World War I 100 Years Later and Links to Christianity

World War I began 100 years ago this year. Many notable battles will have their 100th anniversary the next few years.

I do not know much about WWI, so I got a book from the library and have begun to read about it. Have learned some stuff, and also found fodder for thoughts on Christianity.

1) WWI is marked by trench warfare. Defensive lines separated by no-man’s-land stretched for miles on multiple fronts.

This all gives me flashbacks to many moments I’ve had in churches over the years. There were times I was in one of the trenches, lobbing death to the other side, only to realize everyone is dying. Other times I was in no man’s land, wondering what do now. Fight or run?

Be entrenched in Christ. Let everything else go. Not worth the fight.

2) Germany and prisoners of war. Russia backed out of the WWI and were the first major enemy of Germany to call it quits. The Russian government was in turmoil and they were not providing adequately for their troops. The Germans were treating Russian POW’s quite well, at least feeding them. It actually made sense to many Russians to go eat with the Germans than continue to fight for a country who wasn’t feeding them.

When we do good to our enemies, they often give up. WWII was a different story. Germany was excessively hostile to POW’s. Russia didn’t give up in WWII. Germany got it handed to them. Giving a cold drink to your enemy works.

3) Non-Christian Europe. Americans like to blather on about the downfall of European Christianity. This is somewhat ironic since America aint doing so hot itself. Americans also miss the fact that Europe has been blasted to pieces two times in the last one hundred years. Almost two generations were killed, many of them men. Households with no houses, property, nor bread-winning men, struggle.

Europe went through hell a few times. They know tough times. There is no way these tough times could not effect their psyche. All the death, bloodshed, and destruction the survivors saw had to make them doubt. Is it any wonder that the fallout of all this evil is a place that doubts the existence of God? Not that this is an excuse, but it is a reason, often missed by comfortable Americans. Not to mention the evil, godless rulers that took over in the voids of confusion left by war. Very sad.

My Darling Soul

Two times the Psalmist refers to his soul as his “darling.”

I find that intriguing.

The word “darling” in the Hebrew is a word that means, “only, solitary, by implication–beloved.”

It’s the only one he has, thus it becomes beloved, precious, his darling. Sometimes lovers call each other “darling,” implying you are precious because you are my only one.

This seems out of place to say this about ourself. It sounds arrogant or selfish.

However, when you consider how many things the Bible has to say about your soul, when was the last time you thought about it?

Our body gets most of our attention. We constantly work and fight to get what it needs for health hand comfort. It has a way of consuming a life. We live as though our body were our darling.

But the Psalmist is concerned about his soul, his only one that will last for eternity.

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Don’t worry about the body as much as the soul. Yet many chuck the soul stuff and go for the stuff of the body, which is why Jesus asks, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The soul is precious. The soul is eternal. The body is precious in its own way, but it is also temporal, so not as precious as the soul.

Which is your life lived for?

Jesus said, “I Pray Not for the World”

In John 17 Jesus is praying to His Father about His disciples. In the midst of the prayer He says these intriguing words.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

Jesus does not pray for the world.

I find that fascinating.

We spend much time being concerned for the world, for our nation, and for things of this world. Jesus did not. He came to die that He might deliver us from this world.

One main difference between Jesus and us is that for us, this world is all we know, therefore, we tend to think it’s pretty awesome and worth preserving.

Jesus knows heaven. He knows creation before sin messed it up. Jesus has a low view of this world. He wants what is better than this world because He knows what that means.

Jesus does not pray to have this world preserved; He prays for His people in this world that THEY would be preserved.

I don’t think this means we can’t pray for unbelievers to be saved. Paul, after all, prayed for the salvation of Israel.

In another fascinating passage Jesus says, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

We are not praying to do the labor, nor to send laborers. We are praying that the Lord will send forth laborers. I imagine the precise wording means something.

I wonder if our view of the unsaved is skewed more by our flesh than by God’s view of things? These are issues that deserve some thought, and there are, of course, many other relevant verses.

I offer few answers but plenty of questions! Don’t be afraid to think on them.

Instead of Wondering if your Dead Dog Will be in Heaven, Maybe you Should Wonder if You Will Be In Heaven

There are times when reading the Bible where I sit back and think, “Wow, really? Is anyone making it to heaven?”

This was, in fact, the response that people had to much of Jesus’ teaching.

When Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, He was met with “Who then can be saved?”

One of His listeners asked, “Lord, are there few that be saved?His answer was, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” In other words: yup, few are saved.

Jesus said at one point, “when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Even Jesus doesn’t think heaven will be highly populated.

All this is ironic when each of us assumes that our kids are saved, and all our dead relatives are in heaven, and, of course, everyone in our church is good to go (although we do know those Catholics are in trouble).

Ever since we “said the prayer” we ceased to consider whether we were saved. Of course I am. If I’m not, who would be?

Rather than consider who we are in light of God’s Word, or the person of Christ, we compare ourselves to others. “Well, that guy is in heaven and he was a jerk, so I’m good.” The reality is that we have no idea who is in heaven.

When you consider seriously what God’s Word asks of us and then analyze what our lives are filled with, what expectation should we have of heaven?

However, you can just call me a legalist, or trump my case with some theological theory about the words of Christ being for first century Jews, and don’t worry about it.

But, when was the last time you actually listened to God’s Word and let it do a number on ya?

When was the last time you trembled?

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

On Bashing Legalism

Christians like to bash on legalism. “Legalism” is an interesting word, one never used in the Bible. When people call others “legalistic,” it’s hard to tell what they mean exactly.

For most, it seems that “legalism” is defined as “keeping rules.” Christians like to talk about grace and liberty, and avoid rule-talk like the plague.

However, let it be noted, avoiding rules thus becomes a rule. I have met many a grace-fanatic who had just as much legalism than those they accused of being legalistic.

Tell a grace-fanatic you read the Sermon on the Mount and you’ll find out right quick how legalistic they are! I thought we had liberty to read what we wanted?

Here’s a quote I saw on the internets the other day by a guy bashing legalism. This is said snarkily, using sarcasm.

“Do you want to be loved of Christ? Do you want to be loved of the Father? The Lord Jesus said ‘well, keep my rules.'”

The snarky point is this: we just love Christ and you can’t do that by rule following.

I will grant the point that following someone’s rules does not mean that you love them. No argument there. However, here is where many go off the deep end.

Apparently, to many “non-legalists,” since we love Jesus we don’t have to follow His rules.

Unfortunately, the Bible is a pesky book, always throwing stuff in there to keep you from goofy extremes, if you let it.

Speaking of love, Jesus once said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

So, there you go! Jesus loves us. He proved it by dying for us. The End. No rules.

Until you read the very next verse, which says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Make sure you get that one. A conclusion easily drawn from these two verses is that Jesus didn’t lay down His life for people who don’t keep His commandments. People who don’t keep His commandments show they have no interest in understanding or benefiting from the death of Christ.

I know this is inconvenient to your theories about grace and legalism, but alas, He who brought grace and truth done said it.

Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John said that those who love God keep His commandments and His commandments are not grievous.

No, you don’t get saved by works. We are saved by God’s grace when we respond through faith. Faith means hearing God’s Word, which is more than whether or not your ears work. Faith is acting on God’s Word as shown by Hebrews 11 and many other passages.

When you love God, you don’t mind obeying Him. Anyone who fights the command to obey God is revealing they lack love for Him. We know God loves us, therefore, we need not fear obeying Him.

Come alive to that, the liberty of obedience to Christ. Drop the legalism charge, there are very few legalists in the world, they aren’t the biggest problem facing us.

Faith works. Go let your faith work.

Is Ebola God’s Judgment on America? 8 Points

I was waiting for it, and now I need wait no more!

I heard a Christian propose the theory that Ebola has entered the US because of our acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

Ah yes. It used to be just weirdos made these “God is judging you” statements, but now it seems everyone must jump aboard the judgment bandwagon.

Here’s the deal, I don’t think so. Here are the main reasons why I don’t think God is judging ‘Merica with Ebola.

1) When God judged nations it was rather devastating. Thousands of people normally died, like 20,000’s of people. This was in nations that numbered over a couple million people. Percentage wise, huge swaths of the nation were wiped out. If America were going through similar judgment, you would expect a million or so people to die. As far as I know, one guy has died from Ebola in the US. And he wasn’t gay.

2) God announced His judgment. There was no guesswork when God was judging. People know. God has a way of getting His points across.

3) Guessing God’s judgment has been wrong before. One of the ways God announced His judgment is through faithful prophets who were always right because they directly spoke for God. They were never wrong. There was no guessing. No revisions of prophecies to fit reality. Typically the prophets predicted judgment was coming. God is willing to forgive. He announces judgment that people might repent so He can then not judge.

4) Judgment is God’s strange work. This is stated in Isaiah 28. God would rather pardon than judge. Judgment is rare, not something He does all the time. Katrina, tornadoes, 9/11, Ebola, and who knows how many other disasters have been attributed to God’s judgment. People who make these statements believe that judgment is God’s favorite thing to do. He can hardly stop Himself from judging in a multitude of ways. They believe judgment is God’s typical work.

5) People who feel God is judging others are people who are not effected by that particular malady. Humans are excellent at feeling superior. Pride is our worst fault. It’s fun to note others who are suffering and rejoice because we aren’t, and then conclude that we must be better, that God likes us best. This is one reason why Jesus had nothing but venom for Pharisees. Yet here we are, being more like Pharisees than Jesus.

6) Judgment is usually on sin the hopeful judger is not guilty of. Why are Katrina, 9/11, and Ebola all judgments against homosexuality and not against lying or gossip or other sins the Bible talks about a lot more? I know, Sodom and Gomorrah. But hey, read the OT. The demise of Israel was largely because they worshiped God with a wrong heart.

7) If the sufferings of others is God’s judgment, I don’t have to help them. If we spent more time loving people than judging them, we might be better off. Most Christians feel guilt over how useful they are to others. We know we’re supposed to be nice and loving, compassionate and caring, but it’s so hard and messy. We can let ourselves off the hook if we conclude that God caused their suffering. Don’t want to undo what God has done, amen?!

8) Poor understanding of Covenants on display. The large portion of people who look at disasters as being God’s judgment against homosexuals are also people who theologically don’t see a difference between Israel and the Church. They tend to look at the Church as having replaced Israel. Israel Part 2, if you will. There is also a tendency to see America as new Israel. All in all, there is very bad biblical understanding of God’s special plan for the nation of Israel and how He intervened in their history.

The Church needs to spend more time in the Book of Job. You don’t want to be Job’s friends, analyzing others and their problems.

Next time you feel like telling a sufferer that God is judging them: It is sometimes those who are suffering who are the most pleasing to God.

Christians: Stop Trying to Fix People!

I was recently asked, “How else can I encourage you?”

I felt bad because “else” implies I was previously encouraged by this individual and apparently I missed that.

There is a pompousness to many Christians. It’s the Spiritual Guru mentality.

“I have it all figured out. Allow me to fix you and point out the faults you don’t know you have but I can clearly point out in you based on the four minutes of conversation we’ve had together in all our lifetime.”

This attitude was one of the things that irritated me most about Christian college and Seminary. Around every corner lurked some spiritual guy who wanted to fix me.

Good Lord, man, I’m just walking to Intro. to Sociology class, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

No matter how much you try to deflect their questions and send very clear signals you want nothing more to do with the psycho-analyzation process, they use your words against you.

“Oh, I see by your discomfort that my questions have revealed your inner pride that is causing Jesus to not be able to use you in a greater way.”

It is always amazing to me how these guys with all their insight can’t read body language and dismissive sarcasm.

And, woe unto you if you run into a Charismatic with the “gift of prophecy.” Talk about a sarcasm dead zone.

Pharisees always know everyone’s problems and their solutions. They are more than happy to tell you what is wrong with you, to let you know how many things you’ve done wrong. They can also let you know how you can fix them by telling you how awesomely they fixed themselves.

“Be ready always to give an answer” is in the Bible. So is, “foolish and unlearned questions avoid.”

Don’t run around the country looking for people to fix. Don’t run around asking testing questions to gain the upper hand in analyzing problems.

Jesus Christ is the Great Physician, you’re just another patient in His ward. Humble up. Let’s walk with each other, not trip each other.