Sincerely

(Yesterday was alright, it was a slow day for awhile, but things eventually picked up toward the evening. I recieved a total of five movies, Race to Witch Mountain and Tremors one through four. Did you know that they’re in the process of making a fifth Tremors movie?)

Last Sunday I was at the other church and the pastor was talking about clay pots. Then he played a video about a potter attempting to work on three different lumps of clay. One lump of clay was too hard and could not be shaped, and so the potter threw it into water. One lump of clay was too soft and would not hold a shape, and so the potter put it aside. The third lump was neither too soft or too hard, but just right. It could be shaped and put to good use. We often sing, “You are the potter … I am the clay” but we don’t often think about what that means when its applied to our lives. Some of us are so set in our ways and beliefs that when God attempts to point something out in our lives, we resist His touch. We refuse to yield to His will because we believe that we already have it all down. Some of us are just the opposite. We’re looking into anything and everything for the truth and we refuse to stand for the truth as it is. We get built up and we tear ourselves down unable to handle Him as He really is. Too few of us know what it is to just be right in the middle. We see such people from time to time though, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, were both more surrendered to God than to anybody else and they changed the world. There’s no telling how you could change the world if you would just let God make something more of you.

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Consequence

One would think that a word like consequence would be found in the Bible more than just eight times. Of course, while the word does appear infrequently, instances of it are quite common. With sin comes its consequence. Being removed from the guilt of our sin does not remove us from the consequences of our sin. The first sacrifice could not prevent the first sinners’ expulsion from their first home. The common notion that things are supposed to be easy for a Christian is a bit of a let down when new Christians hit their first bump in the road. The very second king could not prevent the loss of his child’s life even after an extended period of fasting and prayer. Even all of the disciples had a hard life when they chose to follow Jesus. Most of all though, there was one person who bore the consequences of sin to its bitter end, paying down its wages in full. Jesus was not born with the sin nature that entangles the rest of us. He was fully man and fully God. He died so that we would have an option as to where our eternity would lie. The consequence of bearing our own sins is to be eternally seperated from God. Some people would think it a rather nice option, though they would not if they believed in the Bible’s description of that place. The result of being removed from the guilt of our sins is just the opposite, living in God’s presence forever. Something that most every Christian looks forward to. It’s a rather weighty decision one must make. The circumstances around the question may not always be ideal, but that is the consequence of living.

Drink it all in

When most people pour themselves a drink, they stop filling the cup just before their beverage reaches the rim. When God pours a drink, he just lets the cup run over and over and over. In the book of Psalms, the word cup is used four times. Note that a cup is a vessel that stores a liquid for the purpose of drinking.

Psalm 16:5, “LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.”
Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Psalm 75:8, “In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.”
Psalm 116:13, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.”

my cup – it was assigned to me, it is in good hands, it oveflows with God’s blessings
the cup of the Lord – it represents His wrath, which all the wicked will drink to the very end
the cup of salvation – it is raised up, or offered

We see the cup elsewhere in the Bible, in the New Testament Jesus had a cup that He alone could drink. It was symbolic of his death and ressurection in accordance with God’s will. In 1st Corinthians 10, there are three specific instances of a cup.

The cup of thanksgiving, The cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons. In the beginning of a discussion about Comunion, it was asked if it was proper for them to drink of the latter two cups. It was his way of saying that you can’t live with one foot in the kingdom and one foot squarely planted on earth.

You have a cup. It was assigned to you and placed on a table before you. Is it empty of God and full of His wrath? Is it so full that there isn’t room for anything more and still there’s more comming? The cup that runs over isn’t making a mess, it’s in a constant state of bless.

Reputation (Conclusion)

Christian Theocracy? What? When? Okay, I can see how one might be afraid that we’d make things go that horribly wrong, but don’t fear. By the time this one comes to pass absolutely everybody else won’t be here to complain about it. Before that though, you get to have it your way for awhile so I guess we’ll see which one wins out. I’m guessing it’s us though because once the smoke clears, you’ll be seeing the truth as plain as day. The thing is that once we become Christians, our beliefs permeate every area of our life, from how we operate our businesses to how we vote in our senators and representatives. Few things seems as wrong as voting in a guy who stands for the opposite of what we believe. None of us would put a guy in office who promised to completely destroy our military, tank our economy, force us to paint every home white, and that’s ‘just for starters’, right? I sure hope not. The way our government is set up, it’s impossible to change it into a Christian theocracy. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can’t change to anything equally worse.

I’ve already mentioned that our reptuation is somewhat lessened compared to our Early Church counterparts. We’ve let things go from bad to worse. Instead of doing anything and everything possible to change hearts and minds about us, we persist in the same old way of doing things. What is it about a religion with a reputation of being Olf-Fashioned, Self-Righeous, Intolerant, Lying Hypocrites that seems attractive to you? What reputation would you rather Christianity have? What steps ought Christians to take to better their reputations?

Reputation (Cont.)

Self-righteous? How can that be? We’re told that we can’t earn our way to heaven out of our own goodness. “Then again, there’s nothing like a little friendly competition. I’m pretty sure I can chaperone the youth weekend outing, visit two retirement houses, spend at hour at the hospital cheering up the children, and make a weak of meals for the Mackasaws before you can…I’d even bet on it if it weren’t looked down on.” I just think it’s a little too much to do all of these things and then bring it up next Sunday in Church. How would an outsider see your busy life? Are you trying to keep focused in the work so that you don’t have the time to talk to be boss? I’m pretty sure there’s no scorecard in heaven for how many visits you made or tracts that you left behind. Remember humility? Treating others as if they’re better than you are? What about the whole “first … last, last… first” thing? Why not just chose one or two areas to focus on? Jesus can’t spread himself too thin, you can.

Lying hypocrites? What’s that old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Remember in the Left Behind series there was a pastor who was left behind? He had been walking the walk and talking the talk, but when it came down to faith he was left lacking. Then once the reality of his situation set in, he went from faithless to faithful. Perhaps those we think of as Christian hypocrites are the same way. They walk the walk and talk the talk, but they don’t have the faith either. Which makes them much more of a hypocrite and less of a Christian. As far as they lying thing goes, it’s only further proof that they’re not good with God. Granted, Christians can lie, but once you stand with the God of the truth, you’re on the same footing as the truth itself, where there is no place for lies, deceit, or dishonesty.

Reputation (Cont.)

Intolerant christians? Perish the thought! Tolerance does not require acceptance of all ideas as being true, but merely a willingness to hear alternative beliefs. Christianity was first called “The Way” because Jesus said that he was the only way by which we must come to the Father. It was not called, “The Way, One of Many Ways”. Tolerance doesn’t mean incorparation of alternative beliefs. It also doesn’t mean to be violent toward the bearers of alternative beliefs.

Old-Fashioned? You don’t say! The Christians mentioned in the Bible could not have fathomed a world like we have today. We can circumnavigate the globe in a few hours, cross continents in massive airplanes, talk to a stranger we don’t even know on the other side of the world, and still manage to get some time into watch television. Is the Bible still relevant today? More often than not, people who pick on the Bible will ask another a question such as, “You’re not seriously suggesting we take the boy to the town’s gates and stone him like the Bible says?” Some things from the Old Testament are important, even today. The New Testament sums up the whole of the Bible as ‘loving God and loving man.’ You can kill two birds with one stone by following the Ten Commandments. Another big one is the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’m pretty sure that’s still relevant. The world may change with the blink of an eye, but the principles we live by are set in stone. So long as we Love God, love each other, and follow the golden rule, good can come out of our beliefs and principles.

Our Reputation

(Yesterday my Dad called saying that he had bought some brocoli plants that needed to be put in the ground before the upcoming rain. I volunteered. The last time I can remember actually planting something? A failed strawberry patch more than ten years ago. Now our garden has onions, peppers, and brocoli. It’s not a bad start, but it’s two thirds empty. I have no idea what I’d like for my birthday. Trekies might be interested to know that there is a perfume out there called Pon Farr, and two colognes, Tiberious and Red Shirt.)

“Christianity wouldn’t be too bad, if one didn’t have to deal with all the Christians. This is the attitude that most non-Christians express about their perception of Christians. However, there is a joke among Christians that expresses the reality of the situation. If you find the perfect church, don’t join it – you’ll wreck it. Christians are commonly described as being intolerant, old fashioned, self-righteous, lying hypocrites, who are out to turn the USA into a Christian theocracy. Does the Bible say that Christians are supposed to behave this way?” – Intro to G&S page called, “Bad Christians”

Change comes with the territory. It’s not always pleasant, it just is. It’s not possible to give up our old selves, get a ticket to heaven, and live as if nothing has changed. Absolutely everything has changed. If it’s one thing I can’t stand its that Christians don’t seem to care about changing their collective reputation.