Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

Who’s the Liberal?

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Hear O Israel, the LORD thy God, the LORD is one, and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind. The second is like unto it, that thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two hang all the Law and the Prophets.

It has been said that if a young man is not a Liberal he has no heart, and if when he is older he is not a Conservative he has no mind. In the Church we may have the opposite trend.

The young Christian finds it easy to believe the most hidebound dogma from whatever the tradition he finds himself. A Brethren convert will most adamantly support that group’s teachings, and a Pentecostal theirs. Their Bible was delivered from God in just that form, leather binding and all.

As time passes, young Christian hears and reads a lot of differing opinions: The Bible is a contradictory collection of outmoded tribal traditions and priestly forgeries. Jesus learned His teachings from Indian Buddhists. All roads lead to God, however you imagine “God” to be. Sometimes young Christian believes that claptrap, and falls into all kinds of despair, even enlisting to spread that claptrap to others out of anger at being told that simplistic first story to begin with.

So who, really, is at fault here, and what can be done to change things? The first culprit, of course, is the one who started the first dogma. Does God demand Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Robert Easter

Friday, 17 October, 2008 at 13:13

Life as we (Don’t) Know It

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We last looked at the principle of the New Birth. One thing about Jesus’ teachings that impresses me is that if something were a parable, a story offered to illustrate a point, then He would say at the first, “the Kingdom is like thus and such. If there were a true story that He used, then, “There was such a man…” If He was saying that something is this or that way, then that’s what would come out. Like when a group of Jews “believed on Him” as far as opinions go, but still cherished their own sinful attitudes and ambitions, He told them that “You belong to your father, the devil.” God, the Father, has no part with such deceits, and those who hold to them have no right to call Him, “Father,” because it is the devil that is “the father of lies.” So, then, if we are to belong to God, and hear from Him, we need to be born again, by His Spirit, by faith. Faith, in this sense, is more a continuing process than a momentary decision; and the New Birth is, like natural birth, an event that marks a life, and not the whole life in itself.

Because of this, we don’t say that the New Birth is the Main Point, or the Final Experience, for anyone’s life. Two terms Jesus used for the New Life Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 24 August, 2008 at 0:36

Planet of the Walking Dead

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Dead inside? Did INXS sing, “..every single one of us is dead inside,” or did I just keep hearing it wrong? If they did, they were right. Almost. When Jesus told the Jewish elder, “You must be born again, ..of the Spirit, to enter the kingdom of Heaven,” He wasn’t just using a figure of speech. Sure, for years the Jewish Establishment had been using the term for when someone of the goyim (nations) became a Jew through mikveh (water immersion), that he/she was “born again” as a Jew, but that’s another story for another time. When God warned innocent Adam that if they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (well, evil, really. They already knew good!) they would immediately die. When they were still walking around the next day, we guess God was just kidding, or making some kind of parable that really meant something else. Nope. God has a wonderful, original, sense of humor, but death and sin aren’t funny. Their very next encounter with God shows something had changed drastically. A careful read shows that to that point they were wise, happy, and fearless. Now they were stupid (wrapping themselves in gummy, prickly, fig leaves!), miserable (hiding in the bushes), and cowardly (shifting blame). When God made Adam, He breathed His own Spirit into the man, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Friday, 22 August, 2008 at 9:21

The Payoff?

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Continued from “Invisible Sidewalks” (below)

So then our goal in all this- What is it? To drop our blessed backsides into a holy hammock and catch a Son tan? Not likely. We so often speak of “Our Heavenly Reward” as it were some kind of trophy home on high that we have earned by our own religiosity. No matter if that religiosity had more to do with the number of prayers we prayed, or the number of sinners we prayed with, or just that we did, one time, pray a “sinner’s prayer.” Short answer to a long question: It ain’t about us! Glory is not about personal gain any more than it is about a jihadist’s dreams of an eternal orgy. John wrote in 1st John 3, “..We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” A Christian’s hope, though yes there will be “joy unspeakable, and full of glory,” yet all that will be a fulfillment of what has begun here in this life: Our hope is that we will see Jesus, face to Face, and be changed through love for Him to be like Him Whom we see! If that is the goal, then where is the road? Is that is what we are hoping for, what we are seeking now, or is there some kind of “sanctified selfishness” in the picture someplace? Could we ever hope to gain more than Jesus?

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 2 April, 2008 at 15:36

Pearls Big Enough to Walk Through!

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[Picking up from “Eternal Candyland’ (below):]
We read in Acts that Paul’s gospel was that “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” A pearl only comes from patiently dealing with trouble. A piece of grit gets up under a clam’s neck and troubles it, and the way the clam deals with the trouble produces something of lasting beauty and value. In order to get into that city, to see Christ, it will take perseverance. In fact, in we read that God, “will give eternal life to those who persist in doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves…” Jesus said, “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to (eternal) life, and those who find it are few.” So those that see those gates of pearl will be the ones that know what the pearl is all about.

At about this point, some will be asking if we’re talking about our own hard work saving us, or impressing God so much he’ll just have to let us in. Short answer- not even a little bit. Come back for the next installment to see what kind of road we’ve got for the journey!

Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 25 March, 2008 at 23:00

Eternal Candyland?

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God’s plan for Israel never was a free ride to a candy-coated oblivion. Jesus, the Son, didn’t come with any Big New Plan. There is a difference between the Old and New Testaments on what trust in God looks like, but the real story is that, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” is true here if any place. There is a price on faith. It’s called obedience. Really,
is there a difference?

Back to the candy shop: Western Christianity has gone from real faith in Christ for salvation to a “prayer of faith” for a promise of eternal self-indulgence, to a “word of faith” for the same selfishness here and now. It’s become popular to think of the Afterlife as being defined by our “fondest dreams!” There are some references to the New Jerusalem with the pearl gates and streets of transparently pure gold, where Christ is the light of that city. While I have no problem with that city being a real thing in the future, let’s look at those gates and streets.

Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 25 March, 2008 at 0:17

A Full Life, and an Empty Life?

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Warren Chastain of OMF, writing in Perspectives, makes a remark that most people speak of an altar of sacrifice, but usually manage to turn it into a stage for seeking applause. Too often in our own churches we see individuals who have a “cross to bear” which garners them all kinds of respect and support among the congregation at-large. One story has been told of a woman who would stand to ask prayer every Sunday night for her unsaved husband, often salting her pleas with the latest news on her sufferings in that marriage. After a couple of years a new preacher came to that church and decided to spend some time on her husband. Not a lot of preaching, but a good amount of time spent fishing or playing golf. The husband did become a Christian, but the biggest surprise was the man’s wife. She was furious! No longer could she be the star of the prayer meetings and the darling of the sewing circle. Suddenly her credibility was about what kind of Christian she was, how closely she herself related to her Lord, and the fruit that relationship bore in her own life. All those years invested in self-pity had done nothing for her own Christian walk, and the most glorious thing that could have happened for her affected her as if she had been robbed.

What kind Christians are we? A previous piece on this site covered some basic meanings for that word: Whether we are born in a “Christian” culture, grow up in a “Christian” home, “convert” through some ritual (Holy Baptism, “praying the prayer,” etc.), or whether we are actually living “by the faith of the Son of God.”

A preacher I once knew would butter up the congregation with words about how they were, every one, “filled with the Spirit” and use other such words to paint them a picture that they were all just as complete, consecrated, and holy as God intended. Then he would go on to say how badly he wanted to see revival. If everybody’s already so holy, then what was lacking? One 19th Century evangelist wrote that the first thing needed for revival was for the people to be anxious about their own souls. This fits perfectly with Paul’s words, that we should, “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” Notice, now, that he did not say, “work for,” but “work out.” A maths prof would give us sheets of problems with the answers already printed on the sheets. It was one thing to have the answers given to us, but to go through the process of working out the steps in between made the difference between seeing the answer and having the answer: God wants us to not just be aware of it, but to possess salvation. That preacher had not worked it out that the Gospel is not just “God is for us,” but also about “God in us!” Jesus didn’t give his life for us to say, “gee, thanks” and continue to lie back in our sins, but to be raised up in newness of life and apprehend, by the power of the Spirit, the fullness of the life of Christ in our own existence here on earth. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” was Paul’s bragging point for the Philippians: Not just “Christ for you.”

So, can we get something if we keep our hands in our pockets? Can we embrace the crucified life with our arms folded? There were seven churches that Jesus to whom Jesus dictated letters. Some were healthy, some he gave stern warnings, but the one which was the most sternly warned (Some might even say He was on the point of giving them up!) was the one who was the most assured. Can we learn something from this?

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent”

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 1 March, 2008 at 18:24