What is the Mystery and Why is it so Important?

5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes(rulers) of this world, that come to nought:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:8 Which none of the princes(rulers) of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. I Corinthians 2:7-8

None of us are perfect, so we can get confused when we read a verse like this. The word ‘perfect’ in the above verse refers to those who have the complete, mature, and accurate understanding as to the purpose and reality of the Messiah.  God had an intent and purpose for Jesus Christ. If we want to see the power of God we need to understand what God intended in Jesus Christ. In order to find it we need to look at the ‘hidden wisdom’.

26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery(hidden secret) among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect (mature) in Christ Jesus: Colossians 1:26-28

Knowledge alone does not mature us.  It is when we utilize knowledge with strong humility that spurs our growth.  Jesus Christ’s purpose is to expose darkness and where it lurks. We are able to overcome the earthy and devilish wisdom of the world through Christ in us.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:27

We are all ‘essential’ workers in the congregation of Christ. There is no spiritual elite because we all have the gift of holy spirit with which to fan our great individual potential. In I Corinthians 12:27ff, God  through Paul, reveals the imagery of the human body as it relates to the body of Christ working together. It is a beautiful analogy and tells us uniquely how we relate to one another. We each have the confidence and assurance to do our part and not infringe on someone else’s part. The hand cannot function without the shoulder and the elbow, but at the same time, the shoulder cannot perform the same function as the hand. All the parts of the body need each other, yet every part of the body of Christ has Christ as its head. So many parts operating in sync with the head is unbeatable. Jesus told his disciples that they would do greater works than he because he needed to go to the Father. God has granted him the authority to direct the church an he does that through the spirit.

We do not have an absent Christ. He is connected to us. Is that so outlandish? Thirty Years ago, did we think we could talk face to face with each other?  Today even though I might be 1000 miles away from my kids and grandkids, I can be present with them via Facetime. It is nothing for God to utilize the communication lines of holy spirit to keep us all tied together. When you login, the password is prayer.

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us (other people with the same communication lines): and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. I John 1:3

That is powerful! Think about what we have access to! On the internet we have access to some really great human references, human experts, resource books, data, interviews and videos on any topic. We have a stronger, more powerful connection with God and we don’t have to deal with the junk and darkness that the internet is filled with. (Analogies can just go so far). God’s wisdom is pure wisdom with not even a hint of darkness.

One of my favorite records is in the book of Numbers. Gold gave instructions to Moses:

16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone. Numbers 11:16-17

This is from the Old Testament before Christ’s time.  Spirit was upon certain men. Joshua noticed two people operating the spirit of God outside the camp and went and told Moses. Mose’s response?:

29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

Here is a beautiful hint of God’s desire which came to pass starting on the day of Pentecost after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Pentecost was the birth of the church that is the led by Jesus Christ.  On the day of Pentecost God’s heart’s desire was fulfilled. We celebrate it this coming Sunday. Happy Birthday to the Church! Let the candles blaze! What a great time to focus on that gift of God’s Spirit and exchange its presence with each other.

    

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Sinners Prayer?

During the current crisis which is worldwide,  people are experiencing amplified feelings of fear, isolation, vulnerability, and loss of control. People have varying ways of dealing with what is going on. Some turn to science, officials, news, drugs, alcohol, religion and chocolate.  Many people during times like these, want to ask questions of and about God.

There are many ministers on TV in ads calling people to confess their sins and come to God.  I think this really misrepresents the heart of God. Repentance involves a change of heart. It is the change of heart that God is interested in because the change in heart brings the best to an individual. We can see that as we read through chapter ten of the book of Romans. Sin does nothing but damage to our lives. I dare say God does not want to be reminded of our sins.  He wants our hearts restored and drawn to him. God wants us to live above the trauma and drama of the world. Somehow some designers of world religious practices sadly don’t really understand it.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. Roman 10:1-2

The  Hebrew religion, around the time leading up to the book of Romans, was immersed in the laws and guidelines of tradition. Their religious practices were going overboard to prove their own righteousness.

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

We see a similar practice going on today with the current crisis situation.  For example, there are actually lawgivers who are regulating that only two people of the same household should be in a boat when fishing on a lake to prevent a virus spread. There have been sound guidelines given but some regulations are way over the top. The Bible itself has guidelines that are reasonable and right. There are admonitions actually in Deuteronomy 14:12-20 and Leviticus 11:13-19 not to touch or eat bats. The word of God includes epidemiological education but Mosaic religious law and practice got more rigorous and restricting as man extended God’s word with Hebrew traditions as time went on. Man always seems to get carried away with the dits and dots of regulatory boundaries. It is probably about man’s lust for control. Listening to God is not about control.

The Hebrews of Paul’s time had incredible laws of minute regulation that burdened and dampened those who had a zeal for God. This kind of righteousness is what nobody needs! True freedom is founded in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ showed and continues to show us the heart of believing God:

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

Righteousness is a heart thing. We don’t have to confess anything except what God did for us through his son Jesus Christ:

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (wholeness). Romans 10:9-10

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Why Division?

Recently I read an article regarding love and hate.  It was written by a blogger who is also a  journalist. The beginning of the article sounded great because it addressed the hate mongering and division that is going on all over social media. As I got deeper and deeper into the article, the goal of the article turned out hugely deceptive.  The article could not hide how the author really thinks and I was struck by his logic, deception and hate-mongering that he just quite couldn’t hide.

There is a huge fight going on for the soul of America (actually it is nothing new). What has caused this dark divide in our culture? As I said, it has been going on for quite a while, and there are many manifestations now visible as people have made ‘snark’ the ultimate tool of what they call truth.

The question of what is at the bottom of all this divide actually is truth. There is truth and non-truth  and they are at odds with each other. There is only one body of truth and that lies at the feet of Almighty God, the creator of the universe.  God is love that is so simple and obvious when we just look around us and see the wonderful blessings that God has provided for us. I have mentioned this over and over in my blog maybe because it is an extension of my thankfulness for all God has done for us just in the creation alone.

My most recent excursion in this topic has been in to the realm of immunology. God has designed and given us such resources in how he designed the human body. Our immune system is just one of them. Even with the abuse that man puts the body through, there are layers and layers of built -in resources to help us out from external attack. It is amazing!!

The truth is God loves us.  He even gave his Son for the very purpose of lifting the guilt, shame and fear off our hearts so that we can live without being burdened down with oppressive mental weight. Guilt, shame and oppression are at the root of what divides us. How we feel about ourselves will determine how we love. Untruth believes in its own love. Therein lies the divide. God defines love, our works don’t however wonderful they are.

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.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Love 
has a long fuse , and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.8 love never faileth: I Corinthians13:1-8a KJV modified

There is a reason why this thirteenth chapter in Corinthians is sandwiched between chapters twelve and fourteen Together they teach about the gift of holy spirit that we have and can utilize. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts throughout our spirit and it is something that cannot be hidden from view when we let it shine. Allowing God to work in us changes us from noisy gongs rich melodies  resounding throughout this world.

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An Act of God?

Recently a state governor  reported on the corona virus progress in his state, and he made a statement that could cause a lot of confusion in people’s minds. He said that it wasn’t an ‘Act of God’ that we have flattened the curve; we have done that, not God. On the one hand, this could reflect thinking that we don’t need God. On the other hand, it could mean God expects us to trust him to help us get through it and act without fear to handle situations that come up.

There are others who call the pandemic an “Act of God”; that God is displeased with us because of the moral degradation present in the world today.  Some say God is punishing us and some say he is waking us up. Others word it as “he is testing us”. How many of us would take our children out to the curb, let go and see if they would run into the street?

In answer to all of these thoughts, I know that we are exposed to good and evil everyday (goes way back to Genesis 3). God is good always.There is no question in my mind that there isn’t anything about him that is dark and sinister! Pandemic outcomes of isolation, not being able to hug and kiss our grandkids, keeping us from work, the wearing of masks and constant washing of the hands, just to mention a few things, is not what God envisioned for his creation. There is evil at the bottom of this, but God’s sole desire is to help us rise up out of the clutches of fear, and, with his inspiration, stand boldly to defeat the attack on our lives.

God caused the sun to rise and set everyday in a 24 hour cycle and as someone near and dear to me said “I just take everyday, one at a time.”  Yes! Our lives are meant to be lived in 24 hour units.

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:31-34

So are we to freeze up in the 24 hour period? Not at all.

There is so much to do and it may not be the same as we are accustomed to but there are great blessings to be had and different things to learn and see during this time. I have seen some amazing things going on in my community and among my friends and relatives. Maybe we have decided to change up  what we do, what we enjoy and how we think a bit . God designed our brain and he didn’t design it so he could control our very thoughts and actions. He didn’t design our ruts. He made our brains so we could think things through.  He has made it abundantly clear throughout creation that he will help any one who comes to him. He gave us his son who faced all the bloodhounds of hell straight on so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13:

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:11-13

This is the Act of God! This is a great time to think bigger!

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Condemnation ~ “NOT”!

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

The ‘no’ in the verse above is a strong ‘no’ as compared to other Greek words for ‘no’. It is a ‘No’ with a capital ‘N’. (I love the old Greek language, it is so specific and logical!) This is like the English expression that has become popular that makes a statement and ends it with “NOT!” to show absolute negation.

Romans 8 is declaring a big ‘No condemnation’ headline for a chapter in Romans that is chocked full of goodies! Condemnation became totally defunct through the amazing life of Jesus Christ. Condemnation by definition refers to a sentence handed down after a being declared guilty. We are all guilty. In the previous chapter of Romans the great apostle Paul talked about how frustrated he was with his own life in this category. But! thank God he had learned in life how God had relieved him of the guilty irreversible sentence he thought he so deserved by making Jesus his Lord. We are all guilty of not doing things the way they should be done, and those who truly understand what Jesus Christ was and is all about know that God doesn’t penalize those who love and commit themselves to him.

It took me a long time to understand the whole deal about what Jesus Christ is to our lives. I remember going into church as a child and seeing Jesus on the cross and then thinking I had done that to him. This was especially true when I was first learning about sin so that I could make my first confession. I also remember going to a church that had a cross up front, but no Jesus. That was not as scary.

The cross represents what Jesus Christ did for us not what we did to him. What did he do for us? He freed us from the penalty of sin. He freed us from condemnation. Paul continues in Romas 8 to share what he learned;

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2

Who wants to walk around with sin and death hanging over our heads? We have no sentence of condemnation when we walk in the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Whenever Christ comes first in his title, it refers to the the Messianic benefits of his life.) We have the spirit of life in all of its fullness when we focus on what God has done through his son.  He is our example. Jesus was a man with passions like our own. He proved to the world that walking with God is the absolute way to go! Paul knew the reality of that freedom and we have the privilege and choice today.

Paul manifested this same life in Christ Jesus to people as he lived in its freedom. We can do it today.

As believers we have the spirit of God dwelling in us:

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Romans 8:11

Our life in the fleshy carnal world doesn’t do anything for us.  It is like a lead weight dragging us down under the pull of pressure and restlessness. We can shed anger, resentment, un-forgiveness  and other negative passions like we do a coat because we have a the passion of God inside our hearts to love when we walk with his spirit.

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Resurrecting America

On their trek through the wilderness, the Israelites got pretty impatient with some of the hardships they faced. They grumbled about the food, the lack of water and spoke against God. God had brought them out of so much and now they were giving up on him.  


The King James Version says ‘that the Lord sent fiery serpents’ that bit and killed many Israelites. The area that they were traveling through was known for snakes, it wasn’t God sending them. God was not trying to punish them, they brought it on themselves when they didn’t look for deliverance and complained. Once they realized this, they went to Moses and asked him to pray. God told Moses to fashion a brazen serpent and elevate it on a pole and when they were bitten by a snake to look at the fashioned serpent and they would live. God didn’t take the serpents away, he brought the solution. Deciding to do what they were asked brought God back into the forefront of the Israelites minds for those who did what Moses said.


Human nature hasn’t changed much. There is lots of fear flying at us through the digital airwaves about the coronavirus. Politicians are bickering and showing their true colors: fear, greed, manipulation and we have mass media exploding it in front of our eyes. Our culture today has been so primed by an adversary that can move in, terrorize and deceive at a moment’s notice. Many people fall right into the trap. The world is not an easy place to live, but God has provided us with the ultimate example in Jesus Christ, his son and man to show us the way.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:14-16

Keeping our sights on Christ and his purpose and what he means for our lives, preserves our clear-eyed vision of who we are and our relationship with the God who loves us. So many events in the Old Testament foreshadow the coming of Jesus Christ. As we look at his life and along with the added lens of the holy spirit in the New Testament, we are never in the dark about what is going on.

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Atheism

Atheism is a religion. Religion is what man believes about God.  Ideologies (the science of ideas) and religion both emanate from the mind. Religion and ideology both can be quite self-centered in elevating how we use our brains rather that how it was designed to function.

I am quite humbled by at the construction and detail of the human mind. In ancient days, a blob on the beach did not just happen to start reorganizing and eventually develop into a higher organism. The design and functions of the brain are amazing and show incredible love. Man did not design the brain, man uses it. It is an important distinction to make.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘reality’ as: “1. the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them. 2.the state or quality of having existence or substance.” I am a biologist and I like to know how things are designed in the living world. A tree has existence as does a human being, or a flower or a bird.  I also like geology which is the study of the non-living world. The earth’s crust, tectonic plates, mountains, oceans and stars also have existence and substance. How this ecosphere operates is a beautiful miracle. It is reality and it teaches us many lessons. Some of the greatest researchers in history were godly men and women who respected God and his design of the human body. Some of the greatest physicists were deeply humbled as they dug  into the physical world and its motions.

The design of the universe is more than breath-taking. In addition it is quite humbling. God has installed so much around us to comfort and delight us forever. It does us good to get our heads out in God’s beautiful creation, not just because it is gorgeous, but because it is confirming and added assurance of his unfaltering love. Everything I look at that God has fashioned, builds believing and strengthens in the heart. Religion didn’t do that for me, it is God who does that.

I used to call myself an agnostic. It is not that I didn’t believe in God,  I just wasn’t sure. I didn’t know where to start, but I decided I wanted to to know the truth. So I asked God and and was willing to look at sources to help me. God provided and I found the greatest resource was the Bible and I was willing to think about what I read. Of course I had all the same questions everybody has about this book but somehow as I continued those questions were answered and in many different ways. The more I learned and relied upon what I read, the more I saw results. One verse I ran into literally changed my life:

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth (cast blame) not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5

I found it to be true.

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