Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

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Understanding Universal Salvation 0

Posted on July 07, 2017 by Alexander
universal.jpg

Will all be saved n the end?

I asked the question, “What is Universal Salvation” on a forum that has Christians from all walks of life. I genuinely wanted to know why people believe in universal salvation. I knew I would get a Scripture debate where the pros and cons would cite their scriptural proof for their position. I am not interested in such debate. My interest is in the motivating factors that lead people to one position or the other.

Read the rest of this entry →

King of Kings Online 0

Posted on May 21, 2011 by Alexander

Christian game programmers could create a discipleship online game

I first heard the Lord of the Rings read to me in 1965 by my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Lum, who read the entire trilogy every day for the school year. Since my attention span was not good back then, I decided in 1967 to read the trilogy for myself as a 7th grader. Since that time I have re-read the entire series about 20 times.

Indeed, God used the Lord of the Rings as stepping stone to Christ in my life. In 1973 He gave me a dream with the Silmarillion in it. At that time the book was yet to be published. He gave me the dream because I was reading the Bible for myself just to see what was in it. I was reading many Christian fantasy books at that time: George MacDonald’s “Curdie” books; C.S. Lewis’s “Perelandra” trilogy; and the many Frank L Baum “Oz” books. I had bought those from a Christian bookstore, although I was not aware of the religious significance. The store had all these great fantasies that Tolkien had enamored my heart towards. So when I told the book store owner of the dream, he told me that it was written by Tolkien and was going to be published in a few more years. That convinced me that my dream was from God. Read the rest of this entry →

Choose Life 1

Posted on April 18, 2009 by Alexander
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

Ecclesiastes and the Dark Side of the Moon

Previous posts in the series:

Chapter 1/Speak to Me-Breathe

Chapter 2/On the Run

Chapter 3/Time

Chapter 5-7/The Great Gig in the Sky

Chapter 5-6/Money

Chapter 4-9/Us and Them

Chapter 1-10/Any Color You Like

Chapter 10/Brain Damage

The end of the book, “Ecclesiastes,” and the end of the album, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” brings us to the decision.  To choose life or death?  Solomon, throughout this book and Proverbs,  makes the contrast between wisdom and folly.  To choose life is wisdom.  To choose death is folly.  For my illustration I have used actor Ian McKellen who portrayed Gandalf in the movie, “The Lord of the Rings,” because wizards in the world were considered a picture of the wise men.   Wizards are portrayed as old men who have lived long lives, thus having obtained wisdom.   And the answer of  Solomon echos this view.  Choose wisdom and live a long life.

Every choice brings a consequence.  Hinduism calls it “karma kickback”.  Science calls it Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion: “for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.”  The Bible calls it “sowing and reaping.”  At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon advises his readers to take this seriously and to make good choices in one’s youth.  To “cast your bread on many waters” means to be generous and try your hand at many good endeavors.   In chapter 11 he gives a variety of word pictures illustrating that each action has a consequence.  If clouds are full, they rain;  trees remain where they fall; and procrastination because of weather brings no harvest.  The Creator is Lord over His creation and makes the final choice of what will prosper or not.  Therefore, apply your self to many good endeavors, for we do not know His choices.

Chapter 12 sums up Solomon’s point.  Good choices have to be made while we are young, for old age and the consequences of bad choices come upon us quickly.  Good choices may bring long life, but even with a good life, the infirmity of old age affects us all. He describes these infirmities with another set of word pictures.  “Sun light darkening” and “clouds cease rain” becomes a picture of death;  “keepers of the house” and “strong men bow down” picture the waning of our physical strength;  “grinders cease and are few” and “windows dim” picture teeth falling out and eyesight diminishing;  “rising at the sound of the bird” and “daughters of music brought low” picture the light sleep with the tendency of early rising along with deafness affecting the ears;  “fear of height” and “terrors in the way” picture the ease of injury in old age;  and finally, “grasshopper burden” and “desire fails” picture the diminished sex drive and inability to maintain erections in men.

Old age brings everyone face to face with death, from which there is no escape.  So Solomon reminds us that we all face God in judgment, therefore we should obtain a fear of the Lord early in life to make our way in life as successful as possible.

But not so with the main character in the “Dark Side of the Moon.”  He had no understanding of God, became overwhelmed with the world, went insane and sought a living death as relief from his suffering through a lobotomy.  The lyrics of Pink Floyd recount all that he knew would be lost to memory.  What Pink Floyd’s character does not understand is that the consequences of his choices remain, even though he loses consciousness of them.  To yield to the world system, choosing to live life in that way, is the path of death.  To believe that death will end the suffering is to deny the judgment of God that we all face and the punishment  of God upon all who have rejected Him and His Way of Life.   As Solomon said, dear reader, remember now the Creator in the days of your youth, and choose life, not death.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 11

1    Cast your bread upon the waters,  For you will find it after many days.

2    Give a serving to seven, and also to eight,  For you do not know what evil will be on the earth.

3    If the clouds are full of rain,  They empty themselves upon the earth;  And if a tree falls to the south or the north, In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.

4    He who observes the wind will not sow,  And he who regards the clouds will not reap.

5    As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.

6    In the morning sow your seed,  And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.

Chapter 12

1    Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,  Before the difficult days come,  And the years draw near when you say,  “I have no pleasure in them”:

2    While the sun and the light,  The moon and the stars,  Are not darkened,  And the clouds do not return after the rain;

3    In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,  And the strong men bow down; When the grinders cease because they are few,  And those that look through the windows grow dim;

4    When the doors are shut in the streets,  And the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, And all the daughters of music are brought low;

5    Also they are afraid of height,   And of terrors in the way;   When the almond tree blossoms,  The grasshopper is a burden,  And desire fails.  For man goes to his eternal home,  And the mourners go about the streets.

6    Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,  Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,  Or the wheel broken at the well.

7    Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,  And the spirit will return to God who gave it.

13  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.

14    For God will bring every work into judgment,  Including every secret thing,  Whether good or evil.

11. Eclipse
(Waters) 2:04

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.
All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

“There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.”

The Dark Side of the Moon is eclipse of light, which is a metaphor for knowledge.  To have a lobotomy may remove all ability to feel the pain of this world, but it does not cut out the human spirit.   Until he dies his spirit is trapped in a bodily prison that no longer participates in the creation.

The creation is not evil. The joy of life and the experiences of the senses is a gift from God to all creatures, mankind and animals.   But sin and selfishness are the driving forces of the world system that causes the pain and suffering in this world.  Life is not hard, sin and death is hard.  The more pleasurable life is, the greater the impact of tragedy when it occurs.  The natural defense of the body is to develop calluses.  The skin thickens to deaden the pain.  This happens in our spirits and conscience, too, as our hearts harden through time.

The answer is not a lobotomy. The answer is the circumcision of the heart by the cross of Jesus Christ.  God wants to help all people, and does in whatever way He can that does not violate our free wills.  But to gain His full aid in life, we must come into the covenant relationship that He offers the world through Jesus Christ.   The word covenant has its root meaning in “cutting away.”  To cut away the frontal lobe of the brain, does nothing to cut away the root cause of sin in our hearts.  The victom in the Pink Floyd drama lives senselessly in his sins and selfishness even after his lobotomy.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news in deed.  Jesus promised the abundant life.  That does not mean that He changes His creation, rather, it means that He will enhance our senses to appreciate all the good in life that is always here already.  Goodness in life is by far greater than the evil of the world.  For God means Good, and He is greater than all His creation.   He has filled His creation with goodness and beauty in every facet.  The new birth enables us to see that beauty and goodness everywhere.  However, anything scrutinized under a microscope will make the miniscule seem extraordinarily large.

And this is one of the failings of the Church of Jesus Christ.  Emphasis has been placed on the evils of the world instead of the good. Jesus told Nicodemus that the world was already condemned – a condemnation that began in the garden of Eden – but He did not come to condemn the world, but to save it.  We are not called to condemn the world, and that is how the lost in the world perceive the Church.   Rather we are called to point the world to true salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.    Not prosperity.  Not deliverance from struggle.   Not to self righteousness.   But to the eye opening wonder of knowing the eternal being who created everything, and the knowledge of His wonderful ways.

The Dark Side of the Moon is only a shadow.  The sunlight always remains.  Simply move out of the shadow into the sunlight and see again.

As a final word on this series, I want to commend those incredible musicians who crafted this classic work.  The Church has an “Us and Them” mentality that makes God appear to be separated from all people outside Jesus Christ.  This diminishes the glorious goodness of our Father.  He is involved in the lives of every person in creation.  He is not in covenant with every person,  which is why the Great Commission was given, but He is in love with every person, and helps them within the limitations that sin creates.   I believe that God inspired this work of Pink Floyd.   I believe that He wants the message of disaster that life without Christ creates.    This band saw the world system clearly and understood the destructiveness of the world system.  Their album clearly documents that destructiveness.

I encourage all believers to listen to this album in its entirety again with the lens of Ecclesisastes that I have tried to focus for you here.  You can buy the CD from Amazon.com and elsewhere.   Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Syd Barrett, Nick Mason and Richard Wright I thank you for your creative genius.  This album had touched my heart decades before I ever knew the Lord.  And because of my knowledge of the Bible, I now appreciate your work even more.

Heaven Misunderstood 0

Posted on April 01, 2009 by Alexander
Both the Church and the World Misunderstand Heaven

Both the Church and the World Misunderstand Heaven

Ecclesiastes and the Dark Side of the Moon

Previous posts in the series:

Chapter 1/Speak to Me-Breathe

Chapter 2/On the Run

Chapter 3/Time

The parallel between the two works tends to break up in sequence, but not in subject matter.  In the last song  called, “Time” the main character suffers a midlife crisis in realizing that he has not accomplished anything of significance with his life.

For a fleeting moment,  at the end of the song, “Time” a tag song, “Breathe (Reprise)”  the character  has come up for air once  more  in gaining his bearings by  looking back home.   He even  considers the possibility of embracing religion as he hears  “far away across the field, The tolling of the iron bell” which “Calls the faithful to their knees ” but then dismisses the thought of God as “softly spoken magic spells.”

The lost have an arrogant assumption about heaven that they can go there just like anyone else, when in truth no one can go without accepting the salvation of mankind given through Jesus Christ.  The thought that it would be better to die than live becomes the temptation for suicide for so many when they do not understand the afterlife,  as the next song,  “The Great Gig in the Sky” plays as a dreamy reverie of a longed for peace not found on Earth.

Solomon, on the other hand, who is exploring all the temptations of the world in Ecclesiastes,  never loses sight of the true living God.  He knows that he is experimenting.  He, unlike the character in the Dark Side of the Moon, is willfully testing God. He knows that God has already said that these things of the world are bad, but he is proving it to himself,  in his excursion into the flesh and the world,  that God is right.  He reminds us that we are not to come before God lightly.  This is a serious matter.

Appearing Before God

Chapter 5

1  Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.

2    Do not be rash with your mouth,  And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.  For God is in heaven, and you on earth;  Therefore let your words be few.

3    For a dream comes through much activity,  And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.

4    When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;  For He has no pleasure in fools.  Pay what you have vowed—

5    Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?

7  For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.

Chapter 7

1    A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth;

2    Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.

3    Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.

4    The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,  But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

5    It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools.

6    For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, So is the laughter of the fool.  This also is vanity.

13    Consider the work of God;  For who can make straight what He has made crooked?

14    In the day of prosperity be joyful,  But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other,  So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.

15  I have seen everything in my days of vanity:  There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.

16    Do not be overly righteous,  Nor be overly wise:  Why should you destroy yourself?

17    Do not be overly wicked,  Nor be foolish:  Why should you die before your time?


6. The Great Gig in the Sky
(Wright) 4:44

“And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I
don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying?
There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.”

“If you can hear this whispering you are dying.”

“I never said I was frightened of dying.”

(Instrumental)

The afterlife is enshrouded with much confusion. Even the church of Jesus Christ is confused about what God is doing in our lives and what His plan for us in the future will be.

The first point to understand is that God never made Heaven to be the home of mankind. Heaven, like the Lake of Fire was created for angels.  Solomon tells us that the earth ever abides (Ecc. 1:4) and Isaiah said that God made the Earth to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18).  Heaven is not the permanent home of men, but the Earth is.

The English word “heaven” is a derivative of the word “haven”, which is a temporary shelter from a storm for ships at sea.   So, our going to Heaven is a temporary residence for those who die in Christ, until Christ returns and we all are given our glorified bodies to dwell anew upon the Earth.

For the church, we are already in heaven for we are seated at the right hand of Christ (Eph. 1:20), but it is not apparent because it is our spirits that are already with the Lord, but our bodies are still focused on the Earth.  This is why Paul told the Corinthians that we are to look upon the eternal, not the temporal (2 Cor. 4:18).

Many in the Church struggle today because they are mislead by the pulpit regarding Heaven.  The message heard by both the Church and the lost in the world is that Heaven is a future, far off matter.  As I said regarding the character in the Dark Side of the Moon, he thinks he can go to heaven and escape the trials of this life.  He errs in not understanding that he has to have the price of admission paid for him by Christ.  But his error is just as bad as the error of the Church in assuming that Heaven is a future event.

We have already died with Christ, so when the Bible says that in a twinkling of an eye we will be changed, that twinkling is the removal of the barrier that hinders us from seeing what we already have.  When Paul said that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) he was not talking about “name it and claim it”  faith.  He was talking about reckoning ourselves already dead.  The power of God works through us when we die to self.  Our walk in Christ is not burdensome, for Jesus said that His burden was easy and His yoke was light.

The rest that the character in Pink Floyd’s story is looking for is not found in physical death, but spiritual rebirth.  The  new birth brings a believer who will embrace it, into the Lord’s rest, which is the real rest of Heaven.  Letting Christ rule and reign in your hearts means giving Him full control of your life, and for us to trust Him as the Lord builds our house with the abundant life.   No Christian who has surrendered his life to Christ, need contemplate suicide. If one does, it is because one is trying to control life instead of allowing the Lord to control life.  The irony is that suicide is the right train, but the wrong track. Physcial suicide will fail, but self denial as a type of suicide of will for the Lord’s will, succeeds.

Ecclesiastes and the Dark Side of the Moon 2

Posted on March 27, 2009 by Alexander

In 2005 I put on a show at the gym where I used to work called,  “Cirque du Lune.”   Since we were not as good as Cirque du Solei, (Circus of the Sun), I called the show “Circus of the Moon” (Cirque du Lune) instead.  I used the Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd as my music for the opening act.

Later on I realized that the Pink Floyd band members of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Sid Barrett, Nick Mason and Richard Wright had written the same topic that is addressed in the book of Ecclesiastes: pursuing the world system will drive you mad.   When I compared the chapters of Ecclesiastes I was surprised to find that the song order of The Dark Side of the Moon roughly corresponded to the same order as the book of Ecclesiastes.

I do not know if they had consciously followed this book, or even if they were aware of the book, but the parallel between the two is uncanny.

So I am taking the liberty of reading from the book of Ecclesiastes followed by the Pink Floyd songs for comparison.  It should be noted, however, that the two works have completely different endings.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon is saved from his despair by embracing God, whereas in the Dark Side of the Moon, the main character gives in to the despair ending his conscious life  with a lobotomy.  The Bible examines the truth of the evil in this world, but gives hope.  To look at the evil of this world without leaning on God results in despair.

Listen to the podcast and read the verses that I read from Ecclesiastes along with me and read the lyrics of the Dark Side of the Moon that follows and think about it.  This first podcast is only parts of Chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes and the two songs, “Speak to Me” with “Breathe”.  Here are the verses and lyrics.

Ecclesiastes

Chapter 1

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2    “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
3    What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?

8    All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
9    That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,

12  I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
15    What is crooked cannot be made straight,
And what is lacking cannot be numbered.
16  I communed with my heart, saying, “Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.”
17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.
18    For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Dark Side of the Moon

1. Speak to Me
(Mason) 1:16

“I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years, been over the edge for yonks, been working me buns off for bands…”

“I’ve always been mad, I know I’ve been mad, like the
most of us…very hard to explain why you’re mad, even if you’re not mad…”

(Instrumental)

2. Breathe
(Waters, Gilmour, Wright) 2:44

Breathe, breathe in the air.
Don’t be afraid to care.
Leave but don’t leave me.
Look around and choose your own ground.

Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be.

Run, rabbit run.
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don’t sit down it’s time to dig another one.

For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.

The primary lesson to be learned from Ecclesiastes is that we must trust God.   But there is also a vital secondary lesson that the Church needs to understand.  We can not change the world.  To try and change the world is to have the world change us.   Jesus did not call us to change the world but to be changed by Him, and to preach the Kingdom of God to all the world, for only God can change people, which is the world.

The church is infiltrated by the world.  The world is the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, and the lust of  the eyes (1 John 2:16).  It is time that we come out of the world’s endeavor as seen in the culture war.  The world at large will not be changed in this life even by God.  He has called us to share the gospel so that hearts may be changed one by one.  But even then, we should not think that we are going to change the world by sharing the gospel.  We are only bringing into the Kingdom those whose hearts are turned towards God.  The vast multitude of people will reject Christ.

As I have said to my beautiful wife, “Sin is insanity.”  All the world is gripped by insanity.  Sanity comes to the individual heart by Jesus Christ.  Let us keep our eyes on the Kingdom, and not the world.

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