A Negation

“‘In the midst of life we are in death,’ said one; it is more true that in the midst of death we are in life. Life is the only reality; what men call death is but a shadow–a word for that which cannot be–a negation, owing the very idea of itself to that which it would deny. But for life there could be no death. If God were not, there would not even be nothing. Not even nothingness preceded life. Nothingness owes its very idea to existence.”        —George MacDonald

It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it?

I once performed a narrative for my church about a Christian student debating with his atheist professor. I won’t share the whole thing, partly because I simply can’t remember, but the highlight of the main discussion was the argument the student proposed: you measure temperature by the amount of warmth, not by the cold. Cold is only there because of lack of heat. You can measure darkness only by the absence of light. We don’t measure light by how much darkness there is. You would not have darkness if it weren’t for light.

In the same way, Evil is not an independent force; the only way we can recognize evil is because of Good. Evil is the absence of Good. The only way we can see it is because we have a point of reference, a comparison, to Good.

And what would the atheists say to that? I know there are some out there who prescribe to the thought that existence is a completely random process, and that there are no forces of wrong and right in the universe.

Everything boils down to science and rock and chemicals and hormones and survival.

But how do you explain the way we can recognize that beating a child is inherently wrong? If there is no God, no structure, no moral obligation, why do we believe and act on those principals? If something doesn’t exist, it doesn’t exist. It’s simple math. Why do we strive to reach a standard that never existed to begin with? I often pull myself out of what some have called my ‘fundamentalist bubble,’ and really tried to imagine a world without God. I tried to explain to myself the reason for what is right and what is wrong without a Being who dictates what those things are to to start with. I couldn’t do it.

If God does not exist, and there really is no intrinsic value to life, and no moral laws…where did they come from? You can only measure how much you have by comparing it to something else. You can only know how cold it is by first experiencing warmth. For someone to say there is a wrong, there has to be a right.

The fact that we can recognize that there is a moral right and wrong at all proves that we have been exposed, and have experienced, moral, absolute truth. If that were untrue, we would be incapable of  distinguishing right from wrong. We would not even care. That is the only thing that can explain why we perceive the difference between the two. If you live by rules you must concede that there is a rule-setter.

And that is all I have to say…well, for now.

It’s nice when something finally clicks in your head, and you get it. 

Is God good?

Yeah He is.

My dear Wormwood,

“One of our greatest allies is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes even our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.” 

-Screwtape

Ecola Paper #2

Here it is, folks. This paper was well received by my writing teacher and the Director of the School of Ministry. Any good thing in this paper came from my God. I remember feeling lost, and sitting down and praying for God to speak through my words, that His truth would shine forth and that I would fade away. God is so good. Hands down.

The End

“In this time there are two sorts of people who are important: the fully dedicated children of God and the fully dedicated atheist. Every Christian is called to be involved in this fight. You can decide for yourself if you will be a good, a mediocre or a bad wrestler(Marching Orders for the End Times, Corrie Ten Boom, pg. 11).

I remember sitting, staring out a window. Everything seemed well and good around me; the sun was warm and it was peacefully busy in my small sphere of awareness. The world was running just as it should be with its bustle of chatter and laughter from people. Yet, as if I were in a movie, I was suddenly struck with a thought. The noise receded into the background until all I heard was a deep foreboding rumbling from what seemed like a far distance, like a storm was brewing. I knew what it was. As pleasant as my existence is on this Earth, I can hear the end coming swiftly. Revelation 22:20 says, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (King James Bible, Revelation).

The End Times are all too often a distant thought nestled into the nether regions of our mind. Everything has a time and a season, an end. Earth’s life is coming to its great climax, and Christians all over its face have been bearing arms for the final battle for over two millennia. Our battle is the intangible world of the Spirit, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (1 Peter 5:8-9). From the moment of salvation, every Christian is involved in this battle, “whether he wants it or not.” Or, in other words, we may not simply choose to abandon our post. Either we will be an effective element for the powers of good, or we will, by default, allow the Accuser to gain ground. That is why it is so imperative that Christians take up arms to fight! Satan never waits for when we feel prepared. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7). Not only does the accuser traverse the whole Earth, observing, but he actively seeks out people to devour. The Devil is swift on our heels! Satan makes no distinction of age, race, wealth or rank. If you are doing the Lord’s work and are part of his family, you are in his sights. There are few things that can hinder Satan in this world, and Christians are blessed with the power to exercise them all.

Fellowship of the saints is one of the most crucial. I’m reminded of a particular Television program called LOST. In the pilot episode a group of people have crash landed on a remote tropical island. As fractions start to form and contentions rise as to what they should do, Jack, the rising leader, states, “Either we live together or die alone.” A truer statement cannot be uttered. Either we grow as a people and fight together, or we fragment and live incapacitated by our weaknesses. God created man to be a relational being, as He is Triune by nature. We are all connected by the Holy Spirit. I‘ve come across a statement that summarizes my feelings perfectly: “Organization for a common and concrete goal in peacetime organizations does not evoke anything like the degree of comradeship commonly known in war… Men are true comrades only when each one is ready to give up his life for the other without reflection and without thought of personal loss” (J. Glen Gray’s The Warriors: Reflections of men in Battle quoted in Stephen E. Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, pg.20). It is staggering how someone who probably has no understanding of Christ’s love can so perfectly understand what it is. And then, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phl. 1:17). The trials we face at the end times is the refiner of our fellowship. When we look to our left and to our right, we should not see denominations, sects or differences in doctrine. We should see fellow soldiers. We’re in this battle together, and should act accordingly. When we arrive at the point where we are willing to stand supporting each other without thought of self is when we will do great things. One of Satan’s, the father of strife’s, greatest tools is turning Saints against each other. Many Christians have bitterness festering within their hearts towards their fellow Christians, and they are indeed dying alone.

“For the Joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10b). “It is so important to know that in the final battle the joy of the Holy Spirit is available for us in all circumstances” (Boom, pg.66). “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13). Joy is the instigator of Hope. Joy is what we look towards, and what spurred Christ on at the cross. It is for the joy that was set before Him that He endured the cross and suffered the shame. Joy was enough for the Son of God to take the sin of the world on His shoulders. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and is a potent element in enduring suffering.

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16). Hudson Taylor wrote: “We do not need a great faith, but we do need faith in a great God” (Boom, pg 63). Faith cannot be mustered or built up by willpower. Faith comes from knowing how faithful the God we serve is. It has the ability to quench the fiery darts of the wicked because God is faithful to protect and guide us! He has complete control.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18). “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Lk. 11:10). Prayer is one of the greatest tools we possess, yet it is the most neglected of all. Only when you ask you receive, and only by knocking can the door be opened. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done” (Matt. 21:21). God has given us unbelievable power through prayer! And yet Satan is so skilled at cheapening such a great gift. If every Christian got on their knees daily, this world would not be the same. If we truly believed our prayers could move mountains, and that God hears and answers every single one, we would pray without ceasing.

Love, the last on my list, is above all else. Love allows us to fellowship, what spurs us towards communion with our creator and is the cause for our very salvation. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). “Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (13: 8). “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (13: 13). Without love our efforts are in vain. Love is longer-lasting than prophecies and knowledge and tongues. It is greater than both hope and faith. Love is why we exist and what we exist for. Love surpasses any evil that we face, and will outlive any and all hardships we must endure. “It is a very strong weapon in the battle to win souls, for it never gives in. It is slow to lose patience, it looks for a way of being constructive, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope: it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen” (Boom, pg. 44).

Finally, there is victory. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11). Christ won the war when He died on Calvary’s cross. When He exited the tomb where he had been buried, I am certain all the forces of evil were watching, and that they knew that their time was coming to an end. Satan is only as desperate as he is because he knows God will crush is head under his heel. “The possibilities of man are indeed unlimited, but only when he does not limit the promises of God through His unbelief. As the mountains and the stars of Heaven are unshakable, so the works of Jesus are standing firm as a rock, and even more so, because they bear the stamp of eternity” (Boom, pg. 92).  Jesus promised us an everlasting future with Him and victory over the enemy. His promises are forever and unchanging, permanent.

As the end advances swiftly, I’m not afraid. I stand behind the shield of my God. I am joined with His forces. More and more, I have been possessed with that particular mentality; the people I interact with and live with are the ones I am fighting alongside. We are waging a battle that most are unaware of, yet it affects them all. It is time to set aside petty differences and run the race that is set before us. It’s time to look to Christ, the perfecter and finisher of our faith. God has already made a call to arms, and He’s waiting for the faithful to respond. I want to be one of the Saints who, when all is over and done, God tells, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I want to be the one to pick up my shield and sword and head forth without looking back.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”(Rom. 8:35-39).

Works Cited:

Ambrose, Stephen E. band of Brothers, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1992

Boom, Corrie Ten, Marching Orders for the End Battle. Christian literature crusade, London, 1969

Gray, Glen J, The warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle. New York, Harper & Row, 1959

The Holy Bible, King James Version, E-sword.

Old Things Become New

II Samuel 11:1-2

“And it came to pass, after the year expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle,that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah.

But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself;

And the woman was very beautiful to look upon…”

I know I’ve heard this story over and over again, and it’s often thought of as the tipping point of David’s Rule. As most of you know, David takes Bathsheba and sleeps with her. Later, he tells the commander of his armies to place Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, in the forefront of the battle, where all the courageous men fight. Uriah is killed, and David takes Bathsheba for his wife. It’s interesting to note that Bathsheba mourns his death. He dies for his king, country and, ultimately, for his wife. For a payment, God tells David that he will never have peace, and his life will be full of continual warfare. David and Bathsheba’s first child dies eight days after he is born.

It read’s like a greek tragedy until you get to the part where they produce their second son, Solomon. God has a knack for taking our failed efforts and turning them into something good.

It was the same story every time for me. As I was listening to John stone read the first two verses of 2 Samuel 11, I hadn’t noted anything particularly special from all the other times I had read it, but then John stopped reading. He then brought to our attention a special little thing called Editorial Comments. EC’s are distinguished by the fact that they aren’t crucial to the storyline, but they add a little flavor and character, flesh things out a bit. The chapter begins with it telling us it’s Spring. The EC is when the text tacks on, ‘at the time when kings go forth to battle.’

So what’s David doing at home? It is then, when David isn’t where he should be, that trouble happens.

And it clicked. John had to spell it out for me, but I got it.

When we are not where we are supposed to be, where God wants us to be, that’s when things go wrong. That is when satan slips in the room we’ve made for him.

There are so many speakers that come through Ecola, and I sit through so many hours of lectures that, sometimes, it’s difficult remember everything that I hear. But I’ll remember this.

10 Minutes Before Class

And I’m thinking about God.

He is good.

You heard me? Good. As in PERFECT.

I grew up reading ancient tales of fickle gods. God’s who enslaved beautiful women to the underworld because they ate 9 pomegranate seeds from a feast offered to them. God’s who sat in the heavens, observing battles and interactions with an apathy induced by divine boredom. They were gods that fought not only with their subjects, but with themselves, too.

As I went about my business I was basking in the … lack of the fear that my God didn’t love me, I suppose you could call it. My God loves me with a love so perfect that it’s changing me to be more like Him. He loves me so completely that no one can add or take away from it.

My God is Good

And there’s nothing anybody can do about it.

Yeah.