For What Do We Stand?

For if there is no God, then what is there to live for? What reason is there to try? What hope do you have to look forward to? Do you rely on mankind who betray you and hold you only at the value of what you can give them? Do you trust yourself when there is so much you cannot control or see coming? Do you just hide yourself away and try not to think about how meaningless your existence and attempts to be good and decent are in this world?
 
But… If there is God…. then what have you to fear? When life comes crashing down around you. When things don’t work out the way you expect. When threats come towards you at every angle… what do you have to fear?
 
Because it was never your burden to carry before you break. It was never your only hope that society will humor you and provide for you. It was never some sheer bout of luck or chance that some people survive and some people don’t. The God who created this world looks out for you. Cares about you. Has a plan for you so long as you rely on Him.
 
Those who turn to the Christian path for a life of comfort and ease will not last long. One does not follow God’s path because it is easiest… in fact more often than not it is the most terrifying… one follows God’s path because it is Good! And because you will do the Most Good on it!
 
Life is hard and holds many hardships. Many unexpected turns. Many let downs. Many things that will terrify you. You will make mistakes, be betrayed, be abandoned, be ridiculed, be abused, be taken advantage of, be hurt, be scarred, be broken, but so help me you serve a God who refuses to let you be Destroyed!
 
Stand up. No matter what you are going through. Know that this may catch you off guard. That this may make things harder than you thought. But this was never about what YOU could do.
 
You are not alone! You never were. Take comfort, take confidence, and move forward!
 
Amen

Truth and Lies

A proper lie does not simply contradict the truth, it redirects it.
 
If I were to stand in front of you flapping my arms and say “HEY LOOK! I’M FLYING!” That would not be a very effective lie as it very clearly contradicts several truths you believe and see. However if I were to tell you I HAD flown, without explaining the method or time. This would be far more believable as your brain allows you to rationalize this.
 
Every effective lie has some nugget of truth to it. Imagine if you will that truth was in fact a straight road that led a certain direction. Lies would be side paths which slowly curve off from it.
 
Much like the poor and lowly frog who is boiled to death in a pot of water that is slowly heated up. We often do not realize what a lie is, until it is far too late to turn back.
 
Why is this important to know? Well for one thing… to realize that lies don’t always seem nonsensical. In a lot of ways, lies can often seem far more rational than the truth. Think of the problems Sherlock Holmes had to face arguing for the true culprit whilst the police were satisfied with their easily explainable catch. Just because something makes sense to you, does not mean that it is true. For we are humans of limited perspective. We are not omnipotent… even the things we “know” we only assume we know. How long did we believe the sky was blue until we realized that was only an optical illusion? How long did people argue that space and time were eternal until we realized there were edges and even holes to both? How long did we feel this planet was all there was until we saw there were planets further still? Do you honestly think that out of the 7000+ years of recorded history, that NOW we understand everything there is to know? That’s a frighteningly foolish thing to believe. Especially when we don’t even understand everything they knew 7000 years ago!
 
The second reason why this is important to know is that there are always areas of our world that we don’t understand due to our limited perspective and often our reaction to these issues are to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. Be they spiritual issues, morality issues, purpose issues… Everyone has something that they would rather just deny the existence of than face and discuss… however the issue with this is that just because you don’t deal with an issue enough to face it, doesn’t mean no one else does.
 
I cannot begin to count the amount of people I know of who have walked down very VERY dark paths simply because the people on said paths were far more willing to discuss topics that had made them curious than the people around them. The promise of knowledge has always been one of the most effective temptations out there… possibly even more than the promise of power!
 
So how do we face truth and lies then? Do we take the currently trending method of believing that EVERYONE is wrong in some way or point and therefore EVERYONE is equally right in our wrongness?
 
This is within itself a fairly dangerous belief…
 
In a way, this belief makes the most sense… If every lie holds some resemblance of the truth, then shouldn’t we simply have to search for the semblance of truth in every lie to understand the world?
 
While the theory is sound. It lacks in one very vital area. That area being that it places YOURSELF in the judging seat as to what is truth and what is lie. And as we have covered several times already; We are VERY limited in our perspective to be able to make such a decision.
 
When people are their own judge of what’s right and wrong, we begin to slowly veer off course into highly dangerous territory. There is no one easier to lie to than yourself, for with each successful lie, your blind spot grows larger with your pride.
 
Why has a vengeful nature become so justified? Why has greed and pride become so celebrated? Why has most anything that feels good become such a constitutional right in spite of any future effects? Because as humans… our only judge of what’s right and what’s wrong is ultimately what feels right and what feels wrong… and bad things feel AMAZING!
 
There is a reason why the most reoccuring description of an irredeemable, sinful country in the Bible always ended with “They did what was right in their own eyes.” What has been more dangerous to mankind in the past 7000+ years than self justification??
 
So what do we need then to balance out our search for truth? Well it will seem redundant…. but to FIND truth, we must first HAVE a truth to compare it to. (Kind of like looking for a colour while having paint swatches and samples) And to know what IS truth… in that area we must have faith….
 
Now “Faith” is treated as a scary word in our culture today… but the truth is that EVERYONE has faith to some extent. You have faith this is Malcolm writing this. You have faith your food isn’t overdo or poisoned in spite of all the people it passed who could do that. I have (sometimes unfounded) faith that my computer won’t crash before I finish writing this status! Faith is not something you can live without. It’s something we all have and use daily.
 
So what is your foundation of what is true and what is not? Do you have faith in a God who came to created us and wants to save us? A god we have to earn favour with? Many gods we have to entertain so we might benefit from them? Do you have faith in a person writing posts online? (wait a minute…) A theory someone came up with to support a theory they had about an observation they made? Your own gut sense?
 
We all have faith in SOMETHING from which we decipher what is true and what is not. An evolutionist would look at the Grand Canyon and say “Man. This proves the earth is billions of years old as it would take that long for that tiny trickle to make this huge canyon. A Christian (As well as several other religions) would look at the Grand Canyon and say “Man. This proves there was a global flood. What else could cause such world shaping?” (Fun Fact: A Creation Story, a Flood, and An end are three of the most common reoccurences in religions) But see how a different foundational truth affects how you justify and rationalize the observations you make??
 
Even with a foundational truth however; there are many who fall back into the first example.
 
To accept a foundational truth is to accept the consequences that come with it.
 
I cannot say that I will be there for you every Tuesday night and then proceed to make plans with someone else. I cannot say I serve a God who loves His creation but then say He’s okay with us destroying ourselves or each other as long as we enjoy it. I cannot say that man was a mistake and then say but you have a purpose for being here. Once I start picking and choosing, I no longer have faith in that foundational truth and am once again having faith in my own judgement which we have already deduced is a very dangerous thing to do.
 
But who is right in the end? Does it really matter?
 
Yes… Yes it does. Even if you don’t feel the affects of it right away… truth is truth no matter how much you believe otherwise. Should I eat a poisoned meal I would still die no matter how much I believed it wasn’t poisoned. Should I believe that I could insult others without anyone caring, they would still be hurt. As much as I can believe I can write these posts without many shaking their heads and some their fists, there are going to be people out there like that. Our faith has no effect on reality…. but it has an effect on us DUE to reality! So choose carefully and keep thinking and observing. This world is tricky but amazing at the same time

Beyond the Bible

I find a mistake we often make in the church, is that we focus too much on the Bible alone.

Now I will say this up front. I am NOT discrediting the Bible, saying we should distrust the Bible, Saying the Bible is ‘just good literature’ or any of the other arguments bouncing around that scare Christians into clinging too tightly to the Bible alone. But I do feel we have limited our perspective too much.

Many Christians live their lives as if the Bible is a window into God’s world… the only view of God that we have. People spend lifetimes peering through it. Trying to see it from every angle. Many go so far as to start drawing on the walls around the window trying to extrapolate what they can of the world from that tiny little glimmer…. But in doing this Christians often seem to forget one very important point.

We live in God’s world NOW!

God is still alive. God did not send Jesus His son and then go “Welp! See you all in a few millennia. If you want to know what to do, read my book! Bye!”

One of the biggest things that happened when Jesus came down is we were given access to the Holy Spirit. We can still talk with God. We still live in a world where God is very active in. We still live in a world where God is at work in our lives every day.

So where does the Bible stand then? What makes it so important to read in the first place?

Reality needs constants. Without constants, nothing can be true or false. Without a comparative, you will not be able to know which way to go. A skilled woodworker may be able to tell 2 feet of wood from just looking at it, but that does not mean that a measuring tape is a worthless invention.

The Bible gives us a breakdown. A guideline. A foundation for our beliefs. But a building that is just a foundation, is a fairly worthless structure that will never stand out!

Realize God will never direct you against His word, or in a warped view of His word… but also realize you are meant to live your faith in your own life and this current stage of the world as well.

Don’t lock yourselves in introspection! Jesus IS alive! Don’t you realize what that means? Not WAS alive. Not WILL BE alive. He IS alive! Now! This moment! Right here right now!

So stop looking with in. Look up! Look to him as well!

What is a Person?

What is a person?
 
Why do I ask this time and time again?? Because honestly… a lot of our current issues and mistakes boils down to this question. What we are, what we aren’t. What we can change, what we can’t. What we’re in control of what we can’t. Are we blank slates? Are we preset? Are we instinctual creatures controlled only by our chemical makeup and carnal desires? Or are we dynamic and sentient beings who are born with temptations and shortcomings yet gifted the ability and responsibility to fight through them?
 
There are many questions which tie to this question…
 
I think the biggest mistake we make in the world today is focusing too much on peoples’ actions… and why not? For most people it is the most we can see. What a person decides on says a lot about their strengths and weaknesses (though even then, we can only see the outcome and not the intentions behind it). But are we really something as simplistic as a series of actions? Do we make choices? Or do choices make us?
 
We judge people by their end. If someone dies a hero, then everything they did was golden. If someone dies a tyrant, then everything they did should never be spoken of. We can claim someone created something beautiful until they do something we disagree with. Then they were making corrupt and horrid things all their lives and we bury our past enjoyments where no one can see that we ever touched them.
 
On the other side of this spectrum, we feel temptations and lose battles ourselves. We end up deciding there is no use fighting as this is who we are. That there’s no future for us because we were just born a certain way. That there’s no path ahead because the one path shown to us won’t hold us. But are we really such simple things??
 
If we are made of our actions than our decisions mean nothing. What’s the point of struggling over something? You’re only going to answer a certain way because that is who you are.
 
Now some may argue that “Struggling over something is part of who you are that will affect the actions you take! So just giving up is not being true to your real self!” as well they should. But the thing is that if there is more than one kind of action we can take, then we are obviously more than the actions we decide on.
 
People change over time. We find new passions. Hobbies. We get influenced by different things which affects our outlook on this world. Our bodies change, through growth, sickness, and tragic loss. There are many things that affect what direction we may be headed currently… yet there is always something that keeps us “us”.
 
I have moved around a lot growing up, and have met many people over many years from around the world. Some are there for a minute, and then are gone for good. Others stay around from time to time. And then there are some who disappear for decades only to be reconnected at the strangest of times.
 
Of the last type, they often come back having gone through all sorts of trials, changed outlooks. Some have changed beliefs, others life purposes. Many do things they would NEVER have done back when I knew them or would have even condemned others for doing……. So why is it then that they are always so easily recognizable? Why is it that no matter how much they change, (and believe me, many have changed IMMENSELY emotionally, spiritually, and physically) Why is it then that there is always something at the core of who they are that makes you think “That is totally _____….”
 
There is something more to people than actions, decisions, and beliefs. Something unique to each of us, yet something we all have. We decide on actions. We mull over decisions. We grow in our beliefs. But there is something at the core of who we are that allows us to face said questions and mull over the possibilities. Something beyond the physical realm as substance abuse, hormonal dabbling, mental degradation, or general growth does not affect it. Something beyond our mental selves as growth in knowledge, change in beliefs, and bitterness or empathy does not corrupt it… call it spirit, soul, or poppycock. There is something there. Some core to who we are… What we are… Something that makes us all unique yet somehow does not put some of us at an advantage or disadvantage from others. To know what that is makes it far easier to not be bogged down with the distractions of who did what and speculation… because it lets you realize we are all people… all with the potential for good and for bad. Yet all desperately in need of the one who can lead us on.
 
We are all unique, yet all the same. All strong yet all dependent. It is a beautiful paradox to be sure

Who Do You Serve in Your Christian Walk?

To my Christian friends: Are you serving the Bible? Are you serving Jesus? Are you serving the Spirit? Are you serving the church? Or are you serving God?

Now I’m sure at this point, some of you are asking “Wait… is this a trick question?” And congrats! It really should be one! But unfortunately, many of the Christians I meet, though they may say otherwise, focus so much one one individual factor of the above, that it affects the rest of their faith.

Those who serve the Bible are possibly one of the most common types in the Western church today (second only to those who serve the church)

If you have read my past statuses, you will know that my opinion right now is that whatever you turn to firstmost for your differentiating between good and evil, as well as for your direction and protection in life, is God to you. So as such, people who serve the Bible, simply are people who rely SOLEY on the Bible for EVERYTHING. If you were to confront them on the fact, they would tell you that they believed Jesus rose from the dead, God cares for us, we need to pray, and everything else the Bible tells them to believe, however their actions and lifestyles betray their deeper feelings as they try to force Bible verses to fit their current day problems. They skip over passages about prophesy, miracles, angels, and demons… or try to rationalize the miracles and warnings against spirits because it’s awkward to them. Though their mouths may claim to believe in the heavens and hell; their lifestyle speaks of an inability to believe in anything they cannot tangibly hold… Much like a Thomas or Saul/Paul when you think of it…

Those who serve Jesus, but not God, tend to focus only on the New Testament, and not the Old. “Red Letter Christians” if you will. The problem with this, is that these two testaments are not mutually exclusive. Much like a parent that gives a bunch of rules to their child until they are old and mature enough to understand the reasons behind them; The Old Testament gives us the context which the New Testament explains. These Christians have a tendency to be strongly supportive of “God’s Love”, yet struggle with His Awestruck Might and Power. To steal the words from CS Lewis: “Of course He’s not safe!! But he is good!”

To serve the Spirit is in many ways the foil to those who serve the Bible as each tend to use the other as a warning… causing them to cling more tightly to their cause in fear of becoming like the other. The Holy Spirit is real. Spiritual Warfare is real. Angels and Demons are real. The end times are real. To turn your back on these things is idiotic, but to fall in love with them is deadly. Even God warned about chasing after miracles as even the demons can create miracles. The biggest danger to chasing miracles over chasing God, is that there are many powers in this world… But God’s is the only power that does not come at a deadly price. Where people serve God, miraculous things WILL happen. Where miraculous things happen, there is not necessarily God! Beware of imitators and false prophets. Beware of making your focus. On miraculous works, not serving God.

Those who serve the church are possibly the largest group in western culture. They are those who fall in love with their church, their denomination, their pastor, their rituals. People who go to church because they have always gone to church. People who look to their pastor for their life goals. People who believe the stronger their church is, the stronger their faith is. People who get totally caught up in denominational debates and distracted from the actual point of their faith. The church is not your faith! The church is a collection of people who share your faith! You do not serve to keep the church going! The church keeps going so you can serve!

So what is the solution to this? Is all of Christianity just a waste with a bunch of different people with different problems? No… the problem with each of these groups is not that they believe different aspects of their faith, are important… because each of these things ARE important! They are critical to the Christian walk! The true problem is that they let these things take PRIORITY in their life… when the one who should take priority is God! And God alone!

To serve God means to read His word to know Him. To Serve God is to pray and build a relationship with Him! To serve God is to know that His son came to die for us and show us God better. To serve God is to support your fellow Christians through this struggling walk called Christianity. All of these aspects are needed in serving God… and we all do tend towards one or another.. but that’s because we were made different…. not so that we could clash or take advantage of each other… but so we could complete each other and together see more of this world than we could alone.

It is not wrong to specialize in one area or another. In spite of attending a Baptist church currently, I am far more prone to spiritual awareness than Biblical knowledge. What is wrong is to think it is alright to throw away the rest because it is more comfortable that way. What is wrong is to start relying on your strength and comfort zone over relying on God to show you His wisdom through your weaknesses. You are made for better than that! Don’t give up so easily!!

Who Am I?

BUT! While I’ve opened up the can of dimensional worms… I’ll take the time to break into another controversial subject that tends to make my brain hurt more…. Identity…. Just who on earth are we??? What are we??

“Our identity is found in God! We are His children!” Okay yes. I know that answer. Good for you. Have a cookie. I get that response quite a lot but that is not really what I was getting to. For even in the body of God we are designed to be unique from each other in order to fulfill the broad scope needed. We are not meant to run independently but together, relying on each others’ strengths to fulfill our weaknesses. But then what exactly makes our identities?

“We are the chemicals in our bodies!” “We are the results of what those in our pasts have scarred us to be!” “We are creatures of instincts who have been tarnished by delusions of culture and society!” These are more common ones I hear the world come up with. However in this case I find the answers to be surprisingly lacking… or even in some cases saying “The sun gets hot by ice cream melting faster!”

I look at myself, and honestly… who am I? A guy who thinks too much? That is true. Someone who follows God? Well… ya I try… Someone who was outcast as a freak of nature and a monster? That is true as well…

We say “Your past does not define you!” but to tell you honestly it does affect you quite a lot. No matter where I go in life, or what I become, I will always have that darkness within me. There are memories of what I’ve done, images of what I’ve seen, doors which I had opened which can never be closed again.

I have had many a Christian tell me “Well that’s because your faith isn’t strong enough! Don’t you know God wipes you clean?” But I don’t think they quite understand what wiped clean means. I am NOT the person who I was. Nor do I ever hope to be again. But does that mean I never could? No… I am quite aware of what I am capable of… I am quite aware of how tempting it is to realize what I could accomplish if I went back to it. But I CHOOSE to follow God. My past has changed who I am, but I am free from it. Free to follow the new path God has set before me.

In the same way… Are our identities based on our knowledge and memories? It’s true that I was a much different person when I was a lot more naive. A lot more outgoing, adventuresome…. actually quite the idiot (maybe that part didn’t change) but at least I was an honest idiot 😛

But while the people who I have met in life, and the things I have learned have changed me…. can I say that THAT is what my identity is? ….No not really… because even though I couldn’t control what I learned or experienced in life… I could control how I reacted to it. And on top of that, part of who I was… something at my core… affected the way I would react.

I see it all the time in people that I meet. I meet people who are naive, people who are hurt, people who are driven, people who are hiding. There are the things they do. There are the things they try to do. There are the things they never want to do again. But at the same time there is always something else… something deeper…. a core that it is all built upon.

You could send 100 people through the exact same life trial, but there would be a variety of responses to how they reacted to it… because at their core they are different. Why do some people stand up to trials and some shirk away? Why do some people feel entitled while others just figure that is life? There are far too many variables to decide what causes this and what doesn’t….. but this I will say… no matter how much someone changes, reacts, grows, breaks, or more…. there is always SOMETHING about them that will always remain themselves.

Identity is deep… it’s depth goes far beyond what I can seem to comprehend. But I think (especially now) it is important to at least think about. How many world issues now a days rely on identity. The idea of claiming your identity, protecting your identity, not having your identity abused, knowing what you are able to do, not able to do. Where you need to grow, where you need to let go. Identity is a massive topic and I can’t even scratch the surface…. I do believe it goes far beyond our bodies and into our very souls.

This world says your body controls your identity… I say it’s the reverse. While I’m sure a person in pain may be grumpier or less likely to take risky moves than a person not in pain (I can attest) Or someone who can’t think clearly may not use their head as much as someone who can’t NOT think… I do believe there is a HUGE area that people overlook…. the power our identity has over our bodies themselves…. Sugar pills… the placebo effect…. What we believe, what we strive for, what we see ourselves as… our bodies to some extent begin to react to that.

Now I mean there is a limit… believe me… I hit it and it wasn’t pretty…. But at the same time, I think this has a bigger effect on our world than we give it credit for

The Trick of Reality

Reality is like a slight of hand magic trick.

You can spend months wracking your brain over how it works, but then the moment you learn the trick, it takes only a few seconds to explain.

In the same way, in reality, we wonder how things work. Why things are the way we are. We ponder and mull over terms for hours, days, months, and years… but when we finally come across an answer, we realize how stupidly simple it was all along. In fact, even a child could understand it if they knew the answer.

With each answer we gain however, new questions appear as other questions in life are affected by each answer we gain. The more answers we see, the broader our scope of the big picture we can see as each puzzle piece we gain fits in a variety of places. This is how we grow, by building one piece on top of another, and letting our understanding of the world grow broader and broader.

The answers we gain we then teach to our children, and to students in school. They are given the collection of answers we struggled through life to gain so that they can start with a far larger picture than we started with, and can hopefully go farther than we were able to.

But realize that giving the answers alone is not enough to help you move forward in life. If you catch on that a magician draws your attention to his right hand to hide the object in his left, all he has to do is draw your attention to the left hand to bring back the illusion again.

If we are satisfied to simply learning the answers those who came before us have discovered, we will be stuck as a world, unable to move forward, and potentially sliding backwards. We learn through the trials of discovery even more than through the discovery of answers.

To KNOW how a trick is done, and to be able to UNDERSTAND how a trick works are two very different things. In the same way, the ability to KNOW what those before us have discovered throughout their lives, and to be able to UNDERSTAND how they got there and why they think that way are two very different things that hold an important distinction.

If you spend your life thinking that “Being smart” is simply being able to catch up with the information that those who came before us learned, you misunderstand the purpose of knowledge. We learn what was discovered before us, not so that we will be able to live our lives without thinking ourselves, but instead so that we have a head start allowing us to move farther ahead than we could have without.

Remember, those who came before us did not know everything, and you do not know everything as well! Reality is vast and our perceptions of it so small. Don’t rely solely on what others have accomplished to find your path forward. You have the ability to observe yourself! Use that ability to observe the world around you and start to uncloud the parts of the world we have yet to discover!