Into the Tunnel and Out Toward the Light

A man was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a public audience.  A fellow in the audience passed a note to the speaker inviting him to a debate that Friday.  It was read to the audience and the invitation was accepted on one condition:

I want for you to bring along one person, who in their greatest despair, riddled with addiction, crippled by society, that through embracing atheism brought about a dramatic change and radically transformed them for the good.  Just bring one.  I shall bring 200.

This a wonderful video that offers a transparent view into a life adopting a secular worldview. I find too much in common to list here.

 

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Passover

The table is set before you
As you are guided to your seat.
The invigorating aroma of delightful food
Oh, how excited you are to eat!
The table is set formally,
But you frown as you have not dressed as such
Will you be given the same food?
Or just not quite as much?

You look around at some of the guests
With their façade of makeup and coverings
As pigs with pearls in their snouts
You know you aren’t as becoming.
Will you be moved to another seat, yet another place?
Is this seat a mistake?
Isn’t your place with the dogs
Who beg for food from plates?

However, you do not fear
For you know the owner of this table!
He does not play favorites, He loves us all
And welcomes the willing and able.
For He gave you a ticket,
An invitation,
To come to His majestic table.
And that ticket is your justification
So that you will not be mislabeled.

How many are here without a ticket?
Do they not know the hour is coming?
Or are they deaf to reason and logic
That this table did not come from nothing!

Oh, you try to bridge a conversation
To a person without a ticket
They respond,  “Oh, gosh! You are antiquated!
There will not be any condemnation!”
How do you know and are you sure?
That is what you ask
They respond, “Because there are no rights or wrongs!
It is just cultures that make moral statements.”
You ask, for which culture is forward, which one is backward?
Which one is going the right way?
They scowl and turn their face
And then tell you to go away.

Then the overhead light flickers
The owner has come home!
Some guests seem not to even notice
The majesty of His throne.
Nothing we do compares to His holiness
No grandiose coverings will due
For the Lord knows the depths
Of our moral turpitude.
So the meal is set before you,
It is the Passover lamb
Your invitation then turns to blood
And you know that you can stand.

But for those who are at the table
Sitting in their relativistic worldview stance
What will they say to the owner?
Are they willing to take that chance?

 

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In the moment

“I am now handing out the exams, do not start until I tell you to do so.  Please keep the exams face down.  Please remove all items except pens, pencils, or erasers,” the professor states.  The students shuffle papers away and clear their desks.  They appear anxious to begin.

“It is now 8 o’clock, you may all begin.  You have till 8:50, that is, 50 minutes.”

The students flip to the first page of the exam.  Some brows begin to sweat and furrow, a few pencils tap, some pensively stare at the ceiling, while others feverishly type on their calculators[1].  Nevertheless, there are always a collection of students that look like a seasoned runner: focused, steadfast, stressed but remaining calm, and diligently working toward the prize.  That determined look espouses confidence even if the student themselves do not feel that way!

Question: Where does that confidence come from? 

Short Answer: Preparation.

Long Answer: It stems from an investment of time learning the subtle nuances of the material.  It comes from working problems and understanding their extensions.  It comes from handling the frustrating moments of “I don’t get this” that, through hard-work, transforms into “ah-hah” moments.  Understanding often comes by the way of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

This means that when the exams do come the diligent student draws from understood material.  They pull it from their banks of knowledge that have been seasoned through time and hard work.  That’s what comes to mind.  That is what brings forth an air of confidence to face the exam.

In the heat of battle or the exams of life what comes to your mind?  Vile thoughts? Empty thoughts? Despairing thoughts?  Self-righteous thoughts? Righteous thoughts? Noble thoughts? Godly thoughts?

Do you read the scriptures hastily just as a student crams for an exam?  Or do you read the scriptures with intention and diligence just as the confident student that prepares?  After all, understanding gained hastily dwindles but those that seek it diligently will increase it (Proverbs 13:11-12).

What came to mind when Stephen was about to be stoned in Acts 7?  What came to mind when the prophet Isaiah was about to be sawed in two?  What came to mind when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the furnace?  Or Daniel prior to being thrown into the lion’s den?  Or when you are singled out for your faith in Jesus Christ?  Or the other Christian martyrs of today and yesterdays?

I can tell you what came through their mind: The hope and peace that defies all human understanding in knowing that those in Jesus will overcome death itself and are assured victory in the end (Phil 4:6, 1 Cor 15:55-58).

 

1. This behavior always baffles me. Especially, since I know that their particular exam doesn’t require any calculator use. I often think, “What are they typing?” This behaviour is similar to going to work on a house with a wild chain-saw when you are tasked to work on a plumbing system!

 

 

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The Book that Understands Me

The book that understands me
Is something for you to see
As it understands you as well
And His Son will set you free.

It is a book full of wonders
Stories of long past
Riddled with prophecies
Illustrating that this earth will not last.

It is a book that clearly explains
Our fundamental dysfunction
And how that leads to our death
But, moreover, how to avoid our destruction.

The book that understands me
Explains our sorrows and fears
And it promises to deliver us
And wipe away every tear.

It is a book full of revelation
That explains the beginning to the end
Showing the power of the righteous One
Over this world that He transcends.

The book that understands me
Is the one I read day and night
Finding more pleasures while in it
Than if I was to be given everything in sight!

Maybe you’ll look into this book
And put your opinions aside
Read it cover to cover
And let His redemptive power work you from the inside.

You see, the book that understands me
Is a book I wish you all to see
For you would then know the Truth
And that Truth shall set you free.

 

Don’t Drink the Water!

WaterinGlassYou’re good.  I’m good.  We all are good! Why wouldn’t God want us to be in Heaven with him?  Who wouldn’t want more of you or me?! We are that good! But, Hitler? Not good. Just ask a random person if they think Hitler is in hell and they’ll say yes.  Then ask them if they are going there.  Nope! Poor Hitler!

What if Hitler only caused the deaths of 100 Jews? Still in hell? 10 Jews? 1 Jew? How about he just held on to the ‘final solution’ as exhorted in his book Mein Kampf? Still then?  Where is the line I ask between the trajectory toward hell or heaven?  In Jesus’ sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus indicates that even harboring adulterous or hateful thoughts is condemnable, that is, sinful.  Looks like I am out!

It seems our relativistic culture has a problem.  There is a tendency to overestimate our own righteousness while underestimating God’s.  He sees our heart for what it truly desires and the unnatural bent we really have!  You can try to bend it back but it doesn’t erase it completely.  It takes God’s intervention to cure that; a true final solution (Phil 1:6).

God loves us, but hates the dysfunctional bent that we harbor in our hearts.  Now, of course you don’t have ‘this’ bent!  Hitler did, but of course, not you.

Let’s suppose that you came into my office and I offer you a fresh glass of water.

“Before you drink from that cup, can I urinate in it?” I ask.

“No way!” You reply.

“It’ll only be a little bit, you won’t even be able to see it!” I retort.

“No thanks!” You reply.

“How about I urinate in the cup just a little bit and then dump the water out and fill it back up?” I ask again.

“I’ll pass.”

This is how God views our sin.  The water (us) He loves.  It’s just the urination He can do without!

We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). However, He sent His son not to condemn us but to save us (John 3:16).  He took the punishment on himself instead (1 Pet 2:24) and if we accept that free gift (Romans 10:13-14) then He’ll change our bent with His own hands (2 Cor 5:17).

And as a result of His grace God views my glass of water as pure (2 Cor 5:21).