Got Faith?

What is faith – really?

What does it mean to have faith? What does it mean to be faithful? These are questions that each of us will deal with if we have any desire to know God, or a desire to pursue our definition of God.

The definition of personal faith in the Bible is (roughly) the substance of our hope (our assurance) in Jesus, in His bodily resurrection, and His presence and power in the unseen realm; faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

But then, Jesus asked this question of His disciples, regarding His return (commonly referred to as His Second Coming), “. . . when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The faith Jesus refers to is the whole body of revealed truth. In other words, will He find a people who embrace the whole of God’s revealed truth and walk by it, rejecting the worship of worldly passions? The converse is this – Will He find a people who know the truth but choose not to live it – who choose to reject those truths that interfere with the life they want to live? This condition within the Body of Christ is known as apostasy.

Scripture is clear that God is the source of all foundational truths, wisdom and knowledge. “. . . faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

To exclude Jesus, or even to try to marginalize Him, is to risk severe error – missing the mark entirely. Similar to the precision guidance necessary for a NASA launch to the Moon; if the scientists are off the mark by a fraction of a degree the trajectory could be off by thousands of miles in space. The Apostle Paul wrote, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” (Colossians 2:2-4)

If our belief system is not based on the foundational truths from God (like a ship’s anchor), we will find ourselves drifting far away from reality. You see, truth is NOT relative!

THANK YOU!

We are once again reminded of the extreme sacrifice of those who have pledged their lives to protect us. Emotional, financial, physical sacrifice of them and their families. We should not let the news of a few bad apples spoil the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, nor the respect of those on our streets today – still in harm’s way.

Make a point in this Christmas season to thank a police officer, fireman, or EMT. They deserve it.

Where Do We Begin?

Here’s an old story:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a scorpion needed to cross a pond. Wondering how he would get to the other side, he noticed a frog nearby.

“Mr. Frog, will you please hop me across this pond?”

Now the frog, who was kind and gentle, responded, “Certainly, Mr. Scorpion. I will be glad to do so.”

So Mr. Scorpion jumped onto Mr. Frog’s back as Mr. Frog hopped from pod to pod, bringing Mr. Scorpion to the other side of the pond.

But just as the frog said, “Well, Mr. Scorpion, here we are,” he felt an excruciating pain in his back. Mr. Scorpion had stung him.

As Mr. Frog lay dying, he looked up at Mr. Scorpion and said, “How could you do this? I brought you from one side of the pond to the other and now you sting me so that I die.”

Mr. Scorpion looked at Mr. Frog and said, “I can’t help it. It’s my nature.”

When we talk about the nature of something, we mean what is intrinsic to its being. When we talk about the nature of God, we speak of characteristics intrinsic to His being.

If you and I are going to have an intimate walk with God, we must understand His true nature.    

Tony Evans says, “God has been so misdefined, tragically redefined, and even dismissed that people do not understand His true nature.”

People operate in one realm thinking they know or understand God, when in fact they are completely off base. We must know God as He has revealed Himself, rather than how we wish He were.

We can understand His nature by looking at five areas.

Transcendent:        God exists totally distinct from His creation.

                                God is unique

                                Isaiah 40:18-23, 25-26         

Spirit:                      Immaterial (or non-material) Luke 24:39

                                 Person (possesses emotions, intellect and will)

                                 Invisible(we see the ‘effects’ of God) John 1:18

Eternal:                    No beginning (eternity past)

                                  No end (eternity future)

                                  Independent (deriving from eternality)

                                  Psalm 90:1-2

Immutable:               Does not have the ability to change

                                  Changeless in His Person

                                  Changeless in His Purpose

                                  Changeless in His Character

                                  James 1:17, Ps. 119:89

Triune:                      One God – Three distinct Persons (Father, Son, Spirit)

                                  Deut. 6:4, Is. 45:5, I Pet. 1:1-2

My personality is such that I want to know basic truth. I want to get to the foundational truths. I am not afraid to dig deeper into something, even when what I am finding begins to run counter to what I have believed in the past. I am open to new thoughts and ideas, as long as I have some basis to believe in their veracity.

I have seen enough evil, abuse of power, selfishness, lying and manipulation in my travels around the world to know that things are rarely what they seem. I have found that God is exactly Who He says He is – all the time. His love for each individual is unconditional. However, He will be found, and a relationship developed with Him, when we consider the whole truth of the Bible.

Various groups and individuals throughout time have taken bits and pieces of knowledge and formed a picture of God that they are comfortable with. They will discard the things that are hard or that they find distasteful. As a young adult, with a wife and daughter and fast moving career, I reached a point where I was unable to just accept the mainstream thinking. God Himself, through His Spirit, will teach us all things and lead us into an understanding of His nature – if we will allow Him.

Societies today, especially the affluent ones like theU.S.A., are allowing emotion to be their guide. Emotions are deceptive, conditional and variable. Life is not “one big bowl of cherries.” We must be willing to make the hard decisions. God’s truths, and His unchanging nature, give us that capacity.

Here is a little phrase I have developed to remind me of that:

            “The right thing to do is always the right thing to do.”

Getting Traction in Your Life

Foundational truth, guided by wisdom, is the only means by which an individual – and hence a society – will weather the inevitable storms of change. Unfortunately there is a strong movement in these times to sell the idea that truth is relative. We hear this stated oftentimes, in various ways, but few people ever stop to evaluate what that actually means. It might sound good, perhaps even intellectual. Acceding to such a philosophy makes us feel we are connected with the mainstream. Rarely do we hear opposing views to dissuade us. But, truth is NOT relative. Truth apart from wisdom is a dangerous thing. “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

The very definition of truth (‘a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality’; Merriam-Webster) negates any idea that it can be relative. There are some areas where there is little disagreement on that. For example, does anyone believe that 2 + 2 does not equal 4? No, there will be no argument with that because it can be seen in concrete form, and there is no moral dilemma associated with it. Each person’s fingerprints are unique. DNA is unique. The laws of thermodynamics are repeatable. In fact, the very essence of research into the physical worlds of health, science, physics, etc, is based on repeatable norms and baseline truths. Rather than dispute these basics the scientist/mathematician accepts them as foundational truth and builds from them.

Why, then, do we so quickly jump to the conclusion that truth applied to life can be relative in certain areas, e.g. morality and the realm of faith? Most, if not all historians agree that moral decline precipitated the fall of the Roman Empire. However, social commentators in the twentieth century have viewed the contemporary decline in morals within Western civilizations as proof we are evolving to a more enlightened state. If God is the Creator of everything (a foundational truth that man has denigrated over the past three hundred years) then every aspect of His axiomatic Self is foundational and fixed. “The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens.” (Proverbs 3:19) There must, by definition, be foundational truths that are not variable over time and cultures and generations.

In Western civilization the student has become so full of himself/herself, that he/she questions the very foundations of the knowledge gained from the teacher. Our ego and associated pride create hindrances to accepting the truth of the ages and to realizing just how simple foundational truth can be. The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like the condemned man who is proud of his large cell.” (Simone Weil) Perhaps we have so dissected the Word of God that it no longer bears resemblance to His authorship, and we then, arrogantly, say we have proven there to be error. The classic conundrum!

The drive to justify self-centered, amoral and immoral lifestyles is gaining so much momentum that any truth standing in the way must be disavowed and discredited. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

A genuine seeker of truth, regardless the venue, remains objective and open to evaluate whatever she finds. “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29, emphasis mine). This could be considered a challenge by Almighty God. It is one that a large number of people have accepted and have proven true. James, the brother of Jesus, said this: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Don’t be afraid of truth. Don’t allow closed minds to deprive you of an abundant life available through a relationship with the only living God. Seek Him through His Word, the Bible. His Spirit will be your guide

Searching for The Way?

In the first century (A.D.) people who chose to follow the teachings of Jesus, believed Him to be the Son of God and believed in His death, burial and resurrection, were labeled followers of The Way.

Welcome to another of the plethora of sites focused on Jesus, the Christ. I can’t promise that all things here are new. But we each have unique interactions with God. After many years of study, teaching and living out this Way of Life, I can promise a genuine, down to earth and honest approach that will, at the least, prompt questions and discussion. I will also offer commentary to certain current events and movements that are relevant to the world of faith.

I am an engineer by training. My former career in Industrial Automation has taken me around the world, having lived or worked in over sixty countries. Through the years I have grown increasingly concerned that so many people I have met reject the Bible as God’s Word and have been deluded. They deny God as their Creator and His desire to draw them back into His family through the finished work of His Son Jesus.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the followers of The Way in the ancient city of Colosse. He said this:

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”.

I believe that the message Jesus brought to the world is as relevant today as ever. Notwithstanding the numerous false teachers that are corrupting the gospel message today, the problem seems to be that many claiming Him as their Master are failing to follow His commands or live out the life He actually modeled.

Jesus warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

The Way – Redux will be an open forum devoted to finding the path back to The Way.