Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bush vs. Obama

John McCain opined to Obama during one of the debates, "Senator Obama, I am
not George Bush. If you want to run against President Bush, you should have
done that four years ago." But Obama did run against President Bush, or more correctly, he ran against the perception of Bush held by a majority of Americans, and no one perceived this truth better than Obama.

So, is perception Truth? Let us examine other Truths.

Perceive the truth of energy independence by forbidding nuclear energy, coal mining, clean coal or drilling for off-shore oil.

Perceive the truth of healthier capitalism by spreading the wealth among all members.

Perceive a balanced budget by utilizing increased spending and lower taxes.

Perceive an affordable health care plan for all without increasing payroll deductions.

Perceive 'cleaning up' Washington politics by a man who has been part of the 'Chicago political machine' for the last decade.

Perceive a 4,000 page bill posted on the Internet for "The People's" approval before signing into law.

Perceive a "Fairness Doctrine" that will shut down one news station and allow all the others to stand unopposed.

Perceive our next presidential election when illegal immigrants vote by virtue of their shiny new drivers' license.

There is one perception that is a fact - or truth. We will get change, but is it a change with which we can live?

History is no more than the passage of time, and this new administration of "Change" will too pass. With the passage, history will amend perception into truth about both our President and our President-elect.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Yes Bill Maher, There is a Talking Snake

Billy, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Billy, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.*

Billy, Satan does exist, and, for now, he is in charge of the world.

God created the heavens and earth for his creatures, and heaven was created for his first creatures - the angels. They are beautiful creations, Billy, endowed with intellect and free will. The pinnacle of of these created beings was Lucifer - the angel of light.

Lucifer discerned that he was better than all of God's creations and pride grew in him. However his pride was not for the Creator, but in the creation - himself. He determined that he, Lucifer, should have the same power as the Creator and he led a rebellion. A war ensued and Lucifer lost. He and his followers were banished from heaven, but this banishment was never meant to be permanent. You see Billy, God still loved his creation. So, he banished them with the hope they would repent. Though Lucifer was banished from heaven, he is still allowed to approach the throne of God as we see in book of Job because God still carries the hope that Lucifer will repent. In the meantime, Lucifer has no kingdom or home of his own.

So Billy, God tried again. He creates a new place and a new creature. Instead of a spiritual place with spiritual creatures, God creates a physical place and physical creatures. You see Billy, God has an order to his creations - the first is last and the last is first. So these new creations were even more spectacular than the first; ending with man and finally the most beautiful creation - woman. Just like the angels, man and woman were created with intellect and free will.

Lucifer saw the man and woman - Adam and Eve - and became jealous. In his mind these new creatures were inferior to him and yet God gave them a kingdom - earth. Lucifer decided he would wrest this kingdom from Adam and Eve for himself, and he would work on the best of God's creations - woman.

Keep in mind, Billy, Lucifer is a spiritual creation and Adam and Eve are physical beings, so Lucifer had a problem. How can he wrest the deed to earth from Eve if she can neither see nor hear him? Lucifer decides he must use a physical vehicle to approach Eve, and that vehicle was the snake.

Lucifer wants the deed to the earth, but he also wants to humiliate God and God's new creation. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, there is was only one area of prohibition (or as we call it, sin). They were told not eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or they would surely die. Lucifer, disguised as a snake, used this one prohibition to tempt Eve. Eve knew the prohibition for we see that she stated that she would die if she ate the fruit of this particular tree. Yet, when Lucifer told Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit, she would be like God, she decided to go for it. I find it amusing, Billy, that Lucifer did not use a little more imagination for he used the same sin on Eve, pride, that cause his own downfall.

So Billy, what did Lucifer get from Eve in return for the information that the fruit of the forbidden tree would make her a god? He got the deed to the earth. Now he had a kingdom; a home.

To finish the story, Adam ate the fruit and both he and Eve experienced spiritual death. Though God mouned the loss of his finest creation, he must keep his Word. So, God issued a caveat. The sin can be expunged by a living sacrifice.

Billy the plan of salvation is this. One sin - you die a spiritual death or separation from God. To expunge this spiritual death, you must perform a living sacrifice. As every man and woman has sinned at least once in their lifetime, we are all walking around dead, so anything we do will not meet the requirements of salvation. Only one man - Jesus - lived without sin. He was the living sacrifice and by choosing his sacrifice, we have been expunged.

So you see Billy, God made everyone equal - salvation is not who you are or what you do; Salvation is a Choice. Salvation just like Sin is a product of our Free Will, and if I may parapharse Francis Church one more time. Jesus Lives!

* Paraphrased from Francis Church, The Sun Newspaper, 9/21/1897

Sunday, September 21, 2008

God's Big Bang

In the French village of Crozet, a group of scientists are searching for the God particle. To do this, they constructed the Hadron Collider, a seven mile underground circle housing a powerful accelerator which will shoot two opposing beams of particles at the speed of light. These two beams, hypothetically, will crash into each other releasing the original particle of creation - or the God Particle.

Science has long searched for the origins of our beginnings in a 'natural' context exclusive of a Creator. The finger of science points accusingly at those of us who believe that God created the world as slaves to our belief, but I ask who is the slave to their beliefs?

Einstein's theory of E=mc2 tells us that Energy=Mass x the speed of light - squared. However, science tells us that the speed of light is fixed at 300 million meters per second, and that by squaring the speed of light, you can produce 10 (with 15 zeros trailing behind) of energy when multiplied with mass. That is a tremendous amount of energy as we have seen by atomic bombs.

Pursuit of the God Particle with still produce a particle. No matter how many times you split the particle, there will still be a smaller particle, and from where did it come? Also, if there was a big bang through Einstein's theory, then would'nt be conceivable that the origins of the universe were created in a relatively short time; perhaps in a flash of energy?

Am I a slave to my beliefs when I explore all of life through the prism of an all powerful God? Or, is the scientist a slave to his beliefs when he explores the natural world exclusive of Him - The Creator?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Which Pot Will You Stir

Everything is going fine. Your walk with God has reached new levels, and your spirit is filled with his Spirit. Feeling confident, your peace is unshakable and you know you are blessed and strong. Then, an event occurs, a word is spoken, and suddenly, you are sliding down the mud-soaked, slippery hill of strife once again. What happened?

There are always two pots cooking on your stove, and at some point in our lives, we chose both of them. Decades ago, when we chose our first sin, Satan's pot was placed on our stove and set to cooking. This pot contains an odorous gruel that simmers on the back burner, and when the smell reaches our consciousness, we stir the pot releasing even more of its foul odor. The stench fills our kitchen and permeates the walls of our souls.

At some point we may have chosen another pot for our stove. When we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior, we placed His pot on the front burner. This pot simmers with a pleasing aroma which we can stir to release its fragrance, thus, overpowering the stench from the offensive pot.

Although the fragrant pot is on the front burner, the pot hiding on the back burner continues vying for our attention. By releasing its odor, jiggling the lid or by threatening to boil over, this foul pot tempts us to approach. Then, worry, pain, anger and fear will cause us to remove the lid and stir it up hoping to avoid a spill over. Its odor is now released requiring more stirring, and releasing more odor.

Instead, we should turn down the heat on the back burner by ignoring our worry, pain, anger and fear and continue to stir the pot on the front burner. This will release the savory smell and overpower the stench.

In Luke Chapter 6, we see Jesus entering the synagogue to teach. A man with a withered hand approached the Lord and immediately the Pharisees questioned whether it was lawful to heal on the sabbath. Jesus turned down the heat on the boiling pot by asking, "I ask you, is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do ham, to save life or destroy it?" Then Jesus stirred the pot on the front burner by healing the man's withered hand. The back pot spewed angrily, but Jesus left the stove and continued his ministry with a pleasing fragrance.

So, how do you stir the pot on the front of the stove?

Luke 6:27-31 "But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek , offer the other also; and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And, as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Christians Are Weak Willed

Since birth - we have all submitted to something. As babies, we submit to our mothers for our sustenance and care. The mothers submit to their babies by responding to their cries. Men submit to their families when they go off to work each day. New homeowners submit to the mortgage company and their local towns by agreeing to pay their mortgage payments and property taxes. Yes, we all submit to someone.

There are other submissions we make, as well. Some submit to their sexual impulses, some to tobacco; some to heroin. People submit to money and things, for as we soon realize, each possession requires that we care for it if we want to continue that possession. This is why we call them possessions for they possess us.

Their are two types of decisions - active decisions and passive decisions, and both types are made every day. When a person actively decides to purchase a car, they have also passively decided to fill the car with gasoline and change the oil. When we marry, the active decision may have been that we wanted a life partner that will remain faithful to us. The passive decision is that we will remain faithful to them, as well.

We all submit to people, things, governments and situations every day, whether actively or passively yet, when Christians submit to God, we are called passive. But, I challenge you to find a stronger decision than submitting to God. It is a choice - The decision to submit to those things of the world are a less active decision than submitting to the Creator of all.

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." Deuteronomy 30 RSV

So you see - by actively choosing God, I have passively chosen Life.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Laura Ashley

The movers had left and Janice stood in the hallway of the "cute cape cod on a quiet cul-de-sac", holding her breath. "It happened, it really happened," she thought. "I have my first home." The enormity of this life change hit her when she realized that today her two children, Andy and Sarah, would be coming home, not to their two bedroom apartment on Dover Street, but to their new home on Grove Court.

"Well, I had better get started.", she sighed realizing that the boxes of their life would not empty themselves. Janice walked into the kitchen and immediately her nose was assailed by a soured odor. "What is that smell?" she said aloud. In the kitchen sink, she found the culprits, several tea towels had been left behind by the previous owner; still damp and growing a goodly crop of black mold. "The previous owners must have used these for their final clean-up." Digging through the boxes marked, Kitchen, she located a plastic garbage bag and stashed the offending towels, tying the bag with a satisfying twist.

The doorbell rang. Her first guest; her best friend, Stacy. " I just had to pop over to see your new home.", said Stacy breezing past Janice without greeting. "Oh, I love the kitchen, it is so quaint." It was indeed quaint as Janice's new home was built sometime in the late 1930's with tiled counter tops and mahogany cabinets. The sink was low and the faucets were dated. The only apparent upgrades had been the appliances. "Oh, Janice look! The wallpaper, it is Laura Ashely!"

"Really?" replied Janice examining the wallpaper for the first time. "I guess I never noticed. I was going to remove the wallpaper and paint the walls.

"I wouldn't.", said Stacy flatly. "I think it suits the house well."

After Stacy left, Janice set herself on getting the kitchen into order. The children would be home soon wanting a snack and later, dinner. She started emptying boxes and finding new homes for her old things.

As she opened one box, she found her grandmother's towel holder, and she smiled. The towel holder had a wooden plaque with a hole at the top for attaching to the kitchen wall. The wood was dark with age. The hardware at the bottom of the plaque held three wooden rods attached to spring allowing the rods to be positioned horizontally when in use and vertically when not in use.

Holding the towel holder, Janice remembered Sunday dinners at her grandmother's farm. She remembered the clinking of the dinnerware when they cleared the dinner table, the smell of Ivory dish washing soap in her grandmother's sink and her grandmother's muslin tea towels. Janice dried the dishes while listening to the wonderful stories her grandmother would tell, and when they were done, the wet towels were placed on each of the three rods to dry.

Holding a hammer and a nail Janice moved to the wall closest to the sink to hang her grandmother's towel dryer. As she positioned the plaque, Janice again noticed the Laura Ashley wallpaper. It look familiar somehow, with its buttery background and tiny red roses. "I have seen this before." she mused to herself. Suddenly, she remembered the offensive towels left in the sink. Retrieving the plastic garbage bag and bracing herself for the stench, Janice opened the bag and pulled out the towels. Examination revealed that the towels' pattern matched the wall paper perfectly.

Later that night, Janice checked Andy and Sarah as they slept in their new rooms. It had been an exhausting day, and she look forward to her own bed housed in her new room. But, there was one more thing she wanted to do before she went to bed.

Janice descended the basement stairs to retrieve what was in the dryer. With anticipation she opened the dryer and grasped the three tea towels left by the previous owners. They had come clean! The black mold and the odious smell were gone leaving the beautiful buttery background and tiny red roses intact. Folding them carefully, Janice returned to the kitchen and hung the towels on her grandmother's towel dryer. With satisfaction, she read the words engraved on the wooden plaque. - "Jesus Washes White As Snow."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Grave Stones

"Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag'dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb." John 20:1

People have long performed ceremonies for the passage of loved ones. The death of our family and friends is not only painful, but it is the most humbling experience of our lives. For, it is their passing that helps us to realize, though we may differ in life, we are all equal in death. Everyone will die-yes even you-will die.

So, we honor a person when they die not only to mourn their passing, but as some resolution to our own impending death. Early man buried their dead along with the implements of their life. The pharaohs did the same, though more elaborately than their predecessors. Monuments of stone have been constructed for those who were deemed greater in life than the rest of us, but death is the great equalizer for our bodies perish and our energy (spirit) leaves. In the end, we are no longer present on this earth.

The Hebrews buried their dead as well, though without the aplumb of their Egyptian neighbors. After burial, they would pile stones atop the grave as a monument to the departed. Visiting the gravesite was encouraged and with each visit more stones would be added to the heap as a tribute of rememberance. Evidence of this tribute is still present around the globe as we find small stones or pebbles placed atop the grave marker on Jewish graves. This tradition, passed from generation to generation, is still an act of tribute and rememberance.

Knowing this gives great significance to what Mary found at Jesus' tomb that early morning. The stone was missing from the grave. Surely, the Son of God could have left the tomb without moving the stone, thus the removal of the stone must have been a sign that the occupant was no longer dead. As a Jewess, Mary would have recognized this sign - of course the empty tomb was her next clue, and she ran back to the apostles with a message that crowned her as the first evangelist. "He has risen!"

That stone (death) has separated us from God since the Garden, but death no longer requires homage with our monuments of stone. The open tomb of resurrection is ours for the asking -

"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

Sunday, May 04, 2008

We Are All Created Equal

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Our country was founded on this simple premise - that we were all created equal. Wars have been fought, speeches delivered, marches walked, prisons filled and laws passed to ensure that this gilded idea would survive through the centuries. Though the words have faded from the original page shown here, the words have not blanched from our social or political landscape.
There have been conflicting theories put forth by other men since the signing of the Equality Declaration, and people have vainly tried to compromise their theories with the 'self-evident truth' stated in the above document. For instance, Darwin's theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest opposes the theory that we are all equal; for, equality cannot exist if only the strong survive.
If we embrace the concept of equality here on earth, then what about eternity? Are we all equal after life as we are in life? Religions are based on good works, or being good. Paganism required altars and bloody sacrifices to 'appease the gods' and guarantee the fertility of the earth. Even after adopting the single god theory, animal sacrifices were required for the remission of sins. Good works were counted as naught and lapses of acceptable behaviors required restitution. Moving forward, religion required penance (monetary and/or punishment), steps of enlightenment, years of study, attendance at ceremonies, and even an afterlife holding tank to ensure our place of pleasure in the hereafter.
Those man-made religions required a man-made resolution to our eternal problem-sin- and in creating a man-made resolution resulted in another sin - arrogance and bigotry. For, if we can 'work our way to heaven' then we are not all equal. If only the eternally strong survive, then the weak in spirit can never attain heaven. "For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.'" ICorinthians 1:26-31
So if we do not attain eternal bliss by our own worth, how do we ensure our equality in the afterlife? "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 RSV Our afterlife is not based on our wisdom, our sacrifices, our wealth or our good deeds. Our afterlife is based only on our CHOICE. If we choose to believe in the sacrifice of Jesus, we will have eternal life. We all have a choice - yes or no - and that ability to choose makes us all equal.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Faith vs. Belief

I was having breakfast with a group of friends sometime ago and as women will do when they converse, we discussed our trials with family, work, etc. As we are all Christians, solutions included prayer and biblical precepts. Then all became quiet as we sipped our coffee and finished our eggs.

Presently, one of my companions broke the silence with an insightful question, "What is the difference between faith and belief?" Without a pause, I blurted, "Faith is believing that God can do all things; belief is believing that he will do them for you."

Some weeks have passed since that breakfast and as my eyesight has mended enough to use the computer, I decided to validate the words that had spewed from my mouth.

Faith comes from the French root, Fidere-to trust- sometime around the year 1250. This word was commonly attached to religious duty in fulfilling one's trust.

The history of the word 'Believe' surprised me. The word origin is from the Saxons meaning to hold dear or love. The word evolved in 1549 as an attachment to Christian believers, howevcr, the word was used as 'Believe On' rather than our present day 'Believe In'.

So we see that faith encompasses the corporate belief in God and our adherence to his precepts, but belief is the personal devotion and love of that faith.

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith." Romas 3:21-25 RSV

Monday, February 11, 2008

Faith is Not Blind

"Was blind, but now I see." Amazing Grace by John Newton

Since January 7, 2008, I have been blind in my left eye. Two operations and sedentary rest has not restored my sight or my housebound status. With a third surgery and another seven days of lying face down looming in my immediate future, I want to recount here what I now see.

  • I see that family is not who shows up for birthday parties and holidays, but who shows up to cook breakfast and clean your bathroom.

  • I see that sisters in Christ could learn a valuable lesson in ministering from the sisters in my family.

  • I see that even lying face down, I can still minister to others with a phone in my hand and God's words in my mouthpiece.

  • I see that it is not independence, but dependence on each other, that binds us together.

  • I see that children survive on love, but thrive on being needed.

  • I see that the stares from strangers are not aversion to my infirmity, but the beginnings of empathy.

  • I see that a giving spirit not only gives graciously, but receives graciously.
  • I see that even in the darkness, we can intercede prayfully for those around us.
  • I especially see God's blessings in the cessation of an independent life.

May God Bless You, Indeed.