40the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? (John 9:)
Then comes your first day of conflict. You're in the sandbox playing with others your own age, and you see an elephant in a tree. You point to the elephant and you call it by name. The others in your group give you a funny look and begin to twirl their index finger over their ear.
"Where did I come from?" you ask your mother. Your mother tells you the stork brought you. You accept this, then you go to Pappa and ask him the same thing. Pappa tell you they found you in a pumpkin patch. Now you have another conflict. Do you believe your mother? or do you believe your father?
You see all the presents under a big tree that somehow grew in your livingroom overnight. You ask about the presents, and your parents tell you Santa brought them, and the presents are what Christmas is all about. You hear about Santa, his reindeer, his sled that flies, and you accept this because after all, you can see evidence of the fact by the presents under the tree.
Your color-blind teacher tells you that you came from a monkey, that came from a bug, that came from an exploding planet, many billions of years ago. You, having nothing to contradict this teaching except a sense of reasoning, accept this teaching, which you must do in order to pass to the next grade.
You join a church. The church you join is not like most of the churches that have compromised their belief in creationism but rather they believe in a literal 6 day creation. Here you learn that Adam was made, not a bug, nor a monkey, but a man like you are (unless you're a woman). Conflict again. Which is true? In school you had better believe in evolution or you don't pass your grades, and you look like a fool to everyone in your school. In church, if you say you believe what you're being taught at school you look like a fool and you're condemned to hell forever.
Which of these two concepts do you accept and believe? Of course at school you are an Evolutionists, and at church you are a Creationist. This is one of the first hoops you pass through on your long journey to becoming a full-blown hypocrite. If you can fake a belief in one area, why not fake a belief in all areas and fit in anywhere you happen to be at the time?
On the other hand we have the Creation theory. Again we're faced with something we're told we must believe, yet what we're told is not believable. The idea of God making a man out of dust, then bringing forth a woman from his side makes as much sense as does the Greek and the Roman myths with gods flying around the sky throwing lightning bolts at each other and playing tricks on man. But we know we have to believe what we're taught, whether we believe it or not.
Over time, if we're one of the fortunate ones, we learn to trust in the Bible, and in trusting in the Bible, we learn to accept some things that do not make sense to our logical mind. We have now entered the realm of faith, faith being belief in the unbelievable because of having faith in the one who has proven himself faithful.
If we look closely at the word "preconceived" we see the word actually means, not before an idea is born, but even before it's conceived. A child when it's conceived is in no form whatever as far as its thinking is concerned. Yet what notions it's forming before it even sees light is effecting its outlook on life. That's a rather crude explanation, but I believe it fits well with the concept of our conclusions being drawn before there is any information available or sought.
From this preconceived state there are two directions we can take. The one I believe most of us take is to get a quick answer to all our questions then to insist that what we know is the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth. If someone wants to interject a fact into what we already know, we reject it posthaste.
The second thing we might do with this nub of an idea is to explore it farther and see where it leads. From this point we might look for the first answer that suits us. Or we might do as Edison did and continue looking until all resources are exhausted, and continue looking even further. This of course takes determination, and it takes being able to accept the rebuffs of those who have settled for their preconceived ideal long before they had a clue about anything. They knew the lightbulb couldn't be invented because they already thought it out in their preconceived, infantile mind.
To chip away at the foundation of a building is to cause it to lose its strength and its structure. There may be pieces of furniture in the structure that can be safely moved, but the foundation is not to be touched.
Jesus spoke of two foundations. He said some people build their beliefs, their foundations, on sand. And of course everyone who is a part of that organization is also founded on sand. We see this in the Pharisees who were so sure they were founded on firm soil while everyone else was standing on quicksand. They discovered that the quicksand was under their own feet instead.
The other foundation Jesus spoke about is that of the Rock. Jesus refers to Himself as the rock, the truth we're to build upon. And we establish a foundation we fully believe to be the truth Jesus taught. However if we look at the churches, although they all say the same things (even the cults), they mean something different than do the others.
Foundational truths are only as good as the truth they are established upon. If the foundational truth is not true, or if it is not of substantial importance, than as much need there exists to remain faithful to those organizational truths, that confidence is worthless. If I tell you my foundational truth says we should all wait on the corner of 6th and Main for a bus to come by and take us to Heaven, and that bus does not stop at such a corner but rather is scheduled to stop at 8th and Main, then my foundational truth has caused more harm than it has good.
The Bible is the Truth. Our interpretation of the Bible is often far from the Truth of the Bible. The fact that there are so many denominations should point to that fact. Wouldn't you think?
There's a sense of security that comes with guidelines and boundaries. We know where the "safe" zones are. When the boundaries are removed, we must make our own decisions, take our own risks, and accept the responsibility for our own actions according those choices we make. School during our growing years were our boundaries. Then as an adult the military service is a safe place to be, as is prison. There is no doubt as to one's boundaries in such places as these.
There are some areas where we're left to our own when it comes to boundaries. Most of us it seems do poorly when it comes to drawing our own lines, this certainly holds true of me. Other areas we're able to find lines predrawn for us, and it's within those lines we stay. One such place is work, at least so it is for most jobs such as a common laborer. Other such places are sports activities and clubs, also organizations such as the PTA and the Elks and the like. And of course there's always church. All we have to do is walk in a church and we are given very strict guidelines we must follow in order to be a part of that church. They tell us how we must think, what we must believe, what we must do, and in some cases what we must wear and where we may live. And you can be sure that one way or another they will tell you how you ought to spend your money (at least a part of it).
As it was when we were in diapers, we know exactly where our boundaries are. And the only way to avoid punishment for passing those boundaries is to try and do so when the one in charge isn't looking. Unlike the diapered one however, as an adult we are happy with our boundaries and we're glad to have someone take the monkey of responsibility off our back.
We don't outgrow this attitude when we become adults. We still want to believe the unbelievable and deny the real. For instance, consider all the effort the world goes through to disprove, or to inject doubt into the Creation theory, the crossing of the Red Sea, the miracles in Egypt, Noah's flood, and even Jesus Himself. These even many of the churches will doubt. There are "Christian"Churches who don't believe that Jesus is the Christ.
How does the crossing of the Red Sea compare to the Rapture of the Church were people will suddenly disappear into a cloud and be taken off to who knows where? How does the Lucifer story line up with the miracles of Jesus? Wouldn't you think if anything would be challenged it would be the Rapture and the Lucifer story? The comparison between them is like the that of a simple card trick and Puff, the Magic Dragon. Why would we accept the Puff story, and deny the card trick?
Evolution, and the Rapture/Lucifer theories (among others) is another example we might explore. The churches condemn the schools and the world for believing in the theory of evolution, all the while they fully support their belief in the Rapture and in Lucifer. Yet when we look at the theories side-by-side we find far more links and evidence that Evolution is a fact than we do that the Rapture is in evidence or that Lucifer is true history. After all, there's physical evidence that dinosaurs existed and that there have been catastrophic events in earth's history. They have ways of dating objects that say they are millions of years old. There are strong similarities between a monkey and a man. What, on the other hand do the churches have to back up their fairy tales? A few tortured and manipulated verses in a Bible they themselves doubt when it conflicts with their doctrine (take out such 'n such verse because it was added by a wayward scribe, or it doesn't go along with many of the "best" manuscripts, etc). Along with this the churches use as support for their beliefs passages from books they themselves don't accept and that they call "spurious." Truth to any of us is not determined by reality, but by what we have chosen to believe or reject. If we believe it, it's true. If we don't accept it, then it's baloney and only a fool would believe such a thing.
When I was in the Army I discovered I was developing falling arches. My feet were killing me all the time, especially when I had to stand on a hard floor for 12 hours peeling potatoes while on KP. I went to see the Medic about my feet. He told me I was getting flat feet, but there was nothing he could do for me until my feet became flat, then he would give me a prescription for arch supports. Have you ever heard of closing the gate when all the horses have escaped?
While I'm in my misery there is nothing the doctor can do. When and if this develops into cancer, asthma, emphysema or whatever is life threatening, then he can do something about it.
That's in the world. Nothing much we can do about how the medical field works.
I use the references I mentioned earlier to see what I can do about my condition. These references are just that, references. I find that many of these references contradict one another, they leave out something another will include, or they will direct me to some specific product they're trying to sell. I really can't count on these resources any more than I can on a doctor's report. That report may be accurate, or it may be far from describing what my real problem is. That medicine he prescribes may help me, or it may very likely kill me when all I had was a simple cold. The Medical field is not an exact science any more than the field of science is an exact science. We can only use what they say as a guideline, nothing more.
We think of science as the all-in-all of truth. We test the truth of something by our scientific knowhow of that something. We are taught according to the scientific understanding of a subject as if there is no questioning that which we are taught. However, the "absolute facts" taught today are quite different than the "absolute facts" taught to me just 60 years ago. How did that happen do you suppose? Did the "absolute" move somehow? Did it change when the scientists weren't looking?
Science is only a guideline, a hobby, an experiment, and in many cases, science is hardly more than a philosophy. When we find ourself embedded in a thought, a possibility, and we base everything on that possibility, then we have succeeded in losing sight of the real.
Science isn't the only field where the real, the truth is not the center of exploration. Religion is notorious for doing the very same thing. However, the costs for having followed a false reality in religion is much higher than it is for either the scientific or the medical field. Yet we tend to follow the religious trail we decide on with more dedication and certainty than we do any of the other more trivial paths.
But I want to be Mollycoddled, to be pampered. Not very day do I feel this way, but today I do. I want someone to take the strains of daily life, of making decisions, or dealing with minor situations off me. But this is not to be. But I still want it.
What of people who live a normal life? What of you? What of your family? of your neighbor? of your fellow church member? You have someone (at least I hope you have someone) to help you through the rough spots, to take the excess burden off you when you become too weak to stand on your own two feet. What do any of you do when life seems to be trying to bury you?
When we're being Mollycoddled we can't be telling the Mollycoddler what they can or cannot do. We have to accept what the one who is nursing us feels is best for us. If we try to be boss of the one pampering us, we're very likely to find ourself without a loving nurse.
When times get hard we look for someone to take the strain off us, to pamper us, to tell us what to do. We want that burden lifted, especially when we're either too weak or too lacking in information to know what to do.
Life in general is more than any of us can handle. We strive to find someone who has the answers to the important questions of life who is willing to take that part of the burden off us. You might be one of the greatest minds of the century; you might be highly educated; you might have won a Nobel prize in the area of your expertise: But when it comes to the Bible and the things of the Spirit, you know you're terribly lacking. If you're an expert rocket mechanic, where do you go to learn about taking care of a case of bronchitis? You do just as anyone who has a third grade education does; you go to some resource such as a book, or to a doctor. Is that not correct? When you want to know something about the Bible, or about God, or about Jesus; where do you go? You've read the Bible many times yourself, and it still doesn't make any sense to you. Where do you go to learn about Spiritual things? You go to a Spiritual "expert."
When you, an expert yourself, go to an expert doctor or mechanic; do you automatically accept his expert opinion when it involves something very important? Or do you check elsewhere for a second opinion? There's no way you can know if your expert in Spiritual things has any understanding of the spiritual beyond what he has been taught by others, or that he has any connection with the Spirit of God whatsoever. Do you take this into account when you receive his council?
Let's say you're on your death bed. You want to make sure the Spiritual advise you're given is correct. This is the last time you will ever have to assure your eternal future. You've attended the same church for many years. You're heard your pastor's view of salvation from every angle. Do you now check to see if there is a "second opinion" as to the proper road to salvation? Let's say you're wise enough to ask someone else for their opinion. Where do you go? If you go to any pastor of any church in the denominational system you belong to you will receive the same words of advise. If you venture outside your denominational structure you're likely to receive various other forms of advise. Does this strengthen or does it weaken your sense of security and destiny? Might it have been a good idea to begin your search for a second opinion sooner?
Of course no opinion is going to be the correct one, nor will it give comfort unless it comes direct from the Holy Spirit. And the only way to assure the words are of God, is if you yourself hear them from God and not from a man who claims to have the word of God.
A catch 22 indeed.
We're told of the "simplicity of the Gospels," then in the same breath, and by the same mouth, we're told about things only the "super enlightened" can know and understand, such as the subjects I'm discussing.
Is there a Rapture? In my opinion, no: Not in the form that's taught by all the churches. This is a fairy tale that keeps us from understanding a very important truth. Besides this, if the Rapture is real, that is a rapture that's supposed to whisk us to another planet, it's clear that only those highly prepared to be with God will be in such a rapture (regardless of when it takes place,) and it's preparation we should be concerning ourself with, and not the timing or the method. In my mind this would be like two people discussing a coming marathon race and the importance of winning it, when both weigh well over three hundred pounds and are setting at McDonald's with three Big Macs on their tray.
Satan as a beautiful angel? Of course you know my feelings on this subject, but so-what!? What if he was this wonderful creature? Or what if he was a nothing from the get-go? Where does this fit into the scheme of Salvation, or in to God's plan at all? I should think a person would be allowed to believe whatever they wanted of Satan and it would make no difference whatever. I might believe Satan was hatched from a bunny egg, and you might think he was Batman. What difference would it make? Wouldn't we be able to sit down and have a decent conversation about Jesus and the Bible without this conflict of interest getting in the way?
I should think this to be the case. But when the subject comes up, I find everything stops and I now can not be trusted because I don't accept the ever-popular view of Satan. It's as if we must come to a compromise on this subject or else there's no way I can be in touch with the Holy Spirit and His teaching.
I think we have things backwards. It seems to me, at least this is the way it is in my life, that any information or evidence should be filtered through the Holy Spirit instead of the Holy Spirit's instruction filtered through established doctrine, theories or commentaries. If you recall this is exactly what was occurring with Jesus and the Pharisees; they wouldn't hear what Jesus said unless He told them what their doctrine already had taught them to be true.
I had always considered the Rapture and the Lucifer theories to be benign stories that made no difference to anyone. I wondered why there was made such a big deal of them, especially the Rapture. Now that my understanding is growing in the things of the Lord, and I'm leaving the basic doctrines of the churches (trading milk for meat) I'm finding these simple concepts to be huge walls that people can't climb over to find the truth. It appears all too clear to me why someone like Satan might work very hard to insure that these two principles hold a strong place in church doctrine. Pity.
We of the Christian realm are all too prone to do the very same thing with the Bible. This is especially true when we're a new believer (which might be after 50 or so years in many cases). We recognize there's a great deal we don't know about the Bible. We need someone to guide us through that maze of a thousand pages that seem to be hardly more than a huge puzzle of axioms, parables, history and suggestions. This is especially so considering that everywhere we turn we're told if we misinterpret what we read we may very well spend our eternity in a very hot place where even the worst of weathermen can predict the weather day by day.
If we're content to remain ignorant in our understanding of God's will for us, then we should certainly continue to use this method of interpreting the Bible. That is the "safe" thing to do, if we count standing in front of a target at a firing range a "safe' place to be. However, if we choose to move beyond the Kindergarten understanding of the Word, and allow God to speak to us directly (as He said He would do with those who believe, and who obey Him), then we have to venture past the Kindergarten teacher everyone else is listening to (and as you and I have been) and hear what God has to tell us. Supposedly that Kindergarten teacher is listening to God and translating what He has to say into Kindergarten language. But who's to say that teacher even knows God, leastwise understands what God has for you to learn.
When we purchase new motor oil for our car, we also purchase and install a new oil filter. Why do we do this? Isn't the oil clean when we buy it? Certainly the oil is clean when we buy it, but over time of it being used it picks up fragments of worn metal parts, dirt, and other such debris that is hazardous to your car's motor. We find this true in the Scriptural world as well. What God has delivered to us is perfect in its original state. But over time, as it has been handled and interpreted by many Kindergarten teachers it becomes confused, distorted, and badly corrupted. We see this with the Israelites in the wilderness, then again all through their history where they will read the same Words delivered to them through Moses, but in their interpretation of the words, they corrupt them to fit their own desires and their own time. We see this again with the Catholic church, which any Protestant will attest to. And we see this in the Protestant churches (all thousands of them) that anyone outside a given denomination will attest. It's in man's capability to destroy and corrupt, especially when it's God's Word that's being considered.
There are preachers, theologians and commentators that, in my opinion, have a very enlightened and amazingly deep understanding of the Bible and the things of God. I like reading or listening to what they have to say. However, just as with my fine doctor, I wouldn't stake my life, especially my eternal life, on what they have to say. My doctor has had to change my prescription several times because the old one either stopped working, my system changed, or there has been new "findings" by the medical experts. What was healthy for me a year ago, is found to be sitting on the edge of the death bed today. Go figure.
God said knowledge would increase in these later days (Daniel 12:3-4). I would suspect part of that knowledge is a better understanding of the Word, as it is obvious by the many splinters of understanding we now have that our understanding of God is far from perfect.
When I read something new about the Bible, and it interests me or rings a bell in my soul, I research that new thing further. I suspect you do the same. There are many ways in which to research and hope to find truth and understanding of something newly presented to us. The common way is for a believer to ask his or her Sunday School teacher, or their pastor for a better explanation. However, who's to say that the person you ask understands the question you've asked, or has the answer (the correct answer) to your question, or that they even heard you correctly in the first place. But if you're as most people are, you will take what you've been given and accept it as conclusive truth.
There are many filters we may use in searching for truth. One such filter is to rely on the Old Time Religion of our ancestors, like the old song attests. If "religion" is all you're looking for, then I suppose that method is just as good as any other, and you will be sure to have much agreement, just as long as you remain in your current church and denomination.
Part of the above method of finding truth is using the filter many of us use from childhood. We harken back to what our mother and our father (and whatever source they used) told us is the truth. And what we have been told, or our understanding of what we have been told, is what we go by, seeking no further, being certain we have all there is to have. And along with this knowledge, is the knowledge that anyone who disagrees with what we know to be true has to be wrong and doomed to an eternity in that awful place we don't like to think about.
For those of us who have grown beyond the Old Time Religion, and the Kindergarten variety of Biblical (and Spiritual) understanding, there is the myriad of commentaries written by wise men throughout the ages. These writings go back to long before the birth of Jesus, and if you recall, it's this very action, that is looking toward tradition and doctrine, that Jesus had to contend with. And yet it is the very thing every one of us does to this day, regardless of the denomination we've attached ourself to. Commentaries can be fine resources to utilize in our search for understanding, but they are not to be relied upon. Commentaries are merely reference material designed to give information, not to dictate a belief system. Of course the preacher who uses such a reference does not agree with me, nor does the theologian who wrote the commentary agree with me. They will quickly agree with me when the statement is made about any other theologian or commentator they disapprove of, but not when it is applied to their own chosen filter.
Consider yourself for a moment: when you're told something, or asked something you're uncertain of (or even that you are dead certain of), what is your reaction? What filter do you consult to determine the validity of what you've heard? Do you bring up the name of a book, or a preacher, and say they either agree or disagree with what has been told to you? If you do, then that person or book is your filter.
We can not rely on our own judgement to determine what is true and what is not true. I think, if you've given any thought to this statement you have found it to be true. If you think it's true of me, and for most of the world, but not for you and for the filter you use, I would suggest you look back in your life and recount the many times you've been wrong on a given subject. If you find you haven't been wrong (I know some people who would say this of themself, sad to say), then I suggest you consult a psychologist who specializes in self-deception and insight.
Since we can not count on ourself to determine what is right and what is wrong, and we can't count on those who have stood on a soap box and declared themself to be an expert on all things Spiritual, then just who can we use as a filter to separate the truth form the ever-present error of the world?
18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:)
12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. (John 16:)
If you find you don't have this Comforter (nor the comfort that He brings), or if you're not willing to love and obey the Lord, then I would suggest that you continue using whatever filter you've chosen for yourself. But as I said before, I hope you find comfort standing in front of targets.
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