Our Will vs. God’s Will.

I know this is a subject I have written on a lot, or at least touched on quite a few times. If I have touched on it I don’t think it was in the context of free will. There is a great difference in our will and God’s will as our will focuses on the flesh and God’s is for our spiritual good. There are many times people act as if God is there to give them what they want, get angry when they do not get it only to have something better come along. We will look at each of these and examine them a little more closely.

What exactly is free will. Well it is the right to choose in any given situation. Do you take the freeway or the back road to get to a destination? Do you eat hamburgers or Chinese food for dinner? Do you do drugs or stay clean? Do you remain faithful to your partner or commit adultery? Do you give in to you anger and commit murder or allow the person to walk away and and allow yourself to let it go? Do you accept your gender as you are or accept an alternate lifestyle(homosexual, transsexual, bisexual, etc.)? All of these things are done in free will as they are all choices, and yes there is scientific evidence to support the last one so I am not speaking from only a religious perspective. What is not understood by many is how God’s will and our will interact.

Our Will is easy to understand, we seek out own good and sometimes the good of others. We do what makes us happy, our will is driven more often by emotion than logic. Quite a few people that know me will be able to tell you that I have a tendency to do random, and quite often crazy, things. After I have done something people consider “strange” yet funny they ask me why I did it. My response is always in jest: “It just seemed like the thing to do at the time.” In reality I do it to make people laugh, or try to. The sad thing is many people use this excuse when they have done something harmful to themselves or others, usually in the form of “They made me angry so I …” or ” I just gave into my emotions and…. ” Many times they will try to rationalize or blame others for their actions claiming they were not left a choice. This is our will, driven by human desires from a human heart.

Most importantly, we have God’s will. I will try to explain this as best I can, but it impossible to do fully because no one fully understands God’s will. The Bible tells us that his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, his ways higher than our ways. This is to say that the thoughts and ways of God are beyond human comprehension. What I do know is that God’s will for those that love Him and seek Him is only for their good. This means that what happens in our lives is done to help us become who we are meant to be, yet we can still choose to not do them. Our choosing to not do something doesn’t mean we end up poor or sick/infermed, just as choosing to do something may not bring wealth and health. God knows what will really make us happy and that is what his will is all about, giving us the joy we are always looking for in other places. Sometimes we superimpose our will over God’s will thinking “This will make me happy, so it has to be God’s will.” In reality, God’s will may be something you are afraid to do or even something you just don’t want to do, maybe even a place you don’t want to go. I have heard many people talk about how God wanted them to do something they didn’t really want to, but when they did it they were so touched and moved, experiencing a joy like they had never known, that they continued doing it until something else was presented. That is the will of God, and it is designed for us to fully trust Him in obedience because we know only good will come of it. 

Do not mistake what I am saying here, obeying the will of God is not done without choice, it is all about choice. It would not benefit us to be forced or coerced into doing things. We must choose to obey God’s will, so what we do is by our own choice, done willfully and knowingly of our own accord. Likewise, it doesn’t benefit God to force His people into things, this only creates spite and disdain, not the love he wants us to have. Besides, why would a loving God force people to do things without choice. Because he loves us he wants us to choose, it really is that simple.

What Does it Mean to be Saved?

In having a conversation with my pastor I realized that I speak very little on this and focus more on Christian living. I do this in order to help other Christians grow and inform people who are not Christian what being a Christian is all about. No doubt that I do not hold all the answers but I try to put into words what is on my heart. I am learning and growing just like many of you.

What is salvation? What are we being saved from or for? What is the purpose of this and why is it so important to Christianity? Study any other religion and you will see that accepting the teachings of that religion is simply called conversion, not salvation. That is mostly because those religions teach that salvation is up to the person or that they save themselves through their actions. Yes, even Judaism and Islam teach that very thing. However, Christianity teaches that all have dinner against God and are condemned to eternal salvation as a result of that sin, but there is a way out of that. Faith that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah (God’s anointed one or Christos in Greek) and has come, died for those sins and is risen again, ascended to heaven and will return again to take all those who believe in him away at the end of time. Sounds simple, but there are still many things that will bring up questions, some of those things I have tried to address in other posts.

In reality, salvation comes at the moment you accept the statement above. It is the moment you are remorseful for all the things you have done against God and seek to turn away from them. It is when you realize that you can not save yourself no matter how good you are and how many good works you have done. Still, there are those that try and do Christian things without accepting Jesus as their personal savior. They claim to be Christians, but they are trying to save themselves.

Then we have the question of it salvation can be lost or if people are saved for life. I have heard arguments for both sides and believe it is the condition of one’s heart when the time comes, if they have kept the faith or denied Christ. I can not tell you if you lose that salvation or not, I am not the one who can give it. We can only hope our loved ones are saved when the time comes.

What makes Christianity different than other beliefs is the plan of Salvation, that we do nothing to earn it (called Grace), and that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Others will teach you that it is through what you do, following the teachings of some prophet or priest, or making some God happy by your works. God simply asks that we accept the work done at the cross and seek his will for our lives, trusting that he is for us and wants only what is good for us. This is easier said than done.

Through Fires and Deep Waters.

It is difficult for me to write this as I am one who is easily dismayed by the slightest set back. The truth is I need to write this as much as others need to hear it. In our darkest times we have a tendency to feel we have been forgotten by God. We think that he has abandoned us and we are alone. We enjoy our blessings and are happy when things are going good, forgetting that bad times are sometimes part of those blessings.

Much like learning to swim when growing up. My parents taught me to swim by throwing me in and forcing me to swim or sink. Of course when I began to sink they came in and got my head above water, but for a moment I felt like I would drown. I can honestly say that there have been a number of times that I have felt that God was going to let me drown, then all things worked out for my good. The Bible even tells us that all things work for the good of those that love Him. Not just for people’s good no matter what you do, you must love God and seek his ways. The only difference is that God is not doing it for our self reliance, but a stronger reliance on him so we stop trying to control what we can’t.

There is a phrase people use when working out: Feel the burn. This is in reference to the burning sensation in the muscles when the work out is complete. No pain, no gain is another in reference to becoming stronger through working out til it hurts, and just a little past it. These trials of fire and times of sinking are designed to strengthen your faith and walk with God because it is here you cry out more, seek God more and doubt your faith. It is where we grow and strengthen our walk with God. We are weak, but we are weakest when times are good because we are not growing. The good times are more a time of recuperation and rest, not a reward, so we are prepared for the next time. We are always under attack from the enemy and some fall when the hard times hit, some when times are good. Like coaches, though, we are to be there encouraging and supporting those in the hard times and helping prepare those in the good times. God, however, is always there and will not allow things to become more than we can bare, though it sometimes more than we expect.

The times of trouble are not always punishments for not doing what God asks of us, that is another writing altogether, but trials to bring us closer to God. He knows our hearts and minds, so he knows how things will go, he is just showing us where growth is needed. The Bible also tells us that he disciplines those he loves, and discipline is only to show us the right way to go. So we are disciplined not only as children are but as runners in a race or other athletes. This is for all of those in the trying times to evaluate the why in what your going through. Did you bring it on in something you have done it are you being prepared for the next big thing in your life. Either way, remember you are only in control of the choices you make, how you deal with things, and the rest is up to God.

What is Love?

Do not mistake the title, this isn’t like the song by hadaway or “I wanna know what love is” by Foreigner. It is simply meant to point out how the english word for “love” is very broad and vast. We use it for everything from songs and television shows to food and places as well as people. In our minds it is separated, and I believe there has been a breakdown in that separation. We mistake one form of affection for another.

The word “love” is used 526 times in the New International Version, 521 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible which is my personal preference. In the King James Version the word translated as “love” in other translations is translated as charity, a form of general love. So why would the rest have it translated as love? Because we understand charity differently as we have been taught that it is taking care of the less fortunate. What about the other words for love? They are translated as simply love as we do not have an equivalent in the english language, but I am certain that the Latin and Greek reading of the same verses with the word love in it would read much differently than thier english counterparts. The reason is that many other languages have a differnt word for different kinds of love. Understanding that, the Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek, the languages it was originally written in, the King James Version is literally the closest english translation we have as they tried to translate word for word. So we have to think about the differnt forms of love that are there when we read verses with that word in it.

Today, there is no differentiating between those kinds of love. David, before he was King David, was good friends with Jonathan, the son of King Saul who was in power at that time. It was said that David loved Jonathan more than a woman, but this could mean that he loved him closer than a brother, not that they slept together. It would be what we used to call a Bromance, the kind of respect and affection between guys that goes beyond being “family.” That type of relationship is viewed more in homosexual light than it should be theses days. Jonathan was next to be King but would have gladly placed David on the throne because he knew that David had been chosen and anointed by God. He also had respect for David as a person and would have given his very life for him. This was the love they had for each other.

Now, to answer the original question of what love is. It has a vast and varying definition depending on the people and objects involved. The love between a husband and wife is beyond a mere sexual or physical attraction, there is the deep emotional connection and the need to take care of each other, for him to fight for her and for her to be his most trusted ally. Friends can have similar feelings without the physical attraction, where you will do what it takes to protect your friends even with your very life. Sibling love is almost a love/hate relationship in that you can disagree with each other all you want but if someone outside the of the family says something, you defend that sibling. Parental love is unconditional in that no matter what the child/children do and how angry the parent gets, they will always love them and forgive them, desiring only the best for them. Love, in general, is a physical reaction to emotional reaction. It is feeding the hungry and caring for the sick and dieing, healing the hurt, celebrating accomplishments and wanting good for others. It differs only when taken to personal levels and how we connect with the people around us. I love the people I work with and the people I go to church with, I even love people I interact with in stores(for the most part, some are obnoxious and rude). I love my Sister and Brother and their families, though we don’t talk much these days, and all my cousins and try to keep up with them (one reason I keep my Facebook page active). Of course I love my wife, that should go without saying, but I love her on a different level than others. In fact, they are all on different levels of love. Love is desiring what is good for others unconditionally but allowing them to choose how they will live, keeping the door open, or at least unlocked, when they need an open ear or a shoulder to cry on, and the desire to lay down your very life to save the lives of those you care for. This is just my thoughts on this, I may be wrong in some places.

We are not as strong as we think we are.

There was a song by Rich Mullins by this title. It is one of his songs that has always spoke to my heart. Right now, I am feeling it. I, like many others, think I am pretty strong. That strength has been tested all this week. I have all but shut down all social media as the zealot opinionist feel everyone is out to start a fight. God forbid you hold opinions different from all others, yet everyone holds to their view as the only correct view. So ears are shut while mouths fly open with no thought as to the offences that come from them. Everyone is offended by everything and do not care who they offend in the process. I watch and do nothing but become outraged at the lack of concern for others that is rampant. It is like everyone states what they feel and no one is entitled to a difference of opinion, and if you state that difference of opinion then you are pretty much ostracized. If you take a left stance on one thing, the right ridicules you. Take a right stance, the left crucifies you. Everyone is fighting being right that they refuse to have a meeting of the minds and seek to understand each other. That doesn’t mean they have agree, just agree to disagree. Yet, at the drop of a hat, because one set of facts doesn’t align with someone’s agenda, social media becomes the battleground instead of a sounding board. We will never reach any kind level of understanding, and frankly I am too tired and too old to deal with the nonsensical, trivial crap that people want to be up and arms over. Besides, all have made it clear that I lack the intelegence to hold opinions of my own. Maybe it is time this old warrior fades into the digital sunset and disappear. 

Scientism is not Science.

Nikola Tesla once said “Scientist today do not do science. They have replaced experiments with calculations.” I am no scientist, the only real science classes I have had are Biology and Physics. Even with that limited level of scientific education I have to agree with Tesla. How many times have we heard from the scientific community the phrase “According to our calculations…..” I know many that are in the scientific community will see this and say that I am just ignorant of science and do not know how it works, so I did some research and ask a few questions.

The scientific process is broken down into four levels, from lowest to highest: Fact, Hypothesis, Law and Theory. According to what makes a theory is the abality to meet certain criteria, it must be observable, testable, measurable and repeatable. Undrstanding this one must add that science is to be unbiased and attempt to disprove their hypothesis in order find out how things work. It is also not the quest for truth. Knowing this, I had to ask how the theory of evolution even became a theory when it is only sometimes observable, rarely measurable and testable, and hardly repeatable. A friend and former coworker of mine once tried to tell me they proved evolution when a guy took 12 Petrie dishes with the ecoli bacteria and an enzyme they would not eat. Each day he saw that the ecoli had multiplied but had not touched the enzyme and would move them to another Petrie dish. After several weeks of doing this, one of the twelve began to eat the enzyme, therefor proving evolution. It was one experiment, I don’t think they repeated it, and if somene did they may not have gotten the same results. It does not prove evolution. Many of evolutionists findings in archeology and paleantology are times they were out to find evedence to support their claims, thus being biased.

Scientism is the idea that science is infallible, their findings absolute and unquestionable and scientists the holy mouthpieces that tell them what science says. It is the beliefe that human secularism is true, that we are here of our own accord and not some grand design. They seek to dethrone God and place science in his place. Science has its place and a purpose, to help explain the physical world and how things work, how things came to be and develop new ways to do things all while remaining unbiased, through trial and error. Form your equations and calculations, test them as well. Calculations alone still fall in the hypothesis area and need physical tests to affirm they are right, yet many scientists create computer models where a factor could be left out and the calculations affirmed because of it. No real experiments done at all and they claim they have proven it.

Does this mean that I am opposed to all science? No, science has a place and purpose but is ever changing and not absolute. I am skeptical of all scientific findings, even when they support something I agree with. I have found things supporting my views only to find they may have approached it from a biased perspective and thus altered the data to support their findings. Science has nothing to do with faith and for that reason should not become a faith in itself as some are making it. Science is flawed and erroneous just like the men that created it.

I know that I usually write on Christian faith and practice, but this is something I am finding I have to contend with more and more. This may be my only piece on this. Sorry for the change in subject matter.

Keep Fighting the Good Fight.

Just the other day I reconnected with my original martial arts instructor. We had a nice little talk, catching up as it has been almost 10 years since we spoke last. I must say, we have our moments of falling out, but some of my fondest memories are from my time of training with him. To this day if someone where to threaten or challenge him, they would need to pass through me first. The respect is still there. However, the respect is shared with a few others; Couch Sensei, Cox Sensei, Craig Sensei and of course my wife and church family. Not necessarily in that order, more collectively. 

One memory I have with Lee Sensei was when I was a yellow belt, still a beginner. He had one of his third degree black belt students show up for class. After class, Lee Sensei looks at me and tells me “I want you to fight this guy.” I was like “hmm, okay.” and got into the make shift ring we had. For the next 15 minutes or so I was knocked to the ground more times than I could count. I would get up and try harder every time to get a shot in, each time finding myself on the recieving end of punch or kick. When it was done, Lee Sensei and the third degree stepped to the side and spoke for a bit, then the third degree bowed out and left. Lee Sensei comes over to me, still trying to catch my breath, and tells me “You did something with him I haven’t seen anyone else do.” “What is that?” I responded, “Not hit him?” Lee Sensei looked me in my eye and said “No! Impress him. He is hard to impress and you did that.” This confused me, so I asked “How? I couldn’t even touch him and he kept knocking me to the floor!” His response was sobering. “Yes, but you kept getting up and never quit. That impressed him.”

Sometimes I look back on my life and think “God, were you telling me something here?” because it seems like those things keep getting repeated. We all sin, we all fall and we all have our lost battles. It what we do when we are down that makes the difference. Do we wallow in that defeat and lose hope or do we get up and keep fighting. Someone once told me “The only fights we lose are the ones where we stop fighting and give up.” This is what God wants us to know as well. How can we ever get the prize that lays before us if we give up fighting for it? If we surrender our faith and belief and sacrifice our moral judgement? The very words “surrender” and “sacrifice” suggest quiting and giving up. God isn’t looking for how many times we are knocked down, he is looking at how many times we get back up, put our hands up and keep fighting. Keep fighting the good fight, never give up and never surrender to the enemy.