Monday, December 27, 2010

Two Horses, One Butt

My friend Nick has this saying that he got from a movie that he likes to use a lot in respect to nostalgia and a human's desire to be with everyone they ever knew, it goes something like "you're trying to ride two horses with one butt."

Well, that's how I feel today. Two of our very best friends came over for a very short visit. They live far away and can only really come home once a year or so. When they left to go back and be with family for the night, we all realized that we probably wouldn't see each other for a really long time, years, maybe longer.

It sucks that we have to live our lives in a place like this, a fallen world I mean. That they live on the other side of the world and we can't live right here in good old CNY and we also can't live next door to each other. I struggle with not wanting to live near them our whole lives, yet, as I hold my son and sing him a lullaby, I realize that there are other places I need to take my life. Other things that I need to concentrate on and worry about. Yes it would be great if they came back to live in this area, and I would enjoy their company as often as possible. But that most likely will not happen. And I just need to move on.

It's hard to have an eternal perspective. It's hard to understand and live out the fact that in reality, we'll be together forever. We have no less time together now than we did twenty minute before they left, but my temporal self wants it NOW. I want to ride the horse of their friendship three years ago and ride the horse of right now at the same time, but... I only have one butt. And so I'll ask our Abba to help me move on with a joyful heart. To help me keep the here-and-now in perspective, that our son needs his diaper changed, and that he needs a man to raise him up unto the Lord. And that's my job. My job isn't to wish our best friends lived closer, to pine away for something that won't be. But to pray that their lives glorify God and that I do everything in my power, with God's help, to make sure ours do too.

Thank you for reading!

Starting Over

When I lived in North Carolina I had a time sowing and reaping in the Word. It was great. I was drinking in the Scripture like it was water and writing a lot about what it meant and the questions I had. Well, that all seemed to slowly fade away as my time went into other things, namely marriage and a baby and trying to figure out how to actually be a father and a husband and much more.

Well, as it turns out, and with no surprise, the way to become both of those things is to spend time daily with the Lord. So I'm recommitting myself to spending time in the Scriptures daily and to writing as often as I receive the motivation. I need to write to process the ideas that go through my mind, otherwise they just sit in there and slowly atrophy and eventually die. I don't really expect anyone to read these entries, except my wife. But if anyone does happen to they are all welcome to comment and correct as they see fit.

So this is the new beginning! I'm starting over, Thanks be to God for second chances!

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Genesis: A Rant

(originally published WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20, 2008)

This is an excerpt from an impassioned email that I wrote to a friend, it's not quite a complete thought, yet, I would love to hear your comments...

-This is all I'm saying. Clearly scientist can show us good evidence that the Earth is billions of years old, that all life on Earth has one ancestor, that the universe is who-knows-how old and started with a big-bang. But what scientists never take into account, even the vast majority of believing ones, is the eye witness testimony of the person who was not only there, but actually did the whole thing to begin with, the person of Jesus Christ.

God said, through the prophet Moses, that He made the whole Earth, and everything on it, including all life, (which of course includes man) in six days. If those words are not to be trusted, then God is useless to me. If I cannot trust the very first words that are shared by God in His Holy Scriptures, then which ones can I trust.

But let us say for a moment that it is not a literal story, but just a story, telling us about God's character and lovingkindness. Well, then you have to make a choice I am not as quick to make, at what point does Genesis become literal?

Clearly, according to this new wisdom, (which is really no wisdom at all) the creation story is not literal. Obviously, this is the very thing in question. But, if chapter one in not intended to be literal, what of chapter two? In chapter two we get a close up account of when God created man. But that took place on day six, so we can assume that that also is not literal. Building on that assumption, Adam and Eve are not literal figures in the history of the world, and with that we write off chapter three as well. If we all descended, or ascended, I guess, which ever, from a common ancestor the concept of a single couple in a special place somewhere is down right irrational. So Adam and Eve were never literally tempted by anyone. Which really up to this point, is not that big of a deal, it's just a story, I can deal with that. But of course, if Adam and Eve are not literal, then neither are their children. Cain, Abel and Seth and such.

What are we up to? Oh yes, chapter six. The flood. Well, we have already ruled out Noah, by extension of genealogy. He was somebody's kid that was somebody's kid, so on and so on who was Adam's son. Which makes our job easy, because that is a long story. Now we are up to chapter eleven, not bad. Who would really believe a story like the flood anyway, it is utterly impossible for water to cover the entire Earth. Where did it come from, where did it go?

So the tower of Babel falls once again, lost in the fact that it was populated by the descendants of Noah and his children. Which leads us up to Abram, the Father of the Chosen Ones of God. Let us assume that up to this point it was just a story that leads us to Abram. I will not go as far to entertain that Abram is not a literal figure, that would be really crazy.

So we are left with eleven chapters of Genesis on the block, by way of rational scientific theory.

We are left with one little problem... Luke. Luke is considered one of the best historians of ancient times, his account of the Gospel is, from a historical perspective, flawless. In his account, around the end of the third chapter he gives a great genealogy that starts with Joseph, Jesus' earthly father and ends with "Seth was the son of Adam and Adam was the son of God."

This is why it is so important to have Genesis as our foundation. A story we can trust and believe in. Genesis is the foundation of all of the Scripture that comes after. If it cannot be trusted there is absolutely no reason to trust anything that follows.

Thank you for reading!

SBE #7: The Will of Our Lord

(originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 06, 2006)

We are here to do the Will of the Lord. Like Jesus, we must forsake our own wills for that of His. We can say, "if it is possible let this cup pass," but we must be also willing to say, "not my will, yours." The Will of Our Lord is rarely easy, but the reward is always sweet. The problem we face as man is that we are so temporal, so here-and-now. If we are to be rewared to do the Will, we want our come-up-ins NOW. Having no experience with eternity, we find it hard to wait for it to come.

Two flaws in thought:

First: Doing the Will should always be reward enough. Knowing that we are doing exactly what Our Father wants should be bliss. Can we know what exactly is the Will, well, I think so. We can especially know what it is not. Call on Abba for His Will, and He will reveal it to you. Spend time in His Word, in His Presence, kneeling before His Throne. He wants us to do His Will, should He not let us know what it is?

Second: Why should we expect a reward in the first place? If the Sovereign of the universe tell us to do this or that, then we should, no questions asked, no reward expected. No one ever got a "you paid your taxes" bonus. I never heard of anyone getting a prize for not speeding. So why the expectation?

Thank you for reading!

SBE #6: Living With the Past

(originally published FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2006)

We cannot live in the past.

We must have regrets, but we cannot live with regrets. A lot of us want to spend our time dwelling on the sins of our past, constantly looking over the shoulder. Satan has convinced us that we need to be always thinking, and feeling guilty about what we have done. God does not want this from us. He does not ask us to dwell on such things, if we have confessed and repented, He has made us whole again. Now look forward. Run the Race, pushing onward, with our eyes fixed on our Prize: Our Heavenly Father.

When will we realize that we have been called, that Abba has made us for another purpose. We are not here to be slaves to sin any longer.

We have all done things that we wish we had not. What is done is done. If God is not going to hold against me my sin, then I am not going to hold my sin against me either. And, maybe, more importantly, I am not going to hold the sins of others against them. I have no need to know about the sin of my loved ones, the sins of their past. That would cause me unnecessary pain. It would be a stumbling block for me. Why drudge up the past. Why create a a situation where I must forgive but might not. God is willing to make Himself ignorant of our sin, for His sake. I think we should be willing to do the same. Let ourselves be ignorant of the sins of others, for His sake, their sake and for our own sake.

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.Isaiah 43:24-26 (in Context)Isaiah 43

Thank you for reading!

STOP SWEARING!! (A short rant)

(originally published SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2006)

You know what really gets me lately. I was just thinking about it last night. What is all this hub-bub about people that want to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth on a book other than the Bible, so help them someone or something other than God. I say, go ahead and let them. And while you're at it. Stop fighting for the right to swear on the Bible, it's a sin. We are told very directly that we are not to swear on anything on Earth or in Heaven. I am pretty sure that includes copies of Holy Scriptures, or BY GOD! for crying out loud! Just 'Let your yes be yes, and your no, no.'

Thank you for reading!

SBE #5: Merry Holidays! Take a Stand For Jesus!

(originally published TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2005)

Okay, I am finally taking an official position on this whole "Merry Christmas"v."Happy Holidays" nonsense. Do I say "Merry Christmas," do I say "Happy Holidays?" Well I will tell you what I say, I say: Merry Christmas, because I want everyone to have a, you guessed it, MERRY CHRISTMAS! Well, Scott, what if I do not celebrate Christmas,what then? Well, then say Happy Holidays; and I will apologize if I have offended you, which I undoubtedly have not. But Scott, what if I am a huge cooperation trying to sell as many things as possible to as many people as possible regardless of whether or not they celebrate Christmas. Well, then say Happy Holidays if you think it's going to sell you more packages, which it will not, but go ahead and say whatever you want.

What is really frustrating me is the ridiculous uproar that "Christians" have made about people and companies saying or not saying Merry Christmas. What a waste of your time. News flash! This world is goingto Hell, and telling them Merry Christmas on their way there, is not the answer. We should put all that energy and all that focus on winning souls for Christ instead of meaningless boycotts and angry letters to Bill O'Reilly.

Christmas is not about saying Merry Christmas, it is not about giving presents to your loved ones, or putting up a holiday tree, oops, I mean, Christmas Tree, or wait... yeah, Christmas Tree. It is not even really about spending time with your family. All of those things are good, fun, tradition, but it is not what Christmas is about. Christmas is about when God came to Earth, the Word made flesh! It is just the beginning of a really great story about how God loves people so much that He had to come to save us from ourselves. The people that Jesus came to save were the people that would not say Merry Christmas, that is the point. We should not be fighting them, we need to love them, show them that Jesus is better then their sad, empty lives. That He can fill holes in their hearts that they are too dead to even know are there. Maybe if Christians in America were more loving, as opposed to angry, people would be more apt to want to say Merry Christmas, instead of trying to force them to; I mean how much sense does that make?

This is my challenge to you: Every time someone says "Happy Holidays" to you, instead of being reminded about how angry you should be, pray for that person. That's it, just pray. Pray that God would reveal Himself to them, in a new way, in a way that would be irresistible! I know that is a lot of prayer, but come on, America needs it.

Thank you for reading!

SBE #4: Two Donkeys

(originally published SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2005)

"When they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth'phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass." The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"-Matthew 21: 1-9 Revised Standard Version

--How is it that the King of the universe could be so humble as to enter into Jerusalem, His Holy City, on a donkey?
I spent this summer in North Carolina, living with my friends Nick and Gwenn. My first job while I was down there was pretty far from HQ. This was both a curse and a blessing... I am going to focus on the blessing. You see, a lot can happen in a forty minute one-way commute to work everyday. I "read" a lot of books on CD, listened to a lot of music, and spent quite a bit of time in silence, listening for the voice of the Lord. What He showed me was that Our Papa can use everything to talk to us, and this time, much like at least once before in history (see Numbers 22:28), He used donkeys to talk to me, but not quite like that.

Now, I have always loved donkeys. I like them as much as I like hippos and sloths(three-toed). Donkeys are great because they can do a lot of work, pull carts and plows, carry all kinds of thing on their backs; what good would the Erie Canal have done us with out donkeys, seriously? But I also like that they are not taking anything from anyone. If they do not feel like moving, they will not move, if you push them too much, you might even get kicked. You have to give them a little respect for that.

So on my trek to work everyday, I would pass by this farm, and living on that farm were these donkeys. They were very cute, as you can see. I would pass by nearly everyday and say to myself, "man, I love those donkeys!" The thing that really struck me about them was how small they were. I am only about five feet *cough cough* seven inches tall and that fence you see in the above photo, that top wire is lower than my under arm; these were seriously short animals. But then came the voice of the LORD...

God said to me, "...this is how humble I was. I rode in to My Holy city on one of those!" And I was floored (In a positive way)! If He was that humble, considering the honor due Him, what is my problem?! I have a pretty hard time getting over myself, and I am just a vapor!

Why not on some great steed, six foot tall at the shoulder, like the mighty King He is? With all glory His, with great trumpets. Or even a chariot, with a parade, or maybe even a elephant! Wow, could you imagine, then everyone would know who He was. Instead, it was a donkey, a work horse that is not even a horse. And if it was anything like these, His feet may have been dragging on the ground all the while.

God humbled Himself so much just becoming a man. Even if He had decided to become a glorious king on Earth, like David or Solomon, that would have still been an infinitely huge step down from His Throne in Heaven, but that was not good enough for Him. He loved us too much to stop there. He rode a donkey when it should have been the King's horse. He washed our feet when we should have been washing His. He took our beating instead of His Throne, and He took our death when He was the only one that deserved life to begin with.

Why would He do this? To fulfill prophecy, right? Well, the prophecy could have said "elephant" just as easily. So why? Why does He love us this much? Why does He love us so much that He would make Himself a servant, even in the face of crucifixion, implemented by those who He was there to love, us! I don't know why He loves us this much, I cannot answer that; but I do know that it is true that He does. And if there is someone out there that loves me that much, how could I not spend my entire life devoted to getting to know Him, to living the way He asks, or just wanting to spend time with Him. If nothing else, everytime I see a donkey, I will think of the time Jesus humbled Himself for us. And heck, the next time He enters His Holy City, we will all know it!He will not be riding a donkey, or a horse, or even an elephant, but a cloud! And the trumpets will be so loud, they will literally raise the dead!

"Only to sit and think of God, oh what a joy it is! To think the thought, to breathe the Name. Earth has no higher bliss."
-Frederick W. Faher

Thank you for reading!

SBE #3: Hey God, What's the Deal with Satan?

(originally published WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2005)

I got an unexpected call the other day, the "anonymous" voice on the other line, whom I will call "grand-pa" said, "Scott, why does Satan exist? If God's so good, then why not get rid of him?"

Well, this is a pretty tough question, I'll do my best, no promises though. Here it goes!

God has a plan for the entire universe. Some of this plan God has graciously revealed to us, while much of it may still be shrouded from our knowledge. A part of that plan is that God desires a relationship with each and every one of us. However, He's not real comfortable forcing us into that relationship. Although He would be justified if He did, He's looking more for a genuine love relationship; we love Him, He loves us. There in lies a problem, if God is the only thing we know, is that a choice?

...The story behind the story...

Lucifer was created as an angel, not just any angel, but the Angel of Light. God apparently intended for him to bring Light (God's Light) and Truth into the world for man. Now the Bible does not tell us the time period between when angels and man were created, but somewhere in there Lucifer, a living being with freewill, decided he wanted to match wits with the Almighty, he wanted to become His equal, he then became Satan, which means "adversary." He decided that he would do what he could to thwart God's plan.

That's a very brief summary of Satan origins, now, what's that point?

Although Satan wants to thwart God's plan, he cannot. God is sovereign over all creation, including Satan. God does allow Satan to temp us, however, but of course, this begs the question, why? But I think this is where we are asking the wrong question. Really, who are we question God's motives? What is the clay to say to the potter, what will you make of me? Now I know what you are thinking, "this is a bit of a theological trump card", and it might be, but never the less, it's true. Man's wisdom, our smartest, our best effort, our most scholarly, it is all foolishness to God. His ways are so beyond us, His Wisdom so great, that we will never really understand it all. It seems bazaar to us that a "Good God," would allow Satan to exist...

God loves you. He wants to have a relationship with you, in which you are a real part of Him. Where you come to Him, as you would your father. But He's better than a father, He's a Father (with a capital F). You see, He knows you, He knew your name before you were born, He's counted the hairs on your head. And He wants you to know that He knows.

There will be a day when God throws Satan into the pit, never to torment again, it is promised. That day, however is for God to decide. Until then we must trust in His plan to do what is best for us. If we love God, He promises that He will work all things for our good, including anything Satan might have in store for us. Why does He allow Satan to continue? I am not sure I am totally qualified to say, I will let God's words speak:
we...exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about
perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character,
hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out
within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

Thank you for reading!

SBE #2: Storing Up Treasures

(originally published TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2005)

Why is it that Christians, as a general rule, feel like they must save money for retirement? It seems to me that this is almost a waste of money. Didn't Jesus tell us that we should not worry about tomorrow, because today has enough trouble of it's own. He also tells us that the ravens don't store food up in warehouses, yet they are taken care of, He then asks how much more important are we then birds?

But those examples are not even what got me thinking. I was most moved when I read the story about the old woman who gave two copper coins to the collection at the temple, this equaled about one cent. Jesus told His disciples that she had given more than all the others donors who gave to the treasury, who were putting in large sums of money. How could this be? As He explained to His disciples it was because they gave out of their surplus, their abundance, she gave all that she owned, all that she had to live on. As far as we might assume, she may not have even been able to eat that day. But she would trust in the Lord's provision.

It made me think, how much money do we have in our surplus? How much money do we as Christians have, collectively, that sits in an account somewhere for forty years or more, that does nothing for the Kingdom to which we belong? God never tells us to save money for retirement, as a matter of fact, He never tells us to retire (He does say that if we do not work, we do not eat). I found only one example of retirement in the scripture, and it had to do with Temple priests, but they were retiring from a specific job, not work entirely. This might be a striking contrast to what our modern-day American culture would have us do or believe. But why such a contrast?

Where our treasure is, there to will be our hearts. Does this imply that we with large, or even just moderate retirement savings have our hearts set on the ends of our lives, just those last few years? What about now? What about people in need -NOW? I heard on the radio, true or not, that one dollar can supply the average African with drinking water for an entire year, one dollar! This is the average cost, but still... How much drinking water do we have in our savings? It reminds me of the movie Schindler's List, when he realizes how little he really did. Yes he saved hundreds of Jews form the Holocaust, the impact of his choices will live forever, I am sure. But to Schindler himself, he did not do enough, because he still had a ring on his finger, he still drove a really nice car, and so on. "How many more Jews could that have saved," he wondered.

Saving for retirement seems like good financial planning, it's true, but from who's perspective? If God isn't asking us to save for retirement, if he's not asking us to retire, then who is? I'm not suggesting that it was Satan's idea, not by any means. Well, maybe, but probably not. Think about what happens if we die "pre-retirement." God might say to us, "What's the deal with all that money you had saved up? I didn't intend for you to retire, you're dead now, from your money's point of view. It's totally useless to you now, why didn't you use it to help grow My Kingdom on Earth?"

It just seems inappropriate to some degree. It doesn't sit well in my soul. However, I have not settled my mind on this point yet this essay is just a thought. If you have anything to add, or any points that I might not have considered, please share. Because as it sits, I don't get it.

Thank you for reading!

SBE #1: The Forgiveness of Sins

(originally published THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2005)

As for me, I am not one to think to highly of my own opinion... well, not too highly anyway. You might disagree if you know me, but I have been through a lot lately. Not anything I will go into presently, but I assure you, real change is taking place.

Not long ago, forget about how long exactly, it does not matter, I realized that forgiving people, of wrongs they have done to us, is about the hardest thing we might ever have to do. For some, admittedly, it does seem come easier than for others. But for those whom it does come easy, we might tend to question the depth of that forgiveness. It is not enough that we tell someone that we forgive them while still harboring resentment, all the while playing well the part of a friend. Nor is it enough that we are just "okay" with them, tolerating them, so to speak; we must forgive as our Father forgives.

When our Heavenly Father forgives us of our unquenchable debt against Him, He does not simply say "Well, I'm okay with you, but I can't lose that wisdom of what you did!" No, He is willing to separate our transgressions as far from us as the east is from the west. "Wait," we reply, "you mean, that when we forgive others, that's it?" Yes, when God forgives His children, it is as if they have never sinned at all. He keeps no record of past wrongs. And that, for us, is where the real challenge lies. Can we forgive someone as if they never trespassed against us? Just try to imagine, God the Father, Knower of All, Omni-everything, Perfect beyond Perfection, without even the smallest trace of blemish, whose very being defines Purity, and exemplifies Truth, the One who has numbered the hairs on our heads! yet HE is willing to quite literally forget that we sinned against Him. How?! Why?! Is it the only way He could stand to be around us, if He must (eternally speaking). Or is it just one more great example of how huge the pool of His Grace and Mercy really is. If God held on to that past wisdom, what would it be like. I have ran it over and over again in my mind, a scenario:

"Hello my child. Welcome to my throne room"
"Thank you, Mighty One."
"Well, I see that you have trusted in my Sons sacrifice for the forgiveness of your sins..."
"Yes, Your Worship."
"Well, that's all well and good, however..."
"Yes well, you see, I just can let go of the wisdom that I acquired through out your life time, how horrible of a person you were to me and how untrustworthy you were, I mean, I do forgive you, I'm okay with you and all, I just I don't really want you around me or my Family. Talk to y..." And there he cuts Himself off, because, He was about to say, "talk to you later," but He does not intend to. And with that He bids you good-bye.

Could you imagine the horror. "But I was forgiven!" Our cry falls on deaf ears, because: He forgave us as we forgave those.

This is not to say that by any means I have perfected forgiveness, in of myself. I think myself to fall into that "easy forgiver" category. But I have tasted it. It's just a very subtle taste, but do not miss my meaning here, one that is small, yet very powerful. Like when you have just the smallest fragment of peppercorn in your mouth, no bigger than a grain of sand, and then when you bite it, this little thing sets your whole mouth afire! I know that God has forgiven me, of that I have no doubts, but I do not think we ('we,' here, being those of us whom have accepted His forgiveness) can completely, and truly understand what that means, not until, at least, the Glory.

Here we must realize that our debt to Him is beyond self reconciliation, there in nothing we can do to pay it off. But what is this? He pays the debt for us! How absurd! from a human point of view. Only when we realize this is that seed of Forgiveness planted. And this is where we must make a choice, to nurture that seed, and see it grow into full maturity, like a mighty redwood, or just to let it sit there within us, never germinating, never sprouting, never peaking it's first little leaves above the top of the soil. Our choice, really, is no choice. How much more is our debt to God than another's could be to us. The concept of not forgiving others, when weighed against that, is utter foolishness. We must pay the debt of others ourselves, or at the very least absolve it completely.

Forgiveness is not easy, not for people anyway. I do not know, nor will I make any assumption as to the degree of difficultly God has with it. All things are possible with Abba, but does that mean all things are easy? Who knows?! But for us, as we live on Earth, forgiving is a challenge, and one we must face, and conquer. Our only hope lies in the empowering of His Spirit dwelling inside of us. We must learn to rely on God to be our strength to truly forgive others. We cannot do it on our own. Praise the LORD! that he has sent His mighty Helper.

"For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Luke 7:38(b) NASB

Thank you for reading!