The Great Something

Well, that’s really cool, you believe in a higher power! What kind of a higher power? I suppose it does not matter what your higher power looks like, but since it cannot be described, it could in theory be disguised as a nuclear blast or maybe an extraordinary magical gerbil. Or maybe like the mystical gods it resides in the sun, or deep in the earth? Maybe is does not live at all, it could be something unknown, supernatural. Notice I call it an “It.” A “higher power” is rarely portrayed as a him or a her. But some don’t think it must be something beyond us. Beyond all thought, beyond all comprehension – The Great Something.

But what does this great something do? You say it has power, but what kind of power? Is it an all powerful power or just slightly more powerful than mankind? Some think a higher power needs only to be “an adequate” power. So what can your higher power do? Does it have limitations? Can it make you fly? If you don’t know neither can I.

Many of the people who believe in this great higher power believe it exists, but they don’t revere it – for obvious reasons. They have never heard a word it has spoken. It has no standards, no thoughts, no requirements. Maybe it just is, depending on what is is, of course! Unwittingly, some believe it looks after them, somehow, in some way? Yet for some “The Great Something,” the “It,” the “Higher Power” does play some role in their lives; they believe for one it commonly heals addictions. Most of “It’s” believer’s believe it is a good power, why should they believe in a bad power?

But if it is a good power, where does it get it’s goodness? And who determines what is good? The believer? Yes, in all cases! That’s where this whole thing goes haywire. The all powerful “Higher Power” gets it’s power from the believer who believes the “Great Something” is doing good things that he or she wants it to do. That’s crazy! How can there be a higher power that has no ordinary, customary, stated standard or communiqué; to do good things for people for no other reason than they think the thing they wish it to do is adequately good? Who’s in charge here? Is it the thing that is powerful or the thing that wishes the “Good Thing” to be all powerful?

I read on the Richard Dawkins foundation website a thread where a young lady was questioning the concept of a higher power and it’s use by AA, Alcoholics Anonymous. An atheist responded to her question, “..one does not have to think of a higher power as a god, it could be an oak tree if you want it to be.” To many a higher power is simply something just bigger than one’s self literally or figuratively. And they are right if they have the mystical muscle to decide what that power is.

It is an important rule of the “Greater Power” believers not to put any name on their religion, like other religions. They say, “all religions cannot be right! And it would be fanatical to believe that one religion has all the answers.” They will not taper their broadminded thinking to believe in one true God. So the notion of a higher power is fashioned like leftover scraps of meat squeezed through a grinder and spices added to make the sausage suitable for consumption. From the creation they made in their own mind they consume.

So am I saying there is no higher power? No! There is a higher power, one higher power. God is his name! I know this offends some, get over it, He has! God is much different, it’s not just semantics. Like the your Higher Power “His” ways are unfathomable, but unlike your higher power he is knowable. Not because we can know him, or create him in our own minds, but because he has revealed himself to us. In creation, in nature, from historical eyewitnesses, in ourselves, in love, and in his word. For example we know what is right and wrong, good and bad, through the natural laws of nature. There is not a good and bad gene as some claim. No evolutionary ethical standards discovered by evolutionary science. The idea of decent behavior is basic to every human being. This idea does not apply to vegetables, rocks, or even my favorite animal, dogs. Right and wrong in its basic form does not have to be taught. You may find an outlier here or there, as you might find a few people who are born with six toes or cannot sing worth beans. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity thinks the same way. He believes there are differences, but there is not a “total difference” between humans. He illustrates this by asking his readers to think of a country “where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him.” A ridiculous thought right! He also thinks while some people differ on what people ought to be unselfish about, the world has always believed that selfishness has never been admired. And he thinks, while some have disagreed about how many wives we may have, “we have always agreed that man must not have any woman he likes.”

So what does having such natural standards mean? It means that some things are not a matter of opinion. They call this subjective truth. But I believe God has created us in a certain way, in his image. We, by choice, violate His rules. And while you may think it unfair to have rules established by God, your taste or opinions don’t really matter. But I should not be arrogant. The problem arises that none of us find ourselves capable of keeping His rules, neither all of man’s ridiculous rules. We do our best, and more often than not practice ourselves the kind of behavior we abhor in other people. If we make our own higher power we relieve ourselves of this dilemma, so I can see why many choose to create for themselves a theology of tolerance. They say, “Why should I suffer the shame of selfishness, I’m being authentic, true to myself?” But the guilt remains because the true God, the on “I Am” who was ans is and is to come, “He” made the rules.

For some of you, you might say, “since we all break the rules, we are all the same so nobody is at fault.” We are all equal then, right? In one sense that is true. We are all guilty of breaking these laws of nature, Gods laws. But because we are all guilty, we are not all free from the consequences. Even mankind has consequences for breaking its laws. Speed through a school zone and you will get a fine. If something is not perfect it already has consequences, imperfection. We are therefore under natural law, a moral law, not made by us and, although troublesome, one we ought to obey. At least it appears that something or some Holy Higher Power wants us to obey these natural laws or why else would they exist? If you will look honestly at the universe, and this being behind it, you will find he is more than just a higher power. He is as Lewis says, ” intensely interested in right conduct – in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness.” This is why we can say God is good and He requires us to be so as well.

So God has standards – already that is a huge departure from a simple 10 step higher power. And we have not even touched upon the specifics of Christianity, or even those rules of other religions that claim their god is good. So the true God has power, ultimate power, but He also is behind morality. If God is behind morality, and God is good, then it should be a terrible thing to fall into the hands of God. For we have broken the rules already by our selfishness, our pride, lust, idolatry, greed etc…

So this is the bottom line. Belief in a higher power is wishful thinking, belief in the truth brings comfort and freedom. I know I came about it in a round about way. Your higher power is impotent if it requires nothing of you. Christianity asks much more and tells people to repent of their failures with the promise of forgiveness. If you feel like there is nothing to be forgiven for you have put yourself ahead of your higher power. When you recognize you are sick, you will know you need a physician. Christ came to heal your sickness. It (Christianity) begins when you realize you are sick, and in the long run you will realize being a Christian is the only source of undeniable comfort.

Social Conventions and The Gospel

Is it true that much of the Christian Church’s success was derived from social convention rather than inherent human need for Christ, a savior? Many believe so. That a small town doctor might attend church to appear socially straight is not uncommon. That a student might attend youth group to meet, even prospect for dates is true. That the churches of America were once better attended, yes. But why?  It is true that social conventions can and do both encourage and discourage church participation. A lively “spirit led” service with optional arm waving will encourage some and discourage others from attending. Form and liturgy matters. So does doctrine. Many denominations include social norms not found in scripture, including democratically legislated conventions that besmirch, muddy, and even blacken the true light of scripture. The ramifications of socially acceptable laws go way beyond justified feelings. Feelings, less restricted, in truth, limits social freedoms and godly joy.  So if people are fleeing the churches, what should the true believers response be? Preach the gospel and teach what the scriptures say, nothing more, for it is the gospel that populates the houses of faith not social conventions.

Someday, you kn…

Someday, you know who you are, I pray the mountains will move and you will humbly receive His salvation. Then righteousness will be your way, and grace your footstool. Upon His word you will thrive, and you will give even more than you receive. For you will know Him as I know Him; the love in our faith, and the power in our prayers. – Bob Graham 2013

The Plain of Faith

Few care to listen to those who come late to the party of internet discussions. The topic tempts passions only for a moment, days at best. Come late to the thread and nobody cares; the thread is dead, only to be revived once again in another context, another drama. It seems little is ever learned or solved in voicing our views, just vented venom or frustration. All do it I presume to support some dogma. Some are happy either to confirm or to increase their professed circle of reason; others compete to deflate the wicked doctrines of another.
At first glance it may seem judicious to look at life this way. Consider that most unbelievers view existence of purpose in meaningful circles of rational reason or strength. They live in subjective small circles or big circles, always competing; the victor must express eloquently or fight ruthlessly to enlarge their portion. For some their words must be considered important in their field, for the others their power lies in self-importance. A true genius they say must be published or at least celebrity; a true success must possess more than another.
For the man of faith truth lies not in the circle of knowledge or power, but in the eternal plane of infinite faith. What is possible for the circular thinkers is dependent upon their diameter. What is possible for those of faith is present. For those of this world are always pursuing larger circles, God Bless them for trying, but with each unit of increase comes ever more self-importance. The little circles are thought politely quaint or ignorantly feeble. The prideful pity the feeble and give them their second best, or a good tongue lashing internet experience. For the ignorant and feeble, the small circles, they make the self-important feel exceptionally good.
Wealth seems to be able to buy a larger circle and the comparisons become visibly stark. The wicked doctrine of politics and power often gathers a steam that inflates. Pride corrupts her brother’s value and self-respect. With achievement, possession, and pleasure, dignity becomes arrogant and the circle becomes larger than life itself. Accepting the praise of others without making effort to obtain the worthy praise that comes from God is the futile endeavor of the ever expanding circle of being.
While most of society lives in their own bubble, there are a few who see a life of freedom. There are no distinctions amongst those who live on the infinite plane. Wealth, knowledge, eloquence or physical ability cannot hold back the possibility of miracles; G.K. Chesterton called it magic or the belief in fairies. He grouped rational thinkers with the potentially insane; thinking only inside your circle can only make life monotonous. Freedom only comes to those who can believe in the miracles of God, through faith. It’s nice to believe in facts, say’s Chesterton, but when the brakes fail on the train the engineer can only hope for a miracle. The data can be cruel, natural laws have consequences. Both circles and infinite planes experience the laws of nature. Oxygen is needed to breathe: gravity, hot, cold, light and darkness are all physical laws. Hate, love, good, evil, are moral laws that transcend all distinctions.
Life on an infinite plane is not selfish and has no boundaries. Sure it can be lonely and many try to stake out homesteads. But I don’t believe God wants us to live that way. The life of faith has no boundaries. We don’t die each day and wake up unaffected. We sleep and wake up changed, refreshed. The horizon seems far off and each hill or mountain seems insurmountable at times, but when crested the view goes on, the journey never ending. My wife and I tried to find a shortcut through the logging roads of the Canadian Rockies many years ago. When we made our last attempt to find our way we saw an eternity of mountains ahead. We turned back. Not because the journey was impossible, but because we were not prepared. If our goal as Christians is to ever expand our circle we shall never live in the possibilities outside it.
Step out of your bubble onto the infinite plane and the journey will be exciting for sure. In faith there is freedom, mind blowing freedom you’ll find, unlimited potential. It’s a change from inward thinking to outward thinking, linear, eternal.

Reaching Out

When was the last time you invited the uncool, the not so perfect, the lost to your house for dinner? You know who I mean. The guy who smokes or the one with the weight problem. Worse yet maybe he does not belong to your social class. He could be richer or poorer than you, for one reason or another we judge and avoid. I know we all want to hang with our own kind, it’s natual. I’m guilty of such behavior. I judge quickly, and shy away too easily from meeting others less like me. It’s much easier for me to converse with educated, well dressed, good looking people (that’s the kind of person I think I am, right!), and I’m certainly more likely to invite them to dinner. But is that what Christ did? 

Courage – Tebow Style

For far too long we have not had a public figure like Tim Tebow. I believe Tim has come to us not in vain, but after suffering much public mistreatment he has the boldness in our God to speak to us the gospel of God amid much opposition. Christian, we also have been approved by God and entrusted with the good news; we also should speak boldly, like Tim Tebow, not as pleasing to men but God.