Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wonder & Mystery

As a writer, I do a lot of reading. As one who enjoys learning about how others think, I read a lot of different view points on a variety of topics.  One thing I have come to notice is that people generally either want things clearly defined and understood in order to accept it as true, or they enjoy the mystery of not knowing and do not want anyone to remove that mystery even for the sake of truth. Some actually see truth as less important than the wonder of not knowing. A few see the benefits of both and understand that the grandeur of wonder far exceeds any defining knowledge we may have. Still sometimes wonder and mysteries are lost when knowledge is gained.

I recently read an opinion piece where someone was advocating that they did not wish to see the world through science nor religion because they wanted the mystery of the world kept alive.  I thought this interesting because typically one chooses either a scientific or a religious approach.  Few realize the two can work in tandem, but some are now seeing them both as instruments of modernism and rejecting them as such. 

In a manner of speaking, I agree that religion and science can both attempt to be so defining that one feels the wonder sucked right out of their soul.  Yesterday as a surprise snow fell, I was at first filled with wonder as I felt the joy of a child peaking out the window on a snow filled morning. Then thoughts arrested my attention of the condition of the roads and what things I might not be able to do. I thought of what the salt on the roads would do to the car.  Then I started wishing I had no such knowledge of impediments to safety and other adverse affects of snow.  It had muddled my affections for the winter wonder.  I sought to push these unwanted thoughts from my mind and enjoy the soft white snow atop the bare tree branches. 

There is a desire resonate within us for wonder, mystery, intrigue.  We actually enjoy, at times, not knowing how things work, because we want to experience a magical nature.  We reminisce of the days where we watched for Santa’s sleigh.   We wish for the days when we had no cares about what things cost as we anticipated gifts under the Christmas tree. 

The greater the knowledge the more the responsibly and the less we feel we have yet to know. However, it is wisdom to know that no matter how much knowledge we have we are far from knowing even a fraction of what can be known.  Still knowledge is not something that can be measured by how many books it can fill for there is a large element that cannot be fully communicated by words on a page.

The best transcript of what snow looks like including personal accounts of what it is like to see and feel it will do little to bring real knowledge to someone who has never experienced it.  The same can be said for a sunrise over the ocean or seeing mountains for the first time. The written transcript of an eye witness cannot communicate its grandeur. Even a most excellent photograph or painting could never do it justice.  Copies and shadows of the real will never produce the mystery and wonder of the real thing. 

We may think that knowing all about something robs us of the mystery and wonder of its actual substance, but it does not.  We can allow it to at times, but it doesn’t have to.  For instance, I enjoy theology immensely.  Some find such a study as something that detracts from the splendor of God, but for me I see how much greater He is then the theology about Him.  The more I stretch my intellectual understanding the more mystery explodes in my heart. 

I think that religion as it is typically known often reduces God to its doctrines just as science can reduce nature to its theories.  But neither really have this power for nature is greater than the science about it, and God is much greater than the doctrines concerning Him. When doctrines have become more vital than personal encounters with God, religion has taken shape, but where personal life with God enlightens towards a theological understanding religion has no hold.  

I think that knowledge and mystery do not need to be opposites, but rather are different sides of the same coin.  This is true whether we are talking about science and nature or theology and God. It’s a matter of perception and having tangible contact with what is substantially real whether seen or unseen.   

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Note to Christians

Christianity is often curtailed as a system of private belief relegated to pertaining only to matters of spirituality and morality.  In reality, Christianity is a system of life. It is a way of living that involves every aspect of one’s life from basic beliefs and worldview to culture and family.  It also pertains to how one interacts in life, in the marketplace, and in the community both inside and outside of church.  

Being a Christian is not just about what you believe and where you are on Sunday morning. It’s about so much more. It is an assignment, a worldview, a mission, and a way of life that stems out of a relationship with Jesus.  Jesus on the inside of you causes an infusion of all that is Jesus to come out of you in all that you do.  It is an identity that affects all areas of life from the smallest of choices to the largest.  It is an identity of who you are when you are sitting still.

Jesus said that a good tree bears good fruit. Thus a Christian, being in a tangible relationship with Jesus, bears that reality that is inside him.  That reality does not just manifest on Sunday mornings or in religious conversations, it is who you are all the time. 

Many people try to be Christian. They wear Christianity on their shoulder by carrying a Bible, wearing a Christian tee-shirt, sporting a WWJD bracelet, or tuning their work radio to Praise and Worship Music to broadcast their identity.  They think this is what Jesus meant when he said not to hide your light under a bushel. 

However, living and breathing the way of the Christian life is living and breathing Jesus in all that you do.  This looks more like going the extra mile, doing good to those who do wrong to you, talking well of those who talk bad about you, not participating in office gossip while at the same time not broadcasting your disdain. In fact, it means not having contempt for others, but instead a very powerful real love. This looks like being a cheerful giver of your time, things, and money.  This looks like loving your wife, or a wife loving her husband.  This looks like speaking well of your children.  This looks like enjoying life with an open heart.  It looks like love. 

Christianity being a way of life means it is first a way of the heart.  It means that one’s heart is fully immersed in Him and He flows out of you without trying. Religion is an imitation of what this looks like. Religion is trying to look like a good Christian by exerting natural effort to do the right thing even when your heart bears contempt.  The way of Jesus is doing the right thing because the right thing is naturally what flows out of you.

This is not to say that there is no struggle. Paul had the struggle, so do we.  We do the things we know we ought not to do, but each moment is a new moment to remember we are of Christ and we are dead to sin and alive in Him. 

We have to understand though it is not a matter of doing, but being. If we try to do or even try to be, we will be copying, imitating, promoting rules and religion because we want others to try as hard as we.   Relax.  Rest in Him.  The only striving we are called upon to do is to strive to enter His rest.  When we rest in Him, our effort is light and His is strong.  He does all the heavy lifting.  

If only a few thousand Christians in a nation realize who they are in Christ thereby having Jesus be their way of life, we could transform every nation on this planet in a matter of years to reflect the glory of the Kingdom of God.  Will you be counted among that number? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: Socrates Meets Kant by Peter Kreeft

What if Socrates and Kant could be brought to life to engage in a dialogue about key philosophical questions?  Peter Kreeft creatively resurrects the two noble philosophers and transcribes for us their fascinating discussion in his book Socrates Meets Kant. 

In full iconic style, Kreeft, creates a book where the Father of Philosophy, Socrates, meets his most influential modern child, Immanuel Kant.  Naturally using the Socratic Method, Socrates gives an insightful cross-examination of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. 

Even more intriguing is Kreeft’s way of giving Socrates an understanding of modern life enabling the conversation to be relevant for today’s readers.  In contrast, the portrayal of Kant stays strictly within the confines of his own time period. Thus when Socrates analogously refers to a computer, Kant has no idea what he is talking about.  This helps add to the humorous nature of the book. 

It is truly a creative idea to bring Socrates to life because students of philosophy and the academy at large thrive on the Socratic Method.  Learning about Kant through a fictional dialogue with Socrates is quite ingenious.   Kreeft sets the dialogue in the realm of the afterlife where the two meet for the first time.  

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hearing God

While even many Christians profess that they cannot hear God, God is speaking and once we learn how He speaks we find that we have been hearing all along.  Even those who do not see themselves as people of faith often have had experiences of hearing Him in some form or fashion.  Once they are awakened to His reality, they realize just how much He has been with them before they even knew Him.

God has always been a relational God. The Trinity is proof of this. God is all about having intimate community and that involves communication.  When He created the first couple, He spent time walking with them in the cool of the evening through the Garden of Eden.  This was the ideal to have His creation have personal communion with Him.  When sin entered the world it became difficult for us to hear Him.  Our connection was no longer pure and unbridled by the bondage of sin.

Now, for most, our hearing is faulty and we do not perceive well the voice of the Lord.  However, the good news is that He is the way back to that communion with Him.  Jesus did the work necessary to redeem what was lost and open up the communication again.  When we live in relationship with Him we learn His voice just as a baby learns his parent’s voice and can distinguish it from others.  Just the same, we learn the sound of our Father’s voice.  The more time we spend with Him the more fine tuned our hearing gets.

God is speaking to each of us to come near and receive His grace and love.  He is also speaking to help direct our path to the good path.  We do have a responsibility to listen.  He doesn’t make us listen.  Sometimes people will hear of the rare story where God really jolted their hearing to realize that He was talking.  But most the time it is a partnership of relationship.  To hear without the relationship would not usually be beneficial to us.  The greater the relationship grows the greater He can trust us with what He wants to say. 

Just like a little child cannot learn all the wisdom from his parents while he is learning to walk, but as he masters walking, talking, and takes on more and more responsibility of being alive the more he can be trusted with the wisdom of living.  The key is not to blame God or ourselves for not hearing.  Blame was dealt with once and for all at the Cross.  Blame need not be shouldered upon ourselves; we just simply need to start today afresh.  Start today spending time with Jesus.  Start today listening. 

Listen not with your natural ears, but with your spirit.  Listen with your heart. What is He saying? Don’t try to see a vision, or hear audible sounds. Just wait and reflect quietly upon Him.  Ask the Holy Spirit to come and wash you in His love.  Just sit, listen on the inside.   You may not hear right now while you sit, but that time spent will be instrumental in hearing later when you least expect it.  You may be in the shower or writing a composition and suddenly knowledge will fill you that you know is coming from an external source right into your being.  Listen and then write it down.  This helps you to later remember God is speaking to you.  Don’t try to hear, just rest and His presence will carry to you His words for you.  He is speaking, just rest in Him and listen.  


The world has experienced many ends since its birth, 2012 is no different.  Many life cycles have swept the world for a time. They meet their death and a new cycle, a new season is born.  For new life to come, the old must pass away to give way to it. 

The old that passes is not all that exists, but all that exist in an old paradigm.  The things that end are the things that are out of alignment with the new season.  It’s like a spiritual surgery of culture, systems, and people.  However, there will be those who hold on to the old and prevent the new from affecting their lives. They will not experience the ending and this will not be healthy for them as the new will be out of their reach as it will be beyond their sight. 

The cessation of the Mayan calendar in December 2012 need not be seen as the end of time, but the end of a time.  They could not see beyond into the coming years because something so fresh, something so new, something so amazing was coming.   The world needed to have an awakening to the coming of this end and beginning, thus, the calendar stopped with no explanation.  This created a world that is watching. 

It is possible the season would pass us by otherwise.  But yet we watch, wait, anticipate, and talk amongst ourselves of what awaits humanity.  This is not a time for panic, but a time for reflection and foresight to align oneself with what is being released in the new season. 

With any birth comes pain. Labor is involved. Preparation is involved. Holding fast to that hope of the new that is coming will help align ourselves with the forward season rather than allowing fear to keep us bound to the dying season. 

For those who are already seeing what is coming they can begin to walk in it now.  Others will do a fast adjustment and have a premature birth into the new.  This will cause some difficulties in transition, but the transition will come though they will have more growing to do on the other side than others.  Still others will be still born always living like the change never happened. The only affect of this change upon them will be negative rather than positive because it goes against their positioning instead of them riding its positioning. 

2012 does bring an end, but a good end. The change is already in the air.  It will not be the end of the physical world or of humanity.  But it will be an end of an age and the beginning of a new age for the world.  This is something to celebrate rather than to fear.  Good things are coming for those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Revisiting Moral Subjectivity and Absolutism

Arguments pertaining to moral subjectivism or absolutism are difficult to navigate.  Both positions have elements of truth weaved throughout to such a degree that is difficult for some to pick one.  Others hold fast to one ideal or the other without ever conceding any validity to the other position. 

Any conceived idea always has an element of truth. Some are closer to what is real than others, but each have a truth mixed into the concept.  Approaching the topic with this in mind one can navigate the waters of moral philosophy with greater ability to perceive a more accurate perspective on the matter. 

The extremes always lend themselves to showing their flaws.  On one extreme is the moral subjectivist who maintains with absolute certainty that morality is one hundred percent subjective. This position is usually maintained by those who believe it is impossible to know anything for certain from any external compass and therefore it is imperative to be certain that we cannot know anything for certain.  The philosophical trappings are apparent. 

Notwithstanding, the tendency to discount the entire proposed philosophy due to this error of extremes does an injustice to the topic.  Many throw out the baby with the bath water and refuse to allow any acceptance of subjective morality. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love: The Highest Virtue

American culture has a high regard for practicing tolerance.  This shows a shift in culture. In part that shift brings a cultural freedom to allow people to be themselves without fear of being discriminated against.  Of course, we, as a culture, haven’t reached that ideal, but it is rapidly becoming a social norm. 

In the past, people still did the things that were not socially acceptable for whatever reason, but did them in secret.  Somehow we thought this preferable because we can ignore what we didn’t approve of and go on our merry way.  Now a new wave of cultural tolerance continues to take shape.  Enough time has not passed to see what the affects will be on society. 

C.S. Lewis once commented that church attendance at Oxford had been compulsory. He preferred the change of it not being mandatory, because now people could be themselves and not pretend to be something they didn’t want to be because society demanded it.  He said the former was helping no one, and the later created conditions for real change for the right reasons. 

A shift is happening in the Church as well.  Not in all churches, but in the environment of many churches across the nation and globally.  This shift can look like tolerance to the untrained eye, but there is something deeper something more life changing in this shift.  It’s a shift of love and freedom. 

A culture of freedom is being issued forth within some key international ministries.  This freedom is one that wants people to be who they are without fear of punishment, ostracizing, or discrimination. It is a freedom that loves enough to not require people to hide their junk.  This is accomplished through love. 

Perfect love cast out all fear.  Love is a value that is higher than the value of tolerance and requires more of the giver than tolerance.  However, true love is not something you have to work up for people it is something we acquire from experiencing God’s love.  Our heart gets filled up with His supernatural love and it pours out to people.  That love doesn’t expect people to hide their junk.  It also rejoices in the truth.  It doesn’t call bad good to make a person feel better, but it also doesn’t point out the faults of others.  It points out the truth about the real you. 

In contrast, tolerance leaves people in their bondage by celebrating it with them. It says, not only do I have no right to call anything you do wrong, I think it is totally awesome that you do what you do and I hope you keep it up and that you never listen to anyone that says it isn’t right. 

Love says I’ll be your friend no matter what your hang ups are. It quietly waits until the person wants to be free from those hang ups and asks how that could happen.  All the while, love speaks out the truth about that person. Love releases kindness, compassion, and peace to that person. Love builds them up, rather than tearing them down. Love makes their heart fly.  Love gently cuts the ropes that bind them.

It points out how special a person is. How good they are. How delightful they are to the Kingdom of God and how much God loves them.  It doesn’t rejoice in their faults, or tell them all about how much they messed up. It rejoices in who God made them to be and helps by coming along side them and walking out that true life moment by moment. 

There are times when rebukes, justice, punitive actions, have a place, but these would be few and far between in a culture of freedom and love.  These would be akin to the rare times a child would need a spanking rather than the predominate response to the junk in the lives of those living in our community or in relationship with us. 

Tolerance has been a response society has vied for in contrast to the religious legalism that was once predominating in America.  Now such people are looked at as fundamental fanatics are not seen in a good light by most anybody.  This is a good shift. There was an error in the response of the Church to people in and outside of church community that caused society at large to take measures contrary to that sentiment. 

The Church should have been the one to lead this charge of the way of love rather than needing a movement of tolerance.  I apologize on behalf of the Church for the necessity of a tolerance movement.  If we had been practicing love, there would have been no need for this.  I am excited to see and be a part of the shift that is happening in the Church to build a culture of freedom, honor, and love that will not only change churches and ministries across the globe, but the home and marketplace as well.  Great things are coming.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Back to Basics

I have never paid too much attention to my handwriting. In recent years it is more of a hybrid of cursive and print.  Last night, I was helping my 7 year old niece with her homework.  She had to write two sentences and I was writing down the words for her to copy as she developed the sentences.  She found the formation of my letters to be lacking and proceeded to correct my sentences before copying them onto her page.  Although my “t” was shorter than a capitol letter she demonstrated to me that a lower case “t” should not have the horizontal line at the very top of the vertical line.  I attempted explaining to her that once one had the basics down of writing her letters that there was a creative freedom for developing your own style.  She didn’t buy that. 

My thoughts have returned to last night’s conversation several times this morning.  Handwriting is like riding a bike or driving a car, you don’t think much about it after learning it.  We rarely revisit the basic mechanics of how we do something that we do frequently after it is learned.  Even how we think is often just done, not thought about.

In contrast, my nephew struggles in reading. The school has placed him in summer school for reading, tutoring for reading, and other reading classes without ever going back to the basics. When asked, he tells me the reading teacher reads to him. Or they set up a computer for him that reads to him as he reads along.  Instead of taking him back to start fresh with a foundational course of phonics, he is expected to start reading by being read to.  

I think it is good, every so often, to go back to the basics.  Then we can rebuild on a refreshed foundation.  We can find the simplistic again and reduce the complexity in our lives.  We can also find creative expression by starting fresh.  It’s easier to be creative with a new sketch book and brand new box of crowns than it is trying to find a fresh page and work with dull crowns.

I think this week I will reexamine things that are often second nature and intentionally practice or make note of the simple basics.   

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kingdom Freedom

Everyone wants to be free. America was born on the shared value of freedom that ran deep in the hearts of the first patriots and Founders.  Most every nation in the world desires the freedom found between our shores.  A grassroots rally cry has been sounded in recent months for a return to greater levels of freedom while rejecting current policies that would restrict freedom. 

The Founders, and the philosophers that influenced them, had a very unique idea to build a nation where the people would be free.  Thus, they set out to build a limited government by the people and for the people.  A government that would not be the granter of freedom, but it's most ardent protector for this government would be elected and held accountable by the people. 

The Founding Fathers were very clear in their thoughts concerning the nature of such a free people. They encouraged, with great enthusiasm and urgency, that the education of the people always include instruction from the Christian Bible.  Now, in these days there were no public schools. There was no Department of Education. There were only community schools usually tied into the local church that shared the one room school house facility.  There were also home schooling and private tutoring depending on ones economic status. 

The Founders view on this is evidenced by these quotations by James Madison:
“It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.” 
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
The Founders saw it as instrumental to securing a free nation that the citizens of this nation govern themselves.  The only way they could be free, is if they did not need a governing authority to make laws guarding their conduct.  Thus they frequently wrote that people be instructed in Biblical morality and to make that and the law of nature (what they saw as the unwritten laws known in our conscious)  our external guide to maintaining our liberty.  In their opinion, if we behaved ourselves we would have little need of the government keeping us in order by excessive laws and punishments.

However, as good as this plan is it stopped short of the freedom that is available to people.  The Founders way would ensure a great deal of freedom never before established on a national level to this magnitude. They took it as far as it could logically go at the level in which they were speaking about it. 

To Read More Follow the LInk To My Helium Article

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Bible

The Bible is not THE Truth. How’s that for an opening statement? Let me explain, before some get upset and others get excited that I’ve finally seen the light.

The Bible is not, by itself, the essence of Truth. It is only bound paper with words on the pages that speaks of something greater than itself. When people believe that its words are the highest revelation of Truth they hold them so high that God and their neighbors come second to the words and the readers’ interpretation of them. Even in the day of Jesus, this was happening with the Torah. Jesus told them, “You search the Scriptures because you think in them you will find life, but it is I who these Scriptures are speaking about.”

Jesus is the One who is the full presence of Truth. It is He, not the Scriptures about Him that is life. Some may argue that the way we know what is true about Him is via the Scriptures that speak about who He is. However, this is not fully correct. It is true that the Scriptures are valuable and have an important role in revealing truth. The Bible does tell us true things, but it points beyond itself to the Truth itself which is not itself.

The Bible does tell us many things about Jesus, but a book illustrating a few years of His life, teachings, miracles, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension does little for us if we do not connect tangibly with the One it speaks about. The Bible is there to draw us away from natural earthly existence to open our awareness of Someone who can open our heart and spirit to a new world; a world we where we were always meant to have access.

The Bible does tell us true things about history, living, the future, and God Himself. But it was never meant to be idolized and revered over God Himself. This is why the words of Scripture without the Spirit of the Lord can be death rather than life. This is why someone can quote a Scripture that is supposed to be full of life and love and it feel like venom.

The Bible says that man without the Spirit cannot understand things that are spiritually discerned. There is a veil of sorts upon the wisdom of Scripture that only becomes unlocked when seen through ones relationship with Jesus. The Kingdom of God is then revealed and able to be experienced and released in a way that does bring life and love to others.

However, if people could access these things without the Spirit of God they would not be in a place where the things they find would help anyone because without the Spirit it would all be corrupt and damaging to the person and the world around them. Just the same, there is an understanding that comes from reading things at face value that can lead one to the path that unlocks the deeper understanding.

Sometimes, even believers, live from a place of naturally reading Scripture and by their own power and strength trying to live it out and that usually ends up hurting themselves and other people.

The Kingdom of God cannot be lived out by natural strength. It is impossible. Only by being in relationship with God, experiencing His Spirit, and in turn His power and love can the Kingdom of God be demonstrated. When this is happening the deaf hear, the blind see, the dead come to life, the crippled walk, and the love of God is experienced. When this happens people can speak and release peace to calm storms or freedom from bondages. Emotional wounds are healed. Dreams are realized and achieved. Heaven becomes a place on earth when a community of believers walks out the supernatural Kingdom of God in their lives.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Thoughts On Mosque At Ground Zero Controversy

Until yesterday I had not really been paying much attention to the Mosque being built at Ground Zero controversy. I knew it was in the works. I had thoughts about it, but did not realize the scope of the details concerning it.

My primary thought was that the same rights that protect any religion from building anything protected them as well and to forbid one risks forbidding all. However, I now see that there is more to the story.

Apparently, according to Mayor Rudy Giuliani, it is possible that funding for this project is coming from terrorist groups in the Middle East. Moreover, New York officials have asked in an effort to promote healing and good will for the Imam to come to the negotiation table regarding the placement of this Mosque. The request has been met with silence.

Moreover, this Imam stated in a 60 Minutes interview that while he could not say that America was responsible for the events of 9/11, we were an accessory to the tragedy. On Sean Hannity’s show, last night, Giuliani and the Attorney General of New York expressed great concern about this project continuing at the designated location.

They agreed that unless there was proof of illegal activity in the funding of this building that it was well within their rights. However, just because you have the right to do something legally, it doesn’t make it ethically right. Respect for the families who lost people on that infamous day ought to lend to renegotiation of the location of this building.

Just the same, the actions of one Imam and those associated with him, ought not cause anger towards other Muslim people who would not think of trying to build there. Giuliani even said, if it was any other Muslim group from the many who have Mosques in New York, he would not be as concerned. There seems to be something peculiar in the spirit behind this choice that has Americans across the political spectrum quiet disturbed.

At the same time, Jesus said to love your enemy and to do good to those who persecute you. So if this is a strategic placement to further unsettle Americans, then while there is a place for publicly expressing our dismay and, for some, even anger, there is also a greater place to do so with respect and love. That does seem to be the ultimate paradox, to love your enemy and to do good to those who do wrong to you. What would that look like in this situation? How does a nation, not just an individual, practice this wisely?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Note To Readers

I have been busy writing, just not here on my blog. I have been working to increase my articles at Helium.com as well as polishing some writing for other potential publishing.

I have also been busy caring for my niece and nephews while my sister-in-law works. My husband and I enjoy having the three of them over several nights a week. It’s been a learning experience, and a lot of fun including a trip the zoo, the beach, and the movies.

Needless to say, my blog writing time has been suffering. As I do not have a topic in mind to write about, I thought I would just give a life update explaining my silence.

Feel free to visit my Helium link for my recent articles, although the majority of them are written in the Christian channel to a Christian audience. Still you may find some of interest. I have about 230 articles to choose from dating back two years.

As soon as I finish one of the several books I am reading I will do a book review. I think I picked too many intellectual books to read at once. One is a fictional dialog between Kant and Socrates, one explores mythologies of the world, and one is of a theological nature. Just the same, I should be posting here again soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Musings on Mythological Origins

I am reading a book entitled Parallel Myths by J.F. Bierlein. I have only read the first couple chapters. It is fascinating to discover how many everyday words are derived from mythology. Common words like cereal, chaos, chronology, days of the weeks, months of the year, and even the number of days in a year all have a mythological origin.

While stories are seemingly given preeminence in today’s postmodern culture, it is really only a reemergence of what as been common to humanity for centuries. We live in a culture that values creatively weaved stories over cold facts. Lectures, essays, research papers, and the like, pale in comparison to those who can weave their message into a creative story or recounting of a personal experience.

Just the same I have a love for both forms of communication. I enjoy the lectures, essays, and research papers as well as the eloquently fashioned stories and personal testimonies.

The etymology of many a word has a story behind it that gives it greater context and meaning than the definition found in a dictionary. These words traveled down through oral stories of mythic proportions into words we have no context for other than our common usage.

Pouring a bowl of cereal we do not give any thought to the Roman god Ceres meaning Mother of Barley. Nor do we think of the Muses (the patroness spirits of culture) when we enter a museum. Just the same, these words bear a history worth investigating.

The romantic as well as the brainiac in me beckons me to learn about the origin of words. Thus, I read on to discovery their history as I delve into a fascinating book concerning world mythology.

Causes of Atheism

There seems to be some interest in my Helium article on the causes of atheism. The link to this article is here.

Note: this article is not speaking in reference to individual reasons to align with atheism, but with great brevity addresses the cultural and historical context of atheism and new atheism. This is by no means a comprehensive article.

I chose to address it in the historical movement context rather than citing various reasons individual people are atheists for those answers are diverse and I would do them an injustice to lump them into a handful of reasons.

Just the same, all feedback is appreciated.

Monday, July 19, 2010

True Hope

True hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is a product of faith in God. The first verse of Hebrews chapter eleven elaborates that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Scripture also records that Jesus is our hope of glory. All these eternal things are not ethereal concepts, but substances of the nature of God personified in Christ. Hope, faith, love, truth, life all of these are in Christ.

When I say these things are in Christ, substance of His substance, I am not referring to wishing, blind acceptance when there is no evidence, emotions of romance or affection, doctrines, or biology. I am talking about eternal substantial hope, faith, love, truth, and life. I am talking about them in their true form. A form that is available for us to experience tangibly in Christ.

We do this when we encounter Him. Each encounter with Him reproduces what He is eternally into us. Thus, we have hope because we connect with His substantive reality of being. Our hope is not wishful thinking, but something so real it resonates within us and awakens us to the eternal reality.

Christians believe with such tenacity because we have been made alive on the inside and our inner man knows the reality of that which we profess.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Growing Healthy Children

My 7 year old niece was a bundle of energy the other night. She would not settle down to bed. My husband asked her if she wanted to settle down, or if she needed something to do. She ignored him and continued her rambunctious actions. He calmly requested she accompany him into the other room where she would be given something to do. Somewhat confused at the request, she followed, unsure of what awaited her. He picked up a broom and dust pan and handed it to her as she pensively looked up at him. At his request, she began to sweep the kitchen. He checked on her in about five minutes and asked her if she was tired now or if she needed something else to do. She was tired now.

Danny Silk’s book Loving Your Kids on Purpose provided the illustration of how to lead children without resorting to threats and punishment. He teaches how to avoid the “I’m bigger than you, so you have to listen to me and do what I say.” My husband and I have borrowed from the instruction we learned in this book on multiple occasions with our nieces and nephews. The difference is astounding. It really works.

The two biggest principles illustrated by Silk are to give children safe choices rather than telling them what to do. Secondly, he advocates allowing the consequences to be received by children rather than punishment. For example, his daughter leaves her lunch at home that she was given the responsibility to pack and take to school. She calls her mom. Guess what? Mom is going to allow the consequences to fall upon the child. She will not drive the lunch to school. The child now has to learn how to procure for herself a lunch by either speaking to the office about loaning her money for her lunch, or sharing lunch with a friend. She chooses the latter. Moreover, she never forgets her lunch at home again.

She never had to face an angry parent who was displeased with her. She never had to be grounded. She simply endured the consequence of her action.

Adults primarily live in a world of consequences rather than punishments. If we fail to pay our electric bill, the electric company will simply turn off the power. If we fail to show up for work, we will lose our job, not as a punishment, but as a consequence.

Children are fast learners and they are very smart. Allowing the consequence to befall them will enable them to learn early in life that each action has either a positive or negative result. If they are sheltered from the consequence they will not learn to develop maturely in that area. If they are met with disdain and punishment they will only fight harder to do the thing which is forbidden. Such is the rebellious human nature.

If however, they are met with unrestrained permissiveness where all behavior is permitted unchecked and without consequence, they will become unruly undisciplined adults. Consequence is good and helpful in maturing a child into a responsible adult fully capable of managing their own freedom, hence adept at self-governing. Such an adult will not encounter the consequence of the law of the land, for he has learned to govern himself without need of anyone parenting him any longer.

There is a proper place for punishment, but it is typically reserved for out right rebellion rather than child like behavior. Rebellion is not something that is good for the child and proper punishment fitting to the level of rebellion should be delivered out of love for the child struggling with this in his heart.

The job of the parent is to prepare the child to live in freedom thereby being one who does the right thing when no one is looking. Moreover, the parent is to cultivate this into their child’s very being rather than just their external behavior by protecting their child’s heart. They do this by having their child’s trust and respect, for a child who honors and respects his mother and father will enjoy a long and prosperous life. This attitude of the child speaks both to the parents’ and the child’s character and heart nature.

The atmosphere the parents cultivate for the children will be reproduced in their lives. If the parent cultivates an atmosphere of royalty where each child is a Prince or Princess in training to be a King or Queen they will grow up to be thus. However, if an atmosphere is created where the children are managed as inferior members of the household and are seen as more trouble and hard work then that will be the reality that defines their identity.

The parents set the tone for what kind of atmosphere will be reproduced for many generations onward. Many times, parents have their own atmospheres that need adjusting before they can extend a healthy atmosphere around their children. In order to make this adjustment they need to take time to get their own hearts and perspectives in line with what is true first.

Children are treasures from heaven. If you cannot look at them and have hope and joy for who they are and who they are growing up to be, something needs adjusting and that something starts with the parents and then is reproduced by them into the children. Today is a new day to start fresh with a true perspective and right heart.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Retiring the Term Open Minded

I leafed through a News Week magazine today and read the cover story on Sarah Palin’s evangelical following. The story itself is not what started the thinking that led me to writing this post. Near the end of the article the word “open minded” was used in the author claiming that evangelical Christians have not become open minded concerning abortion.

This post is not a post about abortion or Sarah Palin, but a post about the often misappropriated words “open minded.”

I looked up the definition of “open minded” on dictionary.com. It means “having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.” It also means “unprejudiced; unbigoted; impartial.”

It would seem that this word is often misused. How is someone who is firmly against something less open minded than someone who is firmly for it? Is it not more accurate to say that both parties have a prejudice towards their way of thinking or else they wouldn’t hold to it so adamantly?

This seems to be a term thrown against those who have traditional values. Because the values are longstanding and traditional rather than new, hip, and revolutionary, the bearers of these values are seen as closed minded rather than open minded.

A person can be open minded and still be more wrong than a person who is close minded. The level of commitment to the idea has no bearing on whether it is true or not, thus such terms are not helpful or accurate.

I think it would be better to cease the use of such terms that only carry negative connotation and do not aid in accurately evaluating a value or idea as good, bad, valuable, useless, etc. To throw in words like “closed minded” or “open minded” creates a false perception that avoids the actual issue as to if something is sound wisdom or a harmful idea.

What do you think?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thoughts On Oil Spill

Reflecting on the current oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, I am reminded of how people want someone to blame. In the midst of a crisis and well after there will be much discussion of whose fault the crisis was and whose responsibility it was to prevent the crisis.

I do not think we have even begun to understand the magnitude of the current oil spill crisis nor its lasting effects. To see so many pictures of birds struggling for breath trapped in the oily mire makes me not want to turn on the news. However, my desire to not be ignorant of the unfolding tragedy and to try and find my roll in contributing to the solution compels me to watch.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how people are proclaiming a boycott against BP. We agreed this response could hurt the situation more. If BP does not have the money to pay to clean up this mess and provide relief for those who lost their livelihood, then this will become a further burden upon the victims and the taxpayers. The government is overburdened enough. It should be the responsibility of the business to clean up its mess and this requires a sufficient flow of funds.

I can’t even imagine what the executives of BP are going through trying to deal with such a large disaster with the public opinion railing against them every step of the way. It is not that the public doesn’t have a right to be outraged. It is just that any person or group of people with this kind of pressure and responsibility must have an enormous weight upon their shoulders with little hope of relief in sight.

I applaud the thousands of volunteers offering their assistance. It is frustrating for all to see that they are not yet being well utilized as no one has ever organized such a large clean up before. The legalities and red tape do not help the situation.

It is the duty of an organization, person, business, government, etc. to own up to its mistakes, but it is also the responsibility of the rest of us to forgive them and move beyond the blame casting to solutions. While more mistakes are sure to be made in a situation so mind boggling, we need to have an attitude of grace and look for ways that we can be part of the solution rather than adding to the problem.

We are not under the pressures that the leaders of BP and their consulting scientists are under. Most of us are not living in the areas damaged by the oil spill and are not standing looking out at the devastation knowing America awaits them to do something about it. The loss of life, jobs, and wildlife weighs upon them as what may be the greatest ecological disaster in the world continues to grow as they struggle to find solutions.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's All About Jesus

I just read an article on Helium.com by an atheist on the topic of how atheists view apologetics. I agreed with the writer’s assessment for the most part of the failure of at least the majority of what is classified as apologetics.

Apologetics is typically a method of addressing philosophies and religions of the world from a Christian perspective with an attempt to overcome the arguments with Christian arguments. One of the good things about Christian apologetics is that it shows that Christianity is open to being challenged and has thinkers who want to address the challenge. Instead of meeting someone’s questions with violence or condemnation, we meet them with reason and explanation.

This is not to say that you will not find Christians ill equipped to give any reason for what they believe and emotionally angry and unreceptive to any criticism. This certainly happens way too often. Some will act like the questioner has mocked or blasphemed their God just by asking an honest question.

However, I am trying to think of another belief system that utilizes a philosophical defense such as apologetics. The only one that comes to mind really is atheism. I know atheists don’t call their philosophy “belief.” The point is atheists have many books and teaching DVD’s giving reasons for why they are atheists. I can’t think of any group outside of Christians and Atheists who do this on any kind of large scale.

On one hand I think being able to give an answer about what a person maintains as truth is very important and thus this is a good reason for apologetics no matter what philosophy is being presented.

The term “apologetics” comes from the Greek word “apologia” meaning to give a legal defense. This is why Socrates gave his famous Apology. He wasn’t saying he was sorry, he was giving a reasoned defense for his actions and beliefs. Thus, any person can give an “apology” for what they hold to be true and this is a good thing.

However, the problem that arises with Christian Apologetics is that Apologists often spend so much time defending doctrine and theology about God we often lose sight of the Person that doctrine and theology points to. If it is mere argument without the Presence of God filling the words, it really matters not.

“The fundamental truth about reality is truth about a Person,” wrote Alvin Plantinga is a book I am reading. I would revise that statement to “The fundamental truth about reality is the Person of Truth.” The truth isn’t that which is about the Person, but the Person Himself, who is known by the name of Jesus.

You can memorize every verse in the Bible and believe in your head every one of them, but it profits you nothing. The essence, the nature of Truth is not the Bible, but the one the Bible points to.

I could spend decades giving a description, and defense about the truth of Jesus and it have no consequence as it gives the illusion that people need only to know the right things in their mind rather than connect with the Right Being Himself. Apologetics has limits for it is not the way to Christ. It is a method of reasoning about Him, but is not the path to Him. The path to Him is Him. Nothing can substitute for that.

Ravi Zacharias, a well-known apologists/Christian thinker, says that his ministry is to clear away some of the confusion and cobwebs about Christianity so that intellectual arguments do not stand in the way of someone’s heart connecting with Jesus. But he makes no claims for apologetics being a substitute for the Spirit of God. The only way to Jesus is Jesus.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Substantive Faith

(This article is designed for a Christian audience, but all are welcome to read and consider the content. It's something I composed because I saw something this past week about the nature of faith that I did not understand before and this article comes from that revelation, so to speak, but it is the first time I transposed it from my heart and mind to "pen and paper.")

We were created for a Kingdom of faith and belief not of doubt and fear. It wasn’t that Adam and Eve needed to doubt Satan, it was that they needed to believe God. Satan was presenting a false reality, if they were living the true reality and believing accordingly, the deceptive offer would have been inconsequential in comparison. The thing that got them into trouble was doubting God, rather than, believing Satan. They could not have believed the lie, if they had not doubted the truth.

Christians are often conditioned to be skeptics rather than believers. We are fearfully skeptical of being susceptible to anything false—so much so that we live according to that fear reality instead of the true reality. More than fear of being taken in by a false religion, we fear being taken in by a false doctrine or a false prophet.

It is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth. If we are living in a place of believing God and being led by His Spirit, His Spirit will witness to our spirit the truth in which we are to abide.

We ought to be able to see truth in all things in all forms because Satan cannot create anything, he can only distort what is already real. It’s like opening a clam and finding a pearl. It may need a little cleaning, but a real pearl is still there.

Bill Johnson often states that under the old covenant you touch a leper and you become unclean, but under the new covenant you touch a leper and the leper becomes clean. I think this principal holds true for other things as well. We can touch something false and the falsity will fall away to reveal the true glory of the thing.

Click here to read the full article at Helium.com.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"A Republic, If You Can Keep It"

When Benjamin Franklin emerged from the The Constitutional Convention that convened from May 25 to September 17, 1787 to address the problems facing the post Revolutionary War America he was asked by a passerby what was the outcome of the assembly. Franklin responded, “it’s a Republic, if you can keep it.”

The great American government created by those men in 1787 was not anything akin to the current or past governments of the world. It was not just a democracy, it was a republic, and there in lies an important distinction.

The best source on the meaning of the Constitution and the authority on the government created by the Founders is a collection of essays written in 1787 to the average American, posted in the newspapers of the day. These essays were written under the pseudonym of Publius by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.

The essays were written in explanatory defense of the newly drafted Constitution because a group of people, known as anti-Federalist, opposed the creation of a centralized government were giving speeches and writing articles which caused the Federalists to compose and publish the essays in defense of the Constitution. The Constitution required ratification by the States. Therefore the Federalists essays were an apologetic, a defense for this Constitutional Republic form of Government. Today these documents are compiled into one book entitled The Federalist Papers.

It is very clear in the Federalist Papers that the American government was designed not to mirror the Democracy of the Greeks. They had great concern that such a government would be detrimental to America. Moreover, they discuss with brevity the various nations using the term “Republic” or “Democracy” with ill regard to the actual meaning of the terms. They illustrate that no government exists which accurately exemplifies what they have in mind to create for America. While the Greeks were a pattern of democracy and England a form of a representative government, neither nation truly modeled a real Republic.

For the rest of this article follow this link to Helium by clicking HERE.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Christian History of the West

Europe has been far removed from her cultural Christian mooring for a long time. To the best of my knowledge, one could not in any sense of the word consider the European culture a Bible culture. The days of the prominence of Christianity have disappeared into her history.

America had Christian prominence in her heritage that does continue to this day. However, while there is a huge presence of Christian churches in America, there is currently little to no affect upon culture at large. Christianity has become a private faith with a few leaders championing public issues from a Christian perspective, but by and large it is not the denominate public worldview of the nation today.

Just the same, both Europe and America have in their history a Christian heritage that did influence much of the progress of the West. In America specifically, our Republic was fashioned by men who had a strong Christian worldview. They built the Constitution upon the principals that man was created to be free and from that freedom we can choose to elect representatives that we permit to govern us. The need for checks and balances of those representatives into an Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branch was because the Founders believed in the fallen nature of man. They believed that people ought not to be permitted to rise up to be long time rulers of the people for the propensity of power to corrupt is in the hearts of man.

Alexis De Tocqueville, a Frenchman, visited America to learn about the strength and prosperity of a post Revolutionary War America. He found that America’s strength was not where he expected to find it, but in her churches, in her citizens who labored to self-govern themselves to protect the freedom of future generations.

There are a myriad of quotes by the Founders of the importance of the people to adhere to Biblical morality in effort to protect the Republic form of government for this government can only work for a people who are intent upon self governing themselves without the need of overbearing laws which restrict citizens due to the numbers of people who do not practice self-governance.

The reason we look at the past today with eyes that cannot see the Christian heritage, is that it so ingrained in our culture without the education of how it came to be that it appears to be common sense rather than a way of life influence by a revelatory book. In fact, Jefferson’s wording of “self-evident” in the Declaration is rather in correct, because these principals were not ones they devised, but ones they accepted from Scripture. The reason for the “self-evident” wording was that the prominent philosophy of the day said that things that were true were self-evidently known, so that word was used to emphasize the truth of the principals rather than how they were derived.

The way to see the stark difference between the principals accepted as “self-evident” in the West and the rest of the world is to observe the non-Western cultures. In India, equality is not self-evident—there is a cast system that does not value equality. In China, the retiring head of state in 2002, Jiang Zemin, was asked what he wanted to see for the future of China. He responded, “I would like for my country to become a Christian nation.” He could see that the West was Christianized and he wanted the results we have.

I, however, think our results, while good as America is the nation of hope to many nations, can be better. I think the Church in America is not very involved in helping her become strong again in a way that is full of love and not full of moralizing rebuke. In a way that provides viable solutions to the problems of this nation rather than just being focused on a few moral issues such as abortion. If we really believe we are in relationship with the living God and have Him living through us we ought to be more relevant to our current economic and national problems than we are. We ought to be able to come up with answers that really make a difference and help stabilize the nation without any hidden agenda—just as a gift—and not as a method of evangelism.

Secularization will not stabilize the Western culture. The Kingdom of God can do this, but there is not much reason to say it if the Church can’t show it and show it in a way that is respectful to the other cultures in this nation and to the government of this nation. We need to come along side the people who are in power and ask how we can help, instead of throwing stones from the safe distance of our homes via our facebooks and blogs. We have to be willing to help at all levels starting with the neighbor next door and working our way up to serve Washington in an honorable and helpful manner.

A shift in this direction is already sweeping through the Church in this post-Christian era that has great potential to become a healing balm to the nations. A Church is mobilization to not just aid the American nation, but to be for all nations to come into the freedom and equality that is available in the Kingdom of God. This won’t be a movement of the “religious right” but one marked by honor and love like never before. What a different world this can be when people express the love and honor of the Father without reservation.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Justness of the Judgment of God

The question of how God judges those who do not know Christ has been on my mind for quiet a while as it has been repeatedly requested of me to provide just reason for the basis of His judgment.

I realize that not knowing Christ is not the same as rejecting Him, because if a person does not know there is a real Jesus to know, they cannot be justly judged for not knowing Him. However, the judgment that comes from God is based on our own moral standard that we hold others to, which we ourselves have failed to uphold. While His standard is higher than our own, He judges the one who does not know Him based on the laws that person holds to be the moral standard.

So let’s say a person’s value system says that intolerance is wrong and makes judgments against people who are intolerant. Then that same person is intolerant in some way, they will be held accountable to God for breaking their own moral standard.

Romans 2: 1-6 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done."

Thus God’s judgment is not based on holding someone accountable to some standard they didn’t know existed, but by holding them accountable to their own standard that they practice as true. This is affirmed in Revelation when it is talking about that ultimate Day of Judgment.

Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”

The judgment then justly comes based on what is justly deserved according to what is known. The wording of “the dead” refers to those who are not in the life of Christ. The good news though, is that none of us have to pay that debt to sin. None of us have to come under judgment. We can instead be justified—having Christ death be substituted for our death—joining with Him in His Resurrection, being fully made whole without any debt to sin. We do not have to earn that redemption; we simply take hold of His hand that is extended out towards us. It’s like reaching up with an empty hand, knowing you have nothing to offer, but receiving Him forevermore.