Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Good Soldier

A good father would defend his family against dangers that come.
A good soldier will preemptively attack the dangers before they mobilize.

A good father would take a bullet for his family.
A good soldier would give a bullet for yours.

A good father affectionately engages his family.
A good soldier harshly engages the enemy.

A good father stands up to a bully.
A good soldier lays down a bully.

A good father locks the house and tucks his family in at night.
A good soldier loads his weapon and tucks his country in at night.

A good father will cancel anything to attend his child's birth.
A good soldier may have to skip the birth to ensure his child will grow up.

A good father loves ONE woman and his loyalty is without question.
A good soldier loves ONE country and his weapon is pointed accordingly.

A good father leaves an inheritance for his children.
A good soldier leaves an inheritance for a generation.

A good father would die for his family.
A good soldier would die for yours.

Thanks to all of the good soldiers that allow us to be good fathers.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Playing Poker With God

I love watching poker. Poker is a game of chance, wrapped up in probability, and deep fried in psychology. The goal of the game is to get big portions of other people's money using our single greatest asset - Our God given ability to deceive. Deception, or bluffing, is the main weapon in poker. Of course it helps to have a good hand, but great cards only provide a sort of "side arm" in the event your main weapon jams. The cards in your hand are mainly there to provide the "plot" of the story. It's still your job to tell it, and to tell it convincingly.

If you have strong cards, the plot of the story is that you have descent cards and are hoping "lady luck" blows you a kiss. If you are successful in telling your story, this will cause other players with descent or strong cards to throw their money in the "fair" fight in hopes of winning the communal pot. If you have weak cards, the plot of the story is that you have strong cards and everyone better mind their distance. I know there's a lot more to it, but you get the idea.

What makes poker so entertaining to watch is that everyone is pretending to have something they don't, or pretending to want something they already have. All of this is done to get as much as they can from the other players without actually having to reveal their own cards. Like I said, it's really fun to watch. What's not so fun to watch is when mortal man plays it with Almighty God. There are many problems with playing poker with God. First, He already knows what your holding, so your bluff won't work. Second, He's pretty boring at it. He doesn't bet or fold according to what the other players are doing. It's like He's playing by His own rules. In fact, it's more like He's not playing at all. In reality, we deal God a hand whether he's playing or not.

One of the regular and oldest poker games exists between God and the so-called "atheists". I say "so-called" because the very purpose of the match is to convince others that there really is an absence of belief. Since the Bible says there exist no such absence, the atheist has no choice but to deal God a hand and hope He plays. The bluff of the atheist is to act as though his hand contains NO proof that there is a God. The atheist begins to act in such a way to portray that he has the weaker hand. They ignore evidence, and even ignore their own conscience, just to keep the story convincing. In poker, the purpose of appearing weak is to increase the size of the pot.

Have you ever heard an atheist say, "If there's a God, then why does evil exists?" That's a topic in of itself, but the point is that the atheist weakens his hand to bait God into "sweetening" the pot, or giving into the pot as to make it more appealing to the other players. The atheist wants God to remove evil, sickness, global warming, and world hunger. Once the pot is sweetened enough to their evidentiary standards, they will gladly fold their hand without revealing their cards. At least, that's the plan. But it only works when you're opponent can be manipulated.

When God doesn't give us the cure for cancer and cool the earth, the bluffer HAS to keep bluffing. The last thing the atheist wants is to still be playing during the last phase of the poker hand, the showdown. It is in the showdown, you MUST reveal your cards. The showdown is the judgement phase of the hand. The cards don't lie. No one wants to stand before Almighty God holding the wrong cards. And for the atheist, those cards are Romans 1:20, and Romans 1:21

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Romans 1:20-21

Everyone is born with the knowledge of God. It's better to fold early.

Another popular poker game exists between God has His own kids - the Christians. Not to be out done by the atheist, Christians are also notorious for playing down their hand so daddy can bless the pot, in Jesus' Name. Amen. You can spot these professional players from a mile away. You won't hear them talking about how great God is, or how better their life is now with Christ. You'll hear how life is unfair, God is far, or God doesn't care. You'll hear how they believe the relationship "ball" is in God's court, and that they have their doubts that God is gonna play ball. For them, life has asked some pretty hard questions and God has lots of explaining and reaching out to do. To them, God is only as good, faithful, or trustworthy as the last pot he's blessed.

One of my former complaints about God was that He wasn't co-dependent. What good is my bluff if God doesn't need me to agree with Him. Most of us are so insecure about ourselves that we will climb mountains and swim oceans to get approval and acceptance. God is so NOT insecure, you won't find Him running behind everyone shouting, "Can I rephrase that?", or "What can I do to make you love me more?" God is God whether we agree with Him or not. He is good, whether we trust Him or not. He wants our best, whether we believe Him or not. We sometimes get this whole relationship with God backwards. God died once, and for all. He hung once, and He's not doing it again. If our opinion of Him isn't already settled, then there's nothing He can do the the "pot" to change it.

Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. Job 13:15

If our attitude towards God isn't already trust and faith, then we've missed the point. God isn't moved by need. If that were true, India would be the most blessed country on Earth. There's more poverty and need in India than any place on the planet. It's not NEED that moves God. It's faith. God does NOTHING outside faith. You can't scare, manipulate, or shake Him down. He holds the universe in His hands. The sooner we realize that we're here to serve and give Him pleasure and not the other way around, the sooner we live a blessed and purpose filled life.

In the story of the prodigal son, you'll recall that the father never went after his son. He didn't even talk him out of going. The father knew that his son could navigate back home. When we stray from God, He patiently waits. Reconciliation HAS to come from us. We have to already know that it was better to be in HIS house doing His will than outside doing our own. It makes no sense to go through life playing the weak hand. It is a hard lesson to learn that I need Him, and He doesn't need me. Whining, complaining, and acting like a victim is NOT how you show up on God's radar.

Jesus passed by His enemies. Jesus passed by those wanting to kill Him. Jesus passed by those who didn't want Him. If fact, Jesus went out of his way to OFFEND the ones who had already made up their mind. There are too many people who depend on Him for God to be nervous about our poker faces. Yet we continue to play the weak hand and pack our bags in the event God calls our bluff. Like the prodigal son, we will eventually come around....right after we play a few hands with the pigs.