Thursday, January 26, 2012

We're Number One! - And You're Number Two!

One of the biggest dangers all saints encounter is the 'better than you' earworm that invades our minds and hearts as we try to proclaim what we once denied.

'Better than we used to be' is quite true, and yes, if we are led by Christ and have received his forgiveness, we are 'doing better' than another who does not know Him or has not been given His righteousness.

But the idea that we ARE better simply because we are safe, or nothing truly bad has happened to us, or because we belong to party 'X' is absolutely false for all human beings, everywhere, everytime. God is out to save our souls, not our bodies [though He does still heal bodies, Virginia].

Job was one of the first victims of this mentality that if something bad is happening to you, you are being punished by God. Not so in his case: he was enduring a particularly vicious assault by Satan.

But it WAS for a season - and God DOES justify Job, so we do know what was going on behind the scenes; Job was not getting his come-uppance; Job was getting his inheritance of being a righteous man in a world "with devils filled."

Comedy Is What Happens to You; Tragedy Is What Happens to Me
I wonder if the reason we watch the local news night after night - or watch horror movies - or chase after anything that has an unredeemable ending is because it helps us feel better that it did NOT happen to us, thank God!"

And when things DO go bad?

Well, of course, we blame God.

Not Satan.

The negative side of being a cozy-at-home TV-watching hobbit is the laziness attached. "No adventures for us, thank you! - but if you will show them to me from a safe distance I will peek at them!" We see it in what information we consume: movies, news, gossip, 'reality TV', etc.

Smug, safe, secure, we honestly think that God will judge us kindly for having 'stayed out of trouble.' For being 'wise' and politically savvy.

Jesus answers that false belief in Luke 13:1-9:

1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?

3 "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

5 "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

For Non-Christians Who Are Smug in their 'Non-Hypocritical Rationality"
Look, I know its hard to do this in an election season: to not feel smug or better than the 'other guy' who [insert foolish concept] which will destroy the country, destroy the rights of [group x]. I have certain, strong, Bible-based, God-breathed commands about what kind of man I can vote for and what kind of man I cannot.

But God forbid I forget that I once WAS on the other side of the political fence,slamming my vote card down AGAINST ALL CONSERVATIVES and ALL WHO DID NOT HELP 'THE LITTLE GUY'!

I slowly and surely found out IMX that those who voted so 'wrongly' were DOING what I was mouthing about. They were helping the poor, loving their families, and more forgiving than a thousand of 'my kind.'

And Jesus showed me that. He showed me that to be 'righteous' was agreeing WITH HIM and not a party, nor a particular ideology.

When Jesus is telling the folks above unless they repent, they must have been shocked.

But He knew. He knew that the words they were saying meant "Yeah -they really got it bad - must have deserved it, huh Jesus?"

And He HAD been hoping they would get the point [this 'crowd' had been around Him for some time] - He was the one doing the miracles, not them! He was the righteous one come to save them, not affirm how good they were being!

So He says plainly: "Unless YOU - yes, YOU - repent, you will also perish [meaning NO EVERLASTING LIFE]." Dead to God means 'DEAD' spiritually and thus, eternally.

So if you think you are number one because you are a Republican or a Democrat, liberal or a conservative, American or blessed to be born in another place, Jesus has one word of warning for you:


Repent!


I think that is clear enough, don't you?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Patriots Escape With Win...


It was an amazing drive - and amazing pass for a TD that was held on 1 second too little.

So the Ravens had to settle for tying up the game with a field goal and go into overtime.

From about 32 yards out.

And missed.

It was such a heart-breaking ridiculous failure, that I felt sorry for the kicker instead of enraged.

The Ravens QB and offense made it a battle royale and it was some of the best football a man could hope to watch, with stunning back-to-back reversals of possession that looked like a script from a movie.

And then the sad, pathetic, humiliating miss of a field goal.

AFTER an end-zone catch that was ripped away by an alert, never-say-die Patriot defense.

There was only one thing to do.

Show the humor.

Thus, the cartoon above.

Ravens, you are awesome. You truly are.

And you need to love and accept Bill Cundiff's game-ending gaff - and if he EVER does anything that sloppy again...


...please don't make me watch it.

Ow.

God bless Billy.

It's gotta hurt.

Owowowowowowowowowowowowowowowwww....


peace
justice

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's Hammer Time - or Is It? Who is Worthy?

I re-watched Thor with a bud last night, and since he was not a comic geek like moi, had to explain that what is so special about Thor's power is that his hammer CANNOT be used at all by anyone who is not worthy.

"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy shall possess the power of Thor!"
"Worthy" is such an archaic term in the vast politically correct non-judgmental moral milieu of today that it was refreshing to me just to HEAR the word - as well as the words "coward" and "sworn" and "allegiance" - spoke with meaning and respect, without mockery.

Now some of us have only heard the word rarely, and maybe their point of reference is like mine: its use in "Wayne's World" the movie, when Wayne and Garth meet classic iconic rock star Alice Cooper and are invited to hang out with him - at this honor, they fall to the ground, saying "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!!" [ YouTube clip here ]

I gotta admit, I love that clip! Especially when Alice offers his "ring hand" to kiss. :D

But humor aside, that is what worthiness ends up implying - only a few really are 'worthy.'

It is a judgment call.

Now let us be clear here - not a 'judgmental call' - excluding good and proper people due to some false or separatist criteria held by a select few. It is rather a call to judge, rightly, what is worthy of respect and honor.

Back to Thor - one of the heart-breaking moments in the film is when Thor realizes he has LOST his prized gift from Odin All-Father: he can no longer wield mjolnir, his mystic Uru hammer.

The son has discovered he is not worthy. Even the SHIELD agents stop and watch the heartbreak.

He had heard Odin tell him he was unworthy, due to pride and was cast to Earth - but now, reaching for his favored weapon, he discovers the loss of power as well as position.

He is not just not a god anymore; he is not even a son - and therefore, he will never be esteemed again. He has lost his identity before his heavenly Father.

He is mortal and will die as a mortal.

Thankfully, later he does just that - willingly sacrificing his life to save those who have loved him.

In so doing, he proves he he has been changed. He has cast off the selfish sin of pride and ego.

He then is worthy to wield mjolnir - again.

Now the Christ-allusions are obvious, but are not precisely parallel. It is enough for me to see the god-man come to Earth and die for those He loved. But this is a story of personal redemption as well - this god-like man was arrogant and needed to die to his own ego and self before receiving the honor and position of king.

That is soooo like Christ-followers and what we must go through before God can use us. We must die to self. We must prove ourselves worthy of the calling we have received by GRACE - yeah, folks - we were not worthy, and we are made worthy by God. The crowd that wants to be saved without all that jazz about being changed or becoming holy is living in dreamland. God has to humble us to use us.

You see it in the men of the Bible - both Old and New Testament. They are taken out of the world, placed in crucibles and trials by fire before they are given power and authority to do great wonders and miracles. From Joseph to Moses to Elijah to Peter and Paul and of course, Jesus our Lord.

But if you are willing to be humbled - to see your own pride and ego first, to confess it and humble yourself before God, you may indeed find yourself holding a hammer - "to build or to destroy - a fit weapon for a king" as Odin says.

And one day, upon giving your life in service, you too will see the King of Kings, smiling, scarred, glowing with joy and power before you, wanting only to have you in His presence forever and ever and you will sing with the multitudes:

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"

It is clear from scripture that what makes us unworthy is pride - and if we want to get our position restored and have the power to change the world for the better, we will need to go to our Father and admit we are unworthy.

He will restore us and grant us authority, even as He did for His disciples - if we are willing.

May you have the courage to do so today.

And yeah, me too.

Amen.

It's Hammer Time - or - Who Is Worthy?

I re-watched Thor with a bud last night, and since he was not a comic geek like moi, had to explain that what is so special about Thor's power is that his hammer CANNOT be used at all by anyone who is not worthy.

"Worthy" is such an archaic term in the vast politically correct non-judgmental moral milieu of today that it was refreshing just to HEAR the word - as well as the words "coward" and "sworn" and "allegiance" spoke with meaning and relevance, without mockery.

Now some of us have only heard the word rarely, and probably their point of reference is like mine: its use in "Wayne's World" the movie, when Wayne and Garth meet classic iconic rock star Alice Cooper and are invited to hang out with him - at this honor, they fall to the ground, saying "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!!" [ YouTube clip here ]

I gotta admit, I love that clip! Especially when Alice offers his "ring hand" to kiss. :D

But humor aside, that is what worthiness ends up meaning - only a few really are 'worthy.'

It is a judgment call.

Now be clear here - not a 'judgmental call' - excluding good and proper people due to some false or separatist criteria held by a few - a call to judge, rightly, what is worthy of respect and honor.

And PART of the humor is these two middle-aged 'losers' bowing down before a man dressed in black eye make-up who then reacts with great affectation.

Back to Thor - one of the heart-breaking moments in the film is when Thor realizes he has LOST his prized gift from Odin All-Father: he can no longer wield Mjolnir, his mystic Uru hammer.

The son has discovered he is not worthy. Even the SHIELD agents stop and watch the heartbreak.

He had heard Odin tell him he was unworthy, due to pride and was cast to Earth - but now, reaching for his favored weapon, he discovers the loss of power as well as position.

He is not just not a god anymore; he is not even a son - and therefore, he will never be esteemed again. He has lost his identity before his heavenly Father.

He is mortal and will die as such. And later on, he does just that willingly sacrificing his life to save mortals.

In so doing, he proves he he has changed. He has cast off the sin of pride and ego.

He then is worthy to wield Mjolnir - again.

Now the Christ-allusions are obvious, but are not precisely parallel. It is enough for me to see the god-man come to Earth and die for those He loved. But this is a story of personal redemption as well - this god-like man was arrogant and needed to die to his own ego and self before receiving the honor and position of king.

That is so like Christ-followers and what we must go through before God can use us.

You see it in the men of the Bible - both Old and New Testament. They are taken out of the world, placed in crucibles and trials by fire BEFORE they are given power and authority to do great wonders and miracles. From Joseph to Moses to Elijah to Peter and Paul and of course, Jesus our Lord.

But if you ARE willing to be humbled - to see your own pride and ego first, to confess it and humble yourself before God, you may indeed find yourself holding a hammer - "to build or to destroy - a fit weapon for a king" as Odin says.

And one day, upon giving your life in service, you too may see the King of Kings, smiling, scarred, glowing with joy and power before you, wanting only to have you in His presence forever and ever and you will say with the multitudes:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

It is clear from scripture that what makes us unworthy is pride - and if we want to get our position restored and have the power to change the world for the better, we will need to go to our Father and admit we are unworthy.

May you have the courage to do so today.

And yeah, me too.

Amen.