Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Man's Version of "god"

            Of all the statistics we hear on America, few likely are more inaccurate than the one that claims around 70% of Americans are Christians. Sure, that’s what they said, but the term is so loosely used, it can mean about anything. One of the most unfortunate identities of Christian, and about the most far off, are those who simply have a belief in God. There are many, and it seems to be ever-growing, who do not even believe the Bible, or not all of it, or have severely misinterpreted it. (Or they do not believe it to be true, or choose to willingly ignore parts of it anyway.) Rather, this group in “Christianity” rests on their belief in a god they are rather unfamiliar with.
            Often, their beliefs involve a Creation-Evolution mix- A god created us and then stepped back and let things happen. He is not really involved in things. Yet when they are in a bind, they put their trust in this god to see them through trouble.
            You have probably noticed that I have not been capitalizing "god". This is because the god they identify with is very different from who God truly is. This group really has no way to determine what their god is because they are unwilling to accept the Bible. Doing so would subject them to it.
            But apart from the Bible, God’s Word, god can be whoever they want to make him. This is why you can ask someone if they believe in God, and while it may be a start, it may also mean very little. James put it this way: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19). So you have monotheistic beliefs? Well good for you. Demons, who used to dwell with God as angels before they were cast out of Heaven, also know they he exists. They believe He exists; they even tremble at the thought. But guess where they are? Hell. Where is their eternal home? The Lake of Fire. I don’t say this to scare, but out of love and concern. This is the reality of the situation.
            When we decide to leave the Bible as our authority, what else do we rely on to know about God? “My conscience tells me there’s a God.” Funny, that’s in the Bible. “Look at nature, there has to be a God when we look at this beautiful world.” Also in the Bible.
            Where else do we learn about God, about His nature and His character? Apart from His Word that He gave us, there is nothing else but ourselves. But that is what this group desires. Do you want to drink alcohol? The Bible says that’s not right. So we’ll make our god say it’s okay. Want to support/be homosexual? That goes against the Bible, so our god will be cool with that. Have sex before marriage? Be deceptive? The list could go on. If they don’t like it, they’ll deny the Bible and make their own rules. All while keeping a belief in “god”. How convenient.
            This is exactly what Israel did in Numbers 25. God had just gotten finished protecting them from Balaam, who was trying to curse them. God actually turned the curses into blessings. He said that no one from the outside could touch them. But do you know who could? Themselves. God’s protection only goes so far. Instead, Israel runs after Baal-Peor, the Canaanite god of fertility. They resort to filthy, pagan worship.
            Because it was fun. Yes, they knew God was the right way. They knew that He was the only true way. But they could worship another god, still have religion, and have fun! God said sex outside of marriage is wrong, the Canaanites and the god they created said it is a part of worship. It sounds like a much better deal going with them.
            Except God’s punishment is sure. You can deny the Bible to avoid thinking about the side of God you want to ignore- His wrath, judgment, and intolerance for sin- but it is still there.
            “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:22-23). This chapter speaks to atheism, but also, as we see here, to this very problem I speak of. As Paul speaks (under the inspiration of God) of God’s righteousness and man’s unrighteousness, he cannot do it without mentioning this. People, rather than accepting God as He is, change Him into an image more like themselves. Because a god that is like humans won’t hold us to higher standards. This goes against the glory of the true God. And those who do it the Bible says are fools.
            Do not fall under the common error of our society of having an aura of faith while still living how you please and believing what you want. God is not to be made by man; He made man. Hence we do not dictate terms to Him, He dictates the terms to us. And I think when you dive into it, you’ll find He’s much more fair than some give Him credit.
            Submit yourself to the true God, the God of the Bible. This begins by accepting His mercy and grace, and avoiding His judgment. “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13). The saving from Hell comes only through placing your faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection- not a general belief in god.
            Faith in God is not a bad thing; we should recognize that He exists. But having faith is not enough- you must PLACE your faith in Him to receive salvation and for Him to begin working on your life. I have not regretted it, and you will not either.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Review of "Banker to the Poor" and Micro-Lending/Grameen Bank

            “Credit is a human right.” This is the belief that drives Mohammad Yunus into creating the Nobel Peace Prize-winning, billion-dollar Grameen Bank. Yunus writes the novel Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty to tell the story of how he went from being an economics professor to an in-the-trenches, practical poverty fighter. He believes that charity does no good, only taking away the work ethic of the poor by providing them handouts; foreign aid he says only benefits the well-off by going to infrastructure or similar projects. Yunus states that every poor person has skills, and can lift themselves out of poverty, if they simply have access to small, low-rate loans free from the stipulation of collateral. He claims, with years of banking now to back him up, that they will repay because it is their only real chance to lift themselves up to a better life. The poor can then become small entrepreneurs and sell the skills they have for higher profits. Through this method and similar others outlined, Yunus is not only convinced, but burdened, that poverty can become a thing of the past.
Yunus begins the book by introducing his position as an economics professor at Chittagong University in his native Bangladesh. His country has fallen into famine, and though Yunus is part of the “well-fed” society, he can still plainly see the effects of it. Field Marshall Ayub Khan has taken power in a military coup, and for fear of rebellious students in the city has moved Chittagong to a rural area near the Jobra village. It is in Jobra that Yunus decides that he and his students will be taught true economics by the poorest of society, and where he first attempts his micro-lending experiment (Introduction).
            In chapter one, Yunus tells of his experience growing up in the large port city of Chittagong. It was here that he is educated all the way through college and develops a thirst for reading, which he and his closest brother, Salam, quench through any creative means, legal or illegal. At his house on 20 Boxirhat Road, Muhammad grows up observing his devout Muslim father work in his jewelry shop, watches his loving mother develop a mental illness, and lives in five rooms above the shop with as many as nine of his siblings. Before the age of 25, Yunus sees World War II (a Japanese bomb destroys a wall of the shop), India gain its independence as Pakistan (India’s Muslim-majority areas) still is vocal about theirs, and finally lives through Bangladesh’s War of Liberation (Chapter 1).
            Upon his graduation from college in 1961, Yunus is brought on to teach at Chittagong, as well as gains a loan to begin what will become a very successful packaging and printing plant. But in four years, he earns a scholarship to study in America, first at the University of Colorado, where his acclamation to 1960s young adult society is incomplete but still very enjoyable, and then to Vanderbilt, where he meets his wife Vera, a USSR native. When the Bangladesh War of Liberation breaks out in 1971, Yunus immediately pledges his support for the state that does not even exist yet, and all between his home in Nashville and Washington, D.C. raises support, money, and awareness for Bengali independence and the massacre via the Pakistani army. He creates a Bangladeshi government to interact with neighboring countries, and after the devastating war comes to a victorious close, he knows he must go back to build a decimated Bangladesh (Chapter 2).
            Yunus goes back to Bangladesh and is giving a self-dubbed “boring” government position; he soon resigns this and takes a position as head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University, which is facing rough times along with the rest of the country. Thinking something should be done about the famine that continues to plague Bangladesh, Yunus gains permission to release a “call to action” to the press and through the classroom sets to experimenting with solutions. He focuses his attention on the nearby village of Jobra, where he develops a “Three Share System” in which Yunus opens up the irrigation and pays for a higher-yielding crop, as well as volunteers his and his students’ time to help the farmers and sharecroppers as part of their research, and in return is given a third of their crops (though not all deliver on the deal). Yunus notices greater problems with the poor, however: there is not a clear definition of who the poor are (until he defines them), there are many poorer than farmers and sharecroppers in Bangladesh and even in Jobra, and programs that are not narrowly tailored to the poor end up helping the better off (Chapter 3).
            Yunus begins to go around, with either a student or fellow faculty member, to the poorest of Jobra to find out why they are in such terrible states. Upon talking with a Muslim lady, he finds that they are caught in a system of being lent money by moneylenders to do a difficult trade, and then are forced to sell their goods back to the same moneylenders at minimal profit, thus keeping them poor. Yunus and one of his students are further sickened when they find out that all the poor in Jobra are stuck in poverty for a combined lack of $27, which Yunus decides to personally lend out to them so they will be able to sell their goods to anyone. Beyond this, Yunus knows that a larger enterprise must be undertaken, one that will be very difficult due to the banking rule of collateral that he takes issue with; Yunus himself decides to be a guarantor for the poor of Jobra, and eventually six months a slightly larger loan is approved, which is paid back at a much higher rate than other loans, as these loans are the only things that can bring the underclass out of poverty (Chapter 4).
            As the Grameen Bank project progresses, Yunus by trial and error tries many things that are contrary to normal banking. He runs his bank based on trust instead of legal documents and allows loans to be paid off in increments instead of in lump sums, as well as setting interest rates lower. Seeing the oppression of women in Bangladeshi society, he makes a goal of having at least half of loans go to them, a goal which is eventually reached and well surpassed. (Yunus hires many women as well, and uses them in the field, as seen in the example of Nurjahan Begum, who breaks the tradition of purdah by leaving her house, handling money, and holding a job.) Loans are given to women in groups of five, only after going through classes and testing, ensuring support, accountability, and that only those who truly need the money will pursue it (Chapter 5).
            Grameen experiences exponential growth in the early 1980s, increasing to 25 branches in five districts, around 28,000 clients, and over $13 million in loans. This success can be owed to the cooperation of several large banks and loaners, the first and most crucial being the Bangladesh Krishi Bank that starts branches of Grameen itself and pays Grameen employees. The success is also due to the sacrifices of the Grameen family, including Yunus, who loses his wife (who does not want to live in Bangladesh anymore) and leaves his job to silence criticism, the bank managers, who go with their passion over the money they could make with their master’s degrees, and the workers, who work 12 hour days that involve walking all over sometimes dangerous villages (the women endure special criticism). All this is being accomplished despite harsh criticism from politicians and Islamic religious leaders, who attempt to scare the determined women from the bank, and from national and international banks who either dislike what Yunus is doing or are determined that micro-lending will not work on a large scale (Chapter 6).
            A coup d’état leaves Yunus talking to an old friend, who is then named Finance Minister by the new regime, and promises to slowly help Yunus get past the criticism of established bankers to make Grameen an independent bank. Yunus wants Grameen to be completely owned by the borrowers, but an advisor he approaches suggests that it be partially owned by the government so that it will have an easier time getting through a vote; in the original document 60% of the bank ends up being owned by the government. A bit disappointed, Yunus still finds the inspiration to create a logo for his bank, which is presented at the grand opening celebration in, naturally, a rural area of Bangladesh. After this it is back to work for him, as he must fight to get more of Grameen owned by borrowers (it creeps to 75% borrower ownership), to prevent possible devastating turnover by fighting through governmental red tape to make his position and the position of chairperson out of control of the government, and to create a home loan program (Chapter 7).
            Looking at the problems Bangladesh faces, such as some attempts to force population control and an in some cases an unfair amount of natural disasters, Yunus and Grameen look to combat them. At a workshop, they create Sixteen Decisions to follow to be a helpful and moral institution; as part of being helpful, they supply immediate aid to natural disaster victims while still making sure they pay back loans (feeling the alternative would make them lose what they have worked for). Yunus is also openly critical of the World Bank and its strategies, even denying a large loan from it, as well as the financial training of borrowers and foreign aid (which he claims only serves to help those who are already wealthy). In part due to this criticism and also due to its general growth, Grameen is able to cooperate with several other positive organizations and gains the attentions of news organizations all over the world, including CBS’s Sixty Minutes (Chapter 8).
            By the mid-1980s, projects similar to Grameen begin to get started in other poor countries across Southeast Asia and the world, with some of the most successful being in Malaysia and the Philippines. Yunus looks to directly support these efforts through both money and his time, which he finds hard to split between those he has already visited and wants to see progress and those he has yet to see. Hundreds of millions of dollars are raised to fund various efforts, though the goal is in the billions; even the World Bank steps in to help. Most works find similar return rates, similar workers, and similar stories of borrowers who are happy to find an institution to help them (Chapter 9).
            Convinced that his program will work wherever there is poverty, Yunus is ready to take the idea to wealthy countries. However, capitalist nations seem skeptical of micro-lending, and the social welfare systems, especially those in Europe, make it difficult if not illegal for the poor to have an incentive to pull themselves out of poverty. Around the mid-1980s, two people convince the Clintons, then governing Arkansas, to quickly try micro-credit on a small scale. As Yunus himself goes from place to place fanning people’s creativity, Grameen-style lending slowly takes hold in some of the poorest areas of the United States (Chapter 10).
            When an uprising turns Bangladesh into a democracy in 1991, Yunus tells branches to collectively decide who they will vote for and to vote in groups, to bring political legitimacy to his borrowers; in a short period many borrowers and borrowers’ family members hold political office. This same year, the new government causes a loan crisis for Grameen and the country has to recover from a devastating cyclone. Yet Grameen does move on, forming several new loan programs and making specific goals to create a “poverty-free” Bangladesh. Yunus then outlines the complicated new sphere for projects such as Grameen: the “social-consciousness private sector”, one that leans politically left but in which the government largely stays out of (Chapter 11).
            After debating an offer from a government secretary, Yunus decides to take ownership of fishing ponds in two different provinces; the venture is an uncharted experience and one which is stressful and not very profitable, but it is helpful to the poor Grameen deals with. This is not the only venture Grameen branches into, as it also creates several companies to utilize and market the skills of weavers around Bangladesh. Grameen also takes on modernization projects, helping to bring electricity, telephones, and even internet connections to new areas, despite protests that this technology is wasted on the third world country. Despite such innovation, setbacks are still seen with the poor, and Yunus realizes that the work of his bank must continue solving problems such as providing for medical and retirement plans, realizing it can never be perfect but is the best option available (Chapter 12).
            Yunus provides statistics for how much Grameen has grown since it began, all while staying a profitable institution; among its more rewarding projects include helping provide for studentss (especially girls’) education. In 2001, all of Grameen’s 1,175 branches switched over to Grameen II, or the Grameen Generalised System. This new bank is tailored more to the borrowers, allowing for “flexi-loans” to give more time to pay back loans in times of financial struggle, as well as providing a system that puts money aside for retirement and to pay loans and family members in case of death. There are also incentives for the staff with the creation of a five star system they can strive for; Yunus notes an extra amount of enthusiasm and energy in all his employees (Chapter 13).
            Yunus gives his vision for a future that he believes should not have poverty, saying that it belongs in a museum and not in a civilized world, and says that it is possible to achieve this. He believes that social-objective based entrepreneurs can crowd out both greed-based entrepreneurs and the governments that attempt to regulate them, leading to a Europe-esque world with a single authority working together to solve problems. People must take control themselves and not be given handouts, he states, and using the example of flight, says that micro-credit is just taking off but will soon be headed to new heights. This is evident in a Microcredit Summit organized in 1997 that attracted world leaders and many speakers, attempting to reach the 100 million poorest people in the world (at the time of publication this goal was not far behind schedule) (Chapter 14).
            In closing his book, Yunus provides an outlook for a future without poverty by giving an explanation for his idea of a “social business”. He claims that human beings are more complex with more desires, and are in need of something more than profit-maximizing businesses whose sole goal is getting as far above the red as possible. These are not charities, as they make profits, but the profits are invested back into the business instead of distributed to investors. Social businesses are expected to compete on the same market as profit-maximizing businesses, Yunus states, but should be measured in a different stock market. Any type of business could get into this state of mind, whether it be those directly aimed at helping the poor or those that provides goods and services that can offer discounts to the poor (A Preview of Creating a World Without Poverty).
            When hearing of a “solution to poverty”, immediate skepticism set in. Who has not heard a myriad of ideas to combat this long-standing issue? Upon getting into Yunus’s argument for micro-lending, it has much more credibility than any other “solutions” presented before. Yunus hits the nail on the head when he gives the explanation that welfare programs and charities are counterproductive to the poor, leading them to rely on handouts rather than rely on their work ethics. Such programs may be necessary for a short time or for a select few, but for most, they must be given a chance. With a loan, a return is expected, and an entrepreneurial spirit is ignited (Richards). As numerous critiques state in various ways, “Yunus's theories work” (“Book Summary”). This truly brings to life the cliché, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
            Another self-interested implication of micro-lending is that of slowed immigration (Walker). Walker states in The Social Contract Journal that many in the United States, especially liberals, see America as a place that everyone wants to move to in order to find better economic success. While it used to be a goal to civilize “lesser peoples”, they are now just brought to our soil. This is not only an egocentric line of thinking, but also one that is impossible to realize. Even those who do not consider other nations less still believe that they should come to America; it is why people put up with illegal immigration. What is wrong with an economic refugee’s country that they cannot succeed there? Rather than look at the issue, they are told to go to America. America cannot hold the world’s population. Walker likens it to sinking the lifeboat due to overcrowding. A better way to handle things is to make a way for people to have better lives in their own countries, rather than come to the United States, where they will experience an intergenerational culture shock and may still not find good work. Micro-credit can do this, and has done this in nearly 100 nations across the world.
            But before it appears that I am too much a supporter of Yunus and his theories, let me be clear: There will always be poverty. Micro-lending is the best option I have heard yet for helping those in poverty, but nonetheless, there will always be poverty. There were few critiques found that matched my level of cynicism on this subject. Most were caught up in the mysticism and glamour of Yunus’s vision. One blogger says she loves the personal stories and twice calls the book “inspiring” (“Book Nest”). Get Rich Slowly likewise uses that exact adjective (Dykman). But while the traditional problem is that one cannot see the forest for the trees, by the end of the book Yunus cannot see the trees for the forest. He has made micro-lending work, and has expanded it to a large scale. But Yunus is much too idealistic, and not enough realistic. A blogger who goes by the alias Varunshukla does a very good job of describing this. Yunus describes a future world where poverty is only in museums. Such Utopian societies have been attempted before on community scales, and have quickly failed every time. Varunshukla points to Brooks Farm and Robert Owen’s experiments as examples, the latter of which failed because the people themselves were not willing to cooperate. In addition to this, Yunus blatantly lies when he claims that “we have created a slavery-free world, a polio-free world, an apartheid-free world”, and compared ending poverty to these. Mauritania and Brazil have reported slavery in their nations; this is apart from sex-trafficking that is an issue even in the United States. India, the nation that Yunus’s native Bangladesh won independence from, as well as Africa, continue to report cases of polio. Racism and discrimination are still documented issues around the world (Varunshukla). So no, these problems have not been solved, just has poverty has not been solved. Can it be bettered? Yes, and it has. Will it be ended? Doubtful.
            There are further reasons why poverty will remain. Some in the underclass, who are able to feed themselves but are and should be considered poor, do not want to climb from poverty. Yunus’s theory is based on the assumption that poor people want better lives. This is likely true in third world countries, and it is much easier to give out loans when the cost of living is lower. But in first world countries, social welfare systems have created, dare I say it, a class of people that learn to live off their government. Food, housing, utilities- many expenses are paid for. With the food stamp system in America, luxury items can be bought. The systems are easy to manipulate. What incentive does one have to leave this lifestyle? It would take cooperation from governments to take people off such systems and put them on a path to self-sufficiency. This would take a great deal of string pulling in some of the most powerful nations in the world.
            This leads to a final problem. Many governments- perhaps most governments even- do not want to end poverty within their borders. With totalitarian states, this seems more obvious. If a citizen is worrying about food, they aren’t worrying about oppression. Dictators want their citizens to have to rely on them. But even in democracies, some leaders do not want to leave the social welfare system. Consider Hyperpluralism in politics. The government funds more projects and businesses than its budget can handle, politicians take credit, and politicians get campaigns financed. It’s why the U.S. government subsidizes tobacco farmers, yet taxes tobacco products heavily for being unsafe. The same principle happens with the underclass, a large voting bloc in any given first world democracy. Politicians promise that they will continue to receive their handouts if they are voted into office; the underclass turns out in mass to support those politicians, and their cycle of living near or in poverty continues. Such a pattern can be seen with the largest political machine in American history, the Democratic Party, where in the 2012 election Barack Obama was able to gain a 32% advantage over his opponent with those making under $30,000 ("2012 Presidential Voter Support by Demographic"), who composed a fifth of all voters.
            There is something greater that worries me specifically with Grameen Bank. Yunus has created a sort of “Private-Sector Communism”. You’re saying that I just made that up. I did, but Yunus creates many of his own terms in his novel and explains them, so allow me the liberty. As Grameen moves into more areas- fishing, communication, electricity, health care- and as its founder pushes for other “social businesses” to find other areas still, Grameen is reaching deeper and deeper into its borrowers lives. It is becoming inseparable. Instead of getting rid of poverty, it is replacing it with another nuisance- one that is always around, giving them directions, in some ways acting as if they are incapable of making their own decisions. On top of this, Grameen expects its borrowers, upon getting out of poverty, to continue borrowing from it instead of becoming self-sustaining. Yet Grameen became self-sustaining. Is this not a double-standard (Jov)? Is this about the poor, or are they simply being used with a sort of false humility. Even if Yunus’s motives are pure, what if the next person’s motives that comes along aren’t? The borrowers are so reliant on Grameen; they have nowhere else to turn. This is not the only double-standard Yunus has; he expects social businesses to compete with profit-maximizing businesses, but wants them judged on a different stock market. He can’t have it both ways. He expects investors to flock to social businesses, knowing they won’t make a profit. This system will only attract philanthropists, not the thousands of other investors looking to make a living. I also disagree with credit being a human right. Credit is not a need, nor is necessary for protection, nor should stop to prevent harm. Human rights lose their meaning and their intentions when any person can broaden their definition to include his passion.
Though I only have the “bird’s-eye-view” unlike Yunus, I see something with as much power like Grameen over people’s lives as as much a danger to them as an oppressive government. What is needed is competition between Grameen-like banks in all corners of the world. It is the only sound way yet to truly bring large numbers of people out of poverty. With some nations, it will take the right leadership, maybe decades of legislation, to bring them from a welfare system to one in which micro-credit can have success on a large scale. Poverty will never disappear, just as genocide is in museums but still occurs, just as war has never disappeared. It will always be an issue that must be combated. But with micro-credit, the warfare in play is much more effective.

Works Cited

"2012 Presidential Voter Support by Demographic." Statistic Brain: Percentages | Numbers | Financials |             Rankings. Edison Research for the National Election Pool, 7 Nov 2012. Web. 25 Oct 2013.             <>.
"Book Summary." Book Browse: Your Guide to Exceptional Books. Web. 20 Oct                2013. <                poor>.
Dykman, April. "Book Review: Banker to the Poor." Get Rich Slowly: Personal Finance that makes             Cents., 9 Sept 2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.                           
Jov, . "Banker to the Poor by Mohammed Yunus." Jov's Book Pyriamis: Books Is My Addiction, I Seek No Cure. Wordpress, 22 Feb 2012. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <>.
"Review: Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus." The Book Nest. Blogspot, 15 Mar 2009. Web. 20   Oct. 2013. <     
             by-         muhammad-yunus.html>.
Richards, Donovan. "Book Review: Banker to the Poor." Where the Pen Meets Paper: Music, Book, and             Movie Reviews. Blogspot, 8 Apr 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.                     
Varunshukla, . "h1Book Review & Critique of “Banker to the Poor” by Muhammad Yunus."             
            Wordpress,             3 Nov 2009. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
            <            bankertothepoor/>.
Walker, Brenda. "Book Review of "Banker to the Poor" by Muhammad Yunus." Social Contract
            Journal. 11.3 (Spring 2001): n. page. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.                         

Monday, February 17, 2014

David & Goliath- Abortion and National Sins

            Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the Bible, or even any references to it (as it is the most referenced piece of literature in history), has undoubtedly heard the story of David and Goliath. I, therefore, do not plan to go into a great scope of explanation on it. For a refresher, or if you have never heard it (we weren’t all raised the same way), look up I Samuel 17. But this is more geared toward the Christian regardless.
            The cliché application for this popular story is that we can always overcome our giants. With God’s help, we can slay any problem, obstacle, or temptation that comes into our path. While this is not an inaccurate application, and there are certainly multiple ones for any passage of the Bible (though only one interpretation), allow me to propose another, perhaps more accurate, application.
            When David went to the battle on one of many fateful days in his life, he was simply delivering food to his older brothers and seeing if they were well. (They were, of course, because no one was fighting.) It was while making his delivery that David heard the words of Goliath and decided that he needed to be fought by some man, and that man should be him.
            This problem that was Goliath did not seek out David. Yes, he was seeking a battle with some Israelite man, but he did not approach David. David approached him. This is the fallaciousness of the popularized application. Nowhere did David meet a giant in his path. Goliath was not David’s problem. He wasn’t even a soldier. He didn’t HAVE to fight him. In fact, everyone was saying he was as good as dead for trying.
            So why DID David choose to fight Goliath?
            The purpose for fighting comes immediately when David hears Goliath’s words. He says in verse 26 of I Samuel 17 that he was defying the armies of the living God. But while the stature of this problem sent every other soldier of God running in fear, David was courageous and decided to confront it.
            Goliath was not David’s problem. He was a national problem. Goliath’s challenge was this, found in verses eight and nine: “Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.” The result of this one-on-one battle would have lasting and major consequences for Israel. No one wanted to step up, one, for fear of their own life, and two, for fear of failing their entire nation.
            But these problems never confront themselves. They will never solve themselves. It takes someone stepping up, taking a stand, and being willing to fight the battle.
            David had no direct stake in this. What does he care about this battle? Let someone else fight it. But it did affect him- it affected everyone.
            This is the same way it is with abortion in our nation, though it is hardly limited to that. This can be applied to any sin that permeates our society. We may be able to brush it off and say it doesn’t “directly affect us”. But sin affects a country as a whole. “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Gen. 4:7) God told Cain when his sacrifice was rejected that if he does not obey God, sin lied at the door. While he is supposed to rule over sin (“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” –Rom. 6:12), disobedience to God causes us to be ruled over by sin. Just as failure against this problem of Goliath would cause Israel to be ruled over by the Philistines.
            When we look at David’s reasoning behind choosing to fight Goliath, it was not even the threat of losing his liberty. It was the profaning of God by Goliath. Sin- abortion, homosexuality or any other sexual sins, a sexualized society, you name it- profanes God. David fully knew this, he had a sensitivity to sin that few others did in the Bible. And he knew when he saw Goliath, the symbol for a national problem of sin, profaning God, something had to be done.
            We can also see David’s confidence. He pointed out where God had taken him in the past and all that he had been brought through. As a shepherd, he’d faced multiple dangers, but had come through them. As he goes to fight Goliath, he tells him “this day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand” (v. 46). David’s confidence was not placed in his own abilities, but in God in whom he trusted and had placed his trust in.
            Another thing we see is David’s preparation. He did not simply run out into the valley of Elah and say, “I got this!” I am not just talking about trusting in God, although that is crucial as well. David had prepared for this, unwittingly, for his entire life. He had been out alone in the fields, with only God as his company. He had no fear going into the valley alone. He had been fighting off wild animals for his sheep; he was more than willing to die for them, and would have been willing to die for his people, though he knew it was not God’s will. He knew how to use a sling from being a shepherd, his weapon of choice against Goliath (that and Goliath’s sword). And his love for God prevented him from walking away after hearing Goliath’s words. We must also be prepared to go into battle. We have to have our weapons ready, being versed in God’s Word and whatever apologetics and arguments are necessary to take on the enemy. We have to be alone with God; we have to be ready.
            See David’s attitude toward the enemy. First, let me remind you that people are not the enemy. David killed Goliath, but Goliath is a picture for a national threat of sin. People are those we can attempt to win- not argue to death, but win to our side. Our enemy is sin, are the ideas behind it. This is where we must be relentless and ruthless. David calls Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” and tells him that he “will smite thee, and take thine head from thee.” We must be passionate against these things, and show no love for them. There is nothing good about them; let us not give them any credit.
            Then we see David’s motivation. Again, it has nothing to do with him. Had he done it for the wealth or the king’s daughter, there is little doubt seeing how God had handled such situations in the past that David would have failed. Rather, in verse 46, David says he will slay Goliath “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel”. This is not to say that certain national sins cannot be stood against by non-believers. There is a compelling case that can be made against gay marriage. On sex outside of marriage, research (and common sense) shows that abstinence in the only way to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Abortion, the most obvious, is an absolute wrong that is the killing of innocent humans; there are pro-life proponents who are atheists and supporters of other liberal social issues. But to the ultimate end, we are to operate to God’s glory, and not to elevate ourselves or to attempt to gain any fame for ourselves.
            David did not have superior might or firepower, but he did have God on his side. He looked at a national problem, a national wrong, and saw that no one else was doing anything about it. There are national sins all about us. They have taken our country down to the level of men like the Philistines, who profane God. We must be willing to take notice of what is going on around us, and take action. Problems do not solve themselves.
            It is not any easy task. Problems are big. They are entrenched, and have plenty of backup. We will probably even get opposition from our own people. But we can’t make excuses. We can’t say “it doesn’t affect us”, because that simply is not true. The outcome affects everyone. We have to step out and fight for what we know to be right. Forget what anyone else says or thinks. Forget the implied dangers. “I can do all things through Christ which strenghteneth me.” (Phil. 4:13) Or, as our own national currency states: “With God all things are Possible.”
            Remember how David conducted himself: his faith, his boldness, his confidence in God. He jumped at the opportunity to fight for the benefit of his nation and against sin that spit in the face of God. As we look at things that have become commonplace in our society- abortion, hypersexualization, fill in the blank- we have to do the same. We have AN OBLIGATION to do the same.
            And remember, at the end of the battle, it was Goliath that was dead on the ground.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jude 8c; II Pet. 2:10b,e

God's judgment is also "chiefly" reserved for those who "despise government". Jude gives the description that these false teachers "despise dominion". Both these words mean "authority". A characteristic of these ungodly men is that they "reject authority". Rather than submitting themselves to the higher powers (Rom. 13:1), they choose to be their own authority. God put in His Holy Word that He is the ultimate authority and man should first submit himself to Him. He has also placed government, fathers/husbands, pastors, bosses, school faculty, and others in positions of leadership that, as long as they are not breaking the principles of the Bible, we are to submit ourselves to. But these certain men, as is natural in any man, choose to reject authority, and therefore reject God's commandment. It goes a step further. Peter says later in the verse that "they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities". Jude says the same, "and speak evil of dignities". Not only do these ungodly men reject their authority, but they openly criticize them, without fear. While appearing spiritual themselves, they in turn try and paint their God-given authority in a bad light. God told the children of Israel not to "curse the ruler of thy people" (Ex. 22:28), and Paul reiterated it when he was in trouble (Acts 23:5). Nonetheless, we are held to higher standards, being told to honor them (I Pet. 2:17).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jude 8a; II Pet. 2:10a

The next description of these filthy dreamers involved their flesh. Peter says that they "walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness". These "chiefly" are reserved for judgment. Jesus said "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Mat. 26:41). Paul spoke of the infirmity of our flesh and our tendency to yield ourselves the servants of uncleanness (Rom. 6:19). In Romans 8, led in from the back of chapter 7, Paul gives an explanation of what we are in the flesh and what it takes to overcome the flesh. Not relying on God, these ungodly men walk after the flesh and fulfill their own lusts. But Paul is very clear to put on Christ and not make provision for the flesh and lusts (Rom. 13:4). Not only do they walk after their flesh, but these certain men defile their flesh. Their temples that they have been given by God are corrupted by their practices (Rom.12:1). This likely goes back to "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness".
The application: We are not to walk after the flesh either, nor defile it. What's more, Paul says in Eph. 6:12 that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood..." Our enemies are not these false teachers, when they can be won, as Jude says later. Rather it is Satan and his minions.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

God's Miraculous Work (A Personal Story)

            Even as I start this, I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with it, and that is rare for me. I may go on rants, but even then I have things planned out.
            The past couple days things just haven’t seemed to be going right. Some of it, okay, more than some of it, has been of my doing. I’ve jumped ahead of God, got caught up in sin, and managed to alienate a few people. Even people I just met. And I was bitter, angry, and upset. Worse, I was complacent. I always pray to God for wisdom in making decisions, that I would be aware of His presence, that He would give me discernment so that I wouldn’t say something stupid and know which friendships are worth pursuing and which I should stay away from. It just hasn’t seemed to be clicking.
            As I looked at the wreckage of several un-thought out decisions and word choices, I examined my prayer. God has granted many requests, even recently, in seemingly impossible and miraculous ways. I know He always answers prayer, and requests as these He would not refuse, He even says so about wisdom. So the problem is not with God (go figure). It is either because I “ask amiss” and don’t really mean what I am saying, or God is giving me what I request and I am not using it. That struck me pretty hard. God answers my prayer in the affirmative, and I’m not even using what He’s giving me. How ungrateful.
            This I was thinking tonight (it’s Wednesday) as I was walking between various places on campus in the dark and cold; how representative the weather was of I and my heart! I still hadn’t really figured things out, I figured it would take time for everything to unravel. Then God showed up again in His miraculous way.
            I’ve been playing intramural whiffle ball these past few weeks late on Wednesdays. (And, if I may say so, I am quite fantastic for not having played baseball since third grade- and being terrible then.) Sports have always allowed me to either take out any frustration or forget about it (and usually build more). But this was completely fun, and a good game; I had forgotten all about my troubles. Alas, when my team had talked after the game, I went to the end of the basketball courts and picked an empty spot to swap glasses and put warm clothes on.
            “The thing about a relationship with God is, it’s not Him up there waiting to judge you, it’s Him down here building the relationship with you.” What?! My attention had been captured. I looked at the other end of the bleachers to see a rec center worker talking to a guy that had just finished a basketball game.
            “I mean, I can’t say I always have the best relationship with Him. I don’t think I talk to Him enough.” She went on to explain a little about her life and gave some other advice to the young man I now saw was wearing a First Baptist shirt. I don’t remember everything they said because about halfway through God shook me, and I was torn up inside.
            To anyone who doesn’t believe God is not intimately involved in the affairs of man, besides the numerous scripture I could point you to, I can point you to every day in my life. And tonight was by far no exception.
            I went up to the two of them, now being indirectly surrounded by other basketball pick-up players. They introduced themselves and I reciprocated. Then I told the worker, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop over there, but I needed that tonight.”
            This immediately excited the young man, and she asked if everything was alright. I told her “yeah” (I had a bus to catch soon), and we conversed for a minute. I thanked her again, and the whole time waiting for the bus thanked God while examining my life. I know I have to relying on Him for the things I have control over and trust Him for those things I don’t. Sometimes I just need reminded of it.

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” – I Corinthians 5:14-15

Monday, February 10, 2014

Jude 8a

Each writer now gives a verse of further description of these ungodly men, very similar to each other, based on the examples they gave. Jude starts, before even getting to his list, by giving them another name. "Likewise these filthy dreamers..." Many dreams have been used of God throughout His Word. When Joseph approaches his brothers, they say "Behold, this dreamer cometh" (Gen. 37:19). God used dreams and visions to speak to Abram, Jacob, Joseph, many prophets, Joseph, and the wise men, as well as others. But these filthy dreams were not of God. Rather, these certain men come up with their own visions and dreams. They decide for themselves what they believe to be true, instead of following the truth that is already in the Word of God. A notable characteristic of any false teacher is that he chooses his own doctrine rather than the true doctrine (Gal. 1:8-9).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Is the LORD'S hand waxed short?"

This post was written before the debate last week between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. I will have more to say on this subject, hopefully soon, but as I have stated before, college keeps one busy.

            We aren’t even on the same level as God.
            Any Christian learns this- even Moses.
            Israel was complaining again on its way to Canaan (before it rebelled and wandered for 40 years), this time about food, again. As a Baptist, I can completely understand why they were concerned about being properly fed. But when God is directly providing, why were they worried? (And why are we?) They were sick of manna and wanted flesh to eat. They complained to Moses, who then complained to God about their complaining.
            God basically told him, “Fine, if you really want flesh, I’ll give it to you not for a few days or a week, but a month, until it’s COMING OUT YOUR NOSE and you loathe it.” (Read Numbers 11.) It’s almost comical, except that those who complained, saying they were better off before God’s redemption from Egypt were later killed. But after this is where it gets good.
            “And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?” (Num. 11:21-22)
            According to the census at the beginning of the book, there were a little over 600,000 men of fighting age (20+), plus women and children. Moses is saying, “We’re looking at millions of people here, God. How can you feed us meat? Kill our flocks? Get all the fish from the sea?”
            God’s response is classic and a lesson to all of us.
            “And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” (Num. 11:23)
            We like to try and rationalize God, to bring Him on our level to understand Him better. But what Moses failed to remember is that they were already getting a mysterious dough from the sky every morning. They had already been led out of Egypt with ten plagues and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army. They were being led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. What could God not do? He had already proved Himself.
            It is this statement, “Is the LORD’S hand waxed short?” that helps refute atheism. The atheist will claim that miracles cannot happen, that a virgin birth is not possible, and that the origin of God cannot be explained. I respond, “Is the LORD’S hand waxed short?” If God had an origin, He would not be God. He IS “the beginning and the end”. I challenge the atheist to explain the origin of the particle that started the Big Bang. I challenge them to explain how life arose from hydrogen and helium in stars. They can’t do it. It isn’t possible.
            I could go on, but we all must look impartially at the evidence before us. The atheist will claim the idea of God does not make sense- how can someone always be there? I agree, it does not make sense to our human minds. But in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Since we know matter and energy cannot derive from nothing, something microscopic cannot create an unfathomably large universe, and life cannot come from non-life, then the explanation must be that there is something not just more powerful, but all-powerful, that created the universe- that created US.

            This is a great comfort to the Christian. This chapter certainly shows us God’s wrath, but it is wrath against disobedience. Living in obedience allows us to tap into His power. Submitting to a God we know exists and allowing Him to empower us is so much more liberating than denying His existence so that we can be our own gods (Humanism, whether one likes the term or not). Because Jesus, God in the flesh, said “All power is given unto me…” Never doubt God’s power or capabilities in your life or on your life. Remember what He told Moses: “Is the LORD’S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” And guess what He did? He did exactly what He told Moses He would do, and in a miraculous way. Just as He always has, does, and will continue to do.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

II Pet. 2:9

Peter then delivers the contrast of his examples. "For if God (did these)...The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished..." In the midst of the necessary destruction of the wicked, the Lord knows how to deliver his own from that destruction, while still reserving the unjust to the day of judgment. It's not an all-encompassing bill, or chemical warfare that gets the target as well as has collateral damage. God knows exactly who His targets are and moves with deadly accuracy. This verse makes perfect sense looking at Peter's examples. When a third of the angels sinned with Lucifer, God did not cast out all the angels-He cast out those who sinned. When the old world was full of violence and ungodliness, God saw righteous Noah and saved him and his family, and continued humanity through him. When Sodom and Gomorrah cried out for punishment, God saved His own backslidden child, Lot, and whoever of his family would come with him. Through these examples we know that the Lord will save Christians out of temptations.
The application: Temptations can have a three-fold meaning, and all are great promises. The first is literal temptation. When Satan tempts us, we can know that it is not more than we can bear and that God gives us a means of escape, always through His Word and sometime other ways as well (I Cor. 10:13). Second is all of the trials that we face hear on Earth. Psalm 34:15-22 says that "the eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous", and that even though their afflictions are many, He hears their cry and delivers them from them all. Quite the opposite, He cuts off the remembrance of the wicked from the Earth. Third, it is the temptation that will happen to the Earth after believers are raptured out (Rev. 3:10). This temptation will be unlike any other in magnitude. This is the future judgment that is coming to all these ungodly men who deny the Lord God that bought them, but we as believers will not experience this.

Friday, February 7, 2014

II Pet. 2:7-8

Peter continues on the example of the destruction of the cities of the plain by mentioning that God "delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)..." Peter goes on to say the point of mentioning Lot in the next verse. But many observations can be made from Lot's life. Lot should have never been in that position in the first place because God told Abraham to get away from his father's house (Gen. 12:1), and Abraham disobeyed (Gen. 12:5). Yet Lot was selfish in choosing that land and chose to pitch his tent toward a city he knew was wicked (Gen. 13:11-12). Then he moves in (Gen. 14:12) and gets involved in city affairs (Gen. 19:1). He is "tormented" by the conduct of the people he dwells among. But he is also affected by it, so much so that he is willing to throw his virgin daughters to the men of the city (Gen. 19:8). They are obviously affected by their treatment and all they see too (Gen. 19:30-38). But Lot is still righteous, a believer, though a backslidden one.
The application: Unless God calls us to a place of sinners, we ought not to choose to be among sin. It will always bring us down. It will affect our entire family. Lot loses his older daughters and son-in-laws (Gen. 19:14), his wife (Gen. 19:26), and basically his daughters. Their actions create two long-term enemies of Israel. Yet God will save and even hear a backslidden Christian. Lot asks for a city to be saved, and it is (Gen. 19:17-22). But the consequences seen make that lifestyle not worth it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jude 7; II Pet. 2:6

The next example is expanded upon by Jude and especially by Peter. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly..." This is yet one more proof that God judges unrighteousness. Paul says in Romans 1:18 that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,  who hold the truth in unrighteousness". This is certainly a description of these ungodly men, specifically their sin of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. It is apparent that sexual sins were common in the church, and are common today. God saw Sodom and Gomorrha's sins as so wicked that they cried out for punishment (Gen. 18:20). They were guilty of fornication and going after strange flesh (homosexuality), and Jude says they are now an example as they have suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. Peter says they were destroyed and are a warning to anyone who would live ungodly. The message is clear: God MUST punish and will punish those who are ungodly, specifically those involved in these sins. It is a great punishment, and an eternal one.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

God's Grace in our Lives

            We were talking last week in our group time at our Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Northern Kentucky, when someone made a point that struck a chord. She mentioned how there had always been two of her: a church version of her and an everywhere else version of her. Another member immediately began laughing, and when prompted stated that she had perfectly described her life in the past as well. I was sitting there thinking the exact same thing.
            Can I be clear and up front before we dive in? Is there one person that has been raised in church that has run from God? Is there one of us that has not learned, yea, mastered, being able to fake it?
            I’m hearing no objections.
            Now that that’s out of the way…
            Isn’t God good? We run from Him, spit in His face, and He still loves us enough to pursue us. Our freshman Bible study has taken us into the book of Hosea. “Go take this prostitute and marry her.” (This is my paraphrased edition, not a watered-down Bible version.) “Fall deeply in love with her. And when she runs from you back to her old ways, your heart will be broken, and you will have to go chase her down, but you always will because you love her. And by the way, I’m doing this to show that Israel is like a whore who keeps running, and who I keep chasing. And one more thing- all you Christians today are like them too.”
            Not exactly easy to swallow, is it?
            But easy to relate to. We’ve all rebelled, we’ve all turned our faces against God. If you haven’t, then I want to be around you. We get to middle school, high school, and we get busy. We get around our friends and let influences rub off on us. Before we know it we are left having to watch what we say and what we do around “church people” because who we really are, deep down, makes us sick. And instead of being honest with ourselves and others about our condition and getting godly help, we let things slip further. We want to enjoy our lives, and want everyone to think everything is all okay.
            If you’re in this situation now, I feel you. No one, at least not anyone legitimate that I know, will judge you for digging in and turning things around. But it doesn’t come through us. That can only come from God- He is the only one able to offer that sort of aid. Our sin nature brings us to that state, and our stubbornness, part of our sin nature, keeps us there. Like I said, I feel you.
            “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Cor. 9:9-10)
            All of us experience this for different amounts of time. Sometimes it goes into young adulthood. Sometimes it is over after high school. Sometimes it never ends. And remember that we are never out of the woods- we have never “arrived”. But there is the victorious life of relying on God and not on ourselves.
            For those of us that have quit this cycle, praise God. This is a sign of His grace. Many people raised in church claim they cannot have good testimonies, but I can tell you some of the best I’ve heard are those in which God has pursued one who has strayed from Him.
            And it is after this that God can truly begin His work in us. Being unable to be in the presence of sin, He cannot use a dirty vessel. But when we have submitted ourselves to Him, that is when we can properly serve Him. That is when sanctification takes its full effect. Nonbelievers often claim that being a Baptist or another who believes in salvation through faith alone means that we can do whatever we want. I find the opposite to be true.
            “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:14-23)
            This is the essence of sanctification. The grace of God saves us from our sin, so that we no longer have to. And He sends the Holy Spirit to do that work in us:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Cor. 6:9-11)
            As I have learned in my life, and as we all have learned in our lives, we can do nothing apart from God. We can’t defeat sin, can’t make our decisions, and most certainly can’t get to Heaven without His grace. To do so would be to say that we can live up to His standard, that we are good enough. But “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
            I find it a bold claim that we can have some sort of concoction of works to get us into Heaven- as much as we all fail, I’m not sure I’d be willing to trust that method. But more than that, we are held to GOD’S standard. Are you as good as God? Neither am I.
            Thankfully, we don’t have to be. Jesus Christ took care of that on the cross so that we could accept His righteousness and His payment, and now we can reach Heaven, not on our own merits, but on His.
            “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal. 2:21) Why would God put His Son through the agonizing death He did if we can do ANYTHING on our own to get to Heaven?
            If you have accepted Him, then let go. Let go of your sin, of your life, and give it to God. Then repeat it every day. Now praise God for His grace. Now tell someone else about it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

II Pet. 2:5

The next example comes from Peter. "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly." As a side note, this is further proof that this "cataclysm" was worldwide. It is foreshadowing of God's future judgment upon the whole Earth. Back then, there was a select few righteous people who God used to spread the message of the coming judgment. At the appointed time, God shut the single door (Jesus Christ) and the ungodly old world had no more chance to repent. God poured out His wrath on this ungodly world, and created a new one through His Godly followers (Gen. 6-9). So it is and will be. (See note on v.9.)