Posts Tagged ‘Mercy’

I am a reformed pagan and strange gods are nothing new to me.

While still practicing polytheism, I discovered the God of Israel and Christianity via Chuck Missler audio books that were given to me by a cousin and I became fascinated by the Missler Beyond series. I subsequently added this Judea/Christian God to my list of gods I would honor, placing Him kind of at the “Big Kahuna” level. I thought this was adequate, sort of hedging my bets, so to speak. I later found out after I turned to Him in desperation concerning a three decade addiction and He immediately responded and saved me (being the only god that had ever interacted to me in an entirely positive way) and I started reading His Book. Placing Him at the top of my list of gods, I subsequently discovered, after reading more of this fascinating tome of His, was not adequate in the least and was actually insulting to the Christian God, as I found out when I read in the first commandment in Exodus chapter twenty.

My Lord has forgiven me of my past and has brought me into His fold, but recently I started wondering about the whole concept of strange gods from the aspect of the biblical standpoint. An example I will start with is a well known Christian entity that is the face of Christianity to most of the world…the Catholic Church. In no way am I trying to bash Catholicism here (they just came to mind as an example), and I will be the first to admit that I do not fully understand their religion, but I still have questions from what I do know from looking about as well as reading about their beliefs.

Jesus said in John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)

I am familiar with some of the medals and pendants that the Catholics sell with Saint this and Saint that designed for the recipients to pray to for protection from various specific things, and I am slightly familiar with the rosary beads that are used in conjunction with a rote prayer to Mary, mother of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but John 14:6 seems pretty clear and succinct and all the icons of saints to hold and pray to and prayers to mother Mary are prayers to strange gods, are they not? It seems to me that those that use icons of this person and that person for protection and those that pray to Mary are, by their actions, saying that Christ as our intercessor is not adequate.

However, if I am to be honest I also have to look inward and use the same ruler on myself that I am willing to use on others. So, what about myself? Am I better than this institution I just mentioned, or am I simply casting stones from my own glass house?

I do admit, I prayed to strange gods for better than two decades without a lot of positive results and it seems that I am not alone. Apparently most of the nation of Israel, including the priests, prayed to strange gods in the form of Teraphim for most of their history, prompting the very first commandment; Thou shalt have no other gods before me…but they persisted.

I, as well as most of the people alive today, have even more of the scriptures before us than the original sons of God and with our instant and mobile information at out fingertips, it is more readily available than at any other time in history, so there should be no worry about having access to the Word of our Lord…that’s correct, isn’t it? You would think that we would have fewer strange gods in out lives because of this instant and wonderful access to the throne of God…unfortunately, that is not the case.

I still have to constantly sweep for Teraphim and strange gods in my life. I feel it is the basic nature of corrupt humanity to elevate ourselves and rely upon our own strengths, instead of turning to the actual strong shoulders in our lives. Whenever a hard burden has been placed upon my shoulders and I reactively and almost instantly take it on and try to pridefully muscle my way through the burden instead of allowing God to take it away from me.

The question I have to ask myself is, am I rejecting My Lord and rejecting His help that He promised, therefore perhaps elevating myself to a status equal to His own? Am I sort of making myself a strange god, trusting in my own worth and spirit instead of my Father? Christ quoted from the Psalms (Psalm 82:6) when He threw this accusation of making themselves “gods” at the Pharisees in John 10:34 (Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?). Yeah, unfortunately, I believe I have to admit that I think that may be the case…and that is a very scary thought. Allowing strange gods into our lives is a very easy thing to do…getting rid of them is much, much harder.

God Bless, Jim

I have decided to tackle the parable of the Prodigal Son, a story that I have been familiar with since childhood, but one that I never really comprehended until recently the powerful message that was waiting for me within it.

We find the story of the Prodigal Son within the gospel of Luke. The fifteenth chapter of Luke opens with publicans and sinners gathering to hear and eat with Christ in Galilee and of course, the Jewish religious police that followed Him around, the scribes and Pharisees were there not to learn from Him, but to find fault with Christ for we read that they were grumbling about Him eating with all these sinners.

I find it interesting that the gospels demonstrate that whenever Christ encounters sinners He is always kind and compassionate, but whenever we find Him up against the official religionists of the day, the Pharisees, the encounters often turn harsh and sometimes violent. It gives us an interesting insight to what Our Lord thought of the religious establishment and organized religion and makes me wonder what He thinks of it today…anyway…

We find Jesus reserves the entire chapter of Luke 15 to, once again, take advantage of the stiff necked and holier-than-thou attitude of the Pharisees to show them and to demonstrate to the crowd that had gathered to hear Him speak, just how much the Pharisees had bastardized and debased the purpose of the scriptures. Jesus did this by first giving common sense examples of acts of finding lost things that anyone listening would agree with and then using those thought as a basis of The Lord’s attitude toward all of us by telling a story of a son that was lost and had returned, turning the Pharisees snobbish attitude toward the sinners back on them. The story of the Prodigal Son is much more than that, it is also a practical demonstration that the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, our God and Lord, is a God of second chances and a very forgiving and benevolent Lord.

OK, how does the story of the Prodigal Son apply to me? As an answer to this question, I feel compelled to give a quick testimony.

I was raised in a Christian household with loving parents but at the age of twelve I suffered non-familial sexual abuse from an authority figure and hid it from everyone for I was sure I would somehow be blamed. I felt even at an early age that the religion of my youth was very flawed in their doctrines and traditions much as the Church of Ephesus in Revelation chapter two (law over love and compassion) and therefore I didn’t feel I could turn to the church and I didn’t trust my parents either…I trusted no one. Not sharing the problem with those that cared was extremely stupid on my part, for as a result, I ended up plunging headlong into roller coaster existence of drugs and alcohol, depression and guilt. For the next three decades I sought answers in all the wrong places, blaming God for a period while dabbling in occult rituals, exploring Buddhism, multiculturalism and new age and finally settling into a culture I was familiar with as a child from family history; the American Indian culture and spiritualism which I embraced for a decade until being frightened to my core by the powers I was playing with. Along the way, a cousin gave me Chuck Missler’s Beyond Series which (me being a technical nerd and geek) really piqued my interest and caused me to start becoming interested in the bible.

I was still a drunk and a wreck and after countless attempts to stop drinking over a decade had failed, I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. At some point I noticed one of these recordings about the bible and creation, so after years of attempting to become sober on my own and of trying to throw off the chains of addiction, I decided to pray to this God that I hadn’t prayed to in a couple of decades. I threw it all at His feet and in desperation I prayed to my Lord and Savior on January 15, 2010 and He rescued and healed me then and there.

Even after that miracle, I couldn’t understand why He would do that…this was the first time I had a seriously positive interaction from any god I had prayed to in my life. I couldn’t believe I qualified for his grace and mercy and I had several weeks of doubt and confusion as to why He would actually accept me after all the debasing and hatred I had shown toward Him and His followers over the decades (I later realized Satan, my old dance partner, was continuing to condemn me) until one night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the childhood story of the Prodigal Son. After reading this powerful story. I realized I was that terribly unappreciative son and I could actually believe the story was written for even a clown like me. The story of the Prodigal Son was one of my saving graces and I still remind myself of this marvelous story and the wonderfully gracious and forgiving God that we have.

God Bless, Jim

8-18-11

for Koinonia Institute