Your Best Friend And Your Worst Enemy

May 19, 202

     I have been working as a minister for a number of years and in that time, I have been involved in nearly every kind of trouble that humans can get themselves into. One thing that stands out is that rarely does anyone come into my office and say I knew this was a terrible idea, but I went ahead and did it anyway. It happens but it’s rare. More often than not people come in wringing their hands and saying I had no idea this was going to happen. 

     This makes me ask a question, how do we decide what is good and bad right and wrong helpful or unhelpful? To start off we may consider the obvious, we feel a need. If I feel cold I will dress warmer or turn up the heat or change my location. If I feel hungry, I eat. Already though we have stumbled  into a challenge. We understand humans often make poor choices about when to eat what to eat and how much to eat. Give me a pork chop and I will eat it gladly until I am satisfied. Give me some chicken wings and suddenly satisfaction has nothing to do with it, I will eat until I am physically unable to consume any more. I know that eating is helpful when I am hungry, but my good intentions quickly go awry when faced with the wrong stimulus. 

     Such is the case with many human needs, we need to work, we need relationships, we need shelter, the list could go on. What we need to remember is that not all needs are created equal and that some needs should take precedent over others. 

     In fact one need should be above all others that is our need for God. For his mercy and love and truth. Need for his direction and purpose. This need takes to top spot. The great thing is this need also comes with a matrix by which we can measure all other needs. Gods revelation for man speaks to all of our needs with truth and balance. One short article is not nearly long enough to discuss everything the bible says about meeting all of the needs that God knows humans have. Knowing that God knows does become a key element in finding the balance and direction we need.

     Matthew 6:25-33 offers a lot of help largely based on this exact truth that God knows our needs and cares that they are met. A second scripture that offers a great deal of insight is 1 Corinthians 6:12 where Paul explains that many things are fine to do but not all of these things are beneficial. This adds to our trusting God from Matthew 6 the idea that our intellect must rule over our cravings. We have choices about how and when we meet our needs. Some of those choices are better than others. For example Martha could have waited to do the preparations. Notice the text says they had to be made, further there is no indication that Martha did anything sinful. Therefor her actions fall into the category Paul describes above as something that’s fine to do. It just wasn’t the best thing to do. 

     My prayer for all of us is that our needs are met spiritual first and all others in abundance. For this to be the case none of our secondary needs can be allowed to rule us. I pray that as we make choices about how to meet our needs and wants that we will do so placing God first and taking his word as our guide.

~ Kevin Cleary

 

Will You Go With Me?

May 12, 202

I want to share a story from Steve Higginbotham and then make a brief extra observation. 

“I can remember a frequent routine that used to take place in our house when my youngest son was about six-years-old and my youngest daughter was about two-years-old.  It would be evening, the family would be upstairs, and I might ask my youngest son to retrieve something from the first floor.

He would quickly say, “But dad, no one’s down there.”  To which I would say, “I know.”  Then he would reply, “But it’s dark and the lights are out.”  I’d say, “Then turn on the lights and it won’t be dark anymore.”  Then he’d say, “But I’m afraid.”  And I’d say, “There’s nothing to be afraid of, now go on down there and get what I asked you to get.”  Finally, he would turn to his two-year-old sister and say, “Hey Anne Marie, do you want to go downstairs with me?

Through the years, I’ve laughed about that.  I mean, what’s a two-year-old girl going to do to help you when you’re scared? (Actually, I think I figured out his logic.  I think he planned on sacrificing her to the “monster” while he made his get-away!)

Anyway, to seriously answer my question, “What’s a two-year-old girl going to do to help you when you’re scared?”  Presence.  She’ll give you her presence.  We value presence more than we may realize.  Our fears aren’t as great when we’re with someone else.  The darkness doesn’t seem quite as dark.  And our imaginations are kept in check by the presence of others.

Friends, being alone is scary!  In fact one of the frightening things about Hell is that the presence of God will not be there, and we will be all alone (2 Thessalonians 1:9).  But thank God for two-year-old little girls who will go downstairs with their older brothers, and thank God for Jesus who promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).”

Steve makes a great point here, I would like to add two more. Remember when Job was suffering and his friends showed up to be with him. I suggest they were a good example of what Steve is saying here. When someone is going through something difficult we can do a lot just by being there. Second remember when Jesus sent out the disciples? He sent them two by two, again, I think this is a good example of Steve’s point. When someone is doing something hard we may not be able to lend much more than our presence but sometimes that makes all the difference. 

~ Kevin Cleary

 

Fruit Without A Tree

May 5, 202

     If you want peaches, you need a peach tree, if you want cherries you need to plant a cherry tree, if you want apples you guessed it you need an apple tree.

     What if you want a healthy family, a cohesive society, a peaceful country, a thriving economy, a healthy environment to raise children? The tree that provides all of this is Christian Faith. For decades numerous parties have worked to remove every vestige of Christian faith from western civilization. Now the Nietzschean chickens have come home to roost, God has been pushed out and with Him, His common grace. It seems that some are starting to realize they like and even need the fruit of Christianity. 

     Nietzsche famously said: “When you give up Christian faith, you pull the rug out from under your right to Christian morality as well. This is anything but obvious: you have to keep driving this point home, English idiots to the contrary.” 

     When Richard Dawkins recently started to notice he said “You know I love hymns and Christmas Carols. I feel at home in the Christian ethos. I feel that we are a Christian country in that sense”.

     Joe Rogan in commenting on the state of the world said “we need Jesus” and says “If he is coming back now would be a good time”

     Jordan Peterson has been arguing for some time that the moral underpinnings of our civilization are derived practically from scripture. He has further concluded that it requires a metaphysical foundation. He has not commented on the historical realities of Christianity which I will be interested to see him deal with. At this point however he all but admits that the Christian God exists. 

     Atheist historian Tom Holland, commented on Dawkins above statement: “ secularism & Dawkins’ own brand of evangelical atheism are both expressions of a specifically Christian culture – as Dawkins himself, sitting on the branch he’s been sawing through and gazing nervously at the ground far below, seems to have begun to realize.”

     Recently Russel Brand has expressed his discovery of faith and has even been baptized. 

     Could it be that something of an awakening is taking place? Could it be that a larger world is waking up to what we as the body of Christ have known all along. The optimist in me says yes or at least maybe. However, my fear is that people will satisfy their desire for faith with empty easy belief, or they will return to the Catholicism, Methodism, or Pentecostalism of their family or youth. They may be drawn to the flashy options like Benny Hinn, or Joel Olsten. Any of these would be preferable to pure secularism. That said, my prayer is that they turn to the Bible. My aim it to do whatever I can to help them, and I’m sure that yours is as well. We should see the sentiments above as an opportunity, we should open our eyes and see the fields are white unto harvest. 

     What a great opportunity we have in this dark world to remind people that you can’t have the fruit of Christian morality without the tree of Christian Faith. 

~ Kevin Cleary

 

Judgement Day 2011

April 28, 202

     This article is from a few years ago but the point is still sound. Since it recounts a true prediction from only a few years ago  I wanted to share it. 

I couldn’t believe it, I had read a little about the president of family radio predicting that the end of the world was upon us. But thought surely no one in my area would know and certainly nothing would be made of it in Meaford. But then as I was heading back from my workout at the tank range, there it was larger than life a huge Billboard proclaiming the end of the world beginning May 21 2011.

It seems that Harold Camping like many before him set out to study with a Bible and a calculator and after making some assumptions about the Genesis flood and God’s reckoning of time as well as setting some extremely precise ancient dates has decided that that he knows when the end will be.

The list of problems with this kind of prediction is so long that to deal with all of them would really take too long. However, a few simple points will serve to demonstrate the wrongheadedness of these kinds of predictions.

First people have been predicting the end of the world for thousands of years, and guess how many have been right, none. From Montanus in the fifth century to Charles Taze Russell in the twentieth right up to those who feared the end at the turn of the millennium all who have made predictions about the end have been wrong.

There’s a reason they have been wrong, they have abandoned the teaching of the very book they claim to be representing. The Bible which is the only book from the creator of the world, and therefore the only trustworthy source on matters pertaining to the end of that creation says; “Of that day and that hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the father alone.” (Matthew 24:36; 42) Those who claim to know when Jesus will return are claiming to know more than even Jesus knew while on earth. Jesus goes on to say that his return will be like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:43). Later the apostle Paul would use the same expression to emphasis the unexpected nature of the Lords return (I Thessalonians 5:2-3).

This does not mean that Christians should not be aware of Christ’s eventual return, or that there is no application for people today. Despite the fact that we can’t know when the Lord will return we can know that he will. Jesus and Paul both continue the Thief comparison to point out that if you knew a thief were coming but not exactly when you would prepare yourself so you were ready any time. And this is what people need to do today. The apostle Peter phrases it this way “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people aught you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to his promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth.”

So don’t be too surprised if the world does not end on May 21st. But also don’t be surprised or unprepared when eventually it does.

Kevin Cleary

 

Sometimes You Have To Make Up Your Mind

April 21, 202

Life is made up of decisions, most of which are unavoidable.  On an ordinary day we make hundreds, and whole lot more when life shifts into high gear.  Most are trivial, but not all, and especially not those pertaining to spiritual things. These are important in the here and now because the outcomes reach into eternity.  And spiritual decisions are time-sensitive with a built-in expiration date coinciding with our own. 

That is how it was for the men who were crucified beside Jesus. They were put onto the cross before noon and knew that they would not be allowed to live until the Sabbath – only six hours away. They did not have all day to make up their minds about Jesus. 

They knew a lot about him, because much of what he had done and said were common knowledge. By the power of God He had performed miracles and had also proven that he had the right to forgive sins. He had promised that the Kingdom of Heaven would arrive within the lifetime of his hearers and that as the Son of God he would usher it in.  But before that, God had sent him to die on a cross and then to rise from the dead on the third day. 

Those two men on crosses with Jesus spoke for us all. What they decided – exhausts all of our options.  

With time running out, one man railed while the other repented. One wanted a stay of execution while the other wanted a stay in heaven.  As quickly as sins were piling up on one side of Jesus he was forgiving them on the other.  

Torment or Paradise.  It ought to be an easy choice and made without delay. It might just be later than we think, for we do not know either when we will die nor when our Lord will return. But what we do know is that we have the opportunity to make up our minds about Jesus, today.  

~ David Knutson