Tuesday, March 29, 2011

GOD AND HIS MIND

God NEVER changes, BUT His mind seems to. 
A little more to the blog CAN WE REALLY CHANGE GOD'S MIND (Things That Make You Go Hmmm).

There are a handful of Scriptural passages that speak to God not changing.  The most well-known, at least in my mind, is Hebrews 13:8 - "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Another one is Numbers 28:19 - "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
In addition, Psalm 110:4 - "The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
The theme continues in Malachi 3:6 - "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." 
The New Testament gets involved with the previously mentioned Hebrew passage and James 1:17 - "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."   

BUT THEN along comes Jeremiah 18:7-10 and makes you think.  The LORD says,

"If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.  And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it."    

This conditional statement of possible reconsideration leads me to believe God may be influenced to change His mind, especially, when He was the one who stated the "if...then" formula to begin with and in light of the word "reconsider".  If you observe the other verses that I have sited, you will note that the Hebrews, Malachi, and James text do not refer at all to God's mind.  The Psalm 110:4 passage is speaking to a specific decision and not to God's overall decision-making process.  Another Scripture passage to consider that is not mentioned is Genesis 18:16-33.  Here, Abraham attempts to influence the Lord's decision to destroy Sodom because his nephew Lot lives there.  This bartering or negotiating with God seems to be working until we get to the end and find out that there are not even ten righteous people in the cities.  But God is still merciful to Lot.  Numbers 28:19, however, poses an interesting ponderment.

To start off, the first part of "God is not a man, that he should lie" - "God is not a man" - is interesting because later in history God becomes man in Jesus.  The second part is interesting too, it reads "nor a son of man, that he should change his mind".  One of the titles Jesus held was Son of Man as well as Son of God.  The way in which my spirit-man interprets "nor...that he should change his mind" in this verse is nor...that He should be wishy-washy in His decisions with everything, all the time, especially us.

According to the Jeremiah passage mentioned above, I read and hear God's essence does not change, but His mind on certain matters can change.  After the last word of that verse I can see and hear God tacking on - I have the right and reserve the right to change my mind - for my decisions are righteous in justice and schedule - perfect in fairness and timing.

So, is God the same yesterday, today, and forever?  His nature is.  He may change His mind, but it will always be in line with His nature"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." - 1 John 1:5  There is nothing that we can say or do to ever force God into any decision.  God is going to do what God is going to do.  However, it is very comforting to know that God is going to hear our (the believer's) prayer or petition because of His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and because of the high price He paid to be our Mediator (Hebrews 9:15).

Here's a little extra - did God know about the change of mind beforehand?  Is the Jeremiah 18:7-10 statement in the Bible and the portrayal of God as a God that can be influenced really a show, at least to God Himself?  Another "Bunny Trail" for another day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FORGIVENESS - NOT A SUGGESTION

I need forgiveness.  I feel like I am worse than Paul, at times, when it comes to being the worse sinner of us all.
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." - Romans 7:15, 17,18 
"But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." - 1 Timothy 1:16 

What is the difference between forgiveness provided by Christ through His death on the cross and the forgiveness He says He will NOT give unless we forgive others?  How is it that a believer can be saved/born again, his/her sins forgiven, the penalty of sin paid for in full and yet God says He will hold sins against them if they do not forgive others?  How does this translate?  If we forget or choose not to forgive and Christ returns, does our unforgiveness merit a mark against our works for the kingdom?

Paramount to receiving forgiveness is to give forgiveness.  This teaching is found in many Scripture passages.
Matthew 6:15 says, "But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Mark 11:25 says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
Luke 6:37 says, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
John 20:23 says,  "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
2 Corinthians 2:10 says, "If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,"
Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Colossians 3:13 says,  "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
This teaching goes right in line with another piece of Scripture, Matthew 7:12 - "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."  If we could all keep this in the forefront of our mind, forgiveness would come to us easier - as would a lot of other virtues.   If it is important enough to say blatantly in seven passages of the Bible then I think God thinks it important too.

The story of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 is a lesson on forgiveness.  The Lord's concluding remarks - "This is how my Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." - should set off bells and whistles, red flags and the like to take notice of why Father God would treat  believers like this or what would warrant such a reaction from God. 

"Each subject in a parable is symbolic.  The master represents the Lord, the servant is you and I, and the fellow servant is the one who sins against you.  The debt is our sin, the prison is whatever emotion locks up our reason, and the jailer who tortures us is Satan.

Please understand that failure to forgive each other doesn't suspend our salvation.  Salvation is not behavior driven like this parable is.  Salvation is belief driven.  What's being suspended until the debt is repaid is the relationship.  The servant doesn't stop being a servant.  [And us as Sons and Daughters doesn't stop being thus - my words.]  He no longer has access to the master, and the jailer now has access to him, but the implication is that once the debt is repaid he'll be restored to the master's good graces.


It helps when you see that there are 2 levels of forgiveness; one that comes through belief and one that is the result of behavior.  The first is the forgiveness that the Lord purchased with His life.  ...the other level, what I call fellowship.  Fellowship is temporal, carries earthly benefits, and is subject to interruption.  God can't relate to us while our hearts are full of anger, lust, envy, greed, or any other of the destructive human emotions that imprison us, because during those times we're like the unmerciful servant, needing discipline.  In the context of the parable, He's still our Master and we're still His servants, but we can't enjoy the full benefits of the relationship.  Something's come between us that has to be resolved before we can go on.  More often than not, it's our failure to forgive someone who's wronged us.


Depending on the intensity of our emotions and the determination with which we justify and cling to them, we may lose out on blessings and experience other deprivations like the limited loss of protection from our enemy.  Justified or not, these emotions are called sin in the Bible.  They make us impure and give the enemy access to us.  The Lord permits this access (Job 1:12).  Being unable to tolerate the presence of sin and unwilling to interfere with our choices, He can't do otherwise.  But as soon as we ask, we're forgiven and the sin is forgotten, the price having been paid at the cross and we're back in fellowship.  Then the Lord turns that which Satan had intended as torment into a blessing, showing that all is forgiven (Job 42:10-17). 

Complicated by human standards, it's exquisitely simple by God's. When wronged by a brother, you suffer. By staying angry and refusing to forgive, you wrong your brother and suffer again. But when you forgive him he is convicted and he suffers. In Rom 12:17-21, Paul says it's like heaping burning coals on his head. Meanwhile, the Lord takes the anger from your heart, restores you to fellowship with Him, and gives you peace. When you punish someone by failing to forgive them, do you realize you're the one who suffers most?
(Jack Kelley, Forgiveness article,  http://www.raptureready/)

The next parts of the equation to forgiveness are - repenting, and the difference from forgiving. In addition, is there a limit to our forgiveness of others?

"The word repent means to change your mind, not your behavior.  That's why the Lord said, 'If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent', forgive him.'  It's also why in Matthew 18:22 He corrected Peter 'not 7 times, but 70 times 7.'  both passages cover repetitive commission of the same sins as well as sequential commission of different ones.

Just as repent doesn't mean, "I'll never do it again," forgive doesn't mean, "It's OK to do it again." Remember forgive means to lay aside or leave alone. Neither word is behavior driven. Both are perception driven. Jesus doesn't condone sin, but if we've accepted His remedy for our sins and confess (1 John 1:9) He chooses to leave it alone. He's done that for us because we asked Him, and now He asks us to do likewise for each other.

When we say the sinner's prayer, we're admitting that we can never meet God's requirements and need someone to intercede for us.  We ask the Lord Jesus to intercede and be our Savior.  He agrees to do this, not because we promise never to sin again, but because we admit we can't stop sinning." (Jack Kelley)

And that is the rub.  This is a view of the height from which we have fallen.  When we, as a race through Adam and Eve, disobeyed God, sin did not only enter into humanity and creation - it became our natural tendency.  We gravitated toward and still gravitate toward things that would feed our sinful nature.  Our normal operating procedure does not include God or His ways. 

"All of us are living in deliberate and open sin because in each human life there is observable behavior that violates God's word and is knowingly and willfully repeated.  It's not that we discover one sin in our behavior and root it out only to be made aware of another.  We deliberately repeat the same sinful behavior over and over.  If we could progressively root out and eliminate the sins in our lives we could eventually stop sinning and wouldn't need a savior.  Somehow we've come to believe that repent means to stop doing something, and if we don't stop doing it, then we haven't repented and therefore don't qualify for forgiveness. If that's true and the required salvation sequence is to repent and be saved, then none of us is saved, because none of us has stopped sinning." (Jack Kelley)

In the Old Testament, God reached out to humanity with rules, regulations, and guidelines to follow for their benefit.  In the New Testament, God in the flesh, as a lowly servant, is displayed and exemplifies the life to follow and teaches how to live, promising that once He leaves He will send the Comforter, the one whom will lead you, guide you, and direct you in all truth - the Holy Spirit.  The next manifestation and extension of His reach will be in the Millennium from His throne.  Still, because of our "faulty wiring", their will be those, making it through the Tribulation Period, who reject the rule of King Jesus.  Jack Kelley states this same thought as follows -

"In the Old Testament the emphasis was on obedience. The principle was behave or you won't be rewarded. And even with the threat of eternal punishment people still couldn't be good enough for God. In the New Testament the emphasis is on faith. Now the principle is behave because you will be rewarded and people still can't be good enough. In the Millennium the emphasis will be on experience. The principle then will be behave because you are being rewarded. Satan will be bound, God will live among His people and rule the world, the curse will be removed, and a Utopian life will be at hand. All of man's excuses for sinning will be gone. But at the end of that age, the people that God hasn't supernaturally perfected will rebel against Him. The underlying message of the whole Bible is that there is no circumstance in which mankind can achieve the standard God requires. Living in sin is a state of being, not just a state of rebellion. That's why we need a Savior."

Again, a great example of how to walk in forgiveness is to observe the awesomeness of Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  If we could all draw an attitude out of this action by Christ of "while our brothers and sisters are still sinners and doing us wrong we will choose to forgive them" I think that would go a long way in all the relationships we hold, especially our relationship with God.

"...in a parable from Luke 7:41-43. Two men owed money to a certain money lender. One owed 2 years pay and the other owed 2 months. Neither could pay so the money lender canceled both debts. Completing the story, the Lord asked, "Which one will love the money lender most?"  Simon the Pharisee answered, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." Good answer. He who has been forgiven much, loves much. Have we been forgiven much? "As I have loved you," the Lord said, "You must love one another" (John 13:34, 15:12 and 9 other places). He could just as easily have said, “As I have forgiven you, you must forgive one another." (Jack Kelley)

Do you want good health?  Favor?  Do you desire to be in the middle of God's will, executing His plan for your life?  If you seek these and more in your life but are not receiving quality feedback (i.e. audible voice, writings on the wall, etc..), one area of your life to start looking at is forgiveness.  Is there anyone whom I have not forgiven?  Freedom, restored relationship(s), and many other benefits are waiting after you effectively deal with that question.  No matter whether the offender has sought our forgiveness or not, forgiveness is encouraged (Ro.12:17-21).  This sets your house/heart in order and frees you from the bondage of never hearing an apology.  Forgiveness, a commanded lifestyle not a suggestion. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

IMHO - March 16, 2011 Edition

Carolina wins!  They beat duke at The Hill on March 5th.  I wouldn't be surprised if you said you could hear me from wherever you were that night.  I was so raising the roof and screaming my head off, I'm shocked I had a voice to sing at church the next morning.

The ACC Tournament was disappointing as far as quality of play from the Heels.  It took a last second shot from Zeller in UNC's first game and OT in the second to secure the wins.  And that was after coming back from 14 and 19 points respectively.  This is not "Secretariat" (coming from behind all the time)!  And all Carolina fans knew they could not do that against duke and survive.  UNC did not show to give the devils a game (it's that simple).  The Heels could have been resting and practicing if they were not going to correct their mistakes and make an attempt at beating their rival - pathetic.

Now, March Madness is upon us.  The NCAA Tournament arrives and the Tarheels land a #2 seed.  Personally I think this was way to high for them, but....  The Heels drew LIU (Long Island Univ.).  "Long Island. North Carolina can ill afford to continue its ACC tournament trend and fall behind the Blackbirds early. LIU likes to score and score in bunches. The Blackbirds are ranked fourth in the nation in scoring and third in rebounding, which means they tend to get their misses. The Tar Heels are young enough that they could overlook the Northeast Conference champions and the Blackbirds are young enough to be brash enough to not be intimidated." (Dana O'Neil, ESPN.com)

So, here we go.  Slip up and you are done, home bound. 
You have got to take care of business and give NO hope to anybody at anytime!
GO HEELS!

Monday, March 7, 2011

ARE WE LIVING IN A DREAMWORLD? [Going To Get Deep]

Are we in God's dream?  Are we in an aware conscious, a very creative daydream that God will snap out of or a deep REM sleep?  In addition, will any of the content of God's dream somehow make it back to God's reality when God awakes?  Does God's dreaming make things reality?  Or will God simply leave all that was created in the dream-state?  Is it appropriate to assign human characteristics to God - like dreams?  What kind of God would we have and how could we describe this God if we did not?
 
If God is in a dream-state of any sort, who is going to wake God?  Observing God as the perfect being, God's dream would be perfect - in depth, width, height, space, time, and relationship.  Either way, whether God is dreaming or conscious, all that God does is perfect.  So, is God dreaming or is God awake?

They say that only a fraction of brain power is used while awake.  So, imagine the possibilities harnassable in "dreamland".  This truly applies to us - now.  However, how about a dreaming God?  Who can know the mind of God?  Who can fathom God's thoughts?  We can't hook God up to an EEG machine.  That would probably result in either weird findings or no findings at all.

Will heaven be our wake-up call?  Is that existence our true form?  Are we "sleepwalking" in this world and death wakes us?

I think all of this is real.  Life, death, and the afterlife are real.  I think heaven will be a "wake-up call" of sorts, but not from a dream-state.  It will be an awakening to all that has been on the other side of "life's curtain" and all the potential we can become.  I think that the heavenly, perfected form is the existence we were intended to have and will be at least the form we are restored to by Christ at the Rapture.  I also think/believe that we may evolve in different ways beyond that point.  Are we "sleepwalking" in this world?  Some sure look like it and others I feel are - yes - flat out, sleepwalking through life.  But, concerning death and/or the Rapture as the agent of waking, I would say for the unbeliever in Christ, this proves to be the biggest wake-up call of all time.  We all can wake up long before then though.  When an individual makes the decision to accept Jesus as their personal Master of their life and Savior over their relationship with God, then is when the WAKE-UP really happens, in my book.

Are we in God's dream?  No.  To dream would imply, as above, sleep and God does not sleep.
"...he who watches over you will not slumber;" (Psalm 121:3)  Thank God that He does not sleep, He doesn't slumber, He watches me both night and day.   "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (2 Chronicles 16:9)  And His brainpower is Supreme just the way it is.  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.  "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) 

Aren't you glad it's not all in your head?  Creation, life, history, and The Plan have always been in His head!  Just a perfectly alert mind of God, not a sleeping and dreaming God.  And then the thought and Word became Flesh (Jesus), but that is another story for another day.  ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

IMHO - MARCH 3RD 2011 EDITION

I have got alot of catching up to do.  Duke, Clemson, WF, BC, NCSU, MD, and FSU have all played the Heels since the last write-up.  So, here we go.....

The Duke game was a contest that displayed not only a Tale of Two Cities but a tale of two halves.  Carolina showed up in force in the first half, Duke did not.  Duke showed up in the second half, UNC disappeared.

When I saw the Clemson game, at that point in my college hoops watching experience, that was the worst game I have ever witnessed in my entire (almost 41 years) life.  That is to say until I saw the game after next game - Boston College vs. North Carolina.  This game at least tied that game for worst performance on the hardwood floor.  No shooting skills from one player on the whole roster.  UNC could not buy a bucket, much less pee in the basket if it was a toilet bowl even if they were standing over it yet they squeaked out a W.  The Wake Forest game was a matter of doing well the whole game long until the middle of the second half when UNC put their game in cruise control or went into a scoring drought.  Either one is not good and it needs to be addressed - quickly.

Why does Carolina feel they have to spot certain opponents double digit leads before coming back and winning?  This was the case with the matchup against NC State.  In the second half we seemed to be waiting around for something, stuck in cruise control AGAIN, when finally Mighty Mouse (Barnes) shows up again with a dunk or two and ignites the team and preserves the win.

The Maryland game had the feel that I have wanted for a game for a while - control throughout and against a pretty good squad.  When UNC demolished BC at Boston College by dropping 106 points on them, I think we were clicking there too, but BC was also helping with an awful night.

I feel like Carolina plays down to opponents a lot of the time.  I wish we would go ahead and take the lead early on against a major team and take their heart and will to play out of the contest.  Put our Heel on their head!  FSU is an improved team since the 20 point beating UNC gave them at The Hill.  I knew they would be waiting for some revenge at their place (I would too)!  Still, I think we played down to these guys.  We let them hang around in different ways, then Mighty Mouse came to save the day (Barnes).  I tell you one thing right now - the Tarheels cannot depend on that shot from him or anybody else every game or they WILL be one and done in March.

Looking back...I wish so much we could have won all our games, but being realistic I thought the Minnesota, Vandy, and GT games were the winable ones out of the bunch that they lost.  That would have put our losses against teams ranked #21 Ill., #25 Texas, and #5 Duke.  How aggrivating, but I'll get over it.

Next, Duke comes to The Hill.  And so the MADNESS begins!  Can you believe it is March 2011 ALREADY!  GO HEELS!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WHICH CAMP DO YOU FALL IN?

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him:  'I'm ready to acdept Jesus as a great moral teacher, btu i don't accept His claim to be God.'  That is one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God:  or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to."
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity) [A Favorite Quote Of Mine]

So, which colomn, category, or camp do you fall under? 
Do you believe Jesus to be a lunatic?
Do you believe Jesus to be a liar?
Do you believe Jesus to be Lord?

I'm going with Him as Lord Almighty - Master of Everything!