THOUGHTS & COMMENTS
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim 4:2-4)
Look up, and we see how infinitesimal and helpless we really are.
We try to put everything, and everyone into a small box that we can understand and claim as our own. Psychologists are especially well known for this practice.
But Doctors of the mind are by no means the only ones who function in this manner. We all do, or at least we try to keep everything in our life under our control and understanding.
For most of us, this means learning as little as possible, and taking on as little responsibility as we are able.
For those with the capacity to learn more and to retain more this means being able to take on more than the rest of us mere mortals can handle.
For instance, it is said that J.F.K could read and fully memorize books and many newspapers during a single flight across the country. I certainly know that there are those who can read and memorize hundreds of times faster and better than I, because I am at the bottom of the scale in both of those categories.
Theologians, we assume, also have a great deal of both of these qualities. I certainly don't doubt this. But, like the rest of us, they too wish to catalogue and easily explain that which they have learned. So they research all they have at their disposal (I assume); then they come to a conclusion; which they label, seal and file, and then they seek to sell that conclusion to the world.
Pastors and Bible teachers, on the other hand, do not necessarily have this ability or the time, nor even the interest to pursue such endeavors (again I am assuming this to be true of at least some of them). They take the information passed on to them by the Theologians, bundle it into a pretty package, and present it to their congregation. And what the Pastor passes on must fit into the established beliefs of that church or denomination in which he has been hired to preach or he won't be preaching there long.
Nothing is particularly wrong with this scenario. Nothing, that is, as long as the Theologian has read the Bible correctly.
As an example, if the co-pilot on a busload of people is reading a map and instructing the driver which roads to take, then he, the driver and the passengers will all arrive at their intended destination.
Unless the map is being held upside down.
And, as I see it, with a zillion different maps being followed in the church systems of today, there has to be a lot of maps being read incorrectly.
That is, however, not the aspect of Belief that I have in mind for this writing.
Is Belief a mental acknowledgment, like: "I believe that asparagus is good for the eyesight"?
Or does Belief require an action, like: "I believe that if you don't jump out of this burning building into the net below you will burn to death"?
If the last definition is what Jesus meant when He spoke of "Belief," then those who hold the first view will burn with the building.
It is clear that to be saved we must "Believe," whatever that might entail. However, I see something far beyond believing, or even being "Saved." In fact, what has been shown to me causes me to see being "Saved" as a very small thing. Being "Saved" is a very big thing indeed, but infinitesimal in comparison to all God has in mind for us.
Believing gets us to the Door. Believing lets us feed in the Pasture as His sheep. Believing Saves us from that which we were heading toward and the problems we were making for ourselves.
On a bridge stands a man so desperately troubled he is about to jump into the river below. In horror, you see him jump. You are a good swimmer so you jump in and rescue the man. You feel very good about yourself because you have saved a man's life. And could you in good conscience have done anything but save his life?
The "Saved" Man, on the other hand, is no better off than he was before he jumped. He still has the same troubles that caused him to try and end his life in the first place.
In this case, is being "Saved" of necessity a good thing? How about in the eyes of the one who was "Saved?"
[ You can read the studies I have done on Saved here on this website, or, which I would strongly suggest, you can do one of your own.]
But, as I have said, being Saved is a small thing in comparison to what I see as God's ultimate goal for those who "Diligently Seek Him," and are not just looking for a fire escape.
Jesus had hundreds of disciples, twelve in particular we know a lot about.
Hundreds of these disciples turned aside when Jesus said things they didn't want to hear. And one of the closest to Jesus even betrayed Him.
Eleven of Jesus' disciples stuck with Him through thick and thin all the way to the end. But at the end, as men, they could not endure.
Yet they achieved that which is Beyond Belief, or at least a part of it.
Belief got these men to the end, but Belief failed to get them any farther. Jesus said, after His resurrection, that He must go away in order for the Disciples to have the ability to move Beyond Belief.
And at Pentecost they, and 3,000 others received a foretaste of that which God has in mind for those who are willing to move Beyond Belief.
With just a foretaste, that is with but a sampling of the Holy Spirit, these men, plus Paul who had been a bitter enemy of Jesus, performed that which is absolutely impossible for mankind.
And that was with but a foretaste!
So we have examples of Belief.
And we have examples of Beyond Belief.
Is there anything beyond that which we have had demonstrated for us?
There is yet....
The Bible tells us to do what Jesus did.
We are told to think as Jesus thought.
But more than that, the Bible tells us to Become what Jesus was.
Is that possible? Can we in fact be what Jesus was on this earth?
Jesus said that it is. Not without His help, of course; but that help is precisely what He said He would supply.
And as evidence of this, we have the Apostles.
Are the Apostles the highest in Christ that we can expect to attain?
The Bible tells us of more. Much more!
The Apostles gave us a sampling of that which we can expect if we strive be like Jesus.
But, we must strive diligently, not just set back with our Saved ticket stamped with big red letters that says; "Believer."
Jesus calls those who Become like him "Overcomers." And He makes it clear what He means by Overcomer by describing one - Himself.
Jesus said of these Overcomers that they will not only be like the Apostles were here on earth, nor even like what Jesus was here on earth as the One able to control storms and walk on water. He said we will become one who will be like Him in His resurrected state!
"Let us make man in our own image, and give them dominion."
Jesus, the First Fruits, the only Begotten son, was the only One to have ever been "Made in the Image of God" and given dominion over this creation.
Jesus is the Beginning of the creation of God.
Beginning indicates something to follow.
He is the "First Fruits." This says there's more like Him to follow.
Jesus is the "Seed." This means there's a harvest exactly like the Seed to follow.
Jesus is the "Vine" and we are the "Branches." This means our Fruit will be the Produce of the Vine, not our own.
I find this exciting. And I find it a great goal to work toward.
But I find along with it a desire to empty myself of anything that has to do with me in order that God can use me for whatever purpose He has in mind for me.
But why He would want to use this worthless piece of clay that I can hardly get to do what I want it to do, I cannot imagine.
I just know He wants it.
Or some aspect of me, and of you, that I do not yet understand, and perhaps never will.
And another thing I find, that even if at the end of all this, after all He has in mind for me, He decides to cast me into the pit, I wouldn't change a thing. I still would wish to serve Him as best I am able, and to be used as He wills, regardless of the consequences.
And I know this is not me, that is, not my nature. My nature is to get what is best for me, and to not be used by anyone.
In other words, if it sounds at any time that I am boasting, I have to say what Paul said: "If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities." (2Cor 11:30)
It helped us pass the time, and it reassured us that the Army was not our home, but just a phase of life we were going through. That at the close of that calender, we would be taken home to our real life.
Prisoners, both of war, and those confined in penal institutions do the same.
That is, those who have not made the prison (or the Army) their home.
Earthlings have made this planet their home. This is their country. They belong to and are a part of this country (world) and desire no other. All they do, all they are, and all they care about is right here. They live and die right here, taking in all that the world has to offer, or commands, and look for nothing else with any seriousness.
Foreigners do not. Those from other lands retain interest in their homeland where their family and heart remains.
Foreigners are only in this land to get out of it what they can, and take home with them all they are able. They are not here to give as much as they are to receive what this land has to offer.
A Foreigner may spend all his or her life here in this country; maybe even be born here - but they are, in their heart, citizens elsewhere.
It is easy to spot a citizen of this country - by their fruits. Citizens are planted and rooted right where they are. They show no signs of wishing to change their surroundings or their personalities. Citizens make every effort to blend in with the crowd and be like everyone else who is a citizen.
Foreigners hang on to the fruit of the land that holds their heart, where they are rooted. Foreigners do not adapt themselves to the language, the customs or the dress of the land they are venturing through.
Foreigners know that eventually, whether soon or a long time from now, they will get to go home - even if they have never seen that land.
Citizens make every effort to keep company with other citizens, and do nothing to antagonize them for fear of not being accepted by them.
Foreigners seek out, and remain around others of their own country. They feel uncomfortable around citizens, but they are happy with those they understand and are accepted by.
Where citizens dig their roots deep, relishing in the World; foreigners always have their bags packed, ready to leave at a moment's notice.
While citizens sleep soundly; foreigners keep one eye open for fear of missing their boarding call.
While Foreigners do what they can to help and appease citizens; citizens hate and reject Foreigners.
Foreigners are ready to go.
Citizens refuse to go.
Are you a citizen?
Or are you a Foreigner with a Short timer's calender?
Isn't it great having someone to blame when we make a mistake?
My father had my mother to blame, and he had me and my sisters. He also had to have a pet around to kick just in case none of us kids were handy.
I am greatly exaggerating; my father was not abusive, at least not intentionally so. But the principal is still valid.
That is one of the main problems with remaining single as I have. When I make a mistake or I can't find something I have lost or misplaced, there is no one around to lay the blame on.
But the devil.
But Satan never seems to bother me .
Oh, I have my problems alright. And I could make a large file of accusations to lay at Satan's door. But they would all be false charges.
I make my own problems. I can see that whatever happens to me has been caused by my own misdeeds or miscalculations.
And that may be why Satan leaves me alone. He probably knows that there isn't enough "wheat" in me to make it worth his while to sift.
I am a bit troubled by this. Satan's ignoring me I mean.
In the past I was a mess, and I knew it. I thought I was ok, but I can see now that I was a mess.
But lately I think I have been doing pretty good in my walk on the "narrow path." And I believe that I have been presenting some valuable information on my website that would challenge the devil and make him want to put a stop to it. At least I should think he would want to slow me down, or corrupt my work.
It could be that the devil is not troubled at all by what I am doing because I have little influence since no one sees this website that I know of.
Or it could be that I haven't said anything particularly different than what others are saying elsewhere.
Or it could be that my time just hasn't come yet.
I don't know the reason for his avoidance, nor is it particularly important at this time. I only know that I find a peace within me knowing I am on the right track, that is, the path that God has laid out for me; and that I am enjoying the trip.
Is this your statement? Then the chances are you have been given a list of things you are to believe, or/and you have grown up in a particular church and have just accepted what you have been taught all your life to believe.
And you know full well that to get to Heaven, you have to "Believe."
"I was a (Methodist, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Catholic, etc, adnausium) and so therefore I believe....."
"No, that is what you were taught to believe while you were a (Methodist, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Catholic, etc, adnausium), but now you are a (Methodist, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Catholic, etc, adnausium), and so therefore this is what you now believe."
"But that isn't what I believe, this is what I believe!"
"Then you are not a (Methodist, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Catholic, etc, adnausium), you are a (Methodist, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Catholic, etc, adnausium), and therefore doomed to hell where you will burn forever."
The Bible tells us to search the Scriptures in order to affirm our belief. We are told to accept nothing blindly, but to only believe that which the Holy Spirit reveals to us. (John 5:39; 7:52; Mat 22:21; Acts 17:1; 2Pet 3:14-18; John 16:13)
And so do the Denominations.
And so do the cults.
And they will tell you just which verses to "search diligently."
"But here are some verses that contradict what you say."
"Oh, them. Don't worry about them, they mean something else altogether, and actually shouldn't even be in the Bible at all. Here, read this book, it is more up to date and more accurate."
Does that sound like I am describing a cult? All the Denominations do the very same thing, only the book they give you to memorize is called a "commentary," or a "study guide."
Often I hear sermons on the radio where a very good, and what I consider enlightened, preacher says to "Let the Holy Spirit guide you through your studies."
Good advice. And I assume it is just what that preacher does himself.
Only I don't understand why the Holy Spirit will show this preacher an entirely different understanding of Scripture than He does me.
There is something else I have noticed about what has been revealed to him that is contrary to what has been revealed to me. Everything he says is exactly like every other preacher in that same denomination, yet it is often diametrically opposed to what other denominations preach, and usually very different than what has been historically believed - even by his own denomination.
And, as I have said so often elsewhere, his Scriptures will somethimes run in to dead-ends and are grabbed from places that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.
Just like the cults he condemns.
My suspicion is, that while that preacher may well be asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, he is also restricting Him to the commentary before him in order to keep his well-paying and ego-boosting job. Because, if the Holy Spirit should happen to lead that preacher out of that commentary, He will also be leading him out of his meal ticket.
If it is the heart that believes, it will be so deep-seated that only God can pry it out, and it will lead the believer to death, if necessary, rather than give that belief up..
"Yep. And the wife and kids are happy about it too. They can't wait to see the new living room, kitchen and playroom. And the ultra-size plasma TV should be here this afternoon. Can't wait to see the big game on it."
"That's great. I'm glad for ya'" But only, didn't you say just last month that you are moving? It sounds to me like you're making your old rabbit hole into a mansion to retire into."
"Well, yeah, I did say were planning on moving soon. But in the meantime might as well make the best of a bad situation, don't you think?"
"I suppose so. But didn't you tell me that you already paid for the other place? A big Mansion, as I recall."
"Well, yeah. I did that, kind'a. But it's not like I paid anything on it yet. I mean, I did, I mean I own it, so I been told. But it's not like I done paid anything on it, or even seen the place. I just been told that it is being built for me by somebody in another country that nobody has ever set foot in, that I know of. I mean like it hasn't cost me nothing or anything. You know what I mean, don't you?"
"Frankly, I don't. And to tell you the truth, I'm not so sure you do either. And I figure that if you really believe you own the place, and are wanting to live there, you'd be putting in your time and energy on that place, not this old heap you say you don't like with the neighborhood the way it is and all."
I have hinted at my dilemma a time or two, and I have outright stated it on accession, but the realization had not made itself clear to me before now.
I hear people talking, church folk that is, about how they don't like the way the world is going. I hear them talking about having a 'Mansion in the Sky" and how anxious they are to get there. I hear them talk about how anxious they are to be raptured out of this world and begin playing on their harp and exercising their wings.
But at the same time I see them "entrenching" themselves in this world with little or no preparation for the next. I see them gilding their present circumstances instead of laying up treasures in Heaven.
"Yep, the Bible says we are to be good soldiers and ready to battle the devil at all times."
"I see. Hmmm. But doesn't the Bible say we're to fight? I can't help but notice you got nothing on your front, but your loaded with armor on your back-side."
That's the motto of the church today, it seems to me. I hear a lot about the Armor of God. And I see people (usually preachers) waving the Weapon of the Sword around - but I see no one (or very few at least) preparing as if they really believe there is a war. And if there is, that it doesn't involve them.
"Yep, I did. It's my Pa who's going to burn it down. He owns the place, you know."
"Sure, but....the place is filled with people. There's little kids and old folks and cripples in that house. Don't you think you should warn them about the fire?"
"I reckon so that I should. But I'm sure there are other folks who will do that. It ain't my job to go and do the warning. That's the job of Preachers and Missionaries, not me."
"Don't you believe there's going to be a fire? Don't you care that people are going to be burned to death?"
"Sure I believe, and sure I care. But like I said, it ain't my job! I can't help it if none of the Preachers has got to that building yet. I can't help it if those folks can't smell the smoke for their own self. It ain't my responsibility to go 'round telling folks about fires and all. Other folks is got that job. My job is to read this here Bible every day and make sure I gets to church on Sundays. That's my job, and I'm doing my job good."
Belief to me is a very big word and has catastrophic meaning. To me Belief is like the difference between night and day, good and bad, lost and found - saved and unsaved. Unlike most all the other subject I talk about having shades of grey, and incorporating both ends as well as the middle in a picture - Belief is either on, or it is off.
If Belief is off, that person is without - everything! And everything includes Salvation.
And if that Person is with, there will be obvious "Fruit" of that Belief. For instance the man fixing his house. If he believes there is a Heaven where there is a mansion being prepared for him, he would be doing all he could to help in the building of that mansion, such as supplying materials (tithes and offerings), or preparing the soil for the garden if he had no other skills.
And the man putting on his armor would be testing his equipment, shining his shield, sharpening his sword and, spending much time learning how to use it properly and efficiently. But the closest I see of most anyone's "armor" is a dusty scabbard laying conspicuously on a coffee table.
God is Love; and we are to love, even our enemies. If the tenement building that is to be burned housed the man's family, could he sit casually by and wonder if some roaming missionary was going to warn them about the fire? We say we believe in hell, that all in this world except us "wonderful" Christians are going to burn, not just momentarily, but forever! If we really believed this, could we sit back and watch the Supebowl with a big pizza in our lap? Or would we be so busy warning people with tears, like Jeremiah and Paul, to the point that Mother Teresa would look like a novice in comparison.
As I read the Bible, Belief demands total sacrifice as was demonstrated by Jesus, the Apostles, the Martyrs, and the early Church of Believers. But what I hear from so many of the pulpits, and from other sources of Biblical interpretation is that Belief is just a verbal consent. That if you quietly say to yourself ; "I believe," you will instantly receive the Holy Spirit and be sealed forever with a stamped ticket to a blissful Eternity.
I find this repulsive; and far different from my own experience and understanding of the Word.
If such were so, and I were in God's stead, I would never have gone to the trouble and the Sacrifice He did in order to acquire some insignificant creatures like myself to pal around with. I would have just slapped Adam and Eve on the hands and said; "Naughty, naughty," and warned them not to do that again.
"They are a mess, aren't they. It don't matter none though. My wife does the washing and the mending, so I ain't out nothin'"
"But don't your wife got to do all the mending and the washing by hand?"
"Yeah, she do. What of it?"
"Well, I mean, if she's got to go to all that bother, don't you think it would be fittin' if you at least tries to keep them clothes of yours clean and not so tore up?"
"Why? It ain't my problem."
It appears to me that Christians on the whole believe Jesus died so we can do whatever we want to do and still go to Heaven. They seem to believe that Jesus died for all sins, therefore sin no longer exists. There are even some doctrines that rely heavily on this theory, and have dug up bits and pieces throughout the Bible to support such a philosophy.
And from the sermons I hear, and the answers given on question and answer programs, this doctrine seems to have its strong adherents.
The thing that particularly strikes me is that many of those I hear tout this message do not mean for it to be accepted as it is preached. They seem very confused. And with the doctrine so mixed up and broken having limbs that can not possibly produce fruit, how can they help but be confused?
And even if they full well believe and understand what they are teaching, the way they lay it out leaves the listener with a totally wrong and dangerous impression. When I hear such things, I cringe. And at times I have even burst into tears for the sake of the ones lost in their confusion.
It seems to me that the Fundamentalists ( and many others) are scared to death to talk, or even get close to "works," so they tell people to just concentrate on grace and forget about works. But the people who are trying to understand, and are asking the questions, can easily see that the Bible is chock full of Do's and Don'ts. Telling them to forget what they have read in the Bible without taking the hours it would take to explain such a complicated and confusing doctrine, if it is explainable at all, is like a doctor handing a bottle of heart medicine to a patient without instructions or a reason why they need to take it.
I think of it as being like the father who does not want to talk about the facts of life to his son, so tells him that the stork brought him. The child may leave thinking he has the answer to life's mysteries; but all he really has is a misconception that will serve him not at all in his life.
We do the same to Jesus, and teach others to do the same. We tell them that all they have to do is say "Amen," and they are instantly saved.
The Bible says that God will give us clean white robes of Righteousness. The interpretation of this, at least the way it is understood by the layperson, and I highly suspect by the Elders of the churches as well, is that Jesus will cover our filthy bodies (or souls as the case may be) with His clean white robes that He cleansed by His sacrifice and His own blood.
And I agree. I believe that without the Lord's help we can do nothing. And I believe that we can never make it to the point of being "Overcomers" as was Jesus. That is why He has to clothe us in white, because we can't make our own robes white - even in our own blood.
But to think that Jesus is going to clothe those who make no effort whatever to cleanse themselves, or to keep those clothes we have that were cleansed at Baptism clean, is completely contradictory to scripture.
And this is a terrible disservice to both the Lord, and the Laity who are distracted from the Truth..
I hear "experts" of the Bible do the very same thing talk show hosts and radio "Psychologists" do. They hear a person's problem or question for a minute or two, then out of their "vast wisdom" they lay out the cures for the world.
It can't be done.
And these "experts," rather than have their "client" in mind, are more concerned with how intelligent and sophisticated they sound.
It reminds me of someone who says they love their spouse, but is always making him or her the butt of a joke in order to please their friends.
Or a person who is "lending an ear" to their child in distress while watching themself in the mirror to make sure they look "dignified."
Preachers and Theologians are so afraid of offending, or stepping on toes, or sounding like they are preaching works that they are stepping all over the Word of God.
I believe it is about time that the churches stop being so concerned with size and reputation, and get back to being what the church was intended to be, and that is the Church, the Body of Christ.
Will it chase away members? By the droves. But those who remain will be more inclined to respect their "clothes" and wish for their Lord Jesus to have to do just as little mending and washing as possible.
In other words; they will Love Him, and His Body as well.
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