Tag: FREEDOM

ULTIMATE FREEDOM-IF YOU WANT IT

Sometimes I don’t think about God. Sometimes I don’t speak with Him. Sometimes I’m not completely honoring of Him in the way I live my life. But here’s the good news: God is still there: He’s everywhere. He is where you are, right now.

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When I fail my God, and when I ignore Him, and when I let Him down, He doesn’t act like a petulant jilted lover. To put it another way, He doesn’t act like we do. God is merciful and loving and patient. And herein are the riches of freedom in Christ. I’m not talking about a license to sin, or about being consistently luke-warm and uncommitted. I’m saying that God is far more patient and forgiving than we are.

We Christians are free to worship or not. In fact, all humans are free to worship or not to worship. God forces no-one to serve him, unlike the gods of other world religions I could mention. Jesus Christ imposes himself on no man, even though men have attempted to impose themselves in His name, denying the very grace that their claimed Lord brought to them.

It’s human nature, not divine nature, to want to impose ideas and philosophies upon others. Even in our supposed Western “civilization”. The philosophy of evolution is forced upon us from the earliest age, without a hint of evidence to back it up (have you seen any?). Try gaining a degree these days while opposing the theory and you’ll have problems.

In our “democracy” we’re all assaulted with political and social ideology, pushed onto us  without any real love for truth or for what’s genuinely best for everyone or for society. In the world of religion, and even under the umbrella of Christianity, there are plenty attempting to foist their own ideas and goals upon us. They work to take away the freedom we all have to choose Christ.

In this vein is the entire misinterpretation of predestination, in which certain Christians have been and still are proponents of a false freedom: a freedom in which you are not really free- you only think you are. According to this view you do not choose to follow Jesus Christ-he chooses you. I agree that we cannot save ourselves and that we need His Spirit to draw us and to lead us. But this philosophy leads to the inescapable conclusion that God allows literally billions of people to come into existence only to be sent to hell for all eternity, because Christ has not chosen them. To my mind, this is itself a hellish doctrine, denying the work of Christ, the words of Christ, and the will of Christ, who himself said:

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32 KJV).

Little words are as important to our God as the big ones, and that little word, “all” is, in this subject, paradoxically one of the biggest words there could be in our language. He did not say “some”. He did not say “I will draw some men to myself”. Christ died for the sins of the whole world, says our Scripture, and as the deniers of freedom attempt to explain away such passages as meaning something they were never intended to mean, they risk adding to and subtracting from Scripture the deepest truths that are known to man. Christ died for the whole world-not just for some.

There is, however, as is also attested to in Scripture, a condition to our being accepted by the Father of the Son. That is, that we accept His Son, the will of the Son…that we become like Him… and the work that His Son accomplished on the cross. The creator of the universe holds out a loving hand of acceptance, but with that love comes the option for us to reject Him, as terrible a choice as that is, with all its immediate and long-term consequences.

Yes, some people have never heard about Jesus: I’ve written about that: please see my previous post if you’re interested in the subject.

But you have heard about Jesus. You have been blessed with the good news that there is a loving God who has done everything necessary for you to be accepted into an eternal kingdom of light and love. To you is given the incredible gift of a clear choice. Will you seek your Creator, and His Son, or will you reject Him? The best kind of freedom-ultimate freedom-comes from our submission to the One who made us, sustains us, and loves us.

WHERE FREEDOM IS

Whatever our view of the beginnings of mankind, we can imagine the first humans having a huge amount of freedom…

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There-wherever it was-the first man and the first woman wandered the land. In every direction they looked they were free to roam. There were no streets, no traffic lights, no private lands, no “No Trespassing” signs, no busy roads, no Mc Donalds restaurants with one-way drive-in lanes and “stop” signs. It was all open, wild and free.

Adam and Eve, or if you like, “Aarg” and “Thug”, had no bills to pay, no car payments or mortgages to struggle with, no taxes, no boss to answer to, no fear of getting a ticket for riding their horses too fast, and no fear of getting locked up for trespassing or for trumped-up charges of collusion or lying to investigators. Their kids were content, attentive and helpful, because there was nothing to encourage them to be otherwise.

However (and in every human story there has to be a “however”) at some point in the virtual bliss of life along came Mr X: the new neighbor. Mr. X decided that he liked Thug, Aarg’s mate, very much, and also that the land the Aargs were living on looked a lot nicer than the land he was on. X plotted in his primitive but fertile mind how he might extricate Aarg and acquire what Aarg was enjoying, and make it his. He first attempted to “move in” on Mrs. Aarg, who wasn’t altogether against the idea of being acquired, because X, after all, was more handsome than was that guy she’d been stuck with for some time.

There ensued a battle between Aarg and X, in which X’s features were somewhat re-arranged, and he didn’t look quite so handsome or appealing any more. So X plodded off with his metaphorical tail between his legs.

However (and there’s another “however” already) while X’s pride and face were damaged his determination was not. Remembering that just over the hill lived that rather large and imposing man “Donk”, with his rather large and imposing sons, he took some trinkets: shiny rocks, fruit, and a nice jaw-bone hair brush, and went to make a deal with Donk. The following morning X, Donk and his rather large and imposing sons swaggered over the hill to where Arrg was banging some sticks on the cave wall- working on some pretty intricate para-diddles, and, with the gang behind him, he raised himself above Aarg, X declaring that he was now king of all he surveyed-including Mrs Aarg.

Aarg was forcefully employed twenty hours a day, digging for shiny rocks and cooking mammoth chops. He was confined to his cave at night, because everything else now belonged to X and his deputy, Donk. Aarg’s rent was two shiny rocks a day, for the cave which once belonged to him.

The worst irony of the story is that after some time, Donk’s slow but deliberate brain determined that he hadn’t done quite so well out of the deal as he could have, and X shortly found himself digging for shiny rocks with Aarg, and doing the dishes. He was, however, Aarg’s supervisor, so that poor old Aarg remained on the bottom social level of X’s kingdom.

I write this sad little story not because I believe, as the Communists do, that “property is theft”-I don’t: or as an example of how all unpleasant human circumstances come about. Obviously there are other causes of loss of freedom besides violent tyrants. Instead it’s intended to be a demonstration of how we as humans have moved from being once free to being under the thumb of the society we live in. We think we’re free in the West, but compared to the original freedom Aarg enjoyed, we’re rather constricted and constrained.

Step out of your door and you immediately find that there are places you cannot go, things you cannot do. Where once Aarg could wander and roam, you have an extremely limited path of legality and propriety. The fact that you can see buildings and roads and gardens and fields gives a false sense of freedom, because if you walk over someone’s lawn or through their house or over the field you’ll have the owner’s dog, or the owner or the police, chasing you. Don’t wander in the road or you’ll get squashed by a forty ton truck. Don’t drive too fast or go through the red light or you’ll get a ticket. Don’t try to explore that interesting structure or the security man will evict you and turn you in. Don’t say certain things in public or you’ll be verbally or even physically attacked or jailed.

Pay your bills on time or you’ll be on the streets in the cold. Pay your taxes or the weight of the government will come down on you. Don’t grumble too loudly against the government or you could be locked up for incitement. Don’t dress out of fashion or people will sneer and reject you. Vote to please those around you or lose your “friends”. Construct your sentences well and like all the right things and say all the right small talk and wear the right clothes and appear meek and yet at the same time confident and cool or people will shun you.

We, like Aarg, have been enslaved to the society we live in. To top it all off we’re enslaved by our mortality, and our lives are limited in time. What we like to think of as a free world and a free life is actually very restrictive.

However, true freedom can be found in the creator of all that we are and all that Aarg, or Adam, surveyed. This is the creator who has promised to restore what he originally made-this time under his own, good government. For life in this present world, the apostle Paul said:

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

And Jesus Christ said:

“If you hold to my teaching, you really are my disciples. The you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Freedom is to be found in Jesus Christ, and our Creator, who will be in us if we want Him, where no-one can take it away.

 

BARE-KNUCKLE POLITICS

The gloves are off now. No longer do we argue the point about politics with any measure of civility or honesty; no longer are news reporters reporting news or educators merely educating, and no longer do we intellectually or intelligently jostle and contend for the moral high ground of truth. Instead lies, slander, hate, intrigue and unashamed scheming are the weapons of choice in a mad, rabid attempt to bring down a duly elected President. Those who once claimed to be tolerant are out of the closet and swinging, bare knuckled.

So what’s just around the corner for America, and so for the world? It the haters win, there can be no other outcome but the total loss of free speech, the triumph of those who hate what America stands for, and the triumph of elites determined to rule over the rest of us using our money and our hard labor. The enemies of America and what was once Europe will be free to swamp the West. Sounds almost apocalyptic, doesn’t it?

LIVING IN THE LAND OF GREY, WHITE AND BLACK

Are cookies, coffee and calories sinful? Is it wrong to put a spoiler on your minivan? Are drums from the devil? Will you become an alcoholic and go to hell if you allow a drop of alcohol to pass your lips?  Is it wrong to watch secular movies? Will you become demon-possessed if you dare to look at paintings by the likes of Picasso and Van Gogh?

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Is it always wrong to generalize?

I’ve used the British spelling of “gray” ( g-r-e-y) in my title: I hope you can indulge me. If you can’t, you really do need to read this post.

A Christian comedian who was very popular a few decades back, Mike Warnke, once described legalistic Christians as being “so narrow that they can see through a key-hole with both eyes”. Not only do some people want to avoid enjoying their lives, but they don’t think anyone else should enjoy theirs either. I don’t think…I hope I’ve never been that extreme in my zeal for God. Such legalism is usually-but not always-a sign of self-righteousness and a holier-than-thou attitude. This attracts no-one to the faith or to us.

THE ULTIMATE REDUCTIONIST/ MINIMALIST

When I first became a Christian I was so intent on parting myself from my former way of life and all that I perceived to be “of the devil”, that I purged myself of almost everything I possessed, everyone I knew, and all I had previously enjoyed.

I cut myself off from all my former influences and pleasures. Friends thought I’d been brainwashed by some American cult (cults from anywhere else in the world were perfectly acceptable). In fact they were so “concerned” about me that they avoided me like the plague. Perhaps this was a sign that I was actually on the right track, because:

“What fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Having been a bass player by profession, I sold my bass and my amp. I detached myself dramatically from my musical and theatrical contacts. I disposed of all my books, memorabilia and photographs, and my entire record collection-all the music I had loved, enjoyed and been influenced by for years.

For a time I was terrified that if I so much as puffed on one cigarette ever again or had a single sip of beer I would be cast immediately into the lake of fire. God would reject me, the rapture would pass me by, and I would be “left behind” to suffer all the evils of the Tribulation and subsequent judgment.

All that remained of my possessions and my former life was a bed and a Bible…and I was considering getting rid of the bed.

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SWINGING BACK AGAIN

About two years later I underwent my first and my deepest bout of backsliding. Disappointment with God’s performance-the one I expected from him-made my heart sink a million miles. I didn’t reject the Lord in my life: I just put him to the back of my mind so he wouldn’t become a hindrance. The cause of this pendulum-swing turnaround was my own loneliness. I was so hurt that God would not give me a lover, a family and some Christian friends as he seemed to do for everyone else, that I intentionally allowed myself to slide at least part way towards that perdition, in a quest for company and for a girl.

Now I’m going to disappoint some of you by fast-forwarding to the present without sharing the intervening juicy details (for details, send a check or money order for $5000 to the address below…)

IN THE MIDDLE

Now, many years later, I find myself enjoying things which some Christians would consider unacceptable, un-godly, too worldly, and maybe even damnable. In fact, I regularly thank the Lord for what he allows me to enjoy and blesses me with.

No, I’m not one of those people who gets high every day and has a string of live-in lovers. Such things are among the “black and the white” things of life as far as I’m concerned: the things we can know are wrong in the eyes of God. As Paul said after listing some of the real sins of life:

“…those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Instead of those damnable lifestyles, I’m speaking here of things which are not forbidden or perhaps not mentioned in the Bible, but which some self-appointed judges among Christians decide are sinful, shameful and damnable.

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COOKIE-CUTTER CHRISTIANS

“Cookie-cutter Christians” is another of Warnke’s terms, which describes the product of some in the Christian world who, if they had their way, would have us all be identical to them or their favorite preacher in every detail. Even the discussion of grey areas is out of bounds in their eyes. If we were really Christians, they think, we would all be just like them: bored, boring and dispassionate.

FREE TO BE GREY (NOT GAY)

God has called us to freedom within his clear laws, not to a regimented tyranny (2 Corinthians 3:17). Yes, I agree that it’s sinful and damaging to indulge in certain things perhaps not mentioned directly in scripture, such as cannabis and over-graphic movies. And yes, he wants us to spend our lives in worship of him and loving and caring for our fellow man and those around us, rather than in serving ourselves. But it’s a big beautiful world which our God made: he didn’t make it to be ignored. He didn’t design our incredibly complex, inventive, creative human nature just so that we can cower in a corner and be bored out of our brains until we die.

It’s not God’s desire for us all to be the same (and how boring life would be if we were). Why does our DNA contain so much potential for variation, if we’re supposed to be cookie-cutter humans? This variety in our genotypes and our phenotype and our personalities, is there for a reason.

CAUTION

Grey areas do require some thought and prayerful Biblical consideration: are they really grey areas or are we just trying to excuse our disobedience? What kind of guidance does the Bible give for our consideration of grey areas?

 

“Everything is permissible for me-but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me-but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Paul advised care for others as our ultimate guide in those grey areas:

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak… “…so this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8: 9, 11).

We must consider others in the out-working of our freedom. We don’t all have to conform to the life of the ultimate Christian reductionist in order to avoid creating stumbling blocks, but rather those things not forbidden in scripture which we may allow ourselves and which others are not able to enjoy or accept, should not be flaunted in front of others whose faith may be damaged.

In recent months I’ve made myself a promise: I refuse to snore and to fade and to fizzle out until I’m dead. I intend to make fireworks and go out with a bang. God gave us life. Life is beautiful-let’s not waste it. Let’s live it to the full!

SOME CORRECTIONS…

Good news, dear people! Now that we’ve finally rid our world of those awful and arbitrary gender designations (see note 1 below) we will be moving ahead with further ground-breaking changes…

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Dear citizens, Our Wonderful Person has announced a new alteration to our language, formerly known in Dark Days, days of colonialism, bigotry and Trumpism, as “English”.

Our Wonderful Person wants us to remove a certain rancorous and disgusting three-letter word from permitted vocabulary due to highly offensive specificity and exclusivity. An ugly, sadistic sequence of letters, an offense around us, begins with a “t”, quickly progresses without shame to an “h”, and then abruptly ends itself with an “e”, offering no apology whatsoever. Oh, expression is almost TOO HORRIBLE TO CONTEMPLATE! Expression makes OUR WONDERFUL PERSON FEEL SICK! Expression makes me WANT TO DIE! AAAAAGH! OH NO…! I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE!! GET RID OF EXPRESSION…NOW!!!!!!

I apologize for emotion, dear people. I will duly punish myself.

Our Wonderful Person also wishes me to announce further forthcoming revisions for which we must all prepare or face consequences. Since a certain expression discussed above transgresses our new and glorious Book of Permitted Vocabulary, so others with similarity will soon be extricated from daily use. Here they are, though I am SICK AND DISGUSTED TO USE THEM OR EVEN MENTION THEM…

“It”…”in”…”on”…”under”…”at”.

UGH! OH NO!! THEY ARE JUST TOO HATEFUL AND DISGUSTING!! GET RID OF THEM!!! NOW!!!!

Ahem…

There is one more expression, or perhaps more…or less (depending how many you believe there are) to be dealt with around a very near future, according to Our Wonderful Person. An expression known as (gulp) “word”. Yes, good people, I’ve used a expression twice-give or take a few times-through my report, and for them I sincerely apologize. BUT BELIEVE ME: A PROFOUND NECESSITY OVERTOOK ME!

An above “w” expression (you know, “w…o…r…d”) must soon be removed from our books (and even our lips and our minds, dear people) since such an expression discriminates greatly against non-w…o…r…d expressions.

Around a place we will use far more inclusive and less stereotypical expressions, such as “ugh”; “hmm”, or “grr”. Our Glorious Book of Permitted Vocabulary will now be filled with happy, positive, loving and inclusive “ughs”: a far more earth-friendly, citizen-friendly prospect.

NOTE 1

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4043394/First-ze-Mr-Mrs-BANNED-Oxford-University-tells-colleges-remove-gender-specific-titles.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/09/05/colleges-trend-toward-gender-neutral-pronouns/71780214/