Two Pigs

Reading Time: 5 minutes

My wife and daughters were staying at the home of Dan and Michelle Hess who kindly opened their doors to us because of the Rim Fire advisory evacuation we had in our area. My son and I stayed behind with the intention of staying till the evacuation was mandatory. My girls thoroughly enjoyed staying at Dan and Michelle’s for several reasons which included great meals, access to the house if they wanted or needed to cook anything, a lawn, a trampoline, a pool, a dog, two kittens, one cat, and two pigs. Being the animal lovers they are, and not having a trampoline or a pool, this was quite the adventure away from home. I came by the other day with my son to add a few boxes to a shed they had, and was given a tour by my girls. When I spotted the two pigs I immediately thought of ‘Babe’. They were cute and pink since they were still reasonably young. I watched them for a few minutes and could quickly tell which one ruled the pen. I asked about their names, but my girls said they did not have any because Dan and Michelle have had so many different animals over the years they ran out of names. Since these two pigs were for future consumption, my youngest girl Rebecca dubbed them ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Lunch’ which I thought was hilarious.

Pig2

Breakfast was the dominant pig and I watched him snip at and shove Lunch out of the way so he, (Breakfast) would have the food all to himself. I found this rather amusing and pointed it out to my family. Breakfast would snack when he wanted, but would not allow Lunch to do the same. Breakfast made it quite clear that the food bin was his to use as he saw fit and that Lunch could not just go and eat out of it any time he wanted. Considering the end result of his existence, this selfish and dominating attitude was self-defeating. It is fitting he was named Breakfast because we eat Breakfast before we eat Lunch, and Breakfast was well on his way to being the ‘fatted calf’.

I could not help but wonder about our own human nature and how often we may have some attitudes or behaviors that we thought were to our benefit, (if not just our pleasure) but were in reality just self-defeating as what the pig, named Breakfast, was doing. This should come to no surprise that many in our culture have this self serving attitude. Popular culture has songs every year that sings those self serving tunes to our youth. From Frank Sinatra’s My Way, to Snoop Dog’s Young Wild and Free.

My Way
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Young Wild and Free
So what we get drunk?
So what we smoke weed?
We’re just having fun
We don’t care who sees
So what we go out?
That’s how its supposed to be
Living young and wild and free

Liberals tell me conservatives have worn out the ‘entitlement mentality’ but if the shoe fits, wear it. I guess that is another old saying. I will add it goes for both sides of the political aisle. Politicians now become politicians not to serve their country, their state, their county, or district, but to be served by their country, state, county and district. In the early years of America, Congressmen and Senators served just a few terms and then went back to their farms or family business. Note the operative word, served. Because that is exactly what they did, they served their country. It was a hard ship and sacrifice to be a representative and serve in the Congress or the Senate. After a few short years most had to return to their private business because the toll it took on their personal life. Life long politicians were unheard of, yet now, most if not all, wish to be re-elected and will continue to supposedly serve us if given the choice. Why do you think that is? It is not because they enjoy the sacrifice.

When I hear of Congressmen or Senators bragging about how they have served the public for 20, 30, or even 40 years it turns my stomach, because it is just the opposite. Had they served, or sacrificed as our early leadership they would not pursue life long appointments in politics. They remain in politics because they are served, and enjoy the power and befits of being in those positions. Really, those that pursue a life of ease and comfort at the sacrifice of others are no better off than Breakfast the pig. Breakfast will push away Lunch to grab a morsel that looks appealing to him. His focus does not go beyond that immediate bit of food, let alone what the next day may bring. Often, those in positions of power focus on their life (really just a morsel) and don’t consider what the next day, (death) may bring.

I have been enjoying the first season of Ray Comforts, Way of the Master. In this series of episodes (each one is only about 30 minutes long) he meets people on the street and asks them questions with the intent of sharing the Gospel. Ray is quite direct and has a method that is engaging, purposeful, and successful. He first asks if they believe in God and then deals with their relationship with Him. He asks them if they have ever told lies, taken something that did not belong to them, or used God’s Name in vain. Most of us will readily admit to these, which would make us guilty in God’s eyes. He then points out that in God’s court we would be found guilty, if not for the saving grace of Christ who took our sin upon himself and paid the price for what we would have been found guilty of.

Ravi Zacharias looked at the heartaches and difficulties we have in our lives and considered why we go through them. In his book The Grand Weaver he wrote, “We must recognize that divine intervention is nowhere near as simple a thing as we might imagine…it must look quite different from what we would usually prescribe for ourselves. It cannot be only a journey of unmistakable blessing and a path of ease. To allow God to be God we must follow him for who he is and what he intends, and not for what we want or what we prefer.” 1

We may prefer to push people away from our bin of food. We may prefer to be served rather than serve. We may prefer eat our ice cream every night as opposed to going without, and all the while we are creating a situation that will cost us dearly later in life. If your focus is on this life and not the one following, then you’re no better off than a pig named Breakfast.

 

1. Zacharias, Ray. The Grand Weaver. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Print.

Echo’s of Forgiveness

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Have you ever wondered why some people fall away from their faith, and others, despite great difficulties and suffering in their life, remain strong in their Christian belief? Let me share an analogy I heard not long ago that address that question.

There was a man who was on an airline flight. After the aircraft took off and reached cruising altitude, one of the stewardesses came to him and offered him a parachute. She explained to him that it would improve his flight in many ways. Grateful, the man took the parachute and secured it to his back, adjusted the shoulder straps, and checked various ties to make sure it was secure. He sat back down, but quickly realized it was very uncomfortable to wear a parachute and attempt to sit in a small airlines seat. He was hunched forward and very uncomfortable. He got up again and made several adjustments. He began to question what the stewardesses said about it improving his flight. He took off the chute and just held it in his lap, which was more comfortable, but really not very practical. What good is a parachute that you hold in your lap if the plane goes down? After a while people began to look at him and ask him questions about why he had a parachute. He explained that it was supposed to improve his flight, but everyone just rolled their eyes and went back to doing their own thing. Some passengers even began to laugh at him for being so foolish as to carry a parachute on an airlines. The man tried to stick the chute under his feet, but it was way too large for that to be practical. He finally put it back on and just stood with it. The straps hurt and were uncomfortable in a very short time. Everyone was staring at him, some laughing and even mocking him. Finally, he just ripped off the parachute and threw it on the floor and announced quite loudly how stupid it was to think it would improve his life.

Another man on the very same flight in the back of the plane was also offered a parachute. The difference was this time the stewardess said the parachute was something he was going to need. That in a short while the aircraft would crash and he could jump out and save his life. Wide eyed and thankful, he took the parachute and strapped it on. He double and triple checked the straps to make sure it was properly and securely attached to him. He sat back down and quickly realized it was uncomfortable and not very practical to have on and sit in a small airline seat. Nevertheless, he sat forward concentrating on the fact that in a very short time this would save his life. The straps began to hurt his shoulders and even across his sides, but he did not worry about such minor irritations. He was focused on what was going to happen and how thankful he was to have such a life saving device. People around him began to talk and point, some even laughed at him, but he remained steadfast and focused on what lay ahead. 1

What was the difference with the two men? Both were on an airplane. Both were offered a parachute. The difference was that one was offered a parachute with the suggestion that it would improve his flight. The other was offered a parachute as a life saving device. Obviously, for the first man the parachute did nothing to improve his flight. It caused all kinds of inconvenience, discomfort, and embarrassment. For the second man, it caused the same inconvenience, discomfort, and embarrassment, but he had entirely different motives or mind set for wearing the parachute.

People who become Christians often have one of the two similar mind sets, and depending on which it is will determine if they remain a Christian or step away from their faith. Think back to when you became a Christian. What were your reasons or motives for accepting this particular faith? So often, those that become Christians thinking that Jesus will improve their life leave their faith, frustrated, disappointed, and hurt. Sorry folks, but if you become a Christian, you have no promise of a better standard of living. You can still get sick, have accidents, lose your job, have over whelming debt, fights with your teenage children, your husband or wife, arguments with your mom or dad. You can still get F’s on exams you REALLY have to pass, but did not study for. Your computer can crash and you can lose all your work. Your car can still break down and make you late for your appointment, or have really lousy days where nothing seems to go right. Accepting Christ into your life is not about improving your life, but about saving your life. If you have expectations about Jesus making all things right in the here and now, you may be in for some serious disappointment. We do though have the promise that He helps us get through everything.

I remember quite well when I was saved. It was after listening to Hal Lindsey, author of the Late Great Plane Earth, give a talk to a large congregation. After his talk, I was so scared I practically ran down the aisle to be saved when he gave an altar call.

William Lane Craig wrote in his book, Hard Questions, Real Answers, “The Chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.” “…people tend to naturally assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this life. God’s role is to provide a comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view, this is false. We are not God’s pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God-which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment.” 2

Look at marriage for example. What is the primary reason people get married? If people get married to increase human flourishing and raise children to better society, then a culture would make divorce more difficult. If people get married for personal happiness and emotional satisfaction then divorce would be, (and is), much easier. 3 Look at students who do homework. Most do homework because they have to, because they are motivated in various ways, (reward or punishment), to get it done, while a select few are self motivated and a parent rarely has to encourage them. They are all doing homework, but the reasons why they do homework will range over a wide area, and their reasons will often determine how successful a student will be academically.

Sprint

The current world record holder for the mile time is Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco, with a 3 minute and 43 second time. Imagine you stood in line to run with mile with several others. You happen to represent Christianity, different runners in line representing their own religions, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, New Age, Buddhism, and others. Everyone was told that if they ran hard, ran fast, gave it a good effort, had a good attitude, treated the other runners kindly, then one of them who met the conditions would get into heaven, (Sorry pluralists, not all religions can be right).

But then the judges all gathered around you, the Christian. They explained you will be judged differently, and you only had one condition to meet. Great! For a moment you’re thinking you have it easy, and the others were to be the losers for sure. Then the judges told you your single condition. You had to run the mile in under one second. Before you could protest, with your mouth open in shock, they stepped back and fired the shot to start the race. That is the difference between Christianity and all other religions. In other religions, we must work toward God and make efforts to bridge the gap that is between us and God. In Christianity, Jesus bridges the gap, because without him it is impossible for us to meet the conditions. Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen? Have you ever use the Lord’s name in vain? In Matthew 5: 27-29 it says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old,‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” None of use can meet these conditions, any more than someone can run the mile in under one second. Thankfully, with Christ, in the above set of conditions, the next moment we would experience would be our standing next to Christ, across the finish line. After a moment, you would hear the echo of his grace and forgiveness, sounding like the shot of a gun fired a mile away.

 

 

1. The Way of the Master. Dir. Duane Barnhart. Perf. Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort. Way of the Master.com, 2005. DVD
2. Craig, William Lane. 2003 Crossway. Wheaton. Print.
3. Keller, Timothy. 2008, Penguin Group. New York. Print.

How not to create a religion

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of my favorite real world examples of the Holy Trinity, (The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit), was the water analogy. Not long ago, that worked well for me. Water for example, can exist in three forms or states. H2O can be in liquid form, solid form, and gas or vapor. Not only can it come in those three forms, but it does change its composition from one state to the other. All three states, liquid, solid, and vapor, are still made up of one part hydrogen and two parts oxygen, (H2O). The problem with this example, and really, any real world example that tries to put the Holy Trinity in some form that we can understand, is it does not work. We just don’t have any real world examples to share with each other. Sometimes the best way to explain something like the Trinity is to explain how it does not function. That is, how the water analogy will fall short in explaining the Trinity. As I said, H2O comes in three forms, liquid, solid, and vapor. It also retains its basic elements of H2O in all three states, but it cannot be a liquid when it is a solid. Nor can it be a vapor, when it is a liquid. Water cannot be any of the other states at the same time, at one moment in time it can only be liquid, or solid, or vapor. It can never be liquid, solid, and vapor at the same time. The Trinity is a relationship between three persons who are one God at the same time. Another example of the Trinity I have heard is the different parts of an egg. The shell, the white, and the yoke, all of which are required to have an egg, but like the water example it falls short.

These examples can give us an idea of the Trinity, but the fact is, we do not have any kind of human parallel for the Trinity.

Liberal scholars often instruct the Bible does not teach about the Trinity and other main stream religions do not teach the biblical concept of the Trinity. The Jesus in Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism all reject the Trinity. So where can we find evidence of the Trinity in the Bible?

Matthew 3:16-17 “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV) Here we see Jesus being baptized, the Spirit descending on Christ, and finally the Father expressing love and pleasure with his Son. Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (NIV) Jesus named all three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:35 “The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”(NIV) Again all three are mentioned. You will find other references in 2 Corinthians 13:14, and in 1 Peter 1:2 where Peter wrote, “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (NIV) You will also find Old Testament references to there being more than one person. In Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” Notice the reference to more than one when creating mankind. He said let ‘us’ make mankind in ‘our’ image, not in my image. Then in Genesis 11:7, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

There are other references, but you get the idea with these scriptures alone. Dan Story wrote in The Christian Combat Manual, “Together, these passages testify that the Biblical revelation of God is one Being in essence eternally revealed as three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can also use deductive reasoning to demonstrate, theologically, the doctrine of the Trinity, which can be stated formally in the following syllogism:
1. Only God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.
2. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all three omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.
3. Therefore, God is triune as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” 1

It should be obvious that if someone was going to invent a religion, they would not use concepts that are in essence beyond our understanding, but also with out any real world examples. Christianity has a lot of elements that are difficult to understand, hard to embrace, and down right difficult to practice. If you’re going to invent a religion, that is exactly what you don’t want to do. Yet, despite the difficult teachings, the terrible sufferings and persecutions by the Romans, Christianity grew in numbers not only in Israel, but into Rome and across the world. Why do you think that is?

1. Story, Dan. The Christian Combat Manual. Chattanooga: AMG, 2007. Print.

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