In the Year that King Uzziah Died

“In the year that King Uzziah died . . .” (Isaiah 6:1a).

The death of a king brought great upheaval in ancient Israel. There would be battles for overall power. There would be people scrambling to be near the king – to be his advisors, and/or in his court. In the midst of all this, foreign powers might see it as a time to encroach on sovereign territory, or just raid and pillage.

In the USA we are blessed with a democratic republic, with a Constitution unlike any the world has ever seen. We see a transfer of power happen in peace and with little interruption in the national and international interactions. The presidential election of 2008 was no different. President George Bush, recognizing the fact that the war on terror, the economy and international relations are in heightened risk, made sure there was a smooth transition between the old and new administrations.

Regardless of where you stand on the cultural and political side of the ongoing debates, Barack Obama, as of January 20, 2009, became our president, at least until 2012. A majority of the voters elected him, and that is the way our Constitution calls for a change in executive leadership. As a nation we have seen significant shifts in policy and cultural initiatives in recent history. The Ford to Carter change; the Carter to Reagan change; the Bush(1) to Clinton change; and now, the Bush(2) to Obama change.

There is a significant divide in this nation, one that is growing at a rapid pace. The divide is along a culture defined by a conservative, Judeo-Christian, free market mindset, versus a liberal, secular, socialistic mindset, and all points in-between. President Obama represents the most sharply defined liberal/secular president the US has ever elected. We must pray for him and about him and his administration. We know God allowed him to come to power.

How does this discussion have anything to do with Isaiah and the change of rule in an ancient Near Eastern culture? First, we must never lose sight that our God is immutable (unchanging). He cannot be Almighty, Eternal God unless that is true. While He may choose to deal with interim judgments in His own ways, He has not changed; nor has He changed what He has said from the beginning. In two ways I suggest we can draw wisdom and strength from Isaiah’s prophetic writings to his people

Isaiah was given a vision in the Temple of God. So, first of all take note that he went to the Temple to pray. The vision he experienced was one of judgment and grace. He was given a mission – to prophesy the destruction of Israel if the people did not return to their absolute, singular, heart-surrendered worship of Almighty God; and to preach of personal peace available to those who place their complete trust in God, as well as foretelling the advent of the Messiah and His ministry of grace and restoration. That was quite a mind-boggling call on this man’s life. But Isaiah did just that. His writings are the most comprehensive of all the Old Testament prophets, covering God’s creation of the world to the advent of the Messiah.

However, we live in a different time than Isaiah: the Mosaic Covenant has ended and we are under God’s New Covenant, defined by the sacrificial shedding of blood and physical resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, God’s anointed savior of mankind. We live in a period defined by the unmitigated Grace of God.

The Christian should bear in mind that Judah, the southern kingdom of the divided nation of Israel and Isaiah’s home, survived well over 100 years beyond when Isaiah prophesied destruction. God’s timetable is just that – His timetable. Do not allow yourself to get into an “end of days” mode that causes indifference and a “bunker” mentality. We know the answer to the question of the purpose of life; we can point anyone to how to receive eternal life and peace with God; and we know that God is Sovereign. That is the message we are to live out day by day for mankind to see. Just as Jesus was bold in His message against the enemies of God, yet chose a life of absolute submission to the Will of His Father, even to death, we are to live a life of submission to Him that brings light to dispel the darkness of the lost world. We are to live out that message until the very moment of our passing into eternity.

Secondly, we can live in perfect peace in these days. “You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) We have no reason to live in anxiety or fear, to worry about our physical needs or the future of this nation or the world. While it is only right to be concerned and to be bold, there is no reason to fear for our future or for our loved ones – we must show them the pathway to salvation through Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6); and, then, we can teach them how to live in God’s abundance. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).

In the midst of grief at the loss of Isaiah’s beloved king whom he served, and his loss of status in the king’s court, came the voice of his God. “Whom shall I send? And who will go out for us?” Isaiah’s immediate response – “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).

What can you be doing in the coming weeks and months. Shall you throw up your hands in despair over the endless discussions regarding the economy, upcoming elections, global crises, etc., etc., and just go back to business as usual? Shall you sit around and grouse about these things that you have little or no power to change?

I want to suggest you consider going before the Throne of Grace and beseeching God: “Here am I, Lord. Use me!”

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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.