Category Archives: Perspective

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.”

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  • 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.
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  • 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)?

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  • 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.
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  • 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”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the ‘Devil’ and the Evil in All of US!

Where does Satan and our Sinful Nature fit

  • in explaining the evil that is in the World Today?

As a Christian

  • I learn about the existence of ‘Satan‘ and of the ‘Sinful Nature,’ but
  • I have not fully resolved
    • how those two (sinful nature and Satan) interact to bring evil in the world.
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Regarding Satan (the devil, serpent, tempter, accuser, destroyer, etc.)

  • Is he present everywhere at the same time?
    • everyone appears to be constantly being affected or
      • tempted by him;
  • How is he able to tempt each person individually?
    • How come he knows what we are thinking?
    • How come he knows so much
      • about our individual histories, personalities and weaknesses?
  • If Satan, ‘the devil’
    • can tempt, deceive, dissuade, discourage, destroy individuals
      • even as the human population on the earth
        • continues to grow and
        • has reached over 4 billion; and if he
    • can work his evil from generation to generation for thousands of years;
      • the way some people say he does,
      • does not that make him a very powerful person
        • with some attributes like God(!)?
        • But he is NOT GOD!

This brings us to another source of evil in the world:

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  • The Sinful/Evil Nature in all of us.

A ‘celebrity’ (in the early church)  once said this about himself:

  • (in the first century)
  • “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me,
    • that is, in my sinful nature. 
    • For I have the desire to do what is good,
      • but I cannot carry it out.   
    • For I do not do the good I want to do,
      • but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
        • (Paul: Romans 7.18-19)
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This is what that sinful nature looks like:

  • He(She) is lazy, slow, and a procrastinator.
  • He(She) lies, exaggerates, and deceives
  • He(She) is incredibly selfish;
  • He(She) is greedy, proud, boastful, and self-promoting
  • He(She) can be lewd, nasty, and insensitive
  • He(She) is utterly against God
    • He(she) does not want to submit to God’s rule or to worship him;
    • He(She) does not like to humble himself before God;
    • He(She) does not like to pray;
    • He(She) does not want to read sacred scriptures;
  • He(She) does not like limits
    • if the speed limit is 40 mph, he(she) wants to go at 45 mph or
    • if the speed limit is 55 mph, 65 mph seems attractive to him/her
  • He(She) lacks self control, prefers excesses,
    • he(she) does not want to wait or to accept limit on him/herself
      • whether it’s with regard to food and drink, or
      • in relation to social interactions,
        • including sex, and marital fidelity;
    • he(she) does not want to go to bed or to wake up early;
    • with regards to words and conversations,
      • he(she) can be mean, insensitive, inconsiderate, gossipy, and crass.
    • He(She) is never satisfied, always wants more.
  • He(She) works against the interest of the person in whom he dwells;
    • the excesses of the sinful nature may cause
      • disease, physical harm, crime and punishment;
      • auto accidents, fire, financial ruin,
      • ruined relationships and broken families,
      • loss of face and status, loss of power, etc.;
    • but this does not stop him or cause him to change direction .
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I believe that

  • this sinful/evil nature is in every human being;
    • it can be conditioned/tempered by
      • parental discipline and personal experiences;
      • Christian (religious) conversion and education, and by
      • custom, and the laws of society;
  • this sinful nature is a “he/she” because
    • it is a part of but
      • not the totality of who we are as individuals
    • because he(she) appears to operate by ‘reason’ and ‘persuasion’
      • to our minds and/or to our will
      • (See Paul above in Romans 7.15-25);
    • as individuals we have still have the ability
      • TO MAKE A CHOICE between what
        • the persuasion of what the sinful nature wants and what
        • commons sense, conscience, laws of society, and the dictates of our faith, tell us.
  • (Personally, I refer to this sinful nature as “THE BEAST”).
  • Bring a community of people together
    • with this sinful nature and its tendencies,
    • we then have endless possibilities for evil,
      • in our world!

NEXT POST:  BRINGING THE TWO TOGETHER:

  • SATAN, OUR SINFUL NATURE, AND THE PREVALENCE OF EVIL IN OUR WORLD!!

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?
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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!!!
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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!

 

Questions: Pain, Suffering, Evil, and God!

I ADMIT IT!!!

  • I have had a lot of questions that have plagued me for a long time

    • about pain, suffering, evil, and God!

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  • I have seen (first person) or heard and read about

    • Christian men and women (young and old)
      • faithful to Jesus Christ,
        • active witnesses for Christ,
        • righteous in their lifestyle choices,
        • selfless in service to others,
        • regular and authentic worshipers,
      • loved by all, and then
        • fall ill and die,
        • drown at a Church outing or swimming in a home pool, or 
        • killed in gruesome road accidents, sometimes
          • while out or soon after evangelizing, or
          • while going about their normal business;
          • leaving behind grieving
            • (sometimes young) families,
            • congregations and the church at large,
          • while their ‘less worthy’ and sometimes criminal compatriots
            • live on!
  • I have read about 

    • how about five million Jews (‘God’s people’)
      • were killed in the second World War;
    • how over two hundred thousand people
      • were killed during the Tsunami in Asia in 2004,
    • how hundreds of thousands (including many innocents) were killed during
      • World War I, World War II,
      • Genghis Khan Wars, Alexandra the Great wars, Roman Empire Wars,
      • wars of Independence in US, India, Nigeria, Pakistan,
        • in South America, Africa, Asia, East Asia, Europe,
        • in civil wars and terrorist plots all over the world, etc. etc.
  • I/We have seen TV/Video clips of infants and babies 

  • struggling with cancer and other horrible diseases
  • that adults find it difficult to cope with, much less little children
  • born with birth defects
    • (blind, deaf, without limbs, joined with other children etc.)
  • I/We have seen the crooked and the unrighteous

    • get rich and powerful
      • by engaging in ruthless, unethical, and evil schemes,
      • swindling their customers, investors, and society as a whole,
    • beat the system instead of paying for their crimes,
    • appear to continue on with their lives
      • after destroying the lives of others
        • including family, trusting friends, and associates.
  • I/we have also seen

    • the poor remaining poor
    • the sick remaining sick
    • the rebellious child remaining rebellious
    • the marriage not becoming healed
      • even after a lot of prayers!

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 PAIN, SUFFERING, AND EVIL, GOD! QUESTIONS?!!

I CAN NOW SAY THAT I HAVE ANSWERS THAT SATISFY ME AND I WANT TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

NEXT POST!!!

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.
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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!!!
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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!
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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!!)

 

 

Why I (As a Bible Believing Christian) Cannot and Will Not Be Voting for Donald Trump (2!)

In my last post, I argued that

  • the perceived benefits of the Trump presidency
    • from a biblical perspective,
      • are temporary and earthly, not eternal.

Now: The continued Trump presidency

  • from a biblical perspective, will be
    • damaging, and
    • of eternal significance
      • for the Church, for America, and for the world.
  • Under the Trump Presidency
  • Truth/Facts/Reality and our attitudes towards them have suffered.
    • The Trump administration is “An Administration of Lies.”
      • The president is a proven, pathological, and an unrepentant liar.
      • His supporters repeatedly offer “alternative facts”
        • to explain the administration’s actions and statements.
      • Getting more people to believe a ‘narrative’
        • (by retweets, ratings, polls, ‘likes’, ‘going viral’, soundbites, etc.)
        • in modern America
        • is now more important than the facts and
        • has been exacerbated by an administration
          • that peddles lies, obfuscation, spin and/or misdirection.
    • Truth is a Biblical and Christian ideal.
      • Truth is eternal!
      • Deceivers will be eternally punished.
    • Truth is reality and reality is truth.
      • Science deals in facts and objective Truth;
      • without truth and objective facts,
        • normal living is not possible;
          • to live in alternative reality is insanity, and
        • the progress of human civilization is hampered.
      • Justice for all depends on establishing
        • what is true and what are the facts (evidence!).
  • The Image of God
    • present in every human being;
      • (along with a sinful fallen nature) that is,
    • everything that is noble, pure, selfless, and admirable in man suffers.
    • Instead of the image of God:
      • humility, selflessness, love, harmony, peacefulness, self control, patience, gentleness, holiness, mercy….
      • Trump models the sinfulness of Man:
        • pride, narcissism, hate, division, quarrelsomeness, short temper, impatience, meanness, ‘fight back’, vengeance, impurity and indecency….
    • Trump undermines our common human dignity by 
      • choosing to divide instead of bringing people together
        • in order to harness political power.
  • The Direction and Fate of the World May Change Forever
    • The Bible predicts that history is marching towards the ‘End Times.’
    • America is the only economic, military, and cultural superpower.
      • Trump has stated he acts based on his guts instincts
      • Trump who appears willing to take unnecessary risks
        • (economic, military, cultural, political)
        • without strategy or clear planning;
        • he can therefore plunge the world into an ‘end times’ scenario
          • predicted in the Bible.
        • This can also weaken America from within.
  • America as
    • a moral beacon in the world,
    • ‘the city on a hill that cannot be hid’
    • a clear voice for universal human rights,
    • model of freedom of the press, and as
    • a model of human dignity,
      • will be lost forever;
        • making the biblical ‘end times’ scenario that more certain.

So count me out, I will not be voting for Donald Trump in 2020!