Feeds:
Posts
Comments

There is a lot of basic doctrine to be found in the pattern for prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9-13. It is usually called “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is actually a general prayer guide for his followers. It was given at the request of one of his disciples (Luke 11:1-4). I don’t see anything in the Bible that annuls this pattern or supersedes its particular doctrines. As usual, please forgive my inconsistent grammar in this writing.

“Our Father in Heaven,” I am glad that you have a haven where all would be welcomed if all would welcome you; a place where you can take us when this world becomes more than can be borne. Evolutionists believe in “Father Time,” but time is not our father. Time is a creation of God, our caring Father.

“Hallowed be your name.” The name of God; the name of Jesus, is despised, dishonored, and dragged through the mud.

“Your kingdom come.” The peaceful kingdom where the lion eats straw like the ox will become a reality. This earth whose nations now reject you, and wage war upon each other, will one day become a world where there will no more hurt or destruction. Your kingdom will become a physical reality (Isaiah 11:6-9).

“Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven.” Jesus is Lord, but we don’t yet see all things in submission to his will (Hebrews 2:8). We are far from it, which is why we are to pray for it. The perfect will of God has not permeated this world since the day Adam and Eve undertook to reinterpret all knowledge. Things are not beyond God’s control, but God is not a puppeteer.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Sustain us Immanuel (manna and man, Man of Heaven); bread that is broken for us.

“Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We all offend in many ways (James 3:2), but love covers a multitude of sins (1st Peter 4:8).

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” A man in the Old Testament (Proverbs 30:8-9) prayed for God to give him “neither poverty nor riches,” but only that which was sufficient for him. He recognized the fact that just about anything can lead to trials for us. Lead us in some other way Lord. Let us not enter temptation. God tempts no man (James 1:13), even though all are tempted by life itself. Do we really want what we feel like we want? Sometimes our freewill does not feel free. Deliver us from the evil one.

“For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, to forever.” You have the right, and the power when you choose to exercise it. Hallowed be your name. One day your name will be cleared. Man’s assumptions and accusations against God will be proven false, and the truth will be evident. That is the true definition of the “glory of God,” not the vainglory of human definition. One day Jesus will be seen in his own true light, without our shadows casting doubts and deceptions about him. “For your’s is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, to forever. Amen.”

Advertisements

I love learning, but much that is called “knowledge” is either incomplete or false, and even that which is true is often misapplied. Greater knowledge and endless data won’t solve all our problems (1st Corinthians 8:1-2). Adam and Eve would tell us that today, but we wouldn’t necessarily believe them.

Sometimes we are simply unable to do that which we know should be done. I know that my family needs more money coming in than we have going out, but that knowledge doesn’t help me. Organizations that know more about making money than I do are stealing my lunch money. What can I do about it? The devil can keep us so busy swatting at flies that it can become our way of life. Regardless of what I know, try, or pray, I’m living on the verge of simply reacting to the next crisis. The future depends upon the intervention of God.

There is some truth in the saying that it takes money to make money. Instead of striving to make necessities as affordable as possible, the focus of most of those with money is on the greatest return on investments. This means trouble for the “working poor.” It means trouble for our country, for money goes where money is to be made, whether it in the best interest of our neighbors or not. Knowledge doesn’t prevent greed; it only makes it smarter.

Misapplied knowledge is hurtful, but so is a lack of knowledge. Partially conceived doctrines, chiseled into law, can prevent us from understanding the real reasons why the world is as it is. That is true of secular doctrines as well as religious. Man’s abuse of God-given freewill, along with a quest for knowledge and fulfilment apart from God, creates an environment where many evil things happen unforeseen. The Bible says that “time and chance” happen to all of us (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Calling the consequences of all of humanity’s wrong choices “God’s will,” keeps people from understanding the goodness of God.

In many cases, laws intended to counteract evil come to stand in direct conflict with God, even to the point where God and truth are criminalized. Jesus was “counted” with the transgressors (Mark 15:28, Isaiah 53:12). Laws don’t always work out the way they were intended. Just as knowledge fails us, so does the rule of law. At their heart, both knowledge and law can be said to be good, yet both fail due to problems of the human heart, and ultimately the only thing that can pull us through is the grace of love (“God is love,” 1st John 4:16).

Since “God is love,” it follows that a doctrine that isn’t tempered by love can never be purely “Christian.” Doctrines that lift their bearers above question are almost always questionable, and doctrines devoid of love can’t express the character of the inventor and creator of love. Such doctrines can inhibit a real understanding of God, of ourselves, and our fellow human beings.

While I’m on the subject, no human being has ever mastered the art of consistently being sensitive to the feelings of others. That is something that every Christian, on every day of the week, could repent of.

Unfeigned love for others is critical in communicating truth and doctrine. If we “have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…, and have not love,” we are nothing (1st Corinthians 13:2). It is possible to be versed in correct doctrine without possessing the thing that really counts. Without love our doctrines can become a clanging symbol just as incomprehensible as any unknown tongue (1st Corinthians 13:1).

Some parts of the Bible are “hard to understand,” and can be interpreted in a destructive way (2nd Peter 3:15-16). It follows that if we destroy someone spiritually with our “strong meat” (Hebrews 5:14), then according to Romans 14:15, we are not “walking in love.”

It is so easy to miss the trail when we speak of “walking in love.” Love rejoices in truth, thinks no evil, and seeks the good of others before its own. We often “miss it.” That is what the word sin means; a missing of the mark (ref. the Hebrew word “chata,” and the Greek “hamartano”). Sin is a lack, or an abuse, of love. Other people use the fact the we “miss it” as an excuse to embrace “no religion,” or to invent new religions, or new denominations, but Jesus died for us, and the reason that Christianity exists is because all human beings miss the mark.

Forgiveness must exist because we all fall short of perfect love. By our hand, love is sacrificed, but love is sacrificial. That is what the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is all about. Knowledge branches out on all tangents, but can never quite explain the sacrifices of love. According to 1st Timothy 1:5, the goal of the commandment is love, but no law can make us love anyone. The chain of the law can’t bind our heart to the heart of God.

Romans 10:4 says that Jesus is the end of the law for the believer. The broken link between Heaven and Earth is drawn together in the crucifixion of Jesus, one hand holding yours and mine, and the other in the hand of the Father of love.

In the daily struggles of our lives, a powerful force is at work tirelessly pressing us into castes and molds. We have choices as we are swept along, but the right choices aren’t always easy to make. Such resistance as we encounter in life tends to push us toward extremes. We are warped and twisted, assigned to this classification or that. If we escape the mold here, then we are pressed into the next. The force is determined to rank us into divisions to be played against one other. It isn’t God who is doing this, but that which the Bible (2nd Corinthians 4:4) calls “the god of this world.”

Only the true God can free us. Even then, our problems are not over. God seeks to preserve our individuality as well as to organize us as an effective body, but our divisions quench his Spirit (John 17:20-21 & 1st Thessalonians 5:19). The world force is yet attempting to make our choices for us. Within our denominations and divisions, we are trained to take a narrow view of God, as if our little group were the lone keeper of the faith. We attempt to contain the God of the universe in these little molds (2nd Chronicles 6:18).

In their own way, theists can be every bit as dogmatic about their beliefs as atheists and evolutionists. One of the effects of Adam’s tree of knowledge (the mind games tree, Genesis 2:17) is that human beings tend to feel as if they are always “right,” or at least within the correct framework. In order to actually solve our problems, we would first have to agree that none of us understands everything, and that we need each other. All human beings “know” something, but we know nothing to the degree that we should (1st Corinthians 8:2).

While Jesus is most certainly the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), he is also the door opening to ever greater truth (John 14:26, & 16:12-14). We don’t “get” it all at one time; we don’t even “get” it in a lifetime. Even the Apostle Paul didn’t claim to have “arrived” (Philippians 3:12-14). In Earth’s great contest of wills however, man quickly tires of trying to reason with others, and soon resorts to other methods. This usually means force or coercion in one form or another.

Men who think the will of God is accomplished through these power struggles may invoke his name, but “God” has become just another tool used to attain private goals. If men can make a thing happen, they will likely think that it is the will of God. Following that line of reason, the notion arises that everything that happens must be the will of God. In recent years I’ve heard an increasing number of sermons attributing this world’s evils to God as if all the minions of Satan were simply performing assignments predestined by God. It’s enough to make you wonder which side some of us are on. I have even heard a Christian leader give thanks to God for the terrorism of ISIS. Christians should mourn instead of rejoicing over the sorrows befalling our world.

The “god of this world” who misshapes education and morality, also distorts religion. The abuse of religious power during the Middle Ages set the stage for today’s religious confusion. It supplies endless fuel for the pro-pagan-da of all of Earth’s different “isms” and schisms, and paves the way for the Antichrist.

We should look at none of the people of these groups as our enemy (Ephesians 6:12). It must not become “us against them.” The enemy is “the god of this world,” the dark force which divides humans beings, separating them from God in order to destroy them. Our enemy is confusion, misunderstanding and falsehood.

The religious reformers of the Middle Ages were justified in resisting the excesses of established religion, but not in their adoption and use of the same tactics which had been used to persecute them. They might have reformed others, but most of them were not reformed themselves. These groups who burned each other at the stake for “heresy” can’t blame everything on the “civil authorities.” That will not excuse them before God. Galatians 5:15 was written primarily to Christians; “If you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

Satan changes tactics to fit the situation, and as long as people are fighting each other, he doesn’t seem to care much who is winning. When extreme persecution of the early Christians by the Roman government failed to destroy Christianity, the “god of this world” simply moved into the church to destroy it from within. Beware of any group that resorts to violence, whether it wears the sheep’s clothing of religion, or any of the many“cool” disguises of the day. Mercy is to be desired (James 2:13) instead of judgement, and none of us are qualified to cast stones.

Don’t get me wrong; the god of this world is not the equal of God, but Satan is able to take advantage of our human weakness and ignorance to cause a great deal of confusion over the Bible as well as everything else. As his attack upon Job illustrates (Job 1:9-11), Satan is using this world’s evils to embitter human hearts against God. I’m afraid that many Christians today are reinforcing that same message.

I don’t know who to credit for the following saying. My Dad always named a poor, old, lady whenever he quoted it, but I forget her name. She said, “When it’s every man for himself, it’s the devil for them all.”

I absolutely believe that God can time travel, and that he knows what the future holds. When he chooses, he has the ability to take human beings along. Peter, James, and John once witnessed a meeting of Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:28-31). Moses lived and died many centuries earlier, and Elijah was born a few centuries later than Moses. They talked about the crucifixion of Jesus which would soon take place at Jerusalem.

That meeting on the mountain may have been the origin of some of the prophecies found in Old Testament writings. If God chose, he could know the destiny of every individual, and if we were willing, he could take us down a different road. Our destiny is affected by our willingness to listen. We are taught that we can affect the length of our life by honoring our mother and father (Ephesians 6:2-3, Exodus 20:12).

The ultimate destiny of the forgiven is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus, and become children of God (Romans 8:29-30, Genesis 1:26-27). If we are unwilling to trust God, there is a conflict of wills and no promise that we would ever change, even upon meeting him face to face. When a human being hardens their heart against God, further contact with God sometimes only worsens the divide. The Pharoah of Egypt could have set the Hebrew slaves free if he had been willing, but God knew beforehand what Egypt’s stance would be (Exodus 3:19-20).

Pharoah had already hardened his own heart long before word came from God to free the slaves. In Exodus 5:2, Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” God’s command had served only to make him more self-willed and determined. Please, do not get bogged down in some “predestination” doctrine by thinking that Pharoah had no choice in the matter.

The words “predestinate,” and “predestinated,” are each in the Bible twice, though the principle occurs in other places. On the other hand, the word “if,” is used over 1500 times in the Bible (counts and translations vary), plus similar words and phrases are used many more times. Many of the uses are regarding conditional promises of God that depend upon our choices. We are told that if we will listen, that some good will follow. For instance, if we confess the Lord Jesus, we will be saved (Romans 10:9).

There are some cases where God chooses to intervene in a more direct way to influence a particular person. When Saul (whose name was later changed to “Paul”) was persecuting the early Christians, Jesus changed his life by confronting him in person (Acts 9:1-6). That isn’t the way that God ordinarily chooses. Almighty God, who has the power to turn the heart of a king “wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1),” also has the self-restraint to allow freewill and choice. Though “God is not willing that any should perish (2nd Peter 3:9),” he is also not willing to force his will upon unwilling man.

In dealing with difficult subjects of the Bible such as predestination and freewill, which may seem to contradict each other, it’s best not to go to extremes. God has foreknowledge of events, but that doesn’t mean that he causes those events to happen. The fact that some things are said to be predestined doesn’t mean that everything is, and though humans, angels, and God have freewill, that doesn’t mean that we have uncontested freewill. The moves that we are free to make often involve a contest of wills with others around us. That is the normal situation at home, work, in school, church, or wherever.

A caution from Revelation 22:18-19 to those who teach that all things are predetermined by God; you should beware of removing the word “if” from the Bible. We are warned against adding to the words of God’s prophecy, or taking words away. Revelation 22:17 gives us a choice, “Whosoever will, let him come drink of the water of life freely.” We are not predestined to refuse to drink.

If…. If we had all sat down like reasonable, caring, human beings, and studied everything over, man could long ago have arrived at a much better understanding of the Bible, and of God. God would have been in that reasoning process. As it is, life is a great contest of wills, and man isn’t as interested in finding the actual truth as he is in venerating his own version of it.

A picture of a starving child is a picture of the greed, ignorance, and apathy of man. It has always been the policy of man to starve enemies into subjection, and to ignore the undesired. That is not what God wants (Matthew 5:43-45). It is not the will of God that has led to the suffering we see in the world today, but the policies of man. We are self-willed, and we sin.

Long ago, in the garden of Eden, the first human beings chose to know good and evil, and to make their own decisions about all things as if they were gods. Because of that decision, evil is loosed to walk the earth, and human beings create many “impossible” situations, where there are no pleasant answers. We live in the shadow and consequences of prior human choices, and others will walk in ours. It is a long walk in the darkness.

Jesus said that whatever is done to others is done to him (Matthew 25:42-45), so a picture of a starving child is also a picture of God. God starves with the starving. It was God who created the empathetic and sympathetic qualities that human beings sometimes exhibit. Those are characteristics of God. In fact, the only way to hurt God is to harm his creation. The enemy of all humanity knows that when he targets a person, he nails the Messiah. God has been the primary target all along.

As any caring person knows, love draws us into the pain of others (1st Corinthians 12:12,26, and 13:4-7). Love makes God vulnerable along with us. The cross of Jesus is the physical manifestation of that phenomena. The crucifixion of Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s entanglement in our world’s problems. Where is God when we are hurting? He is there on the cross.

The name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23) means “God with us.” “El,” in the ending of the name, is a Hebrew name for God. The Greek spelling is Emmanuel. In Greek, “eme” means “me.” The Greek word “manna” comes from the Hebrew “man,” the word for the bread (Exodus 16:14-18) that fell from the heavens during the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. Jesus compared himself to this manna (John 6:32,33) which came down from heaven. He is the broken bread (1st Corinthians 11:23-24), the antidote for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. “Manuwn” is a little used Hebrew word meaning “heir,” or “son.” I think all these words and meanings are implied in the prophetic name Immanuel.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God. In John 14:8, Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” but nothing is ever quite enough for man. The world is not enough. The next verse gives the answer of Jesus, “Am I with you so long, Phillip, and you haven’t known me?” “The one seeing me has seen the Father.”

The Bible tells us that Jesus wept (John 11:35), and that God was in Jesus reconciling the world unto himself (2nd Corinthians 5:19). The tears of Jesus were the very tears of God. Jesus displayed emotions, and his emotions are those of God. Evil denies all of this, and either claims that God does not exist, or it presents him as being distant and unaffected. Evil uses every possible angle against God, but it all comes into focus at the cross.

“I like pain,” a man once said to me, “It keeps me on my toes.” “I like pain,” said another. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t know I was alive.” The statements were an attempt at humor, but they are sad words nevertheless. Another man said to me, “I don’t think that other people feel things like I do, and it makes me want to hurt them.” I tried to convince him that his thoughts were not true either of man or God. How many people want to hurt God because they think that God does not feel? God sees, God hears (Psalms 94:9), and God feels (Luke 13:34).

I’m sure that God does not like pain, and I don’t like it. A man once tried to convince me that Jesus didn’t really suffer when he was crucified. That man’s professed view was that Jesus was so spiritually exalted that he was beyond physical suffering, but love doesn’t make one immune to suffering. It magnifies it instead, yet love gives us purpose.

Jesus faced the cross in spite of the suffering, because that was the way to get us to face the truth, and it is the way to change our hearts. Why doesn’t God simply force all of us to do the right thing? Well, where do we want him to start, and where do we want him to stop? Can we get a consensus on our guidelines for God’s conduct, and would that agreement be the right one? Love must be voluntary.

We hurt ourselves when we harm others, and we hurt others when we harm ourselves. We hurt God when we harm ourselves and others, and we harm ourselves and others when we hurt God. That is life on Earth in a nutshell. Is that what we want, or is evil using, and confusing us?

Jesus said, “If I am lifted up (crucified), I will draw all mankind unto myself.” This he said signifying what death that he would die (John 12:32-33). The Messiah’s death on the cross might seem to us like the all-time low of his eternal existence, and it was, but at the very same time, it is the all-time high mark of sacrificial love. Jesus, on the cross becoming one with every one of us, (2nd Corinthians 5:21, becoming sin for us) taking all our wrong into his own body, and destroying it in his death while saving the souls of all who will believe in him, is the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.

We cannot see God in his true light (glory) if we do not see the depth of Christ’s suffering. There is a tendency in the churches to gloss this over, and only glory in the resurrection, but if we don’t acknowledge the communion of the suffering of God for man (1st Corinthians 11:26), we are missing the reason for his long journey down to Earth. If we do not see the suffering of the Messiah, we won’t be as able to deal with our own suffering, and we can’t see very far into the heavens of God’s love. This earth is a world of suffering, but it is not our final destination.

Some people believe that humans possess a sixth sense which is stronger in some than in others. If that is true, then it yet interacts with other realms of the mind in a similar way to our “conscience.” Many debates take place in our minds as information from our senses is processed. We get ideas, notions, and feelings that we either build upon or dismiss (see Whispers in the Mind, in my December 11, 2011 archives).

Artistic expression and invention often develop around these mental suggestions. Some argue that it is truer to say that humans have a spirit that enables us to discern certain things through inspiration. Some people claim to actually be able to make contact with spirits. Others say that intuition is no more than an evolved brain function.

My Webster’s Dictionary defines “intuition” as, “the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without rational thought or inference.” In other words, the mind sometimes skips to conclusions, which can often be brilliant, without possessing all the information that it needs to do so. Though this sort of thing has sometimes led to scientific discoveries, it is a very fallible process. People make most of their mistakes by jumping to conclusions, or thinking that they “just know” the correct answers.

The word “con-science” means “to know,” but that doesn’t mean that we actually know everything we think we do. Our conscience can be deceived. The conscience can make us conscious of things we would not otherwise comprehend, but it can blind us to others.

Is extrasensory perception really a different thing from inspiration, or the workings of the conscience? ESP may seem more other-worldly and mysterious only because of its association with the occult and unusual happenings. There are often anomalies involved, and though science knows that anomalies exist, it isn’t very good at dealing with such things. They are most often ignored (see “Out of Place Data” in my November 2013 archives).

I personally believe that the word “supernatural” should be defined as, “the natural which is beyond our present scientific understanding.” If science happened to physically detect God at this point in time, it would yet be unable to determine what was being sensed, even though God is just as real and natural as the nature that he created.

A couple of months back, I wrote about our senses, and how the good things of life are evidence that God is good. In that post, I mentioned the idea of the existence of a sixth sense. My post preceding this present one was about deception and evil. The existence of evil is evidence that the Bible is truthful about man and his world. The fact that we are yet wondering about a sixth sense is also evidence for God.

Science believes in the existence of other dimensions, but doesn’t accept that intelligent beings, some of which are hostile toward us, could populate another dimension. If God didn’t restrict them, it would be simple for such beings to deceive us, whether or not they revealed themselves to us.

The Bible tells us that we have a spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Ezekiel 13:3, 2nd Corinthians 5:8), and while it teaches that God has at times made contact with man in a direct, physical manner, he most often speaks to our spirit through the conscience. Mainstream science is currently experimenting with wireless transmission of information directly to the human brain, but yet science doesn’t accept the Bible’s testimony that this is already happening.

In Hebrews 1:7, the angels are called “spirits,” and there is a being that the Bible calls “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). That description indicates that this “prince” uses all forms of communication to broadcast misinformation. The Bible warns us of the danger of flirting with the occult (1st Timothy 4:1), and tells us to “try the spirits whether they are of God” (1st John 4:1).

There was a woman who had a spirit of “divination” (Acts 16:16-19) who guided her employers to financial gain. After she followed Paul and Silas around, day after day proclaiming in a mocking manner, “these men are servants of the most high God,” Paul commanded the spirit to “…come out of her.” Her employers afterward made trouble for Paul and Silas when she was no longer of value to them. The Greek word “Puthon” (Python) translated as “divination” in Acts 16:16 was also the name of the area where the seat of the “Oracle” of Delphi was located.

It would be simple for an angelic being or spirit to manipulate the mind of a person dabbling in the occult. They know what is around the next curve of the road. They could give you déjà vu, or foretell the future to a limited degree. They know many things about people of the past, and could convince someone of reincarnation. While we might think that we are only playing a game, the game is playing us.

Be that as it may, I think that at some point in our lives, most people experience something that causes them to wonder about the existence of the “supernatural.” There’s a big difference in studies concerning the percentages of people (31% to 96%) who have experienced déjà vu, but it averages out to be two-thirds of us. That amounts to a lot of people.

Science “explains” the experience of déjà vu as an anomaly of memory, but it is really beyond the capability of science at the present time to prove very much about it. Studies indicate that most of those who have experienced déjà vu are college educated, and that the incidence of occurrences decrease with age. Because these things can be viewed as evidence in favor of the Bible, I’m going to list a few things from my own experience and that of others that I have confidence in.

I am by nature a very skeptical person, and I don’t expect to persuade someone to believe me if they themselves have not had similar experiences. Personally, I have only had a few déjà vu experiences, and they haven’t been too remarkable. Once however, when a stranger was introducing himself, I knew his name before he said it. I’ve also had the experience of knowing the buildings that I would see around the next bend of a road where I had never been. In my experience these things have been totally sporadic, and I don’t see how science could verify that sort of anomaly. I have experienced feelings of “déjà vu” less as I have grown older.

I have experienced other kinds of unusual coincidences, or anomalies. For instance, I chose the name for my younger brother, but we didn’t know at that time whether Mom was expecting a boy or a girl. I already had younger sisters, and Mom didn’t tell me until after my wife and I were married that if she had another girl, she was going to give her a feminine form of the first and middle names that I had chosen. You can make of it what you will, but I did not choose my wife because she was named what Mom had chosen for another daughter. I didn’t even notice it at the time.

I had noticed that the girl who became my wife, and the girl I dated previously, had the same first and last initials. They both had these initials in small letters on their eye-glasses, and when I first met my wife, besides thinking she was very pretty, I kept looking at her and wondering what seemed familiar about her. I don’t think she will be offended at my telling of this.

I’m not going to give the name of a christian man because some people would automatically be skeptical of him for telling this story. Many times, for this same reason, credible people will not tell something if it seems incredible. This man bought a little house several years ago, and one day looking off his front deck, he thought he remembered his parents taking him as a child to a house that once stood about 300 yards away on the hill across the road.

This was not in the area where his family had lived, but his dad did odd jobs and work around town. He verified with his parents, who were still living at that time, that he had been to a house that was once there. As a child, his parents had told him about a woman who had predicted his birth and that of his siblings, and he was reminded of this story.

The man doesn’t know if the woman was a christian who happened to get a bit of inspiration, or if she was someone who just happened to get it right. There was someone, perhaps the man’s uncle, who thought that this woman was a witch. She probably was just a quaint little lady.

Anyway, my christian friend’s parents had wanted children for some years, and his father was building a fence for this woman. The subject of children came up and she told him that he would father a family if he would quit smoking cigarettes. Science today seems to verify that smoking interferes with conception, but I don’t think it was known in those days. My friend’s father felt like the woman’s saying was a prophecy, and he must really have wanted children. He buried his pack of cigarettes in a post-hole in the lady’s yard and never smoked again.

My friend doesn’t think that he was subconsciously drawn to buy a house in this area because of some childhood memory, but he thinks it is more than just a coincidence. He says that when he looks across the road, it feels like he is looking across a valley of time. He feels that the woman’s prediction has something to do with him coming to believe there is more to life than meets the eye. God alone knows the whole truth.

I’m not going to tell any ghost stories, but I lived for a short time in a small duplex where some strange things were thought to take place. I do know that people who lived there had toyed with the occult. Not long after I moved out, in the middle of the night, a neighbor from up the little hollow awakened all the occupants of the duplex screaming that the attic was on fire. There was no fire, and he went home looking like a fool. A friend who yet lived there told me about it. A few weeks later, when no one was home, the house burned to the ground. I can think of a few possible explanations, but nothing that makes much sense. There was no suspicion of arson or anything.

So, maybe esp exists but I’m not sure that we know much more than we would otherwise. Life is a mystery, and so is the Bible (the Script), and Science is far from omniscient. We know more about the brain than we know about our mind.

Evil exists. It relentlessly forces itself upon our awareness. Depending upon the situation, it may claim to speak for God, or to be God. It may deny the goodness of God, or even the existence of “good” itself. It uses the hurtful things of this world to try to turn us against God. The mind games it plays with man began at the Tree of Knowledge in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5), and 2nd Corinthians 11:14 says that evil presents itself as a messenger of enlightenment, “an angel of light.”

Evil will promote any answer except the fully correct one. It pushes human beings to do hurtful things, and then uses our guilt in destructive ways. With a few well-chosen words, evil may cast doubt upon any truth, and make long experiments and explanations necessary if the truth is to be found.

Evil tempts us to adopt its tactics in order to defend ourselves against it, and thus, it conquers us by making us more like itself. Sometimes we run the wrong direction seeking an escape. We play around its shadows, and evil uses us as pawns and puppets. Evil made sacrifice necessary, and when God became one of us (Isaiah 9:6), it nailed him to a cross and has ever since tried to bury the evidence.

Evil may seem as inconsistent as all insanity, but there is a method to the madness. Its aim is to utterly confuse man, to divide, conquer and destroy him. Evil mocks the warning sounded against it and causes every caution to seem foolish. Evil misuses every good thing that God has created (ref. “Deviation From Design” in my June 2012 archives) and tries to pin the blame upon the sovereignty of God.

Evil misinterprets the Bible. The Bible says that God was “not in” the wind, the earthquake, and the fire on the mountain where Elijah hid in a cave (1st Kings 19:11-13), yet evil presents all natural disasters as “acts of God” (ref. “A Random World” in my Sept. 2010 archives). Like Elijah, we run from those things, but God calls to us in a “still, small, voice.” Evil pushes us to run away from the only one who can help us. Evil will cast doubt upon anything that God would say to us, either in the Bible, in our conscious, or in any other manner.

Evolutionary scientists think that evil is primarily the result of chemical interactions and circumstances, but they can’t deny that it exists. A few evolutionists may inconsistently allow for certain degrees of human choice, while some theologians, misunderstanding our sovereign God’s gift of freewill to man, may argue that all things are predestined. Evil strives to make us feel as if we have no choice, either because of its own great power, that of God, fate, or destiny.

It may then reverse itself and argue that our wrong choices will have no consequences. If that argument fails, it will swear that our every move will lead us into disaster. It is always ready to back every deception with some misapplication of evidence, and to make the right choice difficult. Evil constantly attempts to manipulate us by fear.

If not for God, it would have had its way long ago, and would completely dominate the universe. It makes use of terrorism, evolutionary thought, false religion, and popular sentiment against the Christian God (along with ignorance in the church), to pave the way for the Antichrist. It is maneuvering Earth’s citizens to accept the absolute control of a government leader who will set himself up as God. No social structure could be formed which evil could not use for our harm.

If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that our beautiful world could be so evil, even if God had warned me a thousand times. This kind of unbelief is the reason that the world is as it is. God must eventually separate and contain evil, but in the meanwhile, we will see enough of it to become sick of it, and I am tired of writing about it.

In all of its rampage upon the earth, evil has not been able to overcome good, and that is evidence of the protective power and grace of God. The Saviour exists. “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (1st John 4:4). “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).” God is with us in spite of evil. We can therefore give thanks to God.

I wanted to finish this post before Thanksgiving, but I have been too busy experiencing the effects of evil. We celebrated Thanksgiving anyway. In spite of evil, there is always something to thank God for. When evil seems to overwhelm us, we can be thankful that Evil can never overcome God and that it is not his equal (Mark 4:37-39). We can be thankful that Christmas is coming, and that someday, Christ will return.

Besides celebrating a historical event, Christmas is a prophetic promise of a time to come. In spite of all the rage of evil, when all is said and done, Jesus will bring the “Peace on Earth” that he has desired from the beginning of the world. Like the softest snowfall, we will hear the still, small, voice of God.

The greeting on the television commercial, “Merry Whatever Doesn’t Offend You,” is humorous, but I really mean no offence to anyone when I say, “Merry Christmas to all.”