Monday, November 24, 2014

You are Not Just Yourself! not fear, for I am with you" Isa 41:10
You are not just 'you' yourself, ...what does that mean? You are a social composite; thus, something much bigger than just you 'the self'; in fact, we cannot even know what that means outside social context.. This makes you an incredible creation because you are more than that.... 'you' as a social composite are unexplainable. It follows then that something much bigger and unexplainable created everything and everyone. The Creator of heaven and earth and all things in it knows you the social self. Because, he is an unexplainable social entity, yet understood by His creation because of that. It is understood that He understands relationship more than anyone or anything; how?... God made man/woman in His image - an example of His social self. Our purpose is to be in relationship with each other and to be in relationship with our are not just yourself! Dr. E.F. Gallion

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rest in the Lord!

Rest in the Lord means to trust in Him completely. Whether or not you hear His voice or feel His hand in yours does not matter as much as knowing in your heart and mind that He is with you. Resting in the Lord means you don't have to worry about anything; after all, He is the Creator, He made the heaven and earth and everything and everyone in His creation. He made you and your family, your parents, spouse and children. The Lord God wants you to be at rest, knowing that He is with you every step of the way. "do not fear for I am with you" Isa 41:10. We spend too much time either trying to please ourselves and or trying to please God by doing what we think pleases Him. What pleases Him is letting Him be in control when you cannot and should not. This Thanksgiving season, gives thanks and praise to the Lord God Jesus Christ and rest in Him.
My favorite Psalm is Psalm 103
"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Faith and Deeds

In James 2: 19-23, we read about faith and deeds. What does that mean, what does God want/need of us?
"You can say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror, how foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And, so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith."
We no longer have to labor for our salvation! Many Christians, run around looking to be the next boy scout, the next good Samaritan, the next Rahab. You don't have to run around looking for opportunity to do good; that is just being an opportunist. You don't have to be counting your deeds either and marking them down somewhere so that you can point to them if/when the time comes. This does not mean that if you see a need, you should not at least try to fill that need. If someone comes to your door and asks for something, give it freely. Point being, if you have not already got it, is that deeds come from the heart, as in a reaction not as a calculation. Abraham did not calculate what he should do, he reacted with his heart for God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christ Delivered Us from the Sin of Death

In Romans 6, we read that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. Remember that Christ delivered us from the sin of death. "For if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once and for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:  8-11
Yet, even with that knowledge we feel that death is the end of us, the end of relationships. The death of a loved one is an experience that no one is ever prepared for. Especially, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a child... no matter what age. There is a physical disconnection that is worse than the emotional; it feels like a part of you has been cut off and you have the feeling that that person will never be seen or touched again. It is not easy to get over that kind of physical pain; and yet time does heal the pain but never fills the void of that loss.  If you are ever faced with that or faced with consoling someone as they go through this kind of experience, you will likely be at a loss for words to express you pain and at a loss to console some one's pain. Many Christians first reaction is "He/she is in a better place". While, that is true, it is not the words loved ones remaining here want to hear in light of 'fresh loss' event. What we as Christians must try to understand is that we are God's children (everyone of us) and the children we have on this earth belong to Him too. What we must rest in and take comfort in is that everything that happens is always for His glory, though we may not like the way in which He allows for that to happen and what He means by good. Does that mean the God is 'mean', that he can do with our lives as he wishes to get glory for himself. No. Firstly, we always need to remind ourselves that we live in a fallen world. Bad things happen in a fallen world and since we are in it, we will experience bad things... "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." John 15:19. We are of something else, something greater. And, thus whenever anyone leaves us, leaves this fallen world, if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, they will be with Him and we will all eventually be together in the New Jerusalem. A loving and merciful God is not mean, but He is just. In this fallen world, we are in it and we were and are subjected to the bad things in it. Being in it, we make bad decisions, we sin and those sins can bring us misery and cause us to make bad choices, to make mistakes. Yet in our misery and out of our mistakes, out of our being led astray by Satan, God can and does make things right in His time and always for His glory. In this, we should rejoice because it means that though we are sinners and bad things happen, God can and does make it all things for good, by doing so, His glory is greater and when His glory is greater, His creations are made gloriously greater. The best Biblical example is the story of Lazarus. Jesus could have come while he was sick or even near death but that would not have been as glorious.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Potter is Soverign

The potter is sovereign; he is at the wheel and he shapes you. Of course, you can act against His will, you have free will 'choice'. And, yet the potter's love is so great and so against waste that He continue to bring to you back to the shape he has for you, the one he always had for you... if you just let him. Why/How do we as 'clay' resist the potter? We don't like the shape we are given/have, we don't like the color we are, we don't like the kind of clay we are, or the consistency, we don't want to be just a pot, we want to be a large vessel for other things, we want to have the main stage in the foyer of things/life. We fail to realize and embrace that even a tiny basic pot has purpose; in fact, a great and wonderful purpose in God's eyes = in the potter's hands.
How is that we don't sit right where we are put, we don't attract other things to us that we want that we think should satisfy the form/shape we are? Let us know forget that this is a corrupt world/realm that we occupy and sin is in us- flaws that the pottery tries to bring out and burn out in His kiln. Some of that 'sin/corruption' is deep and resists coming to the surface. Some of that 'sin/corruption' attempts to control the shape in the potter's hands. What we as that sinful corrupt clay must in order to become the creation that the potter wants us to be is to resist sin/corruption. How? Simply by resting in the potter's hands, trusting in the potter's hands, knowing that in this way He is able to save us and make us into a wonderful eternal creation. Ultimately, we have to make the choice to rest and let the potter work.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Old Testament, what it means for us today

The Old Testament is about God in relationship with Israel - with His people. As a sociologist, I like to imagine that God used this group to show the dynamics of His relationship with His Creation which once near to Him were now banned to a corrupt and fallen world; banned through their own doing. All things in this fallen world are not good, not the kind of good that God is. Man may think he is good and beautiful but he has forgotten what good he was/had.  Throughout the Old Testament, we are reminded of that and we are encouraged to persevere in faith, follow our heart in a relation with God as did David. We are nothing and we can do no good in this fallen world that will please God. “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” Isa 64:6. Before Jesus Christ came to save us from our sin, there were sacrifices made – atonement for sin and soon that was not enough to please God.  Yet, God did not abandon us and once we are brought to our humble knees by this realization which is that through His Son we have been healed! In this revelation, God becomes everything to us again, as He once was and we are no longer self centered, self driven and self determined. We must know and embrace the word of God as it is written for He sent His word to heal us – ultimately to save us from death and grant eternal life.
God has to let this fallen world run its course – program until all evil and death have been destroyed or vaulted up in the abyss. Until then, we will suffer in this fallen world but Praise and Thanks be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died for us so that we may live eternally.  In 2 Peter, we read to add goodness to our faith; which reminds us that we do have an understanding of ‘goodness’ but the realization is that we can never do enough ‘good’ to give God the ‘goodness’ He deserves; so in trying to do good in our understanding of ‘goodness’ will not please God.  What does? Knowing that Jesus Christ came once and for all to save us from the sin of death.  With this knowledge, we can move forward in faith (kindness and brotherly love) as we share this knowledge, “... knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in faith” 2 Peter: 8. “Therefore, my brothers be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter: 10.
The Old Testament has meaning for Christians today as related above. We are His people, grafted in through our accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah. In that acceptance, we are in this knowledge as explained above. With that knowledge, should we forget to read and or not care to read the Old Testament. No, we should read it more often to better understand how in this fallen world, God = Jesus Christ, saves!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Way We Treat Gender/Each Other - God's Logic

The way we treat gender (sexualization) should be based on God's Logic. I have been on the podium about this many times; yet it remains a strong topic for me and for Christians and even non-Christians. In past posts, I have directed readers to the numerous chapters in the Bible whereby we find God's word and his 'logic' concerning gender, gender roles and expectations.  For example, Col 3:18 on "Rules for Christian Households", Ephesians 5:22  "Wives and Husbands", Romans 7, "An Illustration From Marriage /Struggling with Sin, "1 Cor 6:12  "Sexual Immorality", 1 Cor 7 "Marriage" and Titus 2 "What Must Be Taught to Various Groups". What can we gain from scripture? We gain in accepting the social order that God designed; a social order that begged one to leave behind the flesh and seek the greater relationship with the Creator by going into the world, into the social world to be with God's creation. There is a 'best practice' for doing that as we can read in some of the excerpts above and throughout scripture. We gain nothing from living for the flesh. We live for God. 1 Peter 4 "therefore, once Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spend enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do- living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.... therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sexualization of America, What Can Christians do about it?

The sexualization of America is not new as a topic of discussion or observed social phenomenon. Firstly, what does that mean? It used to mean how we observed differences in expected behavior of males/females in terms of using their sexual identity to improve upon their social situation. That is why, it can be argued that over the hundreds of years history has provided many such events 'sexualization' of both men and women. As we often hear, the current discussion is more about women than men these days, at least that is my opinion, given the pursuit of gender equality. So, in view of historical events, we can better understand the sexualization of women in America since they first set foot here with their husbands. They also joined in the march Westward, either pioneering along their husbands or prostituting in the saloons which popped up in boom towns that appeared out on the vast open landscape... offering little security and raw life in daily doses. It could be argued that the greater catalyst of sexualization of America women happened during the Women's Suffragette Movement. Liberation brings new social dynamics between men and women and then again during WWII more so than WWI. As for me, being a live witness, I like to reflect on what I consider to be the most sexualizing social movements of the 60s. Feminism was radically discussed, bras burned, pleasure pursued. Since, we have more divorce, more single moms and more feminization of men, or the female sexualization of men. From a cosmic distance, it seems we have been and remain victim's of our own flesh and confused about its Godly purpose. And, because of that, we try to overcome. The church was good about guiding us in that purpose with the aim of keeping us in line with our identity and purity through abstinence and or marriage; again which was thought to be a good thing, even a 'best practice'. But nowadays, abstaining is not the popular option. It is now thought wiser to overcome and thus grow identity by giving into the flesh; after all, its natural, part of nature and abstaining from what is natural seems ridiculous and maybe even more harmful in terms of really knowing and loving yourself (liberal/progressive jargon), at least I am thinking that is the logic. Perhaps, that is why we see on campuses across the nation events like - Sex Week. Just recently, U of Wis at Madison hosted a "Sex Week". The mission of such an event was to educate of course; to get people to dialogue, to open themselves to experience, to be tolerant and to be engaged in their inner self. The later has been the greater topic of discussion among Christians.
Today, on Janet Parshal Moody Radio Program, Dr. Linda Mintle, Christian psychologist and counselor,spoke out on such events on America's campuses.  She said "It’s no secret that sex and violence 'sell' in the media and this spills out into everyday life. What price are we paying for this constant assault on our hearts?" I agree absolutely with Dr. Mintle and know that the price is high. On the program, the question = how to stand firm in being a 'frontline' for your kids and how to guide them if they are in college, away from home?  Difficult to answer and manage when faced with powerful external progressive institutions.
Yes, you can keep your kids home, you can even homeschool their college years if you are well read and ambitious and have time. You can send them to Christian schools, but I can tell you that I taught at a Christian school and the liberal/progressive agenda had seeped in to the point that Christian values could not be discussed since others in class may not have the same values. This made it very hard to discuss sociological topics such as the traditional family, marriage as an institution and necessary gender in expectations we put on male/female roles.
Sexualization of the person has been around, as I wrote earlier on; in that, we have observed differences in role expectations in different historical periods. But, today's sexualization is not about that. It is about coming out of the closet in terms of one's sexual preferences introduced as a liberating experience. There is no discussion about whether or not this is good for a person or society in respect for gender roles that play a vital role in sustaining society in numbers and in identity. There is no discussion about the harm that comes with promiscuous sexual activity no matter what age / no matter with who/what. And, moreover, when there is no respect for the relationship between distinct physical body features and the mind that cause male/female identity and role stability, society will deteriorate into social obscurity. I am sure that universities such as U of Wis thinks that their aim is simply to educate. Yes and No. I have yet to hear a positive discussion about what I related here - stable gender identity and abstinence til marriage. The modern discussion is simply about sex, the act, the experiences that one can enjoy with any partner without social expectations as it is all about uninhibited physical pleasure. There is no discussion of social consequences. Many of today's young people are sadly led into identity obscurity and into sexual bondage by corrupt information much of which came out of the 60s and including, the 70s and 80s as more and more sex and violence got into mass media.
What can Christians parents do? What can we do as Christians/American citizens? Firstly, male/female gender identity and role expectation must be modeled for children and sexual sin has to be talked about. God is a loving God and He did send His Son to redeem and it is this knowledge that we have to embrace and share as it alone allows us to move forward away from sin.  We can still sin though we struggle not to. This does not mean we should preach that sin does not exist. It does and recognizing it is out there is the way forward in this fallen world. We have to be consistent, we have to let our children know that God created male and female and that He his intentions for us matter most.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We Learn Obedience From the Things We Suffer

Life is supposed to be difficult.
Hebrews 5:8 "Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him." We learn obedience from things we suffer. There will be suffering and God gives strength to endure, he gives strength to all those who believe Php 4:13.  ... as we look forward to the future. "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb" Rev. 19:9

We suffer from our sins and in that we learn obedience; at least we should rather than backslide. But, even in that case, the Lord is always there for us if only we reach out to Him.
I am a sinner. I am arrogant and boastful. I am shamed by that and suffer the pain of it being pointed out.
Paul said it best when in his letter to Timothy. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful...and that I am diligent in my faith, in my belief that Christ Jesus died for my sin. I must persevere in that knowledge. "For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ." Hebrews 3:14