All posts tagged friendship

I Remember

Christmas holds some of my greatest memories.  I remember everyone getting together for the holidays and having a ball with the entire family at my Grandparent’s home and Aunt Ginny’s farm.  I remember falling asleep in the car and having my Dad carry me to my bed.  I remember all those who have passed away and who I look forward to seeing again. I remember the cold weather in Michigan, snow, sledding, deer hunting, turkey dinners, favorite recipes and a lot of love.  I really don’t remember the hard times or any pain.  I guess I have a lot for which to be thankful… and I am.

What I really want to remember is that this is the day we celebrate the greatest miracle of human history.  I know some people think it’s just a nice story or a myth, but I believe in the real incarnation of the Creator into human form; the manger, the shepherds, the angels and the birth of the Savior of mankind. Yep, I believe it all and have built my life on the veracity of this story and God’s claim on my life.

I have a friend, who says he used to believe all this but now doesn’t.  He is sick of people like me who are so locked in to worrying about what “God says” in the Bible and how we want everyone else to live. Well, I think what he is really sick of is being reminded of what God wants from him. I remember what God says about his love for us.  But for my dear friend, it is just too “Fantastical.” I wish he would remember when he believed.

At Christmas, I remember my childhood and how simple life was then.  I remember my country and how great it was to be an American.  I remember my friends, my school days and my church.  I remember it all.  I remember what God has done for me and I am grateful.  Thank you, dear Lord.  I remember you!

NOT THE SAME

I have recently had the delightful experience of making friends with two medical doctors, both with a Muslim cultural and religious background. I consider both of them to be men of real quality and intellect and have developed a genuine affection for them. As we have come to know one another better, I have inquired about their spiritual beliefs and perspective on God. Neither one is devout in their Muslim faith but they do believe in God and the Golden rule’s importance… so far, so good! But the fundamental issue is not about how to be a Good person. What we need to ask ourselves is, AM I RIGHTLY CONNECTED TO GOD? This question is so important that we must not get it wrong.

 From non-Christians, I commonly hear that all religions are the same and that they all lead us to the same God. The reasoning goes: ‘It’s just that we are all from different parts of the world or family backgrounds which have a different way of expressing belief in God. If you are sincerely seeking God through your religion and treat others with love and compassion, you will be fine in the end.’ Let me give you just four good reasons why this logic doesn’t ring true:

1. All prophets are not the same. Compare what we know about the personal lives of Buddha, Mohammed and Confucius (or any of the other ‘prophets’) to Christ – all except Christ claimed to be mere men and all espoused radically different paths to God. Christ alone claimed to be, not only a prophet sent from God, but he claimed to be God in human form. He further said that he was the only way to God. An honest mind must conclude that Christ is either a liar, crazy or God, but he cannot be thought of in the same way as the others. Christ alone, and no other religious leader, ever had his birth foretold; let alone to the precise year – predicted hundreds of years in advance by Daniel the Biblical writer.  And there are over 300 other specific prophecies giving details of Christ’s life that could not be fabricated by his followers. Further, there are eight times as many prophecies speaking of Christ coming a second time in the future. To illustrate how amazing these fact are, consider that if you wanted to find any person on the planet you would only need maybe 4 pieces of reliable information (name country, street and address) to find them.  If you had over 300 pieces of specific accurate information, it would be impossible to miss them!  

2. All sacred writings are not the same. It is through these writings that we come to understand the basic teachings of any religion. The Christian Scriptures stand alone as the more well-attested ancient documents in all of human history. Even the writings of Plato and Homer have a far less certain pedigree. Careful study of the ancient Biblical documents reveals amazing uniformity despite having dozens of contributing authors, the prophetic elements of Scripture are accurate in every respect …and archeological, scientific and historical records are undeniably true. Having read and studied other sacred writings from most of the world religions, I can speak with some authority when I say they are not in the same category of literature.  They are simply not the same.

3. All gods are not the same. There is but one true God who is the creator and sustainer of life. However there are many pretenders to the throne. Look at the fruit of the tree to determine what kind of tree it is. We know that God is a mixture of many characteristics but He must always be consistent and righteous. When you see something that doesn’t fit that profile, you know that what you are looking at is not God, but a counterfeit and not to be confused with the genuine article. Only the God of Christianity gave himself in payment for the sins of his own creation. There is no greater love than that!

4. All religious teachings are not the same. Let’s lay aside the way adherents of every religion have gone astray. More importantly we need to examine the truth of the religion not the fidelity of its adherents. If you study the religions of the world, you will soon discover the differences are so enormous, even the most fundamental understanding of their teachings cannot be considered ‘the same.’ One example to consider is the method proposed for salvation. With the single exception of Christianity, all other religions require that we must work our way to God. If that is the only path to God, everyone is in desperate trouble because we are all seriously flawed. A Christian knows he cannot earn a place in heaven. For him, salvation is by faith in Christ’s perfection alone. We can never be good enough for God without Christ.  Only Christ was flawless and able to substitute Himself for me.

In summary, Christianity is unique. You may not embrace its teachings, sacred writings, its prophet or its God, but I beg you to understand that all religions are not the same. Try to put aside your preconceptions and hearsay. Examine Christianity with an open mind and I believe you will discover it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Please do not deceive yourself. All religions are not the same.

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” – 2 Peter 1:16-21 (KJV)

 

Expectations

This picture came to my inbox today and got me thinking about “Expectations.” I once saw an interview of Warren Buffet and his longtime partner (who no one has ever heard of) Charlie Munger. The question was asked of them how they got along so well for so many years? They glanced at each other and without hesitation Charlie said,” We have very low expectations of one another.” Wow! There is an insight that everyone needs to understand!

As we approach Christmas, what does this truth mean to us? First it means that God has low expectations of you and me. When God became a man (Jesus Christ), he was willing to sacrifice everything and humble himself in the hope that we would respond to his free gift of love but he had no assurance we would. He had high hopes but low expectations of our desire to reconnect with him as our savior and creator. He gives with no expectation of a return on his investment. He even offers to pay the price of our admission to heaven for free. All we need to do is believe in him.

Secondly, we need to lower our expectations of God. Not because he cannot deliver but because when he does deliver it is always out of love and not because we demand it. We also need to understand that as God, he knows best and therefore does not give us everything we expect or even want because it would undoubtedly ruin our lives. We give ourselves to God with no expectation of what he will do with our life. We simply know that he has our best at heart.

Thirdly, we will get along better with others if we lower our expectations of them. Not only are you imperfect but so is everyone else. Let’s stop judging others by our own standards. That does not mean we expect nothing but let’s realize that there is a lot more going on than we realize and we need to be as generous as possible in expressing our judgment of others. We can afford to lower our expectations of others and it will reap large dividends.

When God became a man over 2000 years ago and lived among us, he gave up all his Kingly prerogatives to show us how much he loved us. In this Christmas Season are you willing to follow his example? This is the secret to a long-lasting relationship with God and others.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12 King James Version (KJV)