The Arian Heresy

Arius was a guy who lived around 300 A. D. and came up with the notion that Jesus was created. He was a bishop in the “church” who challenged the teaching common at the time that Jesus was God in the flesh. Arius thought that Jesus had the nature of God, but wasn’t God. According to Arius Jesus was created first, then God created everything else through Jesus. In his opinion, Jesus was in every way just like God, but wasn’t God. A church council had to be convened to formalize the doctrine of Jesus as God in order to answer this heretical nutball.

There is no Scriptural backup for this doctrine, at all. In fact, any Scripture that teaches the opposite, that Jesus is God, is explained away by Arians acknowledging that indeed Jesus is in every way “like God” but just isn’t God. In other words, to Arians if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has the nature of a duck, and does things only a duck could do, it isn’t a duck.

The proselytes of Arius in modern times come in slightly different forms and use various arguments to try and prove that Jesus isn’t God, but the arguments still have the same logical holes. Some, like the post on this blog by Timothy titled Yahweh and Yahshua, start off “just wanting to ask questions” but really want to shove their pet doctrine down people’s throats. Why, I have no idea. Well, wait a minute. I do have an idea. What Arius and his acolytes really want to do is tear down the Word.

This is how we recognize false doctrine. When you drill down to the heart of whatever it is they are trying to push you see that the basic idea is to destroy the integrity of the Word. They want to make it to where the Bible cannot be trusted to mean what it says. If they can destroy the integrity of the Word, then they accomplish two things: one is that the suckers that buy the doctrine stop following the Word; two is that we have to start listening to the pusher of the false doctrine. Because if we can’t trust the Word, we would have to trust the guy destroying the Word to tell us what it means. That way, the pusher of false doctrine gets the authority of God and becomes the Big Guy In Charge.

The logical holes in the Arian heresy are big enough to drive a truck through.
1) Jesus accepts worship (Matthew 14:33; 28:9). We are only to worship God.
2) Jesus forgives sins against God (Mark 2:1-13). Only God can forgive sins against God.
3) Jesus was crucified for “making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18; Philippians 2:6)
4) Jesus has the nature of God (Colossians 1:19), meaning He is “after the kind” of God.
5) Jesus would have to be related to both parties to be the kinsman redeemer.
6) Jesus was born of a virgin (the seed of the woman); He didn’t have the nature of Adam.
7) If Jesus was created, why would He have to be born?
8) Jesus claims to be God (Revelation 1:8, compare to Revelation 22:12-13).

These are just some of the major biblical arguments against the Arians. Apparently many of the Arians just can’t get past the idea that God could be born in human form; that He would allow Himself to be crucified; and that a perfect God would or could take on the sins of the world. So because they have a hard time understanding these perfectly clear Scriptural teachings, they make up an explanation that isn’t in the Bible. Then they have to twist and torque the plain meaning of the Word in order to back up their confusion.

Remember, though, the main purpose of doctrines such as this are to tear down the Word of God and make believers doubt. Then they can grab authority for themselves to “properly interpret” the Word. If you get some time, read through the previous post by Timothy. You will see he contradicts himself (saying that Jesus “loses his divinity” on the cross then later saying that Jesus didn’t lose his divinity for instance), confuses Scripture with opinion, and backtracks on a regular basis. A few minutes with people such as Timothy will get you going in circles in a hurry. Stick with the plain meaning of the Word, read it and do it, and you can’t go wrong.

Shalom
Bruce

God More Skeptical of Humans Than Ever Before

I read the headline on Drudge with amusement: Americans More Skeptical of God than Ever Before. I had to laugh. And laugh. And chortle. And maybe even snicker. All these surveys measuring human belief in God, and not a single one measuring God’s belief in humans.

According to the article in vocativ.com, in previous studies it was assumed that people were losing trust in organized religion, but were still pretty spiritual (whatever that means) in private. Now the researchers are thinking that people’s faith in God is declining, public or private.

I don’t have any trouble believing that people are fading. Selfishness is at an all time high, judging from observation. We buy Bibles at record rates, but our actions indicate we must be using them to prop up a broken couch leg or to hold our porn collection more securely on the bookshelf. We aren’t reading it, and we certainly aren’t doing what it says either.

Which begs the question: what does God think about us? We know He’s a God of love, or at least we hope He is, even to the extent that we hope He will always love us no matter what we do. So we keep doing it. But I don’t think that He loves unrighteousness at all. And for those who practice it He has a very dark, hot place all prepared.

Is this the falling away or rebellion that is spoken of by the Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3)? The whole world knows about God, but doesn’t know God? Without a doubt, in my opinion, yes.

I think we have turned God into a cosmic sugar daddy, and if He doesn’t deliver the goodies we turn away. Many of us only worship Him because of what they think they can get (health, wealth, etc.) and when they don’t get it they throw a temper fit. They wonder why God allows evil to continue, never questioning their own part in refusing to obey His Laws and causing the evil in the first place.

God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but at the same time He knows many will insist. He is losing His patience, I think, and for the sake of those who really believe in Him, evidenced by actions consistent with His Word and Law, He will be cutting things short very soon. Just because people lose faith in Him doesn’t mean He will leave those few who don’t out in the cold. But He’s very skeptical about those who are falling away.

Do unbelievers matter to God? I’ve got to say, I don’t think they matter very much to God at all.

Shalom
Bruce

A Whole Bible Look At Romans 9 through 12

The third video in our Romans series is up, and I’ll bet you’ve never heard Romans this way!

Shalom
Bruce

What If God Were A Linebacker?

Hey there sports fans, time for a reprint of an article I wrote a while back thinking about God as a linebacker. Definitely wouldn’t get picked last!

Can you imagine if God was a linebacker on an opposing football team you were playing? If you were a quarterback, would you want to try and pump fake? You certainly couldn’t fake a hand off, and you couldn’t fool Him with misdirection or a man in motion. You could never check off on the line and audible a change in the play. No matter what you changed it to, He would know. Maybe you could hand off to the running back, but where would he go? How would you pass to the dump-off receiver if the other receivers were covered? Even if the receivers had moves that made a ballerina cry, wherever they went God would be standing there in front of them waiting for the ball. You wouldn’t want to try a long snap for a punt or a field goal because He would probably be fast enough to intercept that, too.

Blocking would be a problem, to say the least. Even if He stood still long enough or slowed Himself down so you could get a hand on Him, you wouldn’t stand a chance of stopping Him. He’d be in the backfield holding the quarterback up by the legs quicker than you could say, “make a wish.” Facing Him across the line of scrimmage would be no picnic. He wouldn’t even have to insult your mother or cast aspersions on your ancestry to intimidate you. If He just smiled at you you’d have to change your shorts (again). He’d always know the snap count, and could beat you off the ball like you had roots. He’d plug any hole you opened for the running back, if He felt like letting the running back get that far. If He were to hit you, you might even live to tell about it after all the bells stopped ringing.

What would His stats be? Ten feet tall, weighing 600 pounds and running the 40 in “we didn’t even get the stopwatch started?” Would He be able to bench press His own weight? With each hand? Each finger? Without even breaking a sweat? Would He even sweat? Would His cleats leave marks you could plant trees in? But He wouldn’t need cleats, because wherever the ball went He’d already be there. He’d give a whole new meaning to the saying “He got skills.”

Or maybe He’d just be an undersized rabbi, not much to look at. Maybe He wouldn’t even “hit” very hard, especially if you were having a bad day. He’d just somehow manage to “move through the crowd” and be wherever the ball was, frustrating you to no end. You might wonder how He moved so fast in those robes He wore, but you wouldn’t even think about making fun of Him for wearing a dress. You’d probably want to knock that silly little cap off His head, but He wouldn’t hold still long enough to let you. He’d just smile and pat you on the back and say, “Keep on trying, my son!”

How would His contract be structured? Would He even need the money? Shoot, the team owner probably wouldn’t need all those other high priced defensive players, so you could give Him at least all the money for the other ten guys that used to be on defense. He would never get an injury (like anybody could hit Him hard enough!), so He wouldn’t need backups, and you could give Him all that money too. The other teams might even chip in money if they didn’t have to play against Him!

If He played “iron man” (iron God?) football (both offense and defense) all that money could go to His salary too. You wouldn’t need trainers, medical supplies, equipment to cool Him off, or equipment to warm Him up. He could probably play without pads or a helmet. You wouldn’t need coaches, front office personnel, or draft picks to be named later. You wouldn’t even need the draft because He lives forever!

Really though, who would play against Him? Would you have to draft Satan and all his demons? I bet they wouldn’t even enter the draft. They know better; they played against Him in college and got hammered. He made a show of them openly, and since then they haven’t been able to show their faces in public. And that was when they had the game rigged, the officials bought and paid for, and God was playing with injuries. No way would they attempt a contest where He didn’t have a sizeable handicap. But even if He looked handicapped they would still be suspicious, because of the beating they took before when they thought they had Him nailed.

Maybe He would only have to play one game a season. Would we just hand Him the Super Bowl trophy (and all the money) at the beginning of the season? Or would the other teams play each other, with the “winner” having to play the team with God on it? Wouldn’t that make the games more interesting! Imagine how desperate your team would be to lose! Ow, ow, ow, my hamstring suddenly acted up! To heck with the money, just don’t make me play against God in the Super Bowl! Or any Bowl for that matter!

How would the gamblers handicap the games? Who would bet? Even Satan wouldn’t be that stupid. The whole gambling industry for football would be wiped out. Not a dollar to be made anywhere, nobody going to the poor house for making sucker bets. Louie the leg breaker would be out of a job because nobody would need to be “encouraged” to pay gambling debts. Sports related crime would evaporate. No games to fix, no referees to buy, no players to corrupt. The television contract would be worthless, nobody would bid on it. The advertising dollars would have to be spent somewhere else.

Baseball would be shut down too, because God would have enough energy and skills to play both sports. Heck, He could probably play four or five sports every year and still not get tired. All that money would be His for the taking, that is, until people quit going to the games. Who would pay hundreds of dollars to see a game with their families when they already know who would win? We wouldn’t need to build stadiums or maintain them, and billions of dollars could be saved on freeway modifications to handle all the traffic. There would be more open space and we could plant more trees (in His cleat marks if He had cleats).

And the endorsements! Would you see His picture on a box of Wheaties? Would Mormon-owned Coke and secular Pepsi play “Can you top this?” until a new monetary record was reached? Or would He be shunned because He was pro-life, anti-gay, and didn’t celebrate Christmas? Do you think He could be induced to allow beer and automobile makers the rights to use His image for Budweiser or Ford? I can’t imagine Him leaping in the air for joy at the thought of owning a Toyota. Who would argue against Him if He said it was less filling? What would happen if He merely said He preferred not to drink beer? Would the beer industry immediately go out of business because no one would buy it? He certainly wouldn’t need money, so what else would they use to get Him to sign?

Maybe kids would idolize Him by plastering His posters all over their bedrooms. Would they want to play the same position? Would they even play sports knowing they could never beat Him or beat Him out of His position? Maybe they would start to walk like Him, dress like Him, and talk like Him. They would probably want to know what He ate and what His favorite TV shows were so they could be “just like” Him. Perhaps the whole kid’s sports structure would disappear. Soccer Moms would be a thing of the past. Parents wouldn’t have to pay all that money, scream, or kill each other over a child’s game. Test scores would go up, and athletes would have to actually work for their grades and plan on a productive career in something useful, like say, teaching.

Maybe, if He were here in physical form, playing linebacker, a lot of things would change. Maybe, the world would be a better place, with money spent on more important things. Maybe, we would see the folly of our ways. Maybe, just maybe………nya-a-a-ah.

Shalom
Bruce Scott Bertram

Making It Personal

Hosea 6:7–10 (ESV)
7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. 8 Grand Junction is a city of evildoers, tracked with blood. 9 As robbers lie in wait for a man, so the pastors band together; they murder on the way to Denver; they commit villainy. 10 In the house of the United States I have seen a horrible thing; Ephraim’s whoredom is there; the United States is defiled.

Sounds a little different when we make it personal, doesn’t it? Grand Junction is where I live; interstate 70 runs through it to Denver. Okay, pastors don’t really band together to murder. Yet. But the similarities are there.

You could probably do this yourself with your own town and country. Because while it may not be an exact match, the whoredom of Ephraim is all over.

You’ll maybe say, “But we don’t have idols!” And I’ll say, “Are you sure?” Idolatry is not just a statue. It is really self-will. Self-seeking. A statue is just one expression of self-will. There are many others, such as movie or music stars, your job, your house, your church, or your position in the community. There are lots of expressions of self-will, and not all of them include a statue.

Idolatry is anything short of complete devotion to God. That’s why He hammered it so much in the first two-thirds of the Bible. A little bit of cheating, and next thing you know we have the whoredom of Ephraim with the judgment of God coming soon. Adam and Eve were idolatrous; they didn’t have a statue either, but they made decisions based on what THEY thought was good or right, and not what God said was right. We do this every day in almost every way. A statue is wrong because it represents the start of going our own way. Self-seeking my not utilize a statue, but it is still idolatry.

Churches have been leading the way into self-seeking idolatry for a long time. Every time someone preaches that “we can’t do the law,” or “Jesus fulfilled the law so we don’t have to follow it” we have another step toward the whoredom of Ephraim and the judgment that will surely follow. Every step away from His Word is a step further into idolatry, whether we use a statue or not. Sitting in judgment on God’s Word is, as surely as Adam and Eve kicked themselves out of the Garden, the crooked path to whoredom.

Try making other passages more personal by inserting your name or your church’s name or the name of your own town here and there. We’re pretty much doing the same things, after all. It might help us to realize that a journey that takes us a thousand miles away from God starts with a simple step of self-seeking. Just because there is no idol in the house doesn’t mean that we aren’t just as idolatrous as ancient Israel.

Happily for us, He is merciful in His warnings. We are being warned in no uncertain terms. Beast attacks, disease, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, drought, wars and rumors of wars are on the increase. He is telling us to repent and return to Him. Everyone wants to make the Bible more personal when it comes to blessings. Shouldn’t we personalize the warnings too?

Shalom

Bruce

The Lie

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8–12, AV)

There’s been a lot of discussion at times over the nature of the “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” Some think it’s a special lie just for the end times, like a campaign promise by the Beast. That is the context anyway; the “man of lawlessness” will be revealed and then people will believe a lie. The lie could be one of the things that the Beast will be peddling, which is his claim of Messiah-ship. Or it could be the lie that we can be gods, which the power behind the Beast (the serpent or deceiver) has been trying to sell since the Garden.

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5, AV)

According to Strong’s Lexicon (4106), the word delusion is related to “wandering” (from truth) and “deceit.” Sounds like a campaign promise to me. We can see the desire for this campaign promise to be true all around us. I like superhero movies as much as the next guy, but the one commonality they all have is the idea that if we just had more strength we could solve all man’s problems. They sell the lie that we can solve everything without God. All we need are super powers.

You can see the lie in the desire for cheap, abundant energy. Like the push for figuring out fusion energy in movies like ‘Chain Reaction.’ The idea there is we can solve all mankind’s ills if we just had more power.

You can see a form of the lie in the slavish devotion to science. Scientists (mostly) push the thought that we could solve all of man’s ills if we just had more knowledge. The doctrine of evolution is designed to give substance to the lie by implying that knowledge is just around the corner. We just need to keep “evolving.” The knowledge that the scientists think we need doesn’t include knowledge of God. Just knowledge. This assumes that if we had the knowledge we would also have the wisdom to use it. History shows just how much of a lie that is.

Pay close attention. The lie in all it’s forms is simply that we can do without God. We might not actively be calling ourselves “gods,” but that is exactly what we are doing – trying to become as God. Pursuing power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience) and presence everywhere (omnipresence) through TV, the internet, and radio are parts of the same lying principle. We want to believe that if we just had a little more (something) we could solve everything and live long lives in peace and happiness. Just don’t include God in that something.

The Beast will probably use all of these elements in selling his Messiah-ship to the unbelieving world. In deceit he will present himself as God and exalt himself above all that is called God, but will not have a tenth part of what makes up God. So he is doomed to failure. In part at least much of the “progress” of science and technology is nothing more than enabling the kingdom of the serpent to flourish. The deceiver cannot be all powerful, or all knowing, or all present. But with nuclear weapons, a bag of “all power and signs and lying wonders,” some science, evolution principles, TV and fast transportation he can come close. And he will, for a while. But like everything built without God it will fall apart of it’s own lack of substance. Close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.

No matter what we try we come up short when we wander away from the truth of God. It wouldn’t matter if we had super powers or abundant cheap energy or if we could be everywhere at once. The deceit of that thinking would be evident as we continued to have the same problems we always have without God in our lives. Whatever we build will fall apart. The power of whatever government we invent will lean to tyranny without Him. If we lack God we lack that basic something that actually gives life and that more abundant. Nothing we try without Him will work. We are doomed to failure if we believe the lie. There is no way that we will be successful or complete without submitting to the source of all things good.

Shalom,
Bruce

The Book of Job

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:22, ESV)

The book of Job can be puzzling, especially when trying to compare the commentaries with the actual words being spoken. It helps if we realize that these events probably happened around or just before the time of the patriarchs (Job might’ve been a distant neighbor of Abraham or perhaps just before Abraham’s time). For one thing Job lives 140 years after these events (Job 42:16), and he had to have been upwards of perhaps 60 or 80 years or more to have what he had (10 kids, huge flocks and herds). That kind of life span was evident just before the time of Abraham.

The book seems simple enough on the surface. God thinks Job is doing a good job of following God, but Satan says Job worships God only because he is paid (has a hedge of protection). So God gives the okay to test the theory. Of course, true to his nature, the Satan hits Job with every bad thing he can think of. He never hits with good stuff, does he?

Job has his children and possessions taken away, and eventually his health. The verse above is inserted after he loses family and home, but before his health is taken away. After his health is hammered he still keeps his head though.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9–10, ESV)

As he’s sitting in misery he has four friends come to visit. They are appalled at his condition and spend some time just sitting with him.
Soon enough, however, they begin a discussion of the causes of the misery. Job’s argument boils down (you should know by now how much I like puns) to a protest that he is righteous and should not be treated this way.

You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy, he puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.’ (Job 33:9–11, ESV)

The first three friends think he must’ve done something wrong against God. Both groups miss the point: there are reasons for suffering other than our lack of righteousness. The fourth friend (Elihu) is younger and stays quiet until towards the end of the book (chapter 32). Then he pops his cork because the three older friends can’t adequately answer Job’s protests of innocence. Elihu’s arguments center around the wisdom of God, and the fact that Job’s wisdom doesn’t even come close.

“Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. (Job 33:12–14, ESV)

This dovetails with God’s response which at it’s root says the same thing. God has reasons for doing things that usually go way past what we know. He formed everything, and many of His plans for it we can only guess at. The main point of the book (and many other exchanges between man and God) is that God doesn’t do anything wrong (as our verse at the start of this article states so eloquently).

Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. (Job 34:12, ESV)

As Elihu speaks, a storm moves in and he uses some of the visuals to make his point. Pretty quickly we see that God is in the storm and speaks to Job from a whirlwind. Job (and the three friends) are rebuked quite strongly, with God telling them that all they know is not all there is. He shuts them all down with a series of questions the answers of which demonstrate His unequaled wisdom, power, and love. Job hastens to repent.

‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:3–6, ESV)

As I said, the key to this book is that we don’t charge God with wrong. Sometimes we suffer because we did something wrong. Sometimes we suffer because we did something right. And sometimes we suffer for reasons that go beyond our knowledge to fathom. In all things we do not question the wisdom of God to order things as He sees fit. He is good, there is no shadow of turning in Him, and all things work together for good to them that love Him back. We turned from Him in the Garden and our counsel is darkened without Him to shed light. We might be saved, but we are still under the curse until He makes all things right. In the meantime we do not charge Him with wrongdoing, instead accepting His wisdom in both good and bad events of our lives. We look forward to the revelation of more of His wisdom and love in our final redemption at the establishment of His throne on earth through His Son our Messiah Jesus the Christ.

Shalom,
Bruce

Can God Make a Rock Bigger (Heavier) Than He Can Lift?

The question, “Can God make a rock bigger (or heavier) than He can lift?” is asked by skeptics and the willfully ignorant of Christians on a regular basis. It is intended to mock the existence of God, and the supposed lack of knowledge and understanding of believers. On the surface, the question appears unanswerable. However, with a little thought and a smidgen of reasoning, the answer(s) are apparent. We just have to remember there is more to God than creating and lifting.

First answer: Of course He can. Jesus only had the strength of His human body. There were lots of rocks around that He made yet couldn’t lift. This answer focuses on Jesus and His incarnation, and the fact that He gave up some of His abilities in order to be as we are. He even submitted to death, a death that was necessary to atone for sin.

Second answer: Let me clarify. What is the reason for lifting? Is it just to show off muscles? Or is it to show off creating ability? He is not in the habit of doing things just to show off. He has a lot more intelligence and wisdom than that. It would not make any sense to make a rock bigger than He could lift, anymore than it would make sense for me to try and lift a rock when I could go around. His creation obviously was put together with much more practicality and purpose than that.

Third answer: God could make a rock that would fill everything. Then what? Who would care if He could lift it? There wouldn’t be anyone left to care!

Fourth answer: God could make a big rock, but why lift it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply reduce the rock to gravel with a word? And if that was the case, wouldn’t it make more sense to make the gravel in the first place, if indeed gravel were needed? This puts the spotlight on His forethought and planning. His omniscience includes what we might call “common sense.” Indeed, He is the author of common sense.

Fifth answer: God made everything, including physical laws such as gravity. I have no doubt that He has many other laws we know nothing about. So would He make the rock without mass? Could it be physical yet not weigh anything? (As we think of weight with our current knowledge of physical laws.) So if the rock was large, yet had no mass, then He obviously could lift it. If it was heavy, how big would it have to be before He couldn’t lift it? Doesn’t He hold planets in the palm of His hand, or are held up by the word of His power? The rock would have to be really, really huge, and I don’t think we can even conceive of just how huge. This puts the spotlight on the ignorance of the questioner, especially since the average atheist (and it is mostly atheists who ask this question) worships science yet has very little understanding.

I’m sure there are other answers to this question too. In fact, it is a fun exercise for believers to use our wider and deeper understanding of God to see just how many ways this foolishness can easily be answered. I would also add this warning to the answers: “God is not mocked. Whatever one sows, that he shall also reap. Was I you I would be extremely careful about my questions. Because God might decide to answer you Himself.”

Shalom
Bruce

Shower Curtain Philosophy

We got a new shower curtain recently. Nice design, on sale for a fraction of normal price. It has some words and phrases on it that are, I guess, supposed to encourage and enlighten us. When reading them however I can’t help but see how empty and worldly they are. Why? Because they are godless. Read them and see if you see the same.

DREAM
Dream, and never lose faith in what could be.
IMAGINE
Imagine what could be accomplished if doubt and fear were cast aside.
CREATE
Create the future with positive thoughts.
BREATHE
Breathe, relax and center yourself.
INSPIRE
Inspire others to be their best and to follow their heart.

I don’t know. They’re nice thoughts, and the best the world can offer. But how hollow they are without God! How can one dream without God? Can we have “faith” that is so meaningless? Cast aside doubt and fear? How do we do that without God? Create? A future that is empty of God? Where then would the “positive thoughts” come from? Breathe, relax and center yourself on what? Yourself? How terribly useless that would be! Inspire others to be their best? Their best….what? We are all dust, and to dust we will return. Any inspiration without God will likewise return to the ash heap of wasted effort. Follow their heart? Follow it where? In circles?

Instead of lofty rhetoric and feel-good phrases suitable for bumper stickers, what we need to do is dream of God and place our faith in Him. Trust Him and follow every word He speaks. Imagine that Jesus the Christ has removed the reasons for doubt and fear and replaced them with a new heart of flesh written with His Words. Use the heart He has Created beating with love for Him to think and meditate on His Word daily. Center ourselves on Him and peaceful relaxation will follow. Inspiration for “best” comes naturally on the heels of working out our faith with fear and trembling, following every command daily as the Spirit inspires us on to greater intimacy and love for our God and father Jesus haMashiach.

Shower curtain philosophy, indeed! I’d rather have the body and blood of my Messiah residing in the living oracles of the only wise and true God. With Him I can dream, imagine, create, breath, and inspire to heights undreamed of and outside of the imagination of mere mortals.
Shalom

Is God Always Leading?

Numbers 22 through 24 is the story of Balaam and his hire by Balak king of Moab to curse Israel who was camped at their doorstep peacefully asking to pass through the land of Moab. Balaam is told by the Lord not to go the first time Balaam was asked. The second time Balak sends messengers Balaam is told to go. On the road, the angel of the Lord appears in order to destroy Balaam. Famously, his donkey refuses to approach the angel, saving Balaam’s life, and speaks to him.

This is an interesting back and forth. It’s hard to tell what’s right. God tells Balaam not to go, but Balaam asks a second time and is told to go. But then God has an angel accost Balaam and almost kill him. Balaam arrives at the border of Moab, makes sacrifices and God gives him words to say which turn out to be blessings for Israel instead of the curses Balak purchased. Was Balaam doing right, or doing wrong? Was He following the will of the Lord? If so, why did God send an angel to destroy him?

There are several things to remember here. One is that Balaam is not a man of God. He is a diviner, one who reads omens for money. Two is that he was told once by God not to go, but asked a second time. Even though God gave permission after the second request, that did not mean it was okay to go. A man of God would’ve simply refused the money Balak was offering. The angel tells Balaam (Numbers 22:32) that he risked death because of his perversity. So three, Balaam was being perverse which means going against God. Balaam really, really wanted to go. He did not really, really want to listen to God. Peter (2 Peter 2:15) says that Balaam “loved gain from wrongdoing.” Balaam wasn’t motivated by love of the Lord, he was motivated by love of money. His love of money kept him questioning God because he didn’t really, really want to do what God said.

This is a story of how God used a perverse person to do something according to His will though the person was trying to work his own will. Just because God gave the man permission to go, does not mean that it was in the will of God for him to do it. A man of God wouldn’t have even had to consult God. He would’ve known that Israel was God’s chosen people, and would not have entertained the notion of cursing them for any amount of money. This is why the story seems to have odd ups and downs.

Lots of things we do in life we do because we really, really want to. Some of those things might be against God’s will. Sometimes God makes the things we do work His will anyway though we might not have intended it that way. We don’t even ask God what His will is many times, yet His will is always being worked out. It behooves us to prepare ourselves beforehand to conform to His will in all things by consulting the words He has given us and being obedient to them. Then when He gives us a personal direction we are more ready to hear it and do it.

Just because we CAN do a thing, doesn’t mean we SHOULD do a thing. The way to tell up from down is to hear and obey on a daily basis, strengthening our faith by working with the Word constantly. We work out with the Word regularly so that when heavy lifting is required, we know when and where and how God wants things done.

Shalom