Category Archives: Christianity

Do You Minimize Certain Sins? I do!

As a child one of my favorite books was “The Poky Little Puppy.”  The plot isn’t important Poky little puppy
but in the story the puppies get scolded for squeezing through a fence and embarking on their Christmas adventure.  Their mother forbids them to go through the fence again.  Of course when the urge to explore resurfaces one puppy suggests with a sly smile, “Mom said we couldn’t go through the fence but she didn’t say we couldn’t go under the fence.”  Off they went again.  Once more their mother scolds them and forbids them to go through or under the fence.  Of course though when they wish to set off once more they discover a loophole in their mother’s instructions.  “Mom said we couldn’t go through or under the fence but she didn’t say we couldn’t go over the fence.”  You get the point.  The puppies knew they weren’t supposed to go past the fence in any way, shape or form but in their determination to get their own way, they chose to hear only what they wanted to hear.

God said we must love our neighbors as ourselves but neighbors aren’t obese people, smelly people, toothless people, poor people, Republicans, atheists, Muslims, homosexuals, African-Americans, Latinos, Communists, thieves, liars, cheating spouses, gossips, racists, the homeless or lazy, drug addled millennials right?  As the puppies might say, “God said we must love our neighbors as ourselves but He didn’t say what kind of “neighbor”.

Loving who we choose to love rather than who God instructs us to love is but one way we dig under the fence or leap over the fence rather than pass through the fence as God desires.  If we love only those whom loving is convenient, we will bear no fruit through God’s efforts to grow us.

We act no differently with the other vices with sex perhaps being chief among our transgressions.  Christians are quick to declare homosexual sex an abomination but gloss over their own pre-marital or extra-marital sexual activity not fully comprehending that their sin is no less pleasurable in God’s eyes than another’s sin is in theirs.

In our bid to exult ourselves, we overemphasize the severity of other people’s sins, depreciate our own and thus minimize our own disobedience.  Rape, murder, assault are heinous acts to be sure, but we can’t overestimate their devastation while underestimating the havoc our alleged minor sins such as lying, wreak.  Bears, lions, sharks kill with spectacular savagery but the creature on earth that kills the most, the mosquito, is far more delicate and subtle.  Accounting for more deaths than the nine other most deadliest animals combined, the mosquito, like a lie or word of slander, moves from one human to the next multiplying and compounding its destruction.  We disregard the mosquito as a minor nuisance, as something that isn’t a “big deal”, much like we do our “minor sins” but God sees the true devastation.  In our ignorance we recognize only the most notorious, outwardly destructive sins, not realizing that the army of little ones, like the termite colony, are the forces truly nibbling away at the foundation of God’s kingdom.

Do you find loop holes in God’s rules to access whatever earthly pleasure your eyes desire or to avoid the uncomfortable requests God makes of you?  Are you quick to condemn the sins of others with which you don’t struggle while ignoring your own? Comparing our accomplishments is unhealthy but comparing our sins could prove deadly.

 

Christianity: People Buy the “Why”, Not the “What” and “How”.

One of the best TED talks I have watched is by Simon Sinek titled, “Start with why – how christianity-1868365_640great leaders inspire action.”  In his eighteen minute discussion he explains why some organizations and individuals are more successful than others despite having less resources to obtain their goals.  He provides Apple, the Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King as examples.  Why for instance was Apple, a computer company, able to succeed in selling an Mp3 player while Dell and Microsoft failed?  How did MLK inspire hundreds of thousands of people to hear his message and why were the underfunded Wright Brothers successful in achieving flight before their competitors?

He suggests that many organizations know “what” they do and “how” they do it but not all know “why” they do it.  What is the purpose, the cause, the main belief or vision of the organization?  These individuals and companies who understand the “why” are successful because as Sinek points out, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

  • Apple makes great computers.  That’s the what.
  • They are beautifully designed and easy to use.  That’s the how.
  • Want to buy one?

Sinek suggests our message should start with the why and work from the inside out.

  • We want to disrupt the status quo and change the world (why)
  • So we build products that our beautifully designed and easy to use. (how)
  • Want to buy one of our great computers? (what)

According to Pew research, Christianity is on the decline.  Fewer and fewer people are interested in partaking of what Christians are offering.  Perhaps we should use Sinek’s model and first start with the why.  Why are we Christians? Why do we serve Jesus?  What we do is expand and disciple the church.  How we do it is by comforting the sick, building hospitals, feeding the homeless, sending out missionaries and praising God.  Why we do it should be obvious but sometimes our message is focused more on the what and how.  “We want to shepherd and save the lost so we build hospitals, give to the poor and welcome you into our homes.  Come follow Christ.”  Is that a successfully compelling message?

Why do we care for the homeless, provide snack for our children at church, and sing songs to the Lord? Let’s start with the why.

  • We love you like a brother/sister.
  • So we care for you, feed you, welcome you into our arms.
  • Please join us as we praise and worship our Father.

Maybe your why message is slightly different than mine but in the end it always comes back to love.  Love is what we’re selling, not hospitals, food, hymns or fancy stage lighting.  Like Apple, we too want to disrupt the status quo and change the world by doing something radically different; loving our neighbor.  Any takers?

Please watch Simon Sinek’s full discussion here:

Is God’s Word Antiquated?

Let’s be clear, the Bible is old!  Some estimates have the first book of the old testament being written as long ago as 3,000 bible-1068176_640B.C. but even conservative estimates have its first book constructed no later than 1,500 B.C.  Nearly all of the New Testament was written in the first century A.D. nearly 2,000 years ago.  So, not surprisingly, opponents of the Bible declare it an old relic with antiquated values no longer relevant in today’s society.  The age of the Bible is actually not at all relevant.  If you believe the Bible is the true inspired Word of God, then acknowledgement of its timelessness must be recognized. If you do not believe in God, then once again its age is irrelevant because you are unlikely to believe it whether or not it was written with today’s social mores in mind.

And yet opponents of the Bible, often those who do not even believe in it, declare it to be an outdated relic which should not be obeyed.  In a debate with his brother, the late atheist writer, Christopher Hitchens, described God as a celestial North Korea who removed our freedoms with his laws.  How odd to compare God to an atheistic state! Regardless, the notion that God is a great oppressor and his Word is better left to gather dust on the shelf, is permeating the ranks of both non-believer and believer.  What specifically has become so antiquated?  Let us review a few of God’s overbearing rules:

Don’t kill each other – While I think this one is still valid for the existence of our race, I suppose serial killers, mass murderers, and terrorists to name a few, find these rules a bit rusty.  I believe the majority opinion is that murder is still BAD so thank goodness for that, but hey, those genocidal dictators and suicide bombers appear to be gaining ground.

Don’t commit adultery – Even though a good portion of the population, both men and women, engage in extra-marital affairs, most believe it is wrong especially when they are the victim.  Adultery doesn’t just harm marriages, it wrecks families and your children.

Don’t lie – Lies are like mosquitoes.  They seem small and harmless but the havoc they wreak is devastating and widespread.  A lie may be the easiest sin to commit but no one likes to be accused of telling one.  Will a time ever exist when lying is universally accepted?

Love your neighbor as yourself – As forward thinking as this sounds, few of us practice this, and here may be where our resentment forms.  When God asks us to do what displeases us, such as loving those we hate, we tend to re-write God’s rules to excuse our shortcomings.  We erase the moral line in the sand declaring such extreme morality is needed no further.  Living life without hardship is after all much easier.

Don’t have any extra-marital sex – Now we are warming up to the real problem  and that is sex .  Adultery may be the sexual escapade we still frown upon due to its real and recognizable damage but we still indulge upon other fleshly pleasures whose immediate harm is less apparent.  The late evolutionist, Julian Huxley was allegedly asked years ago on the Merv Griffin show why the scientific community jumped on Darwin’s bandwagon and he responded, “I suppose the reason why we leapt at the Origin of Species was that the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.” Pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, homosexual sex, pretty much any intimacy outside of marriage is prohibited and boy how does this frustrate us humans!  The notion of abstaining from sex until marriage was laid to rest by society decades ago.  We re-wrote the rules to serve our own desires and the costs of our lusts have abounded in the form of broken marriages, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, disease, relationship problems, financial problems and so on.  If our sin makes us feel good and we don’t see it harming anyone, we stuff God in the trunk, turn up the radio and ignore the thumps.  Finally when we are destroyed by a failed relationship, the financial burden of an unwanted child, or even a contracted disease, we shake our fists at God.  Proverbs 19:3 says, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” Amen.

G.K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and find wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Are God’s rules truly antiquated or are they too difficult to follow? Life is tough and so we seek temporary pleasures such as food, drugs, sex or gossip  to numb the pain and we don’t want God prohibiting the very things that help us survive this world’s struggles.   And yet every instance we indulge ourselves in pleasure we  not only remain unfulfilled we feel convicted by our conscience (Holy Spirit) and the cycle repeats.

Chesterton also wrote, “Meaningless does not come form being weary of pain.  Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.”

If you are weary today, if you feel life has little meaning, pick up the Bible.  Read God’s Word.  He is not trying to take anything from you.  He is trying to get something to you.

 

 

Would You Accept Proof of God’s Existence?

Searching for evidence of God? As I watch talks given by pastors and apologists such as Ravi Zacharias, John Lennox, William Lsuperman-1275374_640ane Craig and many others who provide “evidence”, I find interesting that a great deal of the skeptics ignore the supporting facts and will accept nothing but proof.  I wonder though what proof could be provided and if they would even believe it!

First I will quickly review a bit of the evidence put forth pointing to a creator. Now for those die-hard skeptics the purpose of this post is not to incite an epic argument which eventually leaves me in a quivering heap as I wither under the onslaught of angry comments.  Please remember, I love you. I’m not attacking your beliefs!  I’m merely re-presenting the evidence that has been put forth thus far and postulating whether any evidence or proof would be sufficient to sway skeptic’s mind.

Evidence:

  • The universe had a beginning and was created from absolutely nothing.
  • The universe appears highly designed.
  • The Earth is extremely fine tuned  to support intelligent life. So much so that the odds of another planet with intelligent life existing in the known universe is 1 in 10 to the power of 138.
  • Science cannot explain how the existence of life came into being by random chance.
  • Science cannot explain the mind/consciousness.
  • Macro-evolution is unsupported largely by the fossil record, the fact that mutations are genetic dead ends, and irreducible complexity.  And as mentioned, evolution cannot explain origin.
  • Jesus existed was crucified and we have “evidence” the tomb was empty.
  • Jesus fulfilled 60 major prophecies concerning his life and death and was seen post-resurrection by 500 witnesses.

There is a great deal more evidence but those are a few of the big ones.  Now sure, we can argue how I have it all wrong or that I’m naive.  I recall a commenter on one of Professor John Lennox’s lectures calling him a “God-Tard” which frankly I found humorous in its immaturity.

Yes, it is true.  I have a personal relationship with God and therefore I may examine the evidence in a biased manner that inclines me more to see our Lord than to see blind naturalism or materialism.  Here therefore are two unbiased quotes from atheist scientists.

“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” Fred Hoyle, Astronomer.

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.  We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…because we have a prior commitment to materialism.  Moreover that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”  Richard Lewontin, Darwinist

Now just as some scientists have a prior commitment to materialism I too have a commitment to God.  But the real question is this: What proof for God’s existence will the skeptic accept?  In the documentary, “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed” I heard Richard Dawkins, a very outspoken evolutionist, suggest that alien intervention could explain the origin of first life on earth. Does this seem more plausible then a creator? While it may offer an alternative to how life came to be, it in no way solves the problem of how our life supporting earth came into existence or the fact that the existence of our universe is pretty much a miracle in the first place.  Believing in aliens when we know the likelihood of their existence is 1 in a zillion, seems like a greater leap of faith than to believe in a creator.

If Jesus appeared in the clouds in the future as discussed in the Bible, would we really believe he was Jesus? If he came to earth and walked across the face of the water, calmed a storm or healed a man’s blindness with but a touch, would that be enough to convince even the greatest skeptic? I suggest that for some they would rather be comforted with the belief that a super being from another planet was stopping in for a visit than to believe there was an all-powerful God to which they might be held morally accountable.

“We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning, the Christian meaning, they insisted of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.” Aldous Huxley, End and Means

The Bible sums up the passage above clearly.

For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts.” Romans 1:19-21

I feel to call anyone a “fool” in today’s information age is unfair.  We are constantly bombarded by fake news and facts to such a degree we find ourselves at social gatherings retelling very embarrassing untruths.  I hope with this post I have not added to the confusion. But one book, the best selling book, has stood the test of time and scrutiny.  The Bible.  If you want truth, and your mind is open, you will find it in there.

God bless!

Atheists and Christians: Do Similarities Exist?

The very obvious answer to this question is “yes”!  Not only are we similar we are veryroads-320371_640 much permitted to love one another.  As a Christian myself, I cannot see why I would treat an atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, or any one with a differing belief any less kindly than I would a fellow Christian.  In fact I am instructed not to by what Jesus calls the second most important commandment, “Love thy neighbor as yourself.”  And yet are we not all, especially atheists and Christians, as divided as Conservatives and Liberals, and often times separated by as much rancor as exhibited between the two parties during this recent election?  Just the addition of the word “Atheist” in my title is guaranteed to attract more views because readers from both sides might anxiously be looking for me to fire an inflammatory salvo over the wall at the other.

I’m not here to do that, rather my goal is to point out the obvious. We are more alike than different and the increasing hostility need not continue. Here are just a few and very obvious similarities over which we can bond.

  • We are all human beings.
  • We all have bad days and need comfort.
  • Most of us like sports.
  • All of us have hurt people!
  • We love our children!
  • We like to dance!
  • We like to laugh!
  • We like to sing even if we sing badly!
  • Many Christians and Atheists concur that Star Trek is better than Star Wars.
  • Many Christians and Atheists agree that Roger Moore is better than Sean Connery or that George Lazenby wasn’t the worst Bond.
  • Together many are Cowboys fans. Together many are Redskins fans.
  • Together many celebrated the Cubs’ World Series win!
  • We have both lied.
  • We have both helped others in need.
  • We have both felt abandoned.
  • We have both fed the homeless.
  • We have both bullied others and been bullied by others
  • We have cursed
  • We have stolen
  • But both can be moral.  As Christian apologist professor John Lennox stated, in terms of morals, many of his atheist friends put him to shame.

 So my advice to my Christian friends, especially relevant during this Christmas season, don’t beat judgement, scorn or the fear of eternal damnation into the minds and hearts of your non-believer friends. If you feel they are in the path of a moving vehicle don’t knock them to safety with a sledgehammer.  They won’t be receptive to your words.  Instead I encourage you to just love them and if you find yourself behaving a bit hypocritically, simply ask for forgiveness!  If you know Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher or even Bill Nye the science guy, give them a hug, say, “I love you brother!” and wish them a “Merry Christmas!”

God bless you all!

Are You Angry With God’s Alleged Genocide?

Often non-believers in an attempt to rationalize their disbelief in God point to God’s alleged genocidalsculpture-616821_640 commands in the Bible.  “Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

I once wondered about these passages and struggled to reconcile them with the loving God more often marketed by TV pastors and the like.  Once you delve into the history of the Amalekites and other people like the Canaanites for whom God also commanded destruction and compare them with the similar modern atrocities occurring around the world I question not why God gave this command but why he did not do it sooner.

I read recently an article about a Yazidi woman who was kidnapped by ISIS, separated from her children and then starved for two days.  The fighters eventually gave her food and as she ate the meat, most likely with the gusto of a human starved of sustenance, her captors told her that she was eating her three year old son from whom days earlier she had been separated.  In another account ISIS forced a mother to watch men rape her nine year old daughter to death.  Take a moment and soak in the true horror of these crimes.  Children raped to death! Children butchered for food!

The Shire folk see the world as a very, merry place but the men of Gondor, on the brink of Mordor, see the world differently.

No life is without challenges but the majority of us have not yet been exposed to the true, cold evils of our world.  Yes, we have lost loved ones to cancer or to car accidents or to drugs.  But what nightmares have we faced?  Right now somewhere in this world men are selling women to rapists!  Men are decapitating other men, burning prisoners alive and stealing children for their armies.  At this moment a child is wondering how killing another child would feel.

If we promote Justice through our courts and prison system how then can we judge God for executing justice on the Amalekites or Canaanites who for generations indulged in rape, incest, bestiality and child sacrifice?  To each generation the sins of their forefathers and even their god was promoted and in turn repeated. No light, no good could be found. The poison had permeated every man, woman and child and when their sin was at full measure as it had become in Sodom and Gomorrah, God eradicated the people from this earth rather than permitting their corruption to spread.

Was God’s judgment morally wrong? Before you answer first imagine this.  Your child is kidnapped by a serial killer who for years rapes and abuses your child.  Once your child obtains their own power they will most likely commit suicide or will in turn inflict what they learn on younger generations.  If for years you could witness every vile act of degradation committed against your baby as God is able then quite acceptably you would want the serial killer punished even, at the height of your wrath, with death.  You would not want your child to suffer as much for the crimes they committed but how then is that fair to his/her victims who crave the same justice as you?  You cannot want your son’s molester punished and yet cry “mercy” for your child.  After all even though your son learned his behavior from his captor, a prior generation might too have pounded the depravity into them.  With a raised fist you then question why God would allow such evil but don’t think on how he should prevent it or that you are asking God to take an action you previously denounced.

Remember, God is a parent too and unlike us he witnesses and feels evil committed against the children he loves on a second by second basis.  Are we permitted to condemn God for his mercy when we demand justice but condemn Him for his justice when we plead for mercy?

Don’t let God’s justice dissuade you from your belief in him!

To better understand the full extent of Canaanite sin and God’s command, watch the Youtube video below.

The History of Human Sin – Clay Jones:  

When We Reject Jesus, What Are We Really Rejecting?

“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not cross-918459_640withhold your shirt from him either.”

“I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“Do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn and you will not be condemned, pardon and you will be pardoned.”

“For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The more I speak with non-believers or God haters I’m astounded by how little they know about what Jesus taught or how far they will go to forget what he said.  Their argument that religion “poisons everything” is thin when you read the words above from Jesus.  What part of “love your neighbor as yourself” is toxic to the world? How could, pray for your enemies, don’t condemn others and give freely, be considered venomous?  I suggest that if more people practiced these teachings we would have less of the problems in the world for which the haters blame God.  And yet by hating God and denying his blueprint for life they inevitably create the world around them in which they don’t want to live and blame God for it rather than themselves.  An alcoholic can’t blame his sponsor for the DUI he received.

When the instructions above are spoken and taught by Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa you would not hear people saying, “I hate MLK!” or “Mother Teresa’s teachings are responsible for evil in the world.”  No, they are honored or at the least respected and no one hated them for what they taught.

If we agree that love, forgiveness and selflessness are good attributes then why the rancor for Jesus?  I can’t answer this.  I hear “Crusades” mentioned every now and then.  “Pain” and “suffering” are thrown around a bit but I don’t recall Jesus dishing out too much of that while he was on the earth.  On the contrary he healed people of blindness, paralyses and even brought his buddy Lazarus back to life.  Some say religion causes all the wars but Jesus instructed his disciples not to resist the guards arresting him because as he told Peter, those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

Regardless of whether Jesus is the son of God or whether his miracles are truly historic, still why are his teachings rejected?  G.K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and find wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.”  I submit this is why so many reject Christ’s divinity, his teachings and even his historical existence, because they can’t endure the shame of stumbling on the path on which Jesus wanted Christians to travel.

Alice Cooper once said, “Trashing a hotel room is easy, getting drunk is easy, being a Christian, that’s true rebellion.”  Resisting the lusts of this world whether they be sex, alcohol, money, lies, slander, whatever it is that so easily holds you in bondage, is more difficult than Jesus’ way.  As many struggle each day with their addictions and shortcomings they learn that stumbling short of Jesus’ expectations for them is one more fall they can’t handle.  Dismissing God’s rules or even God himself and declaring oneself a “good person” is far easier than bending a knee and asking God’s forgiveness for falling in the traps we incorrectly accuse God of setting.

Jesus loves you.  He knew long before your grandparents were born that you would fall short of the sinless life he lead.  This is why he submitted to dying on the cross for you which I suggest was much harder for him than asking for his forgiveness is for us.  God’s path is more difficult but don’t think no reward is waiting for you at the finish line.

The next time you are tempted to reject Jesus and therefore his teachings of love, compassion, selflessness and peace, ask yourself this question:

Does no evidence truly exist for the existence of Jesus, the empty tomb and his resurrection? Does no evidence really exist for a creator?  Before blurting out “no” I encourage you to watch one or two of these videos with an open mind and an open heart.  The speakers in all three of these videos were once staunch atheists until they were challenged to examine the evidence.  God bless!

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels

The Bible is True! The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict

Atheist Journalist Turns To Christ After Investigating Evidence