A LIFE TO LIVE

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For those not religious, to whom do they pray?

Seems like a good question to me. According to a new survey, one in four non-believers pray when faced with a crisis.

What?

A non-believer prays? Prays to whom? The very notion of being a non-believer is, presumably, not believing in a higher power, that is, not believing in a higher power to even exist!

“For atheists and agnostics, personal crisis or tragedy is the most common reason for them to resort to prayer, with a quarter admitting they pray for comfort or to feel less lonely.”

Okay, I get it, they pray to themselves to make themselves feel better?

No, that is not actually so. They pray hoping there is something higher than themselves, though they admit the “higher-than-themselves” being may not even hear them, much less answer them.

Why pray then? There just must be something greater than the individual person struggling, and even greater than collective man (community) to give answers to a chaotic world.

Katherine Tait (atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell’s daughter) often said she found what her father was looking for, but never admitted that he was – a higher power than the wisdom of man (p. 189).

To receive comfort and to feel less lonely in a very individualistic western society is a tall order, for try as he might, in the midst of all his friends, a man sits in a corner crying because no one understands him and his failings…wondering why life is even worth living.

“A thief does not come for any purpose but to steal and kill and destroy; I have come for people to have life and have it till it overflows” (John 10:10, Williams New Testament Translation). RT

KINGDOM THOUGHTS

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I have been doing much study on the word “kingdom” in Matthew’s Gospel, and my study has produced clarity and thoroughness to my understanding of the word in a New Testament context. For instance, there are three things about “kingdom” that are important to understand. First, there is the geographical application of the word; Herod was king of Judea, an area of land with people residing within that area, that are being known as his kingdom. Second, the word, as John and Jesus both preached it, was near. If it was near, but Herod already had a kingdom, then that which John/Jesus preached is different than Herod’s kingdom; that is, it was not a kingdom similar to Herod’s. Herod, of course, did not understand this, thus he went after the baby Jesus when he learned of a king being born. Third, in the model prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus taught His disciples to pray for it to come (6:10). In this third point I want to emphasize the kingdom, God’s kingdom, within the heart. If the kingdom is within (cf. Luke 17:20-21; Col. 3:16), lives are changed. Is it within you? RT

I want to be offended! (revised)

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Years ago, there was a television commercial role play by the actor Robert Conrad, wherein he challenged the television commercial observer to knock the battery off his should (“Come on, I dare you?”). That was yesterday. Today, we say the same, but only so we can be offended!

Not long ago, a family put up a Christmas display, and shortly after they did so, another family complained that it offended their religious sensibilities.

Some have chosen to look at our easily offended society, especially the young people, and call them “snow-flakes.” I suppose the name snow-flake represent a quick meltdown when warmth is applied.

Though I am sympathetic to the strong response to and against the easily offended community, I would like to offer two words of exhortation. First, with regard to the signage in the front yard that speaks to “Jesus, the reason for the Season.” Those who know Scripture, know the Lord put no (absolutely zero) emphasis on the date of the Jesus’s birth. Much attention is given to His birth, but no emphasis is given to the date. Moreover, there is nothing in Scripture that speaks to gift-giving on account of Jesus’ birth. Both of these are traditions of man, and of no real consequence. Those who want to observe it, let them observe Christmas as a day they think is best. If opportunity allows me to teach, then I will.

A second word of exhortation is related to the words of the apostle Paul. The Good News Bible reads this way: “Be wise in the way you act toward those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).

From these words of the Holy Spirit, we are exhorted to be thoughtful in the choice of words used, but those words used should be used in a positive direction. The positive direction I have in mind is not associated with how the world operates, but how the Lord operates. Those who love the Lord always seek to tell the truth in things that pertain to God (cf. Galatians 4:16).

It is not my intention to ever offend a single person. I am not naïve, however. Some people just want to be offended in order to bring attention to themselves. If there is nothing you do or say that is offensive, then these same people will make something up; they did that with Jesus, Stephen, Paul and they will do that with us also. That is the nature of those who think along these lines. When you speak the truth of God, then be sure that some will be offended – they just want to be! RT

A Word to the Wise

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A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death (Proverbs 10:1-2, KJV). Looking at these two verses together, a child (not necessarily a son) makes his parents glad, happy, pleased when the child takes parental counsel and makes application of it for his or her own life. Ideally, of course, the parental wisdom conveyed to the child is not a wisdom of this world, but godly wisdom, a wisdom that teaches a person this worldly influence that is all around us and trying to get us to adopt will not deliver us (or anyone) from the judgment seat of the Lord (Heb. 9:27; cf. 1 John 2:15-16). Parents who fails to teach godly wisdom are parents who not only brings heartache to themselves, but moves the child much closer to spiritual death. RT

Moral Lark – An Atheist’s Argument for God’s Non-Existence: Morality (3)

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Atheism stresses moral responsibility and the need to make moral decisions appropriate to the here and now, rather than just acting in accordance with religious scriptures and always with a view to a reward or punishment in some unproven after-life. Some of these ideas are addressed in more detail in the sections on the Moral Argument and the Argument from Justice.”

REPLY: What a lark! This is the weakest of all the arguments atheists put forth for the non-existence of God. Take note of the empty remark by Madalyn O’Hair: “An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that deeds must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.” This is nothing but a straw-man attempt to make fun of Christians. In truth, there is no argument in what she said, and neither is there any substance in her words, otherwise.

Since an atheist cannot not identify that which is intrinsically good or bad, I find this remark interesting: “Religion tends to give people bad reasons to behave well…because a god wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it…” Really? A bad reason? Then there is this: “when good reasons are actually available…out of concern for the suffering of others or for the need to tread lightly on the earth, because it is the ‘right thing to do’.” What makes what he said “good”? Remember, in an earlier piece he said, “In the atheist hypothesis, on the other hand, there is no expectation that the world should be a good place, or that evil should not exist.” If there is no expectation the world is a good place, or should be a good place, then how can “good” exist?

Yes, I know, there is a difference between the quality “good” existing and whether the world is a good place or not. But, in the case of the atheistic argument, there is no standard available to determine whether anything can be ascribed as “good” or not. Remember, it’s nothing but a human construct, thus, it does not really exist. “There is no fixed and unchanging Platonic form or essence of evil. Like good, evil is merely a human construct, and to call something “evil” does not lead us to a greater understanding of evil behaviour.”

Jesus made this same point when He asked of a young man, “Why do you call me good?” He followed up with the clear observation from heaven, “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17, NKJV). “Good” as a human construct? If so, then there is no such quality existing in life. The sheer number of people living on earth at one time, allows for the word to be defined however one wants. “Good” as a construct from heaven, allows one to understand the word “good” in relation to God’s holiness. There is no “good” outside the will of a being. Man’s only two options.

One’s ethical behavior is motivated by something. It may be motivated by affection, judgment, love, pressure or something else. It is fool-hardy to say it is not motivated by some response one gains from another. Should a person not steal only because there is fear is getting caught? “No, you should not steal because you take for yourself what belongs to another, and that is wrong.” An atheist can’t tell you why this is the wrong course of action to take (stealing from others), except to say, “This is what I think about the matter.” “So!” another might reply, “What does it matter to me why you think this? Your opinion is of no more value than my own; I think differently!”

This is illustrated well by Bertrand Russell’s daughter, in her book, My Father Bertrand Russell (Katherine Russell Tait, Harcourt, NY, 1975). “In the last volume of his Autobiography, written toward the end of his life, my father wrote: ‘We feel that the man who brings widespread happiness at the expense of misery to himself is a better man than the man who brings unhappiness to others and happiness to himself. I do not know of any rational ground for this view, or, perhaps, for the somewhat more rational view that whatever the majority desires is preferable to what the minority desires” (p. 182).

Thus, the so-called argument put forth by atheists is based on the foundation of moral responsibility (for which there is not rational ground (foundation) is nothing but “mid-air-hanging.” To the atheistic way, a non-prudent person is just as moral as a prudent person. There is no real, substantive distinction between either. If moral values do not derive their existence from “divine edict”, then their existence is derived from the fluidity of man’s thinking. Is adultery wrong? Why? Because society says so? What difference does it make if society says it’s wrong? Society can just as easily say it is right some time in the future! Real substance in that!

Katherine Tait saw the emptiness of atheism, and knew it was not for her – at all. She left the empty philosophy and moved to a moral philosophy that is not of this world.

 

A NEW YEAR’S LEGACY – RICH TOWARD GOD

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At the end of the day, with all that you have accomplished (a home, houses, cars, family, toys of various sort, etc.), what is the point of having them? You might reply the point is for your personal enjoyment. Very well, after personal enjoyment has run its course (for all things of this sort do), then what?

Not too long ago I watched a program on car collecting, not just automobiles, but vehicles that are very rare and fully restored, cars of the higher-end sort. One wealthy man had, if I recall correctly, upwards of 200! He had to build a place to store them. He lined up his cars in such a way that an onlooker could see the alignment and be nothing but impressed. In a light-hearted way, he commented to an interviewer than he and all others like him could not do this unless they were crazy. He did not explain, but surely it had to do with the outlay of money; the sheer high-cost expense of the exotic hobby to gather these toys has to be incredible.

Going back to the question asked earlier—what then? Perhaps a forthcoming reply would be, “I am going to leave it for my children.” Commendable, I suppose, but what good does that do for them, or for you? To probe this a little further, what if they do not regard the same hobby or interest at the same level? Is this what one wants to be known for? On the other hand, even if they did – is this the desired legacy? If this is one’s legacy, then the legacy deteriorates with the rust accrued. That which was gained only breaks-down as the years unfold.

One does not have to be wealthy like the above describes to have the point apply to him or her who is poor. “Then someone from the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ He then told them a parable: ‘The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, so he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!” ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21, NET)

When you are gone, the memory of you will fade. To a lesser degree in your family, perhaps, but it, too, will become dimmer. This is normal; never extinguished, but dimmer. What legacy do you want to leave behind? What legacy have you planned to leave behind? Leave behind a legacy that contributes to their spiritual education, an education that prepares one to meet God. RT

Reprint from January 2017

“Imagine” – An Atheist’s Argument Against God: Evidence (2)

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Sub-titled: John Lennon’s “Imagine” thinking

“The Argument from Lack of Empirical Evidence argues that there has not been any reliable, testable evidence to support the hypothesis that God exists despite many attempts, and it is therefore not rational to believe that there is a God. If God interacts with our universe in any meaningful way, then the effects of his interaction must be detectable and measurable, but no such interactions have been reliably demonstrated.”

REPLY: Empirical evidence is an interesting word. Notice this remark: “If God interacts with our universe in any meaningful way, then the effects of his interaction must be detectable and measurable, but no such interactions have been reliably demonstrated.” Detectable and measurable are interesting terms; consider the following.

Let us reword this remark to make a parallel statement. “The Argument from Lack of Empirical Evidence argues that there has not been any reliable, testable evidence to support the hypothesis that evolution from spontaneous generation ever occurred despite many attempts, and it is therefore not rational to believe that the general theory of evolution is true.”

Since there are no known exception to the so-called “laws of science” (Miller 9, 2017), “…the laws of thermodynamics prove the spontaneous generation and the eternality of matter are logically and scientifically impossible” (Miller 36, 2017).

Yet, here we are, existing in a material Universe.

The material world/universe exists. There are only two options to account for its existence; 1) it always existed, 2) it came into existence. The first option is false. “The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence of the Universe, either in the past or in the future” (Robert Jastrow, cited by Dr. Jeff Miller in Science vs. Evolution, 2013, Apologetics Press, p. 30, emp. added in book). This leaves the second option of the two available.

The second option of the material universe having come into existence, then, presents us with two additional or “sub” options: 1) it came into existence without a cause, 2) it came into existence by a cause. On the first of the two options, “Until the First Law of Thermodynamics ceases to be a fundamental law explaining this Universe, the spontaneous generation of this Universe from nothing is impossible” (Miller, p. 27). Thus, the first option is false. Miller cites the words of Lord Kelvin, the Father of Thermodynamics: “I do not say that, with regard to the origin of life, science neither affirms nor denies Creative Power. Science positively affirms Creative Power…It is not in dead matter that we live and move and have our being, but in the creating and directive Power which science compels us to accept as an article of belief…” (p. 33).

That leaves the second “sub” option, and from this comes two more options from which the material universe came into existence: 1) God, 2) not God. There is no third option.

John Lennon’s words to his song “Imagine” is wishful thinking, not based in reality. One can imagine there is no heaven, no hell, but that is only because the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). The secular world in which we live does not want to give attention to these matters because, if as a society we do, or even on an individual basis, then the questions with the corresponding answers becomes clearer. 1) Where did we (I) come from? 2) Why are we (am I) here? 3) Where are we (am I) going? To a hedonistic society, these profound (and answerable) questions bring meaning and purpose to life, and hedonists (atheists, agnostics, secularists, progressives, liberals, some theists) don’t want that, lest they be deadly wrong in their moral philosophy. In the end, John Lennon’s inquiry/message in the song is meaningless.

The scientific method atheists and agnostics are fond of (especially), leaves them hanging in mid-air, with no foundation upon which they can stand. The material universe has not always existed, but came into existence. The material universe that came into existence did not come into existence by spontaneous generation, but came into existence by a cause. That cause, however, from the perspective of the atheist is not God (a priori)! Who or what then? There is absolutely, positively no evidence that is on their side in this debate. “The creation of the universe remains unexplained by any force, field, power, potency, influence or instrumentality known to physics – or to man. The whole vast imposing structure organizes itself from absolutely nothing. This is not simply difficult to grasp. It is incomprehensible.” (Berlinski, 1998, quoted in Investigating Christian Evidence, 2003, p. 18).

Since atheists/agnostics demand evidentiary based knowledge, and the premises I submitted are evidence, then which of the options, God or not God, will they choose? Will “not-God” be chosen, then by faith (a leap in the dark) the evidence they demand must be forthcoming. We will wait.

 

A DIRECT INFLUENCE:

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If from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and one can be known by the quality of the fruit produced, then it is reasonable to conclude that both the words spoken and the deeds done are indicative of the person’s heart. People are able to see this and judge. People of spiritual maturity understand this, but people full of sin (or self) care little for the logic of this—at all! It is interesting these are the same people “love” the Lord and assert they would NEVER deny Him, but their lives have denial written all over them. The deeds we do, the words we speak, and the thoughts we think reflect correctly on (or against) the Lord’s influence on our lives. What direct influence do you show? RT

From Bulletin Gold Extra, edited.

 

THANK YOU, LORD

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On this last Sunday of the year, it has been my observation that some who call themselves Christians are more so in name than they are in actions. It can be seen in the words spoken, the actions engaged, the posts on social media and in the lack of attendance with the brethren. On such a “downer” I do not want to give any further attention; instead, I would like to commend those who do  the opposite of those who are Christian in name more than anything else.

It is the responsibility of each Christian to walk with the Lord and “work out his (her) own salvation.” Paul wrote to the saints in Philippi, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain (Philippians 2:12-16, ESV).

To work out one’s own salvation means to

  1. Have the proper attitude (fear and trembling).
  2. Understand that God works in each of us, and this occurs, as Paul also said to the Thessalonians, And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  3. Have the proper response built on the proper attitude (don’t grumble, complain or question).
  4. Hold fast to the Lord way of thinking and that which He spoke. These are saints who are always abounding in the work of the Lord, because they know what the work of the Lord is (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).

Those who do these things are to be commended. They know the Word of God and do their best to live it. They know the Word of God, and though each are plagued with weakness, they don’t run from Him, but bow before Him, the God of all mercy. Those who do these things make it a priority in life to attend and be with the saints each time they can; they don’t find reasons or make up excuses as to why attendance is not important; they are present, even when, sometimes, it is overly tough to be present. They understand the Lord’s exhortation about encouraging and being encouraged to be together.

These saints are to be commended, not because they have earned or merited anything, but because their love of the Lord is reflective in what is said and done. The Lord knows what is important to them, for that which they do is presented to others.

“Thank you, Lord, for each saint who has put you first in life, who attends when the congregation meets, who takes the name of Jesus into a dark world, making it a point to tell others of your love. Thank you, Lord, for those who don’t make excuses because of children, or a rough time at home to lay aside the banner of Jesus for another day. Thank you, Lord, for those who struggle in a very serious way with whatever plague they have, but these same ones turn to you all the time for strength to overcome. Thank you, Lord Father, for Jesus.” RT

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:4-6, ESV)

 

An Atheist’s Argument Against God

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“The Problem of Evil (or the Argument from Evil) argues that an almighty creator-god, capable of creating or destroying anything and even capable of suspending or re-writing the laws of nature, such as is envisaged by most of the major world religions, should easily be powerful enough to alleviate all needless suffering in the world, to provide adequate resources for everyone, to prevent the occurrence of fatal or debilitating diseases or birth defects and to prevent all manner of destructive natural disasters. Indeed, an infinitely benevolent and loving god, of the kind envisioned by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, should make such actions his first priority. And yet what we see in the world is very different from that picture – proof positive that there is no such god in existence.”

REPLY: In reply to this argument, the website offers what they call ad hoc replies by some theists, which, of course, is not any kind of counter argument or reply at all. The closest they come to giving a substantive theist reply is in relation to (1) man’s free will (though this is summarily dismissed by speaking of natural evils, or disasters), and (2) since evil can’t be precisely identified, it is nevertheless the case that God (if there is one) should act in such a way to eliminate evil. Atheism can’t account for man’s free will; in fact, an atheist is a materialist, and a mechanical (man is a machine) one at that. Also, since atheist can’t identify evil, their argument structure is made up of hot air, upon which nothing is able to rest.

Note this remark: “There is no fixed and unchanging Platonic form or essence of evil. Like good, evil is merely a human construct, and to call something ‘evil’ does not lead us to a greater understanding of evil behaviour.”

If “good” or “evil” is a human construct, then there is no such thing as an actual good or evil, except as a human being so identifies (constructs) it. Thus, to identify an “evil” from the atheistic vantage point is clearly arbitrary (as is the word “good”)! Consequently, the counter argument against God’s existence goes nowhere because “evil,” as defined/identified by an atheist is “begging the question”!

A second reply is related to moral obligation. “…if God is ‘good’ in the same way that [he] expects us to be ‘good’, then he should act to prevent such calamities…”. Moral obligation does not and cannot prevail in atheism. Moral obligation within atheism is inherently a choice based on one’s desires (related to hedonism); there is no objective or transcendent obligation placed on humanity, not even a little bit! Choices, then, are between options, and no option is necessarily good or bad, right or wrong. Atheists, however, want us to accept the premise of their argument along this line, and it is not to be granted. As soon as they attribute to God a moral obligation, they need to give the basis for that moral obligation. They can’t.

According to atheistic philosophy, the following remark is the foundation: “In the atheist hypothesis, on the other hand, there is no expectation that the world should be a good place, or that evil should not exist.” Judges 17:6 reads, “There was no king in Israel at that time; everyone did whatever they wanted” (GNB). An atheist would simply re-word the passage to read this way: “There is no god in this world; so everyone can do what they want – since there is no real wrong or evil in this world, neither is there a real right or good in this world.”