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The truth about facts?

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If you know the facts do you have the truth?  Many would say ‘yes’! A few would say ‘no’.

What is a fact.  The dictionary defines a fact as “Something believed to be true or real.”   Facts may be real but are they true?

At one time many considered it a fact that the world was flat!  Any sensible person in that day could see that it was and only a fool would say otherwise.  If you consider a fact something that is true because you and everybody else agree on it you are on shaky ground.  Those kinds of facts often turn out to be untrue.  There is no democratic way of voting on whether or not a particular statement served up as a ‘fact’ is true or false.  The scientific method is the best way I know to determine what the facts are.

Yet, the scientific method gives only a partial picture of the facts.  Newtonian mechanics describe all the facts needed to put a rocket ship in orbit around the earth but falls short in explaining why light bends around the sun.  Thomas Kuhn’s book,  The Structure of Scientific Revolution tells us that the fact are re-interpreted with every paradigmatic shift.  In the paradigm shift from Newtonian mechanics to Einsteinian  Space-time, not only are ‘old facts’ re-interpreted; new facts come into being such as space is curved and not ‘flat’!  Facts are not absolute and are open to interpretation Facts can be found to be wrong.  Facts come into being with new ways of thinking about reality – new theories.

Science will help us determine what the facts are but can never by itself tell us the ‘whole truth and nothing but the truth’.  Many people don’t realize this and are all to eager to accept any ‘scientific opinion’ as truth.  Ignorance makes for many mistaken beliefs about the world.  Honest scientists would agree and tell you that they are not immune to the limitations of their discipline.  A ‘scientific fact’ can be a slippery fish to handle.

Perhaps the purest of all ‘sciences’ – mathematics – can give us a better grasp on facts and let us determine once and for all which facts are true absolutely.  In Euclidean geometry  the sum of the interior angles of any triangle always adds up to 180 degrees.  That’s a fact! Or is it?   That depends on whether or not the space where the triangle is being drawn is curved or flat!  In Lobachevsky’s geometry, the fact is the interior angles of a triangle always add up to something less than 180 degrees.  And in Spherical geometry the sum of the interior angles of a triangle always add up to something greater than 180 degrees!  Even the most rigorously determined ‘facts’ can contradict each other when taken  out of context.  Even mathematical facts are not absolute!

Mathematics in its purest form has nothing to do with what we call the ‘real world’.  It is of the mind alone.  Only in the mind where the material world cannot intrude does 2 and 2 always make 4.  In the real world, context is everything; 2 fish and 2 birds do not make 4 of either kind.  Mathematics may be applied to the material world but it is always bound up in the context of its application.  Like science,  mathematics is an activity and process that produces facts within a context that are not necessarily true outside the constraints of that context.

Finally, many would retreat from all of this and claim that what they can see in front of them or touch or hear or taste provide the only true facts available to sensible people.  The only problem with this is that strictly speaking we are not all that ‘sensible’.  Our vision has a ‘blind spot‘.  Our hearing is limited.  Our taste and touch can be confused.   Like Snitter, in Richard Adams’ book The Plague Dogs, we can get trapped in the backyard shed of our own head’ by believing all there is – is what we can detect from the very small windows of our limited senses.

The truth is there are no facts that are absolutely true.  Facts are made up, fabricated by our observations and inclinations. Facts are created and depend upon the context of their creation.  Facts are fallible!  Facts do provide a daily workable reality that helps us live in a predictable world as long as we don’t push them to hard!

If you’re looking to find the truth, it can’t be found in the facts alone.   Once scientists believed that mice spontaneously ‘arose’ out of piles of cheese wrapped in rags left in a dark corner. These scientific’ facts were proven wrong.  New facts about life were developed.   Today, many believe that the truth will arise out of piles of dead facts.  This is like looking for mice to arise out of piles of cheese wrapped in old rags.  If you want the truth you have to go beyond the facts.  Mathematics and science can only provide facts which are not absolute and are subject to change over time and context.

The truth is the facts don’t have much to do with what’s true.  They can only give a partial picture the reality of our world at best.

Worship God!

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Revelation 19:9,10 “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’ At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.'”

     There is so much in these two verses; what we have to look forward to, what can ruin us and how we stay true to His plan. Going to a wedding is always a wonderful time.  The wedding supper is a time of joy, celebration and togetherness.  Imagine going to Jesus’ wedding.  Are you invited? Am I?  Who’s going?

     The Forerunner Commentary says; “God the Father and Jesus Christ will be there. They will be doing the inviting—the calling. God’s angels, archangels, twenty-four elders, and four living creatures will all be there. And it cannot be a wedding without a bride—the Bride of Christ will be there, collectively made up of the resurrected and changed members of God’s true church from throughout the generations.”  Wow, not only are we invited but as members of His true church – it will be our wedding!

      We see an instance of  revelation unfold, Holy Scripture in the making.  As the angel spoke to the apostle John, he wrote it down in the Bible.   These Words are not John’s words. They come from God and are revealed to us.  That’s what makes them not only factual but true.  As members of His true church we hold to His testimony and bear witness to it.  Jesus told us that His Word was from the Father; “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)  To be His church we must be true to His witness.

     And what was John’s response?  So human, so frail and typical is our tendency to worship created things rather than the creator.  John fell down and was about to break the first commandment.  This is our inherent fallen tendency to idolatry.  In Barnes Notes we read; “Nothing is more carefully guarded in the Bible than the purity and simplicity of worship; nothing is more sternly rebuked than idolatry; nothing is more contrary to the divine law than rendering in any way that homage to a creature which belongs of right to the Creator.”

     The angel rightly stopped John from worshipping him.  The angel reminded John that they were both of the same station when compared to God Almighty – fellow servants.  Jesus told us; “”If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)  The world is full of puffed up false prophets and preachers who want to be worshipped like little lords.  Jesus Himself says no to this;  “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, . . . ” (Matthew 20:25,26)

     We see how to discern the true Spirit of prophecy.  Any prophet who points to himself first and foremost as the best connected to God to be a divine dispenser of wisdom has a false spirit of prophecy. Such a person is a liar.  Any prophet who points to Jesus first and only Jesus has the true Spirit of prophecy.  Such prophets are good servants who point people in the right direction.

     Jesus has nothing but contempt and scorn for those prideful religious false teachers who fool people into thinking of them as better than everyone else and worthy to be put on a pedestal; “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.” (Luke 11:43,44)  They are stealthy and cunning in their iniquity.

     Finally, we are told to worship God!  We can do this only through Jesus; “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Not through any puffed up intermediaries that Jesus warns us about; “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

     Jesus spoke to this time of confusion and darkness; “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23,24)

     Praise the Lord!

Sometimes you just have to prime the pump!

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Every Christmas season it was the same thing all over again in the staff room.  A lot of the teachers would ‘oh and ah’ as their colleagues opened up presents from their admiring students.  I was jealous.  No kids gave me presents! Why?

Maybe it was because I was a new teacher and trying desperately to keep my classes under control by being a ‘hard ass’.  Nasty and mean can keep a class in order but nobody ‘loves’ you.  And no kid will ever buy you a Christmas present.

I just got so sick and tired of watching all these teachers sitting in the staff room opening their presents and going on and on about how their students liked them.  ‘They must not like me – they never got me anything’, I thought to myself.  Jealousy worked it’s festering evil on me!

Then I got a brilliant plan!  Why not go buy myself some presents at the dollar store.  Wrap them up and put them in my mailbox at the end of the day when nobody was around.  The next day I would  act really surprised at my mailbox and bring my ‘loot’ to the staff room to unwrap  in front of everybody!  I’ll show them!

It worked like a charm.  As I was opening my ‘presents’ the teachers were sullenly looking at the ‘rookie’ who was getting as much ‘love’ as they were.  The clincher was the card that I got myself; “Dear teacher – you’re the greatest! Thanks for being such a caring person!”  As I was walking out of the staff room with my armful of presents I overheard a teacher saying; “Wow, I never thought the kids would give him anything.”  They were jealous of me!

Over the years, as I learned about classroom control, I relied less and less on ‘shock and awe’ and more and more on respect and consistency.  Kids respond to an orderly environment with clear expectations.  I was one of those teachers that grew into the job – starting small and growing with experience and interaction with kids.

Even though I never became any student’s ‘friend’, my students knew they could depend on me to be prepared for class, mark fairly and run an organized classroom.  Kids don’t need another friend in school – they need real teachers who care enough about them to phone home themselves if they are ‘messing up’.

Over time I started to get real Christmas presents from my students and had to buy less and less for myself.  My colleagues never knew the difference but I did!

Terms of surrender

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Revelation 12:17 “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.”

     If you want peace with the world and its commander in chief there are two terms of surrender; 1) stop following God’s commands and 2) let go of your testimony about Jesus.  Do that and the world will love you!  No more swimming against the current.  No more being the nail that gets hammered down.  No more being the odd man out!

     There’s only one catch.  Surrendering to the world means hating God; “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

      Satan will give anything in his control for  devotion to him; “. . . the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.'” (Matthew 4:8,9)  The sneaky part is that Satan will work with bits and pieces.  Spiritually, partial surrender is a full surrender.

     Jesus told the devil that God requires that we worship Him alone; “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'” (Matthew 4:10)  Some might say, well in most matters I put God first.  We know that most is not all and first among many is not only.  Scripture tells us; “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

     God demands all of you.  Satan will settle for any part of you that will allow him to drag you into hell.  Jesus warns us not to make partial surrenders that will kill our soul; “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:30)  The world’s terms of surrender are so easy and accommodating yet so final and terrible.

     Jesus explains what the final outcome of accommodation to the world is; “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)  Surrender in the smallest part leads to complete and final surrender in everything and hatred of God.

     We live in a time when the war is heating up; “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)  What can you do?  How do we overcome in a hostile world?

     How do we stand against the devil and his horde?  “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12:11)  Satan shrewdly realizes that death need not be immediate. Rather a man’s life can be taken by easy pain free installments.

     The best way to spoil a testimony is with a speck of dirt; “As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” (Ecclesiastes 10:1)  Jesus warns; “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1)  That’s how the slide starts.

     Stick with Jesus; “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

     Praise the Lord!

A point of no return?

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Revelation 9:20,21 “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood— idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

     Even after all the horror, plagues and pain some will not turn from their ways or repent of their deeds!  How does a person come to that state and is there a point of no turning back or away from their destruction?  Scripture tells us that redemption is available even at the final hour yet some persist – why?

     We become what we do on a regular basis.  This is a very practical definition of personal development at all levels – body, soul and spirit.  The Forerunner Commentary observes; “. . .character is not formed merely by knowing something but by knowledge combined with putting it to work until it becomes a habit. Over time, habit becomes character, and character follows the person right through the grave!”  We can know lots of things but our character is made up of those things we know that we put into practice on a regular basis.  We can know something is wrong but if we do it regularly we become it.

      “Thus, what a person has done, that is, what he has worked on in this lifetime, follows him through the grave — either into the Lake of Fire or the Kingdom of God.” (Forerunner Commentary)   Some evils are so low key they corrupt gradually but no less completely. Indifference and complacency will pull you down into the Lake of Fire with just as much finality as murder and rape.  Although the world only condemns the latter.

     Life does have meaning – it prepares us for eternity; “If we are not working, emphasizing loyalty to the Person of God and to His way, making every effort to overcome Satan, the world, and the self-centeredness within us, resisting with all of our being the temptations to do what is natural, carnal—if we are not expending our energy, and spending our time working out our own salvation with fear and trembling—it is very likely, then, that we are not going to have the character necessary to go through the grave. The wrong works will follow us, and we will not be prepared for the Kingdom of God.” (Forerunner Commentary)

     Are there some wrong works that we cannot break from?  Is there an act that is so bad that once done, a line has been crossed that brings us to the ‘point of no return’?  Yes there is!  You cross the line when you’re born.  The Bible tells us; “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5)  We are fallen beings born into a fallen world.  Life is a downhill slide into hell.  We cannot make peace with God or work our way to peace with God by intent or habit; “. . . because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,. . . ” (Romans 8:7)

     The worldly cry in outrage, ‘how can a baby be bad?’ But the psalmist who wrote this was a man after God’s own heart;  “David’s mother was the Lord’s handmaid, he was born in chaste wedlock, of a good father, and he was himself, ‘the man after God’s own heart;’ and yet his nature was as fallen as that of any other son of Adam, and there only needed the occasion for the manifesting of that sad fact. In our shaping we were put out of shape, and when we were conceived our nature conceived sin. Alas, for poor humanity! Those who will may cry it up, but he is most blessed who in his own soul has learned to lament his lost estate.” (BibleStudyTools.com)

      Thankfully God did what we couldn’t do for ourselves (John 3:16).  Jesus tells us there is one way to life.  We have to be born again; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)  The worldly reaction to this is nicely put by Nicodemus; “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (v. 4) Jesus replied it isn’t a matter of you doing the impossible but God doing it for us;”Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6,7,8)

     What is the rescue plan?  “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”  (John 3:14-17)  Jesus saves us if we believe in Him  and our rebirth is the work of His Holy Spirit!

     Scripture tells us that after this rebirth we are not what we were; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)  In Christ, the Holy Spirit works on us changing us from the inside out; “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)  And what is the key to this renewal?  How does it work in us?

     The key is repentance.  Being sorry for what you were and what you have done not because of the world’s punishment and loss you have endured.   But because your past actions went against God. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” (2 Corinthians 7:10,11)  That kind of sorrow can’t be faked.    A man changes direction under this sorrow by His influence.

    Only the Holy Spirit can lead us and break us of our bad habits and inclinations; “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16, 17)

     And in order to be ready for our new heavenly bodies we must learn to live by the Spirit in our earthly bodies;  “when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) We change in order to prepare for eternity and to please God; “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) Some will have no part in this change. Their destiny is terrible.

     We all must choose.

     Praise the Lord!
   

Don’t judge a book by its cover!

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spiked hair girl     “She’s going to be trouble.  What a freak!” These were my thoughts as she walked into my introductory computer class the first day of the semester.  Purple, pink and lime green spiked hair! Nose, ear, eyebrow and cheek piercings!  Doc Martins and bib overalls!  And the eternal rarely mentioned great theme of conflict continued – man against teenager!  And like any war weary teacher in the trench, I felt it was a war I was losing!

     “Why does the guidance department always load up my classes with the misfits and weird kids?”, I lamented inwardly with a self pitying sigh.  “Oh well, here we go again!”

     I started the class with my usual – ‘don’t mess with me’ assignment.  The class was to type out a short essay (with whatever computer skills they had) on the reasons why they were taking my class and why I should take them seriously.  Little Miss Spiky Hair wasn’t the only individual in my class with an attitude problem.  The vice principal was always telling me that I wasn’t taking the modern business model of education seriously.  He never got my ‘humor’ when I would retort – if this was a business we’d all be fired!

   After seventy minutes of helping kids get their essay’s entered and printed the class was over.  It’s amazing how much you can learn about what kids know by giving them an assignment on the computer without telling them how to keyboard, format and print out their work.  Some need lots of help, some are natural helpers, some have no initiative and others like to run the class if you let them.  All good information to get early on.

     Little Miss Spiky Hair, to my surprise, worked quietly and freely helped others without being pushy.  I was keeping my eye on her – she looked like a potential trouble maker.  Her essay was probably going to be either unintelligible crap or some diatribe against the ‘establishment’.  At the end of class I collected all the papers, shoved them into my briefcase to read when I got home.

Later that night, I waded through the essays, trying to keep my supper down as I worked through the continual variations on the theme of ‘computer knowledge and skills will set right everything wrong with our economy and ensure that I have an overpaid job for the rest of my life’ crap that everyone seemed to accept as gospel.  And then I got to Little Miss Spiky Hair’s paper.  What a surprise!

She started off by saying that she took my class at the recommendation of the guidance department. (I knew it!) Although she didn’t like computers, she argued, they would become an ever increasing presence in our world and it was important to learn about them.  At this point I rechecked that I was indeed reading her paper.

Continuing, she pointed out that even though my class was just one small step to her high school diploma every step was important in a journey.  She hoped that she would learn as much about how computers affect relationships in society as how to ‘work’ with one.  Miss Spiky Hair concluded with the observation that she was pleasantly surprised with my first assignment because it didn’t require any real computer skill to complete it.  Rather the assignment  wanted to check to see if the students knew why they were taking the course. Every student should think about that she pointed out.

She finished her paper with the point  that I should take her seriously if I wanted her to take me seriously. ‘That was a fair deal’ she concluded.  I put on the top of the paper in traditional red; “This paper deserves an A – see me after class.”

The next day, after the computer class was over, Miss Spiky Hair stayed after class and said; “I thought you said you wouldn’t mark the essays.”  She eyed me suspiciously, perhaps doing a little judging of her own.

“I didn’t mark your essay,” I replied,  “The A stands for Apology”.

“What do you mean?” She looked at me quizzically.

“When you came into my class yesterday, looking like you do, I misjudged you. I thought you would be a problem in my class.  After watching how you helped other kids in the class and didn’t cause trouble – I still misjudged you.  Then I read your paper and realized that you think deeply about things.   You’re a good student.  I was wrong and I’m sorry.”

Little Miss Spiky Hair gave me a radiant smile and said; “That’s ok, sir.  I think I misjudged you too!”

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Neither hot nor cold

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Revelation 3:15,16,17 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

   Being complacent is spiritually dangerous.  Yet, affluence and self sufficiency lull us into a sense of security that simply doesn’t exist.  Accidents, illness and disaster can come into your world without warning and in a moment.  Money can’t help people deal with events that are beyond human control.  And control is a social illusion.

     Dennis Davidson writing on the complacent church points out; “Affluence had lulled the church to sleep. The members were wealthy in material good, but poor spiritually. The lack of spiritual receptivity, devotion and faith in God manifested in a lukewarm state is revealed in the exaltation of material wealth in contrast to spiritual riches.” In the trials to come, that inevitably come in our lives, it is spiritual strength that gets us through rather than the fake strength of material wealth.

     The Bible warns us not to trust in the world’s strength; “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)  Spiritual strength comes from trusting in the LORD our God; “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverb 3:5)

     How can we stay rooted in this trust in the LORD?  Stay in His Will, not your own ways; “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” (Proverb 3: 6,7)  His word will guide you; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)  Unless you have a better idea.  And that’s where the road to lukewarm begins.

     Jesus described the way the Gospel is received by people who hear it.  Some refuse to believe it (Luke 8:12).  Some receive it with joy but it doesn’t take root in them and they fall away when times get tough (Luke 8:13).  Others hear it but; “as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” (Luke 8:14)

          How does a passion for the Lord express itself?  How do passion and maturity go together? Passion without maturity isn’t passion. Rather it is at best adolescent infatuation bound to be shallow and unable to produce a crop because there is no maturity – no real love, trust and belief in the Gospel.  Spiritual immaturity expresses itself along a continuum from Pharisaical rule keeping to charismatic excess.

     Jesus cannot stomach either extreme.  He nails the Pharisee with; “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” (Matthew 15:8,9) And to those who believe charismatic excess entitles them to enter heaven, He will say; “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22,23)

     Like children, spiritually immature people believe that holiness is found in obsessive rule keeping or the antics of charismatic emotionalism never realizing that maturity has a sobriety that recognizes only God as good and holy.  Those who consider themselves spiritually rich as they religiously observe their man-made rules or engage in charismatic excess are really prancing about in rags.  Sobriety comes out of the knowledge that we fall short – in all ways and always.  Sobriety is to see and understand our own pitiful condition.  This is maturity.

     It’s not hard to see how Pharisaical rule keeping can be lukewarm.  But how can charismatic excess with it’s high pitched emotionalism be seen as lukewarm.  There is heat and passion in it – but for God or self?  Jesus isn’t fooled; “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) Those who seek and do the will of God have the passion that Jesus is looking for!

     Affluence allows the freedom to live by man’s rules and the freedom to act out emotional religious experiences.  Affluence provides the full range of the worldly church that we see today. The adolescent passion of it is just smoke and mirrors.  If we’re looking for God we will still find Him where Elijah found him; “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”  (1 Kings 19:11,12)

     At the time Elijah was broken down and beaten.  Elijah was ready to listen!

     Are you?

     Praise the Lord!

   

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