Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Atheist's Solution


Recently I was privileged to watch a pre-release video of “man on the street” interviews entitled, The Atheist Delusion, by Evangelist, Ray Comfort. Then, last week I heard an intriguing comment on the Moody Radio program, In the Market with Janet Parshall. Her “man on the street” interviews, created to segue into the next portion of her show, caught my attention. In one of the interviews a woman made this statement:  “We don’t need religion to know right from wrong or to treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Pondering this remark caused me to ask why. Why do all humans have an innate understanding of right and wrong and desire to be treated fairly? From where did it come? And how do humans measure right from wrong? What standard do we use? And from where did we get that standard? I mean, we have a conscience, but what would have caused a conscience to develop if we are only evolved and not created?

Clearly, the atheist and scoffer have no answers. Yet in arrogance, they consider their intellect superior to believers in Jesus Christ, because, as they say, they do not believe in “myths”.  They feel their belief of no God allows them to live unencumbered by “religion” and in complete control of their lives.

But, atheism is a religion and an intolerant one at that. Religion, along with being a belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods; a particular system of faith and worship; is also a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.[1] Atheism, of course, is the latter and as such, it’s a religion akin to witchcraft, because their main tenet is control of one’s own life and/or others. This is nothing less than rebellion against God. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…”[2]

Still atheism is unlike witchcraft in their condescension of those who feel the need to adhere to any religion’s precepts. And while atheists feel free to live their lives without so-called rules, they are governed by them nonetheless. Humans cannot escape God. They exist because He exists. God is Sovereign over His creation whether they acknowledge Him or not. Deceiving themselves will help only for this world, not the next. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God..."[3] Sadly, “…they suppress the truth in unrighteousness…and their foolish hearts are darkened.”[4]

C.S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, calls our innate understanding the Law of Nature or human [sin] nature. He explains, “These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings all over the earth have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.”

The Atheist believes the concept of sin was created by weak people who need religion. Therefore, to them, sin does not exist. Yet, they still strive to be a “good” person and believe immoral acts, like someone cutting in line or encroaching upon their rights, are wrong. They may reject the “sin” label and the Ultimate One sinned against, but because of Adam’s sin,[5] they cannot believe otherwise – it’s innate – because God placed it there.

Morality can be religion-less, but it cannot be God-less, because it originates in God and His Law. This holy, good, and righteous God set the standard by which we measure right from wrong and established this plumb line by who He is.

The atheist has deceived himself. But there is a solution should they wonder:  Relationship, not religion. Our Almighty, Longsuffering God desires relationship even with the atheist and a true heart change, for God grieves when souls perish.[6]



[1] https://www.google.com/#q=define+religion
[2] I Samuel 15:23a
[3] I Corinthians 3:19-20
[4] Romans 1:18-21
[5] Romans 5:12
[6] II Peter 3:9

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Mystery Kept Secret - Now Revealed

Do you like mysteries?  I do to a point. As long as the mystery is solved with a happy ending, I enjoy the investigation, search, and resolution. But, without a happy ending, I’m disturbed. This is one reason why TV season finales sometimes make me crazy.

The word mystery, according to the online dictionary, means something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. It can also be a novel, play, or movie dealing with a puzzling crime, especially a murder. Obviously, television dramas are the latter.

But, in just living we come upon mysteries – things we can’t explain. Some feel compelled to investigate because they need answers – to find each puzzle piece, assemble them, and solve the mystery. Then we are satisfied and settled.

Still, because of this desire within us to know the complete story, doesn’t it intrigue you when God speaks in the New Testament about a mystery kept secret since the world began?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Heart of the Gospel

www.freebibleimages.org
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.[1]

This week commenced with what we know as Palm Sunday, Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As He rode into the city on the back of a donkey, fulfilling Zachariah’s prophesy, some euphoric townsmen spread their cloaks on the road while others waved palm branches, hailing Him as Messiah, the Prince. When the indignant Pharisees asked Jesus to quiet his disciples He replied, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”[2] Why? Because, this was the day – the day set forth by Almighty God through the angel Gabriel, concluding the second division of Daniel, the prophet’s seventy weeks.[3]

Yet, Palm Sunday also begins a most solemn time for those who believe. Triumph turned quickly to contempt. Some, who just days before, were caught up in the jubilance crying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' Hosanna in the highest,”[4] now shouted, “Crucify Him!” 
www.priestsforlive.com

What happened? Truly, if this account were written by man, the “hero” would have gone on to win over the Pharisee’s, the Sadducee’s, and all the scoffers. But this is not written by man, it’s truth from God Almighty. It was the culmination of the fullness of time,[5] the reason God became flesh and dwelt among us.[6] Jesus Christ, God the Son, was and is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world[7] for us.

But thankfully, it doesn’t end there. Yes, on the cross Jesus died in our place, canceling the unfavorable record of our sin debt.[8] Yet, three days later He did more. He conquered death for us by rising from the dead. He is alive forevermore![9]

But, did you ever think about what life would be like if Jesus had not risen from the dead?

We would be as the atheist – completely without hope. No heaven, no seeing Jesus when we die, no “…well done, thou good and faithful servant…” There would be no reason to live by God’s Word, for doing good, for being kind, for loving our neighbor and our enemy, or for considering others as better than ourselves.[10] Paul said, “…if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty…And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”[11]

www.turnbacktogod.com
It seems to me our lives are shaped by Christ’s resurrection, for it is the heart of the gospel. Even non-believers seem to hope in an “afterlife”. Sadly, they are deceived into thinking everyone goes to a better place. Still, just as believers, they hope, because Jesus DID rise from the dead[12] and God has set eternity in our hearts.[13]

So, go out and reach unbelievers with the HEART of the GOSPEL.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”[14]



[1] Zechariah 9:9
[2] Luke 19:40
[3] Daniel 9:20-27
[4] Matthew 21:9
[5] Galatians 4:4
[6] John 1:1, 14
[7] I Peter 1:18-20; Rev. 13:8
[8] Colossians 2:13-14
[9] Revelation 1:18
[10] Philippians 2:3-4
[11] I Corinthians 15:12-19
[12] I Corinthians 15:20
[13] Ecclesiastes 3:11
[14] I Peter 1:3-4

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Is Prayer Meaningless?

www.timeanddate.com
It’s Christmastime and all we should be thinking about is love, joy, peace, and the Baby born in Bethlehem. But we have yet another glaring reminder of evil. 2015 began with violence. Then as months flew by, almost at every turn violence appeared somewhere, and now, it’s ending with violence. Why? Because brainwashed, malicious people are overturning our world.

These, either by blood or osmosis, have assumed the characteristics of the ancestor they claim.  Ishmael, God said, “…shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him..." (Genesis 16:12)

However, the recent San Bernardino shooting is not the only acts of evil we are seeing. “Stricter gun-control laws,” they chant.

Why do politicians ignore the fact that gun-control laws only disarm law-abiding citizens, not criminals or terrorists? They seek to take away the right of the people to keep and bear arms, which our second amendment says, “shall not be infringed.” And this act plays right into the terrorist’s hands.

But still, there’s more. According to Dr. Jim Denison’s December 03, 2015 commentary:  CRITICS LAMBAST CALLS FOR PRAYER AFTER MASS SHOOTING, he states, “San Bernardino is a city of more than 200,000, an hour's drive east of Los Angeles. Before yesterday, it was primarily known as the location of the first McDonald's restaurant. Now it will forever be tied to yet another mass shooting. But with this difference:  when political leaders responded to the tragedy by tweeting promises of prayer, skeptics quickly pounced. The New York Daily News published the giant headline, "GOD ISN'T FIXING THIS" and the subhead, "As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes." The Nation and Huffington Post made similar allegations.” (http://www.denisonforum.org/)

Emma Green of The Atlantic, in her “Prayer Shaming…” article quotes George Zornick, the editor of the liberal publication, The Nation.  Mr. Zornick stated, “There’s a clear claim being made here, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers.”

What?  After horrific heartbreak, in the wake of tragedy, out of desperation and exasperation, people pray. PRAYER is hope. Hope of Divine intervention when humans are faced with situations beyond their control.
alliancefriendschurch,org

We were created for prayer and prayer is what we should be doing. Not merely 9-1-1 prayers of “help” after the fact. But, prayer of repentance and turning from our wicked ways because, our problem is SIN. Sin in the heart produces the action of the evildoer and no gun-control law will ever change that! Only our Triune God can change hearts and stop this insanity.  He searches all hearts, understands all intent, and He made the wages of sin, death. (I Chronicles 28:9; Romans 6:23)

God was grieved by this evil, not shocked. He allowed it because somehow it works into His plan for this age.

So now, at Christmastime or anytime evil rears its ugly head, focus on the coming of our Redeemer. The One who paid for us the wage of sin.

www.en.wikipedia.org
In the fullness of time, “…God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law…For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” 
(Gal. 4:4-5; Titus 2:11-12)

Do not fear. God is in control. Pray, because PRAYER is NOT meaningless. It shows submission, dependence, and it moves God’s hand. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
Have a Blessed Christmas!
Anita

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hope In The Pit of Hopelessness

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.”[1]
Pain.
Christopher Tydeman - www.soulfulheartblog.com
Sadness.
Misery.
Anguish.
Despair.
Despondency.
Complete and utter hopelessness.
Sitting in the muck and mire, my fingers scrape across the four walls that now feel more like a hand-dug well than a home and I wonder, “How did I get here?”
For too long I’ve gone through the motions of living a normal life and acting as if everything is okay. I’ve clung to the muddy sides trying to inch my way back up, but as each day passed, I slipped lower and lower. Then today as if out of nowhere, the bottom like a bony, shriveled hand reached up, latched onto my heel and yanked.  My grip, precarious from the beginning, broke. Arms flailing, I desperately grabbed at anything to stop my fall, but hopelessness took over. I succumbed to the inevitability of my situation and plunged headlong into the blackness.
Looking up to the pinhole of light I asked, “Can anyone crawl out of a pit this deep?”
If you’re like me, you want to see a happy ending to this story. Yet, with these painful images we are reminded of the devastation and desolation of utter hopelessness.
For this sad, seemingly lost soul, their next step could be suicide. Unless God intervenes.
Recently, a cousin of a friend did just that. So again the questions surface. How much despair does it take for someone to actually end their life? What thoughts run through their mind prior to the act? Could we have done anything to stop it?
I know some situations in this world can cause us to lose hope, but that magnitude of hopelessness I cannot comprehend, nor do I want to.
Grieving families and friends are left blaming themselves, beginning their own downward spiral to hopelessness. So the vicious cycle continues.
Because of this, I am angry at sin and the enemy whose lies caused the initial pain. He dangles the bait of ecstasy and leads the lost down the broad road to destruction. With every step, light dims and their eyes adjust. It’s not until they’ve traveled many miles do they realize they’re sliding faster and faster into the darkness, confusion, and hopelessness. Along the way, they search for ways to dull the pain, looking to alcohol, drugs, sex, or endless psychotherapy that only drives them deeper into the pit. By then their minds are so confused they can’t see and instead of exposing the root of their problem and confessing sin, they cover it with temporary pleasure. However, if on the way down or when they finally hit bottom, they look up, hope is available. That pinhole of light at the top of their pit is the Lord who loves them.
I wish I could say these are only the emotions of the lost, but sadly, even some of the found have experienced them.
Yet for the lost as for the found, there is only one remedy, one hope for our pit of hopelessness.
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills…” the Psalmist says. “From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”[2] Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.[3] He is our Blessed hope[4] for His eye is on those who fear Him [and] hope in His mercy.[5]


[1] Psalm 130:1-2
[2] Psalm 121:1-2
[3] Psalm 146:5
[4] Titus 2:13
[5] Psalm 33:18


Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Father's Advice

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you” is the first line of Rudyard Kipling’s poem entitled “If”. As a kid, I loved poetry and still do.  I love the pulse and rhyme of poems.  My first poetry book was Read-Aloud Poems where “Eletelephony” by Laura Elizabeth Richards, quickly became my favorite. But as I grew, I moved on to more thoughtful and introspective poetry like “The Duel” by Eugene Field: “The gingham dog and the calico cat side by side on the table sat…” Just kidding. But seriously, this poem remains one of my favorites, even if it’s a bit morbid.

One Christmas my mother purchased the book, One Hundred and One Famous Poems as a stocking-stuffer. Perusing through its pages and remembering my youth, I came across Kipling’s poem. All those years ago the poem’s full message escaped me, but now Kipling’s words made sense. I wondered what persecution this man must have suffered to write such poignant words. Kipling wrote in his autobiography, the poem was based on the exemplary character of his friend, Sir Leander Starr Jameson. Still, I saw something more. It felt as if Kipling was actually speaking to those who may have hurt him and then rising above to know he was the better man.

Yet the poem may be exactly as it reads, simply a father’s words of advice. If so, and his autobiography is to be believed, then Kipling’s advice was for his son to grow to be a noble man like his friend, Sir Jameson.

Advice is one of those good gifts God allows us sinful people to give to our children. But, what type of advice do we give?

Kipling applauds fortitude, resourcefulness, and ingenuity as the way to become a man. And while these virtues are impressive, they seem to encourage hope in human ability alone.

Nevertheless, they are God-created.

In Proverbs King Solomon penned advice from our heavenly Father. Solomon may have thought he was writing to his own son, but God had greater plans and centuries of children to advise.

Father God declares, true wisdom, knowledge, and understanding begin with a fear of the Lord.  Without this fear, God says we are like a fool despising wisdom and instruction and hating knowledge. However, no unbeliever would ever admit they are lacking intellect because they do not fear God. But they are.

Innate within every human is the capacity to know God personally.[1] Nevertheless, in choosing to glorify self instead of God, we become futile in our thoughts, our foolish hearts are darkened. We lose the capacity to see heaven and earth as they were created.

Placing reverential fear in man and man’s abilities brings a snare, because sin corrupts character and even the virtuous are subject to it.

So listen to your heavenly Father’s advice. Fear the Lord. Gain knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Hate evil, pride, arrogance, and a perverse mouth.[2] For only trusting and fearing God prolongs days, gives strong confidence, a place of refuge, and a fountain of life.[3]




[1] Romans 1:19
[2] Proverbs 8:13
[3] Proverbs 14:26-27

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Got Hope?


got hope?
Hope waits.
Hope trusts.
Hope anticipates.
Hope longs and expects.
Hope is unseen.
Have you ever prepared something you couldn’t wait to deliver?  You lovingly create this special item and then rehearse every scenario of the moment it is received.  But when the time comes, things don’t go as planned.  Somehow the delivery was bungled. The timing skewed. The reception less than perfect. What happened?  Nothing went as you had imagined. Now you’re left with great disappointment; dreams deflating like a leaky balloon. All your hopes, poof – gone in an instant.

Aww, such is life, my mother would say. But why?

Is it because we are temporal and our life, in its best state is but a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away?[1]

Is it because we live in a sin-cursed world where everything groans, awaiting the revealing of the sons and daughters of God?[2]

Possibly. But thankfully, we cannot see the future.  If we could, chances are we would not have even tried. We never would have begun the task of creating our special item, let alone try to deliver it.  On the other hand, what is the line in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem? “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

Yet, it doesn’t feel better during the emotional pain of heartbreak. Nor does it feel like we should have created a special item when our dreams are dashed.

Nevertheless, we are more loving, because we loved and we’re stronger, because we tried. So, it’s much better to try a special task and fail at the delivery, than to have never tried at all – right?

If you say no, then answer this:  Even though our item was not as well received as we would have liked, does this mean it was not worth doing? Maybe for the moment our hopes and dreams disappeared, but should we quit trying altogether?

No, on both accounts. We learn from our mistakes. We apologize, make corrections, change our approach, and we know in our heart the next time things will go better. This, my friends, is hope.

Hope is to desire with expectation of obtainment[3] and God created us with hope. Yet hope in the physical is fleeting and finite. When life is over, so too, our hope. Unless, we believe in Jesus Christ.  Then hope extends beyond life. It is eternal because Jesus is eternal and He is our Hope.

Most humans do hope for something beyond physical life, but without Christ, their hope is misplaced. Still, they hope just the same, for God set eternity in the heart of man. And because He did, believers are given an open door that no man can shut. So, take the time to walk through it. Share the gospel. Don’t worry about delivery, timing, or failure. That’s God’s job.

Then wait for the seed to take root. Trust it will grow and bear fruit. Anticipate, long and expect God to finish the good work He started. And all you who hope in the Lord, continue in faith and be of good courage for He, who loves you with an everlasting love, shall strengthen your heart.[4]




[1] James 4:14
[2] Romans 8:19-25
[3] Merriam-Webster Dictionary
[4] Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 31:24