs if we snub God.  He says retribution is so sure it CAN’T be avoided.  America; take notice!

Emotion – by osmosis

In any atmosphere—of sorrow and grief, joy and delight, defeat and despair, or victory and euphoria—whatever pervades the whole contagiously affects the parts.  I remember Professor Charles Mills recount his Holy Land trip in 1961.  He and his companions motored through the Continent.  He noted a feeling of oppression overcoming them on entering then communist-controlled Yugoslavia, only to be lifted when they crossed the frontier into Greece.

I write today of grief since Judy and I experienced it recently during two successive weekends.  Good friends, and we with them, lost both a beloved wife, mother and sister and, four days later, her mother.

The sensation of loss particularly impacted me at the committal for the mother.  One of her daughters, like a daughter to Judy and me, embodied the family’s grief, of which plenty existed and was expressed.  Everyone’s sorrow seemed to be expressed in her sudden, convulsive  onslaught of tears and weeping.  On the way to the car I noticed tears in my eyes.  I hadn’t cried.  But Debbie had, and plenty of others, if less noticeably.  The entire atmosphere of mourning in the family created the sense of loss and grief in the entire group.  Tears came easy, gladness hard.

I wonder if that could help explain the Master’s reaction in John 11:35:  “Jesus wept”.  Tears flowed everywhere that day, accompanied by groaning and moaning and screams.  Sensing it all, as one who identified with the people he came to help, Jesus expressed their sorrow in his own tears.  (I consider it only a partial, but helpful, explanation.)

One difference existed.  Where others could only weep, Jesus would banish tears.  Where they could only mourn the loss of Lazarus, he would call him back from the dead.  Which reminds us.  There’s always enough sorrow in life to imperil our sense of JOY.  But there’s always more than enough JOY in Jesus to overcome any sense of sorrow.

Ignorance – a good kind

Blessed are those who have an innocent ignorance.  That’s not the kind of ignorance that Goethe says is the worst of evils; that kind of ignorance is destructive.  When that “ignorance comes to power,” Svetlana Alliluyeva wrote, “encouraging ignorance and basing itself on ignorance, then historical monsters such as Hitlerism, Stalinism, Maoism are born….”

No…Pascal said there are two kinds of positive ignorance.  One is that which we all have at birth.  The second is that which we achieve as we grow in knowledge, only to realize that we know little of all that can be known.  Churchill occasionally humbled himself.  When he got too boastful of his knowledge, he said, he walked into a library.  That brought his hat size down.  This kind of ignorance is good, for it reminds us of our limitations.

Another ignorance is even better.  It’s an innocent ignorance.  It doesn’t know that a thing “can’t be done.”  Many wonderful inventions have made life easier and more productive because men and women didn’t know “it couldn’t be done.”  Not knowing it couldn’t, they did it.  Without that spirit, we’d have no new explorations, discoveries, procedures, products and…even spiritual insights.

God’s people need this kind of ignorance.  We need to teach, not knowing “it won’t do any good.”  To evangelize, not knowing, “he can’t be reached.”  To dream, not knowing “we could never do that.”  If we carry a burden too heavy to bear, ask God for greater strength.  Don’t say, “it can’t be done.”  Be ignorant of that.  Give it to God and we’ll  find, with the prophet Habakkuk, that we can trust God, whatever.  That he will bear our burden and, if we’re willing, give us the pleasure of His Presence in Christ.  Remember the awesome verse from Micah 7:7:  “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

Success – important IF…

We’re success-oriented people, for sure.  We’re told to “compete, overcome, succeed, persevere, climb to the top, be the best.”  All admirable advice…  IF…we channel that spirit within self.  If we don’t use or domineer others in improving ourselves or our station.  If we let Jesus be the model of perfection towards which we work.  That means we always at best improve self, never achieve our ultimate potential.

Then our greatest victory will be conquest of self; our greatest joy forgiveness of sin; our greatest honor the privilege of serving others; our greatest beauty a patient, quiet, anxiety-free spirit; our greatest talent communicating Christ’s love to all; our greatest frontier the undeveloped spiritual dimensions in our minds and hearts; our greatest possession faith in the risen Lord.

Let us succeed all we want.  Strive for excellence.  Commit ourselves to its pursuit.  But let us be very sure that we succeed in the one enterprise that cannot fail. Otherwise, all our success will be a mockery.  God’s cause never fails.  Be a shareholder in a victory already won by the Lord, who gives equal shares of it to his disciples.