Category Archives: General

New Year! What Resolutions?!

I NO LONGER MAKE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!!

WHY?  Two things!

  • I have come to view the end of one year and the start of another as 
    • a little too artificial.
    • Imagine looking back to the earth
      • from the vantage point of the moon.
      • What is the difference between
        • December 31st and
        • January 1st?
    • Or Imagine being a bird, or another animal.
      • What is the difference in the experience
      • of December 31st relative to January 1st?
  • I have resolutions,
    • but they are no longer bound by an artificial timeline.
    • My resolutions
      • like time itself,
      • are always on a continuum; and they
      • are about
        • ‘always growing’;
        • always becoming a better version of me.
person holding a green plant
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com
    •  I don’t stop striving to become better version of me
      • just because I broke a resolution after two months.
    • Neither do I wait until the next December 31st
      • to resolve to start again;
      • to become a better version of me;
        • after I fail by February 1st each year.

So what should we do on the 31st of December each year?

  • Do celebrate 
    • the end of a block of (man made) ‘time’ and the start of a new one,
      • like everybody else; and
      • it is useful to have time markers along the way, but
  • Do, never become obsessive
    • that you must meet all your benchmarks within the year
      • to consider yourself successful!

So here is the ONE AND ONLY RESOLUTION you need to have:

  • Always strive to become a better version of yourself with each passing day:
    • Be better at your faith, you know,
      • trust, pray, love, give, testify, know, and serve more, etc.,
        • about and as a result of your faith!
    • Better in your character
      • (the real you;
      • what’s inside;
      • like toothpaste,
        • what comes out when pressure is applied);
      • Be more dependable, more patient, more truthful,
      • more balanced, less self-centered, more at peace with yourself,
      • more generous with others,
        • with your resources as well as with their faults etc.,
      • more self disciplined with time, words, and actions; wiser.
  •  Better in your relationships: more
      • serving, self-less, open, forgiving, listening and less talking,
      • considerate, gentle, humble, and more self-control.
    • Better at your Career:  Make it your goal to be 
      • more dependable, knowledgeable, skillful, useful, available, etc.
        • with each passing day.

A wise man once said, long ago:

“…One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…” Paul (ca. AD 52-62, Phil 3.13-14)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE!!

What Is So Special About Christmas?

For most of us, the Christmas season is special,

  • a welcome time of the year.

But I ask myself the question, Why?

  • WHAT IS SO UNIQUE ABOUT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR!?

assorted gift boxes on brown wooden floor surface
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

It is about the giving and receiving of gifts?

  • Everyone seem to make an effort to give a gift to someone else
    • No doubt receiving a gift is a pleasant experience.
    • Giving a gift that brings joy to someone else
      • is also a beautiful thing.
  • All this shopping for gifts mean more sales for businesses
    • which allows them
      • to hand out bonuses to workers
        • at Christmas.
    • Even without increased revenues,
    • Christmas is when businesses
      • make positive gestures
        • towards employees and the public.
pexels-photo-262577.jpeg
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Could it be the Bright and Warm Colors of the season?

  • A lot of people put on
    • red, green or gold or other
    • bright and warm colors during this season.
  • Many homes are decorated with multi colored Christmas lights
    • on the outside
    • and, with colorfully decorated ornaments
      • on the inside including on Christmas trees.
  • Many stores and businesses 
    • make dramatic and colorful window displays.
    • On the inside, their products
      • are also beautifully arranged with Christmas decorations.
  • The streets, and city centers in many areas around the world
    • are also impressively decorated.
  • But the Christmas season is all this and more!

Could it be the Wonderful Sounds that fill the air?

  • Lots of music and the sounds of bells and whistles
    • fill the air during this season.
  • Christmas Carols tell the wonderful story
    • of the love of God and
    • of peace and goodwill towards all men.
  • The sounds of the Christmas season evokes nostalgia
    • in the minds of adults
      • about innocent childhood days as well as
      • about simpler days and times;
        • when they looked forward to
          • Christmas gifts, toys, family, and fun.
    • But the Christmas season
      • is special for  all this and more;
      • more than just the sounds of love, joy, peace, and hope that fills the air!

Is it because of the Special Food we enjoy at this time of the year?

  • Everyone goes out of their way to prepare special food and 
    • there is plenty of it
      • at Christmas time;
    • there is also a large variety of it
      • at Christmas time;
    • there is plenty of food and lots of variety
      • of very nice food
        • at Christmas time.
    • But the Christmas season is special
      • for more than lots of very fine food.

Is it the many celebrations, the events we get to attend?

    • Parties among friends and families,
    • nine lessons and carols;
    • special concerts and
    • sporting events etc.,
      • are all mostly very nice experiences.
  • Even without a party to go to,
    • the streets have more people
      • out and about,
        • (shopping, dining, buying and selling, etc.
        • not to forget the traffic);
      • during the Christmas season
      • giving a special ‘event’ type feeling.
  • This is good but Christmas season is special for much more!

All of the above,

  • each have a part to play
    • in making the Christmas Season
      • SO VERY SPECIAL.

But together,

  • the giving and receiving of gifts,
  • the bright and warm colors,
  • the sounds,
  • the special and very fine food,
  • the celebrations and special events;
    • combine to create a very powerful and positive vibe
      • in society.
  • The season is special,
    • because together
      • they make it a season of GOOD WILL
        • wherever Christmas is celebrated!

And we

  • (all of humanity, our families, our communities, our nation, our economies)
  • need AT LEAST ONE SEASON OF GOOD WILL in each year!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU THE READER AND SUBSCRIBERS!

Please invite others to subscribe to this blog.  Thank You!

 

How to Give the ‘Perfect Christmas Gift’

In Developing Countries;

  • it is easier to come up with gift ideas,
    • (if you have the funds for it),
  • there are many things that people need
    • but do not have; indeed
    • cooked food was the gift that
      • my mother dispatched
        • (through us children)
        • to neighbors, extended family, and friends
        • as a sign of good will at Christmas time;
    • watches, shoes, garments, jewelry, dishes, sheets,
    • pens, books, personal music player, TV, computers, toys, etc.
      • are all also great gift ideas.

In affluent societies like in the Western World

  • coming up with the perfect gift at Christmas
    • can be a challenge;
      • because most people use
        • their regular incomes or
        • credit cards to buy what they
          • need or use regularly.
  • One option is to buy
    • high-end gifts or
    • exotic and rare versions
      • (which can be very pricey)
      • of things people use on a regular basis.
  • Regular folks therefore have to work harder to give the perfect gift;
    • here are a few suggestions of how to give the perfect gift.

The perfect gift takes time

  • Start early, as early as September;
    • listen to everyday conversations,
    • listen to expressed desires and aspirations
    • and make a note for gift ideas from those conversations.

The perfect gift may be an ‘experience’

  • Gift ideas do not have to be ‘things
    • they can be
      • a vacation, cruises, concert, a trip to a destination
      • museum/zoo visits or theme park rides, air fare, special trips;
      • time off work, housekeeping, or baby sitting;
      • an offer of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping;
      • scholarship, tuition contribution, tutoring,
      • a special radio station/you-tube, blog post announcement, etc.

The perfect gift should be personalized, customized or handmade;

  • an autographed book/ticket/music/fan wear,
    • (from the author or composer, or admired person)
  • monogrammed items:
    • a person’s name, initials or special message,
      • can be inscribed on
        • silverware,  bathroom set, plaque, musical instrument;

The perfect gift must fit the personality of the receiver 

  • Some people want big
    • (the amount spent is impressive)
    • others look for small details
      • (how rare, how much effort, how much thoughtfulness!)
  • Some people are visual
    • others are action oriented, still
    • others are moved by sound, etc.
  • Some people like things, others like ‘experiences.’
  • Some people want to keep up with their peers
    • (they get gifts that are popular)
    • others want to know that ‘they’ are unique
      • (they get gifts just for them);
  • How do you know what is the perfect gift?
    • People usually give the type of gift
      • that THEY like to receive;
      • use that to guide your gift giving
        • TO THEM!
        • not the other way around
        • do not give what you cherish
          • (I once gifted a hat to my wife
            • that she has never used;
            • it was something I fancied for myself!)

The perfect gift may be what someone tells you they want

  • They tell you directly or respond if/when you ask.
  • Some apps make it easy to create a registry for gift requests.

 

 

Thanksgiving (An Attitude of the heart!!)

This should have been posted before Thanksgiving Day.  All the same,

“Better Late than never,” and on thanksgiving week,

I heard one radio announcer say:

“Thanksgiving is not a day, it is an attitude of the heart.”

pexels-photo-935944.jpeg
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com
  • T – THANK and PRAISE God

    • for all things BIG and SMALL!
      • And do not forget
        • the precious people in your life!
  • H – HEALTH AND LIFE

    • are things we can all be thankful for
      • even if we are ill at a hospital
        • or in bed!
  • A – APPRECIATE and ADMIRE

    • the beauty of God’s creation around you.
  • N – NAME and NUMBER

    • your blessings,
      • its a rewarding experience,
      • including the precious people in your life.
  • K – KINDNESS and THANKSGIVING

    • in the heart
      • are twin siblings in the same home.
  • S – A SMILE and a CHEER;

    • want to see it on the face of the deserving?
      • Just say, “Thank You!”
        • from the heart
        • and with a warm smile!
  • G – GIVING and RECEIVING:

    • The one exists not without the other
      • every time you say,
        • “Thank You!”
  • I – ICTUS;

    • Five Greek letters for ‘fish‘:
    • Jesus, Christ, God, Son, Savior:
      • at least one reason to “give thanks!”
  • V – VISION and VALUE:

    • Nothing says:
      • I see and I value what you have done” like when you say
        • “Thank you very much,”
          • from the heart.
  • I – INSIDE and OUTSIDE:

    • A thankful heart, expressed outwardly in sincere words
      • belong together.
  • N – NICE and NEW: 

    • Thanksgiving is always that
      • and much more.
brown envelope with thank you printed card
Photo by Panos Sakalakis on Pexels.com
  • G – GOOD to GREAT: 

    • ‘Good Gifts’ become ‘GREAT GIFTS,’
      • when it is received with a heartfelt:
        • “Thank you.”

 

 

 

 

Near Death Experiences and the Bible!

What Should the Christian Make of Near Death Experiences (NDEs)?

burpo-family.png

  • When Colton Burpo was four
    • he died and went to heaven, where
      • he met his grandparents and a sister
        • who had been still born.
    • His story was made popular by
      • both a book (“Heaven is for Real”), and
      • a movie by the same name.
    • Colton (now 20) had knowledge about his grandparents, and stillborn sister
      • that could only have come to him supernaturally,
      • that is through an NDE.
  • Recently also, my wife and I saw a documentary called ‘Afterlife‘ by Paul Perry,
    • which details the stories of people who experienced NDEs.
    • Perry clearly sees NDEs as proof of the ‘life after life’ and
    • the experience led us to examine Biblical teaching about the after life and
      • how that aligns with what is known about NDEs.
scenic view of beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • If you are interested, the International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS) website
    • contains a large collection of stories and information about NDEs;
      • the stories sometimes differ in the particulars; but
      • they also share strong similarities:
        • Out of body experience
        • Moving towards an unconditional loving light
        • Heightened senses, consciousness, peace and harmony
          • with the universe
        • Self-awareness – People experiencing NDEs
          • were aware of who they were as individuals
      • But there are others who believe that the experience is

 

  • Some descriptions of NDEs sound like
    • the product of vivid imagination and dreams, or  of
    • delirium, such as when a person is experiences very high fever
      • caused by malaria and other illnesses,
      • (an experience common to many people in the tropics
        • including me, my wife, and I am sure, many others); or
    • hallucination caused by certain types of restricted drugs.
  • Some texts in the Bible appear to relate to NDEs:
    • Paul (2 Corinthians 12) was caught up into the third heavens
      • he said he could not say whether he was
        • in the body or out of the body” (verse 3 ESV);
      • he also saw and heard wonderful things he could not describe.
        • Could this have been and NDE
          • after he was beaten up and left for dead
            • at Lystra (Acts 14.19-20)?
          • Or could this have been after one of the many beatings he had suffered
            • as seen in 2 Corinthians 6.2-10?
    • John the Beloved experienced visions
      • detailed in the book of revelation while fasting.
        • Could this also qualify as an NDE?
        • Please see Revelation 1.9 -20.
    • Many other prophets in the Bible received visions
      • Daniel (10.2 ff); Peter (Acts 10.10 ff; ), Stephen (Acts 7.55 ff) etc.
      • Were these NDEs?  Are NDEs the same, similar to
        • what is called a ‘vision’ and a ‘trance’ in the Bible?
    • Jesus spoke about Lazarus and the Rich Man in the afterlife
      • (the story does not appear to be a mere parable
        • but a description of historical events );
      • how similar are the details of this story
        • to the common elements of NDEs?

SO WHAT THEN?

  • At the minimum, I believe NDEs confirm
    • what the Bible clearly teaches:
      • that Human existence goes beyond the physical realm.
        • In fact humanity generally and instinctively believes this
        • hence the universal prevalence of religion
          • one way or another, all societies ‘pray;
        • although some (atheists, and skeptics, and naturalists etc.)
          • reject this possibility.
  • But NDEs are not the source of our hope; rather
    • the Bible’s teaching of the Resurrection is the source of our hope.
  • We must be careful not to develop doctrines
    • about the afterlife
      • based on NDEs, about,
      • who gets saved, how they are saved etc., or about
    • who God, Jesus Christ,  and the Holy Spirit is;
      • The Bible is our source of doctrine for all things Christian
        • (Jude 4; Galatians 1.7-9; 2 Timothy 3.16,17)
  • God wants us to live by faith and by the already provided word of God
    • Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
      • John 20.29!
    • Luke 16.27-31
      • The Rich man’s brothers must accept the teachings of scripture
        • by faith!
    • Hebrews 11.6
      • Faith not NDEs (or other types of miraculous signs)
        • must be he basis of our walk with God.
    • Paul – 2 Corinthians 5.7
      • “for we walk by faith and not by sight”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain, Suffering, Evil, and God, Questions? Answers!

Questions:  Pain, Suffering, Evil, and God?

  • What is my ‘SATISFYING ANSWER’?
  • If God is  ALTOGETHER GOOD AND ALMIGHTY’
    • why the pain, the suffering, and all the evil
      • that we see in the world?
person holding a green plant
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

I now believe that this

  • God-designed creation runs on a ‘natural order’ (!)
    • based on the laws of science in
      • biology, physics and engineering, chemistry, geology, astronomy
      • mathematics and statistics, electronics, nuclear physics, etc.;
    • based on the laws of society and human interactions in
      • sociology and anthropology,
      • political science and economics, etc.
    • It is the challenge and opportunity of all men
      • since the days of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, etc.,
      • including Christians, and all genuine God worshipers,
      • to discover and utilize these laws for their benefit;
      • as stated in the book of Genesis when God’s says to man,
        • “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1.28)
        • work it[the garden-creation] and keep it. (Genesis 2.15)
  • Creation running on the ‘natural order’ is also ‘broken’ and
    • all men are subjected to this broken natural order INCLUDING
      • Christians, people of earnest faith, genuine God Worshipers;
    • evil, vile and wicked men;
    • evil schemes, wars, crimes, corruption,
      • are to be expected and do happen;
    • typhoons, storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, accidents,
    • diseases like cancer, deformity,  fatal accidents,
      • will and do happen.
  • God is making a NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH,
    • a restored creation with a restored ‘natural order’!!

I also believe that God rendered himself ‘Almost Powerless’

  • in the affairs of men
  • when he gave man total freedom to make choices!
    • Most of the evil in this world
      • comes from men and societies making evil choices,
        • spouses cheat, abuse, and abandon families;
        • wayward children choose wrong paths;
        • criminals, political leaders, sociopaths,
          • make wrong choices that harm others,
          • ensure continuing cycle of evil
            • as their ‘broken’ victims
            • turn around and victimize others.
    • God let’s men have their own way so that they can see
      • in themselves and in the results of their choices
        • a need for God,
        • if they would believe
        • (Romans 1.24a, 26a, 28b).
    • God’s purpose and plan is seen
      • in those who willingly let his kingdom
        • reign in their hearts and lives
          • becoming his “witnesses” to the world,
          • “salt of the earth”, and
          • “light of the world.”
    • As before though
      • God will judge.
      • God will restore all things.
      • God will be proven right, just, loving, faithful and true.
      • God will remake a new order
        • without the problems of this old order.

I also believe that God is incredibly Great, Powerful, and Sovereign

  • If (since) there is an ALMIGHTY God
    • from our knowledge of astronomy
      • he must be incredibly great
      • (Please take a look at this astonishing video on YouTube
  • This limits the extent to which my puny mind
    • can understand him or his purposes
      • for the world he has created.
  • If (since) he made the universe as we know it, 
    • he is sovereign over it;
      • (free to act as he pleases)
    • he owns everything!

So how then shall we live?

  • God takes pleasure WHEN we trust him
    • so I will trust him, what is the alternative(?)
      • Can you change him?
      • Can you change his purposes against his will?
      • Can you fight God?
      • If you reject God and abandon your faith
        • what difference will it make?
        • what will you replace God with?
  • God has revealed himself to man in the only way he can
    • by becoming man through his Son – Jesus Christ!
  • God has demonstrated that he cares
    • when Jesus died on a cruel cross
    • as we struggle in this fallen creation
    • so I will trust him
      • that he will make all things right again!

We can still pray for and expect ‘miracles’

  • God breaks through the natural laws of creation
    • from time to time,
    • to let us know
      • that he is there and he is not silent;
    • to demonstrate his power and
    • to encourage our trust in him;
  • (all answered prayers are miracles!)
    • God sometimes answers prayers
      • which appear to be the result of the ‘natural order’ but
      • which are ‘too coincidental’
        • since we prayed specifically about it!
  • The genius of God is that
    • while it appears that things happen
      • according to the natural order of things,
      • according the fallen-ness of creation and human nature
      • according to the arbitrariness and capriciousness of human choices;
    • his purposes are clearly still being fulfilled in the world:
      • righteousness matter,
      • evil is wrong,
      • truth is desirable,
      • and faith in him is
        • enduring and cannot be destroyed;
        • meaningful and practically rewarding!!!
          jesus-christ-good-shepherd-religion-161289.png

Notice, I did not say anything about Satan?

  • HE IS NO MATCH FOR GOD!  BUT more about this next time!

Let me know what you think.  Send me an Email, or a tweet.  Please share!

 

I believe in Miracles and …!

I believe in a reality

  • that is governed by observable and verifiable laws
    • of science operating within God’s creation.
pexels-photo-761394-e1568000977543.jpeg
Photo by Jakob on Pexels.com

I believe that scientific laws and discoveries are valid

  • for ALL human existence
    • including those of the children of God(!), that is, the laws of
      • gravitation, motion, thermodynamics, relativity, atomic energy,
      • mathematics, statistics, chemistry, physics, electromagnetism, etc.
      • I do not accept evolution BY CHANCE but
        • I cannot rule out evolution by divine design.
  • Denying the laws and verifiable discoveries of science
    • on the basis of so-called ‘faith’
    • is a futile endeavor because
      • GOD PUT THEM THERE!!!
closeup photo of selective color photography of cars on road print
Photo by Cecu00edlia Tommasini on Pexels.com

I believe and accept the scientific advances behind modern technology

  • that have revolutionized human existence in the fields of
    • agriculture and food production,
    • medicine and fighting disease and illnesses,
    • manufacturing,
    • communication and transportation,
    • entertainment,
    • astronomy and even (sadly and unfortunately)
    • warfare, because
  • GOD PUT THEM THERE (!!!)
    • to be discovered for human use!

I also believe and accept verifiable theories and observations of the social sciences

  • concerning human nature and human interactions:
    • the quest for power,
      • how and why people attain, keep and exercise
        • dominance over others,
      • organizational behavior,
      • group dynamics;
    • the quest for possessions including
      • the universal principle of scarcity,
        • (human desires and wants are unlimited but resources are),
      • the economics laws of demand and supply,
    • the quest for pleasure,
    • Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, etc.
    •  are valid because GOD PUT THEM THERE!!!!

I  believe that God is therefore the greatest scientist;

  • the greatest, physicist, mathematician, astronomer,
  • molecular biologist, surgeon, sociologist, etc.!
  • God is above, over, and beyond all of his creation.

I also believe in the writings of the Bible

  • It is a revelation of an otherwise UNKNOWABLE God.
    • How else can we know the God
      • who is the origin, and is over, above,  and beyond the cosmos?
    • This revelation gives meaning and purpose to life.
    • It is ultimately the only viable answer
      • to the question:
        • “What is the meaning and purpose of life?”
    • Think of God as the Unlimited Energy that birthed everything
      • (energy appears to be one of the main constants in the entire cosmos)
      • but which/who is also a PERSONAL being!
bible book book bindings book series
Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Pexels.com

I believe God wants men to live within the natural order of creation

  • FOR THE MOST PART(!!),
    • that miracles of the dramatic kind
      • are rare occurrences and
        • designed by God to be so(!),
        • because he wants us to live by faith(!!)
        • and because he wants us to live
          • within the scientific (natural) laws of his creation!
    • GOD PUT THEM THERE!!!!
  • Neither Abraham, nor Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Peter, or James
    • discovered the aerodynamics in order to build an airplane, nor did they
    • discover penicillin, the microscope, electricity, the Periodic Table, DNA, X-rays, Quantum Theory, or the connection between smoking and cancer;
    • gun powder was discovered by the Chinese, and
    • Archimedes had to discover the buoyancy principle because,
    • THAT’S HOW GOD INTENDED IT!!!

So child of God

  • don’t give up on dramatic miracles, but
  • don’t wait for them either.
  • It is God’s will that you live your life in obedience to him
    • with or without miracles.
  • The ONE MIRACLE that you can be sure of is this:
  • LEARN, UNDERSTAND, AND USE
    • the laws and principles
      • that God has put into his creation,
    • and seek his favor, and
  • YOU WILL MEET YOUR GOD GIVEN GOALS.
  • THAT’S HOW GOD INTENDED IT!!!!

LET’S DO THIS!  YOU CAN DO THIS!!

(Next post: how the perspective above helps us deal with the problem of evil and suffering!!)