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Showing posts with label law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label law. Show all posts

Friday, March 30, 2018

Exception


ex·cep·tion
ikˈsepSH(ə)n/
noun

  1. a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule.
    "the drives between towns are a delight, and the journey to Graz is no exception"

    synonyms:anomalyirregularitydeviationspecial case, isolated example, peculiarityabnormalityoddity

     Depending on the situation we either LOVE or HATE this word with very little in between.   We LOVE this word when it benefits US and we HATE this word when either it benefits someone we dislike or leaves us out in the cold.   Just take time to look at our tax laws and you will find it filled with EXCEPTIONS.   Recently I was doing my taxes and noticed that people living in the Washington DC area get a "First Time Homebuyers Credit".   It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how that got inserted into our 1040 forms.  If you live in DC, you love this law.   If you don't live in DC, you hate this law.

In our Christian Faith we fall victim to exceptionalism as well.   There are 2 forms of "exception-ism" we see in play in our lives.   The first has to do with our relationship to God's law.   Some flaunt that the law doesn't apply to them anymore... they are an exception.  This isn't just within the church but can be found in the world as well.   Take for example, two people living together.   We insert an exception to the 6th commandment that isn't there.   That exception is :  We love each other.  Love is often used today as an exception clause for just about anything under the sun today. 

We love each other.... so we are having sex
We love each other.... so we are living together.
We love the children...so we are getting a divorce.

     But in reality these are not exceptions, instead they are excuses for why we want to disobey God.   There are no exceptions written into God's laws.   There are no "if  X then the law does not apply".   We are all guilty of breaking it.

     Another form of exception-ism we can fall victim too is even more deadlier than the former version.   This form says that I am exception to God's love and grace.  Even though the Bible is chuck  full of stories of horrible people having their sins forgiven, we tend to view ourselves as somehow worse than them and an exception to God's grace.   Here a just a few of the Bibles "sinner-saints"

Noah       - alcoholic
Abraham - idolater,  liar , adulterer (has sex with his wife's servant and later abandons Ishmael)
Sarah       - doubts God's promise, gives her servant to Abraham and then has her sent away
Jacob       - liar, extortionist, cheater
Moses      - murderer (kills Egyptian slave owner with his own hands)
Rahab      - a prostitute who helps them take down Jericho and becomes a ancestor of David/Jesus
David       - adultery, murder, lying (and he was supposed to be a man after God's own heart)
Solomon  - over 1000 concubines who lead him astray to worship other gods
Woman caught in adultery - Jesus forgives fully
Samaritan woman - Jesus forgives though she is married 5 times and is living with a man
Peter        - abandons Jesus and yells down curses on himself when question by a servant girl
Disciples  - all abandon Jesus and run away and hide
Thief       - the thief on the cross next to Jesus who Jesus gives certainty of eternal life with him
Paul         - formerly called Saul who went after Christians and murdered them in God's name

     Many of these men even "knew better" when they committed their sins against God and God forgave them all their sins out of his grace and mercy.   Yet somehow we think we are worse than them.   We have somehow found the one sin God cannot forgive.   Out of the BILLIONS of BILLIONS of BILLIONS of sins committed since time began which God can forgive, we have found the one EXCEPTION that he cannot forgive.  We believe we are an exception to God's love.

ISN'T THAT RIDICULOUS??

   This is why God chose these people in the first place.   To show US his boundless mercy.  Paul writes in Romans,
"Where sin abounds ... GOD'S GRACE ABOUNDS MORE!!"  
    So you think you have sinned too much?   God has a message for you; You haven't!  A problem with us humans is that we have a problem with grasping the idea of infinity.  Scientists talk about the ever expanding universe.  But "Expanding into what??" we ask.  It boggles the mind.   Maybe God made it that way to show us just how immense his grace is!   His grace is ever expanding like the universe...swallowing up whatever sins we might have committed in order to show how great he is!

   Yes, of course, this does not give us a "license to commit sin" (like 007 has a license to kill), but it frees us from the fear of God's retribution and being frozen in our tracks from living for him.   We can live in complete confidence that we are his children and nothing can take us from his hands.

NO EXCEPTIONS!!





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

General Relativity and God's Law

  In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton developed the first laws of gravity based on his observations.  He hypothesized that all matter has a gravitation "flux" emanating from it outward to other matter and this "flux" was responsible for attracting other matter.  From this he was able to derive his basic Law of Gravitational Attraction


   Of course Newton could not prove the existence of this invisible flux but based on planetary motion and other experiments it all seemed to fit.   Newton's laws were also based on some basic fundamental foundations that seemed to make sense to the scientists of his time.  The first assumption is that all space can be described in a simple 3D (height,width,depth) Cartesian coordinate system and all observers would measure the same distances no matter their orientation or movement.  Second, all observers would measure the same amount of time to pass regardless of their location or movement.

   Both of these basic assumption all seemed to make sense.  Why wouldn't we all measure distances the same and all of our watches run the same?  No one could see a reason why not, and so for over 350 years those assumptions were never challenged.   That was until Albert Einstein came along.  His observations of light bending around the Sun revealed that Newton was not 100% correct in his assumptions.


   Therefore, because Newton's basic requirement was wrong, all the laws of motion, momentum , energy etc. all had to be re-evaluated leading to Einsteins greatest achievement: The General Laws of Relativity.   This paper showed that gravity is not some mysterious invisible "flux" but instead a bending of space-time by mass which causes objects moving in a straight-line to appear to be moving in a curved line to us.  Like marbles rolling on a large stretched sheet of rubber that has been indented by a large heavy bowling ball they appear to be changing their trajectory because of the curved rubber, but they are trying to stay on a straight line that has been changed by the bowling ball.


  
    So what is that to me?

    We are often like Newton and the scientists of his time.  We have basic assumptions of up,down,left,right and that all our watches are the same.  It all makes basic sense to us.  How we see the world and how we THINK it should work are not always correct.  For some of our decisions, like Newton's Law on Gravity, it works fine.  Newton wasn't 100% wrong but he wasn't 100% right either.  His law was "good enough" to get us to the moon and back but if we used it to get to a nearby star we would miss it by a billion or so miles.   We also, spiritually think we have it all figured out.  We know what is best and what is not.   Adultery?  That's just a new loving relationship being formed.    Pornography?  That's just extreme art.  Lying?  That's just an alternative form of the truth.   Stealing? That's just an individuals attempt to reapportion wealth from those who don't need it as much.

   But that is not how God sees it.   Like Newton thinking the world coordinate-system is all straight lines, what matters is how the universe sees the coordinate system.  So also, how we THINK the world should work and how God sees it are different, but in the end what matters is how God sees it and not you.

  Let's take sex outside of marriage for example.   To our "enlightened" world sex before marriage is perfectly okay.   We have been taught to not hold back our urges and that it is filling our basic needs for physical contact with other human beings.   Movies and TV shows promote endless examples of men and women having no-holds-barred sex and no-strings-attached either (just close the door when you leave!).  But now studies show that men who later decide to "settle down" cannot seem to "attach" themselves emotionally to their mate.  It's like the "glue" has all dried up in the bottle.  Could it be that we have gone against what God had designed us for?   Could it be that he knows how we operate?   Even when some try to have-their-cake-and-eat-too by living together it doesn't seem to workout.  Study after study shows that those who live together before marriage are 30% more likely to get divorced later.  Much of this is because while living-together, the men do not fully develop into men of substance.   They keep their childish ways (going out with the boys, watching porn, playing video games etc...) and those ways become more ingrained in their way of life.  So when it comes time to marry, those ways are "expected" to be put away to help in being a spouse and father, but now it's even harder to adjust because all those attitudes were thought to be acceptable to the other are now deemed unacceptable.

    God is not some irrational angry being.  He has reasons for his law and when we take the time to try to see things from HIS perspective we see that he is right.  Like Einstein seeing that space is really curved and not straight like how our brains feel it "should be" so also, we wee that God's law is really how things should be and not our interpretation.






















Thursday, March 26, 2015

A conscience is a terrible thing to waste!

    Back in the 1970's an ad-campaign by the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) had a very simple and catchy phrase:
Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste
    This meant that wasting anyone's mental abilities to contribute to society would hurt us all in the end and therefore we should try to help ALL people become more educated.   The campaign worked and blacks enrolling in college increased through scholarships offered by the UNCF.

     Today we may need a new ad-campaign:
Because a conscience is a terrible thing to lose
     Martin Luther, the 16th century Christian reformer, was what you might call a conscientious objector.   He was called before the Catholic hierarchy and the politicians to re-cant (take back) all he had written as he revealed how far the church had strayed from its roots and teachings.   Martin Luther asked for one day to formulate his answer and he was granted it.   After a night of prayer Marin Luther returned to the court to give his answer and here it is:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.
     We owe much to his bravery to stand up to the powers as he was branded a "heretic" and had a bounty put on his head for anyone to collect.   He was given refuge by a German nobleman who agreed with his teaching and lived in his castle attic for many years while he took on the work of translating the Bible from Latin into German.   His willingness to stand up for his conscience freed many more like him who also no longer agreed with the Catholic churches teachings.

    A conscience is a very personal thing.   It is at the very heart of our Freedom of Religion and to have our own set of beliefs to follow.   It was once said that,

 "If you can't live with yourself then who CAN you live with?".   

    A dead conscience will eat you alive from the inside like a maggots eating rotting flesh of a deceased person.  A conscience drives us each to do what is right in our own eyes despite the opposition.   We've all been there at some time in our lives.  We were in a position to speak up for someone or some group and we chose to be silent.   We  remember those times vividly as we play it over and over again in our minds. We agonize over our choice knowing we chose wrong and the repercussions of us doing so were obvious.  It's a difficult thing to do.   Often it is occurrences like these that cause so many our war-weary-soldiers so much depression and guilt that it incapacitates them and prevents them from rejoining society.

     Today, people around our country are being asked to go against their consciences as well.   For example, people who own bakeries are told they MUST make wedding cakes for weddings they do not agree with.   You may not like their position any more than the Catholic church did not like Luther's.   But at odds is their conscience verses your insistence that they bow to your edicts that gay marriage is no different than traditional marriage.   Should they stuff their conscience away and never listen to it again?   What kind of country will we become if we force all of our citizens to ignore their consciences when they go counter to the governments or the majority's wishes?  Should they only care what the government believes is right and follow orders?   Should such people be jailed for having a difference in opinion or view?  Should they be put out of business for their faith?  Should the churches they attend be taxed or fined since it was those institutions that undoubtedly influenced them to have such a narrow view of marriage?

    Another thing to consider when you decide to use the blunt force of the government stick to get people to do your wishes is you build increasing amounts of anger and animosity towards you group rather than acceptance.  Of course you can force their physical bodies to perform the deeds you asked for, but their hearts and minds will be forever against you.   This will only require you to use increasing amounts of force over time to move the pendulum further to your side of the room.   But watch out for the day will come that you will not be able to push it any further and the pendulum will swing the other way and all that pent up energy will be released in ways that can be very destructive.   Other countries have witnessed this in their own countries (mostly African countries where one tribe rules another for so long and then it flips on them).    In South Africa this almost happened against the whites after the blacks gained control of the country and only by the grace of God through the work of Nelson Mandela did it get diffused.

    I am glad to see people of reason from the other side standing up for people of conscience and telling their people to "knock it off!" in attacking these people in the court of law and also the court of public opinion.     We need more of these people to come forward and I hope and pray they do.   I believe they recognize the value of a conscience and how it is one of our most basic rights as human beings to be nurtured and protected.  After all, a society of citizens whose consciences have been numbed will be a terrible place to live.