Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Do You Stand With Israel?

In Joshua 5 we read about the events immediately preceding the famous battle of Jericho. Just before going into battle, Joshua had a humbling interaction with an ominous soldier whom he did not recognize. Joshua 5:13-15 records, “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” The rest of the story is history. The profound lesson that Joshua learned that day is that God does not follow us into battles, but that we join Him in His. And, this dynamic remains true even today.

In fact, today, God’s chosen nation, Israel, is engaged in another bloody war with its terrorist neighbors in Gaza. In order to understand this war, one must faithfully and fully study thousands of years of history. For the sake of time, let’s cover just a few recent facts. Years ago, Israel gifted the strategic portion of land known as the Gaza strip to the Palestinian people in a generous and near unsolicited fashion as a gesture towards peace. However, the people of Gaza elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, to govern their territory. Hamas, like the majority of Israel’s neighbors is a terrorist group Hell-bent on the destruction of Israel without compromise or apology. And, Hamas proceeded to use this advantaged territory to dig tunnels into Israel for the purpose of conducting numerous terrorist acts against Israel. Their terrorist activity culminated recently when Hamas, unprovoked, proceeded to launch up to 2,000 missiles into civilian-populated regions of Israel in some of the vilest acts of terror. Israel, exercising its right of self-defense, responded with a ground offensive coupled with targeting and bombing the military assets of Hamas in Gaza. However, Hamas, in predictable fashion, embedded their weapons behind civilian human shields (in schools, hospitals, etc.) in violation of the Geneva Convention. Even this week the U.N. secretary-general (who is no friend to Israel) admitted the fact that Hamas placed rockets in a U.N.-run school inside Gaza.

Hamas is responsible for 100% of the alarming atrocities on both sides that have resulted from the war that they ruthlessly and illegally started. But, what is also alarming is the number of “Christians” who apparently side with Hamas and the Palestinians in these affairs albeit in varying degrees. If you side to any degree with Israel’s anti-Semitic, genocidal enemies, could it be that you are on the wrong side of all of history?

In Genesis 12:3 God promised Abraham's nation for all time, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Further, Isaiah 60:12 says, “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve [Israel] shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.” And, Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Ecclesiastes 3:8 teaches us that there is “a time for war, and a time for peace.” And, even in the end, as prophesied in the book of Revelations, there will be a time for war (Armageddon). And, that war will commence with the nations uniting against Israel, God’s chosen nation. This will be the bloodiest war of all time violently executed by Jesus Himself, the Lion of Judah. Today, we may be witnessing the beginning of the very end. End times or not, you don’t want to be found on the losing side, which is the side that opposes God.

All of these passages of scripture highlight for us, from Genesis 3 to Revelations 20, that God is deadly serious about keeping His promise to Israel. Throughout history and through the end of time, God has and will defend His promise to Israel. Like in Jericho, the battle to defend Israel does not even belong to Israel. The battle to defend Israel is the Lord’s battle. And, just like Joshua learned a humbling lesson before the battle of Jericho, we as Christians have no choice but to humbly fall in line behind the most wrathful General the world will ever know. That General’s name is God. By the way, you might find it interesting and miraculous, that as published recently in the “The Jewish Telegraph” a Hamas terrorist even confessed of Israel, “Their God changes the path of our rockets in mid-air.” Do you need any further evidence of who is fighting against the true God? When Muslim terrorists testify to the miraculous hand of Jehovah defending Israel, it is high time to pay attention and draw ranks behind the God who demands your allegiance.

Christian, do you stand with Israel without conditions and with zero hesitation? Because the One you call “God” certainly does. The Bible more than merely suggests that you join Him without dividing your loyalty. After all, divided loyalty for God, is no loyalty at all. Walking by faith in Him means that God trumps your sight. So, walk by faith behind He who deserves undivided devotion. To stand with Israel is to stand with God. So, stand with Israel!

You can follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What Is Your Portion?

I recall many occasions at our family dinner table when my mother would cut me and my three brothers each a slice of cake for desert. Inevitably, we would compare our pieces with the others' and either gloat or envy. One brother's slice was slightly larger than the others' and in the arguments that followed, we ignored the fact that we were each given a delicious piece of cake. Almost never were we all satisfied with what we were given. This may be human nature, but it highlights something about us that is so unnecessary - discontent. In our humanity, we too often feel discontent due to unsatisfied desires, unmet expectations, or unfulfilled dreams. And, God provides a beautiful answer to our discontent. For the believer, God gives us each a portion that is second to none and satisfies every need and want. He gives us Himself. God gives us God.

There is a seldom recounted story in the Bible that faithfully illustrates this interaction between our Heavenly Father and His children. In 2 Samuel we are introduced to Mephibosheth, the crippled descendant of Jonathan, David's dearest friend. David, now King of Israel, unexpectedly brings Mephibosheth into his palace and restores to him all of the property that belonged to King Saul (along with Saul's servant, Ziba). David did this to keep his vow to Jonathan. Much later, David is exiled from his throne by his wicked son, Absalom. While leaving Jerusalem, David is met by Ziba and not Mephibosheth. Ziba informs David that Mephibosheth has betrayed David. David rewards Ziba by giving Ziba all of Mephibosheth's property. Upon Absalom's death and David's return, David finds the crippled Mephibosheth outside the palace awaiting David's return in filthy clothes and untrimmed beard. David confronts Mephibosheth for allegedly betraying him. And, Mephibosheth reveals to David the truth that he never betrayed David, but that Ziba betrayed Mephibosheth in order to take his property. Realizing that Mephibosheth was telling the truth, and needing to honor his word to both Mephibosheth and Ziba, David concedes that a compromise is in order and they should divide and share the property. And, Mephibosheth offers an amazing response like we should offer our King. In 2 Samuel 19:30, Mephibosheth said, "Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely home." In other words, Mephibosheth so loved his king that he needed nothing more to satisfy him. All Mephibosheth needed was his king.

Psalm 73:26 says, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." God does not give us just a fraction of Himself. Christian, 100% of God is your portion. And, you don't have to share Him with anyone else. He supernaturally gives 100% of Himself to each and every one of His children. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God is your portion. Meditate deeply upon that truth.

If God is your portion, what more do you need? If God is your portion, what more do you require for contentment? Is there anything that would add to God being your portion. Would it be better to have God plus [FILL IN THE BLANK] as your portion? If God is your portion, don't you have everything truly needed to be content? In Philippians 4:11, Paul provides us the ultimate example when he testified, "for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."

Since God is the source of all things, having God means that you have everything.

You can follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When Crocodiles Cry

Have you ever heard someone refer to someone else crying “crocodile tears?” The phrase is often used to refer to a false or insincere display of emotion such as a deceiver crying false tears of grief. The expression comes from an ancient anecdote that held that crocodiles weep in order to lure their prey, or that they cry for the victims they are eating. It was made popular by Shakespeare as he used in three of his plays, “Othello,” “Henry VI,” and “Antony and Cleopatra.” And, it still remains popular today. But, do crocodiles actually cry for the victims that they are eating? Or is this phrase a double deception? The proverbial weeping crocodile is a deception, but so is the notion that a crocodile cries. Were we being led to believe something about crocodiles that is actually false? While, I doubt a crocodile ever wept for his victim, we can learn from what we do know about how they actually kill their victims. In fact, if we listen proverbially, we might even see through a more modern deception regarding crocodiles and clarify something about our own origins in the process.

In May of this year, a breakthrough article was published in “LiveScience.” The purpose of the article was to publish proof that an ancient crocodile subspecies actually killed other dinosaurs with death rolls similar to modern day crocodiles. But there was also a hidden agenda that was not as directly declared. These ancient crocodiles ranged in size up to 43 feet long and are estimated to exceed 22,000 pounds in weight. The three most prominent in fossil remains have been named Sarcosuchus, Deinosuchus and Purussaurus. The evidence published in this particular article was conclusive regarding bite marks found on the likes of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that matched that of the crocodile, Deinosuchus. Researchers suggested that, like modern crocodiles, these ancient crocodiles might have followed such bites with death rolls to finish off their prey. This is a brilliant and thought-provoking discovery. But, doesn’t such a discovery beg more questions that they refused to answer? Do you see any obvious flaws in this evolutionary narrative? What did the untouchable preachers of science-as-a-religion just admit?

In order to display what they unwittingly admitted, let’s walk through the narrative and fill in some gaps so that we can attempt to follow it from start to finish:

  1.  From zero life forms, over billions of years, all life forms evolved until dinosaurs finally arrived on the scene approximately 233 million years ago. Therefore, it took billions of years for dinosaurs to ultimately evolve (albeit statistically improbable).
  2. A large crocodile species (Deinosuchus) roamed the earth along with the Tyrranosaurus Rex up until approximately 67 million years ago, when they were both made extinct.
  3. What made them extinct was a giant meteor (approximately 67 million years ago) that struck the Yucatan Peninsula leaving a crater known as Chixculub. This meteor had the impact of killing off all dinosaurs (and likely all other life in the process).
  4. Since today (67 million years later) we still have crocodiles, apparently what took billions of years to improbably evolve before the meteor, now improbably evolved again producing near identical species to those which existed before the meteor (intact with identical killing techniques). A billions-of-years process that is virtually impossible statistically, now took only 67 million years and with a randomly generated identical result. Let’s pause here. We are led to believe that evolution required billions of years. But, according to their preachings, without confessing their error, it only took 67 million years the second time around.
  5. Since evolutionary science must hold to the deception that man emerged only 200,000 years ago (in spite of evidence to the contrary), they must claim that man never existed alongside of dinosaurs (contrary to both experience and fossil evidence).
  6. Therefore, we can’t call modern crocodiles dinosaurs even though they are. And, therefore, we must ignore the logical impossibilities of all of the above in order for the narrative to hold that crocodiles were made extinct 67 million years ago even though they are alive today.

Are you truly going to believe this nonsense? Why would any critical thinking human swallow a narrative that does not rise to the level of simple logic? Isn’t it possible that we have crocodile bite marks on a Tyrannosaurus Rex because that meteor did not kill off all dinosaurs, especially crocodiles? Isn’t it possible that we have crocodiles today because some dinosaurs survived the meteor event? Isn’t it possible that the event was not as long ago as is being claimed? Isn’t it possible that the event took place several thousand years ago? Isn’t it possible that the meteor was not near as devastating as they are leading us to believe? Isn’t such an event consistent with narratives from varied people groups across the world, who also survived the event? Isn’t it possible (even likely) that the evolutionary narrative is centrally false? Shouldn’t we start critically examining the claims that are being made instead of blindly swallowing what the majority claims is true (but without adequate evidence)? Shouldn’t the explicit lack of logic cause everyone to denounce this narrative? Shouldn’t the benefit of the doubt be awarded to all other plausible theories and not just the one that they want us to believe? Is this not the worst display of blinding dogma?

2 Timothy 4:3-5 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” We are seeing this fulfilled before our very eyes, and sadly even in the Church. However, Church aside, there are obvious reasons why this evolutionary dogma is preached from the pulpits of university lecterns as scientific fact. This is not the practice of science. This is the disgusting practice of blinding religion.

Christian, listen to the crocodile and ignore deceptions regarding his tears. If crocodiles are crying, it is in the sense of the word that they are crying out, not weeping. The bones of extinct subspecies are screaming for us to open our eyes. Listen to what the ancient crocodile evidence says. Listen to what his ancient teeth marks declare. Listen to what your eyes tell you when you see today’s crocodile as a near identical form of his ancient cousin. After all, you can learn something when you listen to crocodiles. Be encouraged that what you believe fits with the facts. Be encouraged that the Bible, wherein lies the Gospel that is our hope, provides a more logical narrative than what the "experts" are crying. The cries that should be ignored are not the fictional cries of anecdotal crocodiles, but are those that are truly meant to deceive.

You can follow me, @ReasonIfYouWill, on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Style is Your Life? – An Epilogue

There is a famous story about Abraham Lincoln and an old lady that visited his office one day. Regardless of a heavy schedule of appointments, when this elderly woman with no official business in mind asked to see him, he graciously consented. As she entered Lincoln's office, he rose to greet her and asked how he might be of service. She replied that she had not come to ask a favor. She had heard that the President liked a certain kind of cookie, so she had baked some for him and brought them to his office. With tears in his eyes, Lincoln responded, "You are the very first person who has ever come into my office asking not, expecting not, but rather bringing me a gift. I thank you from the bottom of my heart." What a picture of how we should treat the Heavenly President of our lives? Shouldn’t we also bake cookies for God?

In the last three posts we explored that the "The God We Ignore" is the Holy Spirit, that the "The Self We Ignore" is our true self (our spirit), and the “Life We Ignore” is the one in which our spirit communes with His Spirit in continual pursuit of the highest standards of living. It is reasonable for us to ponder what others might observe from a Christian who lives such a life. What "style" of living would others recognize while watching a spirit-led Christian? The answer is that a spirit-led life will be evidenced in an observable lifestyle referred to as worship.

The primary words used in the Bible for worship (for example, shachah in the Hebrew and proskyneo in the Greek) mean to fully bow down with face to the ground in homage and reverence. In modern English, the word worship is derived from the word “worth” – i.e. worthiness or worth-ship. In its simplest meaning worship means to ascribe worth to something. When we bow our body and spirit towards God, we are ascribing all worth to Him. We hold back no part of ourselves and no compartments of our lives from complete reverence in His honor. While bowing is certainly a physical activity, it can also be quite figurative. To that end Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

The presentation of our bodies to God as our spiritual worship is not something that just happens on Sundays. Worship is a non-stop lifestyle, not just a weekly activity. That is why in Galatians 2:20, we are referred to as being “crucified with Christ,” meaning that we “no longer live” but “Christ lives in [us.]” And Christ lives in us on Wednesday just as much as on Sunday. Our lives every day are meant to be lived in such a way that continually ascribes worth to God. In fact, it is probably the worst form of hypocrisy to worship God with raised hands on Sunday morning only to deny Him with those same hands the other six days of the week. The purpose of the church is to increase the worship of God every day. John Piper famously said, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't.” If we live the Spirit-led life we were meant for, we will bring our flesh under subjection to our spirit by making it worship its Creator constantly. And, we will live a life of mission – a mission to convert more worshipers. We will teach others to worship with their lives as they observe ours.

The truth is that we all worship something. We all bring our bodies under complete subjection for various things. For some of us it is a football team; a performer; a great speaker; a lover. In fact, the wildest worshipers are not in charismatic churches, they are in rock concerts, football games and the like. These wild worshipers put the most charismatic church goers to shame. But such complete physical and spiritual subjection was meant to be directed at the only object worthy of it – God. Is there anything else that is truly worthy?

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We can worship God through every activity that we do here on Earth. In fact, with every activity that we do here on Earth, we are either worshiping God or worshiping something else in ignorance of God. We can worship God with our work, our play, our marriage, our eating, our drinking, our dancing, our sleeping, and even in how we bake cookies. In contrast, we can also ignore God in every one of those activities. Is there any aspect of your life that is not being directed towards God’s glory? Towards whose glory are such activities directed? Are their idols in your life that are competing for the honor that only God is worthy of? Every day is a good day for tearing down idols and bowing before our Maker.

Whatever you do immediately after reading this, do it for God’s glory.

You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.