Tuesday, August 27, 2002

1 Corinthians 1:27

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."
1 Corinthians 1:27

My students just turned their "Who Am I" papers, and I was grading them this weekend.  One of the guys in my class wrote about how he has finally discovered who he is, and how he was finally free of the religion that had been brainwashing him since he was small.  One of his lines was "I am God of my life."  He's a brilliant kid... and I admire the fact that he feels that he has some power in his life... but I also believe in God.  How do you reconcile things like that?  I think it is interesting that the Lord doesn't fight us on our own turf. :)  If we have intellectual reasons for doubting him, he'll throw us with a sunrise.  If we have bitter resentment feeding us, he'll have a child ask us an innocent question.  The world is so much bigger than we see... there is so much evidence out there that we have yet to confront.  Perhaps the reason that God wants us to live good, long lives is so that we can be confronted with more and more evidence, and find the way that God and ourselves both exist, without canceling each other out. :) The young man in my class thinks that if he has control of his life that there is no God... but I need God in order to control my own fate.  Now, I'm off to see the sunrise. :)

Saturday, August 17, 2002

2 Peter 3:11

"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?"
2 Peter 3:11

This chapter is talking about the last days... when the elements will melt and the earth and the works therein shall be burned up. :)  I think that it helps me to get perspective sometimes to read about this, because I dwell a lot on the things of this earth... and my priorities for the most part are things that will dissolve... or, to be completely honest, perhaps for the most part I hide behind things of this world, trying to avoid the things of eternity. :)   In any event, my focus should be on things that will matter in the long run, rather than anything that only affects now.  Hard to do... hard to lift our eyes sometimes, hard to focus on things farther away, or get excited by things that you can't always see very well.  However, thinking about all the things that will be dissolved... what will be left between ourselves and eternity.  Absolutely nothing to impede our view. :)  Let's try to be the manner of person that trusts in things that won't dissolve. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Acts 27:23-25

"For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."
Acts 27:23-25

If you haven't read the Paul shipwreck story in this chapter, it is a good one. :)  I like this set of verses not just because it is a good example of faith, which it is, but because Paul believes God even when all other pieces of evidence are screaming that they are doomed.  They had lost all hope several verses before this, and then an angel comes and tells Paul not to worry... and he tells the rest of the people on the boat (over 200) not to worry... that they would all live and be fine, but they would lose the ship. Now if you are in an ocean with water everywhere, the last thing you want to hear is that your only safety, the ship, is going to be gone... but they were slightly encouraged, and listened to what Paul said, because he was the one with hope. :)  Two things: first, wouldn't it be cool to always be the one with hope to offer?  And secondly, how many times does the Lord tell us that things are going to be alright... we'll lose the ship but not our lives, and we don't listen because we don't find the answer acceptable?  We want the ship AND our lives, and you know, if we have to choose... probably the ship. :)  We're kind of scary like that sometimes.  We have this obsessive need for the familiar, for the known.  So, when God tells us that we'll be fine, we just have to experience a little of the unknown, we panic. Sure, God says it is better, and so maybe it is... maybe it is all fun and games, but really... I'd rather just stay here.  The unknown is frightening. :)  The thing is, what amazing things are we passing up sitting huddled in the ship, trying to pretend we aren't going to crash?  Are we barricading the door against the greatest things that life has to offer?  Today, maybe we can let go of the ship, and look forward to the life that we have been granted... wherever it takes us next.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

John 3:20-21

"For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
John 3:20-21

I wonder if all of our instincts to hide mean that we are going away from the light, and it's only when we are proud of our accomplishments and willing to share them with others freely that we are walking in the right path.  It's an interesting way to look at and evaluate life... what are we willing to share with others, and what not?  What are we ashamed of, and what do we only reveal to a select group that will "understand?"  Do we change topics or speech patterns depending on the company?  Do we change who we are depending on what people will think?  Someday, I think, when we have nothing at all to hide from anyone, we will have come completely to God.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Daniel 12:3

"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
Daniel 12:3

Building on yesterday's scripture, which talked about being resurrected to life or shame... happiness or misery, this seems to talk about other choices that we make.  If we choose to learn, and gain wisdom, we'll be shiny :), and if we help others to choose righteousness, then we'll be even shinier.  Light, truth... the more of it the better, right? :)  Yesterday we talked about how we make the choices in our lives every day that lead us in one direction or another... and those choices also affect other people.  We can influence them towards happiness or misery, draw them closer to or further away from the truth... through our everyday conversation.  What we talk about, what we're excited about, what we love, what we believe in.  We affect each other, especially when there is affection or power involved in the relationship. And those things affect our eternities as well. If we helped a lot of people to be happy in this life, we'll have a great time together after our lives are over. If however, we contributed to the corruption of a lot of people, I imagine that our guilt and shame will only be worse.
The good thing about this story is Christ. Even if we have chosen straight misery for 40 years, and fed misery to our friends and family for as long, we still have a choice, because of Christ. We can turn around and start practicing happiness, and repent of our mistakes, and Christ will wipe the misery of a lifetime away, and let us start over with a clean slate. What matters is what we are choosing this minute, right now.  How we are influencing each other today.  We *can* change the past... by living well in the present.

Friday, August 9, 2002

Daniel 12:2

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Daniel 12:2

This is a little scary.  We know that everyone who came to earth will be resurrected to live forever... but the possibility that that forever could be miserable is kind of awful.  And the thing is, it isn't some arbitrary choice where God launches people at random into happiness or misery... it is our choice, and has been all along.  This earth life is where we get to choose one or the other... and our daily lives are the way that we choose. Do we feel and offer happiness to others through our choices, or do we find ourselves miserable, and pass on that misery to others?  Unfortunately, I know that I have done too much of the latter.  I need to make some better choices and find some happiness for myself that I can share with other people.  It is there... God doesn't ever leave us with only one option.  We get to choose, even on the worst days, whether to be happy or miserable, and make that choice stick.  We can ruin good days or salvage bad days. Something to think about today is how long we are going to choose misery. Eternity is before us, and I for one don't want to be miserable forever.

Thursday, August 8, 2002

Psalms 105:7-8

"He is the Lord our God: his judgments are in all the earth.
He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations."
Psalms 105:7-8

You know, sometimes I think that we personalize God too much.  Not that we shouldn't personalize him at all... I think we need to be able to relate to him, and talk to him, and understand him as much as possible... but sometimes we go too far trying to relate to God and we attribute weaknesses to him, similar to the ones we have.  It is an easy thing to do... we try to understand everything in some way in the same context we understand ourselves.  I don't think that we understand ourselves very well most of the time, but it is the only way that we have of seeing.  As we understand ourselves more, then we are able to incorporate more things into our reality.  The thing is, we won't be able to understand God fully until we ourselves are perfect. :)  And, I don't know about you, but for me that is going to take a long, long time. :)  God is who we are, but without the veil covering our memories... with a perfect body that can never die, without any health problems... who can control his actions and thoughts perfectly, who uses 100% of his brain, who is more genius than any genius you can imagine... who can do any sport better than the Guinness record holder... you name it, God can do it. :)  Instead of assuming that he's made a mistake in our case, or that we're smarter than his stupid rules, maybe, just maybe, we should stop and try to figure out why he made the rule, or why our case is the way it is.  There is always a reason... whether we can see it or not, God knows what he is doing, and he's doing it perfectly.  We just have to work on getting to the point where we can understand the explanation.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Deuteronomy 32:20

"And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith."
Deuteronomy 32:20

This seems like a very interesting consequence... in this chapter the Lord has been leading the Children of Israel, and then they turn to other Gods and make sacrifices to devils instead... and so, as a consequence of this, God hides his face and waits to see what will happen to them without him.  It's a harsh consequence, actually... but if you think about it from a teaching point of view... getting the Israelites to understand the natural consequences of their actions is a good tactic.  And when we reject God, the natural consequence is that he no longer responds whenever we call on him... instead, we have to do some work in order to have him back in our lives.  We have to admit the truth first of all... that he is there, and that we need him.  Sometimes that is all it takes, and sometimes it takes some honesty about who we are and where we are going, and a determination to change our ways.  Mental effort, but sometimes incredibly difficult... especially for the Israelites here who had some faith problems. :)  And hard, too, for us when we have truly rejected God, because honesty and sincerity are paramount.  God knows if we are just asking him to pull us out of the fire and planning on forgetting him again the next day.  In some ways, I think the entire gospel is about honesty.  Being honest with yourself, God, and others... finding that truth in our lives that is sometimes hard to face.  Getting past the shallow half-truths that we tell ourselves to justify whatever it is that we want to do.  Finding the deeper truths and the deeper joys.

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Acts 19:18 -- On Beyond Belief

"And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds."
Acts 19:18

This shows us a little of what coming to Christ is all about.  It isn't just about coming, but also about letting go of other places. :)  We have to admit our imperfections and work on improving ourselves.  We can't come to Christ without being honest about who we are and what we are trying to be and accomplish.

Today, let's work not only on believing, but on honesty and openness and giving up everything that gets in the way of our dedication to God.

Monday, August 5, 2002

Isaiah 1:18 -- On God's Make Up Work

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:18

There is a student in one of my classes who is a member of a gang, and writes about scary things that happen to him every day.  It almost seems like that gang life is the only thing that he values.  But the other day I had my students all write a letter (practicing different kinds of formal writing) and he wrote about how he was in school because he realizes that he needs to change... he doesn't want to end up in jail for the rest of his life. 

He comes late, sometimes an hour late, every day... and turns everything in late, but I don't typically take points off because I don't want him to fail the class.  I mean, maybe he's fine, but the whole school thing seems almost like a lifeline to me... helping him to find something else, something better in life than just the gang.  And this scripture kind of reminded me of that today.

God is our teacher, and he knows that we show up late, and that we don't put all the effort we should into learning.  He knows we are crappy students, but he isn't going to kick us out of class or fail us, because he knows that we need this... we need him.  And so, he'll reason with us, and give us make up assignments (repentance), and work with us one on one, and do ANYTHING that he can, so that we can learn the basics and move on to the next class rather than fail, as we probably deserve most of the time.

No matter how bad we are, we can be clean and pure with God's help.  We can be in the last week of class with no points, and still, he'll help us make up the work, and work with us to learn the material.  There is *always* an alternative to sin, because God hangs in there with us, giving us a chance to come back and pass the class.  Not a perfect analogy, but something that I was thinking about today.

Sunday, August 4, 2002

2 Timothy 4:4

"And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
2 Timothy 4:4

It's funny how differently scriptures can strike you at different times.  Sometimes we look at scriptures from an outsider point of view... saying, yes... that is definitely a problem in the world, or *Wow* does my neighbor have THAT problem... things like that. :)  But then sometimes I think that the scriptures hit us on a personal level and crawl under our skin... and we look at something and say... that is me.  I think that is when we learn the most from the scriptures, when we see the application in our lives directly... when it helps us to see the problem, and then leads us to solve it.  It is tough to learn how to overcome problems that we haven't recognized in ourselves, or to change things about ourselves that we won't admit are impediments to progress.  We like to turn to fiction because we can always make ourselves the hero of the story, and we don't have to admit fault... but sometimes the truth is that we are at fault, and we need to change our ways.  Let's try to recognize those times and not get so wrapped up in our fictionalizing that we can't see the truth.

Saturday, August 3, 2002

Genesis 19:17

"And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed."
Genesis 19:17

I've always thought that the story of Lot's wife was kind of symbolic... about not looking to the past, but living in the present.  Not falling back into bad habits, that sort of thing... but reading about it today it seems a little bit different.  Today it reminds me of Indiana Jones running for his life in front of that gigantic boulder.  If he had stopped to look back at any point, he would have been run over and killed.  Still seems symbolic to me, just in a different way. :)  Maybe it is a warning that unless we take the Lord's path with speed, that our personal obstacles will have a chance to catch up with us, and overrun us from behind. :)  Escaping sin is like this I think... we have to run for our lives.

Friday, August 2, 2002

Mormon 9:19

"And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles."
Mormon 9:19

Why is it important that God is unchangeable?  I think it must be something that is part of the nature of being God.  Once you have attained perfection, you don't walk away from it.  You know how to avoid the pitfalls and traps of change.  No bad moods, no irrationality. :)  No wonder they call it heaven. :)  Perhaps today we can work on our own consistency, being good and nice for the whole day, not just 15 minutes. :)

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Luke 16:10

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."
Luke 16:10

This is interesting... sometimes I would like to believe that if it came down to something REALLY important, that I would then care more, and be more conscientious about my responsibilities, etc.  However, this verse kind of blows that theory right out of the water. :)  It's paying attention to the details that shows what you would do in a larger situation.  It's hard to be good at organizing your own business if you can't organize your stuff at home... and it's hard to face a gigantic challenge to your belief system if you don't handle the little everyday challenges.  Perhaps we should focus on the details today, so we'll be ready for the main topic later. :)

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