THOUGHTS & COMMENTS
On the surface it seems simple enough, who couldn't understand what the song is saying?
And who couldn't understand what the Bible is saying?
Me, for one.
It just flashed on me what the Bible is saying when it says that God loves us.
I have had an underlying confusion regarding love; and now I am finding an ever expanding understanding of the word.
Jesus (God) loves me.
Impossible. God can't love me, because I am unlovable.
I'm not putting myself down. I suppose I'm about as lovable as most other people (if that is saying anything in particular). It's just that this old, ugly, decaying body is becoming less and less useful and desirable to me, or to anyone else.
In my 30's and 40's I was vital and energetic; and in my own estimation, not an unappealing man.
Time has changed all that.
In my childhood and my 20's I saw myself as unlovable and worthless. My parents had a hand in teaching me that it was so.
My story is not mine alone. I have heard many people tell nearly the same with one variation or another.
And those of us with such a story would likely say: "How can Jesus, or anyone love me?"
We don't love ourself.
We look at others and say; "If only I had his looks, then I would be lovable. If only I had her talent, then people could love me. If only I had his personality, then the world would love me and I could love myself. If only I could pray like the Pastor and knew the Bible like he does, then God could love me."
That's our view. But it isn't God's view.
If we had all the Bible knowledge, all the money, all the talent, and all the looks - we would be appealing in the eyes of the world, but not in God's.
Looks fade, money vanishes, skills lay to the wayside, knowledge disappears with disuse.
What we find appealing, God sees as rubbish. Our best efforts are as "filthy rags." (Isa 64:6)
And yet we make strong efforts to try and appear lovable to others, our self, and to God.
Nothing we do will satisfy others, except for a moment or two. Nothing we do will make us feel lovable, because we know it is a facade. Nothing we can do will make God love us, because we are unlovable.
The Hebrew spies sent into Canaan reported that the people in the land were unbeatable and in their eyes they were as grasshoppers (Goliath is an example at 9 feet tall, wjile Og was nearly 14 feet tall). That's our perspective. And we judge everything by our perspective, and think God does the same.
In God's eyes the Giants of the Land are but a speck of dust.
When we were five years old, our older brother, who was eight years old, was a big man, strong and fearsome. While to his twelve year old sister he was but a wimpy child. And the twelve year old to her father....?
You get the picture. No matter where you stand, there is someone already standing where you want to be.
We will always be worthless in our own eyes.
And that is just what God wants. Consider the Rich Man and the Pharisees. They had attained a position in their own eyes that was high above the masses. They were content with themselves and knew they were on the right track. (Luke 18:12)
Rather than listen to hear if Jesus, who could obviously do the impossible and had something they did not have (even if they didn't believe He was from Heaven), had something of value to say, they tried to kill the source of their frustration.
Jesus said that only the worthless were worthwhile.
What is there about a ragged old beggar, or a shifty-eyed thief that makes him have more value than a rich, ultra clean religious zealot?
Obviously it was not the chunk of clay we call a body that made the difference. Nor could it have been their position in the community, because they had none, and if they had, then they would have been the ones cast down in Jesus' eyes.
Something is missing. Something that we just accept as true because the Bible seems to tell us so is standing in the way of our understanding what God loves about us, the Great Unwashed.
"For God so loved the World."
What about the World does God love?
Is it me?
Of course not. I'm just a ball of clay rolling around this planet trying to get bigger. And the bigger I get in my own eyes, the smaller I am in God's eyes.
Is it the World itself that God loves?
I have no doubt but that He does. He put a lot of effort into His creation. I know the more I work on a project, the more I care for it. And if I happen to shed some blood because of it...?
But even with all the effort God has put forth in making this world, it is still just a table on which to place His main project.
Is that project He is working on these vessels of clay we try so hard to perfect, only to have it wither and die before our very eyes?
I doubt it. Whatever God's primary purpose in Creation is, He would want us to work diligently at it as well. If it were our bodies, or any aspect of ourselves, that God is interested in, He would want us to take an interest in it also.
God obviously is not interested in our bodies, or our skills, or our "wealth," or our adoration. High praise from the lowly and the unlearned means nothing. And God says he hates our sacrifices, and will not hear our prayers (Prov 21.27; 28:9; Isaiah 1:13)
What is it that God wants us to concentrate on?
The Old Testament is a picture and a portrayal of the New Testament. That is, it is a foreshadowing, explanation, and a prophesy of what was to come. And what was to come was Jesus.
The New Testament is centered around, and filled with almost nothing but Jesus. And those parts that are not about Jesus is telling us we are to be like Jesus, and how we are to accomplish this goal.
How we are to be like Jesus is through the Holy Ghost. Without the Holy Ghost we can neither understand the Scriptures that tell us what God wants us to know, nor can we fulfill that which God has in mind for us. (Luke 12:12; John 14:26; Rom 15:13-16; 1Cor 2:13; 6:19: 2Tim 1:14; Titus 3:5; Heb 6:4;
Jesus is the example; the Holy Spirit is the means.
And Love is the ultimate goal.
To some love is sex. And that is as far as they can see. In the Bible sex is to be between a married couple, and to be a shared experience, that is, it is not just to satisfy oneself, but also (and foremost) one's partner.
That is not the kind of "love" we are looking for.
The Epistles of John explain what love is (or more pointedly, what love is not.) So by reading John, we know that love is not what we do. What we do might be an indication of that which we love; that is, what we spend our time and effort and resources on is likely to be that which we love.
But not necessarily.
Some people may spend most of their time at their hobby. And they may actually love their hobby. But then again it might be because they are bored and have nothing better to do.
Almost everybody spends a great deal on themself; primping, spending money on clothing and cars, attracting attention, and anything else they can think of to glorify themself.
But is that love? In the article above it should be clear that those who spend the most time on themselves, usually think the least about their own self worth.
Some people spend a great deal of time and effort on the poor, or the abused, or the children, or the starving, or as missionaries into dangerous places. These would appear to be those who know the most about love. And, I suppose that is true. I can't say.
People used to ask me: "What do you love?" or "Who do you love?" and other such questions. My reply has been; "I don't even know what love is."
I was not referring to some intellectual understanding of love. Nor was I talking about some feeling of love that we experience for someone close to us. I knew what they are.
But I knew there was something missing. I knew that I was missing something in my nature.
I assumed it was because of the lack of love I felt for myself, and because of the lack of love I received from others. I figured that since I had no example to follow, nor a feeling of being lovable; that I had not learned what love was about.
And I assumed that other people, that is normal people (in other words, everybody in the world but me) had learned about love.
I was wrong.
Nobody knows what love is. Everybody thinks they know what love is, and on this earthly plane they may be-dead on correct (surely farther along than I had, or would have been).
But this is not the love the Bible speaks of. The love God wants us to have is not something that Man is capable of. No matter how hard we try to generate love, we can not do it. John makes this clear, although without the love he speaks of, his explanation cannot be comprehended.
"Those who have will receive more; and those who have not will lose even that which he has." (Mat 13:12)
One of Man's biggest problems is he thinks he has it all. He thinks he knows it all. That anything he does not have, or does not do, or does not know is of no value and not worth having. This attitude keeps us from growing, or searching for the source of that which we need to become complete (1Cor 3:18) (John 14:15; 23:24; 15:9-10; Rom 8:29; 1Cor 15:49; Gal 5:22; 1John 2:5; 15-17).
"God is Love" (1John 4:7,8,16).
We are not love, nor are we capable of love.
"Let us make man in our image." (Gen 1:26)
Man is not complete. We think we are. And since we think we are already in God's Image, we read everything about Man accordingly.
But that is like reading the instructions for a Mixmaster, when you are trying to repair a Television set.
We are in the process of becoming like God. We are but a vessel, a pot into which God can place Himself in order to make us like Himself.
This is where we go wrong, and lose the message of God toward us.
Man thinks he is complete. And since he considers himself complete, he looks to himself for guidance and perfection.
The ultimate of such an attitude is Humanism. But the rest of us, especially the church, is not far behind the Humanists, and is catching up by the hour.
If we consider ourself as a full vessel, ready to be carried up out of the Well of Learning; then we will not receive any more of that which is needed to complete us.
And such is the state of the church today. We think because we are Christians that we have it all, and that we are in God's perfect will and purpose.
In other words; we are Rich!
And what did Jesus have to say about those who are rich? Something about the eye of a needle? (Mat 19:24)
A full pot is worthless to God.
If someone gave you a gift of the perfect cooking vessel, but it was filled with dirt and slime, would you accept it? Maybe, if you felt you could wash it out and sterilize it.
But what if the person who gave it to you said that the only way you can have it is if you do not dump it out or cleanse it? What if they said you could cover the mess with a blanket of pure white if you want, but leave the crude in it. What would you do with that pot?
Such a pot is what we are offering to Jesus. And the churches are telling us that this is what Jesus wants.
The Bible is filled with Scripture saying just the opposite; but we are so content with ourself that we will not listen to what we do not want to hear.
We are too rich for that.
God is love.
God is looking for vessels in which to place His love.
But the vessel must be perfect (finished) before He will do so. (Ex 39:32; 40:33-38; 2Chron 5:1, 13-14; 7:1-2; Luke 13:32; 1John 4:12; Mat 5:48; 2Cor 12:9).
There has been only one Vessel in all of creation that has proven Himself worthy to receive the Love of God. One Vessel that God could say: "This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Rom 11:16; 8:23; 1Cor 15:23; Rev 14:4)
If Jesus had one single flaw, He could have not been used, and we would all die in our sins.
And Satan, along with his angels (who are still at work today, even active in the church) tried hard to find a flaw in Jesus into which they could insert a wedge and split it open.
Fortunately Jesus was poor; and not rich with flaws as the rest of us are (2Cor 8:9).
The World is the table upon which God is molding His project.
Man, as a vessel, is the container for His project.
If the vessel (clay) is pliable, then it is usable. If it is ridged and resistant (rich in impurities and ego) then it must be cast out as so much dust. (Isa 29:16; Jer 18:4-6; Rom 9:21)
Into the vessel God plants that which is His Project; the part of His creation that He loves; the part of His creation that is Love. (1John 4:16)
Others of the World also believe they are passing through, and will do so over and over until they reach Perfection.
We know otherwise; that is, that there is but one shot at Perfection.
It is true that we are just passing through - in a sense.
It is not as if, like reincarnation teaches, we have a pre-existing spirit that sits restlessly on this earth.
We start and finish here on earth; In this earth (body).
We walk around in a tent, an old rag that is filthy and falling apart.
Those who have received the Holy Spirit have become a Citizen of Heaven living within this old rag, seeking to cleanse the contents of it in order to make it acceptable to enter its final destination.
But the rag, that is the tent (body) will never be adequate for Heaven. It is the Spirit which God has placed in us that is growing, maturing and perfecting us in readiness for Heaven that is important (John 3:6; 1Cor 15:50).
Yet we, supposedly beyond carnality, continue to beautify and patch this old tent. We worry and fret over a rag that will eventually wither away no matter how much time and effort we spend on it. We live in this world, not as voyagers and emissaries (missionaries), but as egotistic royalty expecting the world to treat us accordingly. We act as if we have a special pipeline to Santa Clause that the World does not have, and we are upset when Santa doesn't jump when we holler.
Just like spoiled brats.
Jesus said we should avoid and disdain the Worldly. He said we should be striving for the Spiritual and laying up Spiritual treasures in Heaven (our real home) rather than looking for value in this worthless sod. (Mat 6:20; 13:44; 19:23; Acts 9:15; 2Cor 4:7; 1Thes 4:4; 2Tim 2:21; James 5:3)
Jesus said that those who are His disciples should be servants to all, wash the feet of others - and not expect others to bow down and wash our feet (Mark 9:35).
Jesus gave up all that He had (and was) in order to give to others (us).
He expects us to do the same (1Pet 2:21).
Jesus is a Citizen of Heaven. He has set the example of what a Citizen of Heaven is like.
If a Citizen of Heaven is like Jesus. If a Citizen of Heaven is a servant. If a Citizen of Heaven is filled with, and led by the Holy Ghost. If a Citizen of Heaven is a Missionary, as Jesus and the Apostles were Missionaries. If a Citizen of Heaven disregards this old rag we wear and is truly anxious to be recalled from the Mission Field.... (John 18:37; 1:7; 2Cor 5:6-8: Rev 1:5; 20:4)
Do you qualify as a Citizen of Heaven?
One day I cried out to God; "Why! Why is life like this? Why do you keep me here in this fearful position? Why don't you do something about this?"
And God said to me: "Turn around."
I did. I turned around.
And then I saw the bright, clear sky that God intended for me. I saw His Purpose for Mankind.
I saw God instead of my own corrupt self.
If you are experiencing worry, or fear, or pain - turn around. You may be facing the wrong direction.
LINE UPON LINE
No matter what I did, even if I did nothing, I would be breaking the law.
Doctrine is much the same way. But rather than a lovely beach which to view at the end of the road, it is blind alleys and dark secrets that we encounter.
The Bible tells us that Scripture is like a lamp unto our feet. It is not a huge spot light showing us the way to go for miles up the road. It is but a step by step process. And where you stop, that is all you will see.
We are to be a lamp, a small flame on a hill. Our light is to be seen by many who are near to us, but we are not to try and outshine Jesus who is Light Itself, and the source of our tiny light. (Luke 11:36; John 1:1-3)
Scripture is learned "Line upon line and precept upon precept." If you do not understand the first line, then the lines that follow will either be unclear, or misinterpreted. (Isa 28:13; Mat 15:3-6).
There are some groups that take a few lines and build a Doctrine and a wall around them. And if they cannot easily pull the verses from the Bible, they either rewrite the Bible, or write other books that "supercede" or "explain" the Bible ("What God really meant to say was....").
The extreme of these groups we call "Cults."
However the cults are not the only ones who run up blind alleys and believe they are at the end of Understanding. There is another very large group that does the same thing, though to a lesser degree (in varying degrees) which we call "Denominations."
If that were not so, and if Denominational Doctrines were correct then there would be but one Denomination, would there not?
"Precept upon precept." Dead-ends are very common in Doctrines. And to explain away the reason for the dead ends, the Denominations utilize the same explanation as do the cults. They just say that it is a "Mystery" we are not to understand yet.
But there is a more common method of dealing with these "Mysteries" used by both cults and Denominations, called "Fables" (though you would never hear them call it that) (2Tim 4:4).
Fables are something that appeal to our emotions instead of our intellect. That is why we tell children Fables instead of Fact. Fables are used to explain the unexplainable while still keeping the attention of the hearer.
Schools now do this by means of such Fables as Evolution, Humanism, and Sex-Ed.
The World explains away God by saying that the entire Bible, or at least huge chunks of it, is one big Fable.
Many churches do much the same by saying that portions of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is but a parable and is only there to demonstrate a point (and more often than not they cannot tell you what the point of the Fable is).
This technique is especially popular when trying to explain Jonah, Job, Samson, Creation, and the miracles of Moses.
I would say that anyone who tries to explain away any portion of the Bible is putting himself in the place of God, and I would be very careful not to believe anything that person says. In fact, I believe I would keep a great distance from that fellow for fear of suffering his consequences when his time comes.
There are other Theologians and Commentators who are earnestly trying to give others an honest explanation of God's Word. But in all too many fields they fall into the same trap as the cults. All too often they run into a situation where the light has ended, and instead of turning around to look elsewhere, they search for bits and pieces of scripture with which to prove the direction they have taken.
Like a man lost on the road who refuses to admit that he may be wrong, yet his ego will not let him ask for directions or check a map.
Scripture does not conflict. And if a Scripture is not clear, do like Jesus and the Apostles did - look for types and shadows and prophesies in the Old Testament.
Line upon Line, Precept upon Precept.
Let the Holy Spirit guide you without running ahead of Him. Doing otherwise can only lead to trouble.
Somehow that sweet little baby laying in a crib grows from "Goo goo," then "Momma," to a "Gi'me" monster. From that point on it's "I want," and "Mine," and "Me first!"
A parent who does not break that toddler of such an attitude real quick is setting both the child, and themself up for a lifetime of heartache and trouble.
17Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. (Prov 29:17)
6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)
24He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Prov 13:24)
18Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Prov 19:18)
Those of us (the adults) who worked to set up an activity for the kids, often at our own expense, would stand back and let the kids enjoy themselves. It rarely worked out as smoothly as we had hoped. More likely than not we would have to spend time breaking up arguments and settling quarrels.
This was never more evident than at mealtimes. We, the adults, would set a table for the kids, only to have them argue and push to see who could get the most, and to get theirs first.
They talk about the "Me Generation." There is a lot of truth to that. However, I wonder if there was ever a time when it was otherwise. I see that same attitude all through the Bible, and history books; and, isn't that the attitude that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden?
I found a cure for the problem, at least where the dinner table is concerned. And it is a Biblical Principal, though I am certain that I have misapplied it.
16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Mat 20:)
And they never knew when I would do this (usually when they showed such inconsideration).
I rewarded the most considerate with the most authority. This often meant the youngest would "rule" over the older, until the older ones caught on to the fact that age and size meant nothing in that club.
You would be amazed at what a change it made. The "Gi'me's" disappeared, and consideration reigned.
I wonder if Jesus had this in mind at all when He said "The first shall be last, and the last, first"?
Jesus had to deal with babies as well. The babies Jesus dealt with did not continue to drink milk. No indeed. These babies considered themselves far beyond the bottle, and to prove it, they polluted their milk until it was undrinkable, then they tried to force it down everyone's throat. Jesus called this polluted drink "Traditions."
The church of today has Traditions as did the "Church" of Jesus' time. And the church also has milk to serve, called Fundamentals, as did the Church of Paul's time.
Milk and Traditions are needed in the Church as they serve an important function; especially for "Babes" in Christ. It's when Milk is all that's served in the church; and when Fundamental Doctrines (milk) and Traditions are forced down the throat of those maturing Christians who wish to grow in the Lord that the trouble arises.
The Pharisees and the Elders would rather have killed those who wanted to grow than to look at themselves for possible shortcomings.
The church today is much the same; the result of which is polluted water replacing even the Milk of the Word.
The "Gi'me's," instead of being c-ondemned by the church, is becoming more and more encouraged by the church, and even exemplified by the church.
Before our eyes strong, moral churches are beginning to flounder in the nets of Worldly Doctrine. The clergy, who sets the Doctrine and the example for the churches are being unveiled as unconverted sinners, and even flaunting the fact in some cases. And the congregation of these churches herald and applaud the misbehavior of their clergy.
"But that's them, it's not us!"
Nor was it them, or even in the realm of possibility for them just a very short time ago.
Apostasy will abound in the End Times. We know that. What we don't know is that we are the Apostate Church! (2Thes 2:3)
"When the going gets tough, the Tough get going."
The World is taking over the church; and the church is just sitting back thinking that it doesn't effect them.
And, in fact it doesn't effect them. They are part of the World, but they have been told by the churches that they are better than the World merely because of a name tag they have been given.
If a flood was coming my way, and the World was frantically running about trying to save themselves, but I sat peacefully by waiting for a helicopter to rescue me because I am a Christian; I deceive myself.
For if I am not, from my heart, actively and frantically trying to rescue all the "lost souls" standing before the flood, then the helicopter I am waiting for is not coming for me. The helicopter will be for those who have the Spirit of God within them. And those with the Spirit will be about their Father's business - which is Rescuing lost souls, as did Jesus and the Apostles.
"Be not deceived, God is not mocked." (Gal 6:7)
When the arrows get bigger, when the battle grows hotter; our armor must become stronger and our fight more intense.
Is the church preparing strong warriors for battle? Or is it encouraging couch potatoes?
Where is the church during the Tribulation?
The church is either under the sofa hiding from the Tribulation; or it is on the sofa eating chips watching it on TV. (Mat 15:6; 24:12; Mark 7:5-13; Gal 6:7; 2Thes 2:3; Heb 5:12-13)
A MINISTER'S RESPONSIBILITY
"Good! Give him the keys to the car, show him where the pots and pans are so he can fix his own breakfast, and you 'n me will go out and get him a job right quick."
But it appears to me that they are now satisfied if they get the people into their parking lot.
In fact, with television and the computer, many of the churches are content to get people in front of the screen, just as long as they remember to send in their tithes and offerings (Penthouses and Mercedes don't come free you know).
This is not true of every church, of course. Most, to one degree or another, try to get their congregation as far as the Alter of Incense, that is, prayer. What they have the people pray for is plenty of money in order to have the means so they can send in their tithes and offerings.
And there are even churches who try to get people to their knees at the foot of their podium. I think that is where they keep their tithes and offerings basket.
Occasionally, not often mind you, I have even heard Pastors try to get people to come to the foot of the Alter of Sacrifice. It's risky for a church to advocate such a thing because that does not appeal to the soul of man. And if the soul of a man is offended, he is likely to leave the church, and take his wallet with him.
What I rarely (if ever) hear is a call for converts to empty themselves (instead of their wallets) and crawl humbly up on the Alter of Sacrifice. And those times I do hear such a thing, it is accompanied by a ticket that frees them from actually having to do so (Grace covers it all).
I believe anything short of this is failure, and is not acceptable to God.
I believe that this is precisely what Jesus exemplified, and was again demonstrated by the Apostles and all the early Christians.
And I believe, that to believe otherwise is to cut the heart out of the Gospels, mangling the Scriptures and nullifying the very work of our Lord.
This I believe; my experience is why I believe it, and the following is a brief of where God has said it:
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