Truth

America has lost its grip… on truth.

Today, an otherwise sane man could believe a chihuahua named Sparky created the universe and secular society would rally around him, championing his right to believe what is ‘true for him’.  “Go ahead and worship Sparky!” They would say. “It is your right, and no one can tell you Sparky is not the creator. What is true for others doesn’t have to be true for you.”

Does that sound far-fetched to you?  If so, you haven’t read the news lately, and I can’t say that I blame you. It is heartbreaking for us, as Christians, to see truth denied to the level that it is.

Facts that are undeniably obvious are doubted as if questioning them makes the doubter a ‘deep thinker’, and our society will go to incredible lengths to defend those who ‘think deeply’ to deny the obvious.  We must train our minds to think on new levels, they say.

If you have two apples and I give you two more, how many do you have? The answer comes to mind immediately, doesn’t it?  That you now have four apples is a fact; it is undeniable.  Yet, on this very page I had a conversation with a ‘deep thinker’ about this exact equation.  He told me about various alternative mathematics in which two apples plus two apples might actually add up to something other than four apples.

I am a simple man.  These people are on a whole different level of thought than I am.  Whether that level is above mine or below, I will let you decide.

Do you know that some people will not call their babies him or her anymore? They are actually waiting for children to decide their own sex, as if they could. If the baby with  the part that used to identify that baby as a male picks up Barbie instead of GI Joe, well… I guess he is a she, or she was never a he, despite the part that formerly would have identified it as a boy.  ??? 

It is insanity.

How many millions of babies have died because we won’t call them ‘alive’ until they take a breath? They have a heartbeat, they grow, and move around, and need sustenance through their mother to survive but we won’t call them living humans because what would that make us if we end that life? I know that hits close to home for some of you, and God’s grace covers you and your sins like it covers me and mine.  I am not judging any individual here.  I am pointing out our society’s penchant for denying the obvious so that we can pretend we aren’t doing anything wrong.

The list of ridiculosities is long.  Yes, I made up that word. A new word seemed appropriate because people are taking the denial of truth to whole new levels.

The biggest denial of all, of course, is that God Himself does not exist, and that denial is at the root of all the others.  This should be obvious to all, but not believing in some fact cannot make that fact untrue.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”  C.S. Lewis

What we believe is true will never change what is actually true.  So, developing the skill of talking our way around the truth will never get us anywhere.  The only way to progress is accepting what is true and calculating from there.

You don’t usually have to think too hard.  Most things are pretty simple.  Two plus two actually is four.  If a baby has a penis, it is a boy; if not, it’s a girl.  Pretty simple.  This world exists and it is absurd to say that nothing can create everything.  Therefore, there IS a creator.  Let’s call him God, and allow Him to lead us into all truth.

A.J.

 

Men Used To Be Men

When families blow up it is usually the men lighting the fuses.

Sorry guys, but it’s true. Not that all women are perfect wives and mothers, but let’s face facts. I haven’t looked up the stats but I know far too many divorced couples and the vast majority were torn apart by the male in the relationship. Christian or not, the divorce rate is the same, I hear. So, men, let’s stand up like men and at least acknowledge that we have fallen short of who we, as a gender, were supposed to be as husbands and fathers.

What do we want from ourselves, expect of ourselves? Who do we want to be? Wait, let me answer that question! I can speak for the average man because I am one. I think it boils down to three things and the first might really say it all.

Number one, the average man wants to be Honorable, someone people can trust. We want our word to mean something, whether it’s the vows we take when we get married or what we tell our friends we will do. We want to be known as a man people can count on, someone who follows through, stays the course, no matter what adversities we have to face along the way.

Second, we want to be Strong. Not pick up a car strong(although that would be cool), but we want to be able to provide for and protect the people we love, to the point where we would give our lives for them if necessary. We want to be strong enough to take the bullet for them. This could really be a subset of number one. Because an honorable man would provide for and protect those that he loves.

Thirdly, and perhaps another subset of one; We want to be Wise. We want to be the husband or dad or friend that our loved ones look to for the answers to life’s toughest problems, someone people can trust to show them the way when they are lost.

Now, there is a fourth, but it really is not a personality trait unless you call it pride. Men want respect. Men want other people, especially other men, to know that they are number one, two, and three. We want to be known as honorable, strong, and wise.

Those first three things are good attributes to hope for and aim for but many of us have given up on being that kind of man. We have been the opposite so many times. We have fallen short again and again, and for so long now–that being a truly good man seems like a pipe-dream. We have settled for the mediocrity(or worse) of our manhood.

Here’s the thing, and this may be news to many of us…it’s not too late. We have this day, today, to take a step towards being better men. One step could lead to another, you never know.

It’s time we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try again, because God wants to teach our kids and grandkids through us. He wants us to honor our wives to help them grow into the force that they can be for Him. Our friends need us to be the example God knows we can be with his help.

The past is gone. We can’t change the jerk we were yesterday, but we can change him today. We have to let the past–pass. Let it go. Let’s not forget; our past failures are paid for in full by Jesus on the cross. Yeah, we messed up–maybe a lot, maybe really badly. We missed our target, but here’s the thing… there is another bullet in the chamber. We can take aim again, and shoot ourselves towards who God wants us to be. We won’t be perfect. We may miss the target again. Then we reload, aim carefully, and shoot ourselves toward Him once more.

We won’t run out of bullets; That’s grace.

A.J.

Unforgivable?

God may have loved me before but not after I did that thing I did…

Not after I drank away the last ten years, not after I cheated on my wife for the seventh time, not after I walked out on my husband and kids and hopped from one person’s bed to another. God can’t save me after everything I’ve done. There must be a limit to grace.

The lost son would have had thoughts much like these as he made his way back to his father. Jesus portrayed him as a whoring ingrate, the most disrespectful child one could have, yet the father(God) never stopped loving him, and hoping. There was enough grace for him.

Paul was a zealous Pharisee, so consumed by religious pride that he volunteered to lead a posse of Christian hunters to track down and imprison and sometimes even kill the followers of Jesus who claimed that he rose from the dead. There was enough grace for him.

Peter was Jesus’ best friend on earth and had seen miracle after miracle. He told Jesus that he would never leave him yet three times he denied knowing him the night Jesus needed him the most; then he deserted him. There was enough grace for him.

Don’t think that you are beyond God’s saving grace. Don’t think you must clean up your life before you can think about whether Jesus is who said he is. Just because your friend or brother can’t forgive you and your corner church won’t accept you because it is full of Pharisees, doesn’t mean God won’t. Don’t compare his love to ours, his ability to forgive with ours. He is God.

We, people, constantly try to put limits on God. We have only witnessed so much love so there cannot be any more love than that available to us from God. We have only seen so much mercy in our lives so God can only be so merciful. There is a limit to what I can forgive so God must have his limits too. God can’t be that merciful, or that loving, or that forgiving.

We often come to believe in this watered-down man-god figure in our heads who isn’t powerful enough to create a sneeze and isn’t forgiving enough to extend enough grace to cover the amount and severity of sins of someone like me. But that god is a figment of our limited imagination. You cannot stuff an infinite GOD into any sized box, and you cannot stuff an infinite amount of grace into any sized universe.

Jesus didn’t die for the perfect. There aren’t any. He died for the broken-hearted sinner. The prostitutes, the thieving tax collectors, the adulterers, liars, and cheaters, these sinners heard forgiveness in Jesus’ message. Remember, he said it was not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus came for the diseased, for the ungodly. He came for me, and he came for you.

He didn’t die for us after we cleaned up our act either, but before, when we were at our very worst. Romans 5:8 says; “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Think of your worst moment, your meanest or most selfish or heartless moment. That is when Jesus looked at you and said, I will take the nails. There is enough grace for you.

From my book… A.J.

Too Much Knowledge Could Be Dangerous

 

If you bump into someone who claims to know everything about God…run.

We cannot know everything about God, in fact what we do know is nothing in comparison to the totality of his being. It’s one star in a universe of billions. Our minds, as they are, cannot comprehend the tiniest fraction of who God is.

We cannot put God on our examination table and dissect him, and frankly I don’t understand the Christians who want to try. If any of us could satisfactorily explain God, I think we would all be in trouble. Because, that would mean that God is not that big of a deal, not that great, not that holy, not that merciful, not that powerful.

For me, it’s a comfort to know that God is so powerful that he is impossible for us to comprehend, so holy that a lifetime of sacrificial giving by a Mother Teresa looks like a pile of filthy rags in comparison, so loving that there are no words in any language to describe him. If God were explainable by humans he would not be a God worth putting our faith in, let alone worshiping.

We can know, however, as much as God wants us to know, as much as he gave us the ability to comprehend. We are on a need to know basis with God. He could tell us everything–but then he’d have to kill us.

Parents understand that their three year old needs to know that they can’t run into the street because they could get hurt. They don’t need to know the details of what a car can do to their little bodies, the intricacies of the human anatomy and what blunt force trauma can do to each of their organs. As the child grows we teach them what they need to know to get through their next phase of life until they become adults.

We are God’s children and we are told what we need to know to get home to him, where I believe we will become adults, given knowledge that would overwhelm our current brain capacity. That doesn’t mean that we will ever know everything about God. Compared to him we will always be children, but compared to what we are now we will have grown up.

Excerpt

th4VSBC06SPicture yourself there, in first century Israel. I must warn you, though, it will not be easy.
……………………………
Your country is occupied by Roman soldiers. You must be careful what you say, even among long-trusted friends for you have heard stories of fellow Jews being spies for the enemy. Lifechanging sums of money are being offered to people who can point the way to anyone who might speak or act against the invaders. Last week they scourged a man you knew in the square until you could see the bones in his back. He died the next day.
Your family is hungry today but that is not a new thing. There has been a drought in recent years in this already dry climate and food has been scarce and expensive. Your daughter is very sick and you don’t know if she will live or die but you know she must eat. You have held back money to escape the outrageous tax the Romans demand for every denarius you make. If they catch you the penalty is unspeakable but what choice do you have? Even without paying the taxes it will not be enough to keep your daughter alive another week, let alone your whole family.
Every day you pray for God to save your family and your people but your hope is fading. You wonder if he is even listening. Does he care?
You must now go out and find another job because the day before soldiers came and pulled your gentle employer from his barn and in front of yourself and the man’s family, beat him until he was unrecognizable, set his home ablaze along with his barns and fields, and left with his unconscious body and all his livestock including your own mule. The cross they nailed your employer to could be seen in the distance from behind your own home, along with his wife and children at the foot of it. You can just make out their wailing in the dry wind. They accused him of sedition but there were no witnesses, no trial, they didn’t even let him speak in his defense.
Today is the Sabbath. Your employer was to give you a package of food as part of your weekly pay but that package burned in the fire so you must butcher your last chicken for the day’s food. If the Pharisees catch you working on a Sabbath it will not go well for you.
But, this morning… when you were at the well before dawn about to transport ten gallons of water the long half mile uphill to your home, you heard friends talking excitedly about a man who was going from town to town speaking about God to the people. Jesus of Nazareth, they called him. They were saying he spoke like no one they had ever heard, that he spoke with authority, not a shred of doubt in his voice. They said he healed people of their diseases and infirmities. Your friends told you that old Zebedee, the blind man who always begged at the market in Cana was healed, that he could now see. Your eyes widen; You know Zebedee. You had looked into his fogged over useless eyes. It turns your stomach a little just to remember the sight of them. But now your friends were telling you those eyes were as sharp and bright as a teenager’s, that Zebedee was running through the market leaping for joy and praising God!
Your friends had said this man, Jesus, was telling the people that God loved them, like a father loves his child. You started to cry at that point, thinking of how much you love your gravely ill daughter. They said that the Pharisees were trying to discredit him but Jesus rebuked them angrily right in front of a great crowd. They said he seemed to know what they were going to say before they said it. You are doubtful of what you heard, but your friends were full of hope. They were even saying he could be the Messiah.
Could it be possible? You want to believe there’s a chance, but you don’t want to be disappointed again. Still, if there’s any possibility your daughter could be healed, you have to take it. You don’t know where this man is now but quickly you pack up your whole family for a journey to see this man called Jesus. Your daughter is not fit to travel but she must. You will have to carry her however many miles it will be. As you start out along the dusty road you begin to pray again, hope now stirring within you.
………………………
        That little story that I tried to place you in may seem like a shock but I am trying to get you to feel just a little of the brutality of the times for the first century Jew. Now you may think I am exaggerating the starkness and severity of the circumstances during that era. Certainly, every day for the first century Jew was not as awful as the day I have described here. Many days I am sure were almost business as usual for some, nothing overly dramatic happening aside from the everyday struggle to feed your family. But, it is very likely that almost everyone experienced days very much like the day I described or worse, even much worse.
Remember the situation I described a few chapters ago, the murder of all the toddler and infant boys in Bethlehem ordered by Herod the Great, called “The Massacre of the Innocents”. Remember the crosses that lined the roads between towns occupied by men dying in agony. Anyone suspected of insurrection in any way was punished promptly as an example to others, to make people think twice about rebelling. To accuse and punish a Roman citizen, a trial was required, but to accuse and punish or even execute the people of the country you occupied was a different matter and proper channels were not always followed.
Jesus was not only born into the proud race of the Jews, but born into their desperate situation. Is it any wonder that they flocked to him. The Jews of the first century were desperate for any hope at all, and wherever Jesus was, hope was there also.
——————————————————————–
That was from my book.
A.J.

Presents!!!

There is a pile of presents sitting right there, all for you.
Why are you staring at them? Open them up.”
 
“They are beautifully wrapped,” you say. “Who are they from? It’s not my birthday.”
 
“Let’s look at the tags. Hmmm, they say happy birthday on them. Wait, no, they say happy rebirthday. That’s odd. Signed… Oh, how nice! They are from your dad.”
 
“Can’t be, my dad died when I was two.” You explain.
 
“Weird, it says–With love, from your Father, on every tag. Maybe it will make sense when you open them.”
 
With a quizzical expression, you rip the strangely luminescent paper of a color never seen before from the first gift, and your expression gets even more quizzical.
 
“What is it?”
 
“Peace,” you reply.
 
“You got a package of peace?”
 
“Yeah.” You pause for a bit, looking from the peace to the other presents. Soon indescribable colored paper is flying everywhere as you tear it from the gifts one after another.
 
When the dust settles, you have a stack of gifts that you suspect might be priceless. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self Control, Forgiveness, Mercy, and Grace.
 
“They are beautiful.”
 
“Amazing, aren’t they? I am not sure what to do with them, though,” you say. “I don’t really know how they work.”
 
“I have a feeling you are supposed to carry it all with you, and share them with people. Do you know who it all came from?”
 
You tilt your head back, take a deep breath, and smile. “Yeah, they are from my Father.
 
A.J.