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Natural or Spiritual Thinking? Dedicated to my brother

For four years I studied in two different higher educational settings.  These studies were almost entirely in the secular realm and dealt with natural thinking.  God gave us our ability to reason, but reasoning without God, the Bible and the help of the Holy Spirit often leads to all manner of wrong think and ultimately wrong actions.  That is where I ended up at that time in my life.

Generally, natural or secular or even liberal thinking usually concludes that the correct party or politician or government is the cure-all for every problem.  On the other hand, spiritual thinking sees the Christian church and Christian ministries as the answer for most of the ills of society.  Now, it is quite easy to find huge government waste in multitudes of different programs,  The Christian realm is not without its faults, but for the most part funds used to help people by a Christian ministry are much more likely to meet real needs than huge government programs.

Let’s look at a clear case in point where the results have been measured: education.  Very clear studies have been done comparing children in secular and Christian schools.  By the time children in Christian schools are in middle school, they are much more than a grade ahead of those in public schools.  Why is that?  There are probably a variety of factors involved, but the one I believe is most important(and I taught in Christian middle schools for five years) was Bible study and prayer.  When God is brought on the scene, the atmosphere changes, and the Holy Spirit goes to work to help students.  When parents, teachers, students and administrators pray, educational advancement occurs.  What is amazing is that the average cost per year for students in a Christian school is less than half of what it is in a public school.  I rest my case.

Note: Even though this blog was written awhile ago, I decided to dedicate it to my brother who recently passed away.  Most of his working life he spent teaching in a Christian school.

Postscript: This blog is in no way meant to denigrate those godly, righteous teachers who are working in secular education.  Almost certainly they are doing the best they can with their hands tied, so to speak, in terms of bringing biblical values into the classroom.

Japanese Kids & Christmas

The timid youth hid their emotions as we began the English class.  Today, the last class before the break we would talk about Christmas.  Not about the pagan origins of the celebration that still remained to a vast majority in Japan but about the Christian meaning.  When I asked what Christmas was about besides Santa Claus, the blank stares I received reflected more than lack of English ability but little or no knowledge whatsoever of Jesus’ birthday celebration.  I had been surprised before in my English classes but never more than now.  These students seemed to never have heard of Jesus.  It was a wonderful opportunity for me, but I wondered if these junior high students might never have heard about Jesus if I had not come to Japan.  When I talked about the cross, the resurrection and the fact that Christians believe Jesus is God in the flesh, there may have been a glimmer of recognition in one or two pair of eyes.  The bottom line is that I am thankful that I did come to Japan and share the Good News of the Gospel because I not sure they would have ever heard the message otherwise.

Note: This is throwback article written a number of years ago while I was in Japan.

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Motives And Purposes

What motivates you?  Is it some particular activity you enjoy?  Is it a particular purpose?  All of us have motives that drive us, but I wonder how many of us have examined our own motives or the motives of others.

Let me give you an example.  There is a religious group that continually condemns racism.  On the exterior that looks positive.  However, because the group is predominately of one minority, the motive of that condemnation is to get more members and to keep the members it already has.  In fact, in that particular religious group the leadership has condemned other ethnic groups in a kind of reverse racism.  Motives are not always easy to discern.

What is important is to try to keep our own motives and purposes pure.  Only with God’s help, the Bible and the Holy Spirit can we begin to face our own flaws and overcome them.  Motives matter because God judges the heart and why we do what we do not just outward performance.

New Age Or New Birth

We have a very clear choice to make as stated above.  Let us look first of all at what is meant by the New Age.
The New Age encompasses numerous belief systems, but can usually be summed up in the following way.  We are all part of a huge universal soul or cosmic soul that makes up both living organisms and inanimate ones.  What we say or do according to the New Age affects this cosmic soul, but what or who are you in essence praying to?  Since you are part of this universal soul you are essentially praying to yourself.  I am praying to myself to solve the myriad of problems around me.  Now, how many people do each of us know who has it all together and can solve the toughest problems on the earth?  If we are honest, we’ll admit none of us can fix even ourselves or even those closest to us much less the world.  My praying to or, if you will, through myself does little or no good.
Now, let’s look at the New Birth.  The premise behind the New Birth is that I am a sinner in need of help from someone outside of myself.  That help was sent by God from heaven in the form of baby Jesus.  Jesus grew up and willingly went to the cross to die for our sins.  Our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross connects us to Father God and releases the Holy Spirit into our lives.  It is that connection which also releases God’s grace and power to overcome whatever we are facing if we participate in staying connected through Bible reading, church attendance, Christian media, etc.  I am not praying to and/or through myself to change bad situations but praying in Jesus’ name to Father God who created the universe.
If you have not already done so, choose the New Birth and confess to God that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.  By faith, accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your sins.

Banish Liars…

Recently, in two different directions I have had to deal with big time lying.  What happens when you confront a liar?  They just lie some more or say they don’t recall what they said or some such words.  Even in the face of two witnesses they can maintain their innocence.  So what do you do in a relationship that is going nowhere fast?

You can take the conversation to a higher authority and let them be the judge: in a business that may be a boss, in a family that may be a parent.  As a Christian we can even go before the throne of God in prayer and plead our case.  If Jesus is our Savior, he is also our attorney in heaven.  If our cause is just, we can trust the God of the universe to vindicate us and bring enduring justice.  This may not happen overnight, but trust that God has the final say.  Forgive the other person as God forgives each of us and leave it in God’s hands.

Is Heaven For Everyone?

I heard this story on Christian television awhile ago.  Suppose you lived in a middle class neighborhood with your family and someone you didn’t know came to your door and asked to live with you.  Would you let them in?  Because you have no idea who the person is and because you would want to protect your family, you would almost certainly close the door on them.  Similarly, God only lets people into heaven whom He knows.  Heaven is a perfect place and if God let people in who have not built a relationship with Him, then heaven would be anything but perfect.

But what does it mean to know God?  All of us have sinned according to the Bible and all of us deserve hell.  It is only because of what Jesus did on the cross to take away our sin that any of us have a hope of heaven if we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  Jesus made it very clear when He said, “No person comes to the Father(God) except through me.”  There is only one door into heaven, not numerous doors as the New Age belief system attempts to get us to believe.  Jesus is that door, and not just a mental assent of Him as Savior, but as the Lord of our life to whom we look for direction on a regular basis.

Life Source Or The Source Of Life

What we worship is extremely important because what we worship we eventually resemble.  Many today worship a life source which we all have.  It might also be labeled soul power.  If you set your mind or soul on a goal, you can accomplish great things.  However, can our own greatness or our own soulish desire bring about spiritual good?  For the most part no because we are leaving out the source of life.  We are simply building our own kingdom.

Jesus Christ is the source of life.  It is he who knows what can bear good fruit.  It is only Jesus who can reveal to us our true motives and aims.  It is Jesus who can lead and guide us through the Holy Spirit and the Bible to actually accomplish true lasting spiritual good.  Without Jesus we are living in the dark realm of the unredeemed soul.

God’s Way Or The World’s Way

Choices matter.  Our decisions here on earth have eternal consequences.  If you, like I have, have made Jesus Christ your Savior and Lord, then one day in heaven we will come before God for the white throne judgment.  At that time we will be rewarded for what we have done on earth.  Now, this isn’t some divine payday that lasts a limited time, but a reward that will go on for trillions and trillions of years.  When we make righteous choices instead of worldly one, that will be rewarded.  When we share the Gospel or give finances to further the Gospel, then that will be rewarded.  Jesus’ words saying, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” are words I hope we all want to hear.  Choices matter!

Power Of The Sword

At times the Bible refers to the sword of the Lord as the word of God. As we pray God’s words in the Bible we release what God wants to happen in the spiritual realm. The power we have access to in this direction is amazing. Because of that fact many countries and leaders have attempted to keep the Bible out of the hands of people.

In the 1500s William Tyndale translated the Bible into the English of his day. For that act he was arrested, tried and executed. His dying prayer was that the eyes of the king of England would be opened. Perhaps, because of that prayer we have one of the most beloved Bible translations of all time, the King James Bible, which was an outgrowth of a change in policy by the king of England two years later.

Today, countries like Saudi Arabia and North Korea have outlawed the Bible. Twice while traveling into Saudi Arabia to teach I had my Bible and other Christian materials confiscated. I had to pay a stiff fine just to get the rest of my things out of customs.

Don’t take lightly the precious word of God we have in the Bible and our freedom to own a copy. It is a treasure for all of us to mine.

What You Focus On Most You Become

Proverbs in the Bible makes clear: “As a person thinks in his or her heart, so is he or she.” What you most focus on you will become. If our focus is positive, then what will eventually manifest will be something good and vice versa. If our focus is fear-based, then that fear will probably show up sooner or later. If our focus is faith-based on a promise in the Bible, we can trust that God, who does not lie, will bring it to pass. Of course, we must do our part in this to bring it to fruition. If we are believing for finances, for example, and are not out looking for a job or getting the proper training to get the job we want, then our focus is misguided. James in the New Testament states that “faith without works is dead”. This principle applies to every area of our life.

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