Saturday, February 29, 2020

Is God Real?

Have you ever asked yourself this question: “Is God real?”. Be honest. I know I have. I can honestly say I’ve asked it more than once. I asked it as a youth, and I asked it as a college graduate. Although to be fully transparent, I asked it differently; I asked: “God if You are real, then…” 

I don’t know if that difference is important or not, but in my case, in both instances, I received an answer. It wasn’t just an intellectual curiosity, but a matter of importance for me. To be honest, someone who is simply intellectually curious does not deserve an answer. I don’t mean to be offensive, but consider this: there either is a God or there is not and that reality makes all the difference. 

Someone who is merely intellectually curious hasn’t stopped to consider the gravity of this question because the reality of God changes everything. First, we have to consider what is meant by the term “God”. Looking at last week’s blog, there are two possible “gods”, one of our own choosing or a for-real-all-powerful-all-knowing-creator-of-everything. I could have clarified last week that it doesn’t matter how much more powerful a being may be than man, if they don’t fit the criteria of my previous sentence, they are simply a more powerful being and not God. 

Now we encounter people more powerful than us and we naturally demonstrate a certain level of respect. Think about it: a parent, a teacher, a boss, a senior executive, a public official, a king, etc. Some people get all tongue-tied in the presence a just another person who is in a position of power over them, and some people go out of their way to make the best possible impression. And why wouldn’t they? 

So the question about the reality of God should impress us with a sense of awe and respect unlike any other. If God is real, then we need to consider how that changes everything. If there is no God, then we are a chance happening in the cosmos, a chemical computer that has evolved to the point of self-awareness with no real meaning or purpose other than what we choose for ourselves until our hardware fails or until we have found a way to transfer our consciousness into a more durable structure. 

But if an All-Knowing, All-Powerful Creator made the universe, then you are no accident; you were made for a purpose in a grand scheme by a Brilliant Dreamer, Who dreamed of you! The importance of that fact changes everything about your existence. It becomes the greatest sign of disrespect to only have a casual interest in the One who made you part of His Plan as the foundations of His universe were laid. Even the very nature of “purpose” changes significantly. It is no longer a question about what I want, but a challenge to be who you were made to be.

So the question of God’s existence is foundational to who we are! He is either real or not. Whether we can perceive Him is a different question, and to be honest, any philosophical discourse on the proof of His existence doesn't matter if He is not real. But if God is real, it demands a response, begging the question of “Why did He create me?”

So maybe that’s why when I asked Him if He was real that I got an answer. The first time it was with an inexpressible knowledge of His Presence, and the second time it flowed from the wisdom and truth of His Word, the Bible. He has shown Himself to me through both sense and reason, and He wasn’t offended that asked to know for sure.

If you aren’t a believer, I can’t argue or persuade you into His Kingdom. If I do, someone else can just as easily persuade otherwise. But if you are serious about knowing the answer to “Is God real?”, and if you are humble enough to allow the answer to change your life, then I challenge you to ask Him to prove Himself to you. I don’t know how He’ll answer you, and I guarantee He won’t bother with a mocking inquiry. But to those truly and humbly seek an answer, He will reply. 

Praying the greatest blessing in your life! I would love to hear how He answers you: send an email to mitch @malloyclan dot com (written out so I don’t get accidentally added to some spambot). 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Tale of Two Gods

I heard someone once say that from a philosophical perspective, the atheist has a greater challenge than the theist. He went to describe how the theist only needs to prove the existence of his god, but that the atheist has to disprove every possible god, of which there are multitude. But to be honest, I don’t believe there are really more than two gods: 1) a God Who is truly almighty and all-knowing and 2) the god of our own choosing. The god of our own choosing may be a collection of numerous gods that mutually rule over all reality or it may be the belief in a single ruler higher than all other beings. 

But wait… how does this differ from option 1? If the god of our choosing is a single, omnipotent ruler, isn’t that the same as the God of Judeo-Christian religion? Not necessarily. A person could chose to believe in a single, omnipotent being that is different in nature from the God Who Lives.

Meanwhile, the atheist would argue that there is no god who is truly real and that believers choose to believe in a god of their own choosing. They assume a priori that God isn’t real and therefore simply a fantasy of people’s choosing. So assuming that God isn’t real they choose a god for themselves that is made in their own image. Perhaps it’s not just their image but rather the image of a collective mankind or an evolutionary vision for what mankind can become. Nonetheless, they have chosen a god of their own image while refusing to acknowledge the possibility of God, wherein the reality of His existence is simply ignored.

Great philosophical minds have argued for the existence of God, but these modern free-thinkers choose intstead to believe in their god. So John Lennon would have us “Imagine” and the mainstream, global media encourage us to join in that re-imagining of reality. 

I realize that an atheist would accuse me of a similar circular argument that they make about His non-existence, but even they acknowledge that all reality reflects an intelligent design; the order of the universe could not have occurred by chance. One of my favorite arguments for the existence of God is that the design of the universe points to an intelligent designer, and while the atheist tries to explain away any deity from the designer, they also conveniently ignore the manifestation of God’s divine hand in countless recorded miracles as mere coincidence. They also ignore the many Biblical prophecies that have materialized and assume coincidence. 

Yet despite the overwhelming evidence for a divine creator and the logical inference of Prime Mover, Who initiated all creation because something cannot come from nothing, the free-thinking atheists have chosen a god of their own. Meanwhile the true believer seeks to understand the essence of who God is. 

I decided as a teenager so many years ago that even if God’s existence was not knowable, the benefit of choosing to believe far outweighed the consequences of choosing to live as if there was no God. But as I searched for answers, I discovered that it takes greater faith to believe in no God. In fact, the treatise for atheism resembles a rebellious child who closes eyes and covers ears rather than understand the reality of our Creator. 

From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse. They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. While claiming to be wise, they became fools.
Romans 1:20 -22

The so-called free-thinkers have chosen not to believe in God and been given over to a depraved mind. Sadly, they have out-smarted themselves.

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Best Prayer for Us

How do you pray, and by that question, what I'm asking is really: "How are you praying on a regular basis?"

Jesus gave us five things that we should pray on a regular basis. He lists these in Luke 11:2-4 in what we call the Lord's Prayer:
  1. Father, let Your Name be kept holy. 
  2. Let Your kingdom come. 
  3. Give us our bread day by day.
  4. Forgive us as we forgive everyone else. 
  5. Don't allow us to be tempted.
ONE

What does it mean to keep the Name of God the Father holy? It means we set it apart from all other names. It's in a class of it's own, and by our lives we should be glorifying it as the Name above all other Names. We honor the Father, when we praise the Son, glorifying Jesus' Name, which in Hebrew means: "Yahweh Saves!" And yet when we pray that God's Name be kept holy, we are praying for the culture around us to keep His Name holy, set apart. 

TWO

We pray for His Kingdom to come, a prayer for Jesus' triumphant return but also for the reign of His Kingdom in the here and now. When God rules in our lives, we change the world around us, influencing it in a supernatural way that brings it into alignment with God's good and perfect will for each of us and for those we encounter. 

THREE

We pray for His provision in our lives, both physically and spiritually. Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Fountain of Living Waters, We are eternally His with one taste, but like the air we breathe and the water we drink, we are dependent upon His continued presence in our lives. Our need for continued nourishment is a divine analogy to our need for a daily prayer time with Him. And yes, it literally means that He wants us to pray for our physical needs on a daily basis for continued dependency upon Him. (See Proverbs 30:7-9)

FOUR

I was so convicted of this as a child when I first realized that my forgiveness was somehow linked to my ability to forgive others, but as I grew in understanding, I came to realize that the ability to forgive others gives us confidence in God's forgiveness. I also came to understand that the only one I was truly hurting with unforgiveness was myself; the person who wronged me had moved on while I was stuck in the bitterness that held me back from experiencing God's love. 

FIVE

None of us are free from temptation and no sin is too great that any of us can't be tempted to take the plunge. Jesus understood this and gave us this reminder to pray for freedom from temptation.

I believe that temptation comes from inside each of us as a desire for something, but I also believe that we have an enemy who wants us to desire that which is not good for us. The Church fathers did as well, and so the Lord's Prayer often ends with "deliver us from evil". So I pray on a regular basis that God frees His people from all oppression: the oppression of the evil one and the oppression of man. 

And I also pray regularly for my family, friends, all believers, and countrymen that God close our ears to the words of the Enemy and restore us with His truth and love. The Enemy wants us to believe lies and half-truths that separate us from God and His perfect will for us. He wants us to forget all about God's love for us or to believe that God doesn't think about us. So I pray:
Jesus, close our ears to the words of the Enemy. Cleanse our minds, our hearts and our souls from the echoes of the Enemy, and fill us with Your truth and love. Remove the clouds that keep us from seeing Your face, knowing that You see us, love us, and that You are working all things together for good. 
Are you praying on a regular basis? If not, consider some of the things I've written above and ask God to lead you into a new and enriched prayer life, a time to spend with Him and getting to know Him better. 

"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, February 8, 2020

America: Who Will Stand in the Gap?

In last week's blog, I promised to come back with some follow-on thoughts.

In some ways, I believe God sees countries like He sees a person (Jer 2-3, Ez 16, Hos 1), and in some ways, I believe He looks at people like He does a country. Take Israel for example: Biblical Israel is a divine analogy for each of us as individuals. He lifts us from the pit, from the muck and mire, and sets our feet upon a firm foundation (Psalm 40). He builds us up, slowly from our perspective. God blesses our attempts to follow Him, and He fills in our gaps and our imperfections, of which there are many.

Looking back to America’s origins, we see an imperfect attempt to follow God’s ways. Yes, there were deists among the founding fathers, but there were also true Christians, and they had a profound influence in the formation of America. For example, take a look at Washington’s 1st Inaugural Address, where He consecrated this country to the Almighty God saying: 
it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe… that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States… we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained
Some have argued that Washington was catering to an overtly Christian culture in his repeated deference to God throughout this inaugural speech, purely for political reasons. I don’t believe that. He could have stopped with the supposed charade, but upon finishing this address, he immediately attended a service at St. Paul’s Church. Yet even if I were to cede to the fact that only God knows the intentions of any person’s heart, but there’s no question to the biblical, Christian influence behind these first official acts of our first president, reflecting a culture that sought after Him with earnest. 

Again, I can’t read a man’s heart, but if you read through the entire speech you’ll see a humility that I believe was far from pretentious. The courage of youth often comes from not fully understanding the enormous power that is set against us, but the courage of later years flows from trust in a power greater than ourselves. The humility of Washington’s address indicates a keen self-awareness for his own shortcomings as he entered the new office of this emergent country, so I choose to believe in the sincerity of both his statements and his corresponding actions. 

I also join with others who believe America’s consecration to God set it apart from most other nations. Like Israel, America was formed from humble beginnings with a great dependency upon God. Both rose to great power and affluence, and unfortunately both became haughty in their prosperity. 

I believe the blessings and curses associated with obedience to God as described in Deuteronomy 28 follow any country dedicated to Him. So, if God’s blessings came to America as a result of our obedience, what happens when we move away from Him and His ways? The United States has certainly seen the blessings of obedience, but in 1962, God was removed from schools and since that time we’ve seen a steady decline in our culture, including a growing divide between angry factions. 
But suppose a righteous person turns away from doing right and he does evil things. He does all the disgusting things that the wicked person did. Will he live? All the right things that he has done will not be remembered because of his unfaithfulness and because of his sin. He will die because of them. 
Ezekiel 18:24 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) 
There are two biblical approaches when facing opposition, and both take a great deal of moral courage and inner strength. The first is to turn the other cheek, to not take offense to either the insult or the insulter. The other is to oppose the evil that seeks to destroy that which is good. We need to remember that we do not struggle against flesh and blood but against principalities. These principalities can sometimes be so embedded within a person or a culture that the only way to resist the evil is to oppose it with physical force. For example, it was a moral imperative to wage a war against Nazi Germany. Although a country or person may say they seek peace, by observing their actions we can discern their sincerity. If their actions continue to belie their words, there will be a time to take up arms and fight for a greater good. 

America is close to a civil war, perhaps only one or two presidential elections away. We should be praying daily for this country and for our leaders. We should lovingly and respectfully oppose the cultural values that stand in opposition to Biblical truth with authentic example and articulate explanations that pull from facts and not just opinion. 

Some people and political factions appear to be beyond a loving confrontation with facts. However, as Augustine rightly pointed out, we don’t know who of those in the opposing camp will join the Kingdom and which of our allies will join the opposition. In truth, there are weeds sown amongst the crop of heaven and wolves in sheep’s clothing, but regardless, Our God is in control and His ways shall prevail. 

So, we struggle against principalities, prepared to fight the good fight through prayer, loving confrontation, divine discernment and physical force should it come to that. Yet we are mindful that physical force is always a last resort because once that line is crossed there is no turning back. A serious attempt to replace the Constitution or dismantle the Electoral College should give every patriot pause to decide where they stand and how they should respond. 

While the reconciliation of factions is well beyond any of us, God can bring healing through each of us. God fills in our gaps so that we can stand in the gap to defend this land from it’s enemies, both foreign and domestic. We exist, and God can use us despite our insufficiency. 
I looked for someone among you who could build walls or stand in front of me by the gaps in the walls to defend the land and keep it from being destroyed. But I couldn’t find anyone. 
Ezekiel 22:30 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Can You Repeat That?

This blog is not about the wickedness or virtues of America per se, but I believe America can be used for illustrative purposes. 

The America I’m living in is very different from the one I knew as a kid. As a society we valued truth and hated lies. While things were far from perfect, the adults I knew were more interested in personal integrity than advancing a collective agenda. It’s hard to find an unbiased report of Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign, but I remember him as a top candidate who dropped out of the race because he lied. Back then, character mattered to the American people, and if someone lied, the America of 1988 wouldn’t accept them as viable presidential candidate. Things have changed significantly in 32 years.

But wait! Hasn’t America always been corrupt? For example: slavery and racial injustice were cornerstones of this country, right? It’s true that slavery existed in America from its very beginnings. It was a blight upon the British empire and a critical component of British agricultural colonies. After America found its independence, the institution of slavery continued. It lasted several decades past the abolition of slavery in Britain that was spearheaded by William Wilberforce. Although America had left the empire by the time Wilberforce formed the Anti-Slavery Society in 1787, Christians in America had been fighting against slavery since before the American Revolution. In fact, the State of Pennsylvania passed the first anti-slavery law in 1780, 8 years before the U.S. Constitution was even ratified and 7 years before Wilberforce founded his famous society. 

There are some people who want to criticize America and pick apart its flaws. However, I’d argue that if we look hard enough, we can find imperfections in any person. And if we can find flaws in anyone, then it’s even easier to find the failings in a group of people, including America’s Founding Fathers. So I suggest we take a different approach. What if we judged them not by their missteps, but by their aspirations and accomplishments? What if we instead looked to their willingness to change for the better? Could we view them with respect and admiration without naivete or idolization? 

God spoke to Ezekiel and explained how He sees a person:
But suppose a wicked person turns away from all the sins that he has done. He obeys all my laws and does what is fair and right. He will certainly live. He will not die. All the rebellious things that he did will not be remembered. He will live because of the right things that he did. I don’t want wicked people to die.” declares the Almighty Lord. “I want them to turn from their evil ways and live.
Ezekiel 18:21-23 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Take a look at that again. God doesn’t want to destroy us for our wrong doings, He wants us to turn away from them and do what’s right. There’s a word for that: repentance. When I hear that word, my mind immediately goes to a street preacher or billboard that says something like: “Repent or you’ll burn in hell!” It sounds like an angry word or a self-righteous word, but all it means is: “Stop doing this awful stuff you’re doing! It’s hurting people, including yourself… you are on a path of self-destruction!” Do you see the difference? 

God is calling us to repent for our own sake. Sin doesn’t hurt God other than the fact that He loves us and wants the very best for us. When we love someone, it pains us to see them hurt, and it’s especially upsetting when we see someone we love harming somebody we also love. So God doesn’t want to destroy a person,  but He wishes they would change their ways and do what is right… before it’s too late.

Many of the people who are driven to criticize America have an agenda. Others are influenced by their poisonous words. America is far from perfect and we have had our fair share of bad leaders, but those leaders are reflection of our people, and if we are honest with ourselves, we need to repent.

Are we looking for flaws in others or seeking to build bridges? Hopefully, we are trying to build bridges, but there comes a time when we need to acknowledge a bridge cannot be built because the other side has determined otherwise. Yes, at some point there is nothing left to save but a diseased and rotting limb that spreads death, and at that point it is too late. 

More on that in next week’s blog.

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)