All posts by ericthegodblogger

WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU.

I’ve been thinking about the sermon I heard recently  on hearing the voice of God. You know what?  We often refer to the Holy Spirit as speaking in a “still small voice”.  Just because he spoke that way once to Elijah, doesn’t mean he will speak that way to you and me.  In fact, I’m not so sure that God’s voice is usually still, or small.  Sometime I think God is speaks to us in a rather plain and straight forward voice. We just aren’t listening to the right thing.

Here is an experiment. Have someone read something out loud to you.  Anything.  While that person is talking turn on a boombox or stereo while playing your favorite music (christian music is OK).  Set it between you and the person you are supposed to be listening to and turn it up to 10.  Can you hear what they are saying?  Their volume hasn’t changed.  You could hear them just fine if that stupid music wasn’t playing.  Hmmm!

So how come we let the world and it’s cares get so loud?  Why don’t we just turn it down?  We have control over the volume knob.  Why does it seem like Sunday morning is the only time we turn the volume down for a few hours, then its right back to 10 (usually on the way home from church)?

Turning the worlds volume down isn’t hard. It involves worrying less about stuff and jobs and relationships and entertainment and health and bills and…. And it involves more about chatting with our best friend – Jesus.  Trusting God, reading about him, talking to him, listening to him is the way to hear him.  Then you will realize that he is likely talking about all the other stuff you were worrying about and telling you he’s got it handled.  You don’t need to worry.

Sounds easy, but sometime we are so used to the blaring sounds of the world its hard to imagine shutting it off.  Remember if you turn down the volume of the world you won’t be met with silence.  You’ll be met with the voice of God himself.

So here is to turning the volume down as low as you can. My guess is if you start to turn it down even a little, God’s voice will inspire you to keep going.

Selah

Take care,

The After Picture

Eric  – TheGodBlogger

The Hard Way

I just had a very interesting conversation with my 20 year old daughter.  We were discussing faith and Christ’s free gift of salvation.  Great topics to discuss with your kids, but as we talked I was surprised to see she was getting sadder and sadder.  I’m blathering on about how Jesus loves everyone and doesn’t want to see anyone perish, but she got upset.  I talked about how there is no pre-requisite and how all people get the same message of love.  Good and bad, white, black and every other color under the rainbow all are loved equally.  And speaking of rainbows, God loves gay people and straight people and everyone in between.  I suspected this was a big deal for her since she has friends who are gay, lesbian and transgender so I wanted to make sure I included them in the conversation.  And she became sadder still.  I trotted out my “you can’t out-sin God’s love” speech.  Nothing.  I went back to “God gives everyone a chance to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation”.  Worse than nothing.  I didn’t get it.  I was saying all the right stuff.  In fact I was brilliant.  You could almost get saved on my enthusiasm alone. What was going on here?

Finally, in a state of total bewilderment I did two things I don’t normally do.  I shut up and I listened.  And this is what I heard her say (paraphrased).  “I’ve heard it all before.  I’ve heard the church say all this stuff.  I’ve also heard the church say that you are going to hell if you don’t look like “us”… or act like us, or believe like us, or sing like us, or. . . . ”  She said she don’t trust mankind.  She want to hear it from God’s own lips.  In fact she said she couldn’t believe that God would create all these great people and then just toss them all in hell because they didn’t believe like we did.

I mean what do you say to something like that?  I realized a couple of things.  The first was that no amount of blabbing on my part would bring the peace which passes understanding.  That is the exclusive realm of the Holy Spirit and I should spend a great deal more time listening to His instruction and less time trying to be his press secretary.

Second, she was in tears over the fact that her friends were in danger.  When was the last time I anguished over unsaved friends and family?  When was the last time my heart broke for someone other than myself?  I mean, rather than dismiss my words as just more Jesus junk it was making her sad for her friends.  Wow!

I want a heart like that.  I want it to leap for joy when my friends and neighbors know God personally.  And I want it to break when they don’t.

I don’t think anything every got “fixed” from our conversation, but I do know and believe this.  God not only gives everyone a chance at salvation, he gives everyone an equal chance.  If you were raised in church and have heard all the bible stories you will get the same opportunity to believe that someone who is raised in a place where it is dangerous, or deadly to believe.  And the reason we all get the same shot is that the message doesn’t come through us preaching away at the “rest of the world”.  It comes from the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, meeting us right where we are.  He will break through all the clutter and baggage in our lives and speak to our heart.  Your country of origin, your race, your orientation, your sex, your goodness (or badness as the case may be) will not hinder his voice from inviting you to accept the free gift of his salvation.  He will find you where ever you are – in your room, in a bar, in a church, in a mosque, in your cell, on your yacht, at Disneyland, on a battlefield, it doesn’t matter.  And when he does he will ask you one question: will you accept the gift Christ offers you?  And he will cut through all the clutter and white noise of our live, so the message will be clear and concise.  And we will have no doubt about what is being asked and by whom.

Then its up to us to decide.  God wants everyone to live with him forever.  No one is beyond redemption.  I know its been over used, but no truer words were ever spoken: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that WHOEVER believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Bottom line: Everyone will be called, but everyone is free to walk away.  We are not God’s finger puppets to do his bidding.  We are free beings designed to think, feel and make our own choices.  But please remember, while you are free to choose, the consequences are dire.  I pray we will all listen to that voice and consider carefully.  It means everything.

Listen for a whisper and

Take care,

The After Picture

Eric  – TheGodBlogger

 

And Speaking of Trees and Forests

As I mentioned in an earlier post there is no real need to get all excited about biblical prophecy.  It can point to a season, but not a time.  You need to be ready to go at any moment and that kinda makes big picture biblical prophecy irrelevant for you and I.  We already know how the book ends.

That being said, I think it is fascinating to see it playing out in our day and age.  It also should be a sign to those who doubt (Ahem!) that God is alive and well and he’s starting to wrap things up.

I just saw a movie called Above and Beyond yesterday and it blew my mind.  Not because it was so well done – which it was.  Not because it was so accurate – which it was.  It amazed me because it revealed the hand of God at work in our world today.  I’m not sure how many non-believes saw that.  I’m not even sure if the people who made the film, realized it, but God’s fingerprints were smeared all over the screen.

Its the story of four American Jews who were fighter pilots in WW II.  When the war ended they went home to start up “normal” life, but got caught up in the homeland struggle for Israel.  In 1948 they ended up – in a very round about way –  going to Israel and flying against five Arab nations that were trying to attack and drive the Jews into the sea.  They were the first four pilots there and their first flight stopped thousands of Egyptian troops who were less that 12 hours from taking Tel Aviv.  Lot’s of amazing things happened, but a few really stood out for me.

1) The fact that after 2000 years, or so, the nation of Israel was reborn is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened, IMHO.  This was probably the most difficult obstacle to fulfilling the end time prophesies anyone could imagine.  No Israel, no end times.  Period.

2) Despite the fact that 6 million jews were brutally murdered during the Holocaust, the entire world was largely uninterested in doing more to help the Jews.  The solution to the Jewish problem was to dump them onto the bleak sands of Palestine and say “have a nice day and hope this all works out for you.”

3) Even Israel’s soon to be staunchest ally – the US (along with the UN) – put an embargo on the entire region of Palestine so that no weapons would reach them.  This despite the fact that we were swimming in WW II surplus.  American soldiers could buy a P-51 Mustang for $5,000, but we wouldn’t let Israel buy ANYTHING to defend itself.  Shame on us.

4) The Czech Republic was so starved for cash that they decided to break the embargo and let Israel buy some fighter planes.  They sold them ME-109s.  For those of you who are not WW II enthusiasts these are German Messerschmitts.  Think about that.  They had to use Luftwaffe planes to defend themselves less than a year after the holocaust.   That sounds like God to me.  Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

5) The entire state of Israel had a few hundred thousand people.  The five Arab armies had more soldiers than that.  They had tanks, planes and all the proper accouterments of war.  Israel had some hand guns, some machine guns and some civilians to use them.  They were not prepared to survive.

6) Starting with the first air sortie Israel was able to stay alive and amazingly they started to win.

If you read (or watch) an account of this war and then compare it to some of the old testament you will see amazing parallels.  Remember Gideon?  He had a boatload of soldiers but God only allowed him to take 300 into battle.  The Midians had 135,000.  Poor odds to say the least.  Then God said go stand on the hills surrounding your enemies and at my signal blow your horns and throw down your lanterns.  When they obeyed God  the Midians thought the were surrounded and got confused.  They started fighting each other and ultimately were all either killed or captured.  135,000 against 300 + God.

In the 1948 war in Israel the Egyptians had tanks, armored troop carriers, supply convoys and a will to push all the Jews into the sea.  (By the way.  This wasn’t even the biggest army Israel was facing.  The Jordanians and Iraqis had even bigger armies).  Since the Egyptians were the closest threat they needed to be dealt with first.  The four pilots who had arrived only days before and the only four planes in the Israeli air defense (the afore mentioned ME-109s) took off, bombed and strafed the enemy and sent them packing.  The Egyptians thought Israel must have a much bigger air force and decided to leave.  Gideon would have been so proud.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in the time of prophets and miracles again.  Keep your eyes on Iran and Russia (read up on the battle of Gog and Magog). Pray for Israel. Pray the USA does not get foolish and turn against Israel – again.

And most importantly, keep your eyes on God and be ready.  Things are about to get really interesting.

Be alert and…

Take care,

The After Picture

Eric  – TheGodBlogger

 

 

 

Words to Live By (In the Long Run)

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion. ~Dale Carnegie

I just spoke with a friend of mine who was overwhelmed with doubt, anger and regret. Her sadness was beginning to define her. It started and ended her day and affected every aspect of her life. I was ready and equipped with all kinds of platitudes and psychobabble that I was sure would instantly fix all her problems, but she didn’t want to hear it.  Her hurts were too deep and too entrenched to accept any help, even my sad little attempts.    It made me realize that emotions are very powerful, but not always trustworthy.

Emotions are designed to keep you alive. Fear keeps us away from the edge.  Happy draws us closer. Sad is a reaction to pain. Excited prepares you for an event. All of these are helps for the near term. They are the tools our soul uses to complete our daily tasks.

However, emotions are terrible for making long term, life changing decisions. Buying a car because it looks nice won’t tell you about the cracked engine block under the hood. Sorrow over a broken relationship will not prepare you for the perfect match who is waiting around the corner.

Here’s an exercise. Try and think of one thing – anything – that has left you feeling the same year in and year out. Nothing – good or bad – can keep your emotions in check. Even your favorite song played over and over will grind your gears after awhile.

Emotions are good and necessary. They are gifts from God and can save your life, but if they contradict God’s wisdom then you just might be playing with fire. Now, God may ask you to do something counter-intuitive, but I’m pretty sure he does it through his “still small voice” and not random thrills and chills.  And if he contradicts logic he will help you with a heaping scoop of wisdom to go with it.

If God asks you to talk to a stranger, heal a sick person, pray for a neighbor its by talking to your spirit, not pumping you full of endorphins, or giving you warm tinglies. The voice of God is always accompanied by a dose of wisdom. He won’t ask you to talk to someone without telling you what to say. He won’t tell you to heal the sick without giving you the faith to accomplish that. We may doubt we can do it, but he doesn’t.

That is why we are admonished through out the Proverbs to seek wisdom.

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! (Proverbs 16:16 )

Wisdom and insight are what turn goosebumps into something you can actually live with. Wisdom validates your emotions, or proves they are false.  So the next time you feel sad and worry that you will never be happy again, or you feel passion and want to jump into a relationship with someone you barley know – stop and take a deep breath. Slow down and seek wisdom. God promised to give it and frankly we could do with a lot more of it.

Be wise and…

Take care,

The After Picture

Eric – TheGodBlogger

Bloodmoon Schmudmoon

Welcome to April 3, 2015.  I’m getting pretty excited with the Rapture just days away.  It will occur on Easter Sunday at noon.  How do I know?  Well that’s when the Easter Blood Moon eclipse is supposed to happen.  Um..actually it happens on Saturday, not Easter.  But God got it real close to Easter.  And besides,do you have any idea how hard it is get all those planets and stars and moons to line up properly?

It also happens right at 12 noon. OK that’s 12 noon  Greenwich Mean Time which means I have to get up at 5:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time to see it, but I’m pretty sure that’s when the rapture happens.  Come on! Blood Moon.  Easter(ish).  Noon.  It couldn’t be more clear.

Actually I’m wrong.  It really could be more clear.  In fact its all rather murky if you ask me.  And why?  Because God wants it to be.  When talking about the end times Jesus said we would know the seasons, but not the time.

However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. (Matt. 24:36)

Wait. What? Not even the angles, or the Son of God knows the exact time? That’s right. And if Jesus wasn’t told, its a pretty good bet that none of us have been either.

So what do we know?  Well, Jesus said he would come like a thief in the night to wrap it all up.  In fact, he said it not once, but 4 times.  4 TIMES!

1) Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Thes. 5:1-4)

2) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)

3) Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Rev. 3:3)

4) Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (Rev. 16:15)

Does He have your attention?  You need to be ready.  Now!  You won’t have time to “get yourself right with God”, repent, have a change of heart, deathbed conversion, or any other nonsense.  You have to be packed and ready to go with your bags at the door, ’cause the train might be here at any time.

What really gets me is that most Americans say they believe in God, but won’t spend a moment thinking about Him.  He wants to have a personal relationship with them (read you), but they won’t give Him the time of day.  And when He does come and takes his followers home, I’ll bet that most of the people left behind will be mad that God didn’t give them a chance.  Really?  Your chance is now.  Right now.  Why wait?  It’s like saying I’ll lock the door tomorrow night.  Great, but if the thief comes tonight your screwed.

So don’t play Russian roulette with forever.  Don’t turn your back on the one who loves you more than you could imagine.  Ask Him if He is really there and if He really cares.  Ask Him to come into your life and guide you from here on out.  Ask Him to forgive all the stupid things you’ve done and help you to not do them again.  I’ll bet you a million buck you will be pleased and surprised with the results.

Look, I love studying prophesy.  Its exciting to see it happening and interesting to imagine how it will play out.  But, studying prophesy is  like reading the Farmer’s Almanac.  It has lots of interesting predictions about what coming, but its a bit short on exact dates and times.  It can help you recognize the seasons, but it won’t tell you which day you are going to need your umbrella.

And forget about all the blood moon, end of the world, time of lift-off nonsense in the media today.  Most of it is just religious jibber-jabber.  In fact, it really doesn’t matter if your bags are packed and your ready to go.

Save me a seat.

Take care,

The After Picture

Eric  – TheGodBlogger

 

In the Beginning

In the beginning

OK! So if I’m really going to do this Godblogger thing I think I should start at the very beginning.  (Please ignore any images of Julie Andrews you may be experiencing at this moment).  I believe in the oft repeated and sometimes abused phrase “Jesus is my savior”.  Its important and you should know that everything I say and do here will hopefully reflect that fact.

That being said, there are a few things about this whole Jesus saves routine you should know.  First, some background.  God is not the Chairman of an exclusive country club reserved for white protestants and black pentecostals.  God made everyone in His image.  Key word here is everyone (even icky people).  He made me and He also made you –  and He’s really happy with the result.  But, here’s the deal, God is perfect.  He is Good.  In fact, He’s perfectly good.  And as a result He can’t even be in the vicinity of anything bad – and for us, that’s not good.

Now let’s clarify something up front.  God did not choose to be good.  God is not striving to be good, God is not an example of all things good.  God IS good.  It’s like saying light is bright.  The light is not trying to be bright.  The light makes no effort to be bright, it just is bright.  By definition.  Light is bright, water is wet, mountains are high, stars are far, etc.  You get the point.

OK,  so if God is all good, it means He cannot exist in the presence of bad.  Any bad.  Even tiny bits of bad.  There is no patch of dark around a light.  There is no dry spot in a volume of water.  Its not that the light is rejecting the dark, or the water thinks it’s better than the dry, they are just mutually exclusive.  God does not reject people who sin, its just that sin cannot be in his presence.  Again, they’re mutually exclusive.

So, if God cannot be in the presence of even the slightest bit of sin, we’re screwed. (BTW – I checked Wikipedia and its ok to say screwed as long as you mean “in big trouble”.)  Anyway, God made us to be good and He really likes what he made.  It’s just that we messed up.  Its our fault, not his.  So God did not walk away from us, we walked away from Him.  And there’s no going back.  Bummer.

Now this is where Jesus comes in.  He is perfect. He is good.  He is perfectly good.  And, He did something that should just blow you away.  He found a loophole in the way things are that says perfectly good people can take the blame for those who aren’t.  So He did.  That’s it.  That’s the deal.  In fact that’s the whole deal.  It ain’t any more complicated than that.  You are not all good, but Jesus is.  He took the hit for you and now you can now be all good too.  Its like your mom used to do.  You know, when you had a smudge on your face.  She would take her thumb, lick it and give you a spit bath.  She wiped the dirt off you and on to her.  You got clean while she took the dirt.  Granted it was usually in a restaurant, it hurt and was embarrassing, but you get the idea.

To summarize, 1) God is clean.  2) Jesus is clean.  3) We are not.  4) Jesus offers us a spiritual spit bath.  5) We can hang out with God because we are no longer a mess.  Clearly an over simplification – kinda like saying the speed of light is fast – but you get the idea.

Oh, and one last thing.  For those of you who still think christianity is a screwed up country club…well, you may be right, but Jesus doesn’t belong to it.  He really loves you and wants to clean you up so you can hang with God the Father.  He wants to do it for you and its a free gift – no strings attached.

So please, don’t try and reason your way out of this.  Take just 5 minutes and go with it.  Suspend disbelief and allow yourself a moment to believe its true.  Ask Him about it.  I’m not kidding.  Go into a quit place – all alone, so you don’t feel like an idiot – and just say something like, “Hey, Jesus.  If your really here I’d like to know that.  I have messed up, but I’m told you can fix that.  I’d really appreciate it if you would.  I’ll try and not mess up anymore.  Perhaps you could help me with that.”

Try it.  Go ahead.  What have you got to loose?  More importantly, what have you got to gain?  I promise that you will experience something you never expected.

And finally (yeah!).  For those who of you who are thinking, “There is no way in hell (pun intended) I’m going to do that”.  Then … fine.  Be that way.

No, I’m kidding.  That’s ok.  I totally get your reluctance.  You’ve seen too much christianity to fooled by the likes of me.  Well, stick around.  I’m going to blather on about lot’s of God topics that you might find interesting.  I won’t shy away from tough ones and I promise not to pull any punches.  I’ll tell it like I think it is and you can turn your brain on and test me to see if I’m right.

Until then, be good.  (Get it?  Man, I crack me up)

Take care,

Eric  The "Before" Picture

The “Before” Picture

TheGodBlogger