Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Secret of the Omnipresence of our Creator

As my older sister aptly reminded me yesterday, we were raised Presbyterian and one of the great mysteries of hearing my dad preach was when he would talk about "predestination".  

I was analytical even as a child and I remember thinking how futile everything was if God had everything already set and we couldn't change anything about the future.  

One of my favorite new shows is called Frequency.  It is about a young girl who learns how to use the ham radio with her father, who was an undercover cop.  He is killed and 20 years later she becomes a cop in the same precinct.  Through a series of events, he begins talking to her - in real time for both of them - over the ham radio.  She assists him in warding off his own murder and then watches, in horror at how that change has a ripple effect.  A twist on time travel and what we saw in Back to the Future with Marty helping Doc avoid his own death and changing the outcome of everything.

Well, these examples of motion picture and television fiction imply that we can actually change the outcome, by our actions.  For the better and for the worse. 

So which is true?  Is everything predestined and we cannot battle fate?  If we try, do we mess everything up? 

One day about 10 years ago I was flying over New York city and for some reason I was pondering the notion of God being the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  

My life chapter in the Bible is Psalm 139 and it clearly says that He knew me before I was born.  He equipped me.  He is with me in good times and bad and He knows my thoughts before I know them and He knows every day of my life.   

How God?  How do you know without dictating what I do??

Well, if you play chess, you will understand the concept of making something good come out of even the bad moves.   Keep that picture in mind.

Then think about the gift of choice.  I think that was the ultimate sacrifice of creation.  God could have made us perfect - no sin, no desire to sin, beautiful little puppets, doing His bidding, night and day.  But that is not what happened.  He gave us the power to choose - to love and serve him, or not and to do what is in alignment with the perfect plan, or not.  

I call that last point the Israelite option.  It only takes about 18 days to walk from Egypt to modern day Israel (the promised land).  Because of their unbelief and disobedience, it took the Israelites 40 years.   

I don't want to choose that option for my own life.  I'm not that patient.  Give me the promised land now.     

So back to how God can be at the beginning, the middle and the end and how He can know the outcome.  Let me give you an easy visual that will demonstrate His omnipresence.

Picture the New York marathon at around 11 am on a bright sunny, clear morning.  There are runners already nearing the finish line, reaping the rewards of months and months of rigorous training and their guaranteed entry status and position.  All along the course, there are more runners, perhaps that have not trained quite as diligently, each with different stories, not only about their training leading up to the race, but what they ate and drank in the 24 hours before the race and how much water they consumed to ensure that they are properly hydrated.  And at the starting line, of the 50,000 total runners there are still more that haven't even begun their run (or their speedwalk), as they didn't qualify to be near the front. Some were perhaps foolish enough not to train at all or to think that they could party until the wee hours and still be able to make it the entire 26.2 miles.   Not likely. 

Above it all is the news helicopter.  From its unique vantage point, it can see the beginning, the
middle and the end of the race course.  The news crew's cameraperson can use the powerful telephoto lens of the camera to zoom in on individual runners, seeing their triumph, their pain and the agony of those that can't make it all the way to the end.

Just think of our omnipresent God in the same way as you see that helicopter in your mind.

We always have the power of choice   It was his gift to us.

What we do not have is the power of choosing the consequences.

The runner that drinks until dawn and stumbles to the back of the starting line does not get to choose the outcome of running the race in under 4 hours, with a triumphant charge across the finish line, hands in the air.  No, he or she will be lucky to even make it a few miles into the course, since alcohol dehydrates you severely, which impacts your muscles ability to respond when your brain tries to tell them how to respond.  Guaranteed bad outcome.

The one that lives in a virtual state of training throughout the year has a much better chance to complete the race with a victorious gate to their run, but even the most experienced runner occasionally cramps up or stumbles.

Like that chess game, if we make a wrong choice or a bad decision, if we can come back to our Creator for direction and let him get us back on course, He has promised in Romans 8:28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Train well.  Consult your Creator about even the most mundane things in your life.  He will provide direction and He will right your course if you just ask Him how.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Twilight Zone Buffet (aka the 2016 Presidential Election from a believer's perspective)

Picture if you will a buffet.  A last supper if you will.  For the next four years, whatever you choose is what you will eat.  
As you walk through the door, you are amazed at the darkness of the room.  The tension is palpable. Your stomach rumbles and then you see it, the buffet.  It is unlike any buffet you have ever seen.   
As your eyes adjust to the darkness, you can see that it has three sections, each separated by a curtain. A half wall hides the contents of each section, so you can't clearly see what is on each section, but a sixth sense tells you that you will be forced to choose and as you look at each choice, you may not have all the facts to allow a quick decision.   
Milling around the room are people with signs.  You are curious about that, as some seem to be touting being a vegetarian and the others are clearly the meat eaters. You have always been a meat eater and you are looking forward to the broad array of protein choices that are normally found on a buffet.  As you look past the people, noticing an occasional skirmish between the two groups, you see that the first part of the buffet is heavily lit from above, with TV screens behind the section with talking heads telling you the virtues of this particular choice.   You have never seen so many TVs, with so many different groups telling you how amazing their choice is. There are strobe lights and upbeat music and you can see a net above the buffet filled with balloons, as if poised for a celebration.  Next is another section, with just one TV, plus audio and posters telling you why this choice is really not good for you.  Third, is a very small section, barely visible, no fanfare, nothing to provide direction or input on your choice.
You tentatively move into the first section, following the line in front of you.  
In the first section you see platter after platter of boiled okra.  You hear from the TV announcer how this will help you slim down and get rid of all that unwanted fat and how it doesn't contain any of that evil protein that made you fat in the first place. After all, you don't need it to survive.  The okra is getting cold, as the platters are actually sitting on ice.  You wonder if that somehow improves the taste.  Now you see the slenderizing mirrors behind the buffet, interspersed with pictures of slender, attractive people of all colors and races.  They are all smiling.  You notice there are no children, but you dismiss that thought as quickly as it entered your psyche. 
You don't like slimy foods and your body actually thrives on protein, so you move on to the second section.  But you see many people in front of you have loaded up on okra, espousing its benefits and looking down on you for not taking advantage of this tasty treat.  
In the second section you are clearly dismayed.  Here, instead of a wide selection of steaming pork, chicken, sausage and grilled meats, you see platters of oysters on the half shell, again on ice.  Yes, raw oysters. You look down and see some of them have some dirt on the shells.  You cringe, but in contrast to the boiled okra, you at least know that you would get protein to provide sustenance.  Behind the buffet you see more mirrors, but this time the mirrors are like that of the carnival, they distort your appearance, like a cruel session on your teenager's SnapChat.  Some make you very, very fat and some make you look like a freak.  And the voices on the lone TV and the audio being pumped into this section continues to discourage you from eating the oysters, reminding you that what you really want is a big juicy steak. The posters remind you of the days when steak was plentiful and children were everywhere, laughing and playing.   
Even though the raw oysters would provide the needed protein for the next four years, you remind yourself how much you hate slimy foods and you decide to pass again, and hold out for what is in the third section.   
As you pass through the curtain that is strategically placed between the other two sections, you are shocked to see the third section filled with empty plates.  It is too late to go back.  You see an immovable turnstyle behind you that you hadn't noticed as you came through.  In front of you, you see someone that has selected that plate and the server behind this section, who you hadn't seen before, quietly takes the empty plate and hands them a plate from the first section, filled with slimy okra, plus a hand full of coupons to come and refill your plate as often as you wish, extending the time horizon from 4 to 8 to 12 years or more.   
Now you are absolutely certain that you have entered, the Twilight Zone.

                              #    #    #    #    #    #    #    #    #    #

As I was spending time with God this morning, he showed me a little bit about our Country and our elections.  He spoke in parables throughout His Word, so I wasn't really surprised when He showed me the Twilight Zone buffet.

Through that parable, he showed me that our Country, which was founded on Judeo Christian principles, is like the group of vegetarians (my apology to vegetarians), systematically removing all of the proteins and fats (the basic values that are espoused in the Torah, the Bible and the Constitution) from our lives and our cultures.

And contrary to public meat eater opinion, the vegetarians are NOT the Democrats.  They are those in either party (or who have no party at all) that do not acknowledge that God is in control and that He is our Creator, the author and the finisher of our faith.  Perhaps they are even former meat eaters that have just gotten lukewarm about their love for meat.

Whether we participated in the removal of these values by actively becoming vegetarians (enthusiastically following progressive theory that is devoid of God), or we let it happen by not voicing our opinions through our right to be informed voters for all parts of the ballot, we are complicit in what we've become as a nation - no longer one nation under God and definitely not indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

God reminded me here how many that consider themselves "evangelical Christians" stayed home in the 2012 election.  It was definitely enough to get a God-fearing man into the White House, whether Romney was your cup of tea or not.  

Those vegetarians in power are convinced that the restaurant (our government) can and will take care of the masses, providing unlimited meals and shelter and all that we value, paid for by getting the meat eaters to pay for the food.   They don't encourage individual thinking, they would like to control education and especially the media.  They are encouraged and their efforts funded by those outsiders that believe that only by removing the fat, meat eaters from the world, can we truly achieve a Utopian society.

The meat eaters remember a day when they took care of their own, ensuring that no one goes hungry or without shelter or clothing.  The vegetarians don't trust that the meat eaters will do what they say and instead levy a tax on them to ensure that there will be enough to take care of the "less fortunate".

While the original goal of becoming a vegetarian may have been to shed a few pounds, now our nation is like the young teen, suffering from bulemia or anorexia, not seeing themselves clearly when they look in the mirror, nor do they see the danger of truly starving ourselves from what we were meant to eat to survive.

Here as God shared the story of the buffet with me He was not referring to vegetables or meat, okra or oysters but the Word of God and building His Kingdom as our long term goal.   This isn't about any one individual's legacy.  If we think that being His follower makes us somehow weak or dependent, then we don't understand the power that we are given as His children.

The vegetarian group that is lobbying the others in the foyer of the buffet do not acknowledge Him as master of the universe that He created.  They have convinced themselves that wrong is right and that we need to "live and let live".  Like the serpent in the garden, they have convinced themselves that they are smarter than God, if there is indeed a God.   If there were, and He loved you, certainly you could eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!

Many in this group simply call that creation force the Universe, not wanting to offend those that don't believe. They do not recognize the foolishness of that observation.  It as if the Mona Lisa painted itself , with the elements of the paint coming out of nowhere and believing there is no such thing as DaVinci or that the great masters of literature were penned without an author.   The created must have a Creator.

Unfortunately, after being beat down by the vegetarians, the meat eaters are afraid to criticize, for fear that they will have to support even more vegetarians, who seem to be pouring into our country daily, expecting to be clothed and fed and sheltered or in the vernacular of today, they are afraid to be asked to bake wedding cakes for the vegetarian weddings, even though they do not believe in a life without God's presence.

The meat eaters sometimes forget that God loves all vegetarians and that when we were commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, that He wasn't talking about just meat eaters.  Instead of mirroring God's love, they are actually called the haters by the vegetarians (and not so secretly).

How did things get so twisted?  I'm not sure whether I was asking God this or He was musing himself.

Of course the answer is CHOICE or what meat eaters refer to as free will.  God did NOT create puppets.  He gave us the right to choose HIM or not.  It grieves Him when we don't, but He is a gentleman and will never force himself on us.

So after seeing the choice of the boiled okra and the raw oysters, both of which are slimy, the meat eaters simply say that they are no longer going to the restaurant (aka the polls to vote). They are either staying home and starving, quietly and with dignity.  Or, they go to the restaurant and elect to have the empty plate, not realizing that they will be served the okra anyway. Or, they jump over the facade of the empty plate and just go ahead with the plate of boiled okra.  The outsiders have seen to those choices by controlling the TV,  the mirrors and the posters (the media).

The vegetarians don't see that as you take more and more from the meat eaters, that there will be nothing left to sustain them over time, as they will have to cut back on their efforts to employ both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.  We can't indefinitely rob from the rich to feed the poor.    It simply is not a sustainable model.

While this particular analogy sounds partisan, it is actually the picture that God wants us to see of our willing participation in being relegated to minority status, versus knowing that we are children of the King and that we have incredible power if we will just recognize that He is still at the helm, no matter what we see and no matter what we hear.....and by the way, who is elected President.

If, like the Prodigal Son, we strip ourselves of our robes and go out and eat, drink and be merry without regard for how long the fortune that we are squandering will last, then we will eventually forget about the Father at home, waiting with the robes, the fatted calf and the ring to welcome us back into His home.  Or worse, we will think that if we do go home, we will have to simply be a servant, versus taking our rightful place as heir.

But if we do nothing, the restaurant will end up having to borrow from others to pay for the food once the meat eaters are no longer able to pay their "fair share".  Those that loan us money are salivating, as they never liked steak anyway.

Money is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible.  And for good reason.  Money IS power and whoever is funding our Country will eventually be in control of our future.  We cannot be nearly $20 trillion in debt as a Country and remain a world power.

To understand the importance of this point, you need to understand the forces behind the radical, progressive agenda and what has caused our media to be so biased, versus being journalists and what has caused our justice system to embrace injustice, overlooking crimes made by high level officials.  Watch carefully where the money is flowing from and to.   You can begin with George Soros who has contributed over $25m to get vegetarians in office.  Again, this isn't about a party, it is about a godless agenda.  Please do your own homework. 

The next group, the meat eaters, is still holding on to the good old days, when their group was not vilified for holding on to God's Word, the Constitution and the sanctity of life.   They know that we were created male and female by our Creator.   They remember when one man married one woman and the government didn't fund the killing of more than 40 million babies a year.   They know that from babies, come little children.  No wonder there are fewer and fewer children.  Choice trumps murder.  Our God is our belly.   Live and let live.

The meat eating leaders are upset that the meat and the robust selection of proteins have been replaced by the selection of just the raw oysters, with dirt in them at that.  Both those that serve their Creator and those that just visit Him in His house (weekly or on Easter and Christmas or on the High Holy days) are equally offended by the dirt and worried that if they dig too deeply and look under the oyster and around the shells, there will be more dirt.  They move as quickly past the second section of the buffet as possible to create as much distance as they can.  And they secretly wonder if any of their dirt will ever be exposed.

Clearly that is how many see our choice of candidates in both parties.  Flawed.

They don't see the impact of the time that they spend reading books and watching movies and TV shows that contain blatant sex, often extramarital or homosexual and that glorify a life without God.   I read this week that over 125 million copies of 50 Shades of Grey have been sold.

They don't see around the end of the buffet where there are fresh water fountains to rinse them (God's grace) and pots to cook them, with spinach and bernaise sauce to mask the slimy texture.  This is what awaits us if we return to the Father's table, even if we are the prodigal.

A recent book by Lance Wallnau suggests that if indeed God has chosen Trump as the imperfect and very raw oyster (he calls him the Chaos Candidate) to be our protein for the next four years, that it is within His power to surround him with godly men and to achieve His will despite Trumps severe flaws.

The same is true of how we could recover from an ultra-liberal Supreme Court or having a philanderer back in the White House, albeit as first spouse and whether or not Hillary is truly an enabler of that behavior.

Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat eater really doesn't matter.

God is in control and He calls each of us to fulfill our destiny.  If it is Hillary's destiny to be President or Donald Trump's destiny is truly not our call.

We should actually take comfort in the fact that God won't be surprised at all on the morning of November 9th.
Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Whether Clinton or Trump know Him personally or not, or just visit His house on occasion as a gesture, He knew both of them before they were conceived.

Some heard this verse for the first time when Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence quoted it in the VP debate.  It is from Psalm 139 v13-16
For you created my inmost being;    you knit me together in my mother’s womb I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;    your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body;     all the days ordained for me were written in your book   before one of them came to be.

Remember before you pass judgement on either candidate.  Many of us are put in roles that in our own eyes or the eyes of others we are not prepared to fill, perhaps not even deserving.

Take comfort in the fact that our founding fathers created the three branches of government for a reason, one of which is that no one individual have the power to dictate how the country would be run.

If you believe that there is a grand plan and that our Creator will prevail, then you know that He has used many imperfect people before, even those that are seen as evil, in order to demonstrate His power and his glory.   He used murderers, liars, thieves, prostitutes as often (or more) than he used the ones deemed (or self-proclaimed) as godly.

Right now, I believe that He is calling us to our knees as a people, as we are in a crisis.  We are being called back to Him. We are called to love and to forgive and most of all to allow God to be God.   This is a God-sized problem we are facing.
if my peoplewho are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

No matter which camp you associate with, or whether you do not associate with any camp at all, we are Americans and I believe that we are at a Joshua 24v15 moment.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. 

But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”