Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Here am I. Send me.

This morning, I noticed a passage of Scripture on my desk which I had written down from a sermon presented by Charles Stanley.

When I went to the passage, I thought how appropriate and significant it is for this blog. Lately, there have been many posts here by a non-believer whose unequivocal stated goal is similar to satan's; to kill, steal and destroy those who have genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:19 (KJV) -
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Mat 6:20
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Mat 6:21
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Mat 6:22
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Mat 6:23
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness!

Here is the NLT version of Matthew 6:19-23:

19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.
22 "Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. 23 But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

Did any readers here see "The Passion of the Christ"? Remember the part where Mel Gibson depicts satan as an androgenous being? This being was not portrayed as visually ugly (as many devil depictions typically are portrayed), but it was shown to be attractive, inviting, seductive, subtle and waiting in the background to tempt, capture and deceive. Except for one thing. We see that there is something wrong when a slithering snake suddenly appears from inside the nose and then just as suddenly slithers back again into the hiding place where it cannot openly been seen or detected.

This was a great illustration of how evil works.

Unlike the obvious evil of the terrorists attacks, much evil is done gradually, seductively, as the Matthew passage states, "23 But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!"

Notice that the light is first shut out, and then the evil eye plunges one into darkness. Notice what Jesus says next, "If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

Those who have goal(s) opposite of what Jesus teaches are not open and receptive to the Gospel message; they are intent on destroying it. Through their mind's eye, being steeped in deception, they see their own intent as "good" and Bible believing followers of Christ as "evil". Isaiah has a lot to say about such deception and intent to destroy God's Word

Isa 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Isa 5:22 Woe unto [them that are] mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink

Isa 5:23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

Isa 5:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, [so] their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

When people do not carefully observe the distinction between good and evil, destruction soon follows. The typical mantra today by the relativistic liberal God ignoring crowd is one that states, "No one can decide for anyone else what is really right or wrong." They may think that getting drunk or taking illicit drugs can't hurt them. They may think that fornication, extramarital sex, homosexual sex, pornography, abortion etc. isn't really wrong. They may think that the love of money doesn't control them. But when we make excuses for our actions, we break down the distinction between right and wrong. If we do not take God's Word, the Bible, as our standard, soon all moral choices will appear fuzzy. Without God, we are headed for a breakdown and much suffering.

The people in Isaiah's day suffered because they rejected God's law. It is really sad, today, to see so many people searching for meaning in their lives while scorning and rejecting the very thing (God's Word) and Person (Jesus Christ) that gives their lives meaning, now and in eternity!

Non-believers don't realize or recognize God's greatness, mystery, and power. In Isaiah 6:1-4, Isaiah presents his lofty view of God. He shows that he recognizes his sinfulness, confesses it before God and this in turn encourages us to confess our sin. Isaiah's picture of forgivenss reminds us that we, too, are forgiven when we accept God's provision for that forgiveness:

Romans 10:9 (KJV) - That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

When we recognize how great our God is, how sinful we are and how utterly powerless we are to conquer that sin in our lives, we see the extent of God's forgiveness and we receive the pwer to do his work.

Notice that in a time of moral and spiritual decay when depravity had peaked, Isaiah saw God in his holiness. Holiness means morally perfect, pure, and set apart from all sin. We also need to discover God's holiness! What typically keeps us from discovering His holiness? Society's pressures, our daily stress and frustrations, our shortcomings, tendency to sin and pride of self reduce and narrow our view of God. We need the Bibles' view of God as high and lifted up to empower us to deal with our problems and concerns. God's moral perfection, properly seen (as through the Person of Jesus Christ) will purify us from sin, and when allowed, the Holy Spirit within will cleanse our minds from our problems and enable us to worship and serve.

It is only then, when sin is purged from the soul and forgiveness bestowed by God that a person is enabled to worship and serve.

Isa 6:6 -
Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, [which] he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

Isaiah 6:7 -
And he laid [it] upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Isaiah 6:8 -
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here [am] I; send me.

Before we can accept God's call to speak for him to those around us, we must be cleansed just as Isaiah was, confessing our sins and submitting to God's control. Letting God purify us may be painful, but we must be purified so that we can truly represent God, who is pure and holy. In fact, Isaiah reveals how aware Isaiah became of his own powerlessness and inadequacy to do anything of lasting value without God.

Isaiah 6:5 - Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

But he was willing to be God's spokesman. When God calls, will you also say, "Here am I. Send me!" ?

Michael W. Smith - Here I Am

From the album, " Healing Rain ."

There’s a place where I can go
Where the angels hear me pray
“I want to change, yes I need Your touch”

I’m waiting here for You
And I fall, at Your feet
I’ll give it all, until the day we meet

Chorus:

Here I am
Ready to give up my life for the One

Here I am
Ready to pour out my heart for the Son

Here I am
Here I come to Your threshing floor
Where the angels fear to tread
I’m waiting here for the King of love
And to hold the hands that bled

And I fall, at Your feet
I’ll give it all, until the day we meet

5 comments:

Thomas said...

Lately, there have been many posts here by a non-believer whose unequivocal stated goal is similar to satan's; to kill, steal and destroy those who have genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

Hmm, I hope think this isn't about me. I don't recall unequivocally stating any goal of killing, stealing (?), or otherwise destroying Christians. I'm a Liberal, Christine, of the classical, nineteenth-century variety, and one of my core beliefs is that people shouldn't be killed for any reason, and more generally folks ought not to persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Again, you bring Mr. Satan to it. You forget, dear, that we atheists no more believe in the Devil than we do in God -- although as Christopher Hitchens has said, there's a bit more empirical evidence for Satan. I for one blush to have my motives compared to a cartoon villain, though it all fits in very nicely with your looney-tunes belief system. Observe the key component of a totalitarian world-view: the dehumanization and literal demonization of your opponents.

You claim: "The typical mantra today by the relativistic liberal God ignoring crowd is one that states, 'No one can decide for anyone else what is really right or wrong.'" Well I ignore God(s) with the best of them, but I don't recognize this doctrine as my own. I do believe in fundamental, universal moral axioms, and that among these are respect for the autonomy of others, and concern for the welfare of others. I believe with Kant that a love of reason and a love for humanity inspire one to a moral life. A moral life is one that inspires joy and not fear. I believe violence is wrong. I believe tyranny is wrong. I believe poverty and iniquity and social oppression are all moral crimes. I'm not afraid of stating my beliefs, because I believe they are well grounded; at any rate, they better grounded than the petty excuses that people make for selfish or tyrannical actions.

Religion, but more specifically your fundamentalist breed of Christianity, tends to muddy the issues. Far from imposing a moral rigidity on the world, Yahweh/Elohim commands his people not to kill at one moment, and at another to massacre the Canaanites. Jesus puts forth the excellent doctrine of turning the other cheek, but then elsewhere commands his followers to sell their clothing and buy a sword. A liberal, humane, intelligent, and informed reading of the Bible has spurred many good people onwards to even greater acts of goodness; but a literal sectarian point of view leads men and women to condemn that which is good and uphold that which is evil, and inspires above all a bewildering confusion in the face of the contradictions. This feeling subsides, generally, and most orthodox denominations of churches retain that which is convenient for supporting the established order and ignore that which would require financial sacrifice.

But what can I say? I'm afraid you're starting to lose it, Christine. I mean, first I'm satanic, then I'm androgynous, and finally I have a little snake crawling out of my nose? It would be horrible if true, but thankfully I have little to fear from fantasies cribbed from that self-appointed Doctor of Theology and producer of charmless sado-masochistic pornography, Mel Gibson.

Anyway, thanks for the laughs, Christine. I must get back to my lair, in order to listen to the satanic chords of Johan Sebastian Bach, and enjoy the demonic writings of Iris Murdoch. Take care.

Christinewjc said...

Thomas,

My time is limited this morning so rather than spend time searching for your previous comments, I will simply say that as I recall, you told me (paraphrased here)that since your ideology differs greatly from mine, you intend to fight the religious right through supporting causes, legislation, and the courts that would advance your particular ideology and so-called "rights" to the detriment of the Christian Bible-based ideals as well as the original intent of our Constitution. Perhaps I worded it incorrectly. What I meant was that you (possible gay activist?), and others like you, as non-believers are intent on killing, stealing and destroying the ideals, moral values and ethics, free speech and freedom of association that Christians hold dear in their lives through their genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

Thomas: "and more generally folks ought not to persecuted for their religious beliefs."

The current homosexual "marriage" rights agenda and the accompanying mantra to punish and/or destroy churches who hold up Biblical morals on these issues ARE a form of persecution for our religious beliefs! You deny this? If the U.S. follows the same route into moral decay and spiritual oblivion that is currently happening in places like Scandinavia, Canada, and Spain, I see the plunge into deeper moral depravity as imminent. These signs are prophesied in Jude and Revelation so it is no surprise to Biblically literate Christians. But we are called to stand up for Christ in this increasingly morally depraved and spiritually dying world. We are to stand firm and preach the Gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit until the very end. And, we born-again, evangelical Christians intend to do so.

You listen to the likes of Christopher Hitchens? That certainly explains a lot!! Anyway, you can choose whom you want to believe in (or not believe in) and whom you listen to (or not listen to) and whom you follow (or not follow) for that is your God-given free will right to exercise; even if you don't believe in God. Jesus walked this earth and had conversations with satan as recorded in Scripture. Are you claiming that Jesus was a liar when he spoke of, and directly to, satan in those encounters? Most skeptics know better than to doubt that the Person of Jesus Christ actually existed in history. The Biblical accounts of his death by crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and subsequent sightings by the disciples and over 500 other people cannot be refuted, and, according to Simon Greenleaf, would win an affirmative verdict in a court of law based on the evidence shared within the Gospel accounts as well as several secular accounts (e.g. Josephus). Jesus doesn't give us a half-hearted choice when answering his question, "who do you say that I am?" As C.S. Lewis put it, he is either a liar, lunatic or Lord. But we must choose which of those three to believe. Your namesake Thomas was known as the doubting Thomas. Yet, even he concluded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Morality is built in by God. If there was no such thing as moral absolutes, then we would not be able to make moral judgments. The question is, where did these moral absolutes come from? The further question on this is how to determine such moral absolutes with the mantra of moral relativism? There are some moral situations that cannot be negotiated, no matter how one tries to relativize them. An example by Christian Apologist Greg Koukl is evident when asking the question, "Is it ever right to torture babies for fun?"

All of the things that you stated as "wrong"...why are they wrong? Who or what sets the standard? I'm sure you can spout all the philosophical claims you have studied, but where have such claims come from? We could take it further and discuss if all these things are wrong, why do they exist in this world? Furthermore, what is the answer to the sin problem that continually purports such things throughout history? Why is each individual heart of man "deceitful above all things; who can know it?"

Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 - He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. You don't like what he says about non-believers? Take it up with Him!

The depiction in the film of the androgynous creature was not about you, Thomas. I was describing Gibson's use of poetic license (it was a movie...ya know) to illustrate the presence, nature, intent, deception, and evil of the being known as satan.

Take another look at Jesus' words in the Matthew verse. There is NO INBETWEEN on this issue and where one stands once this short life on earth is over. You seem to be comfortable with the current state of your soul. So be it. I will continue to pray for you to have a change of heart.

Thomas said...

Christine, Christine, you've got me misunderstood! Listen, I disagree with you, ok? Big deal. We take opposite sides of the debate in the so-called culture war. So what? I have an argument and I use words to express it. That's all I have. I do not believe in using the government to silence my critics, steal their property, break up their churches, or whatever else it is that you're worried about. I do believe in gay marriage, honey, because I have a really sweet boyfriend, and the two of us would like a little peace of mind should any thing ever happen to one of us. The rights implied by marriage make life a little bit more secure. No one's going to force you to marry a lesbian, and my wedding shouldn't really cost you a dime. So let's see: that makes it none of your business. But if you a disagreement, fine. If you don't want to marrry yucky gay people in your church, fine. No one's going to send in the Red Guard to burn down your house of worship. I'm a card carrying member of the ACLU. If any government thugs ever interfered with your happy little den of enthusiasts, I would stage a protest.

How exactly have Scandinavia and Canada plunged into moral decay? They seem like very nice places to me -- you wouldn't believe how kind and polite Canadians can be. Some people believe that moral virtue can be found in fairness and charity and freedom, not in strictly applying the taboos and neuroses of Bronze Age wandering shepherdsto the modern world.

"You listen to the likes of Christopher Hitchens? That certainly explains a lot!!" What exactly does that explain? Hitchens has become a bit of a neo-con in his old age, and I certainly don't agree with him on the war in Iraq, or on the Bush administration, or on many other things. But he despises Islamic terrorists for a perfectly sensible reason, in that they are religious fanatics attempting to impose a hideous theocracy on the world, and one needs to stand up to that sort of thing. I think he's a brilliant writer, and so I can't help but read what he has to say, even if it gives me a headache sometimes. You'll find you can like some of what people do, with approving of all of it.

Which brings us to Jesus. You know that I adore much of what that amiable man had to say about life, and I pity him for the cruel way he was put to death. I do say that there is a fair chance he was a bit of a lunatic, and the basis of some of the claims attributed to him (see John 3). Lunacy and moral genius are commonly found to coexist, so we shouldn't be surprised.

However, if Jesus was just a touch batty, it's a sure thing that his followers were raving lunatics, if not also liars to boot. "Liar" is a strong accusation, and I shy away from it, because it requires me to know the state of the mind of another speaker. If someone says a falsehood, but believes it to be true, then he is not a liar, but merely wrong, or maybe nuts. There are instances where one of the gospel writers must have been wrong, because they contradict themselves for instance, does Judas drop dead in a field, or does he hang himself?
The authors also claim Mary was a virgin at birth, something for which they could have had no possible evidence. As for 500 people witnessing the resurrection, well, we have it from one textual source that 500 people saw it, meaning really that we only have one witness, the author of that text. I can write a book claiming that 500 people saw Elvis walk on water, but unless those 500 people also give sworn testimony to that effect, my account is forceless.

You bring up the admirable St. Thomas. I like him because he did not merely believe, but demanded proof. I have no reason to believe the story to be true, but it is a nice one. If I ever had a direct encounter with Jesus, then I might believe. I might want to have my brain checked out first, but if the tests came back clear, sure, I'd be a believer. A close friend of mine claims to have met God face to face, and therefore he believes; what can I say to that? Only that it did not happen to me, so there is no way I can say that he did not merely have a night of poor digestion, or a wishful dream. If it happens to me, I'll let you know, but such evidence would not be compelling to any skeptical other. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I haven't heard of any yet.

life's journey said...

Thomas that dress and corset underneath must be affecting the blood flow to your brain. Speaking of looney tunes, one need only see your image next to christinewjc's, and it speaks volumes. You poor soul, all of your wisdom, so-called, is utter foolishness with God. Your Al Frankenstein liberalism, moral irrelativism and prideful humanism are mere idolatry. You worship and serve Thomas.

We worship the Creator. We were made in the image of God. If you choose to believe you evolved from a tadpole in a slime pit, well now that may explain at all. Open your brain, read the new testament and try to prove it wrong. I dare you. Lee Strobel {a former Thomas} set out to do just that and my what a changed man and prolific Christian apologist he is today. Maybe pick up the book The Case for Christ. It may even get you out of that silly victorian dress and into a shirt and tie like a real man - that is if you are a man (one never knows now - do one?)

And Tommie the only ones who are are laughing are laughing at you. That laughter though accompanies godly tears for a cold heart for a immature fool who despises the one who formed him in the womb. One day you will know the truth and I pray then it won't be too late. Well enough casting of my precious pearls. Good will always win over evil. Why fight a losing battle? We know then end of the book.

Thomas said...

Oh, Life's Journey, you're such a cad. Don't worry, dear, they abolished the corset years ago. I wander about in a loose-fitting dress, adorned with that marvelous necklace of precious pearls that you gave me. I'm a modern woman, a real 1920's flapper. Hey, it's the internet, and I can dress how I want to.

"We worship the Creator. We were made in the image of God."

Isn't that a lovely idea! It must be wonderful to think that you're so divinely planned, with your miraculous ability to laugh and drop godly tears at the same time. I'm still trying to scrape the pond scum off my gills, and here you are fluttering about the heavens with your pretty angel wings. I'm afraid I can't be quite as witty as you, dear, so why don't I read you a passage from that great American, Mark Twain -- it's from his "Letters from the Earth":

This is a strange place, and extraordinary place, and interesting. There is nothing resembling it at home. The people are all insane, the other animals are all insane, the earth is insane, Nature itself is insane. Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at is worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity calls himself the "noblest work of God." This is the truth I am telling you. And this is not a new idea with him, he has talked it through all the ages, and believed it. Believed it, and found nobody among all his race to laugh at it.

Moreover -- if I may put another strain upon you -- he thinks he is the Creator's pet. He believes the Creator is proud of him; he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes, and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to Him, and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea? Fills his prayers with crude and bald and florid flatteries of Him, and thinks He sits and purrs over these extravagancies and enjoys them. He prays for help, and favor, and protection, every day; and does it with hopefulness and confidence, too, although no prayer of his has ever been answered. The daily affront, the daily defeat, do not discourage him, he goes on praying just the same. There is something almost fine about this perseverance. I must put one more strain upon you: he thinks he is going to heaven!


You put me up to a challenge, LJ, so I think it's only fair to offer you one. I'll read your preferred fantasy novel and disprove it if you read the new Harry Potter and prove none of it happened. That there's no Harry, no Hermione, no Hogwarts, and no Hagrid. And I mean prove it prove it. I want a typed-manuscript full of neat diagrams, calculations, and a big fat Q.E.D. on my desk by Tuesday.

If non-fiction's more your thing, how's about "The Blind Watchmaker," by Richard Dawkins? If you could read that books and disprove it, you'd be an instant millionaire and a hero amongst all your Christian friends. I warn you though -- some earnest Christians have read that book and walked away as filthy atheists! Just like me! In no time, you'll be wandering around New York with a over-sized dress and an armful of flowers -- just like me!

"Good will always win over evil. Why fight a losing battle? We know then end of the book."

I haven't read it yet, so don't tell me! But let me guess -- is Jesus going to come this close to putting the Ring on, only to have Satan leap forth, bite his finger off, and fall into the fire with it? And then poor old John the Baptist has to carry Him back to the Shire? I think I saw the movie version.