Sunday, December 30, 2007

Boarder Crossers

We need to show more sympathy for these people.

* They travel miles in the heat.

* They risk their lives crossing a border.

* They don't get paid enough wages.

* They do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do.

* They live in crowded conditions among a people
who speak a different language..

* They rarely see their families,
and they face adversity all day every day.
I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans;
I'm talking about our troops!
Doesn't it seem strange that many Democrats are willing to lavish all kinds of social benefits on illegal's, but don't support our troops and are now threatening to defund them?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Theodore Roosevelt on Immigration

"[W]e should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the American English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
  --  Theodore Roosevelt, 1907

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Segway Wheels Links

Safety Discussion
Segway Tire Dismount
Segway Users Group to find all things Segway.

See what's new at and Make AOL Your Homepage.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Sesame Street Personality Quiz

I Am Oscar the Grouch

Grumpy and grouchy, you aren't just pessimistic. You revel in your pessimism.

You are usually feeling: Unhappy. Unless it's rainy outside, and even then you know the foul weather won't last.

You are famous for: Being mean yet loveable. And you hate the loveable part.

How you life your life: As a slob. But it's not repelling as many people as you'd like!

For Your Favorites/Bookmarks: FCC Indecency Online Complaint Form

[Last night, I viewed a prime time show (Chuck) on NBC in which an actress used a four-letter vulgarity that I'd never before heard on prime time broadcast television.  The usage, to me, represented another domino in the eventual deterioration of America's moral standards.  Today, I submitted a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission.  I think the following information might be useful to a lot of people.  -- rw]
To submit a complaint about broadcast indecency and profanity, use the FCC's online complaint form,  Form 475B, at this URL:  (Bookmark it!)
In addition to information about you, the plaintiff, the form requires the information listed below.  Keep these items in mind if you think you should file a complaint:
(1) Date of Program
(2) Time of Program
(3) Network
(4) Call Sign, Channel OR Frequency of the station
(5) City and State Where Program Was Viewed/Heard
(6) Name of Program or DJ/Personality/Song/Film
(7) Description
Include as many RELEVANT details such as context and the specific words, language, or images, as possible.  You might also state why you think your complaint is significant.  For example, I stated that this was the first time I had heard the vulgar word used on broadcast television and it will therefore form a precedent if the FCC allows it to stand.
If you care about the way the walls are crumbling around us, I advise you to (A) click on the link above and bookmark it in your browser; and then, when the time comes, use it; and (B) share this e-mail with others whom you think would want the information.  (Don't just spam it to everybody in your address book!)

See what's new at and Make AOL Your Homepage.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Great Acrostic -- Not Just for ORU

See what's new at and Make AOL Your Homepage.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Strange Fire on Defiled Altars

[Moses' brother Aaron served as High Priest.  Part of Aaron's duties were delegated to his four sons.  God gave Moses specific recipes and procedures for incense and other offerings and forbade the use of any other.  Following the commanded recipes and procedures was vital because the ingredients and many of the steps symbolized heavenly truths.  Next thing you know, two of Aaron's sons offered "strange fire" and were immediately zapped by God. 
The account illustrates the necessity of doing things God's way.  Americans accept a lot of strange fire such as musicians offering seductive performances or visceral music in the name of worship.  When J. Lee Grady worries about charismatic charlatans, it's a bit ironic because the extreme illustrates the moderate.  Nevertheless, what Grady has to say below is very interesting.  --  rw]
Strange Fire on Defiled Altars
J. Lee Grady
Charisma +online (e-mail newsletter)
5 October 2007
Many who claim to be voices for God today are on dangerous ground.

We don't talk much today about Nadab and Abihu. They were obscure Bible characters who failed miserably. Certainly their tragic story doesn't work well as an illustration in the typical seeker-friendly sermon about wealth or success. So we tend to ignore these guys, even though they are mentioned in the Old Testament nine times.

Both sons of Aaron the priest, Nadab and Abihu were suddenly struck dead in the tabernacle because they offered "strange fire" (Lev. 10:1 NASB). We aren't told exactly what they did wrong—that is left to our imagination. All we know is that they did not follow God's specific instructions when offering incense. They were careless with His glory. Their mistake proved to be fatal.

What I deduce from their story is that God's altar is a holy place. When God struck them, He told their father: "'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored'" (v. 3). God made it clear that He isn't playing games. He sent fire from His presence to slay Nadab and Abihu so we would understand that we can't mess around with His laws, His name or His presence. We can't rewrite His instructions or be slipshod or slapdash about worship.

That's why I fear for many of the men and women who claim to be God's mouthpieces today, particularly in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement that I serve. When I read Leviticus 10, I wonder why the ground has not opened up and swallowed some of the careless spiritual clowns who are masquerading as bishops, apostles and prophets.

A case in point: Bishop Thomas Wesley Weeks III, who is now facing charges of assaulting his wife, recently stood in his pulpit in Atlanta during a marriage conference and proceeded to teach married couples how to use profanity during sex.

Yes, the man who allegedly kicked and punched Juanita Bynum in a hotel parking lot last month told attendees at a "Teach Me How to Love You" event that they should get over their hang-ups about cussing. The bedroom, he said, is the place to get down and dirty.

"Don't bring your salvation into the bedroom," he said in a sermon segment that has been posted on YouTube. "All those special words that you can't say no more because you're saved … save that for the bedroom!"

It is bad enough that Weeks told his followers that it's OK to use filthy language with your wife during lovemaking. It's worse that he said these things as a minister speaking from a pulpit during a church service. Thankfully he didn't bring a bed on stage and give a demonstration—but now that he has taken pulpit crudity to a new level, someone else is sure to introduce Pentecostal porn to an audience somewhere.

Weeks' comments didn't surprise me. There are so many crazy things happening in pulpits in this country that I've become numb to their impact. It seems that in many segments of the church today, false prophets and backslidden preachers can introduce the most bizarre doctrines imaginable and still get shouts from the crowd and plenty of donations in the offering plate.

Meanwhile, a growing number of television preachers are resorting to the most inane tactics to raise money. A popular trend this year is the "Day of Atonement Offering"—in which Old Testament scriptures are strained to the breaking point to make a case for buying special blessings from God. Thanks to this "revelation," you can click on a Web site icon and give your Day of Atonement Offering to win divine favor. (And of course every dime of that money goes to an evangelist who uses it to purchase houses, cars, plastic surgeries and more airtime so they can spread this nonsense to more naïve people.)

I have no personal vendetta against these spiritual hoodlums, but lately I find myself praying: "Lord, when will You clean up Your church? When will you send Your holy fire into the sanctuary? When will You turn over the tables of the moneychangers and drive the charlatans out of Your house?"

I have a sense that the answer is coming soon enough. The question is: How close to the modern Nadabs and Abihus will you be when the fire of heaven comes to purge them from the sanctuary? If you are anywhere near a defiled altar, my advice is simple: Run for the nearest exit.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

See what's new at and Make AOL Your Homepage.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Charismatics aren't so great at Bible interpretation, either; but at least their errors don't come from an assumption that the Bible is unreliable, like a lot of Anglicans do.
There Is Weeping in the Cathedral
J. Lee Grady
Charisma +online (e-mail newsletter)
Strang Communications, 600 Rinehart Rd., Lake Mary, FL 32746
Friday, September 28, 2007

It is a sad day for the Episcopal Church, which has officially traded the truth for a lie.
I don't particularly enjoy writing obituaries. But today I hear the solemn sound of a tolling bell—deep, somber and depressing. For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for a denomination that has died.
I am speaking of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the worldwide Anglican communion. Its grand cathedrals still stand in many of our major cities, even though membership is plummeting as its graying congregants pass away and its Bible-honoring members jump ship as fast as they can. Our own National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., is a part of the Episcopal Church USA. But it, like most other Episcopal churches, is just an ornate, hollow shell of what it once was.
There was a time when the Episcopal Church thrived. Decades ago it carried the good news of Christ throughout the world. In the 1960s and 1970s it experienced a miraculous charismatic renewal that was accompanied by conversions and healings. But today it preaches another gospel and its leaders have embraced a blasphemous delusion.  [Actually, most Episcopalian ministers preach the same liberal, works-based gospel that many of them have preached for a century.  Were the charismatic "revival" just a generation ago not a counterfeit, this wouldn't be happening.  Charismatics who infiltrate churches do not preach a renewed gospel; they merely preach a new experience that increases devotion to whatever gospel one already follows. -- rw]  
 No one really knows when the church actually breathed its last. Some say it was on a dark day in November 2003, when the denomination consecrated a practicing homosexual, Gene Robinson, as the bishop of New Hampshire. Others suggest that the church might still have a faint pulse—but they compare it to the vital signs of a terminally-ill patient on life-support.
When Episcopal bishops convened this past week in New Orleans for yet another anguished round of discussions about how to keep their church from splintering, they tiptoed around the issues as usual. They seem to love to talk an issue to death without taking decisive action. Any moral backbone in the denomination apparently turned to jelly a long time ago.
These people have deliberated, negotiated, compromised, debated and backpedaled for four years about whether homosexual practice is compatible with Scripture. They claimed to be "studying" whether it's acceptable to perform gay marriages in front of God's holy altar. Yet in all their talking and studying they never arrived at the truth. They exchanged it for a lie. They chose perversion rather than purity. They rejected the true God and fashioned idols that are politically correct and culturally relevant.
As predicted, the Episcopal House of Bishops chose to be cowards when they met in New Orleans. They did not reconsider the mistake of ordaining Robinson. They didn't repent of their rebellion toward Scripture. They didn't renounce their apostasy.
Yes, I said apostasy. That's an old-fashioned word that should be reintroduced into our American vocabulary. Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines it as "an abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one's faith or religion."
It's clear that the Episcopal Church achieved total desertion from biblical faith in 2003 when they voted to thumb their nose at God. After the church affirmed Robinson, a divorced father of two who left his wife for a gay lover, he told reporters that he was part of a sweeping movement that would one day introduce acceptance of homosexuality into America's churches. And when describing his unorthodox views, he dared to suggest that gay Christianity is the "new thing" that was prophesied by Isaiah centuries ago.
Robinson's arrogant words should have triggered an outcry. That any leader in the Episcopal Church would listen to such insidious sacrilege and not demand instant retraction—and Robinson's dismissal—is proof that these people have gone completely off the deep end.
Thankfully there is a ray of hope on this sad day. Amid this chaos, God has raised up some brave leaders who not only have challenged the Episcopal Church's heresy but who have set up alternative churches for those in their flocks who still honor Scripture. Three of these leaders, Chuck Murphy, Martyn Minns and John Guernsey, were featured last week in a front-page report in The Wall Street Journal.
What caught the attention of the mainstream media is that these men left the Episcopal Church and have been ordained as missionary bishops to the United States by Anglican leaders in Africa—where spiritual zeal is still hot, prayer meetings are well-attended and Anglican bishops still honor the authority of the Bible.
Murphy, based in South Carolina, is the leader of the Anglican Mission in America, a newly formed group of former Episcopal churches that adheres to solid biblical faith and plans to establish new churches here and abroad. Murphy answers to the Anglican bishop of Rwanda. The bishop of Nigeria ordained Minns when he bolted from the Episcopal Church. And the bishop of Uganda ordained Guernsey.
"There's a big realignment happening," Murphy told the newspaper. "We sent missionaries to Africa 150 years ago, and now Africa is returning the favor."
The Nigerians, Ugandans and Rwandans cannot fathom the idea of betraying Jesus Christ. The tragic demise of the Episcopal Church USA certainly has challenged them—and hopefully all of us—to be trustworthy stewards of the gospel at a time when many are falling away from the faith.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. He encourages you to pray for the Muslim world during the Islamic season of Ramadan. You can access a prayer guide here.

Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Blog

I've joined forces with my daughter (NYCindividual) to start a new blog called Confab Remarks at Since I barely ever post on this blog, I will mainly be posting there from now on. I will still post here from time to time, but mainly on Confab Remarks. The new blog will include my comments on blog posts I read on other blogs as well as comments on articles I read. It's a place of discussion and a place to link with other blogs and to network. It's a place to post recommended articles. ETC.

Here's a Description:

Confab: A casual talk; confabulation. To engage in casual talk.

Remark: To say casually, as in making a comment. to note; perceive; observe. comment or mention. a casual or brief expression of thought or opinion.

Welcome to Confab Remarks!!! This blog is where I will post all the blogs I read and my comments on their posts. In a way, it's a tip page. In another way, it's a page for discussion. Please join me in the world of blogging!

Friday, August 03, 2007

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Question posted at
i know that in life you should have one religion and i was wondering…
if you say you are a christianthen what do you think it means to be a christian?

My response:
Christian isn’t something you be. Christian is something you become. The foundation of becoming is critical. I’d say that Christian is defined by Christ; that any other definition has no authority. What we know about Christ comes through the Bible. If you think you believe Christ, then you must believe the Bible because Christ believed the Bible. If you don’t believe the Bible, then you have no Christ to believe except a mythical one. That is, you can’t believe Christ if you have nothing of his to believe. Therefore, you have to decide: Will I believe the Bible, or won’t I? It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

The reply from vballchik3575 is the only reply so far that comes close to answering your question, and it will do for a starting point. The faith of a child is sufficient for anybody, but becoming requires learning more about your God. That implies learning His perspective, and that causes the number of subjects to explode, but I’ll limit this to a few essentials.

The Bible begins by introducing a Creator with personhood — intelligence, will, emotion, etc. One of the perqs of being Creator is that everything you create is yours; and since God created all things under His own authority, He has absolute, life-and-death rights over all creation — including us. This Person consists of a single God who transcends time and space, mass and energy, yet somehow exists as what we, from within time and space, perceive as multiple Persons. It’s a mind-bender. As the Bible develops its revelation of spiritual things, we learn that there’s a central Father-figure, a Spirit, and a Son-to-be, all of whom claim to be the One God.

The foci of the revelation spell out the identity of the Son: Jesus, son of Mary (and step-son of Joseph) of Nazareth. God, we are told, inhabits the body of Jesus; and as a holy God, Jesus lived a holy, sinless life.

That’s as far as I can go without building the definition of Christian from another angle: That of mankind. Whether one believes in Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden as literal or figurative, it tells us that rather than bowing in total submission to God’s absolute authority, we all fall short, we all rebel. That is the entire meaning of the Ten Commandments. Yes, by keeping them, you can become more like God in a moral sense; but you can never achieve the absolute perfection required to enter the presence of an absolutely holy God. Not only do we fall short by doing wrong, but we also owe it to God to do every right thing that lies in our power to do. If we are indebted to God to do right, then we cannot offer anything that we do as payment for our failings. (If I bring you a cup of sugar that you loaned to me, I can hardly call it a gift to you, can I?) Therefore, the notion of weighing one’s good against one’s evil is misleading and irrelevant. In a hypothetical balance, our evil (and the good that we should have done, but didn’t) in the pan on the left will always outweigh the empty pan on the right.

All of the sacrifices of the Jewish temple system pointed to the terrible consequences of our failure. Even then, they were object lessons and a stopgap solution. The blood of bulls and goats (which ultimately also belong to God, not to us) just doesn’t cut it; indeed, they were symbols that pointed toward a greater sacrifice. That sacrifice was God’s Son; the righteous for the unrighteous; the holy for the defiled.

Now, I have to tag on two things that many churches corrupt. First, Christ, being God, could not be held by death. You have to believe in the resurrection because if there’s no resurrection of Christ from the dead, there can be no new life for us. Second, the gift has to be received as exactly that: a gift. To add other requirements such as church membership, keeping commandments, baptism, or any other thing than simply receiving the gift, then we insult the Giver and fail to receive the gift.

A Christian is someone who believes these foundational ideas, submits to them, and receives the gift. There are plenty of things that give evidence that the conversion was genuine and there are plenty of things to do (or not do) that coincide with becoming, moving toward the goal of being worthy of the name, Christian; but none of those things should be confused with the basics I’ve laid out that define the beginning of the process. And when you recognize the distance between fallen people and the Holy God, you know that it is quite a long process.

I’d like to know the reason for the question.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


On the note of my last question: What do you think is required of salvation? Personally, I think that salvation is aquired only when you accept Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior. It has nothing to do with baptism or good works. However, after you become a Christian, God does call you to be a servant. That can include works. They are what you do to show Christ to others. This ties into my last two conversations when it comes to interpreting the Bible. No, we don't have to interpet the Bible correctly to go to heaven, but does God want us to interpret the Bible? How do we do that? What if we are wrong, or someone else is wrong? There is a child-like faith that Jesus tells us we need to have. How do we keep that child like faith and interpret the Bible at the same time? There is the child like faith, but interpreting the Bible complicates things because so many arguments can be made. So, how do we simplifiy things? Where is the line drawn?

My Response:
I thought I would comment on your questions. I found your questions concerning Bible interpretation interesting. The question of Bible interpretation is going to be a big debate in the future because of post-modern thinking. The issue of the absoluteness of truth is essential in dealing with this question. I'm not sure if you are familiar or not with the different "hermeneutical" systems. (Systems of Bible interpretation) Alas, the bottom line is that there is only one accurate interpretation (God's original intended meaning) and we will spend our lives searching and being students of God's Word to obtain the fulness of that meaning. Furthermore, God's Word was meant to be interpreted literally and normative, that is within the context of the passages surrounding it. (Also known as a "dispensational" approach to Bible interpretation) I would disagree with you on interpretation not being necessary for salvation. How then do we really know what the "all" mean when Romans states that "all have sinned". If interp. is not necessary, how then do we understand the death of Christ being necessary for salvation? We cannot neglect interpretation. Interpretation and faith go hand in hand in the search for God's ultimate meaning to what He wrote. The biggest stumbling block in Bible interpretation is man's presuppositions that he brings to the table because of his sin nature. Good post though with good questions. I have a number of "deeper" thinking posts on my blog if you are interested. PJ Posted 3/1/2006 at 11:19 PM by PastorJames33 - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) By the way, I would agree with you as well on your concept of salvation is by faith alone. We are all sinners and we would ruin heaven if we went there apart from God's grace obtained through faith in the death of Christ. Posted 3/1/2006 at 11:20 PM by PastorJames33 - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) I see what you are saying about interpretation going hand in hand with salvation through Christ, and I do somewhat agree with you. There are other sources of learning about Christ, though. Aren't there other writers and historians who have confirmed the truth of the Bible? Plus there are evangelists telling people who have never read the Bible about Christ, so it seems like there are some who become Christians before reading the Bible. It is essential that you read the Bible, though, to grown in your relationship with Christ. In that essance they go hand in hand, but the original relationship starts when you accept Christ as Savior and Lord. What is your opinion on the original intent of the Bible? " accurate interpretation (God's original intended meaning) and we will spend our lives searching and being students of God's Word to obtain the fulness of that meaning. Furthermore, God's Word was meant to be interpreted literally and normative, that is within the context of the passages surrounding it." So how would you interpret the Bible literally in today's world? (For example, regarding women pastors.) Posted 3/1/2006 at 11:42 PM by christianopinions - delete "Hermeneutics" means the set of rules by which we interpret. Most people know the most common rule, that we need to take passages in their context. A common quote goes, "A text without a context is a pretext." The context can always affect the meaning of a passage. It's possible, however, to lift some verses out of their contexts without distorting their meanings. For example, the text following "I permit not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a man," explains how it's a matter of the different strenghts and weaknesses of the two sexes, Eve having been deceived by Adam having sinned willingly. Since the reason given has to do with human nature and not with the practices or beliefs of Paul's culture, lifting the verse "out of its context" doesn't change it's meaning. At worst, it make one vulnerable to the accusation of lifting things out of context, which raises a new issue that detracts from the main point. Unfortunately, quoting the entire context would (a) make for a wordier reading that most people don't have patience for, and (b) require one to explain the context and how the context reinforces the plain sense of the verse -- which makes for even greater verbosity. Fewer people realize that different levels of context exist. The neighboring verses provide context, but so do the chapter (as the outline of the book would define it; I'm not referring to the chapter divisions in today's Bibles), the book, the set of books written by the same author, the testament, and the Bible as a whole. Even the culture and history at the time of writing can give context. I hope PJ returns and lists some more rules of interpretation. My pastor when I was in college did a series on hermeneutics for our Bible study, but I only remember a few... inspiration, enlightenment, first mention, complete mention, and of course, context. Posted 3/2/2006 at 3:25 AM by alphadogtucker - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) I believe that someone becomes a christian when they accept Jesus into thier heart, like you said. "For if you confess with your mouth Jesus is God, and believ ein your heart that he is risen from the dea, you will be saved" Works are simply the product of our salvation. If one has no works that point to salvation, the question is did they truly mean it when they became a chritian, which of course on ly they can figure out. If they truly are a christian but have no works, they are probrably already feeling guilty and in turmoil, for the loly spirit will convict them of thier wandering heart. Back to your other question, I believe that women shouldn't be preaachers because they need to submit to the man, and the man needs to be the spiritua head of the family and church. If a woman is Pastor, she becomes the sspiritual head. A pastor is responsible for everyone in the church - the pastor is in spiritual authority over all others in the church, including her husbad and ll the other men in the church. I'm a girl, and I lead devotions to youth girls and children. When I grow a little older, I will teach other adult women - but I will not be in the charge of Men's spirtula needs. I can talk to them, I can give testimonys to them, I can share my faith, but never in the position of pastor. Posted 3/2/2006 at 1:49 PM by ebaben - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) I posted on my site my response to her questions. . .I appreciated them greatly. I think that I will do a major post soon on rules for Bible interp. It's a hot topic today in greater Christendom. It all goes back to: "What is the meaning of is". Anyhow, look under my post on necromancy and spirits. Scroll down to the very bottom to see my response. Alphadog is right, context, context context! It's the key that opens the door to meaning! He is also right about people being lazy and not wanting to think through the verboseness (what a word!) of the greater context, however, it is necessary. Thanks, hope to hear from you all, PJ Posted 3/2/2006 at 3:41 PM by PastorJames33 - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) hey- thanks for the comment- yeah i just wanted to get some more discussion going even though there are already these discussions going on-like your site so i might as well anser some of these question.... about interpretating the scriptures, i like proverbs 2: especially 1-6 even though it's not super-specific basically-studying the scriptures is a good thing. Just be careful- I've heard somewhere that each scripture's interpretation needs to be in harmony with God's four main attributes (love, justice, wisdom, power), and in harmony with itself, every other scripture, the ransom, and the facts and purposes of the bible. I've also heard it's good to try to stufy with a group of people- but i can't recall what scripture that is. those are just some ideas... Posted 3/2/2006 at 4:35 PM by not_afraidto_fall - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) not_afraidto_fall what you said about interpretation needing to be in harmony with God's 4 main attributes makes sense. The question is how do we do that? PastorJames33 and ebaben and alphadogtucker I was wondering how you take things in context. What is literal versus not literal? Back to the women being pastors topic, there are those verses about women keeping in silence and not being allowed in the church. How do you interpret them? One woman I know says that there will always be one man to submit to no matter what you do: God. What do you think of that?

Anonymous response to my response:
In regards to salvation, I have a hard time believing that God would d**n anybody to hell for eternity. I think that this is possibly where purgatory would come into play, since it is a stage before going to heaven where one reflects upon his or her life and is purified before meeting their maker. I dunno . . . I guess I think that there's some good inside everyone, and that since God loves the sinner and hates the sin, maybe He washes away the sins of everyone (even those who have never believed) so that the good in them is all that's left when they reach the pearly gates. Hmmm . . . it's an interesting thought.

Go to for the rest of the debate. The site is full of spam now (so ignore the spam, it just came coming until I decided to leave the site alone) but the old conversations are still there.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Faith or Works?

I got this in an email a long time ago and was wondering what you all think of it.

The Letter
"You have joined a number of my web rings, and you seem to have a desire for Truth. I see that you also began a forum where you discuss opinions on many issues. On the Gate of Eden ( ) web site you will find one of the most important necessary conditions for seeking the Truth. After all, if the Bible were easy to understand, then everyone would read it and proclaim the same revelation. And it must be recognized that some of the greatest minds have read the scriptures, and they all come away with a different and often conflicting interpretation. And what they fail to understand is the fact that this is by design. You pose the question: "does God want us to interpret the Bible? How do we do that? What if we are wrong, or someone else is wrong? The original teachings of Yeshua and TheWay were purely spiritual -- we are the prodigal sons and daughters -- and we must return to the Edenic Kingdom within us while we are still in the body-vessel. Because a great number of the Gentiles lived a heathen lifestyle and were overburdened by a pagan mindset, they were unable to grasp the spiritual essence of the teachings of TheWay, and they failed to comprehend that the scriptures are the Key of Knowledge that must be turned within self, in order to open the inner "narrow gate" to the Kingdom. In their blindness, they created a dogmatic church than in its idolatry and paganism, became the Synagogue of Satan. The above conditions off the Gate of Eden web site of which I speak is found in the words: There are many other references to the Kingdom as something that a believer must find and manifest in their life. Throughout all of the New Testament it is asserted that if a person is to find the Kingdom, they must free themselves from the things and thinking of this world. Thus, Yeshua taught: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matt 13:44-46 NKJ). The Kingdom of God being within us, is indeed the treasure that is hidden in the field of our body/mind. And the Kingdom can only be found by those who are "...seeking beautiful pearls" and are prepared to sell all that they have in this world in order to acquire it. This inner reality is further portrayed in the words of Yeshua where he taught: "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn'" (Matt 13:24-30 NKJ). Thus, Yeshua came and taught men how to live and seek the Kingdom within -- but the devil created the false doctrines that men are saved by belief without producing a good crop of fruit. There is nothing in the scriptures that even remotely suggests that we can live in the manner of the unbelievers and heathen as cultural Christians attempt to do today, and expect to inherit the Kingdom. Further, Yeshua did not teach that man is saved by proclaiming belief without a total change of mind in conjunction with the manner that the disciple lived their life. One of the truly prime examples of this fact is seen where the English translation of the scripture says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2 NAS). The meaning of the original Greek, which literally means to “change the mind”, conveys a message of great depth that is not apparent in our English translations today. To phrase the thought that is being expressed, the true meaning is to “Open and unloose the mind, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. This is truly important for the person of faith to come to terms with -- for it is the beginning of The Way. When we begin to put these words into their proper context with respect to the Kingdom within (Luke 17:20-21), then we can see that the Gate of Eden which in the New Testament is portrayed as the "narrow gate", can only be entered by unloosing the mind from the anchor of the doctrines and thinking of men -- opening the mind to the inner reality of the Kingdom -- and this can only be accomplished by living one's life in strict accord with the Commandments and Teachings of Yeshua and TheWay. Most believers of the simple faith will immediately reject the above, because they think in a group consensus mode -- i.e., believers are saved by faith. But because they have embraced the doctrines of men, they fail to understand salvation within the reality of the journey of the soul. Yeshua warned that while many are called, only a very few are chosen. But to even begin to understand this reality, and the Mysteries of God, you will have to unloose you mind from the limitations of the doctrines of men, and open your mind to the inner Kingdom which is at hand.

My Response
Old Testament salvation came through faith just as New Testament salvation does. Paul wrote that the Law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, for through the law we learn of our inability to earn salvation through any merit of our own. Even the Jews, Paul wrote, find themselves condemned by God's perfect Law. The points of the Law concerning sacrifices provided a temporary covering for our sin, but only the sacrifice of God the Son can completely wash away our sin. If I understand Allan correctly... well, as the doctors say, the following may sting a little. Sorry, but it's necessary. Allan's logic makes more leaps than an equestrian in a steeplechase! He certainly has a way of splicing things together to make his points. For example, he extensively quotes the parable of the tares, which explains why Christ didn't judge the world and separate the believers from the unbelievers during His first coming. Allan, however, violently twists it into a lesson about fruitful living and rejecting the doctrines of men. As another example, he correctly cites that the Greek word translated "repent" means to change the mind, but then, without citing any authority, turns "change" into "open and unloose." Allan's biggest error concerns believing that the Kingdom of God lies within everyone. When Jesus said that, He referred to the nature of the Kingdom, not to it's location. The Kingdom cannot lie within those who are dead (Paul), who are children of the devil (Jesus), who live in rebellion against the righteousness of God. Allan demonstrates a rejection of God's holiness when he claims that he can find sufficient righteousness within himself; that is, when he links human works to salvation. God's gift is righteousness sufficient for salvation, not the ability to achieve enough righteousness to justify us. Christ purchased our justification -- the declaration of righteousness -- through His work on the cross. It is a price that we, the destitute, cannot pay. The Pharisees indeed needed to "open and unloose" their minds from the shackles of legalism, but ironically, so does Allan: The "doctrines of men" against which Allan argues were those rules the Jews made to ensure adherance to the Law -- that is, to ensure achievement of salvation by works. When refering to the "doctrines of men," Jesus was preaching grace, not works! In inadvertent hypocrisy, then, while condemning the "doctrines of men," Allan alligns himself with the very same error, legalism. Sophism is the practice of assembling arguments that sound convincing but actually have major faults. Allan is a sophist. He majors on the Gospels and perhaps on James, but seems completely ignorant of Johannine, Pauline, or Petrine doctrine. Such an emphasis on the bridge period between the Old Testament puzzle and its New Testament solution misleads many into an inordinate dependence on works and accompanying lack of dependence on God. Allan's words indicate that he has yet to receive the gift of God as just that -- a gift. While I do not judge him, he gives strong indication that he yet lies in the same condemnation into which we all are born. If my words are blunt, so be it; that's the only way I know how to communicate: openly, truthfully, and vividly. But my heart weighs heavily for Allan and for all who have yet to escape eternal error.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fwd: Fire in My Bones: The Deadly Virus of Celebrity Christianity

And this is from a charismatic!
The Deadly Virus of Celebrity Christianity
27 July 2007

Some bigheaded preachers demand rock star treatment. If the apostle Paul were around today he might throw rocks at them.
Just when I thought we charismatics had finally taken enough abuse from the egomaniac ministers in our midst, I've learned that some of our leaders are taking things to a new extreme. We've moved beyond the red carpets, limousines and entourages of the 1990s. A new strain of the celebrity virus is spreading in large segments of the church.
"What is this sickness spreading in the body of Christ? All I know is that God is grieved by all of this shameful carnality."

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fwd: CT at the Movies: Mocking Faith? D'oh!

Biblical perspectives on contemporary cinema
Friday, July 27, 2007

Mocking Faith? D'oh!

Love 'em or loathe 'em, say this much for The Simpsons (the characters, the show, and now the movie): They're equal opportunity mockers.

And say this much for Matt Groening and the whole creative team behind America's most famous animated family: When it comes to satire, everything is fair game.

That's why I don't get too upset when the folks of Springfield—or the writers behind them—make fun of Christians or the Christian faith. To them, nothing is sacred.

Take Ned Flanders, the Simpsons' cheerful next-door neighbor and, as described in a Christianity Today commentary some years ago, "the evangelical known most intimately to nonevangelicals." Sure, Ned is oft portrayed as little more than a stereotype, but his character is, in many ways, the one fictional evangelical in pop culture who really gets it right. Consider: He's a regular churchgoer who tithes and is in a Bible study group. He believes in salvation by grace, the Second Coming, and the inerrancy of the Bible. He prays at every meal and before bed. He's even an active volunteer in the community.

So the creators of The Simpsons make fun of him. Big deal. At least they got Ned—and, by default, "us" evangelicals—mostly right. Can't say the same for far too many portrayals of Christians in other TV shows and movies.

Look no further than last week's I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry for the latest example, where Christians are portrayed as hateful and devoid of love, and where one main character says Christians are ignorant, won't listen to reason, and speak out against homosexuality because they're miserable and want everyone else to be miserable, too.

Um, I'll take Ned Flanders over that stereotype any day. Okely-dokely?

Russ Breimeier, one of our critics (and a huge fan of the TV show), feels much the same way. In his review of The Simpsons Movie, Russ writes, "Christianity is mocked a few times in the movie, but it's not a mean-spirited agenda—more an indictment of religion than faith. And despite poking fun at the exaggerated straight-laced qualities of Ned Flanders, this film truly loves the Simpson neighbor for honorably showing love to others in need."

Still, keep in mind that this is a PG-13 movie, and it pushes the envelope a bit more than the TV series. There's the issue of Bart's "little doodle" showing when, on a dare, he takes a skateboard ride through downtown Springfield—naked. There is the usual irreverence and occasional sexual innuendo. There's little profanity, though, surprisingly (and disappointingly) one slip of the tongue comes from Marge, who uses the Lord's name in vain—which is so out of character for the normally cool-headed matriarch.

Three more new reviews this week: For the second time this summer, chefs in a gourmet restaurant (remember Ratatouille?) take center stage, this time in the romantic comedy No Reservations; Don Cheadle shines in Talk to Me, a rags-to-riches account of D.C. radio personality Petey Green's rise to fame; and renowned French writer/director Patrice Leconte returns to the big screen with a new comedy, My Best Friend.

And speaking of foreign directors, don't miss our Filmmakers of Faith feature on the late Andrei Tarkovsky, the Russian master whose films were rife with spiritual imagery and signs of his faith. Finally, The Simpsons are hardly alone when mocking religion; Reel News reports that Bill Maher wants to offend religious people in his upcoming documentary. Hmm, perhaps he should have a word with Ned Flanders …

See you at the movies,
Mark Moring
Mark Moring
Online Editor/Music & Film

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Open Minds

Since associating most closely with those of like minds makes life a lot more pleasant, our views tend to be self-reinforced by the anecdotal evidence.  All you need for evidence of that is to look at Hollywood- and New York-based entertainers and newsmongers.  As you said, some people from most denominations hold your views.  That is a facet of one of the two features that distinguish charismatism from Pentecostalism.  A wider perspective, however, would show that your view remains an unofficial, if not minority, position. 
In addition, in a broad set of cases, I'm confident that one could easily mistake others' belief in the filling of the Spirit for a belief in a baptism in the Spirit, along with the rarity of the person who knows the difference.  This might make your position seem more widespread that it actually is.
I'd like to use an illustration from American politics.  Our "conservatives" tend to base their positions on principles and on weighing conflicting rights.  Our "liberals," in contrast, focus entirely on the position of the side they favor and then discard the rights of those they oppose.  Since the opposition have no rights that "liberals" recognize, they have no right to oppose the liberal position.  Therefore, the opposing side must be "evil."  Demonizing and shouting down "evil conservatives" become acceptable.  Moreover, since "liberals" don't have to weigh conflicting principles, they merely need to convey the emotional appeal of their constituent.  In their campaigns, then, the rhetoric deals not with principles, but with "narrative."  The question of abortion changes from "how do we weigh the child's right to an unmolested gestation against the mother's right to control her body" to "what gives you the right to tell a woman what to do with her own body?"  Thus, the mother's incantation changes a pre-natal baby into either a child or "a lump of tissue."  Not facts, but desires, define reality.
This is quite relevant to us.  To start with, I must warn against over-interpreting what I say.  For example, my friend Greg sees only two possible sources of tongues:  God and the demonic.  Therefore, when I say anything against his interpretation of his experience, he feels that I am accusing him of channeling the devil.  I haven't been able to make him understand that I have a less offensive source in mind: the flesh. 
Our fallen physical bodies and minds deceive and misguide us in all sorts of ways.  We can easily interpret entirely natural phenomena as supernatural events.  Such things can have an addictive hold on us so that we become defensive when somebody has a conflicting interpretation.  We see evidence through filters of subconscious self-censorship.  We fall into approaching the Word of God as a source of ammunition instead of as a source of uncomfortable and sometimes condemning truth.  Moreover, the realization that we have unintentionally counterfeited such precious experiences can devastate our self esteem. 
One preacher summed this up by saying that "a man with a thousand reasons is at the mercy of a man with an experience."  That is, a man with an experience has far, far more difficulty maintaining an open mind than a man who approaches the subject with a simple desire to refine his understanding.  I've experienced a similar conflict when discussing charismatic issues.  After 33 years at the Lord's feet, I have yet to stop refining my positions.  Unfortunately, any amount of explicit proof rarely results in even a hint of refinement of my brothers' positions.  Therefore, with great reluctance, I have entered into this discussion.  I hope that we can guard ourselves against own worst enemies: ourselves.
    --  Poorhouse Dad

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Pride, Speaking of Tongues, and Visions

Here is my response to a post and comments on the post at the following link:

However he gained it, Mr. Mohandas has found a truth about humility vs. tongues. It takes a lot of patience, persistence, and work for most people to speak in tongues! Ask any ex-charismatic and he or she will tell you it's all a big ego trip. That's what Paul meant in I Corinthians 14 when he wrote that he who speaks in an [unknown] tongue edifies himself, but he that prophesies [or preaches] edifies the whole church. This isn't a progressive statement (from edifying yourself to edifying the church); it's a contrast. One is inferior or bad while the other is superior or good. Chapter 13 and other passages clearly teach that real spiritual gifts serve not to edify the individuals who possess them, but to build up the whole body of Christ. The work and the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives shows not in the GIFTS of the Spirit, but in the FRUITS of the Spirit. By elevating a fruit such as humility above a gift such as tongues, Mr. Mohandas has taken a step in the right direction.

Despite his increase understanding of these priorities, unfortunately, Mr. Mohandas remains deeply in error about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Baptism of the Spirit identifies us with Christ (from the Fathers's point of view); places us into the Body of Christ, the Church; assigns us our function in the body; and enables us to fulfill our missions by bestowing us with the gifts of the Spirit and with the Spirit Himself. This all (and more) occurs at the moment of salvation. Mr. Mohandas' writing and vision capture none of it.

None of the things associated with the Baptism of the Spirit require repetition. What needs repetition is not the baptism of the Spirit, but the FILLING of the Spirit. The filling should be sought whether you preach, teach, resist sin, love your enemies, pray, or any other spiritual endeavor. The Spirit's power enables us for service and for holy living. Look at someone who speaks nonsense in a great show at the front of the church and at someone who changes diapers in the nursery or wins souls, and ask yourself who is really giving evidence of the Spirit's work by building up the body of Christ, who is really displaying the fruits of the Spirit such as humility.

All of that is overshadowed by an even more basic issue: Whether Mr. Mohandas' vision constitutes divine revelation. I'd say that the doctrinal errors prove that the vision was not from God. Furthermore, if the vision was from God, then we need to cut-and-paste it into our Bibles. Have you ever noticed that the modern Bible translations never contain the Books of Oral Roberts, or I and II Copeland, or the Epistle of Sidharth Mohandas? It might seem harsh to use the term "false prophets," but it applies in many cases.

Is Salvation Forever

Here is my response to a post and comments on the post at the following link:

I have some comments on Shalene's post and the comments on her previous post. Sorry I don't cite many of the references that I infer -- that would take another whole evening.

Shalene correctly states that those who truly believe remain Christ's forever. When God gives spiritual birth to us, He changes our very nature. Our dead spirits become alive! We have everlasting life -- present perfect tense, meaning now, it is complete. (That which could end could not be everlasting, could it?) The Holy Spirit becomes the "earnest" or collateral (like in a pawn shop) that guarantees our safe delivery to Heaven. The Holy Spirit seals us with the imperial seal of the King of Kings that can only the Lamb of God can open. We become members of the bride of Christ, and of Christ Himself. To separate us from God, you'd have to cut off a part of God! I could go on, but you get the idea.

Shalene made a small slip. She said, "because we repent of our sins, with a genuine and contrite heart, our salvation is still guaranteed." When we return to the Lord, we demonstrate outwardly that we were His all along. Don't confuse outward evidence with inward cause. Yes, our feet get dirty, but it remains that He has washed our whole being whiter than the snow. As we turn our faces to our Father, we may need constant cleaning, but as we bow before our Judge, the blood of Christ has cleansed us from all our sin -- past, present, and future. Not our feeble efforts, but rather, Christ's infinite merits guarantees our salvation.

We become confused when we make ourselves fruit inspectors. Spiritual balance requires constant correction. As John wrote, "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Every day, every minute, we pass through cycles of backsliding and repentance. Sometimes the cycles last moments; sometimes they last a lifetime. Consider this: We don't always come back to our Father willingly. Sometimes He has to chastise us. (In my case, He's had to hit me over the head with a spiritual 2 X 4 a couple of times.) In extreme cases, our Father might even call us home before we can cause Him any further embarrassment. For example, Paul recommended that one church deliver some unrepentant backsliders to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that their souls might be saved. For this reason, we make dangerous judgements when we focus on someone who has not consistently grown in the faith, when we decide that he or she never knew the Lord to begin with.

My dad illustrated this. As a boy, his father took him to every church in town, just to cover all the bases. Dad never told me details, but somewhere in his teen years, after he was orphaned, the religious people hurt him very, very deeply. Decades later, when I knew him, Dad had a fuzzy, undefined faith in God. I could never break through the cloudiness to figure out whether he knew the Lord. Although doubts plague me, I prefer to remember how he was faithful to mom and honored his vows, even with all she put him through. What he failed to show in doctrine, he taught by his fruits. Still, he left me in doubts; and parents ought not to leave their children that way.

Finally, Evangelist Tara Travis quoted Hebrews 6:4-6 to believers without explanation. Some churches cite this passage as evidence that you can lose salvation. (Their practice contains a contradiction, however. Despite the passage explicitly stating that re-repentance is impossible, many people who have "lost" salvation in those churches "get saved" again and again.) If you take Hebrews as a whole, however, you see that it refers to the nation of Israel, which had corporately tasted of the gifts of God, but now had rejected God, murdering His Son. By continuing temple sacrifices, they symbolically continued the murder of Christ. What constituted repentance before, now constituted rebellion and open insult to God. As a nation, therefore, Israel was about to undergo the ultimate punishment. (This connects to I Corinthians 14 and the only statement in the New Testament about the purpose and meaning of the gift of tongues.) If you read Hebrews 6:4-6 within the flow of the whole book and of history, you'll get an entirely different meaning than what sister Travis apparently assigns to it.

But to return all this to God's perspective: The Lord doesn't say to us, "What about your father?" or "What about that child over there?" The Lord says, "What is that to thee? YOU, follow me!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Blog

I'm going to start more theme specific blogs as well. My first try at this is There is a description below. I've barely started, but please support me.

In the Study...At the Library...This is where you will find movie, book, music, and show reviews. In my own little corner of the world I review various things and comment on current events (mostly events having to do with Hollywood, Broadway, and Opera worlds). Please join me in a venture to look at all the movies and books in my library as well as shows (I have programs to) that I've gone to and music I listen to. Let us explore this world together and examine it as it changes. How do those changes show up in the media? Let us not let these things merely go up on the shelf. Let us explore these things, even to the extent of children's books and movies.

Reading People

This article caught my interest because it shows how to learn more about people. The author wrote it about dating, but it applies to any situation, and it's important for you to learn more about how to read people.


Al Sharpton - an old announcement and my comments

The National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton & Councilwoman Darlene Mealy Invite You To Join Us As We MARCH FOR DECENCY Thursday, May 3, 2007 @ 5:30 PM Register Online:Log on to and register today! Join Us As We Protest Sexism, Racism And Homophobia In Music The March will begin at Sony Music, Madison Avenue at 55th Street - continue to Universal Music, Broadway between 56th and 57th Streets - and finally to Time Warner, located at Columbus Avenue and 58th Street

My Comments: Sharpton had little credibility for his verbal attack on Don Imus. In talking head debates (e.g., his debate with Sean Hannity last weekend), libertarians repeatedly accused him of hypocrisy because he's never protested thousand-times-worse language common among black entertainers. This one protest gets him out of that accusation. One should note, however, that Sharpton doesn't blame the rappers and hip-hoppers. No, he blames the corporate executives. Yes, it's the evil rich folks who make the kids buy all that hate- and filth-filled music. That's a liberal's idea of taking responsibility.

Monday, July 09, 2007

FW: Blondes on a Bus

Blondes on a BusTwo bowling teams, one of all blondes and one of all brunettes,chartered a double-decker bus for a week-end tournament in Louisiana.The brunette team rode on the bottom of the bus, and the blonde teamrode on the top level.The brunettes down below really whooped it up, having a great time,when one of them realized she hadn't heard anything from the blondesupstairs. She decided to go up and investigate.When the brunette reached the top, she found all the blondes frozen infear, staring straight ahead at the road, clutching the seats in frontof them with white knuckles. The brunette asked, "What's going on uphere? We're having a great time downstairs!"One of the blondes looked up at her, swallowed hard, and whispered... "YEAH, BUT YOU'VE GOT A DRIVER!"

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Having an Open Mind

MightyMorgan said...
Hi I just wanted to comment on the back and forth thinghy you had going on here. I will only speak for myself..but in that I speak for many other people that have searched for answers but never found them in the conventional teachings of the bible.The one thing that is so important to remember is that certain things speak to certain people.For me the bible didn't cut it. I could not relate it to the reality of my own humanity, it just didn't make sense.For years I struggled with the concept of God or a higher power. Because it was sort of laid out that religons in general seemed to have "exclusive" rights to God.I had to take my own journey through life, re-define what kind of a God I wanted..and ultimatly the Loving and caring higher power I choose to call God came into my life.It's easy to tell people what they should or should not do. To ask them to be what we want. But in the end it just keeps us all seperated from each other.Some people don't buy into the whole bible thing..and thats ok for them...always remember in any sitaution ask yourself....What would God do...preach or just love.
July 7, 2007 7:34 PM

My reply:
I believe in objective truth. From the late 1930's to 1945, Germans followed leaders who exterminated millions of people for having Hebrew, Christian Gypsy, homosexual, or genetic anomalies. Our knowledge of history is subject to distortion, error, mystery, or correction, but history itself does not change. I can pick and choose my interpretation of history, and I can even choose to deceive myself through selective acceptance of the facts; but what I believe does not affect the past.

The search for God resembles the investigation of history. If a transcendent, personal God exists, then God exists as an objective truth. What I pick and choose to believe doesn't affect God's attributes. We should search, therefore, not for an imaginary god who fits our specifications, but for the God Who Is. For example, do we imagine a "loving" god who lacks holiness? Do we imagine a merciful god who ignores justice? Or do we conjure a god who can function as a personal magician-in-the-sky, yet cannot create the Earth, life, and mankind? Doing so, we would betray ourselves as surely as would the leader of the worst counterfeit cult. We must follow the trail through whatever ground it leads, not just to whatever appeals to us. So the first ingredient in a search for God must be honesty, a willingness to submit to the truth, however unappealing it might be to us.

The comparison of investigating history to searching for God fails, however, where the heart comes into play. MightyMorgan correctly sought a personal connection. What good does a commitment to a religion do if the commitment exists only on an intellectual plane? Paul referred to such a losers when he said "knowledge puffs up;" it inflates the ego by giving a sense of accomplishment or the pride of acquisition; but it has no positive value. Practical religion must apply to life, to one's heart. The search becomes, ultimately, a search for a relationship. At the least, we seek an example to follow; at best, we seek a loving Provider-protector with Whom we can interact. Unfortunately, love and protection both require instruction and correction. Submission to truths whose basis we fail to grasp returns as a barrier. Just as we must submit to the truth, we must submit to instruction, correction, and even commission, if we seek a personal, relevant God with any integrity. The kingdom of heaven, to put it another way, is not a democracy; it is a family whose Leader has the right to train and to give assignments according to His own grand purpose.

"[C]ertain things speak to certain people." Indeed. As an English-speaking resident of Mexifornia, I've learned that you can speak to people only if they know your language. The literary approach of the Bible doesn't all come naturally to our Western mind set. The accumulation of knowledge about the biblical God's attributes took millennia. Only a few people who diligently seek God encounter Him; many of those people wait a lifetime for their encounters, and for others, one or two encounters have to last them a lifetime. Despite this, though all the silence, an undercurrent exists, God quietly moving mankind toward a great reconciliation. The New Testament reveals how some of the driest details of the Old Testament reveal that quiet evidence of God's involvement. God's language consists more often of action than of ideas.

Learning any language takes persistence. My daughter studied French, but it had no relevance to her and she has lost the skills she had learned. Soon, she will study Spanish, which has relevance in Mexifornia; but if she does not accept that relevance or does not diligently apply herself to its study, it, too, will fail to become part of her life. Her attitude does not diminish the value of learning Spanish when she lives in a state that Latinos will dominate within a few decades. Failure to see something's relevance does not render it irrelevant; but it can render one deaf.

Just as importantly, as a father and husband, I've also leaned one lesson that saturates the Old Testament: You can speak to people only if they listen. More precisely, people will benefit from your speech only if they listen. Again, failure to submit one's time and attention forms the primary barrier. Many non-Christians have accused me of being "closed-minded;" but in actuality, as a self-sufficient agnostic, I had to open my mind to become a Christian.

The subject of open minds brings me to a final point. Calvinistic faith holds that we do not open our own minds. Rather, God's Holy Spirit illuminates our minds. Spiritual things, Paul says, are spiritually discerned; and to the natural mind, they are foolishness. Even mature, experienced Christians appeal to God for understanding before reading the Scriptures.

The bottom line: For anyone seeking relevance in the Bible, persistence, willingness to submit to whatever one finds, and diligent appeals for enlightenment from God are essential tools to finding the relevance of the Bible, and to finding that elusive personal relationship with God.

Of course, it helps to have somebody provide the introductions.

Friday, July 06, 2007

FW: A Note from John Stossel Thu., June 21, 2007 - Bill Gates

Here are some comments about Bill Gates. Gates owns Microsoft and is one of the richest men in the world. A radical liberal, he recently visited Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro, endorsed socialized medicine, and called his visit the most important moment in his life. We really should watch 20/20 more often.

-----Original Message-----
From: John Stossel []
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:56 PM
Subject: A Note from John Stossel Thu., June 21, 2007

Watch "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. EDT for those stories. Here is some feedback on my column on Bill Gates:

Colosteve writes:
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are both showing that having made BILLIONS doesn't necessarily make them any smarter about the mechanism by which they made that money. … if there is nothing done to correct the corruption of almost all of these poor countries (hence, why they are poor) then giving these folks money (or even worse, their government) will do little or nothing to improve their plight.

Andrews writes:
Gates makes perhaps the most stupid statement I have heard in some time:
"We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes."

…Here is a thought: Those people know what they want, why not let them keep the money and spend it on things they want?

Unless you buy into the elitist theory that people don't "really know" what they want, or the even more elitist theory that idiot taxpayers are too stupid to know what is good for them, Gates' statement makes absolutely no sense … If people are too stupid to know what is good for them, requiring the government to look out for their interests, how does election to government office suddenly turn these morons into geniuses who now can divine not only their own interests but the best interests of everyone else as well?

Impact writes:
Outstanding point. The 19th century French essayist, Frederik Bastiat wrote in his book "The Law" something very similar. Paraphrasing, 'how is it that those stupid people who need to have their lives run for them suddenly get such profound wisdom when they step into the voting booth to elect just those people who are so brilliant and wise to run their lives for them, and as soon as they leave the voting booth, return to a state of abject stupidity?'

Liberalgoodman writes:
Look with your eyes and you will see people for whom the "free market" does not provide clean water. One person might react by reciting the gospel of capitalism. In the long run, that might be the solution of choice. But in the long run … well …Instead Gates looks for a solution he can implement today, without waiting decades for the world to change. You might say that he was "first to market," not with a perfect solution, but with one that works.

LGM writes:
Protecting property guarantees that each citizen will contribute to the common good by pursuing his own interests. Yes, it is for selfish motives, but they benefit all. Which would you rather have, one collective farm feeding five people for free or ten private farms feeding 20, but charging market prices? If you answer the first, then you get the job of explaining to the other 15 why they need to starve for the common good.

F1etch writes:
Of course there are NO examples of "people for whom the 'free market' does not provide clean water" in the world today, as nowhere on the globe where the free market has been permitted to function -- is a lack of clean water a problem.

Bryce writes:
Stossel conveniently fails to mention the fact that subsidies and tariffs which prevent third world products such as cotton and sugar from being sold in the west are a major roadblock to third world development. Free markets? Yeah, right.

[They are absolutely a roadblock and they should go too.]

Thinksink writes: Does Gates have no memory at all -- or perhaps no more than 64KB? He thinks government is the answer to economic empowerment; did he think that when the DOJ was suing Microsoft for anti-competitive practices? [The US Govt. tried to punish Microsoft for being too successful, but they didn't win very much.]

A nice comment on my book "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity:"

Jason Lard writes:
I teach Government/Economics and U.S. History at Lexington High School in Lauderdale County, Alabama and also coach varsity football. (Roll Tide) I recently read both of your books ("Give Me a Break" and "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity") and was very inspired by your writings. Your ideas have persuaded me to look at things in a different light. I also want to personally thank you for inspiring my class. My class learned the most about government and had the most fun debating many of the topics from your books. I was just a neutral bystander and watched my class come to life as they debated the proper role of government.

And here's a sample of a story idea. This one is from Idaho.

Ryan Horsley writes:

Mr. Stossel,
We are Idaho's Oldest Gun Shop, after over 70 years the ATF is revoking our license over paperwork errors that amounted to .4 percent. From 1994-2005 the number of Gun Dealers dropped nearly 80 percent and revocations are up nearly 6 times from 2001-2006. They are slowly taking away our rights. PLEASE HELP!!

I can't promise do that story, or any particular story, but please send us your ideas. Remember, the best ideas are ones that come with video! That makes your story much more compelling.

Until next week,
John Stossel

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