What Underlies Diversity

Issues regarding diversity seem to have captured the news media over the recent times. We see front and centre meetings convened at top levels of organisations and governments about what has been now popularly known as LGBT* rights. The core of this is the ugliness and evil when systematic discrimination is met out to LGBT community members by some laws, policies, practices, and violence. But racial minorities for years have been targets as well. Such persons of African, Indian and other descents as well as persons of various religious beliefs have been targets of discrimination evil for years.

For centuries, minorities of every kind have been targets of evil from those persons in the mainstream. So the issues and challenges faced by the LGBT community in principle and reality are no different. These problems faced by the LGBT community members are not new at all. Our societies have from the beginning of time been diseased by evil discriminations of all kinds. These discriminations lead to unfair and partial practices at all levels in organisations, governments, and societies.

The core issue is respect. If we have no respect, we will not treat others fairly; if we have no respect, we will not impartially make judgements in hiring, firing, promoting, and in our general dealings with others. Respect is to unbiasedly recognize the differences of others and give each person equal weights or ratings from the start. Respect is to declare in our thinking and actions that others have equal rights and freedoms as ourselves and to acknowledge the values they ascribe to their views, thinking, choices, and orientations.

It matters not if we disagree with their views and lifestyles, we must let God be the judge and treat others with the love that God treats us all. He gave His One and only Son Jesus to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). What is more, the Bible says, we were all ‘enemies of God before we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior’ (Romans 5:10). So this God of love (1 John 4:7-9) is impartial (Romans 2:11). We need to follow His example (Ephesians 5:1, NIV).

* LGBT or GLBT is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

Everyone Pays

The cry for justice is universal. The cry is deep seated in our hearts for the existence of a fair Universal and Almighty God. This cry comes especially from the oppressed, the captive, the disadvantaged, the bullied, and the abused. Their hope and comfort is in the law of compensation or in some universal understanding of a law guarantees fairness of accountability and blame. No evil goes unpunished, no good goes without reward.

The Bible says we will be judged for our good or evil deeds (Rom 2:6-8). Just as death does not cheat us of the blessings we should be rewarded with and those we were promised by grace; so too, death does not allow the wicked to escape punishment. Scripture says, “the wicked will not go unpunished,” (Prov. 11:21).

Jeremiah asked God, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? “Why do all the faithless live at ease?” (Jer 12:1). Divine discipline is inevitable. God told Jeremiah not to pray for the wicked. God “will remember their wickedness and punish their sins,” (Jer 14:10-12). The psalmist says, “I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked,” (Psalm 73:3). But God says that ‘The prosperity of the wicked will not last. Their wealth will have no value in the next life’ (Psalm 73:15-17).

Today let the righteous know God is good, faithful, fair, and eternal. All will be held accountable for their deeds--good or bad. None shall escape. Whether the righteous or unrighteous an individual, group, culture, religion, creed, country, class, race, gender, or community--none will escape. The law of compensation is universal and cannot change nor discriminate.

Godly But Not God’s Will

Can we take actions that are godly but in which God isn’t pleased? Yes. Adam and Eve had done so. In their actions the sin of pride hid itself. We sometimes don't easily see our sins. And very often as believers and ministers the enemy fools us. But God wants us to know good and evil but for us to choose good.

Now this is why we need the wisdom of Christ and the empowerment of his Holy Spirit. Paul tells us the battle is all against spiritual wickedness in high places. We need the armour of God to which we have easy access as believers through Jesus Christ. We can’t overcome the devil with our own strength. Look how the apostle Peter and the other disciples, without the Spirit, handled the arrest of Jesus Christ--though he repeatedly told them what will happen. They hid in fear and we know even Peter on three occasions publicly denied that he knew Christ.

But once he had the Spirit of Christ he wasn’t afraid at all. This Spirit came upon him at Pentecost. Peter was the one who stood up boldly saying to people and defending the speaking of tongues when the Spirit came upon them like a gushing wind. He was brave, bold, confident and unafraid to speak on behalf of Christ and the gospel.

Jesus had to tell his mother at the wedding of Cana that it wasn’t yet his time, though he later performed his first miracle there. Often the Bible records how he disappeared from the crowd at some points of danger to his life. Was he afraid? Of course not. He still had much to do according to prophecies and the will of the father. Notice that just before he died on the cross he said "it is finished."

Scripture explained that he uttered these words as he knew that he had fulfilled all the prophesies he was called to do and that he did all that he was commanded to do by God the father. So timing was important for we notice too that he didn’t run from the incoming soldiers who came to arrest him. That was the time for that to happen. So here Jesus demonstrated that obedience to God is better than life itself--he showed the importance of staying in the will of God even to the point of death--even death on the cross.

Normally, and that is what King Saul knew, in Old Testament times, sacrifice and animal burnt offerings were made to The Lord. So when Saul had conquered the Amalekites under Gods commands, he kept back some of the best animals in spite of God's commands and told Samuel when challenged for doing so, why he didn’t kill all the animals. Samuel made a point in telling Saul that God prefers obedience to sacrifices.

So the point here again can be seen that though Saul had done what would have been normally considered a righteous and holy act, it wasn’t what God desired at that time--it wasn’t in accord to his will and purposes at that time. So it was godly but not God’s will.

We make this mistake even in our secular lives. The best guideline is that we must keep in sync with God's purposes. I think the most classical example on this point is the action of Adam and Eve. God punished them as they violated his command. He specifically told them not to eat of the tree of good and evil. They disobeyed him and now humanity is in the mess in which it is today. But throughout the Bible God encourages us to know good and evil but to choose good. In our choices today, choose Christ as Lord and Saviour (John 14:6).

Be Better

As I entered the subway car in North York, Ontario, Canada, I saw an elderly lady with a cream handbag and on it marked in red "Be Better." I smiled immediately. As the underground train-ride in the subway car continued, I kept thinking about “Be Better.” That is a wonderful and positive declaration. People should always seek to "Be Better," I thought.

We should try to be better always in body, mind, soul, and life circumstances. But another thought came to me: "How can we be better when Jesus says only God is good?" And “better” is an improvement of “good.” The natural question that followed was: "In what sense should we understand this “good” of which Jesus speaks and the “better” everyone should seek after to be?"

We must re-visit in Scripture where Jesus said that "no one is good except God alone” and find out what Jesus meant by that 'good.' We read the following in Scripture regarding a rich young ruler who questioned Jesus about how we can inherit and have eternal life. The Bible says, “A ruler questioned [Jesus], saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone,” (Luke 18:18-19, NASB).

Now this man rightly called Jesus “good,” for Jesus is God. But in the Scripture is it clear that the man did not know who Jesus was. No wonder Jesus asked him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” The Psalmist says, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you,” (Psalm 16:2, ESV). Not only is God good; He does good. Here the Psalmist links them: “You are good and do good,” (Psalm 119:68, ESV). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are good; do good; and create good.

Now God’s people are not good in themselves but become capable of doing good through the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit and the presence of God in their lives through Jesus Christ. We are born sinful (Psalm 51:5); and we are all sinful by nature (Romans 3:23). But if we are “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18), we will have in us “the fruit of the Spirit” such as “goodness” (Galations 5:22). And through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13) who is good we can do good things. We must “not grow weary of doing good,” (Galatians 6:9).

With respect to doing and being better, the prophet Samuel emphasized to King Saul that “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.,” (1 Samuel 15:22, NIV). For sincerity and obedience were the prerequisite for worship that pleased God. To “Be Better” is more than merely doing more or doing greater sophisticated things.

One NIV Bible reference explains: “Was Samuel saying that sacrifice is unimportant? No. He was urging Saul to look at his reasons for making the sacrifice rather than at the sacrifice itself. A sacrifice was a ritual transaction between man and God that physically demonstrated a relationship between them. Religious ceremonies are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. ‘Being religious’ (going to church, serving on a committee, giving to charity, and tithing) is not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.

In being better, we must seek an increased holiness by constancy or intimacy with God by regularly praying and doing godly actions. This then is the obedience level Christ desires of us. Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands,” (John 14:15). Being better physically is in the performance of regular exercises to maintain and improve health. It is wise to “Be Better” since every work of man will be brought into judgement, even every secret thing, whether it be good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Too Busy To Pray?

The apostle Paul says, “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But does he mean that we must pray all the time? Not at all. Paul was talking to the people of Thessalonica. It was one of the first places for Paul and Silas to evangelise. Paul had great success there—not only with the Jews; but also among the God-fearing Greeks. Of course, the Jews who did not believe and those who were envious, hired thugs to attack him. As a result, Paul and Silas left Thessalonica.

What Paul meant by “praying without ceasing” is to encourage the Thessalonians to maintain a faithful prayer life as his own. Praying without ceasing does not mean to pray constantly; but to be consistent and persistent in our prayer life. Paul in this epistle gives us an intimate introduction of how he mentored young believers. In fact, he explains briefly many of the basic Christians doctrines in 1 Thessalonians. These include the doctrine of Trinity, the deity of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, the nature of Scripture, the timing and events of the Second Coming and much more.

Finding time to pray and ask God to open our minds and hearts to best understand the Scriptures is important. We need to understand why we need to be assured of our salvation, conversion, resurrection and more as we live out our Christian life. But from sunrise to sunset our lives are filled with events and activities that have a beginning and ending. Also events follow one another and at times happen at the same time or period. Even when we fall asleep, things happen, the earth revolves around the sun and the moon around the earth. The systems and organs in our bodies work and thoughts and ideas cross our mind and consciousness.

So whether we attend school or university; or work at home or not; our mind and consciousness are constantly active. We are all busy in some form. If we are not paying attention to what we do or what comes to the fore of our mind, there will be some activities that are important to us we would forget to do. Prayer is one of those. So it is best we plan so we can use our days and times effectively.

Therefore, let us put prayer into our plan and schedule—after all, God our Creator sustains all life and systems on earth, It is Him to whom our prayers are directed for support, worship, guidance, and thanks. We must not be too busy to pray. Let us not take God for granted. Those who say “there is no God,” they take Him for granted; but He has a message for them: “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” They are corrupt.” (Psalm 14:1, NKJV).

 

Is The Good Life For Everyone?

To make sense of this discussion, we have to begin with a common understanding and meaning of the phrase “the good life.” But we have limited our discussion by the use of the definite article “the” as we have said “the good life.” There is bias here, some would argue because we should instead say “a good life”—using the indefinite article “a.” For them the phrase pertaining to “good life” best lends itself to a relative rather than an absolute meaning. For good may mean different things to different people—like ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison.’

I am not going to argue relative and absolute truth claims or perceptions here. The Bible declares that truth must be absolute. For God is truth—permanent, eternal, and absolute. Let me add here that many confuse personal perceptions or views of the truth and the “true truth.” So I go back to the question as it is correctly written as “the good life” rather than “a good life.” Since the beginning God created everything “very good,” (Genesis 1:31). So here our absolute and perfect God can only produce that which is perfect and properly good. The life of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, at the beginning, must have been therefore “the good life.” Imagine they walked with God in the garden of Eden—in His presence and holiness.

Their sin has corrupted the world (Genesis 6:11) and all in it (Romans 5:12). Jesus told us that “In this world [we] will have trouble,” (John 16:33). But our life now and eternally can be good if we accept him as our Lord and Saviour. The Bible says, “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).  On top of this we see that God our Saviour “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). I would argue that with the knowledge of God’s truth as we are filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), we can live “the good life.” After all, being filled with the Spirit we can be righteous,

 What is really the good life and how is it defined? The good life must be the life we all aspire to live being empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. We are renewed in that state. One can define this good life as being a life lived in Christ. Is this life for every human being so that no matter the choices and outcomes we have now in our lives, we can still make this claim?

God, who is good, desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth; but we have free choice which is good. Many will not obey God so the life they will have will not, by God’s Holy standards, be good. Of course we will have trials or tests (by God) and tribulations (what we bring about). Our quality of life, good or bad, depends on our responses to the Holy Spirit promptings. The good life God wants for everyone; but God with His perfect foreknowledge knows that not everyone will make the right choices to avail themselves of this good life.

 Of course those who are caught up with the doctrine of predestination will say “No.” They will argue that some are predestined to hell. Surely God has the right and sovereign power to predetermine any life as He so chooses. How can the clay tell the potter how to fashion itself? Can it say it wants to be a bowl or cup and not be discarded? Still, what then is free choice or will to those preordained—a farce or joke? 

The Problem with Heroes

When we were children, our heartbeats quickened and our adrenalin rushed as we read the epic stories of our heroes. Today adults need to have the imagination of a child. If adults need to master the mystical and spiritual exercises in meditation and contemplation in their drive to spiritual maturity, their ability to imagine must become like the child. Such a world needs to become real to them.

 

The lives and journeys of heroes motivate us to emulate such levels of bravery and daring. Heroes face challenges no matter if they experience fears as they face overwhelming situations. Heroes never quit. They strike out against the odds. Where others may hesitate, heroes make the quantum leap. They go the extra mile. They are monuments of faith and self confidence. They adjust as flexibility is needed; but they do not yield to circumstances. They are not victims of circumstances but masters of the facets of life before them.

Now all this sounds to me very much like the minor and major prophets of the Holy Bible. They are all heroes. We can add the list of kings who were lovers of God and called on Him in their times of need and prayed and even ordered their citizens to honour God as the king of Nineveh.

But in spite of their daring, all our heroes are fallible human beings--finite, mortal, limited, and imperfect. While it is true they motivate us and many of us aspire to be like them--in a manner of speaking, heroes most times demonstrate reliance on self rather than reliance on the Holy Spirit. The exceptions, would in the main, be those heroes who were prophets or men and women of God.

Truth be told, we ought to strive to emulate, or imitate perfection. After all, we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the heroes--who we know are imperfect human beings. As Christians we are taught and are encouraged to follow Biblical instructions and the apostle Paul says, "imitate me as I imitate Christ," (1 Corinthians 11:1). So the apostle has been guided by the Holy Spirit to encourage us to do as he did: 'imitate Jesus Christ;' but not him."

In the end, the true hero to copy and really imitate is Jesus Christ. He was and is perfect. So his virtues, standards, actions, thoughts, and how he relates to God the Father, and humanity we need to copy. The world would have us emulate the human heroes and even argue that we may better be able to relate to them as we too are limited and fallible as they all were and are--with the exception of Jesus. But God's Word--the Bible--tells us plainly to imitate Jesus as we have quoted but also to "imitate God," (Ephesians 5:1, NIV).

Is God’s Wrath an Aspect of His Love?

The word wrath normally gives us images of anger and destruction. We think of wrath as evil and as wicked revenge. How can such an act be considered to be a lived out demonstration of an aspect of God’s love? God who is holy, does not and cannot do evil. If his wrath is an aspect of his love, then its intent and outcome must be constructive and positive. For all of what God does or directly causes motivates, stirs, and nurtures for goodness sake. His creative action in the formation of the universe was all good—in fact, very good (Genesis 1:31).

 The dictionary meaning of wrath is: “strong vengeful anger or indignation; retributory punishment for an offense or a crime; divine chastisement.” This is taken from the Meridian-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. What then of God’s wrath as an act from a holy God? Perhaps we should look at God’s Wrath as a latter part of his disciplinary process that seeks to encourage behaviour change towards his view of what it means to be good—by His holy standards.

 Let us begin with Scripture saying, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink;” (Romans 12:18-20, NKJV).

 So as Christians, we need to focus on good and not “repay no one evil for evil,” (Romans 12:17).  We leave vengeance to God. After all, “Does not the potter have power over the clay,” (Romans 9:21)? So God, the potter, has sovereign power over all humanity, the clay. Therefore he has the right of vengeance as creator in his implementation of his procedures to correct human behaviour and conduct..

 Since he created all things and said they were good then very good, then his intentions clearly are good. Following the sin that entered the world, Scripture says, that he wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) so clearly His intentions and actions of sustenance and even his goal for the end of life are all constructive. Thus it is reasonable to assume, God’s Wrath is all a part of this culminative set of activities that are constructive and positive and given to love. This love describes his divine state of peace, harmony, and justice.

What Is Love?

Love is confused with desire sometimes. But love is used as a noun and verb. Our question: What Is Love? treats it as a noun. A proverb says, “But love covers all sins,” (Proverb 10:12). In this sense, we note the line before, “Hatred stirs up strife.” So we are talking about sins and offenses in a relationship where “love” seeks to keep the peace, whereas “hatred”—the supposed opposite – causes distress and war. Does this then mean that in a successful relationship where there is peace, “love” should be blind or should ignore issues or events as sins and offenses?

The answer is “no.” Now Scripture answers this question for us when it first tells us that, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 John 4:8). So in this verb or verbal sense of “love,” we are encouraged to love because God is love. This last love here that “God is…” is a noun. But we can continue with the verb-sense use of love with respect to God where Scripture says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16). So God, according to this Scripture knows that we are sinners and do a lot of offenses where we should be punished, but he forgave us and his son died in our place.

We can add to that the fact that God not put sin under the carpet nor hide nor overlook it nor ignore it. In his love and with his love, he rebukes us and corrects us when we sin. Sin has consequences. He gave us guidelines as a result of his love for us to help us on how we should live and deal with sin. Scripture says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).

More Scriptures tells us that for us to benefit by the act of Jesus sacrifice, according to John 3:16, we need to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him,” (John 3:17). We need to believe and submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and we will be saved.  All this process was done out of a plan of “love” of God—in the verb-sense.

What then of “love” in the noun sense? Our question is: What Is Love? We have “God is love,” (1 John 4:8). In 1 John 4:9-10, the Bible summarizes the love we spoke about above when it says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God in his love was willing and he did sacrifice the life of his “one and only Son,” Jesus. The practice of self-sacrifice is important in knowing and showing love.

Now to know God is to have this intimate, experiential knowledge of Him. It is not merely to have information about God as in reading books, magazines, and even the Bible. Taking lots of courses and attending Bible School and seminary does not mean we know God. We know about him and of him. We must be personally living out his character and traits; be in communion with his Holy Spirit in prayer, meditation and contemplation; be obedient to his wills as they become the law and order of our lives and conscience. Paul tells us to imitate Jesus Christ—his lifestyle, his character, his virtues, his worship style, and all aspects of his life (1 Corinthians 11:1). To know this God is to imitate his attributes as much as we can as in self-sacrificial love (Ephesians 5:1).

What then Is Love? Scripture describes “love” as an all-absorbing, self-sacrificial experience of God based on God’s character, personality, virtues, mercy, grace, and the rest of his perfections. We definitely cannot know love—in God’s sense—completely for He is perfect. We, being imperfect, must continue to always seek to be as close as possible in resemblance to Him who is perfect—God. In fact Scripture recognises our imperfection and tells us, to keep perfecting [our] holiness,” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Having An Open View of God

 

We cannot please everyone. All of us see things differently and that is one of the reasons for our different views of life and its realities. Our understanding of God is one of those views on which we defer greatly. My Hindu financial sales representative said when he passed by my home to drop off a document, “Chris and I understand each other because we do not put our faith in organised religion.” He continued, “Chris and I both believe in God.”

Now we have to be careful what people say when we claim we agree with their views. For instance, what did he mean by organized religion? Later in his conversation he revealed as a Hindu, he does not light dias and does not go into the temples. But he enjoys Diwalli Holiday and the artistic lighting up of the Hindus. Also, he claims he is a Hindu. We did not pursue the discussion further as I was not the one with whom he spoke.

In fact, he was talking with a former Hindu who was now a Christian and who no longer attends any Christian church. But she looks at my sermons online and has many questions and shows great interest to further her Biblical knowledge. She agreed with his position. Now I am in the process of planting a church and as the executive director and founder of CREM, I partner with pastors in evangelism and other kinds of ministry. So by my actions, I certainly do agree and support organized religion. He is right about his statement that I do not put my faith in organized religion. I put my faith in God alone.

But from his discussion, I can see that he was speaking from some kind of dissatisfaction with the operations of churches and temples with which he is familiar. Clearly, these religious institutions are set up with the aim to continue their history and progressive doctrinal learning and faith. They are set up to more effectively reach, win and help believers in their path to Truth. Truth, however, differs from religion to religion. Nevertheless, many find that much organised religion make demands beyond their authority and purpose.

He was right that we both believe in God or the Truth called God. He is wrong with any implication that our meaning and understanding of God is the same. Polytheism is the view of God of the Hindu; whilst Monotheism is the view of God for the Christian. We Christians do not have an open view of God. Our Trinitarian doctrine is not a polytheistic view for it is three persons of God in one divine essence. From the Christian point of view, God has plurality in His unity. The Bible says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!,” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Who Are You Hindering?

Years ago, on entering the front doors of my workplace, a stranger approached me and she said, “Where are you preaching? Are you a pastor?” I answered, “No mam. I am a teacher. I do not preach.” She looked upset and challenged me that my denial of performing pastoral services was a hindrance to those the Lord called through me. So I quickly and peacefully reacted, “Mam. I understand what you mean. I do agree with you. The fact is I studied in Seminary.” At this she nodded her head then left.

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to follow Me, he must give up himself and his own desires. He must take up his cross everyday and follow Me,” (Luke 9:23, NLV). One Bible reference says, “Although Jesus offered salvation as a free gift (John 1:12), He also warned that following Him would entail suffering and hardship (Matthew 5:10).”

Let us take a quick look at these Scriptures: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,” (John 1:12, NKJV). Also the Bible says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:10). So when we follow the will of God, we can expect suffering and hardship, but in the end rewards from the Lord for we are blessed.

Let’s go to the conduct of Jonah. We see that God gave him an assignment and he did not carry it out immediately. God said, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me,” (Jonah 1:1). The Bible said in verse 3, Jonah ran away from the Lord. But such refusals have consequences when we do not do God’s will. A great wind of the sea and a violent storm threatened the lives of the men on board the same ship Jonah used in his disobedience and attempt to run away (Jonah 1:3-4).

So his disobedience had several possible consequences (1) it could have cost the lives of all those innocent people on the ship he chose to escape his duties and the will of God; (2) the message and warning meant for the more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons in Nineveh, would not have been delivered and they would have been judged severely by God.

But Jonah eventually obeyed God and the people repented, thus preventing their destruction and causing their salvation. When we obey God; when we do His Will by first seeking it out and taking up our individual crosses, many whom God foreknew will interact with us and come to know Him as God, are saved. We each need to pray for discernment and know what we are called to do, so that our disobedience will not stand in the way of the salvation of others—who God has preordained to know him through what He destined us to do.

So let us consider who we are possibly hindering today, and seek God’s grace and wisdom in doing his will now. As for me, I now preach as well as teach. I have since been licensed and ordained as a minister, making my regular call to the Lord to those who will hear. God used that stranger, that lady, to set me right in his will. God is indeed gracious and we must always be thankful to him.

Can Holiness Be Perfected?

When Scripture says, “to make holiness perfect,” have we been called to do the impossible?  On our own we certainly cannot accomplish this lofty task or rise to this high state of consciousness and awareness.  But empowered by the Holy Spirit, all things that are logically possible, we can do.  For Jesus says, “that all things are possible with God”.  Further, we know that: “[We] can do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength” (Philippians 4:13).

In an examination of the 2 Corinthians 7:1, NKJV, “...let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  Though this command went out to all who could hear, not everyone who heard and responded are able to fulfil it.  In Luke 6 we see that when Jesus prayed for the disciples and the believers at large and mentioned the requirements of discipleship, many left him.  He turned to the twelve in the innermost circle and asked if they would leave him too.  Here then, Peter, showed inner spiritual growth and that he knew the truth, “Lord, where will we go?  You are the Holy One of God.”  Clearly not all believers will arise to that state of “perfected holiness”.

Still whatever God calls us to do he enables.  In Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Elsewhere in Scripture Jesus also commanded and promised to be with his disciples while they carry out what he called them to do.  He says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matt. 28:19-20).

God knew us before we were formed in the womb of our parents—after all he is the omnipotent and eternal God.  He knew that Jacob and Esau while in the womb of their mother would fight each other.  Even the Psalmist says, “You know us before we were born.”  In our hardships when pain is excruciating we scream, “why Lord?”  But He never gives us more than we can bear.  Thus we are chosen people.  We are “set apart” as his priests (Rev. 1:6; Num. 1:47-54). 

The Lord told Moses, “But the Levites were not numbered among them by their fathers’ tribe; for the Lord had spoken to Moses, saying: ‘Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel; but you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its furnishings, and over all things that belong to it; they shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they shall attend to it and camp around the tabernacle.

And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death. The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone by his own standard, according to their armies; but the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony.” Thus the children of Israel did; according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so they did.’”

Knowing that many are called and few are chosen then we can logically assume that the capabilities of the chosen have been foreknown by God.  They were born with the capacity to be holy and in some case to perfect their holiness.  Since this perfection cannot be done by our imperfect, mortal selves, but by His Holy spirit, then perhaps a more appropriate word is not that we have evolved in our spiritual insights and understanding.  Rather, we have awakened our consciousness.  We have activated as it were, that which we were blessed with.  The more we “cleanse flesh and spirit of filthiness,” we will move closer to our goal of “perfected holiness.”

Those who know this state says it is indescribable.  It is ineffable (incapable of being expressed in words).  How can one describe a state of perfection when he or she is imperfect?  How can we with mortal, finite, and limited minds rise above and return to articulate or express what perfection or holiness is?  Shaking or speaking in tongues is not it; the claim that we feel the anointing as we preach is not it; when God’s Spirit speaks to our spirit is not it; when we are writing or speaking or singing and feel an emotional high and inner impelling and urges is not it; for we have said it is indescribable.

When the Apostle Paul experienced the flood of lights on his way to Damascus (1 Cor. 15:8, epiphany) his holiness was not perfected.  Perfected holiness must have been when Paul was taken to the 3rd heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4); when Peter was taken to the third heaven; when Moses saw the Lord; or the transfiguration with Peter, James, and John with Christ.  Is it possible for you and I to be in His Presence?  God is perfect and infallible; the Bible is God’s Word; therefore, its claims must necessarily be infallible and without error.  The Bible then calls us to “perfect holiness,” thus the answer to the questions is an emphatic and unquestionable: “Yes.” 

In Revelation 1:10, “being seized by the Spirit and carried up to Heaven,”[1] John says, “I was in the Spirit of the Lord’s Day.”  In Matthew Henry’s Commentary, the writer says, “The frame that [the apostle John’s] soul was in at this time: He was in the Spirit. He was not only in a rapture when he received the vision, but before he received it; he was in a serious, heavenly, spiritual frame, under the blessed gracious influences of the Spirit of God. God usually prepares the souls of his people for uncommon manifestations of himself, by the quickening sanctifying influences of his good Spirit.

Those who would enjoy communion with God on the Lord’s day must endeavour to abstract their thoughts and affections from flesh and fleshly things, and be wholly taken up with things of a spiritual nature.  The apostle gives an account of what he heard when thus in the Spirit.”  We know that John was aided in his expression of this encounter (theophany).  The bible says, “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21)”.

[1] W. Mundel, in “Estacy” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1, ed. Colin Brown, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49530, A Division of HaperCollins Publishers,  1986), 528.

God’s Plan and Free Will

How can we understand God’s plan in the light of human free will? We have always heard it said that, “God has a plan for your life.” We also know that human beings do all have free will. So how can we understand when Jesus told Peter that he will deny him (Christ) three times? Also, Jesus said to the disciples that one of them will betray him. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray,” (Matt. 26:21). He even knew which one. Here is the question we are asked: Could not Judas change his mind and not betray Jesus Christ or was he destined to perform such a horrible role? Similarly, could not the apostle Peter have decided to be brave and not deny Christ when he was recognised as one of Jesus’ followers?

We know that God has the following properties or qualities: (1) God is perfect, (2) God is timeless, (3) God is omniscient, (4) God gives free will, and (5) God is love. Now whatever God says or plans will happen, for He has knowledge of every change, thought, or act that will occur or will not occur before the time comes. We remember that he is timeless, so whatever he knows when an event starts, he also knows when and the details of the event in the end. He knows past, present and future at the same instance. Note well that we have to keep in mind in our analysis and understanding that because God foreknows, that his foreknowledge does not compel that which he foreknew to happen. He simply has perfect knowledge (that is the meaning of his quality call omniscience or all-knowing).

So he foreknew Judas will betray Christ (Matt. 17:22-23), but that foreknowledge has absolutely nothing to do with or influence or cause Judas to betray Christ. This is what some claim. But to claim that God's foreknowledge of Judas’ betrayal forced Judas to do so is false. Judas like everyone else is supposed to have free will. God foreknow (as he is timeless) how, when and why Judas will apply his free will in the act of betrayal. If God did not foreknow that, then he is not truly God with the quality of omniscience (all-knowing) and timelessness. The same argument of God’s foreknowledge of Judas’ betrayal can be applied to his foreknowledge of Jesus’ death on the cross as well as Peter’s denial of Christ.  Whatever God foreknew must and will happen and another alternative cannot happen. But that is only because of God’s perfect knowledge of past, present and future. In other words, God’s timeless nature allows him to have perfect knowledge of our futures.

One young man suggested, since human beings have free will, then Peter and Judas could have surprisingly changed their minds and do the opposite to what were prophesied. But if people can surprise an all-knowing or omniscient God then he is not God. This statement is self-defeating for to be all-knowing means even any surprise must be known in advance of the time it actually occurred to us. We must keep in mind that you and I as humans are subject to time, but God is not. Before our very creation God knew our so-called surprises. This is philosophically and theologically sound for an omniscient being.

It should be clear now that Judas has free will and however he would have eventually used it or whatever changes we can conceive that he may make, God who is all-knowing and timeless must necessarily know it all before Judas was born. If God is surprised, then he is a finite and not infinite God. This is not the God of the Christian Bible. The key phrase to remember is this: “Knowing the proclivities and tendencies of an individual, is not the compulsion of that individual.” Also God is good, omniscient, timeless, loving and gives free will. A loving God will not and cannot plan such a horrible role for any of his creation.

 

[For a more in-depth treatment on this subject see my Blog at ChristosApologia’s blogs at [?}

Why Should I Be Good?

‘Why should I be good?’ is an ethical question. It implies that an appraisal has to be done by myself and or others of my behaviour. This appraisal would determine the right things I have done, thought, or felt. From this, we can therefore assume there is the moral law and so a lawgiver. To refer to “the right things,” I am suggesting there are ‘wrong things’ too. For how can I affirm one, unless I believe that the other and opposite exists? Ethics, according to The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, is “the general study of right action” which “concerns the principles of right and wrong that govern our choices and pursuits.” (p. 286). Immanuel Kant, as explained in A Brief History of Western Philosophy, says, “the only thing that is good without qualification is good will” (Kenny, A. p. 270). He says to act with duty is to exhibit this good will.

But in this discussion so far I speak of “good” and “good will” with some assumption that there must be some common and even universal agreement to the meaning of “good.” Still we should ask, how can one know if a will is good or bad? Duty, though constructive in intent, does not assure that one’s will is good or bad. Duty implies accountability and this is in context to a group or society. Duty also is needed to be judged or appraised by some kind of yardstick or tool of morality. Still we return to the question, ‘How is good or bad determined?’ Obviously some kind of yardstick is assumed. But who designed this yardstick? How did it come about? Is it universal or not? But it must be universal. Yet how is its universality arrived at or decided? The Christian has an easy answer in (Romans 2:15, NIV) which declare that God has “the Law written in (our) hearts.” So there is the source of universality of the moral law from a Christian viewpoint.

Kant spoke of a moral law as a law known to all and accepted by all. Even atheists today speak of the moral law. They argue, and rightly so, they can be moral too (Romans 1:17-18, NIV). So-called agnostics who sit on the fence of everything accept the practicality of a moral law. People of varied religious beliefs agree on the reality of a moral law. But it is those who are theists argue that if there is a universal moral law, and there seem to be by general agreement, then there must be a universal moral lawgiver who caused it as Romans 2:15 clearly shows. Of course the atheist will not immediately agree with this for she would be admitting to the existence of a universal God or gods. Besides, the atheist denies the truth of the Biblical claims.

A universal accident as the big bang does not offer us a satisfactory answer as to the beginning of a universal moral law. Right and wrong as a value judgement require the principle of consciousness with its associated mind and intelligence to make judgemental appraisal of human activity. In other words, there must be in existence a unity of mind, consciousness and intelligence, to determine what the standard for right and wrong is.

We said that duty implies purpose. This purpose is beneficial to both the individual and others. It seeks peace and activates goodness. It motivates us to fulfill our natural obligations to ourselves, society and existence in compliance with the moral law. That ‘I am good’ informs or tells of my behaviour towards others and encourages me to perform such actions that lead to peaceful coexistence. This goodness pleases me and in my view, pleases others, and most of all pleases God—the epiphany or the highest revealing reality of my perception of what is good. He, that is God, is the lawgiver.

A serious confusion in atheism is the mixing up of (1) the need for God to have a moral law and (2) the belief in this God. Belief or disbelief in God does not affect the reality that he does exist. Nor does it affect the impartial operations of the universal moral law against which even the atheist self-judges and appraises the actions of others. The atheist can be moral and not believe in God I am saying. But God laws are written in his heart (Roman 2:15), “the law …written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)”

As each of us is unique, yet may have similar needs. Our perceptions of and reactions to reality will differ. But being aware of scarce resources that must be shared among unequalled demands, compromise is invaluable. My goodness in conjunction with my social conscience would motivate and approve my behaviour to be in sync with others of the community. Sharing, compromising, and agreeing with those with whom I may find disagreeable may become necessary just for survival and coexistence.

My ability to master my needs and emotions to achieve self-control will increase the chances of my survival and that of my fellow humans. This moral, behavioural yardstick will keep us in check in our maintenance of being good. Our goodness helps us to become charitable and altruistic. After all Jesus commands us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” (Matthew 5:43-44, NIV). With this view the Christian can live in our present world.

Because of necessity, our good is always becoming and evolving as it seeks to establish balance, stability, and peace. If the extent of the good we can be would not satisfy and bring our social intercourses or interactions to a calm and peaceful state of affairs, then by necessity we instinctively devise or conceive resolutions. The cosmos is constantly adjusting and so it is constructively purpose driven as we evolve. An inner power pushes our will through the struggle for balance.

Perhaps this power lies only in the very “nature of our desires to become more than we currently are.” Perhaps this power then supersedes, operating inside and outside in fulfillment of a cosmic plan (I personally prefer to say, divine plan). Whatever or wherever it is, this power seeks to ensure balance and justifies why we should be good. This power cannot necessarily be haphazard. It cannot be unbalanced, inharmonious, or accidental. First of all, its outcome is consistently good—regardless of how it may behave to get there.

I am free and justified to be good and do not need to be compelled by societal law to make the right choices and take the right actions. The constant challenge for society is the perception of the relevant common good—relative or absolute. If this common good is in sync with the moral law, then I must be good for the benefit to myself, others and the cosmic scheme of things. If then, there is no moral law, then my efforts to be good are futile. But I began with an inferred premise that i can be good. So I am free to elect to be so and be a contributor to a constructive, social order.

The Power of Shame

Shame concerns the Christian believer as much as anyone else. It is an emotional experience that everyone avoids. Yet the apostle Peter invites us saying: “But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!”, (1 Peter 4:16, NLT). Some people, because their views differ from the popular, they feel they may be wrong and they develop doubt. But the popularity of an opinion or view is not proof that the opinion is the truth.

Now why would the apostle Peter use the word “shame” above with respect to our suffering for being a Christian? Let us remember our Lord Jesus Christ was not simply put to death based on fabricated lies and false accusations. He was crucified on a cross. This was meant to put him to shame.

The Bible says,”In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him,” (Mark 15:31-33, NIV).

Jesus submitted to such treatment on our behalf so that we can have this opportunity to re-fellowship with the Father and have kingdom living available to all who believe. His humiliating death, Scripture says was ransom for our sins. So through him we can escape the shame, the humiliation, the disgrace, the dishonour and the guilt of our sinful nature. All we need to do is accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour and instead of shame we receive salvation and eternal life.

Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition Dictionary defines shame as, “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.” It continued saying that shame is “something to be regretted.” The obvious power of shame is that it motivates individuals to do the right thing which will not make them become a victim of shame. In some cultures the individual brought to shame is excommunicated, shunned, avoided, and some such persons even commit suicide upon experiencing shame.

What then of the condemnation we sometimes suffer as believers in this life, you might ask? James says, to count it as joy (James 1:2). In fact, the Bible says, “Be joyful that you are taking part in Christ’s sufferings. Then you will be filled with joy when Christ returns in glory,” (I Peter 4:13). Do not consider yourself unlucky when you suffer for Christ’s sake.

Are you ashamed to tell others in this secular and materialistic world that you are a Christian? Are you afraid or shy to say that you hold dear to Biblical values? When your friends encourage you to behave like the world do, to party as they do, to drink as they do, to have fun the way most people do that grieves the Holy Spirit, are you ashamed to say you disagree and refuse to take part? Remember what the apostle Peter says, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you,” (1 Peter 4:14, NIV).

So can we not use shame to honour and glorify God? Does it not motivate us to do that which is good and godly for we wish to avoid the experience of this negative emotion? What do you think? Don't be ashamed now to openly express you views that declare you are a lover of Jesus Christ.

 

Is My Action Biblical?

Is having a ministry that is not under the covering of a local church biblical? How can we know if our actions in general are Biblical? How should we look at the work done by a publicly or privately acclaimed atheist? How can we know whether or not God approves of what a person is doing? This question is simple enough to answer one might say; but because we are asking if it is biblical or not means we are measuring the actions by standards listed in the Bible. I am also assuming my reader respects the Bible as an authority in determining approved standards; and even if my reader does not approve of the Bible, he or she, at least, can safely view our discussion from the perspective of a Christian believer. A discussion on the Bible being the best possible standard for absolute truth is a different discussion.

Let us now ask: Can an atheist do anything that is Biblically correct? This may seem obviously ridiculous since even the fair-minded atheist who does not believe in God, may well view the Christian Bible (with some respect) as merely an excellent, literary work or book of the Christian religion. He may see the Bible similar to the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran and the key writings of other religions. This book, the Bible, the atheist may claim as providing wonderful stories of how Christian believers should live in a society of mixed cultures and customs in the world. To the Christian, the Bible is God’s word and it is the truth (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; John 17:17). To the Christian the Holy Bible makes it clear why and how we live. It describes and states how we must conduct ourselves; and it gives us examples of righteous attitudes and behaviour as well as it provides us with a comprehensive picture of the supreme example of lifestyle in Jesus Christ. It tells us of the divine plan for humanity and what happens after death.

The atheist, being a humanist, naturally has his or her views of the world in which we live and may well feel compassion for his or her fellow humans. The atheist may believe that the survival of the fittest view, got humanity to the social level where we are now. With this atheistic or humanist view of the world, the atheist may see it only normal and logical as well as sensible to help his fellow human beings. There is no need for God in his or her world. Human experience in striving to survive overtime has forced humanity to realise that to progress and grow socially, humanity needs to compromise. Community is important. In this compromise we need to help each other, we need to look after the sick, the poor, the needy, and the weak. So where in this formula is God necessary, the atheists argue?

Regardless of our bias as Christian believers and our dislike for the claims of atheism, we must remember that one of the key qualities of God and which is repeatedly taught in the Holy Bible is love. This love incorporates much of the behaviour that the Bible prescribes. This means the Biblical love in action is shown in taking care of the poor, weak, sick, and needy—all these are included in what Jesus referred to as “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40). We remember the unbelieving Roman Centurion who asked Jesus Christ to heal his servant who was a believer in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The centurion was confident that if Jesus proclaimed healing at the distant—not visiting personally the believing servant—that the servant will be healed. Jesus did just that and the servant was indeed healed. Jesus pointed out that in all of Israel (the believing nation) there was no one with such demonstrable faith as displayed by an unbeliever (Matt 8:5-13, NIV).

Now here is the apostle Peter entering the house of a gentile and this was never done during the apostolic times. The Bible says, [As Peter entered the house; Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor,” (Acts 10:22-31, NIV). So God observed the gentile Cornelius’ gifts to the poor. Note that Cornelius the gentile would have normally been seen as impure and unclean, God showed the apostle Peter not to think him so. So God recognised the good done by the unbeliever, the atheist, the humanist, the skeptic, or the agnostic as well as the believer.

So why would some pastors think, a ministry not under the covering of a local church is unbiblical, though it is doing “good” to the poor or needy—whom Jesus calls “the least”? Clearly such a view by those pastors is wrong. Someone can do “good” even though they do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. What then is the advantage of doing good as a believer? Or is there any advantage at all? Surely God who created everything, all statues, and universal laws, is impartial and his laws he himself will never and cannot break. Thus for the “good” we do we will have blessings in accordance to what we do.

Even so, if we live a life of seeking to do good on every occasion, we will receive blessings for all that we do—without exception. But the Bible is clear that we all will die once as God has ordained (Heb 9:27) and then the judgement which determines where we will go after death. We are judged to be in heaven or hell for that is what Scripture says. This decision is based on other requirements which God has prescribed: repentance, acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; in other words, salvation through Christ by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8, 9).

So how we live matters along with what or whom we have made Lord of our lives. We have more than guidelines for living in the Holy Bible. In fact the purpose of the Bible is clear: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (2 Tim 3:16-17). It is therefore logical that to know if what we are doing is biblical; we should check its standards, purpose, and intent against the values of the Bible. This is how I know that CREM is a Biblically run ministry. Jesus encourages us to serve the needy, the poor, the imprisoned, the sick, and those needing shelter when he said, “if you do it to the least of these, you do it to me,” (Matt. 25:40). CREM does not need the covering of a church. In fact, no humanitarian work does, but it makes sense for church to get busy obeying our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and serving “the least.”

Unmasking The Clear Conscience

A young Toronto, lawyer has brought me face to face with the legal and moral meaning of clear conscience.  Her conduct with an unrepresented party was unconscionable—to use a legal term.  The Pocket Dictionary of Canadian Law by Daphne A. Dukelow states the test for unconscionability is when “…there was inequality in the position of the parties due to the ignorance, need or distress of the weaker which would leave him [or her] in the power of the stronger coupled with proof of substantial unfairness in the bargain” (Thampson Carswell 2006, p. 478). 

In March 2008, the lawyer entered the court room early in the morning with confidence that she would be successful in a two day non-jury trial.  She told me, as I was the Court Clerk and Registrar that she was sure that the defendant would not show up.  She expected the matter to only go for half-day—which is the time she needed to present her case to the judge.  The pattern of the defendant in the course of their legal battles was not to attend any hearings or motions although the defendant would be properly served and invited. 

The case was a lawsuit against a middle aged sole proprietor who had to close down her thriving X-Ray and Ultrasound business.  Her lease was not renewed and the property management rented her space to a similar business.  Apparently upset, the defendant, it was alleged, damaged the premises as she removed her equipment.  To the lawyer’s surprise that morning, the defendant showed up as a self-represented party—unable to afford a lawyer.  They both left the court to talk.

About fifteen minutes later, the defendant returned inside the courtroom frightened, very insecure, and almost in tears.  She said to me the lawyer told her, “You know you are guilty and it is pointless contesting the allegations.”  As she described her conversation with the lawyer, I saw the fear in her eyes and I kept wondering why the bullying tactics by the lawyer—who seemed so pleasant when she entered the court room and spoke to me. 

The unrepresented party was unaware of court procedures and in her ignorance was almost convinced that the case was decided before it was even heard by the judge.  She asked, “What can I do?  Can that lawyer tell me these things?  I did nothing wrong?”  Of course as a court officer I am not a lawyer and therefore I cannot give advice.  I told her, that there was a legal clinic downstairs on the main floor and she can go there now before we start.  She did.

She returned five minutes late at the time for the court to start with a letter seeking adjournment to have a legal representative.  The lawyer was shocked at this and tried to initially object on the basis that she was not aware of the defendant’s intention to seek an adjournment.  The judge, as with all judges in the judiciary, was sympathetic to the lack of legal knowledge of the self-represented party and so allowed some latitude and granted the adjournment.  Of course, the lawyer argued that the defendant had more than enough time to search for a lawyer and only now has made this late and last minute tactic to delay the inevitable order. 

Further the lawyer submitted that her client has a right to have closure on this matter which is overdue.  It was during the young lawyer’s submissions I saw her belligerent and unconscionable attitudes.  She pretended to be sympathetic to the unrepresented party, but with the aim of seeking her client’s interest, for which she is paid, she often tried to overrun the defendant by often side tracking into giving evidence on the lawsuit rather than providing arguments why the matter should not be adjourned.

The lawsuit was for $45,000 [Canadian funds] in damages and the young lawyer was seeking an order to get a judgement for this.  A few weeks after, the shoddy evidence presented by the landlord through his young lawyer was an obvious indication why they were rushing to get judgement in absentia.  As I listened, I wondered, ‘Where is the heart of this young lawyer?’  When she spoke to me, she seemed so reasonable and understanding.  She clearly believed she was in the right and that the defendant was wrong and defiant.  Of course, I do not know the truth.  But I looked at the lawyer still wondering that she must have slept well in the nights in this case.  Perhaps she lives with a clear conscience that her behaviour is ethical—at least professionally so—and just.

I have been working for seven years as a Court Clerk and Registrar, listening to cases and speaking to lawyers, claimants, and judges.  I have always struggled with an understanding of the role of the human conscience in legal events.  I wondered how lawyers live with themselves.  How can they, at times, represent a client with an unreasonable position that obviously hurt and maim the emotional and financial life of the other party? 

Mentioning this to one senior lawyer and a Queen’s Counsel who both represented 130,000 families in a class action lawsuit, they both agreed with me.  It is a challenge to live with the kind of representation I just mentioned.  The senior lawyer said, “If I don’t believe my client or in the case, I cannot handle it.  My eyes and actions will give me away.  So I refuse such cases.” 

A clear conscience is one that is in harmony with the actions and thoughts of its host or the person claiming to have a clear conscience. A clear conscience may not necessarily be the ultimately peaceful “heart” due to the fact that the person’s conduct is Biblically based and the person’s character and actions glorifies God. A person with criminal values or a culprit sleeps well as his or her behaviour is in sync with his or her ugly and evil values. When the apostle Paul in Romans 9:1 speaks of his conscience being clear, he said, “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit.” [Read my book, When Conscience Speaks, for a more complete discussion on conscience and its functions and operations.]

Finding Our Heart

In his 1981 book The Way of the Heart, Henri J. M. Nouwen writes about the theology of compassion thus:

“It seems that the darkness is thicker than ever, that the powers of evil are more blatantly visible than ever, and that the children of God are being tested more severely than ever. During the last few years I have been wondering what it means to be a minister in such a situation. What is required of men and women who want to bring light into darkness, ‘to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captive and to the blind new sight, to set the down trodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour’ (Luke 4:18-19)? What is required of a man or a woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times and speak a word of hope?”

Nouwen has expressed my worry as a Christian better than I could.  For years I wondered, ‘How can I impact the lives of others about me?’ How can Christians show the love of Jesus Christ to the world—particularly to believers and unbelievers?  Do we need to become ascetics and live in the mountains and caves?  Can we not live in the world—among the humdrum of society with families, jobs, different economies of scale, and with the latest development in technology and science—and make a difference? 

As Christians, we know the Bible says, “we live in the world but not of this world.”  A simple fact, yet as a Christian I grappled with this biblical truth and pronouncement.  I have been working in the Superior and Appeal Courts of Ontario where the rights to homosexual marriages, religious pluralism, and faith in materialism are grounded.  In the light of the New Atheism, secular humanitarianism, and humanism, how can I show the uniqueness of Christlikeness as a Christian?

After I graduated from Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, with an MDiv in Education in 2001, starting an overseas education ministry was the last thing on my mind.  I simply loved to teach and desired to write.  A job as a Christian Educator with an emphasis on adult education seems ideal for me.  In fact, I was sure that was my calling.  I attended seminary with that in mind.  But God had other plans for me.

What about you? What is troubling you? What upsets you? What are you passionate about? Because I have been passionate about educating and serving the poor or underprivileged, I have been led in that area. So this is what CREM is all about. It is the results of one’s passion about helping to right a wrong in society or the world. Each of us can do a little. Do you not agree? Let our small individual efforts be added against the world’s wrong and evil; against the world’s injustice and unfairness. What do you think?

Is It Dangerous To Think Post Modernism New?

Here is a popular view which I picked up from the internet: “Postmodernism focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern world, understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually.” There is so much talk still about postmodernism along with articles on the subject, many speak of it as a definite new age or new times our modern societies are experiencing. But is this really so?

In the book of Judges the Bible says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 17:6; 21:25, NASB). This means that at times whatever was true for the Israelites, they did it. They forgot all about the signs and wonders God performed in freeing them from Egypt and while they roamed the desert. After Joshua died, God allowed the people kings who would act as agents of the divine will (Judges 2:16, NASB). Repeatedly, we see the people doing evil acts against God. He then punishes or disciples them; they thereafter repent and seek forgiveness. Following this, through the leadership of another judge—raised by God--forgiveness was granted. When the Judge dies, the people returned to living sinful lives. The cycle repeated itself.

Postmodernism, says Dr. William Lane Craig in his book, Reasonable Faith (pg. 18), “is a myth.” He says, it “is one of the craftiest deceptions that Satan has yet devised.” You see, postmodernism (post-modernism or after modernism) is leading us to believe that modernism is over. But Dr. Craig says that is untrue. In modernism or in the age of modernism humanity used reason and science to deny the supernatural. So anything we cannot prove with our five senses is left to “a matter of taste and emotive expression.”

Today atheism, agnosticism and general skepticism are alive and well. So if we think modernism is over, Satan wants us to put aside “our best weapons of logic and evidence” in defence of the gospel, according to Dr. Craig. As Christians, the Bible tells us that no matter where we are “put here for the defense of the gospel,” (Phil. 1:16, NIV). We are also supposed to “knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments,” (2 Cor. 10:4, NLT). So we need to know what is happening in our societies and neighbourhoods and families and respond reasonably and appropriately without fear and to do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Do You Want to be a Winner or Loser?

Phil 3:8 says, “ Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” 

Everyone wants to win. No one wants to lose. Here is a hopeful information which is the truth: “…God our Savior… wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4).

Society looks well and favourably on winners and looks down on losers. But society judges the winner by standards not in line with the Bible. Winning is often materialistic or related to materialism. Winning is often when people display glory for themselves but according to the Bible the glory should be given to God. All praises must be offered up to Him.

The apostle Paul gives us a good example in Philippians 3:8. Paul considers himself a winner as he has submitted his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. Paul has gained (1) knowledge of Christ; (2) righteousness of Christ and (3) the fellowship of Christ.  He was an educated Pharisee and despite his position. He had a great reputation as a scholar (Acts 26:24). He was proud of his Jewish heritage.

But later as a child of God he learned not only historical information about Jesus Christ; but he then had a personal relationship with the Lord as all practicing Christians do. Paul was spiritually bankrupt as a Pharisee, though righteousness was his goal then; but submitting to Christ as his Lord, he got rid of self-righteousness as a Pharisee and got the righteousness of Christ (1 Cor. 3:9). He also got fellowship with Christ as he prayed and obeyed Jesus in his Christian Walk (Phil. 3:10-11).

So what must we do if we want to be a winner? The Bible says, ‘for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13).’ How then being saved makes us winners and not losers? When we are saved we are winners as we have eternal life with Christ; without salvation, we are losers as we have eternal death.