Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

The other night we watched the movie “Waiting for Forever” about a boy who had been in love with his childhood girlfriend since they were 10 and officially lost touch when his parents died in a train accident and he and his brother moved to their grandparents. As he grows older, though, he follows the love of his youth wherever her professional career takes her, himself making a living of 3 dollars a day (“on a good day”) as a juggler dressed in pyjamas.
Although this wasn’t the best film I watched of late (for instance, there was the excellent 2010 film “Fair Game,” which gives further insight into the insanity that’s still being perpetrated in Iraq), “Waiting for Forever” moved me most. Not so much because of the plot, but because of the fact that I was watching it with my 28 year old wife who might never get to know the kind of culture that grants a fellow the liberty to make a very unstable living on 3 bucks a day as a juggler, traveling wherever his dream would take him.
Although the boy in the movie was met with heavy criticism from his older brother (a banker), and was being called a stalker, and despite the fact that his kind is a dying breed in the West, at least we have come to know that sort of a culture, while other countries, such as the one I’m currently residing in, probably never will.

Though the culture whose hospitality I’m currently enjoying is by no means an exclusive example of what I’d like to call the “imposed realism” that not only political leaders, but even more so cultural and traditional elders seem to feel obligated to circumcise their offspring’s dreams and ideals with, it is definitely an outstanding example.
You cannot just marry the man or girl you love. Any man that intends to marry is expected to have a house first. My wife has told me of an experience in a Shanghai park where she watched hundreds of elderly couples looking for suitable spouses for their daughters (or sons) with a list of criteria in hand that any potential candidate would have to live up to; criteria primarily based on income.

A juggler making 3 bucks a day wouldn’t stand an chance in hell to get married under that set of conditions. It might me hard in the West, but just about impossible in the East.

Of course, when I was a young lad back in Germany, I got to hear much of the same tune from my folks. Not that they would have expected of me to be able to buy a house before I started messin’ round with the opposite sex, but I was repeatedly advised to “get a good education” to secure a “solid existence” for myself. When I came home one day telling them that I met a group of people who were “foolowing Jesus,” and that one day I would like to do the same, they were naturally horrified.

In the meantime they have accepted my somewhat loose, though not entirely carefree life-style, and my father, having seen his own supposedly “solid existence” and career go down the drain due to fluctuations and instability in the economy has told me since that I made the right choice when I set out to do what I did.
In the West, though, parents have their existence taken care of by retirement insurances, and both my parents are currently better off with their pensions than I am as an English teacher in the Far East, where the only old-age insurance elderly parents have got are their children and their respective incomes, so it’s somewhat understandable that they want their kids to be able to care for them. Many young people live under a lot of pressure because of that responsibility.

Then again, my reasoning is that many things in life are simply beyond our control. Everything is potentially subject to drastic and unexpected changes: death, illness or financial and economic disaster can hit anyone at any time, and what power does anyone really have, to effectively impose their own little reality on anyone in the long run, even their kids?

When Jesus went around luring established young men with flourishing businesses away from their homes and responsibilities telling them He would make them “fishers of men,” certainly He wasn’t met with strong enthusiasm on behalf of those men’s families. For all we know, some of them (like Peter) were even married and possibly had children. What an irresponsible thing to do, to just walk off with a perfect stranger of questionable reputation, Messiah or not…
And from a “realist’s” point of view, that criticism may well be justified: 10 of those young men ended up as martyrs, one committed suicide, and only one died of natural causes on an island where he exiled by the Romans.
Their philosophies and beliefs as expressed in their writings are questionable to this day, and even most “believers” only accept those parts of the Gospels that they can reconcile with the consensus of the imposed realism of our day and age.

The first rule and law is not “to love one another,” but to secure one’s own existence, which, as the Founder of their faith claimed, is no different from what unbelievers adhere to.

So, what would be making a difference then? – Trust.

The people who really made a difference throughout history were those who despite all the seemingly rhymeless reality all around us never ceased to trust that there was Someone ultimately in charge Who not only knew what He was doing, but was also going to take care of them, provide for them, and help them through this mess somehow.

In my own personal experience, I can only confirm that to be true, and I would strive for nothing more than to go down in history as one of those trusters who refuse to accept the artificially imposed realism from those around us – even our loved ones – no matter how justified their reasoning may seem; a person known for the belief that there is a greater Mind than even the wisest of our parents, how ever strange some of the things may first sound that this Great Mind may ask of us – much like a Parent Himself, asking His children to trust Him for the things they do not know, which basically is the essence of faith – the one currency that will outlast any of our existing ones.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 Why Does God Sometimes Take Apart What He Himself Seems to Have Put Together?

Why Does God Sometimes Take Apart What He Himself Seems to Have Put Together?

I’ve always believed in the power of two. Well, nearly always. Sometimes you’re actually better off alone than with the wrong company. But basically, when you’ve got 2 souls with more or less the same vision and goals, according to the Old Testament, it quintuples a person’s strength in battle.

The problem is that when you’ve gotten used to this modus operandi of two-by-two, when one of your “motors” flunks out, and you’re stuck again on your own, it reduces your power back to one fifth of what by then you might have gotten used to. So, you feel pretty much reduced to a sausage. Folks who’ve undergone separation will know what I’m talking about. The others won’t have a clue, just as I didn’t until it happened to me.

The power of two is great, but don’t necessarily rely on it as infallible, because as long as there’s another human involved, you simply need to take into consideration that this is only a temporary arrangement, even if you happen to be as lucky to have found someone who meant what they said when they swore, “Till death do us part.” – There is still that uncontrollable death factor. But even that is probably not as painful as when someone you’ve fought life’s battles with for many a season deliberately makes the choice to turn their back on you.

Christ was supposed to have been tempted in all things as we are. Unfortunately we don’t know enough about His 30 years of life prior to His public ministry to tell whether there was ever physically anybody in His life whom He loved so much that they broke His heart when they decided to live their life without Him. All we know is that throughout history He’s had a wife (also referred to as His Bride) that probably put Him through the same thing time and again, which is vividly illustrated in the act of God commanding His prophet Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife as a metaphor of the unfaithfulness of His own Old Testament wife.

Later in the Book of Revelation we find similar metaphors of whores and churches who “sit like a queen,” apparently lacking nothing, and yet not knowing that in God’s eyes they’re naked and destitute of the things that apparently really count to Him.

So, to which degree we as God’s wife and bride have broken His heart is hard to tell. One thing is for sure: when you’ve gone through such pain yourself, you wouldn’t ever want to inflict it on anybody else again. Loyalty all of a sudden becomes paramount, when previously it may have been quite irrelevant. Not only the loyalty of others toward ourselves, but also our own toward others and especially God.

How loyal have we really been?

The only explanation for God putting us through the wringer at times like that, where it seems as though He deliberately devastates us by simply withdrawing the person that meant most to us in the world is that we don’t really have a clue about loyalty, especially not our own, as far as He’s concerned. It’s simply not enough of an issue until we learn to appreciate it by the excruciating pain that can be caused by the absence of it. Only once we realize what pain can be caused by broken loyalty are we able to begin to relate to what it means to God, and do we even begin to realize how often we haphazardly switched loyalties for the sake of some advantage, some shiny fruit on a tree, some compromise for the sake of our personal welfare or benefit, some temptation we couldn’t resist…

Perhaps that’s why it often takes quite long for the pain of betrayal and desertion to linger on: It’s only the beginning of our personal lesson on loyalty. We’re only just starting to see how guilty we have been of the same crime that now we feel we can’t forgive someone else for, and not just once, but probably innumerable times.

Loyalty, like so many other values that used to mean something before our society was taken over by the universally accepted as politically correct Western do-your-own- thing dogma, has gone down the drain in this strange new world order, where the only loyalty that counts is to make sure that you don’t move an inch from the place you’re assigned in the Machine. The System needs to continue to function, and that is your foremost responsibility. Human relations, by comparison, are irrelevant.

“Rubbish!” you say – (Or, if you’re American, you might be prone to use another word that starts with “bull….!”)? Well, good for you, if that’s your reality, and if human relationships still mean enough to you to value them above your personal rank, position or economic advantage. But realistically, you’re part of a shrinking minority. And if you’ve got loyalty and you know what it means, for the sake of God and all that is dear to your own soul, hold on to it with all your might and never underestimate it for a moment. In the end, it may be all that determines whether you lost or won your personal battle in this war.

Or, as the Eagles put it in their song “In A New York Minute” which so aptly portrays what can be the fate of all of us at any time:

“If you find somebody to love in this world, you better hang on tooth and nail!”

Read Full Post »

Through a close friend, I’ve recently been allowed a glimpse into world of the Anonymous Recovery Groups, and while it is one of these groups’ principles not to rely on advertisement to flourish, I would like to share some thoughts and lessons I’ve gleaned from my acquaintance with them, and from my many discussions with my friend about them.

As Christians, it has been drilled into us that it is expedient to do whatever we do in the name of Christ, and it is my belief that salvation from our sins and death is found in no other, as the Bible states.
Yet here is a program that seems to be accomplishing a world of good, yet without calling it “Christian” or associating it with Jesus, even accomplishing the salvation of tens of thousands from physical addictions, but also what one might call spiritual problems, even if this may be a slightly different matter than the spiritual Salvation the Bible refers to.

The honesty, openness and depth of conversation within these groups is something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in a church or even during Home gatherings, meetings or in Bible groups. After all, Christians are usually people who have their act somewhat together, at least more, on a general scale, than those that attend Anonymous groups. Having a common problem that provides a common basis for Anonymous group members to come together presents – from my point of view – an advantage that many churches and Christian movements don’t: the humility, the readiness to open themselves concerning a weakness, thus ready to attack sin head on in a way one will hardly ever find in a church where people often play a masquerade for years, one hardly ever gets to know their brethren on a truly personal level, and all that connects one another is the fact that they just listened to the same sermon, sang a few of the same songs, etc.

The question I’ve had to ask myself as a Christian was, is it possible that God instigates movements on earth that may not be able to be defined clearly as Christian? Apparently, yes. Is it possible that these non-Christian movements can sometimes bring forth more and somewhat even perhaps better fruit than some obvious Christian movement or church? Apparently, yes.
It reminded me of the passage in which Jesus talks about those who prophesied in His name, cast out devils in His name, etc., (and mind you, one has to be a Spirit-filled and born again Christian, in order to cast out devils!), and yet telling them, “I never knew you.” Yet in another passage welcoming those who all they ever did was visit the prisoners, care for the sick, feed the hungry, no matter in whose name.
Apparently Jesus does not mind whether what we do we do in His name as much as whether what we do is the right thing to do.
Obviously, a lot of wrongs have already been committed in His name, as it is. Apparently God is more concerned about genuinely helping people than He is about the advertisement, and whether it was done on His behalf or not.

Imagine you were God and had to watch how people slaughtered each other by the millions for millennia on His behalf… Wouldn’t you be glad if someone eventually came around who gave you a break and just did something good, no matter in whose name, or in no one’s name in particular?

Yes, the name of Jesus is important and powerful, and it is our duty to spread the good news that He indeed saves. But apparently there is something even more important in God’s eyes than what we say and preach, and that is what we do.
God seems to avail Himself of any program that works, and the 12-Steps programs have proven to work in millions of changed lives around the world, and God doesn’t seem to care much whether this has been accomplished under the flag of Christianity.
If a program works, you’ll use it. You install it, run it and enjoy the benefits. Totally regardless of whatever it says on the package, or what brand name it is.

One would have to ask themselves to what extent Christ Himself would consider Himself a Christian, if He were to walk among us today. Maybe in the light of all that’s being said and done in His name, He might even prefer to remain anonymous.

Read Full Post »

“Salvation is of the Lord!” Those were the magic words that got Jonah out of the belly of the whale (Jonah 2.9).

Jesus prophetically compared Jonah’s experience inside the whale to the three days he would spend in Hades between His crucifixion and resurrection.

He also invited His followers to take up their cross upon themselves and follow Him.

In other words, every true believer is going to go through their own experience in the “belly of the whale” at one time or another, experience their own “3 days in hell.” And it’s usually not until we realize that salvation is truly of the Lord, that we emerge from it.

What’s so special about that revelation, that salvation is of the Lord? Because before we find out, we try to save ourselves by any thinkable and possible means. The Lord is always our last resort, after all else has failed. Usually, anyway.

We first expect our own wits, strengths and efforts to save us, and if they won’t do, then at least some tangible, visible and audible person of flesh and blood to pull us out, and sometimes, God in His mercy will send such a person along. But if He’s been trying to teach you to rely on Him and Him alone, and you have any sort of rank or validity as a prophet, even a disobedient prophet like Jonah, you can be pretty sure there’ll be no other hand pulling you out of that whale except God’s.

When God has become truly all that you have got left, then that’s where you can probably safely say, “Welcome to Rock Bottom Club!

When everyone else is gone, every other crutch kicked away, those people who have made you depend on them like a drug only stand by and watch you go through your withdrawals from afar while getting the next junkie in line hooked on them, then it’s time to find out whether God is really enough or not.

It will prove whether your faith was merely a pretty bubble that popped at the introduction of the needle, reduced to a little splash in the face, or whether it was something solid, something your life can depend on.

If we’re honest, the role to which we often restrict God in our lives is not much more than a slap in His face.

It’s those belly-of-the-whale experiences that restore Him to His proper position in our life as our only hope, our only true Savior.

When the fakes are gone and have faded away, it’s time for the true Savior to step in and show that it is in His power alone to save, and “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm” (Jer.17:5).

Down there, in the belly of the whale, you find out who your friends really are.

And once the fish has vomited you out, back on dry land, you may not feel like much more than just that: a pile of fish vomit, but at least you’ve got a much clearer perspective now of your world around you and who and what you can really rely on, without all the deceiving appearances and delusions that blurred your vision previously.

You may have tried to figure out every possible way, tactic and maneuver out of the dark, going through all the possible tricks, measures or merely lucky events that might save you out of your fix, but in the end, the sum of your wisdom boiled down to this: “Salvation is of the Lord.” No one and nothing else will ever cut the cake or do the trick. No one.

Read Full Post »

Another passage from the Scriptures that never made quite sense to me was Matthew 6:22-23: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” – Especially the last bit, “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness…”

I know, all the humanists and believers in the good in mankind will howl at me, but I think I figured out what it means.

If you’ve ever been betrayed by someone you believed in, forsaken by someone you fully trusted in and relied on, someone who was like a light in your life, and they drop you so abruptly that you suddenly realize that the light you confided in for so long was only an illusion, then you’ll know what this passage means.

Darkness is the absence of light. In other words, the light wasn’t ever really there, you mistook it for the real thing, and the person in question may have believed in it as the real thing, but what determines whether it’s real or not is whether it lasts.

Because one thing I have always believed is that love is forever. If it isn’t forever, then it wasn’t real love in the first place.

The level of emotion will not always remain the same, naturally, but there is one ingredient that will make all the difference in the world, between real love and the fake: faithfulness.

The Bible says that if you’ve been put in charge of anything by God, there is only one thing that is required of you: to be faithful.

You may not have a lot of strength, you may not have a lot of gifts, you may not be nothing much at all, but you are one thing, and that is faithful.

That is the one tiny spark that makes all the difference in the universe between the real light and the fake, between true love and that which many people may mistake for love. It may not seem like much at all, but apparently, that’s what makes the difference.

After the love has gone, what is there left to believe in? Apparently far less people have that real, lasting kind of love in them in our world today than we may think, which is why there is so much heartache, disappointment and so many broken relationships and marriages. Too many shiny fake versions of love that promise happiness in exchange for that seemingly insignificant ingredient we despise, that has almost vanished from our vocabulary:

that tiny little factor of faithfulness.

Love is forever. Everything else is only a fake.

Jesus knew that there were people who believed themselves to be benefactors of mankind, oh, and they can be radiant, and that light in their eyes may sparkle deceivingly real. But when their light is gone, just as quickly as you turn off a light switch, then you know it was only an artificial fake after all, no real love, real light.

The sad thing is that it usually takes time to find this out. – Sometimes quite a long time, in fact. Time is the great tester, and it certainly is the factor that will prove our degree of faithfulness, and thus, the degree of authenticity of our love. Some actually have it, and some actually don’t.

It’s shocking when you realize that that light was never really there, and you find out in shock what Jesus meant… “If the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

This type of people can wreak quite a bit of devastation in one’s life. For all they give, they subtly demand more in return, more dependence, more devotion, almost like an addiction, like a drug.

You may think you’re receiving their light, but since it isn’t really real, but only a fake, it doesn’t bear fruit, you’ve only invested in darkness, poured your life into a vessel with holes and are ultimately left empty, sucked dry and devastated…

They’re probably the closest thing to vampires in the real world. They may not suck your blood, but drain your life’s energy out of you, and the hollow shell they leave behind will be a sad reminder that it pays to put your trust in Someone Greater than frail flesh and blood, and blessed are they who do, indeed.

Read Full Post »

I used to wonder about this passage in Matthew 24: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Mt.24:37-39).

I used to wonder, “Why, Jesus, what’s so bad about eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage? Why should that merit the end of the world?”

But if you take a closer look at people’s eating, drinking and mating habits, you get the point.

While 40.000 starve daily in one part of the world, obesity is becoming a major disease in another.

While in one place people don’t even have enough drinking water to survive, in another they drink themselves to death.

It’s the imbalance, the selfishness that matters and makes it so ugly… the unwillingness of the rich to share, and their sickening, self-indulging indifference.

And then there’s the mating game. A whole nuther story.

Have you ever frequented a dating site? Like – in a “civilized,” Western country?

I once wrote an entry about the devaluation of human life in reference to what some nations are willing to pay for the corpse of a butcher as compared to what they’re willing to eke out for the corpse of his victim…

Well, you’ll see the devaluation of human life (along with the sheer absence of human intelligence) nowhere as blatantly as on a dating site.

Here they present themselves like merchandise in a supermarket, and mind you, the customers are picky. “Looking for Mr. Right” or “the perfect man” … or woman, the “girl of my dreams, ” etc.

Whereas members of less “developed” countries are a lot more modest. Perhaps one day the world will see the difference between so-called civilization and truly civilized people, among whom respect is still a given, and courtesy not a “Huh, what’s that?”

Not to mention that in the entire process of feverishly trying to obtain the objects of their affection that might quench their burning needs (or lusts?), the most important Factor is – as usual – left out of the equation almost entirely: the Giver of all things in the first place.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said not labour for the meat which perisheth… although everybody of course, keeps doing it, even the most devout of His followers.

Of course, it would be a sacriliege and the epitome of political incorrectness to preach anything different, for man’s greatest religion and god has become the work of his own hands. After all, the work of his own hands is what will earn him those most desired shreds of paper in the universe, which Jesus said we couldn’t serve, if we served God,;and those, in return, will by us foood, drrrink, and will help us to impress the other sex (either by means of taunting our apparel and plastic surgery, or our vehicles, houses and yachts). In short: materialism.

Since everything begins (evolution) and ends (lifeless corpse in coffin) with mere lifeless matter which is supposed to have brought forth itself, the space between the beginning and the end, that which we refer to as life, revolves around the same: lifeless matter. In other words, not really life at all, since the one thing that gives life, as Jesus said, is Spirit (John 6:63), coincidentally, the same stuff that God Himself is made of (John 4:24).

It’s not that I don’t like to eat, drink or am not totally amazed by the opposite sex. Nor do I try to pretend to come across as some sort of spiritual wonder child, since I’m subject to the same desires and needs as everybody else.

It’s just that the way we go about it and still have the nerve to call “civilized,” to me comes across as rather barbaric.

If that’s what brought on the flood (along with many other evils that find their modern counterparts), then let it rain, Lord, let it rain!

Read Full Post »

A Slightly Different Interpretation of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse...

A Slightly Different Interpretation of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse...

When Jesus made the much dreaded statement in Matthew 6 that we cannot serve God and Mammon (the god of wealth = materialism), He must have already known that while millions would someday profess to be His servants, in reality they were going to dedicate the bulk of their attention and efforts in service to this competitor in the quest for man’s most precious commodity, time.

While most interpretations of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse claim that the rider on the white horse is supposed to be the Antichrist, I personally contend that the proper interpretation of this passage should ascribe the identification of the white rider to Jesus, and the other three His fiercest competitors throughout time, perhaps in some sort of a race for our souls, and when time is up (literally!), there will only be one of them left.
Who are those mystery riders? War, materialism and death, also known by other ancient names by which they were known, revered and even worshiped for millennia: Ares (the Romans called him Mars), Mammon and Hades.

Luckily, the Bible already tells us who is going to be the winner of the race, since it foretells a time in which men will beat their swords into plowshares and will learn war no more, which eliminates Ares, the god of war from the equation.
We are also told the fate of Hades, the god of death and hell in the lake of fire.

So what about Mammon, the god of wealth? In our current terms, Mammon can easily be replaced by a word for the stuff that allegedly rules the world: money.

Some think it will last forever.

The Bible tells us differently.

In fact, from what the Bible tells us, it seems that of the four riders, Mammon will be the first one to yield up the ghost.

Granted, this is just one of my own personal theories, but it’s based on some serious thought:

When the Antichrist imposes his mark of the beast in the new economic order everyone from Kissinger to the Pope is expecting with excitement (as foretold in Revelation 13), it seems that will be the end of money – or at least cash – as we know it.

Perhaps one reason why the Almighty won’t be so fond of that new method of trade at all will be the fact that Satan will have managed to create the perfect imitation of His own system of currencies: faith. The object of man’s desire will have been placed from the visible to the invisible realm, the perfect counterfeit of God’s system.
And for those who fall for it, I guess it’s going to be like having made their choice for the other side.

If my assumption is correct, and it’s Mammon who bites the dust first when the AC implements the mark, it might also explain one of the most mysterious passages in the Bible about the Endtime:

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only
he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
And then the lawless one (The Antichrist) will be revealed,
whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth
and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
(2Thess.2:7,8)

Some scholars interpret this passage as to be referring to the Holy Ghost as “He who now restrains…until he is taken out of the way;” that the Antichrist cannot be revealed unless the Holy Ghost be taken away.
But how are the final two witnesses in Rev.11 going to give their testimony without the Holy Ghost?
And for the benefit of all those “left behind” during the Great Tribulation (which might be more than many people think, especially in the light that the Rapture is only going to occur after it, as Jesus said), let’s all pray to God that the Holy Ghost isn’t going to be taken away.
But it would have to be someone or something that was already around in Paul’s day, which certainly applies to money…

So, here’s my little theory for you on the race of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Jesus, Ares, Mammon & Hades…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »