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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

LVI. Misery Loves Company

Why do people update their status on atrocities like Facebook?  Even a better question is why do people feel the need to update their status on Facebook?  Have you ever noticed that these status changes are more negatively charged than positively? 

The trend for the last two years just to name a few are phrases like HMU (Hit me up) and FML (F*** my life).  Both are used most frequently by teens.  But they are both signs of a culture that is fixed on pain.  Hit Me Up:  a term to have people call them or get in touch with them or to somehow communicate with the one who is posting that message.  Why are they doing it?  Because they are lonely individuals.  It actually is a cry for help:  please someone talk to me.  Why isn't anyone talking to this person?  Because they are all too busy texting others and/or IM everyone else in their stupid address book.  The lonely heart cries for someone to communicate with.  But what they are not realizing is that even if someone does text them in one way or another that they aren't really communicating.  The personalization or intimacy of relationship is lost.  No matter what stuff.com.nz says, "In fact, we believe there is sufficient evidence that social media afford opportunities for new expressions of friendship, intimacy and community."  These are the wrong rationalizations for Facebook.  Most of these new expressions only tend to hurt people.  Intimacy with a computer...hello...phone sex.  Community????  Since when do people work together to get things done in the real world on Facebook?  No, HMU means people are hurting.

So what about FML?  Do we have to even go there?

The main question is why do people post these things if they are hurting?  Why do we feel the need to tell the world how much pain we are suffering?  Human interaction has changed but the old adage misery loves company remains true.  It used to be we would call our best friend and unload on them but now we see we have a bigger audience and it tends to feed people off their anger.  They can now express to the world how angry they are all at once.  But since they can hide behind the impersonal avatar they can say anything they want and feel no consequences.  This allows stronger feelings to be expressed and terms of hatred are filtered through our minds.  But little do they care that they hurt others in this way.  Some people aren't happy unless others are hurting.  It doesn't make you any better than those who hurt you if hurt people too.

LESSON TO BE LEARNED:  No one else needs to actually feel the pain in order to have sympathy for you.  No one needs to actually feel the pain to understand that people need healing.

No it's just not Facebook, it's our culture.  We are spoiled.  We think we deserve it all and that the world owes us.  We feel we are the stars of the world and the population is our audience.  Listen, when given a lemon, make lemonade, don't just spit out the seeds at everyone.

The culture is hurting.  The culture is crying out for help.  The culture needs healing.

People are hurting.  People are crying out.  People need healing.

Church, where are you?  Probably texting...

Only God can heal, people have to learn how to forgive.

What do you think?  HMU...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

LV. Political Activists

The two things they say you are not supposed to discuss with friends and family are religion and politics.  But this thought (and site) brings them together into one.  Here are the results to last month's poll:  Should Churches be politically active?

  • (27%)  No. Because our battle is not with flesh and blood.  This is the most important thing to remember.  No matter what happens in this world the most powerful force is to go to God with any and every issue.  But God does not say that this is where it should stop.  Many Christians wimp out by saying the above.  Actually in all reality those who answer this are probably Christians who have a hard time dealing with the fact that there thoughts do not coincide with Biblical views.  It is their way of reconciling their own thoughts with their spiritual life.  Hint:  it doesn't always work, nor is it always correct. 
  • (27%)  Yes. But only on certain issues.  This is probably the best non-biblical answer.  See next answer for explanation.
  • (22%)  Yes. No matter what.  Perhaps this one needs to be looked at a little more.  Some issues that do not deal with any spirituality are not needed to be endorsed or opposed by the Church, such as gun control.  This is not an issue that deals with the Church so why get involved as an organization?  Abortion?  Yes.  Marriage laws?  Yes.  Taxes?  Sometimes.  Freedoms of individual liberties?  Sometimes.  Religious freedom?  Definitely.  Candidates?  Yes.  Judges and certain laws?  Yes.
  • (18%)  No. Because it would violate "separation of church and state".  This one is controversial because no matter what you say someone always misinterprets the issue and the amendment to the Constitution.  See http://ideasoftim.blogspot.com/2010/08/67-life-liberty-and-pursuit-of.html and the see the comment section as well.
  • (4%)  No. Because then they would have to pay taxes.  This has to be the answer that people picked because they are trying to be sarcastic or are angry with the Church.  Churches should not have to worry about paying taxes.  Even Jesus said that we need to pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar.  They are a non-profit organization and should be treated like any other non-profit organization.  But since when does profit making constitute if you can be political or not? Private homes are non-profit (most of them).  Are they not allowed to be political?  Boy Scouts, YMCA, Salvation Army, and other organizations should be allowed to be political.  The old saying goes that if you don't like something you don't have to do it.  If these groups become political then you do not have to support it.
The Church whether people like it or not has been, is, and always will be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to politics.  Those who are Christian need to embrace this fact.  Not to abuse the power of the Church such as what was done by the Catholic Church during the age of feudalism, and not to force others into becoming all conformed like the practice of russification by Czar Nicolas I of Russia but to be the driving force of the culture so that the country can return to God and a higher morality system.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

LIV. The Wages of Pascal

Blaise Pascal, a famous mathematician and scientist who lived in the mid 1600's, came up with a philosophical puzzle about God.  He basically claimed that if you are to argue either for or against the existence of God it is better to error on the side that there is one so that one can reap the benefits and not suffer the consequence.  Even if then there is no God and you lived life according to scripture then you wouldn't have lost anything anyway.  This is now known as Pascal's Wager.  This is also a huge argument that atheists will use to say that there is no God.  How?  Because the argument can go as far as:  well who is to say which God this argument is referring to?.  What if Allah is the one true God, then shouldn't it be beneficial for all of us to live according to the writings of Mohammed?  Or what about Buddha?  Confucius or any other known deity?  So if the wager can be used on any religion and if there can be only one of them right then how can the same be said about all of them?  Therefore all religions must be wrong.  Therefore since all claim to worship a deity then there must be no deity.

Probably one thing the atheist has a problem with is the fact that during Pascal's life a new way of thinking called Enlightenment was taking hold.  One idea of the Enlightenment was that God may exist but He doesn't intervene.  Many of the Enlightenment thinkers (Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu and some even say the likes of Jefferson and Franklin) thought that it may be a waste of time worrying about the afterlife and that you should seek happiness in this one.  Pascal did not hold onto these theories and yet remained "enlightened", helping lead the way to discoveries about number probabilities and space theories.

So here is the question:  is Pascal's Wager valid for Christianity only, open the door for all religions, or doesn't matter anyway?

The answer:  It doesn't matter anyway.  Whether we want to believe in God or not does not take away the fact that He does exist.  He is there whether we live by His rules or our own.  If we believe in Islam, so what.  God still exists.  If we choose not to believe in any deity, so what.  God will still exist.

The more important question is:  Why is Christ the one True God and not the others?

The answer:  Here is the view of the writer.
  1. Being raised in a family that believed in God was a starting point.  There was a foundation built on Christian principles. But that is not where it had been left.   Journeys in life are not just about what one has been taught but what one can learn.
  2. One can get a lot from reading the Bible. It is filled with relevant information that can calm, encouragement, and lead people onto the right paths and can make people think of what they want to be like in terms of what they are now.
  3. Even if one was born to different parents than the ones they have now with different ideas, they could still think for themselves as an adult. One can get the same rendering. There are other self-help books and religious ideas that may do the same thing.
  4. There is a book you may want to read.  It is short and simple to read. It is by Josh McDowell called, More Than a Carpenter. McDowell says that there are only three things you can think about Christ. You either think He was a liar, a lunatic, or He was in fact the Lord. In short, if He was a liar, why would he tell others to tell the truth? If He was a liar why would he ultimately go to the cross and be executed for his ideas? Maybe He was a lunatic. But He didn’t do any pathological activity that would classify him as one. Unlike David Koresh, He didn’t make people live in communes locked away. He didn’t have a harem for his own benefits. Everything recorded by Christ has beneficial consequences and not one thing contradicts anything else He said. If He was not a liar or a lunatic then He must be what He said He was: God.
  5. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius. What do they all have in common?  They all are “founders” of a religion. They all teach about how to live a life that will bring you peace. They all have left a book for others to read and learn. What is the main difference? Only one claimed to be God. The others only claimed to either be a messenger of God or not even that.  Jesus said He was God. Liar? Lunatic? Or Lord? Some other differences: Buddha said there is a harmony in this world. If there is good there is an equal amount of bad. In other words, there is no reward for doing good because it causes someone else to do bad. Mohammed tells people to kill the infidel and claims that we all will get 72 virgins in the afterlife in we do such an act. Confucius was just a poet. Christ had life lessons. We actually read about his life and not just thoughts of one person.
  6. Nothing else makes sense. Primordial soup? An accident that created life as delicate, complicated and sophisticated as we know it…an accident? If you look to the vastness of creation and you can see too much beauty and too many intricacies of every day life to think it was all an accident. http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/xlv-dark-side.html
  7. People have life experiences. They have seen miracles. They have witnessed the power of God in their own lives. They feel a presence of a the Spirit. Now, that may sound strange to you. But until you have been in their shoes then that will have to do. And yes, this is where faith comes in. The thing that all atheists have a problem with is faith. If you see something, hear something, feel something but you can’t explain why, then faith has to start to take over. We all have faith whether you believe it or not. Each time you drive a car you faith in your abilities to get out of an accident. You have faith in the brake you step on, even without thinking about it.
There is 7 reasons right now, but all the atheist can say is: Prove God exists. And that is enough for them to not believe. Well, the actual burden is on disproving God. Science can’t do it. Just ask Josh McDowell, CS Lewis, Lee Strobl, and Blaise Pascal who all had problems believing and tried to disprove God. But all came to the conclusion, there is a God and Christ is He.

Friday, October 8, 2010

LIII. Existence is Fragile

Summary of thought #52:
  1. God did not put us here to be alone. We are here for each other.
  2. God did not put us here and leave us alone. We will exist even after this life.
  3. God did not put us here for Him to be alone. We will be called home.
  4. God did not put us here to feel like we're all alone. He came down to be with us.
  5. Existence is not futile it has a purpose.

But if that is the case then why do all of us hurt? Starvation happens all around the world. People can't afford their bills. People cheat on each other and get divorced. Men abuse women. Adults abuse children. People rot away with alcohol or drugs. Depression sets in to millions. Parents get old and become helpless. Children catch diseases that they do not deserve and we have to sit back and watch these things. And then after all that, people die. What is the purpose of us going through all kinds of hell. Why does God allow these things to happen to good people? Before you read on take time to read thought #11. http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/2008/09/xi-death-becomes-us.html.

God does not allow things to happen that are bad to punish us. He allows things to happen to prune us. In the book of John, Jesus talks about pruning the branches that do not yield fruit. Even though the tree has a purpose, it goes through some hard times. Its branches are pruned through those rough times so that it can grow back better and more fruitful than before. Pruning helps the plant be revitalized. Although sometimes cutting the plant seems futile and perhaps fatal, it actually helps the plant for the future. Pain may be part of our pruning. So though you may go through times you feel like you won't get through, the pain has a purpose. Life is fragile but it doesn't mean it has to break you.

God knows what pain is. His creation hates Him. His creation turned their backs on Him. His creation tried to execute Him. But He turned it around and sacrificed Himself for us. Take a look at the video below. Maybe it will help you understand.


Monday, October 4, 2010

LII. Existence is Futile

Age old question: Why are we here?

Why do we exist? Are we doomed to death? If God knew we were going to sin then why did He create us? And if sin sends us to hell then does that mean God created us to be doomed?

This is a huge argument that the atheist will use. They claim that if God is a loving God like Christians claim He is and since He is supposedly all-knowing then how could He create someone He will eventually condemn to hell? Apparently, He isn't as loving as Christians claim He is. And if one aspect of God that Christians claim isn't true then how can any of His aspects be true? Therefore there is no God.
First of all read this post: http://ideasoftim.blogspot.com/2010/03/64-rationalize-liberal-thinking.html and then read the rest of this thought. To the atheist there is no answer that will suffice but for the rest of us here is a shot at it.

Why were we created? We were created for multiple purposes. The biggest reason is to one day be a companion with God. But while we are on earth we are here to worship and love God. We are here to help one another because we are not perfect beings. We all hurt and need to be companions for each other as well. But if we aren't perfect then why didn't God just create us perfect or create us to be placed in heaven to begin with and not here first? To put it into human analogy, have you ever painted, sculpted, baked or done anything that involved creating something? What you have created is from you, of you, by you and mostly for you. But it can never be you. It takes on your personality. It takes on your essence. Those who see your creation know that it came from you because it is a reflection of you. But it is still not you. The artist loves his creation. The writer would love to become part of his book and react with his characters that he created, even though he may know the disposition and fate of his characters.

God did not create us perfect beings because there would have been no real love or relationship between Him and His creation. He gave us a free will to choose to have that relationship or not. Yes, God knows what your future is. But fore-knowledge is not predestination. Fore-knowledge means you allow things to happen which means real love has a chance to happen. Predestination means He caused it to happen. (It is in the opinion of this writer that predestination is not accuracte) Predestination takes away the feeling of real love or the choice to have real love. This idea causes the atheist to hate God. The feeling of predestination causes despair.

Remember the artist can not become part of his creation but God can and did. He chose to become one of His own and lived among us. He felt the same things we do. He hurt and loved the same things we do. He witnessed the same joy and atrocities we do. He became part of us to show His creation He understands who we are and why we are the way we are. Even better He made a way for us to become part of Him.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LI. Divorce

Some famous quotes about marriage were meant to be a joke but some really tell how we feel about it in today's world.
  1. Marriage is a three ring circus, engagement ring, wedding ring, suffering.
  2. Marriage is an institution. Who wants to be institutionalized?
  3. The woman cries before the wedding; the man afterward.
  4. Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory.- Abe Lincoln
  5. Bigamy is having one husband too many. Monogamy is the same.
  6. Marriage is not a word. It is a sentence..A life sentence.
  7. Marriage means commitment...but so does insanity.
But perhaps the most famous is a line by Red Skelton: "marriage is the number one cause of divorce"  Why do people feel this way?  Here are the results of last month's poll: How do you feel about divorce?
  • (28%) It's bad but I can think of worse things.  Maybe there are worse things but sometimes tragedies are caused by the smallest of events.  It only takes a spark to get a fire going.  Explosives come in small packages.  The Grand Canyon was supposedly carved by the Colorado River.  Obama was elected as president.  All of these started out as small things but grew into rather large objects or obstacles.  It may not be the worse thing but it causes all kinds of havoc on our culture and lives.
  • (28%) If it is needed then do it. Sometimes you can't help it.  The question is, "why is it needed?".  If it is for marital unfaithfulness people have the right, even biblical right, to do it.  Unfaithfulness comes in more than just sexual outbounds.  You promise to love, honor, and cherish.  Abusing your partner is a breaking of this vowel.  The one who is being abused has every right to walk away.  The one doing the abusing has every obligation to change and heal the marriage before the other does walk away.  Disagreeing with someone, economic problems, children, and/or boredom are not reasons to get divorced.  They would be excuses, or shall we say rationalization!
  • (25%) It's one of the worse problems we face today.  Very accurate.
  • (10%) Other.  Please someone explain.
  • (7%) Marriage is the main cause of divorce.  Those who answered this one are mostly joking.  It's those who do not say these things but show them are the ones who are in jeopardy.
When did divorce become so rampant?  It has always been around but when did it become so accepted as a part of society?  Another quote about divorce is that 50% of marriages end up in divorce.  That number is actually now lower this decade than last.  Divorce started to rise in this country back in the 1970's.  Perhaps it was because in the 60's people were more worried about free love than true love.  Songs and slogans of the time really show what we thought.  "If you can't be with the one you love then honey love the one you're with" (Nice message).  Make love, not war.  Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll.  These are just to name a few.  The problem is the one they were loving at the time was one they fell in love with while they were stoned.  Then when they had to come down off that high in the 70's they realized the one they loved wasn't the one they were with.  So by the time they hit 30 years of age they got divorced.  Hence the divorce rate sky rocketed in the 80's.  And those who got married in the 90's saw the examples their parents gave them and decided divorce wasn't that big of a deal.  And now that they are having kids in the 21st century, marriage isn't that important because 50% get divorced anyway so they don't even bother getting married.  Results?  Children born out of wedlock and hurt because they want both of their parents in their life.  Men run away from their responsibility since they didn't make any commitment.  Hearts are left broken and lying on the ground only to be trampled by the next one who promises (empty) to fix it.  People are left economically ruined due to all the lawyers, foreclosures, abandonment of children.  The Heritage Foundation says:  "Married families play an important part in promoting economic opportunity: children raised by never-married mothers are seven times more likely to be poor when compared to children raised in intact married families."  Divorce kills.

Where there's marriage without love, there will be love without marriage- Ben Franklin.

Friday, March 26, 2010

L. Are you Lukewarm?

Sent from a friend via email. Thought it was good. From a book called Crazy Love. It describes what a Lukewarm Christian is and signs of being one. This of course is something that Christ told us not to be.
  1. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly; it's what is expected of them to be "good Christians."
  2. Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church... as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living.
  3. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.
  4. Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin.
  5. Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for the "extreme" Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call "radical" what Jesus expected of all His followers.
  6. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, friends, or coworkers. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about "private" issues like religion.
  7. Lukewarm people gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street.
  8. Lukewarm people say they love Jesus and He is indeed a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives.
  9. Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion really isn't possible for the average person; it's only for pastors and missionaries and radicals.
  10. Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends and other people they know and connect with. There is little love leftover for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached.
  11. Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money and energy they are willing to give.
  12. Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven.
  13. Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor.
  14. Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum to be "good enough."
  15. Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.
  16. Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, came from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.
  17. Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens - they have their savings acct. They don't need God to help them - they have their retirement plan. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live - they have it mapped out. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God!
  18. Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong.

Thank you for sending this our way.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

XLIX. My Show Place

It's the rage of the whole country and culture. It's man's new best friend. It's America's new national past time. It is social networking at it's greatest achievement. It is neo-voyeurism. And we're hooked on it. And it is quite disgusting that it has done these things to us. Yet, we let it go on because we have become so complacent with the things we do, nothing disturbs us and nothing we do (especially on a personal basis) seems to be wrong. Facebook. Myspace. Twitter. Even blogs. The desocialization of society has begun. Maybe Wall*E isn't that far fetched from reality. Here are the results from last month's poll: How do you view things like Facebook and MySpace?

  • 3% said these things are great. How in the world are these things great? Because they get info out to people? So can a TV, radio, newspaper, and hmmm... a phone. Because it can get a lot of information fast to a lot of people? So what?
  • 53% said these things can be great but can be abused. "Can be" is the most important phrase of this choice. Anything has the potential to be a good thing.
  • 32% said these things are abused more than being used for beneficial reasons and need to be monitored. More than not. Don't people know that most sex crimes start with the smallest of imagery and then lead up to worse things? Ask NBC when they do their Dateline episodes on Internet stings and pedophiles.
  • 10% said these things are detestable and need to be abolished. Well at least some people know how to think.

It may be a passing phase that the world is going through but it doesn't seem like this type of community service is going away anytime soon. In fact it looks like it may usher in a whole new way of life; the kind of life where no one really has to deal with anyone else except through their avatars. TRUE STORY: There was a young child who was addicted to this stuff. The parents decided they had to ban their child from using it and they felt like it was a bear trying to get the child to understand why it was not needed. But the parent was doing the same thing. It is kind of hard to teach a child these things when so many adults are doing it and the adults are thinking they need to do it too. It's just another thing in this life that says "look how important I am. I have a Facebook account".

Cell phones, blue tooth ear pieces are the same way. Sure they can be used for positive things but in reality they are something to showcase who we are, hmmm...something prideful maybe. Something that takes us away from important things in life. If they are used as a witnessing tool fine, but that is not what we (99.99%) do it for and we know it. It's not just Facebook. It's our whole culture. You walk into Walmart and see people with blue tooth in their ears. And you think to yourself, "how important do you think you are that you have to answer that thing in Walmart? I mean if it was Macy's or something, okay, but you're in Walmart". Now that is kind of facetious but when you look deeper at the person, watch how they hold themselves when they have this thing on. They seriously take on a superiority complex attitude. Why can't they just have a phone? And of course they have to have it on "ring" so people can hear them when they get a call instead of vibrate. This is a pet peeve. But it does remind us of the culture we live in. Anything to bring attention to ourselves. But the Facebook thing...some will say it's a way to keep in touch with friends. That's why there are phones. If it's a friend from high school, and if you don't have their phone then apparently they weren't that close to them anyway.

Posting things twitter-like? Who cares if someone is eating at that time? And then the teenager way of doing it...posting things they don't think anyone will see. They hide their parents from seeing by hitting the hide button on their personal settings page. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Parents don't know what their own child is saying, or worse yet, they do know and don't care.

There is an addiction to these things. This following commercial seems harmless and is trying to be humorous but in reality is it really portraying how pathetic we have become?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQR67HXVt14. Notice everyone has their phone out while they are supposed to be in communication with the one they are with. This is actually quite sickening if you think about it. Our society has deteriorated because no one knows how to talk to each other. Could it be this bad as the commercial shows? have we gotten that dependant upon this little thing called the cell phone (mini-macro-world-communicator-entertainer)? Students in school don't know how to handle each other anymore when they walk down the halls together because they don't know how to actually talk in a correct way. Conversations are shortened to IDK, LOL, ROFL, NVM, BTW, WTF, OMG. So when real crisis happen, no one knows how to deal with it, because typing something won't cause the problem to go away. Students don't do homework anymore because they are talking on Facebook all night long.

It causes impatience, neglect, disappointment and even bullying and sexting. Nicely done. Parents don't even listen to their kids anymore, they're too busy downloading pictures and playing with apps.

BTW, Blogs? Same thing. Get a life. Those who blog must have nothing else to do with their life. That is why this writer has three. See the point?

It' not the technology that makes these things bad. It's the availability for anyone of any background to use that makes these things bad. Even Christians who have problems dealing with addictions can make these things have a negative impact on their witnessing. Some people may celebrate the name of Christ on their site and then in their photo sections have a picture of people in compromising and promiscuous positions. If you are a Christian and are not using it for real witnessing but for your own pleasure then you have lost all credibility to being a witness. And if you are one of those people, then shame on you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

XLVIII. Three Nails, Not Two

One of the greatest beliefs in Christianity is that Jesus Christ died on a cross, to shed His own blood so that people would and could have hope. For more on the sacrifice of Jesus read the following: http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2009/07/22-tabernacle-part-1-exodus-25-31.html.

The cross is a symbol of freedom from sin. It stands for a whole belief system that God Himself loved us so much that He would do such a thing. But there is more to the cross than just the beams of wood. With running the risk of taking away the sentimentality, we have placed too much emphasis on the cross as a whole, for the cross was just the vessel of His actions. We wear it around our necks and hang one in our houses to show we are Christians and that we believe He died on a cross for our sins. But in reality the cross should not be used as a symbol of the death that Jesus had but as a symbol of the freedom of man that Jesus gave to us. The cross today is empty just as the tomb is. Is there something else about the crucifixion that we need to look at and understand? Perhaps.

Some artists works show the crucifixion with all three "criminals" being tied to the cross. But those would not be accurate. The Roman way of crucifying would not have been that forgiving as just being tied up would be. Tying someone to a piece of wood with rope may have taken a long time to die but would not have been as painful. Rope can be cut too easily and so forth. Rope may burn but if you could stay in the same place you wouldn't feel it that much. Rope would keep you in place, thereby giving you time to relax. No, it took nails to put someone on a cross. Nails that were as a thick as tent pegs going through nerves in your hands and feet that were more painful than going through any other part of your body. The actual placement of the nails in the hands would not be in the palms. The weight of your own body would tear the hands away from the nails. The nails would have gone through the wrists where your hands meet your forearms. The nerve ending there would be so sensitive causing more pain than you can imagine. People who suffer from carpal tunnel don't even know the half of it but can at least start to appreciate the pain. The point is being crucified was not something that people could live through or want to live through. It is painful. To have one nail go through your nerves would be too much for someone to think that they could get through it. But yet one nail is not strong enough to keep the body on the cross. Jesus was not crucified with only one nail. He wasn't crucified with two nails. He had three.

But what does it mean when Jesus told us, His followers, to take up our cross? Consider Matthew 16:24-25:
  • Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
  • For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Most people think it means that we have to take on burdens of this life. We have to be good witnesses. If persecuted, we laugh in glory. If hurt, we turn the other cheek and pray for those who hurt us. When called on to give testimony we are supposed to be ready for answers. But there is more to it than just these things.

When you follow Christ you have to be willing to lose your own life. That just doesn't mean dying physically. Losing your life is about placing others before yourself, making a sacrifice that may not be easy (hence that is what a sacrifice is). It means to become totally crucified and not tod things half way.

Sometimes people when they follow Christ only get crucified with one nail. And when that one nail gets too painful they pull the nail out themselves and they fall away from the cross. WHen they remember their walk with Christ all they can remember is the pain. Some even go as far as getting the second nail but waste away on the cross without much produce. They just hang there taking the pain and never fully understand that it takes a little more. They feel that they have done what they were supposed to do and wonder why they feel the pain without any healing. But to fully follow Christ we need to have all three nails. We need to go through whatever we need to go through to see the glory of God. To be resurrected with Him we need to go through death. One nail hurts. Two nails makes us waste away. Three nails kill us. But thanks be to God above with the blood of Christ we are resurrected and death can not touch us.

Friday, January 8, 2010

XLVII. Demons

What are demons? When asked this question the ordinary person will say that it is a small red spirit with a pitch fork sitting on your shoulder causing you to do the wrong things, like your evil side of your conscience. Others might take it to another fantasy extreme and say that they are dark creatures that can cause destruction wherever they go. Still others may even say that they are beings who can take on human form and travel through space and dimensions and can be defeated by some spell or magical act. But that is only in fantasy land, which unfortunately many people choose to live in. But this is not what demons are in the real world (reality). In reality demons are spiritual beings who have been cast down from heaven such as satan. They are not "satan helpers". That term implies that satan has power on his own and that they take orders from him like he is a god. Angels are messengers of God. Demons are not messengers of satan. They are his fellowship, if you will. They are of one accord, trying to get God's people against Him. They will suffer the same fate as satan. Satan is technically bound and at the mercy of God. http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/search/label/Satan. There are two parts to that thought so read both to get an understanding of who he is. Once you know what a demon is then you can start to understand what a demon can do. Here are the results from last month's poll: What can demons do today?
  • 72% said that people can be possessed by demons. What is possession? Possession is when one object owns or occupies another object. Can a demon though possess someone? Biblically speaking, yes. It happened throughout the Bible. Most Christians would be able to cite the story of a man who became possessed by many demons at once who called themselves Legion in the book of Luke chapter 8. From the stories recorded in the Bible it seems like the person who has become possessed has no control over their own actions. Possessed people will not be themselves either in action or thought. In other words it should be quite easy to see if someone has been possessed or not. Can you say, Charles Manson? Who can be possessed? Many will say that anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ can not be possessed since those who have accepted Christ have also been given the Holy Spirit and if the Spirit is in you then an evil spirit can not be there as well. However, being filled with the Holy Spirit and having the Holy Spirit unfortunately is not the same thing. And if we do not put on the full armor of God as Ephesians 6 tells us then our defenses are down. When evil comes we need to protect ourselves. That can mean that if we allow evil into our lives then a door has been open, whether symbolically or literally, we need to be on the defense.
  • 70% say that people can be oppressed by demons. Oppression is when someone can control another by outside influences. For example if you have an addiction to something, you would be constantly bombarded with images or suggestions that would lead you down the path to satisfying your addiction. If we feed the thought of a sinful act it will breed and produce actions. Satan and demons are aware of this. But they would not know it if we did not show what our weaknesses are. Once we show these things demons are on the move. They will provide any distraction and place as many obstacles in our way as much as possible. If we do not take thoughts into captivity and train those thoughts then we become slaves to sin, hence oppressed. This is why it is so hard for addicts to get rid of their addiction. They are constantly bombarded with images and feelings that cause them to return to their own vomit, biblically speaking (Proverbs 26:11). Any one can be oppressed. Christians though when they get oppressed by evil thoughts and demonic forces appear to be hypocrites. They know what to do. They know how to make things better but they are bombarded by worldly desires and they fall. And most of the time it is a harder fall because the world is watching them. Another reason why you need to be on the defense.
  • 82% say that demons can harass people. Harassment is when someone is constantly bugging you about things you don't want to be bothered with. This type of activity plays more with your emotions than any physical aspect. This was perhaps the story of King Saul. An evil spirit would come and make Saul depressed and even angry. Only the playing of David and his harp would sooth his spirit. Guilt would probably be the biggest harassment that all face. But most keep this guilt inside and let it fester into something worse. Harassment can easily become oppression if you do not take care of it by getting help, spiritual help.
  • 55% said that demons can physically hurt people. Self-defined, physical pain being caused by something. The only evidence of this happening is by complete possession. There is no Biblical story that says a demon can just start hitting you and scarring you for life. However, it does say that a young boy was possessed by a demon and threw himself down many times. This may of course cause physical problems. But to actually able to touch and hurt someone like they would on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed or even Ghost Whisperer is completely false and all Hollywood. You will not be able to choose the demon to fight and destroy it. People probably believe this because we are living in the time of Hollywood.
  • 7% say that demons are powerless today. In a way this is correct. The only way that demons have any power is if we let them into our world.
  • 7% say that demons aren't real. With all the pains of society, hatred of mankind, sickness of humanity, and all the like, this can't possibly be a choice.
  • 27% say that demons can and/or will do other things. Please explain to the rest what other things they may do if you answered this way.

There may be a fine line between natural causes of sickness and demonic forces. However, some sicknesses that are brought on by our own thoughts and actions can be considered demonic in nature. And most people who need psychiatric help are not sick in the head but sick in the spirit. This is why many sicknesses of the mind can not be healed because they are treating the wrong symptom. You wouldn't give a person suffering from asthma some lamisil. Too many times people try to get help with their minds when they do not understand that it is a problem with their spirirt. Maybe they are oppressed or at least harrassed and they turn to help but in the wrong direction. They may treat a symptom but not the disease.

Are sicknesses demonic? That is hard to say. However, sickness was introduced into this world by sin. Man now has to die a physical death. So you can make a correlation between them. God gave us medicine to heal our bodies but there is no greater doctor than Christ Himself.

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