Intrinsically we know the two are linked. We obey Christ and we see the results manifest in the physical world. We know that prayer leads to both physical and emotional healing.
But getting a glimpse into the mechanisms of how that happens? The almost infinite ways that the Infinite God set our universe spinning and allows us to continue to live and breath in it? Most of it we can only guess at. But when we do get to see it at work in hard science? That is kind of huge for me. It is an honor.
Last night I ran across a link to this documentary at 1 am on my phone while scanning through a thousand facebook posts and I have no idea whose it was or even why I clicked on it. I was instantly hooked. It blew my mind. World rocked.
It is on the science of water and the drastic structural changes that take place in water molecules depending on the way water is treated. And by “treated” I don’t mean “chemicals put into water” rather how pure H2O is handled and behaved toward. Literally… how electromagnetic currents and sound waves surrounding the water, and even the feelings people have around and toward the water, creates or destroys the bonds between molecules and changes the properties of the water and how the water behaves while interacting with organic life forms. It is mind blowing.
God usually tells us to do things, but often does not tell us why we should do them. Watch this whole thing, and then look back at these commands and see how much sense they make. How loving God is for telling us to do these things. How obedience to Christ actually physically changes us and the world around us.
It also paints a picture of how sin can be communicative. How our sin breaks the world.
I have long had thoughts about what actually happened, chemically, at the fall of man. We know rebellion from God not only broke mankind spiritually, but sent the physical world into degradation. Nothing after that was as it should have been. So in my way of thinking, there must have been some sort of “sin molecule” that was created or entered into the world that set into motion the contamination of the earth.
Watching this documentary, one can see how the fall may not have been a two stage event (Before v. After) but the fall as the beginning of a long and continuing descent into ultimate corruption. That as time goes on and events accelerate and more and more sin is brought into the world, the wonderful world that God blessed us with is not just fallen, but continues to fall as sin grows in mankind.
And looking at that idea, in light of the last documentary series that I posted, “The Century of the Self” you can watch the interplay between the decline of societal integrity over the last century and paste it on top of the decline and contamination of our physical world and watch it happen… and accelerate and spread. Not just from man to man, but from river to ocean. You really get the sense of the world driving exponentially faster and faster toward that horrible crescendo that is a part of both our theology and our collective unconscious.
It gives new meaning to the idea that, “The world is passing away.”
And when God tells you to:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
What this means is that, He really “will guard your hearts and your minds.” Your actual physical body and brain, not just your mind and spirit.
Watch this and I promise you, you will never say grace the same way again.
Gratitude and Love to you all.
So in light of this… how powerful is it to:
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?
Not repeat cruel gossip?
Tame your tongue?
A gentle answer physically turns away wrath, but a harsh word literally stirs up anger.
I want to hear from people on this. The discussion on this can go on forever. What scripture came to mind when you watched this and do you see new wisdom in the commands you have known for a lifetime?
For the last week or so, God has been running a motif in my world. People who love God and who are trying to do the right thing and help those in need being met with bullying, intimidation, harassment, slander and flat out persecution. So I thought it a good time to post this:
Fear God Only
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?
Is not your fear of God your confidence and the integrity of your ways your hope?
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
1 John 4:18-19
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
We love, because He first loved us.
Exodus 1:17, 20
But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
You shall fear only the Lord your God;
And you shall worship and swear by his name.
You shall fear the Lord your God;
You shall serve Him and cling to Him and you shall swear by His name.
Do not fear for I am with you.
Do not anxiously look about, you for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.
ALL THESE ARE COMMANDMENTS
“…When we turn our hearts toward God, all our fears are consumed by one fear. We are called to Fear God Only. There is an important reason for this. What we fear is what we are subject to; our fears define our master. Where there is no fear, there is no control.
When we fear God and God only, we are not longer bound by all of the other fears that would hold us captive. The fear of death, the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, [the fear of loss], the fear of insignificance – all of the fears that know us by name and haunt us in the dark of the night become powerless when we know the fear of the Lord. And if this is not enough, we discover that perfect love casts out all fear. Not even God will hold us or control us by fear. When we fear Him we in essence begin to live a life where we are fearless.
The freedom to love and the freedom from fear make the Wonder Women an entirely different species within the whole of humanity.”
-Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way
How then do we begin to fear God?
1. Enter His presence and worship Him!
Isaiah 6:1-8 – the loving servant Christ that serves in Philippians 2 is the same Majestic God that we see being worshipped on high in Isaiah. Let us not loose sight of the majesty and power of God shown to us in the Old Testament as we commune with Jesus who walked among us.
2. Obey Him!
John 14:21, 23-24, 26
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
3. Repeat all day, every day and live the abundant life He died to give you!
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out …
The Spirit Himself testifies with out spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The Spirit of God
That raised Christ from the dead,
Lives in you!
Exercise of the week:
Choose one or two verses on fear that speak the loudest to your heart.
What are you afraid of?
In your personal journal, write down your fears, leaving a large margin on the bound side of the page. When you are done, tear the page out and burn it, give your fears to God, leaving the margin in the book as a reminder that you used to be afraid of some stuff. Write your memory verse on the margin.
Take as long as you need to. Some do it in a day. It took me a week and a half.
Via New Demonstration:
“In a letter to his brother Charles in June 1766, the Arminian evangelist John Wesley, now in his sixties, confesses that he does not and never did love God, believe or have the direct witness of divine sonship or even of things invisible or eternal. Read for yourself.
“In one of my last [letters] I was saying that I do not feel the wrath of God abiding on me; nor can I believe it does. And yet (this is the mystery), I do not love God. I never did. Therefore I never believed, in the Christian sense of the word. Therefore I am only an honest heathen…
And yet, to be so employed of God! And so hedged in that I can neither get forward nor backward! Surely there was never such an instance before, from the beginning of the world! If I ever have had that faith, it would not be so strange. But I never had any other evidence of the eternal or invisible world than I have now; and that is none at all, unless such as faintly shines from reason’s glimmering ray. I have no direct witness (I do not say, that I am a child of God, but) of anything invisible or eternal.“
“And yet I dare not preach otherwise than I do, either concerning faith, or love, or justification, or perfection. And yet I find rather an increase than a decrease of zeal for the whole work of God and every part of it. I am borne along, I know not how, that I can’t stand still. I want all the world to come to what I do not know.”
- Quoted in Stephen Tomkins, John Wesley, A Biography [Oxford: Lion Publishing, 2003], p. 168; italics mine)
… so… just a really good salesman selling a really good product who had a really good career.
(Disclaimer: This post may not be for everyone, but for students of 20th century history, psychology, sociology, marketing, media and politics, who are also believers in Christ, it think this documentary provides vital lessons. It should be watched through a filter of scripture, a few angles of which I have provided below.
Remember that “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”.
If you don’t want to be bombarded with all the worldly ills of “The American Century”, then you may want to invest your time elsewhere.)
“We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must over shadow his needs.”
- Paul Mazer of the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers in the 1930’s
In 2002 the BBC aired a documentary series on the influence of Sigmund Freud and his family (and one of his students who rebelled against him) on America, via mass marketing, over the last hundred years. I watched it this week and it is one of most fascinating sociological documentaries that I have ever seen. If you are someone who has ever bought anything or had a worldview, you need to watch this.
I am a therapist, and was one long before I ever went to school. I naturally started falling into that role somewhere in junior high, and figured along the way that I should either stop it or learn how to do it right so I didn’t screw with people’s heads or their spiritual lives.
So I got a BS in Psych, with a concentration in child development, and an MS in clinical counseling with a concentration in adolescent and family therapy. During my upbringing under a good youth pastor and my education by good, ethical professors at Johns Hopkins, I had the same basic principle drilled into me:
That my skills and abilities were not to be used selfishly, to get what I wanted, but in the service of others, to meet their needs.
It was the message of Christ who gave up all his rights and power in order to serve sinners, and it is the message of good ethics in psychology where a therapists uses his power over his client to serve him in helping him to become more healthy, aware and functional. In both cases, stern warnings were given that those in power over another person were to tread very lightly as using the power that had been entrusted to them for selfish gain was wholly immoral and in the case of Christ, proof of being lost and bound for hell. (Matthew 23, Matthew 25:31-46).
As a result, it has always been difficult for me to watch those in power, both in the church and those in the mental health arena, abuse their power to serve their ego or their wallet. Watching this phenomena from the bottom of the societal food chain in my youth, (the best perspective for discerning who is who, but the worst place to be if one of the “wolves” are in power) it became clear that if you sat quietly and watched those in power closely enough, you could see who was who by their fruit. (Unfortunately I kept forgetting this lesson; failing to sit quietly and pay attention, put me to task to relearn this lesson a few times in life).
Which bring us to the BBC series, “The Century of the Self”. Read more…
During the Ligonier National Conference Q & A session, John MacArthur was asked, “What is the biggest threat to Christianity today?”
This was his answer.
Last week I got into a conversation with someone who had looked to the bible to find out what to do in a conflict with another believer who was upset with her and had accused her of sin. She had read Matthew 5:21-26 which contains the command, that:
“…if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
However she had also read that Paul and Barnabas had been in conflict (the details of which are vague and don’t seem to include charges of wrong doing but rather a disagreement over a staffing decision), and had parted ways, only to be reconciled later. She decided that she would use that story as her guide and not practice the didactic teaching found in Matthew 5 by going to be reconciled to her former friend, instead hoping that things would just get better like they did for Paul and Barnabas. Years of estrangement has followed because this woman (seemingly sincerely) believed that she didn’t have the obligation to go to her sister in Christ and ask the simple question, “What have I done wrong”, and listen to her correction.
The most upsetting thing about this story? This woman is not just a church member, was not just raised in the evangelical church for more than three decades, she is a lay leader in a position that oversees around two hundred people and has been so for around five years.
Sadly John MacArthur is right on. Professing Christians don’t know the bible or how to interpret the bible. Read more…
I got into two discussions on legalism this week with people in a liberal church. It seemed that their understanding of legalism/phariseeism extended to cover someone (like me) who insists that professing Christians be obedient to scripture and repent when they fail to do so, and (like me also) someone who harshly rebukes church leadership who are rebelling against God’s word.
I never got to finish either conversation to find out for sure.
However, I, being someone like me, feel the need to have a more thorough examination of the matter, so I wrote a more lengthy discussion of the Legalism/Liberalism/True Grace discussion that Keller et. al. were discussing in my last blog post….
Legalism, Liberalism and True Grace
Legalism - works with out faith
Legalism is the idea that The Law can save you (The Law being the OT and/or NT commands of God depending on if you claim to be a Jew or a Christian). That by conforming to every Letter of The Law you earn God’s favor and earn your way to heaven. In this practice Law usurps Grace.
This is wrong on many levels, the first of which is that no one can fulfill the law, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so no one can earn God’s favor through a lifetime of focused obedience. Another is that, if this was actually possible, then there would have been no need for Jesus to come to earth and die for our sins. And of course the message of Jesus and the entire NT is that salvation is through faith in Christ. Read more…
This is an interesting conversation between Tim Keller, John Piper and D.A. Carson where Keller touches on something relevant to those who I have been getting to know who have come out from the dying evangelical church. He was discussing the different ways that people approach Christianity and noted the two false understandings and practices in the faith. He then contrasted them with the one true way. He said this:
Keller: “Do you see… that there are three ways to live, which is… there is moralism/pharaseeism, there is Gospel Christianity and there is hedonism/relativism…. I think the opposite of moralism is cheap grace.
I really appreciated reading Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” in the earliest days of my Christian life. Especially when you realize he was writing it in the context of the German Church which had capitulated to Hitler, and had essentially turned to Luther’s justification by Grace as a way of basically avoiding the importance of prophetic, moral seriousness.
So what Bonhoeffer had to say was this grace of God is free to you, but costly to God. And the law and the will of God is so important, the moral absolutes of God are so important, the God couldn’t just forgive us. Jesus had to die. To turn away His wrath against our sin. To pay the penalty. If you see that… I consider this a paradox.
On the one hand, I see that the law of God is so serious, that it cost Jesus His life. And when I see that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, sex is for just inside marriage”, I have to take that seriously. It cost Jesus His life that humans were violating that. You can never look at that with out fear and trembling.
But at the same time, I am told, that despite my imperfections, that there is no condemnation for me ever again, even if I screw up in the future. That is the paradox.
Because when you say its costly grace, you can’t be morally lax, and at the same time you can’t always be beating yourself up about your failures. And it is tough for a pastor have both those shoes drops.”
Piper: “So you must then think… Gospel centered…” Read more…