Monthly Archives: June 2015

“CALVINISM vs. ARMINIANISM”

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This issue has been hotly debated for centuries.
Here is what Paul has to say about it:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” – The Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
I have a simpler mind than Paul, but here’s my version; “When Jesus’ fishermen don’t fish, they fight, but we usually call it a theological debate.’
Paul warned us not to do this over two thousand years ago, but we can’t seem to quit.
Is there any difference between saying, “I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos,” and saying, “I am of Calvin, and I am of Arminius?”
The last time I listened to a debate between Calvinists and Arminianists, I purposed not to take sides, to keep an open mind, and just listen carefully. I could tell they were describing the same thing from different world views, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find a way to solve this problem by using my triangle paradox formula.
I have some new Facebook friends who are Universalists, so I was wondering why the Universalists never get invited to these debates. I know they have just as many bible verses to support their view as the Calvinists and Arminianists.
Then with a three sided debate going on in my head, I imagined this three sided pyramid.
 
I noticed that both teams were placing extra emphasis on their favorite verses and minimizing or discounting the other teams verses, but the most frustrating thing was when both sides would use the same exact verses with a completely different spin.
Anyway I decided to study this for myself, as you can see by my diagram I placed Calvinism on one side, Arminianism on the second side, and Univeralism on the third side, then I collected all three lists of bible verses, and was determined to give every single verse from each of the lists equal consideration.
Here is what I have so far, if we take predestination and irresistible grace from the Calvinists, add the word ‘all’ to  the concept of predestination, then modify the concept of irresistible grace slightly, and call it infinite persistence, then take the concept of man’s free will from the Arminianists, and from the Universalists I would choose a God with a heart like the Prodigal’s father, and the Shepherd that leaves the 99 to find the one lost sheep, A God who will never force or violate anyone’s freewill in any way, but also a God who is a Universalist at heart, that will never ever give up, or settle for a partial victory.
All of this kinda leaves us close to the hopeful Universalists.
I like this Brian Zahnd quote; “Dare we hope, yes, we dare hope, dare we say, no we dare not say.”
For now I intend to hang my hat on the top of the pyramid, while continuing my search for a whole Bible balanced truth; meanwhile I will just say I believe all ‘ISM’s are man made.
I could go on and on, by asking why God resurrects the wicked, about how the wicked are still deceived by Satan, until the books are opened, and the verses about every knee bowing, and every tongue confessing; that I believe God’s Justice is restorative, not punitive, how I believe God is a God of second chances, and that placing hot coals on a person’s head is symbolic for coals of conviction, which is what I think the lake of fire is made of.
But I guess I will just stop right here for now, and say;- – –  I am of Jesus.
Next; “The Sovereignty of God vs. the Free Will of Man”
e-mail vancecycles@yahoo.com
June 5, 2015

“THE ABSOLUTE WORLD vs. THE RELATIVE WORLD”

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Of course there’s not really two different worlds, this is just two different ways of perceiving reality.

The relative world is the name we’ve given the universe as we perceive it from our egocentric point of view. Most of us haven’t completely outgrown the childish notion that, “I am the center of the universe.”

Ask yourself the following questions. Is it hot, or is it cold? Does it exist in the past or the future? Is it big or is it small? Is it significant or insignificant? These are all relative questions, that cannot be answered unless we first ask, relative to what?

And the answer is quite often, relative to me. We call things hot because they burn us, and we call things cold because they give us the chills, we say the past and the future are relative to now, which always just happens to be right here where we are in time. We call an elephant big and a mouse small because the elephant is bigger than we are, and a mouse is smaller than we are. The Sun is signifiant, even though it is over 93 million miles away, because we need it to survive, Pluto on the other hand is relatively insignificant, because we don’t think we need it. In the relative world, things are perceived egocentrically, as if we were the absolute observer.  We arbitrarily label and categorize each person place and thing, and then we usually stamp a monetary or moral value on it. The value is determined by various things like, supply and demand, practical usefulness, it’s glitter, how well it’s been advertised, and by the trends of popular opinion.

We use these categories and labels to save us the time and trouble it takes to get to know each person, place, or thing, personally and intimately.

We say, “Oh, I know him, he’s a Carpenter or he’s a Pastor, or that Baseball player,” or some less flattering label we stick on them.
On the other hand in the absolute world each and every thing is observed all by it self, as if it were the entire universe, and nothing else existed. This eliminates comparisons, competition, and judgment.  In the absolute world a person, place, or thing, cannot be judged as, large or small, good or bad, or hot or cold, – – – because it just is.

 

So when it comes to the relative world versus the absolute world, the answer is YES.

True reality is; reality as God created it, as he perceives it to be, and as it relates to him. In other words, the way God, the Absolute Himself, created it, and relates to it, is the way it is. Everything is relative, but only as it relates to the Absolute Himself.

Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, and I’m not going to argue with his mathematics, but this much I do know, no matter how good your math is, if you leave one item off of your grocery list the total will be incorrect.
Albert said, “Everything is relative to the observer, and there is no absolute time.” I’m afraid Mister Einstein left God, The Absolute, off of his grocery list, and besides that I think God knows what time it is.
 Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but
my Father only.”
Now consider this; I believe God relates to each one of us absolutely, as if we were the only person in His universe, because God is Love, and that’s the most loving way for Him to relate.
Recall with me the touching scene in the movie Avatar, as the lovers draw close looking
deeply into one another’s eyes, and Neytiri says, “I see you, Jake Sooley.”
And he responds; “And I see YOU, Neytiri.”
When two people are in love,  they live in their own private bubble, and relate to
their loved one as the only one in the universe.
 Possiblly an even better example is the word ‘Grok.’

Grok is a word coined by Robert A. Heinlein for his 1961 science-fiction novel, “Stranger in a Strange Land, where it is defined as follows:

Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines to grok as “to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with” and “to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment”. I realize this can sound impractical in the 21st century, but we can begin by seeing each person as a unique child of God with unsurpassable worth,  and then remaining present, and giveing them our full attention, for the time we have to share.

 

Next; “CALVINISM vs. ARMINIANISM”

 e-mail,  vancecycles@yahoo.com
June 4, 2015

“JESUS OF NAZARETH vs. THE CAPTAIN OF THE LORD’S HOST”

In the four gospels we only get a few brief glimpses of The Lion of Judah, because He remains hidden in the heart of Jesus the Nazarene.

On the other hand, in the Old Testament, and in the Book of Revelation, it’s the other way around, the Captain of the LORD’S Host takes center stage, with The Lamb of God hidden in His heart.

My point is simple, but apparently quite difficult to comprehend; – – – Jesus of Nazareth and The Captain of The LORD’S Host are the exact same Person, with different job descriptions.

I would like to share two short stories to flesh this out:

Imagine you are the owner of a large corporation, and the popular television show called “Undercover Boss,’ has invited you to star on their show.

You just show up one day and apply for a job as a janitor in your own company.

The premise of the show is that you go ‘undercover,’ to get acquainted with some of your employees on a personal level, so you can decide who might deserve a promotion.

As today’s show begins you’re in a friendly conversation with a fellow janitor named George. At one point George asks, “Who are we working for anyway, have you ever seen the big boss?” “As a matter of fact I have,” you answer.  “Wow, what’s he like?”

This episode is nearing it’s end so you drop a not so subtle hint; “If you have seen me George, you have seen the owner of this corporation.”

Now zoom out and pretend we’re watching the show on my TV, we are in on the plot, and know that in one sense you have told George the truth, but then I say; “Actually in another sense George has been fooled, how did he react when you told him you were actually the owner of the company?”

“At first when George saw the cameraman he was a bit taken back, he didn’t really know what to think, he may have even felt betrayed, but after he was taken to the top floor, and saw me sitting behind my big mahogany desk, offering him a promotion, he cried and gave me a  hug, and we have been close friends ever since.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

My second story is shorter:

Now you are a successful lawyer, and a few years ago you were promoted to judge, so you spend your days making life and death judgments about other peoples lives, (note; it’s Ok to judge people when you have the authority, as long as you don’t go outside of your jurisdiction), but at the end of the day you set down your gavel, remove your robe, and drive home to your family.

Right now you are playing tea party with your six year old daughter Judy.  Judy is trying to teach you tea party etiquette, she says, “No daddy, you’re supposed to leave your little finger out, like this.”

Then she asks, “What do you do all day at work, daddy?” After you tell her about your robe and gavel, and your books of rules, Judy laughs and says, “That sounds like a very silly game to me.”

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Same concept; you are only one person, with the same character, with two different job descriptions. In one sense Judy knows the Judge, but she has never been to court, so in another sense, not completely.

During the incarnation Jesus of Nazareth showed us ‘The Way’ to live a sinless life as a man; as a servant leader completely submitted to His Heavenly Father, but he did not show us how to be God, and run the universe; that’s a completely different job description.

Read Ephesians 6:10-18, about the full armor of God, and visualize what you might look like all suited up.  You certainly do not look like you are going to a tea party.  Notice that two items are offensive; the Sword of Truth, and Prayer.

Now read about The Captain of The LORD’S Host in Joshua 5:13-15, and see if you notice any similarities.  Yes, He does have a sword in his hand, (the Sword of Truth) and he accepts worship, but he refuses to take sides.

Now go to Revelation 19:11-16, Here comes Jesus, riding on a white horse, followed by his army, (the heavenly host). Yes, He has a sharp sword, but it’s coming out of his mouth, so obviously it’s The Sword of Truth, and there is blood on his robe, but this is before the battle, so it must be his own blood.

Next visit Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus goes one on one with Satan, and He defeats him using The Sword of Truth, which is the Word of God; “IT IS WRITTEN!”

And again in Matthew 21:12-17, Jesus is cleansing the Temple, using the Sword of Truth; “IT IS WRITTEN, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you made it a den of robbers.”

Jesus of Nazareth may appear to be lamb like, but within His chest beats the mighty heart of The Lion of Judah,

Satan and his demons stalked Jesus every step of the way, but Jesus was never caught without his full suit of armor, including prayer, and His (metaphorical) Sword of Truth.

 

Next; The Absolute World vs. The Relative World”

e-mail,  vancecycles@yahoo.com

“The Lion of Judah vs. The Lamb of God”

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John the Baptist pointed and said, “Behold The Lamb of God,” – – -but in Hosea and Revelation, Jesus is called The Lion of Judah.

These symbols seem conflicting and difficult to comprehend, because a lamb is weak and passive, and a lion sounds powerful and aggressive; – – – and we’ve been taught that Satan “is the roaring lion, who seeks to devour.” (1 Peter 5;8)

This does NOT mean Jesus is bi-polar; that on His good days he’s gentle as a lamb, but on bad days, beware, He might bite your head off!

What it does mean is that  Jesus’ personality is always a perfect blend of these two extremes, similar to, “Wise as a serpent, but gentle as a dove.”

In Revelation 5:5-6, when John looks for The Lion of Judah, he sees The Slain Lamb, – – – and for my entire life, up until recently, whenever I looked at the Cross, I’ve always seen Jesus as the slain Lamb.

But  just below the surface, seen only with spiritual eyes, is The powerful Lion of Judah; the most powerful Being in the universe constrained by His Love. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” (2 Cor. 10:19)

After this realization you might begin to see glimpses of the Lion in the New Testament,

When Jesus rebukes Peter; “Get thee behind me Satan!”

In the temple Jesus wields the Sword of Truth, “IT IS WRITTEN, mine House shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”

When He whispers to Simon the leper, “Simon, I have somewhat to say to you.”

In the garden, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?”

All of the guards fell backwards when Jesus said; “I Am!”

“You have heard it said, – – – “But now I say.”

“LAZARUS COME FORTH!”

We tend to relate ‘meek’ with weakness, but meek means gentle, – – –  POWER under control,

 

Next; “Jesus of Nazareth vs. The Captain of the LORD’s Host”

e-mail,  vancecycles@yahoo.com

June 2, 2015

‘HAWKS vs. DOVES”

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Martin Luther was apparently aware of our tendency to think dualistically, because he said, “We are like a drunk who climbs up on one side of a horse and then falls of on the other.”

As long as we are still thinking and perceiving on a binary, dualistic, either/or, two-dimensional level, we can spend our life camping out in our favorite ditch, and if somehow we manage to escape one ditch, we will probably scurry across the road and dive into the other.

Hopefully our life will be more like a pendulum that swings back and forth until it finally settles in the middle, but if we haven’t grown during the process, we will only find ourselves standing in the middle of the road dodging bullets from both sides, while trying to negotiate a compromise.

However, if you have grown, and managed to grasp, and hold on to the high balance, – – – you better look good on wood; because this can get you crucified.

Several of the pastors I listen to on line have been focusing their attention on the ‘Red Letters,’ the teachings of Jesus, specifically the ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ because they have recently switched from Hawks to Doves, from ‘Kill them all, and let God sort them out,’ to ‘Unconditional, Other Centered, Enemy Love.’

“Well what can possibly be wrong with that?” you may ask.

I must admit, it sure sounds like a huge step in the right direction, but from the top of the pyramid it’s easy to see they’ve only switched ditches; the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme.

Scripture never says, “Blessed are the Hawks,” or “Blessed are the Doves,” it says, “Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (can you see the paradoxical high balance?)

And the Bible never says, “Blessed are the Pacifists,” it says, “Blessed are the Peace Makers.”

“What’s the difference?” Actually I believe there’s a big difference, but first I feel the need to stop a moment and talk about ‘Labels.’

Specifically self labels; any label you place on yourself comes with its own set of rules, the warrior’s rule may be, “If it shoots at you, shoot back,” the pacifists rule will probably be, “Be willing to die for a cause, but never kill for any reason, no, not even a fly.”

Other labels like Republican, or Democrat, Catholic or Protestant, and even Religious or Christian; – – – all come with their own set of rules, especially more extreme labels like: Nazi, Black Panther, or Hell’s Angel.

So I believe avoiding self labeling, as much as possible, is a good idea.

On the on the other hand a label God places on you can be freeing rather than restrictive.  He seems to prefer, ‘Disciple,’ or ‘Child of God,’ and/or ‘Peace Maker.’

Jesus uses ‘peacemakers,’ as a synonym for ‘child of God’.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 10:16)

The closest thing to a rule for the disciples/children of God/peacemakers, is “Follow Jesus and do whatever He says,” and if in doubt, always remember, “Love trumps all of the rules,” so, “Do the most loving thing for everyone concerned, not excluding yourself.

However, I feel I must warn you; if you happened to find a coin with Peacemaker stamped on heads, when you flip it over it would say, Troublemaker.

A peacemaker can often be found right in the middle of a controversy, taking a stand, and refusing to take sides. He may even begin by agitating the situation to focus attention on the problem, like Jesus in the temple, or Gandhi with his salt march, or MLK Junior’s sit in.

In other words, don’t expect to find a true peacemaker hiding out in a church in the suburbs, waiting for Jesus to come back and fix everything.

 

Next; “The Lion of Judah vs. The Lamb of God”

e-mail,  vancecycles@yahoo.com

June 1, 2015

“SELFISH vs. UNSELFISH”

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Everyone knows us humans seem to have been born selfish, and so all of the pastors I know preach unselfishness, and other-centeredness, but the word unselfish still has ‘self’ hiding right in the middle of it.

When you read more closely with spiritual eyes, the Bible does not teach unselfishness, and/or other-centeredness, – – – it teaches we are to become selfless, and God centered.

My paraphrase of the Golden rule is; To do the most loving thing for everyone concerned, not excluding yourself.  In other words, when you bake a pie or order pizza, you get just as big a piece as everyone else.

It says to “Love others ‘AS’ yourself.” To me that means equal to yourself.

The only safe way to love yourself, is ‘as if’ you are one of the others.

“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 

 

Next; “HAWKS vs. DOVES”

e-mail,  vancecycles@yahoo.com

 

June 1, 2015