Jesus makes these opposite statements.

The first will be last.

He who takes care to preserve his life, will lose it.

Those who have nothing right now, they own the kingdom of heaven.

Those who make no claim on anything, will inherit the earth.

He who gives away what he has, will have more than he can imagine.


These statements are the opposite of what we think.

Why does Jesus make such statements?

Jesus believes in God. I know, you heard that Jesus is God. But he didn’t say exactly that. He called himself the son of God. He spoke of his Father. God is different than us. There is The Father and there is The Son.


But let’s talk about Jesus. He loves God. He has a mother but he is different from other people. He sees a much bigger picture than we do. He takes the long view. He takes the longest view. He looks right past this life, and right into the next. He even calls death, sleep.


He looks at what a man is, more than what he does.
He doesn’t like things done for show.
He says you can do something that no one knows about and it has value, to God.
He says everyone can say that you are doing just great, when you are wasting your time.
He says that you can appear to be completely wrong, and yet be doing something good.


He, himself, seemed a complete failure. The idea of sacrificing something of value, to gain something much bigger than anyone could see was acted out by him.

Jesus brought the idea of self-sacrifice. But not just the idea. He sacrificed himself. It wasn’t an accident. He did it with purpose. He didn’t want to die. No one wants to die. No one should want to die. But he did allow evil men to kill him in the worst way they could think up. He didn’t resist them.


He always did the right thing to do. How did he know what that was? He said he enjoyed doing the will of his Father. He knew what to do because he set aside his own will and did his Father’s will.


So, why would Jesus allow himself to be killed? Why? Because it revealed what men had become. Political men. Religious men. Men who were supposed to lead everybody else. They were the ones who pushed it. And a crowd chanted, ‘crucify him!’ And the governor says, Okay, you can kill him. I don’t approve but I really don’t care. And government workers carry out the killing without normal human feeling. But Jesus believes in God. He goes through it because something good will come out of it. Everyone knows it’s a terrible injustice and nobody understands it. Nobody. It doesn’t make any sense. No one could best him in an argument. No one could touch him. He was so powerful. And now he is dead. Dead.


It’s a couple days later. It’s over. He is dead and buried. But something happens that no one expects. He comes back. Yeah, he comes back. He shows up and scares his friends. He sits down and asks for some food. Why? Because ghosts don’t sit and eat food. He talks to them. He calls them by name. They believe it’s him. It is not a séance. He doesn’t knock once for yes and twice for no. Just when they start to relax, he’s gone. A guy named Thomas comes in and they tell him what happened. “I’m not buyin’ it. I need to be convinced,” he says.

Then, later, he shows up again and this time Thomas is there. He sees him. And the guy says something like this: I heard you wanted more proof, Thomas. That’s fine. Look here, scars, where they hammered nails into me. You want to see my side? There is a big scar there. They stuck a spear in me to see if I was dead.

Thomas is convinced. I mean, he sees him there, standing in front of him. He says, you are my lord and my God.

What about you? Are you convinced? Do you want to be? Ask him to prove he is real. Don’t demand proof. Just ask him to do for you what he did for Thomas. Because he will. He will convince you. And then what? What will you do then?



By What Power?

The things we do every day, we do by the power of God. The power we have to live and do stuff is not from ourselves. Did you design your body? Maybe your parents did. Ask them. The first woman said at the birth of her son, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” This was the first birth of a human. The first humans were so well made, they lived for hundreds of years.

We have power to live, but we do not make that power.

It is hard to believe. But so is anything else. Why would someone create men and then not demand gratitude, at the least? Maybe he thinks, ‘They know they didn’t make themselves. Maybe they will wonder who did? Maybe they will try and find out.’ If God made man and he doesn’t demand obedience, that tells us something about him. We can live without ever acknowledging him. Free will?

Why is man creative? Why is he not satisfied? Why does he think there is more to life? These thoughts should not be. We value independence in America. But down deep, we know that we are not independent. We are very dependent. On air, on water, on warmth, on food and much more. We are like a computer that is marvelously made. It works until the battery runs out. But our computer tells us, “You need to plug me in. Then I won’t die. I’ll keep going.” It is that smart.

If you look on the bottom, it says, “Are you sure you want to open me? Maybe you need a professional.” The new ones don’t give you a choice. It doesn’t open. This is a jump, I know, but didn’t Jesus show himself uniquely qualified when he didn’t open people up but fixed something anyway. No, that arm is all wrong, it should work like this. This guy is not supposed to be like this. Wow. He is normal now. He is ordinary. Except he wasn’t a few minutes ago.

I had a surgeon once that fixed something that had gone wrong with me. He told me, “I just put the pieces near each other, God does the healing.”

What if we said, “I know I’m wonderful. But something is wrong with me. I can’t do things the way I would like. Can you make an adjustment? Can you fix me?”

And let’s talk about love. Yes. love. Why does it go wrong so often? Maybe we started on Chapter Four, like Star Wars did. We left out some stuff. Maybe we should go back and find out what we missed.

Somebody made you. And you can love. That means he can love better than you. We haven’t yet figured out everything. Somebody is wise. More wise than us. And we can be good sometimes. Someone is good all the time. Like Jesus said, “Why call me good? No one is good, except God.

Let’s practice loving. Let’s take an easy one. Let’s love the best person ever: God. Then we can work on loving those that are less perfect.


How Else Would God Reveal Himself

The Lord who had made the Universe — how should he show it but as the Healer did? He could not make the universe over again in the eyes of every man. 


He must reveal himself as the God who set things, which had gone wrong, right again. Now that could be done in the eyes of each individual man. Wouldn’t this reveal that God was here with us? Here we see him giving relief to the young son of a man who had given up on a cure. Now the man has seen him heal his son from a distance. 


No one saw it happen. It was not for show. What moved the man to faith? His love for his son. He who loves can believe what he who loves not, cannot believe; and he who loves most, can believe most. The man returned home and was told that the boy got better at a certain time. Only the man knew this was the same time Jesus told him his son would live. 


Isn’t this about a God that is not limited. He is not afar off. He is closer to every man than his own conscious being is to his unconscious being. He may be unseen but is not uncaring. There is no distance with God, though it looks like it to us. When Jesus cured like this, it has the same appearances as God’s ordinary healing. Who heals you? My body heals itself, you might say. But why should it? 


Now think of the son. He is told how he was healed by the word of Jesus. He never met him. But his father is a reliable fellow and tells him how God did this. How is that different than us if someone tells us how God did this or that? Or how God changed everything in their life with a word. We have been healed. You looked down later and your injury was healed. 


Just because the earth is traveling around the sun and the moon goes around the earth all the time is no reason to think it’s not marvelous. We have been gifted by God. We received the gift of sight just like the man born blind. We just forgot. Are the eyes that see everyday less wonderful than the ones that opened on the world for that man who had never seen anything? Eyes are wonderful at any time. 


And the God who gave us all gifts wants to give us more. Every good gift is from God whenever we receive it. We know there are things wrong in this world. And Jesus put things right as he found them wrong. But he didn’t force anything on anyone. If you think all is well with you, forget about God. You don’t need him. But the one that finds that the wrongness in this world includes themselves, that person needs the Healer. They need something put right. 



No Middle Ground/No Sidelines

We make many decisions in our life. Often, children are asked in America, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I can’t believe adults are serious about this. Maybe they are just making conversation with a child. It does show the underlying belief Americans have in freedom, so that’s good. But to have your whole life planned out as a child? I don’t think so.


But there are big decisions to be made. And some prefer a middle position on things. They would rather remain on the sidelines waiting to see what happens. But in one decision, these sidelines do not exist. And there are passionate voices to be heard. “God does not exist!” “God is so wonderful.” Waiting on the sidelines seems to be a safer place. But try and find those sidelines.


One approach is to be agnostic. “I don’t know if God exists.” It sounds safe, a neutrality, perhaps. But, you must go further. You must say, “It is impossible to know if God exists.” This could be your exemption. But, others are so sure of his existence. Your stronger statement is unlikely to be true.

To be neutral is above all to be a sceptic. It is not just indifference, not an unwilling suspense because you must believe something. Do you doubt everything? Do you doubt your consciousness? Are you just dreaming it all? Or do you doubt your own existence?

You can’t go that far, so no one is a complete sceptic. You do believe something but how do you know it is true? What assures you?


If no God exists, what then is man? A novelty of the universe? Man is a contradiction. He is a prodigy and a judge of all things. But, no, his hold on truth turns to uncertainty in a moment. He is proud and strong. Yet, his weakness becomes apparent so easily.

Who will unravel this riddle that is man? What do you become, when you try to find out by your natural reason what is your true condition? You cannot avoid claiming knowledge or remaining in doubt. Yet, you remain a paradox to yourself.

Humble yourself, put off weak reason; silence foolish nature; and learn that man infinitely transcends man. You have a Master who reveals your true condition, of which you are ignorant. Hear God.

If there was no corruption of the original, men would enjoy in their innocence both truth and happiness with assurance; and if man had always been corrupt, he would have no idea of truth or bliss.

And if there were no greatness in our condition, we would have no concept of the ideal. We would not reach for it and discover we cannot attain it. We are incapable of absolute ignorance and of certain knowledge. Why? Because we had a degree of perfection from which we have unhappily fallen.


There are no observers among men who stand on the sidelines of the human race. All ground is included. The state of man without God is misery that turns despondent and finally becomes despair.

The man who thinks himself God, for without God he must become his own god, has nagging doubts that echo through his soul. He makes himself like iron but then becomes brittle and cracks under the pressure of life. In making his own life, he finds no life at all within that will maintain it.


Man is made and he must find his Maker. He must discover what went wrong with mankind. Not for curiosity, but because it affects him deeply.

When he looks inside himself, he finds so much, yet not enough. What is missing? How can it be restored? Only God can answer this. Only he can put inside what will stop the wrongness and begin making all things new.



God Obscured/Revealed – Pascal

The world exists for the exercise of mercy and judgment, not as if men were placed in it, out of the hands of God, but as hostile to God; and to them He grants, by grace, sufficient light, that they may return to Him, if they desire to seek and follow Him; and also that they may not, if they refuse to seek or follow Him.

If there were only one religion, God would indeed be manifest. The same would be the case, if there were no martyrs but in our religion. God being thus hidden, every religion which does not affirm that God is hidden, is not true; and every religion which does not give the reason of it, is not instructive. Our religion does all this.

If there were no obscurity, man would not be sensible of his corruption; if there were no light, man would not hope for a remedy. Thus, it is not only fair, but advantageous to us, that God be partly hidden and partly revealed; since it is equally dangerous to man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing God.

This religion, so great in miracles, saints, learned and great witnesses, martyrs, established kings like David, and Isaiah, a prince of the blood, and so great in science, after having displayed all her miracles and all her wisdom, rejects all this, and declares that she has neither wisdom nor signs, but only the cross and foolishness.

For those, who, by these signs and that wisdom, have deserved your belief, and who have proved to you their character, declare to you that nothing of all this can change you, and render you capable of knowing and loving God, but the power of the foolishness of the cross without wisdom and signs, and not the signs without this power. Thus our religion is foolish in respect to the effective cause, and wise in respect to the wisdom which prepares it.

Our religion is wise and foolish. Wise, because it is the most learned, and the most founded on miracles, prophecies, &c. Foolish, because it is not all this which makes us belong to it. This makes us indeed condemn those who do not belong to it; but it does not cause belief in those who do belong to it. It is the cross that makes them believe. And so Saint Paul, who came with wisdom and signs, says that he has come neither with wisdom nor with signs; for he came to convert. But those who come only to convince, can say that they come with wisdom and with signs.


Do You See Correctly?

I am a fan of the Beatles. They came to America when I was 13. One thing the fans would talk about is a true history of the Beatles. They wanted to know it.

But when it finally came down to it, it could not be written. Each of the guys had different memories of the same event. Maybe two would agree but another would say it didn’t happen like that.

Let us consider a story. A man is walking down the street one night when it begins to rain. It increases in power with great wind and lightning flashing along with buckets of water coming down. He looks for shelter and chances to find an unlocked door. He enters the darkened place and shuts the door. He is happy to have found a refuge. He does not mind the dark and waits for the tempest to abate. Maybe an hour passes and he hears the storm stop. He exits the place and goes home.

The next day he is curious as to where he was during the storm. He retraces his steps and finds it was an art gallery full of beautiful paintings.

The man was surprised to find he was surrounded by wonderful art and was unaware of it. Because of his situation and the darkness, he perceived none of it. 

Consider this: you and I perceive the world and people around us
. But are we correct in our perception? I don’t mean physically. Our eyes see what is there. But do we understand what it means?

We see on our TV a tight shot of a crowd of people. But maybe there are only the 20 people we see and not a larger crowd at all.

What I am saying is our perception of life may be in error. How did it begin? How will it end? Is it true God began the world and humankind? If it is, that changes everything.

I once rode in an elevator up to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. What I saw was a few of us in a tiny room. There was no sound or feeling of movement. One minute after the doors closed, they reopened and we went out into a place very high in the air. My mind could not believe it. It was like some sort of magic. I even walked out onto a glass floor and looked down without fear. I could not believe it was a real experience.

We know there are things beyond our perception. Marie Currie and her husband worked with radioactive material. They felt no harm, yet they died rather young from the exposure.

Maybe God is beyond our immediate perception. But he still exists. I will finish with a story from the bible. Jacob, a patriarch of the Jews, was on the run after cheating his brother Esau. He fell asleep exhausted in the desert. He had a vision from God and saw angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth. He awoke and said, “The Lord is in this place and I didn’t know it.”

He spoke to God and told him to prove himself by caring for Jacob in all circumstances. God had already been doing that and continued to do so. Later, Jacob faced his brother, Esau, who did not kill him as Jacob feared.

As an old man, Jacob was brought to Egypt by his son, Joseph. Jacob thought Joseph was dead. Jacob even spoke with the pharoh. The last we see of Jacob, who is now Israel, he is leaning on his staff and worshipping the God who cared for him all his life.


True Religion – Pascal

Men are born so averse to the love of God, and it is so necessary, that we must be born guilty, or God would be unjust.

The true religion must have as a characteristic the obligation to love God. This is very just, and yet no other religion has commanded this; ours has done so. It must also be aware of human lust and weakness; ours is so. It must have adduced remedies for this; one is prayer. No other religion has asked of God to love and follow Him.


He who hates not in himself his self-love, and that instinct which leads him to make himself God, is indeed blinded. Who does not see that there is nothing so opposed to justice and truth? For it is false that we deserve this, and it is unfair and impossible to attain it, since all demand the same thing. It is, then, a manifest injustice which is innate in us, of which we cannot get rid, and of which we must get rid.

Yet no religion has indicated that this was a sin; or that we were born in it; or that we were obliged to resist it; or has thought of giving us remedies for it.


The true religion teaches our duties; our weaknesses, pride, and lust; and the remedies, humility and mortification.

The true religion must teach greatness and misery; must lead to the esteem and contempt of self, to love and to hate.


If it is an extraordinary blindness to live without investigating what we are, it is a terrible one to live an evil life, while believing in God.

Experience makes us see an enormous difference between piety and goodness.


Against those who, trusting to the mercy of God, live heedlessly, without doing good works.—As the two sources of our sins are pride and sloth, God has revealed to us two of His attributes to cure them, mercy and justice. The property of justice is to humble pride, however holy may be our works, et non intres in judicium, and the property of mercy is to combat sloth by exhorting to good works, according to that passage: “The goodness of God leadeth to repentance,” and that other of the Ninevites: “Let us do penance to see if peradventure He will pity us.” And thus mercy is so far from authorising slackness, that it is on the contrary the quality which formally attacks it; so that instead of saying, “If there were no mercy in God we should have to make every kind of effort after virtue,” we must say, on the contrary, that it is because there is mercy in God, that we must make every kind of effort.


It is true there is difficulty in entering into godliness. But this difficulty does not arise from the religion which begins in us, but from the irreligion which is still there. If our senses were not opposed to penitence, and if our corruption were not opposed to the purity of God, there would be nothing in this painful to us. We suffer only in proportion as the vice which is natural to us resists supernatural grace. Our heart feels torn asunder between these opposed efforts. But it would be very unfair to impute this violence to God, who is drawing us on, instead of to the world, which is holding us back. It is as a child, which a mother tears from the arms of robbers, in the pain it suffers, should love the loving and legitimate violence of her who procures its liberty, and detest only the impetuous and tyrannical violence of those who detain it unjustly. The most cruel war which God can make with men in this life is to leave them without that war which He came to bring. “I came to send war,” He says, “and to teach them of this war. I came to bring fire and the sword.” Before Him the world lived in this false peace.