Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Garden of Gethsemane and choice

Not to long ago we passed one of the most important "holidays" for a Christian.... Easter. I tend to think it is the most important. Easter is what essentially sets Christianity apart from other religions. Jesus, claiming to be God and proving so, dies and then most importantly rose again.

Now I'm not going to dwell on this to much, but I want to zoom in on the Garden of Gethsemane, right before Jesus enters into His unjust punishment and death. Jesus, after the big "last supper", goes on one last walk-n-talk with His disciples before He goes to the cross. He chats with them a little bit and then asks them to just sit down, relax, pray, and wait. In the meantime He goes a little farther to pray on His own. It is at this point Jesus is entirely stressed (Matt. 26:37). He knows what's about to go down. He knows that Judas just got his big lump sum of money and is on His way. And, not surprisingly, Jesus goes to pray. He has a long time of prayer. It is so long that the disciples keep falling asleep. I wonder what was going on in their heads: "Man, this is taking forever", "What is taking Jesus so long", "If He is gonna take all night, I'm just gonna get cozy by this tree", etc. Anyway, I digress.

Jesus prays for multitude of items and people, including the entire world. But, also He prays for Himself. Now, I have read over this particular part of His prayer so many times over my life, but I didn't ever really lock into it. He prays, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will". This particular part is recorded in 3 of the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He prays this a couple of times. I'm no Bible scholar, but, the general accepted interpretation of this is that Jesus is just so at His wits end that His human side of Him doesn't want to go to the cross. He is just praying that there could be another way to open up the door of eternal redemption without Him actually having to go through this suffering and death. Now, that seems perfectly reasonable. I can lock in with that idea and that type of prayer. And, who could blame Him, He knows everything that is going to happen. I imagine that getting beat to a pulp is stressful enough; but knowing you are going to be, down to the last detail before it actually happens has got to be more so.

So, Jesus prays this. And of course God responds to Him and tells Him He needs to keep going. And He does it. Like I said, I read over this a multitude of times, and that is the general conclusion I come to. Maybe sometimes i'm more emotional with it, more heartache, maybe less, maybe none. Nevertheless, the same conclusion. Is there anything else to gain from this part of His prayer.....

YES....Jesus' choice

Now, my initial Christianese response (It doesn't matter if that is a word or not, you understand). Jesus pushed through, because He was choosing to die for us, for me. He did it because He loves us. But, is that what really went down. We can't say for sure. Jesus does love us, but He loves His Father more. Now, it actually seems like Jesus was really ready to give up on us, give up on me. Well, He WAS ready to. The only thing that kept Him going was His Father, God. It took God to remind Him that He sent Him to do it. And Jesus needed to follow through with His Father's command, His will ("...not my will, but your will be done..."). If it were left up to Jesus alone, He probably would have backed out of the deal.

At this point, I'm sure I got a load of Christians pretty mad. I just told you that Jesus may have backed out of going to the cross and saving you. The flood of feelings that swell up thinking about it is enough to probably stop you from reading on. A few years ago, I would have stopped my thought there. The gospel, though, keeps me blogging on.

So, back on track, Jesus just may have backed out. God essentially says "No, I sent you to do this." Jesus being "sent" is the key to this. He was sent, he didn't necessarily "choose" to come and do this. Don't believe me.... let's review the standard, but often removed from context, pillar verse for Christians....John 3:16. I'm not gonna type it. Get a Bible out. God "gave" His son. That is an implied, sent. If you don't like things implied, read John 3:17. SENT.

Back to the garden. Jesus did this because of His Father. God sent Him because of His love, grace, mercy, but ultimately and actually for HIS glory. The implications of this are interesting to say the least and lead into a host of theological topics and debates. But, what does such a thing mean for us as followers of Jesus.

I don't believe that I just chose Jesus one day and became a Christian and that's it. I believe that Jesus moved in me first and my spirit had to respond to His moving. I'm a Christian because Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, moves in me to redeem my life, and if I want to live a life honoring and glorifying God, I need to do what He wants me to do. Jesus examples this here, not for an example's sake, but a real life move that forces me to think God's will first. Jesus didn't necessarily choose the cross. But, by the time He got to the garden, His mind was as far away from choosing it as He could be. But, He chose to follow His fathers will. God's will was the cross. If God at ANY point in Jesus' life told Him to be done with His journey and walk away, Jesus would have done it. He had to ("...Father, Your will be done..."). He was in the business of God. He would choose His Father's will.

This is why Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac. And, if you don't believe that Abraham was actually going to go through with it, you need to read that story again (Genesis 22) in conjunction with Hebrews 11:17-19. It was simply that God said so. God commanded Him to do it and was gonna do it.

This is amazing to me. This type of followship is incredible to me. And it revolves around a single notion. "Because God said so" The depths of this idea about Jesus, the dimensions this comes from, goes so deep it's hard to go much further in just chatting about it. This has to go to my core, my innermost being. This has to be what my spirit responds to. I have to be ready to put my will aside at any given moment for God's will, first. My heart has to fall in love with the Jesus that would choose His Father's will over me over humanity. Not just a Jesus that "loves me". A Jesus, THE Jesus, that follows God's will. My heart has to follow God's will. I guess that would have to be my prayer.... God's will be done.... A prayer to my Lord..... A Lord's Prayer as it may be!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jesus in 3-D

It is very interesting. I have been a Christian for many many years, thank God. And, Jesus (I guess really God as a whole, the trinity) never ceases to blow my mind both in my life, but more so as I read through the Bible. Even the most basic of stories written will have new meanings at different times. Or, different facts that didn't stick out before, are revealed and new interesting things are learned about God. I love it.

I'm a thinker. I love puzzles, brainteasers, and the like. And so many times that I think I have my brain wrapped around a particular idea about God, than I learn something else that seems to unwrap it and force me to either drop it or go deeper with God's character. At times that just leaves me in a confused state and at other times fires me up. I love it, though. I'm glad that I will never be able to fully understand God.

That is exactly one thing I would want from my creator and leader of my life. If I understood completely, than I might just treat God like a finished puzzle. Take the pieces apart and put it away, to never use again, and move on. I hope that I wouldn't do that, but my human mind and life could go there. I know in this day, age, and culture we try to put Jesus on this linear, 1-dimensional thought process. Many times we think we can take a couple things that we know about Him or what he said and extrapolate a whole theological premise. And Jesus doesn't necessarily need to be approached this way. He hits from a multitude of angles and dimensions to accomplish the goal He has in mind.

Don't get me wrong. There are some absolutes that we know from scripture about God. And, as Christians we can do that by looking at the Bible as a whole and not just nit picking verses to form our own little theology about God. But, there are a load of things that Jesus is teaching us about our life and the world around us and especially about Himself. We just have to go over them again and again, until we understand, and then do it again. It is just crazy, but fun and intriguing.

Anyway, this will lead into a bunch of future posts for me, about some Bible stories that seem pretty straightforward and then have different little facts that just seem to throw things off and we get hit from another angle. They're things that intrigue me and maybe you to. I look forward to your replies and possible added knowledge to them. It's Jesus in 3-D.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Accidental isn't now!

This post is Rated PG-13. But, considering our society we live in now, I think even younger ages should read. If you are going to read this PLEASE read it ALL THE WAY through, so as not to miss my heart on this subject. It's so tough sometimes to convey thoughts in typing.

OK, so this is an odd subject for me as a guy to talk about. But it is extremely important, because the topic of abortion is huge deal. But, I'm gonna take this subject down a different road. Just to set the record straight. I am a Christian and I believe that life begins when the sperm and egg come together (fertilization or conception). I also believe that this is the Biblical defined start of life as well.

I know this is a highly debated subject and I'm not going to spend more than a few of sentences on that now. Conception is THE most logical place for life to begin. Every other second from there on out the BABY is just developing and growing. There is no other time as dramatic as the fertilization. The only other time that comes even close is birth and that really isn't either. The major differences is breathing air directly and not being sustained by the cord. But, there is no significant change of the baby from right before birth to right after. There is also good Biblical reference for my belief as well. But, like I said, we will save the rest for another time. But, the simple logic should help to span the readers who are followers of Christ and those who are not. Either way, the issue of life is extremely important.

Back on track:
With that in mind. I want to talk about birth control. More importantly, hormonal birth control. If you believe that life begins at conception, there is NO REASON for ANY WOMEN to be using any type of hormonal birth control. Just to be clear for the guy readers, this includes: pills, nuvarings, IUDs, shots, patches, etc. Anything, that involves releasing hormones (estrogen and/or progestin) to prevent pregnancy, should NOT be used. Forgive me women if I'm spelling any of this wrong, I am a guy. WHY? Well, releasing these hormones prevents pregnancies by one of three main ways. 1) Prevents ovulation (releasing of an egg) 2)Thickening of the cervix (Slowing down those excited swimmers) 3)Thinning the lining of the uterus (Preventing implantation). There are other things that these hormones do to you. But, those are the three main things they do.

Those hormones could cause of of those things to happen or could cause all three. We just don't know which one will happen for sure, and it cannot be controlled. The one that concerns me and should concern the user for sure is the third one. The reason is that the egg has already been fertilized. Therefore, it IS a BABY at that point. And, if your birth control pill is thinning the lining of the uterus then it will not implant and will pass on through and DIE. That is an ABORTION. Whether, you meant it to happen or not, is irrelevant, you CHOSE to TAKE the hormone. This is an indisputable truth, and needs to be considered before you think about using them. We cannot play stupid or "I didn't know it could do that" on this subject.

Now, the only argument that even comes close to considering is that some women do take those hormones for other health reasons, as prescribed by a doctor. That is fine and is between you, your spouse and your doctor. If that is the case though, then there should be NO unprotected intercourse or other means by which sperm can make it to that egg. Other methods of physically preventing the sperm from fertilizing should be done, RELIGIOUSLY. Abortions should never be considered accidental, the issue of getting pregnant is extremely important. We are talking about human life here. Not your own life, but another life. At that point, I don't consider that argument anymore.

I know this seems dogmatic. And, this will raise emotions. But, don't get me wrong I am open to hearing more points of view on it, and talking it through. If you know me then you know I am open to talking it through and hashing out issues. It is just so important and needs to be addressed. I have talked with Jessica about this a ton of times. We agree on this. And this is why we have never chosen these paths. I just can't fathom that I may have killed Elizabeth or Claire before I even saw their first sonogram.

There are so many other ways to deal with family planning or baby planning as it may be: barrier methods, natural family planning, etc. And, I do pray that all of these relationships are married couples dealing with this and not unmarried couples having sex. I do not condone sex outside of marriage, even though it is so prevalent. This issue is another post as well. But, the issue is important for them too.

My heart just aches over this. There are just so many ads and commercials for this type of birth control. We are flooded with it and are not seriously informed of the risks or just don't care enough to look at the fine print. Have you ever seen an ad in a magazine for one of these. It takes at least two pages. The first page is the flashy, all the good, smiling faces, and benefits of it. The second and possible third page goes into describing what it actually is, what you need to do, and what is does. I think though that now they don't even have to list how it prevents pregnancy. They used to. Either way, look it up, google it, whatever you need to do to be informed. There are no accidental abortions. Be informed, spread the word.