Thought for the day. The difference between “for Christ” and “in Christ.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” ( Jeremiah 1:5)

I woke up this morning with a chorus we sang in Church in the 70:s.

With eternity’s values in view, Lord,

With  eternity’s values in view.

May I do each day’s work for Jesus

With eternity’s values in view.

Then it hit me: Is this really right? It sounds so good, but is it right? The words from Jesus in Matthew 7: 21-23 rang in my ears:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

In the case of the prophet Jeremiah God knew him before he was even conceived, but in the case of  the false disciple Jesus never knew him in spite of all the things he did for Jesus. Why the drastic difference? Does God pick winners and losers, or is there anything we can do to be assured to be on God’s side?

The answer may lie in one more quote, this one from the apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There we have it: God doesn’t want us to do things for Christ, God wants us – all of us as a living sacrifice. He wants us to die to self and be resurrected to new life in Christ. This is available to anybody – a new life in Christ. Then the Holy Spirit can lead us into God’s perfect will.

One more quote. Many can quote Ephesians 2:8-9, but the answer is really in verse 10: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By the way, the word handiwork is in the Greek ποιημα (poiema) from which we get the word poem. We are God’s poem. I like that.

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the day: Natural born citizen or Supernatural born citizen?

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:30)

Down here on Earth, good old United States of America we have four types of citizenship. Both me and my wife are immigrants and while we were yet resident aliens, our three children were born. We applied for citizenship, passed all tests, and as the immigration officer was ready to schedule our immigration ceremony he discovered we had moved 8 miles from Delaware to Pennsylvania, a different federal district, he sent our papers to Pennsylvania. Being federal agency they promptly lost our papers. We waited and waited and finally started the process anew. This time we managed to become naturalized citizens. Since we were resident aliens at the time of the birth, our children are native born citizens. Our oldest son married an immigrant, their firstborn is a native born citizen, the second child, born after she became a citizen, is a natural born citizen. Our daughter married an immigrant, and their firstborn child is a native born citizen. After her husband became a citizen they established residence abroad and their second child was born abroad. He is now a native citizen after moving back to the States. As to our third son, no problem. His children are natural born citizens.

After all this, who can now be president? It is clear that me and my wife cannot. Can our children become president? How about all of our grandchildren? What about the children where the father is unknown?

The constitution clearly states that that only a natural born citizen can become president of  the United states, and this is the only office that has that requirement.

Congress determined that John McCain was a natural born citizen, even though he was born in a hospital just outside the Panama Canal Zone. Congress never established the status of Barack Obama even though his father never even was a resident alien.

As Supreme court juctise Clarence Thomas put it: “We’re evading that one.”

The issue of who is a natural born citizen needs to be defined once and for all by the Supreme Court.

In the meantime I am eternally thankful I am a Supernatural born citizen.

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the day: Rejoice always.

Rejoice always, (1 Thessalonians 5:16) 

It often is hard to rejoice.

As always I don’t have a choice

but to praise, pray and sing

to my Savior and King.

To Jesus I lift up my voice.

At my mature age I try to keep my brain active by making Limericks. There are many types of Limericks, and millions have been made and printed over the years, some straight forward as the one above, some with a twist. I try to stay with the clean ones.

In my childhood’s Sweden we started learning English in fifth grade. The first semester, since English has weird spelling we learned the basics in phonetic script, and right from the start we were introduced to finer English poetry, such as this Limerick:

There once was a lady from Riga

who rode with a smile on a tiger.

They came back from the ride

withe the lady inside

and the smile on the face on the tiger.

Since then I have always loved the format, a strict  rhyme scheme (AABBA), and a predominantly anapestic meter  88668, or in this case 99669.

But my real love has been for songs and music. I have a very hard time to memorize things, but if it is set to music I hear the melody inside me and it stays with me for life. Even now I sometimes wake up in the morning with a song in my heart, a song I heard maybe fifty years ago and have not heard since I emigrated from Sweden. Such is the power of music. The cadence in the song and the melody work together to bring to remembrance the emotions I felt as a young lad.

Coming to America I decided to join the Rochester oratorio society. We sang Handel’s Messiah. It meant nothing to me except fantastic music. But the next piece was Elijah, and at the performance, the great base William Warfield was Elijah. He didn’t just sing, he was Elijah!

We moved away from Rochester and I didn’t sing for five years. Things didn’t go so well moodwise, but circumstances led me to again sing Handel’s Messiah. This time it spoke to me and rekindled in me the joy I once had singing. So I joined a church choir, still unsaved, but they let me sing anyway.

Since I found new life in Christ I have found that whenever things go bad, as they often do, God brings back a melody in my heart, not always with words, but they usually come back to remembrance a little bit later.

Thank God for hymns and songs with melody and words that bring back to remembrance the greatness of God!

(Sometimes I wake up with songs I heard in my youth that has very little to do with God and His greatness, but that is another story).

 

 

 

Thought for the day: Pray continually.

First Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually” is short and to the point, only two words, as short as “rejoice always” and “Jesus wept”.  That is a tall order, it gives no wiggle room, we should always be in an attitude of prayer. How is that possible? I have other things to do.

Prayer is communication with God. It is mostly non verbal, thinking about and listening to what the Holy Spirit living within you wants you to do every moment of every day, certainly in your day-dreams, and maybe even in your dreams. I take this as one of the richest privileges of being a Christian.

The other day I read in the news that about 150 Somali-Muslim employees of a Colorado meat processing plant were fired after they walked out on the job, demanding prayer time, and refused to return.

Approximately 200 employees at Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan staged the walkout, demanding various blocks of prayer time throughout the day, but a small number returned, according to The Denver Post.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is demanding their reinstatement and return of their prayer privileges and continuing use of the prayer room the company had generously provided for them until then. This had worked well for many years,  the company allowed them to go off and pray in groups of 2 or 3 so as not to shut down the assembly line, but the Somali Muslims started to demand that they all should be allowed to pray at the appointed prayer times and only those times to comply with Sharia law.

Why was that so important that they rather lose their jobs than yield to the company policy of staged prayer?

Muslim prayers are different from Christian prayers. Christians can pray at any time, Muslims are prescribed to pray their “Contact Prayers” at specific times, five are obligatory: Pre-dawn, midday, afternoon, after sunset and before going to bed. I take the midday prayer as an example. It cannot begin until the sun has passed zenith, the highest point on the solar arc. If you start too early Allah will not hear your prayer. This means you cannot use standard time but must use solar time. Solar noon is early in the eastern part of a time zone, and about an hour later in the western part of the time zone. In addition it matters which day of the year it is Solar noon in November is half an hour earlier than solar noon in February. Add two minutes to that, and you are allowed and commanded to do your prayers, you and everybody of like faith, turning to Mecca, thus fulfilling Sharia law.

The purpose of these proscribed prayer times is to round up all believers and exercise mind control. You know who your buddies are, and you also know who is an infidel. This is totalitarianism, following the directives of the Imams. In Muslim dominated territories, when the call to prayer is sung from the minarets everybody stops what they are doing, turns to Mecca, prostrates in a very prescribed position and recites their memorized prayer in Medieval Arabic.

I am so thankful to have access to God at any time, giving praise, giving thanks and asking God for His will for me and others, for the hour, for the day and for the future!

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

 

 

 

 

Thought for the day: The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
I woke up this morning with what I thought was a true bible verse: “The word killeth, but the Spirit giveth life”. Looking up the verse in the Bible it turned out I was wrong. It says the letter, not the word.
Over 40 years ago my wife and I emigrated to America. She became increasingly disillusioned with life here and got more and more unhappy as we realized more and more of our life goals, two beautiful children, a good job, a new house, two cars, in short, all you could ever wish. But she was unhappy and started to question the meaning of life. Is that all there is? At the same time she started seeking, and enrolled in a study course on great literature. One of her assigned readings was the Gospel of Matthew, and reading it she asked me the question: Since Jesus said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28), can that be true? If that is so then heaven must be empty. Nobody can control their thoughts.
I tried to assure her that heaven is just a concept to make us desire to live as good a life as possible and let God sort it out. This didn’t go over well, so she grew more and more unsatisfied. A friend invited her to a bible study and she agreed to go with her once to ask some pointed questions, but to her surprise they didn’t get mad at her but answered all her questions patiently. She went back week after week and she finally accepted that she couldn’t do it herself, but she had to accept the fact she was sinful and only through believing and trusting in Jesus Christ could she find the meaning of life. That changed her attitude completely. Initially I was very glad for her, smiling and even occasionally laughing again, a trait that once made me fall in love with her. But then she decided I needed this new-found purpose of life also, so she started to work me over at least one hour every night and even longer on weekends. This continued for months and she had  no success in making me see things her way. The biggest point of disagreement was: What has Jesus to do with that?
Then one night she prayed and cried out to God: God, I can’t do it, you do it! She felt the spirit giving her assurance. “I sure will, don’t worry, just believe.”
From that day, she was different, and half a year later I too became a believer.
What made the difference? For months she had tried to quote scripture at me, thinking something must stick, but nothing worked. She tried to do it herself apart from the spirit thinking the letter of the word would do the work. This is, I believe one aspect of the verse, and I too can testify that the Spirit gives life.

Thought for the day: In the middle of “Snowmageddon”, thank God for creating a wonderful ecosystem!

Genesis 1: 6-8 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

I marvel at God’s creation, especially when it shows its full power. The bird feeder got repaired just in time for the snowstorm, the birds are now flocking to it. We put out the Christmas tree next to it, so the birds can have close shelter when the stealer boys, the Blue Jays come and take over the feeder. I marvel at the persistence of all the small birds, surviving in these conditions.

In Creation, God, the Word and the Spirit created all matter. The water was created before light. And God saw that it was good. That was the first day.

The second day God made the feedback loop of water vapor evaporating,  rising to make clouds and giving rain and snow to form a functioning eco-system. So God took a whole day out of Creation just to make the clouds? And He didn’t even say it was good? He said it was good after all the other days of Creation. In the sixth day of Creation, after creating man, God even said it was very good, and then rested on the seventh day! The reason is the total ecosystem does not function well and be stable until all components, clouds, rain, snow, grass, plants, trees, animals and yes, even man are in place.

The story of Creation explains Creation spiritually, but leaves out a lot of details. To understand the functioning ecosystem one has to go about it scientifically, that is: Look at nature and what happens to Earth when something changes, such as burning fossil fuels and produce more and more CO2. Is that good or bad?

The last ice age ended with a massive melting of ice. The northern ice cap extended as far south as the Finger Lakes in North America and the middle of Poland in Europe. Something caused a disturbance to start the melting of the ice. Once going, more ice melted and exposed bare earth and more ocean for even more warming, and a chain reaction started. What had been a stable ice cap for thousands of years melted in a very short time. The level of CO2 was low during the ice age, but as soon as the ice melted some CO2 got released from the ice, and even more from the warming oceans, so with a lag of about 800 years the CO2 levels rose as well. The temperature rose and rose until suddenly they leveled off in what is called the Minoan optimum, with pleasant temperatures. Since then it has gotten gradually colder with small warm periods such as the Roman and Medieval Warm period, and colder periods, the last of which was the Little Ice Age.

During the ice age evaporation was much less than now. Snowfall over Greenland was about half what it is today, and there were significantly fewer clouds in the ice covered areas, much like Antarctica is today, an ice desert. This is what happens: As temperatures rise, more water evaporates and clouds form more often and earlier in the day causing a strong negative feedback so it doesn’t get as warm  as it otherwise would have been. This limits the surface temperature to about 88F when thunderstorms occur. If no clouds form it can get substantially warmer. Take New Delhi, India for example. During May the sky is without clouds and temperatures can reach 115F during the day. When the monsoons come in June-July the temperature stays below 100F with high humidity.

We are now well into the bog building phase of the inter-glacial period and the next ice age can start at any time. In fact, it was narrowly averted after the little ice age. With burning more fuel, creating more CO2 we delay the onset of the next ice age by a few thousand years. In addition, added CO2 grows more plants, making it possible to feed an additional two billion people on earth without starving. By lessening the temperature differences between the poles and the equator, storms, hurricanes and tornadoes will be less severe. Droughts will be less severe. Water will be more abundant. The only drawback is that floods will increase, but if we know they can come we can prepare for it.

The conclusion after this long harang is: When you see a cloud forming, thank God for providing a functioning ecosystem, and when you see a rainbow in the sky thank him again for his promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the day: Hooyah for female midshipmen!

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27, King James Version)
I love this verse in the creation story of the Holy Bible. We are created in God’s image, but lest you think of God as a mere man it shows clearly that both men and women are created in the image of God. The only way to understand it is found in St.John 4:23 – 24: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Naval Academy alumni, Annapolis residents and others voiced opposition this week to the Navy’s review of job titles in the pursuit of gender-integration — particularly the removal of the word “man” from ranks like midshipman.
Fox news commentator Lea Gabrielle, a former Navy midshipman, said she wore the title as a badge of honor.
The feminists have got it all wrong. Female midshipmen strengthen the notion that men and women are created equal in the sight of God.
Let’s keep it midshipman. According to Genesis 1:27 it is proper English and a valid title for both men and women. Political correctness has perverted the English language to the point of destroying the beauty and clarity of it.