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 ( http://GateOfEden.com ) 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.
Allan http://Ebionite.com"

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

To reply to this newsletter: ctmovies@christianitytoday.com

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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: http://touching-world.blogspot.com/2007/07/are-you-ready-for-dip.html

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: http://msp31wannabe.blogspot.com/2007/07/is-salvation-forever-by-shalene-kearney.html

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 http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/. 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 www.nationalactionnetwork.net 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 [mailto:johnstossel@abc.go.com]
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

©2006 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July. To view some of my favorite pics from my family fireworks night go to http://declarationphotos.blogspot.com/. To view all my photos go to: http://nycindividual.fotki.com/2007-pictures/fireworks-4th-of-ju/

Psalm 119:45I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Isaiah 61:1-3 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Luke 4:18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,

Romans 8:21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My first forward - FW: Can You Sleep While the Wind Blows???

Can You Sleep While the Wind Blows?
by Arthur S. Maxwell

Years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals.

Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him.

"Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man.

Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!"

The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows."

Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down.

Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

When you're prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. We secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves in the Word of God. We don't need to understand, we just need to hold His hand to have peace in the middle of storms.


"I can sleep on windy nights" from -- Uncle Arthur's Online.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Some Funny Political Videos and others

Most of the following are hilarious political videos on youtube. My personal favorite is Hilary's Baggage. There are also a few real cute, realy funny videos. A few are fart jokes. The last two are spoof videos on the movie "300."

Hillary for Big Brother

Barak Obamama

Hillary's Baggage

My Bologna

Hillary vs. Obama

Jurassic Fart -- Biochemists have discovered the extinction event that killed off all the dinosaurs. This video recreation shows how. In short, the old farts lost their potency.

MythBusters - Do Pretty Girls Fart?

MythBusters - Flammable Fart

The 305

United 300