That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

Who’s God IS God? (or do they work by committee?)

A couple of days ago, on facebook (of all places), I became involved in a discussion on a hypothetical scenario:  If a Non-Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…And a Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…Who has the most favor from God the Christian or Non-Christian??

I was greatly distressed — but not surprised (is this possible?) — by the responses.

I don’t expect most people to be Christians. But it is sobering to see how unsaved so many of us are. And how unconcerned they seem to be at the fact.

These were black folk, and most of them seemed to filter their views through the screen of their race. That is, their pro-blackness seemed to take precedence over who God may or may not be.

The responses were relativistic and pluralistic. And, of course, the Christian POV was lambasted. We were called arrogant and short-sighted.

There were a couple who told the hard truth — No Jesus, no Heaven — but most of them put the emphasis on the goodness of the deed and judged that they BOTH should go to Heaven.

I said:

“I’m glad God is not like us, judging on personal merit, or else no matter HOW many good deeds I did, the stuff I did wrong would overwhelmingly condemn me!”
I naively thought that that was a debate-ending argument. I leaned back with pride and read and RE-read what I wrote. I usually try to formulate those kinds, but I constantly forget that most people don’t debate by the Marquis of Queensbury rules!
They went on, saying things like, “Who’s to say that Christians have a monopoly on what is the right way? I believe in Jesus, but who am I to be so arrogant to think that my belief is the only way to ‘The Creator’? Religion is what separates us and causes problems. I’m not bashing Christians– I grew up in the Baptist church — (So! If I grew up in a can would that make me sardines?!?), but who wrote that book? Was Jesus a Christian? There are people who have no religion at all who are more Christian that most Christians I know?”
 
I said: One thing I can’t STAND is arrogance! So that’s not me. But in matters like this, I try to say what GOD says, so when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” I say, “Okay,” and get on board! If a dude can lay His life down and pick it up again, I tend to believe what He says.
God may not label us as WE label ourselves,
but He has this book called “The Lamb’s Book of Life” in which HIS are written. He sent His Son to save us, and if we reject Him, we get to spend eternity just as in life — separated from Him — according to our OWN will.
The end of it all for me is this: We all leave our fates in the hands of an Infinitely fair Judge! He will deal squarely with us all… even those in the remotest corners of the Earth (whom we seem to mention only during debates like these). I trust that He will judge us based on the degree of light and revelation we have through Him. All of us on FACEBOOK have heard the name “Jesus” and know what Salvation means.
 
I thought that was pretty good. But they just totally ignored what I said and continued with the idea that good deeds should be the measure of eternal life.
 
I guess I knew that that would be the way it would go, but I just wanted to leave no one with the idea that they had never heard the Gospel.
 
The guy who brought up the whole subject basically told me that I was narrow-minded and had my nose stuck in a book somebody wrote and corrupted, and that I pretty much bought whatever the preacher said on Sundays. He thanked me for being reasonable and told me that I needed to get out more and think more critically.
 
This was, to me, an hiLARious mischaracterization of who I am! No one scrutinizes what preachers say more than I! But as I told them:
Thanks, man! It is ALWAYS good to be reasonable! (I DO look at more than just what I hear on Sundays. Christianity is waaaay more than just a Sunday worldview! Plus, I have to try to understand where others are coming from and not be myopic. But at some point, a person has to reach a conclusion. Based on study and information. Nothing wrong with that.)
I don’t know… This kind of thing bothers me. It is the main reason why I write this blog. I hate to see people NOT GET IT!!! What seems so obvious to me is foolishness to those who are perishing, and I  just want them to see the logic and seamlessness of God’s methods as it relates to soteriology.
And I rail against racism largely because young, progressive black folk take the hypocrisy,evils, and mistreatment of our national history — and present — and cast Christianity out with the dirty bathwater. They assume — erroneously — that the White Man’s God (born in Africa!) must be bad because His messenger is bad.
We got work to do!
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August 6, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Jesus, Race, Racism, Religion, Salvation | 6 Comments

More Time, and Righteousness, Credited to My Account

I’m not supposed to be here.

I’m not supposed to be typing, and double-checking, and breathing right now.

Saturday night, Kathy went to the store to get us something to eat. The line being too long, she left without it. Sam’s Club has these really big oranges in this really big bag for a really low price, and I had to have some, so I jumped in the car to go get them.

I am a lead-footed driver, and I like D’angelo. I was indulging in both. The expressway is about a half mile from our house, and I was on it quickly and and moving swiftly, about eighty or ninety, weaving past those without 265 horsepower at their disposal. The music was blasting and I was feeling pretty good, having spent a whole week with my wife and my babies. Being a husband and a father with so much now to lose, I don’t drive like I used to, but this was such a short trip…

I was in and out of the store in ten minutes. The off ramp where I get off does not merge for those — like me — going left. There is a two-lane stop. As I approached, I saw that an suv, a Tahoe, as in the left lane, and that the right lane was empty. I took the right lane so that when the light turned green, I could jump out quickly and beat the Tahoe on my left. I was racing the whole world and winning.

The music enveloped me — “…she’s alwayyys in my hair, my haiiiiir!” — and I was focused on that red light like a drag racer, ready to launch!

The light turned green! Ready… Set…

For some reason now, I didn’t hit the gas. There was no voice that spoke.

I couldn’t see around the hulking Tahoe from my Maxima, but I noticed that the Tahoe didn’t move either. I’m talking about a span of about one second.

Whoooooosh!! From the left, an eighteen wheeler, carrying death and dismemberment, barrelled through the intersection doing about sixty miles an hour!

Everything changed right then. I sat there at that light in the night at the tail end of a short meaningless trip and shook my head soaking in all that that momentary hesitation meant.

I pulled off slowly, and made my left turn, loing to the Tahoe, and like the aftermath of throwing a giant stone into a pond, the water of my whole life flooded in on me and overwhelmed me.

I thought about Kathy, who waited confidently for me to get back home not ever thinking that I was a pureed mass being poured into a body bag a half mile — and an eternity — away. I thought of how torn to pieces she would be for who knows how long.

I thought about Max, who loves me so absolutely right now, who calls ME every day when he awakes, who yells for ME at night when he has a nightmare, who needs ME to teach him all this stuff I can’t wait to teach him.

I thought about Diana, who smiles so wide at me when the cobwebs clear from her eyes at three o’clock every AM when I feed her, making sure she gets that extra meal she slept through earlier. I though about how she stops crying when I pick her up. I thought about telling her about boys and God.

I thought about how many times I have fed them and changed them and comforted them and taught them and loved them and watched them love me back. And I thought about the fact that no matter how much they love me, one small push on the gas pedal a few SECONDS ago would mean that They would only see me through pictures.

Max would ask, “Where’s Daddy? When’s Daddy coming back?” for days, weeks, and maybe even months, but with each passing second he and his sister would forget me a little bit more until in a short while they would remember me no more. Not at all. All the lessons and laughs would go unfulfilled.

I thought about my parents. I am the oldest and the only son. Gone. With just the slightest release of the brake pedal. I know how much they have loved me.

I thought about my three sisters.

And my few close friends. My church family who would have to hear the news on Sunday morning. I thought about all my musician friends…

My life didn’t flash before me. An alternate future played before me like a dvd on 3x. I saw my body crushed amid broken glass, twisted steel and torn rubber on the street while everyone I loved went on obliviously until the phone rang. I thanked God so much and so many times in that half mile ride.

I am supposed to be dead right now. That is not an overstatement. I am supposed to be as dead as someone mauled by a bear, or crashed in a plane. Based on the way I was driving and jamming — I’ve done it many times before — I was supposed to press that pedal, and no one but God stopped me. I should be sloshing around in a bag in a drawer. But I am not.

I walked into the house, put the oranges down, sat in a chair in front of my family, and cried. Hard.

Tears of  joy and sorrow. Boiling water and ice cubes in the same glass.

Shortly after I began to process everything, I thought about the biggest point of all:

As graphic a picture as the Lord had stapled in my brain, as close a call as I had, as surely as He had saved my life, He did MUCH more than that on a hill, far away!

The picture of eternity in hell is infinitely more horrible than a broken body and crying loved ones. Yes, He surely saved me — and my whole network of family and friends — from an excruciating circumstance, but it all becomes translucent in the face of that from which He ultimately saved me.

And everything I do from here out should be in light of that fact. I have the picture. I have the time. What will I do with it?

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Advice, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Death, Driving, Irony, Near Misses, Salvation, Second Chances | 16 Comments

Ruth for the Ruth Less

We’ve been going thru the book of Ruth at church (http://fellowshipmemphis.org/index.htm). One character is named ”Orpah,” and I believe that she is the namesake of our teevee icon Guru Oprah.

While listening to the sermon, I was struck by another parallel:
In the opening chapter, Orpah and Ruth, being recently widowed, propose to leave their pagan homeland and go to Judah with their likewise widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. Shortly into their journey, Naomi stopped and insisted that the two younger women go back to their own familiar land and let Naomi proceed to Judah and suffer alone. It was rough for unmarried women back then. Really rough.

You know the story: Ruth refused to abandon her while Orpah decided to do what was prudent in her own eyes and return to her native land of Moab. Orpah went “back to her people and her gods.” (Ruth 1:15) Who knows to what Godless debauchery she returned.

It seems that Oprah Winfrey has done the same thing as her near-namesake. Rather than proceed down that Singular, hazard-laden path of righteousness, she has appealed to her own intellect and sense of what is proper and led an opulent pagan life where god is all and in all. She appeared to walk the trail for part of the way, but when pressed, she turned back. She has, through what seems logical to her, concluded that there are many ways to get to “what YOU call god.” Oprah has, I’m sure, at some point heard the Gospel. But she instead chose to live a lifestyle that on the outside appears beautiful, with the cocker spaniels, the flower-print throw pillows, the country estates, and the flourishing business. “Surely all this must be of God, right?” (The devil’s distractions shine like diamonds! How else would he ensnare so many?)

Oprah has simultaneously demonstrated that it is, to her, more prudent to shack rather than marry. And to admonish others to do so as well. She has advocated single motherhood. She props up whatever guru-du-jour — Eckhart Tolle, Rhonda Byrne, Gary Zukav, etc. — to advance her own intellectual idea that anyone who claims to be god is God and that Truth is the individual possession of whoever sincerely believes something. Lately she has amped up her efforts in this area in her “Course in Miracles.”

 And any God who says it is wrong is the only God who is not God!

I know it may sound like I don’t like Oprah ( I think she has damaged men, though), I actually do. But as the point of our Ruth series is “Hope for the Hopeless,” there is for Oprah and anyone swayed by her teachings hope yet.

I just thought the parallel was interesting…

July 16, 2008 Posted by | A Course in Miracles, Christian Life, Christianity, Eckhart Tolle, False Teachers, Marriage, Monotheism, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, Pantheism, Ruth, Salvation, The Secret | Leave a comment

God is the Fireman

God is the fireman.

We just put the ladder against the wall.

In other words, we don’t save anyone, not even ourselves. God does.

What we do is provide the tools — the hands and feet. 

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Adage, Christianity, Eternal Security, Faith, God, Jesus, Metaphor, Proverbs, Redemption, Salvation | Leave a comment

Good Deeds ain’t Fireproof!

The problem many, if not most, people have in their conception of the Christian worldview is that of the Fall, and the way of Salvation. People think that they MUST do something! All other worthy accomplishments require some work on our part.

To pass a test, we must study.

To make the team, we must work out and practice.

To get the job, we must pad the resume!

Just kidding.

Yet, to be saved, we must only allow God… This goes against our method of operation. Surely we must do SOMETHING. Trim the hedges, armor-all the tires, make the bed, rinse the dishes… something.

This is what makes Christianity so foolish to the unregenerate.

It makes no sense, as some Muslims say, that one Person can pay for the sins of another person.

Oprah Winfrey, by most accounts, is a good person by human standards.

She gives away cars.

She gives houses to poor people.

She provides college scholarships to deserving youth.

She builds schools.

She informs us about health, weight, and interior decorating.

She has, by all indications, a beautiful heart.

But the universe, which she claims is god, is NOT God. The universe is scientifically shown to have had a beginning, which requires that it is subject to its Beginner. The universe has no personality. IT does not get angry. It does not THINK. It does not experience joy or pleasure. It only exists. Like a tree, or a river.

Oprah says that she does not need Jesus to get to heaven, because her good DEEDS will get her in. She says that there are milllllions of ways of getting to what YOU call God, and that there can’t POSSIBLY be only one way! She said it with such surety and conviction, too! (So, at that statement, we now have Jesus, that “good guy” they all tout, telling a HUGE lie! He is well known to have said that HE is the only way.)

Jesus is the God of the universe. Like it or not, just as, like it or not, George Bush is President. We accept other things with which we don’t agree — gas prices, death, ’80’s music, insurance (a racket!), “The Flavor of LOVE”!, line dances

Jesus is not just a cool guy walking around in dusty sandals, talking softly, with birds fluttering around at His shoulders. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is badder than Leroy Brown, even! He says that good works don’t save us. They don’t even help with the burden.

Jesus bore the FULL weight by Himself on the cross.

Oprah or Farrakhan or Richard Gere or Joseph T. Blow do Jesus no favors by claiming that He was a prophet, or a good and wise man who came with a message of peace and looove. Ahhhhh!

No one gets to the Father but through Him. As He truly is. God.

We didn’t just fall down on the ground from a standing position. We fell, and have been falling, from the infinite height of perfection, gaining momentum from Adam till this instance. There is nothing to hang onto, nothing to break the fall. Nothing between us and the Dragon’s mouth. We have no parachute. We cannot reach up and grab the ledge, for there IS no ledge. There is only God.

Do you realize how long an arm He must have in order to catch something that has been falling for millenia?

But this is the beauty –and the truth — of it. A man-made religion would not leave man’s works out of the equation! I mean, if Christians were going to fabricate a religion, we certainly would not invent one where we don’t get at least some of the credit, some of the glory. God gets it all. “Jesus paid it ALL.”

So all the school-building, and advocating, and car-giving, and donating, and photo-opping count for NOTHING apart from a relationship with Jesus. Sorry. Not my rules. Yours either.

Without Jesus, all you are doing is sweeping a dirt floor. Dusting a mud hut.

Our good deeds don’t get us through the door, they only furnish the room.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Atheism, Atonement, Christianity, God, Good Works, Jesus, Justification, Oprah Winfrey, Salvation | 5 Comments

Oh! I’m Sorry, God. Was That YOUR Sandwich?

How do you expect to spend eternity in

Someone’s house and not bother to get to know HIM?

Get to know the real God you claim.

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Advice, Bible, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Humor, Intelligent Design, Monotheism, Polytheism, Quips, Religion, Salvation, The Bible, Truth | Leave a comment

The Charlatan’s Mantra

 “Have a need?

Plant a seed.

Stop! Don’t read!

Put on speed!

Feed my greed!”

Sheep, take heed!      Derrick L. Williams

September 5, 2007 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Bishop, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Bishop Thomas Weeks, Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, E. Bernard Jordan, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Food for Thought, Frederick Price, God, Hermeneutics, Immorality, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Kerney Thomas, Paul Crouch, Paula White, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Quips, Religion, Robert Tilton, Rod Parsley, Salvation, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, Thomas Weeks, Truth, Word Network, Word of Faith | 5 Comments

The Passion of The Christ II: THIS time, It’s PERSONAL!!

I’ve got this great idea for a movie: This hero comes to save mankind and is wrongfully put to death. He goes to hell and engages in this epic three day battle with Satan, the ruler of hell. It is a war of unrivalled proportions, the hero wrestling the devil for his keys to death and hell emerges victorious with the keys clutched in his upraised hand!

One problem, though: that script has already been written by Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price, and their brand. While the Bible says that it wouldn’t take God three days to whup NObody, and that Jesus paid the whole debt ON the cross, the Word of Faith faithful feel the need to punch up God’s script with an extra action scene. ( The archangel Michael already beat the devil once!)

And another thing; Satan doesn’t rule hell! Hell is where he and his folk will be cast at the end of all things. If he were “in” hell, how was he “slithering” through the garden whispering in Eve’s ear? How was he in the presence of God debating Job’s trust or lack of trust? Why should we beware a roaring lion who lives in hell? How could he seek and devour us from there? He is not omnipresent! Revelation says that Satan was hurled to the EARTH with his angels. Even a little common sense and logic would shut these guys up.

And down.

These people kill me! Putting spinning, chrome rims on a Gullwing Mercedes! Gold-plating the Hope Diamond to make it shine! Putting rhinestones on an Armani suit! Putting wallpaper on the Sixteen Chapels! (I know!) Trying to shellac the Mona Lisa! (Personally, though, I don’t get her. She looks like Benny Franklin.)  The Atonement is a flawless fact as it is.

The Bible is a wonderfully woven tapestry.

Why try to make it better than God already did?

“It is finished.”

“Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”

“This day you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus’ work was done on the cross. Price says that ANY man could have died on the cross if that was all it took, that He had to go to hell to finish the work. Yeah, any PERFECT man! You know one? Another one?

Let’s study our bibles, folks, so we can shut these racketeers- I mean- raconteurs down.

August 27, 2007 Posted by | Atonement, Charlatans, Christianity, Common Sense, Creflo Dollar, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, God, Hell, Hermeneutics, Humor, Jesus, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Logic, Pulpit Pimps, Redemption, Religion, Salvation, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, The Nature of God, Word of Faith | 2 Comments

A GODly ANTIHISTAMINE

My cousin has died. He was the big brother l always wanted, but never had.
It hurts awfully, but not as much as it did yesterday.
Tomorrow will be just a little easier.
What helps is the knowledge that he, being a believer, is gone from his body, but there with God.
The cold water to the face is the fact that each one of us will have to step up to the front of this life line and give our mortality back to our Maker.

Death is an ink stain on the fabric of life.
No matter how many times we scrub it, no matter how clean it looks,
the stain, the hurt, the fact, will never be completely gone.
And it is our own doing.

God, who cannot bear the company of sin, is like one of those bubble-kids without an immune system who cannot bear the presence of the merest germ. The environment must be completely pure.

The fact that one person at the dawn of time committed one seemingly insignificant internal transgression- no murder, no theft, no lie, no assault…- caused God such discomfort, if you will, that the ENTIRE creation suffered. Tornadoes, plane crashes, rapes, cancers, heart failures, carnivorous animal attacks. Arthritis, senators, torn cartilage, cross-burnings, job stress, cavities, chicken pox, murder. Hypothermia, abortion, divorce, perversion, K-cars, BEETS.
All because of one sin.

HE sneezed and the whole universe got the cold.

The thing is, though, that God Himself solved the problem. (This is the beauty of the Christian way that separates it from any other belief system. How can proclamation of this worldview be deemed arrogant? When no merely human hand can take credit?)
We have proven incapable of fixing it ourselves anyway. He clothed Himself in the very kind of flesh which was at the genesis of the issue.
He was, in Jesus, the antihistamine that mankind needed to stem the allergic reaction.

Look at it like this: Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for our crimes. He did the time, so to speak, for our contamination of God’s pure, sinless environment.
(And if you think you don’t deserve to be punished for what some guy may or may not have done thousands of years ago, you have committed enough transgressions of your own to suffice. Check your records!)

In doing so, He allowed us to be viewed by the Father through righteous-tinted lenses. We, still being wretched and depraved, are allowed access to fellowship on ACCOUNT of Jesus’ sinless life and work on the cross.

In the same sense, when l sneeze uncontrollably in early spring, l take some form of histamine blocker to assuage it. While l am still covered in pollen, l live as though free. This is Jesus! My allergies still exist, but l am assured of being able to go out into the world knowing that the Medicine is unfailingly, unceasingly effective.

July 5, 2007 Posted by | Death, God, Jesus, Salvation, Sin, The Fall, The Nature of God | Leave a comment

DADDY’S COAT

You cannot get into The Perfect Place with your own coat on.
There is an insignia missing from the chest that needs to be there in order to allow admittance.

Your FATHER’S coat, however, is perfect. It came to him at a high price, but it is yours for the asking. It may cause you some ridicule, for it is somewhat large and makes a bold statement. It is a LOUD shade of purple, with seven gold buttons, but it is the only cloak that will gain you entrance. It has the red patch that the doorman will recognize.

He won’t even look at your face, only the coat.
No matter what you say, you will not be able to get in on your own renown. It doesn’t matter how smooth you are, or how many people you call “friend.” It makes no difference how many people you were nice to. Your character won’t do it, nor will wearing a patch similar in appearance.
Your coat is a rag, your words are empty, your deeds are useless (however, you WILL get a good table once inside if you tell others about the coat).

Put on your Daddy’s coat .

June 30, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Jesus, Metaphor, Redemption, Salvation | Leave a comment