Archive for December, 2010

Not every thought that comes to our mind is our own. They become our thoughts if we accept them as our own, but thoughts have many origins. When I was in my early teens, most of the thoughts that made up my mind came from books. In the previous sentence, I used the phrase, “made up my mind,” because that’s what books do. We also “make up our mind”, in the sense that we use our imagination, and we build on those thoughts that seem to come from nowhere.

One of these days, I want to make a rough list of the books that I read before I was fifteen. It’s no wonder my life was so confused. I’ve said something about this in the “About,” page of my blog. One of the smartest things Dad ever said to me was, “A book will lay still, and let you write anything in it.” He offered to get a book and prove it to me, which I thought was silly at the time. No one at that time of his life, would have accused Dad of being a Christian, but he had some sort of belief in God, and I had been trying to tell him about evolution. I had been studying evolution, and it had become a central part of my thinking.

The chaos created in my mind, mostly by books, eventually led me to turn to drugs. Books I read that promoted the recreational use of drugs influenced my thinking a lot also. When you are an atheistic youth, into drugs and music, you are prone to begin to play with anything. You may dabble in the occult, even if you don’t really believe in it. Just because the occult is contradictory to a fundamentally strict interpretation of evolution, doesn’t mean that you won’t play with it. We are by nature very contradictory creatures. As a result of all the mind games, our lives don’t always make a lot of sense.

Ephesians 2:2 calls Satan, “the Prince of the power of the air.” Besides the input that we receive through our “normal” senses, Satan is able to broadcast ideas more directly to our brain through a process that science doesn’t yet understand. Scientists can now communicate with the human brain by implanting electrodes in the brain. It may not seem like this field of science has advanced very far since the days of “Robo-rat,” but things have slowly progressed.

I found a good article from the September 7, 2010 L.A. Times, on the possibility of translating brain waves to words. They believe they’ll eventually be able to communicate much more efficiently. Experiments involving this sort of extra-sensory perception provide enough evidence to prove that it can be done.

Not being able to detect Satan with our normal senses can lead us to assume that he doesn’t exist. There are different things that can happen due to Satan’s ability to plant thoughts without using our “normal” senses. We can make the assumption that those wireless communications are our own thoughts, and become comfortable with them. Sometimes we can be overcome with fear, and grow paranoid because of certain kinds of thoughts. Some people just instinctively ignore thoughts that would otherwise be troubling.

C.S.Lewis, goes into some detail on these underlying things, in his book, “Mere Christianity.” One of his main points is that there seem to be different minds at work in our thought process. In our mind, a thought will arise. Let’s say that it’s not a good idea. Immediately, unless our conscious has been dulled, another thought will appear, telling us that the first thought isn’t a good idea to pursue.  The deciding thought will be ours. We decide which of the thoughts we are going to follow.

Those who are fundamental Evolutionists, will say that all the thoughts are ours, even though they seem to oppose each other. If that is true, then why does one thought seem to be “bad”, and the other, “good,” and why does the “good” thought seem harder to obey? The Bible takes these mind games into account. Paul, in 2nd. Corinthians 10:5 speaks of, “…bringing every thought into captivity…” Put thoughts that don’t belong in us, into the Lord’s hands, then don’t worry about them. Think about the good things (Philippians 4:8).

A book will lay still and let you write anything in it, and a talented writer can make just about anything seem right and reasonable. There are books that say anything, and everything. Which book, which word, are we going to believe? Who should have the right to decide what is good, and what is evil? Should God have that right, or should you?

We are finite beings. Even if we lived a thousand years, there’s no way we could evaluate all things and decide what’s true. God desires to transform us into infinite beings, but we must receive that as a gift, through faith in him. Putting our faith in ourselves, has caused the mess the world is in. If you can’t trust yourself, then who could you trust? Well, that’s a good question, but the answer is, Jesus. He is the “Word” of God from eternity past, to the eternity ahead (John 1:1,2,3,10,14). He is the “thought” of God.

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I’ve always enjoyed Christmas, even before I became a Christian. Even when I was a rebellious, atheistic youth, I loved Christmas. I knew that the holiday was named after Christ, but I didn’t associate it with Christ. I nearly always had the day off from work, and life slowed way down.

I loved the way you had to get what you needed to last awhile, because everything would shut down. For awhile, there would hardly be a car on the road, and it would be peaceful. I was aware that at times in history, battles were halted for the day, and some soldier lived another day.

After I came to know the Christ of Christmas, I’ve become even more appreciative. I’m aware that we don’t know the actual day of his birth, but that doesn’t matter too much to me. With enough research, we could probably figure it pretty close, but the fact that he was born is what counts the most.

I have a post in the May archives about the Septuagint. The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament from the third century before Christ. It’s proof that the prophecies about the coming Messiah (or Christ) existed before he came to earth, and is therefore, a very important book. I have a copy of it, and I looked up some of those prophecies to read this morning.

The first promise of a saviour is in Genesis 3:15. It would be easy to overlook the importance of this prophecy if you didn’t know that the word “seed,” is not used anywhere else in the Bible to refer to a woman. Biologically, it applies only to males, so this is the first prophecy foretelling the virgin birth of Jesus. Isaiah 7:14 in the Septuagint says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel.” The name Emmanuel means “God with us.”

Micah 5:2 foretells that the saviour will be born in Bethlehem. This verse also describes the saviour as one whose “goings forth were from the beginning, even from eternity.” That plainly tells us that Micah believed God would be born into this world as a man.

The Septuagint version of Isaiah 9:6 is disappointing, because it is missing part of the information that’s found in the Hebrew Old Testament. This verse from Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls, does read more like the verse in our modern Bibles. The Dead Sea Scrolls also predate the appearance of Christ, and serve to verify the prophecies.

Secular history, plus the New Testament, take over from there, proving that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. So, even though it’s only natural that many things would be disputed, there’s enough evidence to convince any open-minded person of the truth of Christmas.

Christians have rightly complained about the commercialization of Christmas for a long time. I think that’s to be prefered over the popular trend of rejecting any reference to the name of Christ. This world crucified, and buried him. Now society is trying to bury any memory of him. You might throw dirt on the living God, but he can’t be kept in a tomb.

I’m not offended when someone wishes me “Happy Holidays,” and I don’t want to offend anyone when I say “Merry Christmas,” but what other “Holy Day” would we be celebrating at this time of year. I’m not forcing “Merry Christmas” on you, any more than you’re forcing “Happy Holidays,” on me.

I only want to remind people of the Angel’s proclamation of the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:10-14). The advent of the Saviour means everlasting life for every person who will believe. That is “…good tidings of great joy… for all people.” God’s desire is, “…peace on earth,” and he is reaching out with “…good will toward men.” I want people to know that the birth of Christ is real, and therefore, I wish you Merry Christmas.

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If great suffering did not exist on earth, I might think that Hell wasn’t a real place. If no human being subjected any other to great suffering, I might think that both went to the same place after death. If justice always prevailed on earth, I might think there was no reason for a judgment after death. I’m sorry there has to be any sort of judgment, but I’m glad it’s in the hands of Jesus, and not another.

I realize this must be a horrible burden for him. I think of it as a cross that he must bear. I believe that holding the ones he holds is crucifying to him. I believe that letting the others go, hurts him even more. I believe that it is in anguish that he cries out to the lost, “Depart from me ye cursed…” (Matthew 25:41) “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

This is the first time I have written anything about Hell. I have concentrated instead on trying to write something to help someone believe in Jesus. I know that whoever believes in Jesus will escape anything destructive that exists beyond death. I don’t believe we have a very good understanding of what Hell is. The Bible tells us some things, but many times we must struggle to understand what is meant. Before I approach those things, I’d like to speculate a little bit.

We exist in this world in bodies separate from each other. I may be linked to the suffering of others by empathy, and I may experience emotional pain when someone hurts, but I really can’t feel exactly what you feel. Light and sound can’t convey your actual pain to my brain. What if the actual data of our lives is kept in some form that those who cause suffering will someday understand?

Jesus prayed that his followers would be one, as he and the Father were one. What if in some sense, we are all one, and we just don’t know it? What if we find that whatever we’ve done to others, we have actually done to ourselves? What if in Hell, the suffering caused by someone becomes a part of their own being? Remember that I’m speculating here.

What if all the suffering inflicted upon the world by Adolf Hitler turned out to be something he did to himself? Would it be fair if he came to understand the fear, pain, and loss, felt by the all the affected families of the world? What about the pain he caused God and Christ? Their sacrifice was for Hitler as much as for anyone else, but whatever the Lord suffered for Hitler on the cross was is vain. Even though I’m just thinking out loud here, no doubt there are elements of truth in what I’ve just written.

There are a few things though, that are certain. The first thing is that Hell is real. Jesus said it exists, and Jesus does not lie. Does anyone think that Hitler is going to rest just as peacefully in the ground as his tortured victims? Isaiah 28:20 says the “bed is too short to stretch yourself on, and the cover too narrow to wrap yourself in.” The “covenant with death” (Isaiah 28:18) will be annulled. There will be a judgment.

Secondly, God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. He’d rather become a man, and die an excruciating death, than to lose anyone to Hell. The fact that he did exactly that, tells me that Hell is not a pleasant place. I don’t believe the Lord would have made such a desperate move to try to reach us if the situation were not very serious.

The next thing is, God cannot keep you from going to Hell if you will not come to him for life. In John 5:40, Jesus said, “You will not come to me, that you might have life.” He will not overrule your freewill by forcing you to accept him. Love cannot be forced.

This mixed up world can never truly be a paradise. In order for Heaven to exist, there must be a division made between Heaven and Hell. Right now, the earth, and its inhabitants are caught in the middle, but the condition isn’t static. It can’t stay this way.

Sometimes earth can be enough like hell to be classified as such, except that hope can exist here. If someone will not reach up to the cross of Jesus, there is no promise of anything except judgment. Any other hope will one day disappear. The promise of life, is to whoever believes in Jesus. In several verses in the twentieth, and twenty-first chapters of the Revelation, the lake of fire is called the “second death.” Whatever the second death is, it certainly sounds final.

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To live forever without God would be a fate worse than death. Every evil that could possibly exist would befall us eventually. That doesn’t mean that death is a good thing. Death is our enemy, and a terrible one. The Bible agrees with that statement. 1st. Corinthians 15:26 says, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

There are things worse than death though, and there are people who would subject you to a fate worse than death, if you fell into their hands. They would do it because of who you are, or what they think you are. Some people need very little reason. Right now, I’m sitting comfortably in our warm little house. My wife and sons are here with me, going through their routines. Somewhere close by though, someone is suffering so terribly that death would seem like deliverance.

What if our bodies couldn’t die? God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate from the tree of knowledge, they would die (Genesis 2:16,17). They believed Satan instead (Genesis 3:1-6). What would the fate of all mankind be if God had not blocked our access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-24)?

To live forever without God, would be to become like Satan. If death did not exist, there would be no hope that anyone would ever return to God. Death entered this world because of man (Romans 3:12), and did not exist before man ate of the tree of knowledge. All living creatures die as a result of man’s sin. If there was a creature that didn’t die, scientists would take it apart piece by piece, to try to find its secret.

There are tiny creatures (.059 in. max length per Wikipedia) called water bears (Tardigrades), that live all over the world. They have been found in the Himalayas, and deep in the ocean. They can survive temperature extremes from 304 deg. to minus 459 deg. farenheit. They can live almost a decade without water. In experiments, they have survived 10 days of exposure to the vacuum of space. We know these things because scientists have studied these creatures. I haven’t read whether any experiments caused the water bears discomfort. I don’t think scientists worry about that sort of thing very much.

Science has begun to offer extended life. Some scientists think we can extend our lives far beyond a hundred years, perhaps indefinitely. Satan basically told Eve that we should ignore God, and trust in the knowledge that we could gain. He said sarcastically, “You will not surely die,” (Genesis 3:4) but neither the promise of science, or Satan will hold true. The first man and woman fell by unbelief (see my page, “Tree of Knowledge), and brought suffering and death upon all of us.

Our fall also brought suffering and death to our creator. His love for us brought him into this world. He became a man and was crucified. Mankind has devised many ways of torturing and killing. Crucifixion is one of the worst of them. What would it be like to be subjected to something like this, and not be able to die? As horrible as it is, death is a way out, but it is not the end.

God has told us a little about what lies beyond death. I hope to post something soon about the beyond. If there’s a way to misunderstand something, people will find it, so I’m writing as carefully, and prayerfully as I can. God is offering us another life, and a new world. This would not be a good world to live forever in.

1st. John 5:13 says that whoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life. That doesn’t mean simply believing that he exists, (See my page, “Belief”) but actually believing in him, as in being “for” him. He said, “He that is not for me, is against me.” Believing in Jesus is the antidote to disbelieving God at the Tree of Knowledge. Believe in Jesus and there will be no need to fear what lies beyond death.

When Adam and Eve took from the tree of knowledge, they were entering the unknown without God. For the people living on this side, death remains an unknown. Just as God warned Adam and Eve about death, Jesus has warned us of the unknown that lies beyond death (John 8:21-24). Please, do not enter the unknown without Jesus.

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I am firmly convinced that God wants to “be God” without being compelled to exercise his power as God. I believe that is one of the lessons he really wants us to learn from life. Parents encounter the same thing with their children. A situation that calls for discipline, is as hurtful to loving parents as it is to their children. We can learn a great deal about God, and ourselves, from our children. That’s one reason God wants us to have them.

A leader of people should not just be a “ruler.” That person should step out to lead only because leaders are necessary, even among equals. Let me give you an example of a good leader. Some of the rulers in Jerusalem brought a woman who was guilty of adultery to Jesus. Seeking something to accuse Jesus of, they pointed out that the law said she should be stoned. They claimed to want to know what he thought about it. He said, “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone.”

That was leadership, but someone else there also showed real leadership. The first of her accusers to walk away set a very good example for the rest of them, and they followed one by one. There was no one left there but Jesus and the woman. Jesus looked up and said to her, “…where are your accusers?” In her reply, she called him Lord. He had found a follower (John 8:3-11). Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

The courts of Iran recently whipped a woman for adultery, and are still at this moment considering stoning her. I would suggest instead that they do as Jesus did. Write her name in the sand, along with the record of her crime, the man’s name, and her accuser’s names. Then leave it to time and the Lord.

I believe that God seeks to communicate with us on a human level. I believe that’s one of the reasons he became a man. When he succeeds in winning our hearts on this level, he has achieved a great goal. That is true leadership. We that come to believe in him in this life, would never challenge him in all of eternity. We have become his friends. He can treat us as equals, and yet we will forever acknowledge his place above all.

If ever a shadow of doubt were to cross our minds in eternity, we would simply look upon the scars from his pilgrimage to earth, and any doubt would be defeated when we see them. “What are these wounds in your hands?” “These are the wounds I received in the house of my friends (Zechariah 13:6).

Adam and Eve were considered children of God before they conspired to become as gods. Luke 3:38 calls Adam, “the son of God.” They lost that after they took from the Tree of Knowledge. Sometimes you can lose the very thing that someone wants to give you when you try to take it. Taking something that can only be “received,” violates a principle of love. That is why God leads us instead of “ruling” us.

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