Wednesday, September 13, 2017

If I Were The Potter

So many Christians have wrestled, most often unnecessarily, with the reality of God’s sovereignty and how that relates to our personal responsibility for our sin. And, it seems as though, no matter how many times we read Romans 9 and other scriptures on the subject, we keep coming back to the same questions. Why is that? Is it because we read what Paul wrote and forget it was breathed by God? Is it because we read God’s Word and don’t fully credit it as God’s Word? Is it because we resist the invitation to have faith? Or, maybe we read the answer in the third person missing the point that this is still God speaking? For most of my colleagues, I believe, it is this last reason. I recently confirmed this with a friend by reading scripture to them in the first person. I had an epiphany. So, I decided to do this in a blog post. In doing so, I tried my best to put myself in God’s shoes – which I know is impossible. But, bear with me. I put myself as best I can in His shoes and decided to elaborate as if I were the Potter. I immediately was convicted. I was not convicted because I oppose this truth. I was convicted because I too often am on the other side of the table, still wasting energy in arguments with my brothers and sisters about what should be accepted in faith. Below is my feeble attempt at imagining myself as the Potter and responding to the pot. Enjoy!

Romans 9 question:
In view of God’s sovereignty, you then ask, “Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?”

My answer if I were the Potter:
I spoke through Paul in Romans 9. And, I also answered this question adequately through Paul in Romans 9 as well as other scriptures. Since after reading this many times I find you are still asking the same question, I will elaborate directly with you.

For context, anchor yourself with the fact that you are like a pot and I am the one and only Potter - and God. It is impossible for a pot to evaluate its Potter. In fact, you, the pot, will never understand what it means to be a Potter - much less what it means to be the one and only God. That is because I created you, like all creation, with far more limited understanding than my own. And, while after your fall and re-surrender of your life to Jesus Christ I recreated you, you are still just a better version of the same pot – which is still very limited. And, I am still the very unlimited one and only Potter/God. Don’t bother looking around for reference as there exists no other person who will ever understand me and my designs because I am the only God – which means there are no other potters to consult either. That is why I gave you my Word, the Bible, and specifically Romans 9, to direct your faith. You need to quit trying to evaluate me with such questions – choose faith first and always. Otherwise, you can try all you want to force me into your small pot form, and evaluate me as you would another pot (which makes you an utterly foolish pot), but you will not succeed except in increasing your frustration. Still, I will try to help you if you are willing to listen. Keep in mind, however, that when I am done helping you, you will still be a pot that is entirely unable to comprehend me.

I will begin with creation - mine and yours. Not only did I create you, but I created morality. Moral law is my creation that bows to me much like you are bowing now. Moral law does not sit above me, or it would be God. Since moral law is my subject, I am not subject to moral law - or any law for that matter. Therefore, by default, all that I do is right no matter what I do because I sit above moral law and above all. I determine right from wrong, not moral law (and certainly not you) – because I author all moral law, not the other way around. So, when you question me as if there exists some moral law that you think my sovereignty seems to violate, you are foolishly addressing a fictional pot-like god of your own creation, not me.

Yes, your question is a soft form of a moral charge. It is a moral charge because your question seeks to challenge my declaration of truth in Romans 9 regarding me with reference to me finding fault in you inappropriately. In other words, if God is good and just, then according to you He would not find fault in someone who sins when God controlled it – which implies the inverse is evil or unjust. How dare you begin to bring even a remotely moral charge in my direction – have you lost your pot-like mind? All of the 10 commandments, the 2 new commands that Jesus gave you, and all of the morality of the Bible is my handiwork, not my ruler. For example, when I willfully take human life it is not murder, but when you willfully take human life it is. Do not attempt to measure me with any ruler - I am The Ruler.

That is bad enough, but you went further. Unwisely, you in your potly pettiness, have created a new law which you suggest in my direction by your insolent question (I say insolent because your question addresses me as you would another pot). You question the morality of the One who is sovereign by insinuating it is not moral to demand your personal responsibility for sin while I have 100% control over it – how dare you! First, that is not a moral law, as I am the only author of moral law – and I did not author such incompetent fiction. Second, even if that were a moral law, what makes you think I am incapable of rightly doing both? What evidence do you have of such an absurd assumption – none! Certainly a pot is not capable of doing both, but I am not a pot!

You can’t begin to understand my limitations by reference to your own long list of limitations – learn your place! Your narrow-minded question assumes a god who is limited by the fictional morality of a foolish and insolent pot – I am so above this such that you are not even able to see me even using the wildest and most powerful lens you can imagine. You don’t know me – you don’t even fully know other pots, much less the One who meticulously created all of them. You will never understand this because you will never be me. No matter how much I glorify you, you will always be a better form of a pot and you will never be a Potter. Maybe you should be questioning your lack of understanding as that is what is more obvious at fault in this conversation. The mere fact that you wrestle with this should point you to me not away from me. You are wrestling with Almighty God - good, but learn your place as you do. Therefore, while you wrestle, stay in a bowing position.

It is precisely because you will never understand this that you are required to have faith in me – faith is not required for something that you fully understand. For example, if you did understand my sovereignty, you would not need faith. But, it is impossible to please me without faith. That is because faith is required to accept this – to accept me. And, not accepting this is a form of not accepting me. So, your role as a pot in this wrestling match is to accept in faith that which you will never understand. Do you have a problem with this? If so, you have a problem with me – which means it is you who has the problem, not me.

I realize that it is a challenge to a prideful pot to yield to a holy God on the basis of faith, but what choice do you have, silly pot? You can’t change me, but you better thank me that I can change you! There is no such moral law that forbids me to hold you responsible while I control the processes of your life. As you sin, you are 100% responsible, because I being God said you are, period. But, if you have trouble with that, then just show me one of your sins that you committed against your own will – just one! Now, understand that I will always use sin to turn it back against the enemy and for your good – I have already won this struggle. This story is mine! You need to realize this and stop questioning your Potter as you would your child - it is you who are the child.

The beauty of embracing this faith in my designs is that my holding you responsible for your sin is not the end of how I handle your sin and your responsibility for it. I don’t leave you alone in this responsibility. I not only hold you responsible for your sin, but I also redeem it by having personally died for it. I bore your guilt on a brutal cross so you would not have to. Now, embrace my free gift of forgiveness as the first step in me using your sin to ruin our mutual enemy. And, I didn’t stop there either. I also placed my own righteousness over you, removing every sin you ever committed or ever will commit. Think about that – yes, I hold you responsible in concert with my sovereignty, but I also promise to give you 100% of my righteousness and control the outcome of your sin for your good – did your ignorant question begin to consider that? No! Not only that, but this faith that I require of you comes with far more benefits than your weak pot is capable of containing. I will re-create you, sanctify you, glorify you, adopt you as my own child, and I also make you co-heir to my entire Kingdom – is this not enough to place your trust in this paradox that exists only in your pot-sized mind?

So, to answer your question, I find fault because I can – I am God. You on the other hand, have no business attempting to find fault in me – it will never exist and I never gave you that right or ability. Stop wasting energy in pot-sized thinking and place your faith in the Potter who is entirely capable of answering every question that ever was – unlike you and your pot colleagues. I call you to have the mind of Christ, not that of an unChrist-like pot. That is why I came in the form of a pot so that you can see what it means to properly ponder me in a pot way. Follow Christ as He, in the form of a pot, honored the reality of the Potter – after all, He is also the Potter.

In conclusion, it is I and I alone who find fault in things – and I find fault in your question. Start there – with your repentance of doubting my Word by even asking this again and again.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What Love Is Not

Is sex love? Is rape love? Is marriage love? Is common law marriage love? Is “gay marriage” love? Is consensual bondage sex love? Is perverted intimacy love? Is a marriage that ends in divorce love? Is a relationship that ends in breakup love? Do I love my dog? Does my dog love me? At first, you might find most of these questions silly. And, they are. But, they are silly because none of these examples are in fact love, while we have distorted the notion of love to rope things into the definition for a fleshly agenda – thus these silly questions are begged. Our society and culture has so perverted the concept that we have no choice but to foolishly consider the silly results.

If asked, the vast majority of people would describe love as a strong, maybe even intense, feeling of affection. My dictionary has 20 definitions of the word, all of which are false. Not one definition for love in the dictionary reads, “God.” This is where the lie begins. To illustrate, all feelings known to man come and go, even within the same day. There are very few feelings that typically last more than a day. I am sure that not a day goes by that my wife does not become frustrated, even angry, with me. Thank God that does not last. If feelings come and go, they are by definition fickle. And, nothing permanent should be based on something fickle. Love is permanent or it is worthless. What worth is a “love” that comes and goes? Does anyone really want such fickle affection gestured towards them even if it is intense? Consider, the more intense the affection, if not permanent, the more damaging to the receiver. Don’t we all want and desire permanent, namely unconditional affection? Of course we do. That is why, whether we openly admit it or not, we all reject fickle affection, sometimes violently. Regardless of how the Hallmark Channel depicts serene breakups, such is fiction. We all want love. But, we all want more than fickle emotion. Very few people, if any, want temporary emotion instead of true love. Thank God, love is not an emotion.

Allow me to address just a few of the false notions of fickly love that results from society’s distortions. The first is sex. Sex, even today, is often referred to as “making love.” This phrase dates as far back to the peace-loving sixties when the phrase “make love not war” was overused. But, is sexual intercourse making love? Absolutely not! If sexual intercourse is love, then all of its perversions listed in the first paragraph are love, including rape. If you read that sentence and start to parse nuances in your mind in rebuttal, you might need some reprogramming on the subject. Even in a God-centered marriage, sexual intercourse is not love. In Godly marriage, it may be beautiful, but it is not love because God is love. And, some married couples never have sexual intercourse, yet love each other as much, if not more than the most sexually active married couples.

You won’t find a single verse in the Bible that says sexual intercourse is love. What sex (an invention of our Maker) actually represents is simply a symbol of marital union. And, it was designed by God for marital enjoyment and procreation. But, it’s most profound purpose is to symbolize marital oneness. Sex is not oneness but just a symbol of it. The intercourse is the two becoming one flesh. But, the physical act is just a symbol of the Godly reality that the two people are now one person or one spirit in God’s eyes – the profound mystery. Therefore, the symbol is a glorious celebration of the unity of two people as one person spiritually. Given that God is Spirit and, therefore, Spirit is the ultimate, what we celebrate in flesh is meant to point to the ultimate reality in spirit. It is the spiritual oneness that is marriage. And, it is a daily adventure and pursuit. The sexuality we enjoy is a blissful reminder in flesh of what we ultimately pursue and can realize in spirit. Sex is not the goal. Spiritual oneness is. And, sex is not even required to have spiritual oneness. In fact, it is optional for the married couple or in any relationship, for that matter. For example, the Bible describes David and Jonathan as being one in spirit (1 Samuel 18:1), yet their relationship was entirely spiritual and void of sexuality. This oneness is what we incessantly seek in marriage, but this is not love, because God is love.

But society and its perversions urge us to see a homosexual couple who define themselves by their sexual choices and call it love. This is where the deception comes to full birth. When we take God’s symbols (sex, marriage, even rainbows) and pervert them for our own flesh devices in opposition to His spirit devices, it is we who are on the wrong side of history, not God. We have bought the lie about what is not love and called it love. We are the foolish ones.

But, you say marriage is love. Once again, you will not find a single verse in the Bible that says marriage is love either. Like sexual intercourse, marriage too is a symbol of love, but not love itself. Marriage is a covenant of man and woman permanently becoming one person in the eyes of God. We do this to point as a symbol of the permanent union between Christ (groom) and the Church (bride) – God and man. But, the earthly symbol is not the ultimate; the heavenly reality is. Therefore, denying certain people to marry is not denying them love. For example, if we deny marriage to adult incestuous couples are we denying them love? David and Jonathan loved each other more than most married couples today. But, they were heterosexual friends who each had wives of their own. Marriage is not necessary to love. In fact, most of the people in my life whom I love dearly, I am not married to.

As far as the symbol of marriage, it is God’s symbol and not ours. How do we know this? The proof is that if you study all eras of history on this subject across  all tribes of people on every continent, they all with few deviant exceptions, honor the institution of marriage (one man plus one women for one lifetime). How can that be if we evolved somewhat separately with different sets of morality and cultures? It is this way because God’s word accurately describes history. The concept of marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime is universal. So, is the disdain for divorce universal. Such symmetrical universality can only be explained in God.

Lastly, our society fools us into thinking that we can fall in love, like someone accidentally falling into a pit. Again, at its core, this is a fickle analogy. When we fall into a pit, we don’t stay in it. We get out. We don’t fall in love and we don’t fall out of love. Falling out of love means we never chose to love. Because true love is tested by time. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “love never ends.” That is expressed again and again throughout the Bible in numerous ways. Therefore, if what we are feeling and/or expressing comes to an end, what we were feeling was not love. Love that is not true, is not love at all. And, true love stands the test of time. That is because love is not a feeling or emotion, it is a decision, an eternal commitment or covenant. It is the most profound decision. An emotion that only lasts for 20 years or less and is unwound, is worthless in comparison to a permanent and unconditional decision. Love is a commitment that says I will love you no matter what you do. Even if you cheat on me and divorce me, I will love you. Why do I know that is love? Because that is what God does for us every day that we cheat on Him, which happens to be every day.

So, sex is not love and marriage is not love. So, what is love? The definition of love is God. And, we only exhibit love when we perfectly mimic Him. 1 John 4:7-21 is a treatise on the fact that God is the definition of love – there is no other definition, period. And, Romans 5:8 describes that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” When we show this same true definition of love towards others, we are loving them, no matter who they are. This also goes for our love towards homosexuals. We don’t condone their “marriages.” And, we love them unconditionally. We pray for them. We wash their feet. We tell them the truth in a manner as Jesus would. We love as Jesus would. But, we never distort the definition of love as that distorts the definition of God. And, we are always devoted to God over man.

Christian, in conclusion, we must live and learn above the distorted and perverted fray of our sin-bent culture. Our definitions must be God’s definitions. We must not allow the culture to define God or define us. Both are the exclusive right of God alone. Be very careful what you call love. After all, is what you call love what you want to receive?

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Freedom of Conscience Only for Non-Christians

This past December, the contractor who installed our irrigation system performed some minor maintenance for us. After he was finished, we were catching up with small talk. He paused the conversation, looked concerned and asked me who I had voted for in the recent Presidential election. I informed him of why I could not vote for Clinton and why I voted for Trump. He smiled and proceeded to tell me about an all too common story. Several months prior, he had installed an irrigation system at a home of a lesbian couple. They got to know each other and he even hung out with them one afternoon over drinks. Months later, out of the blue, he received a call from one of the women. With urgency, she demanded to know who he voted for. He reluctantly explained why he could not vote for Clinton and why he voted for Trump. She proceeded to inform him, with malice, that she is contacting all of her contractors, doctors, lawyers and service providers and cancelling all business with anyone who voted for Trump. He was shocked at this display of inappropriate behavior, intolerance and discrimination against those of a different point of view. My wife and I decided to spend another hour or so consoling him and encouraging him. He was clearly rattled by this vengeful display of bigotry by those who claim to fight against vengeful displays of bigotry. But, this is nothing new as there has also been a similar steady and growing stream of hateful hypocrisy being directed at Christians for the past several years. So much for live and let live.

Apparently, discrimination and bigotry is immoral against those of a different view or belief, unless your target is a Christian - and now someone who supports your political foe. And, the list is long of repercussions and punishments against Christians over long-standing, clear, Bible-based convictions. For those who have ignored this issue and repeatedly demand proof that this is systematically happening, click HERE for a much more detailed list. The activists against Christians are hypocritical preachers who claim Biblical views are immoral and therefore worthy of punishment, all the while condemning Christians for preaching about immorality that God will punish unless we receive His free forgiveness. Yes, you read that sentence accurately. And, now these truly hateful and violent bigots are turning their attention towards attacking, discriminating against, threatening and bullying those who dared to be immoral in their eyes by voting for Trump. It is one thing to hold to a view. It is yet another to openly and actively seek to punish those who think differently. That is the dangerous opposite of tolerance.

In the wake of Trump’s election, several fashion designers have refused to design dresses for Melania. There have also been high profile cases of employers demanding Trump voters resign from their jobs. All of this vitriol from those who were violently outraged that a bakery would refuse to bake a cake for a “gay wedding.” Back then, the reasons the Christians abstained are no different, if not more noble, than people’s reasons for boycotting Trump supporters: Freedom of conviction. Reasonable thinkers realize that all businesses have the right to object to business that violates their convictions. We, therefore support Christian bakers as we also support the freedom of conviction of the above fashion designers. But, don’t wait on the preachers of hypocritical tolerance to agree with us – they don’t. That is why they should be ignored. In fact, they preach punishment to Christians for daring to hold to their beliefs while they demand freedom to hold to their own. Do you see the problem? Probably the highest profile case was the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who objected to signing “gay marriage” certificates over freedom of conviction. Even though there were other reasonable means available, Kim Davis was immediately jailed indefinitely by a judge acting unilaterally and with no support of statute. The difference between we reasonable thinkers and the left is that we don’t advocate for punishing people over thoughts. We actually advocate for true tolerance – live and let live. But, those who actually preach hypocritical tolerance advocate for punishing people for their thoughts. (I wrote in great detail in a separate post regarding the Davis case HERE)

Everyone, without exception, should have freedom of thought and speech. And, believing that immoral sexual behavior is immoral does not qualify as illegal and worthy of punishment. It also does not qualify as hate. Neither does having conviction against “gay marriage” qualify. In fact, in every case where Christian-owned businesses objected to serving “gay weddings” they still welcomed the business of the same gay patrons who were otherwise getting married – they were just not willing to serve the ceremony over obvious and reasonable conviction. It is reasonable to understand this because it is common sense. And, that is precisely what all of these other leftist businesses are attempting to do to Trump supporters. We, however, support the freedom to deny business that is of a nature that contradicts the conscience of the business owner. The hypocrisy on the left is that they only support this if service is being denied Christians, but they deny Christians the right to hold their convictions. This hypocrisy towards Christians is the worst form of intolerance. It is one thing to openly disagree with someone, it is an unholy other to threaten to silence them with physical means.

The reason why we reasonable Christians advocate for true tolerance is because God does. Romans 1:28 wraps it up, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” Even God grants freedom of thought. Thinking “gay marriage” is immoral is not dangerous. Imposing actual and true punishments against Christians for their views is. Only one side is advocating for the physical denial of freedom – those attacking Christians – and now attacking Trump supporters. If you are doing either, you are part of the problem. Double standards are destructive. Their destruction begins with destroying standards followed by much worse destruction – ourselves.

Earlier this year, Cross Creek Pictures released the movie, “Hacksaw Ridge.” If you have not seen this movie, and can stomach graphic war violence, this movie is a must see. It chronicles the true story of Desmond Doss, who in view of his religious convictions against killing, still enlisted to serve in World War II. He wanted to risk his life for his country by saving the lives of others on the battlefield. He persevered in spite of intense persecution in boot camp, served in the Asian theater, and saved approximately 75 soldiers in harm’s way while refusing to carry a weapon onto the battle field. It is a beautiful story of what it looks like to face physical abuse over your conviction and stand strong and honorable. At the end of the movie, during the credits, interviews from eye witnesses were shared. One of the witnesses said it well when he insisted that nobody should be asked to breach their conviction “because conviction is who we are.” I can’t say it better than that. Convictions are who we are, whether you have a conviction in favor of “gay marriage” or opposed; whether you have conviction in support of Trump or opposed; whether you are an ardent disciple of Jesus Christ or opposed. Conviction is who we are. Stop trying to punish the conviction of others.

In conclusion, Christian, hold fast to your convictions from God’s Word, no matter what the cost. And, don’t try to punish the convictions of others. As Jesus prophesied, it will probably cost you dearly to keep your convictions. As it does, if your faith endures, your story will be heroic like Jesus, whom we emulate (and like Doss). Jesus stood for the same convictions that we Christians stand for today. Jesus would not call sin “love” because He is Love. And, conviction is who we are. As we endure growing persecution, don’t be hypocritical like others. Instead, remember to pray for those who persecute you. Turn the other cheek. Love your enemies. After all, that is what our Shepherd endured for us.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.