On the Road

Amen.  A wonderful and pointed video from Clayton Jennings.

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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.

 

Academic Lessons on Pain and Suffering

calvary_hillHow do you deal with temptation and trials? How do you view suffering or pain that you experience? Is the recognition of pain and suffering in the world render your belief in God futile?  Does the suffering in the world seem senseless random?  Why does the ‘good’ suffer while the evil prosper (Psalm 44:9-16)? As a lowly university mathematics professor let me offer an analogy from my regular experiences with students.  I implore the thoughtful reader to read the scripture references; you can access a bible for free at www.youversion.com.

In the beginning of each semester, during the first class I offer the student a class vision, even if they do not have the ability to understand it.  I ask them, however, to believe and put their trust in my guidance (Isaiah 55:9, John 3:12, John 6:47-51, Psalm 118:81 Pet 2:6-8).  You see throughout the term each student’s vision is incredibly short-sighted and cloudy (1 Cor 13:12).  Indeed, they will all struggle in different ways (1 Cor 8:9-13).  Often it is working with others that can make a big difference in their work (Prov 27:17), and I hope that they allow me to keep their paths straight (Prov 3:6). Oh, as my previous students can attest, they undoubtedly suffer through the work (James 2:14-26) and various tests (James 1:13, 1 Thes 3:3-5, Deut 8:2-3, Exo 20:20, Psalm 66:8-12).  They are all accountable and know this! In fact, they are disciplined/graded (Deut 8:5,  Rom 3:19) to provide additional instruction (Psalms 32:8).  Often, students will cry out for help and I do console them (Psalm 23), however, I assure them that they are never being tested more than they can understand or bear (1 Cor 10:13).  Consequently, each student is built up (2 Tim 3:16) and, thusly, learns endurance/perseverance  (James 1:4).  Unfortunately, some will fail, trusting that their way is simply better (Prov 3:5, Isaiah 8:15, Romans 1:21-32).  They no longer listen to sound teaching  and, in desperation they follow unsound paths (2 Tim 4:3-4).  The take the easy road rather than the narrow path to understanding and truth (Matt 7:13).  Oftentimes, the failing student becomes embittered to the success of other students (Matthew 24:10), they even make fun of the Way (John 15:18-25).  In contrast, to those who have endured (2 Tim 4:7-8) they look back and realize the immeasurable good that came out of their pain, suffering, trails, and temptations (Romans 8:28). Finally, the student comes to the realization the love that I had for them (Matt 6:26) and that I longed for them to allow me to lead them and serve them in this way (Matt 23:37).  In all, the semester starts with a student’s personal decision to receive (John 14:15-18), respond (John 3:16), and, subsequently, trust (John 12:35-36, Psalm 118:8).

 

 

The Highest Law of the Land

gavelThe Tucson sun beat in through my double-pane office window, I could the feel the heat attacking them.  The late spring time temperature was soaring close to the triple digits.  Thankfully, the spring mornings are relatively cool, almost teasing your body and mind.  I turned back my attention to the student in my office, my indifference easily readable to even the most absent-minded passerby.  My gaze met the student’s eyes for a mere second and I knew the delay in my response was causing the tears to further well into their eyes.  “Good, they deserve that feeling,” I coldly thought.  I pressed into the student then, thwarting down their vain attempt to improve on their failing grade.  “You will fail, regardless of what occurs here,” I surmised. My insinuation leveled their tears and brought forward a sterner disposition.  Pleasantries were offered and the conversation promptly ended.

That was in 2003, when the unsettling discourse and struggles of my own academic life started to powerfully ooze into my interactions with students.  I was a starved shark just looking for a minnow.  The momentary power-trip, albeit rare, was elating, providing a momentary lift from my personal frustrations.

How do we weigh the damage that was inflicted and inevitable caused?  How many future students does it take to offset the destruction of just this one? Was there a law that I violated, punishable by our judicial system?  No. But does that it make it right?  No. What other wrongs have we committed that are outside of our judicial system?  Is something wrong/right just because our judicial systems says it is?   Heck, on the Vegas strip prostitution is legal.  Binge-drinking is not outlawed nor is smoking, albeit how damaging it is to your own health. Laws will inevitably be passed, it is up to the individual to realize the ultimate totality of truth that they may hold.  However, where does the selection of our morality stem from?  In other words, there is a set of actions, say A and B.  Who chose A (do not rape) to be the just and right one? If our morality purely stems from an undirected evolutionary design, if the process was repeated would B (rape is acceptable) now be selected? Or does the process need direction, guidance to obtain A again.  What information is then needed and where does that stem from? At an even higher level, why is justice preferred over injustice?  Why is altruism deemed honorable, while selfishness dishonorable.  Why choose such virtues as correct and true?

It reminds me off Psalm 40:8, ‘I desire to do your will, my God;  your law is within my heart.’  I, like you, strive to do what is right, to follow the law within my heart, yet I, like the apostle Paul, do the very things that I know are wrong (Romans 7:24).   I am guilty of an uncountable amount of crimes to the law written on my heart, who will save me? If justice exists then I am guilty, but the loving judge does not wish to seek the punishment on me.  However, justice must be satisfied, someone must pay the penalty.

‘I’ll pay,’ is what Jesus says to my heart and I accept that forgiveness.

Praise you God for offering forgiveness.  Offering the only path to redemption and justification.  For I am a glass of water tainted by oil and my ‘good’ works only put more water in without ever removing that dirty old oil.

A Reversal

A video (and poem) Courtesy of  Deo Volente Media —- Video Link

I live my life according to these beliefs.
God does not exist.
Its just foolish to think
That there is an all knowing God with a cosmic plan.
That an all powerful God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world
is a comforting thought however
It is only wishful thinking.
People can do as they please without eternal consequences.
The idea that
I am deserving of hell
Because of sin,
Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power
“The more you have, the happier you will be.”
Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose.
In a world with no God
There is freedom to be who I want to be
But with God
Life is an endless cycle of guilt and shame.
Without god
Everything is fine.
It is ridiculous to think
I am lost and in need of saving.

And that’s how I felt before Christ opened my eyes, changed my heart, and reversed my thinking.

I am lost and in need of saving.
It is ridiculous to think
Everything is fine.
Without god
Life is an endless cycle of guilt and shame.
But with God
There is freedom to be who I want to be.
In a world with no God
Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose,
“The more you have, the happier you will be.”
Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power.
Because of sin,
I am deserving of hell.
The idea that
People can do as they please without eternal consequences.
It is only wishful thinking
It is a comforting thought however
That an all powerful God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world.
That there is an all knowing God with a cosmic plan.
It is just foolish to think
God does not exist.
I live my life according to these beliefs.