Considering Our Response to a Road-To-Damascus Encounter

I know that I’m not God. My sins and weaknesses make it easy enough to grasp that truth, as well as its corollary: I am not omniscient. But what I don’t like to face is the implications of those truths: I am wrong about some of my dearly held beliefs.

We all hold convictions that are incorrect. Not one of us is perfect in mindset. For this reason, it would be wise for all of to check our hearts: Do we want God to let us know where we are wrong?

The Challenge

Here is an exercise that we should all try once in a while:

Choose a topic of disagreement which has to do with the nature of humans, or God, or morality, or spirituality, or yours or someone else’s personal choices. Choose one. Choose one you’ve recently felt to be important.

Now consider your response if you found yourself being told by God that you were wrong. What if a voice stopped you where you were and said, “You are against me in this matter” and you knew this was the voice of God?

How Paul and Peter Responded

We know what Paul did after his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus – the man who for months had been putting his resources into destroying the new Christian church –  he repented: “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’” (Acts 9:20 ESV) It was such a complete reversal that many had difficulty believing it.

We also know how Peter responded to his vision from God telling him to interact with Gentiles: “If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:17)

Consider other ways they could have responded. They could have said, “Here’s an instance where God must be wrong”.  Or, “If Jesus is the son of God, then I can’t worship that God”. Or, “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that and keep acting like I was before I heard it.” Or, “I could never believe in/worship/obey a God that says that”.

Back To Us

Now consider this happening to you – God appearing to you and telling you that you’re wrong about …

Whether or not women should be in leadership
Whether or not homosexual behavior is wrong
When divorce is permissible
How you should vote
What kind of swimsuits should people wear?
Should people be KJV Only?
What does it take to get to heaven?
Is the Calvinist, Arminian or Open Theist view correct?

Imagine the Son of God making himself known to you audibly and saying, “Beloved child, on this topic, you are heading the wrong way.” For those of us with strong opinions, the temptation is there. We might be angry. We might reject the idea because we think it unfair – too lenient or too cruel. Or at worst, we might decide we can no longer believe in him. But the proper response is to have the humility to say, “I am not God. He knows more than me.”

Here is the warning – if our first thought about this possibility causes anger, or pride or stubbornness, then it may be we are overly biased about this. We may be choosing our own view over God’s.

Our Source of Truth

Now this kind of encounter with God is rare, so we shouldn’t expect this to happen to us. Happily, however, most important issues are answered clearly in God’s word if we are willing to look honestly.

I am aware that there are many with passions strong enough that when they see truths in scripture they don’t like, they do one of two things: (1) cross them out of the pages, literally or figuratively, or (2) use eisegesis on the passage – pour their own meaning or opinions into what it says so that it will conform to what they want to be true. And they find churches which agree with their worldviews.

This is what Paul said would happen: The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Our Prayer

With that in mind, here is the sobering main point: if I think it possible that I’d have difficulty accepting a truth from God if he appeared to me visibly, it’s quite likely that I won’t be willing to see God’s truth in this matter even if it’s made clear in the Bible.

May God give us wisdom to see this in ourselves and not set ourselves up as gods who know best. We might be wise to begin regularly praying (perhaps before we read scripture), “Dear Father, show me where I’m wrong.”

The only correct way to finish the sentence that begins with, “I could not believe in a God who…” is this: “…is not the same as the description of him in His Word.”

And not “… really doesn’t feel right to me.”

If not who, then when? If not where, then why? — Questions to ask when pondering the question, “What question should we ask?”

One of the ways I determine whether or not I should read a book is, “Even if I don’t enjoy it, will I be glad I read it?”

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“If it doesn’t kill you, it just makes you stronger” is a little bit right and a little bit wrong.

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Short answer: My conscience encourages it, but I don’t think everyone should.

I’ve previously posted some of these reasons as single statements, but I thought I’d put them all in one place.

Five Reasons I Wear A Tie To Church.

1. I think I look my best while wearing a tie.
I make no claims to handsomeness, but I have opinions as to what makes me look more or less good-looking. I think wearing a tie makes me more presentable. This may not be applicable for other guys.

I’m going to be with other Christians. I’m going to be focusing on God. Why not try to make myself as presentable as possible?

2. My wife likes it when I wear a tie.
Again, your mileage may vary. But pleasing my wife in this way is a reasonable goal with a number of positive results.

3. I see it as a respectful way to show reverence to God.
When you are worshiping, there are many ways to show honor to God in the way you dress. For me, wearing a tie is one of them.

4. I don’t want there to be nobody wearing a tie at church.
Sometimes I look around after a worship service and can’t find any other guys who are wearing a tie, on the platform or off. I think someone should hold down this fort. I want “guys wearing ties” to be somewhere on the spectrum of how men dress at my church. One reason for this is …

5. I’m thinking about the visitors.
Here is a real situation that I can imagine happening every Sunday somewhere around the country: A guy who hasn’t been to church in a long time decides to finally go to the church down the street that he’s heard has welcoming at it. But he’s also heard they are a little conservative, so he decides to wear a tie. And when he gets there, he feels out of place because he’s the only one.

Wouldn’t that be unfortunate?

I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Cor 9:22-23

Now, as I stated, I don’t think everyone should. Here’s why: It would make me nervous to walk around a church where every adult male was wearing a tie. It seems like that might make our church a little less approachable. A little too legalistic-looking.

But wouldn’t it be legalistic in a different way to suggest that no one should? Or if no one does?

Hey Pizza sellers, consider this: How would people respond if they had to eat your pizza crust with no toppings? Ideally it would still be an enjoyable experience, but if it would be an unpleasant thing to eat, reconsider your recipe.

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To say, “There is a good thing that happened as a result of this bad thing,” is not to say, “I’m glad this bad thing happened.”

Did you know – the Fighter Verse Song Team (including me) has finished their new CD. It’s Set Two!

You can go read the information page about the new CD over at the Fighter Verse Song Blog.

And you can get one and start memorizing the Word of God!

Here’s the video of one of the a capella songs from the CD.

It is not up to you (or anyone) to determine which parts of the Bible are true. It is up to you (and everyone) to determine what the authors meant as they wrote each part of the Bible.

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If anyone is leading you towards a god that is false, they are leading you away from Yahweh.

The number of people you should help is somewhere between zero and everyone.

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I was asked by my Facebook friend Chris what I thought about this article from what the Pope said last fall about Christianity and helping immigrants.

Here’s one paragraph from the article.

“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” he said. “If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”

Here are my comments:

1. I’m not Catholic, so the Pope isn’t an authority over my beliefs. I prefer to go directly to what the Bible says.

2. That being said, what the Pope says here is reasonable.

3. I note that he speaks of ‘chasing away’ or ‘tossing out’ those who are hungry and needy. This doesn’t speak to what he thinks we should do with people who are in other countries who are in need. He certainly isn’t calling (at least here) for a nation to bring the poor and needy in from other countries.

4. I’m aware some travelers were sent home. Were they poor and needy?

5. If he did call for nations to accept refugees, I would look for documentation for how many Muslim refugees the Vatican has taken in. I know it’s a small place, but I’m sure they could find space for a couple hundred.

6. No person or nation can help everyone. They shouldn’t be expected to. But a person or nation should strive to help more than zero people. The hard question is – how many more than zero? There is not a objective answer to this question.

7. I believe the U.S. should help people (foreign and domestic) who are in need. I believe the U.S. should allow some immigrants and refugees from other countries.  The similar hard questions are – how many and where from?

8. If the question is: “If President Trump calls himself a Christian, is he a hypocrite when he doesn’t allow refugees from the seven nations?”, I’d answer this way:
A. This would not be in my top five reasons of why I don’t think Trump is a Christian.
B. Every president ever has been criticized for not acting like a Christian.
C. This is one of many issues where no matter what side a president takes, he’ll be called by some to be acting in a non-Christian way.
D. I recommend looking for other arguments why Trump’s new travel policy is foolish and wrong.

9. Trumps new policy is, at best, extremely heavy handed and has done harm to people.

10. I agree that to say you are a Christian and act in unchristlike ways makes you a hypocrite.

11. Every Christian is, at times, hypocritical. Every time we sin. I thank God for what His Son did for us to take away our sins. But even as we (reasonably, wisely) look outward to what our Christian politicians are doing, we should look inward to our own lives.

All Hitler comparisons are wrong. Some are useful.

May God bless President Trump –with an effective four years resulting in a more godly America and all the way to heaven.

The Wall
I expect President Trump will make headway with this. I’m guessing that at some point, Mexico will pitch in $100 in some indirect way and Trump will say mission accomplished.

Illegal immigrants
I expect that some will be sent home. More than with Obama.

Supreme Court Judge
I expect that he’ll pick a pro-life constitutional judge. This is my biggest hope for him.  I fear he’ll cave on this.

LGBT
I expect no real change in this, except perhaps giving them slightly more in the way of rights.  I haven’t heard about him talking about this. I’m guessing this is because he’s secretly liberal on this issue. I really don’t get why LGBT advocates are so afraid of him.

Race
I expect that Minorities will have few policy changes to complain about.
I expect that Trump will make statements that minorities will (reasonably) take issue with.
I expect that Trump will avoid making statements that black advocates will take issue with.
I don’t get why minority advocates are afraid of him.

Women
I expect that Women Advocates will have few policy changes to complain about.
I think it likely that Trump will avoid making statements that women’s advocates would take issue with.
But more bad history may crop up.
I understand why women’s advocates are afraid of him.

Muslims
I expect no change for those already here. I expect fewer Muslims will be allowed into our country.
I understand why Muslim advocates are afraid of him. I don’t expect registration to happen. This is contrary to what he said in the campaign.

Economy
I expect the economy to do well. Partially because it seems to be heading that way. Partially because of real changes he’ll make. Partially because of the impression that he’s good for business.

Clinton
I expect no legal moves against Hillary. This is definitely contrary to his statements.

Conflict of Interest
I expect the Trump’s Sons Running Trump’s Business will be a non-issue.

Twitter
I expect Trump will continuing to tweet. There will still be crazy tweets but they will be fewer. His tweets are effective for him and will continue to be so.

Obamacare
Tough one. I think it will be repealed and replaced with something very similar but different and not provably better. This is going to be a mess.

In Four Years
I’m guessing that Trump will be seen as a fairly successful and effective statesman. I’m guessing liberals will hate him, partially because of his success. He’s going to continue offending people but less so. I’m guessing he will run again, but a major controversy might prevent this. If he runs again, I’m thinking he will win.

Are there other issues I haven’t dealt with?
What do you disagree with?

It’s not a lie if it’s true.

By I can think of exceptions to this.

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Short answer: My conscience encourages it, but I don’t think everyone should.

I’ve previously posted some of these reasons as single statements, but I thought I’d put them all in one place.

Five Reasons I Wear A Tie To Church.

1. I think I look my best while wearing a tie.
I make no claims to handsomeness, but I have opinions as to what makes me look more or less good-looking. I think wearing a tie makes me more presentable. This may not be applicable for other guys.

I’m going to be with other Christians. I’m going to be focusing on God. Why not try to make myself as presentable as possible?

2. My wife likes it when I wear a tie.
Again, your mileage may vary. But pleasing my wife in this way is a reasonable goal with a number of positive results.

3. I see it as a respectful way to show reverence to God.
When you are worshiping, there are many ways to show honor to God in the way you dress. For me, wearing a tie is one of them.

4. I don’t want there to be nobody wearing a tie at church.
Sometimes I look around after a worship service and can’t find any other guys who are wearing a tie, on the platform or off. I think someone should hold down this fort. I want “guys wearing ties” to be somewhere on the spectrum of how men dress at my church. One reason for this is …

5. I’m thinking about the visitors.
Here is a real situation that I can imagine happening every Sunday somewhere around the country: A guy who hasn’t been to church in a long time decides to finally go to the church down the street that he’s heard has welcoming at it. But he’s also heard they are a little conservative, so he decides to wear a tie. And when he gets there, he feels out of place because he’s the only one.

Wouldn’t that be unfortunate?

I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Cor 9:22-23

Now, as I stated, I don’t think everyone should. Here’s why: It would make me nervous to walk around a church where every adult male was wearing a tie. It seems like that might make our church a little less approachable. A little too legalistic-looking.

But wouldn’t it be legalistic in a different way to suggest that no one should? Or if no one does?

As I was thinking about yesterday’s post, I was thinking about how different people respond to the loss of a good thing.

This I imagine is a topic where you can put people into two groups: Those who don’t like change and those who do.

The first kind wants the good thing to last forever. “I’m fine. Let’s just stay here.”

The second kind, those who embrace change (and here I’m guessing, because this really isn’t me) are people who stop liking a good thing before it’s taken away from them. They move to something they see as better, moving away from another good, because they’re not enjoying the good anymore. Or not enough to keep them there. Do I have that correct?

The returns have diminished so much, that it’s worth the risk of moving on in hopes that they find something with a better return.

And obviously this isn’t a hard line definitively splitting all humans into two disparate groups, but there is a continuum that people find themselves on.

If you’re a person who likes change, is this a good description of your approach?

Here’s the Statement: Every earthly good thing that you enjoy will fade away some day.

Here’s the Fleshing-Out-Of-The-Idea:

I’ve been thinking about the impermanence of earthly things that give me joy. Being a person who doesn’t like change, I’m not fond of this reality.

That Pastor you like will some day retire.
That child* who finds peace sitting in your lap will one day be too big for it.
That TV show you enjoy will one day stop.
The schedule that works out so perfectly will no longer work out.

Next truth: Clinging too hard to a joy-bringer that is going away actually reduces our joy.

So the reminder that joy-bringers are not permanent can help us see the wisdom of not putting too much of our hopes in them. So don’t!

But here is the good news.

1. God will provide you other blessing and joys when these fade away. Look forward to that.
2. We’re only talking about earthly good things here. The heavenly good things are eternal.

You know, things like God’s love. And for those who are saved, His Gospel. And Heaven itself.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Light with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – From James 1

* My son once made this statement (I think he heard it somewhere) that is true about all children: One day you will put down that child and never pick her up again.

Wow, that’s harsh. But there is such a thing as grand-children.

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In early July I started posting statements about current events that almost all of us believe. My thought was this – while we disagree on much, it can be helpful to be reminded what we almost all agree on.

It has at times been difficult to find statements about what is going on in American that we can all concur with, and sometimes the agreed upon statements are so weak that it might be slightly distressing, but I was pleased with how many fairly strong statements I could come up with.

I’ll keep it going.

I’m posting them on Facebook and on Twitter.

I’d be interested in your thoughts and comments and suggestions and disagreements, but before you send corrections, you might want to look at my notes below.

Some Thoughts and Explanations of the “What 95% Of Us Believe.”

Axiom 1: Sometimes the 95% is wrong.
Given how many times in history a universally excepted idea has been shown to be incorrect, it would be foolish to think that for the first time in history, we have everything right.

Axiom 2. Many or most will believe a much stronger wording of the What95%Believes statement.
… But sometimes in order to meet the 95% threshold, I have to tone down the wording.
Part of my reason for writing these statements is to point out the unfortunateness of this. You might (correctly) call this a sad statement about our society (“We should all believe that more strongly!”), but don’t state that I’m incorrect if I haven’t posted it.

Axiom 3: While we may agree on the What95%Believes statement, we may strongly disagree about the implications of the statement.

You and another person might agree to a statement, but you might not agree to how this should affect our lives. People might agree to the statement, “It’s unfortunate that there are homeless people” but the actions people take as a result of believing this range from paying for a person’s lodging for a long time to nothing.

Doing nothing doesn’t imply that you don’t believe the statement.

Axiom 4: You might agree with the What95%Thinks statement, but be of the opinion that it should not be stated.
… and you might be wise in that assessment. For example, you might think that a parent shouldn’t have let their child play in the street, but the time when you’re consoling them in the hospital isn’t a good time to point this out.

Other times the hard statement should be overtly stated.

Axiom 5: It’s Never 100%

There might be very popular ideas, but there is always someone who disagrees with it. Almost everyone agrees with “You shouldn’t murder”, but (at least in practice) murderers disagree with this.

A Word About Scope
When I Say “What 95% of us Believe” – by “Us” I mean (1) people who have heard about the issue in the post and understand its basics, and (2) are Americans, with some definition of the word “American”.

And Three Disclaimers:
1. If at first glance you think you (or others) might disagree with one of the statements, ask yourself if there is a way of thinking about the statement that you could buy into.

2. When I say “95 percent”, I really mean “a very large majority”. The actual number may be 98, or 92, or 89.

3. I have statistics to back none of these “large majority” conjectures.

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