So…..What's the Point?

Musings from a Fellow Struggler

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

It’s About Time… Part 2

 

Time-0518

 

This phrase that God has put eternity into the hearts of men (Eccl. 3:11) is simply beautiful, mysterious, compelling, and awesome especially when juxtaposed to the morbid atheistic materialists and other antichrist philosophies claiming that only what which meets the eye is ‘real’, that any metaphysical claims are patently false and to be rejected as frivolous and irrational.

While many people seem to have bought into the “perception is reality” argument (what is real is only that information about the world we receive through the senses and interpreted by the mind), a nagging “what if” surfaces when questions like this are asked: If the materialistic atheists are right, how is it even possible that we can conceive of eternity in the first place when everything around us has a beginning and always ends? It is this nagging “what if they are wrong” following claims like “there is no life after death”, “there is not and can be no such thing as a God like the Jews and Christians claim” or the like that betrays, at least for those willing to admit it, the possibility there might be more to reality then they think. Arguing that such thoughts are ‘frivolous and irrational’ doesn’t explain their origin (they really need to read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason). But, to admit eternity into one’s thinking changes the whole game and puts people into a sometimes exceedingly uncomfortable position of having to consider what eternity has to do with them, personally.

Take for example “Today if you hear His voice…” from Hebrews 3:7. 15 and 4:7 referring back “in time” to David’s words in Psalm 95:7-11. It’s clear that the ‘today’ of Hebrews isn’t the same ‘time’ as it was for David since millennia have passed. Yet, from eternity’s perspective, the ‘today’ of David and the ‘today’ of the Hebrews mean the same for those hearing the words of God in their ‘time’. The same holds true for us: the time is Today because “…everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been…” (Eccl. 3:14-15 NASB, italics and bold mine). The future, the past and all the events contained therein are enfolded into now, Today and even though “…man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end” (Eccl. 3:11) all of us nevertheless have eternity placed in our hearts. The point is that all we really have of the time given us, whether past or future, is Today. Hearkening to His voice Today and believing what He says Today is to enter into His rest Today even though, for us still locked in time, the eternity of this ‘rest’ remains ‘not-yet’. To do otherwise is to die into an eternity where anything by rest awaits.

If it is the case, and I believe it is, that eternity is placed within the hearts of humankind, then it is a key ontological aspect of human existence; i.e. it is a facet of what it means to be created in the imago dei, the image of God. It is part of our nature to be aware of eternity even if we cannot understand or fathom it. While we are alive in time, the sheer beauty of creation, its vastness and immensity can trigger a consciousness of eternity while the prospect of dying can do the same. We are more than ever meets the eye and destined for more than we can ever imagine; Today, if we will hear His voice the truth of the matter will become clear. This view of human beings is vastly superior to that of a materialist who is forced to conclude we are merely beasts among other beasts who, at least for now, sit at the top of the food chain but, when dead, sit at the bottom as fertilizer. But, this view is more than just superior, it is true and we know it, or will know it, to be so because we have eternity in our hearts. It all depends on whether we are listening or not.

Being at Home with Righteousness

 

1073066

There are many things about heaven we look forward to, like meeting up with friends and family, the glorious surroundings, seeing the Lord face-to-face, being eternally happy, no more tears and so on. What I’m looking forward to especially is the absolute, unending, unequivocal righteousness that will permeate the new heaven and earth, or put another way, the eternal absence and impossibility of sin.

One intriguing reference about this comes from Peter when he says righteousness is ‘at home’ in heaven (1 Peter 3:14). When I think of something ‘being at home’ it belongs there, it is expected to be there, it is welcomed and it takes up residence there. This is certainly not the case for righteousness during this present age of kosmos where it is at the very least treated as a dangerous anomaly to ‘normal’ sinful living.

The context of this verse shows Peter’s concern that his readers not be intimidated nor be dejected by the ridicule coming from “scoffers” who see the gospel, the return of the Lord, and righteous living as foolish.

But, it was more than just ridicule that effected these believers; they also suffered because of their faith and witness (see 1Peter 1) while, at the same time, besieged by false teachers who had “forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…” (2 Peter 2:15 italics mine)

Peter turns their attention away from the ungodliness and suffering surrounding them to the heavenly reality that is coming wherein righteousness is the norm, the only norm. They are to “look forward”, not around, to that future where their “home” really is. It is important to note, however, that this only works by first fully embracing God’s promise that finds expression first in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 and finally in Rev. 21:1.

This appeal to God’s promise (vv 9,13) is important because it is the guaranty for the yet-to-come reality of the new heavens and earth in which righteousness finds its home. They are therefore encouraged, even compelled, to live “in holy conduct and holiness” (2 Peter 3:11). In fact, other passages in the New Testament declare we are citizens of heaven now and just passing through this present age, a pilgrimage so to speak. We are not to stop the journey and make this world our home, but continue on until we arrive where we permanently belong.

On this point, it seems to me that the avid pursuit of righteous living (or holy, if you prefer) is treated more as an option in many congregations when it should be treated as necessary. Consequently, there is an ungodly Christian hybrid that names of the Name of Jesus but whose life is indistinguishable from those living in the world. This has always been a problem in the church since the very beginning; false teachers lurk in the shadows seeking to dissuade believers from taking up their crosses and truly following the Lord. In fact, if we are not increasingly feeling at home with righteousness now in the middle of nearly unrestrained evil, it probably means we are entangled with the world way more than we might admit.

The point here is that this present life and the pursuit of righteousness is preparation for that day when all is made ‘new’ and righteousness is forever “at home”. Jesus tell us “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” and the Psalmist helps us understand more of what this blessing means when he writes:

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

 © W.G. Ryzek 2013

American Idolatry (And The Whole World For That Matter)-Part 5: Lessons from the Golden Calf, Cont’d

m219357256

Exodus 12:35–36 (NKJV)
35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Exodus 32:2 (NKJV)
2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

If it is the case that every thing belongs to God and that the essence of idolatry is substituting some thing that is made in place of the Maker, then how we think about and what we do with things reveals much about our spiritual state not the least of which is whether we are thankful or not (Rom. 1:21-23). The passages cited above show how the treasure that God gave His people for building the tabernacle (Ex. 25:1-9) was used for their own decoration and constructing the golden calf. They took what was given to them for a higher and sacred purpose, regarded it as theirs and then turned it into something unequivocally opposed to God. The point here is how we, too, can take the very things God has given us and then make idols by regarding them as personal possessions, my car, my family, my job, my money gotten by my strength, my work, my ingenuity, my planning and so on.

It has been noted that Jesus talked more about money issues than He did about heaven or hell and as many as 25% of His parables had material wealth as their theme. One of the major points He stressed was stewardship which tacitly presupposes that what we have belongs to someone else and forgetting, or rejecting, this truth leads to severe problems like, for example, when ownership thinking trumps stewardship thinking the kingdom of heaven stands to be lost to us. Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both God and mammon and note carefully the operative word here: serve from Δουλεύω which means ‘slave’. All of us are slaves to one of two masters so we all know exactly what our options are. However, the great Lie first uttered in Eden suggested there is a third option, serving self but that, it turns out, is the same as serving sin and Satan. So, while we might assume that if we possess something it is ours to do with what we want the fact is we are possessed either by God or by mammon; no human being is, or ever can be, independently owned and operated. And, choosing anything other than God is tantamount to idolatry.

Consider, for example, that some Christians seem to believe, and act accordingly, that once a tithe is paid, the rest is theirs. Making matters worse, it is further assumed that, since they did their part, God is now under some sort of obligation to ‘bless’ them with still more wealth. And so, based on this sort of thinking a Christian can easily end up with a sense of entitlement or, in other words, that they are owed this blessing. This attitude is precisely the same that has overrun our society; someone, somewhere owes us something. The net result is thanklessness usually accompanied by complaining and topped off with bitterness all of which affirm Paul’s assessment in Romans 1 that the human race are idolaters. This sense of entitlement will invade the Christian church when we take what God gives us, but is rightfully His, then use it for our own ends thinking because we possess it, it must be ours, and then substitute our own agenda in place of God’s by looking to the world as the source of all we need, and not Him. And all of this while adhering to surface religiosity, language and ‘devotion’ defined as ‘Christian’ when in fact it is all very pagan. We see an example by what happens next in this story.

After building the golden calf, Aaron and the people presented an offering to it that was meant only for God (burnt and peace offerings, v6) suggesting, at least to me, that the difference between the idol and God was lost. (Ex. 32:4) One was as good as the other as long as it got them out of their predicament. So consider this proposition: not understanding or submitting to the basic truth that all we have and all we are is grounded in God’s benevolence distorts reality to the point where idolatry and service to God become indistinguishable. Again, the parallels between this story and Romans 1 cannot be overlooked; what Israel did in this one instance has become the norm for the entire human race. The point here is that what some consider true Christian worship might in fact be the worshipping of idols with the fearful prospect of not being able to tell the difference. However, all of us can at least get a clue by honestly assessing our attitude towards, and use of, the things given us by God.

© W.G.Ryzek 2013

I Changed the Name

Well, “dr wm’s space” seemed so…..bland, or something, I don’t know. Anyway, it’s changed to the new one. The question posed in this title better reflects my attitude about being a blog contributor. I mean, there seems to be a lot of blah, blah, blah going on so this title compels me to cut to the chase. However, there may be blogs that require a more lengthy discussion but I will try to make it all  “clear and distinct” (borrowing from Descartes, re: his  “clear and distinct idea” concept) as possible. Uh oh, could be some blah, blah, blah right there. Sorry.  This will take some practice.

By the way, I clicked “like” on my own post “The Most Cruel Reductionism”. I tell you it was an accident, I didn’t mean to do it. I’m still trying to figure out how this wordpress thing works and couldn’t find a way to delete my mistake. Anyway, I got a reply that I must be vain to do such a thing as “like” my own post. Good grief, IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!

On the Death of Self-A Meditation

 

 

 

Death and life; they are so close sometimes, almost in the same breath, especially a last, dying breath. So, consider this: “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The believing and the confessing (remember confessing something means saying something and speaking requires breath) unto salvation happens while the conditions of sin and death are still present. Thus, all my utterances to the point of this singular confession were mere death gasps, breathings of an already dead man just as my beliefs were about a world doomed to destruction. But with this confession and this belief I advance, as do you, from death to life, from flesh to spirit, from weakness to power, from darkness to light compelled by this confession that Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead. This is the sum and substance of Easter for Christians, the very core of the Christian faith.

It’s wrong, then, to think God wants anyone dead; He is, after all, the God of the living and the very Source of life itself. The sinner, who is already dead in sin, He wants to make alive again. He wants Christians to die but only to the self, to the ‘me that is me’, the self-centered and selfish me so that the new man, the ‘me born after the image of God’s Son’ might emerge. This is not, then, to be considered some morbid exercise and it is not to suffer any kind of real loss nor is it a meritorious act to gain God’s favor. Rather, it is a joyful necessity because the old man and the new man cannot co-exist; one must yield to the other-there is no other way. The farmer knows this; unless the seed he plants in the spring dies, changes, leaves behind its original form, it cannot become the awaited harvest.

We are all “dead men (and women) walking” but for us who confess and believe, physical death merely allows us to keep right on walking eternally with He who makes all things new. Therefore, death is really all about life, a paradox to be sure, but only one of many in the economy of God.

The Temptation to Regret

 

 In his Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis has Aslan, the Great Lion, say that “it is not given to man to know what might have been…” in order to discourage any speculation by one of the children about choices made.  It refers to the great ‘what if’ questions like “what if I had done this and not that”, “gone here and not there”, or “what if I had taken another path than the one I’m on”, and so on.

In real life, it seems most of the time these “what if” questions come up when we experience deep regret for inappropriate or harmful decisions made and, in some cases, have a profound and lingering sense of guilt for having made them.  In milder forms, regret can get us to fantasizing about “what might have been”; in extreme examples, regret causes such despair that people exist in alternative realities of “might have beens”.  For Christians, this extreme kind of regret comes when it is believed the consequence of bad choices (whether made in ignorance or rebellion) has resulted in missing God’s best and perfect will for their lives.  They despair of ever getting back on track and think, even if they could, so much time has passed that is too late to enjoy whatever it was God had planned.

It must be admitted that our choices make a difference in what happens in life. After all, it is nearly impossible to make sense of moral responsibility and accountability without ascribing some power to the choices we make.  On the other hand, it must be the case that, if God truly knows everything past, present and future, our choices, bad (or good) as they might be, must have already been anticipated by God and ‘taken into account’. Therefore, our choices alone cannot be the sole reason we are here, in this place at this time.

Now, let’s suppose it is true that decisions made or not made have brought us to this place and let’s further suppose that, given hindsight analysis, we can imagine a much better “what might have been” scenario. This kind of thinking implies that God’s will can be marked out somewhere on a scale of ‘good, better, best’.  If this is so, then God’s will must be adjustable and with each adjustment made according to what we are deciding to do we find ourselves either closer or further away from His ‘best’.  It is unlikely, however, that God’s intentions are so fluid and easily diverted nor is it likely His will is a matter of degree. It seems to me that God’s will, whatever it might be in its details, is always the best.

All this leads us to why we might consider extreme regret a temptation.   If we think that God is sovereign over all creation, then regretting our decisions flies in the face of God’s will; we simply have no room for complaint because God has put us where we are, in spite of ourselves. On the other hand, if we think our freedom to make ill-advised or disastrous decisions can trump God’s sovereignty, then our whole focus is on our limitations and failures and not His grace and power. So, extreme regret is a temptation to either rebellion or self-aggrandizement with the ’what might have been’s of life” only chimeras and occasions for self-pity. Instead of thankfulness and hope, we experience a kind of spiritual malaise of hopelessness, which is nothing more than self-centered pride and most likely the very reason for all the choices we now regret. In other words, being disappointed that God has not provided a more suitable place in life for us (He is, after all sovereign and could have had He wanted to) or disappointment at our own failures (I missed God’s best because of ignorance or rebellion) seem to be focused entirely on our selves rather than God.

But, of even more serious consequence is that regret distracts us from the only thing we have in which do to anything and that is today, the present in which we live.  Being preoccupied with “what might have been” hides the ‘what is now the case” from our attention.  It is a favored tactic of the Enemy because it is so effective, especially to those who fervently desire God’s best and to those entangled in self-centeredness.  Being filled with regret paralyzes us from doing anything now.  We can either be afraid of making yet more regrettable decisions or so preoccupied with past decisions that the moment in which we live simply passes us by, both being the occasion for yet more regret.  Paul’s advice is most helpful here: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

I Had An Accident!

Its been a rather long time since I’ve posted anything so for those of you that read these blogs an explanation is due.

I had an accident Nov 21, 2011 and ended up in ICU for three days. I still have no memory of what happened but I somehow fell and sustained a skull fracture along with some other persistent ailments. I haven’t been able to work since because of these problems and having no insurance of any kind my wife and I are struggling along.  Thank God for our kids who have stepped up to the plate to help us out.

At any rate, the accident has taken a toll on me physically and even mentally. I’ve noticed a bit of a slowdown when processing information. And I’ve learned that injuries such as mine hasten dementia and Alzheimer’s. I haven’t felt like writing but the last few days its been different; I’m feeling the itch again! So, I’d better get with it before mental oblivion sets in and I can’t remember anything anymore.

Those that do read this blog I ask that you pray for me and my family that we get through these difficult financial and physically taxing times.

Post Navigation