Four life lessons

It’s been a while since I wrote here. Jimmy and I have been talking and I’d like to change that. To start, I’d like to offer you four life lessons that I share with nearly everyone. I believe these four life lessons will change your life in a very positive and exciting way.

They are:

  1. Life is not fair, get over it.
  2. Life is tough be tougher
  3. Life is short, make it count
  4. Life is changes, adjust.

If you’d like to read more, I’d encourage you to head over to my webpage and spend some time. I can be found on Twitter @Joemartino and Facebook as well.

Husbands and Wives

marriageI have all too often heard and read husbands quote Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” as a way to CONTROL their wives…COMPLETELY dismissing how the scripture later instructs husbands to act concerning their wives beginning in Ephesians 5:25, where it states “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”…AND…”husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself”…AND…”must love his wife as he loves himself”.

Not to mention that if you really get down to it…if you say you love your wife, then you MUST define that love. Does it meet the guidelines of what the scripture says love is? Can you say that you love your wife as it states in 1 Corinthians 13:3? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

Remember this husbands….if we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and Christ is our example in everything…then our love MUST be as outlined in 1 Corinthians…OR…we are not honoring God.

“He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord” Proverbs 18:22

Who is my neighbor?

 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

———–

The point that Jesus is trying to emphasize is a widening concept of the term neighbor. In an overly religious setting the walls of ‘neighbor’ were defined very strictly. Jesus steps in to say that anyone in need, no matter what differences you have, is a neighbor in need of God’s grace and your concern.

And this thought has called, encouraged and sent Christian missionaries around the world for hundreds of years. We have concluded (rightly) that anyone in need is our neighbor. We have taken Jesus’ message to heart.

But in our zeal to fulfill this call we have forgotten something that is hugely important to Jesus: our actual neighbors.

Picture your house, apartment or living quarters. Make a grid like a tic-tac-toe board and put yourself in the center.

If each section of the grid were a neighbors house, could you list the eight closest people that live next to you? What else do you know about them? Can you list everyone in the house? Are they more than casual acquaintances; would you actually consider them friends?

The times I’ve done this have shown that less than 50% of people can name a majority of people around them and very few can name all eight. The speaker this last weekend shared similar results.

In our Christian passion to share our faith with the whole world we have forgotten those that live immediately around us. We have become blinded by going to all the world that we have forgotten the immediacy of those around that need to hear about Jesus.

This is one reason I push missional theology. It forces us to wrestle with the way we think of “Christian missions.” The job isn’t always ‘to go’ to exotic places and eat different food. Sometimes Christ’s call is to stay and be with those he has put around us. It’s to know about Bill and Brenda. Have them into your home and be more than fence sharers, be real neighbors. Love them into the Kingdom.

God Made Flesh

    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

So thankful for the ultimate gift. The gift of a savior who would pay the ultimate price for our salvation.

Christ left the heavenly realm to live life as a man, still fully God, wrapping himself in human frailty to not only be an example to us, but to give that same life for us.

Merry Christmas!

Science vs. God’s Existence ?

In the wake of this most recent horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, so many people attempt to find a reason for such evil. Unspeakable suffering, pain, and hurting take place in lives everyday. As we attempt to understand with our finite minds something infinite, we must understand that without Faith and Hope, we will struggle to explain the existence of evil to those that jeer at a proposed “Lack of the existence of God”, they say “Where is your God? If he exists, why would he allow these things to happen?”. Jimmy’s post below on Hope, truly resonates. While we can offer up a myriad of  “explanations” as to why such things happen, or why evil runs rampant, I was reminded of this rebuttal to the demand of a scientific explanation of God’s existence, that I came across a few years ago. A little lengthy but truly worth the read……..

Consider this explanation for those void of faith and insist on a “scientific” explanation of such events. 405401_400993166629257_989873826_n

“Let me explain the problem science has with religion.”  The professor of philosophy pauses before his class, then asks one of his new students to stand.

“You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?”

“Yes sir,” the student says.

“So you believe in God?”

“Absolutely.”

“Is God good?”

“Sure! God’s good.”

“Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?”

“Yes.”

“Are you good or evil?”

“The Bible says I’m evil.”

The professor grins knowingly. “Aha! The Bible!” He considers for a moment. “Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?”

“Yes sir, I would.”

“So you’re good…!”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

“But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.”

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. “He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?”

The student is silent. “No, you can’t, can you?” the professor says.

He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

“Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?”

“Er…yes”, the student says.

“Is Satan good?”

The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. “No.”

“Where does Satan come from?”

The student falters,”From God.”

“That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?”

“Yes, sir…”

“Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?”

“Yes.”

“So who created evil?”, the professor continues, “If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists. And according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.”

Again, the student has no answer.

” Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things — do they exist in this world?”

The student squirms on his feet. “Yes.”

“So who created them?”

The student does not answer, so the professor repeats his question, “Who created them?”

There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. “Tell me”, he continues on to another student, “do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?”

The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. “Yes, professor, I do.”

The old man stops pacing. “Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?”

“No sir. I’ve never seen Him.”

“Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?”

“No, sir, I have not…”

“Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ? Or God, for that matter?”

“No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.”

“Yet you still believe in him?”

“Yes.”

“According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?”

“Nothing”, the student replies, “I only have my faith.”

“Yes, faith”, the professor repeats, “And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.”

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own. “Professor, is there such a thing as heat? “

“Yes.”

“And is there such a thing as cold?”

“Yes, son, there’s cold too.”

“No sir, there isn’t.”

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room becomes very quiet.

The student begins to explain.

“You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest – 458 degrees. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy.

Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.”

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

“What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?”

“Yes”, the professor replies without hesitation, “What is night if it isn’t darkness?”

“You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing — and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?”

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. “So what point are you making, young man?”

“My point, professor, is that your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.”

The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. “Flawed? Can you explain how?”

“You are working on the premise of duality”, the student explains. “You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood, either one.

To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. Now tell me,professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?”

“If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.”

“Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?”

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes
where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

“Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?”

The class is in uproar.

The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

“To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.”

The student looks around the room.

“Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?”

The class breaks out into laughter.

“Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?”

Now the room is silent. The professor stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. “I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.”

“Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,” the student continues. “Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?”

Now uncertain, the professor responds, “Of course there is evil. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”

To this the student replies, “Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

The professor sits down.

~Author Unknown

In Times Like These…..

Photo courtesy of HopeinJesus.org

Photo courtesy of HopeinJesus.org

It is In Times Like These that I am reminded just how dark, cold, confused, completely hopeless the world seems.

With the devastating news of a gunman walking into an elementary school and opening fire on little children in a kindergarten class…I am reminded of just how much we all need Jesus!

Let’s face it…as much as we would like to pretend that everything is just fine, and go on about our lives as if everything is perfect…it most definitely is not! There is no way to explain why someone would walk into a kindergarten classroom and kill 18 innocent children…other than the indisputable fact that there is evil in this world.

In Times Like These…it becomes abundantly clear that our only hope is Jesus. Anything else is hollow.

The world needs light. The world needs clarity. The worlds needs hope. The world needs Jesus!

Lost Birds

The Parable Of The Birds

Once there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug. He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a very kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with other men.

But he didn’t believe all that stuff about God becoming man, which churches proclaim at Christmas. Why would God want to do anything like that?

So when his family left to attend midnight services on Christmas Eve, he stayed home.

Shortly after the family drove away snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. Sometime later, as he was reading his newspaper by the fire, he was startled by a thudding sound that was quickly followed by another. Then another.

When he went to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through the window.

“I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. “But how can I help them?”

Then he remembered the barn. It would provide a warm shelter. He quickly put on his coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light.<

But the birds didn’t come in.

“Food will bring them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn.

To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction — except into the warm, lighted barn.

“They find me a strange and terrifying creature,” he said to himself, “and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me.”

“If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety.”

Just at that moment the church bells began to ring. He stood silently for awhile, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.

Then he sank to his knees in the snow. “Now I understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why You had to do it.”

The Parable of the Birds ~ Louis Cassels 1959