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Deo Volente - Part I

Deo Volente (DV), a Latin phrase, means God willing.  Tomorrow, DV, I will be preaching on James 4:13-17.  Some key verses are “Today or tomorrow, we will go to this city or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
     One example that I gave is that I had told my pastor that in 40 hours I would go to the church, sign four baptismal forms and pick up another form.  I did not do that.  In fact, I was 48 hours late for my own timeline of 40 hours. 
    God promised Adam and Eve that their descendant would crush Satan's head.  Four thousand years later, he kept He kept his promise.

Thank you God for being God - being trustworthy.

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Purpose of Human Life II

Ayn Rand:  "By the grace of reality and nature of life, man, every man is an end in himself.  He exists for his own sake and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose."
     If man is truly an end in himself and his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, what happens when your happiness harms someone else?  What security is there in marriage knowing that instead of loving someone till death do us part, now you love someone until you are no longer happy with them?  That places extreme tension in a marriage, never knowing when your spouse will say "I have found someone else who will make me happier."

Lord, thank you for not only creating us, but saving us.  Thank you that in you we have found our true happiness.

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Purpose of Human Life I

Ayn Rand:  "By the grace of reality and nature of life, man, every man is an end in himself.  He exists for his own sake and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose."  [Part III, Chapter 7]
      What a bankrupt morality!!  If man's own happiness is his highest moral purpose, then how does one deal with pain and death?  If you are bedridden with cancer, unable to run around as you once did when you were younger, what purpose does life have?  According to Ayn Rand, you have no moral purpose.  If happiness is all there is to life, what happens when you want more happiness, but can't achieve it?  What happens when the latest gizmo (car, toy, largest television, etc.) no longer is pleasurable?  What happens when your latest relationship with your latest lover no longer satisfies and when you are too old so that you cannot attract a new lover?

Thank  you Jesus for showing us that loving God is our highest moral purpose.

Christmas - Origin

  The Wall Street Journal today had a very interesting article on the origin of Christmas,"Embattled From the Beginning" [http://www.wsj.com/articles/christmas-embattled-from-the-beginning-1482501600] and I highly recommended reading it.  According to Greg Bowler, who wrote a book on the subject, the Christians initially not interested in the birth of Christ, but with the assault on Christ's humanity, they decided to celebrate the holy day to prove Christ was really human.

We wish you a Merry Christmas.

Thank you, God the Father, for sending us Your son as a human.  We praise You for being our mediator, 100% God and 100% man.

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Love - Part V

   In Atlas Shrugged, the lead protagonist, Dagny Taggart first sleeps with Francisco d'Anconia.  Then later she commits adultery with Hank Rearden.  Her final lover is John Galt.  When she is with her lover, she is as happy as can be, but then eventually deserts him for her next lover.
     Christ loves us and will never desert us.  He is always faithful to us.  In Deuteronomy 31:7 Moses said "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." 

Christmas shows that God the Father really loved us and sent His Son to die for us, even when we did not deserve it. 

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Love - Part IV

The other troubling aspect of Atlas Shrugged was the lack of families in their new settlement.  Everyone was so involved in the new society working for themselves that they never had time for children.  Children play a very small role in this entire book, especially in their future society.  What started off as pointing against the evils of a government run society (which I agreed with) ended up in an equally bad society (one without families).

Praise God that when Jesus came to the earth, he was placed in a family.  Not only did Jesus live with his mother Mary and his earthly father Joseph, but he also had half-brothers and sisters.  In Matthew 13:55-56 we read "Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?  Aren’t all his sisters with us?"  (Same names are mentioned in Mark 6:3)

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Love - Part III

John Galt, in his long-winded speech (60 pages in the book), states "You want unearned love, as if love, the effect. could give you personal value."
   Once again Ayn Rand misunderstands love.  Unearned love is in fact, what gives you value.  Think of Christ's love.  You can never earn Christ's love, because He loved us first.  Further, His love is what enables us to love others.  Also, think of marriage.  The love of a husband for his wife and the wife to her husband is unearned love.  You can't earn the love.  You love because of who you are, not what you do. 

Thank you God for loving us first.  Thank God for unearned love.

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Love - Part II

  In Ayn Rand, the protagonist says "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
   This is in stark contrast to Jesus's statement "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."  This is what happens in the military - soldiers are willing to die for others.  Thus, on many German grave stones in military cemeteries is engraved John 15:13.  Ayn Rand misses the gospel.  She believes in individual rights, but forgets the Lord's commands.

Thank God that others are willing to sacrifice themselves for others.

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Love - Part I

     In Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, the protagonists make a compact.  I understand why - they don't want to be forced by the gov't to be forced to share with others.  When there is no responsibility and everybody demands services and money, that is a quick way to serfdom.  But Ayn Rand misses the flip side, and that is when you joyfully love someone else.
   She says "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
    Can you imagine this world if Christ had said that and never died for any one?

Thank God that you loved the world so much that you sent your son to die for us.
 

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Virtue

“In this world, either you're virtuous or you enjoy yourself. Not both, lady, not both.”
    What a sad view of life.  The Bible commands that we do both, because by being virtuous we are fulfilling the greatest commandments "Love God" and "Love our neighbor."  When we do what God wants us to do, then we have true happiness.

Lord, help us to do Thy will.

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged - Pride

   Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, one of the most powerful novels defending capitalism.  It shows the effects of the government interfering with the economy and what would logically follow.  I highly recommend this long (1,000 plus page) book.
    However please read with your brain.  Ayn Rand, a Russian immigrant, had some very anti-Biblical thoughts.  For example, she wrote "Pride is the sum of all virtues."  The Roman Catholic church teaches that pride is one of the seven deadly sins.  And Proverbs teaches that pride goes before the fall.

Lord, keep us humble.

Free Will vs. God Part V - Us

Not only did God change Jonah's and Paul's heart, but He also changes our hearts.  Ephesians 2:1 states that we are "dead in our sins and trespasses."  Dead people can't change their mind.  Dead people are dead.  We too were dead in our sins and trespasses.  If God does not raise us up to new life, we will never believe.  Thus Paul wrote later in the chapter, "It is by grace you have been saved."

Thank you Lord for changing our hearts.

Free Will vs. God Part IV - Paul

Saul, on his way to Damascus, met the Lord and the Lord changed his, Saul's, mind and name.  Saul became Paul and became the greatest missionary.  How did this happen?  Did Saul on his own free will change his mind?  No, to use familiar phrases, God picked him up by his collar and said "I am king.  Obey me."  Saul became Paul. 
(You can read about it in the book of Acts, Chapter 9.)

Thank you God for changing Paul's heart.

Free Will vs. God Part III - Saul

     Ray Steadman wrote "When God created the human race, He gave us supreme free will.  Even the Spirit of God does not violate it.  If we want to say "no" to God we can."
     This is patently false.  God would not be God if man is more powerful than God.  Perhaps the most famous New Testament case of God overcoming man's free will is the story of Saul.  Saul approved the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen.  Acts 8:3 states "But Saul began to destroy the church.  Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison."  Acts 9:1 we read that "Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples."

(to be continued)

Free Will vs. God Part II - Jonah

  Is God all powerful, enough to convict man and change his opinions?  Of course He is.  One of many Old Testament examples that could be given is the story of Jonah.  God tells Jonah to go and preach to the Assyrians.  The modern day equivalent would be if a Black Panther was told to preach to the Klu Klux Klan.  Jonah said no way and ran away, boards a ship and sails west.  God sends storm and Jonah, after being in the stomach of a great fish, changes his mind. 

Thank you Lord for being more powerful than us.