July 4th Musing: Comparing self-determined and God-determined living

Today, Monday July 4th, 2011 is Independence Day, a day of celebration of the birth of the United States of America. It was on this day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was sign. It is that document that sets forth the guiding principles of the United States.  The document set forth the principles of freedom that this country was built.  Yes, this country has freedom and self-determination. Today many folks talk about the cost of freedom, that it comes with a price. Certainly the signers of the Declaration of Independence gave their all in support of the concept of freedom proclaimed in that document. However, this article is not about extolling the virtues and cost of the founding principles of this country but rather examine the principles in comparison to God’s Kingdom principles.

The principles at the core of the Declaration was that  people have a choice and are free to set their course.  These principles are summed up with the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  In other words, people are free to determine there course including the government they are willing to submit. People are free to make there choice in all areas of life.  They are free to choose their path in life.

The Kingdom of God does not operate on principles of self-determining a path in life. Yes, we have choice but the key element of the Kingdom of God is this “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25 (ESV).  The Kingdom of God is about self-surrender which brings true life. There is much in this world that can be pursued but the only real life, is life in proper relationship with God. It is leaving the world of self-determined choices and surrendering to following God’s leading and God’s way. It is a move from self-determination to God-determination.

The Kingdom of God view of liberty is also different than that of the concept in the Declaration of Independence. The liberty referenced is that of freedom to do whatever one desires as long as it does not interfere with others.  It is freedom from not only oppression but restriction of own desires.  The Kingdom of God principle of liberty is quite different. The Kingdom of God liberty is about freedom from the bondage to sin and self.  It is freedom from the consequences of our selfishness.  Each of us makes choices each day. There are many choices that move away from God and give a momentary pay off that leave one bound and oppressed.  Yet, God offers freedom to all who will take it, but it means surrendering God’s authority. When you do so, freedom from all those choices of the moment is granted and relationship with the Creator is secured. 

The Declaration of Independence indicates that the ultimate goal of all is the “pursuit of happiness.” In  other words, we are to be free to take a path that makes us feel good. It is pursuit of overall well being. It is a pursuit of that which is pleasing.  In the Kingdom of God, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 which offers a different take than that which makes us feel good or pleases us.  Rather, it stands in contrast with brokenness, mercy, righteousness, purity, and persecution as elements valued in God’s Kingdom which is moving being the satisfaction of self known as happiness.

The world today bemoans the pain and suffering.  There are cries for tolerance and letting everyone select their own path toward creating their own good.  Now, self-determination has often resulted in people pursuing goals that bring success and benefit many, but it simply provides means to limit the pain.  Any government can become oppressive and certainly will not please all. There is a better way to live than by the concepts found in the Declaration of Independence when you live in submission to the creator and surrender self to God.  The surrender of self is what is required to join God’s Kingdom. It is His rule and following His determination or it is a self-determined course.  The path of self is filled with illusion and temporary gains, the path of God is that of faith, endurance, and promises of lasting life and happiness as we are transformed and brought in alignment with the Creator’s design and intent.  

Now, we do  have a choice. Each of us. We can choose our path and direction and go by our will, avoiding harm to others.  We can select those who govern us and see if they help or hinder our own and societies well being.  We can seek to live in an ever changing world, altering the social contract as necessary.  The other choice is that of looking beyond this world and entering the Kingdom of God.  It starts with being reconciled with the creator and then results with changes within as we grow and mature as members of God’s kingdom. In God’s Kingdom though all who enter are more than simply subjects, because we are adopted into God’s family. We are selected to a very intimate and select relationship with one who looks for our good always. Yes, even when it does not appear to be so.  It involves entering the eternal contract and surrendering to God’s determination and way.  It is only by doing so can one truly find life, liberty, and happiness for any other way is temporary and illusion leading to bondage.  For it is as stated in John 8:36 (ESV) So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

News Commentary: Brit Hume’s comments about Tiger Wood.

Currently the internet and varied blogs are posting and up and arms about a comment Brit Hume made today on Fox News.  He made the following statement:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith,” Hume said. “He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger is, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Bloggers and commentators through out the internet are mocking and decrying the comment.  Quick reference is made of professing Christians infidelities. Additionally, the personal tragedy of the suicide of Mr. Hume’s son and a father’s rejection of homosexuality being seen as a trigger.  It is amazing to see the rage and scorn for such a simple statement.

Brit Hume in a blurb compared Buddhism and Christianity. One that provides an answer to mans sinfulness.  Brit Hume was correct in pointing out Christianity offers a way of restoration and recovery.  If Tiger turned to Christianity and turned himself around he could receive some restoration and be a great example. However, in the brief blurb Brit’s comments are also short-sighted. While, to receive true healing and restoration, the only true way is turning to Jesus.  Yet, such an action should never be about regaining what was lost, like reputation. Rather, it is about recognizing our own selfishness and need for answer beyond self. 

When I think about the rage of responses in varied commentaries, it really seems down to pointing to an answer beyond self-determination.  The anger is about the Christian faith indicating there is only one true path, and not many paths that is determined by self.  Yes, people can make changes in their life outside of Christianity. Christians also have done very bad things.  Here is the essential difference though, it comes down to eternal matters and forgiveness. Brit Hume made a limited comment, essentially comparing what the path of Buddhism provides and compared to Christianity. It clearly is Brit’s opinion and with indications that he is leaving Fox, he clearly spoke his mind.  The sad part is the statement and context come off as self-righteous and condescending and without a broader context of love.  It is not the way to convince Tiger or anyone else of the value of the Gospel. The truth always needs to presented within the context of love.  Brit here made a statement of truth, he may have done so with love and care for Tiger in mind, but it falls short of presenting the truth in love.

Tiger would be better off in this life and in terms of what is ahead because turning to the forgiveness provided by Jesus brings completion.  When someone is totally surrendered to Jesus there is a wholeness that brings true peace.  Yet, no matter how anyone says it, without a demonstration of love accompanying the words, they are empty.

The victor over encroaching darkness: Jesus

The world is filled with darkness. The news is filled with stories of death and destruction.  We have holidays that even embrace and celebrate darkness such as Halloween. There is an ever-growing trend of what is good being called evil and what is evil called good, such as the non-dualist moral framework of that which impedes desire is evil.  Recently this writer visited Brazil and one of wife’s family commented how Brazil used to be a safe place, but it is not safe anymore. He even commented about Southern Brazil experiencing a cyclone (tornado), something unheard of in Brazil.  So darkness is ever encroaching.

No a reader may ask what is meant by darkness.  Darkness is that which is evil, that which shows no light. Now many philosophical and religious systems out there do talk about good and evil, light and dark.  Yet the definitions vary. Essentially it focuses on the battle of evil impulses with those of good impulses.  There is a focus on benefiting the world at large, building it up, or being destructive and tearing it down.

There is acknowledgement in the world at large at pretty significant issues and areas of darkness. The world at large focuses on crime, disease, poverty, climate change,  and intolerance as areas of primary darkness. There are plans and scopes made to find and arrange political solutions to these problems. There is a hope of a New Era Dawning and folks that work toward facilitating a New World order, all in the name to fighting what they consider to be things of darkness.

The Christian world view is quite contrary to the world’s approach to problems.  The Christian view is not about finding political solutions. It is not about finding ways to all work together.  The Christian worldview sees darkness as defeated.  The encroaching darkness is something that is but temporary.  The evil within each of us evidenced by our on-going selfishness has been dealt with, a person simply needs to choose to accept the solution and turn from self and surrender to God.  The answer to darkness if found in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. 

Now, there are many that distort the Gospel and change the message of Jesus. There are many who believe they embrace light, when they reality is they are exchanging one darkness for another.  The number of things that appear to be light when they are truly dark is numerous.  Even within those that profess following the Gospel there are many deceptions and ways of darkness that can take one-off the path.  There are many who think they have embraced truth when still lost.

The fact is the forces of darkness know that time is short. They are working hard to deceive many and bringing destruction. The forces of darkness celebrate each choice that leads to death.  The forces of darkness want to take all to the reality of hell and eternal separation from God. 

Yet, while darkness is growing stronger and many are deceived, darkness is defeated. There will be those that turn from light to darkness, there will be those that seek to aid darkness, thinking the darkness is good.  Yet, the end result is all darkness is already defeated.  A time is soon coming when Jesus will return and implement the victory of darkness and bring wrath and judgment.  The question for each of us, is what choice have you made. At death or upon Jesus return it will not be about how often you did good things over embracing your dark impulses, because one thing done selfishly is disqualifying.  Light and darkness do not coexist and are not interdependent.  So the question is what keeps the reader from embracing and walking in the light? What source of darkness have you embraced?  What is your response to God’s offer of redemption through Jesus the Messiah?  Jesus is the light, there exists no other. Jesus is the victory over all that is dark.

News Commentary: Fort Hood shooting- Things done in the name of god.

Well the news is filled with stories of the tragic shooting on 11/5/2009 at Fort Hood in Texas.  The current numbers stand at 13 dead and 30 injured. This tragedy has capture the attention of many in this country.  It is a sad, sad story.

The internet is filled with descriptions of the alleged shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan.  He was reported to be calm and methodical, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (god is great) before engaging in his shooting spree.  The Washington Post reported he had made several attempts to be discharged from the army and avoid being sent to Afghanistan. He did not support the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan. He also was reported to be of the Muslim faith.  The article also reported he had been investigated for a while based on online comparisons of Islamic suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots. The article printed this quote:  “To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate,” the posting read. “It’s more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause.”  

For me this tragic shooting  brings a couple thoughts to mind. The first is the sadness over what people do in the name of god while serving their own agenda.  Clearly Major Hasan had significant personal issues. He appears to have turned to principles in Islam as a defense for the rightness of his actions.  Such actions certainly are not something the one true God would desire. However, many times even those of us who follow the one true God, do things in His name that are not consistent with what God desires.  We often substitute our thoughts for God’s thoughts, and our desires for God’s desires. 

The sad thing is that for those that do not follow the one true God and miss the truth of the narrow path, the end result one way or another can lead to destruction.  Major Hasan made choices related to his desires and fueled by his concept of god, based on Muslim theology.  He felt a need to destroy to serve god.  It is a sad and tragic but happens all to frequently.

Now, an important thing to note is such a tragedy will be used to push the false peace of “tolerance.” The argument may be made if Major Hasen was never harassed for his Muslim faith, this incident would never have happened. Such incidents will serve to give folks impetus to encourage tolerance laws that would serve to restrict those who take an exclusive view related to truth and relationship with the one, true God.  Yet, such laws are a matter of time, if not this shooting by Major Hasen, it would be some other incident. 

What happens politically will happen sooner or later, it is nothing to fear. Rather, those of us who follow the one true God, need to find ways to reach out to those around us lost in love and examine whether we input our own agenda and be following our agenda in God’s name.

In closing this commentary, I want to encourage people to pray for the victims and victim’s families.  The shooting is tragic. Yet, find a way to reach out in love to others, and reflect the love of the One True God.  I also want to encourage people to examine their relationship with God.  Do you have the true peace, that which comes from surrender to the One True God? If not, today is the day to reconsider, as none of us can know when we may be at the receiving end of someone making destructive choices.

News Commentary: A beast arising? Ireland ratifies Lisbon treaty

Yesterday, Ireland the last hold out in the European Union Lisbon treaty ended there resistance and voted to ratify the treaty, here is one source of the news: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8288181.stm.  Now this to me is one step closer to that which is coming, one more step setting pieces in place for what is yet to come.  It is really just a continued building of foundations leading to a new era.  This new era will seem to be great and bold with values of tolerance at its head and a further building of individualism.  The world is traveling one step closer to globalization with the centers of the old Roman Empire as the core.  I believe we are in the final phases of transition into the ten toes in Daniel’s vision.  Now, perhaps my thoughts could be wrong and there is a far lengthy process regarding the shift, but there  is shift occurring.  Now is a time to look soberly with where you are before God, as the days are getting darker.  Soon is coming that which is good will be called evil and evil good.  Yes, it has been this way ever increasing but even more.  There is a view of morality that states that fulfilling desires is that which is moral and anything impeding desire is evil.   We are living in this day and age where this moral view will become primary.  We are living in a time of change and transition away from any Judeo-Christian foundations in the world, to what will seem a better way. We will see more and more holdouts change their mind as the world grows increasingly dark.  Ireland, a rich and beautiful land that once was the center of the spread of the Gospel has followed the way of Bono and grabbed hold of the promises of the world.

It is a day to mourn, but yet also a day to rejoice.  Rejoice for each step where darkness enfolds and the plans of evil are walked in, the return of Jesus the King of Kings is one step closer.  This is not something to fear, but something to elicit praise.  The time coming is one where darkness will be great, but the light of the world will shine brightly. The darkness will bring much death but it cannot and  will not extinguish the light.   And soon the light of the world will be back among us and the forces of darkness will face their judgement.  The only way to really close this commentary is with this: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.  Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, He alone is worthy. Holy, Holy, Holy is the lamb of God.

News Commentary: Musing on the life and death of Walter Cronkite

On July 17, 2009 Walter Cronkite shed his mortal coil.  The man once known as the most trusted man in America came to the end of his life.  The question is how did Walter Cronkite become such an influence.  How did he become the most trusted man in America and how did he impact America and the world? 

Walter Cronkite became the voice America turned to for their news.  He came to prominence in the advent and growth of the Television era.  He taught himself to speak slowly so he could be understood clearly and concisely when presenting news on air.  He did not just report the facts but shared his reaction and analysis to those events.  He came off as honest, sincere, and looking out for the best interests of the country.  He was trusted for how he presented the news. 

Walter Cronkite showed that how you present yourself and the facts impacts how others perceive you.  He presented as a straight shooter, concerned with accurate and forthright presentation of the facts.  Yet, he was never shy of voicing his opinion.  His opinion certaninly shaped and registered with many who viewed him nightly.   Yet, what did he really stand for?

An brief examination of what Walter Cronkite advocated and supported shows that he was for a limited global government.  In a speech to the United Nations in 1999 he stated:

We cannot defer this responsibility to posterity. Time will not wait. Democracy, civilization itself, is at stake. Within the next few years we must change the basic structure of our global community from the present anarchic system of war and ever more destructive weaponry to a new system governed by a democratic UN federation…

So, he was an advocate of global peace with the solution being found in global governance by the United Nations and following the structure of the United States.  He saw the only real answer to peace as that being found in the strength of a global government. 

Walter also advocated the view of tolerance among religions and was Charmain of the Interfaith Alliance.  He strongly stood against what he viewed as the intolerance of the religious right and specially mentioned Pat Roberston and James Dobson of people he concerned intolerant extremists.  This organization is truly the fore-runner to Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation, Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan, Karen Armstong’s Charter of Compassion and other entities with ecumenical objectives promoting a morally inclusive view that suggests peace through tolerance of diversity. 

What Walter Cronkite advocated is things that make sense to the world.  A world that is absent recognition of Jesus as Messiah and the source of any true peace.  There is a way that seems right to humanity but is a way that leads to death.   The things advocated by the most trusted man in America have an appearance of wisdom but will fall short.  Rest assured we are rapidly moving toward increased global government.  It is a sure path.  Most of the world will turn to trust these objectives, just as they trusted an advocate of the viewpoint. 

There is another way.  And yes, the way  is considered extereme and intolerant by others.  How can there only be one way to God?  What about people who do right things?  We all share the “divine spark.” We are all God’s children.  These themes will persit.  Yet there is only one way.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He alone should be anyones most trusted.  He alone is worthy of trust.   He alone is the author and perfector of true peace.  His peace is not about the absence of conflict but is about being right before the creator of the universe.  Since we each are selfish and legally at fault, Jesus covered the penalty for all those that will accept his gift.  No matter how right anyone may be.  No matter how concerned with the welfare of humanity one may be, the fact is ultimately it comes down to what we do with Jesus.  Sadly, it seems Walter never fully grasped the reality of Jesus.  Sure, we did good things, and engaged in attending an Episcopal church, yet the reality is salvation and peace is only found in Jesus.  It seems Walter missed that, yet only God truly knows.  Consider today, what will you pursue. The peace of the world with globalization and tolerance and moral inclusivity, or the peace of God found in surrender to Jesus and having the legal penalty of our selfishness paid offering redemtion for all who agree to accept it.   So which path to peace will you choose?

News Commentary: President Obama’s Cairo speech-a shape of things to come

On June 4thPresident Obama gave a speech in Cairo that clearly is signs of things to come. Here is one location of the full speech: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/.   The speech as a whole really does reflect the way things are moving towards a view of the world as interdependent and with a tone promoting “moral inclusivity” and tolerance.  The end of his speech really gave a summary of the President’s view point. 

It’s easier to start wars than to end them.  It’s easier to blame others than to look inward.  It’s easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share.  But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path.  There’s one rule that lies at the heart of every religion — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  (Applause.)  This truth transcends nations and peoples — a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian or Muslim or Jew.  It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world.  It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us:  “O mankind!  We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us:  “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us:  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  (Applause.)

The people of the world can live together in peace.  We know that is God’s vision.  Now that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you.  And may God’s peace be upon you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

Now the reader may examine those remarks and conclude that the goals President Obama is proclaiming are wonderful and is a worthwhile cause.  He after all is talking about peace and tolerance and not fighting.  However, the peace he is advocating is not the peace of God and is momentary and fleeting.  He in essences points toward a “new spirituality”, one that transcends all religions and is what all religons point toward. 

The peace President Obama advocates is based on the concept of interdependence, that we are all connected.  He indicates that humanity has the power to shape a world we want, and to do so me need to be tolerant.  The real evil will become any thought, any religion that elevates itself over others.  He offers the premise that God’s vision is for humanity to live together without conflict. This however, is not God’s vision.  God’s vision is for people to come to true peace through the Gospel.  Peace through tolerance starts with a setting aside of own ideals and accepting that of another.  It really comes down to a subjective stanard that indicates that what one believes is irrelevant, what is important is that we just all get along.  In order to get along we have to accept that there is no objective truth and whatever anyone believes is ultimately only relevant for how what they believe helps them.

Now, having said that, this does not preclude any value in tolerance.  We can all stand to be a bit more tolerant, and the church as a whole needs to focus more on the grace of God and the truth of the gosple rather then the different theological views.  And any conflict should serve the purpose of each individual being able to examine self and see where might have strayed from truth.  However, President Obama advocates tolerance without objective standards as the means of peace. 

Peace through tolerance is a false peace and it fails to recognize that any peace really comes down to surrender.  The question ultimately will be to whom do you surrender.  The path of President Obama, Javier Solona, and the United Nations is that of surrender to the governmental authorities and the push is toward a form of globalization by which there is one authority to which all must surrender.  According to Christianity, the one we must all surrender to is Jesus the Messiah, the King of Kings.  We surrender by accepting his gift of salvation and following Jesus.  The only true peace comes through surrender to Jesus, and while this is easily stated it really is hard for people to do.  We want to live our own lives, our own way, and have some perception that we have a special role in contributing to the world, even if it is simply raising a family.  God’s vision is not people living together in peace, it is people turning from self, and coming to peace through Jesus. 

Sadly, though most people will not recognize the need for the true peace found in Jesus. Most will ultimately pursue and accept this new, worldly standard of peace which involves tolerance and surrender to the government.  A time will come that when those who do not accept this viewpoint proffered by President Obama will lose their life.  It will happen, just a matter of when.

President Obama’s speech really is a foundation of things to come.  The things coming ahead are setting the foundation for the New World Order and the one who will set himself up as the saviour of humity.  This path is a path of deception and will lead to destruction of many. So be wary, for while what is advocated may seem high ideals, they are but a falsehood.  Yet, what President Obama has said, while based on falsehood truely is the shape of things to come, the world is pursuing this path.