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Archive for August, 2010

The survival rate is low for people with the cancer that Christopher Hitchens has. Most of my information on this is from Terry Mattingly’s article about prayer for Mr. Hitchens (www.tmatt.net). Terry’s article mentions that Mr. Hitchens has instructed his followers to ignore any news that would indicate a change in his atheistic attitude toward God. He insists he will be true to atheism as long as his mind is sound.

His brother Peter Hitchens, renounced atheism some time ago, and has written a book about his experience, “The Rage Against God.” There is a mindset in this world that is totally against God. This mindset is aware that God often gains a victory when incidents of a serious nature occur, or when someone sits back and takes a sober look at this world. I know for a fact that sometimes in those situations we’ll see things we closed our eyes to before.

What I love to see though is someone doing some serious investigation when life is good, not when disaster strikes. We just need to look around. While things may be great for us at the moment, not very far away, someone is hurting. Christopher Hitchens acknowledges that under the effects of pain medications, and illness, sometimes people cry out to God. His statement is certainly meant to minimize any loss to the cause of atheism if that were to occur.

I don’t believe in risking it, but I believe that “deathbed conversions” do happen. One of the thieves the Romans crucified along with Jesus is an example of that, although a cross would make a terrible bed. In a moment of insight, the crucified thief grasped that God was right beside him, suffering for him (Luke 23:32,33 & 39-43).

If Mr. Hitchens were to accept Jesus, and people heard about it, a few might take it seriously, but I think most would ignore it. Even a real change, miraculous healing, and a chance to renounce his atheistic work, would be unlikely to accomplish as much as we might think. That’s what I’m praying for though. All people have someone who loves them in some sense of the word, and I pray for those who suffer with him in his sickness. It isn’t easy being in their place either.

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I’m busy for a couple of weeks, and have little time to write, so I’m just throwing something in. Children can be a blessing in many unforeseen ways. They give you a reason to try to be strong, and to keep on going. I borrowed symbolism and imagery from the Bible for these old song lyrics.

Our Little Stars

The colder and the darker the night
The brighter are the stars
And now the stars above are coming out
As I walk out to my car
And I thank the Lord for my kids, driving home
After a long hard day
When the road is dark with dusky shades
I’m thankful for that starlight on the way

I know sometimes this old dark world is sure
To make you feel afraid
But you would not be here if not for God
And the promises he made
Only he can drive away the fears
And fill the empty space
Yes, you are our little stars, your mother and I
Pray you’ll keep on shining away

In a dark, directionless void
God sets his lights
To give us a sense of direction
And break up the night
Til the Son of Glory arises
To forever shine
I pray you have all the star-shine in your lives
That you are in mine

Little lantern faces, glowing coals
Comfort from my hearth
Jesus bless you with a cheerful faith
All your days upon the earth
Even now the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)
Holds you in his rays
And we don’t know how close we are, but it can’t be far
Unto the perfect day

In a dark, directionless void
God sets his lights
To give us a sense of direction
And break up the night
Til the Son of Glory arises
To forever shine
I pray you have all the star-shine in your lives
That you are in mine

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You can believe in Jesus without evidence if you want to, but considering the evidence has made my faith in him stronger (Acts 18:24-28, Apollos). God may count your faith stronger than mine, because I needed evidence, but that’s alright. Some people need to see more evidence, so why not do our best to show it to them.

I’ve studied this problem, and I’ve asked God why the truth is not more evident. A lot of people won’t like these answers. Romans 1:18 speaks of those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” That quote is from the New King James Version; the King James translates that phrase as “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” So who are these people who suppress the truth? I know this is mainly speaking of those who intentionally strive to censor Christianity, but all of us are to blame to some degree.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy in 1st. Thessalonians 5:19 were speaking primarily to Christians when they wrote, “Quench not the Spirit.” If Christians can suppress the Spirit of God, then it’s to be expected that non-Christians would be even more prone to do so. It is a human tendency to try to suppress that which we fear, or don’t understand, as well as something we disagree with. I’ve had cold water thrown on me many times, when if I had been given time I could have explained myself a little better. I don’t know how badly God’s spirit was quenched in the process, but mine sure was.

Have I ever misunderstood someone, or caught myself treating someone else that way? Certainly I have. Did I catch myself every time I failed in this manner? No, it stands to reason that I didn’t. Have I heard God every time he’s spoken, and always repeated his word when he’s urged me to speak? No, sometimes I’ve realized it a minute too late. Do I think other Christians never miss the moment of opportunity to speak up? No, I’m either too pessimistic, or too realistic to think that.

I realize we don’t want our trust in God to depend upon our own understanding, (Proverbs 3:5,6) and that’s fine, but here’s the problem. We’ve allowed the world to define faith as something immaterial, as if it were only wishful thinking. Many Christians have accepted this definition, but “faith” is the way you look at the evidence, not simply accepting something with no basis in reality. Faith is the direction you are facing. All people need to face the facts.

Here are several ways in which all of us have fallen short.

The apostle Paul who wrote “Romans,” acknowledged that he learned from the Greeks, and the Barbarians, the wise,and the unwise. Something can be learned from every person, for all are the creation of God. If we treat anyone with disrespect, we won’t learn from them (Romans 1:14).

Christians cave in to peer pressure, and are ashamed to confess their belief in Christ (Romans 1:16).

The logical, historical, and scientific proofs of the Bible which could be known, are suppressed worldwide by every method that can be imagined (Romans 1:18-20).

Some say “you can’t know,” when in reality, they don’t want to know (Romans 1:21 and 1:28).

We limit what we could learn by thinking we already know it all (Romans 1:22).

Mankind has changed the truth around, thereby creating false religions, and untruthful ideas including evolution (1:23-25).

The human mind gets turned off to God, and switched to all kinds of other things (Romans 1:26-32).

Romans 2:1 says that none of us are fit to judge anyone else because of our own guilt, which is why we must have Christ. “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17). Faith is the direction we are facing, and we tend to go in the direction we’re looking, so turn to Jesus. If we look off to the right when we’re driving, our car will usually drift to the right. If we’re looking to the left, we drift that way. We’ll certainly drift one way or the other. If we really face the facts, we’ll see Jesus. I know that we must “walk by faith, and not by sight,” but we could gain much greater insight into the true faith.

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Sometimes the answers in this world are not satisfactory, but I’m sure we could do much better than we do. The Bible tells those of us who believe it to study it, so we’ll be able to give an answer (2nd.Timothy 2:15). A lot of people will say, “You just don’t question God,” but there is a vast difference in an honest question, and interrogating someone trying to find fault.

God wants us to ask questions (Luke 11:9, James 1:5), just as much as he wants us to trust the truthful answer. The disciples of Jesus asked questions all the time. If they didn’t understand his answers, they questioned him further. In this way, they learned to answer for themselves, and not simply to repeat memorized phrases. Some of the things they asked may even seem somewhat trivial, but this is the pattern we should follow. God wants us to understand. We can’t teach something very well if we don’t understand it.

It’s possible to understand far more than most of us have been led to believe. We don’t get it all at one time, but John said believers have an “anointing” from Jesus, and that it isn’t necessary to have some other person teach us (!st.John 2:27). Let me issue a little warning here. Although most Bible teachers will encourage you to study God’s word on your own, they’ll still want you to see it just as they do. If God shows you a facet of some truth that they haven’t seen, they’ll encourage you to remain silent. It’s easier to shut someone up than to study the Bible further to see if something is true. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you. I’m being honest and open when I say that.

The Spirit of God brings back to our mind that which we’ve read in the Bible (John 14:26). There are even things we haven’t actually seen or heard that God’s Spirit can reveal (1st. Cor. 2:9). The Bible says that whenever we think we know anything, we still don’t understand it as we should (!st. Cor. 8:2, 13:12). On the other hand, if we purposely limit what we could learn by saying, “No one knows,” or “No one can understand,” we are limiting God’s ability to teach us. At a certain level those negative statements can be true, but at least most of the time, we are far beneath that level. The main reason there are so many Christian denominations is that it’s easier to go your separate ways, than learn enough from God to reach real understanding.

The Devil likes to play with those Bible verses that are “hard to understand,” and he doesn’t want a resolution. He likes to display as “contradictions” those verses that would give us a clearer picture if we understood them. In the quest for understanding, all of us will be missing something. It’s as hard for Christians to admit they’re wrong about something as it is for anyone else. This is the kind of world that the Devil cultivates. He works to create situations where there are no good answers, or they’re so hard to get to that no one will take the time to understand (Hosea 4:6, Romans 3:11). If it suits his purpose, sometimes Satan says, “No one knows, and we should never question God.” That is very different from saying, “I don’t know.” I believe Christians should want to get to the “bottom of things,” because this world has it all upside down, and the depths are really the heights.

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As impossible as it seems, life exists. Equally amazing is the Bible, the book that explains life. The fact that we exist, and are able to look upon creation, is evidence of God. The Bible is the record of creation, and the history of God’s interaction with man. The evidence contained in the Bible is critical to understanding our world, and comprehending God.

If you don’t want to accept that, then you must explain the evidence some other way. It isn’t that another explanation is needed, but that it is wanted. That’s what the theory of evolution is. It’s the other option that some people wanted, in order to have something to believe instead of God. All science, and invention would function just as well without the idea of evolution. Heredity within design, and the God-given ability to adapt, explain all the observed data just fine.

The theory of evolution must continually be changed, as new bits of the puzzle surface. Science reserves for itself the right to argue over the data, change positions as necessary, and move on without any apologies for having taught something false. The Bible is not like that. You have translations into different languages, but it doesn’t have to be changed to fit new information.

The Bible has held pretty much the same form for nearly 2000 years, and the Old Testament even longer; yet it continues to fit newly discovered scientific facts. I’m not denying that some scientific interpretations, such as the age of the earth, seem to be in conflict with the Bible. In every such case though, there are assumptions made about the data, and it could just as easily be interpreted some other way.

God has proven himself. The Old Testament foretold how he would do so by becoming a man, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead. I know we can’t prove the existence of God to everyone, but anyone open to the possibility can be convinced. I know that many preachers, as well as atheists, teach that the Bible can’t be proven, but the Bible says otherwise.

Acts 18:28 tells how a Jewish man named Apollos showed by the scriptures (the Old Testament), that Jesus was Christ. Acts 9:22 says that Saul (Paul) proved in debates that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, or saviour promised in the Old Testament). Acts 1:3 says that Jesus showed that he was alive again after his death on the cross by, “many infallible proofs.” It can be proven that Jesus fulfilled prophecies that were written, and even translated into another language hundreds of years before his birth. That in itself, proves the existence of God. He told us what he would do, and then fulfilled his word.

The saddest thing is that not every person will accept Jesus, even if all this were proven to them. That’s why so many are determined to censor the Bible in every possible way. If you think that atheism will be satisfied with simply suppressing the religious expression of public officials, better think again. The best way to keep people from believing the Bible, is to keep them from knowing what’s in it. If you can bury the evidence, then you don’t have to try to explain it.

In this post, I’ve only made blanket statements about these things, but I intend to get into specifics. The Bible contains truck loads of evidence. It’s worth going through bit by bit, in order to rightly judge Jesus. I’m convinced that in deciding whether or not to accept Jesus, we are charting our own destiny.

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