It’s Your ‘Choice’ [v141]

NOVEMBER 2010

It’s Your ‘Choice’

Belief is a choice. We either believe or we do nt believe. We make that choice based on experience, evidence (or the lack thereof), training and conditioning.

Last month I talked about a TV series called “The Event,” where the viewer is ‘asked’ to suspend their belief in the natural, and allow themselves to be ‘taken in’ to believing that “aliens” are living among us, have been doing so since the end of WWII, and have ‘supernatural’ powers allowing them to control a a “vortex” that changes where things (like airplanes) end up. [I’ve read that in the last few weeks, the TV series has answered some of the ‘big’ questions, and has become, at least for now, a bit more entertaining].

Well, next month, one of my favorite movie ‘series’, that also asks the viewer to suspend belief, will be presenting its third ‘episode’—“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”—part of “The Chronicles of Narnia” originally written in the 1950’s by C. S. Lewis.

[Trailer: http://www.narniaweb.com/2010/10/new-trailer-for-the-voyage-of-the-dawn-treader/ ].

This returns Edmund and Lucy, along with their ‘proggish’ cousin, Eustace Scrubb, to Narnia. Once there, they join Caspian’s voyage to find the seven lords who were banished when Miraz took over the throne. This perilous journey brings them face-to-face with many wonders and dangers, as they sail toward Aslan’s country at the end of the world. [This summary means little to those who have not yet seen the previous two movies, or have read the books—if you haven’t, do so, they are worth it!].

So, to further discuss the concept of “belief,” I will take you thru a ‘vortex’—or “wardrobe” for Naria fans—so you end up toward the end of the last book in the “Chronciles of Narnia,” called “The Last Battle.” This is where Lucy, Peter and Edmund, visit a place called the “New Creation” (some would call this ‘place’ Heaven).

The New Creation is a place of joy, beauty and light. It’s breathtaking. The colors and the sounds of this place are so phenomenal, it’s like watching a new 60-inch 3D-enabled DLP HDTV with “THX” surround sound when you’ve been used to watching a 50-year-old 9-inch black and white (without the “rabbit ears”!).

As Lucy, Peter and Edmund enjoy the New Creation, they see a group of dwarfs huddled together. The dwarfs refuse to believe they are in Heaven. Before Aslan (the Christ figure) liberated them, the dwarfs had been held captive in a dirty, dark stable. Aslan rescued them from their bondage and placed them in the beautiful environment of the New Creation, with blue skies, green grass and fresh air. But the dwarfs refuse to believe that they are free. They remain huddled together in a little circle.

Lucy is upset and turns to Aslan, asking him to do something to help these dwarfs. Aslan, says to Lucy, “I will show you what I can do and what I cannot do.” Immediately the dwarfs are given plates filled with meats and vegetables—a sweetsmelling banquet. Each of the dwarfs is also given a goblet filled with the most delicious wine imaginable.

The dwarfs immediately dive into the feast Aslan has provided, but almost as immediately, they begin to complain. Refusing to believe in the sumptuous feast provided for them, they grumble about having to put up with the stink of a barnyard. They ‘grouse’ about the hay and cow dung they are given to eat. They whine that the rich, red wine they have been given is nothing but dirty water out of the animal trough.

After Lucy, Edmund and Peter witness this sight, Aslan explains to them that the dwarfs had chosen to reject the reality of the New Creation and to be hostile, suspicious and critical. Even though Aslan had freed them from the filth of the stable where they had been held captive, they remained prisoners of their own minds. They could not see or experience the New Creation because they would not.

Aslan finally says, “You see, they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is truly in their minds…”

I use this illustration to try to ‘reinforce’ what I posited in last month’s ‘newsletter’—YOU MUST DETERMINE for yourself IF what I term as the MOST IMPORTANT “EVENT” of human history—the Resurrection of Jesus Christ—IS TRUE.

The choice is yours. This is much more than just an academic ‘discussion’—the eternal destiny of your “soul” could very well hinge on what you ‘do’ with Jesus and His resurrection!

You can choose to ignore the ‘new creation’ that Christ provides you and ridicule the heavenly ‘banquet’ He sets before you, choosing the ‘hell’ you may have always known, OR, you can accept Christ as the “Resurrection and the Life.”

Apart from Christ, ALL OF US are like ‘dwarfs’ who refuse to accept Heavenly realities. We can, like the Apostle Paul said in the Bible, do “everything through Him who gives me strength” [Philippians 4:13].

After we accept Who Jesus Christ said He is, and we honestly ‘commit’ to following His ‘plan’ for us, we then become “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” [Romans 8:37]—and God will free us from the ‘wayward’ life we now lead.

A friend told me of his three-mile early morning walks with his wife and neighbor Fred. Fred is an engineer who became a distinguished lawyer—a well-read man who can cite ‘chapter and verse’ from many great authors. They often talk theology and religion during their walks.

One day they were talking about the nature of belief. Fred says that one of his favorite quotes about belief was attributed to a mathematician he had studied as he trained to be an engineer. According to Fred, the mathematician explained the logic of human acceptance of absolute realities we could not prove by conventional methods, by saying, “Although I do not fully understand the process of digestion, nevertheless I still eat.”

No one can make you ‘believe’…anything. The choice is yours and yours alone. Your parents, spouse, siblings, closest friend—or even me— can’t ‘decide’ for you. Even a church ‘leader’ or an ‘evangelist’ is powerless to ‘coerce’ a decision from you—that must come from the ‘depths’ of your ‘heart’.

Belief ‘in’ Jesus is more than just mentally acknowledging the truth that He is the Savior, the Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died as a ‘sacrifice’ for our sins, and rose from the dead (the devil and his ‘minions’ all believe all that, and they “tremble in terror” [James 2:19]).

‘Real’ belief involves ‘entrusting’ our souls and lives to Jesus—and that happens when we ‘accept’ God’s FREE GIFT of salvation [Ephesians 2:8-9]. To ‘receive’ it, we must tell Him we need and want His forgiveness, and the new spiritual life He offers.

So, let me encourage you to take a ‘step of faith’—based on good reason—and tell God that you believe in His Son. Tell Him that you want the salvation He offers, and that you now acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord!

Jesus will not reveal to you ALL of the details of how He is the ‘Resurrection and the Life’—though He audaciously claims that He is—it takes a ‘BIT’ OF FAITH on your part. You may choose to believe or reject Him—it’s your choice.

[Excerpts from: Greg Albrecht]

To read more about the Resurrection of Jesus, then visit the following link:
http://www.thesearchformeaning.net/sfm_pres/sp_q2_d3_1of10.html

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A FEW MORE ‘PROOFS:”

“Proof for the Historical Jesus”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_dEzpIT_Ks

“Secular Sources for Jesus Christ”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hF5uxjBulA

“Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYdzUYyIKMM

WEB SITE (Search Ministries):
“The Search for Meaning”:
http://www.thesearchformeaning.net/

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v141) for NOVEMBER 2010

(Note: If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net)

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“Etc.” — A term used to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.  ;^D

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HAPPINESS
Years ago, the Reader’s Digest had an article, which said that in order for a person to be happy and have fulfillment, three things were necessary. First, they needed something to believe. Second, they needed someone to love. And third, they needed something worthwhile to do. That’s true, but not because Reader’s Digest said it, but because God’s Word affirms it. There must be more to life than your next breath and your next step. And His name is Jesus Christ. He is indeed the fulfillment of all three of those needs. Jesus is the One to believe in, He is the Someone to love, and His cause is the something worthwhile for you to do. Do you yearn for happiness? Every need can be met in your life through Jesus Christ.
[Adrian Rogers – Love Worth Finding]

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MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
Walking one day along the California coast, a man named Jack was musing about his life. His marriage was in trouble, he was not getting on well with his kids, and he was unsure of what he was doing with his future. As he strolled along, a shiny object glinted in the sunshine and caught his eye. Going over for a closer look, he discovered an old bottle washed up on the shore. Picking it up, he noticed that the cap was still on, and there appeared to be a note inside.

His curiosity was aroused so he smashed the bottle on a large pebble and took out the note to examine it. It read, “I Daisy Alexander do hereby will my entire estate to the lucky person who finds this note and to my attorney Mr. B Cowin. June 30, 1936.”

Obviously his first thought was that it was the work of a creative prankster. He was about to throw the note away; but caught in two minds, he folded it up and put it in his pocket.

Not long after this incident he bumped into a friend of his who happened to be a lawyer. Jack told him about the message in the bottle and asked him what he thought. The attorney told Jack he should investigate it. Jack protested that the idea was stupid, that he would only be made to look like a fool investigating such a ridiculous note. However, his friend encouraged him to find out whether or not it was true. “You will be a bigger fool if you don’t check it out,” he told him.

To make a long story short, Jack Wurm did investigate the note. The process took him to the highest courts in the United States. The evidence showed conclusively that Daisy Alexander had existed, that her home had been in London, and that she was the heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune. She had left a separate will, and in it she stated that whoever found the piece of paper could have half her money. (It turned out that she was a highly eccentric lady!). One morning she had written the note, placed it in the bottle, and thrown it into the River Thames.

One of the experts called to give evidence was a mathematician. He calculated that a bottle thrown into the Thames would do the following: From the Thames it would enter the North Sea, then flow eventually into the Bering Sea and on into the Pacific. He worked out that in the unlikely event of a bottle surviving such an incredible journey, it would take twelve years for the bottle to get from the Thames to California. It actually took eleven and a half years; Jack Wurm inherited three and a half million dollars!

This incredible story of Jack Wurm and the will in a bottle would never have been told if he had thrown away the message. All that inheritance would have been lost. If his friend had not cajoled him into investigating the message to test its truth, Jack would have remained a relatively poor man. Instead, because he examined the whole matter, what had at first appeared foolish proved to be a remarkable reality. Even a message that at first seems hard to believe or understand can bring a great reward.

The Christian message revealed in the Bible is of far greater significance than Jack’s message in a bottle and promises much more than money. Investigating and examining it is potentially far more rewarding. In the story we have just read, a careful examination of the message was followed by an assessment of the evidence. The truth was determined, and the reward followed.

Exactly the same thing is required when one encounters the Christian message. We must look at the message, examine the evidence, hear the witnesses, and reach a verdict.
[Joe Boot]

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WHERE WAS GOD?
In the film, Hannah and Her Sisters, the character played by Woody Allen tries to tell his Jewish parents that he has difficulty believing in the God of their faith. His mother won’t hear such nonsense and locks herself in the bathroom. Allen’s character shouts after her, “Well, if there’s a God, then why is there so much evil in the world? Just on a simplistic level, why were there Nazis?” From behind the bathroom door the mother cries out to her husband, “Tell him, Max.” The father replies, “How in the world do I know why there were Nazis? I don’t even know how the can opener works!”

Evil confronts us in many ways, and demands some kind of an answer. Regardless of whether we believe God exists, that we are god, that everything is god, or that there is no god, some kind of answer is needed. To the Christian, the question is posed in light of the view of God that is presented in the Bible, but all beliefs and everyone has to come up with some kind of explanation. The problem of evil demands some kind of philosophical response but also one that satisfies us existentially.

It has been fashionable of late to reject any and all notions of truth in place of taste and perspective. Reality is merely what one clams it to be. Truth is merely as we see it, or as it is socially constructed. But even when posing the oft-asked questions, “Where was God when such and such an event happened?” or “Why did God allow it to happen?” some knowledge of what life is about is presupposed. Moreover, positing the questions of God’s involvement and whereabouts in the midst of evil presupposes some sense and notion of good.

But where does this notion come from? As the Twin Towers fell in New York City, many of the same voices that days earlier claimed the moral equivalence of all views and that no belief was better than another, suddenly seemed compelled to invoke evil as real, as different from something else, and that something called the “good” was both better and to be defended.

The biblical vision captured in the Westminster Confession in 1646 claims: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” To most modern people, the chief end of life is to provide freedom and as much pleasure as we can get, forever. Interestingly, as we look back through the history of ideas, the question, “Where is God when it hurts” was not asked before the 17th century. The inquiry has a late pedigree in our making man the center and measure of all things in our considerations.

The Bible clears up any ambiguity about who we are, who God is, what is wrong with the world, and what can be done. The possibility of freely chosen love means allowing conditions that permit freely chosen rejection, evil, or alternatives. Our lack of interest in God and our self-assured confidence excludes any normal or routine reflection on life. For many of us, pain is the platform from which the imperative questions of life are asked and answered. C.S. Lewis put it this way, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

The question of God’s presence in the midst of evil is answered in the silhouette at the heart of a different question: Where was God at the crux of human history? As the disciples’ gazed at the Cross, their expectations were dashed, their hopes shattered, and they could not see God in the midst of the turning point of history. But at the Cross, what men at first could not see was the triumph of good over evil.
[Stuart McAllister]

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THE FOUNDATION
At Ohio State University there is a performing arts center that has been labeled, “America’s first deconstructionist building.” The entire site demands a double take. The viewer encounters angled surfaces that disorient, stairways that lead nowhere, and pillars that protrude without purpose. Ignoring the rules that organize the world of construction, the architect makes a loud statement about the incoherence of life itself: Life is a random, disjointed series of time and chance, note the deconstructionists. Yet upon observing the architect’s work at the university, Ravi Zacharias noted only one revealing question: “Did he do the same with the foundation?”

The illustration is convincing in its simplicity. We can attempt to explain life as senseless but had the architect followed this philosophy in creating the foundation no one would want to enter the building. Notes Zacharias, “It is possible to dress up and romanticize our bizarre experiments in social restructuring while disavowing truth or absolutes. But one dares not play such deadly games with the foundations of good thinking.”

But it has been done, and is done, and often we have learned the hard way, if we have learned at all. The philosophy of Frederick Nietzsche played such games, making assertions aimed at changing the very foundations of a society, ultimately influencing the deadly quests of Hitler and Stalin. Nietzsche believed that Christianity had stifled the potential of human beings with its teachings, and held that atheism would provide a better foundation—a God-less foundation that would naturally allow power and greatness to rise without restrictive Christian notions such as forgiveness and humility. Sadly, history saw the logical end of the atheist’s philosophy and witnessed the deadliest century ever.

The fact remains, we can vehemently reject the depravity of man, but we always seem to verify its truth. When God is removed from the foundation of life, something is missing that man is unable to provide. And while we can justify our philosophical actions behind academic doors, other arenas will not remain silent. The poignant lyrics of many of our popular songs point out a struggle with restlessness, isolation, and emptiness. The music of one such song creates a haunting and urgent background for voices that cry out repeatedly: “Wake me up inside. Wake me up inside. Call my name and save me from the dark. Bid my blood to run. Before I come undone. Save me from the nothing I’ve become… Don’t let me die here. There must be something more. Bring me to life. I’ve been living a lie. There’s nothing inside.”

How do we explain such alienation and darkness? What is the lie we’ve been living? What is the “more” we are looking for? Many of the popular philosophers of our day sing unconsciously of the emptiness and alienation of a philosophically incoherent, morally bankrupt society. Writes Dave Matthews, “We followed a drunken man/ He got us all spinning round/ But it’s like he swallowed himself/ And didn’t leave us a way out.” The longing is for that which we’ve intellectually deemed non-existent, but can’t live without. The foundation cannot be destroyed without destructive consequence.

The words of Jesus Christ spoken two thousand years ago remain unshakable in their wisdom. He radically declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:5-7]. It is hard not to marvel at the sovereign mind that saw the need to vividly remind us through his Son that truth is knowable, personal, solid, and real. His authority remains radical yet everlasting. May the one whom men did not crown, the one whom men cannot dethrone, be the foundation upon which we live and breathe and understand our being.
[Jill Carattini]

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LIVING THE ‘RESURRECTED’ LIFE!
While I, as a Christian, remain in control of my life taking all my decisions in my brain, that is my fleshly or carnal mind (which is not subject to God’s rule [Romans 8:7]), then God the Holy Spirit cannot be in control. Just as a natural parent cannot be in control of a child that is un-submitted to that parent’s control and an employer cannot be in control of an employee that is unyielding to the employer’s control, neither can God be in control of a Christian unless the Christian voluntarily chooses to fully surrender to God—the highly esteemed and inspired Bible teacher Andrew Murray beautifully communicates this foundational truth in his book “Absolute Surrender”.

The question remains, why are there relatively few Christians who enter into and

enjoy the Spirit filled life, with all of God’s blessings? The question could also be put this way, why do so many Christians hold back from coming to a full surrender of heart and will to God, since this is the pre-requisite for a life in and under the

Lordship of Christ? Specifically if I have any reservations about God’s goodness (and it may be something that I carry secretly) because of things in the past that have happened to me or to someone close to me, it will be impossible for me to absolutely surrender my life to God.

Unless I allow God Himself by His word and through His Spirit to change my view

and how I think about those events, replacing them with God’s own view (the truth) of why those things happened the way they did—then I will never fully surrender to God and I will always be a carnal Christian not experiencing nearly all of the blessings of the Christian life. Would I be willing to consider an alternative viewpoint on those events of the past? A lot hinges on my answer.

– “The Lord is good to all” [Pslms.145:9].

– “It is the good ness of God that leads people to repentance” [Romans 2:4].

– “The thief (Satan) comes only in order that he may steal, and may kill, and may destroy. I (Jesus) came that they have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance—to the full till it overflows.” [John 10:10].

– “…The whole world lies under the sway (control) of the wicked one” (Satan) [1 John 5:19].

In business, in marriage (after God had joined me to a wonderful woman of His choosing), in ministry to others, in everything, God is teaching me to love & trust Him by taking Him at His word and to obey Him so that He can direct my steps by His Spirit. This is the deeper life in Christ, living moment by moment in God’s presence, in my heart, where there is, at last, fullness of joy. Oh I pray that you may come to know Him fully as He longs to be known.

Every born again Christian has two natures: his old nature, the natural human or “carnal” part of him inherited from his parents, this includes the body and brain and is often referred to as the flesh, this is his lower nature. He also has a new nature, the part of Him that was made over by God when he was born again, this is his spirit or heart sometimes called the inner man or the hidden man of the heart, this is his higher nature and the place where Christ dwells in him. The carnal Christian continues to live in his lower nature, meaning his will or soul, during the course of a day, is largely ruled by his own human nature. The spiritual Christian lives primarily in his higher nature, meaning his will or soul is largely in subjection to his own spirit, the place where Christ dwells—this is the deeper life in Chirst.

And the DEEPER LIFE in Christ includes:

– Learning to always quickly receive the grace of God’s ongoing forgiveness, for Christ’s sake, when I fall, and the power to truly from the heart forgive others in just the same way regardless of how I feel or whether they are sorry. When I either don’t receive or give forgiveness all my growth in Christ stops.

Remember “Father, forgive me my sins just as I forgive those who have sinned against me” [Matthew 6:12].

– Understanding the difference between eating, in my heart a living word of God in order to grow in my knowledge of God, and in love, in truth, in wisdom, in Christ, versus only mentally assenting to a written or spoken scripture. Scripture verses cannot do me any good if they merely lodge in my intellect, but if they enter my heart or spirit, which is spiritual soil, they immediately spring to life and impart more of the life of Christ so changing my nature.

“Your words were found and I did eat them” [Jeremiah 15:16]. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” [Psalms 119:11].

– Having my entire view of the Bible changed from seeing it as a rule book or in other words as Old Covenant Law which it is to the unsaved and carnal believer; to seeing it as a book (both old and new) of the grace and life of Jesus Christ ready daily to be revealed and imparted to me one scripture at a time by the Holy Spirit, which is the way the New Covenant works.

– “…He takes away the first (covenant) so that He may establish the second” (covenant) [Hebrews10:9].

– “Who also has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter (the written word as law), but of the Spirit: for the letter kills (separates from God) but the Spirit gives life” (to the written word causing it to become the living word—Jesus Christ) [2 Corintians 3:6].

– Being enlightened to make the distinction between knowledge obtained by my brain through the five physical senses and knowledge revealed by God to my spirit, the one is sense or head knowledge the other is revelation knowledge. “Jesus said, ‘I thank you O Father… because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes’ ” [Matthew 11:25].

– Praying, more and more, only believing prayers based only on God’s word and understanding the absolute necessity for such believing prayers in order for God’s will to be done in an earth still largely ruled by Satan and his kingdom of darkness. In the process learning the distinction between pro-active true Christianity and passive fatalism.

“In this manner therefore pray, Our Father….your will be done on earth (where it isn’t being done) as it is in Heaven (where it is) [Matthew 6:9-10]. “Now He (the Son of God) could do no mighty work there…. and He marveled because of their unbelief…” [Mark 6:5-6].

– By His indwelling presence, the Holy Spirit taking over the government of my life and Christ becoming my Lord, as I submit to His revealed word and to His Spirit in all my choices and decisions.

“Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” [Acts 19:2].

“…The Holy Spirit is given by God to all who obey Him” [Acts 5:32] (meaning as the that great Bible teacher R. A. Torrey puts it, God gives the Holy Sprit only to those who absolutely give up their own will to God in everything).

“As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” [Romams 8:14] (meaning they are living in communion with Him and under His authority as opposed to prodigal sons who are living apart from Him).

Through more inspired teaching I saw from the scriptures that those who are led by the Holy Spirit are the real sons of God. I surrendered my will to God and asked Him to fill me with His Spirit, and believed that He had. Jesus was now not just my Savior but my Lord too.
[Living Stones Bible Church]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
“Living on this earth can sometimes be full of hardship and trails. The thing is, for the ‘non-believer’ in Jesus, this is the BEST it’s going to be for them. But, for the ‘believer’, this is the WORST it’s going to be!”
[Mark Besh]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” [John 11:25-26].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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