The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Talk Among Yourselves

October 4, 2009 | 586 Comments

The video below has been making the rounds of the atheist blogosphere lately. However, I don’t think that strictly speaking it is an atheist video. The focus is largely epistemology, and virtually any word could be substituted for “God” in the narrative. Theologians and believers can agree with a good deal of it, and with minor adjustments, turn many of its arguments against atheism, or at least certain forms of it. Much of the ground I covered in this post a few years back, albeit without the emphasis on civility.

Regrettably, time constraints preclude me from expounding upon the foundations of my own faith here although I do hope to get to it eventually. In meantime, talk among yourselves. Below the video I provide transcriptions of the video, one with a description of the graphics accompanying the spoken narrative, and one without.


TRANSCRIPTION OF “PUTTING FAITH IN ITS PLACE” VIDEO

[Man Facing Room; Screen with Cube Appears]

Imagine you enter a strange room where a computer tells you that hidden somewhere in the building is a cube. Then it asks you, “What does the cube contain?”

Most of us would recognize this to be a futile question. The cube could be large or small. It could be a solid block or a vacuum chamber of nothing but sparse particles of gas. [Cube changes to reflect these possibilities]. Or it might contain any one of billions of permutations of familiar or novel objects. [Objects such as milk, container of blood, key, matches, skeleton with pumpkin head, alien creature, weird signs appear in cube]. You could never give a precise, justifiable answer.

But if you were asked, “What does the cube NOT contain?”, you could give many answers. For example, the cube could not possibly contain the Amazon River, the planet Mars, or absurd objects such as “a bed made of sleep”. In fact, there would be more perfectly valid answers to this second question than you could list in a million lifetimes.
[Words “Does Not Contain” appears on cube, with arrow pointing to words setting forth those non-possibilities outside cube, followed by the following scrolling list:


Cats made of airport
Iron Gold
The 17th Century
Frozen justice
A human sun
1-dimensional cubes
1-dimensional swans
1-dimensional hips
The DNAof 1.10pm
A fossilized flame
The heliopause
The colour of up
The back of love
The uncontainable
My unbirthday
Music made of doubt
An inert explosion

[Words “Countless possibilities” and “Countless impossibilities” appear on either side of cube; Words “we can’t know was IS in the cube appear below with arrow pointing to “Countless possibilities; words “We know these are NOT in the cube appear below word “Countless impossibilities with arrow pointing to scrolling list of alleged imposssibilities].

This illustrates an interesting asymmetry concerning the contents of this cube. Despite there being countless possibilities and impossibilities, without evidence from the cube itself we can only ever make valid, justifiable statements about what is NOT inside the cube, not what IS.


It’s true that someone claiming, for example, that the cube contained nothing but a wooden spoon might be right, but since, without evidence, they could provide no valid justification for such a claim, there would be literally no reason for anyone to accept it.
[Woman appears with cartoon speech bubble indicating she’s saying “It contains nothing but a wooden spoon”; rest of words of narrative appear beside her].

What if we were talking about a realm of existence independent of our universe that like the concealed cube is physically inaccessible to us? [Words “Inaccessible realm of existence” appear above oval labeled “our universe”].Would things be different? Would we be able to deduce precisely what occupied such a realm, such as a divine being? [Words “Divine Being” appear outside  universe oval, and are crossed out by diagonal red line]. No, there’s the same asymmetry as before. Countless kinds of beings might exist independently of our universe. Countless logically impossible beings cannot. [Words “countless possible beings” and “countless impossible being appear on either side of words “inaccessible realm of being” with arrows pointing to them]But while we can list many kinds of beings that can’t exist there because they violate logic, [arrow point from words “countless impossible beings” to words “we can list beings which CAN’T exist,” which in turn have arrow pointing to the following list:


An omniscient being capable of choice
A perfect being that needs to be worshipped
A non-spatial omnipresent being
An all-loving omnipotent being that allows eternal agony]

we can’t list those, if any, that do[Arrow points from words “countless possible beings” down to words “we can’t list beings that DO exist”, with arrow in turn pointing down to word “UNKNOWABLE.”] Any attempt to argue that a specific divine being exists in an inaccessible realm of reality is an attempt to argue for either the impossible or the unknowable.[Angry-looking man appears in middle of screen with cartoon speech bubble saying “Divine Being X exists in an inaccessible realm of being!”].

Logic alone can refute impossible beings, [arrow points down from those words to list of allegedly impossible beings] but it can’t show that possible beings actually exist, without evidence. [Those words appear on other side of screen].   If you can’t at some point provide measurable, verifiable evidence for the specific being you claim exists, all the argument in the world won’t establish your claim as fact. [Cartoon speech bubbles with words “Argument A”, “Argument B”, “Argument C”, “Argument D” appear above angry man, only to be popped by hand with pin]. This is one reason why as soon as anyone claims they have a logical requirement that requires the existence of one personal creator of our universe we know it will be fallacious [Cartoon speech bubble above angry man says “I have a logical argument that requires the existence of one personal creator of our universe”, with words soon covered with words “will be fallacious”].because they’ve failed at a basic level to understand what’s required to establish such an existence claim.   It’s just a question of identifying where the errors are.

For example, the theologian William Lane Craig has asserted that our universe had an original cause which, because it created our time and space, had to transcend time and space. Transcending our time and space doesn’t necessarily mean somethin
g transcends all time and space. [Craig is pictured with various words from the narrative popping up beside him].

However, his conclusion that this non-temporal, non-spatial cause would have to be a changeless disembodied mind is more seriously flawed. A changeless mind is by definition non-functioning. Minds and purposeful creation depend on change. Craig’s changeless creator is self-contradicting and belongs to the category of the logically impossible.

However seemingly plausible they may sound to the unwary or the already persuaded, all popular arguments for the existence of specific gods are based on false premises and/or conclusions and unjustified presuppositions, and a hundred invalid arguments don’t accumulate into one valid one. [List of the following arguments appear on screen:


Cosmological argument
Arguments from complexity
Argument from contingency
Moral argument
Ontological argument
Argument from degree
Mind-body problem argument
Argument from beauty
Anthropic argument
Transcendental argument
Argument from reason

Words “Doomed Arguments” superimposed over list].


Many people with theistic beliefs don’t get tangled up in pursuing doomed arguments like these. They know they can’t prove gods with logic and have no need to do so. They realize their beliefs are personal and that others are entitled to different views.

However, when you’re not so willing to respect differences, when you disparage, attack, or work to create disadvantage for others because they don’t share your beliefs, it shouldn’t surprise you when those you try to oppress object to this unreasonable attitude and expose the flawed arguments that shore it up. [Cartoon speech bubbles from speakers off screen say “You’re worthless,” “Your lives are unlivable,” “This is a nation of Religion X,” “You’re amoral,” “I don’t know that atheists should be considered citizens,” You’re human garbage” and are then flicked off screen by two hands]A belief in one or more gods might sustain you in your own life, [women pictured praying at table with her speech bubble saying “What’s the harm in saying grace”] but when you pressure others to adopt your beliefs and participate in practices associated with those beliefs, you give up the luxury of not having to explain yourself. [second aggravated-looking woman revealed to be at table; her speech bubble says “Please, either prove your God exists or stop nagging”] You give yourself the burden of proof, and certain reasons that might seem sound when justifying a belief to yourself are simply not valid when you’re trying to justify existence claims to other people, however passionately you express them. [speech bubbles appear above praying woman which say “But OBVIOUSLY He Exists,” “He cured my illness,” “I feel His spirit inside me,” I have FAITH!”; red rectangles with word “invalid” superimposed over each bubble].. You can’t pester and bully people and then retreat behind faith when challenged on your behavior. And if you can’t demonstrate that gods exist, resorting to emotional blackmail to try to get people to believe is a dishonest tactic. [Praying woman cries, with speech bubble saying “Why are you trying to upset me?; companion responds, “You’re upsetting yourself.”]

When those who don’t believe in gods show theistic claims to be invalid,
[companion from table now standing next to a man, and pops his speech bubble which says “Complexity proves God”] it’s often claimed that they’re trying to prove gods don’t exist. [Man’s speech bubble says “Why do you need to prove God doesn’t exist?” to which woman responds “I’m just exposing your flawed reasoning.”] In fact, all they’re doing is exposing flawed reasoning and encouraging intellectual honesty. It’s understandable that when some have their claims debunked it’s an uncomfortable feeling, and employing red herrings becomes an attractive way to wriggle out of admitting their mistakes. [Man’s speech bubble morphs into fish shape]But debunking claims about the existence of gods is just showing those who make such claims that they can’t assert what they’re trying to assert. [Woman’s bubble says “you can’t assert what you’re trying to assert”].

[Heading on page: “Defining the Divine (where the problems begin”]

The question of defining divine entities is where the problems begin. As soon as you define any god you must justify why you’ve defined it that way, giving a valid reason for each quality you’re attributing to it.
[Speech bubble says “God X has attributes A, B, C & D”; each letter is then circled with arrow pointing to words “Need justification”].Many who realize they can’t justify any particular definitions avoid them altogether, [words “God ‘Y’ is an energy which defies definition” appear in speech bubble], but without definition there is no adequately formed concept to have a belief about, [those words then appear beneath bubble] and this is the stumbling block when people are asked to define the gods they claim exist. As their divine definitions become more specific they have more to justify, the flaws in their logic become more numerous and there arguments become easier to refute. [Illustrated with a meter’s needle pointing toward word “Specific”].  Conversely, as their definitions become more vague the entities they are proposing cease to have any practical relevance. [Meter needles points to “Vague”]. Ironically, the way many people define gods means that as well as having no logical support, they can’t be supported with evidence either. [Words from narrative appear on screen].


For example, as soon as you say ‘God X’ is non-physical, you’ve proposed a being that can’t be quantified, tested, or perceived even in principle. You literally have nothing to work with. When trying to justify non-physical entities people will often point out that we can’t see the wind but we still know it’s there.
[Various words from narrative appear on screen]. However, this analogy is flawed – we know the wind is there because it IS physical. Not only can we measure it and perceive it directly through our sense of touch, it can knock us off our feet and destroy buildings. [Pictures of weather vane, woman with hair blown back, and tornado appear on screen]. The physical force it exerts could hardly be more dramatic. Indeed, we use that force to generate electricity. [Windmill appears on screen]. By contrast, it’s not even clear what a being with no conceivable physical characteristics is supposed to mean.[Words from narrative appear] Even if you were proposing a being that had a different type of physical existence, making it undetectable to humans, you’d have enough trouble explaining how you could know it was there.
Many claim that the existence of particular gods CAN be demonstrated, that their powers can be manifested physically and that these physical manifestations count as evidence. [Words from narrative appear on screen in speech bubbles]. But even if we were to witness an event that genuinely challenged our understanding, that wouldn’t justify inferring any specific divine agency. [Picture of moon saying “Jeremy Brett was the definitive Sherlock Holmes”]. At most it could indicate power, intelligence, and/or technology that was unknown both in its number and its nature. [Words from narrative appear]

Imagine a group of people unfamiliar with electronic technology being duped into watching a carefully staged CGI animation of a man turning into a lion. [Man/lion transformation depicted]. If they thought they had just seen evidence of divine magic, we would know that conclusion was false and due to an illusion of technology beyond their experience. Likewise, if you were to see something genuinely jaw-dropping, like stars spelling out words in the sky, [stars form words “Stop fighting!”; man on earth points up and says “Look! A message from God X!] you’d have no basis for drawing any reliable conclusions about the specific causes of what you were witnessing. You could be having your brain expertly controlled by aliens. [Second man appears saying, “No! It’s a message from God Y!]. You could be having a psychotic break from reality. [Men fight, with first man clutching second’s throat and saying “It’s MY God!”]. We already know that brains can conjure up richly detailed worlds when we dream, and that their dysfunction can cause us to hallucinate. If some kind of intelligence was responsible, anything with the ability to manipulate physical matter or our perceptions to that extent could easily disguise itself so we could never be sure of its identity. With such fallible brains and such limited technology, a spectacle like this would be beyond the scale of what we could comprehend or investigate. [Words from narrative appear].

Could life forms of vastly greater intelligence and power exist beyond the current reach of our perception and technology? Certainly. But even if we were ever to find evidence of greater intelligence that still would not constitute evidence of specific gods. Even if some kind of intelligence initiated the existence of our universe, there’s nothing to say what the nature of that intelligence was; whether it was a single or a collective intelligence; whether or not part of that intelligence remains interested in the universe, let alone the affairs of humans; whether or not that intelligence is aware of our tiny planet, let alone capable of communicating with its inhabitants; or even whether or not that intelligence still exists.

When you impartially review a factual claim, that, for example, one divine universe creator currently monitors and judges every human life, the lines, the layers of unjustified assumptions needed to make such a claim become starkly apparent. One would be no less justified in proposing a race of aliens, that created our universe with an advanced machine and annihilated themselves in the process. [Alien finger depicted pushing red button]. As soon as you propose any specific being, the nature of whose existence can’t be reliably examined and quantified, even in principle, you’re talking about a non-scientific concept that’s unsupportable by either logic or evidence. [Block containing words “God X” falls when supporting blocked titled “Logic” and “Evidence” disappear].Without logic or evidence at your disposal you have no grounds for demanding that anyone agree with you. [Angry woman says “Agree with me” and “You’re not part of this family!”] You certainly have no grounds for bullying and ostracizing them when they don’t. [Red lines cross out woman’s words]. But if that’s the way you deal with independent thought, your fallacious arguments will continue to be exposed until you grow out of your need for everyone to subscribe to your faith-based ideas. [Arguments “A” though “G” appear over woman’s head and are popped by pin-wielding hand].

When you start being honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know, you’re likely to realize that you’re in no position to be shouting the odds. And when you understand that it’s behavior that has the practical impact on our lives, you may realize that it’s not whether we believe in gods, but how we treat each other, that says the most about our character. If you attack, condemn, or use emotional blackmail on people because they don’t share your belief in one or more gods
[Angry couple pictured shouting at startled woman: “Non-believers are human rubbish!” and “Join our religion of love and peace or go to hell!], you’re invited to consider what that says about you[magnifying glass appears over shouting couple] and how it squares with the values you claim to embrace.

[Pink cube appears on screen; opens up releasing the words “Omne ingnotum pro magnifico [“Everything unknown is believed to be magnificent”].


______________________________________________


TRANSCRIPTION WITHOUT PARENTHETICALS


Imagine you enter a strange room where a computer tells you that hidden somewhere in the building is a cube. Then it asks you, “What does the cube contain?”

Most of us would recognize this to be a futile question. The cube could be large or small. It could be a solid block or a vacuum chamber of nothing but sparse particles of gas. Or it might contain any one of billions of permutations of familiar or novel objects. You could never give a precise, justifiable answer.

But if you were asked, “What does the cube NOT contain?”, you could give many answers. For example, the cube could not possibly contain the Amazon River, the planet Mars, or absurd objects such as “a bed made of sleep”. In fact, there would be more perfectly valid answers to this second question than you could list in a million lifetimes.


This illustrates an interesting asymmetry concerning the contents of this cube. Despite there being countless possibilities and impossibilities, without evidence from the cube itself we can only ever make valid, justifiable statements about what is NOT inside the cube, not what IS.

It’s true that someone claiming, for example, that the cube contained nothing but a wooden spoon might be right, but since, without evidence, they could provide no valid justification for such a claim, there would be literally no reason for anyone to accept it.

What if we were talking about a realm of existence independent of our universe that like the concealed cube is physically inaccessible to us? Would things be different? Would we be able to deduce precisely what occupied such a realm, such as a divine being? No, there’s the same asymmetry as before. Countless kinds of beings might exist independently of our universe. Countless logically impossible beings cannot. But while we can list many kinds of beings that can’t exist there because they violate logic, we can’t list those, if any, that doAny attempt to argue that a specific divine being exists in an inaccessible realm of reality is an attempt to argue for either the impossible or the unknowable.

Logic alone can refute impossible beings, [arrow points down from those words to list of allegedly impossible beings] but it can’t show that possible beings actually exist, without evidence. If you can’t at some point provide measurable, verifiable evidence for the specific being you claim exists, all the argument in the world won’t establish your claim as fact. This is one reason why as soon as anyone claims they have a logical requirement that requires the existence of one personal creator of our universe we know it will be fallacious because they’ve failed at a basic level to understand what’s required to establish such an existence claim.    It’s just a question of identifying where the errors are.

For example, the theologian William Lane Craig has asserted that our universe had an original cause which, because it created our time and space, had to transcend time and space. Transcending our time and space doesn’t necessarily mean somethin
g transcends all time and space.

However, his conclusion that this non-temporal, non-spatial cause would have to be a changeless disembodied mind is more seriously flawed. A changeless mind is by definition non-functioning. Minds and purposeful creation depend on change. Craig’s changeless creator is self-contradicting and belongs to the category of the logically impossible.

However seemingly plausible they may sound to the unwary or the already persuaded, all popular arguments for the existence of specific gods are based on false premises and/or conclusions and unjustified presuppositions, and a hundred invalid arguments don’t accumulate into one valid one.


Many people with theistic beliefs don’t get tangled up in pursuing doomed arguments like these. They know they can’t prove gods with logic and have no need to do so. They realize their beliefs are personal and that others are entitled to different views.

However, when you’re not so willing to respect differences, when you disparage, attack, or work to create disadvantage for others because they don’t share your beliefs, it shouldn’t surprise you when those you try to oppress object to this unreasonable attitude and expose the flawed arguments that shore it up. A belief in one or more gods might sustain you in your own life, but when you pressure others to adopt your beliefs and participate in practices associated with those beliefs, you give up the luxury of not having to explain yourself. You give yourself the burden of proof, and certain reasons that might seem sound when justifying a belief to yourself are simply not valid when you’re trying to justify existence claims to other people, however passionately you express them. You can’t pester and bully people and then retreat behind faith when challenged on your behavior. And if you can’t demonstrate that gods exist, resorting to emotional blackmail to try to get people to believe is a dishonest tactic.

When those who don’t believe in gods show theistic claims to be invalid,
it’s often claimed that they’re trying to prove gods don’t exist. In fact, all they’re doing is exposing flawed reasoning and encouraging intellectual honesty. It’s understandable that when some have their claims debunked it’s an uncomfortable feeling, and employing red herrings becomes an attractive way to wriggle out of admitting their mistakes. But debunking claims about the existence of gods is just showing those who make such claims that they can’t assert what they’re trying to assert.

The question of defining divine entities is where the problems begin. As soon as you define any god you must justify why you’ve defined it that way, giving a valid reason for each quality you’re attributing to it.
.Many who realize they can’t justify any particular definitions avoid them altogether, but without definition there is no adequately formed concept to have a belief about, and this is the stumbling block when people are asked to define the gods they claim exist. As their divine definitions become more specific they have more to justify, the flaws in their logic become more numerous and there arguments become easier to refute. Conversely, as their definitions become more vague the entities they are proposing cease to have any practical relevance. Ironically, the way many people define gods means that as well as having no logical support, they can’t be supported with evidence either.


For example, as soon as you say ‘God X’ is non-physical, you’ve proposed a being that can’t be quantified, tested, or perceived even in principle. You literally have nothing to work with. When trying to justify non-physical entities people will often point out that we can’t see the wind but we still know it’s there.
However, this analogy is flawed – we know the wind is there because it IS physical. Not only can we measure it and perceive it directly through our sense of touch, it can knock us off our feet and destroy buildings. The physical force it exerts could hardly be more dramatic. Indeed, we use that force to generate electricity. By contrast, it’s not even clear what a being with no conceivable physical characteristics is supposed to mean. Even if you were proposing a being that had a different type of physical existence, making it undetectable to humans, you’d have enough trouble explaining how you could know it was there.
Many claim that the existence of particular gods CAN be demonstrated, that their powers can be manifested physically and that these physical manifestations count as evidence. But even if we were to witness an event that genuinely challenged our understanding, that wouldn’t justify inferring any specific divine agency. At most it could indicate power, intelligence, and/or technology that was unknown both in its number and its nature.

Imagine a group of people unfamiliar with electronic technology being duped into watching a carefully staged CGI animation of a man turning into a lion. If they thought they had just seen evidence of divine magic, we would know that conclusion was false and due to an illusion of technology beyond their experience. Likewise, if you were to see something genuinely jaw-dropping, like stars spelling out words in the sky, you’d have no basis for drawing any reliable conclusions about the specific causes of what you were witnessing. You could be having your brain expertly controlled by aliens. You could be having a psychotic break from reality. We already know that brains can conjure up richly detailed worlds when we dream, and that their dysfunction can cause us to hallucinate. If some kind of intelligence was responsible, anything with the ability to manipulate physical matter or our perceptions to that extent could easily disguise itself so we could never be sure of its identity. With such fallible brains and such limited technology, a spectacle like this would be beyond the scale of what we could comprehend or investigate.

Could life forms of vastly greater intelligence and power exist beyond the current reach of our perception and technology? Certainly. But even if we were ever to find evidence of greater intelligence that still would not constitute evidence of specific gods. Even if some kind of intelligence initiated the existence of our universe, there’s nothing to say what the nature of that intelligence was; whether it was a single or a collective intelligence; whether or not part of that intelligence remains interested in the universe, let alone the affairs of humans; whether or not that intelligence is aware of our tiny planet, let alone capable of communicating with its inhabitants; or even whether or not that intelligence still exists.

When you impartially review a factual claim, that, for example, one divine universe creator currently monitors and judges every human life, the lines, the layers of unjustified assumptions needed to make such a claim become starkly apparent. One would be no less justified in proposing a race of aliens, that created our universe with an advanced machine and annihilated themselves in the process. As soon as you propose any specific being, the nature of whose existence can’t be reliably examined and quantified, even in principle, you’re talking about a non-scientific concept that’s unsupportable by either logic or evidence. Without logic or evidence at your disposal you have no grounds for demanding that anyone agree with you. You certainly have no grounds for bullying and ostracizing them when they don’t. But if that’s the way you deal with independent thought, your fallacious arguments will continue to be exposed until you grow out of your need for everyone to subscribe to your faith-based ideas.


When you start being honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know, you’re likely to realize that you’re in no position to be shouting the odds. And when you understand that it’s behavior that has the practical impact on our lives, you may realize that it’s not whether we believe in gods, but how we treat each other, that says the most about our character. If you attack, condemn, or use emotional blackmail on people because they don’t share your belief in one or more gods
you’re invited to consider what that says about you and how it squares with the values you claim to embrace.

Comments

586 Responses to “Talk Among Yourselves”

  1. Tom Gilson
    October 4th, 2009 @ 8:00 pm

    The supposed rationality of this message, sad to say, simply falls apart upon examination.

  2. Don
    October 4th, 2009 @ 11:05 pm

    You successfully attacked some of the video’s specific points. (I presume successfully, because I did not watch the video, only read your response to it.) But since its overall message, even judging only by your synopsis, remains quite robust, I have to conclude your critique is essentially of its quality. The fact remains that to believe in a god, you have to make a conscious decision to ignore your rational mind when it makes conclusions that are not supportive of believing in a god. An atheist on the other hand merely strives to see the universe as it is presented to him. You call this pride. Your conscious decision to see what cannot be seen must therefore be humility. I find this peculiar.

    I do understand it, however: You are respecting the beliefs of our elders and applying them to that part of your mind and heart that senses a loving god. We all have that: It’s instinctive. Our spiritual and religious sense evolved with us, as it gave us reproductive advantages in the face of our increasingly complex minds’ reactions to a harsh world. To try and see beyond human evolution and experience existence as it can be proved to exist might be called pride, certainly, because it requires use of one’s mind and discards the conclusions of countless minds that went before. But that is by no means a less positive outlook than faith, which has been proven countless times to be an uncertain guide at best.

  3. Christina
    October 5th, 2009 @ 11:45 am

    “If you attack, condemn, or use emotional blackmail on people because they don’t share your belief in one or more gods, you’re invited to consider what that says about you and how it squares with the values you claim to embrace.”

    I agree, and I’m Catholic. It always frustrates me when I hear people resort to attacking others when they are not comfortable in their beliefs, whether they are Christian or Atheist. And I’m embarrassed to say I’ve often fallen into the same trap, especially when my faith was not as strong.

    I believe in God because of evidence and reason. Evidence of the courtroom kind, through events in my life that point to a “someone” taking a very active interest in my life. Reason, because everything I’ve learned has made sense, logically flowing from one item to the next.

    When I was less involved in my religion and toying with rejecting all religion, I found that things just didn’t make sense. Why was there evil and why did I care about it? Why did I feel joy at some things and loathing at others that had no effect on my life? Why was I so hurt when a guy, who had started the relationship as a temporary fling, left me?

    Atheism told me to ignore those questions, only the insecure and immature bother worrying about such things. Life just IS, get over it and start making it better. “If you need a ‘god’ to answer questions like that then you need help.”

    Catholicism, on the other hand, broke out each question and provided an answer based on a solid logical framework. Why is there evil? Because love desires to be loved in return, yet you cannot love if you cannot choose, therefore we have a choice to love. If we choose not to love then evil is the result. That is simplified, but so true. It’s played out in relationships all the time.

    I’m Catholic because it’s True. Evidence for that Truth in Catholicism is how it has opened my eyes to truth in the world, in relationships and in my own heart.

    I can’t explain how this video is not correct. I feel like religion is more like having someone tell you that there is a one-dimensional cat inside the cube who will answer all your questions. You think “a 1-D talking cat is impossible” so you laugh and ask the box a question. It answers…correctly. You ask another and this time it’s wrong, so you laugh and walk away…but then a month later you realize that it wasn’t just right, but dead right, because you were fooling yourself at the time. Again and again it produces just what you need, till you begin to seriously believe that the wild claim is true.

    Anyway – just my 0.02

  4. Porno Lily
    October 5th, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

    Thank you for this interesting riddle, raving athiest! For me, the cube contain beautiful porn! Am I right? Am I? Am I? Yours in Christ, Porno Lily

  5. Eric
    October 6th, 2009 @ 8:18 am

    This is a ridiculous argument, because in reality you would be able to open the box to find out the contents. This is not an option in this exercise, and both the video and Raving make huge assumptions without any logic behind them.

    All this complex video and huge diatribe are saying is ‘you cannot prove or disprove that there is a god.’ This is something that intelligent people already know.

    What is completely ignored is the science behind probability and theory development, and when you include that most of the logic presented here falls away quite nicely.

    And ‘beautiful porn’ is a sin according to the bible. Graven images, sexual thoughts, hmmm. If you truly read the bible then being ‘yours in christ’ conflicts with any type of porn. Sorry, but I actually read the bible (I love good fiction).

    -Ranting Man

  6. MK
    October 7th, 2009 @ 5:54 am

    This video is asking you to prove what God is like. To describe Him and to define Him.

    While I can tell you how He works in my life, point to the words of those that walked the earth with Him, for obvious reasons I cannot tell you what He looks like, smells like or what breakfast cereal He prefers.

    But it seems to me the question that would truly be analogous to the cube, is not what is in the cube, but where did the cube come from? The cube exists. How did it get there. I cannot tell you who put it there. I cannot know anything about it’s “creator” or the “person” that placed it where it is.

    I CAN however, be certain, that SOMEONE made the cube, and SOMEONE put it where it is. Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that there IS a SOMEONE.

    The cube does not contain that someone any more than the universe contains God. To argue differently, is insanity.

    “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C S Lewis

    I believe in that someone, NOT because I can see them, but because I can see the “cube”.

  7. Oh for fuck's sake!
    October 7th, 2009 @ 10:42 am

    You’re argument is idiotic “MK”.

    Have you ever considered “I DON’T KNOW”???
    What is wrong with just suspending your eager and pathetic horniness for god(s)by jumping to your first infantile fantasy “it must be a God”.

    Why is that you Christians think in this way?

    If you *think* there is a creator of the cube (which is already quite an assumption) how about, for once in your life, be honest and simply say: “there is not enough data to make a conclusion” or “we can’t say for sure” or “I might make myself guilty of falsehood if I make any claims about this cube” or “I may mislead myself to believe in shit as I cannot know for sure” or “I am a total idiot”.

    Christina – your claim that you have “evidence for God of the courtroom kind” is not only an absurd claim but a flat-out bald-faced lie. Or, most likely, I suspect you have not the foggiest of clues what constitutes “evidence” in the real world.

    But then again, I expect no less from Christians to lie for Jesus. You are simply continuing a grand tradition started early on in the cradle of Christianity.

  8. Oh for fuck's sake!
    October 7th, 2009 @ 10:50 am

    …Oh, and by the way RT, what the fuck is up with typing out a word-for-word transcript of the video, and then again, without describing the visuals? Are your followers that slow that you have to give it to them three times?
    Oh, wait, I now see what you did there. High five!

    No wonder you have no time “to expound on the foundations of your faith”. But thanks anyway.

    I am also starting to think you have forgotten what an atheist is, by the way, by just reading your intro to this. We make no claim about the existence or non-existence of gods. Just keep that in mind, sunshine.

  9. ABC
    October 7th, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

    We make no claim about the existence or non-existence of gods.

    Depends on the kind of atheist. There is a spectrum ranging from weak to strong. Some are atheists because they have never thought about God; some actively disbelieve in God but don’t think His non-existence can be proven by logic; some disbelieve in God and believe that logic can disprove him; others employ a mix of logic and evidence, with some again disbelieving even though they don’t think that either logic and/or evidence conclusively resolves the question.

  10. Porno Lily
    October 7th, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

    @ABC, oh, you are naughty man! You make not claim, eh? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, eh? Same is with me: I make no claim about existence or non-existence of porn. (But psst, look for my movies in the adult section of video store). Yours in Christ, Porno Lily

  11. MK
    October 7th, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

    OFFS,

    You’re argument is idiotic “MK”.

    LOL. As opposed to your brilliant dissertation?

    F***ing argument is F***ing stupid? Oh yeah, like that’s gonna get your point across… *giggle*

    The problem is I DO KNOW…I know that when I walk into a room and there are pancakes and bacon on the table that somebody was cooking. I know that when the phone rings, someone is calling me.

    I know that when I see a cube sitting on the table that somebody must have put it there. I may not know who, but I know it didn’t walk there by itself.

    As to what’s IN the cube. Well, that would be science. The taking apart of what already exists to discover how it works, what it’s made of. But science doesn’t answer the question “Who put it there”. That would be the job of philosophers and theologians.

    So, again, the problem is not that I can’t prove what is in the box, but that I know the box must have come from “somewhere”.

  12. Oh for fuck's sake!
    October 7th, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

    I wonder why RT thought this sorry lot would be an intelligent audience for this video.

    When I walk into a room and smell? A phone rings and someone calls me? Seriously, are you living in trailer park? ALL of these things are real as they can be detected with human senses. Scientists can measure and detect obscenely small things. You can even detect the effect of love and jealousy, before anyone of you idiots bring these old chestnuts out.

    So if they build a building, and this by chance meant that a cube of air exist inside the building, did somebody put it there? Did somebody put a cube of air inside a building? Jeezus Krist. I don’t even get your point. If you even have one.

    Let me see, what is inside the cube? Let ME have a look.

    Fuck me, Porno Lily, you were right!! Damnit. It is FULL of beautiful porn!
    It. Is. Full. Of. Beautiful. Porn. I see it now!

    It is so…beautiful.

    (This is the sort of inane posts this blog deserves. It is devoid of any intellect. Auf wiedersehen!)

  13. maggie
    October 7th, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

    Ah, if only it really is good-bye, offs!

    However, I have little doubt that this exemplar of reason and courtesy will be back. But here’s hoping that I am not only wrong but that he will take that silly oaf, Porno Lily with him.

  14. Pikemann Urge
    October 8th, 2009 @ 5:30 am

    Not a bad video. Exactly how I see spirituality: your experiences are for you, not for me. What’s good for Paul isn’t necessarily good for Peter. Despite Paul’s insistence and possible revision of his own life (got that idea from Dennis Potter’s ‘The Singing Detective’).

    And if we determine that someone must have put the cube there, how can we make the quantum leap to saying that God X (in our case, Jehovah) put it there?

    Christina, it is not Catholicism that is “True”, it seems. It is mystical philosophy that is true, judging by what you wrote. A Sufi or Kabbalist would probably give your post a thumbs-up and continue along their respective ways.

  15. MK
    October 8th, 2009 @ 6:15 am

    Pikeman,

    While OFFS completely missed the point, you got it exactly.
    We cannot know who put it there. Not with any certainty that can be proved.

    But once we agree that the most reasonable explanation is that SOMEONE put it there, we can now begin to look at ways of discerning “WHO” put it there.

    WIthout looking deeply, you’re right. All possibilities are equal. BUT, if we slowly, methodically, look at the bits of evidence that have been collected over the last 6,000 years or so, some “who’s” begin to emerge as more likely than others.

    The three largest religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism…have all come up with the same someone. Even the Kabbalists have the same source. Buddhists don’t really claim to know the identity of the who, they just focus on the “How” to live your life.

    Which leaves us with Hindus, pagans and a few assorted other faiths like scientology, or Latter Day Saints.

    So now we have to ask ourselves, where did they get their ideas of “Who”? The one thing that we all agree on, however, is that there MUST be a “SOMEONE”. At least if you are a reasonable person. It’s quite a leap of faith(lessness) to believe that the cube simply came into being of it’s own accord.

    You could argue that believing in God IS believing that that “Someone” came into existence on “It’s” own accord, but the difference is that we KNOW about cubes. We know that cubes don’t just appear out of nowhere. So it would be unreasonable to think that this one did.

    But we know nothing of the cubes creator. He/She/It is an unknown. Something we have NOT been able to take apart, or dissect…something we have no prior knowledge of. So we can’t say what, if anything, would be reasonable in how “it” came to exist.

  16. MK
    October 8th, 2009 @ 6:23 am

    OFFS,
    I’m sorry you don’t get it. Maybe if you read the posts a couple of times you will understand. If not, that’s okay, we can bring the conversation down a level or two. Not everyone is cut out to have these kinds of discussions.

    I often tell my children to be patient with people that feel it is necessary to use foul language. I explain that these people are not gifted with a large intelligence and try to compensate by using the same four letter word over and over. They don’t know any others, and are not really capable of complex thought. I tell them we should not look down on them, but instead Thank God for our own gift of intelligence. We need to understand that people that use words like that are just trying to make them selves look “bigger” because they feel so small. It must be hard going through life not being able to “keep up”.

    So stick with it. Maybe you’ll learn a few new words and be able to play with the “big boys” someday. ;)

  17. Porno Lily
    October 8th, 2009 @ 8:22 am

    Yes, OFFS, I must agree that you are bad boy for using foul language, such as “auf wiedersehen”, which was also used by Nazis!

    Maggie, I very sorry to see that you must call me bad names. Also, by the way, proper names to be capitalicized always! This is also true in credits of the movies I am seen in.

    OFFS and Pikeman, you really must listen to MK, he explain so well why Christianity is logical: first, you must convince yourself that everything was “made” by someone, then you take majority vote to find out who is that someone. Is logical, do you not see? Maybe analogy from porn business helps: all adult movies are “made” by someone, and if you want to know who is that someone, just ask all your buddies to take vote!

    I wish you can learn to see the beauty of religion! Yours in Christ, Porno Lily

  18. Oh for fuck's sake!
    October 8th, 2009 @ 11:23 am

    Lol, yes Porno Lily.

    Isn’t it hilarious how the video is packed with 10 minutes of insightful, intelligent information and commentary, yet, these retards get stuck into who made the littul pink cube in the beginning!

    Not exactly the reaction that RT was hoping for from his bright little followers here.

    BWHAHAHAHAHA!

  19. MK
    October 8th, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

    PL and OFFS,

    Just keep showin’ off your brilliance. It’s quite entertaining to watch two amateurs go at. Seriously, you should take it on the road. It’s right up there with the three stooges. If only you had a third member to round out the group…

  20. Maggie
    October 8th, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

    I am always right. I knew OFFS would be back. You know, mk, the Russian spammers make more sense than these two clowns. Of course, Porno Lily does not appear to be a native speaker of English, so maybe we can cut him/her/it some slack. On the other hand, OFFS, appears to be fluent in Foul, and very fluent in Low-Class English. I wonder if he is a contributor to the Urban Dictionary?

  21. Oh for fuck's sake!
    October 8th, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

    MAGGGIEEEEE??? WHO. MADE. DE. PINK. CUBE??
    WHO. PUTED. IT. DERE?

    Discuss.

  22. Oh for fuck's sake!
    October 8th, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

    BASIC ASSUMPTIONS
    ———————————-

    First, there is a pink cube.

  23. Porno Lily
    October 8th, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

    MK, I was in movie one time where amateurs went at it! They took it on the road and also they took it everywhere! And there was third member! Am very happy you know my early work!

    Maggie, I truly very sorry for my bad skill with your language. I practice very hard the English, because is the language our Savior spoke! I will pray for more better cutting the slack (am using this idiom rightly?).

    Raving Athiest, could you please solve the riddle now? What was in cube? Was it beautiful porn, or really just old wooden spoon (which would make me very disappointed). Yours in Christ, Porno Lily

  24. Raving Theist
    October 8th, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

    I think it is high time for me to step in and put an end to all this nonsense. I apologise as I cannot censor comments made on my blog.

    It is finally time for me to ‘come clean’.
    The time has come for me to expound upon the foundations of my own faith.

    The truth is, I have come to accept and believe in the existence and beautiful power of the Pink Cube. It is beautifully square and hard, and cannot be popped by a needle as shown in the video. In my home church down the street (St. Thomas the Gardener), we have replaced all those awful wooden crosses with Pink Cubes. Over the pulpit, we have convinced the elders to even replace that cross with a massive, large Pink Cube. I get a tear in my eye every time I see it.

    I know in my heart this is not exactly what all of you have been waiting for all these months. However, with time, you will see the perfection of the Pink Cube, and accept it in your heart as the only truth. You can easily go through the entire Bible and simply substitute the word ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ with the words ‘The Pink Cube’. The symmetry and beauty of the text makes so much more sense this way.

    In time, I promise to expound further upon the foundations of my own faith in the Pink Cube. For now, I first have to re-type this three times for my loving friends here to fully understand and embrace.

    Yours lovingly in The Cube,
    Raving Theist.

  25. MK
    October 8th, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

    Maggie,

    Lol. I think OFFS is a community organizer.
    As for Porno Lily…too bizarre for words.

    Thing is Maggie, you and I can always click off the site, but they have to wake up with themselves every morning. No escape. It’s a pity too, because this is actually a really good place to have serious discussions. Pikeman Urge is a great example.

  26. Raving Theist
    October 8th, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

    MK, you are absolutely correct, but don’t be too hard on them. The Pink Cube has taught us to forgive, forget and open our hearts to others.

    I have also learnt in time, that there exist, alongside the Pink Cube, a dark, evil Black Cube. These pranksters are controlled and influenced by the dark forces of the Black Cube.

    And OFFS and Porno Lily actually have beautiful souls, they must just open their hearts to the Pink Cube. When you accept The Pink Cube in your life, there will be no need for them to wake up with only themselves anymore. The Pink Cube attracts others of beautiful souls and physical form of the female kind; hence even these lost souls may one day wake up with others at their side. Such is the wonderful power of The Pink Cube.

    If anyone here doubt my convictions (or think this is some sort of cruel joke) – the clue is at the end of the video I have posted. ;-)

    Yours lovingly in The Pink Cube,
    Raving Theist

  27. maggie
    October 8th, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

    Forget the cube, err Cube. A real miracle has just occurred–one I never thought I would live to see. The Raving Theist has spoken! The Raving Theist has revealed himself to his believers and doubters!

    Sit vis vobiscum.:0 Or something like that.

  28. maggie
    October 8th, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

    Oops. Didn’t see this:

    Maggie, I truly very sorry for my bad skill with your language. I practice very hard the English, because is the language our Savior spoke! I will pray for more better cutting the slack (am using this idiom rightly?).

    I am afraid you are mistaken. Our Lord spoke Latin. However, I am willing to cut you some slack because you have been too busy making movies to have thought about this deeply. (to cut someone slack=to give someone the benefit of the doubt; to be less critical of someone)

    Difficile est saturam non scribere.

  29. MK
    October 9th, 2009 @ 5:46 am

    OFFS,

    You’re too much. Impersonating a person with intelligence, does NOT make YOU intelligent.

    Sit vis vobiscum

    And also with you… ;)

    Quidquid latine dictum sit altum viditur

  30. Porno Lily
    October 9th, 2009 @ 7:32 am

    MK, you are such great thinker! I read your blog and the Lord FILLING me up good! You inspire me to start own my blog (in adult movie business, women cannot work to old ages, so is good to have second line of business):

    http://pornolily.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-first-praise-to-lord.html

    Post coitum omne animal triste est sive gallus et mulier!

  31. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 9th, 2009 @ 9:05 am

    MK,

    It is interesting that you would call Raving Theist “intelligent”.

    Few of your ilk used to call him that when he was The Raving Atheist. Funny, isn’t it?

    Does it matter though?

    I thought someone like Francis Collins would give us an “intelligent” reason for being a Kristian. Yet, his reasons are as fucking inane and infantile as we would get from any red-neck Kristian. It is astonishing how unimpressed we always are when we are able to even find a so-called intelligent Kristian.

    So when Raving Theist finally (after how many months and how many posts) eveeentually get to tell us why he has become a Christard, we are all fully prepared to be explosively underwhelmed. (So, maybe he just shouldn’t bother.)

    Despite that, we shall put it onto a proper forum like ravingatheists.com for…shall we say…a more rigorous peer-review than what he is likely to get from this little prayer-group.

  32. Maggie
    October 9th, 2009 @ 9:31 am

    Oh, heaven give me strength! This puerile, venom-spewing philistine disses Francis Collins! Do you have even 1/75 as many scholarly accomplishments as he? Does anyone in the scholarly world know your name? If so, you can undoubtedly cite the journals in which I will find the disproof of God, properly peer-reviewed, data and methology laid out so that others can replicate those findings, right? Lemme see, will it be found in the Journal of the American Chemical Society? Letters in mathematical physics? Physica. B, Condensed matter? Living Reviews in Solar Physics? Science? Wait! I know! It’s in Microbiology and molecular biology reviews? No? Oh, I know, I know! It is in Evolution & development Duh!

    I eagerly await the exact citation so that I can read up on the proof that there is no God and acknowledge how foolish my beliefs are.

  33. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 9th, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    Maggie, you are a fucking idiot. You have no clue what a fucking atheist is.

    So here it is:

    WE MAKE NO CLAIM THAT NO GODS EXIST!!
    ————————————-

    Repeat after me:

    WE MAKE NO CLAIM THAT NO GODS EXIST!!
    ————————————-

    DO YOU FUCKING GET IT? We lack a god-belief. It is as simple as that. Can you see it is not the same??
    We needn’t offer ANY proof of our non-belief. Gettit? Only when you CLAIM something do you need to PROOF something. Bloody hell.

    My point (which obviously went right over your hippo-head) is that Francis Collins is a highly respected scientist in his field. Yet, despite his rigorous application of scientific method in his professional life, he offers us none of the same to show us why being a Kristian can be intelligently motivated. So, *OUTSIDE* his field, he is just another dim-witted Kristian offering us the beauty of a waterfall as his reasoning for the existence of a God.

    If I have time, I will re-type this for you three times so that (hopefully) you will get it.

    DUH!

  34. Maggie
    October 9th, 2009 @ 10:52 am

    If I were you, offs, I would not be so quick to spew. I know very well what an atheist is. What I tried to tell you, and it went over your head, is that I don’t give a flying fig about your non-beliefs and your obscene attempts to insult us. Until you can prove that there is no God, spare us your ranting and your impotent challenges. We aren’t interested.

  35. Porno Lily
    October 9th, 2009 @ 11:28 am

    Maggie, I must tell that I admire the way you use your native tongue! “Puerile, venom-spewing philistine”, this is very good phrase I will going to put to my memory, is exactly right for bad boys like OFFS.

    OFFS, why you do not understand that YOU must proof the NON-existence of G-D? We Christians have feeled presence of the Lord many times. As Moses says “to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand” (Exodus 17:9). (I was once in movie that had a scene was very similar to this).

    Also, we know that G-D he exist, because otherwise, who could make pink cube? Still, I hear no answer.

  36. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 9th, 2009 @ 11:38 am

    My little Maggie,

    Just in case you forgot, you are a fucking idiot. And your post proves it. One day, when you leave school you will understand these diffikult things.

    You responded to my post about intelligence and Francis Collins. AFTER you asked me for proof that god(s) don’t exist you now suddenly claim to know what an atheist is. And then you, (giggle) you ask me AGAIN for proof that Gods don’t exist. Are you confused? Is it too early for you?

    Just for fun, in your beautiful, lovely world, how do you prove a negative? How do you prove fairies don’t exist? Do you also believe in all sorts of bullshit until somebody proves that it doesn’t exist? Is that how you live your life? Cute. You’re the ideal Kristian.

    Your solidification is no surprise to me. Why don’t we do the CRAAAZZYYY thing and ask the person (YOU) who made the claim, to prove that God exist. See, Maggie Twinkle-toes, that is how the grown-up world works. You make a claim, you back it up.

    Ah, but of course, you will take the idiot’s high-ground. You will now respond to say that you don’t need to prove anything to me or anybody else. You just knowwwww in your little heart that Jesus exist.

    Embarrassing.

  37. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 9th, 2009 @ 11:46 am

    Very funny Porno Lily.

    If only resident idiot Maggie actually knew anything about the real history of the “Philistines” she would think twice before using it in the off-handed vitriolic way she did.

  38. Maggie
    October 9th, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

    Let me spell it out for you, offs. Your disbelief (or if you *really* want to insist on the tedious “an atheist lacks belief in a god or gods”) and our beliefs are on much the same level. You cannot prove that God does not exist and we cannot prove that God does exist. If you were slightly less hysterical and obscene, it might be possible to discuss which of us can make a stronger argument for his/her position. But you are only interested in trolling. I do so hope you tire of it soon. You are a nuisance.

  39. Richard Norris
    October 9th, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

    Wow. I stop by to see what’s going on here at the site and I see this trainwreck of a thread. As an atheist myself, I am going to have to say that the video is awful, but even worse are the comments of the people using the same descriptor for themselves that I do. Seriously, if this site causes you so much frustration and agravation, bloody well leave it be! You can comment on the fact that random chance is a sufficient possibility for the existence of the universe without trying to club the believers here over the head with profanity and rudeness.

  40. MK
    October 9th, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    Maggie,

    I eagerly await the exact citation so that I can read up on the proof that there is no God and acknowledge how foolish my beliefs are.

    I’m thinking Mad Magazine/Spy vs Spy…?

  41. MK
    October 9th, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

    Just in case you forgot, you are a fucking idiot. And your post proves it. One day, when you leave school you will understand these diffikult things.

    LOLOLOL…You mean, as opposed to one day when you are old enough to finally GO TO SCHOOL???? Ohmyohmyohmy, my side hurts.

    Here try this one on…We Christians don’t believe in God. We just don’t believe that God doesn’t exist. So we don’t have to prove anything, because we don’t have to prove a negative!

    Good Lord, you are priceless.

    I won’t even bother explaining to you yet again, *sigh*, that you cannot prove something scientifically that is not of the physical world. That is the job of Philosophy and Theology.

    Do you use a stethoscope to check your cars heartbeat? A magnifying glass to eat your soup? A shoehorn to comb your hair?

    You use science to answer questions that apply to science. You use philosopy and theology to answer questions that apply to philosophy and religion.

    Physical to prove physical.
    NOT physical to prove metaphysical.

  42. MK
    October 9th, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

    OFFS,’

    See, Maggie Twinkle-toes, that is how the grown-up world works. You make a claim, you back it up.

    How would you possibly know WHAT grown ups do? Have you ever met one? From your behavior and communication skills, I’d guess that other than your preschool teacher, you’ve never met anyone over the age of 14! I’m dyin’ here. This is just too easy!

  43. MK
    October 9th, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

    Richard Norris,

    You rock!

  44. Maggie
    October 9th, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

    “We just don’t believe that God doesn’t exist” LOL! Wow, mk. You almost got testy with our troll! I didn’t think you had it in you. Of course,with all those sons, I don’t imagine that the testosterone fueled ravings of an unhappy adolescent can be unknown to you. In fact, I rather imagine you could have a blighter like offs for lunch, if you really wanted to.

    Richard, thank you for your eminently sane contribution to troll control.

  45. Prono Lily
    October 10th, 2009 @ 1:32 am

    MK, I want to tell Thank You for the beautiful riddles! “Do you use a stethoscope to check your cars heartbeat?” I think solution is no, because the Wikipedia say “Less commonly, “mechanic’s stethoscopes” are used to listen to internal sounds made by machines” so if is less common, I think this mean “No”. “A magnifying glass to eat your soup?” I think again is no! Magnifying glass is use by car mechanic for checking heartbeat of the car, no? “A shoehorn to comb your hair?” Oh, you naughty man, I think you saw adult movie I made, where shoehorn played important part but not for the combing of hair!

  46. Porno Lily
    October 10th, 2009 @ 1:34 am

    Richard Norris, thank you for defend the Jesus! You are good Christian man, but more cutting the slack for bad language. (Maggie, I learned this rightly?) Bad words not a problem for G-D: “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (4 Corinthians 1:20)!

  47. Porno Lily
    October 10th, 2009 @ 1:35 am

    MK, you are Christian but not believing in the G-D? That make me very sad! Also, I do not think G-D is negative! He very positive influence in my life! Do not loosing your faith! “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (4 Corinthians 1:21)! I think better you come unto me with your rod, because I am sure is very strong. So please not to use the spirit of meekness for being sad that OFFS is such puerile, venom-spewing philistine!

  48. Porno Lily
    October 10th, 2009 @ 1:39 am

    OFFS, why you do keeps spewing the venom? Existance of G-D is non-scientific: “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23). Why you do not understand that science cannot prove non-scientific argument? Non-scientific argument reserved strictly for Theology and Philosophy.

  49. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 10th, 2009 @ 2:05 am

    Ok MK, I will bite.

    I beg of your forgiveness. You are a smart man. You will answer plenty of dumb questions.
    Assume then that I am 14 years of age (if that will help you). This means I am in need of an edukation. You also use words I cannot understand. They are too big for me. Help me. Please.

    1) What is “not in the physical world”? I have no idea what you are talking about. Where is that? Have you experienced it? How do we prove it with theology and philosophy? (These are your words) Has it been proven then? What is in this “non-physical world”? Have you seen it? What is it made of? What is different about that world to this one? How do you know?

    2) What is this thing “God”? I know this is a smaller word, but I don’t know what it is. What is it made of? Where does it live? What does it do? How? Have you seen it? Why not? Is it human? If not, what is it? Does it breathe? Eat? Breed? Does it make love? If it is not human, what is it?

  50. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 10th, 2009 @ 2:31 am

    3) If science can not “prove” the “non-physical world” can we at least detect it? Somehow? Does it influence us? Do we influence it? If not, does it matter? If not, what is its purpose, if any?

    4) If you are going to use another big word to explain all of these diffikult konsepts like spirit, or spiritual you need to explain this to me too. What is it? Where is it? What is it made of?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    As a 14 year old, I find it kinda funny you grown-ups make fun of me, yet it is you who believe in talking snakes, big wooden boats with animals inside, parting seas, 10 magik plagues, food falling from the air, the sun standing still, men walking on water, zombies rising from graves, virgin births, stars standing still in the skies, water turning into wine, dead people becomming alive again, magik tricks feeding 5000 with two fish, heaven, hell, angels, demons, talking with gods with your eyes closed, and imagining that there is a super-being looking after me every day!

    Wow! That is SO cool. I wish I can play-play these things too!

  51. Pikemann Urge
    October 10th, 2009 @ 5:19 am

    Richard, I am not an atheist (but not a Christian either, obviously) and I thought the video made valid points (at least in themselves).

    OFFS, it isn’t the miracle stories that bother me (and why should they?) but rather, it’s the hallmarks of anthropogenesis in the Bible which eventually made me realize that no matter what its value, the Bible is by no means evidence of ‘the one, true faith’. By all means let Jesus save man. But he isn’t the only one, if there are any to begin with.

  52. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 10th, 2009 @ 5:48 am

    Pike,

    I wouldn’t mess with Richard if I were you. Have you not heard of his famous cousin??
    Have you no fear??

  53. MK
    October 10th, 2009 @ 7:45 am

    Hey Pike,

    Nice to see you and Richard. I was beginning to feel like Alice. Mad Tea Party and all…

    OFFS,

    When discussing things NOT of this world, we use “reason”. Meaning we attempt to discern if something that we don’t know, can be known with any probability.

    We look at what we DO know, and try to use it to deduce answers about what we DON’T know.

    Take your cube. We cannot know beyond a shadow of a doubt how the cube got to where it is, either in the short term or the long. BUT, we can know from experience that it is MUCH more PROBABLE that it was placed there by someone. because in our own experience, this is how things get from one place to another. Maybe the wind blew it. Maybe it was dropped from the sky. But in the end we can know, from the rest of the world, that at some point some intelligent someone or thing, had a hand in creating and getting it to where it is.

    Now, if we were to find a manual somewhere, especially somewhere close to where we found the cube, we could read that manual and draw the conclusion that it is PROBABLE that this manual was written by either the cubes creator or someone with an intimate knowledge of the cube’s creator.

    We could look at whether the manual says “I” took cardboard, or whether the manual says “the cardboard”. We could date the manual, and date the cube. We could take fingerprints. Whatever we did, we could come up with a reasonable scenario for how the cube came into being and if not “Who” made it, that “Someone” most likely did.

    Through reason.

    This is what we use in Theology and Philosophy. Reason, and probability.

  54. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 10th, 2009 @ 8:35 am

    MK,

    What is “NOT of this world”? Again, you use words I do not understand. Do you?

    I understand using “reason” as a way to ‘theorise’ about things we don’t know. However, bringing us back to what we are really discussing here, the God issue, heaven hell, etc. these are things we have no experience with.
    You have no point of reference to apply experience or ‘reason’ to.

    How can you possibly apply ‘reason’ to concepts that from my point of view are ‘nonsensical’, and hence de-facto meaningless to start out with. It is similar to use ‘reason’ to theorise about the existence of a bed made of sleep. Or cats made of airports.

    By using a cardboard cube and its creator as an example is not applicable in this case. I know what a cube is, and I know what cardboard is. But I don’t know what an angel is. Or a devil. Or a god. Or a non-physical world.

    You are in essence trying to use a supposedly “reason’-based methodology to wholly ‘unreasonable’ or nonsensical concepts.

    How can you reason to estimate probability to things like Heaven, Hell, God, non-physical world, not of this world, spiritual, if I have no clue what these words mean. Seriously, I have no clue what you mean by using these words.

    After all of that, IF you were able to define these concepts to the satisfaction of yourself and your audience, AND you have somehow used reason to apply probability to
    the existence of such things, you still cannot claim it to be true. At best you may say, ‘God probably exist’.

    However, this is NOT what Christians do. They claim it to be absolutely true. THIS is why I take Christians on in the way I do. They make themselves guilty of falsehood by doing this. Or, as OFFS would say, they are first-class bullshitters. Can you see the nobility in what I do? Sort of?

  55. Porno Lily
    October 10th, 2009 @ 8:44 am

    Yes, OFFS, why you do not understand power of reason? IF we find cube and IF we find manual for cube, then we know that cube must be made by someone and manual also made by someone! Is reasonable and probable, no? Also, manual MUST be made by someone who know about the cube and the maker of cube. Because if you don’t know maker of something then you cannot write book about this something, do you not see? Is improbably. This reasoning of arguments is call Theology and Philosophy.

    MK, if you feel like “Alice” this ok! I once acted in adult movie with many mens who feel like womans. I will say no more, but I give you hint: was very confusing, everyone making out with everyone.

  56. Maggie
    October 10th, 2009 @ 9:31 am

    Porno Lily, do you have hands?

  57. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 10th, 2009 @ 9:52 am

    LOL Porno Lily.

    You think THAT is confusing.

    I tried what The Great Raving Theist suggested for us to do by ‘substituting virtually any word in the narrative of the video with the word “God”‘.

    Sweet Methuselah.
    It is a garbled mess! I makes no sense! None, I tell you None! It is driving me crazy!
    I then tried it with the word “Quetzalcoatl” and NOW it makes perfect sense. It is amazing!

  58. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 10th, 2009 @ 9:55 am

    Now Maggie, you know it is impolite to ask if someone has hands if you have no head.

  59. MK
    October 10th, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

    OFFS,

    We know the universe exists. We can see it. So it is reasonable to assume, since we know this is the way that the universe works, that the universe MOST probably came from “somewhere/someone”.

    We have precedence for things coming from somewhere, but we NO precedence of things coming from nowhere.

    Which is more reasonable to believe? Which is more probable? The the universe simply ‘popped” into existence? Or that someone put it there? That it is randomly ordered? Or orderly ordered?

    Can you show me another circumstance where something came from nothing? or where something was meticulously ordered, that wasn’t created by “someone”? This is why the “watch” is such a good analogy.

    Christians do not “Know” that God exists the same way we know that we exist. They believe that God exists. In a very personal way, they “know” that He exists, because we DO experience Him. But that is very subjective. For obvious reasons, we cannot prove empirically that He is there. But we CAN “KNOW” in our hearts that He is. That is enough for us, yes. And for our audience. It is not enough for you, and I concede, that to you, we only believe.

    Far greater minds than I, have laid out the reasons for this belief. Read Aquinas. Read Augustine. Ask Lily (not Porno).

  60. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 10th, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

    Jeez MK, even I, a 14 year old girl knows that particle physicist Victor J. Stenger has shown that in a vacuum, pairs of electrons and positrons can and do materialize from nothing and then disappear back into nothing.

    I must say your baseless claim that our universe must have came from “somewhere or someone” shows a gross over-reaching and misunderstanding of current (easily available) scientific knowledge of the universe. I suggest a bit of Hawking, Stenger etc.
    However that may be, science fully acknowledges that there will always be boundaries to what we will know for sure. A simple “we don’t know (yet)” suffice in these cases.
    Is that so difficult for you to do? Just say, “I don’t know”?

    The description you have given me of somebody being sure (KNOW in their HEARTS) regardless (and sometimes despite) evidence to the contrary is called, a delusion. Plain and simple.
    You, MK, will apply this standard to any other crazy idea and person, from Hitler to Charles Manson to the pilots who flew into the Twin Towers. Yet, you, and society will revere a person if these delusions are (as crazy) Christian based. Double standard?

    MK, it is no use to refer me to the theology of Aquinas or Augustine or anybody else for that matter. (Who is Lily?)
    What you regard as a grand academic achievement or body of ‘knowledge’ is from my point of view nothing more that the glorious creative imagination process of the human mind. There: that is theology for you in one sentence.

    We have the unique ability to take something that is total myth, and apply our wonderful, creative and clever minds to fabricate and construct the most elaborate and ornate pseudo-academic frameworks around it, just for it to make a bit of sense.
    We have been doing this since we have developed the ability to think, write, and fantasize. We have applied this process to most of the 5000 or so gods mankind have invented since the dawn of time. We are doing this to this day at Star Trek conventions and Catholic seminaries around the globe.

  61. Maggie
    October 10th, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

    OFFS– Are you aware that “big bang” cosmology met with stiff resistance in the scientific community? In fact, it was Hoyle who coined the term “Big Bang” as a term of derision and proposed his steady state cosmology to get around it. He saw, as did others, what the implications of a universe that had a definite beginning were. To this day, the attempts to get around that can be down right comical (as with the fairy tale of “multiverses”). Some, of course, are legitimate attempts to answer the questions big bang raises. But you might pause to ask yourself what the scientific community was afraid of.

    You clearly have not read Aristotle or you would understand how he reasoned to an unmoved mover or a first cause. That foundation was rather brilliantly built on by Thomas Aquinas, whom you have also not read. That is a serious gap in your education that disqualifies you from taking part in a serious discussion of the logical arguments you would need to master to prove that it is not logical to postulate God. You are then left with what the majority of mankind has been left with– a search for evidence. We would never get very far, if we had to depend on the natural world. We don’t. God has spoken to us through Jesus. We have a number of accounts of him, his death and Resurrection, attested by a number of authors in different times and different places. Thus we have historical evidence to weigh– and the historical evidence is quite strong. Apply the usual standards of historical research to the New Testament and … oops! You have a very well-attested account of some rather remarkable events to explain or explain away.

    Of course, the majority of believers have never read Aristotle or Aquinas either. They have listened and weighed what they have heard or been taught and concluded that it is true. Why? Have you ever asked? You appeal to Hawking but he does not share your simplistic acceptance of well what? Nothing? He wrote:

    “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the question of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.”

    You take the easy way out by not thinking about these things. What compelling evidence do you have that the physical universe is all that exists and nothing else? Do you have some empirical evidence for that proposition or a logical argument for it? Why should a universe that just “is” run (or seem to run) according to laws that we can understand and describe in the language of mathematics? Why do you take for granted what is a staggering mystery– that the universe can be comprehended by humans? When you have good answers to these questions, there are plenty more for you to deal with.

  62. MK
    October 10th, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

    MaggieMyLove,

    You should have been on that list. *CHEERS* The crowd roars.

    OFFS,

    For the record, by “other worldly” I mean things that cannot be known in this world…our world. That might include Galaxies so far from us that we cannot discern them, or things in a different dimension, or on another plane. It is my understanding that the word metaphysical does not really mean other than physical but that which contains EVERYTHING, whether physical or mental or spiritual. The WHOLE enchilada so to speak.

    Also, I am so happy you decided to drop the snarky adolescent routine and embark on a real discussion. Kudos to you. I knew you had it in you. I also know that you aren’t really fourteen, but were just playing one on TV. Truce?

  63. MK
    October 10th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    OFFS,

    We have been doing this since we have developed the ability to think, write, and fantasize.

    How do you “know” this?

    The description you have given me of somebody being sure (KNOW in their HEARTS) regardless (and sometimes despite) evidence to the contrary is called, a delusion.

    But wasn’t that your point? That you don’t HAVE to give evidence to the contrary because you aren’t making any claim? What evidence is there that there is no “other”? How does this make me delusional?

    We have 6,000 years of Jewish history…much of which can be archeologically verified. We have the books of the New Testament, which as Maggie pointed out, were written by MANY different people, in different places, at different times. We have historical evidence that the man named Jesus DID exist.

    Sure, people from the beginning of time have been trying to “fill in the blanks”. But they didn’t have scripture. They didn’t have ANY answers. Little by little things have been revealed to us. Not everything. You are right that man has been trying to find answers. At different points in time, they very well might have simply made things up, much the way we speak of angels bowling when it thunders or the “man” in the moon. The allegories might have been off, but from time immemorial, the questions and desire to know, have remained the same.

    Why? Why does man continue to desire to know?

  64. Maggie
    October 10th, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    LOL, mk. It would make almost as much sense to award me the Nobel Peace Prize for smiting heathens online as to reckon me amongst the olympian intellects like Aristotle, Aquinas, Lily, et al. I am not worthy! ;)

  65. OneSTDV
    October 10th, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

    I still can’t get over the fact that RA is now RT. What the hell? I read this blog religiously for a long time, enjoying his daily skewering of religious belief.

    How the hell does this happen? I still don’t think RA/RT has provided a suitable explanation of his conversion.

    You can still be an atheist and a conservative (even pro-life). At my blog, there’s a large collection of highly conservative, intellectual, Darwinian secularists.

  66. Pikemann Urge
    October 10th, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

    OFFS, I have neither faith nor fear!! And about that proverbial 14 year-old girl: you are talking about virtual particles, right?

    Maggie, not all the universe can be comprehended by humans. We can’t visualize more than 3 dimensions. We don’t know what nothing is. We don’t have any idea what particles look like (if that is even legitimate to say).

    MK, I don’t know what kind of archaeology you’re reading but there’s nothing that I know of that solidifies the OT to a significant degree.

    One STDV, I suppose RT will explain his POV one day. I’m very curious so I’m looking forward to it. And you make a good point: the socio-political spectrum is multi-dimensional. There are no ‘rules’ for being a liberal or conservative or moderate or radical or whatever.

    Christopher Hitchens can support the Iraq invasion if he wishes – he cannot be obliged by his liberal peers to toe the line. He’s wrong, but he has the right to think as he pleases.

  67. Maggie
    October 10th, 2009 @ 9:35 pm

    Pikeman– Your cautions are very right but I am probably not the one who needs to be reminded. If I had a dollar for every atheist who has told me that I believe in a God of the gaps and that science will explain everything some day, I could retire a rich woman. Of course, one doesn’t often find that sort of scientism among real scientists but most atheists aren’t real scientists. Hence their absolute faith that science has or shortly will explain everything.

    OneSTDV, people convert for all sorts of reasons. Frankly, everyone’s story is different. If you want to get a sense of it, you might read some spiritual autobiographies like the classic Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, Surprised by Joy by CS Lewis and, of course the earliest (and probably one of the most amazing ever written) St. Augustine’s Confessions.

    Of course, if you have any friends who are adult converts, you might speak to them.

  68. Porno Lily
    October 11th, 2009 @ 4:45 am

    Maggie, I think you are little bit naughty for ask me if I have hands. You have obviously seen adult movie I am appear in where I use mostly mouth and sometimes feet. Am happy you like my work! Also, I think is right what you say in comment number 67: if many people tell you something, it must has to surely be wrong (except in case of majority vote for G-D, but this is obvious, no?). I am so happy I meet smart woman like you, and finally you have lerned to capitalicise your name, so you learn from me, I learn from you, no?

    OFFS, why you do not listen to MK? He tell you every logic of Christianity but simply you will not learn. We know universe exist, yes? We have precedence for fact that if something exist, it must come from someone/somewhere. There is not any exception to this (except G-D, but this is obvious, no?). Therefore, universe must come from somewhere/someone, and MK already tell you that majority vote decide that this someone is G-D! You must read more deeply Aristotle, who is cutting edge researcher!

  69. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 11th, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    LOL Porno Lily,

    I think you like learning from Maggie, because the two of you may be far-off sisters! Her second name just may be Lily too. This is why you like her so much! That’s so hot.

    Funny thing, as a 14 year old girl they want me to read Aristotle first to be able to become a Kristian. That’s quite a task! I was sure there is an easier way to convert lost sheep like me. Now I have to read Aristotle! Imagine that, me, a 14 year old! Is this how they recruit new Kristians? The marketing department suck!

    It is also funny because they bring this Unmoved Mover argument to the fight which they should know has been comprehensively disproved by scientists on a practical level and even more comprehensively as a philosophical concept as a logical fallacy. My uncle says for them to do this is like bringing a pen-knife to a gun fight. The only people ever satisfied with that argument is – get this – already Kristians! Nobody else accepts it. That so funny. My dirty uncle, he is so funny.

    I have just read the back-cover of Aristotle’s novel (in soft cover) and it says here that Aristotle used to put a lot of emphasis on the correct meaning and definition of words, and used to require his students to do this properly. Funny that I am amongst grown-up Kristians who loooovvvee Aristotle, yet none of them have been able to tell me anything what god means or define him. It is so funny that uncle MK and Maggie Hippopotamus just keep rambling on, and I have no klue what they mean. That’s not fair!!

    See MK, Maggie, I believe in the great kfhduhgf. He lives in fhhiyuffwdwe. His characteristics are iforcfncnx, fds, ferfref, and cfrrrtess. He is made of vfgupidxd and crcresw materials. Do you fucking get it? I have no clue what you mean by the word god, angels, demons, spirits, miracles, heaven and hell.

    So, before I can rap with you, where does God live? What is it made of? Does it eat? Does it breed? Does it like ice-cream? Is it humanoid? Why can’t we find him? Is he shy? Why can’t we detect him? Does he live on another planet? In the sky? Does it breathe air? Does it own sunglasses? How does it communicate with you? And how do you communicate with it? How does “prayer” work? Where’s my spirit? In which part of my sexy body does is it? What will happen to you when you die?

    I have thought about it (in my little 14-year old mind) and I have realised I have the proof to disprove this god-thing in one sentence! Yes!
    And all you grown-ups will become atheists.
    But to do that I need to know what I am supposed to disprove. So if you don’t mind, since you LOVE, KNOW, REVERE, and READ about It, please let me know.
    Oh, by the way, don’t be naughty now and give me silly human-like qualities like “love”, “justice”, “father”, or that crazy “all-knowing”, “all present” bullshit, because you know as I do those are logically impossible and / or false (The Bible is my witness). I love using the bible against Kristians. They HATE it when I quote the Bible.

    Oh, yes, the Old Testament / New Testament archaeology and historicity thingy. It is soooo cute you bring this up. Last year, and the year before, and the year before, my uncle took me to Israel. We had a lot of fun. But my uncle went to see all these other grown-ups at universities and archaeological sites. I tagged along. And I was so interested in finding all the evidence for any or all the exciting and cool Bible stories, but….none of it exists! None!! Boy was I peeved!! One of the professors told my uncle that the tour busses will gladly show you all the amazing Old Testament stuff as well as Jesus-land, but sadly, they don’t have any evidence of the Bible. In fact it CONTRADICTS the Bible. I was a bit pissed and quickly became bored after that. I KNEW I should’ve stayed in the hotel in Jerusalem!
    Next to the pool you know, with my IPod. One day at the pool I met this creepy bearded guy who said he was a Jewish historian. And he says, even though Jesus MIGHT have been a real dude, NOTHING else of the story is true! And they should know, they lived there! LOL. They say Paul was a bullshitter who just wanted to become famous by starting a new religion. I don’t believe him though. Tentmakers are honest poeple!

    I then slapped him because he wanted to see what I looked like without my bikini on! Can you believe it??!

  70. Maggie
    October 11th, 2009 @ 9:37 am

    So much cyber ink spilled in order to say nothing. Children really should be seen and not heard.

    Porno Lily– are you Chinese?

  71. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 11th, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    Maggie…are…you…giving…up…on me? :-(
    I soooo wanted to believe. Really, really, really!

    Funny again, that you call me a child, yet you believe in
    talking snakes, big wooden boats with animals inside, parting seas, 10 magik plagues, food falling from the air, the sun standing still, giants, super-strong men, men walking on water, zombies rising from graves, virgin births, stars standing still in the skies, water turning into wine, dead people becomming alive again, magik tricks feeding 5000 with two fish, heaven, hell, angels, demons, talking with gods with your eyes closed, and imagining that there is a super-being looking after you every day! :-D

    Stoopid grown up.

  72. Vince
    October 11th, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

    I am so sick and tired of all the ontology FFS, does “G” word exist or not???!! ‘S all I wanna know….

  73. MK
    October 11th, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

    Quite honestly OFFS,

    You have become kind of tedious. I think I’ll bow out. I love a serious discussion, and I’ll put up with a lot of adolescent nonsense to get to one. But quite frankly? You’re not really good at this. There’s not much of a challenge, and I’ve become rather bored.

    Sorry Maggie, Pikeman and Richard…you guys are on your own. I have much more pressing business…like clipping my nails or watching the grass grow…

    Good Luck OFFS.

  74. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 11th, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

    Awwww, noo MK! :-o

    I am not good at what?

    Pretending?
    Playing along?
    Play make-believe?
    Indulging in your fantasy?

    Aw, gee, the Great MK predictably does what all Kristians do when we get them in a corner by asking them what god is. Then they pretend to be all angry, frustrated and stomp off in a huff. Text book case.

    Ok, ok, MK, let’s have a *serious*, *grown-up* discussion about:

    talking snakes, big wooden boats with animals inside, parting seas, 10 magik plagues, food falling from the air, the sun standing still, giants, super-strong men, men walking on water, zombies rising from graves, virgin births, stars standing still in the skies, water turning into wine, dead people becomming alive again, magik tricks feeding 5000 with two fish, heaven, hell, angels, demons, talking with gods with your eyes closed, and imagining that there is a super-being looking after you every day!

    Come baaacckk MK! Don’t be scared! I am only a 14-year old girl! You must have had stiffer opposition before, surely!

  75. MK
    October 11th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    Not good at sarcasm. Not good at insults. Not good at arrogance. Mostly your just annoying. I even complimented you earlier on your apparent sincerity.

    My bad.

    I’m not leaving because I can’t answer, I’m leaving because you are a waste of my time. I only joust with worthy opponents. Sorry. Maybe next time. Not.

  76. Raving Theist
    October 11th, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

    As official referee here, I hereby (reluctantly) declare
    2-0 to the 14-year old girl. It seems MK has lost (or withdrawn) due to injury to his ego.

    Come on team! The two of you is all I got!
    You are letting me down!

  77. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 11th, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    MK, my wonderful man! I knew I could count on you to be back! All Kristians do this too. Pretend to go, and then return to remind us they are going now. Cute. Never knew you were a text-book case did you, you dirty old man! ;-)

    And funny, you say the exact same thing the 12-year old boys say at my school when they have had their asses handed to them:

    “I’m not leaving because I can’t answer” :-D :-D :-D

    Classic, priceless and sooo predictable!
    We belieeeeve you MK! Really!

  78. maggie
    October 11th, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

    What on earth are you talking about, RT? Since when does it make sense to argue with time-wasters, much less an anonymous troll? It is one thing to to try to get through to the people around one in real life but quite another to allow some preposterous excuse like offs to waste one’s time online. I go online for my amusement and no one else’s. MK has her reasons but neither of us has enough years of life left to waste them.

    This clown, when challenged with real questions, failed to answer a single one, opting to spew the usual nonsense about “talking snakes, big wooden boats with animals inside, parting seas, 10 magik plagues, food falling from the air, the sun standing still, giants, super-strong men, men walking on water, zombies rising from graves.” He has had several chances to show that he could engage in adult conversation. He failed.

    If you think he is worth arguing with, have at it.

  79. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 12th, 2009 @ 4:45 am

    Maggie it is getting boring to call you an idiot. So I will just call you, and MK, downright pathetic.

    You are so crawled up in the ass of your ridiculous religion, you do not even realise the magnitude of your infantile fantasy. I have asked, VERY POLITELY, BEFORE I can continue a *conversation* that I need to know what the hell you are talking about!!! So I will gladly answer your *questions* (wait why am I asking the questions? surely I should be asking YOU the questions!), but I need to understand your funny words.

    IS THAT SO DIFFICULT TO GRASP!!?? You cannot be THAT thick can you?

    WHAT
    IS
    A
    “GOD”????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    However, I know my efforts will be in vain to get an answer to this basic question. It is always met in textbook fashion – refer to posts above.

    Wanna see more examples of crafty, squirming side-stepping? Watch the following responses. LOL.
    OR – they will say (in between sobs) that whatever description they give I will challenge. You bet I will. No bullshit allowed. No logical contradictions. And don’t contradict your own Bible with your silly anthropomorphic descriptors. Kay?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I have learnt over many, many years why you never engage in answering this question. It is simple.

    It erodes any intellectual integrity you may have in these debates. It is all great to be haughty when discussing CS Lewis, or the cosmological argument, but this embarrassing question pulls the grown-up, intellectual carpet straight from under you feet. It forces you to become all “esoteric” and a little illogical, a little irrational, a little silly, and even your infected brains HATE doing this.

    Especially when you are talking to a 14 year old girl.

  80. MK
    October 12th, 2009 @ 6:24 am

    Maggie,
    Raving Atheist (this time) is OFFS. Trust me, there can’t be two of them.

    OFFS,

    Puhlease…

    Your argument: Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah..I don’t believe in Goooooood…you caaaaan”t make me. I know you are but what am I? You’re a big fat stuuuuupid. I’m smaaaaaaart. You’re a maaaaaaaan. Neener, neener, neener. F***, F***, F***…blah blah blah..I don’t understand big woooooooords…you’re an idiot…nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.

    My answer in words you CAN understand: Neeener, neener, neener. I DO believe in God. You can’t stooooop me. Stupid is as stupid doooooooes…I’m not a maaaaaaan…You’re too smart for me. Got it all figured out. You’re right. You win.

  81. Oh for fuck's sake
    October 12th, 2009 @ 6:56 am

    Jezuz on a tricycle! MK! Welcome back girlfriend!! Sorry, about before. I thought you were a dumb man. Now I find out you are a dumb woman. My apologies!

    Do you have a formula of behaviour saved on your computer?

    It is not just that you are unwilling (or can’t) answer my basic question, but that your reaction and behaviour is text-book, to-the-letter predictable. Even the bit where you insult me for being more clever than you. Wow! I’m looking for ‘acting superior’. You missed one MK!! You ‘joust’ like Don Quixote.

    Atheists of the world, I bring you….the bog-standard, factory made, garden variety, vanilla flavoured KRISTIAN!! :-D

    Alongside this, your promising not to return, “or tune out”, or ignoring you me, yet you come back time and time again for more abuse.
    You really DO have a problem with the real meaning of words, don’t you? Cuuute. ;-)

    Wanna see how I drive this little prayer group craaazzzyyy? Watch this:

    What is a ‘god’?

  82. maggie
    October 12th, 2009 @ 8:31 am

    Well, mk, maybe you are right. But wouldn’t it be easier just to close up shop and stop blogging altogether than to create a persona so annoying that it drives away the last two or three people who still drop by occasionally? Still, I must admit that I wondered what was going on when RT descended from Mt Olympus to interact with the mere mortals.

    I’m going to miss Porno Lily!

  83. MK
    October 12th, 2009 @ 8:46 am

    Maggie,

    There is absolutely no reason why you and I can’t continue to talk. I have never read Aquinas, or Augustine…Chesterton and Lewis are tough enough. But I’d LOVE if you’d teach me what you know. Walk me through their arguments from “reason”. Cliff notes, you know? Then I might be ready to read the real thing.

    We might as well use this blog. I’m here. You’re here. I want to learn. You know stuff.

    Are you up for it?

  84. MK
    October 12th, 2009 @ 8:47 am

    Oh and BTW, I didn’t mean that RT was posing as OFFS, but that OFFS was posing as RT. RT is the real deal. He DOES want us to talk. The “post” is legit. It’s the commenter that is a phony. Pretty sure Porno Lily and OFFS are the same character.

    No, this is real. Anyone can come on an use Raving Theist as their moniker. I could come on and “pose” as OFFS…watch.

  85. OFFS
    October 12th, 2009 @ 8:48 am

    See? It’s me.

  86. Raving Theist
    October 12th, 2009 @ 8:48 am

    Me again…

  87. MK
    October 12th, 2009 @ 8:49 am

    Raving Theist can tell who is who, because he can get “behind the scenes” and see IP numbers and email addresses. I run a blog, so I know. But ANYONE can use ANY moniker that they choose and you and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Except by the idiotic words that the commenter uses.

  88. Porno Lily
    October 12th, 2009 @ 9:02 am

    Maggie, am I not Chinese, but the China use to be socialist country brother to my home Russia when still we were oppressed by Communist! I am from the Russia, member of Eastern orthodox church but always hoping that schism between East and Roman Catholic maybe can oneday be healed. Of course, smart researchers of Theology and Philosophy must invent true answers for difficult theological question, especially my fellow Eastern orthodox must learn to accept full divineity of the Jesus as I have accepted through hard study and personal revelation. But I hope one day Body of Christ must no longer breathe with two lungs!

  89. maggie
    October 12th, 2009 @ 9:12 am

    Oh, I see! Well, Porno Lily is an old troll friend of mine. offs is not. I would be so surprised if PL could pull off such an annoyingly juvenile persona. She is just way too smart to be able to pose as a stupid person (I think).

    As for discussing Aquinas and Augustine with you? Sure, but I am no expert (Do we want to do it here? You have a venue to that might make a weekly “Visit the Church Fathers” post amusing). I just call on stuff I remember from years ago in college; occasionally I dust off the old books still sitting on my shelf and look stuff up. But if you haven’t read Augustine, you really must give the Confessions a try! There are a bunch of translations online but some are so old that the English translation is annoyingly old fashioned. Lemme look around and get back to you with a link to the most readable I can find, so that you can give it a test drive and see if you would find it interesting. I can tell you that there is a biography of Augustine that came out 15 or so years ago that was so good that I was left shaking my head in awe. I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought so because it was popular enough for the publisher to print a 2nd revised edition. It is by Peter Brown and should be readily available in any decent-sized library.

    Speaking of Church Fathers, I just bought the Pope’s little book on the Church Fathers. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It should be interesting.

  90. maggie
    October 12th, 2009 @ 9:19 am

    Oops. I hasten to add that I used the word “troll” of PL, in the friendliest, most loving spirit! I wouldn’t want to offend a star of stage or screen… Plus, her sister Lucy is a very great friend of mine; so great that I named one of my cats after her. Amazingly, Lucy is Chinese, yet Porno Lily is Russian. Talk about diversity!

  91. MK
    October 12th, 2009 @ 9:33 am

    Maggie, lol.

    I have a bunny named Lucy.

    How does one profess to be A Russian Orthodox Christian that makes porn movies??? Good Heavens!

    We can do it right here. You start me out. Then if you want (after you give me a version that I can wade through) we can even do a “book club”.

    I do have a blog of my own (well I share it with another girl) and it would be AWESOME if we did a running/weekly book club post on Augustine (Confessions) or Aquinas (teach me the Reason Argument). We can repost the posts here.

    I’m off to grocery shop right now, but I’ll be back. I actually need to go to the library today so I can get whatever book we come up with. ALthough I tend to mark up my books so I might have to actually purchase it.

    There is another Lily that posts on here that might like to join us…

    Whoo hoo! I’m finally going to read the “GREAT ONES!”

  92. maggie
    October 12th, 2009 @ 9:37 am

    Well, if you are off to the library, try to get your hands on Brown’s biography. That would be a very friendly intro to Augustine and his world (the man is just fascinating!) I will poke around the internet to see about that translation, during my lunch break.

  93. MK
    October 12th, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

    Maggie,

    Man, I was runnin’ all day. Grandkids today. BUT, tomorrow I’m relatively free. I’ll pick up the Augustine book then…if that’s the one you want to do…

  94. maggie
    October 12th, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    Well, I dunno. I went to Amazon to see how the 2nd edition changed and basically, Brown changed his mind about some of his judgments– I can’t tell you how cool I think it is that he would add a couple chapters just to say that he was wrong about xyz. I have the first edition we could still start with it. But I am ordering the 2nd. You should take a look at the reviews on Amazon. I am not alone in thinking it was really a fantastic piece of work.

    But I am thinking that what this is good for is putting us in the right frame of mind to tackle the Confessions. I did find one pretty decent translation out there and there are more. I will see if there is some consensus about the best translations over the next couple of days.

    You can take a look at the one I found that I think is the best so far, here: http://www.online-literature.com/saint-augustine/confessions-of-saint-augustine/

    It is still pretty dense. I think I will the read the 5 chapters on Augustine in B16’s book and see what that might add to the mix. For all I know, that might be the place to start!

  95. Kelly
    October 12th, 2009 @ 11:01 pm

    Dude, OFFS, the God in whom we believe doesn’t even define himself. “I AM WHO I AM” is a pretty declarative statement on the matter. We don’t even freaking know – He’s a mystery. That’s kind of what’s so awesome and fearful about Him. All that we know of Him is what He has revealed to us – we’ve been created in His image and He enables us to enter into an actual relationship with Him. When I was a bit younger, before my atheistic stage, I believed in God – but it didn’t transform my life because it was more of a mental assent. Now, He has given me an increased awareness of Himself. I have physically felt His presence. I know many who have been miraculously healed. I have been healed of many emotional issues and have a freedom and confidence I never had before. I am able to love people in a way that I never previously was able. But most of all, I have gone from not believing in God, to believing in Him through experience but not loving Him, to actually loving God. I crave spending time in worship and prayer. His presence is a powerful thing. (there are actually chemical changes that occur in the brain during prayer – you may have heard about this.) I’ve only been a Christian for two years, and my life, the way I see things, is COMPLETELY altered. I can only attribute this to being a “new creation.” This may not convince you, but that is because you are spiritually dead – haha! Sorry, but that’s what I believe. I was there, too. It was only when I realized the desperate state of myself and all of humanity and cried out to the void to reveal truth to me that it came. “Seek and ye will find.” See, another affirmation was that all of these promises have (and still are) coming true for me.

    So, don’t expect an indepth description from Christians. He is the eternal mystery. We can’t define him or quantify Him, but know He exists through the very fabric of creation. He reveals Himself through Christ and, as William Lane Craig would say, “The inner witness of the Holy Spirit.” Now, this won’t convince you because you haven’t experienced it, so I’m not trying to convince you from my own experience – but just attempting to relay that I don’t think Christians are uncomfortable with the question of defining God. We have experienced His love, provision, discipline, guidance and all that sort of thing and so tell of it, but that’s really as far as we can “define” him. We recognize that He is a mystery. Life is a mystery. It is a GIFT. We accept this gift with an awe and reverence, not content to claim it as our own, we have searched and found its Source and aim to show our deep appreciation for the gift by living it for Him.

    I think there are good intellectual arguments for the existence of a Creator, but until you have experienced who God is for yourself, you cannot truly know that he has the characteristics typically ascribed to Him.

    I recognize that people of other religions have felt strongly about who they believe God to be, and we can get into that. For starters, I don’t think people from other religions who have sought the Eternal are necessarily going to hell because they don’t know about Jesus – I don’t think that perception is Biblical, despite the claims of many Christians. Heck, I don’t even think many people who claim to be Christians truly are.

    I guess I should get prepared to be made fun of, eh?

  96. Pikemann Urge
    October 13th, 2009 @ 12:18 am

    Kelly, there are lots of people who insist on telling us who and what God is. Needless to say they can safely be ignored. But fanaticism can touch us all, I guess, so we need to be careful.

    Your experience is for you. I don’t doubt it for a second. Are you deluded? I don’t know. Richard Dawkins can’t know. But who cares? I’m not that neurotic to make you admit to the label I could put onto you.

    I know a spiritual person who is very much at peace and contentment. He has had different but equally amazing experiences to the ones you describe. Not better, just different. He isn’t a Christian. There is no label for his spirituality, sadly, but let’s just call him ‘spiritual’.

  97. MK
    October 13th, 2009 @ 5:38 am

    Pike,

    We know that there can only be three things that are true.

    There is a God and one of the religions has got it right.

    There is a God, but He/She/It has not revealed Himself yet.

    There is no God.

    What cannot be true is that your friend and Kelli both have it right.

    As a Catholic I believe number 1 (obviously). I believe that the Catholic Church has the Fullness of Truth, meaning “all that can be known”, is known by Her. I believe that other faiths (mostly) have bits and pieces of the truth. So, it’s not like I’m saying they are flat out wrong about everything (except of course for scientologists ;) )just that they do not have a complete picture.

    So if your friend is at peace due to his beliefs, I would say that even tho he doesn’t know/realize it, this is because on some level he is still in touch with God, THE God, the ONLY God.

  98. MK
    October 13th, 2009 @ 5:43 am

    Okay Maggie

    I’ll hold off buying any book until you decide. Then if it goes well, we can tackle them ALL…lol.

    Pick one you haven’t read if you want. If that will make it more fun for you

    I’ll do whatever you want. We should probably read them one chapter at a time. Do you think? I did this with “The Abolition of Man” and it was awesome. One chapter at a time was more than enough. The girl I did it with is as verbose as I am and it took us weeks to get through a chapter. I also did a 6 month long book club post on “Theology of the Body” on my blog.

    It’s really a great way to read a book. Especially a deep book. You know how you read and come across something and you want to talk about it, but no one else is reading it so they just don’t “get” it? It’s awesome to have someone that is exactly “where you are”… :)

    Pikeman,

    You want to join us? Kelli?

  99. maggie
    October 13th, 2009 @ 7:22 am

    Well, if you take a look at the translation I pointed you to, it is dense! But it isn’t hard to read. I did read two of B16’s Augustine chapters and they are a really nice introduction. But I don’t think they would yield much in the way of discussion. The teacher in me says that reading about someone is not the same as reading someone. But Augustine and his world are 1700 years removed from us, so I am leaning towards starting with the Brown’s biography.

    I am starting to get into this– what do you think about this– we read a chapter of the biography and a chapter (they are pretty short) of the Confessions? I will have to look at the biography again to see if it would lend itself to being a sort of chapter by chapter intro to the Confessions. Or we could just read the dratted biography and go from there!

  100. MK
    October 13th, 2009 @ 8:49 am

    Maggie,

    Whichever you think. You’re the one that knows what we’re doin’ here, so I’ll concede to your decisions. Either way, I’m way excited.

  101. MK
    October 13th, 2009 @ 8:50 am

    Oh I see now that the WHOLE of the “Confessions” is online. That’s awesome. So I only need to pick up Browns book, right?

  102. MK
    October 13th, 2009 @ 8:51 am

    Maggie,

    Now that I think of it, that would be great because then ANYBODY could jump on board because the “Confessions” are free.

  103. Maggie
    October 13th, 2009 @ 9:38 am

    Oh joy! I just found another, even better, translation online. This one references the scriptures that A cites throughout. I am going to land in moderator hell if I put too many links in this post so here is the translation itself:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/augustine/confessions.iv.html

    but if you poke around the site (Christian Classics Ethereal Library) you will lots more of interest. I am going to chance one more link to a large selection of etexts just for the sake of anyone who might find an old favorite there:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

    If anyone is unfamiliar with Project Gutenberg, this will be an eye-opener. It is amazing what you can find there!

  104. maggie
    October 13th, 2009 @ 11:45 am

    Ok. This is weird. I posted a message with a couple links an hour or so ago and now it is gone. What on earth? Well, here it is again. If this disappears, I will be perplexed:

    Best free online translation I have found by far:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/augustine/confessions.html (there is at least one other translation at this site)

    Also, just for fun– Project Gutenberg is the largest etext site in creation I believe. It is unbelievable what you can find there– old favorites, out-of-print, etc.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

  105. MK
    October 13th, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

    Wow, Confessions is gonna be tough. It’s not the ideas, its the language! Okay, let’s do it. Are we doing both side by side?

  106. Margaret Catherine
    October 13th, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

    Might do something constructive with my lurking here and follow along with you. Been meaning to dust off my copy of Confessions one of these days, anyways. :)

  107. Porno Lily
    October 13th, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

    I think is such the beautiful idea to read St. Augustine’s “Confessions”. This was very important books for me always! Has it such a powerful spirituality, really it moves the heart and the mind! One of very beautiful paragraphs is in book Eleven, the second chapter:

    Look around; there are the heaven and the earth. They cry aloud that they were made, for they change and vary. Whatever there is that has not been made, and yet has being, has nothing in it that was not there before. This having something not already existent is what it means to be changed and varied. Heaven and earth thus speak plainly that they did not make themselves: “We are, because we have been made; we did not exist before we came to be so that we could have made ourselves!” And the voice with which they speak is simply their visible presence.

    This what OFFS cannot understand: The heaven and the earth, they TELL that must have been made. First, because they is always change! Everything that is changed must be made, is obvious, I think. Second, because they have visible presence but you must LISTEN to voice of heaven and earth. Maybe am I not express this well, but I think the Christians, they will know what is my meaning.

    @Kelly, I think is very important what you say: G-D, he does not define what he is, therefore simply cannot be any hope that human people can define, because we human not higher than G-D. OFFS, she think she higher than G-D, that is why is she always ask for “definition”! Thank you!

  108. maggie
    October 13th, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

    Lemme look at the biography tonight and see if it lends itself to being used sort of like a commentary. If it doesn’t, I propose we just read it and then decide what to do about the Confessions. (We *really* ought to read the City of God too!)

  109. MK
    October 13th, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

    Catherine Margaret,

    Yeah!!!!!

    Porno Lily,

    How can someone have such a fine understanding of God, the Faith, Scripture and Augustine and still choose to use her body to incite lust? I’m asking seriously, because I cannot decide about you…On the one hand you sound like a very decent person, and then on the other you keep talking about porn…

    Can’t decide if you’re yankin’ our chain for on the level.

  110. Pikemann Urge
    October 13th, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    Your list of three possibilities is very concise – and agreeable.

    But both my friend and Kelly *are* correct at the same time. Should one be celibate? Nobody but the individual can decide that. Should one hit back? Should one take another to court? It depends. My friend has not had any details revealed to him. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t.

    Christianity is an expression of certain spiritual values. Or maybe just one way to express all of them. I asked a clergyman why the Bible trivializes God by calling him ‘Father’. His reply: God is too big for us to understand, so we have to dumb it down somehow.

    There was a Rabbi Hillel who said something vaguely like “Love is the only law, all else is just details.”

    I would love to read Confessions. Just not right now. :-)

  111. Kelly
    October 13th, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

    Hey MK, I would put money down that Porno Lily is really an educated atheist. I think s/he’s attempting to make Augustine’s poetic proclamation of creation “speaking” seem superstitious, as well as my claim that God is too incredible for definition. Believing that I shouldn’t have the capability of defining the Eternal God in incredibly specific terms means I’m relegating myself to childishness. And I admit, it is true – I am but a helpless infant in the hands of Yahweh. The finite cannot comprehend the infinite. How do people ignore this?

    “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

    PK, I am not one to judge your friend – that’s God’s job. The defining factor of being saved is having a relationship with the true God. The way I perceive it is (and there is Scriptural precedent for this) that this God can be known without knowledge of Jesus (take the Native Americans who believe in the Great Spirit, pre-Christ (and likely post-Christ) Jews, and those from other religions who are truly seeking a relationship with the Source of their existence. Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and so heightens our awareness of WHO God is, and who we are in relation to Him, which makes it easier to love Him. It also enables us to have a fuller realization of what is going on in the world – where it is all heading, and what God has enabled us to do to be a part of it. Now, I think that a person who has access to good information about Jesus Christ who is interested in Truth will come to Him.

    Pikeman – how can a person who claims exclusive truth be equally correct with someone who claims relativism?

  112. Porno Lily
    October 14th, 2009 @ 5:08 am

    @Kelly, I am very sorry for the bad English, I cannot express very well often my thinking. But I study hard! Am educated through studying hard the Holy Bible and the Christian philosophy. Unfortunately, could not my family pay for college or university, so only education I have is by myself and study group by local church. But I think is this good education, because in Russia very little Christian universities. I do not want to say that you are superstitious at all! In my opinion, OFFS is the superstitious for believing there cannot be any G-D! St. Augustine’s proclamation (thank you for teaching to me this new word!) to me is very poetic, but I think can be poetic but also true, no? You say you are helpless infant, I think is this just a manner of speaking, no? But I think is very beautiful image, which show how the Christians they must live their life!

    @MK, I must thank you for telling that I have fine understanding, but I think you praise too much, no? I am study hard, but so much I must still learn! Every day I struggle, because faith very beautiful, but also hard work, do you agree? The inciting of lust, is surprising question for me. First, is just job that I working for money, so I think this is not bad thing. Also, I think that the sexy feelings, they are gift from G-D too, but of course I agree that is difficult to see fine line between good sexy feeling and cardinal sin of lust. I will try to think more about question from you. The yanking of chain, this idiom I did not know. I look up in dictionary and see it mean to harrass the people. But this not my plan! I am very sorry for harrass!

  113. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 5:42 am

    Porno,

    Yanking one’s chain means to fool someone…to pretend to be something you aren’t.

    You say this is just a job and yet in an earlier post you said:

    “to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand” (Exodus 17:9)

    Seriously? You don’t see how incredibly offensive that is? To evoke a picture of having sex with God?

    You say that you only do these movies as a job, and yet there is considerable pride in your voice when you talk about your occupation.

    If you had not highlighted that part of the quote I might believe you. But there was no reason, none, to do so, except for “shock” value.

    Of course the body is beautiful. Of course sex is good.
    But surely you know, if you know nothing else, that God expects ONLY married people to have sex, and He certainly doesn’t want you abusing your body by using it as a “thing”. Your body is the temple that God lives in. It’s a church. It’s a dwelling place. How can God live in a place that has been desecrated. That is treated in such a degrading manner?

    If you are for real, and you are sincere in your desire to know and please Him, then you have to rethink what you are doing. If, on the other hand, this is just a “Borat” type game for you, then carry on I guess. It’s your body, your bad. You, not I, will reap the repercussions.

  114. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 5:46 am

    Maggie,

    You told me that Peter Brown wrote the biography, but didn’t tell me the title.

  115. maggie
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:18 am

    mk– Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown.

    Porno: Christians are not to live like helpless infants, rather just the opposite– you know better than that. It takes more than a little maturity to do the right thing even when it costs. It is not an easy matter to become conformed to the image of Christ.

    Understand that you are a helpless infant … no, a helpless worm in the hands of God. God is not mocked. We emphasize rightly His mercy and compassion. But do not be fooled. Our God is a consuming fire. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (You could do worse than read Hebrews on this subject. Or Deuteronomy)

  116. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 11:21 am

    Maggie,

    I went to the library this morning and they have no books by Peter Brown and no books tites Augustine of Hippo…

    Are you sure the title/author are right? Did I get them wrong?

  117. Porno Lily
    October 14th, 2009 @ 11:38 am

    @Maggie, I think you are yanking on the chain for saying that the Christians, they should not live like the helpless infants! This is just manner of speaking to say that we must accept absolute authority of G-D, because “he will beautify the meek with salvation” (Psalm 149: 4). Is many such manner of speaking in the Holy Bible: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass (Isaiah 40: 8), this not suppose to mean that should sit on lawn all day, yes? “O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” (Isaiah 64: 7), this does not mean G-D make pottery from Christian people, yes? It mean that we must accept absolute power of G-D over our life! Because G-D give strength to Christian people: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 64: 31), so maybe better we say that Christian people must live the life like STRONG helpless infant, but I know that this is not well express.

    @MK, title of book is right, is Peter Brown, “Augustine of Hippo”, publicized by University of California Press, in year of 1967. I think there is new edition, also, but we have very little new books in Russia.

  118. maggie
    October 14th, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    P-Lily: Metaphors and similes are devices to help illustrate concepts. Recognizing one’s utter dependence on God is the act of a sane human being. It is fine to describe the creature as clay or as an infant, so long as one understands that we are talking about the relationship of creator to creature. An adult who remains a child, morally or intellectually is greatly to be pitied. We are called to better things.

    MK– I am really sad that your library doesn’t have the book. Can you ask them to get it for you through interlibrary loan? (Or recommend that they purchase it? They really should have it, if the library is a decent-sized city library.) The only problem with interlibrary loan is that you usually only get the book for 2 or 3 weeks.

  119. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

    Porno Lily (PLEASE can we change your name?) You didn’t answer #112 and I really, really, really want to hear what you have to say.

    Maggie,

    I ordered it from Amazon…it should be here in a few days! :)

  120. maggie
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

    You better not have grabbed the cheap used copy of the 2nd. ed. I put on my wish list!! ;)

  121. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

    Maggie,

    Oh man, oh man, oh man…I bet I did. It was a used copy…shoot…let me go and check. If I can.

  122. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

    Dang, dang and double dang…

    1 “Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (New Edition, with an Epilogue)”
    Peter Brown; Paperback; $10.45

    New Edition…that means 2nd, doesn’t it???? Now what do I do? Is it that awful? I thought you said you liked the idea of him correcting stuff?

    Oh man, oh man, oh man…. hmmmmmmmmm….

  123. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

    Oh wait…that was on your wish list???? oops.

    I’m so confused. Okay, so I got the right copy, but unfortunately it was your copy?

    I think there were two of them from different places. Both in very good condition…both for $10.something…but I don’t know if the other one was the new edition…

    I’m so ashamed ;)

  124. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

    Maggie,

    It looks like they are all second edition and there is a copy for 10.99 and the one I ordered is still up there so maybe they had more than one copy? Or else they just didn’t take it down yet…lol…what are the odds????

  125. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

    And where the heck did P. Lily go? I went to her “website” and the “the rod of God in my hand” is her “logo”…

  126. maggie
    October 14th, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

    I’ll survive, even if you did snag my copy! Re PL. Don’t forget the time difference! I think it is yesterday in Russia. Or maybe its the day after tomorrow. As far as the website is concerned? I think PL is “yanking on your chain”. She’ll be back.

  127. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

    Maggie,

    I do too. But if she’s for real, I’d hate to dump on her…anonymity can be great…or it can be a pain in the behind.

  128. MK
    October 14th, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

    Btw,

    So sorry about your copy. Who knew? lol.

  129. maggie
    October 14th, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

    Its ok. Apparently, Brown didn’t revise the text so much as add a chapter or two talking about where his interpretation/ understanding of Augustine had changed over the years. So you will save me $10 by telling me what he says!

    Do you have access to NetLibrary(a subscription online library)from your public library? I ran across a very interesting book of Brown’s on early Christian vs Roman attitudes towards marriage, the body, et al. Can’t remember the title but I have it bookmarked. Given your interest in the Theology of the Body, I suspect you might get even more out of it than I.

  130. Fr. Terry Donahue, CC
    October 14th, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

    OFFS wrote:
    “…even I, a 14 year old girl knows that particle physicist Victor J. Stenger has shown that in a vacuum, pairs of electrons and positrons can and do materialize from nothing and then disappear back into nothing.”

    The virtual particles materialize from the vacuum state which is a quantum field with vacuum energy. The most popular explanation for the acceleration of the expansion of the universe is that energy density of the vacuum is non-zero.

    Regardless of which theory of dark energy, the cosmological constant, etc. pans out, this vacuum state is clearly not the same as the “nothing” philosophers speak of when they say things like, “Out of nothing, nothing comes.”

  131. Pikemann Urge
    October 15th, 2009 @ 3:34 am

    Kelly #110: Pikeman – how can a person who claims exclusive truth be equally correct with someone who claims relativism?

    I note that few people actually look at my alias closely. It has two ‘n’s not one. :-) But you sure as hell aren’t the first to make that mistake. I started using the net while USENET was still popular.

    Anyway! When I say that you are right also, I mean that your experience was legitimate. My spiritual experiences are quite mild compared to a lot I hear about. :-)

    Last month I watched a video by a man named Ian McCormack, whom I describe as evangelical, who had a very specific vision of Jesus and Heaven after being stung by jellyfish. Parts of it felt right, parts of it did not. Not for me, though, to pass judgement. His experience was for him.

  132. MK
    October 15th, 2009 @ 5:37 am

    Pike,

    I (we?) thought you were responding to my point that there are only three choices…no one right, there is a God but we are all wrong about who He is, No one is right, there is no God, or one of us is right and the rest are wrong.

    The one thing that cannot be true is that we are all right.

    Of course we are all entitled to our own beliefs and interpretations. But I was talking about “Truth” not feelings.

    It is not wrong to believe in the wrong thing. ;)

  133. MK
    October 15th, 2009 @ 5:45 am

    Father Terry,

    Don’t disappear. If OFFS comes back, we’ll need you! ;)

  134. Pikemann Urge
    October 16th, 2009 @ 6:06 am

    MK, I of course wasn’t structuring my arguements that well. So I’ll see if I can summarize. Your points in order above were:

    1. There is a God and one of the religions has got it right.

    2. There is a God, but He/She/It has not revealed Himself yet.

    3. There is no God.

    I’m going with 2. The only solid thing about truth that I know is that at the very least, discrete truths can be known well enough to call it a done deal. E.g. we live in the universe.

    I also am aware that certain propositions cannot be true all of the time. E.g. killing a person is not permissible.

    A doctrine that claims that any fundamental, ultimate truth can be known only though it goes against every bit of understanding about ‘truth’ that I possess.

    A feeling is not an experience. And for practical purposes, it’s hard to know anything without having a feeling about it. I am not convinced that Kelly’s experience was genuine while my friend’s was not. They both can be: why not? I am not for organized faith, yet here we have Kelly’s experience. I can’t pretend that it was a delusion while mine and those of others are genuine.

    I think your last statement has at least some legitimacy. I’m not sure how far it can be stretched though!

  135. Paula R. Robinson, M.D.
    October 16th, 2009 @ 6:41 am

    The analogy is faulty.

    A better one would be trying to describe a rainbow to a SEEING person who has never been outside and doesn’t plan to go look until you can prove that rainbows exist.

  136. MK
    October 16th, 2009 @ 9:29 am

    Pike,

    Seeing the doctors post got me thinking…

    If 2 patients go into the doctors office and tell him/her that they are feeling nauseated, they are relaying subjective feelings. Their feelings are valid. Both are correct. They ARE feeling nauseated.

    Now suppose that both patients “believe’ that they have the stomach flu.

    The doctor, taking into account their subjective “feelings” will also run some tests. She will also ask them if they have vomited. How many times. What their stools looked liked. Was their blood in them. Are they running a fever…

    The doctor will then take the patients subjective evidence and COMBINE it with the objective evidence and then use reason to come up with the most probable diagnosis. She will probably start with the most likely cause and work from there, eliminating the ones that don’t hold up.

    Turns out patient number 1 DOES have the stomach flu. BUT, patient number 2 is pregnant.

    In a similar way, your friend and mine, both have “feeling” that are the same. They both “subjectively” feel that their “God understanding” is real and the right one.

    So we need to look at some objective evidence. Scripture, the fact that all the places in scripture DO exist, the fact that a man claiming to be God existed, the fact that a number of things claimed in scripture can be verified physically (Solomon’s Temple, writings, symbols left on walls, tombs of those that were alive…)while there is very little evidence that your friends “God” ever revealed himself.

    Matthew kind of thinks like you do. His Gospel was written with the express purpose of drawing lines from A to B (Old Testament Prophecies to New Testament Situations). He wanted the Jews to add 1 + 2 and come up with 2. He would point out passages that prophesied the Messiah in the Old Testament and then show that they were being fulfilled right in front of them.

    Where is the evidence for your friends belief? While your friends “Feelings” might be valid, and they might be ONE piece of the puzzle, without other evidence they are just that…feelings. Same with my friend.

    So while the feelings are justifiable and real, the diagnosis requires more.

    Your friend might be thoroughly convinced that she has swine flu, but is actually pregnant.

  137. Liliyana (Porno Lily)
    October 16th, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

    I sorry for taking so long with the answer. I was working so did not have time to go to Internet cafe to research the Bible and Christian philosophy and to read the website of the Raving Athiest. MK, I do not mean to offend you with name “Porno Lily”, is just stage name, but please, can use real name for me, which is Liliyana.

    I want to tell about question of MK, why I work in the adult movie as Christian woman. So I have be writeing carefully my thinking and put on my website:

    http://pornolily.blogspot.com/2009/10/glorify-g-d-in-adult-movie-business.html

    But please if you visit web site, do not be offend by “rod of God”. MK, this is not meaning to have sex with G-D! Of course, G-D, he will not make sex with me, because I am just “helpless worm”, like Maggie say. Maybe you are having your tongue between the cheek for saying this, but if you read about “rod of God” in Holy Bible, you see is not about sex at all! Is telling about strength that G-D give to Moses for fighting enemies of faith. THis is meaning of selecting this for my website: to fight for G-D against enemies.

  138. Richard Norris
    October 17th, 2009 @ 3:20 am

    The idea that there is ANY sort of God is one that I simply cannot support. Human history is rife with examples of people convincing themselves of what they want to believe using the shodiest of reasons and arguments. This becomes obvious when you take a close look at what the word “God” means.
    Take a look at some of God’s attributes. We have omnipotence. God is supposedly all powerful and is capable of doing anything at any time whenever he chooses. This is an easy argument to shoot holes into. Let me start by asking something simple: Can God make and eat a sandwich? The answer is normally no, God is immaterial. Okay, then God is unalbe to perform any physical action that any normal human being is capable of. Lets move on then. Can God lie? Of course, the answer is normally no. God cannot commit an act of deception or evil. Of course, I can, which is another limit placed upon divinity that supposedly weaker humans don’t suffer from. This sort of quandry can lead to redefinitions or “refinings” of the quality of God’s omnipotence, which shaves that term down until the mind can grapple with its logic and not suffer cognitive dissonance.
    I’m going to have to say that many of the arguments against God’s omnipotence also apply against God’s omnipresence. Any of the limitations placed upon God due to his “perfect” and immaterial nature also preclude Him from knowing what those actions or sensations would feel like for those of us with a more coarse or physical nature. Thus, God’s knowledge of those actions could at best be only theoretical as he could not apply Himslef to those actions and experience knowledge of them directly.
    So there are two of the things that give God so much of his majesty revealed to be incomplete or unworkable concepts.
    Finally, I will mention the concept of God as Free. I imagine a God with infinite power and knowledge is perfectly free, capable of making any choice He desires and then acting on that choice with no constraints or limitations. Let me illustrate what I mean. When God made everything, he could have made trees absorb oxygen instead of carbon dioxide, or he could have made stars out of helium rather than hydrogen. Or he could have decided to not create anything at all. If God HAD to do these things, that would mean that some sort of constraint was placed upon him in some shape or form to make him act in a certain way at a certain time. Such an idea is logically inconsistent when applied to a God that is supposedly perfectly free. But now lets take a look at God’s prior knowledge. Does God KNOW that he will create the universe? If God KNOWS that he will create the universe, then he is constrained to do so as a consequence of his own knowledge. If God actually KNOWS that he is going to do anything, then he MUST do that thing BECAUSE he knows he will, otherwise God just becomes wrong. In effect, when God becomes aware of his own actions, He becomes something of an implaccalbe, inexorable machine, programed to a function because of his own “omniscience”. And that conception of God is not truly free. Every time I hear someone say that God has a plan for the world I chuckle because of this.
    There are a lot of other reasons that I take issue with any supernatural belief, whether it is of the organized sort or the more mystical and seeking sort, but I am going to go to bed and see if it gets digested on here by the many polite and calm commenters. Goodnight.

  139. Pikemann Urge
    October 17th, 2009 @ 4:07 am

    Richard, interesting post. I will read it again tomorrow and then comment. I have a point to make, maybe you can give me some feedback.

    Well, MK, I don’t have a problem with that analogy. I guess being pregnant and having the stomach flu are both plausible!

    To your second general point:

    “Scripture, the fact that all the places in scripture DO exist, the fact that a man claiming to be God existed, the fact that a number of things claimed in scripture can be verified physically (Solomon’s Temple, writings, symbols left on walls, tombs of those that were alive…)while there is very little evidence that your friends “God” ever revealed himself.”

    Unlike other, non-Christian NT critics such as Bart Ehrman, I do not believe that the historical Jesus can be known. He may have existed, he may even have not existed. But we can’t know – that is my current diagnosis based on the information that I have, which comes in steadily (and it won’t stop, it’s too big a subject).

    Jesus sure as hell never claimed to be God (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe it). The Gospels have different theologies (not just different angles on the same theology). It is clear that Matthew wrote prophecy into his Gospel – based on slightly inaccurate Greek renderings of same.

    It quite possible that the Synoptic Gospels were written later than we thought. And we don’t know who wrote them. Some of the Epistles are likely forgeries. And on and on.

    And if we find that certain moral imperatives are either damaging or neither-here-nor-there, we can conclude that either men wrote these documents or that they are irrecoverably corrupted.

  140. MK
    October 17th, 2009 @ 6:01 am

    Pike,

    Well, MK, I don’t have a problem with that analogy. I guess being pregnant and having the stomach flu are both plausible!

    Yes, that’s the point. Both are plausible, but only one is “True”.

    As for Jesus not claiming He was God, I beg to differ. The Jews knew many of the terms that Jesus used to describe Himself as terms that had always meant God. Remember, they didn’t use the term God and used substitute words. Son of Man was one of them. I AM was another.

    You could argue that NO ONE can be proven to have existed. How do we know anyone from history was real? You say we don’t “know” who wrote the Gospels, yet we know that they were written. And not just the Gospels but other writings that were done very early in the church.

    To me it is unreasonable to think that numerous men wrote similar stories, pawned them off as truth, duped billions of people for 2,000 years…many of whom gave up their lives for these beleifs. We’re not talking a handful of folks hypnotized by someone like Charles Manson…we’re talking BILLIONS of people…people that have been tortured 2,000 years after the fact for refusing to deny these beliefs.

    You are asking me to believe that these beliefs are held based on nothing more than the coincidental writings of a few deluded men? That to me, seems very UNreasonable.

    Could billions of people be deluded in this way? Sure. But it is HIGHLY IMPROBABLE.

    Let’s look at the flip side of the whole thing. Alongside the followers of G-D, and later Jesus, there have always been a HUGE group of people that believe the real God is Lucifer. Starting from day one, there is a group that follows the “other” side. They don’t get talked about as much, but they are just as prolific.

    From the Kabalists, to the Gnostics, to the Free Thinkers to the Free Masons to the New Agers…These are all basically the same groups, just different names. They have always believed that Lucifer, Baal, Bel (Call him what you want) is the more powerful of two equal gods and that hidden knowledge is the key to power and the final ascension of Man into God.

    This group doesn’t deny the existence of God, just his power. They’ve placed their bets on the other guy.

    What are the odds that this group, along with “our” group would ALL for over 6,000 years believe basically the same thing? That Adonai exists?

    So not only do you have Christians, you have anti-christians (not atheists) who are fighting a God that you claim does not exist. For thousands of years.

    Could we all be nuts? Could we all be living in a fantasy land? Could you and Richard Norris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins be the minority that “knows” the Truth? Definitely.

    But that would mean that brilliant men through the ages have ALL been duped. Moses was nuts, Elijah was nuts, Solomon was nuts, Abraham was nuts, the guys that wrote about them were nuts, Peter, Paul, James, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (or whatever their real identity was) were all nuts. Every pope was nuts, Thomas Aquinas was nuts, St. Jerome was nuts…The list goes on. What are the odds that ALL of these men were duped? These were not your average Joe’s. These men were educated, intelligent…

    Whether you believe that there are two equal Gods or one all powerful one, the bottom line is that for 6,000 years the core belief in the Judeo/Christian God HAS existed, virtually unchanged.

    And it has been claimed over and over that this God has revealed Himself…to many, many, many men and women.

    How does one explain the miracles that take place today? Not the ones that claim to have taken place thousands of years ago and cannot be observed right now, but the Eucharistic miracles I have written about? The miracles attributed to saints like Padre Pio? The incorruptible bodies of saints? Fatima? Akita? LaSallette? Rwanda?

    These exist NOW, in our time. They have been witnessed, attested to, video taped, scientifically tested…

    At what point do you say it is more probable that they are true, than it is that they are all fictions? How is it more probable that 70,000 people imagined that they saw the sun dance, or 2 million imagined that they saw the Virgin Mary on top of a Coptic church in Egypt for months, than that this really happened?

    What are the odds that hosts, for centuries, have inexplicably bled, always with the same blood type? That the tissue exudes from said hosts inevitably turns out to be tissue from a human heart?

    What are the odds that millions of people would suddenly stop sacrificing their own people because of the claim that a “woman” appeared to a peasant in Guadalupe, Mexico?
    That millions of people would simply give up their faith, based on a crazy story about an apparition on a remote hill in the dead of winter?

    At some point, you’ve got to look at the collection of claims and wonder if there isn’t so much evidence that not believing becomes more UNreasonable, than believing…

  141. Maggie
    October 17th, 2009 @ 6:09 am

    Poor Bart. He says he lost his faith when he realized that the Bible wasn’t written by God but by men! He, and he is not alone, subscribed to a sort of dictation theory of the Bible which is not unlike the way Muslims do believe the Koran was written. Christians do not (or should not) believe this.

    Pikemann, it seems to me that your objections to the Bible are not grounded in history or in actual facts about the kind of literature its various books are but in some sort of expectation about what they ought to be and aren’t. As far as the text itself is concerned, we know beyond any reasonable doubt the scriptures we have are virtually identical to the texts available in the 2nd century.

    As far as weighing whether they are accurate or not, well what sort of literature are they? Some of Paul’s letters were likely not written by him. But so what? The early church included in the canon those writings that were held to teach true doctrine, had been used liturgically, were associated with an apostle, and were popular. All those criteria had to be met which is why the Didache, which was wildly popular and did teach true doctrine, didn’t make it in.

    More to the point, the letters that we know are genuine can be dated very precisely. We learn from his letters that belief that Jesus died, was buried, and then resurrected arose within a few (as in less than 5) years of the events in Jerusalem. I’m sorry. This is not likely to have happened, if the tomb were not empty. And then there were all those pesky witnesses, most of whom were still alive when Paul was writing.

    I believe you hold some mistaken beliefs about the Gospels. They are not teaching different theologies. They aren’t teaching “theologies” at all! They are spirtitual biographies very much of the same sort as all the others wtritten at that time. Before you can criticize them (in the literary/historical sense), you have to understand what that means. To say that we can’t know the historical Jesus is to disagree with the consensus of scholars modern and not so modern. That’s fine if you can demonstrate convincingly that you have good reasons for doubting it but you will have your work cut out for you.

    Richard Norris– you have written a fine essay and it is too much for me to deal with in one sitting. I will say this: I think you have started at the wrong end of the stick. I also think your arguments are far to anthropomorphic to hold up to examination. As you say: Human history is rife with examples of people convincing themselves of what they want to believe using the shodiest of reasons and arguments. Unfortunately, while that is true, it has no value in deciding whether there is a God or not. Nor is arguing God’s attributes helpful, until you demonstrate the probability that there is a God. (It doesn’t make much sense to set up a straw God, so to speak. I can do that and knock it down, too. But of what value is that in deciding whether there really is an actual God or not?) You must start with logic and see where that gets you. There are arguments from contingency, cosmological and teleological arguments and so on that should be examined first. Worrying about whether God can make and eat a sandwich is amusing but of no value, philosophically.

  142. MK
    October 17th, 2009 @ 6:17 am

    Richard Norris,

    If you continue to think of God as simply a really advanced human, then you’ll never understand Him. You are putting your limited understanding of the world, your small, tiny, glimpse of the big picture, onto God. You are confining Him to the rules that you yourself are confined to.

    God is not constrained by time, or space, or natural laws. He is limited to these laws only in that He created them, and works within them. You speak as if the laws came first.

    How can He know and yet allow it to happen? You are assuming that He exists within time and that one comes “first”. There is no first, last, in between in His world. Those are all things that exist in “our” world. Not THE world.

    You are limiting Him, and attempting to understand Him through your own understanding. But He far surpasses your understanding.

    Evil is only “good” turned on itself. God can “know” evil because He can know “good”.

    The best example I can think of illustrating God existing time out of time, is the Eucharist. We do not believe that we “RE” sacrifice Jesus on the altar at every mass, but we believe that we transcend time and are actually re entering the original sacrifice. We go back in time, or transcend time or whatever you wish to call it. There is no time in God’s world. Time is simply a tool created to help men acclimate to this particular world. To say that God is constrained by time, is to totally not get the whole God thing at all. He works within time, yes, because that is what we are limited to. But HE is NOT limited by anything, let alone time, which He created.

    If you try to understand God by bringing Him down to your level of understanding, rather than rising to His, you’ll never get anywhere.

  143. Liliyana (Porno Lily)
    October 17th, 2009 @ 7:46 am

    @Richard Norris, I think you are making many the logical mistake which is well known by Christians and have been answer long time ago. You have simple minding definition of “omniscience”. Does not mean that G-D know everything, but just mean that G-D know everything that can be known. Does not know He know logical impossibility. G-D is free in actions, so cannot be known what He will do in future. Therefore, G-D cannot know what He will do but still he is omniscient. Also, still he can have plan. YOU cannot know what you will do in future, still, you can make plan, no? I give you analogy from adult movie business: sometime, director do not use exact script, just generally idea of how movie should turn out. Still, can shoot scene that fit this generally idea, yes?

  144. MK
    October 17th, 2009 @ 11:41 am

    Lilyana,

    I love your real name.

    But tell me, why did you choose that specific quote for your logo? Thousands of scripture quotes to choose from and you choose that one and place it next to a picture of a woman committing a horrible sin. She is using her body in a sinful way, to incite others to sin…how do you reconcile this? How do you expect me to believe that it is just coincidence that you chose that particular scripture passage?

  145. Pikemann Urge
    October 18th, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

    MK: “Both are plausible, but only one is “True”.”

    No, both are true – one for the first woman, one for the second.

    “As for Jesus not claiming He was God, I beg to differ.”

    I’ve ranted a bit about this subject on this blog before. Suffice to say: the idea of Jesus as God incarnate was not original to the faith but rather a later development. Anything in Scripture which points to Jesus as God is not imperative but based on interpretation. In some cases misunderstanding the writer’s intent.

    “You could argue that NO ONE can be proven to have existed.”

    It’s about probabilities. Caesar’s existence is more difficult to establish than, say, J. J. Abrams’. But we have a good probability for Caesar nonetheless. We’re even less sure about Socrates, apparently.

    “To me it is unreasonable to think that numerous men wrote similar stories…”

    You mean they copied each other? :-P

    And billions of people certainly have good reasons for being Christians. When, eventually, it becomes the only faith to choose from, and when it’s imposed upon certain peoples, you’re going to get that. You don’t need a miracle for Christianity to prosper.

    “Moses was nuts, Elijah was nuts”

    We’re not sure of their existence, but again, I wouldn’t rule it out.

    “Every pope was nuts”

    Maybe ‘limited’ or ‘power hungry’ or ‘hypocritical’ or ‘criminal’ might be more apt for some popes than ‘nuts’.

    “How does one explain the miracles that take place today?”

    I don’t know enough about them. How interesting it is to note, though, that the constant in many miracles, Mary, is a product of the evolving Church? I won’t doubt the supernatural elements here but so what if these miracles are true? Does it have anything to do with the veracity of the moral teachings of the Bible? Does it make the Bible any more true or any more inspired?

    “What are the odds that millions of people would suddenly stop sacrificing their own people because of the claim that a “woman” appeared to a peasant in Guadalupe, Mexico?”

    I don’t think it had anything to do with sacrifices of millions of people.

    Maggie: “Poor Bart. He says he lost his faith when he realized that the Bible wasn’t written by God but by men!”

    That is not what he claims. He claims that he was unable to reconcile the problem of suffering. I don’t know his arguement in detail as I have not read that particular book (‘God’s Problem’). I am glad to note that most Christians are not inerrantists.

    “we know beyond any reasonable doubt the scriptures we have are virtually identical to the texts available in the 2nd century.”

    The oldest complete NT is from the 4thC. The oldest complete Gospel is 3rdC IIRC. We can even claim, with good reason, that even the earliest Gospels could be quite late. But the real problem is that we just don’t know either way.

    “As far as weighing whether they are accurate or not, well what sort of literature are they?”

    I know what they are not, however: journalism, biography or history. (I should point out that I don’t claim they have no value – far from it).

    “They aren’t teaching “theologies” at all!”

    Here’s what I mean. One Gospel might teach that Jesus died for us. But another (e.g. Luke) might teach somethings subtley different, that the unjust death of Jesus is an opportunity for man to turn back to his creator. Those are different understandings of what God wants from us.

    Richard, I don’t usually go by could’ve-should’ve-would’ve type arguements. However, I appreciate your view at least philosophically. I think there must be more practical reasons why you would reject the idea of the Biblical (or any) God.

    For me, practicality matters a lot. In the world as I see it, people can be telepathic and can have premonitions etc. There are practical reasons for that. I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just sharing the way I see the world.

  146. Maggie
    October 18th, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

    Actually, Bart was shaken the first time he found an error of some sort– which is what led him to reject the Bible as the word of God. If it is important to you, I will find you the citation. He gets no credit for finding the problem of suffering troublesome. We all do. Yet, somehow, it isn’t a deal breaker for most of us.

    I don’t see much point in arguing the historicity of scripture with you. You have adopted the less well grounded debunkers view, despite the fact that the consensus of scholarship is against them. I assume you have some evidence or reason to prefer the minority opinion.

    To not know what sort of literature the Gospels are puts you in an awkward position for discussing what they teach. Proper understanding of their meaning is heavily dependent on knowing how the authors expected them to be understood. How you can find the message of them different, rather than fuller and perfectly compatible, eludes me but then so does quantum physics and both I and the world’s physicists go on just fine anyway!

  147. MK
    October 19th, 2009 @ 6:29 am

    Pike,

    You sort of debunked yourself there. First you say that the Gospels were copied from each other, then you say that they are all different, proposing different theologies.

    Which is it?

    Do you think that all biographies of all people were copies of each other simply because they contain the same facts?

    You talk of probabilities…which is more probable? That the Gospel writers copied each other (what would be the motive?) or that they are all telling the same story? Why would they reproduce a “fictional story”? Has this ever happened before? A time when 3 guys copied and plagiarized the exact same fairy tale? We’re not talking about simply photocopying here. This was a painstaking process…PLUS, the Gospels weren’t written by 4 men…they are compilations of many authors. It just doesn’t make sense to me that a group of men would work so tirelessly and tediously to produce a campfire tale over and over and claim that it was true.

    If Jesus existed in a vacuum I could understand this argument. If only one person had known Him, you’d have a point. But this isn’t the case. His ministry was public.

    As for Guadalupe, they sure as heck did stop sacrificing humans after Her appearance to Juan Diego. That’s just history. The Tilma exists, the Aztecs existed, and there was a mass conversion after the apparition. Which is more probable? That the apparition took place, or that this is another fairy tale that coincidentally coincided with a mass conversion?

    You say you don’t know much about the miracles that take place today, but if you are serious about finding the “truth” then perhaps you should do some research. I’ve posted on them before. Egypt, Rwanda, Akita, Fatima, LaSalette, Guadalupe…google Eucharistic miracles. There are some fascinating videos on YouTube that lay it out for you…

  148. Pikemann Urge
    October 19th, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

    Maggie, you are right, there isn’t much point. To me the facts are clear as daylight. Not *all* of them, mind you. It’s a big field. I won’t be able to stop investigating for the rest of my life, there’s so much stuff. But the most basic fundamentals, in my eyes, are clear.

    If you have the Ehrman quote handy, by all means post it. And you’re right, I only know what the Gospels are not. But if I had to give you my definition of what they actually are I’d say they’re statements of faith, FWIW.

    The Gospels are indeed copied from each other. Ah, but the devil is always in the details. E.g. in Matthew 3, Jesus calls the Pharisees and Sadducees a ‘generation of vipers’ but in Luke 3 Jesus accuses the multitude of same. Luke (assuming he wrote after Matthew) copied Matthew but changed the wording slightly to convey his own theology.

    I stand corrected on Guadaloupe, I thought it was only a private, limited revelation.

    And no, I don’t see the rush to do the research on the miracles (although I surely will get that in when I can). I say this to naturalists and atheists: don’t reject the Gospels because they have miracles, reject them only if the history etc. does not pass muster. If the history passes muster, then we can talk about the miracles. Because if you begin with the miracles then there is pretty much nothing else to say and we’ve already concluded the matter.

    Once again: miracles do not lend credibility to Biblical morality.

  149. Melissa
    October 19th, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

    I agree with one of the comments in which it was said that arguing/debating is largely a waste of time. Brothers and sisters, use that time to pray for them instead because they can’t see, hear, or perceive until their hearts are prepared by the Holy Spirit (so pray for that). All of you have my prayers. :)

    By the way, I was glad to see MK prove his point with the fake RT posts. Anyone that knows his brilliance, personality, and writing style at all can tell right away that the posts were made by an imposter (he would never misspell “apologize” – check the first post by the alleged RT). Furthermore, he wouldn’t make light of his conversion with “pink cube” talk. That kind of jesting is RA talk – and RA is no more. ;) Praise God for that!!

  150. Maggie
    October 20th, 2009 @ 7:29 am

    Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus p. 7. He speaks at some length about his Evangelical background and education in the introduction to the book. Off he went to seminary and, for the first time, was exposed to serious Bible scholarship. It shook him badly. Among other things he says: “I kept reverting to my basic question: how does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don’t have the words that God inerrantly inspired, but only the words copied by the scribes—sometimes correctly and sometimes (many times!)
    incorrectly?”

    This is an excellent question for the neophyte biblical scholar to ask and he is not the first Evangelical or Fundamentalist to ask it. It comes rather naturally if one has been part of an environment in which people tend to think of the King James Bible as the one Jesus used (even though they *really* sorta know he didn’t). It is just too darned bad he didn’t think to pursue it, since he was hardly the first to come up against the questions inherent in in this one (what is inerrancy? How does God inerrantly inspire fallible human beings? What would that even mean? Do we or do we not have trustworthy texts (he is in the minority in saying that we do not)? How do we establish that?)

    Pikkemann, it isn’t a matter of conjecture what sort of literature the Gospels are. There is pretty widespread agreement on that. It is reallly helpful to spend some time learning about the genres of ancient literature in order to see the Bible’s literary genres and qualities more clearly. Similarly, knowing the conventions of rhetoric helps one understand Paul’s letters (and letters are a type of genre which followed certain well-established conventions in the ancient world.) The Bible didn’t exist in a vacuum and I think we really short change ourselves (we=believers and unbelievers alike) when we treat it as though it did.

  151. MK
    October 20th, 2009 @ 8:59 am

    Pike,

    I think it isn’t so much that the authors are touting their own special theologies as it is that they are addressing different audiences.

    Matthew was trying to connect the dots specifically for the Jews. The Pharisees were an odd lot. They followed the letter of the law, to a fault, but at the same time adhered to some weird notions…

    Luke on the other hand was much more interested in reaching the non Jews, the marginalized. He saw Christ’s coming as salvation to ALL men, specifically the outcasts and lowlifes. He was especially kind to women.

    And example would be the infancy narratives. Matthew mentions the wise men. He is trying to show that those who followed the Old Prophecies (even non Jews) recognized what was going on. He was pointing out that the Wise Men were foretold of in the Old Testament and that this was one more notch in the belt of “proof” that Jesus was the awaited Messiah.

    Luke on the other hand, ignores the Magi and instead focuses on the lowly Jewish Shepherds. His point is that EVERYONE, not just Pharisees or Sadducees, but EVERYONE, was being called. And EVERYONE was being told.

    You could mistakenly think that this was a difference in theologies, but it wasn’t. It was a difference in who was hearing the message.

    The message remains the same in all of the Gospels. Jesus was the promised Messiah.

  152. MK
    October 20th, 2009 @ 9:10 am

    Pike,

    Also in Matthew 3 that is not Jesus speaking. It is John the baptist and he is wondering who spilled the beans to them about what was taking place. The Pharisees and Sadducees were a political power and the idea of the Messiah coming was upsetting their apple cart. John knew that they were not there to receive the “truth” but rather to protect their own interests.

    Luke is a replay of the same scene. This might very well have been copied as it is quite an important text. Again, it’s not Jesus speaking, but John the Baptist.

    Luke however, doesn’t point out that the crowd was made up of Pharisees and Sadducees because his focus was on proving that you had a change of heart. It wasn’t enough that you gave lip service, or descended from Abraham, or wore the robe of a priest…you had to walk the walk AS WELL as talk the talk.

    Why would it surprise you that both authors reported the same story? If you’re really concerned that they copied from each other and were not giving separate accounts, wouldn’t they have copied verbatim? Remember that this stuff wasn’t written down anywhere and was probably gathered from word of mouth. Matthew heard the story from Joe the Plumber, while Luke might have heard it from Sam the Baker. It’s not like they went to the library and took out the same “book” and then plagiarized it.

  153. Pikemann Urge
    October 20th, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

    Yeah, sorry, that was JOHN not JESUS!! I am glad that was not an exam paper. Tsk, tsk.

    Maggie, are you suggesting though that Ehrman lost his faith because of that realization?

    MK, I’m not sure that ‘wise men’ is an apt translation. ‘Magi’ or ‘astrologer’ is closer, but whatever they were that category doesn’t exist in today’s religion.

    So you’re saying that Matthew didn’t mention the shepherds and Luke didn’t mention the magi? Seriously? Shall we go through all the other discrepancies? :-P (Actually let’s not!)

    Well, you’re probably right in that the material wasn’t written down a lot (if at all) until the Gospels emerged. But it seems pretty clear that Luke either copied Matthew or, assuming Q existed physically, he copied the same source and changed what he felt needed changing.

  154. MK
    October 21st, 2009 @ 5:15 am

    Pike,

    but whatever they were that category doesn’t exist in today’s religion

    Well since we have no way of knowing what religion they were we can’t possibly know if it still exists…however, they most likely came from Persia. There are a number of religions today that would fit the bill. Kabbalism, Zorastrianism (which is most likely), any Gnostic religion, New Age, paganism…all of these have occult leanings.

    I’m saying that Matthew didn’t mention the shepherds and Luke didn’t mention the Magi because they were addressing two different groups of people. And the fact that their stories are NOT identical is evidence that they DIDN’T copy each other or a single source, but that they were SEPARATE accounts.

    Have you never read 2 newspaper accounts of the same story? If you “cut and paste” a story, then you source it. If you write the story yourself, then it will probably have different details than another reporters.

    There is a difference between discrepancies and simpy reporting different details. These differences do not contradict each other. Not mentioning the Magi doesn’t mean that Luke was saying they didn’t exist. Only that he didn’t find them key to the story HE was telling. Not mentioning the shepherds doesn’t mean that Matthew was saying anything about them one way or another. They just weren’t relevant to the audience to whom he was addressing.

    If I do a report on a Madonna concert, what I say will depend on why I am doing the report.

    If I write for a fashion magazine, I’ll talk about what she was wearing.

    If I write for Rolling Stone, I’ll talk about the music.

    If I write for the National Enquirer, I’ll talk about who she is having an affair with.

    Does this mean that she didn’t sing because the fashion magazine didn’t mention the songs that she sang? Or that she was naked because Rolling Stone didn’t describe what she was wearing?

    Does it mean that they copied each other? Or that they copied a single source? Or is the MOST PROBABLE explanation that they ALL attended the concert, but saw things from different viewpoints?

    As far as I know there are NO contradictions in Scripture. None that can’t be explained, anyway.

  155. MK
    October 21st, 2009 @ 5:31 am

    Pike,

    Also, don’t forget that the Gospels are canonical because we believe they fill all the prescriptions, that they are “true”, but there are any number of other sources, that for varying reasons we do NOT hold to be completely true, that also attest to the histriocity of Jesus.

    It seems to me that you are in a VERY SMALL minority in believing that Jesus did not exist at all. So small, that your belief seems less plausible than mine.

    It is more PROBABLE, given the testimony (not just the accepted New Testament) that He DID exist, than that He didn’t.

    Did all the Gnostic writers also copy from the same source?

  156. MK
    October 21st, 2009 @ 5:46 am

    Pike,

    Sorry…one last thing:

    But it seems pretty clear that Luke either copied Matthew or, assuming Q existed physically, he copied the same source and changed what he felt needed changing.

    If anything, it is thought that both Matthew and Luke were influenced by Mark, not each other…

  157. Pikemann Urge
    October 22nd, 2009 @ 3:08 am

    MK: “And the fact that their stories are NOT identical is evidence that they DIDN’T copy each other or a single source, but that they were SEPARATE accounts.”

    Well they are separate viewpoints. But they are not ‘accounts’ in the sense that they saw what they were writing about. They are not identical? Fine. But they are in fact contradictory.

    “If you write the story yourself, then it will probably have different details than another reporters.”

    And if you’re a good reporter you’ll get your facts straight so that if you and another write about the same incident you’ll be in harmony. But the Gospels are not journalism, alas.

    “It seems to me that you are in a VERY SMALL minority in believing that Jesus did not exist at all. So small, that your belief seems less plausible than mine.”

    Firstly, I wouldn’t go that far. I would only say that we can’t know the historical Jesus at all because our evidence is too poor. It follows that the mythicist case is stronger than the historicist case, not because it’s right, but because it’s closer to the facts at hand.

    I am not too familiar with the Gnostics, but we’re talking about degrees, not quantum jumps, between the views of who/what Jesus was. John’s Gospel is an example of a Gospel in between the Synoptics and the Gnostic works.

    It is clear that what was left out and what was changed by a given author indicates scriptural corruption and not mere variance.

    “If anything, it is thought that both Matthew and Luke were influenced by Mark, not each other…”

    Yes, they were – and also Q (which may not exist per se but can represent common material between Matthew and Luke which does not exist in Mark).

  158. MK
    October 22nd, 2009 @ 5:28 am

    Pike,

    I know you said that you didn’t want to go over the “contradictions”, but for my sake, would you? I don’t know what they are. I know of some inconsistencies, but as I said those can be attributed to the need to reach different audiences. I’d like to hear what you think the contradictions are.

    For instance, in my mind, leaving out the shepherds but putting in the Magi is not a contradiction. In your mind it is. (I think that’s what you were saying, anyway).

    I also think that the criteria for historical knowledge is way different for stuff that happened 2,000 years ago compared to stuff that would happen today.

    Considering everything had to be painstakingly written by hand, 4 accounts, plus the gnostic gospels, plus the early church fathers…seems like a LOT of documentation.

    Do we have that much for other historical figures of that time period?

  159. Pikemann Urge
    October 24th, 2009 @ 2:53 am

    Well, there’s Matthew 3 and Luke 3 as above (but here we have in principle a defined source in Q so if we find an old version of Q we can find out quickly which is the correct detail).

    Then there is Mark 9:40 and Matthew 12:30: “For he that is not against us is on our part” and “He that is not with me is against me” respectively.

    An interesting one is Mark 14:55-59 and John 2:19-22. In Mark, Jesus is falsely accused of saying he’d destroy the temple and raise it in three days; in John he does say those words.

    Note also that in Mark, the two men who were crucified alongside him ‘reviled’ him (also in Matthew), whereas in Luke at least one of them becomes enlightened and sees the importance of the moment.

    I guess that will do. I should mention that shepherds and magi aside, the two nativity accounts (Matthew and Luke) are more different than one would think just by casually going on memory.

    Yes, it’s a lot of documentation, some of which is copied, some forged, some – alas – lost or destroyed, some yet to be discovered.

    Ancient history is not my strong suit. However, we do have good evidence for Caesar that is enough to give his historicity some solid ground.

  160. mk
    October 24th, 2009 @ 6:52 am

    Okay,

    I don’t see, as I said, that simply leaving something out, is evidence that the stories are frauds.

    In John, it makes clear that Jesus was NOT talking about “THE” Temple, but about His body. So it would be false testimony to say that He was talking about the “Temple Proper”…

    Jesus answered and said to them, 15 “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
    20
    The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, 16 and you will raise it up in three days?”
    21
    But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

    With the “theives”, why is it “deceitful” not to mention the one’s change of heart? As I’ve already said, Lukes focus was on the marginalized, forgiveness…it would only make sense that He would tell this particular story.

    Now, If Matthew specifically said “And NEITHER theif ever changed him mind or heart and both died hating God” you’d have something. But simply neglecting to focus on that aspect…that to me is not a contradiction, but a different point of view.

    Here is Mark. It doesn’t say that the two being crucified with Him reviled Him…it says that those passing by did.

    With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left.
    28
    ) 12
    29
    13 Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
    30
    save yourself by coming down from the cross.”

    Same with Matthew.

    It just seems to me, that if you are going to give so much weight to discrepancies proving the invalidity of the Gospels, you’ll have to do better than this.

    Again, if one Gospel claimed that He rose from the dead and another claimed that He remained dead, you might have something. But these little differences are hardly worth noting.

    Even here, on this blog, Maggie will focus on one thing you say, while I’ll focus on another. This doesn’t mean that you didn’t say both, or that Maggie and I are frauds. It just means that each of us focuses on what you say from our own particular points of view. Both are valid, as is what you say, but none negates the other…

    I’ll have to take your word for Caesar, since I know nothing about him, but I wonder, how much of what we know came from the “writings” of men?

  161. Maggie
    October 24th, 2009 @ 7:58 am

    Oy veh! The earliest manuscript we possess of Caesar’s Gallic wars was produced in the 9th century by monks. Yet woe to him who dares to call it unreliable. Hordes of aging classic professors, living and dead, will descend on him and rend him into so much confetti! Refrigeration needed.

    Actually, the earliest biography we have of Alexander the Great was written 400 years after his death. But no one dismisses it. Why?

    History isn’t a game. There are standards for weighing historical evidence which comes in a dozen or more forms: archaeological, written, inscriptions, coins, etc, all painstakingly measured, weighed, and argued over– sometimes for centuries. The Gospels have been around for nearly 2000 years. We know more about them, their transmission, and the world they came from than we know about most any other documents from the ancient world. We would die (historians and history lovers, that is) to have as much and as good quality evidence for the historicity of Alexander, Plato, Socrates, and a gazillion other figures, as we have for Jesus. Now, history is provisional in the sense that serious evidence (good quality) could turn up that might cast a different light on what we think we know but that is a different question. The issue at hand is whether or not the evidence we have supports the majority view of it. It is hard to see how it does not.

    In other words, casting doubt on Christ’s historicity or the reliability of the Gospels is not a convincing strategy in the face of the current evidence. Now if Herod’s archives are discovered, intact, then we will have something new to talk about and will, maybe, need to review what we know …

  162. mk
    October 24th, 2009 @ 9:06 am

    Maggie,

    I was wondering where the heck you were. I’m woefully ignorant when it comes to history, thank you. Teach me, oh great one.

    BTW, the book came and I’m halfway through chapter 2. It’s slow going as the writing style isn’t exactly “gripping” lol, but so far so good.

    What next?

  163. Maggie
    October 24th, 2009 @ 11:14 am

    I think the style will draw you in– or so I hope. It is certainly a style we don’t see today. I have been rereading the book and enjoying it thoroughly but I had to get used to the style again.

    What next? I dunno. If I were back in the classroom I would probably have the class read up a bit on the Manicheans! In fact, the Catholic Encyclopedia has a good article (may be a bit dated, I am no expert) (www.newadvent.org/cathen/09591a.htm)

    In other words, we could, perhaps, study some of the main themes in Augustine’s life and writings, as they are treated in the biography. Or, we could read the darned book and just talk about the bits that strike us as new/interesting/worthy of further study?

  164. Maggie
    October 24th, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

    mk (and any interested others) I have created a new blog for this discussion. I can’t see having it here in the comments. I think we should comment on whatever we want here (and let it be free-wheeling!) and have the book discussion elsewhere. The blog can be found at: http://monica354.wordpress.com/ (monica is Auggie’s mom; 354 is his birthdate. Get it???)

  165. mk
    October 24th, 2009 @ 4:24 pm

    any chance we could do this at my blog? I have readers that would benefit (even if they don’t think so) from it. Unless you have readers also…

    As for what’s next…you tell me. I’m just following orders. I’m up to chapter 4.

    There was one line that I highlighted…really got to me as the mother of 6, 4 of them young adult males…

    “I just cannot see how she could have been healed if my death in sin had come to pierce the entrails of her love.”

    Wow. I don’t dwell much on my boys lack of faith, but it is a deep pain, and very real. There just isn’t much I can do except pray so I basically shelf it. Reading that line made me cry, and my heart ache. I fell in love with Monica in that moment. And what a great son to realize it!

  166. Maggie
    October 24th, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

    Of course we can do it at your blog! It took 5 minutes to set mine up and it will take 5 seconds to delete the whole thing! (How did you get to chapter 4 already? I am still in 3, I think.)

    I love what you just wrote. I think that would be a wonderful way to discuss the book– pick out some lines or a description of an event and relate it to a present concern. Absolutely fabulous.

    Can you do a separate page or what?

  167. Maggie
    October 24th, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

    PS. I think it was quite beastly of you to boast of your many readers when I don’t have a single one. Not even you, :(

  168. mk
    October 24th, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

    I work on Live Writer but my computer is in the hospital…Don’t know how long. I think it caught bird flu.

    So I can’t post for a couple of days (I can’t access live writer from the family computer) but yes, I can put up a weekly/bi-weekly/daily whatever post and even make a separate page for it. Like I said, I already did this for Theology of the Body.

    So keep reading and underlining and we’ll get it up and running in about a week.

    Sound good?

    BTW, I didn’t even know you had a blog. Your name doesn’t link to it like mine does. I don’t have that many readers. I used to moderate at Jill Staneks (for almost 3 years) but it started getting to me. So another girl and I did the Luther thing and split into our own blog. Some of the regulars came with us (tho they still go to Jill’s). We have about 15 or 20 off an on commenters. Some are pro life, some pro choice, some Catholic, some agnostic, some protestant…some combinations. They’re all good people though. And even if they “ignore” the posts on Augustine, I know (cuz I can see behind the scenes) that they read it. Hardly anyone commented on TOB but lo and behold months later they’d bring up something that was written there. And it got plenty of hits…so it might seem like it’s just you and I but you’d be surprised!

  169. mk
    October 24th, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    Oh and as for how I got to chapter 4… (this is just between you and me ;) ) I used to live in a house with 8 people and one bathroom. The kids were trained EARLY that when that bathroom door is closed mom is OFF LIMITS. Now that I have my own bathroom I found the habit hard to break. So I get my coffee at 5:00 am, go into the bathroom, have a cigarette or two and read for a blissful 20 minutes without anyone even knowing that I’m up. But if you tell anyone, I’ll have to kill you.

  170. Pikemann Urge
    October 24th, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

    MK, the priests wanted witnesses for evidence against Jesus. Regardless of what Jesus *meant*, they were searching for evidence of sedition or blasphemy or whatever.

    Secondly, regarding Mark’s crucifixion narrative, the two thieves most certainly did denounce Jesus (15:32). Luke was not telling a different perspective of the same story. He was changing it to suit his particular views of what Christianity should be.

    You don’t need exhaustive narratives to establish contradictions. My favourite example is the death of Judas. How did he really die? You don’t need second-by-second accounts to compare. It’s just plain from what we already have that it was either A or B. Now, A or B could be true. Contradictions don’t cancel each other out. But both cannot be true.

    Maggie, regardless of how much evidence we have for Caesar or Plato or Socrates, the existence of those men does not matter to the fate of my soul. But Jesus? I’d say his claims – and the claims made on his behalf – are important enough to warrant better evidence.

    Hell, it’s possible that Shakespeare never existed. And that was ‘only’ 500 years ago. But it makes his plays no less worthy.

  171. Maggie
    October 24th, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

    No, it is not possible that Shakespeare never existed. The only thing of major interest in question is whether he wrote the plays attributed to him. We have a wealth of information about not just him, but his parents, their lives and his father’s career, his brothers and sisters; when they were born and when they died, his baptism which is entered in the baptismal register of the Holy Trinity parish church, in Stratford on April 26, 1564. We know when and to whom he was married, when his daughter was born, etc. We’d no more but there was no National Enquirer or News of the World following celebrities around.

    I am curious though. Obviously we would all love to have a complete, accurate picture of Jesus’ life and times from birth to Resurrection but we don’t. What we do have has seemed plenty adequate to many people. What would you like (that would have been possible given the time and culture he lived in)? What would convince you?

  172. Maggie
    October 24th, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

    Pay no attention to that woman who claims to be me and writes stupid things like “no” for “know”!!!!

  173. mk
    October 25th, 2009 @ 6:12 am

    Pike,

    I must have missed something here. You claimed that the Gospel writers wrote conflicting reports. I pointed out that they did not. Yes, the High Priests wanted to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing so they used His own words against Him. But they used them “wrongly”, as in made them seem as if He were saying something that He wasn’t. So I don’t know what you mean by this:

    MK, the priests wanted witnesses for evidence against Jesus. Regardless of what Jesus *meant*, they were searching for evidence of sedition or blasphemy or whatever.

    Yes He said those words. Yes the Jews accused Him of saying those words. But they made it sound like He was saying something that He wasn’t, therefore this was not really a contradiction.

    Also, can you show me where the thieves “revile” Jesus. Cuz it ain’t where you said it was.

    I guess I’m confused as to what we are discussing. I’m claiming that the accounts are not identical because they were written by different people, addressing different audiences and highlighting different episodes.

    You are claiming they were copied, yet somehow have different information. Which confuses me. If I copy someone elses work then I would copy it. It would be the same. If it’s different, to me, that would be evidence that I did NOT copy it.

    I’m with Maggie. You seem to want it both ways. Sans photographs or videos, what are you looking for in the way of “evidence”?

    The Gospels claim to be non fiction, all the places in both the Old Testament and New exist. Most of the people that are talked about existed.

    Why would these men, 100 years after the fact, come up with these fictional accounts and claim them to be real? What did they gain? Power? Money? Prestige? I don’t think so. They were beheaded, stoned, fed to lions…I mean seriously. What is the reason for this “Great Deception”?

    I hope I’m not sounding snarky, cuz I don’t mean to. I’m just missing the boat on this. It’s me, not you. I’m not clear on what you are saying…

  174. Pikemann Urge
    October 26th, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

    Seems like my post disappeared into the ether. Unless it was a network error at my end. I’ll try again.

    Maggie: “No, it is not possible that Shakespeare never existed.”

    I haven’t visited this area for a while but the evidence was surprisingly good as I remember it. Not as interesting as the Jack the Ripper case, that’s for sure.

    “What would convince you?”

    I’ll know when I see it – that’s probably the best answer I can give. But it’s what does not convince me that is at issue. Get rid of all the problems in the texts and then we can start.

    mk: “Yes He said those words. Yes the Jews accused Him of saying those words. But they made it sound like He was saying something that He wasn’t, therefore this was not really a contradiction.”

    No, that’s the point, he didn’t say those words. That’s pretty much the clearest reading as I make it. Although passers-by thought also that he said those words (Mark 15:29-30).

    “Also, can you show me where the thieves “revile” Jesus. Cuz it ain’t where you said it was.”

    It is: 15:32. Here is the KJV with one verse either side:

    31: Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
    32: Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
    33: And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

    “You are claiming they were copied, yet somehow have different information.”

    Yes, both. Matthew and Luke copied Q (apparently). But one of the authors – perhaps because he heard a possibly more reliable tradition – changed 3:7. One of them can still be true! But not both.

    “The Gospels claim to be non fiction, all the places in both the Old Testament and New exist. Most of the people that are talked about existed.”

    We know a lot of persons and places that were real and we also don’t have a clue about a lot. A mixed bag.

    I’m not sure there was meant to be a deception. I think the whole story took a life of its own, so to speak, and not for trivial reasons. I am sure others can shed more light on that.

    Hope that clears some things up. :-)

  175. mk
    October 27th, 2009 @ 6:09 am

    Pike,

    This is why I’m confused…

    “Jesus answered and said to them, 15 “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19.

    He does say it. And then the Jews misrepresent why He said it.

    As for the thief…it doesn’t say that he did NOT repent later. It just says that at some point he too was abusing Jesus. This is what I mean by the difference between contradiction and omission. It’s very possible that BOTH thieves were insulting Jesus but that as time went on, one realized that he was wrong to do so.

    I mean, I see where you’re coming from, but I just don’t think that these are contradictions, really. Certainly not unexplainable, irrefutable contradictions that render the Gospels unreliable.

    Here’s a link that responds to 143 different “discrepancies”….

    http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/bible.htm#77

    I just think that if you focus on these minor, “apparent” inconsistencies, and use them as your sole excuse to dismiss the entire faith, then you are doing yourself an injustice. Like you’re biting off your nose to spite your face.

    “We know a lot of persons and places that were real and we also don’t have a clue about a lot. A mixed bag.

    Okay, maybe the “all” was stretching it. But I was talking about the main players. Obviously you can’t prove or disprove the existence of a leper with no name. But Caesar and Herod and Pilate etc.

  176. Pikemann Urge
    October 27th, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

    “He does say it. And then the Jews misrepresent why He said it.”

    In John he says it, yes. In Mark he is falsely accused of saying it. Round and round we go! ;-)

    “As for the thief…it doesn’t say that he did NOT repent later.”

    Mark has no need to say that. Because to Mark, the thieves said what they said and that was that.

    http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/bible.htm#77

    Yeah I’m familiar with that site. I’ll have to go through it all sometime. But if you’re satisfied with their (or anyone else’s) harmonization of the death of Judas, good luck to you!

    “and use them as your sole excuse to dismiss the entire faith”

    These inconsistencies simply betray either man-made religion or man-made corruption of that religion. Either way the NT isn’t something that’s sanctioned by God. It’s one reason why I cannot accept it as ultimate truth. There are other reasons, of course.

  177. Maggie
    October 27th, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

    Pikemann: Have you done anything as obvious as read someone who defends the Gospels in a simple, reader friendly fashion? Mark D. Roberts springs to mind. He is a Harvard trained theologian who really knows how to write for non-specialists. (His take down of the Jesus Seminar is worth my weight in gold) If you go to this page, you can see a list of Jesus-related topics he has written on and then after you scroll down a bit come his chapters on the reliability of the Gospels. (http://www.markdroberts.com/htmfiles/resources/gospelsreliableprint1.htm)There are far more scholarly authors and resources out there but there is no reason not to start at the beginning.

  178. Pikemann Urge
    October 28th, 2009 @ 3:54 am

    “Have you done anything as obvious as read someone who defends the Gospels in a simple, reader friendly fashion?”

    Are you a fan of Yes, Prime Minister? You know how Humphrey sometimes objects with that affably pompous tone? Imagine me as Humphrey: “Maggie. Now, now.”

    Okay, seriously though. Anyone with an interest in NT criticism pretty much has to read apologetics. Lucky for me that I enjoy it! Not only do I read apologists’ works but I take notes along the way. Same as I’d do for anything that I take seriously. Heck, I even marked pages while reading The Lost Symbol.

    ‘The Case for Christ’ is as useful as ‘The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture’ or ‘Jesus, Interrupted’.

    I’m somewhat familiar with people such as Lee Strobel, WL Craig, Frank Turek etc. Even that windbag JP Holding, famous for hair-splitting when it suits him.

    Just as important to me are the 2ndC apologists such as Irenaeus. More reading there is required, though.

    Of course, getting to know the material I’m examining is crucial. So careful NT readings are always in order (though ATM I’m focusing on the Gospels with Lattimore’s translation).

    BTW, I am going through the document you linked to. Why not!

  179. mk
    October 28th, 2009 @ 5:40 am

    Oh Maggie,

    Your like a treasure chest just FILLED with wonderful stuff!
    I’ve bookmarked that link. It’s wonderful.

    Also, I have some more quotes from Augustine to share, but it will have to wait till I get the kids to school!

    I wish you lived next door! ;)

  180. Maggie
    October 28th, 2009 @ 8:21 am

    On the Internet, everyone lives next door!

    Pikemann: I adore Yes, Minister and Yes Prime Minister. Paul Eddington! Nigel Hawthorne! Oy veh! Such greatness.

  181. mk
    October 28th, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

    Maggie,

    Okay, here are a few excerpts that I really liked. Forgive any typos as I have to hold the LARGE book open and type at the same time…

    “I should not chase after this or that philosophical sect, but should love Wisdom of whatever kind it should be; that I should search for it, follow hard upon it, hold on to it and embrace it with all my strength. That was what stirred me in that discourse, set me alight, and left me blazing.”

    Wow. Talk about reading my own heart! I love this guy!

    and

    “They are, all of them, stalwart schoolmasters, deaf to any appeal other than to reason, capable of understanding the idea of authority only if introduced to them tactfully, in terms of their professional use of authoritative textbooks as an aid to learning”…

    Man, he could be talking about so many people that have posted here and elsewhere…as well as Hitchens, Dawkins and Michael Moore. lol

    and

    “Whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve (the temptress)that we must beware of in any woman…”

    Hmmmmm….one eyebrow goes up, and yet, there is truth in there.

  182. Maggie
    October 28th, 2009 @ 8:52 pm

    Those are great quotes. I am afraid the women are either Eve(bad) or Mary (good) nonsense was just getting started and, largely, because of the baleful influence of Greek thought. Those dratted Greeks with their contempt for the body…! You also have to remember that Augustine was quite a mama’s boy and stayed one until she died. She warned him about women a little too well!

    Try not to get too far ahead of me. I have developed a cold and imagine that I will be sleeping off alcohol laden cold medicines for a couple of days. Starting now…

  183. GeorgeRic
    October 28th, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

    The whole ballgame (knowledge and understanding) is about to go through a major expansion: understanding a brand new (and traditional) view of our worlds. For doubters, it is a scientific approach, taking a theory and checking phenomena to see if that theory makes them more understandable.
    Agnostics routinely refer to a lack of intelligent thinking on the part of Christians, and admittedly, ideas such as the dead rising long after their molecules are in use by later generations, the unprovable concept of an immortal soul and the search for the simple whereabouts of God, lead to Yuri Gagarin stating that he had been in heaven and looked all around for God and saw no sign of Him. But true agnostics keep an open-mind, carefully considering all views and weighing them well.
    ‘Techie Worlds’ (available at Amazon.com) builds on ‘Flatland’s ideas about contiguous geometric worlds to show how logical Trinity is, how resurrection, judgment and soul are reasonable in such worlds, and that Christianity is as probable as that simplistic idea of ‘only the material world’. Considering not just the testimonies of Wiccans and Satanists, but also miracles such as the dance of the sun at Fatima (witnessed by thousands) it appears that multiple-worlds is more likely. Oh well, the minds of agnostics are not really that open to any belief based on love. Techie Worlds presents a completely new way of looking at the truths of Christianity, able to persuade atheists that Christianity is logical and a sound, well-reasoned view.
    GeorgeRic

  184. Pikemann Urge
    October 30th, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

    George, interesting stuff. Christianity as a worldview may be fine – depends who you are and how you see it. Whether it’s true or not of course is a separate issue. A poem doesn’t have to be true to be true. If you know what I mean.

    One of the most interesting films I’ve seen is ‘What the Bleep do We Know?’. Don’t be in the know, be in the mystery. I like that.

    However valuable Christianity is, I find more value in mysticism. Just MHO.

  185. mk
    October 31st, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    Pike,

    What do you mean by “Mysticism”?

  186. Pikemann Urge
    October 31st, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

    Mysticism differs from religion (although there’s no reason why you can’t be both – as Sufis are) in that religion assumes a personal God whereas mysticism assumes God as a force, an energy, and it’s something you can have direct access to. There aren’t many boundaries. There isn’t much doctrine, either. You have to figure things out for yourself.

  187. Maggie
    October 31st, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

    Well, that is certainly not true of Christian mysticism, though I cannot speak of Eastern mysticism. It is an interesting phenomenon. I studied the women mystics of the medieval period in Europe rather extensively for many years and if there is one thing God is not, He is not impersonal!

  188. mk
    November 1st, 2009 @ 5:38 am

    Pike,

    Zoarastrianism, gnosticism, kabbalism, pagansm, new age…these and so many more are what I would call mysticism.

    So I guess what I as really asking, is what do YOU, mean by mysticism. What are YOUR beliefs?

    We keep talking about ours and the Catholic Faith, I’m just curious as to what it is exactly, that YOU believe…

    ?

  189. mk
    November 1st, 2009 @ 5:39 am

    Maggie,

    Are you all better? Ready for some more quotes…
    Oh and my computer is still MIA. I’m starting to get ticked off. How long can it take to fix a computer????? It’s been over a week!

  190. Maggie
    November 1st, 2009 @ 10:31 am

    Amazingly, yes I am better. I dodged a bullet for sure– just a plain old, annoying cold and not the flu (of any sort). I am still blowing my nose and annoying all around me but… tough.

    I can’t stand putting Augustine off much longer.You want to talk on my blog until we get under way? We can always summarize what we have said (or compile it) and post it later on yours. I just reread the bit where he ditched his mom in order to sail to Rome without her. :lol: I’m sorry. I know she is a saint and all but she is the original [i]Jewish Mother[/i]and clearly the source of that stereotype. I mean her boy was 28. He didn’t need his mommy…

  191. Maggie
    November 1st, 2009 @ 10:32 am

    Aaargh. I hate faux html. I really, really, do!

  192. mk
    November 1st, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

    LOL…

    I felt the same way. I kept thinking “She’s killin’ him”.
    As the mother of boys (and a LOT of them) I can tell ya that nothin’ sends ‘em runnin’ faster than clinging…

    Food. Food is the secret to keeping them close.

    Give it til tomorrow. If I don’t have the computer back by then, then yes. We’ll do it on yours for the interim.

    Unless Pike wants to be involved?

  193. Maggie
    November 1st, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

    What? Has Pike got ten broken fingers? He can come over to my website too, if he wants to dissect Augustine with us.

    You know, as I read about the strategms Augustine used to ditch his mother, I was thinking of you with all those sons. Monica must surely have a special place in the heart of mothers with teenaged and adult sons! You don’t have to tell me about food and males! I watched my grandmother keep her sons in line with the stuff long after they were married and fathers themselves. Nothing like pasta and garlic bread to do that!

  194. Pikemann Urge
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 3:25 am

    Maggie, I have a book about Christian mysticism but haven’t got around to it yet. When I say that God is not personal – just to clear things up – I mean to say that God is not a personality. If God feels personal it’s how one reacts to him.

    Mk, interesting question about beliefs. I’d like to say I don’t have any, but who’s to say? It is… ‘apparent’ to me that the mystics are right. Briefly, these statements would describe my world view:

    – We have a physical and spiritual, transcendent component

    – The material world may be lower than the spiritual but it cannot be demeaned or deprecated

    – God is a ‘vibe’

    – God connects us all

    – The Indian mystic, Shree Rajneesh, proposed that while religion teaches that God is love, mysticism teaches that love is God. Where love is, there God is

    Have you read the book, ‘Mister God, This is Anna’? I’d describe that girl as a mystic.

  195. mk
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 6:09 am

    Maggie,

    Okay, the computer is back, but it won’t get connected again until Wednesday. Then I have to wait to get live writer downloaded. They had to wipe the entire thing clean. Something about Vista not having some drivers, something I downloaded searching for the missing drivers and then Vista going bonkers. I’m not a very happy woman right now.

    Pike,

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to flesh out your “beliefs”…I’m curious. You don’t accept scripture because it’s to vague…vague about what it means, where it came from…

    Yet you hold that there is a “spiritual” realm and a “vibe”…Talk about vague, lol. So what is your “evidence” (I don’t mean convince ME, but what convinced YOU?) that there is an “other” and why do you think it connects us all?

  196. mk
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 6:16 am

    Pike,

    BTW, yes I have read “Anna” but I was a teenager and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the time, so I don’t remember it well. You need to read the Diary of Faustina. Now THERE was a mystic. Or Padre Pio. Anna was fiction. Faustina and Pio were REAL. For a guy that requires concrete proofs you sure do believe in some gauzy stuff.

    I can show you 60 some books written about a God that spoke to, appeared to and lived with, or at the time of, the authors. I can show you real live mystics and documented miracles.

    So far you’ve told me about a fictional 5 year old and a “vibe”…I’m teasing you here…

    So which one of us sounds more “reasonable” to you? Which set of beliefs sounds more plausible?

  197. Maggie
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 7:55 am

    LOL! mk. Most admirers of mysticism rarely know what it is. Mostly, it seems that the word gets used to cover a certainty that a lot of people have (rightly) that there is more to life than the physical world. But it is sad to settle for intuitive feelings of that sort and not look to the source of them.

    Now, as to your plight, let it be said … I hate Vista. I hate it with the white hot heat of 1000 suns. There is nothing good about it; it is garbage and I wish nothing but a thousand itches in places its inventors can’t reach on every single person associated with this abomination.

    I trust you are in no doubt about my feelings?

  198. mk
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 8:25 am

    Maggie,

    I’m sorry. Are you saying that you don’t care for Vista?

    Can you put up your link again so it’s closer to the bottom and I don’t have to search for it?

    PIKE,

    PLEAAAAASE join us? You don’t have to read the book, just the conversations…

  199. Maggie
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    my name is hypertexted now. But, ok– http://monica354.wordpress.com

    Pike: you are welcome. I have the blog set up so that first timers have to be approved.

    Since I am on my way to work, I am not likely to be able to respond to anything you write mk until lunch time (you have been approved so anything you write should show up immediately).

  200. mk
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    Duh! Sorry. I didn’t realize. Great. Okay then, I’ll put some stuff up this afternoon.

  201. mk
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

    Hey, I’m so sorry. My kids both have strep. Spent the afternoon at the Pediatricians. I’ve been walking around with the book all day. Read some of it to my 23 year old. I’ll post what I read on your blog tomorrow. Got to get everyone to bed and then I’m going too. 5:00am comes all too quick and I have 4 of them tomorrow morning. Then Jeff Cavins bible class, THEN, I should have some time…

  202. maggie
    November 2nd, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

    That’s fine, mk. I am exhausted. Monday is always hard and I am still congested, so that even though I don’t feel bad, I don’t really feel like myself. Tomorrow will be just fine if you can manage it.

  203. Pikemann Urge
    November 3rd, 2009 @ 3:01 am

    mk: “Yet you hold that there is a “spiritual” realm and a “vibe”…Talk about vague, lol. ”

    But I’m not claiming anything specific. The Bible is not really vague. Its narrative is quite clear, usually. The only criticism I have of it is that much of it is not true.

    Evidence? There isn’t strong empirical evidence for things like ESP, remote viewing etc, but I have reason to accept some of this as true, partly based on my experiences, partly on those of other persons whom I know.

    What the hell does it matter if Anna was fiction or not? (How convenient that she is fictional but the ‘real’ Christian ones are legitimate?). I don’t know if she really existed. I can’t know. But the book is still quite valuable to me. So is much poetry and fiction. Even if the NT was 100% fiction would people stop reading it and finding value in it?

    I don’t require concrete proofs, especially where there cannot be any such thing. E.g. the Bible’s claims.

    A religious belief becomes plausible only when there are enough other people who hold it the same way that you do.

    I’ll take a peek at Maggie’s blog for sure, even if I don’t participate.

  204. mk
    November 3rd, 2009 @ 6:39 am

    Pike,

    There isn’t strong empirical evidence for things like ESP, remote viewing etc, but I have reason to accept some of this as true, partly based on my experiences, partly on those of other persons whom I know.

    But this is exactly what we say. We have reason to accept that God, Catholicism, etc is true partly based on our experiences and partly on those of whom we’ve known/read.

    I didn’t mean to tic you off up there. I was just razzin’ you.

    I don’t think Anna has to be real to find value in her words. But I do think Jesus has to be real to find the value that we find in Him. Everything I believe, all of my actions, my entire LIFE has changed based on this belief. If He is just fiction then I don’t want any part of Him. I’m finding out that Augustine was the same way. I am ONLY interested in the Truth. No matter WHAT that is. So it would make a huge difference to me if Jesus was just a “story”. It’s why I’m not Muslim, or Mormon or a scientologist. Because I believe that these are all fictions, even if their philosophies do contain some wisdom.

  205. mk
    November 3rd, 2009 @ 6:43 am

    Pike,

    Also,

    A religious belief becomes plausible only when there are enough other people who hold it the same way that you do.

    I don’t want any part of a religion that is only true if someone says it’s true. If every Christian in the world fell off the face of the earth tomorrow, Christianity would still be a viable religion. A lonely one, but a viable one.

    That, to me, is like saying bacteria is only plausible if there is someone to believe in it.

    Truth is Truth and it is independent of outside influences. It is constant, not mutable. It doesn’t change. It remains true. Always.

  206. Richard Norris
    November 3rd, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

    MK,
    Just out of curiosity, I was wondering if there was any thread of theology that stated how God chose the semitic peoples to be his people, or the process by which he revealed himself to them as a real deity apart from the rest of the Canaanite pantheon of deities.I mean, given the fact that much of what is in Genesis is not accurate, or perhaps to put a finer point on it, allegory, does anyone have a clearer picture of how El was selected or revealed?

  207. Pikemann Urge
    November 4th, 2009 @ 3:36 am

    “We have reason to accept that God, Catholicism, etc is true partly based on our experiences and partly on those of whom we’ve known/read.”

    Sounds fine to me. But if you were to say that Christianity is more true than X or is the ultimate/exclusive truth, then we have a problem.

    “If He is just fiction then I don’t want any part of Him.”

    I think you’re right: you can be inspired by fiction but certainly you wouldn’t live your life by it.

    “Truth is Truth and it is independent of outside influences.”

    AFAIK that’s… uh… true!

    Richard, I’m glad you aren’t asking me. Wouldn’t have the faintest idea.

  208. mk
    November 4th, 2009 @ 6:38 am

    Good question Richard. I’ll look into it…

  209. mk
    November 4th, 2009 @ 7:15 am

    Richard,

    I know this doesn’t answer your question as it isn’t “before the fact, but after” but it still hits on the “idea” of your question…

    How can we know that the Jews are really the Chosen people? (top)

    There are several, objective ways by which we can know that our claim to be the Chosen People is, in fact, true. The very fact that we survived as a nation and a religion[10], a tiny group of people spread throughout the nations of the world is totally mysterious and entirely unprecedented[11]. Paul Johnson stated it beautifully when he observed: “Above all, that the Jews should still survive when all those other ancient peoples were transmuted or vanished into the oubliettes of history, was wholly predictable. How could it be otherwise? Providence decreed it and the Jews obeyed.” (A History of the Jews, pg. 587)

    Anti-Semitism is another phenomenon in the world which seems perplexing and without explanation. No other hatred is as intense, spread over so many countries (even ones where Jews do not live), over so many centuries and with such persistent dedication[12].

    Lloyd George stated in 1923: “Of all the extreme fanaticism which plays havoc in man’s nature, there is not one as irrational as anti-Semitism. … If the Jews are rich [these fanatics] are victims of theft. If they are poor, they are victims of ridicule. If they take sides in a war, it is because they wish to take advantage from the spilling of non-Jewish blood. If they espouse peace, it is because they are scared by their natures or traitors. If the Jew dwells in a foreign land he is persecuted and expelled. If he wishes to return to his own land, he is prevented from doing so.”

    Nations dedicated enormous energies and resources to their Jew hatred, sometimes to the point of their own destruction. Ultimately, anti-Semitism can only be explained as result of the recognition which the nations of the world have that the Jews are the Chosen People[13].

    All the prophecies about the Jews, which have proven to be so accurate further bolsters our claim. Finally, there is the fact that this is the people to whom G-d gave the Torah[14]. None of the monotheistic religions denies this claim. The Kuzari claims that a claim of a national revelation cannot be made unless it is true, which is why no other nation ever attempted to make a similar claim[15]. The miracles which occurred around this time were public, easily observable and testable and took place over an enormously long period of time.

    Many other proofs that verify that G-d gave the Torah to the Jews exist besides[16]. The last one we will discuss here is the Jewish contribution to civilization, a phenomenon so remarkable that all great historians have felt a need to comment on it[17]. More than anything else, the Jews have contributed Monotheism[18], a fact that changed everything about the world, including the ability to do science as we know it today. The Jews contributed the Torah, the idea of universal education, the concept of the basic rights of man. They also gave the basic notions of equality of opportunity, democracy, and our basic notions of justice. In Paul Johnson’s beautiful prose:

    “Certainly the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place. Humanity might eventually have stumbled upon all the Jewish insights. But we cannot be sure. All the great conceptual discoveries of the intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they have been revealed; but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person; of the individual conscience and so for personal redemption; of the collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice…Above all, the Jews taught us…Monotheism[19].”

    This contribution, which is so disproportionate to our size, was made under the most difficult of circumstances, when we were under siege, spread out, being hounded and expelled. Other nations would have been pleased to have survived; while the Jews did more for the world than any nation on earth.

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/faqs/The_Jewish_Nation.htm

  210. mk
    November 4th, 2009 @ 7:31 am

    and this….

    Moses Theory and Fred Theory

    The claim that three million people heard God speak appears in every intact Torah scroll ever found. The claim is either true or false. If it is a lie, and no such revelation ever took place, at some time in the past someone must have made such a claim. If we contemplate what the scene must have looked like when a false claim of national prophecy was first launched, we find ourselves locked into one of two scenarios: The person making the claim either told his followers (a) that the national prophecy happened in the present — “You personally heard God speak” — or (b) that the national prophecy happened in the past — “Your ancestors once heard God speak.” We might call the first theory “Moses Theory,” since the Torah records that “Moses” was the name of Jewry’s leader when the prophecy took place. We can call the second possibility “Fred Theory,” since the leader during this post-Sinaitic period need not be Moses — he might as well be Fred.

    I think the problem you are having is in believing that because much of the Torah is allegorical, you jump to the conclusion that none of it is historical. I’m no OT scholar and I’m sure that a much better job of explaining this can be found, but I do know that it’s not either/or.

    The fact that this happened to MANY people, and not just one, is significant. The entire bible, all the books, in my understanding is the painstaking, slow process of God revealing Himself to us…bit by bit.

    So while Jonah might not have actually been swallowed by a whale (allegory) he most likely existed and something out of the ordinary happened. While there might not have been an animal of every type on the ark, as the flood may only have involved a certain part of the “the world”, with other animals surviving, there most likely was a flood and a man named Noah most likely did have a hand in saving a large part of the “world”.

    While paganism is alive and well today, it is not organized or united as it was in the past. Judaism/Christianity has survived for 6,000 years virtually unchanged. The Old Testament remains the same today as it was in the beginning.

    Even if you argue that Hinduism is still here, you must recognize that Hinduism is not a story of salvation and not really a religion that starts at “the beginning”. The Gods of Hinduism or more like practical application than mystic revelations. My pediatrician is Hindu and told me that it is more a philosophy of life, than a true religion, in that it doesn’t answer the “where did we come from questions” so much as the “what do we do now that we’re here questions…”

    So I have no answer for you. Not really. The Old Testament is it as far as I can tell.

    I would be curious to know if the God of the Jews is mentioned in any texts of other religions. Like, do they reference Him when defining what was going on in their own times/faith, the way the OT mentions pagan religions.

    We know that Moloch and Baal were worshiped in part because they are talked about in Jewish Scripture…see what I mean?

  211. Book Club ~~~ November 5th, 2009 | 2SecondsFaster.com
    November 5th, 2009 @ 6:58 am

    […] the Raving Theists blog: There was one line that I highlighted…really got to me as the mother of 6, 4 of them young […]

  212. MK
    November 5th, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

    Wow! Who put up the book club link and THANK YOU!

  213. maggie
    November 5th, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

    mk–isn’t that a ping back?

  214. TOF
    November 5th, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    offs
    One day, when you leave school you will understand these diffikult things.

    Such as correct spelling, one assumes.

  215. MK
    November 5th, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

    TOF,

    OFFS went the way of “Brave Sir Robin”. In other words…he ran away.

  216. MK
    November 5th, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

    Ah yes, ping-back…whatever…it was wonderful!

  217. Decker
    November 9th, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

    Funny how all the logic in the facebook page arrives at “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” as if it were a central human truth defined years ago by an itinerant carpenter in an ancient Middle East crossroads. All that stone logic to one emotional conclusion. Careful. you might end actually reading the thing you oppose and finding out you’ve become what you oppose.

  218. MK
    November 15th, 2009 @ 9:52 am

    Maggie,

    I know that you haven’t “loved” the conversations that have been taking place at 2secondsfaster, but they aren’t always that heated. We’ve all known each other for years, so we know what argument styles work with who and it’s not at all like it is over here…

    Either way, you didn’t comment on the Augustine post and I’m wondering if you you’re not coming back. Should I even bother to keep going????

  219. atheistfool
    December 20th, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

    Looks like your website is under attack from supernatural forces…

    http://dyn.politico.com/members/forums/thread.cfm?catid=2&subcatid=7&threadid=3449994

    you really need to add comment moderation to your blasphemy…

  220. On MLK Day --
    January 18th, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, (No sir) because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” (Yes, sir)

    How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because “no lie can live forever.” (Yes, sir)

    How long? Not long, (All right. How long) because “you shall reap what you sow.” (Yes, sir)

    How long? (How long?) Not long: (Not long)

    Truth forever on the scaffold, (Speak)

    Wrong forever on the throne, (Yes, sir)

    Yet that scaffold sways the future, (Yes, sir)

    And, behind the dim unknown,

    Standeth God within the shadow,

    Keeping watch above his own.

    How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. (Yes, sir)

    How long? Not long, (Not long) because:

    Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; (Yes, sir)

    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; (Yes)

    He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; (Yes, sir)

    His truth is marching on. (Yes, sir)

    He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; (Speak, sir)

    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat. (That’s right)

    O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!

    Our God is marching on. (Yeah)

    Glory, hallelujah! (Yes, sir) Glory, hallelujah! (All right)

    Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

    His truth is marching on.

    –some guy
    March 25, 1965. Montgomery, Ala.

  221. On the Anniversary of a grim decision –
    January 22nd, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

    “With all due respect, I dissent. I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes. The upshot is that the people and the legislatures of the 50 States are constitutionally dissentitled to weigh the relative importance of the continued existence and development of the fetus, on the one hand, against a spectrum of possible impacts on the mother, on the other hand. As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but, in my view, its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.”

    — some guy
    January 22, 1973

  222. On the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul –
    January 25th, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    The ideological and economic systems succeeding one another in the last two centuries have often encouraged conflict as a method, since their programmes contained the seeds of opposition and disunity. This fact profoundly affected their understanding of man and of his relations with others. Some of these systems also presumed to relegate religion to the merely private sphere, stripping it of any social influence or importance. In this regard, it is helpful to recall that a modern State cannot make atheism or religion one of its political ordinances. The State, while distancing itself from all extremes of fanaticism or secularism, should encourage a harmonious social climate and a suitable legislation which enables every person and every religious confession to live their faith freely, to express that faith in the context of public life and to count on adequate resources and opportunities to bring its spiritual, moral and civic benefits to bear on the life of the nation.

    –some guy
    Havana, January 25, 1998

  223. On the death penalty –
    January 27th, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.

    –some guy
    January 27, 1999. St. Louis, Missouri

  224. On the State of the Union --
    January 29th, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    By caring for children who need mentors, and for addicted men and women who need treatment, we are building a more welcoming society — a culture that values every life. And in this work we must not overlook the weakest among us. I ask you to protect infants at the very hour of their birth and end the practice of partial-birth abortion. And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity, and pass a law against all human cloning.

    –some guy
    January 29, 2003. Washington, D.C.

  225. On our right to life --
    January 31st, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    In addition to vindicating the right to life of those in the process of being born, the State has a compelling interest in protecting the line between abortion and infanticide — the second significant difference from the Nebraska statute. Congress, inter alia, found that partial-birth abortion “blurs the line between abortion and infanticide,” Partial-Birth Abortion Ban § (2)(14)(O),117 Stat. at 1206, and that failing to prohibit the practice would “coarsen society to the humanity of not only newborns, but all vulnerable and innocent human life,” id. § (2)(14)(N). There is undoubtably a compelling state interest in preventing the killing of newborns. Infanticide, like suicide, is a “serious public-health problem,” which the State has an interest in “studying, identifying, and treating its causes.” This horrific crime occurs in the United States and throughout the world with alarming frequency.

    –some guy
    January 31, 2006. New York City

  226. MK
    January 31st, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    Hey, Some Guy, bring your Wisdom over to 2secondsfaster.com. We could use you, and more people will read what you have to say! :)

  227. Spambot
    February 1st, 2010 @ 6:59 am

    Thanks for the invite, MK. 2secondsfaster looks like a fine site, but I am not looking for discussion right now. Just looking to plant a few flowers here to keep the weeds from overrunning the place.

  228. People on the Move
    February 1st, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

    The Hebrew Bible tells us: “The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:33-34).” In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger (cf. Matthew 25:35), for “what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me (Matthew 25:40).” The Qur’an tells us that we should “serve God…and do good to…orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet, [and those who have nothing] (4:36).”

    We call for immigration reform because each day in our congregations, service programs, health-care facilities, and schools we witness the human consequences of an outmoded system. We see and hear the suffering of immigrant families who have lost loved ones to death in the desert or immigrants themselves who have experienced exploitation in the workplace or abuse at the hands of unscrupulous smugglers and others. In our view, changes to the U.S. legal immigration system would help put an end to this suffering, which offends the dignity of all human beings.

    –some people
    February 1, 2006

  229. On Public Servants
    February 6th, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    Now what we do in the meantime is we have the proper attitude toward law and politics and the legislative process. And that is, that on the one hand it is not our salvation, and yet on the other hand, as we respond to and follow the one who is our Savior whose name is Jesus, we know that he calls us to be actively involved in shaping public policy: that he calls us to be actively involved in choosing our leaders, in selecting those who will be our public servants. And that he calls us to understand — and calls them to understand — that the first requirement of being a public servant is to be able to tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public.

    He calls us to speak very clearly and to challenge those who either hold or seek public office: that if a politician cannot respect the life of a little baby, how does he or she expect us think that they will respect our lives?

    — some guy
    Oklahoma City. February 6, 2008

  230. On Charity Toward the Poor
    February 8th, 2010 @ 7:11 am

    The world needs powerful examples of Christian charity and understanding. By remembering and by renewing in your daily lives your obligations as true followers of Christ you will be giving such an example to the world.
    First of all, We ask you to pray for the countless children in other lands who need assistance. Ask God to comfort them and to bless them. Pray that they may see His providence working in all things. In this way you will bring them closer to God.

    Lent is a time for penance, and so We ask you to deny yourselves something you may or may not need. Then you will be able to contribute to the special collection taken up in your school. This will help your Bishops maintain that worldwide program of the Catholic Relief Services which has been most effective in bringing aid to the needy, and especially to the poor children who are sick, undernourished and homeless.

    –some guy
    Radio message to the school children of America. February 8, 1967.

  231. On the Dolorous Passion
    February 9th, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    I next saw our Lord, with his triumphant procession, enter into a species of Purgatory which was filled with those good pagans who, having had a faint glimmering of the truth, had longed for its fulfilment: this Purgatory was very deep, and contained a few demons, as also some of the idols of the pagans. I saw the demons compelled to confess the deception they had practised with regard to these idols, and the souls of the poor pagans cast themselves at the feet of Jesus, and adored him with inexpressible joy: here, likewise, the demons were bound with chains and dragged away. I saw our Saviour perform many other actions; but I suffered so intensely at the same time, that I cannot recount them as I should have wished.

    -some gal
    d. February 9, 1824.

  232. On Not-So-Sunny Days
    February 10th, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    If the sunny day were Sunday, they could hear the church bell. Clear and sweet it rang through the cold, and they all stood outdoors and listened.

    They could not go to Sunday school; a blizzard might come before they could reach home. But every Sunday they had a little Sunday school of their own.

    Laura and Mary repeated their Bible verses. Ma read a Bible story and a psalm. Then Pa played hymns on the fiddle, and they all sang. They sang,

    “When gloomy clouds across the sky
    Cast shadows o’er the land.
    Bright rays of hope illume my path,
    For Jesus holds my hand.”

    –some gal
    d. February 10, 1957

  233. On the Islamic Revolution
    February 11th, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

    In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate. Heroic Muslim people of Iran, first I would ask you not to allow rioting and unrest to take place. I would remind you that our revolution has not yet achieved complete victory over the enemy and I would request you, my dear brothers and sisters, to cooperate with the interim revolutionary Islamic government.

    –some guy
    Tehran, Iran. 22 Bahman 1357

  234. On a gruesome and inhumane procedure
    February 13th, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited. Rather than being an abortion procedure that is embraced by the medical community, particularly among physicians who routinely perform other abortion procedures, partial-birth abortion remains a disfavored procedure that is not only unnecessary to preserve the health of the mother, but in fact poses serious risks to the long-term health of women and in some circumstances, their lives. It is also a medical fact that the unborn infants aborted in this manner are alive until the end of the procedure and fully experience the pain associated with the procedure.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. February 13, 2003.

  235. On seeing Mary the second time--
    February 14th, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

    When we arrived, we all took our rosaries and we knelt down to say them. I had hardly finished the first decade when I saw the same Lady. Then I started to throw holy water in her direction, and at the same time I said that if she came from God she was to stay, but if not, she must go. She started to smile, and bowed; and the more I sprinkled her with holy water, the more she smiled and bowed her head and the more I saw her make signs. Then I was seized with fright and I hurried to sprinkle her with holy water until the bottle was empty.

    –some gal
    Lourdes, France. February 14, 1858

  236. On resources for pregnant students--
    February 15th, 2010 @ 5:51 am

    At the beginning of the 2nd semester of my freshman year, I discovered I was pregnant. I was devastated. I went to the student-counseling center to try to make sense of my situation, and scheduled an appointment with a therapist.

    After listening to the circumstances leading up to and surrounding my pregnancy, my counselor recommended abortion as the solution to my problem. I remember her rationale being very sound, and although it was ultimately unconvincing, she made a pretty compelling pitch. She pointed out the many disadvantages to continuing my pregnancy, such as the effect it would have on my family and my academic career. She argued it would be better for me to terminate the pregnancy, all things considered.

    –some gal
    Washington, DC. February 15, 2006.

  237. On the mission of the Christian Church--
    February 16th, 2010 @ 6:45 am

    Worry is out of harmony with the kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God, to use Paul’s analogy, all the various elements of society are knit together like the members of a body. The kingdom of God is joy — the joy of vigorous health, of splendid achievement, the joy of self-sacrificing service, the joy of fellowship one with another, the joy of fellowship with God.

    Thus the kingdom is uprightness and peace and joy. It is honesty in business, justice and liberty in government, truthfulness and sincerity in society; it is good will and service one toward another; it is compassion to the erring and the sinful; it is tenderness and sympathy and love binding the family together in the bond of perfectness. This is the kingdom of God.

    –some guy

    New York City. February 16. 1902.

  238. On avoidance of torture
    February 17th, 2010 @ 6:46 am

    The practice of extraordinary rendition, the extra-judicial transfer of people in U.S. custody either in this country or abroad to nations known to practice torture, has until recently received little attention due to the secrecy surrounding such transfers. Attention was first drawn to the practice after the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, first came to light. Mr. Arar was seized in 2002 while in transit to Canada through JFK airport in New York, and was sent to Jordan and later Syria by the U.S. Government. While in Syria, Arar reportedly was tortured and held in a dark, 3-by-6-foot cell for nearly a year. He was ultimately released and detailed his story to the media upon his return to Canada. Since that time, other press reports have identified renditions elsewhere around the world, such as the transfer of an Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, from Pakistan to Egypt, where he was reportedly tortured.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. February 17, 2005.

  239. On one's deathbed--
    February 18th, 2010 @ 1:28 am

    O my father, thou, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, thou, the source of all consolation, I thank thee for having revealed unto me thy well beloved Son, in whom I believe, whom I have preached and acknowledged, and made known; whom I have loved and celebrated, and whom the pope and the impious persecute. I commend my soul to thee, O my Lord Jesus Christ! I am about to quit this terrestrial body, I am about to be removed from this life, but I know that I shall abide eternally with thee.

    In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum; redemisti me, Domine, Deus veritatis.
    In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum; redemisti me, Domine, Deus veritatis.
    In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum; redemisti me, Domine, Deus veritatis.

    –some guy
    Eisleben, Germany. February 18, 1546.

  240. On redress of errors committed in wartime--
    February 19th, 2010 @ 6:42 am

    In this Bicentennial Year, we are commemorating the anniversary dates of many great events in American history. An honest reckoning, however, must include a recognition of our national mistakes as well as our national achievements. Learning from our mistakes is not pleasant, but as a great philosopher once admonished, we must do so if we want to avoid repeating them.

    February 19th is the anniversary of a sad day in American history. It was on that date in 1942, in the midst of the response to the hostilities that began on December 7, 1941, that Executive Order 9066 was issued, subsequently enforced by the criminal penalties of a statute enacted March 21, 1942, resulting in the uprooting of loyal Americans. Over one hundred thousand persons of Japanese ancestry were removed from their homes, detained in special camps, and eventually relocated.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. February 19, 1976

  241. On shadows and darkness
    February 20th, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

    In the darkness much can be hidden. In the absence of light, one is free to act according to Free Will, without the prying or judgmental eyes of others watching. Where there is no light, the Will can lead one to do great and good things. A brisk walk under a starry night sky is good for the heart. A police officer working the 3rd shift can use the cover of darkness to catch a thief or prevent a crime. A midwife can deliver a baby at three o’clock in the morning. Good things in the dark are usually the exception. All too often, darkness has another modus operandi.

    Free Will under the cover of darkness is susceptible to the assaults of temptation. Darkness works as Sin’s camouflage. It is the black cloak that conceals the engines of Evil, turning and churning out its diabolical work. Spies meet in the shadows, in the isolation of fog filled deserted parks and streets. Thugs lay in wait under the cover of darkness to spring upon unsuspecting victims. Addicts and alcoholics find comfort when the sun sets and all traces of twilight retreat from the western sky. Darkness enables sin far more than it encourages righteousness. Perhaps there is good reason to be afraid of the dark.

    –some guy
    Macedon, NY. February 20, 2005.

  242. On that still, small voice--
    February 21st, 2010 @ 1:28 am

    Bob? Well, let’s think about it symbolically, you know? Bob said, how do you bring together what verse 2 says? That you have a sound from Heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder, and then you also have the sound like that of harpists playing their harps.

    I guess if you are talking about rushing water, there’s an idea there of power that comes with that. Water is symbolic throughout scripture. Okay, mentally, there’s rushing water, you’ve got that image of power. Water has several different connotations. John chapter 7 talks about springs of living water, so there’s a Spirit implied presence that’s there. When you talk about a loud peal of thunder in Revelation, that has to do with judgment. But also has to do with just the shear power and presence of God.

    And so I would think, Gary, how did you say that, that there is a power that comes with that? Okay, yeah. And with harps, not only comes with beauty, but also that concept of praise that is there. So does that help, Bob? You know, here’s John chapter, or Revelation chapter 1 verse 15 when Jesus first appeared to John, it says his feet were like bronze going in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

    So that idea of rushing water almost seems to be something that accompanies the Lamb, in power that comes.

    And you know, you think about that. Have you ever sensed the Spirit of the voice of God in power? Like it rushes upon you. I guess I’m just thinking in that sense, that there is something to be said. Sometimes God speaks in a still, small voice, but I know there have been times when I felt his quiet, simple, gentle presence rush in, just because that’s the power that he comes with.

    Paulette? Interesting, so there is an experience that even in the beauty of the harp, there was a rushing power that came with it.

    –some guy
    Toledo, OH. February 21, 2007

  243. On the god of this age--
    February 22nd, 2010 @ 6:42 am

    That’s why it’s such a tragedy that the god of this age has so much success blinding the people of this world to the true glory of God. The reference to the god of this age is, of course, a reference to Satan. Satan knows that God’s unconditional, forgiving love in Jesus is the heart of the glory of God. Satan knows that that forgiving love has the power to render him completely powerless. The only way he can fight back is to obscure and hide that glory in any way he can. And with thousands of years of practice, he’s become quite good at it.

    How adept are we at seeing the power of darkness at work around us? Obviously, one of the ways Satan hides the glory of God’s forgiving love is by keeping people from seeing Jesus. Look at all the false religions Satan has devised to keep people from finding the truth. If that weren’t enough darkness, Satan has devised an even more powerful delusion. That lie is that there is no real truth. There is no one way to heaven. “Believe what you want about the way to get to heaven and you’ll be fine” is his postmodern poison.

    –some guy
    Muskego, WI. February 22, 2004

  244. On sin and grace--
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 1:17 am

    Sin constantly has us say “no”. I am not a child of God. I have doubts, I have fears. Not only do I see it when I examine my own life, not only do I see it when I face a temptation and fail, but I also see it loudly and clearly when I know I listen to the temptations that Satan brings. Then after we succumb to the temptations, he comes wagging his crooked finger at us. Telling us in no uncertain terms that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves! Calling ourselves children of God! How dare we speak that way! After all, we know what kind of people we actually are.

    And Satan casts doubt, and increases our fear, that what God has promised through His son isn’t really so.

    Well, finally, I suppose, in despair we conclude we should believe our flesh’s “no”. That we should believe Satan’s accusations, rather than believe in God’s “yes” in Christ Jesus, and so we end up in despair.

    –some guy
    Kansas City, MO. February 23, 2003.

  245. Pikemann Urge
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 8:13 am

    Just stopped by to check for any new content. Well, at least somebody’s posting comments.

    BTW, ‘some guy’, there are quite a few RC clergymen, among others, who do not agree with what you said in your second-last post above.

    Regarding your last post: believe it or not, many people in this world are not ashamed of themselves – despite their obvious flaws – and are happy, are experiencing spiritual growth, are loving to others and are accepting of truth from wherever it may come. And they don’t feel any need to turn to any specific religion or body of teaching. Funny about that.

  246. On waiting eagerly--
    February 24th, 2010 @ 3:18 am

    And so we read even in verse 19, “the creation awaits in eager expectation.”

    Verse 19, verse 23, take a look there. “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

    Now this is the culminating endpoint when we become saints, when we are in Heaven and God gives us new brand new bodies without any sin, without any presence of sin. And it says there, “we eagerly wait for that as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies.” Verse 24 as well, “For in this hope we were saved.” Okay? And at the very end in verse 25, it says, “we wait for it patiently.”

    We don’t have it yet. We don’t see it in its full manifestation yet, and so we eagerly wait for that. And it’s not just waiting in terms just sitting, staying put doing nothing about it, it’s actually we’re trudging along, one step at a time, and we’re realizing that it’s going to be a long process.

    –some guy
    Davis, CA. February 24, 2008

  247. On faith and doubts--
    February 25th, 2010 @ 4:16 am

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except by me.” That Gospel that is declared to us has implications for our own lives because all of us will someday confront the reality of death.

    And so the message of the Gospel says to us, “Your sins are forgiven. Jesus is the way to the Father, and because you believe in the Lord Jesus, you have eternal life in Heaven.” That is a very specific promise of God. Now of course if we confess our faith and declare, “I believe that my sins are forgiven and that I have everlasting life in Heaven,” if that is our confession, we immediately have become a threat to the kingdom of the enemy. So that he will now attempt to put into our hearts and into our minds various doubts concerning the truth of God’s word, such as: Does that really apply to you? That may apply to some people, but that’s not for you. Do you think that your sins are really going to be fully forgiven? There’s got to be something more that you have to do in addition to believing in Jesus. You simply can’t say, “Because I believe in Jesus my sins are forgiven.” Nor can you be certain about your eternal life in Heaven.

    I think that one of the meanest temptations that the devil puts before us is the humility temptation.

    –some guy
    Bridgeville, PA. February 25, 2007.

  248. On being forgiven--
    February 26th, 2010 @ 7:29 am

    The message of the cross says that even in our best state, we all fall short of the glory of God and deserve nothing but condemnation. However, because of His great love for us, God provided a means through which we unworthy sinners could be given the gift of eternal life. This means was the brutal death of His precious Son, who allowed Himself to die in our place so that we could live.

    When I really think about the meaning of the cross, it stirs deep emotions in me. The thing that touches me the most is that I am always aware that I am just a sinner saved by grace.

    When I consider the cross, I am moved to tears of thanksgiving. How grateful I am that the greatest and best of beings should humble Himself to die for a wretch like me.

    He died so that we could be forgiven, and even though guilt wants to remind us of our unworthiness, the cross reminds us of the gift of forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ our Savior.

    –some guy
    Dassel, Minnesota. February 26, 2007.

  249. On selfless love--
    February 27th, 2010 @ 12:07 am

    Mercy, in Hosea, is not something that might be granted if the guilty party comes home and makes a proper repentance. Inconceivably it goes to retrieve the beloved betrayer with dreams of sweet reconciliation. The tenderness in our text is almost unmatched anywhere in its poignancy. We have to go to Golgotha’s hill to find a more profound example of selfless love, or a more radical expression of divine forgiveness.

    Hosea bears witness to what Jesus has so fully revealed to us about God. God is, first and last, a God of love. To say only that God loves, however, does not exhaust the meaning of this truth. What does God want? God wants to be loved.

    This isn’t difficult to comprehend. What do I want? Back of all my individual eccentricities, beneath my particular relational profile, whoever I am, I want to be known and loved. That is as basic as it gets. I want to be known fully, and loved for who I am. If I am made in the image of God, what is the obvious implication?

    –some gal
    Berkeley, California. February 27, 2000.

  250. On that thief on the cross--
    February 28th, 2010 @ 6:41 am

    And yet a true realization – a true heartfelt realization – you will find yourself, I’m sorry, you will find yourself like the thief on the cross beside Jesus. You will find yourself at crossroad that says, “Wait a minute. I’m not any better than that person over there.” In fact this is the tragedy: most of those that have those phenomenal testimonies, they come out and testify and tell you what the Lord’s done. And for the average person – the average person can convince themselves, “Well I’m not that bad, I never did that. I’m not that bad, I never did that.” When the fact of the matter is, the bible says that clearly there is not one person alive on the face of this earth that can stand and say, “I’m worthy. I’ve never sinned. I’m free.”

    No, I’m made free. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” He did set me free. He set you free. I don’t want people walking around and saying, “Well, am I saved? Am I saved?” No, it’s all covered by the blood of the cross. It all is covered by Calvary. Otherwise, my Lord hung there in open shame for naught. All covered, all behind me, and all behind you.

    –some gal
    Los Angeles, California. February 28, 2008

  251. On habits of mind and action--
    March 1st, 2010 @ 6:29 am

    So we ask: What is it that we want?

    Today’s reading from Romans 12 tells us something of what a Christian life looks like. Recall the
    words:

    “Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual
    affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the
    Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”

    Is that an attractive objective? Is that what we want to become? In the same vein, [some guy] writes
    about the good life that can be our response to God’s grace:

    “Thus from faith flow forth love and joy in the Lord, and from love a cheerful, willing, free
    spirit, disposed to serve our neighbor voluntarily, without taking any account of gratitude or
    ingratitude, praise or blame, gain or loss. Its object is not to lay men under obligations, nor
    does it distinguish between friends and enemies, or look to gratitude or ingratitude, but most
    freely and willingly spends itself and its goods.”

    Spiritual discipline is developing habits of mind and action that lead us in such a direction. We cannot
    expect to get there immediately; it is the direction of life that counts.

    –some guy
    Omaha, Nebraska. March 1, 2009.

  252. On going to the well again--
    March 2nd, 2010 @ 2:15 am

    For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
    They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.

    For some of you that might be your words. Some of us feel that we go to God with a sin and we ask forgiveness and healing, and we do it again. And we come back and we ask for fogiveness and healing, and we do it again. And at some point we go, “You know, we’ve gone to that well once too often. He doesn’t want us to come back again.” Not true. It’s never too often. You can come back a thousand times, a million times and every time you are forgiven.

    Maybe you’ve made promises, as I said before, you know we like to bargain. In real life we bargain, “You do this for me, I’ll do that.” God doesn’t need that, but we tend to do it anyway. And “You get me out of this one and I’ll do such-and-such,” and then we broke those promises. So now we feel like, well maybe we really can’t go back ’cause we didn’t follow through last time. God never wanted the bargain in the first place. Ask anyway.

    Maybe you feel that your secret sin is too great, too dark, too awful for God to reach you – that you really know you are unforgivable. And God says you are never too far. You can never fall too far for His Grace.

    –some gal
    Land O’ Lakes, Florida. March 2, 2008.

  253. On temptations of the flesh--
    March 3rd, 2010 @ 12:07 am

    Let’s pray. Lord, cause us to love all those persons who feel the pull of homosexual desire. Help those of us who do not feel that particular sinful desire to be humbled by the awareness of the sinful desires which we do feel and against which we must battle. Cause us not to demonize homosexual sin while sanitizing our own sins. And Lord, please cause us to realize that the person who feels homosexual desire needs your power to be transformed as do we all. Help us know how to facilitate Your transformation so that lives can shine to Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit can change the materialist into a person who embraces the eternal life of God. I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit can transform any sinner into a person who shines to the glory of God. So I do not just preach prohibition this morning; I do not just preach that God opposes homosexual behavior. I stand here and also preach that God wants to transform you from the inside out. Whatever sin has you ensnared, God wants you free. The gospel says you can be free. Come accept the freedom that God holds out to you! Come now as we stand and sing.

    –some guy
    Lubbock, Texas. March 3, 2002.

  254. On redeeming the evil season--
    March 4th, 2010 @ 4:18 am

    He’s just told us in the first part of chapter 5 that one of the characteristics of this evil season is sexual immorality: people using this good gift of God to their own selfish, self-exalting, self-satisfying ends. And now Paul says that you can redeem – make most of – this opportunity. And how? He’s going to go on in chapter 5 verses 21 through 23 and say, husbands and wives living together in a covenant relationship, giving of themselves to one another – this is how you redeem marriage. This is how you redeem sex. This is how you redeem such things.

    That you are wise in Christ, that you have this opportunity to redeem the three things that he listed in the first part of chapter 5: sex, money and words. To not use them for selfish destructive ends, but for redemptive constructive ends in this world. You no longer have to be ruled by the foolishness of the darkness, that you have the opportunity to redeem these things.

    You have the opportunity to redeem money, not by giving yourselves over to greed, but by viewing money no longer as a god to be served, but viewing it as a good to be shared.

    You have the opportunity to redeem words, not by making the most of every opportunity to exalt yourself with them, but by what he says, seasoning them with grace – thinking about my words with a view to other people. And so Paul says, what does wise living look like? It looks like people who are sowing the seed of redemption, even when evil is in season. That they are able to redeem – to make the most of – and to literally buy back things that have been in the grips of evil, to buy them back for wise, glorifying purposes.

    –some guy
    Cary, North Carolina. March 4, 2007

  255. On obedience to his still small voice--
    March 5th, 2010 @ 12:06 am

    There will always be people in your life who think that they know what God’s will for you is. They’ll tell you what ministry you ought to be involved in, how much time you ought to donate to a cause, or how much money you ought to give to charity, what books you ought to read, or what Sunday school class you should attend.

    But remember this: they – me – are not the Holy Spirit. When it comes right down to it, this is what you are to be: a student of the Holy Spirit. He is to be your teacher. He will lead you into all truth. That’s why hopefully, prayfully you’ll never hear just say you should should give more money to missions, you should attend one more program. I think most of the time what you hear me say is this: when you pray about it, and ask God what He would have you do, when you pray about it and ask God which small group he would have you go to, when you proay about it and ask God how much money he would have you give to missions or deficit reduction, I’d far rather – far rather – that we all learn to be obedient to his still small voice, than that we finish a financial goal or a campaign in the black.

    –some guy
    Cape Elizabeth, Maine. March 5, 2006

  256. On learnng about your faith--
    March 6th, 2010 @ 12:03 am

    Lay people have the duty and the right to acquire the knowledge of Christian teachings so that they may be able to live according to His teachings.

    –some guy
    Ozamiz City, Philippines. March 6, 2006.

  257. On a day of contrasts--
    March 7th, 2010 @ 4:32 am

    Now, sir, upon the general nature, and character, and influence of slavery there exists a wide difference between the northern portion of this country and the southern. It is said, on the one side, that if not the subject of any injunction or direct prohibition in the New Testament, slavery is a wrong; that it is founded merely in the right of the strongest; and that is an oppression, like unjust wars – like all those conflicts by which a mighty nation subjects a weaker to its will; and that slavery, in its nature, whatever may be said of it in the modifications which have taken place, is not in fact according to the meek spirit of the Gospel. It is not kindly affectioned; it does not “seek another’s, and not its own.” It does not “let the oppressed go free”. These are sentiments that are cherished, and recently with greatly augmented force, among the people of the northern states. It has taken hold of the religious sentiment of that part of the country, as it has more or less taken hold of the religious feelings of a considerable portion of mankind. The South, upon the other side, having been accustomed to this relation between two races all their lives, from their birth; having been taught, in general, to treat the subjects of this bondage with care and kindness – and I believe, in general, feeling for them great care and kindness – have yet not taken this view of the subject which I have mentioned.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. March 7, 1850

    Turn around and go back to your church.

    –some other guy
    Selma, Alabama. March 7, 1965

  258. On slave trade--
    March 8th, 2010 @ 6:37 am

    Such arguments ill become us, since the time of reformation came, under Gospel light. All distinctions of nations and privileges of one above others, are ceased; Christians are taught to account all men their neighbors; and love their neighbors as themselves; and do to all men as they would be done by; to do good to all men; and Man-stealing is ranked with enormous crimes. Is the barbarous enslaving our inoffensive neighbors, and treating them like wild beasts subdued by force, reconcilable with the Divine precepts! Is this doing to them as we would desire they should do to us? If they could carry off and enslave some thousands of us, would we think it just? – One would almost wish they could for once; it might convince more than reason, or the Bible.

    As much in vain, perhaps, will they search ancient history for examples of the modern Slave-Trade. Too many nations enslaved the prisoners they took in war. But to go to nations with whom there is no war, who have no way provoked, without farther design of conquest, purely to catch inoffensive people, like wild beasts, for slaves, is an height of outrage against humanity and justice, that seems left by heathen nations to be practised by pretended Christian. How shameful are all attempts to color and excuse it!

    As these people are not convicted of forfeiting freedom, they have still a natural, perfect right to it; and the governments whenever they come should, in justice set them free, and punish those who hold them in slavery.

    So monstrous is the making and keeping them slaves at all, abstracted from the barbarous usage they suffer, and the many evils attending the practice; as selling husbands away from wives, children from parents, and from each other, in violation of sacred and natural ties; and opening the way for adulteries, incests, and many shocking consequences, for all of which the guilty Masters must answer to the final Judge.

    –some guy
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. March 8, 1775.

  259. On growing up, finally--
    March 9th, 2010 @ 3:09 am

    And to anyone here who might not know Jesus Christ as Savior, anyone here who maybe just recently accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, let me give you an encouragement: you don’t have to start the Christian life fully mature.

    Paul assumes that when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior in spiritual terms, you’ll be an infant. If you accept that free gift of salvation, that you were a sinner, that Jesus came fully God, came in the form of a man, lived a perfect life, perfectly righteous while he was on earth, walked to a Roman cross, died for you and that that’s the only way that you can be reconciled to God. There’s no way for you to make up for your sins. There’s no way for you to earn your way God. There are no other paths or options – Jesus is the only way. And if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, your mind will not become perfect on that day. Your motivations will not be perfectly pure that day. Your actions will not become perfect, and the rest of your life you will be growing.

    –some guy
    Prescott, Arizona. March 9, 2008.

  260. On our weakness--
    March 10th, 2010 @ 4:21 am

    While Jesus was preparing for the cross in the garden of Gethsemane, He taught His sleepy disciples in Matthew 26:41 to Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Oh, we must hear this instruction this morning friends. We do not know when or how our enemy will attack us next. We only know that we are weak and frail creatures who stand powerless against Him. Therefore, we must pray humbly our Father, who is very capable of caging the roaring lion for us or of giving us the wisdom and strength to stand against him by other means.

    God has promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Brothers and sisters, God has planned and provided for His people to stand strong against sin and Satan, yet we must heed the warnings and prepare ahead of time for the contest.

    –some guy
    Madison, Indiana. March 10, 2008.

  261. On divine punishment---
    March 11th, 2010 @ 3:55 am

    We look to other people’s sinfulness, other people’s flaws, and point over there, or there, or there, and say, “Ptth. Look at those sinners. What’s wrong with them? If only they would be like me, be as holy as me, or go to church at the same place that I do.” Or, whatever.

    You see, people were asking Jesus on the way, “Does God punish people because they were sinners?” You see these were terrible disasters and they were trying to make sense of what we often struggle with in our world. Why do natural disasters happen? Why does God let that kind of stuff happen?

    And Jesus is trying to make the point, you know, it’s not because they were somehow worse than you, that God is up there with some kind of scale, and says, “Okay, these sinners are really bad, I better take them out with a big, giant column that is going to fall on them.” Now maybe it sounds silly to us, but maybe not so silly. We still have little bit of that economy somewhere in the back of our heads, don’t we? That if we are really, really bad, God will zap us or punish us somehow in this life. And we certainly do believe in an ultimate judgment, and that’s what Jesus is talking about.

    But we don’t believe that God is up there doing bad things to people who sin, because you know what? The point that Jesus is making is, that’s all of us.

    –some guy
    Long Island, New York. March 11, 2007.

  262. On doing as you would want--
    March 12th, 2010 @ 4:45 am

    When I read that sentence spoken by Jesus, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” – when I read that command, I need to know that there’s grace available to obey that command. Don’t you? I need to know there’s grace available. I mean think about it. This text sets for us a seemingly impossible standard. This is a seemingly impossible standard: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”

    In other words, treat everyone in your life – everyone – friend or foe, acquaintance or stranger – always treat them all the way you want to be treated yourself.

    –some guy
    Bloomington, Minnesota. March 12, 2006.

  263. On a a saving and redeeming and renewing act--
    March 13th, 2010 @ 4:17 am

    Why can Christians look with such eager anticipation and even joy when it comes to something that has formerly been so dreaded and feared and even hated? For precisely one reason: we know who the Judge is! In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “[F]or I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him” (I Timothy 1:12). The one whom Paul trusted said to Nicodemus in a middle of the night conversation, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). Our whole concept of the fearfulness and finality of the judgment is drastically changed when we learn that the Judge is none other than the One who suffered and died for us, the One whom scripture says actually becomes our Advocate rather than our Judge, the One who himself has already suffered the judgment that was justly ours, but who out of love took it upon himself. Yes, the judgment is a serious matter. No, because of your sin and my sin we cannot withstand the judgment. There is no other verdict possible but that we are guilty. The judgment is so serious a matter to God that he decided to step in to save us from conviction and eternal punishment, because he loves us. Jesus is the judge, and so judgment becomes a saving and redeeming and renewing act, rather than an act of punishment or revenge.

    –some guy
    Rancho Santa Fe, California. March 13, 2005.

  264. On gathering together--
    March 14th, 2010 @ 7:34 am

    If we look at the context for Jesus’ statement at the end of this scripture, the one where it says, “Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” The context is one of community, and I know that because it uses the term ‘brother’. Now it wasn’t referring to a blood brother, it was referring to how the early followers of Jesus referred to each other. They referred to each other as brothers or sisters – meaning we’re adopted into the same family with Jesus. So we’re like adopted brothers and sisters. And so they use the term brother and sister because of that. So they viewed each other as family.

    Now Jesus knew this family was not an ideal family. And so, he knew they would need him to be there in the midst of them to work through this conflict that they would have.

    So then when he says “where two or three gathered together,” he is promising to make that community work. It’s not only his promise to make the community work, it also shows us Jesus had no higher priority than that his followers would come together on a regular basis.

    –some guy
    Cambridge, Massachusetts. March 14, 2004.

  265. E-rock
    March 14th, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    This is a ridiculous argument. You cannot tell what is or is not inside the box. You must ignore irrational or illogical answers, which limits the choices. Just plain dumb.

  266. Name (required)
    March 14th, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

    “Regrettably, time constraints preclude me from expounding upon the foundations of my own faith here although I do hope to get to it eventually. In meantime, talk among yourselves. Below the video I provide transcriptions of the video, one with a description of the graphics accompanying the spoken narrative, and one without.”

    Wow, ‘time constraints’ prevent you from expounding on the foundations of your faith yet you find time to provide video accompanied by two distinct transcriptions.

    One would think that if the reasons for your faith are so compelling, you’d be eager, unashamed and unembarrassed to share them with all. One would think you’d somehow make the time.

  267. Name (required)
    March 15th, 2010 @ 12:30 am

    “When you start being honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know, you’re likely to realize that you’re in no position to be shouting the odds.”

    Right. I’m in no position to be shouting the odds that Santa doesn’t really exist, or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.

    Or the Loch Ness Monster, or Bigfoot, or leprecauns or faeries or elves or gnomes…

    “And when you understand that it’s behavior that has the practical impact on our lives, you may realize that it’s not whether we believe in gods, but how we treat each other, that says the most about our character.”

    For experts on character and behavior see: all those Catholic priests who abuse children and avoid legal consequences for their actions under the protection of the Catholic Hierarchy.

    “If you attack, condemn, or use emotional blackmail on people because they don’t share your belief in one or more gods, you’re invited to consider what that says about you and how it squares with the values you claim to embrace.”

    And if you believe that to attack, enslave, slaughter, rape, murder, torture, conquer, suppress the knowledge and culture of, etc. people because they don’t share your particular beliefs about god(s) is wrong (or at least a bit excessive or in bad taste), see how that squares with the bulk of Catholic history.

  268. On becoming children, again--
    March 15th, 2010 @ 5:42 am

    Kai su, teknon?

    –some guy
    Rome. Ides of March, 44 B.C.

    I was talking to a fellow pastor, and I was saying, “You know, life at my house is great right now. I go home, my kids think I’m their hero. But I’m just kinda waiting for that to, you know, that to subside.” And he says, “Ryan, I still think my dad is my hero.” I don’t know if that’s guaranteed. I know it’s not, but isn’t that glorious that God can do that?

    Others of you have just got temptations toward great bitterness and anger and frustration as you think about fathers – about what they did do or sometimes what they didn’t do. And this morning I can’t come in and in an hour and revamp your childhood. I can’t rewrite the fathering some of you are now almost done doing. The bible’s message to us though, is that all – God has made a way for all men to become his children. He has created a way whereby all people who will trust in His Son can be shaped, not primarily by an earthly father good or bad, but by Him as their heavenly father. He has reached out twice in two ways, to make it so that man or woman can become a child of God. In this verse that we’re going to look at, these verses that we’re are going to look at, they proclaim God reaching out, sending out in two different ways to bring people into relationships with Him as their father.

    And I only have two points this morning. One, God sent His Son so that you can be a child of God. And two, God sent His Spirit so that you could know you are a child of God.

    –some other guy
    Louisville, Kentucky. March 15, 2009.

  269. Name (required)
    March 15th, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

    “And I only have two points this morning. One, God sent His Son so that you can be a child of God. And two, God sent His Spirit so that you could know you are a child of God.”

    What about my cats?

  270. Name (required)
    March 15th, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

    “And he says, ‘Ryan, I still think my dad is my hero.’ I don’t know if that’s guaranteed. I know it’s not, but isn’t that glorious that God can do that?”

    You don’t know if that’s guaranteed, then you know it’s not. It must be so cool being a Christian, what with knowledge becoming so fluid and changeable (even within the span of a paragraph).

    Is god making this person still think his dad is his hero or does this person think that on his own? You seem to be asserting the former. If so, what does that suggest about the existence of this person’s free will?

  271. Name (required)
    March 16th, 2010 @ 1:33 am

    “Paul assumes that when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior in spiritual terms, you’ll be an infant.”

    In other words, faith is infantile.

  272. Name (required)
    March 16th, 2010 @ 1:47 am

    Some guy wrote:

    “There is no other verdict possible but that we are guilty.”

    Wow. Really? What if you’re wrong?

    Or if that’s too adult to wrap your infantile faith-riddled brain around: Why can’t god come up with another verdict? Can’t he just claim by divine fiat that we’re all innocent? Or is god restricted by certain laws? If so, where did those laws come from?

    “The judgment is so serious a matter to God that he decided to step in to save us from conviction and eternal punishment, because he loves us.”

    I’m always amazed by these people who speak so confidently about what god thinks, does and wants. Thank you for telling me what god takes seriously! Although I’d much rather have heard it from god himself.

    Anyway, I love this idea that god ‘decided’ to step in. Isn’t he the bloke who set the whole thing in motion in the first place? If god exists, did he or didn’t he know in advance exactly how things would play out? How then can he decide to step in when he already knew how everything would go before he even waggled a finger and started making the universe?

    How the hell does such a complex, sentient, powerful, self-aware being exist in the first place? If you explain god’s existence by claiming that this infinitely complex being just always existed, doesn’t it make infinitely more sense to claim that the universe itself just always existed, uncreated?

    I know I know. Too many questions. Time to spam these comments with more mini-sermons and send me on retreat with some horny Catholic priest eager to reform me.

  273. Name (required)
    March 16th, 2010 @ 2:05 am

    Some homophobe wrote:

    “I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit can change the materialist into a person who embraces the eternal life of God.”

    But as you’ve already admitted, your beliefs are infantile.

    I sometimes wonder, if there is a god, what he makes of all these anti-materialists. If life is eternal, it surely must be material. I mean, it is now. If it isn’t in the future, what else could it be? Spirit? What’s that made of?

    I know I know. Bring on the mini-sermon spam.

  274. On unanswered prayer--
    March 16th, 2010 @ 2:42 am

    We’ve said before that unanswered prayer reminds us that God is not a vending machine: put in a prayer, take out a blessing. We don’t think that much about vending machines. We don’t pay much attention to them. Like, “Oh, look at how nice this vending machine is. Isn’t this a beautiful vending machine? Look at what great things this vending machine does.” No, all we care about is the results.

    If every prayer were immediately answered as we wanted, we’d never think about God. Unanswered prayer focuses our attention on Him. “When He stops giving us things,” [some guy] wrote, “He brings us into the place where we can begin to understand Him.”

    I think about Paul who recognized this in what he referred to as his “thorn in the flesh,” a physical problem that he prayed about and prayed about, all those prayers remaining unanswered. He said it this way, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away,” he wrote the Corinthians. “Each time Jesus said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’”

    Prayer is not tidy and predictable so that we come to know God as enough in Himself, even without His answers—that when we don’t have them, we still have Him.

    –some guy
    Lexington, Kentucky. March 16, 2008.

  275. On worry and doubt--
    March 17th, 2010 @ 5:37 am

    And then tragedy happens: a dear one dies, the test comes back positive, a dream is shattered, a relationship ends, a plane slams into the World Trade Center, a 19-month-old baby boy is found beaten to death in Cabrini-Green, and suddenly your all-powerful, muscular, omnipotent God is exposed—either causing the suffering or unable to prevent it, and neither alternative is very comforting or helpful.

    But the cross, the cross of Jesus Christ, is a symbol of God’s suffering, God’s Son entering into our humanity, a symbol that he, God, ends up subject to the same limitations as all the rest of us. The cross reveals a truth beyond our ability to explain it, or even understand it much: the truth that God doesn’t cause human suffering—your suffering—but enters into it; the truth that God does not observe our suffering with objective neutrality. God enters into it and experiences it and demonstrates that nothing that can happen, no pain, no tragedy, no God-forsakenness can separate us from God’s love.

    –some guy
    Chicago, Illinois. March 17, 2002.

  276. On removal of worry and doubt--
    March 18th, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    In this petition we pray that God would remove ungodly worry, doubting, distrust or coveting from us. We pray that we would not hate the manna that we have been given, that we would not look at the quails grudgingly, but that we would accept God’s gifts in our lives as His good will for us. We pray for trust in God to give us what we need when we need it, and that we would use the gifts God has given to us in a God pleasing way. In our Psalm David proclaims such trust and contentment saying: “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD.” May that be our song as well!

    –some guy
    Lawrenceville, Georgia. March 18, 2007.

  277. On the vast potential of human reason--
    March 19th, 2010 @ 1:53 am

    Belief in the one God, far from stunting our capacity to understand ourselves and the world, broadens it. Far from setting us against the world, it commits us to it. We are called to help others see the subtle traces and mysterious presence of God in the world which he has marvellously created and continually sustains with his ineffable and all-embracing love. Although his infinite glory can never be directly grasped by our finite minds in this life, we nonetheless catch glimpses of it in the beauty that surrounds us. When men and women allow the magnificent order of the world and the splendour of human dignity to illumine their minds, they discover that what is “reasonable” extends far beyond what mathematics can calculate, logic can deduce and scientific experimentation can demonstrate; it includes the goodness and innate attractiveness of upright and ethical living made known to us in the very language of creation.

    This insight prompts us to seek all that is right and just, to step outside the restricted sphere of our own self-interest and act for the good of others.

    –some guy
    Yaoundé, Cameroon. March 19, 2009

  278. On contemplation of a palm leaf--
    March 20th, 2010 @ 1:22 am

    As we hold the palm we remember too what lies behind this triumphant entry. We remember the gift of God as incarnate “you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature,” to be fully human to be born, and live and walk as one of us. We remember as we hold the palm, the gift of his teaching, his breaking into our world to show us the way of Christ, rooted in the Law of Moses. We remember as we clutch the palm, his teachings of compassion and love especially to the oppressed, poor and sick. We remember His life celebrated in this palm.

    But because we are uniquely privileged to know what happens next, the liturgy holds us in a tensions of already and not yet – a liminal place, a place of between. Here we hold our palm knowing that this gift of love, and wisdom and teaching, is also for us the way of suffering and we are called to witness not only that way of suffering but also to walk in it into the transformation of the joy of the resurrection. The palm and the cross, symbolized for us today in the nail we receive at the Eucharist, are symbolic of Christ’s whole life on Earth: His birth, teaching, healing, mighty acts, and his suffering, and death as fully human upon the cross – the supreme act of humility and love, out of love, for love and in love.

    –some guy
    Summit, New Jersey. March 20, 2005.

  279. On newness of life--
    March 21st, 2010 @ 2:33 am

    “Set your mind on the things above, not on things that are upon the earth.” For we not only were raised with Christ, but first of all, we died. We died, “you died and your life is hid with Christ in God.” When did we die? Should have died before we were buried. We’re supposed to repent before we’re baptized, aren’t we? That’s when we die to sin. We don’t die to sin in baptism. There’s nothing in baptism to reform a life. That changes the relationship. The determination to reform your life occurs in repentance when we make up our minds we’re not going to live that way anymore we’re going to live this way in harmony with the will of God. Then we’re ready to be buried. We’re buried by the old man that we’ve said goodbye to. And then we can be raised with Christ, to walk in newness of life.

    Paul had the figured this out, didn’t he? Galatians 2 in verse 20, “For I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live. The life that I live,” he said, “I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.”

    He said, ‘Paul doesn’t live here anymore, Christ lives here. Paul is the fellow who used to live here. He was that persecutor of Christians. He doesn’t live here anymore, he doesn’t at all anymore, I put him to death. I crucified him with Christ.’

    That’s the idea for all us. “For you died and your life is hid with Christ.” You see, Christ lives in me.

    –some guy
    Denton, Texas. March 21, 2007.

  280. On joy and reconciliation--
    March 22nd, 2010 @ 2:14 am

    So I want to talk this morning about a dimension of worship that we don’t always think about, and that is the ethical dimension of worship – the moral dimension of worship.

    What do we expect to get out of worship when we come here? Joy, perhaps. The scripture is full of joy at the worship of the Lord. “Rejoice,” it says over and over again, or my soul “was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord.’”

    And it speaks again and again of the joy and pleasure of those who dwell in the house of the Lord and in the presence of God. But what joy is there if our souls are not right with God, if we know that another person has something against us, which we could work to reconcile?

    Note our passage in Matthew does not say clearly ‘if we remember that we’ve done something wrong to our brother or sister’, or ‘if we remember that our brother or sister has done something wrong to us.’ It doesn’t distinguish. It says if there is something wrong between you, leave your gift, and go and be reconciled.

    Sometimes it falls to the victim to go to the sinner and offer the chance for reconciliation.

    –some guy
    Holland, Pennsylvania. March 22, 2009.

  281. On the significance of the resurrection of Christ--
    March 23rd, 2010 @ 2:33 am

    “Your faith is also in vain.” In other words, your faith is worthless. It means nothing because you have a faith in Christ who was risen, but if he really didn’t rise, your faith is worthless.

    And then he goes on to say, “Moreover, we are even found to be false witnesses of God.” In other words, we are false witnesses of God because we testify that God raised Jesus Christ, that God resurrected Christ. So we are false witnesses of God.

    And then he says, “If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.” Again, if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless, he says, that you are – in other words, “You are still in your sin.” In other words, you are still in darkness.

    Think about your life before you came to Christ. You are still in that life. You live in a fantasy world if Christ has not been raised. You’re still full of lust. You’re still a liar. You’re still a cheater – adulterer, some of us. Whatever the sins we had before Christ, we’re still in those, if Christ has not been raised.

    And guess what? We are still enemies with God if Christ has not been raised.

    And guess what? We still hate God.

    And guess what? We are still going to face God’s wrath if Christ has not been raised.

    That’s what Paul is going on to say here. Those are some ramifications if Christ has not been raised.

    –some guy
    Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. March 23, 2008.

  282. On growing the seed of faith
    March 24th, 2010 @ 3:02 am

    We’re not just victims of chance, hoping that our luck is going to be good and everything is just going to work out fine. God has lead us, God wants to lead us more than we want to be lead. But we’ve got to be in the right place for us to grow.

    That seed has to be placed in the right place, if it’s still in the packet or the pew or whatever, it isn’t going to grow. It has to be put in the ground, rooted and grounded in love. God is love, we got to have that relationship otherwise nothing is going to happen.

    But in the 41 years that I’ve been striving and seeking God and so on, it’s just a matter learning to follow and listen and walking by faith. It’s a journey of faith, you don’t always know. You just pray.

    God doesn’t just come down and say, “I want you to do this, like a lot of people say. (Now that’s not my experience. It may be their experience, I don’t know.)

    But I know God has been leading my life. I don’t have even the slightest question about that. And I’m sure you – I hope you feel the same way. But there’s no 1-2-3 method, God works with each us uniquely and differently.

    “The just shall live by faith.” Faith is where you don’t exactly know where you’re going. Like Abraham didn’t know where he was going, he just went!

    But we know that he is leading us and he is guiding us, because we’ve been praying the whole time, ‘Show us where we need to go.’

    So we need to read scripture to find out the guidance that we need in making decisions, because God’s will is not an itinerary, it’s an attitude. God’s will is an attitude. When we have the proper attitude then God – y’know that’s why when you present your body as a living sacrifice, that is an attitude. Once that attitude is there, and it’s really there, then we can begin to discover what the will of God is in our life.

    But until we have become that living sacrifice – until the seed has died – we will never know what the will of God is for our lives.

    –some guy
    San Jose, California. March 24, 2007.

  283. mk
    March 24th, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    Name,

    If you’re still there, I would be happy to have an actual discussion with you. I’ll take your points on, one by one. No lectures, no sermons. I certainly don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but you’re questions are good ones…valid. So I’m willing to try.

    Let me know. If you’re serious, that is.

    And now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast…

    Carry on Some Guy.

  284. On adversity--
    March 25th, 2010 @ 3:38 am

    Pray through Psalm 25 this morning. You’re going to love it. You are absolutely going to love it. It’s wonderful.

    Even when many of Jesus’ disciples were turning from following Jesus, when Jesus asked the 12 disciples back in John chapter 6 verse 67, “You do not want to leave me too, do you?”

    Then in verse 68, Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the holy one of God.” Isn’t that beautiful? ‘You are the holy one of God.’ We see another picture of Peter’s correct view of Christ. ‘You are the holy one of God.’

    Where are we going to go? To who else are we going to go? Are we going to fall at the feet of [some guy]? Is that where we are going to go? Where are we going to go? ‘You are the only one.’

    God wasn’t done with Peter. Then as we read in Acts chapter 2 and Acts chapter 4, and you go on and you read those powerful sermons of Peter. Oh, we knew he had yet a couple more trials to go, and we’re going to see that, aren’t we? Oh, Peter, once again, “I’ll be the last…I will …If everyone else walks away from you, I will not deny you.

    Yeah, right.

    –some guy
    Piseco, New York. March 25, 2007.

  285. On responding to adversity--
    March 26th, 2010 @ 3:45 am

    Afterwards, there is a sequel to this. Because Peter, as I said, comes back, and he is arrested, together with John, by the Sanhedrin. He healed the lame man – makes him better so that he can walk – and they arrest him and they bring him before the Sanhedrin.

    And you can see in Acts chapter 4 – if you got a bible, look at it – Acts 4 we are actually told who was present. Acts 4 verse 6: Annas was there. Caiaphas was there. Alexander. Some other people. The Sanhedrin were there. The same people who were there this very night when Peter said to the servant girl and these others, “I don’t know Jesus. I’m not connected with him. I have never seen him before in my life. I don’t know what you are talking about.”

    It’s the same group, only a couple of months later who arrest Peter, and Peter stands up before them.

    Now two things have happened that make a difference for Peter. One is that the Spirit has been poured out on Peter and the others. And we are told here in chapter 4 verse 8, that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke to the Sanhedrin in a way that was completely unlike the way he spoke to those people who were warming themselves around the fire.

    But that was not the only thing that happened, indeed that was not actually the crucial thing that made the difference between how Peter spoke on this night and how he spoke later when he was arrested by the Sanhedrin.

    –some guy
    Jakarta, Indonesia. March 26, 2006.

  286. On the triumph--
    March 27th, 2010 @ 4:32 am

    It says in 1 Peter 3:22, “He has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers having been subjected to him.”

    In other words when he died he broke the power of Satan – death, Hell, all of his enemies – he broke the power from inside, he broke out of the tomb, he reigns triumphant – triumphant over them.

    Knowing that ahead of time, he said to Peter in Matthew 16:18, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

    Hell cannot defeat Jesus. He will accomplish all of his purposes for this world and for this ragtag group of sinners called the Church. He will accomplish his purposes. If you look around the world and despair at the Church, I just got an email this morning – accept this language – the headline was, “Where the hell are the pastors?” concerning [some gal].

    If you look around, if you look around the world and see a Church that disappoints you, stop looking at the Church and look at the Christ.

    –some guy
    Minneapolis, Minnesota. March 27, 2005.

  287. On sorrow and despair--
    March 28th, 2010 @ 1:12 am

    He is moved in spirit and he also, it says here, “was greatly troubled.” He was disturbed. Now Jesus knows that he has power over death, but he is disturbed because he sees death itself right in front of him, because you see, he is about to be shown where Lazarus is laid. And he sees them weeping over Lazarus as if there is no hope, and not only does his heart find sympathy with his disciples as he does with us in our sorrow. We find that he himself experiences that sorrow. He is man acquainted with sorrow and grief. And therefore he doesn’t just express frustration or indignation over the power of death and the power of unbelief, but he weeps himself in this most famous, shortest verse in the bible we probably know, “Jesus wept.”

    –some guy
    Chattanooga, Tennessee. March 28, 2004.

  288. On contentment--
    March 29th, 2010 @ 1:32 am

    Paul is sort of like the CEO kind: he’s a type A personality. You remember when he was with Barnabas, and they were going out on their second missionary journey? And John Mark had flaked out on the first one, and now they were going on the second one, and Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, and Paul says ‘No way. He flaked out the first time, and we do not have time to fool around with somebody who is going to flake out on us again. This job is too important.’ He was a type A, ‘I’m driven’, task-oriented kind of guy.

    Any yet he says, ‘in spite of that I can relax and I can be content.’ So his contentment didn’t depend upon how many achievements he had reached in his life. He fought for excellence, and he was not very forgiving when someone fell short.

    So how does he learn to be content? Paul says in verse 13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Let me give my own translation: ‘I can face any challenge and get through it with the strength that the Holy Spirit gives me in my heart.’ I can face any challenge, any situation, because of Him who strengthens me in my heart.

    –some guy
    Fort Collins, Colorado. March 29, 2009.

  289. On the demise of Peter--
    March 30th, 2010 @ 1:33 am

    The Roman historian Tacitus graphically describes Nero’s persecution of Christians following the fire:

    “A huge multitude of Christians perished in the most sadistic ways. Nero rolled the Christians in pitch, and then set light to them, while they were still alive and used them as living torches of flame to light his gardens. He sewed them up in the skins of wild animals, and then set his hunting dogs upon them.”

    Much to the amazement of their Roman persecutors, many of these early Christians met death with songs of joy on their lips. It makes me ashamed to complain about be tired out by Holy Week and Easter when I read that!

    So what does Peter say to these Christians who are being killed and persecuted? He says, “Rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials.” At this point, most of us are ready to condemn Peter as harsh and unfeeling, and send him off to sensitivity training. But, I think we need to realize that Peter himself was in the midst of all this persecution. He was not sitting comfortably in a chaise lounge in Athens or Ephesus. This letter was probably written from Rome, where Peter was in A.D. 64. Peter was not immune to suffering. In fact, a few years after this letter was written, Peter was captured and crucified on a cross, like his Lord and Master. Peter insisted that he be crucified upside down, because he was not worthy enough to die as Christ died.

    –some guy
    Raymond, Washington. March 30, 2008.

  290. Name (required)
    March 30th, 2010 @ 1:46 am

    mk, I’m still here.

    And I’d gladly engage in a discussion with you.

    Anything to break up the monotony of some guy’s mini-sermons.

    Apart from you and I, he seems to be the only commenter here now. And let’s face it, we don’t say much.

    What a dead zone this place has become. The Raving Atheist is responsible of course, but please let’s have a discussion apart from some guy’s monotonous, endless, and solitary scriptural interpretation.

    “And now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast”…

    Sadly, it’s the only broadcast.

  291. mk
    March 30th, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

    Name,

    Yes!!!! I loved this site (even tho I was a theist before Raving was…lol) and I really miss those deep, thought provoking discussions…

    So tell me, are you a non believer? Or not sure?

    Let’s look at your questions…

    “There is no other verdict possible but that we are guilty.”

    Wow. Really? What if you’re wrong?

    Without going back and reading all of “Some Guys” comments, it’s hard to tell what he means by guilty. I actually wish he WOULD join this discussion, because he appears to be a protestant and I am a Catholic. We view things very differently. I wouldn’t mind having a Catholic/Protestant discussion as well…

    The first thing you have to address is whether or not you believe that truth is OBJECTIVE. (By the way, caps aren’t yelling…I’m just too lazy to use the HTML codes, so pretend their bolded or italicized). If you DO believe in Objective Moral Truth, then we can discuss what it means to act against it. If you DO NOT believe in Objective Moral Truth, then we need to find out where you’re standards for morality come from….

    C S Lewis wrote a phenomenal book on this called “The Abolition of Man”. It seems there are only three choices when it comes to morality. That it is objective and comes from within us, that it is objective and comes from outside of us (God or Something), or that it is subjective and changes with the situation or persons involved.

    Can’t really address whether or not you are “guilty” til we discuss whether or not you believe guilt is possible…
    and if it is, where it comes from.

    Or if that’s too adult to wrap your infantile faith-riddled brain around: Why can’t god come up with another verdict? Can’t he just claim by divine fiat that we’re all innocent? Or is god restricted by certain laws? If so, where did those laws come from?

    Where indeed…that is the crux of the matter. Do they come from us? Can they change? Do they come from God Himself? Are they simply brain/body impulses? Are they societal? Right now, over at my blog, we are doing a book club on “Brave New World” and so many of these very questions are coming to the forefront. Do we have a soul? Or are we just bodies…cells, organisms, higher on the animal chain, but in essence no different other than in intelligence? Or are we unique? Is there something “in” us that makes us singularly different than every other creature?

    “The judgment is so serious a matter to God that he decided to step in to save us from conviction and eternal punishment, because he loves us.”

    I’m always amazed by these people who speak so confidently about what god thinks, does and wants. Thank you for telling me what god takes seriously! Although I’d much rather have heard it from god himself.

    We, Catholics and Protestants alike, believe that we DID hear it from God Himself. Up until the reformation, we all pretty much agreed on what He’d said also. You can argue that the bible ain’t proof of the bible, and you’d be right. Can’t fault you there. But it IS reasonable to look at the bible and all the other works that were written about God and Jesus and give them credence. It is rational, albeit not required, to accept that God does exist and that He has revealed Himself through the Jews and later Jesus. You could argue that Muslims and Jews believe their God is the one true God, but their God is the same as our God. All are the God of Abraham. Where we differ is in how we interpret what God’s message was to us. But it is the same God.

    Pagans and Wiccans, are really the only other group that I can think of that actually believe in a “different God”. Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism…believe in other gods, but don’t claim to have the ONE TRUE GOD. Heck, I’m not sure Buddhists believe in any God. Earth worshipers/Nature worshipers, same thing. They more believe that WE are God, or that Nature and God are part of the same thing. But they do not claim that God Himself revealed this to them. Only Muslims/Christians and Jews believe that God Himself interacts with us. Certainly, only Christians believe that He actually became one of us and walked among us.

    I don’t think that mythology counts, as no one believes it anymore. Not sure how much they believed it back then, actually.

    Anyway, I love this idea that god ‘decided’ to step in. Isn’t he the bloke who set the whole thing in motion in the first place? If god exists, did he or didn’t he know in advance exactly how things would play out? How then can he decide to step in when he already knew how everything would go before he even waggled a finger and started making the universe?

    LOL, greater minds than mine have been pondering this one for centuries. How does man have free will, yet God know everything. I certainly don’t have an answer, but I do know (or think I know ;) ) that time doesn’t exist for God. So knowing the “future” to Him is not like knowing the “future” for us. Knowing/experiencing all things at once is not the same as our linear view of time. He is out of time. He can know the choices we will make even before the choice is before us…even before we ourselves know that a choice must be made. For Him the whole thing is just beginning and has already ended. And contains every moment in between.

    It’s beyond our understanding. Not that it CAN’T be understood, just that it is beyond the understanding of the human mind. Perhaps the angels can grasp it, as they are infinitely more intelligent than we are. Perhaps only God can grasp it. I don’t know. No one does. But if He CANNOT know everything, then by definition, He is not really God, is He?

    How the hell does such a complex, sentient, powerful, self-aware being exist in the first place? If you explain god’s existence by claiming that this infinitely complex being just always existed, doesn’t it make infinitely more sense to claim that the universe itself just always existed, uncreated?

    Well, Aquinas (and I am no Aquinas scholar so forgive me if I oversimplify) says that we know that everything that is was caused by something else. Nothing exists without a cause. So there must be one thing, one something/someone that is the unmovable mover. There has to be an uncaused cause. You could say it was the universe, but what if there are other universes. What IS the universe? Is it just planets? Is it just space? How many millions upon millions of galaxies ARE there? Does it seem rational that this seemingly infinite, material mass, just “came into being”? God is not “matter”. He is pure intellect. Pure Spirit. But the Universe is matter upon matter upon matter…Do we know of any other material thing, anywhere, that just “came to be” uncaused?

    Again, not proof, but a reasonable view.

    I know I know. Too many questions. Time to spam these comments with more mini-sermons and send me on retreat with some horny Catholic priest eager to reform me.

    As for this comment, I’ll ignore it as I know it came from frustration and not a true belief that Catholic priests are all horny or pedophiles. Our Church has definitely had some rough patches over the years, but the Faith itself, does NOT condone such atrocities. No where in the Catechism, the Doctrines, the ENTIRE History of the Church will you find a directive for priests to go out and abuse children…These were men, very bad men, but they were not “The Church”. Not the Church with a capital “C” anyway. And trust me, they will pay dearly, because I think we can ALL agree, that these men WERE guilty… ;)

    I’m sure I screwed up some of the HTML’s…sorry.

    BTW, go easy on “Some Guy”…he wasn’t really writing to you, but to himself. Perhaps he would join us now and give us his thoughts and opinions?

    Looking forward to hearing from you…
    mk

  292. On the hope of the resurrection--
    March 31st, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    You can make it through the pain when there is hope. When there’s not hope, pain is devastating. And I don’t mean just gallbladder pain, I mean the pain of a lost loved one. I mean the pain of a life that you feel like isn’t going anywhere, the pain of an addiction that tears you down. And if there’s not hope, that pain is horrible. It’s a bad place to be.

    But what Easter does for us, is it doesn’t say there’s no more pain. No, there is pain. There’s plenty of pain. And there’s plenty of tears, just like Mary’s tears, but they’re going to end.

    There will be an end, and goodness will prevail and there will be an end to the tears. We will be united with Christ and those who have gone before us. And it’s going to be wonderful. That is the hope of the resurrection.

    Santa Clarita, California. March 31, 2002.

  293. mk
    March 31st, 2010 @ 5:36 am

    SomeGuy,

    “We are an Easter People” :)

  294. On life without fear--
    April 1st, 2010 @ 12:29 am

    You do not need to be afraid because Jesus has come to earth and he died so that we would know God’s presence. If you are living in fear, I invite you to come the table and recognize God’s peace. Sometimes we don’t live with peace because we can’t forgive. I don’t know if you have ever been in a point in your life where you are angry and you are hurtful and you have this vengeance inside of you. You may not show it on the outside, but inside it’s tearing you up.

    Unforgiveness will lead to a lack of peace. You will try to solve things in your own way. What Jesus said when he said, “Come to this table” is you can find not only your own forgiveness, but the ability to forgive.

    Some of us live without peace because we feel so guilty and bad for something in our past. We’re living in the past and we’re saying, “Y’know Lord, I know you are with me, but I still so bad for what I did back then, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it.” Jesus said don’t be confused. He offers you peace. Recognize it on this day.

    Some of us can’t live in peace because we’re afraid of death. Some of us are afraid. We can’t image life without us on this earth, and we’re afraid of what might happen. I just hope everything will be okay when I die.

    Jesus said this, he said, ‘Come to the table. I offer you peace.’

    You can’t do it on your own. When you try and try, you might actually fall into destruction. You try to solve all your problems and next thing you know you’re having a heart attack because you can’t get over it. You say ‘I refuse to forgive’ and the next thing you know, you are isolated from everyone you thought loved you.

    When you’re facing death, you live in fear. Jesus offers you peace. That’s why we have Palm Sunday.

    –some guy
    Newbury Park, California. April 1, 2007.

  295. On the transformation of faith--
    April 2nd, 2010 @ 5:36 am

    But what is very significant there is where Peter starts and where Peter ends. Where does he start, do you notice the virtue? Faith. Were does he end? Love. That faith is to be translated into love. That faith, real faith, ultimately translates in a greater love for others.

    And Peter’s list here is reminiscent of Jesus’ words when he was asked about the heart of spirituality, what did he say? He said, ‘Love God with all that you are, and love others too.’

    The goal of transformation is taking faith and developing a greater love for God and for other people.

    –some guy
    Andover, Massachusetts. April 2, 2006.

  296. On hope out of hopelessness--
    April 3rd, 2010 @ 12:33 am

    That forgetting, that losing touch with God, is death to the soul. Death as a terrifying absence of God — a nothingness with nothing at the end of it, a negation of being from which each of us rightly draws back in terror. Death was created by God to be a doorway into more life, not yawning emptiness. But apart from God, what life is there? We look at ourselves, and we see nakedness: weakness and fragility, compromise and mediocrity. We feel the chill of mortality, and it terrifies us. It’s a potent fear—one that, without our awareness, can easily become a wedge driven between us and God, who is life and who gives life and who will never take life away.

    Just as all of us carry the germs of God within us, so all of us are infected with this fear of death. It’s a shadow we all live under. Try as we might to drive it from our minds, it remains, drawing lines we dare not cross, putting up fences to keep out enemies, telling us the lie that passage through the doorway of death is of all possible outcomes the most to be feared. What else, I have been wondering, would cause an otherwise religious family to enlist their governor, the congress, the president, and finally the Supreme Court itself to maintain artificial life support for a daughter who had long since passed into the twilight between life and life, and who was waiting only for the freedom to go forward?

    Our gospel story today begins in fear, and ends in joy.

    –some gal
    Boston, Massachusetts. April 3, 2005.

  297. Pikemann Urge
    April 3rd, 2010 @ 3:02 am

    My goodness. The blog’s still here! Well, I like a good theological joust.

    One arguement against a personal God that I don’t think is valid: “Who made God?”. It’s clever, but not intelligent. If there is a God, what if he always was? Isn’t that a possible characteristic of his nature?

    Strangely enough, I do think we have a right to expect certain characteristics of a God such as the Biblical one. Not demand but expect. For example, if we imperfect beings restrain ourselves in punishing our children too much (even if their crime is severe) then we expect a perfect God to be better. It’s a sloppy example but if you listen to the debate, Austin Dacey vs. William Lane Craig (2004), you’ll hear a better way of putting it. No transcript, alas.

    So onto this guilt thing. Only a misguided and perhaps repressed, self-hating person would think humanity is guilty of anything. How rotten! Do we need help? Yes. Do we have a long way to go? Yes. Will we get there? Slowly. But guilty?

    Never mind the fact that my consent was not sought when Jesus died on that cross. Even though he was only dead over 3 days. What kind of loss did God really suffer? I’ll ignore that, even though I would not have wanted God to sacrifice his son in the first place.

    Name, if you’re still around, I’d like to hear your response to mk. And don’t expect Some Guy/Gal to discuss. I mean, what are human thoughts compared to God’s, right?

  298. mk
    April 3rd, 2010 @ 7:00 am

    Pikeman,

    HELLO!!!! I’ve missed you! Seriously. I almost brought you up in my comment to “name”.

    Some guy might be referring to “Guilt” caused collectively, due to original sin. Other than that, each of us is guilty or innocent according to his deeds.

    But we believe that every human bears the weight of Adam and Eve’s sin…at least in the sense that we all die. In the beginning, before the fall, there was no death.

    In order to return to that state, of eternal life, someone had to pay the price. Enter Jesus. So in that respect, Some Guy is right.

    Of course, I don’t have “all the answers”, but God offering up His son, and consequently Himself, was not something I wanted either. But for whatever reason, suffering is the only “cure” for sin. Rather than leave us to suffer the consequences, He took them on Himself.

    And of course, we can join the party by offering up every one of our sufferings to offset any subsequent sins…

  299. Exzanian
    April 3rd, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

    Sorry to burst into this thread so late, but this site has got to be a joke right?

  300. On war as an enemy of the poor--
    April 4th, 2010 @ 1:01 am

    I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.

    –some guy
    New York, New York. April 4, 1967.

  301. On the expectations for a king--
    April 5th, 2010 @ 1:21 am

    The cross, which is the shame of the ancient world, is the glory for this king.

    Philippians 2 verse 8 says, “Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

    And the early church writer Ephrem the Syrian once noted, “He began in Bethlehem with a manger, and he finished in Jerusalem with a donkey.” Humility from beginning to end.

    Jesus is in fact a king, but a king on a cross – a king whose reign is characterized by humility, suffering and service to others.

    Jesus himself said as much in Mark chapter 10 verse 45 when he said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

    –some guy
    Flower Mound, Texas. April 5, 2009.

  302. On that road to Emmaus--
    April 6th, 2010 @ 12:17 am

    And so these sad followers of Jesus found themselves trudging along the long and winding road to Emmaus, talking over the events of the past week, when a fellow traveler approached them and asked what they were talking about. You could almost hear the incredulity in his voice as Cleopas responded, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” They shared the events of the past week with their new roadside companion, about how they had placed all their hopes in this prophet, only to watch him be made into a public spectacle before he died.

    –some gal
    Washington, DC. April 6, 2008

  303. On the peace of Christ
    April 7th, 2010 @ 1:16 am

    Where is the truth? I don’t know. When were in Israel for three weeks our guide told us that after three days there, everyone is an expert. After a week, you start to doubt your positions. After three weeks, you’re totally confused. The only truth is that innocent men, women and children are being killed; future generations of Jew-haters and Palestinian-haters are being carefully groomed by both sides. The truth is that, whatever the causes, it is flat out wrong that young women like [some gal] turn themselves into a weapon walked into a grocery store to blow herself and other Israelis up. She’s 18, straight A student, doesn’t belong to any terrorist group. Perhaps there is no truth to be found, only underlying narratives of violence, hatred, and retribution, narratives which are being perpetuated through revisionist history text books, passed down from generation to generation.

    I don’t think it is naïve to suggest that what is needed is a transcendent narrative, which honours forgiveness and reconciliation above all. When the risen Christ appears to the disciples, the story says he breathes on them and they receive the Holy Spirit. This detail is meant to refer the reader back to the creation story. God breathes on the first human beings and they receive their Creator’s Spirit. But then the story goes on to tell how this holy spirit is replaced by a spirit of violence. This gospel story of the in-breathing of the risen Christ is a symbolic way of saying that God has inaugurated a second creation, a brand new era, a narrative which, if you believe, counters the story of violence with a way out.

    What does it means to believe in resurrection? Resurrection is the power to be released from the destructive power of violent narratives, narratives which keep us re-enacting the past and render us powerless to embrace a new future.

    –some guy
    Vancouver, British Columbia. April 7, 2002.

  304. On boasting in the cross--
    April 8th, 2010 @ 1:16 am

    Why would Paul be so interested in the cross?

    As we look at what he says tonight in Galatians 6, you might find it useful to have it open before you. We see exactly why Paul boasts in the cross.

    We see that first of all, the cross abolishes our pride. The cross makes us die to the world. And the cross brings the new creation.

    –some guy
    Dundonald, Northern Ireland. April 8, 2009.

  305. On the plea for unity--
    April 9th, 2010 @ 3:00 am

    In Ephesians, the fourth chapter in verses 3 through 6, Paul says it this way.

    Paul says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as we were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

    As Jesus came into Jerusalem, and they celebrated by tossing their cloaks and cutting palm branches from the trees and proclaiming who he was and what he was all about, was Jesus who had prayed previously that this Spirit of unity, this Spirit of oneness with God the Father would be kept through all generations as his message was proclaimed.

    Today that is still the plea of Jesus, that we would be one with him as he was with the Father.

    –some guy
    Warren, Indiana. April 9, 2006.

  306. On freedom from sickness--
    April 10th, 2010 @ 4:40 am

    We come to this ritual, and – it’s a little grim for us when we think about. There are these two birds. The one gets killed, its blood is in the clay pot with the water.

    And they would make a kind of a – if you can imagine a paintbrush out of the piece of cedar wood, and then the branches of hyssop. Now hyssop is a little reed and it has a straight stalk and white flowers and kind of fluffy leaves. And one of its properties was that it absorbed moisture very well. And so the priest would form a kind of a brush. He’d take the cedar branch, he’d take these little stalks of hyssop, and he’d bind them with the scarlet yarn and then put them into the clay pot, covering this brush with water and the blood of the bird. And he would sprinkle the person with this grisly mixture.

    And then pronounce the person clean, and as the last act would release the other bird.

    –some guy
    Faerie Glen, Pretoria. April 10, 2009.

  307. On being born again--
    April 11th, 2010 @ 3:31 am

    Let me invite you to take your bibles tonight and turn to 1 Peter chapter 1, actually we’re moving into chapter 2 at this point.

    You know, I could take a dead stick, and, oh I don’t know, wash it, clean it, treat it with the utmost respect, bring it out to my yard and stick it in the ground, fertilize it, water it, plant it, make sure that it was protected from the elements, and I could pour my life into taking care of that dead stick and nourishing it. And you know what? A year from now it would be even more dead than what it is, because it was dead to begin with.

    But when we became a Christian, as we learned from chapter 1, we were born again – we were given life by the Holy Spirit of God. The Word of God made us alive, we understood our place before Holy God, and we became partakers, as Peter says, of the divine nature.

    And as result we became what we call ‘born again’.

    –some guy
    Norway, Michigan. April 11, 2007.

  308. On soggy theology--
    April 12th, 2010 @ 12:06 am

    God is a light to our paths even when we exist in the darkness, in our own sin, in our own sloppy living.

    And this is the God that we proclaim. And what a glorious God this is.

    As we move forward together in the book of John – as we move forward as a church – I pray that, just like Pete asked for prayer tonight, that as people come into this church that we will be able to tell them who God truly is, and not simply tell them with our words, but live it with our lives.

    John says, ‘Those who don’t walk in the light do not live by the truth’ and what the literal Greek there is, “they do not do truth.”

    You know if we have right understanding of who God is, we will simply live by the truth, we will live the truth. And it will come out of us, it will pour out of us.

    And I pray that as we look at John that he can teach us, I pray that as we talk to each other, we can teach each other, that we can be really sharp about who God is, and not be sloppy, not be soggy, but be sharp.

    –some guy
    Kalamazoo, Michigan. April 12, 2009.

  309. On the listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd--
    April 13th, 2010 @ 12:33 am

    The Pharisees loved the word ‘sinner’, they liked to throw it around. He’s eating with sinners. Jesus preferred the word ‘lost’. To truly live, we have to leave the pen and go where the danger is. That always creates the opportunity to get lost. Our Shepherd gives us incredible freedom to go and graze wherever we will. But, he never abandons us. In the midst of our searching for ways to ruin ourselves, he hunts us down. Yet, he never pursues us with anger. No matter how many times he has to rescue us, we serve a God that rejoices over the opportunity to forgive us. That is a delight to Him.

    We could stay in the pen. We could hope for some grass around the edges, and enough rain water to just get by. But, we have heard the voice of our Good Shepherd, and we have come to the gate. We must follow him out into the world.

    –some guy
    Ponder, Texas. April 13, 2008.

  310. On hearing the Word of the Lord--
    April 13th, 2010 @ 12:37 am

    Jeremiah has a vision, a dream, a song or story that the Lord gives to him, and he shares that vision, that dream, that song or story with these devastated people. And so he utters those signal words to the people: Thus says the Lord… They will be going home again, and there will be a celebration when they get there; they have again found grace in the wilderness, because, as the Lord says, I have loved you with an everlasting love.

    But humanity being what humanity is, we needed more. We needed a stronger demonstration of the wisdom and grace and everlasting love of the Lord, and so the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and wisdom and truth.

    –some guy
    Readington, New Jersey. April 13, 2008.

  311. On substitutionary sacrifice--
    April 14th, 2010 @ 5:35 am

    And to satisfy this holiness, there needed to be a substitute to pay the penalty.

    Two weeks ago on Sunday morning, I reminded us of what took place under the old Covenant under the Law of Moses:

    That an Israelite would bring a blameless animal, and he would place his hands on it’s head, and symbolically there would be a transfer of sin to this innocent animal.

    And the blood of that animal would flow at the brazen altar, and that would give the Jews temporal access to God’s presence.

    A high priest could go and seek God’s atonement, but that had to be done on an annual basis.

    But that just foreshadowed or anticipated the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ because the blood of animals would not satisfy the holiness of God. They were innocent animals, but it had to be the Son of God who came to identify with us that would pay that penalty.

    –some guy
    Johannesburg, South Africa. April 14, 2006.

  312. On the firstfruits from the dead--
    April 15th, 2010 @ 2:08 am

    The passage isn’t about whether or not the Corinthians had enough faith or not, it’s a question of whether they put their faith in the right object. You noticed as we read this, but let me point it out to you again.

    In verse 14 and verse 17, it said twice, it says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty.” And again in verse 17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.”

    It’s not question in verse 3 of whether the Corinthians have believed in vain, it’s a question of whether they believed in a vain object. See, it’s not a question of whether they had the right kind of faith, it’s a question of whether they had faith in the right object.

    And some of them had begun to question whether Jesus is actually raised from the dead.

    Houston, Texas. April 15, 2007.

  313. On being Easter people--
    April 16th, 2010 @ 3:11 am

    He is alive and ahead of us.

    The Christian faith is not only a faith that looks back to an example or a teacher, but forward to where Jesus leads: to that ultimate being at home with God.

    Jesus asks Mary, “Who are you looking for?” and then calls her by her name, knowing that she is looking for him. But he is not what she expects.

    Here Mary illustrates the claim of the Good Shepherd: she fulfills John chapter 3 that says, “The sheep hear his voice as he calls by name those who are looking for him.”

    Mary’s meeting with Jesus, her experience with the transformed Savior of the world, as accounted for in John is an invitation for us to journey with her. It’s a journey that we look for, but yet also hear our name knowing that what we will find will not be on our own terms, and may surprise us.

    –some gal
    Durham, North Carolina. April 16, 2006.

  314. On being transgressors--
    April 17th, 2010 @ 1:31 am

    Now hear me:

    This morning, if there was a bullseye on that door, bullseye in the middle of it, and Jesus pulled back the bow and the arrow, and he fired it, do you think he’d miss? What would he hit? The bullseye. Boom.

    Now if they let you or I fire, and our righteousness determined the flight of the arrow, shoop, it wouldn’t hit the target. It would even completely miss it.

    Y’see, we’re transgressors. You know what it means to be a transgressor? It means that you missed the mark. Jesus says the only way you are getting to heaven is you are going to have to hit the bullseye and be perfect with your life. But when you sin, you have missed the target. You’ve become a transgressor.

    But when you got saved, and he forgave your sins, all your misfires and missed shots, he says, “Come over here, son. I want you to stand by the arrow and smile for the camera.”

    –some guy
    Spruce Pine, North Carolina. April 17, 2005.

  315. On trusting that God will provide--
    April 18th, 2010 @ 3:43 am

    I believe that God is the God of abundance. I just have a problem trusting; trusting that God’s abundance is meant for me; trusting that I don’t need to do it all for myself; trusting that God will provide.

    From today’s text, I’d say that I’m not unique in this regard.

    God comes to Jeremiah and tells him to write down what God is about to say. God wants a written record of the promises to provide fortunes and lands for God’s people. These are not new promises. God has made them to God’s people throughout their history. But apparently the chosen people needed to be reminded that God had made these promises to their ancestors. They seemed to have forgotten the many examples of God keeping God’s promise for the ancestors of Israel and Judah.

    –some gal
    San Francisco, California. April 18, 2005

  316. On redemption by the cross--
    April 19th, 2010 @ 1:18 am

    What I am saying is, friends we never reach the point that Judas felt he had reached when there is no hope. Bring your guilt to the cross, and I wonder if there are some of you today that felt like Judas. Maybe you’ve betrayed somebody.

    You’ve acted in ways that have harmed others. And like Judas you realize that there is no way you can now undo what you have done. You feel like there is a stain that just will not go away. Or maybe you have made commitment after commitment to your Lord, and broken commitment after commitment. Time after time, you’ve said, “Lord, I am so ashamed, so embarrassed that I’ve done that again, I’m never going to do that again, Lord.”

    And then two days later, you do exactly what you promised the Lord you would not do.

    And after months, maybe years of that, you’re now feeling that there is no hope, that there is no way the stain can be removed. I’m telling you this morning that there is no sin that the cross cannot cover, there is no stain that the blood of Christ cannot cleanse. Bring your guilt to the cross.

    In 2nd Corinthians chapter 7, Paul wrote to that church about a painful matter between them. He had written them a previous letter and had to use some pretty strong talk with them to get them to see the error of their ways. And they had responded as they ought, and so Paul wrote to them and said, ‘I’m sorry that I caused you pain, but I am not sorry because of the result.’

    And he said that there is a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. In verse 10 of that chapter, he said, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

    –some guy
    Woodbury, Minnesota. April 19, 2009.

  317. On what the Lord requires of us--
    April 20th, 2010 @ 3:05 am

    Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5 verse 44, he said, “Pray for those who would hurt you,” those who would despise you, those who would use you. He said, ‘You bring them before the heavenly father, and you name their name before God.’

    That does a couple of things: Number one, it puts that person before God so that you might be able intercede in the sense for them that says, “I’m praying for this person.”

    Number two what it does is that it softens your heart. As it softens your heart you can begin to find the mercy that God has extended to you, and you can extend that to other people. If you can’t find peace during that time, then continue your prayer.

    And you keep praying, and realize if that person doesn’t change where they will end up, and you’ll find no joy in their end. Rather you will find a burden in your heart that you might save their soul, and encourage them to do that which is right.

    What does the Lord require of you? First of all, to do justly. Number two is to love mercy. And you look here in verse 8 of Micah chapter 6, he says “and to walk humbly with thy God.”

    –some guy
    Woodbury, Tennessee. April 20, 2008.

  318. On the fallibility of preachers--
    April 20th, 2010 @ 3:08 am

    So he googled himself, and only one reference came up. It’s a strange reference from archives of our website. I apparently used his name in an illustration in a sermon three years ago, and that is the only thing that came up. And after the conversation, I wrote a memo to myself:

    “In all sermon illustrations, don’t use real names.”

    –some guy
    Bowie, Maryland. April 20, 2008.

  319. On being God’s Children in Jesus Christ--
    April 21st, 2010 @ 1:12 am

    Our everyday world, our world of competition, our world of numbers, our world of betrayal and unfaithfulness, tells us we are always being compared, we are always being measured, and that we are always coming up short. We aren’t good enough, we aren’t smart enough, and we aren’t rich enough. There is always something missing in us. You are just a number. You are measured by what you do and what you have. And that’s not from God! But it’s a message we hear everyday.

    And so we work harder, we try harder, we fail miserably, we compensate by drugs, alcohol, sex and all sorts of escape routes. We measure ourselves through constant competition. We abuse power and position. We are only concerned about #1, me. We become selfish and self serving. And we see that as normal. We are so caught up in this world of illusion and lies.

    And then comes Jesus.

    –some guy
    Rahway, New Jersey. April 21, 2003.

  320. On the Great Commission--
    April 22nd, 2010 @ 12:25 am

    So what are the current hindrances as I see them – and sort of are confronted by them – in our country to the fulfillment to the obedience to the last will and testament of the Lord Jesus? Well let me just share with you briefly.

    There is first of all what I call the problem of syncretism. A big word that all it means is the basic belief that all religions have some element of truth in them, and no one religion can absolute claims. ‘You can take on board bits here and bits there, and okay.’

    ‘You should dialog with people of other faith, but you shouldn’t try to convert them.’ How many times have I heard that?

    Or they say it’s wrong to take your faith to another culture and religion when they’re quite happy as they are. Don’t you believe it.

    But the bible makes it quite clear, and we got to start here, that all religions, all roads do not lead to God.

    Jesus, when asked the question by his disciples as to ‘how do we know the way?’, and Jesus, said, dogmatically, but I’m sure graciously and lovingly, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and nobody comes to God expect by me.”

    And I think in this age when even when the government is trying to stop us from being so bold and so brave as to talk like that, we got to stand up and be counted, because that is what Jesus said.

    –some guy
    Wandsworth Common, London. April 22, 2007.

  321. On suffering from spiritual liabilities--
    April 23rd, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    Frankly, I see a lot of unbelief in the church today, a failure to believe all that the scripture says. We are good at “selective belief.” We believe things we want to believe, and we doubt other things. There are many in the Church today who believe in the goodness and grace of God, but they don’t believe in His wrath or His judgment of sin, which the scripture also teaches. There are many who believe in the prosperity Gospel, but they don’t believe in the promises about suffering and persecution. There are those who believe in the gifts of the Spirit, but they don’t believe in the fruit of the Spirit. Many believe in the call of discipleship, but they don’t believe in the cost of discipleship. We desperately need to believe and teach the whole counsel of God.

    In summary, the spiritual depression of these two Emmaus disciples is both experiential and doctrinal in its source. They have lost their joy and their hope, and they have failed to believe all that the scripture says. They are in trouble because of these spiritual liabilities. But lest we think they are in a hole of depression that is too deep to get out of, I hasten to turn your attention to a second observation, that is, that they enjoy certain spiritual assets.

    –some guy
    Wichita, Kansas. April 23, 2006.

  322. On the question, “Who is Jesus?”
    April 24th, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    Early in his ministry, John the Baptist sent one of his disciples to Jesus asking him if he was the messiah. Jesus did not directly answer John, rather he simply pointed to what he did: the blind see, the lepers are healed, the lame walk, the dead rise and the good news is preached. Rather than offering a straightforward answer, Jesus pointed to concrete evidence to make a statement about who he is. John was to come to his own conclusion to his question, “Who is Jesus?” Jesus throws the question back to John to consider. Given what you’ve seen me do and say, what am I about, who do you think I am?

    Towards the end of his ministry, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” The disciples responded: “Elijah returned, Jeremiah, a prophet.” Perhaps dissatisfied, Jesus poses the same question to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, ever the eager one, proclaims, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus tells Peter that this was known by the grace of the Holy Spirit. By affirming Peter’s answer as from the Spirit, Jesus is telling us the conclusion we all must reach to really begin to know him.

    –some guy
    Portland, Oregon. April 24, 2005.

  323. On a ban of a procedure that borders on infanticide--
    April 25th, 2010 @ 2:42 am

    Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

    In Roe v. Wade, this Court said that there is no absolute right to terminate a pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason a woman chooses.

    With that legal principle, and the Casey undue burden test in mind, the issue here today is whether a State may prohibit a little-used form of abortion that borders on infanticide when safe, alternative forms of abortion remain available to women who seek abortions.

    Clearly, the State can constitutionally ban some abortion procedures.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. April 25, 2000.

  324. On the graces necessary for forgiving--
    April 26th, 2010 @ 3:07 am

    Forgiveness is not about forgetting what has happened, it’s about the hard work of working through the offence, which calls for courage and humility from both sides. Repentance can no more be summoned at will than can forgiveness. Both are graces, for repentance and forgiveness both call for faith, faith in one another, in ourselves, in God to provide what we lack in ourselves to make the relationship work. So too both call for hope, a willingness to hope that the relationship between us can be restored. And too they both call for love, for without love why bother?

    –some guy
    Suncrest, Washington. April 26, 2009.

  325. On giving--
    April 27th, 2010 @ 2:57 am

    Lastly, another great opportunity: giving will open more doors for you to please God.

    Because Luke…Jesus says in Luke 16:10 that whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.

    Y’know often what we say is, “Well, I’ll give more to the treasury, I’ll start tithing, when I get more money because I have too little right now.”

    But Jesus says well, before you’re gonna get more, you got to be able to be trusted with the little that you have. And when you are responsible with the little that you have, God entrusts you with more. Maybe more money, maybe more spiritual opportunities, it can be a number of different things.

    But giving opens doors to please God.

    –some guy
    Yorktown, Indiana. April 27, 2008.

  326. On leading one's sheep--
    April 28th, 2010 @ 3:19 am

    Being Jewish, the words “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church” didn’t just roll off the tongue easily – or lightly.

    Several things surprised me as those weeks unfolded – things perhaps you might take for granted. The entire service was in English. The readings were from both the Old and the New Testament. The concept of bread and wine was familiar to me, although here it held a very different significance. I couldn’t believe I was in a room full of grown ups singing their hearts out someplace other than the shower. I had forgotten how wonderful singing can make you feel.

    I was amazed that a sermon could actually be interesting and relevant. I took something away with me that I could reflect on during the week, and that had the potential to change the way I viewed the world and how I interacted with others. I was hooked.

    –some gal
    Croton-on-Hudson, New York. April 28, 2007.

  327. On a treatment for "spiritual affluenza"--
    April 29th, 2010 @ 12:01 am

    Are you drowning in debt? Are you practicing a tithe? Are you anxious, stressed, angry about money? Are you hopeful, do you have more than you know what to do with and you’re wondering where should I put all this money? Are you envying those who have more than you, wishing you had more?

    The answer to these questions – however you answer those questions – are an indication not so much of your relationship with money, although it’s that, but more importantly your relationship with God.

    Now fortunately for us, there is a cure, there is an antidote, there’s even a way to vaccinate against this pandemic, this illness that is sweeping our country. And it’s actually found in our passage this morning, it’s one of treatments God seems to give, but this is the basic one, it’s the starting point. So let’s revisit the very first line in this passage, Leviticus, your favorite book and mine, 27:30, “All tithes from the land whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree are the Lord’s; they are holy to the Lord.”

    –some guy
    Glendale, Arizona. April 29, 2007.

  328. On public service (a beginning)--
    April 29th, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

    Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow- citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.

    –some guy
    New York, New York. April 30, 1789.

  329. On public service (an end)--
    April 29th, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

    But I no longer have any personal interest. I have served my country and my people for half a century as Democrat. I went to the House of Representatives in 1913 and served fourteen years. I was a junior Congressman, then I became a senior Congressman, then I went to the Senate and became a junior Senator, and then I became a senior Senator; and then a Majority Leader in the Senate, and then Vice President of the United States, and now I am back again as a junior Senator. And I am willing to be a junior. I’m glad to sit in the back row, for I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord than sit in the seats of the mighty.

    –some guy
    Lexington, Virginia. April 30, 1956.

  330. On having a Great Commission mindset--
    May 1st, 2010 @ 2:43 am

    And it should be anti-“who we are” to be in a declining church. It should not be possible for us to be in a declining church. Because if you and I are consumed with the Great Commission – if every day I wake up with a Great Commission mindset: that Jesus – the one who came, the one who was born in a barn, the one who lived his life, proved himself to be God, was killed on a cross for my sins, raised from the dead, and there is no question in my heart and mind that he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and he – that man – that authority gave me the task of making disciples, then every day I should be thinking, “Lord, how can I do what you ask me to do?”

    And if I’m thinking every day, “Lord, how can I do what you ask me to do?” I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to do it wrong. I’m probably going to offend some people. I’m probably going to have some people think, “That guy’s just a nut. He’s a bible thumper, man. Don’t even talk to him.” But you know what? I can’t decline because sooner or later if I’m consumed with the passion of doing what Great Commission says to do, I’m going to reach people. You can’t help it. There are too many people, too hungry.

    It’s like being on the hungry city streets with tacos. Some people are going to say, “I’m not eatin’ your taco. I don’t know what’s in that taco. What kind of food is that, cat? That a cat taco? That a catto?” Yeah, I’d probably think that. “What’s in that taco? You USDA approved, y’know? Are you trained like at some culinary school?”

    But you know what, there are enough hungry people out there that a lot of people are going to probably do what I’m going to do and say, “I’m not eating your taco, thanks anyway.” But there are some people who will say, “I’ll eat that taco. I’m hungry. I need some answers. I will hear what your sayin’.”

    ‘Cause there are people that are in need, people whose lives are falling apart, people who everything they’ve invested in the whole time they’ve been on this planet has failed them. And they’re looking for answers. And when people are hungry they’ll eat your nasty taco. Even if you don’t know how to make a taco. If you’re the worst taco maker on the planet, they’ll eat it and thank you for it.

    And if we have a Great Commission mindset and we’re out there teaching the things Jesus taught us to others like he asked us to do, we’re going to encounter people who are in need, who are hungry. And they’re going to respond. The church will not decline.

    It is a crucial task of the church to be Great Commission minded, and Great Commission is the glue that holds everything together.

    –some guy
    Needville, Texas. May 1, 2005.

  331. On getting on in age--
    May 2nd, 2010 @ 1:14 am

    I don’t want to be sitting somewhere ineffective by choice.

    I know a lot of people, they get older and their hearts are broken because they cannot do what they used to do. You need to get over that. I can’t do what I used to do either, and I’m still young. The tragedy is not doing what you can and excusing yourself for it. So as you get older, you won’t be able to do all you used to do, but by the grace of God keep doing what you can do.

    When Paul was saved, God told him – you can go back, don’t right now, but in Acts chapter number 9, God told Paul it wasn’t going to be easy from the beginning. He would preach Christ before the Gentiles, before kings and the Jews; he would suffer greatly for the cause of Christ, and Paul declares he’s finished the course God laid out for him. He didn’t get sidetracked and he didn’t quit.

    Battlefield, Missouri. May 2, 2007.

  332. On abiding in Christ--
    May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:25 am

    Second, to abide in Christ means to abide in prayer. We are to abide – to remain, dwell, live in prayer. Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” This is referring not to constant talking, but to being conscious of the presence of God no matter what you are doing. Just like we are conscious of the presence of a family member at home, a classmate at school or a coworker at your job, so we are conscious of Christ always. Jesus promised, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Therefore whenever we want to talk with him, we can. No special time or place is needed – although it is very helpful to avoid distractions to maintain a special time and place. No special language is needed in addressing God – no thee’s and Thou’s. No written prayers, devotions or formulas. Live in prayer. Abide in prayer.

    –some guy
    Rochester, Pennsylvania. May 3, 2009.

  333. On proclaiming the Lord's death until He comes--
    May 4th, 2010 @ 12:13 am

    He knew the Resurrection story, so why does he say death? Because it is by that death, this great gift of grace that we are redeemed.

    He says in Romans: For while we were yet sinners, God showed his love for us by giving Christ for us that he died for us. “God shows His love for us,” we shall return to this, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    Redemption. Redemption.

    Now those are the two ways that tradition has taught us to feel, and indicated how we should feel. May I suggest two other ways, however? One is, what does it feel like to know someone has died for you? Hopefully you feel loved. Because that’s what Christ on the cross is. That’s what redemption for. It is for the sake of love.

    The Spanish word for this is amor. Can you say that? Amor. Put an –e on the end you become Italian. Amore. And you have to have to use your hand, alright? Are you ready? Amore.

    Amor or amore. Love.

    Love is what is given to us in Jesus Christ. Love is what is on this cross. Love is what is in the Lord’s Supper. Love is what we could feel if we truly know how someone has died for us.

    –some guy
    Kansas City, Missouri. May 4, 2008.

  334. On returning to the Lord--
    May 5th, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

    My dear friends, true repentance may or may not come with tears and weeping. Secondly, true repentance is not to be confused with confession of sin. Though it will certainly include confession of sin, it is not to be confused with confession of sin. You see it in verse 25. Look at these words. This is Israel speaking: “Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our fathers; from our youth ‘til this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.” And it all sounds so good, doesn’t it?

    You say what more could God want? This was a people who were only too willing to say they had sinned, but they were not willing to stop their sins. That’s why in verse 1 of chapter 4, the Lord says, “If you will return,” and all the language that you are pouring out is giving that impression, “if you will return, O Israel,” note this, “return to me.” Don’t try to flannel me with words of confession.

    (continued)

  335. On returning to the Lord (continued)--
    May 5th, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

    You see the same thing in the book of Hosea, “Come,” they say, “let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us,” that’s His job. “He has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” And how fine it all sounds. And the Lord says, “What can I do with you? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I will cut you in pieces with my prophets.”

    (continued)

  336. On returning to the Lord (continued)--
    May 5th, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

    This was a people who were willing to say they had sinned but not willing to stop their sins. Eloquent professions are never a substitute for true repentance. These are fine words, but they’re only words. They’re evangelical words, but they’re only words. They are moving words, but they’re only words.

    What then is true repentance? Well the Lord tells us himself, “True repentance is a turning back to the Lord.” Verse 1 of chapter 4, this is God’s response to all the eloquent evangelical professions, “If you will return, O Israel, return to me,” declares the Lord.

    –some guy
    Cambridge, England. May 5, 2002.

  337. On the music ministry--
    May 6th, 2010 @ 1:16 am

    Amen.

    Watching those kids, and I was listening to the depth of truth in their words. Those weren’t, y’know, cute little kids’ songs. The depth of biblical truth that came through, especially in a couple of those solos. I don’t’ know why it struck me, had these little voices were singing things that most of us can’t even get to the bottom of understanding. With the riches of God, so – .

    I don’t know it just hit me when they were singing it’s just amazing going forth from the mouth of babes. Amen?

    Amen.

    –some guy
    Sioux Falls, South Dakota. May 6, 2007.

  338. On the danger posed by spambots--
    May 7th, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    Is spam a problem? Spam is a big problem. Spam is a problem on two or three different levels. It is an irritant, number one. I get it all the time on my BlackBerry. There is a woman in some cafe who is waiting to meet me and she thinks I look great. This woman who emails me never has my first name. I go on my BlackBerry and someone is selling me products to make certain parts of my body bigger than they need to be. Then I go on my BlackBerry and someone is selling me a beautiful condo on a malaria-infested swamp. Those are irritants, and so I erase them. Sure it costs me a bit of time, but it is not that big a deal.

    The bigger problem with spam is the use of it to defraud people across the world. Of course we know about the Nigerian 419 scam. When I ran my magazine, in the days when the fax machine was cutting-edge technology, we got these faxes from Nigeria or Bosnia, or wherever there was a crisis, from someone trying to get out of the country who needed some money. If we gave them money, we would get money back. Everybody knows the 419 scam. But it was cumbersome. It was slow. It had to be done on fax machines. It actually cost them money to do it, so they had to limit the number of scams they could get away with. Surprisingly, a lot of people got snagged in these kinds of frauds.

    However, when we moved to digital technology, the ability of these fraud artists anywhere in the world to inundate millions and millions of Internet subscribers with fraudulent claims jumped astronomically, and the costs for doing it became almost nothing.

    –some guy
    Montreal, Quebec. May 7, 2009.

  339. On saying ‘yes’ to God’s gift--
    May 8th, 2010 @ 2:02 am

    Residents in the nursing home, particularly in sub-acute or the rehabilitation unit, have the greatest difficulty accepting the fact that they may need assistance, if only temporarily. They won’t use the call bell because they don’t want to bother anyone. They won’t ask someone for pain medications, even if they are prescribed, because it might inconvenience the nurse to get them. They cannot accept their own fragility, their own need, and they cannot relinquish control of the situation. Yet in relinquishing that control, they allow others to offer their gifts, to exercise their ministry, whether it’s mopping a floor or adjusting a pillow; assuaging thirst with a cool drink or easing their pain. Healing comes in many forms in rehab. Having the grace to receive, making the choice to receive what others can offer, can speed the healing.

    Giving and receiving is all about relationship. Giving and receiving is about control, and the perception of what and where the need is. The giver may be in control, of how much, how often, to whom, and may try to dictate the result. I pray that as givers, that is not our sense of Souper Supper Saturdays. Did God dictate to Jesus exactly what was to be done and where and by whom? Did God tell Jesus whom to heal, whom to let die, who to feed, who to liberate?

    I would argue that Jesus wrestled with discernment, with trying to find a direction for his ministry, just as you and I do. In order for God to be incarnate, I would argue that Jesus did not have all the answers. I would argue that Jesus cried and pondered and rejoiced and laughed. I can believe in the glory of God because of the humanity of Christ, because I know that when our hearts break, so does the heart of God. I can believe in the glory of God because Jesus said ‘yes’ to God’s gift. I can gaze into the heavens on a day when the sun’s rays pierce the clouds and shafts of sunlight beam down, or is it up? I can gaze into the heavens next to my garden, and believe without a doubt in God’s glory as Creator. I can believe in the humanity of the Son and rejoice. I can celebrate in the presence of Holy Spirit as the wind moves through the pines and the rustles the leaves. I can give thanks for the gift to us, and glorify God.

    –some guy
    Vergennes, Vermont. May 8, 2005.

  340. On being made in the image of God--
    May 9th, 2010 @ 3:22 am

    When we consider – when we consider that God was planning to create a creature, a being, that is most like him in many, many ways, he created us. That does two things for us: it gives us great responsibility and great dignity.

    It is amazing to me that people who claim to be Christian people can live such undignified lives. I hear of people that claim to be Christians that suffer from – what do they call it now? – road rage. You are discrediting the image of God in you. You are marring the image of God when you engage in that sort of activity: the gestures and the words and the screaming.

    I’m assuming nobody here is doing that. I’m just assuming that to be true.

    Could you imagine, could you imagine once being created in the image of God, having that dignity applied to us? Now I’m talking now strictly to Christian people, having the dignity of being saying we are created in the image of God – and by the way, we are not only created in the image of God in the original creation sense, but in the re-creation of the new birth, we’re created in the image of God in a fuller, a much fuller sense in that we have been partakers of God in the divine nature, according to the apostle Peter. So we are to be changed, we are to be different, we are to be credible representatives of God.

    In fact Paul said that we are ambassadors of Christ. Could you imagine Jesus cussing somebody on 565? Certainly not. Could you imagine Jesus extorting money from their company? Certainly not. Could you imagine Jesus in a drunken stupor? Certainly not. We mar the image of God in our lives when we live contrary to the scriptures.

    So what I’d like to do tonight is to share with you the responsibility that we have to uphold the image of Christ in this world, and to challenge you to live in such a way that you understand the dignity that God has placed on you. I mean it ought to challenge you, it ought to boost you, but it ought also put a burden on you that God has so chosen you as to give you this responsibility to represent him in the world. That’s what it means to be like Christ.

    Measure – measure your actions, you’ve heard this a hundred times: measure your actions based on what would Jesus do. Measure your actions based on what would Jesus be like in this situation. What would Christ do?

    And I know the argument seems to come back often times, “yeah, but we’re not God and he was.” No, but you’re supposed to be striving – you’re supposed to be striving for perfection in your life, in your attitudes, in your motives. You should be striving for perfection. Not just holding on to certain particular sins because well, everybody is human. Well, everyone is human, but you’re called out.

    Peter said you are called to be a peculiar people, a royal priesthood. You are a holy nation. You are not like the world. You are not to engage in fornication or adultery. You are not to engage in the lusts of the flesh that you read about in Galatians chapter 5. So many things that the bible tells us that we are not to do, but you say, “well, we have liberty.” No, Paul said do not use your liberty as a cloak for sin.

    –some guy
    Harvest, Alabama. May 9, 2007.

  341. On temptations and testings and trials--
    May 10th, 2010 @ 12:30 am

    Where do these testing and trials come from? Life. Because I read someplace life happens. And they are just part of life in many ways.

    Sometimes they are because of our sins, the things we do, the sins we commit brings on those testings and trials.

    And sometimes – and this is the hard one for all of us, I understand – sometimes they’re from God. That’s the lesson of the book of Job. Sometimes those testing and trials come from the book of Job – come from God.

    But the thing we must talk about and must understand – because we are not going to spend a whole lot of time about what are the testings and trials, you know about those. But the thing we do must understand before we go on is we need to understand that testings and trials are different from temptations. Testings and trials are different from temptations. James also says, “When tempted, no one should say God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone.”

    Those temptations we have are not testings and trials. Those temptations we have, those temptations come from our sins and our sinful selves and from Satan.

    The testings and trials come from different places and by design God can use those to grow our faith.

    So keep straight and keep different the difference between temptations and testings and trials.

    Now had dealing with the testings and trials, I call it ‘climbing the hill’. I call it ‘climbing the hill’ because if you’ve ever walked or run or rode a bicycle, or even tried to just walk up a hill you know you have a long steep hill you are trying to walk up, and those hills that seem to go on forever and the longer you go the harder it gets. The higher you go the steeper it gets. And the more and more painful it gets in there.

    One of the keys to be able to deal with the testings and trials, to be able to climb that hill, Jesus says in his Gospel lesson, I hope you heard it as many times, heard it in there, he says, over and over, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.”

    –some guy
    Cape Girardeau, Missouri. May 10, 2009.

  342. On repentance and self-improvement--
    May 11th, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    Now I know that we do strive, we strive to overcome. And we strive to change, and we strive to become better people. Now we might ask ourselves, where does human effort come into this? And how are we going to achieve this?

    And once again, it becomes – it is a mystery. It is very difficult for us to really see sometimes clearly what he’s saying here. Human effort has a part here that hopefully, already comes into play. Now let me explain this: through your personal effort and resolve that you know what you want, where you want to go. You understand God’s purpose. And then you find out that you really can’t change what you do much less change what you are. Now a lot of people do change what they do, sometimes, for the better, and that is very, very commendable. In the end, that’s not failsafe and it’s not consistent.

    And we are talking about however, changing our very nature. You can’t do that. The bible says, y’know, a leopard can’t change its spots. Well, it doesn’t quite say that, but it has a very similar saying.

    They just can’t. Humans can’t change themselves, and we are placed deliberately in that situation. You and I cannot change ourselves.

    But I dare say, you would be different if you could. Who doesn’t want to change? There a lot of things about me I really want to change. There is only one way that we can do this. There are two elements to repentance, first of all – and change – that is what repentance means. Repentance does mean change. And that is you have to come face to face with One who gave Himself for you. And you see the goodness that is in there, and we are convicted and we resolve to be good like Him. Only to find out you may be able to do good things, but we can’t do them consistently, nor can you become good.

    At this point you and I turn, then to the One who can Himself put his very life in you. And at this point if we are sincere, because of what we have come to see and understand that we turn then to Him in complete sincerity, with the absolute sincerest of intentions, and then God then will send His Holy Spirit into us.

    –some guy
    Seattle, Washington. May 11, 2002.

  343. On the church at Ephesus--
    May 12th, 2010 @ 5:23 am

    He says, “To the pastor at the church of Ephesus, write: these things, says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks in the middle seven golden lampstands.” Says two things, he reminds us again. He says, “In my hand I hold the pastors and I’m walking through the churches.” Very clear point: “I see what’s going on in the church, I will tell the pastor what to say, he will deliver that message to the church.” That is very clearly what Jesus is implying.

    Here’s what he says now, listen carefully: Number one, verse two: “I know your works.” In other words, I know them in the sense ‘I approve of them’.

    He says, you’re active This was obviously a very active church. They had a children’s ministry, a youth ministry, a college ministry, ensembles, picture games – they had it all. He said, “I know your works.”

    Number two, “I know your labor,” a Greek word that means to work to the point of weariness. He says I know you work, and you even work to the point where you’re tired.

    Number three, “I know your endurance,” a Greek word that literally means – a combination of two words upo – ‘to be under something’ and meno – ‘to stay under something’. But, it’s not just the idea, and lot of you will take endurance to mean, I’m in this great trial and I’m just sort of hanging in there. No, that’s not at all the Greek word.

    The Greek word literally means that I am under pressure, but in the middle of being under pressure, I am still walking forward. It was used for example for lady in that day, she would put a water pot on her head, and walk even though she was under pressure, she still moved forward. That is literally the meaning of the Greek word. It is a picture of Paul when he’s in jail, under tremendous pressure. A guy who said, “I want to preach where no one else preached,” but he’s confined in this little a jail. And yet in the middle of that, he kept preaching the gospel.

    –some guy
    College Station, Texas. May 12, 2002.

  344. On care for the poor in the early Church--
    May 13th, 2010 @ 2:18 am

    I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

    Jesus was very clear as to what ought to be the mark of the Christian. In our lesson from John’s Gospel for this morning, Jesus tells his disciples that after he is gone the world will know them not by their teachings, not by their liturgies, but by their actions in the world. In short, they will be known by their ability to love. They will be known by their ability to love as Jesus loved, sacrificially, selflessly, and extravagantly. Literally, they are to love enough to lay down their lives for one another. And interestingly enough, the history of the early church is marked by just this kind of love.

    Church historians have for centuries pondered what it was about the early faith that allowed it to spread so rapidly over a large portion of the world. Besides the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, what made Christians special, what made Christianity stand out in a world full of thousands of cults and religious groups? [Some guy] writes that without a doubt the “practical application of charity was probably the most potent single cause of Christian success.” Tertullian, an early church father, remarked that pagans in the ancient world would often comment, ‘See how these Christians love one another.’

    Roman culture did not have any understanding of social welfare and so the Christian attribute of selfless love on behalf of believer and stranger alike was a novel idea. Early Christians expressed their love for Christ through their love of their neighbor. The faith grew in reputation and in strength because of the way the early church cared for the poor, for widows and orphans, visited those in prison and used the church’s money to free slaves who were trapped in bad households. An account from the middle of the third century reports that the church in Rome provided for the care of 1500 widows and needy persons all of whom were, “fed by the grace and kindness of the Lord.”

    –some guy
    Richmond, Virginia. May 13, 2001.

  345. On patience--
    May 14th, 2010 @ 1:17 am

    Anyone here with little children or teenagers, or if you’re teenagers with parents? If you’re working at a job, your patience will be tried.

    Just going out in public and your patience will be tried, over and over.

    Y’know, when a three year old asks, “Why?” 50 times in an hour, that will require some patience. Your patience is tried.

    When a teenage comes to the supper table sullen and silent, it requires patience. Your patience is tried.

    When the parent says no to a child more out of instinct than understanding, it tries your patience.

    And marriage is a veritable boot camp for patience training, isn’t it? [Some guy] said this, “When two humans live together for a while, it usually happens that each has facial expressions and tones of voice that are almost unendurable to each other.” Been there? The looks that you get, it’s a boot camp for patience training.

    Then there’s the outside world: the pokey driver who clings to the left lane. Been there? What happens to your spirit? Be honest. The tensions rise, the anger’s rising.

    What happens when there are neighbors who let their dogs bark all night? Patience is tried.

    Or the person in the supermarket checkout lane ahead of you that has 25 items and it’s only a 15 items express lane. Been there? 15 items and you’re looking and you’re counting. C’mon. Step aside. We’ve been there.

    And so our anger begins to rise, we lose perspective of what life is really about. And our patience is tested.

    Don’t we often pray for God to increase our patience? Never? Why, because He will test it won’t He? We pray for patience and He will test it. We resist the way in which God strengthens it. We pray for patience, but then we resist Him in the way that He knows He must strengthen it.

    We pray “God grant me perfect patience and give it to me now.” Right? That’s our attitude.

    I admire patient people, don’t you? The stalwarts, the steadfast in patience. Those that can stay calm and in control in heavy traffic after be cut off numerous times.

    I admire those who joyfully endure a debilitating illness because of their hope in Christ. They’re steadfast, they’re patient.

    I admire those Christians around the world who patiently endure persecution for their faith. They’re steadfast, unmoving in their faith.

    I admire those who stand firm in theface of opposition with a steady resolve. And God desires that for each one of us. He wants each one of us to be growing in patience. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. And today we are going to explore two areas where God desires for us to grow.

    And the first one is to patiently endure hardship with joy. Patiently endure hardship with joy. And the second is, God wants us to live as agents of His grace through patience with others. We’re going to look at those two areas.

    Today as we look at patience, we have to define it. Patience is bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint. And for Christians there is an added dimension and that is the joy factor. God wants us to be joyful in the middle of trials. As our patience is being tested and tried, He wants us to be joyful.

    Jesus Himself said this in John 16, “I have told you things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.”

    –some guy
    May 14, 2006.

  346. On spiritual gifts--
    May 15th, 2010 @ 12:12 am

    We grownups aren’t a whole lot better. Although more subtle and refined in our cruelty, we still act it out in some devastatingly harmful ways: bigotry, snobbery, class-consciousness, and social ostracism. As we age we do not outgrow the reality of our total depravity. Under the surface of the must civilized person there beats the sin-stained heart of the primitive savage.

    Those of us who follow Jesus are supposed to be in a process of moving beyond castes, labels, and categories. That’s part and parcel of that thing we call sanctification, a movement in the direction of holiness. But even in the saved person there still beats that sin-filled heart. We are dogged by depravity all the way to the grave.

    A biblical example of this is Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. That church was about as dysfunctional as it gets. Class differences. Blatant immorality. Raging conflicts. Lots of “my-faith’s-greater-than-your-faith” statements being passed around. Some folks who had been blessed with certain spiritual gifts assuming that these gifts made them more special in God’s eyes than did the gifts possessed by others. An unofficial division into first and second class Christians.

    –some guy
    Lanham, Maryland. May 15, 2005.

  347. On care for the poor in the early Church (again)--
    May 15th, 2010 @ 7:43 am

    The Church, moreover, intervenes directly in behalf of the poor, by setting on foot and maintaining many associations which she knows to be efficient for the relief of poverty. Herein, again, she has always succeeded so well as to have even extorted the praise of her enemies. Such was the ardor of brotherly love among the earliest Christians that numbers of those who were in better circumstances despoiled themselves of their possessions in order to relieve their brethren; whence “neither was there any one needy among them.” To the order of deacons, instituted in that very intent, was committed by the Apostles the charge of the daily doles; and the Apostle Paul, though burdened with the solicitude of all the churches, hesitated not to undertake laborious journeys in order to carry the alms of the faithful to the poorer Christians. Tertullian calls these contributions, given voluntarily by Christians in their assemblies, deposits of piety, because, to cite his own words, they were employed “in feeding the needy, in burying them, in support of youths and maidens destitute of means and deprived of their parents, in the care of the aged, and the relief of the shipwrecked.”

    –some guy
    The Vatican. May 15, 1891.

  348. On care for the poor in the modern Church--
    May 15th, 2010 @ 9:35 am

    And in this connection We must not pass over the unwarranted and unmerited appeal made by some to the Apostle when he said: “If any man will not work neither let him eat.” For the Apostle is passing judgment on those who are unwilling to work, although they can and ought to, and he admonishes us that we ought diligently to use our time and energies of body, and mind and not be a burden to others when we can provide for ourselves. But the Apostle in no wise teaches that labor is the sole title to a living or an income.

    To each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods, and the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is laboring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice.

    The Vatican. May 15, 1931.

  349. On devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus--
    May 15th, 2010 @ 10:55 am

    From what We have so far explained, venerable brethren, it is clear that the faithful must seek from Scripture, tradition and the sacred liturgy as from a deep untainted source, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus if they desire to penetrate its inner nature and by piously meditating on it, receive the nourishment for the fostering and development of their religious fervor. If this devotion is constantly practiced with this knowledge and understanding, the souls of the faithful cannot but attain to the sweet knowledge of the love of Christ which is the perfection of Christian life as the Apostle, who knew this from personal experience, teaches: “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by His Spirit with might unto the inward man; that Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that, being rooted and founded in charity. . .you may be able to know also the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.” The clearest image of this all-embracing fullness of God is the Heart of Christ Jesus Itself. We mean the fullness of mercy which is proper to the New Testament, in which “the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared,” for “God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved by Him.”

    –some guy
    The Vatican. May 15, 1956.

  350. On the exercise of human sympathy and Christian charity--
    May 15th, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    In recent years the State and other agencies of public law have extended, and are continuing to extend, the sphere of their activity and initiative. But this does not mean that the doctrine of the social function of private ownership is out of date, as some would maintain. It is inherent in the very right of private ownership.

    Then, too, a further consideration arises. Tragic situations and urgent problems of an intimate and personal nature are continually arising which the State with all its machinery is unable to remedy or assist. There will always remain, therefore, a vast field for the exercise of human sympathy and the Christian charity of individuals. We would observe, finally, that the efforts of individuals, or of groups of private citizens, are definitely more effective in promoting spiritual values than is the activity of public authority.

    We should notice at this point that the right of private ownership is clearly sanctioned by the Gospel. Yet at the same time, the divine Master frequently extends to the rich the insistent invitation to convert their material goods into spiritual ones by conferring them on the poor. “Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth; where the rust and moth consume and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” And the Lord will look upon the charity given to the poor as given to Himself. “Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”

    –some guy
    The Vatican. May 15, 1961.

  351. On solidarity with all the poor--
    May 15th, 2010 @ 11:11 am

    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. These words stand at the foundation of our prayer, our service to others, our life of faith. They direct us towards the invisible God who dwells within us as in a Temple, to the one whom we profess in the Creed to be “the Lord, the Giver of Life”, the one who “has spoken through the Prophets”. In prayerful reflection on these words, we meet and adore the Holy Spirit.

    In prayer, too, we come to see the stark reality of our own poverty, the absolute need we have for a Saviour. We discover in a more profound degree the many ways in which we ourselves are poor and needy, and thus we begin to feel an increasing solidarity with all the poor. In the end, – we realize more fully than ever before that Good News for the poor is Good News for ourselves as well.

    Dear Friends in Christ, you have come to Rome in the month of May, Our Lady’s month. You come just prior to the Feast of Pentecost and the beginning of the Marian Year. And in considering the theme, “Good News to the Poor”, you are considering a theme dear to the Mother of our Redeemer. As I stated in my recent Encyclical on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Church, “Mary truly proclaims the coming of the ‘Messiah of the poor’. Drawing from Mary’s heart, from the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, the Church renews ever more effectively in herself the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus”

    –some guy
    The Vatican. May 15, 1987.

  352. On care of migrants and itinerant peoples--
    May 15th, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    In its action of reception and dialogue with migrants and itinerant peoples, the Christian community has as its constant reference point Christ, who left to his disciples, as a rule of life, the new commandment of love. Christian love is, by its nature, prevenient. This is why single believers are called to open their arms and their hearts to every person, from whatever nation they come, allowing the Authorities responsible for public life to enforce the relevant laws held to be appropriate for a healthy co-existence.

    Continually stimulated to witness the love that the Lord Jesus taught, Christians must open their hearts especially to the lowly and the poor, in whom Christ himself is present in a singular way. Acting in this way, they manifest the most qualifying characteristic of their own Christian identity: the love that Christ lived and continually transmits to the Church through the Gospel and the Sacraments.

    –some guy
    The Vatican. May 15, 2006.

  353. On being at home with God--
    May 16th, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    Sometimes peace is described as the absence of conflict, fear, trouble and suffering. Peace is more than the absence of something. Peace, true peace, is the presence of someone – and that someone is Jesus. He has come to make his home with us and that brings true peace into our lives.

    His love, forgiveness, protection, help, comfort – brings the peace we so much need in our troubled life. Peace is knowing that Jesus will stand by us and that nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39), according to St Paul.

    All this builds up to a wonderful picture of being at home – home with God; secure and safe, nurtured and cared for. God makes a home within our lives—a home of love, security, joy, peace, confidence and hope. But there is a danger I must admit, that this warm cosy picture will send us all to sleep. Instead of getting out there and showing our love, by sharing our faith, using our abilities to serve God and our fellow humanity, helping in the many tasks that arise in a congregation such as ours, the temptation is there, to feel so comfortable and secure at home with God, that we see no reason to do anything else. When that happens, Satan will have his way of stopping God’s work in our midst. This kind of inactivity is the greatest danger that faces the Christian church today. It is this kind of inactivity that has caused the demise of many congregations and is always a threat to this very congregation.

    The church is the place where we are made to feel at peace and loved and forgiven, but God gives us that peace and love to enable us to cope with the challenges of doing his work, speaking his Word, loving others, helping in the Church or whatever may come our way.

    His peace and love are not given to send us to sleep, but to send us out to do his work. His peace and love are given to move us to pass on that same peace and love to others. He gives us security in his home so that we can make a difference in the world and in the church, and in the lives of others.

    –some guy
    Montreal, Quebec. May 16, 2004.

  354. On the water of life--
    May 17th, 2010 @ 2:02 am

    “Abide in my love and keep my commandments,” he says. Abide in his love – remain in it.

    Jesus’ love is like water. You have to drink water all day long for you to stay alive. You take that cool water in, it sustains your life. Jesus’ love is like that. We drink of it everyday. We live in it. We breathe in it. It’s a part of who we are.

    We abide in that love and because we’re living in that love, then that water of life –that love we give to others.

    That’s what it means to keep his commandments.

    –some guy
    Norman, Oklahoma. May 17, 2009.

  355. On being healed from the inside out--
    May 18th, 2010 @ 12:09 am

    How do we live when we are paralyzed by our unfulfilled expectations? According to what we’ve seen today, Jesus can do more than meets the eye. While we want to be freed from our diseases and our infirmities, while we long to relieved of our stresses and burdens, Jesus offers more than just a topical salve for our symptoms. Jesus sees all the way through us, and he knows better than we do what we need, and he provides a chance to be cured – really cured from the inside out.

    Did Jesus care about peoples’ demons and fevers and paralysis? Well, of course he did. The people in the house were right: only God can forgive sins. And yet, that is what Jesus did, right in front of our eyes, because he is God. And God is compassionate. Our God is merciful. Our God is full of grace. God does care. God cares about life, but he wants more for us than just health, or just tranquility or just prosperity or whatever else it is we’re chasing. God wants us whole again. God wants us healed and forgiven, and that means he has to heal us from the inside out – sins and all.

    This text in Mark chapter 2 tells us that after this crippled man got up and left the room, that Jesus got up and left also. He went down to the seaside to teach yet again. After all this is what he came for.

    –some guy
    Searcy, Arkansas. May 18, 2008.

  356. On why God allows evil to exist--
    May 19th, 2010 @ 2:05 am

    But imagine the doubts that must have assaulted the disciples’ minds on their way up to Jerusalem. They must have been wondering if Jesus had lost his sanity or his compassion or even his common sense.

    First he had told them that Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death. Then he waited two days, and then he told them Lazarus was dead. In all their experience they had never seen Christ act this way. It must have appeared to them – or it could have appeared them – like he was vacillating, out of control, different from how they’d ever seen him.

    And when they arrived they were in for an even bigger shock. Verse 17 says, “When Jesus came he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.”

    Now do the math on this. This means Lazarus was probably already dead when the first messengers reached Jesus to tell him Lazarus was sick. You count back: it was a full day’s journey, that’s one day. Certainly less than two days’ travel from the Jordan to Bethany. Verse 6 says Jesus had waited two days in the Jordan after the messengers brought him news that Lazarus was sick.

    So that’s only three days. Lazarus was in the grave for four days. He was probably already dead by the time the messengers brought news to Jesus that he was sick. Now what do you suppose the disciples thought when they realized this?

    Verse 19 says, “And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother.” There had no doubt crowds of people coming to comfort this family for days. Jesus is a latecomer to the funeral. He could have been there earlier. He knew the very moment Lazarus died, and the disciples knew that he knew this.

    And yet he didn’t arrive until four days later. They must have been questioning his compassion. They had seen his sovereignty on display. So they knew he was ordering the timing of all these events. He could have done something to stop this tragedy from happening. They knew that. But he purposely had delayed. He told them, “There’s nothing to worry about. His sickness is not unto death.”

    And now they’re finding out Lazarus had been in the grave for four days. What’s going on?

    –some guy
    Valencia, California. May 19, 2002.

  357. On Christ's "new commandment" to love refugees and the homeless--
    May 19th, 2010 @ 6:02 am

    This is Christ’s “new commandment”: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12);

    — love your family, your home, and remain faithful in love!

    — love your country, your district, your city! Let each one make his contribution of commitment, service, and charity, especially for the suffering and needy, so as to create centres of solidarity, in order that no one will feel alone and excluded because of selfishness.

    — love Italy, your dear homeland, which amid so many difficulties and conflicts, is still your country, rich in history, beauty, genius and goodness!

    — love Europe, which for millennia has poured into history the incalculable riches of intelligence and feeling.

    — love the whole world, because we are all brothers and each one must bear the whole of humanity in his heart! How many refugees, unemployed, victims of catastrophes, homeless and starving people are waiting for our love!

    –some guy
    St. Peter’s Square, Rome. May 19, 1979.

  358. Ismael
    May 19th, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

    Well the last sentence:
    ” If you attack, condemn, or use emotional blackmail on people because they don’t share your belief in one or more gods, you’re invited to consider what that says about you and how it squares with the values you claim to embrace.”

    Funny that some do the same if you do not share in their belief in no God or gods.

    Also the ‘doomed’ arguments they list… are not doomed at all, or at least not all of them.

  359. Spambot
    May 19th, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

    Hey, Ismael. It’s true, with few exceptions, Christians believe that salvation comes through faith in Jesus alone, and from no one else. Having said that, it’s not my place to say who for certain is doomed. All I can do for is pass on what I have been taught about the Christian faith as accurately as I can, and you can accept or reject it as you see fit, and I have no way of knowing your fate either way.

    You will find good people at almost any Christian website who will be fair to you if you are polite to them. Get their help if someone is being a jerk to you and telling you they know who is condemned to Hell. They don’t know, and someone will help you point that out if you haven’t poisoned the water already.

    If you accept Jesus as your Savior, great. You know that it’s free and it’s easy. If not now, at least please know what you are rejecting. And please do not settle for just anyone’s caricature of the Christian faith. There are plenty of great resources on the web and at your public library.

  360. On a safe place to be naked--
    May 20th, 2010 @ 1:04 am

    Now here’s what happens, the point of all this: “A Safe Place to be Naked.”

    Two people who are pursuing Jesus, who live with each other in grace and love each other just as they are, and who are quick to be transparent and open to admitting their faults and not picking the faults of the other person, but admitting theirs, will find marriage is a great place to be naked, a great place to be transparent, a great place to be free. Because I have a spouse who is not looking at my flaws, she loves me as I am. And you have a husband who’s not picking you apart, but is free to say, “You know I’m a failure and I’m not trying to pick out yours. I know I’m broken.”

    But Jesus is the answer to that and I’ll trust Him.

    –some guy
    Eureka, Missouri. May 20, 2007.

  361. On the cause of some suffering--
    May 21st, 2010 @ 2:39 am

    We must realize that not all suffering is the direct and proportionate result of sin. We must realize that not all suffering is the direct and proportionate result of sin.

    And we know that because of something the Lord Jesus himself says. In John chapter 9, Jesus is walking along and he sees a man who’s been blind from birth, and his disciples ask him a question. And they skew the answer a little bit. It’s one of those questions, which is like saying to my daughter, “Do you want to clean your shoes now or in five minutes time?” Other words, you are going to clean your shoes, it’s just a matter of when it’s happening.

    ‘They say, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”’

    Not all suffering is a direct and proportionate result of sin.

    It’s very clear from what Lord Jesus says there. It’s very clear from what he says in Luke chapter 13 as well. When the tower falls on some people and the question is, “Well, did that happen because these are worse sinners.” The answer’s no, they were not worse sinners. There is no direct and proportionate connection there.

    We should also realize, of course, that even if there is some sort of connection, as David says there is in his life here, that in no way is it proportionate. Because actually, the punishment of God for sin is an eternal separation from God with no comfort at all. And he doesn’t experience that. That is true justice and none of us experiences that, unless we fail to place our faith in Jesus, of course.

    –some guy
    Cambridge, United Kingdom. May 21, 2006.

  362. On the big announcement--
    May 22nd, 2010 @ 4:03 am

    This passage really hit me and I pray it’ll hit you this morning as well. I guess because as I was studying it, it almost seems like yesterday to me. I can remember June 7th, 1993 like yesterday. That was such a special day for me, I remember even what I was wearing. It was June so it warm, I had on black shorts, and I’m embarrassed to say that’s a purple shirt. Back then guys wore purple. I don’t know if they do or not today, I just don’t study fashion. I don’t even know. But I can remember that day like yesterday.

    I remember me and Laura just carrying out that suitcase as we got in the car that morning to go to the hospital. We were going to have our first little baby.

    I remember tears just streaming down my face as we were driving to the hospital just overwhelmed. I can’t believe what we are going to do. And I remember after a long day – longer for Laura than for me – at 9:13? That part I do forget. At 9:13 that night, my little boy Jordan took his first breath. And as a daddy it was absolutely overwhelming.

    And I’ll never forget going out of that waiting room and I had a lot of family there, and just telling them all the good news of what took place. And then I got out the church directory and I just start calling everybody who would listen. “I have a boy! A healthy baby boy.” I remember going to the grocery store and telling people in the grocery store. And they’re looking at you like, “What’s so neat about that?” Y’know, but to me, that was the neatest thing that ever took place. And there was such joy in telling people that my son had been born into this world. I was a proud dad.

    And now I come to this context, and here’s God: His Son has always existed. He has no beginning and He has no end. And this Son He loved with an infinite love. And He’s been telling us for thousands of years, “My Son’s coming.” And you look at all of history as you read the bible, all these types and shadows and figures and all of this pointing to a Savior – telling us that his Son was coming.

    And now this is overwhelming: the fullness of the time has come! Eternity has stepped into time! This is absolutely overwhelming. Who is God going to announce the birth of his Son to? How is God going to announce the birth of Son? And I’m just waiting to find out, and I come to verse 8 and it doesn’t fit.

    Look at verse 8: “And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the Glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terribly frightened.”

    “Terribly frightened.” And as I was reading verse 8, that has to be a scribal error. It’s got to be a manuscript defect or something. Come on.

    You don’t tell the greatest news that the world has ever known to some shepherds at night watching their sheep. That’s not how you do this.

    Couldn’t imagine when Jordan was born, just being silent and calling up the zookeeper saying, “My son had been born,” and that’s it.

    –some guy
    Englewood, Colorado. May 22, 2005.

  363. On lights of the world--
    May 23rd, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    Appearing as Lights in the World. Paul states at the end of verse 15 that in such a society, Christians appear as lights in the world, and as the words of a song put it, the darker the night, the brighter the light appears to shine. Our actions and attitudes do have an impact on those around us.

    Jesus told us in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. “Nor do [men] light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” It takes boldness to proclaim that you are a Christian, yet your words and deeds are to demonstrate that very fact because it does bring glory to God.

    Why are Christians hesitant to do this at times? Usually because they are afraid that others could reject them or even persecute them. The fear is valid because all who strive to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12), yet such persecution is to be a badge of honor for the Christian. We are to be like the apostles in Acts 5:41 who after they had been flogged for preaching Jesus Christ, went on their way rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

    Christians are also afraid to speak up at times because they know they are not living as they should and they do not want to that guilt added to their already existing burden. The cure for that is repentance, forgiveness and life change. Don’t continue on in habits you know that are wrong before the Lord. Take to heart the many admonishments to “consider yourselves to be dead to sin, (immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed), but alive to God” (Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:5). Replace the bad habits with new ones that glorify God, and in that way bring glory to God by both the lifechange and the new boldness in proclaiming your faith in Jesus.

    –some guy
    Wappingers Falls, New York. May 23, 2004.

  364. On the Great Commission (again)--
    May 24th, 2010 @ 5:26 am

    The point is: it’s important for us who are the Church not to just stand around looking into Heaven. It’s important to look into Heaven, to pray and to have an interior life and to be constantly coming to a deeper understanding of the scriptures and what it means to be faithful to God and to love our neighbors.

    But it’s not enough. This was a kind way of saying, “Get busy, be about the work of Jesus. You are his hands, his feet, his eyes, his heart, his mouth in the world that God has given us today.”

    So we are given a Great Commission. And that commission, which is an invitation to do something, is much more clearly delineated in today’s Gospel, which is the conclusion of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark.

    So here is the Great Commissioning that Jesus gives to us as the Church. “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.’” That’s an incredible scope, isn’t it? There are no exceptions: we’re supposed to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and to everyone.

    So where are you going after mass today? Some of you are going to go home. I know a lot of young adults here go out to places to eat and have a drink, and that’s part of the whole world. And those bartenders and waitresses and the people who share those rooms with you are part of the whole world, and there is no exception when it comes to ‘every creature’. So the scope is extraordinary. Right?

    But even more impressive than the scope are the stakes that are involved. I mean there are great stakes involved in this Commission that God has given us.

    Listen to the next line – we don’t pay attention to this enough. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” So we have a huge responsibility for other people. It’s about their salvation and ours.

    The next line, “Whoever does not believe will be condemned.” So there’s a lot at stake here. Most of us are so nervous about this that we’ve kind of excluded it from our thinking that it is possible that we could not be saved or that others could not be saved, and that somehow we might be responsible for that. But, we are. Because you and I are given a task of being the missionaries of the Gospel to all the world and to every creature. And what’s at stake is our salvation and theirs.

    –some guy
    Denver, Colorado. May 24. 2009.

  365. On the nature of good works--
    May 25th, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    The fifth thing I would say about good works: it is a work that is acceptable only in and for Jesus Christ. Good works are only acceptable – any work that would be considered good is only acceptable in and for Christ.

    That is made most clear in Hebrews chapter 13, verse 21. Let me start reading at verse 20, this great benediction from the apostle. Hebrews chapter 13, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.”

    That thought, that truth, is not complete without that phrase, “through Jesus Christ.”

    –some guy
    Johnston, Iowa. May 25, 2003.

  366. On the significance of Pentecost in our lives today--
    May 26th, 2010 @ 5:48 am

    But this passage, I believe, has a third principle for us today. Now God is not going to repeat what He’s already done. God is not going to repeat the Pentecost experience. Neither will God send Jesus again to die on a cross. That’s been done. The baptism of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost has been accomplished.

    No, the principle is this, and we need to hear this carefully: the baptism of the Holy Spirit in this passage carries the universal principle that impoverished believers need not stay that way. That if in fact you are a Christian, in the most bare bones definition of that word, and you have not been taught the Word of God, you are hung up with unholy practices in your life, or you just plain had been disobedient for too long – no Bible reading, no prayer, no deepening relationship with your Savior, then my friend what you need is to turn to the Word of God, turn to God in repentance.

    And say, “Lord I want the fullness of your Spirit. I want the fullness of the faith. I’ve been negligent. I turn to your Word again, I commit myself read your Word, to pray, to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    That is what I believe this is teaching for us today.

    –some guy
    Charlotte, North Carolina. May 26, 2002.

  367. On allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us--
    May 27th, 2010 @ 12:33 am

    And our prayerless Church, our prayerless – as we frequently are. That’s the problem – one of the big problems that we have I think is that we are prayerless. We’re not asking the Father. We can’t do it without His doing it, but we are on the front line and are to ask.

    And then the last couple of verses: “He will send the Holy Spirit to enable us to do this greater work.”

    Somebody has said evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. And I think that has got the right attitude. It’s not what we do, but we have a task in it. But it’s pointing them to the work that can get it done.

    So on this Pentecost Sunday we are given this great and rather simple – isn’t it? – evidence of the Father, through the Son, and even through the Church where God’s glory will be revealed; as we fallible and sinful people, though we are, point others to Jesus, and ask God to do a work in their life. And when He does it, as He does, then He will receive the glory. And I think that’s really what we have here.

    –some guy
    Anchorage, Alaska. May 27, 2007.

  368. On being holy because God Himself is Holy--
    May 28th, 2010 @ 4:05 am

    I’ve been reading it for a while, and it still is not sinking in quite to me.

    But it says, “So think clearly and exercise self-control.” It was interesting because Paul – Peter, I mean, is writing this letter to the Christians that are scattered all over the place. And it’s written to Christians who are experiencing trials and tribulations and all. They are being persecuted for being Christians that are being mocked and looked down upon and stuff. So it’s interesting two letters that he wrote – little letter things.

    But he says, “Think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessing that comes to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are His children. Do not slip back into your old ways of doing evil. You did not know any better then, but now you must be holy in everything you do just as God – who has chosen you to be his children – is holy. For God Himself said, ‘you must be holy because I am holy.’”

    Okay. Got to read something again, “Obey God because you are His children.”

    Y’know, it’s interesting because I like the bible, but sometimes I don’t like it so much, because y’know when it tells you those kind of things, but that’s pretty cut and dried. I mean, you obey because we are his children.

    –some guy
    Nipomo, California. May 28, 2005.

  369. John
    May 29th, 2010 @ 1:38 am

    Logic and Arguments only provide a veneer of legitimacy.

    Complex definitions, complex refutations, these things are so impersonal at this point, that I don’t really care who wins the Great Debate.

  370. On duties of parents--
    May 29th, 2010 @ 2:17 am

    Let me ask you, do those who have embraced Jesus Christ by faith alone continue to bear the retributive justice of God as they sin in the Christian life? That is, does God repay them punishment personally for all of their sins?

    When God sends physical afflictions, trials, suffering, heartache, death, and even persecution into the lives of His children, is God repaying them for their sins and pouring out His holy wrath and just punishment upon us as His children? Is that what’s going on?

    If so, if that is what God is doing, then I ask, what did Jesus bear for us, his elect ones, when he suffered upon the cross? Did he not bear our sin and all the punishment our sins, past, present and future justly deserve?

    Dear ones, Galatians 3 verse 13 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us.”

    When the Lord Jesus hung upon the cross, you remember he cried out, “It is finished.” All of the guilt and the punishment for sins, which condemned us was paid in full and finished by Christ.

    –some guy
    Albany, New York. May 29, 2005.

  371. On singing a joyful song--
    May 30th, 2010 @ 3:26 am

    I want you to notice a great contrast that Paul makes. Go back with me just one book to Galatians chapter 5.

    The bible always interprets itself and everything the bible says is in harmony with itself and not in contradiction. So we can always look at other books of the bible that talk about the same subject and find added layers of depth and meaning.

    The reason Paul has to command us to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit in 5:18 is because the temptation is for us to be continuously filled with the flesh.

    How do you know whether you filled with the flesh or not? How do you know whether you filled with the Spirit or not? It’s not a feeling. Talked about that last week or the week before.

    Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit,” – that’s the same thing as being filled with the Spirit – “and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” or the things that you desire because of the normal, natural flesh that we’re born with.

    “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Those who do those things as a way of life are not born again, is what Paul says. But as Christians we cannot – we can do those things, those things can – those seasons are alike – dominate us. And that’s how you know if you are in the flesh.

    How do you know if you are in the Spirit or not? How do you know if the Holy Spirit is controlling you?

    Look at verses 22 and 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

    Though these are not things that can be commanded for you to have. You either have them or you don’t. Either the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in you, or it doesn’t. And one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit is one that I want to show you today and we’ll be seeing in Ephesians 5, and that is joy. Joy is something the Holy Spirit gives us.

    And when someone is joyful it’s obvious to those around them. Why? Well, when you’ve been around someone joyful, how do you know? They sing, they whistle. There is melody always coming out of them. That is one of the evidences of having the fruit of the Spirit called joy.

    –some guy
    Riverside, California. May 30, 2004.

  372. On a prophesy of the kingdom of God--
    May 31st, 2010 @ 4:14 am

    This is an absolutely remarkable prophesy about the Lord calling Egypt His people, Assyria His people and all of them one with Israel.

    The kingdom of God is clearly no longer confined by territorial boundaries. It’s a spiritual kingdom.

    And in that kingdom is a great emphasis on truth. Verse 3, “Many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, he will teach us his ways; we will walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

    It’s characterized by truth – truth in which the Spirit of God is teaching, and is characterized also by spiritual desires.

    No longer is it a territorial matter that if you belong to the nation of Israel with Abraham as your father, and if you are male you’re circumcised, and you have the mark of the covenant on you. But now it’s something that’s in the heart. So the people come with the desire and they say, “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. He shall teach us.” Surely the outworking of this is what our Lord Jesus discusses with the woman of the well of Samaria when he says to her, “Woman, the hour is coming when they shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”

    This is what is being here prophesized. There is this desire now in the hearts by those who are the professed people of God to conform their lives to the will of God’s.

    –some guy
    Ripon, North Yorkshire. May 31, 2009.

  373. On the blood of the lamb--
    June 1st, 2010 @ 12:44 am

    Now the tenth plague – the last plague that Moses brought on the Egyptians – was the death of the first born of every Egyptian household. And this, of course, was a prelude to Jesus Christ. To escape the plague, the Israelites had to take the Passover lamb, and kill it, and collect the blood, and then they put the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of their houses.

    And God said then when the angel came to cause the death of the first born, wherever the angel saw the blood on the doorpost, he would pass over them. And that’s where we get the name of the plague. That it was the Passover because they passed over the Israelites, but not the Egyptians.

    Now Paul over in 1st Corinthians 5 in verse 7 says that Christ is our Passover. Christ is our Passover. You see, Jesus Christ shed his blood on the cross for our sins, so that our sins could be forgiven.

    And when you take that blood in a spiritual sense, you apply it to our hearts by our obedience to the gospel, then our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus.

    In John 1 verse 29, you remember, John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” as he pointed to Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.”

    In Revelation 7 verse 14, John is writing about the vision that he saw. And he said, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.”

    That’s talking about Christians. People today during this gospel age who obey the gospel, who become children of God, and washed their souls clean in the blood of the lamb.

    –some guy
    Austin, Texas. June 1, 2008.

  374. On tithes and offerings--
    June 2nd, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    If you’ve got your bibles, you can go ahead and be turning to the book of Malachi chapter 3, verse 8. This will serve as our text this morning.

    We might entitle this lesson, “Will a man rob God?” Aw, somebody says, ‘Preacher, you about to get nosy now. It’s okay when you was talking about salvation, when you was talking about living a moral life, when you was talking about what all the sinners out there were doing wrong. But you start talking about my billfold, well that’s getting nosy.’

    Malachi chapter 3, verse 8: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”

    Yes, we’re going to talk a little this morning about our giving, because, you see, it’s part of the whole counsel of God. Paul gave us an example in Acts chapter 20 in verse 27. He is talking to the Ephesian elders, he said, “I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God.”

    –some guy
    Stevenson, Alabama. June 2, 2002.

  375. On a pattern of good works--
    June 3rd, 2010 @ 3:10 am

    How are you at work compared to when you’re at church or when you’re with Christians or when you’re with family?

    In Titus chapter 2, verses 7 and 8, Paul writes, Titus, “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility. Sound speech, that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”

    So we should we be a pattern of good works even when we’re on the job. We should be looking to help others to support them in the work, in the job. They should view us in that way. We should have the kind of speech that Paul said in Titus there, sound speech.

    In 1st Peter chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, are we going to be remembered at work for our Godly conduct? Do people at work know that I’m a Christian? Is there anything that I do there that indicates to them that I’m different from most everyone else?

    –some guy
    Atlanta, Georgia. June 3, 2007.

  376. On salvation and wealth--
    June 4th, 2010 @ 2:14 am

    This young man in the presence of Jesus Christ realized he had no argument. He realized he was ill-prepared to follow Jesus, ill-prepared to heed his demand which was “sell everything you have and follow me.” Ooh, that gets me every time.

    Would Jesus ask that of me? I wonder that. Too easily, I believe we slough that off and say, aw, that’s for the rich guys.

    Do you know in the eyes of the rest of the world, there are very few people in here who are not wealthy? We have so much, and there is so much that’s important to us, not only for my sake, but for my family’s sake. “I want a good retirement for my family.” We want things, we have things. What are we willing to give up?

    What is Jesus asking of us? And we shouldn’t too easily dismiss the fact that maybe it is wealth that we are holding on too tightly. Maybe it has become the number one priority of our life. And maybe it does need to be given over fully to Jesus Christ.

    St. Francis of Assisi thought that, and he literally sold everything he had to follow Jesus in a life of poverty. A life, by the way, that moved the world. It continues to impact the world.

    What is it that Jesus is asking of us? Because of ourselves, our life is superficial, empty, it’s lacking. What is it that Jesus is asking to give up in order to follow him? Only you and I can answer that individually.

    I do know it’s whatever there is in your life and my life that is more important than Jesus that we would not quickly, readily give up to follow him.

    –some guy
    Brussels, Belgium. June 4, 2006.

  377. On a tangible form of offering our work to God--
    June 5th, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    Labor done in Christ’s name and for the good of his people is not done in vain. God will reward it. And how does God reward it? Think about that parable in Matthew chapter 25, the parable of the talents. Those who are faithful with what they’ve been given, with the responsibilities they’ve been entrusted with, how does God reward them? He gives them further opportunities for service. He increases their responsibilities. Which just means they have more opportunity to serve God and serve neighbor, more opportunity for dominion, more opportunity to build God’s kingdom. Let us work knowing that God works through us to fulfill His purposes, that we are his representatives in the world as we seek to work in His way.

    –some guy
    Birmingham, Alabama. June 5, 2005.

  378. On working in the fields of a plentiful harvest--
    June 6th, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    Look at our anchor text, Matthew 9:37. It says, “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.””

    This is a great passage. This passage took a load off my shoulders, because what Jesus talking, but he’s saying, you know what? “The harvest is plentiful.” There are plenty of people out there who are ready to talk about spiritual issues.

    You don’t need to manipulate them. You don’t need to trick them into church. You don’t need to, y’know, sneak a tract into their tip tray or anything else like that. You just need to be responsive, figure out what God is doing in their lives and try to get underneath it.

    Find the fingerprints of God because that’s His job, don’t you take that responsibility on. That’s not your business. Your business is not to be the work of the Holy Spirit and convicting people and doing all that kind of work.

    You’re just trying to figure out what is God doing in people’s lives, and how do I move it to the next step. That’s it, that’s my responsibility.

    –some guy
    somewhere in Ontario. June 6, 2004.

  379. On marriage and real faithfulness--
    June 7th, 2010 @ 12:08 am

    And Ruth also came to a point in her life, and we find her at this point where she had to choose, and she chose correctly. She told her mother-in-law that your God is my God.

    Not like so many tend to say, “Oh, your God. That’s what you believe, that’s what you say with your God.” They can only talk about the God of another person. They have never yet made Him the God of their lives. They have not experienced God personally.

    Perhaps it was the case as in King Saul where he urged the prophet to call on his God because now there was problem. He wasn’t able to call on God anymore. I wonder what the situation is in our lives?

    When we speak about God, is it the god of so-and-so, or god who is far away? Or can we speak of Him as “my God”? And so Ruth was able to utter these words and say, “Your God is my God.”

    She had turned her back on the gods of her sister, of the gods of her people. Now this God was to be her God. And when the free choice was placed before her she said, “There is no way out for me. I can’t do anything else, but choose this God.”

    Now to you as well, Herbert and Mientjie, today you are united in marriage, but this unity in itself does not suffice. The secret is the spiritual life. Spiritually there is a unity. That you, Herbert will be able to speak about “your God being my God.” And that Mientjie will in turn will be able to say “Herbert, your God is also my God.”

    –some guy
    KwaSizabantu Mission, South Africa. June 7, 2003. [or possibly May 7, 2003.] Happy Anniversary.

  380. On the work of the Holy Spirit--
    June 8th, 2010 @ 3:04 am

    As we continue on and as we face all the things that we must face, we have to understand and accept and embrace the sacrifice, because if we don’t, we will die. Simple as that. It’s what happens.

    “But God has raised him up and freed him from the suffering of death,” in verse 24. “It was impossible that death could have any hold him. For David said about him, ‘I saw Jesus always before me.’” It says here, “I saw adonoi before me. For he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken.”

    You see, we hear the Comforter again. We see the Advocate here again. We see the fact that we’re never alone here. David, who was a man after God’s own heart, states, “I see him at my right hand.” I know he is there. I know he is with me. He will guide me. Therefore I am not shaken. This is what I read into this.

    “For this reason my heart is glad.”

    –some guy
    Albuquerque, New Mexico. June 8 2008

  381. Zofomofo
    June 8th, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

    I must say, when I first started out as a seeker I took an oath to never demean or look down on others beliefs. Well, I have to say, you believers have worn me down.
    Claims that “I know” because I experienced it” and “when the phone rings I know someone is calling” are terrible bits of anecdotal evidence and can be destroyed easily.
    (ex; Other people are convinced of their god by contradictory experience and you know someone is calling because of previous repeatable evidence, which is not there to support your god image.)
    In the end even hard core Anti-theist (BTW use the right terms, this soft and hard Atheist stuff just leads to confusion. Atheist just means a = without plus theist = a belief in god.) knows we have to form models of beliefs to proceed through life, but any intelligent person can see this concept is only a model of the universe and not the universe. It only takes a short glance a General Semantics to see that the Map is NOT the Territory and therefore what ever model or idea you have about reality will only at best ever be partially correct.
    Knowing this fact, it proves that anyone who thinks they are absolutely right must be arrogant or ignorant by definition.
    The best term for an honest description of what we all actually should be is “Model Agnostic.”
    Someone who forms ideas about the universe but remains aware of the fact that these ideas can never fully encompass the truth. Or else you are a Model Egotist.

  382. On praying for the Church--
    June 9th, 2010 @ 12:07 am

    And so when you pray for a church, have you ever wondered, what do you pray? How do you pray for a church? How would you like for people to pray for our church?

    Paul gives us, really, a model right here. He gives us a model as to how we can pray for our church and how we can pray for other churches, as we look at how he prayed for a church that he had never been to. He prayed for the Colossian church that had started through Epaphras. And so here we are with really some biblical guidelines as to how we should pray for our church.

    We’re going to look at six things this morning, and the first thing that we are going to look at is that Paul prayed hard. How do I know that? Paul prayed hard, and this is how you and I need to pray. Now I’m going to read – well, I just read in the New King James, now I’m going to read out of the New American Standard as I go through this, so you’ll see it a little bit different.

    But it says, in the New King James it says, “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you.” Now let me read the other version. “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not met me personally.”

    Friends, Paul prayed hard for the Colossians. The word ‘struggle’, the word ‘conflict’ that you see there, comes from a Greek word called agon. It literally means ‘to struggle in the flesh’. From the root of this word, we get our English word, ‘agony’. This same word is used in Colossians 4 verse 12 and 13. Listen to this:

    “Epaphras who is one of you and a servant of Jesus sends greetings. He is always” – and here’s that word – “wrestling in prayer for you that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hieropolis.”

    Do you remember when Jacob – talking about Jacob’s ladder – you remember when Jacob wrestled with God? When did he quit? When the match was over, and God won.

    –some guy
    Boulder, Colorado. June 9, 2007.

  383. On dying before graduation--
    June 10th, 2010 @ 12:40 am

    “Soon afterward Jesus went to a town named Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. Just as they arrived at the gate of the town, a funeral procession was coming out. The dead man was the son of a woman who was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart filled with pity for her and he said to her, “Don’t cry.”

    “Then he walked over and touched the coffin, and the men carrying it stopped. Jesus said, “Young man, get up, I tell you!”

    “The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with fear, and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to save his people.”

    “And the news about Jesus went through all the country and the surrounding territory.”

    Had a tough time deciding what to preach upon today. This is Children’s Sunday. This is Graduation Sunday. And like I do every week I check out what the suggested readings were in the Common Lectionary. And lo and behold, there is this one in the Gospel of Luke about a funeral procession for a young man.

    And I’m thinking, “Children’s Sunday? Graduation Sunday?” This doesn’t seem very appropriate. And thus all week long, I kind of just, “nope, don’t want to do this one. Got to come up with something else.”

    Lo and behold, yesterday I pick up my copy of [some newspaper]. And what’s the picture on the very from page? A group of high school seniors hugging each other, comforting one another at a funeral for one of their friends who was killed in a car accident.

    –some guy
    West Henrietta, New York. June 10, 2007.

  384. On engaging mind, souls, and heart--
    June 11th, 2010 @ 3:19 am

    And if I move on from this place, years for now, and if someone were to ask you why is Saint Giles Kingsway such a healthy congregation, I hope your answer will be, “Our leaders pray for us, and we pray for one another.” Because prayer is the trigger for realizing God’s will.

    What is the will of God? That is a big question. What is the will of God for His people, the Christian Church? Again, let’s limit ourselves to Philippians 1 and then I can give you an answer that I hope makes some sense. Paul prays for the Philippians and in this manner, I pray for Saint Giles Kingsway. Verse 9 and following:

    “That your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless having been filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.”

    The first part of that prayer is not surprising to us. Paul wants the Philippians to be a loving group of people. He wants love to abound, and we’ve heard that before. Christ commanded us, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Nothing new there.

    But then we come to the second part of prayer, and we see that Paul isn’t calling for an ordinary kind of love. This isn’t simply a hand-holding, kumbaya-singing kind of love. But this is love overflowing in knowledge and full insight.

    Paul’s telling us there’s a relationship between what we know up here and what we feel in here and what we act on. There’s a relationship between love and knowledge.

    For this reason I’m always a little confused when I hear people say, “I don’t care about theology. I don’t care at all about theology, I’m just here to love Jesus.”

    Well, my question for such a person is, “How can you love Jesus, how can you increase your love for Jesus, unless you increase your knowledge of him. Unless you deepen your familiarity with Christ, how will you succeed in loving him more?”

    Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” Our mind, our soul, our heart – every part of us – must be engaged if we’re to increase our love with Jesus Christ.

    –some guy
    Toronto, Ontario. June 11, 2006.

  385. On forgiving and letting go--
    June 12th, 2010 @ 1:04 am

    As I’ve listened to people as they’ve come into my office, and I’ve listened to – sometimes the cards that have been dealt to people in their lives, and they’ve had to deal with so many issues, and frankly, if you heard it you just cannot help but to say that is so unfair. And sometimes what we’re left with is having to forgive life itself, of having simply to say that we are going to forgive life for all the many issues that we have had – that we have had to deal with.

    Because at the center of it all – at the center of it all, stands the cross of Christ. At the very center is staked the unfathomable, the unquenchable love of God. That that is what pulls us into this deeper community that will go deep with the love we have for one another.

    In Greek, the word for ‘forgive’ is aphiemi, and today in Greece if you were to ask somebody to aphiemi that, it means simply to let go. To forgive means to let go. If someone were to say in Greek, “aphiemi that”, you would simply open up your hand and let it fall.

    But sometimes in our pain that we feel, we hold on so tight. Sometimes we have been wounded and we hold fast to that woundedness, and we don’t want to let it go. And we probably know this, but holding fast so tightly is like a poison – like a poison within us. And there is, without forgiveness, there is no healing. It is so important for us and for our life.

    And yet we gather together here wanting to loosen our grip and let go, and let our very lives fall into the loving, crucified, healing hands of Jesus. And as he holds us close, he says, “Pray with me. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That’s our prayer this day. Amen.

    –some guy
    Tallahassee, Florida. June 12, 2005.

  386. On speaking against a culture of death--
    June 13th, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    This past couple of weeks, they’ve had lots of things in the press about the murder of the abortionist, and murder is never to be condoned, and his killing was decried, in fact, by numerous pro-life organizations.

    But it was amazing to hear him eulogized as a martyrer and even compared to [some guy]. Here was a man that had murdered thousands of children in the womb being called a hero and even a saint. These misdirected accolades brought to mind a passage from the prophet Isaiah, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It kept coming over and over.

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

    “Woe to those who speak of evil as good and good as evil.” We sure are in a time when evil is spoken of as good. From Washington comes abortion spoken of as “pro-choice.” In Washington State and in Oregon now we have euthanasia spoken of as “death with dignity.”

    Sexual perversions are displayed on television and in the movies, and they’re called “part of the alternate lifestyle.” Promiscuity is “part of the sexual revolution and the liberation of women.” And government lying is called “plausible deniability.” From Hollywood in its movies or TV shows comes pornography known as “art,” foul language which we call “reality,” and graphic violence known as “entertainment.”

    Just as evil is being called good, so too is good being called evil. The bible is banned in our schools, virginity is a “disease,” prayer is acceptable only if Jesus’ name is not spoken, marriage is only a piece of paper and now mocked as by a union of perversion in several of our states.

    This was all foretold by Paul in his first letter to Timothy, and he writes this in the 4th chapter: “Now the spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons speaking lies in hypocrisy.”

    Doctrines of demons.

    –some guy
    Tampa, Florida. June 13, 2009.

  387. On a crooked, twisted, dark generation--
    June 14th, 2010 @ 2:10 am

    So we have a word describing outward conformity to God’s law. We have one talking about internal desires. And kind of as a summary of them all, you have this word, without ‘blemish’. It says, “children of God without blemish.” That speaks essentially of faultlessness. And those two words taken together speak of a purity that we are to be pursuing.

    It’s a word that was used in the older testament to refer to an Old Testament sacrifice. ‘And God said, “I want you to sacrifice to me.”’ It would be the outward symbol of what was to come: the great sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice.

    And to illustrate that truth in Numbers chapter 19, for example in verse 2 and Numbers 6:14, God said, ‘you cannot just bring to me any animal, it has to be a particular kind of animal. And not only a particular kind of animal, but it has to be a perfect animal. It cannot be one that has blemishes or spots or scars. Don’t give me something average, give me your best.’

    And of course, regarding Christ, who redeemed us from sin, he did so with his precious blood like of a lamb without blemish or spot: 1st Peter 1:19.

    So my friends, this is what we should be striving for in this incredibly evil world: purity. Purity. Ephesians chapter 5 in verse 25 tells us why this is true. It’s because Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, that he might set her apart. Having cleansed her by the washing water with the Word, so that he might present the Church to himself in splendor. Without spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she may be holy and without blemish.

    Last Sunday evening we concluded by singing Jude 24. “We bow before God,” listen, “who is able to keep us from stumbling and present us blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.”

    We will not ultimately be blameless, innocent and without blemish until Heaven. But our goal, our desire, our pursuit ought to be increasingly so. Why? Because one day we will be face to face with our Redeemer, our great God.

    –some guy
    Erie, Pennsylvania. June 14, 2009.

  388. On a few good men--
    June 15th, 2010 @ 12:35 am

    In the Army, they said before you show up, you better have 25 copies of your orders, and I found out that wasn’t enough ‘cause everybody around that place who had anything to do with getting me where I needed to be wanted a copy of my orders.

    And in the work of God, a man who’s truly been called, ought to be able to show them orders.

    You say, “Brother Barnett, why are you in the Army today? Why are you doing the things you do?”

    I ain’t taking that. I’d love to sit down and tell you about it. I’m quitting, but you keep asking for more.

    I met a guy the other day, last Saturday up in central school. We went up there to walk and run around the track. I was up there coming around, and this young guy come walking up. As I got closer I realized this was a guy I graduated in high school with. And I stopped to speak to him, and it wasn’t long, he asked me what I was up to, and I told him where I was at.

    And he said, “What in the world possessed you to join the Army?”

    And I said, “I tell you what, Trent, it was the Lord.” And I began to share with him how the Lord had lead me in that way, and before long I learned, realized he was serving the Lord.

    And before that conversation was over he’d asked me, he said, “Hey.” He said, “Mike would you tell me your testimony?”

    I said, “I’d be glad to.” When I got done I said, “What about you, Trent? Would you tell me yours?”

    He said, “I’m glad you asked.” Man, it was such a blessing to be there that day. But I tell you it’s no trouble. You say, ‘why you doing it’? I can show you my orders.

    Tonight, do you have orders? Do you know where you’re supposed to be right now in your life?

    Because God has said, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in His way.”

    –some guy
    Salisbury, North Carolina. June 15, 2008.

  389. On quiet reflection--
    June 16th, 2010 @ 1:16 am

    You know one of the things that happens once in a while with me is I’ll be outside with my kids and we’ll be out on the porch, and I’ll feel in my heart the desire: I wish my kids would just sit with me and be quiet and just be together.

    And you know how kids are. They have a lot to say. And that’s good, I want to hear what’s coming from them and from their heart.

    But a father’s heart desires for his children to understand him, to know him.

    You know that verse in the bible that says, “Be still, and know that I am God”? In the past there have been times where I’ve interpreted that verse or thought about that verse, and I think about being still and observing and seeing what God is doing.

    But, you know God doesn’t intend that to be something from afar. You know, be still and watch, sort of like I watch the deer or the turkeys in the field, you know? That is not intention for us. His intention, “be still, and know that I am God.” He wants me right here. In fact he is right here, but we’re often just too busy to notice it.

    –some guy
    Enfield, New York. June 16, 2008.

  390. On God's goodness--
    June 17th, 2010 @ 3:29 am

    Amidst the darkness of Nahum 1 through 6, there is a ray of sunlight that bursts forth a melody of joy, a fragrance of lilacs, amidst the sulfuric volcano.

    And he says in verse 7, “The Lord is good. The Lord is good. He is a stronghold – or a refuge – in the time of trouble.”

    The word order in the Hebrew is ‘good is the Lord’, because that’s what he wants to emphasize. Good is the Lord, a fortress. Your faith in God, your trust is not ill-placed. It is not ill-spent to be in God. You will not be disappointed to put your faith in God. When the day of trouble comes, the saints will proclaim with Nahum, “the Lord is good.”

    The Lord is good. They will confess His fury is grounded in His goodness. They will confess that his fury is good because Nineveh, which this book is about, had spent her time seeking her own glory. And Nineveh scorned the glory of the one true God and made a mockery of it.

    Nineveh forgot God’s mercies that had been given to her. Nineveh did not recognize God’s law, she shut her ears to the cries for mercy. She was brutal in her life. And now the brutality returns to her.

    –some guy
    Birmingham, Alabama. June 17, 2007.

  391. On signs for Christians--
    June 18th, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    And then we could summarize by saying we have our work cut out for us because the world must be evangelized with the Gospel in order to become part of the Church. The only way to get in the Church is through the work of evangelism that the Church offers.

    God has not called us to come out of the world, but to live in the world as salt and light. He hasn’t called us to go in a mountain somewhere and occupy space in a monastery. No, He wants us here to deliver the message of the Gospel as we preserve society with our discernment, with the scriptures, and with a light we reflect in Christ Jesus.

    –some guy
    Fulton, New York. June 18, 2006.

  392. On the unmerited favor of God--
    June 19th, 2010 @ 12:33 am

    Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “For by grace are you saved through faith.” Here’s the mechanism of salvation. What is grace – charis? We get our word ‘charisma’ or ‘charismatic’ from that word ‘grace’. What is grace? Pardon? Oookay, close.

    It’s unmerited favor, that’s right, which is going to give us the ability as we are going to see in a moment.

    Grace is unmerited favor based upon the love of God. He loves us. That attribute of God that drives grace is love.

    –some guy
    Colorado Springs, Colorado. June 19, 2005.

  393. On striving for acceptance--
    June 19th, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

    As difficult and arduous as it is to strive for acceptance from our peers, I think many of us have struggled even more ardently trying to feel accepted by God. Perhaps we’ve come into the church in order to ‘make up’ for our ‘past lives’ of sin and moral failure. God will love me if I go to church on Sundays. Or, perhaps we’re already involved in the church, but we feel that we’ve got to keep doing more in order to win ‘points’ with God. So we try to get more involved, volunteer more hours, or give away more money. But how many points do we need to accumulate to earn God’s favor? Who really knows? And since we can never be sure, we enter the race of striving to please God. But we often feel that no matter our efforts, God is constantly looking over our shoulder watching our every move with disapproval and shouting at us, ‘more, more, more.’ Unfortunately, we Christians do not help the situation. We perpetuate this sense of striving to please God as we judge one another and place unattainable standards on one another. We reinforce the sense that God is never pleased with us because we are rarely pleased with one another.

    Well, the Apostle Paul understood striving for acceptance. Before Paul saw the risen Christ on his way to Damascus, he lived a life of exacting standards, discipline and zeal as a Hebrew of Hebrews. Paul believed that he had to earn God’s acceptance. If he worked hard enough and long enough on his religious observances and obedience, he would ultimately meet with God’s approval.

    Given his own personal history with striving for acceptance, Paul was very concerned about what was happening in the Galatian church.

    –some gal
    Loudon, Tennessee. June 20, 2004.

  394. On ritual sacrifices--
    June 21st, 2010 @ 12:21 am

    Because God loves His creation, He did not leave mankind without a means of getting rid of sin. Even though by God’s own decree, sin bears the irrevocable penalty of death, God gave mankind a way of purging himself of it without dying.

    How do we do it? How do we get rid of our sins so that we may enter the presence of God? Through sacrifice. Now, God made a covenant with mankind that established the practice of sacrifice to purge sin. The idea of sacrifice is this: if a sinful man wanted to be rid of his sin, he would choose an animal to take his place, and then he would symbolically transfer his sin to the sacrificial animal. And the animal would then be killed, and the sin would symbolically die with it.

    This ritual became a very familiar one to the ancient Jews, and it became a familiar one – so familiar and a regular feature of Jewish worship that the ritual combined with the sinful nature of man, soon began to degrade the significance of sacrifice, leaving it an empty shell.

    They were simply going through the motions while the true power behind sacrifice was forgotten.

    –some guy
    West Jordan, Utah. June 21, 2009.

  395. On trusting in the Lord--
    June 22nd, 2010 @ 1:07 am

    So He’ll speak through His Word, He’ll speak through people, and thirdly, God will speak through circumstances. He’ll speak through our circumstances.

    Proverbs chapter 3 verse 5 and 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

    Let’s believe that Word, okay? That God wants to lead us down straight paths. He wants to clear the way for us, so that we can go in the direction that we’re supposed to go.

    –some guy
    Harlingen, Texas. June 22, 2008.

  396. On our present sufffering--
    June 23rd, 2010 @ 12:55 am

    This Christian life is full of hope in spite of suffering, first of all because Christ suffered in hope, but secondly because the Creation suffers in hope – because the Creation suffers in hope, as verses 18 through 22.

    Paul, knowing that the experience that pain and suffering causes people to question God’s existence, and His love and His power says at the very front end, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed”, and I think that idea is wrong here. The preposition isn’t “in us”, it’s “to us” or “around us”, overwhelming us, is the idea here. The future every Christian is going to experience is so amazing that the hardships we endure here are as nothing when compared to it. Just like with the kids at the candy who are jumping up and down twice.

    It says nothing the sufferings we have here. And again don’t miss the offhand way in which he says, “our present sufferings”: the “our” – plural pronoun – every Christians present right now in this very life – “sufferings”. It’s his expectation that Christians suffer, because of what he just said, that the future is glorious.

    See, verse 18 is the authoritative description of what hope is.

    –some guy
    Janesville, Wisconsin. June 23, 2002.

  397. On revisiting the parable of the prodigal son--
    June 24th, 2010 @ 1:23 am

    The man carried on for quite a while until something changed. The man broke out in tears. He fell into the chaplain’s arms, tears soaked his shirt. The man’s cries rang out into the sorrowful hall and many minutes later his lament slowed. He said to the chaplain that this was the first time he expressed his grief in thirteen years. And then he told the real story.

    He said his son was a top student at his high school, a popular boy, and gay. He said that when the boy lived at home as a teenager, he had made his son’s life hell, by demanding that no one know the truth.

    And in his conservative town to admit that his some was gay was akin social death. So he never acknowledged the situation, he denied his son his own reality, and when the son could not stand the lies any longer, the father gave his son money to leave, and the son went to San Francisco. The two did not speak for thirteen years. So when he received a call that his son was dying, he came to California, but it was too late. It was too late because his son was so was so near death, that he would never see the brightness in his son’s eyes again.

    The man said he never got the chance to tell his son that he loved him. And he lived in this deep, dark emotional prison since his son left.

    The terror in the man’s face was the result of losing this son, and without ever telling him that he loved him, that he had made a deal for the façade that he created to preserve his own social status. The man stopped the tears as quickly as he began, bottled it up as if well-practiced in such a way.

    His affect cleared to unemotional, he said to the chaplain that he knew chaplains were there to convince many of his son’s friends and those like him to turn away from their wicked ways.

    The young, terrified chaplain spent many hours with this man over the next few days, never again to see the genuine love that he showed for his son in that moment. The well-practiced pretense was never again interrupted, and when his son died, he looked up at the chaplain in the hall and silently walked out through the hospital doors.

    This is a story of a father and son. It is about a father who never forgave and embraced his child until his son was dead. And it’s the story of a son who probably pushed the limits and rebelled from his conflicted family. And it is story in a sense, a story reflecting the prodigal son parable, but probably more the prodigal father parable. The story is different than the biblical parable, for sure, but I think it cuts close to it’s meaning.

    And yes, I was the terrified chaplain finding my own way to see the man in that room, to embrace him, to love him back into humanity. The parable, like all Jesus’ parables, holds up the world’s conventional wisdom to close scrutiny.

    –some guy
    Dallas, Texas. June 24, 2007.

  398. On turning to the Lord for strength--
    June 25th, 2010 @ 1:21 am

    I like so much this verse in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

    I tell you that to me is tremendous stuff because that tells me that as a child of God, I know I can rely upon the faithfulness of God to be prompting and working and bringing to my heart and to my mind the things that are going to be important for me as a believer. That’s a great promise.

    And I would just simply like to say, if you don’t have that verse memorized, I encourage you, memorize that verse. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

    And then I also like Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I take that from this perspective, and I realize these are subjective thoughts, and I offer them as such, and not trying to overemphasize them beyond measure. But I recognize that as an individual, it is not on the merit of how much I exercise myself to walk with the Lord, it is that He longs to walk with me. And in that longing to walk with me in a wholesome way, He is going to provide the resources I need to stay in communion with Him. He will provide that mindset.

    –some guy
    Raleigh, North Carolina. June 25, 2003.

  399. On suffering and hope--
    June 26th, 2010 @ 3:04 am

    So, I want our hearts to hope. I want our hearts to hope, and I believe that that is what Paul is doing here. Paul is building an argument in this text, building an argument for: what’s the ground that you should even have to hope in your life at all? Why in the world should you even have a hope? And it’s what we’ve been talking about.

    So if you look at verse 24, I’ll show you what he’s trying to – what he’s trying to do here. I’m giving you a ground for why you should have a hope. He begins by saying – he begins by saying, “You must,” prior to verse 24 he says, “You must continue in your faith in order to be presented blameless and holy at the day of Christ Jesus.” In order to be presented blameless and holy, you must continue in your faith.

    And as a means to help you do that, Paul says, ‘I’ve been made a servant, and I’m going to rejoice in my sufferings, because there’s something lacking in Christ’s afflictions.’ What is that?

    Well he says that that is a visible representation of the sufferings that Christ experienced on the cross. He died, he was buried, he rose again, and he went to the right hand of the Father. He is not here in bodily form, but he has his Church, and he has dwelling within, that therefore when suffering comes we can stand strong and sure as a visible picture to everyone that Christ is real, that his sufferings have been effectual, that there is nothing is lacking in them at all. Because it has changed your life, and therefore you are willing to rejoice in the midst of hard times.

    So, you are a picture of the sufficiency of Christ’s sufferings. That’s what Paul is saying here. That’s how he can rejoice in his sufferings.

    –some guy
    Raleigh, North Carolina. June 26, 2005.

  400. On suffering and hope (again)--
    June 27th, 2010 @ 4:02 am

    Maybe you can realize that Jesus is there in all of our suffering. And Peter tells us this. He says in verse – 1st Peter 2 in verse 21, that’s a little further back in the New Testament than Hebrews, “To this you were called.” To suffering you are called. In 1st Peter 19 he talks unjust suffering, and he says, “To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

    Now most of us probably are not going to be persecuted as the early Christians were. People that Peter was writing to had a real experience because they were getting hauled off to prison. And some of them were being crucified, and some of them were being punished in other ways, and they knew what suffering for Christ was. We don’t.

    Really we take a little, maybe, humiliation occasionally if we’re, if we’re true to the Lord, but that’s not persecution. But you know, this doesn’t only apply to persecution. It applies to all suffering.

    –some guy
    Savage, Maryland. June 27, 2004.

  401. On our need for the Holy Spirit--
    June 28th, 2010 @ 2:29 am

    Sickness is not from God, and God will never put sickness on anybody to teach them a lesson. He is not the author darkness, he is not the author of confusion. The devil is.

    So when the Enemy attacks, here comes the gift of the Holy Spirit – everyone say, “Holy Spirit” – waiting to move through you, in you and inside of you. And to move through you to come against whatever the enemy attacks are. How many people say amen to that?

    Hang in there with me. Please hear me out. ‘Cause you don’t get saved to have your sins forgiven and that’s it, no. You’re forgiven so that somebody can live inside of you. All your struggles with pornography, all the struggles of, of – whatever you’re struggling with. It’s not for you to try hard to get set free, it’s you yielding to the river called the Holy Ghost.

    Bible says in – where did I tell you to turn to? – James chapter 4 in verse 5: “Or do you not think that the scripture speaks to no purpose? He jealously desires the Spirit which He has been made to dwell in us.”

    In other words, let me re-phrase this: God jealously looks for the Holy Spirit to move through you, in you, into situations, and God is jealous for the releasing of the Holy Ghost. Very jealous. He’s not jealous to the point of anger. But He is jealous to the point to say:

    “O, your answer is the gift that I sealed you with! You cannot live beyond your own abilities. This is beyond your ability! This is supernatural – Holy Ghost.”

    And His jealousy. I could feel the jealous cry of God in all churches this morning: “Where is my Holy Spirit?”

    ‘Well God, we did a program.’

    No, no, no, no!

    ‘Well, we had a good service.’

    No!

    ‘We did an outreach.’

    Okay, that’s good, but my Holy Spirit is what I look for in every heart, in every soul on the day today.

    So God puts you in impossible situations, not to make you miserable, but to throw you into Himself. So that’s it’s got to be Him living through you. Otherwise you cannot make it. How many people know what I’m talking about?

    So we need help. We need the Holy Spirit. God has not left us as orphans.

    –some guy
    Wasilla, Alaska. June 28, 2009.

  402. On baptism in the vomit of demons--
    June 29th, 2010 @ 1:31 am

    I was reading about a pastor’s vision he had about the deception of this dark ruler of the world. And how many, even in the Church, are being deceived by this one who imitates the Holy Spirit.

    And this pastor talks about how those who are deceived in the Church think they have the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon them, when in fact it’s nothing more than the vomit of demons.

    I know that pretty graphic, but it shows you just how deceptive this dark angel of light is.

    People who think they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, but in fact are anointed with the vomit of demons.

    And we know this is possible because we read in 1st John chapter 4 verse 3 that “the spirit of Antichrist, which you have heard is coming” – remember Jesus told us he was coming John chapter 14 verse 30 – “and even now is already in the world.” The spirit of Antichrist, the antithesis of the Holy Spirit, the enemy of the Holy Spirit is already in the world. And man is he working overtime.

    Just as the Holy Spirit works and is active to draw men and women to the Father, the spirit of Antichrist is active seeking to draw men and women away from the Father.

    –some guy
    Springfield, Oregon. June 29, 2008.

  403. On the challenge of secularism--
    June 30th, 2010 @ 12:34 am

    The main challenge from without is, in my view, that of secularism. In European secular society Christian values are being more and more marginalized, God is being driven to the outskirts of human existence (the fact that God did not find place in the recently adopted European Constitutional Treaty is indicative of this tendency). It is now almost taken for granted that religion can exist only at a private level: you are free to believe in God or not, but this should in no way be manifested in your social life. Churches and religious communities are tolerated as long as they do not trespass their own borders and do not publicly express opinions that differ from those consonant with ‘political correctness': should they begin to express such opinions, they are readily accused of intolerance. Secular press is largely negative towards Christianity. The youth culture is predominantly anti-religious and anti-Christian. Moral standards accepted by modern society are markedly different from those that were until recently accepted by most Christian communities.

    –some guy
    Trondheim, Norway. June 30, 2003.

  404. On looking at the message and not at the messenger--
    July 1st, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    I know that many of us have been disciples and followers of Jesus for many years. But I want to remind you this morning that discipleship costs dearly back then, cost dearly when you first were saved, and it still costs dearly.

    So if you would bow in a word of prayer with me.

    Heavenly Father, I pray, God that you would speak to hearts today. Let us read your Word, Father God, with diligence, with insight, Father.

    I pray, God that you would move the preacher out of the way, God, so that the people can hear you. That you would acquire his voice, God, and you would make your voice loud in their hearts, Father God, so that they might hear you, God.

    I pray, God that you would use me this morning, that you would teach your people.

    In Jesus’ name we do pray. Amen.

    –some guy
    Columbia, South Carolina. July 1, 2007.

  405. On the blessings of our nation--
    July 2nd, 2010 @ 2:47 am

    We have the finest economic system in the world. Our form of government is the best. I’m convinced of all of that. That’s not chauvinism, that’s just good, old-fashioned patriotism.

    But our ultimate hope cannot be found there, because you see, our greatest problems as a nation are not with some foreign enemy. It’s not in economics. It’s not anything laws can correct. Our problems are spiritual.

    And if we’re going to be saved as a nation, we’ve got to understand what Paul was talking about in Ephesians when he said we wrestle not against flesh and blood, and all of that, but against principalities and powers – the rulers of the darkness of this age – spiritual wickedness in high places.

    A truly blessed nation is aware that it’s true source of power is found in hoping and trusting in God. Trusting in God. Our hope is in His unfailing love. Without God we’re nothing. That’s true of a nation. That’s true of a church. That’s true of your life. Without God’s presence in your life, you have nothing.

    That’s why Sunday by Sunday I plead with you to say ‘yes’ to Him, to finally take the step that will bring life, by putting your hope and every bit of confidence you have totally in Christ the Lord.

    [Some guy] taught us to sing even as to pray: “God bless America.” We say that often: God bless America. Understand that’s a prayer; you’re asking God to bless America. But can He do that? Can the righteous and true God bless America?

    Until we come back to Him.

    Look at the last lines of verse 33, “In Him our hearts rejoice for we trust in His holy name.” Verse 22 is saying God bless America, or God bless the nation. “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even –” and this is important – “even as we put our hope in you.”

    Let’s pray.

    –some guy
    Alexandria, Virginia. July 2, 2006.

  406. On the type of sorrow that leads to repentance--
    July 3rd, 2010 @ 2:33 am

    Sin is sin not primarily because of what it does to other people. Sin is sin primarily because it is an offense against the holy God.

    And one of the things that will distinguish – that will always distinguish – a Godly sorrow from the sorrow of this world is that Godly sorrow sees itself in relationship to God.

    It sees itself has having offended a holy God. It sees itself as having to deal with its relationship with Him, first of all, and then certainly as a result of that, to deal with a relationship with other people.

    The Godly sorrow recognizes that sin breaks our relationship with God. In Isaiah 59 verse 2, Isaiah warns the Israelites and he says to them, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God. Your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear.”

    When we’re living a life of rebellion against God, we have no reason, no right to expect that God will have fellowship with us. Now if we’re Christians that doesn’t mean God has let go of us. But it does mean that our relationship with Him has been so damaged that we can’t expect that He will look favorably upon our prayers or anything else that we do.

    We can never say our relationship with God is right where we’re living in sin with regard to other people. It just doesn’t work that way. We can’t isolate the way we deal with other people from the way we deal with God. But our dealing with other people is wrong, first of all, because of what it says about our attitude toward God in whose image those other people are made

    Paul says repentance cannot be produced by worldly sorrow. Well, if the defining characteristic of the Godly sorrow is that it sees itself in relationship to Him, what is the defining characteristic of the worldly sorrow? It’s horizontal, and sometimes simply internal.

    Worldly sorrow can be very unhappy for the predicament it’s in. I may be very, very sorry because of the sins I’ve committed and feel miserable because I am such a wretched person. I may be deeply grieved in my heart, maybe more so than for others in Godly sorrow even – deeply grieved that I failed to live up to my own standards. I may also be deeply grieved because I’ve hurt other people.

    There is nothing wrong with that, but if that’s all that’s going on, then it’s the sorrow of this world rather than of Godly sorrow.

    And that kind of sorrow – precisely because it is horizontality, it deals only with things on this plane and tries to leave God out of the picture – will never lead to repentance toward God.

    Godly sorrow, Paul says, leads to salvation.

    –some guy
    Hatboro, Pennsylvania. July 3. 2005.

  407. On listening for that still small voice--
    July 4th, 2010 @ 4:53 am

    …and John and Mel and others from here who have gone out in the past, and it just might be that the Lord is speaking to somebody already. Just a still small voice, just a little tap on the door, you know. “I’ve got plan for you. I’ve got somewhere where I want you to go to serve you.” And it won’t happen, or it shouldn’t happen and you shouldn’t go unless you actually hear God tell you to go to those places. And that certainly will be the case for John and Andy that God is behind it all.

    And just because – and it’s not a bad thing – just because we feel sorry for people, in itself is not just enough. God wants the right people to go to those places. You might have a particular skill, but actually He wants you to do something else, somewhere in a different area, a different field altogether.

    But let’s be listening for what God is saying. And basically Ezra and Nehemiah is about people going back to their old land, back to Judah. And they went because God had told them to go.

    So, not just the prominent people like Ezra and Nehemiah, but many just ordinary people like you and I went back as well, and did jobs that they – perhaps, you know, their names weren’t even mentioned, many are, but a lot of their names might not even be mentioned. And that’s not that they were any less important. They were important to God. And whether we go for three weeks, three years, a lifetime – let’s listen to what God is saying and serve Him wherever He wants us to go.

    –some guy
    Bristol, England. July 4, 2004.

  408. On obedience to the will of God--
    July 5th, 2010 @ 1:52 am

    Number six: obedience is our ticket to Heaven.

    What? What are you saying, we can work our way to Heaven? Well, I don’t know, but let’s go to Romans and have a look. Maybe we can. Maybe that is what I’m trying to saying. I doubt it, or I’m really gonna fire Mia as my secretary.

    Romans 5 verses 9 and 10, who has that? Barry –

    We are saved by obedience, but it’s not our obedience. What is –, how does God view obedience? Well, our obedience is not optional, it’s mandatory. But are we going to perfectly obey? No.

    Ultimately our ticket to Heaven is not our own obedience, it’s not our own righteousness. We get to Heaven on the basis of perfect righteousness, perfect obedience, but it’s not ours. It Jesus’, and that’s what Romans 5 is telling us.

    We’ve been reconciled by the death of Christ and we are saved by his life.

    Meaning, we’ve been reconciled, we’ve been brought back into fellowship with God, but we get to Heaven on the basis of his perfect life.

    Double imputation, I mentioned that weeks and weeks and weeks ago. Our sin credited to Jesus on the cross. His perfection, his obedience, his perfect keeping of the law put into our accounts. It’s the best transaction in history.

    –some guy
    West Boylston, Massachusetts. July 5, 2009.

  409. On our spiritual battles--
    July 6th, 2010 @ 12:28 am

    It’s like we were told by Clayton a moment ago, or David maybe it was – praying. Praying is a key part of the battle as well, and that’s another whole message.

    So what does your armor look like? It looks like being in the Word. It looks like being in prayer. It looks like recognizing that we’re in a battle. It looks like knowing who we are in Christ. Knowing the truth of the Word. Knowing and even understanding the battle we’re in, which makes it look often like we’re losing.

    I had one last thought here. Um, sorry I’m being a little scattered here, quite literally and otherwise. But the last thought was not meant to be.

    I think it’s been hard for us in many ways, to recognize that we are at war, and my encouragement to you today would be to become somehow one step more aware of the fact that we are in a battle. Even when things look good around you. Look beyond the surface.

    Paul talks about the things that are unseen. We need to grip those things that are unseen and look beyond the seen world.

    I feel like often times here and even where we are, we’re asleep. Or we’re not seeing that battle. And when we’re not seeing it, we’re getting duped. We’re getting hit from the back, we’re believing the lies, and we’re rendered ineffective or rendered helpless, or we’re rendered out of touch with God.

    And what so much of this has caused me to do as I’ve watched the struggle we’ve had in our ministry is to see God as farther and farther away. To see Him as not hearing, to see Him as somehow –.

    Just – it completely stifles your prayer life, too. When you begin to feel like, well, why do I pray? and What’s the point? Things happen. Bad things happen all the time. Why do we try? Why do we continue to fight on when it seems like that God’s not with us?

    –some guy
    Berkeley, California. July 6. 2008.

  410. On the Great Commission (again)--
    July 7th, 2010 @ 1:17 am

    Mark chapter 16 verse 15 is the commission of Christ to the disciples as Peter gave it to Mark who recorded it in what is called Mark’s Gospel. And it says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to– ” what? “All creation.” Isn’t that a messed up way of saying things? Look out the window and tell me which part of “all creation” you’re going to go tell the gospel to. Ah, we’ll come back to that. Fortunately no sheep and goats out there, but we’ll get to that.

    “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be– ” what? “Condemned,” if you have King James. It might say, “damned,” other versions will say “judged.” “These signs will accompany those who have believed in my name they shall- .” How many of you cast out a demon? Okay, it looks like summer school for most of you. Alright. “In my name they shall cast out demons. They’ll speak with-” what? Well, let’s not do 20 question here. “They will pick up serpents. If they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them. They will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.”

    Now, these things sound a bit challenging, but pay attention to this next verse. “And so when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was received up into Heaven, and he sat down at right hand of the Father. And they went out and preached everywhere.” And what happened? Do you see what happened, where’s Jesus? Right hand of the Father. They went out and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them confirming–” what? Which word? “The proclamation of His gospel with signs following.”

    Now listen, there’s a reason some of your bibles will say ‘this text is not in the best manuscripts’. It’s important to a lot of people that this text not be considered text. For these reasons: because if this true, then the litmus of demonstrations of spirit and power is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. Is that fair? If Jesus says do it, and you’re not doing it, you’ve got one of two choices. Do it or explain why it doesn’t apply to you. We got elaborate mechanisms for explaining why this doesn’t apply to us anymore because after all, we don’t need those things anymore. Tell that to the sick person on your right or left.

    Alright, I want to– you know, every week we have newcomers here, and I’m pretty sure if you got it the first time we’d already be moving in it, so I don’t mind repeating myself.

    Acts chapter 26 verse 18, the commission of Christ to Paul sounds like this, “I’m sending you to open their eyes to bring them out of darkness into light, from the dominion of Satan to the dominion of God.” And as a consequence of changing governments, “your sins are forgiven and you receive an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

    Are you with me? [Some gal] is shaking her head off. I mean she’d dare. How about the rest of you? Okay. This is the broadest context I know for the gospel of the kingdom. It says basically that you as an instrument of light are supposed to walk into a place where there is no light, demonstrate what light can do, and in that demonstration, dark eyes go, “Wow, I want to some of that.” And when you say, “Well, come over on our side. Come play on our team” they turn away from – they turn and go in another direction to embrace Sonship under the rule of God rather than slavery under the rule of Satan.

    And as the consequence of changing governments, one of the benefits is your sins are forgiven. But not only that, you receive an inheritance, because Christ has died and left a will. And his will is expressed in these pages. And it’s yours.

    Is there an ‘amen’ anywhere from anybody?

    –some guy
    California, Maryland. July 7, 2007.

  411. On lukewarm Christian faith--
    July 8th, 2010 @ 12:26 am

    The city of Laodicea had a problem. As I mentioned they were built on the river Lycus, but in the summertime the river Lycus ran dry. And so, if you wanted to get water into Laodicea, you had to pipe it in from miles and miles away.

    And by the time it came in on these ancient pipes, what you had was some lukewarm, 80-degree, sulfur-smelling, sediment-rich water. Imagine picking up a glass of that stuff, nice and brown and yellow-looking, smells like sulfur, 80, 85 degrees.

    People vomited when they drank it.

    –some guy
    Maryville, Tennessee. July 8, 2007.

  412. On being equipped to do great things for God--
    July 9th, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    The call to serve is confirmed by the community. And then, those whom God calls, God also equips. God doesn’t call people and then just kind of leave them hanging. We in the Church are often guilt of doing that, but God is not.

    We sometimes call people to teach Sunday school, and then don’t give them training. Or we send out to visit, without having adequately prepared them. But God never calls anyone to anything without adequately equipping them.

    When Samuel anointed David, we are told, the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day. And in the Gospel of Mark we read this morning, Jesus gave his disciples authority over unclean spirits. Or if you read the Message version, a more contemporary version, Jesus gave the disciples authority and power to deal with evil opposition.

    And God has given you and me, every blessed one of us, spiritual gifts. It’s God’s way of equipping us to do what God has called us to do.

    And thus called and equipped by God, disciples are able to do great things for God. Let me run that by again: thus called and equipped by God, disciples are able to do great things for God.

    David, we’re told, reigned for 40 years, and became greater and greater. For the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

    The disciples called by Jesus, sent out by Jesus, these are the words from scripture, “cast out many demons and anointed many who were sick and cured them.”

    –some guy
    Ellicott City, Maryland. July 9, 2006.

  413. On Hell--
    July 10th, 2010 @ 12:21 am

    Jesus himself said in Matthew chapter 25 in verse 41 that “Hell was created for the Devil and his angels.”

    In fact, let me give you God’s read on the subject. This is what God says. God says in the book of 2nd Peter, He says that “I am not willing that any man should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

    –some guy
    Singapore. July 10, 2005.

  414. On living the new life--
    July 11th, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    We want to bless people with the-. I had a very- we had a very interesting discussion at breakfast, didn’t we, Stuart, with the children. Since Adam’s obviously been talking about fairness, which is good, isn’t it? But actually we were saying, no it’s not always right to be fair, because actually I want to be more than fair to you. I want to bless you.

    And God blesses us. He blesses us with His grace. He gives us what we don’t deserve, that’s what we’ve been hearing these last few weeks. He gives us what we don’t deserve. And actually, we think, “Well, wow. I’ve received so much from God. He’s poured so much into my life that I don’t deserve, that I want to be that for other people.” I don’t want to be fair. I don’t want to give them what they deserve. I want to bless them. I want to pour out love upon them. I want to be generous to them.

    And that motivates us to share that sacrificial love which we have received, share it with others. To be ambitious for God, for His honor, for His kingdom, not ambitious for our own things.

    What are our priorities? Where do our values come from? What’s our motivation spring from?

    People say about people, don’t they? Describing people: “Ah, music is his life.” Or might say something like, “thought is their life. Painting is his life. Carve is his life. His family is his life.” We describe people like that, don’t we?

    But for Christians, Christ is our life. Christ is our life.

    I don’t wonder if people would say that about you. Or would they say music is your life? Christ is our life. It’s our driving motivation. It springs up life from the earth. It shapes who we are and how we act and how we behave and how we make decisions.

    Christ is our life. Christ is our life.

    And Paul is saying to his readers what he is saying to us today. This is who you are. You’re not striving to become this. This is who you are. You have died with Christ and raised with him. You are a new creation as we stand and we clapped and we celebrated.

    We are a new creation. We’re a child of God. We’re a follower of Jesus Christ. This is who you are.

    And what we do tomorrow, the decisions that you make at work and at home, the way that you drive your car, the manner in which you treat your family and friends – all of these attitudes and actions should spring from our identity in Christ to be motivated by the fact that our life is Christ.

    –some gal
    Wokingham, Berkshire. July 11, 2004.

  415. On diverse congregations--
    July 12th, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    Not only were there differences in religious and ethnic backgrounds, but this was also a very economically diverse congregation.

    Not only were there people from lower levels of society, but there were also people of great means.

    And all of those differences explains why Paul writes the way he does to the Ephesians in the first chapter.

    –some gal
    Phoenix, Arizona. July 12, 2009.

  416. On obedience to the will of God (again)--
    July 13th, 2010 @ 12:52 am

    In chapter 15 when Saul again offers God partial obedience, he says– Samuel says, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”

    You see, Saul was really acting almost like a practical atheist. He’s the fool who says in his heart there is no God. And even though Saul was not formally an atheist, he was practically an atheist because God was totally out of the picture. All he saw was his circumstances, he had no thought of what God could do or who God is. He didn’t trust Him.

    And as a result, Samuel says, “Your kingdom will not endure.” And what a heartbreaking statement to say, if only you would have been obedient, your kingdom would have lasted.

    This is like the statement that is later made to Jeroboam, who is actually a break-off king away from Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, who says, “If you’re faithful, your kingdom will endure.”

    –some guy
    Escondido, California. July 13, 2008.

  417. On a promise covenant-keeping God--
    July 14th, 2010 @ 1:39 am

    You know that word ‘redeemed’ we kind of skipped over in verse 1? It needs to be unpacked a little bit.

    It is a word that was quite familiar to the hearers of this, and a little bit foreign to us.

    To redeem something was to occupy again, or to reclaim, or to make again your own to its original owner, a piece of land, an animal or a person who was reclaimed through the payment of a substitute.

    And as you continue to read in Isaiah and you get to chapter 53, you and I learn how far this God is willing to go to preserve a people who would be His own. Because He was not only willing, but in the words of Isaiah, pleased to crush His Son for you.

    ‘I have given and I will give.’ And we know now how the New Testament unfolds the full reality of what we get a picture of here, a promise and a pledge: ‘I will give others in your place to preserve you in exchange for your life.’

    He pledges the future to us. He calls you by name. He draws you near, and He says these words to you: You are precious. You are honored. You are loved. And it’s not just that you have been, but that you still are.

    Precious. Honored. Loved.

    ‘I have given, and I will give. Nothing will stand in my way.’ And Isaiah shows us what choice the Lord God did make. “The Lord did not set His love on you,” we read in Deuteronomy, “nor choose you because you were more numbers than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of the peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers.”

    A promise covenant-keeping God. It was while we are sinners the Christ died for us.

    –some guy
    Charlottesville, Virginia. July 14, 2002.

  418. Curvy Catholic
    July 14th, 2010 @ 8:46 am

    Er, hey, “some guy”, maybe you need to start your own blog!

  419. Spambot
    July 14th, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    Nah, nobody is interested in this stuff. I’m just keeping the place semi-busy until the site owner comes back. I saw the need when Martin Luther King Day and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade went unnoticed here.

    The basic idea is to answer the recurring question (usually in the form of an accusation) from atheists, “what do Christians believe?”. The idea for focusing on recorded sermons came from the title of the post, “Talk Among Yourselves”.

  420. On God's foreknowledge of the fall--
    July 15th, 2010 @ 1:50 am

    God knew Adam was going to sin. He knew that He was going to have to send Jesus. Before He ever made an angel, He knew how the whole thing was going to work out. By definition, God can’t learn anything because He knows everything, and He knows it all in advance.

    But His foreknowledge does not automatically imply His predetermination. Because if He predetermined the fall of Adam, then He is responsible. And there has to be a window where God in His infinite person – and if you try to get this all down in a neat little package and cover all of the loose ends, friends, let me tell you something, you’re not going to do it because if you could do that, you would be God and you’re not God and neither am I. You’re not going to wrap this all up in some neat little system where every ‘i’ is dotted to your satisfaction. There is mystery in God’s infinity. There is mystery there.

    But God reveals His heart when He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I am longsuffering not willing that any should perish. I want everyone to come to repentance in the knowledge of the truth.” They are not all going to but He wants them to. That’s His heart.

    And that’s the heart of God. And when Adam and Eve sinned, and God showed up in the garden, yes, He knew it was coming, but it didn’t change His gut-wrenching emotion and heart at the moment when He said, ‘Adam, what have you done? Where are you?’

    God wasn’t looking for information.

    –some guy
    McHenry, Illinois. July 15. 2007.

  421. MK
    July 15th, 2010 @ 8:08 am

    Some Guy,

    You’re dedication is admirable. I check in often. I also appreciate that this site is being kept “alive”…I hope one day it will once again be a place to meet and discuss the “Truth”…until then, carry on… ;)

  422. Spambot
    July 15th, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Thanks, MK.

  423. On Jesus' power over death--
    July 16th, 2010 @ 3:19 am

    Does Jesus have the authority over the power of death that would destroy us? Does he have the authority to command death, and to tell death to cough up what it has swallowed down?

    Contrary to all appearances, death does not have the final word, and Saint Mark would have us know that. He would have us know that it is the Word of Christ that the last word in all things including death, including your death, including the death of your children.

    And it is by his Word and the power that is in his Word that death itself is swallowed up in the victory of life. So by presenting this account to us, Saint Mark is really just being a good pastor. Because a good pastor knows that he has to constantly prepare his congregation for death.

    Because death can come at any time. It can come at unexpected times, when you’re twelve years old, when you’re sixteen years old, when you’re three months old, when you’re in your third trimester. It can come, and we need to be prepared.

    –some guy
    Waterville, Maine. July 16, 2009.

  424. On Jesus' power over death (corrected link)--
    July 16th, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

    Sorry about that. The correct link:

    Waterville, Maine. July 16, 2009.

  425. On heresies in the Church--
    July 17th, 2010 @ 3:28 am

    This is why I believe – this is my final critique – this is why I believe the Church in our day is so anemic. I believe strongly that there is a reason why churches in parts of this world that are persecuted are the most powerful churches in this world.

    Because they’re not living for the bling-bling, they’re not living for the promise of perfect health, they’re not living for the promise of floating in the sky. They are so grateful to God that even as they are persecuted, they have Jesus.

    And that causes such a rest, such an assurance, such an understanding of Christ, such a communion with him, that the Church becomes powerful.

    Think of what Christianity did in its infancy: this small seedling of faith; Christ calling these twelve men to himself; a hundred and twenty are gathered in the upper room; Pentecost happens; the Holy Spirit comes, empowers them to become witnesses to the world; Peter goes out and preaches the Gospel, 3000 people come to him. Later he preaches the Gospel again, another 5000 come to him. And the most powerful empire of all of human history thus far is turned upon its head and comes to its knees, not because of the miniscule military strength of Christians, but because of the gratitude that those Christians had even when they were persecuted. And that was something that Roman soldiers, Roman government and outside heretics could not crush and could not destroy. What do you do with them if you kill them they become more powerful? If you threaten martyrdom, they’re excited about meeting Jesus. What the heck do you do?

    Imagine if this was us now, fantasize just for a minute, what if that was you and I?

    What if we lived our life that way? What if we really, genuinely believed that? Well, we’ve been given the baton that’s been passed to us by the blood of the martyrs, and we are to have an entire worldview, built from the ground up, that is found in the person of Christ and we’re to live overflowing with gratitude in all that we do. The job we have, the wife we have, the husband we have, the parents we have, the kids we have – everything we have, we’re grateful for. Why? Because we have Christ.

    Because we have Christ.

    –some guy
    San Diego, California. July 17, 2005.

  426. On the masks that we wear--
    July 18th, 2010 @ 1:34 am

    Here’s a passage that deals with our relationship with one another, but take a look at verse 12 in this passage. It begins by saying, “therefore as God’s chosen people holy and dearly loved.” The passage that we’re looking at begins with a declaration of what God thinks about us, what our position is before God. We are chosen people. Not because of anything that we have done, but God, out of his grace and mercy, has actually chosen us, just the way we choose one another in relationships, God has chosen us. And so because of that we’re special and have a special place before God.

    It says then that we are holy, which means that we’re set apart, that by God choosing us and calling us out of the world, that we are somehow different, we’re set apart to have a special relationship with Him. And then because of that relationship that we have with him and with others we change and become more like Jesus Christ. We are a holy people.

    And then it says that we are “dearly loved.” Now Paul didn’t have to say it this way. He could have said that you are holy and loved, but he doesn’t say that. He says that you are dearly loved. God looks at us with the sort of cherishing, deep affection that can only be expressed when you pile words on top of one another and say he doesn’t just love us, we are dearly loved people.

    And so all of our call to relationship with one another begins first with what God’s attitude is towards us. We are dearly loved. We are set apart. We are chosen. And so it’s in that context that God calls us to a relationship with one another.

    –some guy
    Baltimore, Maryland. July 18, 2004.

  427. On shepherding children and their homeless families--
    July 18th, 2010 @ 11:45 pm

    Got to feel sorry for all those poor sheep wandering around in today’s readings.

    First, the prophet Jeremiah tells us that that bad shepherd refuses to care for his flock, then drives them away, scattering the sheep, refusing to go look for them. Then in the Gospel, Jesus gives us the image of helpless sheep again, with no shepherd at all to lead them.

    I can tell you from my own experience growing up in a farm in Ireland, that sheep cannot survive without a great deal care. It doesn’t take much to scare them, and when they’re frightened they just take off, and of course, just get into more trouble. On the farm they’d run into thorn bushes, or fall into ditches, get lost in places with no blade of grass in sight at all.

    Since the helpless sheep couldn’t find their way back, my dad would send us kids to seek them out, bring them back home. And as terrified as they might have been, as soon as they got back into their familiar pasture, they were the calmest and most peaceful creatures on earth.

    These readings about sheep and shepherds continue to draw us in even after two or three thousand years.

    –some guy
    Winter Springs, Florida. July 19, 2009.

  428. On wounded healers--
    July 20th, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    But thirdly, and I’m sure you’ve been taught this even if you hadn’t experienced it already, you are to be, in the now famous phrase, wounded healers. This is of course where St. Paul is coming from in that spectacular opening to 2 Corinthians: Blessed be the God who comforts us when we are in any affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. Paul goes on to describe what, in our language, might be called a nervous breakdown: being so utterly, unbearably crushed that he despaired of life itself. But this, he says, was to make him rely entirely on the God who raises the dead, so that, with the inner core of the gospel as his one remaining motivation, he was able to get up and bring the same comfort to others who needed it.

    And in this he was picking up the deep message of Isaiah 40—55. At the heart of that passage, as I’m sure you know, we find the figure of the Suffering Servant, who in Christian tradition has always been seen as a direct signpost to the Lord Jesus himself, in his lonely suffering on behalf of his people and the world. Part of the point of Isaiah 40—55 is that the people of God are suffering the pain and desolation which somehow brings into focus the pain and desolation of all the world, so that their exile is the focal point of the world’s exile and their suffering is the dark centre of the world’s suffering. The Servant, representing Israel, comes to the place where that suffering is at its worst, and takes its full weight on himself so that first Israel and then the world may be comforted, may be assured that exile is over, may receive as fresh good news the promise of new creation.

    –some guy
    Durham, England. July 20, 2009.

  429. On Christ's family--
    July 21st, 2010 @ 1:35 am

    Naturally, Mary was the Lord’s mother, but spiritually she is the Lord’s sister. Luke then is not saying that the Lord loved his disciples more than his family. It’s way better than that. Luke is saying that the Lord’s disciples are his family. That’s what he’s getting at here.

    What was true of his followers then is still true. The disciples were a motley crew. Peter had a big mouth. James and John had short fuses. Matthew had been a publican.

    All of them were stupid men and slow to believe. They caused the Lord all sorts of heartache. Yet, they were as dear to him as his own loving mother. And not only those disciples, his followers today, like you and me, with all of our weaknesses and our weird ideas, are no less in the family of Jesus Christ than they were, and we’re no less loved than they were.

    This is what the doctrinal parts of the bible teach. Two verses must do for now, but you can look up many more on your own.

    Romans 8:29 says, speaking of God, it says, “For whom He did foreknow, these He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son that he should be the firstborn among many brethren.”

    Now, perhaps the point is missed here. God predestined all Christians to be conformed to Christ, so that Christ would have a family – that he would be the firstborn of many believers.

    And then Hebrews 2:11 says, “For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one, that is why he,” that is, Christ, “that is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

    Well, that’s surprising, isn’t it?

    –some guy
    Fremont, California. July 21, 2002.

  430. On setting our priorities right--
    July 22nd, 2010 @ 1:04 am

    But the most important thing for us, of course, is to make ourselves ready to enter into the Heavenly Kingdom. And that is why, in the midst of all the things we’re doing in this world to be ready for life in this world, we also need to remember to sit at the Lord’s feet, to listen to his Word, to learn it and try to understand it, and then to make that part of our lives. Because that way it is we make ourselves ready, not just for life in this world, but also what is much more important for, eternal life. And that way we, like Mary, will have chosen the good part.

    In other words, this story is a reminder that among all the clamor, the demands, the pleasures and temptings of life in this world, we must never lose sight of what is the real essence and meaning of our lives.

    We must cultivate the habit of- stop what we might call the bouncing and rattling wagon our worldly life and concerns, to stop and look up, to realize who we really are, where we are, and also where we are going or where we are meant to go.

    That is how, as we heard in our lesson today, that we escape from the clutches and bonds of evils.

    In other words, when we immerse ourselves in the worldly things, in the material, sensual pleasures and cares, then it is that the evils can get hold of us, then it is it gives rise to the discontents and the anger and envy and self-pity that Martha also exhibited when she asked the Lord to tell Mary to go and help her minister.

    –some guy
    Kempton, Pennsylvania. July 22, 2007.

  431. On being an epistle of Christ--
    July 23rd, 2010 @ 12:24 am

    You remember in 3rd John verse 4, we find John’s statement about some who he had taught. And it’s a great statement, he says this, 3rd John verse 4, “For I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.”

    And it’s like that he was speaking of those who were his spiritual children here. “That my children,” those who I have taught, “walk in the truth.”

    And I believe this is what Paul is saying, and I constantly need to remind myself, and all preachers, I believe, need to remind themselves that if the things they are presenting are not helping people to live better, and stirring their conscience, and causing them to live righteously, then they are miserably failing in the work that God gives them to do.

    And so Paul says, “you are our epistles.”

    –some guy
    Plant City, Florida. July 23, 2006.

  432. On offering ourselves as living sacrifice--
    July 24th, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    The next way in which our thinking must be transformed is that we must offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Verse 1: “Therefore, I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies” or ‘yourselves’, we could translate, “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your reasonable worship.”

    Now, Paul has in the back of his mind here the Jewish cultus. You see, Paul through Romans, has showing that the Gospel is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. That whereas the Jews in the Old Testament times had the law and the sacrificial system and particularly circumcision, as part of their worship of God, all those things are fulfilled in Christ.

    And so, Paul now draws this all together when he says, “What is your spiritual worship – or your ‘reasonable’ worship now? Your leitourgia – ‘liturgy’ – is offering yourselves as living sacrifices to God.”

    That’s what pleases God. What is holy, what is pure, is not bringing a sheep and slaughtering it in front of the Holy of Holies, but it is giving yourself, your whole life, to God. Every waking moment, and every sleeping moment.

    Paul took this seriously. It was his passion. And in Acts 20 verse 24 when he was moving on from Ephesus he said, “I consider my life with nothing to me, if only I may finish the course and complete the task that God has given to me, the task of testifying to the gospel of His grace.”

    He well understood Jesus’ appeal in Luke 9 in verse 23, “If anybody wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. Because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses it for my sake will keep it.”

    You see this was one of the prerequisites for understanding the Lord’s guidance.

    Paul says if “you offer your body as a living sacrifice,” and “you are transformed in your thinking,” then “you will be able to test and approve God’s will.” In other words, if you are not offering yourself as a living sacrifice, you will not be able to test and approve God’s will.

    It’s quite easy to understand. Think of a sports fan, somebody who’s mad about rugby, let’s say. Now you don’t have to tell him to go and learn all the names of the Springbok team. You don’t have to tell him to listen to the radio or to watch the TV to find out what the score is. He’ll get up at 5 o’clock in the morning if he must to watch the game on TV, even if it’s being playing in Australia, being played in Australia.

    You see he has an inner motivation and an inner passion because he is giving himself for that which means a lot to him, namely rugby. Now how much more is that the case in our Christian lives? That if we offered ourselves as living sacrifices to God, so that our lives are lost in God and in His cause and in His purpose, we will pursue that with all our hearts. We will look for ways of serving God. We will look for ways of pleasing Him. We will pour out our hearts in prayer to God asking Him to show us and lead us.

    You see the point here is that what is most critical in this question of guidance, what is most crucial in terms of understanding God’s will, is not ‘should I do this, or should I do that?’ on the microscopic scale, but how do we think about the big issues in life. Where is my heart? What is the orientation of my life?

    –some guy
    Queenswood, Pretoria. July 24, 2005.

  433. On maintaining the house of God--
    July 25th, 2010 @ 12:04 am

    Besides compromise, there is another way in which corruption may come to the House of God: Through neglect. This was another thing that Nehemiah found when he returned to Jerusalem: “And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.” (Nehemiah 13:10)

    After all the initial excitement and fervour had died down and people had settled into the routine of life, they began to neglect the support of those who ministered at the Temple. When the Levites saw that their income was greatly affected, they naturally sought to find other sources of income by growing their own crops. Perhaps they adopted a noble attitude, “Well, if the people are not able to support us to do the Lord’s work, then we will support ourselves, and continue to do the Lord’s work at the same time.” But the farming work gradually demanded more and more of their time, until they too began to neglect the Lord’s work. And as the people saw the Levites becoming less and less involved in the Lord’s work, they gave even less for their support. The situation became a vicious circle.

    Neglect has probably crippled more church ministries, paralyzed more missions, and closed down more outreaches, than any other cause. There are two principle causes of neglect, and there are strong warnings against both of them in God’s Word. The first is plain forgetfulness, and the second is weariness.

    –some guy
    Singapore. July 25, 2004.

  434. On getting cut down and discouraged--
    July 26th, 2010 @ 12:41 am

    In a day when we need Christians to give 110%, in a day when we need more help than ever, I’m reminded of it everyday as we go through the city of Kinshasa, and we see thousands, even millions literally, you saw the statistics on the DVD, literally millions of people that pass by us every day, and I wonder, how are we going to reach these people? One missionary family – we can reach some, but we cannot reach all of them. We need help.

    But there are so many Christians here in America, they know the Word of God, they know salvation, they know how to preach the gospel to people, but they’re sitting back here and not doing anything for Jesus Christ – why? Because they’re dried up. They’re dried up.

    And here’s the message. Turn back to Job chapter 14. Folks, I tell you what, I really do believe we’re in the last days because I look at the hardness of the hearts of men, I look at the problems all around us, but I want to encourage you tonight that even in the last days, it does not mean it’s time to give up. It does not mean it’s time to just throw your coat on the rack, and kick back and sip some iced tea. It’s time to serve, we need more help today than ever.

    We need Christians to give their best today, more than they ever have. Look at Job 14. In a time that we need more service and more activity and Christians that truly love their God, this is what we find: Job 14 verse 7, “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down.”

    You know what I see a lot of today? I see a lot of trees that have been cut down. I see a lot of Christians that are defeated. There was some point in their life where some circumstance – whether it was an individual, whether it was a trial, whether it was just a spiritual problem – something happened in their life that affected them in such a way, that it literally, spiritually cut them down.

    No longer are they that fruitful tree that God intends them to be. Am I getting that point across to you tonight?

    The idea and the image of God, the image that God places in our minds is that Christians ought to be like a fruitful tree, planted by the rivers of water, reaping that joy and that zeal and that spiritual vibrancy, constantly feeding off the joy and the zeal that God offers to us. He wants us to be like that fruitful tree.

    But so many are like this tree that has been cut down. And they are not bearing fruit anymore. They’ve lost that joy that was once inside their hearts. No longer do they have zeal. No longer to they have a desire to serve God. They’re like a tree that’s been cut down.

    –some guy
    New Bedford, Massachusetts. July 26, 2009.

  435. On being in relationship with God--
    July 27th, 2010 @ 2:24 am

    Saint Irenaeus once said, “God is glorified when the human being is fully alive.” I’ll say that once again. “God is glorified when the human being is fully alive.”

    We are fully alive when we are the person that God created us to be. So that the kingdom of God can reign in this world, and the world will be restored to what it was created to be prior to the fall of grace with Adam and Eve.

    Essentially, what Saint Irenaeus and what Jesus are trying to teach us is that we were created to be in relationship with God. That’s what Jesus is saying. See that’s what the kingdom of Heaven is all about, the kingdom of God: to order our life to Jesus Christ; to be the person that God intended us to be, which is a person in relationship with God.

    And therefore, the manifestation of that relationship is a daily prayer life, an active sacramental life in which we are going to mass every week fulfilling our obligation, in which we have fidelity to the teachings of Christ and his Church for serving others in this world.

    –some guy
    Greenfield, Wisconsin. July, 27, 2008.

  436. On settling for suitable (or not)--
    July 28th, 2010 @ 12:15 am

    Some people are okay with suitable.

    How’s your marriage? Oh, it’s suitable. I mean, hey, y’know. Hey, I go home.

    How’s your job? Oh, it’s suitable. I mean, I get a check. It’s okay. Hey, you gotta work, so I do. It’s suitable.

    How are your relationships? They’re all right.

    How’s your spiritual walk? I mean, it’s okay. I’m a good person. It’s suitable.

    Why settle for suitable when you could have supernatural?

    Why settle for okay, when you can extraordinary?

    Why have an okay marriage when you can have marriage that is outside this world? I mean, you’re communicating. You’re caring. You’re sacrificing. God is at the very center of this covenant relationship that you’re in with your spouse. ‘Til death to us part.

    Why settle for suitable when you can have supernatural?

    God has revelations for you. God has more for you than you think. Do not sell yourself short. You are special. You are unique.

    That when God is welling in you, do you know you’re more than a conqueror? You’re a holy nation. You’re a royal priesthood. You are a temple of the heavenly realm. Don’t sell yourself short. Do you know who you are?

    God is looking at you, seeing more in you than you see in yourself.

    God is like, “Look, I knew you before you were formed in the womb. I’ve put gifts in you. I’ve put talents in you. I like you. There’s something about you. I love you. That’s why I gave my Son on the cross to die and raise again. For you.”

    “I knew you would be on this earth at this time. I like you, I like the sprite in you.”

    “There something in you. There’s something supernatural. There’s something beyond just the ordinary that’s in you. I don’t care what people say about you. There’s something in you. Don’t settle for suitable.”

    –some guy
    St. Paul, Minnesota. July 28, 2002.

  437. On revisiting the parable of the prodigal son (again)—
    July 29th, 2010 @ 1:24 am

    I do think the emotions and the tensions and the personalities in this story are very much with us today. They still reflect how human beings regularly react to each other in families, communities, and in society generally.

    But if this story, as Luke says, is about God’s mercy, then perhaps we need to consider how as disciples of Jesus today, we might apply this understanding of human nature to our own relationships.

    I have never believed that God requires the impossible from us.

    –some guy
    Chorlton, Manchester, UK. July 29, 2007.

  438. On instructions for ministry--
    July 30th, 2010 @ 2:14 am

    Why has God given you and I the bible? Well, He gives us the answer in 2nd Timothy 3. Look to the screen: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of. Because you know those from whom you have learned it and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is God-breathed and used for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    Why has God given you and I His Word? First, so that we know the way of salvation by faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. Number two, so that you and I as we live our daily lives, can live it according to His holy Word.

    A ten-year old boy was failing math. His parents tried everything from hypnosis to tutors. All to no avail. And finally, they decided to put him in a private Christian school. And after the first day, the parents were surprised when their son came home, and immediately went up to the bedroom and studied.

    He stayed up there until supper, came down, ate, and went back up for more studying. They had never seen this in his life before.

    And the routine continued until the end of the first report card came. And he brought it and laid it on the kitchen table. An ‘A’ in math. He had never received a passing grade before. And so they asked him, “What is it? The teachers? One-on-one tutoring? New textbooks? Peer monitoring?” And each time the boy said no.

    And finally he said, “When on that first day, when I walked into the front door, and I saw the guy nailed to the plus sign, I knew they were serious.”

    Well, certainly God was serious when He sent His Son, Jesus, for us and our sins. And that cross, that’s our plus sign. Daily we are reminded what Christ did for us. He died for our sins. He rose to give us new life.

    And that is why He sends us out to help others understand the cross as their plus sign as Christians.

    –some guy
    Chaska, Minnesota. July 30, 2006.

  439. On praising God--
    July 31st, 2010 @ 12:12 am

    If we want to be full of trust we need to be filled with wonderful praise.

    Shallow praise will only produce shallow Christians, we believed. And so we’ve wanted to take upon our lips praise that is filled with our God and with His glory and with His wonder to move our hearts to draw near to Him.

    That’s why I think God gave us a book of praises to show us how He wants to be praised. The Hebrew name for the Book of Psalms is the “Book of Praises.” And I think God knew that we as human beings were inclined to get praise muddled, and so He gave us a whole book of praises to show us how it ought to be done.

    –some guy
    Santee, California. July 31, 2005.

  440. On how to share Jesus--
    August 1st, 2010 @ 12:01 am

    I was leading a small group at that time, and we were studying the book of James. And at the end of chapter one, in the book of James, it says, “Religion that God our Father considers pure and faultless is a religion that takes care of orphans and widows in their distress and keeps oneself unspotted from the world.”

    So, you know, we– our small group thought, “Well let’s just not study this, let’s do it.”

    You know, and we decided one thing we could do, is once a month we start going to a nursing home on Sunday afternoons.

    You ever been to a nursing home on a Sunday afternoon? Every door is open and they’re just waiting for somebody to come. They’re just thinking, “Are my relatives going to come and see me today or not?”

    And so, we just go from door to door and just listen to peoples’ stories, and pray with people that wanted prayer.

    But anyway, I asked Shirley, I said, “You know, I’ve got some friends, a small group. We’re going to the nursing home. Um, why don’t you come with us?” And she went and she had a good time. She found out she had something she could give people. She started coming to small group.

    And I gave her a bible exactly like my bible, because I knew that she couldn’t find anything in her–. You know, she never used the bible. Just totally unfamiliar with it.

    And when we’d say, “Okay, let’s turn to James chapter 3,” I’d say, “It’s on page 978.” People would kinda look at me like, and I think they thought I was trying to be funny.

    But Shirley knew that her bible was just like mine. I don’t think anybody else knew that. And she would turn to page 978, and she’d be right with us.

    Well, through the love of people in the small group, and the love of some people Shirley worked with, she gave her life to Christ.

    –some guy
    Urbana, Illinois. August 1, 2004.

  441. On renewing the everlasting covenant--
    August 2nd, 2010 @ 2:38 am

    When is the last time you had the feeling that God was asking you to do something, and you told yourself, “I don’t think this is going to work? I don’t have it in me to do this.”

    I can remember when I felt that the Lord was calling me to work with prison inmates, and I said to Him, “Lord? I’ve got a PhD in literature and lot of these guys can’t even read. What am I going to tell them? They’ve been in trouble with the law pretty much all of their lives, and I’ve never been in trouble with the law. What am I going to say to them?”

    I don’t recall that the Lord ever really answered that question, but He just kept calling me to go out there.

    And I think what I’d like to do is to meditate a little bit on the words of the first and third reading today, and go through a couple of things that God is telling us, because these scripture passages speak directly to that kind of an experience.

    The first reading is from Isaiah 55, and it’s an invitation to the people to come to God. And using the imagery of water and bread and wine and milk – all good things to eat, God is inviting all of the people to come to Him.

    And as this translation says here, “Come to me heedfully.” The Revised Standard Version has a more interesting translation, I think, because what it says is “Incline your ear.” And you sort of get the image of somebody who is being asked to cup his hand behind his ear, and bend his ear a little bit, and listen hard.

    Because what God is going to say to the people is that “if you do this, it’s going to be very easy for you to hear my word. And if you listen and do what I’m asking you to do, I’m going to renew with you the everlasting covenant.”

    –some guy
    Ann Arbor, Michagan. August 2, 2008.

  442. On our gift of faith--
    August 3rd, 2010 @ 2:34 am

    I suggest your greatest gift, the one you want o leave behind to your children and grandchildren, is your faith. Your own personal faith, which is the foundation of your honor and your integrity and your character.

    That is the gift you really want to leave your children. If you had to make a choice, that or everything else. It’s more precious that any other. It is the pearl of great price in the parable in last week’s gospel.

    –some guy
    Hartwell, Georgia. August 3, 2008

  443. On your money or your life--
    August 4th, 2010 @ 1:37 am

    You know, so many people in this world, when something bad happens to them, they want to know, why? Why? Why? Why me? Why now?

    That is not a Christian question. With God by our side and faith in our hearts, we ask this question: what now?

    With God’s help, what now?

    Where do we go from here, because we always are moving into the future.

    –some guy
    Conroe, Texas. August 4, 2004.

  444. On binding and loosing--
    August 5th, 2010 @ 12:40 am

    In both Matthew and John, Jesus commissions his disciples both to grapple and bind up sin and evil and injustice, and also, to untie, to loosen, to liberate those who are bound by evil and sin and injustice.

    Binding means exposing sin and evil in the face of their denial.

    The community of faith is a living reminder to the world that evil and injustice do not go unnoticed, but publicly, to protest injustice, to lament, to proclaim our consciousness of oppression, if only by suffering, is to serve the truth and the light.

    Often it is not necessary to do anything, but to be present, to endure.

    With God’s grace and will, as it has before, bring those who cause injustice and suffering to conversion of heart, and only then will forgiveness and healing begin to operate creatively in the world.

    -some guy
    Krakow, Poland. August 5, 2004.

  445. On purity of heart--
    August 5th, 2010 @ 12:44 am

    When we were on our way back, he said, “I know why the Lord has entrusted her with power, at this most difficult time… It is because she is pure of heart. She has no desire for power; even now it is with reluctance she takes it on. And she has done this only because she wants to do whatever she can for your people.” He said, “She truly moves me by the purity of her spirit. God has given a great gift to your people.”

    With this purity of heart, in the scheme of the Christian Gospel, there is joined another reality which really, only the saints understand. It is suffering. How often (it is really often; over and over through the years) she spoke of suffering as part of her life. Much contemporary spirituality speaks of suffering almost as the epitome of all evil. But in fact for all the saints, it is a mystery they themselves do not really understand nor really explain, Yet they accept it quietly, simply as part of their lives in Christ. There is only one painting she ever gave me. Kris said then, when her mom gave it to me, that it was her mom’s favorite. The painting carries 1998 as its date; Cory named it “Crosses and roses.” There are seven crosses for the seven months and seven weeks of her beloved Ninoy’s imprisonment, and for the seven attempted coups during her presidency, and many roses, multicolored roses all around them. At the back of the painting, in her own hand, she wrote a haiku of her own: “Crosses and roses/ make my life more meaningful./ I cannot complain.” Often she spoke of her “quota of suffering.” When she spoke of her last illness, she said: “I thought I had filled up my quota of suffering, but it seems there is no quota. I look at Jesus, who was wholly sinless: how much suffering he had to bear for our sake.” And in her last public talk (it was at Greenmeadows chapel), the first time she spoke of her own pain: “I have not asked for it, but if it is meant to be part of my life still, so be it. I will not complain.” “I try to join it with Jesus’s pain and offering. For what it’s worth, I am offering it up for our people.” Friends here present, I tell you honestly I hesitated before going into this, this morning.

    –some guy
    Manila, Philippines. August 5, 2009. (or video)

  446. On working in the fields of a plentiful harvest (again)--
    August 6th, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    In 1st Corinthians chapter 15 which is a great chapter concerning death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and what it means for us, it concludes with verse 58 saying, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch you know your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

    The Christian life is not a life of ease. We’ve talked about a number of occasions that the fact that anybody that thinks becoming a Christian life makes the way smoother has got a total misconception of what Christian life is all about.

    Also, for those who think that it is one which there’s nothing of great importance to do is also a great misunderstanding.

    So it’s a life of work. It’s the kind of work which is rewarding and necessary. It is fulfilling, and yet is rarely appreciated. In Matthew chapter 9, verses 37 and 38, “Jesus said undo his disciples, ‘the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.’”

    You know, I’ve just listed a few songs that we sing sometimes. “I want to be a worker for the Lord.” I want to be a worker for the Lord. Do we think about what we’re singing?

    “I will labor everyday in the vineyard of the kingdom of the Lord.”

    –some guy
    Sugar Creek, Missouri. August 6, 2006.

  447. On intrinsic evil--
    August 6th, 2010 @ 12:07 am

    Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, “the true light that enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9), people become “light in the Lord” and “children of light” (Eph 5:8), and are made holy by “obedience to the truth” (1 Pet 1:22).

    This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging “the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25). Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself.

    But no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it. This is eloquently proved by man’s tireless search for knowledge in all fields. It is proved even more by his search for the meaning of life. The development of science and technology, this splendid testimony of the human capacity for understanding and for perseverance, does not free humanity from the obligation to ask the ultimate religious questions. Rather, it spurs us on to face the most painful and decisive of struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience.

    –some guy
    Rome, Italy. August 6, 1993.

  448. On walking in this dispensation--
    August 7th, 2010 @ 12:01 am

    We as a body here are working together to fulfill the mission that God has given to us to bring glory to His name. Now as we do this, we need to understand something. Because what did Paul say? He was beseeching us that we walk worthy of that vocation.

    You know, when he says, “walk worthy” of it that means there’s some expectations. There is something God expects of us in the way in which we’re walking and performing our duties.

    Turn with me over to 2nd Timothy– familiar verse, 2nd Timothy now verses– 2nd Timothy chapter 3 verses 16 and 17. If we’re going to walk worthy of the ministry, we have to be prepared. We have to do it according to as the Lord is instructing us.

    It says in 2nd Timothy 3:16, 17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

    You know He has something specific He wants to accomplish through you, but if you don’t do it through the preparation of the Word of God, you will not walk worthy. You will not walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you have been called, the ministry that God has entrusted to you. The only way to do it, to work in a way to please our Lord, who has given us this responsibility, is through submission to the truth of the Word of God.

    –some guy
    Kansas City, Missouri. August 7, 2005.

  449. On the Christian home--
    August 8th, 2010 @ 12:30 am

    It has been said with accuracy that as goes the home, so goes the nation. The home has been defined as a Christian place where a world of strife is shut out, and a world of love is shut in.

    A Christian home is a place where the small are great and the great are small. A Christian home is place where our stomachs get three square meals a day, and our hearts get a thousand.

    A Christian home is but a vestibule of Heaven. We often talk about the home as God would have it. As we have mentioned before numerous times, [some guy] several years ago made the encouraging statement to each of us that stood in this pulpit that periodically, regularly we should examine the home as God would have it.

    And even attacks against it as well as the abuses, even concerning divorce and re-marriage. But we’ve tried to do that.

    Those that are at this exact moment in your life may have heard some lessons before, but possibly now receptive to receive. Now to hear with an open heart, or maybe you’ve crossed that threshold in your life, now, suddenly for the first time, interested and need to hear concerning that which God intends for the home.

    But it is an absolute truth that we live in a world that has threatened the home. And I wish that I could be optimistic concerning the future.

    –some guy
    Pulaski, Tennessee. August 8, 2004.

  450. Evangelii nuntiandi studium nostrae aetatis hominibus--
    August 8th, 2010 @ 12:35 am

    Beloved sons and daughters,

    It is a great joy for us to greet your group this morning. We know that many of you are Blood Indians and that all of you belong to the Blackfeet; you are also sons and daughters of Canada.

    As We welcome you We wish to express Our affection for you and your people. We likewise wish to express Our esteem for your Indian culture and for the values which make it up.

    We know that these values have been retained and that Christianity has drawn upon them. For this, We pay homage to the missionaries, who with selfless dedication have brought you the Word of God and who still minister among you with fraternal love.

    It is Our prayer that your people and all the beloved Indians of Canada may attain the fulness of human progress, and fulfil in highest measure your Christian destiny. In this respect We hope that, as more abundant prosperity becomes yours, the Lord of life will remain your cherished lot. We pray, in a particular way, that among your young people there will be those who joyfully receive God’s call to the priesthood and to religious life, as well as those who dedicate themselves to Christian service in the laity.

    Through you We would send Our greeting into your homes and churches, into your schools and places of work. It goes to all: to the old and to the young, and especially to the sick and to the children. Upon all of you We invoke grace and peace from Jesus Christ and in his name We give you Our special Apostolic Blessing.

    –some guy
    Rome, Italy. August 8, 1971.

  451. On inculturation--
    August 9th, 2010 @ 12:32 am

    First, think about that issue of inculturation in that little section. He didn’t use the word inculturation directly, but he really was talking about that at a certain point. Now think about inculturation this way: there’s always an exchange going on between the Church and the world. It can’t be helped, we’re human beings. However, what the Church has to give must have logical priority in this dynamic exchange constantly taking place. The Church must set the example to influence the world, and not the other way around. Once the world has embraced and integrated into a culture what the Church has to offer, then that culture can produce, thereby, music and art and architecture, and all those things which the Church can then in turn embrace as her own and inculturate – and integrate into the liturgy: building churches, and writing music, and doing all these things. The Church expresses things from the people that way, which are authentically from the people, because this is a people who has been shaped by God through the Church. Remember: the Church has a mandate to shape and form the world – that’s part of what we all have to do in our vocations. And so true inculturation must give logical priority to what the Church has to give to the world and not the other way around. If the world is given logical priority, or if things from the world are integrated improperly into liturgy, then that’s a false inculturation, and it’s destructive and actually does violence to the liturgy and to the people of God, because it isn’t being done properly.

    –some guy
    Wausau, Wisconsin. August 9, 2007.

  452. On the effort to proclaim the gospel to the people of our day--
    August 10th, 2010 @ 12:45 am

    And only time, a long time and ultimately eternity will tell who are the true followers of Jesus.

    Now some initially reject, okay? Some people who hear don’t follow. Some people who hear follow, and it changes them for eternity. Some people hear and follow, but they’re not true believers and they fall away. And some initially reject, and then they end up following.

    Think about John Mark, not that he initially rejected salvation or the call of God on his life and salvation, but in Acts chapter 13 in verse 13, it’s as if we get this picture that Mark leaves the missionary journey, and goes cryin’ home to mama.

    And later in another chapter, two chapters later in Acts, Barnabas gives him a second chance. Acts chapter 15, verse 39.

    And finally Paul accepts him in 2nd Timothy 4:11 Paul says, “I find him useful for service.”

    There’s all sorts of different ways that we can hear, and respond, or not respond, and maybe follow, and maybe it doesn’t take root and we fall away. There’s all these different ways. But these two disciples – at least one of these we know, Andrew, was a follower. They followed Jesus.

    And I would encourage you today, and encourage me, and encourage [this church] to take heart. To take heart this morning. Because even if there are only a couple of converts every now and then – we love to have lots of people come to Christ at any given time – but even if there only a few converts, those few converts, just like with Jesus’ disciples, just like the ones that John pointed to Jesus, just two of them, maybe three or four of them, maybe more, just a few can really change the world.

    They can be part of a bigger plan that God has. So take heart, that if your ministry seems small, if you’re local, if you’re personal, at your job, or in your home, wherever you are, seems not to be bearing much fruit, if it’s bearing some fruit, that fruit may change eternity forever. Be encouraged of that.

    –some guy
    Glen Rose, Texas. August 10, 2008.

  453. On a radical decision to choose poverty--
    August 11th, 2010 @ 12:19 am

    Today’s first reading we see the miraculous power of the ark of the covenant, the ark of the covenant which is from the Lord God, the God who created everything, the Lord of the whole earth, as we read in the book of Joshua.

    It’s kind of interesting to see that the ark of the covenant could have this power, to stop the waters of the Jordan so that the people could cross and enter the promised land.

    It seems incongruous, and it is. It’s a miracle. And I guess sometimes we don’t believe that much in miracles anymore as we see in the Old Testament, and even in the New Testament in the time of Christ.

    But I think that’s something we want to ponder, celebrating today the feast of Saint Clare. Saint Clare was not a miracle worker as such, although she did have some miracles attributed to her. I heard the miracles were very similar as we see today.

    It wasn’t the ark of the covenant that had the force and power, but it was the blessed sacrament.

    One time when she was the abbess of the convent she had founded called Poor Clares, the Saracens were attacking her town of Assisi, and they meant business.

    And they were actually even setting up ladders against the convent walls to climb in and sack the convent of whatever they could find. Saint Clare appeared at the window holding the blessed sacrament in her hand in the ciborium.

    And the guys on the top of the ladder, somehow it stunned them so much that they fell back. They fell down and then the people down below grew frightened, and the whole crowd just scattered because of Clare’s presence with the ciborium in her hand.

    –some guy
    Houston, Texas. August 11, 2005.

  454. On suffering and hope (again)--
    August 12th, 2010 @ 12:47 am

    These saints that were in Asia Minor that had been dispersed, as you look at verse 3, Peter is telling them, he’s reminding them of something. He’s saying to them, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ according to His great mercy. He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

    Why does he put this here in the third verse? Why is this so early on in this passage of scripture?

    Well, as we’re looking at it, we see that these saints are struggling. These saints are being persecuted, they’re suffering many trials. And what Peter is doing is he’s saying to the saints, “Brothers and sisters, look back and see what God has done for you. You have been brought back to life again. Remember the past so you can look forward to the future. Remember what I have brought you out of.”

    We read the Ten Commandments this morning. “I am the Lord your God which has brought you out of the house of bondage, out of the land of Egypt.” And this is what Peter is reminding the people of God about. “Remember what I have brought you out of.”

    And he’s reminding them that you were once strangers and aliens to God. You were once dead in your sins.

    Now this is not something that was unique to the people of God at that time. This is also for us today.

    –some guy
    Fredericksburg, Virginia. August 12, 2007.

  455. On sins of omission--
    August 13th, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    Christ identifies himself with those who follow him. So that when Paul persecuted believers in Christ, Christ could say to him in Acts chapter 9, “You’ve been persecuting me.” And so things done to followers of Jesus are done to Jesus.

    And Christ’s disciples are wonderfully exalted, because think about this: what this parable teaches us is that the world will be judged by God on the way it showed deeds of kindness, or withheld deeds of kindness, to Christians. That’s what it says. What it teaches.

    On the other hand, on the left side, are the goats. They are rejected, and they are assigned to Hell forever. And Jesus says to those on his left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

    Now when Jesus goes through and talks about some things, he doesn’t single out great sins. Now other places of the Bible talks about sins, various kinds, but he doesn’t single out great sins. He doesn’t say, “You were a murderer. And you were an adulterer. And you were a drug dealer. And you were homosexual. And you were this. And you were that. Go to Hell!” Doesn’t say that, and he will. But this parable doesn’t say that.

    What this parable says is they’re guilty of sins of omission. Those other sins of commission: you’ve done those things. These are sins of omission: you failed to do what is right. And that’s what the parable singles out in this place.

    Jesus says to them that their lack of good works toward God’s people demonstrates their lack of faith in Christ. And so he says their everyday activities show this: “I was hungry, you did not feed me. I was thirsty, you did not give me something to drink. I was a stranger and you did not take me in. I was naked, you did not clothe me. I was sick and in prison, you did not come to me.”

    And they were surprised, too.

    –some guy
    DeRidder, Louisiana. August 13, 2006.

  456. On praying for our daily bread--
    August 14th, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, grace, mercy and peace be multiplied upon you from God our father. And from the king himself, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Today as we continue our journey through the Steward’s Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, we come to the fourth petition, “give us this day our daily bread.” This petition kind of stands out from the other petitions because of the seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, it is the only one that deals with physical or bodily needs. As we ask the Lord to daily provide for us and to support what we need here in this world.

    Jesus in today’s text tells you and me very clearly that we are not to worry. He says do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink. Jesus begins that section, with this verse, with the word ‘therefore’, and the word ‘therefore’ draws our attention back to what has he said right before this, because the context sets the teaching of what Jesus is doing here.

    And in the section before, Jesus is giving words of instruction also. He says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” And he tells us very clearly why it is that we shouldn’t store up for ourselves treasures on earth. He says where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. Quite simply, the treasures here of this earth are not lasting. They can be lost, and they can be lost very, very quickly.

    And so we are not to rely and depend upon, we are not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth. Jesus has a better idea. He says let’s store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.

    And then in the verse right before this morning’s text, Jesus says very clearly, “you cannot serve both God and money.” The King James translated that, “God and Mammon,” giving that that idea of money and the things that money buys, the things of this world.

    We are reminded in the first commandment that we are to fear, love and trust in God above all things.

    It becomes a temptation for us in this world to fear and love and trust in the treasures of this world, rather than looking beyond and realizing that we’re but “aliens and strangers” in this world, and that our life in this world, no matter how long it is, in comparison is very brief, because we look forward to a better home. We look forward to an eternal home, that home purchased for us by Christ with his innocent suffering and death, and the shedding of his holy and precious blood for us on the cross.

    So instead of feeling and keeping our focus on the treasures of this earth or on money and loving and trusting in that, the Lord wants you and me to fear, to love, and to trust in Him alone.

    –some guy
    Woodstock, Illinois. August 14, 2005.

  457. On the dignity of the human body--
    August 15th, 2010 @ 12:32 am

    In the second reading today, Saint Paul speaks to the Corinthians about death and the reality that death has been overcome in Christ. That is precisely what we celebrate today. We see in our Blessed Mother that in her Immaculate Conception she is free of sin, and that in her Divine Maternity she is without concupiscence, that is, the desires and passions of the flesh, and now in her Assumption she has overcome death. When we look at what happened in the Garden of Eden, it brought sin, it brought concupiscence, and it brought death; and we see in these areas of our Blessed Mother’s life that she has completely overcome everything the devil brought into the world by trapping our first parents into sin. So we have, then, not only death being conquered in a human person, but what we see for ourselves and what is so important to understand – especially for this society – is the dignity of the human body. Our Lady shares already in the Resurrection, and she shares already in the glorification in heaven. The Assumption means that she was taken body and soul by her Son into heaven. She has crushed in this way the head of Satan.

    –some guy
    Hastings, Minnesota. August 15, 2005.

  458. On Holy Communion--
    August 16th, 2010 @ 12:01 am

    It is a very dangerous thing to take Communion, because you see, you might have to pay up on the oath at some point.

    Now you all know I’m from a German background. And we celebrated on Friday the Feast of Maximilian Kolbe, who was Polish on his mother’s side and German on his father’s side, at a time when Germany and Poland were at war. It’s rather personal to me.

    Now I’m, of course, born here. My parents were born here. But I, as you know, have cousins over there. I had one cousin, who at the end of the war, was in jail for helping to shelter Jews. And I had another cousin, who was a cousin-in-law, who spent long time, eight years, in a concentration camp in Siberia because he was a tank driver at the battle of Stalingrad. He’s one of the few who lived and came back.

    The whole nation was swept up in a horrible, horrible cataclysm. And people who were just good, simple, hard-working people were swept along by a society that had gone crazy.

    “Couldn’t happen here.” Well, it is happening here. It is happening here without our even noticing it. The issues of abortion and euthanasia and soon eugenics – they creep up on us, and at some point we have to make the decision. And you see, we have sworn an oath. We’ve sworn an oath.

    And Maximilian Kolbe took that oath very seriously. And he was arrested finally, for two reasons. He sheltered 2000 Jews in a monastery he founded in Poland. Two thousand Jews in a little monastery. And he continued his radio broadcasts criticizing the Nazis.

    He was arrested, taken to Auschwitz eventually, and there – there was person who had apparently escaped. They found his body later in a camp latrine – he hadn’t escaped at all. But they took 10 men, they said, “we’re going starve you to death.” By starving, they meant to be deprived of food and water.

    And there was one man weeping that he would never see his family again. And Saint Maximilian said, “Take me instead.” And the shocked commandant looked at him and said, “All right.”

    And for three weeks Saint Maximilian lived without food and water. And they came and finally tired of the charade, and they decided to give them an injection, and Saint Max held out his arm, and was injected and died, singing hymns. He was a martyr to charity, to sacrificial love.

    He had to pay up on his oath.

    –some guy
    Skokie, Illinois. August 16, 2009.

  459. On forgetting the errors of the first half--
    August 17th, 2010 @ 1:24 am

    You know life, the spirit of life will set us free from sin and death and all the stuff in our past. You know, we have to make choices. Perhaps you’ve had a pretty bad experience lately. Or perhaps you did something long ago that you really regret. Or perhaps you got memories, either what you did or what was done to you that come back and haunt you and taunt you and prevent you from living a full life.

    But you know, Paul is saying, “I’m going to forget the past.” If God has, we can.

    You know, I don’t particularly follow football, but it’s been the beginning of the football season, hasn’t it. And can you imagine a football team – imagine the changing room at halftime. And it’s a bit subdued. And in the corner, there’s a player head in hands – sort of, I don’t know if football players would be weeping, but you know. And in despair, because he has scored an own goal in the first half and put his team behind.

    And it gets time to go out for the second half, and he says to his coach, “I just can’t do it. I can’t play. I’ve ruined the match. I’m rubbish. Ugh.”

    And the coach says, “No, get up. The game’s only half over. You belong out there on the pitch.” And you know what, guys, our game is only half over.

    So regardless of the past, we’ve still got the rest of the game to play. We’ve still got so much that we can do. So what if the Enemy scored off you in the past? So what? We’ve still got the second half of the game.

    And God in Jesus is willing to forget our past and the mistakes of the first half. And we need to. You know sometimes guilt and bitterness can be like millstones around our necks and prevent us from living life.

    Isaiah, well no let us do Jeremiah 31 verse 34 says, he says about the Israelites, he says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will never again remember their sins.”

    And Isaiah 43:25, he says, “I, yes I alone, am the One who blots out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.”

    It’s amazing, isn’t it? God will never think of our sins ever again.

    –some gal
    London, England. August 17, 2008.

  460. On the unfairness of it all--
    August 18th, 2010 @ 12:58 am

    The devil is not fair. Okay? He’s not out to protect your rights. That’s why he wants you insisting on ‘em, because you can’t protect your rights either.

    But God’s not fair either. Because you– whatever weakness you have, you rely on Jesus, you repent, you pray grace and mercy – and he’s there for you. Working on your behalf, even though you don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. Don’t deserve diddly-squat.

    I’ve made so many mistakes in my life, I don’t even deserve to be sitting here alive. I mean, went out to a party in Florida, and stuff went down in the party in Florida, and it went further than I wanted it to go, and I had one or two beers too many. I took off walking. Crossed Kissimmee, three miles at 2 AM in the morning. Okay? But God had grace and mercy on me. Grace and mercy on me. Had people praying for me.

    I don’t care what your children do, I don’t care what your loved ones do, forgive ‘em and pray for them. You don’t know how later on there’s a testimony of how God stepped in.

    You know, God don’t teach people through bad things. Just bad things happen and it causes people to get desperate for God. But that’s not God’s way to teach through bad things.

    I’ve had some bad things happen to me, and I’m trusting in God. Lord Jesus, I know that you going to heal the hurt on this side, and restoration is going to come, if not on this side, then on the other side.

    Because you love me, you love me. And I thank God for that. I thank God for that love.

    That He had not thrown us away with our hardheartedness, hardheadedness, insisting that we deserve everything. You know.

    And that’s not to make us feel bad. I’m just showing you, I’m just showing you, this whole “got to be fair” thing, that’s not God, and that’s not the devil. Justice is God. And the only way you’re going to get out of Justice is through the blood of Jesus Christ.

    Because there is no man, the bible says there is no man that has not come short. I don’t care how good you think you’ve been. Okay?

    So, when things don’t go our way, when bad things happen, we don’t need to blame God, it’s the Enemy, working through people’s weaknesses.

    –some gal
    Ponchatoula, Louisiana. August 18, 2009.

  461. On God's hammer--
    August 18th, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

    Dear friends in Christ Jesus, grace to you and peace in that wonderful and glorious name of Jesus who is Savior, King, and Lord.

    As we begin our time together this morning, let’s ask his help.

    Father, we are dependent upon you to bring simple words inscribed in ink on paper, spoken by lips to ears, Your Word, which can be to us the Word of Life. I pray, Lord, that you would work your work in us this day, by your Spirit, to allow your Word to come alive in us. I pray it, Lord Jesus, in your precious Name. Amen.

    I need to do a little setup for a little bit later on.

    Anvils are not only used by blacksmiths, this one happened to be used by my dad, not to form horseshoes, but to build an airplane. Hard to believe. He was doing a great job.

    Our Old Testament lesson this morning, it comes from the prophet Jeremiah. You heard Steve read it just a few moments ago.

    It begins with a very pointed question, especially to those who presume to speak the Word of the Lord in the midst of their time and in their culture. The Lord to the prophet asks the question, “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away?”

    –some guy
    Salinas, California. August 19, 2007.

  462. On three who responded to the call of God--
    August 20th, 2010 @ 12:01 am

    Yesterday when our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, met with the seminarians, there were three testimonies from young men who responded to the call to the priesthood. They were wonderful testimonies. One young man was an engineer for 10 years. He fought the call, but finally surrendered at the age of 35. He still has another five years to go before he will be ordained a priest. The other was a priest ordained in 2001 who grew up in Uzbekistan and was raised as an atheist. He never believed in God. But he became frustrated and went to his grandmother. She taught him the Our Father and the Hail Mary and told him to “pray even though you do not believe in God”; and he embraced God and then heard the call to priesthood. Now he is a priest. He is a wonderful witness of what it means to be a servant. The last testimony was given by a man who was a hunter and a fisherman, and who was interested in chemistry and all of the sciences. He is now the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec. He responded to the call of God.

    –some guy
    Bonn, Germany. August 20, 2005.

  463. On the stewardship of the house of the king--
    August 21st, 2010 @ 2:13 am

    You really gotta love Jesus’ teaching style. One of the things that marked him as a rabbi that set him apart from the others was his use of parables. Well, he would tell a story that others could see themselves in the story, but without feeling any sort of direct guilt, like he was talking directly to them.

    And so the master teacher asks his disciples, he goes, “Who do the people say that I am?”

    And they’ve already seen him just silence the Pharisees and Sadducees with all their little tricks, and so, you know, they would say right away, “Well, some say you’re John the Baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah, one of the prophets.”

    And so they knew the answers. They knew what others thought of Jesus.

    But then he asks them the pop quiz, “But who do you say that I am?”

    And I imagine they were in silence. Because they’re sitting there thinking, “Oh, man. Whatever we say is going to be wrong, because we’ve seen how he silenced all the others. And he keeps calling us fools and every thing. ‘Don’t you yet understand?’”

    There was silence. And then Simon Peter speaks up on behalf of the twelve. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And then what does Jesus do? He says, “Blessed are you Simon, son of John” or ‘son of Jonah’ depending upon the translation.

    “Because near flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father in heaven. And so, I call you now, Peter” which means rock. And that was not a common name back then. That was the first time anyone had been called ‘Rock.’

    And he said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”

    But what is important for us as Catholics, and we must mark this in our Bible because people will say, “Well, why do you have a pope? Why do you have this authority and this structure in your church?

    Jesus then says to this rock, Peter, “I give you the keys of the kingdom. Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.”

    That goes back to Isaiah 22 verse 22, but we heard in the first reading where Eliakim was given the stewardship of the house of the king. He was given the keys. It was like an office, an authority.

    –some guy
    Wilmington, North Carolina. August 21, 2005.

  464. On taking God for granted--
    August 22nd, 2010 @ 12:54 am

    We’re going to talk about God. Do we take God for granted? Now, this may sound kind of a strange question to ask, and let’s go back to our definition.

    Do we sort of assume that God is going to do things without us asking Him? At the beginning part of our liturgy, we came to what’s called the confession and absolution, where we confessed our sins. But notice in that confession, was there anything in there about begging? Was there anything in there about, asking you know, “God, if you feel like forgiving me my sins?”

    No, plain and simple, we come before God. And we say, “Yes, Lord, I’m a sinner. Yes, Lord, I have fallen short of your glory.”

    And what is the Lord’s response as spoken through your pastor? “You are forgiven.”

    In one instance, it is assumed and expected that as Christians, who believe and trust in their Lord and Savior, come before Him seeking forgiveness, that God grants forgiveness. Without even being asked, without any special merit or worthiness on our own, the answer is Yes, God gives that forgiveness.

    Let us go to our text. The first verse in our text, Jesus is speaking, He says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

    Right here that opening line basically says, “We take God for granted.”

    –some guy
    West Chicago, Illinois. August 22, 2004.

  465. On taking God for granted (the link)--
    August 22nd, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

    The August 22nd sermon can be found at this site:
    http://www.trinitywc.com/

  466. On those stirrings within--
    August 23rd, 2010 @ 1:17 am

    And so the Word of God speaks to us clearly today. The Word of God asks us to make a decision: Do I want to serve the Lord, and accept the consequent changes that that entails?

    All of us at one point or another in our lives are faced with that decision. All of us at one point of our lives are going to have to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

    If anything from the Word of God today has stirred up questions in you, give me a call out and we can talk it out. If you know somebody who is a faith-filled person, with great confidence talk to that person, because those stirrings inside, that’s the Word of God prompting everyone to do something about the Christian life that is professed.

    –some guy
    Opelika, Alabama. August 23, 2009.

  467. On laughing at God--
    August 24th, 2010 @ 12:11 am

    How many of us have felt like laughing sometimes at something God did or some message that He sent to us?

    I know I have. After I died, and I felt that the Lord was speaking to me to maybe serve as a interim pastor or as a supply pastor, I kinda laughed. But I say, I did laugh in amazement, not disbelief, because I knew the things that God could do. I was more like Moses that Sue taught us about.

    I said, “Well, wait a minute God. You know, I can’t do this. I’ve got another job. You know, I’ve got this responsibility. I’ve got that responsibility.” But I did laugh and chuckle when God was speaking to me.

    But as we mature in our relationship with God, we should be willing to be challenged.

    The only way to grow in our life as a Christian is to allow ourselves to be challenged. We must constantly listen to God, we must read his Word, and must be willing to accept that challenge.

    God sometimes does things just to shake our beliefs, just to rattle our beliefs, just to test our faith, and to challenge us to a new task. And we should examine how we respond to that challenge.

    –some guy
    South Hill, Virginia. August 24, 2008.

  468. On the righteousness of God--
    August 24th, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

    But God’s power is not displayed through ecstatic religious experience. God’s power is not displayed through states of altered consciousness. God’s power is not displayed in secret wisdom.

    God’s power is manifest in the cross. Because it is in this message that God makes sinners alive, and that He brings them to faith in Jesus Christ so that they might be saved from His wrath.

    Now getting saved is very prominent theme in contemporary American evangelicalism. But I suspect that much of what our contemporaries mean when they talk about getting saved has very little to do with Paul’s doctrine of salvation.

    Now the term which is translated as ‘salvation’ throughout the New Testament, ‘soterion’, is primarily – and you’re going to love it – eschatological in its meaning. There he goes again.

    Think of it this way. The gospel is the power of God to deliver us or save us from God’s wrath, His anger, which is coming upon the whole world in judgment. And this can be seen in the fact that throughout Paul’s letters, the verb, ‘to save’, and the noun, ‘salvation’, are only used in connection with humanity’s relationship with God. While another Greek verb, ‘rhuesthai’, is employed whenever deliverance from temporal danger is in view.

    Now what this means simply this: If you were rescued from a burning building, the appropriate word is ‘rhuesthai’. While ‘soterion’, salvation, is always used in reference to deliverance from God’s wrath on the day of judgment.

    That means that salvation is in part deliverance from God’s wrath, and it’s made plain throughout Paul’s letters. In 1st Corinthians 5:5, you know the passage where Paul is speaking of Church discipline and excommunication of the man who is sleeping with his father’s wife. And Paul says, “Hand that man over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

    Later on in the book of Romans, Romans 5:9, Paul writes, “Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we saved from God’s wrath through Him?”

    And then in 1st Thessalonians 5:8, we read, “We belong to the day. Let us be self-controlled putting on faith and love as a breastplate with the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

    In all of these verses, ‘to be saved’ is to be delivered from God’s wrath, which is coming upon the world when our Lord returns at the end of the age.

    This, beloved, is the day of judgment. It is the day of resurrection. It is the day in which God re-creates the Heavens and the earth. But for God’s people, it is the day of salvation.

    –some guy
    Anaheim, California. August 25, 2002.

  469. On the righteousness of God--
    August 26th, 2010 @ 2:40 am

    As a matter of fact, Paul, when he’s mentoring his young protégé Timothy to go forward in the ministry, that’s basically what he tells him flat out.

    Paul’s a lot more clear: “Indeed all who desire to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

    Whoo-hooo! Put that on a tee shirt. Huh? Now we like the ones, “God is love.” You know. We like all those nice little verses. Put this verse on a tee shirt. Put that on a sign, “Indeed all who desire to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. So come on in!”

    Not exactly a happy thought, is it? But it’s the truth. Paul’s basically telling Timothy that if you desire to follow after Jesus Christ and live the crucified life, then you’re going to be persecuted, just like I am. Because he just got done telling Timothy what’s been happening to him. And you look at Jesus Christ that he’s living his life for his mission for the Father.

    What was Jesus’ mission for the Father? To come down a reconcile man with God — to restore a relationship. That was his mission, so in doing that, people hated him to the point of killing him.

    So he says, so when you go tell people about Jesus Christ, if they did that to him, they’ll do it to you.

    Now, how does that work for us? Because we sit there and say, “I don’t really get persecuted.” Let me tell you I get [some magazine]. Now I read that all the time and see people all the way around the world that are getting killed for Jesus Christ, or getting tortured, you know, and all kinds of things happening to them for standing up for Jesus Christ.

    Well, you know what? Sometimes I wonder what the reason why we’re not being persecuted for Jesus Christ is because are we really standing up for Jesus Christ. Are we really putting ourselves out there? Or do sometimes we get a little too concerned about keeping our stuff and our identity and our friends, you know?

    To kind of have our life and we did say, “God, well you can have some of it, but at the point where it’s going to embarrass me, then that’s okay.”

    You know, are you one of those people that in your neighborhood, you don’t really want anyone to know you’re a Christian, you don’t want one of those little fish on your car. Because once they know that, then they’ll come after you. Won’t they?

    Because you know what? What do people out in the world love to say about Christians? “They’re hypocrites.” Don’t they love to do that? Do you know why they love to say that? It’s because we’ve taken a stand for something.

    It’s hard to be a hypocrite if you don’t stand for anything.

    –some guy
    Mesa, Arizona. August 26, 2007.

  470. On the lightness of Christ’s yoke--
    August 27th, 2010 @ 12:01 am

    Yesterday morning I went to the Sistine Chapel to vote tranquilly. Never could I have imagined what was about to happen. As soon as the danger for me had begun, the two colleagues who were beside me whispered words of encouragement. One said: “Courage! If the Lord gives a burden, he also gives the strength to carry it.” The other colleague said: “Don’t be afraid; there are so many people in the whole world who are praying for the new Pope.” When the moment of decision came, I accepted.

    –some guy
    Rome, Italy. August 27, 1978.

  471. On the lightness of Christ’s yoke (again)--
    August 27th, 2010 @ 12:06 am

    As we come to Christ, we must be restrained from going back to the “old yoke” ways. But at the same time that we are restrained, we should be constrained to move forward with Jesus as our fellow yoke-mate. That we – think of yourself as one teamed up with Jesus walking forward.

    He tells us – Jesus encourages us how to act. And he does this by saying he is gentle with us. He is humble with us. He is not a taskmaster.

    And if we are to feel the lightness of Christ’s yoke, then we too, need to move in his ways. To be constrained to move along with Christ, if he is gentle, if he is humble, if he is meek, then we will feel the lightness of his yoke as we move in gentleness, and humility and meekness.

    –some guy
    South Lancaster, Massachusetts. August 27, 2005.

  472. On excommunication--
    August 28th, 2010 @ 12:14 am

    Somebody who connives, and who– what’s the word? – rationalizes their theft, a swindler, and does not repent, Paul says, “Do not even eat.”

    In other words, ‘I’m not even just saying don’t be with friends them, don’t even eat with them. Don’t go out for dinner with them. Don’t go out for a meal.’ That sounds really, really harsh, doesn’t it?

    But there’s a purpose through that for us. And the purpose is given in the earlier part of 1st Corinthians chapter 5. You have an example of what happened in the church of Corinth.

    It is said here, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and one of a kind that does not even occur among the pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.”

    Now let me stop there for a second. You know, it’s not talking about there his natural mother. This is a son who got sexually involved with his stepmother. And somehow the church looked at that and said, “Ooh, bad. Oh, you shouldn’t have done that.” And they winked. And they didn’t do anything to bring about church discipline upon this guy.

    And more than likely they were saying, “Oh, we’re a church that loves everybody. We’re a graceful church. We love everybody. We accept everybody who comes in through our doors.”

    They were proud of that, and Paul says, “Why are you proud of that? You should be ashamed to even claim that. How could you? I mean, people of the world when they look that, they say ‘ooh, eww, disgusting, that’s terrible.’ Yet, you turn the other cheek and just wink at that? That’s wrong,” he says.

    He goes on the say, “When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,” he commands them, “hand this man over to Satan.” Oh, my God! Why? “So that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

    So when you take 2nd Thessalonians and 1st Corinthians 5 and put it together, what Paul is basically saying is this: We must be wise in the way that we choose to be friends with people, and we also, it is also crucial for us to choose to not be friends with certain people. These are people who claim to be Christians, who have these particular sins, are very blatant about it, and will not repent. And the key is unrepentance.

    –some guy
    Atlanta, Georgia. August 28, 2005.

  473. On faith in action--
    August 29th, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    James writes, “What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds?” Now, I’m going to skip down some. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

    What is James dealing with here? He’s not talking about someone who hasn’t become a Christian. He’s talking to Christian people. He’s saying, ‘You have a faith in God, and that’s great. You recognize who Jesus is, that’s great. You recognize there’s one God, but even all the demons in Hell recognize that.’

    But it says you lost a coin. Your faith has to show action. Your faith that you want– we talked about “if my people, who will humble themselves, pray. Seek my face and turn from their wicked ways.” It’s faith in action when we do that, doesn’t it?

    When we humble ourselves, it takes action to humble ourselves. When we pray it takes action to pray. When we seek God’s face, it takes a whole lot of action to that. And when we turn from our wicked ways, which means repent, it takes every ounce of our being to do that. Because none of us like to know that we’re not serving God in the right way, do we?

    I can tell you without self-repentance, by myself, I am made so weak because that sin just begins to overflow my life, and overflow and overflow. And I keep losing the coin by covering up under washers and lint and papers. And it’s all covered up until the water quits flowing. And once the water quits flowing, then I got to do some action to move some stuff around. And I got to seek God to have him help me move. And then I’ve got to clean some stuff up.

    And I really, really think we are as he says about Abraham, “Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did offering his son Isaac?”

    When we go – and I shared this a couple weeks ago – when we go to seek God’s presence we have to die to something. Something in ourselves has to die, be put to death, if we really, really want His presence.

    –some guy
    Elkton, Maryland. August 29, 2004.

  474. Spambot3049
    August 29th, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

    Lori has posted a short, pleasant video of the first words of the message from Rome, Italy of August 27, 1978.

  475. On purification with salt--
    August 30th, 2010 @ 12:38 am

    Jesus says here, “Everyone is going to be salted with fire.”

    Okay, that has a lot of interpretation to it. In short, best way to go with it is he’s speaking to followers of Jesus – believers. Not every one as in every single individual. He’s saying, listen, everyone that who follows Jesus is going to salted by fire.

    Later on, if you read 1st Peter 4 verse 12, Peter is going to say that believers of Jesus Christ are going through temptations and trials and sufferings for Christ’s sake. He’s saying “don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you’re undergoing as if something strange were happening to you.” It’s par for the course in this world.

    But God will use trials and hard times as salt preserves and purifies. Yes, it stings, but it brings healing. And when we go through these painful things of self-denial and cross-bearing, God salts us. He purifies us. He purifies our faith. He strengthens it, so that we are as offerings in the Old Testament. Leviticus 2 verse 13, “The grain offerings were seasoned with salted.” They had to have the salt of the covenant. “Presented pure and acceptable to God.”

    You see, as Christians we live our lives as living sacrifices wholly and pleasing to God. So all of this self-denial, cross-bearing and following Jesus, whatever difficulties come we’re salted, we’re purified, we’re sanctified, and we offer that up to God as living sacrifices wholly pleasing to God.

    –some guy
    Sparta, Michigan. August 30, 2009.

  476. On the intercession of Saint Raymond Nonnatus--
    August 31st, 2010 @ 12:41 am

    The saint whose feast is celebrated today is one of my patrons by the way – Saint Raymond Nonnatus, he too had this burning zeal of Saint Jeremiah.

    In his own soul as a young priest and eventually a cardinal, he too was to burn with a fire in his heart with his yearning in his very bones, his growing pains of sanctity as we achieve it little-by-little with our cooperation with the grace of God to speak and preach the Word of God.

    As one of the first Mercedarians, the Order of Mercy, which was established by our Lady, when Saint Peter Nolasco and Saint Raymond to ransom the Christians that were taken captive by Moslems, the pirates, and taken to the northern part of Africa and held for ransom.

    And several orders, among them the Order of the Sacred Trinity and our Ladies of Mercy, were founded with the inspiration of the Blessed Mother, and their members would collect money and go to northern Africa and ransom the captives.

    And they had a fourth vow: if they ran out of money they were supposed to turn themselves in as ransom until they in turn were ransomed.

    Saint Raymond was one of these, and he did exactly as he was supposed to do. And what happened? At first they tortured him, but then they let him be. But he converted so many Moslems to Catholicism that then they shut him up in a dungeon.

    And then even there he converted the jailers, and so the caliph decreed that his lips would be pierced and a padlock put through his lips that would only be opened at the times of meals because he could not stop proclaiming the Word of God and preaching to them, and they converted.

    And so too, it must be with us. So too, it is with us.

    So therefore, if you wish to have life eternal, we need to be ready to give up what is here.

    –some guy
    Pensacola, Florida. August 31, 2008.

  477. On avoiding a cave mentality--
    August 31st, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    In First Kings chapter nineteen and verse four, it said,

    4. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

    God didn’t answer that prayer, but He turned up the fire a little hotter. You see, we’re looking for God to get us out the fire. Oh, who am I preaching to? But while you’re praying for Him to get you out the fire, He’s about to turn the fire up another notch.

    He wants to get all the dross out of us, the dross of self out of us. That’s what He wants to do. You been praying for a miracle, but He’s going to make you wait a little while longer until He gets you out of you.

    –some guy
    Columbus, Georgia. August 31, 2001.

  478. On bearing each other's burdens--
    September 1st, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    The third way of carrying one another’s burdens is to pray and offer good works for others, and to satisfy and make atonement for the faults and sins of others.

    We sometimes complain about others’ faults. Maybe we’ve tried to correct them to no avail. But, you know, have we really prayed for them? What graces could we not obtain for others if we prayed for them a little more?

    And remember, peoples’ faults are burdens above all to themselves. You know that when you look at your own faults.

    So prayer for them helps them carry that burden, and it also helps you to bear other people who are a burden. But complaining about them simply adds to the burden. You what good – honestly ask yourself, what good do we hope to accomplish by spreading the knowledge of others’ faults? What good could that possibly do?

    We simply make their burden more insupportable for themselves and others.

    –some guy
    Kansas City, Missouri. September 1, 2001.

  479. On the duty of shepherds to protect the flock--
    September 1st, 2010 @ 12:06 am

    Those who have been given the authority and the commensurate responsibility to care for the flock, do it, and don’t be timid about it. Don’t be indifferent about it. Don’t be cowardly about it. God’s flock has been entrusted to you, and woe to you if the wolves come and ravage and pillage God’s little lambs. Woe to the shepherds!

    I am afraid in recent years, many there are in the Church and in the secular order who go about their business as though there were no war going on; as if there are no casualties. Souls fall into hell like snowflakes, and we seem to take it quite nicely.

    –some guy
    Winnipeg, Manitoba. September 1, 2001.

  480. On ten centuries of social progress--
    September 2nd, 2010 @ 12:43 am

    What does God consider to be a successful person? His measuring stick is quite different from ours.

    It’s someone like Herman the Cripple, Hermannus Contractus. You probably have never heard of him, and you may not know that his feast day is September 25th, but you ought to know him. He lived in the 11th Century, and was born a severely deformed infant.

    He was unable to stand upright by himself or move without any assistance. His speech organs were so malformed and misshapen that only a very few close friends could understand what his was saying.

    Society rejected him, marginalized him.

    Today, would have tried to prevent him from being born, or would starved him to death if he was. He would have no quality of life.

    When he was seven years old, Herman was sent to a monastery on Lake Constance, where the monks were able to see beyond the badly disfigured body and develop a brave mind and a charitable heart. Herman came to excel in arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, history, poetry and music.

    And for you in elementary school who are struggling with your math, he was the one who invented the fraction tables.

    He loved our Lord very much, and he had a deep devotion to Mary. Herman composed two beautiful hymns to our Lady, the Alma Redemptoris Mater and the Salve Regina or ‘Hail Holy Queen’.

    The next time you either chant the hauntingly beautiful Salve Regina or recite its translation, the Hail Holy Queen think of the author and the composer, Blessed Herman the Cripple, and remember how God exalts the lowly.

    –some guy
    McLean, Virginia. September 2, 2007.

  481. On the inevitable--
    September 2nd, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    Salvation is not about fairness; it’s about mercy. Salvation is not about getting what you deserve, salvation is about mercy. If you want to get what you deserve, well that’s simple. The answer is hell. Salvation isn’t about justice. If you want justice in salvation you have to look at Isaiah 53. There is the justice of salvation. That’s what we should have deserved. That’s what we deserve. That’s what we should have gotten, but because of what Jesus did, recorded there for us in Isaiah 53 we receive glory at the hand of God’s mercy.

    –some guy
    Jackson, Mississippi. September 2, 2001.

  482. On the parable of the wedding feast--
    September 3rd, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    Now, he was inviting the people to the feast. And many of the Jewish people, particularly the leaders and the important people, didn’t come to it. They would not believe in him, they would not submit themselves to him. They wouldn’t recognize who he was.

    So he says here, “go out and compel the people to come in.” So, he’s saying here, “right, okay, the people I’ve come for won’t come in, so go and get the other people in.” And this is a clear mandate for taking the gospel to the Gentiles. You think of it from the point of view of the disciples, they could see the implications of this – the twelve apostles.

    So, they went out and invited these other people in. Now, “when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.” Hmm. How did he get in? “Friend, he asked, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” The man was speechless.

    Now listen to this: “then the king told the attendants,” he didn’t say to him, “Ah, get him a wedding garment,” he said, “Tie him hand and foot and throw him outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

    Now, if that doesn’t tell you the importance of coming into the Kingdom God’s way, I don’t know what does.

    –some guy
    Carlton Vale, London. September 3, 2006.

  483. On the missionary Church--
    September 3rd, 2010 @ 2:16 am

    In the modern world man runs the risk of limiting progress to the horizontal dimension. But what becomes of man if he does not also lift his mind towards the Absolute? A “new humanity” without God is destined to end quickly, as the blood-stained footprints left by the history of the ideologies and totalitarian regimes of the last century show us.

    For this reason, the Christians of the third millennium, more than ever have the “wonderful and demanding task of becoming its reflection”. This is a daunting task if we consider our human weakness, which so often renders us opaque and full of shadows. But it is a task which we can accomplish if we turn to the light of Christ and open ourselves to the grace which makes us a new creation”.

    –some guy
    Rome, Italy. September 3, 2001.

  484. Tatiana
    September 3rd, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    Atheism is in defiance of logic,the sheer complexity of all life down to the finite atom & DNA, defies the relative thought that the universe in its infinite complexity is here by no sheer accident. To stand blindfold on a track with a freight train barreling at 80mph at you, to deny its existence makes it no less real or you no less dead!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-21HM_YP7E
    http://savagespirit.wordpress.com/

  485. On waiting (and waiting some more) for the burning bush--
    September 4th, 2010 @ 12:12 am

    Ah, those were the good old days! Burning bushes, angels of the Lord, pillars of fire, parted seas, all those unmistakable signs of the presence of God.

    What wouldn’t we give for one clear direction from God? One burning bush to call us by name and tell us what to do with our life. Maybe some of you have experienced that.

    You know, sometimes I think those spectacular call stories in the Bible do more harm than good. They tend to set the bar on divine calling so high that many people assume that God hasn’t yet clued them in on what their true calling or what their true purpose is in life. Or else, they’re waiting until life circumstances improve enough for them to do a better job of fulfilling their divine calling.

    They’re waiting for things to be different, so once school is over, once the right job comes along, once the children are grown and the house is paid off, or once the challenges we’re facing now are no longer with us, then I’ll listen for God, then I’ll know what I’m to do, then I’ll do what I think I’m supposed to do, but not until then.

    –some gal
    Warren, New Jersey. September 4, 2005.

  486. On the call to serve--
    September 4th, 2010 @ 12:27 am

    Our new Bishop would do well to remember that in the ancient Church, the first step in choosing a new Bishop was to make inquiry of a candidate. The expectation was that the candidate was to say, “I do not desire nor want to be Bishop.” Only then would the candidacy move forward. Should the desire be great, the candidate might be considered less than desirable. The Apostle Paul writes, “Let us not think more highly of ourselves than we ought.” Are the potential candidates for Bishop listening?

    –some guy
    Alexandria, Louisiana. September 4, 2001.

  487. On the human nature of Jesus--
    September 5th, 2010 @ 2:12 am

    And notice how now, Peter is expanding the identity of Jesus in the next few verses.

    Verse 24 says, “But– however,” verse 24 says, “God raised Jesus back to life again,” and then he says this great phrase, “because death could not keep him in its grip.”

    Death could not keep Jesus in its grip. Implying that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, is more powerful than the grave itself.

    Do you hear him making that implication there in verse 24?

    –some guy
    Vestal, New York. September 5, 2004.

  488. On the one who will bring deliverance--
    September 5th, 2010 @ 2:16 am

    Finally, as Matthew speaks of Herod killing all the male babies two years and under during the first two years of Jesus’ life, he sends us back to Jeremiah 31:15 as he writes in 2:17-18, “Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted for they were no more.’”

    –some guy
    Jackson, Tennessee. September 5, 2001.

  489. On Christian unity--
    September 6th, 2010 @ 12:41 am

    You and I have opportunities to not only live the faith, but to share the faith. And because we believe that we have the one true Church, the fullness of the faith, that doesn’t make us saints, but it gives us the opportunity to become saints. The more you know, the more you can love. But if we’re not content with disunity, then we have to invite all to be one. Recall the prayer of Jesus, that high priestly prayer, in the night before he died. He prayed, “Father, that they may all be one.” That there might be unity. “That they may all be one that the world may know that you sent me.” Unity is that important. And that’s why we pray for unity, we extend the offer of unity, the handshake, the handclasp of fellowship. We invite all to be one in Christ in the Church that he founded. Yes, we invite in our Protestant brothers and sisters. Yes, we invite in those from Islam. Yes, we invite in those of all the other religions of the world and all the rest because all are meant to be one in Christ. And if they are saved in their own ways, the grace came from Jesus Christ, the sole mediator between God and men. And the grace actually flows from the altars of the Catholic Church, where the sacrifice of Calvary is renewed every day. And the grace pours out upon the entire world for the salvation of the world. The grace comes from here. All the better that we should be close to its source, and not far away.

    –some guy
    St. Louis Park, Minnesota. September 6, 2009.

  490. On adultery--
    September 6th, 2010 @ 12:47 am

    If you’ve got somebody wanting to have illicit relations with you, run. Run as if your soul depended on it, because it does. Run as if your life depended on it. It says, “flee.” It says the destroyer of your soul, there.

    “Flee fornication.” And it tells you why. It says, “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,” he’s talking to people who have the Holy Ghost here, “which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

    That’s right, people that are Christians have had their sins washed away and filled with the Holy Spirit, they’re not their own anymore. You don’t belong to yourself if you’re a Christian, you belong to God.

    –some guy
    Durham, North Carolina. September 6, 2001.

  491. On the leadership of women--
    September 7th, 2010 @ 1:19 am

    Throughout the scripture there is so much evidence to support the role of women in ministry positions within the church. In the Old Testament, go all the way back to the Old Testament, you find Miriam who was called a prophetess. The Hebrew word there is navi’ah, which is translated, ‘a female preacher’. That’s exactly what it was, she was a female preacher back all the way back in the Old Testament days.

    Deborah was a judge and a prophetess in Israel. The highest position she could occupy or that anybody could have in the whole nation, and she held that position for 40 years.

    Go to the New Testament and we find Priscilla and Aquila, a husband and wife team with a strong teaching gift, who were following and working with apostle Paul. They were basically missionaries and church planners and developing the church from its very roots up. And they’re mentioned about half a dozen times in the scripture. And all but once, Priscilla is mentioned before Aquila. The lady, the wife, is mentioned first. And a lot of people suggest that perhaps the reason for that was that she was just a better teacher than he was, and so people just recognized her first.

    Also, Phoebe was a servant, a servant at the church at Cenchrea. The word servant there in the Greek is diakonis. Three times it’s translated ‘deacon’. Twenty-seven times it’s translated ‘minister’, and so if you really want to know who Phoebe was, she was either a deaconess or a minister, not just a slave in the church at Cenchrea.

    The woman at the well of Samaria was certainly an evangelist, along with those who Paul identifies in Philippians chapter 4 in verse 3 as “women who labor with him in the gospels.” He recognized that as he was opening up the Word of God and giving the Good News that there were some key women who were a part of that. And he recognized them.

    In Romans chapter 16 in verse 7, Junia, a woman’s name, is recognized as an apostle. So the whole idea of women in church leadership is a fully, biblical-supported concept. They can occupy any of five-fold ministry gifts that we are talking about just as well as any man.

    –some guy
    Tulsa, Oklahoma. September 7, 2008.

  492. On twenty centuries of social progress--
    September 7th, 2010 @ 1:24 am

    Our first reading is very clear what happens to a shepherd who fails in this duty.

    “Thus says the Lord, ‘If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible.’”

    A bishop or priest who does not speak out to dissuade their flock from wickedness and sin will be held responsible.

    The bishops in our country are doing their job of leading and teaching the faith given to us by Christ.

    They are passing what we know to be true beyond any shadow of a doubt that abortion is always and everywhere morally evil and sinful, that there is never, ever any circumstance which would permit such a horrible act.

    There are no exceptions: even if the child were the result of rape or incest, even if the child were to be disabled, even if the mother would have to endure hardship during the pregnancy, and even if there was knowledge that the child would die soon after birth. None of these reasons are reason enough to end the life of a helpless child.

    The Church has taught this consistently since it was founded by Christ.

    –some guy
    Garretson, South Dakota. September 7, 2008.

  493. On the history of Labor Day--
    September 7th, 2010 @ 1:28 am

    The length of the workday – from sunrise to sunset – is specified, for Israelites as well as foreign workers (Ps.104:23); human beings are not to be worked to death. Masters are required to tend to the needs of their servants before meeting their own needs, and must feed, clothe and house them decently. Jews are explicitly forbidden by the Torah (Lev.25:43, 46) to compel their employees to engage in “avodat perach – ruthless work” – the same term used to describe the oppressive labor imposed by the Egyptians on the Israelite slaves.

    “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer,” said last week’s Torah portion, “…You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and sets his life on it” (Dt.24:14-15). Our sages interpret the phrase “he sets his life on it” to mean that poor workers depend on their wages to provide the necessities of life. By withholding wages, not paying workers in a timely fashion or denying them a living wage and adequate benefits, we defraud them and force them to beg for what should be theirs by right. Thus, our tradition would say, improper treatment of workers constitutes robbery.

    This week’s portion, Ki Tavo, reminds us of a ritual that Israelite farmers performed when they brought their first fruits to God’s altar to give thanks. Each farmer was required to recite aloud a summary of the historical events which had led him to the land of Israel. “My father was a wandering Aramean,” he would say, and would go on to recall the degradation of Egyptian slavery, the liberation from bondage, and the years of privation in the wilderness, followed at last by entrance into the promised land and the dignity of sustaining oneself through productive labor.

    –some gal
    Los Altos Hills, California. September 7, 2001.

  494. On this fragile, fleeting life--
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:14 am

    So good afternoon, once again on this Sabbath day, but I am somewhat saddened by the affairs of this world and the conditions in which we find ourselves living.

    I thought 150 children dead in Russia was bad enough. But I heard this morning that 325 people died of which 255 were children. And it’s the children that suffer in this world. It’s the children who are pawns in the hands of adults who should be wise, stable individuals.

    I can’t help but think of all those parents who have to lay to rest their little ones. Because we live in a world that’s torn apart, because this is Satan’s world – a world that’s filled with pain and agony and hurt and misery and sorrow.

    Yes, we live in a time that we are controlled by the terrorists. The arrow that flies by night and the sword by day. But thankfully as God’s people, He’s promised us that “it won’t come neigh our dwelling place” provided we are God’s people. Provided we are in a unified body with God.

    Being His children, being under His wings of protection, being in His care. But it hurts. It hurts deeply to see the pain of other human beings. And it’s the children who suffer. And I can’t help but wonder where will it happen all over again.

    Because we were in times past afflicted here by the shootings in schools. And it seems like this year in Washington, DC the drive-by shootings that indecently knock children off their porches, in their houses, in their yards. They’re minding their own business. But here comes a volley of bullets and they’re dead.

    It’s a time of sadness. It’s a time of sorrow and grief. And in this time of sorrow and grief, God gives to us hope that the world does not have.

    –some guy
    Sevierville, Tennessee. September 8, 2004.

  495. On this fragile, fleeting, fantastic life--
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:18 am

    Look at where we are right now…

    Look at THIS place…

    Look at these trees…that beautiful bay…the gentle sunset…

    Can you hear the birds?…the waves caressing the shore?

    Can you smell the Chesapeake?…Feel the night wind on your face?

    Let’s take just a moment to be FULLY PRESENT here, in this beautiful little corner of our planet.

    –some guy
    Worton, Maryland. September 8, 2001.

  496. On saying hello new Christians--
    September 9th, 2010 @ 12:51 am

    Now, the issue was, and the problem came in, when some of those newer Christians, you know, “newer Christians”? See, if you want to avoid problems, keep new Christians away.

    Don’t have new Christians if you don’t want problems. See, new Christians are nothing but headache. New Christians are nothing but problems. New Christians are nothing but a hassle. See, if we could just keep it just-. See, wouldn’t it be great? We could keep it just us.

    We’d be comfortable. We could have our church the way we like it. We could have it- hey it would be our kind of music. We could keep things the way we like it. We can keep the temperature in the sanctuary the way we like it. We could kinda keep the same schedule the way we like it. We could kinda keep the programs in the church the way we like it. We could kinda just have everything the way we like it. And we could just put a sign out front that says, “if you’re not one of us, get out of here.” Just say, “hey, our church could not be your home. Get out. Hit the road. There’s another church down-”

    So keep new Christians- but you couldn’t do-. So, these new Christians are coming into the church at Corinth and getting saved, and they started asking questions.

    One of the questions they would ask is like, “We say ‘Jesus is Lord’, right? So, how is it that some of us more mature Christians that say ‘Jesus is Lord’ could go down to the feast and eat meat that just two hours earlier had been prayed over and said, ‘Apollo is Lord’ or ‘Poseidon is Lord’ or ‘Zeus is Lord’?”

    So, the new Christians didn’t understand how that works. And some of these new Christians have even been saved out of all that. They’d been the ones that were worshiping all these gods and goddesses, and were being saved and delivered from all of that.

    And are saying, “Man, how is it that we can go back into that, and kinda get into it all over again?” And they were asking the more mature Christians that had been around the longest. And you know what the response of the mature saints of the church was? “Get lost.”

    –some guy
    Sheridan, Wyoming. September 9, 2009.

  497. On celebrating a homecoming--
    September 9th, 2010 @ 1:02 am

    Herbert’s poem suggests not only that God is where we might last think to look, but also that to find what we are looking for we needn’t search in fine precincts or distant lands. “Home is where the heart is,” the scriptures remind us. If God is love, then God’s home is where our heart is.

    Many of us have recently returned from vacation. Now we are home to begin another year. For the year does begin in September. Summer ends, school begins, work kicks in again in earnest. Here at All Souls too, we begin anew in September. We begin inscribing another years notes into the Book of our life together. To celebrate another homecoming, this morning I want to muse a bit about vacations, what we are looking for when we go on them, and how the most important of those things can be found right here at home, if only we knew where and how to find them.

    –some guy
    New York City. September 9, 2001.

  498. On dying to our old life--
    September 10th, 2010 @ 12:01 am

    Remember, you know last week we looked at how John the Baptist treated these religious leaders. And they scoffed at these people humbling themselves and confessing their sin. Because why? Because religious people believe they can earn their way to God.

    You ever heard that before? People in the Church today think they can earn their way to God, in many churches unfortunately. By doing what? By doing good works. ‘If I’m only good enough, then God will accept me.’

    John the Baptist said, “you brood of vipers,” remember? That’s who he was talking to, the religious leaders of the time. And Jesus said, “I’m not going to identify with them. I want to identify with the sinners who know they need to repent, know they have a need for Jesus Christ, and know they want Jesus Christ in their life, and they know they want to–,” what? Die to their old life, and they want a new life.

    –some guy
    Arlington, Washington. September 10, 2006.

  499. On the Lord as our shield--
    September 10th, 2010 @ 12:05 am

    Now what’s interesting about that is– , and I really spent a lot of time in the psalms this summer, is the name of God. One of the names of God, of course, is “Our Shield.” Perhaps the most famous of the psalms about this, and we’re going to sing the last of the four psalms we’re going to sing here, of course, is Psalm 3.

    Here’s Psalm 3: It says, “O Lord, how many are my foes?” He’s a New Yorker. “How many rise up against me? Many are saying of me, God will not deliver him. But you are a shield around me, O Lord. You bestow glory on me and lift up my head. The Lord, I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill. I lie down and sleep, I awake, because the Lord sustains me.”

    Now it’s just two things I’d like you to think about as we consider God as our shield. It has a –, on the one hand, it has a very high and exalted theological meaning. It also has a very, very down and dirty practical meaning.

    First of all, if the Lord is our shield, it’s always interesting to ask yourself the question, you see all these terms like ‘our rock’ and all these things, it’s always interesting to ask the question, how does one of these names of God in the Old Testament especially, find new meaning in Jesus? You know, how does Jesus show us that God is really in this or a that or this.

    And you see, the idea of a shield, Jesus just gives complete, really shows us a deeper and more amazing meaning to the word ‘shield’.

    What is a shield? Well, why do you need a shield? A shield takes the blow instead of you. And that’s the reason why you live. That’s the reason why you’re are able to fight. That’s the reason why you’re able to go on. The shield takes the blow instead of you.

    –some guy
    New York City. September 10, 2001.

  500. On the anniversary of a clear and sunny morning--
    September 11th, 2010 @ 12:27 am

    Our prayers and thoughts go out to all the people there, and everywhere else.

    –some guy
    High above the earth. September 11, 2001.

  501. On loving our enemies--
    September 12th, 2010 @ 3:10 am

    For those of you who are not Christians, what I will say in a few moments may make little sense – or may even appear to be complete foolishness. I regret to say that it may even appear so to some who call themselves Christians. But it is who and what we Christians are; and we, though strands in the fabric which makes up the one tapestry of America, remain who we are – followers of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Benefactor, who teaches us this hard – this very difficult – lesson: From the fourth chapter of the holy Gospel according to St Matthew, beginning at the forty-third verse, our Lord says,

    Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    We will, most likely, need to be reminded of this teaching of our Lord Jesus over and over as the coming days pass, lest we become consumed with anger and hatred as the horror of yesterday becomes multiplied as we watch the number of injured and dead rising to unbelievable heights. Remember that as Christians we seek justice, not revenge.

    –some guy
    Wichita, Kansas. September 12, 2001.

  502. On forgiving our enemies--
    September 12th, 2010 @ 3:14 am

    As Christ told us 2000 years ago, violence only begets violence as he suffered and died as the lamb of God. Only a civilization of love will make our world the place of justice, peace and freedom for all that it is meant to be. Nothing else can ultimately make the world a better place for all.

    What we celebrate today in this Eucharist is precisely that. It is not only the representation of the suffering and death of Christ, but is also the celebration of resurrection – God’s world is not fundamentally a world of sin and death, but a world of righteousness, a world of life. That is what we are challenged to remember today as we look with enormous sadness and sympathy at the events in America. In one sense, they are tragically real, but in another sense, when they are balanced against the goodness that drives the life of most people, they are an aberration. God’s way is the way of love and forgiveness, not violence. This we must put into practice in our own lives, in our homes, in our work places and in our places of recreation, if we want the world to become the type of world most people want it to be.

    –some guy
    Brisbane, Australia. September 12, 2001.

  503. On the season for bearing good fruit--
    September 13th, 2010 @ 12:39 am

    And yet we would all agree that we would like good fruit in our apple tree or on our grapevine and certainly in our lives. Certainly in our relationships, we would like good fruit.

    And so, the Lord is going to talk to us today: Well, what is it that’s going to create fruit in your heart in your relationship with God? What are the things that are going to produce good fruit? What are the indicators that it’s good fruit? And what are the indicators that it’s bad fruit, or what you thought was a fruit tree isn’t even a fruit tree? What you thought was going to do something for you isn’t?

    And so, He’s trying to help us look at that, and then take that relationship quest a step further. It’s going to be based on my investment.

    And if I am shallow and hold my cards close and don’t reveal myself too much, even if I work someplace 30 years, they don’t know much about me.

    They just know, “Oh, he’s always here, and seems somewhat pleasant and never bites my head off too hard, so I guess he’s all right. I– , you know. Eats by himself in the corner. And I don’t know where he goes on his break. And you know, I mean.”

    Sometimes we relate– , and you can work 30 years with someone like that and not know much about him. And interestingly as a believer, one of the things in our quest is, how open am I to revealing my heart to those that, well, should be my brothers and sisters? And actually, how open am I to God?

    –some guy
    East Wenatchee, Washington. September 13, 2009.

  504. On the graces necessary for forgiving (again)--
    September 13th, 2010 @ 12:43 am

    Muslims, Jews and Christians, and all who believe in the transcendent value of human life, pray one prayer. That is for peace. So we might all live and love and work and raise our families and pray together in peace, shalom, salaam, peace and goodness.

    But God can take good out of evil. I think of [some gal], the last time I saw her in the room where she would die not long after. Her short-term memory was gone, she spoke of long ago, of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, how the people of the city and of Oakland across the Bay rallied together in mutual aid and support, community. New Yorkers are doing that now, good out of evil. And that we recognize once again what we all once knew: there is a right and there is a wrong. Demand of our government, in the name of God, never again to target civilians, never again to countenance the targeting of civilians, by anyone. It is wrong.

    Choose life. It is right. Then the blood of the victims will be joined to the blood of Christ to save the world.

    Words are vain unless we ourselves join in true worship which is the works of mercy, the care of the injured, the widows and orphans, and forgiveness, free from that lust of the flesh which is revenge.

    May God have mercy on us all and grant us peace.

    –some guy
    Marlboro, New York. September 13, 2001.

  505. On the blessings of our nation (again)--
    September 14th, 2010 @ 12:28 am

    Today I am confident that He is laboring now to bring good out of the evil that has beset us; and I am confident that those who have died have been embraced in the arms of his mercy. Most of all, I am confident that “God is working his purpose out, as year turns into year.” Nothing that the Evil One throws at us can ever deter God’s purpose. So let us rise above this tragedy and seek unity as a Nation and peace in a world free from conflict, hatred, warfare, and terror.

    May God unify and purify his Earth; May God heal our wounds; and May God bless America.

    –some guy
    Palm Desert, California. September 14, 2001.

  506. On a national day of prayer--
    September 14th, 2010 @ 12:34 am

    We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God.

    The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

    But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our- heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. September 14, 2001.

  507. On the quality of our faith--
    September 15th, 2010 @ 2:20 am

    But there’s other things that we have to consider here as well. Yes, Jesus does say to pray for our enemies — those who persecute you and spitefully use you. Asaph, here, seeks the best for the enemy if such a possible outcome may occur, that even though they were at the forefront of the attack, that they might be turned to God. And how much of this have you heard since Tuesday? How much wondering, even? I’ve heard a little bit — wondering about the enemy and their mindset, whether they could ever be changed from their fanaticism, but not much. There has not been very much in the forefront of their analysis.

    Even the religious leaders that we’ve heard on the radio and television have almost as one condemned them to death. [Some guy], yesterday, talking about how this will backlash on them and that they’re going to, in effect, feel the sword of America and the rest of the world, rather than saying that maybe there’s a possibility that they could be converted. Probably the chances are very low, but it’s something that righteous people should think about rather than immediately wanting the blood of ones enemy.

    Let’s go to Lamentations, right after the book of Jeremiah, most likely written by Jeremiah. He’s the traditional author of the book. And Lamentations is rightly named, aptly named. It is a lament over what had happened to Jerusalem. And here comes in another factor that we have to consider in all of this. Let’s start in chapter 2, verse 1. We’ll go through verse 3, then we will hop, skip and jump.

    “How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger! He cast down from Heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel, and did not remember His footstool in the day of His anger. The Lord has swallowed up and has not pitied all the inhabitations of Jacob. He has thrown down in His wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah. He has brought them down to the ground. He has profaned the kingdom and its princes. He has cut off in fierce anger every horn of Israel. He has drawn back His right hand from before the enemy.”

    –some guy
    Charlotte, North Carolina. September 15, 2001.

  508. On faith and giving--
    September 15th, 2010 @ 2:30 am

    Now, right now, pause and examine your own faith in giving. Ask yourself. Is your offering to God more like Cain’s or Abel’s? Remember, 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, but whoever sows generously will reap generously and God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” These and many other texts teach us that faith is giving when we don’t have it.

    –some guy
    Rockville, Maryland. September 15, 2002.

  509. On counsel to Christians in a time of war--
    September 16th, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    “Seek the Lord all you meek of the earth who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”

    Okay, class if I were to call on you, and say tell us, tell the class, what is the purpose, the thrust of that statement? If I were to call on you, what would you say? What do you think is the burden of that text?

    Well, the answer as I understand it is this: the purpose of this text is to provide counsel to the people of God, so that they might seek and find protection in the day of God’s anger. The last part of the text says, “It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.” ‘It may be, it is a possibility that when His anger is poured out, you will be able to find a place of safety’.

    The theme of this book as a whole is that the cup of God’s anger was filled. These people, by their sins, had aggravated God’s justice to the point that the cup of His anger was filled. And it was about to spill over. He was about to turn over the cup and pour out His wrath upon these people.

    –some guy
    Mebane, North Carolina. September 16, 2001.

  510. On why God allows evil to exist (again)--
    September 16th, 2010 @ 12:53 am

    With this horrendous event as our backdrop we come before God to worship him today – as we did last night, on Friday, and on the Tuesday itself, each of us in the privacy of our own prayer and worship. We all have the big question – why? We know that there is evil in the world and evil gets expressed in so many tragic ways. Evil is here because God, in his love for us, decided to give us free choice. He gave us freedom to choose his way – or not to choose his way. This is the fundamental choice we have in the world today. Sadly, not choosing God’s way brings broken-ness and sin and evil into our world.

    –some guy
    Fredericton, New Brunswick. September 16, 2001.

  511. On a day of penitence and prayer--
    September 16th, 2010 @ 12:57 am

    The atrocity of this past week was not the act of soldiers, but of terrorists. They seek to rule by attacking unarmed women and children, they prove their strength against the weak. They have no honor, no code of conduct, nothing good or decent. They were evil men sworn to an evil purpose who came into this country, breached our shores, to do evil. They and their like are not idealists. They are not freedom fighters. There are without honor, one class lower than child molesters.

    How could this happen in America? Could it be that our generation and country is plagued with moral decay, with vapid lies at the highest levels, and that the general population has accepted it? In recent months, in our own city, we have heard the nonsense that stripping and prostitution is a valid profession, and just good fun. In this city, medical doctors sworn to protect life have set-up clinics for the violent murder of babies. In this city, pastors sworn to lead God’s flock have lined their own pockets and taught falsely. In this city, police assigned to guard the citizens have themselves engaged in crime, violence, and intimidation. We have been consumed with worldly things from the length of our neighbor’s lawn to the color of his car to the size of our paychecks and retirement accounts. Now the world has come crashing down around us. Just as God sent the pagan Babylonians and Assyrians as judgment against Israel, so now judgment has come upon us. Repent. Reassess your life, your things, your actions, your country. Reprioritize. Realign. Repent.

    The battle rages on around and upon us. We contend with evil, struggle against the forces of darkness. Our comrades fall. Our resolves weaken. We grow weary of the strain as our hearts break within us again and again. Satan beckons us to the easy position of unbelief. It is so inviting to believe the devil’s lie that God is not true, that He has abandoned us, that we have to fix things for ourselves, strike out with equal violence and hatred, bomb their buildings, kill their children, continue the cycle. But the Word of God calls us to something higher: to love for our enemies, to mercy and decency. By His Grace, covered in the Innocent Blood He shed for us, forgiven and hoping for a better future, knowing peace with God in the midst of turmoil by the Sacrifice of His Son, we will not hate those who hate us! By the power of His love we will not wish damnation and suffering upon their children. For Our Lord gave His life also for them. For them, we will pray, even as our government brings to bear the full force of its fury, and executes its God-given power of the sword. Through it all, we will pray. And we will rest confident in the knowledge that God hears and answers the prayers of those who trust in Jesus.

    –some guy
    Fort Wayne, Indiana. September 16, 2001.

  512. On sacred cows and golden calves--
    September 16th, 2010 @ 1:01 am

    It’s particularly easy to get angry with God on a week like this week. God has not acted the way we want God to act this week. Why didn’t God intervene in human history once again to save lives? Why didn’t God prevent the airplane crashes? Where was God when the planes were hijacked? Where was God when the planes crashed into their targets? The answer is that God was with the people on the airplanes, in the buildings, and amid the rubble. God never abandoned his people, even in so great a tragedy. God was present and is present. Yes, it’s true that God did not prevent the tragedy the way I wish God had. But, instead God was present in and through the suffering. God will remain present to redeem the tragedy in thousands of big and small ways. That may not be the way we want God to act, but God is bigger than our expectations.

    –some guy
    Kingsland, Georgia. September 16, 2001

  513. On what to do on the Sabbath--
    September 17th, 2010 @ 12:23 am

    Don’t fall into the trap of legalistic observance. Remember always that salvation is of God. Sabbath is at best a way to give thanks to God for all that He’s done for us.

    What then should you do on the Sabbath day? Well, in the first place do the good things that God has given us in the Sabbath.

    One of the things that you will hear said frequently, it’s a quote from Isaiah, and that is that “the Sabbath is to be a delight.” It’s to be a good thing. You start saying, ‘what should I do on the Sabbath day’, don’t start with a list of things that you can’t do. There is a list of things that you can’t do on the Sabbath day if you’re going to follow God’s law. But the day is not meant to be a prison. The day is meant to be a delight.

    Again, I think that in our modern world we have so many concerns, and we run so much and we’re so busy that this ought to just be obvious to us.

    If we could take all of that and shut it out and say, ‘Go away. Not going to think about you today. This is my day that God created for man’. And God created the Sabbath for His people and said, “here it is, it’s a good thing. Remember the Sabbath day. Enjoy it.”

    You know how we read the commandments out of Exodus. Later on in Deuteronomy when Moses repeated the commandments, he said a whole different thing about the Sabbath day. Same commandment, but different reason. He said, ‘Here is why you should keep the Sabbath day: because you used to be slaves. And when you were slaves in this world, you never got to rest.’

    So remember the Sabbath day and don’t re-enslave yourself. This is a good thing that God has given us: a day of rest and worship.

    What a delight. Do the things that God has given us on that day: worship God, read his Word, fellowship with your family, fellowship with your brethren within the Church.

    And by all means rest.

    –some guy
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin. September 17, 2006.

  514. On looking back at the year gone by--
    September 17th, 2010 @ 5:27 am

    Of course, when we are young, we are impatient about growing up. We cannot wait until we are old enough to set our own bedtime, to be out on our own, to drive a car, to vote, to order a drink in a bar, to be in command of our own lives. Even when I was ordained, and I knew that my pulpit opportunities were limited by my experience, the ten years it would take for me to be “offi­cially” eligible for any size congregation seemed like an eternity.

    But the truth is that time is a relentless pursuer. There simply is no holding back the clock. 5761 has flown far too swiftly, and before we know it, most, but definitely not all of us, will gather again in this sanctuary to celebrate the conclusion of 5762 and the arrival of 5763. As for the rest of us – those who will not be here to share that moment with us – some will have moved to other communities, and the others will have simply moved on, concluding their earthly sojourn. It is inevitable. It is inescapable. And none of us – none of us, I say – truly know who they will be or whether or not we will be numbered among them. It is out of our hands.

    –some guy
    Davenport, Iowa. September 17, 2001.

  515. On the faith of Jesus--
    September 18th, 2010 @ 12:21 am

    And so he knows that, he has life in himself, and so he has his divinity. And so, in his humanity, he can die, and he’s willing to take the sins on, but what about his divinity suffering right along with humanity?

    So he decides that “I am going to do His will” and a gay peace falls over him, in a sense. But it’s not enough, and so the angel comes down to–, an angel comes down to encourage him, to tell him it’s all good. And then the final testing period starts. And the testing period starts, and all evidence of his divinity, all evidence of his Father’s care, all evidence of anyone standing up for him, the aloneness begins.

    He comes to his disciples, and they’re still sleeping. And so he wakes them up, he said, “Let’s go. The people are coming, need to meet them.”

    The disciples were still thinking like, and everyone else was thinking like, that Jesus is the big enemy. He’s trying to run away. He’s trying to stop from going to death. They never got the idea that Jesus wants to die; that he wants to become the Redeemer. He wants to truly fulfill the Lamb of God by dying.

    Because they didn’t believe it. They didn’t believe that they needed their Redeemer. They didn’t believe that they needed the sacrifice of God. They really had no idea of that.

    Then Peter declared that “you are the son of God,” and the Father declared that through him and all, but they had no concept that Jesus is truly the Lamb of God.

    Then John said, I think John had that. I’m not going that way, because I don’t know what he was thinking. But the disciples didn’t realize that if he’s the Lamb of God, he’s going to die for us. And in fact, remember Peter rebuked him. Satan managed to use Peter to discourage him from dying. That’s why Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” And it’s interesting what he said, “Get thee behind me Satan for you not favor the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”

    And so he’s meeting the crowd, and all evidence, all physical evidence of his Father’s presence, and of His kindness, and the angels around him are not there.

    So what does Jesus go on? What does he keep going with? But the faith that he has been practicing, the trust that he has been practicing all through his life, is being tested as no other time it can be tested.

    –some guy
    Mount Vernon, Oregon. September 18, 2005.

  516. On living like heroes--
    September 18th, 2010 @ 12:27 am

    Children and adults alike have sought counseling this week. They’ve asked, “Rabbi, where is God in all of this?” This Rosh Hashanah it will feel so heart-wrenching to pray those words “who will live and who will die.” It just doesn’t feel right, what are we really saying? Do we believe that God really played a part in this? Does God truly decide who will live and who will die? When we pray together those difficult words, I believe we are actually making an important theological statement. We are acknowledging that there are events in our lives we control, and there are events we do not. We do not have control over the actions of terrorists, anymore than we have control over who gets sick, and who will die. As we chant the Unetaneh Tokef, we acknowledge the things that are in our hands: how we treat others, our ethical behavior in business, in relationships; nurturing our spiritual souls.

    The question of this Rosh Hashanah is not “who will live and who will die?” This Rosh Hashanah we are called to acknowledge that: “how we live determines the legacy we leave when we die.” The stories that bring tears to our eyes are stories of life. In light of this terrible tragedy and the depth of our despair, this Rosh Hashanah we must walk away challenging ourselves to fill the pages of our own Book of Life, challenging ourselves to live, challenging ourselves to create our legacy every day.

    –some guy
    Tarzana, California. September 18, 2001.

  517. On God's sovereignty and the blessings of our nation--
    September 19th, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    Almighty God, Creator, Ruler, our Adonai, sovereign Lord of all life, we pray in the spirit of Rosh Hashana, the days of awe and repentance and the time for reconciliation with You and with one another. Our raw nerves and agitated hearts need this sacred time to repent and return to You with humble and contrite hearts. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all religions that honor You as God, together seek Your forgiveness for the prejudice, hatred, and toleration of injustice in our world. You have taught us that there is nothing more abhorrent than religious fanaticism that calls evil good or good evil. Sound the shofar in our souls, blow the trumpets, arouse us and call us to spiritual regeneration. Continue to heal our land and strengthen the spiritual awakening which is spreading throughout the Senate family and across the Nation. We celebrate our unity under Your sovereignty and the oneness of our shared commitment to You. Amen.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. September 19, 2001.

  518. On God's sovereignty and the blessings of our nation (again)--
    September 19th, 2010 @ 2:35 am

    Now what have we learned from these verses already? God is sovereign. He raises up nations and kings, and He does it all for the glory of His own name and for the salvation of His people. That’s what He does it for. Everything that happens, we know why. We know why. We know who and we know why.

    Now, prior to last week there was indifference and resistance in our nation to the name of God. And now every time you turn around someone is saying, “God bless America.”

    Well, there’s two questions that have to be asked: Who’s the God that we want to bless? And what are blessings that we seek from Him?

    Don’t be fooled in thinking that everybody who says, “God bless America” is praying to the same God we believe in or is desiring the same blessings we desire. The blessing that we desire is the glory of His name and the salvation of His people. And the God that we believe in is this God – the God who is sovereign over nations and the God who works all things together for His glory and for our good.

    Now I want you to see these next few verses. “For Jacob my servant’s sake – .” Why did God put down Belshazzar and raise up Cyrus? Because God is going to use Cyrus to deliver the children of Israel from captivity and bring them back into Jerusalem, for the salvation of His people.

    “And Israel mine elect I have called thee by thy name, I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” Now He’s speaking to Cyrus. ‘Hey Cyrus, you don’t know me, but I know you, and I’ve got you by the hand. And I’m directing you as yes, my puppet, to do my bidding, to accomplish my purpose’

    Now I want you to notice these next couple of verses. These are worthy to remember. These are verses good to mark in your bible, and good to go back to. “I am the Lord and there is none else. There is no God beside me. I girded thee I made you king.” That’s what that means, ‘I put you in that position.’ “Though thou hast not known me. That they may know from the rising of the sun,” that’s in the east “and from the west that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, there is none else.”

    –some guy
    Maitland, Florida. September 19, 2001.

  519. On repentance with a torn heart--
    September 20th, 2010 @ 12:46 am

    James, the friend of Jesus, writes this string of repentant imperatives when he says, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, purify your hearts, grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord.” And at the end of this string of repentance imperatives, he says what? “And God will lift you up.”

    It’s important to remember that when this is being said, whether it’s said from the prophet or from the apostle, that God calls people to mourn over of their sin. And when we do, this will usher in God’s blessing. Verse 14 says, who knows? Maybe God when you repent will relent from sending this calamity.

    In today’s vernacular Joel is saying is everything that we do, everything that we appear to be in our faith and our walk in Christ means nothing unless the heart is torn before him. So whether it’s acts of charity, whether it’s raising your hands in worship, whether it’s standing here at this podium, it all means nothing unless our hearts are torn before God.

    And you know why Joel is telling God’s people to tear their hearts and not their clothes? Because in our studio this morning I took my shirt and I tore it, it won’t hurt until I get home and my wife talks with me.

    But if you repent with a torn heart, it hurts because it means exposing all of the junk in our heart for God to begin dealing with. We expose our egos, we expose our ambitions, we expose our pride, we expose our lusts, we expose our hatred, we expose our prejudices. All of it laid bare before the One who loves us best.

    And if we tear our clothes and not our hearts, nothing is revealed except maybe some skin.

    God calls for true and vital worship from His followers. External worship is insufficient before God. What is sufficient is a life with a discipline, with a livelihood of prayer and repentance.

    God does not have to forgive, but He does. God did not have to send His only Son for the sins of this world, but He did. And on the basis of the one who became sin for us, God’s compassion is always assured to those whose hearts are torn in repentance before Him.

    That means in our life, every situation has to be reversed. Repentance: I, who have used God to leverage my own desires, must make sacrifice my self and my pleasures for God. Repentance: I, who have used others for my self-gain, must make my life a servant for others. Repentance: I, who have been so afraid to suffer, must accept suffering for the sake of Christ.

    God calls us to repentance, not once, but always. Not some days, but every days. Repentance is not an episode; repentance is a discipline.

    Joel says that the proper response to the army of locusts that have besieged the city is whole-hearted repentance. And I love the way Joel was inspired by God to write this list to rattle off at the end of this passage which is for the people of God 2800 years ago and the people of God today when he says, “Let us repent. Blow the trumpet in the city. Declare a holy fast. Call a sacred assembly. Bring together the elders. Gather the children, even those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”

    The sins may have been great, but how much greater is the mercy of God.

    –some guy
    Boston, Massachusetts. September 20, 2009.

  520. On the faith of Peter--
    September 20th, 2010 @ 12:54 am

    Here’s what the Church was built on: it was built on men and women like Peter.

    We have argued and theologians have discussed this passage down through the ages. If you’re familiar with Roman Catholic theology, you know that this is the verse that they point to as the means by which God established the Church, and Peter, Peter became the first pope. And then it was handed down successively. There is no biblical or theological way to really support that, but it’s also difficult at times to deny it.

    The Church in the Protestant Reformation moved away from that, and said that theologically, what was being said here as they interpreted that, Jesus said, “Upon this rock,” pointing to himself, “I will build my Church, and you will be called Peter.” Well, that doesn’t really work out either. In fact linguistically, there is no way to make that stick. There is no way to get away from the fact that when Jesus said “Upon this rock, you are Peter” which means rock, petras, “you are Peter and upon this rock,” there’s no way to get away from the fact what Jesus was saying was ‘Peter, you’re the one I am going to build the Church on and everyone like you’.

    So what was it about Peter that he could establish the Church upon him? It was the confession, “you’re the Christ the Son of the living God.” Everyone who claims that Jesus Christ is the Christ and is the Son of the Living God becomes a foundation stone upon which God builds His Church.

    –some guy
    Sullivan, Missouri. September 20, 2009.

  521. On persisting in unrepentant sin--
    September 21st, 2010 @ 2:09 am

    This is how we know who the children of God are, and who the children of the devil are. It’s striking to see the absoluteness of that. No one can claim to be a Christian and live like Herod. God’s seed is not in such a person. That person may lie to themselves, but that is precisely what puts him in the gravest danger. It’s that self-deception.

    One final passage: Hebrews chapter 10. Flip back to your left, about three books or so. Hebrews chapter 10, begin at verse 26. You see this repeatedly in the bible; this is the last stop we’ll make.

    “If we deliberately keep on sinning,” you see that. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth,” after the gospel has been preached to us, and we claim that we have understood it, and yet we continually, deliberately sin, “no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” That was Herod – Old Testament people.

    “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people’.”

    Verse 31: “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

    If these describe you, even though you have been professing to be a Christian, sober up. Be clear. If you persist in unrepentant sin and you do not know the chastising correction of God, this same book, Hebrews, says then you are not a legitimate son, you are not a child of God. If you can keep on sinning and not feel the conviction of God’s Spirit, if you can keep on sinning and not feel the horror of it, the need to escape it, not feel the desire to flee from it, do not – do not, do not assure yourself that you are Christian. Instead, come to the gospel with fresh ears.

    Come to the cross with fresh ears.

    –some guy
    George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. September 21, 2008.

  522. On the apostolate of hospitality--
    September 21st, 2010 @ 2:15 am

    Matthew began his gospel with only one family–one family in one place in one remote corner of the ancient world, but the genealogy of Jesus that he gives connects him to all the People of the Book: Jewish, Christian, Muslim. Jesus is related to us. We connect to him and reconnect to him and to each other when we eat of the one Loaf and share the one Cup of Commitment. Matthew takes the family tree back to Abraham, the Friend of God, but does not hide the horse-thieves and the bimbos, whose pictures we have often turned to the wall in our piety. Matthew ends his gospel with Jesus giving full authority in heaven and earth to US, some of us High Church Pharisees, some Fundamentalist Saducees, some of us Zealots and revolutionaries, some of us Republicans and Sinners, and all of us now invited by Jesus to follow him home.

    –some guy
    Managua, Nicaragua. September 21, 2001.

  523. On God's generosity to converts--
    September 22nd, 2010 @ 2:10 am

    What does the vineyard owner say? “You agreed to the daily wage. I’m not being unjust to you, I’m paying you what you agreed to. Are you perhaps jealous because I am generous?”

    Now the implication is clear. The owner of the vineyard is God. We’re the workers: some work all day, laboring; some work all their lives in service of God; some, maybe at the very end of their lives, come to conversion, they come to grace; some, maybe halfway through their lives; some are great saints; some are pretty bad sinners; some are, like most of us, in-between. All of us working, hired by God for His task. But all, at the end, are paid the same.

    And we complain like the people in the parable. “It’s unfair. It’s unjust. Shouldn’t those who labored all their lives long be paid more, receive more benefits, more grace than those who came at the last minute?”

    The story told, you know, about a gangster in New York, many years ago, back in the ‘40s. He’d spent his whole life as a gangster, as a hitman – a nefarious sinner. Well, he’s shot. As he lays dying on a street in New York, he calls for a priest. The priest comes, hears this dying man’s last confession, gives him absolution, and the man dies.

    The priest was interviewed by the newspapers, and he said, “Well, this man died in the grace of God.”

    Then the newspaper was flooded with complaints, flooded with letters. “How could this be? This man who was a nefarious sinner all his life, terrible sinner, a murder of worst type, and he’s in God’s grace just the same as one who was a good and decent and virtuous person all his life? Attending Mass and praying and doing works of mercy, etc. etc. You mean their both in the state of grace? It’s unfair. It’s not right.

    What do we make of all this? Let me say one thing as I close here, reminding us of Isaiah: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, says the Lord, and my ways are not your ways.”

    –some guy
    Mundelein, Illinois. September 22, 2002.

  524. On God's generosity--
    September 22nd, 2010 @ 2:15 am

    Someone else shared a story with me about being on a plane. Into the first class section arrived an elderly woman barely able to move. The attendant was helping her negotiate all her bags to the coach section of the plane. The attendant had mercy because there was an empty seat in the first class cabin and had her sit there. The woman was overcome and surprised by this generous action. Two businessmen were in the back row of the first class cabin complaining out loud that they had to use their frequent flyer mileage for their first class seats. They were irritated because the attendant was generous.

    God is generous beyond our expectations. We proclaim the generosity of God on this Catechetical Sunday. Our catechists will be called forward to commit themselves to sharing the good news of our salvation and God’s grace with a new generation of believers, our children.

    –some guy
    Arlington, Virginia. September 22, 2002.

  525. On our complaints--
    September 22nd, 2010 @ 2:19 am

    Are there ever any good excuses for complaining? No. Look at the example of the apostle Paul. He is in a Roman prison. his days are numbered. But in verses 17-18; Paul paints an interesting picture with words that conveys a powerful lesson. He says; “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” In those days people were familiar with sacrifices. Often, along with the sacrifices they would take a cup of wine and pour it out on top of the sacrifice. When you took an offering and set it on fire then poured out over it a cup of wine the wine would immediately cause the fire to flame up brilliantly. The wine of course would immediately be consumed in a brief puff of steam and be gone. Paul is saying sure I’m in prison and my days are numbered but I’m not complaining about it. I live by faith and not by sight. I’m happy to trust in Christ and offer my brief life as a joyful sacrifice in response to his amazing grace.

    By his words and his example God uses Paul to show you that complaining is bad for you. Complaining about what we don’t have doesn’t make it any easier to enjoy what we do have.

    –some guy
    Daytona Beach, Florida. September 22, 2002.

  526. On whose side God is on--
    September 22nd, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    Whose side is God on? Well, that’s quite a perplexing question, isn’t it? Okay? The Muslims think that Allah is on his side. All the Christians think that Christ is on their side. The Jews think that God is on their side. But whose side is God on? And in every case what they want to do, they want to claim God for themselves. Well, you can’t do that. Whose side is God on? We might ask that question today.

    Well, let’s come here to Romans the first chapter, and let’s see something that’s very important which ties right in with this event that happened this week. Now, I’m not going to repeat anything I had on the tape, which you’re going to get.

    But let’s first of all understand how God looks at society, okay? Very important, how God looks at society. So let’s look first of all at the world civilization. Right here Romans the first chapter, before we get to Romans second chapter. Okay?

    Let’s pick it up here in verse 16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Now the Greek then means ‘also the Gentiles’. “For therein,” that is, in the gospel, contained in the gospel, which includes Old Testament and New Testament, “is the righteousness of God revealed.”

    Now that’s something that has to be revealed to each one. And God is not going come along with a magic can opener and put a funnel into your head and put it there. The way it’s revealed is this: number one, you have to seek God. Okay? You have to seek God. God will respond if you seek Him. Jesus said, “seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened.”

    Now the revelation of the righteousness of Christ in God is contained in the scriptures. And the righteousness of God is not necessarily all what we would think as goodness. Because there is the righteousness of goodness and obedience in love, and there is the righteousness of judgment and destruction because of sin. And most people, what do they want? They want the first kind of righteousness, and yet continue in their sins. Okay?

    –some guy
    Hollister, California. Septmebr 22, 2001.

  527. On lamentation and hope--
    September 23rd, 2010 @ 12:17 am

    We, too, then, in the midst of our despair can have hope. Jeremiah points us toward a process, a journey by stages. We are all on different stages of that journey. Some of us are lamenting–and may be for some time. Some of us are angry. Some of us are already moving on toward hope. We should not expect that we will all be in the same place–nor should we force ourselves to be somewhere we are not ready to be. But in whatever stage of the process we are, we can rest assured in the steadfast love of the Lord. We trust in a God who acts with “steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth” and we can have hope.

    When many of us ask “Where was God in all of this?” we can yet see signs of hope and God’s presence all around us. God is here in this congregation. God is on this campus, in the caring and support that has been seen here for each other. In the outreach that Christians and Jews have made to our Muslim brothers and sisters in a time of great anxiety we have seen something of the mercies of God. Even in the darkest hours of the attack we could yet see God. One person put it so poignantly by saying: “Where was God? God was wearing a fireman’s helmet, rushing up the stairwells of a burning tower.” We know God is a God of love and hope and we can see signs of that love, courage, compassion, and hope in New York, Washington, and throughout the nation and the world.

    –some guy
    Washington, DC. September 23, 2001.

  528. On faith and hope--
    September 23rd, 2010 @ 12:24 am

    Jesus says we cannot serve God and Mammon or God and wealth. And we cannot. We can serve God and let us look to God, the author and finisher of our souls, to guide us one day at a time as we figure out in this day what matters in our lives. There is no way to remove the tension in the text and the discomfort it causes us. We expect the master to be angry with the manager for taking further advantage of him, yet the master commends the manager for his shrewdness. Further, the Lukan Jesus seems to commend the shrewdness of the dishonest manager, even commending such strategies to his disciples. What can this mean?

    Yes, we’ve had conflicted insights into the meaning of this text ever since the first century and maybe the dissonance itself can comfort us. Maybe too, it can spur our imaginations to action so that we can move forward ourselves, even in this time of impending economic difficulty. The parable of the shrewd manager should leave us uneasy. We can’t believe Jesus really condones such conduct, even as we might wish that financial security and the good life constituted unquestioned proof of God’s blessing. The manager’s behavior is morally outrageous: something Jesus wants to make clear. The real tragedy is that too many of us, like this manager, expend so much energy to insure a certain standard of living for a life that might end tomorrow and so little time preparing for the life that will last forever. If today’s readings make us uncomfortable, we should be glad and try to open our lives so much that God’s love and God’s Word come into our own hearts that we may come to recognize how God wants us to use our gifts. We should begin this day preparing for our eternal home more than we prepare for temporal success. God has given us the imagination and creativity to take that first step.

    Our Collect for this Sunday says, “Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure.” So today needs to be about holding fast to things that endure. The things that endure are faith and hope and love, faithfulness in what has been entrusted to us, and the presence of God in our lives.

    –some gal
    Washington, DC. September 23, 2001.

  529. On our answer to an invitation--
    September 23rd, 2010 @ 12:28 am

    Each of us, therefore, must try to remember that the most essential matter is simply that we should say ‘yes’ when Jesus Christ says to us, “Come follow me.” That is forever the heart of discipleship. To become a disciple does not depend upon knowledge or learning or skill.

    Rather, it requires and depends absolutely upon our trust in the providence of a loving God. This trust allows us to let go, to surrender, and thus be overtaken by His power.

    –some guy
    Peabody, Massachusetts. September 23, 2001.

  530. On keeping the Sabbath--
    September 23rd, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    One of the few good developments in our city in the last two weeks has been a renewed sense of how the practice of religion does fill a deep human need. Men and women crowded the churches on September 11 — and they didn’t look at their watches to see if they had spare time to practice their religion!

    They had to offer prayers for people they loved. There was no question whether this offering was “worth their time.” It was simply what they needed to do.

    –some guy
    New York City. September 23, 2001.

  531. On redemption by the cross (again)--
    September 24th, 2010 @ 1:00 am

    “I lived in Northern Ireland, and as a young man I joined the terrorist organization because I knew they would give me a gun. I slept with that gun under my pillow every night,” he said. He told us how he and other members of the organization dragged defenceless Roman Catholic families out of their homes in the middle of the night, placed bombs, and committed other terrorist acts. “I was angry and all I wanted to do was hurt people,” he said.

    John worked for a printing company, where one of his co-workers talked to him every day for a period of two years about Christianity. John would get angry and tell the person to stop. But his co-worker replied, “John, you need Jesus; I cannot stop.” One day John decided he was so tired of all this that he would read the Bible, so he could argue with the other man. He started reading from Genesis on, and then somehow realized he should look at the Gospels. And … you guessed it! God spoke to John’s heart.

    His mother came to visit John the next day, and John said to her, “Guess what I have done!” She was terrified. Had he killed someone? Heartsick, the mother could hardly believe the words she heard next. “Mother, I just got saved. I’m a Christian!”

    John then pointed out something that most of us had never considered. St. Paul, the Saul of today’s scripture verses, was indeed a terrorist. God took the drastic method of striking him down and making him blind on the road to Damascus because He wanted him for Christ, and that was the only way He could get through to him!

    –some gal
    Toronto, Ontario. September 24, 2001.

  532. On the blessings of our nation (again)--
    September 24th, 2010 @ 1:05 am

    We turn to you in true repentance today. We seek your love and forgiveness. We honor you as the only true God and Savior. Bless those today who have lost loved ones or who are waiting to hear. Give wisdom to our elected leaders and to those in our military. Bring true justice to the world so that all may know that Good is rewarded and that evil is punished.

    May we also know that you have not removed your hand of love from your people and this nation.

    We pray in our Savior’s name, Amen.

    –some guy
    Conroe, Texas. September 24, 2001.

  533. On the dignity of the human soul--
    September 24th, 2010 @ 1:09 am

    The word ‘soul’ is important to me this morning. ‘Soul’ means a whole lot more than we allow it to mean. ‘Soul’ is our human capacity to be fully who God made us to be – created in God’s image with dignity, with power.

    ‘Soul’ is derived from the Hebrew word, ‘nephesh’. The word Hebrew, ‘nephesh’, means windpipe or neck. And our soul is that totality of our humanity that connects what is going on up in here in the seat of our intelligence, the root of our neurological ability to be a functioning human – thinking power through the conduit of the neck, which the Hebrew called ‘nephesh’, the soul with the neck, the jugular vein, the spine – all of this human life coursing through us.

    And it’s the soul, the concept of being a whole being created by God with dignity, and how this life flows head to heart to body, this is the holistic concept of soul that is missing for so many in our world.

    –some guy
    Austin, Texas. September 24, 2006.

  534. On asking God for a new heart and a new spirit--
    September 25th, 2010 @ 2:36 am

    Ezekiel cries, “Get new hearts and new spirits.” The street people sign up at once. We, on the other hand, tell him to send us a brochure, we’ll talk it over with our spouses, think about it, and get back to him later.

    Whereas the down-and-out can easily identify their particular need for God’s conversion (the addict needs to break the habit; the prostitute needs a new way; the poor grace to survive), few of us can articulate so precisely our need for conversion. Maybe we feel a desire for change but can’t quite put our fingers on what that change would look like. Getting ourselves a new heart and a new spirit therefore takes a backseat to getting ourselves other things.

    The Temple elders Jesus addressed didn’t know their need for new hearts and new spirits, either. It’s why they were so flabbergasted when Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers and drove them out. The authorities whose job it was to preside over the Temple hadn’t recognized this need for change. And now they were on the receiving end of Jesus’ displeasure.

    The priests and scribes are easy targets for sermon illustrations for so many reasons, but when I think about how their story can guide us in understanding our own need for conversion, detachment is the word that comes to mind. They were tightly a-attached to so many things, not the least of which was their authority in the Jewish community. They had a monopoly on rightness, and Jesus’ teaching threatened that. Their identities were so wrapped up in their roles as Temple elders, that they couldn’t imagine what would become of them if Jesus redefined Temple life and their place in it. So naturally, they held onto old ways of doing things. They attached themselves to custom and tradition.

    –some gal
    Westport, Connecticut. September 25, 2005.

  535. On the trumpets of war--
    September 25th, 2010 @ 2:41 am

    I would suspect that to most of us the Feast of Trumpets primarily means that the Feast of Tabernacles is only two weeks away.

    We, of course, understand its deeper significance and what its true meanings are, but we mostly think of it as the beginning of the wonderful times we always seem to have during the fall holy day season. To us, it’s like the crack of a starter’s pistol that begins our race to the Feast.

    Yet, in its fulfillment the Feast of Trumpets does indeed mean the beginning of The World Tomorrow—the Millennium. The Kingdom of God is at hand. It’s come.

    –some guy
    Fort Mill, South Carolina. September 25, 2005.

  536. On relief for the oppressed--
    September 25th, 2010 @ 2:45 am

    Mr. President, I’m an old lady, with a minor, little stroke or whatever it is, and only one eye, but I can see that this nation grates in my teeth. A sleeping giant, a sleeping giant that could good bring – could bring good to the world holiness, goodness, compassion, strength and hope. But I don’t think unless we tackle the terrorists in our country, we can expect God to protect and guide us.

    Mr. President, would you consider putting prayer back in the schools and letting us pray at social functions? I understood you prayed at a football or a baseball game. Could we pray in restaurants, and could we have little reminders of the Lord God? Could we put cribs back on our lawns and not be afraid of being ridiculed?

    Mr. President, would you consider having prayer back in the schools? Would you consider taking that horrible law, the permission to kill – to terrorize the innocent? And I know some of you are mad at me right now, I figure in my condition I have nothing to lose, right? – but would you consider saying no more abortion is allowed in this country?

    –some gal
    Irondale, Alabama. September 25, 2001.

  537. On relief for the oppressed (again)--
    September 25th, 2010 @ 2:48 am

    Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

    “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may KNOW each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he (who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things).” (Q.49:13)

    In this ayah Allah SWT informs us that we have been created close to each other so that we may Know each other. Not merely to gain information about each other, but to understand and care for the needs of each other, and then Allah reminds us that the best of us are those who have the best conduct. On this ayah, one writer comments; “In this way Allah…draws attention to this universal bond which should foster mutual sympathy, respect, collaboration and solidarity among all members of the large yet single human family.” To become aware is to know and to care. Let me repeat: to become aware is to know and to care.

    Do we Know, that, among us are an insecure and oppressed minority who are denied basic human rights to move around freely and safely, to earn a living without feeling patronised, even to have free access to a masjid? Yes, my friends, our aged parents, those who are physically challenged, the blind, deaf and mentally challenged, live in constant fear for their personal safety. We only have to read our papers to realise the cold ruthlessness of people who exploit and even physically abuse them. They live in fear of being rejected by their able-bodied brothers and sisters. You and I know that to reject. a person is to say: “You are not fit to be a part of us, to be a human being!” Let us not forget our own experiences under the colonialism or the Apartheid system in South Africa!

    Cape Town, South Africa. September 25, 1998.

  538. Tatiana
    September 25th, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    John 3:19
    19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

    http://savagespirit.wordpress.com/

  539. On God's foreknowledge of the fall (again)--
    September 26th, 2010 @ 12:50 am

    Well, the word that’s translated “foreknowledge” is the Greek verb “proginosko,” which just literally means “to know before.” And when it’s talking about relationships, it’s talking about something that occurred before something. And in this case, it goes back to the word “predestination.” And that is that God had a predetermined relationship before time; that He had determined by unconditional election of those upon whom He would shower His grace, from a pool of those whom He knew would have fallen, and all were undeserving of anything that He might offer. And what Phil talked about is the classic Arminian view of election. They wouldn’t deny God’s foreknowledge of something. They just would redefine God’s foreknowledge of something.

    Basically, I think to get around two – two stumbling blocks that people, I think, trip over all the time en route, trying to understand what the Bible says, which is frequent – and I think we all would agree not only is it frequent, but it’s really clear, if you just come to the Bible and ask what does it mean by what it says. And number one where I think a large majority of the people stumble, is over the total depravity of mankind. If you don’t start with the total depravity of mankind, and understand that we are dead in our sins and trespasses, you’ll never get to unconditional election as the Bible teaches it. And it’s one of the reasons, just as I was thinking through it today, some of the imagery that’s used of salvation is, one, that we’re born again; and two, that we’ve been resurrected. And how many dead people caused their own resurrection? And how many babies, before they were conceived, did something to lead to their birth? The answer is absolutely nothing. And I think that’s why those analogies or pictures of life are used, because it points to all of humanity; dead in their sins and trespasses, personally culpable before God for their sins, deserving of nothing, and if God had only exercised His justice and His righteousness, only God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and the angels that didn’t fall would be in heaven. God could have done that if He wanted to.

    Panorama City, California. September 26, 2001.

  540. On living like a hero (again)--
    September 26th, 2010 @ 12:58 am

    What does it mean to “welcome the Shechinah?”

    Why does the Talmud use the word “Shechinah” for God’s presence instead of some other word?

    To answer the second question first: The Hebrew language does not have gender neutral words; they are either masculine or feminine. The word “Shechinah” is feminine in declension, and thus used as a metaphor for God’s aspects of mothering, nurturing and protecting. The Rabbis created an image of God based on that of a mother bird, which hovers over the nest of her young, her fluttering wings protecting the nestlings from attack, from the weather, from falling branches. The Rabbis imagined God protecting us just as the mother bird protected her young. So the Rabbis spoke of us being protected “tachat kanfay haShechinah” – “under the wings of the Shechinah.”

    I can’t give the history of this usage of this metaphor for God, but it gained frequent usage. In the liturgy God is called “Shocayn Ad” – “the One who dwells forever.” It is a comforting and protecting image. The mother bird couldn’t eliminate predators from the world, nor change the weather, nor trim the tree of broken branches. But she could spread her wings and interpose her body between those threats to her babies’ existence and protect them. I think that the Rabbis saw that imagery applicable to God. Allowing the world to go its way, because there was no alternative, the Rabbis pictured God as spreading His, in the metaphor, Her wings over us to protect us. This is the meaning of the word Shechinah.

    Richmond, Virginia. September 26, 2001.

  541. Spambot
    September 26th, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    Hi, Tatiana. You are welcome to comment here as often as you want. If you scroll up a little ways, you will see there is still some visitor traffic from people who might be interested in a little more conversation. I plan on wrapping up my time here on the 4th, which is the anniversary of this blog post by RT.

  542. On end of days--
    September 27th, 2010 @ 1:10 am

    Some of our ancestors were overcome with pessimism, with sadness, with loss. They could no longer believe that salvation might be found in this world. They began to dream of the end of days. Some of their visions were peaceful. Based on the words of Isaiah, they imagined a time of perfect harmony, the lion would lie down with the lamb. Others, though, taught a more vengeful version of the apocalypse. Living in a violent world, they could only picture a wrathful end. The forces of good would war with the forces of evil. Yes, God would triumph, but the world as they knew it, this world, would be finished.

    Our ancient Rabbis preached faith and hope instead. They reminded the people of past devastations, always followed by redemption and better days. They urged the Jewish people to study Torah. They led our ancestors in prayer. They preached hope in the future. They shared their faith in God.

    Yes, we believe in a Messianic Era. This world is deserving of redemption. Many of us continue to pray that God will send a personal Messiah. We know that God wants tomorrow to be better. We do not imagine that the world will come to an end. For the Jewish people, ultimate redemption must be found in this world.

    Today, this world is filled with violence. With God’s help, this world may be at peace.

    –some guy
    San Antonio, Texas. Yom Kippur Day, 5762.

  543. On the tower of Siloam--
    September 27th, 2010 @ 1:23 am

    And that’s why I don’t have a personal problem at all, when I see those pictures, and I know I cannot prove it, but I see what almost looks like somebody’s evil signature on the side of that building I personally can believe that Satan is the one who did that and orchestrated that himself. And then left behind his marking signature and such in return.

    I simply don’t have a problem believing that. Now how does that impact us?

    We started at Luke 13 with the tower of Siloam. Let’s go back to Luke 13. Verse 6 follows the context of the tower of Siloam that fell and killed those people. In the book of Luke when it was written, there were no verses, there were no chapters. This flows directly into and it is connected to the part that is immediately before it.

    He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well–. But if not, then after that you can cut it down.’”

    The issue here is not how evil this world is or who deserves to be punished the most. And that’s an easy position to take. And we even look at this world and our society and we see abortion and we see homosexuality, but you know what? We also see vanity and pride, and they are all evil. They have different social consequences.

    But the issue today is not, who deserves to be punished the most. Honestly the issue today is, are you and I bearing fruit?

    –some guy
    Post Falls, Idaho. September 27, 2001.

  544. On redemption by the cross (again)--
    September 28th, 2010 @ 12:39 am

    God is angry at you, He’s angry at me. And He wants us to see that we desperately need rescue. Somehow we need a way for God’s anger against us to be removed.

    Well, the story doesn’t end there. If the message of Romans 1 verse 18 to 32 is bad news, “God is angry at me,” the message of Romans 3 verses 21 to 26 is the most amazing news ever. If Romans 1:18-32 is a black velvet pad, Romans 3 verses 21 to 26 is a dazzling and expensive jewel placed upon it.

    So let’s finish by looking at this dazzling and expensive jewel. Final point: God was angry at Jesus for me.

    Turn over to Romans chapter 3 and let’s look at verses 23 and 25. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified.” We are sinners, we are guilty, but we are justified.

    The word ‘justified’ is taken from the law court. It means that a judge has said, has pronounced ‘not guilty’. If we’ve got one, it’s freely by His grace through redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

    These really are amazing words. We are slaves to our sin, we are completely helpless, we have no hope, then Jesus is paid the price so we can go free.

    –some guy
    Banstead, Surrey. September 28, 2008.

  545. On those who declare war on God and disturb the peace--
    September 28th, 2010 @ 12:44 am

    No society is free of violence of one type or another. The most vicious type is that which describes itself as religious. The invocation of religion often aims at giving respectability to despicable objectives. There may be a good reason to employ violence to eradicate the perpetrators of atrocities, but it is prudent to look deeper into the prevalence of depravity to discover the source of its seed and the environment that gives it nourishment. It is erroneous to fix our gaze on so-called religious fanaticism. True, we cannot dismiss its effect totally, but it is often a minor element in the multiplicity of economic, political and social factors.

    No Muslim should give succor or protection to criminals. The Prophet decreed that the miscreant should not be granted refuge by anyone. The Prophet’s decree was aimed at eradicating the tribal custom that accorded its errant members full protection as a matter of honor and as an expression of solidarity. The rule of law, Islam insists, takes precedence over and above tribal loyalty.

    –some guy
    London, England. September 28, 2001.

  546. On the church militant--
    September 29th, 2010 @ 12:03 am

    We don’t live in heaven; we live in the church militant here upon the earth (a phrase you’ll not hear from me in the liturgy), and if you listened to the lesson, you know that Michael chased the rebels out, but the battle continues on this planet-and even among the people of God. Before the Book of Acts has even gotten up to speed. the young church was beset by conflict, and we delude ourselves if we think there was any golden or even pewter age when we could have just ridden along quietly, saying our masses, preaching our sermons, and charming folks at parish events. If we are serious about being an example to Christ’s people, it’s not how do we look in a collar, but how do we look on a cross that is the fashion question of the day. There will always be war this side of heaven. There have always been new teachings threatening to choke out the gospel or twist the scriptures for sectarian use. There have always been ossified uses of theology that have choked people’s souls. There have always been causes that want to displace the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed from their place as God’s favorites. Your moral right to handle holy things on Sundays is directly connected to your willingness to speak the truth and serve God’s favorites during the week. There is no other foundation than the one laid in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If your ministry has another, stop now.

    The slaves in America sang about Jacob’s ladder and by it meant freedom. Every time you as pastor or as priest help someone to find their freedom in Christ, and they respond in words that mean, Surely God was in this place and I did not know it, your soul will sing, “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, soldiers of the cross.”

    –some guy
    Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. September 29, 2001.

  547. On why we fight--
    September 29th, 2010 @ 12:13 am

    And Jesus’ announcement of the impending reign of God is that the time for the completion of the end of evil is now.

    This is the theological meaning of history. The theology of history recognizes when it is that events are the struggle between good and evil. How does the follower of Jesus recognize the good and the evil? How does the Christian recognize the difference? And how, in the process, does the Christian keep from becoming evil in the process. For example, how do you eradicate terrorism without becoming a terrorist? And how do you eradicate evil without becoming evil? How can we possibly respond to evil and still follow Jesus?

    Mark addresses this problem in the 5th chapter. Jesus and his disciples went to the country of the Gerasenes. Out of the tombs stepped a man with an unclean spirit. He lives among the tombs, but unlike the dead, he cannot be restrained. Similarly, whereas the dead are incapable of harming themselves, this man was self-destructive. The dead remain silent. This man cries-out day and night. His entire being is riddled and debilitated with contradictions. He is literally at war within himself. He can both fall down before the Son of God and worship him while at the same time demanding that the Son of God depart from his presence. When Jesus asks the demoniac his name, he truthfully says, “My name is Legion, for we are many!”

    –some guy
    San Diego, California. September 29, 2001.

  548. On why we fight (the link)--
    September 29th, 2010 @ 6:08 am

    This link is to the sermon.
    San Diego, California. September 29, 2001.

  549. On the winds of adversity--
    September 29th, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

    Now, what a terrible storm as the winds of contrary argument began to beat against his spirit, and the waters of circumstance tried to drown him in confusion and despair.

    Now Beloved, we don’t understand the totality of his battle of those few hours. And sometimes when we preach it or look at the scriptures we just think of Peter just sitting there as if his mind was empty. He’s warming himself by the fire, somebody comes along, he’s looking at Jesus arrested and seemingly powerless against his captors, and all of the sudden he just blurts out “I don’t know him.”

    Oh, no. It’s much more complex than that. He was sitting by this fire, and the real battle was not the fact that somebody was going to ask him whether or not he was with Christ. No, there was a battle already raging. The winds of adversity, the winds of the Devil were already blowing hard at him. Already trying to devour him and to swallow him.

    Scripture also tells us it was after a little while, again in verse 58, that somebody else saw him, and said, ‘You are also one of them.’ “And Peter said, ‘I’m not.’ And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Of a truth this fellow also was with him, for he is a Galilean.’ And Peter said, ‘Man, I know not what you say.’ And immediately as he spake the cock crew.”

    And we don’t understand the totality of the battle, but we do get a possible glimpse of the terrible warfare that he was going through. Because Peter, later on, in one of his letters to the Church says in 1st Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil is a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour.”

    And the word for ‘devour’ in the Greek means ‘drown’. Peter said, “Be sober, be on your guard. Your adversary seeks to drown you.”

    –some guy
    New York City. September 29, 2002.

  550. On salvation as enlightenment--
    September 30th, 2010 @ 1:49 am

    Most of us have a vision problem. There is much that we refuse to see. Salvation as enlightenment enables us to see life in its true reality, to see it filled with the glory and beauty of God even in its suffering that looks like the cross, even in the suffering and death of the innocent.

    Our nation is going through an eye-opening crisis. Because of the harrowing violence that has landed inside our gates, we are having to look and see people and places that we’ve been blind about. We are seeing with new clarity the suffering of women and children in a place called Afghanistan. Others are asking us to look at the hundreds of thousands who have died miserably in Iraq, and the thousands in Palestine. There are millions around the world who are blaming the rich for the suffering of the poor. And now we need their friendship, because our eyes have been cruelly opened to our vulnerability to radical extreme evil.

    I believe this is a moment of great opportunity. Energized by a common threat, compassionate people from around the globe have a new motivation to unite to help take care of each other. We need each other for our protection. As we begin to pay attention to those we may have ignored, we can begin to work together on solving the destabilizing problems of poverty and oppression. Our eyes have been rudely opened to see a new relationship between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak. The fate of people in far away lands now matters to us in a new way. Maybe we can begin to forge alliances that can bring new hope to the whole world.

    –some guy
    Fayetteville, Arkansas. September 30, 2001.

  551. On settling for suitable--
    September 30th, 2010 @ 1:57 am

    Because the greatest need we have as a human being is for someone to bridge that gap between us and God.

    And Jesus comes up to them and finishes out with these powerful words: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, they have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers, they ate the manna and they died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

    Hear what he’s saying? He’s not standing up before them and saying literally, “I want you to eat flesh or drink blood.” He’s talking about how figuratively, just as much as a human being needs to take in bread and water to survive, just as much as those are essential to survival and thriving in this world, he says, “You have to take me in.”

    And so it was John’s foreshadowing of the Lord’s Supper. Just as there was going to be a memorial meal that our Lord and Savior will establish in which he will say, “That bread represents my broken body. So instead of your body having to be broken, I did it for you. And that just represents my blood that I spilled, so you wouldn’t have to die.”

    That’s what you need, he says. You are need in of the Savoir who will be broken so that you can get put back together again.

    And here’s this crowd standing before him and they’re saying, “No, no, no. We’ll take ‘the usual’.”

    –some guy
    Quincy, Illinois. September 30, 2001.

  552. On the wisdom of St. Theresa--
    October 1st, 2010 @ 1:50 am

    St. Theresa of Avilla – see she’s over there with the pen – she sits here and she said, “never make peace with the sin in your life.” We are to never make peace with the sin in our life. But the first thing we have to do is acknowledge that we have that sin. And even James – did you hear that second reading today? Again, if you have some money, you are not going to like that reading. Because, again, what does he say? “If you are one who has a lot of money, you wait. Because, if you have taken that money and only wasted it on yourself, you have fatted yourself up for the slaughter, and the slaughter is coming.”

    So James is yelling at the early community – those who were greedy and selfish. A lot of money doesn’t matter – it is what you do with the money. You know, if you just sit there and you are hoarding it and hoarding it and hoarding it and hoarding it so that you can get more and more and more in the bank, and you feel really comfortable – if that’s where your comfort is, then that is your false God. And he says you now are fattening yourselves up and the slaughter is going to happen.

    Erie, Pennsylvania. October 1, 2006.

  553. On the wisdom of St. Thérèse--
    October 1st, 2010 @ 1:56 am

    Of Thérèse of Lisieux, it can be said with conviction that the Holy Spirit of God permitted her heart to reveal directly to the men of our time the fundamental mystery, the reality of the gospel. The fact of having really received the spirit of Sonship when we cry ‘Abba!’, Father!

    The Little Way is the way of holy childhood. In this way there is something unique: the genius of Thérèse of Lisieux.

    At the same time there is the confirmation and renewal of the most fundamental and most universal truth. What truth of the gospel message, what truth of the gospel message is in fact more fundamental and more universal than this one? God is our Father, and we are His children.

    –some guy
    Irondale, Alabama. October 1, 2001.

  554. On the dedication of a new church--
    October 2nd, 2010 @ 3:27 am

    Today we do not witness the dastardly destruction that has caught America unawares, but the consecrated construction of this utility church complex for this slum village. And this is made possible by the gifts of hundreds of God-loving people from Korea and Singapore, especially from Korea.

    This great undertaking is possible because we, who worshipped idols like you before, have received the light from God through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We have inherited this Christian faith through our grandparents from Western missionaries. We have been delivered from sin and death to life everlasting. In turn we are missionaries to you.

    Jesus Christ is God’s Son who came to earth 2000 years ago. He is different from all the human prophets and sages who died and were buried. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and He came to save us by dying on the cross for our sins. Because He is God’s Son and has no sin, He rose again from the dead on the third day. He appeared to His disciples ten times and went up to Heaven after 40 days. And He is coming soon to judge this world of sin and wickedness. Do you believe in Him to be your Saviour? For He commands men and women everywhere to come to Him to be saved. “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ” (I Jn 3:13a).

    And He commands us also to love one another (v.23b). What is the greatest thing for us to do to love one another? It is to come to Cambodia to tell you the good news of the living and true God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).

    –some guy
    Phnom Penh, Cambodia. October 2, 2001.

  555. On why God allows evil--
    October 2nd, 2010 @ 3:34 am

    The God who made Adam, made a promise to send One who would crush the head of Satan, who would defeat sin and evil in the world. That One was conceived in the womb of a virgin named Mary. God took on human flesh; innocent, perfect, holy flesh. He came to give His life as the ransom from sin. He came to suffer ridicule, pain, suffering, and a criminals death upon a cross.

    So, some 2000 years ago, the Father wasn’t standing by doing nothing. He was taking out His wrath against sin upon His only Son. All our sins needed to be appeased, payment for our sinfulness had to come from somewhere. It came in the flesh broken and the blood which was shed by His only Son. God Himself came down to earth to suffer the pain of sin, and the Father sent Him for that purpose. It was by His choice that Christ suffered under the sinfulness of His fallen world that you and I might be freed from the grips of sin and death. It was by the Father’s choice that from the riven side of His holy child, blood and water flowed.

    Why did God allow the tragedy to take place on Tuesday? We cannot answer that question with all certainty. We know that God did not cause it to happen. The cause was sin. But, know that God will use this for His purpose and to the good of His people.

    Why didn’t God stop it? For Him to have stopped it, He’d have to put an end to all sinful flesh. To do that, judgement day would have to come – all flesh would be brought before Him – and it would be the end. As long as Christ has not returned, sin is still part of the human condition. And as long as sin is still part of the human condition, death and tragedy will be so as well. As long as Christ has not returned, there is the possibility that others will be called to repentance and faith in Christ.

    The text from Romans before us starts with these words: ‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Boy, who knew how tough that suffering would be. Who knew how heroes would give their lives? After all, heroes never die in the movies. Who thought that families would be shattered and lives lost?

    –some guy
    Shawano, Wisconsin. October 2, 2001.

  556. On the world tomorrow--
    October 2nd, 2010 @ 3:39 am

    “– then the lame shall leap like a deer.”

    Well, again what a wonderful, wonderful experience that will be. I’ve seen some people, as you have, in wheelchairs, people with bodies that are wasted, and also bent and twisted and their legs don’t operate – all their lives, as teenagers, are pushed around in a wheelchair. You just think ‘some way if I had gifts of healing, I would go and just touch that person and he would just leap out the chair and run down the street.’ What a fantas–, they would be so delighted to do what you and I just take as being ‘Oh, ho-hum’.

    But in the world tomorrow, “the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.”

    –some guy
    Hot Springs, California. October 2, 2001.

  557. On the temptation to lose sight of God's goodness--
    October 3rd, 2010 @ 12:39 am

    “The chief official” again, the prince of the eunuchs, “gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar.” Daniel means ‘Yahweh is my judge’ or ‘Yahweh is judge’ or some say, ‘Yahweh judges me”; one of those three or the combination, and they change his name to Belteshazzar which means ‘Bel protect his life’. Bel: a Babylonian god and the chief, some say of the Babylonian gods.

    “To Hananiah, Shadrach.” Hananiah means ‘Yahweh shows grace’ or ‘Yahweh is gracious’ and they change his name to Shadrach, means ‘servant of Aku’, the moon god of the Babylonians. And “to Mishael,” or, yeah, Mishael which means ‘who is equal to Yahweh’; they changed his name to Meshach which is ‘who is what Aku is’. And then last, but not least, Azariah. And Azaraiah means ‘Yahweh helps’, and they change his name to Abednego which means ‘servant of Nego’ and Nego was the Babylonian god of wisdom.

    But verse 8: “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, Neb, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’

    “Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official,” the prince of the eunuchs, “had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. And then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food,” which I never quite saw before, would have included, no doubt, other Israelites. “And treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ So he agreed to this and he had tested them. He tested them for ten days.

    “At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.”

    You vegetarians are loving this, aren’t you? You’re going to use this scripture. Ron, you think you got it now, don’t you?

    Verse 16: “So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”

    Saint Petersburg, Florida. October 3, 2001.

  558. On the sacred simcha--
    October 3rd, 2010 @ 12:44 am

    Many people mistakenly believe that ‘things make us happy.’ While it’s certainly true that ‘whether you’re rich or poor, it’s nice to have money,’ the Torah tells us that real happiness comes from within. If we can focus on the blessings that we already have and control our desire to overindulge in excess pleasures, we’ll be able to attain the ‘simcha‘ that sometimes seems so elusive.

    –some guy
    St. Louis, Missouri. October 3, 2001.

  559. On our security in an age of terrorism--
    October 3rd, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    We sit here in relative safety and security, yet anyone who knows the Scriptures and cares about God’s Word is well aware that the battle rages on – the battle for the truth of the Bible as so-called enlightened scholars try to twist our minds into thinking that Bible stories are fables and not real history; the battle for decency in a land where the selfish and self-serving slaughter the unborn and shove drugs under and up the noses of youth; the battle for true freedom of expression at time when it’s suddenly OK to mention the name of God in public but to claim that Jesus is the only way to God is still labeled as intolerance. But the greatest battle is waged daily inside our hearts and minds when our own sinful self whispers, “Go ahead and skip church this Sunday. You went Wednesday.” “Keep your lips sealed when a friend brags and laughs about an inappropriate episode in the soap opera of her life.” And “Keep the TV on so that you get calloused to immoral innuendo and assume it’s OK.”

    When the stock market crashes, do you need a Rock? When your relatives freeze you out, do you need a Rock? When the doctor says he found a lump, do you need a Rock? When the career path doesn’t turn out the way you planned, and your dream job has become a ball and chain, do you need a Rock? Where will we get safety, stability, shelter, staying power, and strength against those attacks? Our refuge is the Lord. He is our Rock. That truth gives us the certainty of security. In fact, we can adopt the words of the psalmist, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

    –some guy
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin. October 3, 2001.

  560. On the Great Commission (again)--
    October 4th, 2010 @ 2:54 am

    We look at Missions month and all that’s going to be going on.

    I want to start, kind of, this morning. My heartbeat for us as a church, and for us as Christians, for us as brothers and sisters in Christ, is to understand the nature of personal missions, or if you want to call it, personal evangelism.

    It is us being responsible with the gospel, fulfilling it.

    Folks, I want to tell you something. So many times we take in our lives, we compartmentalize so many different areas of our lives, and we’ve done that in the area of missions. Missions is what people do.

    You know: they come to our church in their, well, it used to be a station wagon, now it’s a minivan, and their kids come, and they sing and they quote verses and they show slides or they show their power point presentation, they give a message, we take a offering, we send them, we see them once every four years. “That’s a missionary.”

    No it’s not.

    That’s not what a missionary is. A missionary one is one sent by God with the ministry of reconciliation. It’s the message of the gospel, and it is not only them that they do as their vocations, their calling of God on their lives to do it fulltime, and we as local churches enable them to do that fulltime by our financial support and our prayer support, but we also have the same ministry of reconciliation.

    We also have the same ministry of sharing the gospel with others.

    And I want us this morning –

    –some guy
    South Bend, Indiana. October 4, 2009.

  561. On why we fight (again)--
    October 4th, 2010 @ 3:00 am

    We are me. Isn’t is? Aren’t are? What we are called is beyond human mind.

    –some thing
    New York City. October 4, 1965.

  562. On saying Yes to God’s call to serve--
    October 4th, 2010 @ 3:03 am

    On September 10th my wife and I were flying back from London after a blissful two-week vacation in Tuscany, which included a one-day visit to Assisi, home of St. Francis. Hope, my wife, and I have recently reminisced with great nostalgia about that other life as though it were in the distant past. It of course is in the distant past, never to be reclaimed. But I have had my moments of wistful remembrances.

    But in the end, my wistful nostalgia is not in keeping with the celebration of new ministry tonight. New ministry, Christian ministry, the work of God’s people in the world is not about reclaiming, recapturing or attempting to dwell in the past. My life experience has taught me that the shortcut to misery is comparing the present to the past or trying to reclaim the past.

    The litmus test for a ministry that is faithful to God is shot through our liturgy tonight. The epistle appointed for St. Francis’ day reads, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (neither this church rule nor that church rule) means anything. What counts is a new creation. A new creation is everything!” (Galatians 6: 14-15.) In a few minutes, Gary will ask God to let the whole world see and know that things which had grown old are being made new.

    –some guy
    Pasadena, California. October 4, 2001.

  563. On putting faith in its place--
    October 4th, 2010 @ 3:07 am

    Regrettably, time constraints preclude me from expounding upon the foundations of my own faith here although I do hope to get to it eventually. In meantime, talk among yourselves.

    Some guy.

  564. Jahrta
    October 4th, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

    Wow, a year to the day exactly since your last nonsensical post, and no entries since? I haven’t been here in forever and i find it amusing that I stumbled here almost accidentally exactly one year to the day that you last maintained your own echo cham…um..”site.” I’d like to see you repost some of your older posts (you know, back when you still had a brain prior to donating it to the christian coallition, a scrap of intellectual integrity, and a spine) and I’d like to know which of the sentiments expressed therein lost their value in your eyes. You NEVER stated what changed within your life to “lead you to christ.” You never shared the reason or circumstances behind your conversion, which is odd, because one would think that if you had truly adopted the christian belief set as your own, choosing to eschew your evil atheist past (the color of your “recent” posts seems to indicate that atheism is a position worthy of attack and ridicule), then you would want to share it with the world. Instead you have chosen to keep it to yourself (I suspect that it’s because even you must realize how fucking stupid and easily-refuted that reason must sound). I hope for your sake that Dawn Eden’s oral skills were worth trading in every scrap of clout and respect you had ever garnered on your blogsite, back when it still stood for something. Now it’s just another polished turd in a sea of stupidity, floating happily and blissfully self-absorbed.

  565. Name (required)
    October 22nd, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

    “Talk Among Yourselves”

    Wow, you really meant it didn’t you?

    “Regrettably, time constraints preclude me from expounding upon the foundations of my own faith here although I do hope to get to it eventually.”

    Will this be before or after the Rapture?

  566. Name (required)
    October 22nd, 2010 @ 11:30 pm

    The Raving Theist
    Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

    Or until you change your mind again.

  567. priest's wife
    October 25th, 2010 @ 10:55 am

    Thanks for this! and I love your blog’s name raving theist!

  568. mk
    November 25th, 2010 @ 7:07 am

    Some Guy,

    We’ll miss you. Thanks for all your posts. Now what will we do?

  569. Best flat screen computer monitors
    December 26th, 2010 @ 4:45 am

    Throughout the awesome design of things you get an A for hard work. Exactly where you lost everybody was first on all the facts. You know, it is said, details make or break the argument.. And that couldn’t be much more true in this article. Having said that, permit me say to you what exactly did do the job. Your writing is certainly really engaging and this is probably the reason why I am making the effort to opine. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, despite the fact that I can notice the leaps in reason you make, I am not sure of exactly how you seem to connect the details which in turn make the conclusion. For right now I will yield to your point but wish in the near future you actually link the facts better.

  570. Dustin
    April 11th, 2011 @ 9:04 am

    HEllo! God does exists and loves you! check out my blog: http://rippster4christ.blogspot.com/

  571. justathought
    June 26th, 2011 @ 12:30 am

    Why I really came on tis blog was because I had noticed that on christian blogs that it was dominated by atheists, so I wondered what was it like on an atheist blog; I must confess I didn’t read even half the blogs and yes, it was being dominated by christians. But, I wondered, what inthe world had happed to the original topic–you know: the cube? And I couldn’t help but wonder: who was ‘some guy’? He seemed to want to use this site to ‘preach his own little sermons. And, I didn’t understand why it seemed like he was bloging from all over the country. (I wondered if anyone was reading his posts?)

  572. Eloisement
    July 1st, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

    Raving Theist, I must say I’m quite intrigued by your conversion. Atheists who convert to Christianity naturally have more credibility to me than people who were raised their whole lives to be Christians. It’s just a pity that you seem to have abandoned your blog, if the last entry was two years ago. I can’t help looking through your blogs and thinking that this is an elaborate exercise in trolling; surely people’s beliefs, not just about god but all their social views can change so drastically? Quite queer.

    An atheist.

  573. Spambot3049
    July 29th, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    I wondered if anyone was reading his posts?

    I am fairly certain the answer is no. lol

    Originally, the purpose of signing the sermon posts ‘some guy’ was a last minute decision. The lead off sermon was from Martin Luther King, and I could decide how he would want to be addressed: “Dr. Martin Luther King” or “Rev. Martin Luther King” or “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King”? In the end I decided that everyone would know who the quote came from even without me telling them. But also, it was the message that counted, not the messenger. So ‘some guy’ (or ‘some gal’) is what stuck for the remainder of the series.

    If you click on some of the links, you can find out who the speaker is for each. None of them are me, but all were able to provide a coherent and concise message of faith. My hope was that atheists who wandered might find some point of agreement and might be inspired enough to investigate further. Oh, well.

  574. Charles Peden
    March 29th, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

    I don’t believe in alchemy, but Isaac Newton did. It is impossible to believe every detail another person believes. Luckily there is evidence that wonderful and important things can emerge from the murky primordial soup that make up our individual beliefs.

    I’m not sure what the “Raving Theist” believes. Whatever it is, the creativity stopped emerging.

  575. Alessandre
    June 1st, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

    I wonder why the maker of this video focuses on the Christians who try to convert others using force? That’s a tiny % of all Christians. Most of us are so busy growing closer to Christ through the lives He’s given us, we have neither the time nor the energy to harangue atheists & know it’s sinful to call names & engage in many of the actions the narrator accuses Christians of doing. In fact, I’ve been attacked by atheists much more than by Christians. If I say anything about God or my faith, attack! (I’m not even including attacks that aren’t personal but that are aimed at Catholics or at Christians in general, just personal experiences.) If what we believe is best evidenced by the way we act, then many atheists act as they claim Christians do. Of course I worry about atheists & pray for them & try to live my life as a reflection of God’s love & I hope we’ll all meet in heaven. But I’m not planning to lose my soul by attacking atheists; I can’t force anyone to believe in Christ all I can do is offer to share my faith & the reason for my hope w/ those who are interested.

  576. Alessandre
    June 1st, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    PS – the Raving Theist is using his creativity elsewhere. I’m sure he’ll return when he has time.

  577. BFARRANTS
    June 20th, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

    This clearly sums up the old debate between atheists and “believers.” Believers say there is more to life than atoms and evolution (not “instead of” – those are a fringe minority – no fair knocking down the straw man!) Atheists say that ONLY those things which can be proven with empirical data are “real.” Everything else is just an opinion, therefore nothing can be “true” and nothing in the unproven world of religious experience can be Truth – only opinion.
    Consider at the first, basic, question – does empirical data explain all there is to know about our world, our relationships, morality, social justice, etc.? In other words, can everything eventually be explained by science (even if we can’t do it yet)?
    An atheist would say yes, a believer would say no.

    And that is the basic difference between the two.

  578. Rick Wade
    June 21st, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    I’m sure this has been said in one (or more) of the previous 577 responses, but I’ll note it anyway. The parameters of the argument are pretty well set with this: “If you can’t at some point provide measurable, verifiable evidence for the specific being you claim exists, all the argument in the world won’t establish your claim as fact.” The same old presume-strict-empiricism-using-the-omnisufficient-methods-of-science-and-you’ll-never-get-to-theism ploy. The fact that atheists keep playing this hand is sufficient to show that they don’t hear what they don’t want to. I wonder why Christians keep debating them.

  579. Rick Wade
    June 21st, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    I’m sure this has been said in one (or more) of the previous 577 responses, but I’ll note it anyway. The parameters of the argument are pretty well set with this: “If you can’t at some point provide measurable, verifiable evidence for the specific being you claim exists, all the argument in the world won’t establish your claim as fact.” The same old presume-strict-naturalistic-empiricism-using-the-omnisufficient-methods-of-science-and-you’ll-never-get-to-theism ploy. The fact that atheists keep playing this hand is sufficient to show that they don’t hear what they don’t want to. I wonder why Christians keep debating them.

  580. Eticaret Okulu
    July 11th, 2012 @ 7:39 am

    folks, I want to tell you something. So many times we take in our lives, we compartmentalize so many different areas of our lives, and we’ve done that in the area of missions. Missions is what people do.

  581. Milano
    August 4th, 2012 @ 12:54 am

    Lol. I think OFFS is a community organizer.
    As for Porno Lily…too bizarre for words.
    halong luxury cruises

  582. misterkel
    August 9th, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    This book really opened my eyes on the whole debate between science and religion. It shows how both are imperfect human endeavors.

    A Spiritual Autopsy of Science and Religion

    http://redpillpress.com/retail/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=88&zenid=hv1tntjmn1u9me9log3fsncmh1

  583. ginger
    August 19th, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    I just read the book entitled Atheist to Catholic wherein is the raving atheist’s account of his conversion. Although I was never an atheist, I did have other similar experiences and I could relate to his struggles to find God. I did feel and find through looking back that God had been gently leading me back to Him and at one special moment last year I felt truly in love with Him. Life will never be the same for me. I just want more of His love and I pray that everyone experience it, too. Thank you dear ravingteist, for sharing your story.

  584. Jahrta
    October 8th, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

    Hard to believe it’s been three whole years now since RA went absolutely batshit insane…ah, the memories. I also like how the “question of the day” has remained unchanged for 1100 days now and counting

  585. Raving Atheist
    October 12th, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

    Jahrta, I went insane six and a half years ago. It was my last post that was three years ago.

  586. Gideon Jagged
    May 14th, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    You are a fraud, and I can prove it.

    http://alchemyoftheword.me/blog/2013/05/14/there-are-no-former-atheists/

    I invite you to debate me on this.

    —Gideon

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