So what do you know?

A former co-worker used to joke that, “What you don’t know would fill an ocean.”  I thought this was an insult until I realized he was teaching me.  The knowledge of my ignorance can humble me and give me the desire to learn from others and grow.  Or, I can fear that I am inadequate and try to hide my ignorance with arrogance and pride and be unteachable.

Even if I talk with someone to exchange knowledge with them, I, and they, may come away with totally different meanings of what was said.  English is ambiguous at best.  I enter conversations with preconceived ideas that influence the meaning I assign to what I hear.  I see what I want to see, what I am prepared to see.

That is why stigma is so devastating.  The label of mental illness changes how I perceive someone.  Even if I have met someone and been in a conversation with them and formed an impression of them, if I then find out they have a label, my interpretation of all my knowledge of them changes.  At a local mental hospital the patients don’t wear shoes.  Doctors, and other staff, do wear shoes.  Sometimes doctors can be seen talking to someone and briefly looking down to see if they have shoes on.  Do the doctors want to know how to interpret what they see?  Do they not trust what they see, and want a label?

The stigma of a lack of education is another example of not knowing what I don’t know.  A certain pastor of a large church was reported as saying he would never hire a pastor that did not have a college education.  It is interesting that the head of the church, Jesus, doesn’t qualify to work in his own organization.  The religious leaders of Jesus time felt the same way. They remarked that he had not gone to school so, “Where did he get this teaching?”  This pastor and the Pharisees felt they had nothing to learn from someone who had not gone to school.

The stigma of skin color and other physical features, perceived intelligence, wealth, cultural heritage, language, weight, youth, lack of youth, all claim to inform me about someone without me having to do the work of getting to know real individuals.  When I do get to know real individuals they are always more wonderful than the lying, deceiving stigma told me they would be.

So what do you know?

Jesus is healing my racism

What is “race”?  Is it possible to define one race from another?  What attributes would you use?  Are the attributes of one race possible to be found in a different race?  If those of different races can have children then aren’t we all part of the same gene pool?  If we are all part of the same gene pool then aren’t the attributes that define race arbitrary?  For example why is it that skin color is used to define different races but eye color is not?

I am guilty of prejudging people, of prejudice.  I have looked at people with mental illness labels as if they were less than me somehow.  I have believed that those with a developmental disability are less than me somehow.  I have looked at people with different skin color, language, height, weight, culture as less than me somehow.  I have even believed that some people with different attributes than me were better than me somehow.  I have allowed my fears and ignorance about others different from me to influence my perception and conclusions about them.  Fortunately there is help for me, and His Name is Jesus.

Jesus said to me in the Bible to love God with all that I am, and love all people in the same way I love myself.  I couldn’t do that until I received God’s love for me.  I have hated myself much of my life.  I have also loved myself, but in a self-serving way.  Trying to feel better about myself I despised others.  This was not a reflection on them.  This was the result of my rejecting Jesus’ love for me.  It wasn’t until I humbled myself, asked forgiveness, and actually believed what God said, that God loved me, that I experienced His love and healing.  And now I can love God and other people, not perfectly, but hopefully in increasing measure each day.

My "God’s Not Dead" University Experience

God’s Not Dead is a great movie, very inspiring.  It supports God as “First Cause” or Creator of Creation.  I believe the movie could proclaim even more truth.  God’s Not Dead seems to imply an endorsement of evolution as the creative mechanism God used in the development of life.  I would like to humbly suggest evidence that challenges this view.
God’s Not Dead implies an endorsement of the universe being 13.7 billion years old. Some of the team that put the first people on the moon held that view as well.  They argued that the amount of space dust that the moon’s gravity would attract, an amount that could be calculated, would be several feet deep by now.  This could jeopardize the moon landing.  When the astronauts landed on the moon they found about an inch of dust on the surface of the moon.  This suggests that the moon is about 10,000 years old.  This is consistent with the Bible’s account of creation and not nearly enough time for evolution to explain life as we know it.
Our Sun has been documented to be shrinking at a predictable rate.  If the sun were 13.7 billion years old, it would have started out the size of the orbit of the earth.  Some scientists purport that the Sun actually grows in size between the times we measure it.  They say that this explains the problem.  However, there are no facts, or theoretical mechanisms to support this theory.Evolutionists point to the fossil record to support their theory of evolution.  The strata of rock they say reveals millions of years of time between layers.  There is a fossil that crosses between two strata or layers that is inconsistent with this theory.  It is, however, consistent with what you would expect to find if there was a world-wide flood and sediment and debris settled in layers.  This separation of sediment into layers and trees crossing between strata was demonstrated at the base of Mount Saint Helen’s when its side exploded and the fallout mixed with heavy rain.  Evolution hypothesizes that chemicals somehow came to life and then reproduced with beneficial mutations that resulted in the species we have now.  God’s account says He created life and His account specifically and repeatedly says that species reproduce after their own kind.  The fossil record supports God’s account, as the ancestors of different species that Darwin predicted would be found have not been found.Evolutionists argued that opposing views needed to be represented in the public schools decades ago when they were in the minority.  My experience at Grand Valley State University showed me that evolutionists don’t believe their own words.  Now they want to be the only view and suppress good scientific evidence to the contrary.  I presented some of the above challenges to the teacher and students in a class I was taking around 2009.  When the students became interested in learning more about Creationism, the teacher, who did not disprove these challenges, decided to end the discussion by an appeal to authority.  She quoted what I believe was the National Science Foundation saying, “Evolution is a fact.”  She ended the discussion in her class, but there are now young people whose curiosity has been piqued.  They, like me, and maybe like you, may not be satisfied with the evolutionist’s declaration of “fact.”  We may want to find out more for ourselves.

Jesus heals rejection

What could a 4,000 year-old Law, given to a group of 2 million homeless former slaves, have anything to do with our living our life today?  After God had miraculously shown his power over the fake gods of Egypt He led His people out of slavery, through the Red Sea, to His Mountain.  There God gave Moses His commands so that evil would be restrained and love would be encouraged.  One of those commands was to Honor Parents.  This meant that adult children were to take care of the needs of their parents, especially in their parents’ old age when they are more dependent.  Two thousand years later, when God had not sent a prophet in 500 years, the religious leaders of Jesus time didn’t want to follow God’s command.  They wanted to keep their money.  They made up their own rule that sounded godly, but was designed to get around God’s command of love.  The Pharisees taught that if a man said that what he owned was devoted to God he didn’t have to help his old, struggling parents with it.  Then, when he wanted to use it for himself, he said it was not devoted to God.  Jesus was disgusted with these men and their uncaring hypocrisy.  Especially because they claimed to represent God and gave their followers the impression that God was like them.
Jesus said to the people that they needed to respect their leaders, but do not be like them.  God said in the Bible about these Pharisees hundreds of years ahead of time, “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”  The Pharisees were very concerned with looking right, but cared little about their own real evil thoughts and motives.
What does this have to do with us today, 2,000 to 4,000 years later?  Do you know anyone that claims to know Jesus, and tries to “look” right but doesn’t accept you, thinks they are better than you?  That is a hard place to be.  Maybe you have attitudes and actions that the Bible says are wrong.  And the “so-called-Jesus-followers” look down on you because of it.  This should never be.  Jesus accepts you.  Jesus died for you.  Jesus spent most of his time with those whom the religious leaders of his day rejected.  It was the “sinners” who first came to accept Jesus not the religious.  
So if Jesus freely accepts us how does he feel about our attitudes and actions the Bible says are wrong?  Jesus calls us to trust him to help us turn away from sin.  You may feel that sin has taken you prisoner with no way out.  This is a lie of satan.  Or, you may feel you have no sin.  This is just as much a lie of satan.  Jesus knows we can’t free ourselves from satan’s power in our own strength.  If we could we would have a long time ago.  No, he asks us to turn away from sin by his power.  And his power is limitless.  Ask Jesus to come into your life, free you from sin, and give you a brand new life, a life truly built on love and forgiveness.  He answers that prayer every time.

Oh, and what about the people that rejected you?  Now you can offer Jesus to them.

Know the Christmas Child

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” 
(Isaiah 9:6, NIV). 

Jesus came to earth as a baby. And he was a baby much like you and me. He laughed, he cried, he learned to walk. He learned to love… He learned to love us and he especially learned to love his heavenly Father.

Because Jesus was man he could experience all our temptations.  Because he was God and never sinned he could die for each one of us, so that we could live forever in heaven with him.  You can personally know Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas… by talking to him through prayer, by listening to him through reading the Bible, and by loving him through actively doing what he says.  He and his Father will make their home within you and you will know “Emmanuel – God with us” who is the true meaning of Christmas.

To learn more about knowing the Christ of Christmas read the Bible (Matthew 1:23, John 3:1-21, 14:15, 23, 31; Hebrews 4:14-16), talk to a friend who knows Jesus, visit a Church that teaches that Jesus is God.

Help is on the way

Rather than stay well away from sin, sometimes we dance as close to the edge as we can without going over. However, before we know it, we find ourselves going over the edge anyway. The climb back is difficult and it sure helps to have someone anchored to the top to come down and help lift us out.

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual 
should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may be tempted. 
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” 
(Galatians 6:1-2, NIV).

If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and are controlled by His Spirit, and you are following Him as best you can, you can be a lifeline to someone who has fallen. First, be careful to resist the temptation to feel superior or to pass judgement.  Second, remember that at times LOVE can be spelled LISTEN.  Usually sin is an attempt to get God-given needs met without God.  You need to respond with reality and compassion (truth and mercy) just as Jesus did.  Remember the paralyzed man lowered through the roof, whose friends had faith but he didn’t, Jesus healed him anyway.  Remember the woman caught in the act of adultery. Jesus said, “Does no one condemn you?  Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  Finally, restore that person to fellowship with God and fellow believers with the same care and gentleness of a doctor restoring a broken bone.  You can literally be Jesus to that person, allowing Christ to restore one of His own back to Himself.

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth 
and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner 
from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins” 
(James 5:19-20, NIV).

To learn more about God, read the Bible (Galatians 6:1-10, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), talk to a friend who knows Jesus, visit a Church that teaches that Jesus is God.

His work. Our work.

Work. God started it with creation.  And He worked with excellence.  In Genesis He pronounced His work “very good,” but His work wasn’t finished.

When Adam and Eve sinned against Him, God set into motion a work He had planned since before the world began. This, God’s ultimate work, would bring sinful men back to Himself.  Jesus said, “My food (purpose) is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His Work.”  (John 4:34, NIV).

His finished work was on the cross where “with (His) blood (He) purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9, NIV).

What good work does God require of us?

Jesus said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” (John 6:29, NIV).  If you believe that Jesus was sent by God to die in our place, if you believe God raised Him from the dead to live forever as our friend and king, then invite Him into your heart and life today and let Him finish His work in you. He’s longing to hear from you right now.

To learn more about Jesus’ work read the Bible (John 4:27-42, 6:25-59, 17:1-26), talk to a friend who knows Jesus, visit a Church that teaches that Jesus is God.