Monday, February 19, 2007

Any Person Who's Good Enough Will Certainly Find Salvation

Don’t Listen To The Lies About Salvation!
There seems to be a whole lot of comments by non Christians about what is required by the "Christian Faith" to attain salvation. There is the ubiquitous "Try to be as good a person as you can be." I read recently the comment, "To be saved you have to make as many people convert to Christianity as you can." Then there is the facetious (I think) "Don’t do anything that you enjoy." Or, "Read the Bible and pray a lot." "Obey all the rules in the Bible." "Go to Church all the time." "Give away your money." "You have to be baptised." "Be sincere in whatever you believe." "Ask for forgiveness just before you die." "Don’t kill anybody," and so on.

These comments all have one thing in common. According to the Bible, all of them are wrong. So I wonder, why do people say that these are things that Christianity teaches? Is it because these people are completely ignorant of the teachings of Jesus? Or is it more sinister? Do they know what the Bible teaches about salvation but are deliberately trying to deceive other people? I suppose it’s some of each.

While perhaps boring to read, there is only one way to set the record straight and that’s to document what the Bible actually says about how we receive forgiveness of our sins and how we "get" eternity in the presence of our Creator instead of eternal banishment from the presence of our Creator.
John5:24 - Jesus said, I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

John 6:40 - Jesus said, For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.

John 8:24 - Jesus said, If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be you will indeed die in your sins.

John 3:3 - Jesus said, I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

John 3:16,18 - Jesus said, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Whoever believes in [Jesus] is not condemned.

John 3:36 - Whoever believes in the Son (Jesus) has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

John 14:6 - Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Titus 3:11 - For the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all people.

Acts 16:30, 31 - Sir what must I do to be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

Ephesians 2:8 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast.

Revelation 3:20 - Jesus said, Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.

Romans 3:22, 28 - This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. ... [We are] justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [We are] justified apart from observing the Law.

Romans 6:23 - For the consequences of sin is death in hell, but the gift of God is eternal life in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.

1st Timothy 4:10 - This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe [in Jesus].

Romans 10:9 - If you honestly say, Jesus is my Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.... Anyone who trusts in [Jesus] will never be put to shame.

This is just a small sample of what the Bible teaches about salvation but it’s enough to show that salvation has nothing to do with being "good enough," whatever that's supposed to be. Now, no one is going to force you to believe this. God gives you the freedom to reject His offer of salvation. But please don’t go around saying the type of foolish things that people say at the top of this post. Be a grown-up and take responsibility for your future. Don’t pretend that your future is determined by something that the Bible doesn’t teach.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My Kids and Monster Trucks

I took my four kids to the Monster Truck Rally last night. This might sound like it was awful, but it wasn’t. Really! First we went to a fast food place. You know, to make it a real nice night out. Because I use a cane, I can’t carry a tray full of drinks and food. I’m with two six-year-olds, and two five-year-olds, so I had the kids carry their own drinks to the table.
"Wyatt, take this drink to the table." He left. "Riley this is yours. Take it to the table." "Walker, here’s yours." He left. "Chelsey, here’s your drink."
"Dad. There’s no place left to sit."
"What do you mean there’s no place left? This place isn’t full."
"There’s no place left dad."
"Look, just take your drink and go sit down. I’ll bring the food in just a minute."
I went around the corner with the tray of food and there were my four kids sitting at four different tables.
"Come and sit over here," I said in a voice that was a bit more severe than I’d like other people to think that I speak.
"But I want to sit at this one," they yelled almost in unison
I’m not sure what look exactly that I had on my face but they quietly and quickly came to the table to which my finger was pointing. The meal went well with no out of the ordinary mishaps. Only Chelsey was able to finish her drink. I didn’t mind as I thought, Good, no one will have to go to the bathroom. Nevertheless, after eating I said, "There are going to be thousands of people at this thing. Go to the bathroom here so you don’t have to do it there."
After standing in the hallway for a considerable amount of time and after hearing way too much laughter, I opened the door to the handicap bathroom into which I’d shoved them, only to find kids skating on a soaped up floor. I didn’t yell or faint. I just herded them out to the van.
As we walked through the door to the arena, my last words were, "Stay with me. Don’t take your eyes off the back of my head."
Our seats were on the other side so it was a fair hike. Part way there I saw a Stand selling tickets for Monster Truck rides. I’m always early and the tickets were only half as much as I would have expected so -
"Four tickets please." The kids are gonna love this.
I turned around to hand out four tickets. There were only two kids behind me.
"Where are Wyatt and Walker?"
"I don’t know."
"How long have they been gone?"
"I don’t know."
I looked to the right. Nothing. I looked to the left. Nothing. I took Riley and Chelsey over to the railing and said in a voice filled with ‘take me seriously,’ "Don’t move. Stay right here. If anyone asks you to come with him, even if it’s for candy, scream as loud as you can and kick him."
I walked as far to the right as I thought a five and six year old would walk. Nothing. I went back to make sure Riley and Chelsey were still glued to their spot. I walked as far to the left as I thought a five and six year old would walk. Nothing. I went back to make sure Riley and Chelsey were still glued to their spot. I climbed onto a spot-light stand and looked and looked and looked. And there, far away, very far away, stood Wyatt; he was watching the Show Crew getting things ready.
One last time I told Chelsey and Riley, "Stay here. Don’t move."
When I got to Wyatt, he looked up, and with some surprise he said, "Hi."
"What are you doing here," I asked in what I thought was a pretty calm voice, considering the circumstances.
"What are you doing here? You were supposed to be with me. You were supposed to follow me."
It was then that I noticed that Walker wasn’t there.
"Where’s you’re little brother?" I admit I was feeling some panic.
"I don’t know. Look! They’re giving rides on a Monster Truck. Can I go?"
I took Wyatt back to Riley and Chelsey and told him to stay put. "Nobody leaves. You all stay right where you are. Together!"
I was just walking away when I heard, "If there is a grandpa in the crowd, otherwise known as Rod, please go to the souvenir stand to pick up Walker."
The souvenir stand was about 24 kilometres away but sure enough, there was dear, precious Walker. I didn’t kill him. I just took him and the three others down level after level to the Monster Truck rides. After a wait that seemed to go on forever, it was our turn. I turned to give the kids their tickets and what do I see? Riley is bouncing up and down with his legs squeezed together and grimacing with a, "Dad. I’ve got to go pee."
"Why didn’t you go at the restaurant?"
"Dad. I got to pee?"
"No. I’m not wasting this money and I’m not going to the back of the line. Look! You can’t even see the end of it. You are going on that truck and when you’re done, we’ll all go to the bathroom."
Heartless you think? Ya. Well. Anyhow, surprise, surprise, he held it in for the whole bumpy ride. He did however break a land speed record running to the washrooms.
"All of you. Make sure you pee and POOP if you have to. We’re not coming back here during the show."
Chelsey entered one stall. The other three disappeared in another. It went well. They’ve been known to pee on the one already sitting on the toilet.

The trucks roared. They leaped in the air. The motocross bikes flew seemingly right over our heads. The stunts were spectacular. Wyatt said he had to go pee.
"We were in the bathroom just fifteen minutes ago?"
"I didn’t have to go pee then."
"OK. Everybody up. We’re going to the bathroom."
"But I don’t have to go," wails Walker.
"Well Wyatt does, so we’re all going," I say with a smile.
"I want to see the trucks," whines Chelsey.
"Go. Go now," I’m still smiling but it’s over clenched teeth.
"We’ll miss all the good stuff," Walker protested.
I mustered up the same look I used in the restaurant. They rose as one.
I am never buying tickets in the middle of a row ever again.
"Excuse me. Sorry. Excuse me. Riley you just about knocked the drink out of that man’s hands. Sorry. Coming through."
We made our way up to the main level without Wyatt peeing his pants.
"All of you go to the bathroom. Pee is always dripping into your bladder," I explained in earnest to the reluctant ones. "Even if you don’t have to pee really bad right now, you can still make some come out. Now go. The stunt riders are starting."
The big bald guy brushing his fuzz may have been smiling.
"Excuse me. Excuse me. Sorry. C’mon, he’s just a kid. Look there’s still some popcorn left. Excuse me. Sorry."
I am telling you, without a word of a lie that we were not sitting there for more than ten minutes before Walker says, "I have to pee."
"How in the world can you have to pee," I yelled at the top of my voice just as the trucks cut their engines.
People were looking. I think one lady was dialling Social Services.
"I have to pee bad."
I swear, I only thought about it for a minute. Not a second longer. It was too long. As we made our way up the stairs, Walker’s pants were soaked front and back. He must have been sitting in it. My guilt was appeased somewhat by the fact that Walker seemed oblivious to the fact that we were walking to the bathroom essentially for nothing.
As we made our way back to the seats I told Walker how sorry I was for not getting up right away.
"That’s ok ‘cause I love you. Thanks for taking me to this. It’s fun."
I am telling you, without a word of a lie that we were not sitting there for more than five minutes before Walker says, "I have to go poo."
This time I did not take the time to think about it. And as we made our way to the washroom, for the last time that evening I might add, I had a genuine smile on my face. I was smiling because I’m fifty-six-years-old, I’ve been retired for five years and I’ve got kids. Lots of em. My oldest is twenty-nine-years-old and my youngest is two-years-old. Specifically, my kids are 29, 26, 2 x 6, 2 x 5 and 2 years old. They’re all adopted. I’m one of the luckiest men in the world ‘cause I could be wasting my time, enjoying my retirement by sitting on the beach or painting pictures or some such nonsense. Instead, I’ve got the most enjoyable, valuable thing in the world to do, and that’s getting the next generation ready to make this world a better place in which to live. My life has meaning and context and purpose.
Actually, we’re going to Hawaii, beginning March first, to lie on the beach for two weeks. That should be quite a trip.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Jesus Preached Violence and Hatred

I’m not sure why I do it. It’s a weary process to cruise through atheist web sites. The audacity of the lies, bigotry and intolerance is breathtaking. This is no more true than on a site that proclaimed that Jesus preached a message of hatred and violence. I don’t believe for one minute that the authors did this out of ignorance. Rather it was done, I believe to deceive and delude its readers. Nevertheless this is the case that was put forward.
One statement of Jesus’ that was used as a proof-test was this one:
"... if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."
A second verse is:
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his mother and father, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes even his own life, he cannot be My disciple."
A third verse that the writer tried to put forward to make h/his case was this one:
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household."

Do these sound like something that might make the case that followers of Jesus are dangerous? Does it sound like Jesus Himself was prone to violence? Being the great and learned scholars that atheists fancy themselves to be, even they would admit that taking verses out of context is a rather pathetic way to make an argument. I’ll address these verses later, but first let’s see a more complete cross-section of what Jesus taught.

. Blessed are the poor in spirit
. Blessed are the meek
. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
. Blessed are the merciful
. Blessed are the peacemakers
. You’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t murder but I’m telling you to not even be angry.
. Treat women with respect instead of just sexual objects
. You have heard it said and eye for an eye, but I tell you, don’t resist an evil person.
. Turn the other cheek
. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
. Forgive others as you have been forgiven by your Heavenly Father
. Don’t judge others in a hypocritical manner
. I have come to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons
. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest . Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
. So that we may not offend [the rulers] go and pay our taxes
. Don’t forgive the person who sins against you only seven times, but every time.
. Love your neighbour as you already love yourself
. Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as I did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.
. I will welcome everyone with open arms, no matter how evil they have been or what wrongs they have committed if they will only turn from their sins and follow me.
. O Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets sent to you. How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
. Why are you harassing this woman [a prostitute]? She has done a loving thing for me.
. On the night before he was killed, Jesus washed the feet of all his disciples, even the one who he knew was about to betray him and have him killed.
. Filled with compassion Jesus healed the man with leprosy.
. Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd
. Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.
. Father forgive those who are killing me for they don’t know what they are doing.
. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.
. Do not judge. Do not condemn.
. Do to others the kind of things you would like others to do to you.
. "I am willing to heal you." "I have compassion for you and I’ll heal you." "When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don’t cry."" "I tell you her many sins have been forgiven. Go in peace." "Don’t be afraid." "Whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me." "Then neither do I condemn you." "Peace be with you." "Dear woman [his mother] here is the person who will take care of you when I die."
. Everyone who does the will of God, I will consider the same as members of my own family.
. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.
. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
. Put your sword away. Shall I not go through the very thing for which I came to the world to do? Jesus allowed no one to fight for him.
These are just a few of the things that Jesus taught regarding peace. But what of his closest followers? We’ve already seen that Peter was ready to violently defend Jesus. If Jesus preached violence and hatred, one could expect that message to be found in the letters / propaganda that was later published by these followers.

I’ll first explore Peter’s writings.
. Don’t conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
. Rid yourselves of all malice and slander of every kind.
. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.
. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men
. It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
. Do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.
. Show proper respect for everyone.
. When they hurled their insults at him he [Jesus] did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.
. Husbands, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect.
. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing because to this you were called.
. Whoever would love life must seek peace and pursue it.
. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Hmm. Looks like Jesus caused quite a transformation in Peter’s life.

Well, how about John, the one that used to be called the ‘Son of Thunder.’
. Love one another
. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him.
. Let us not love with words but with actions.
. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.
. Whoever loves God must also love others.
. [Jesus'] command is that you walk in love.

How about James, one of Jesus’ brothers?
. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble
. The wisdom that comes from Jesus is peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy.
. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
. Do not slander one another
. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
. Love your neighbour as you already love yourself.
. Do not show favouritism.
. Mercy triumphs over judgment
. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
. Everyone should be slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

How about the writer of Hebrews?
. Do not forget to do good and to share with others
. Make every effort to live in peace with all people.

And of course, how could this close without quotes from the most diligent follower of Jesus, the great apostle Paul
. Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. . . Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
. You know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worth of God.
. We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children
. Do not lie to each other
. In Christ everyone is equal, none better than another
. Therefore as God’s chosen people, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
. Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.
. Let your conversation be always full of grace.
. For then in Christ, be overflowing with thankfulness.
. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is praiseworthy, think about such things and the God of peace will be with you.
. This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.
. We preach the gospel of peace
. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
. Each one of you must love his wife
. Fathers do not exasperate your children
. In your anger do not sin for anger gives the devil a foothold.
. Be completely humble and gentle; bearing with one another in love.
. Love your neighbour as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
. The outcome of living by the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
. A husband must not divorce his wife.
. The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we all stand before God’s judgment seat.
. Do not repay anyone evil for evil
. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
. Do not take revenge, my friends.
. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink
. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I could go on and on and on but even the dullest person should be able to see that neither Jesus nor his followers who wrote the New Testament preached a message of hate or violence. But what about those other verses that seem to say just the opposite?

One statement of Jesus’ that was used as a proof-test was this one:
"When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.

fn. NIV - These words are record in a section where Jesus was preparing his followers for his departure from earth. He was preparing for a change in leadership from him to them. Until now they had been dependent on generous hospitality, but future opposition would require them to be prepared to pay their own way. Considering all of Jesus’ other teachings, we would have to conclude that Jesus was using hyperbole or speaking metaphorically regarding the sword. He was warning them of the perilous times about to come. They would need defence and protection, as Paul did when he appealed to Caesar as the one who "bears the sword." Romans 13:4 This is further shown to be the case when in frustration, Jesus sees that they are taking his words too literally and they were rebuked with a sharp, "that’s enough [of that stupid talk]. Not long after this, the hothead Peter was sharply rebuked by Jesus for using his sword. ". . Peter, put your sword back in its place so that I can heal the man you have harmed. For all who live by the sword will die by the sword." There is no example of Jesus’ closest followers ever again resorting to violence. They all, like Jesus, went willingly to their deaths to protect the integrity of Jesus’ name.

A second verse that is used is:
"If anyone come to Me and does not hate his mother and father, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."

The reason that most people misunderstand this verse is their lack of understanding of the Hebrew language. The word hate, in this context means to place second. Nothing more. Nothing less. The statement could read. Anyone who doesn’t consider following me to be more important than h/her own family is not really my servant. In most cases, it is only by following Jesus that we love our families more than ourselves and therefore treat them properly.

The third verse that the writer tried to put forward to make h/his case was this one:
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household."

The meaning of this verse is so clear that I can only guess it is misinterpreted on purpose. Jesus said, "Because of Me, all people will hate you." The reason that one person turns against another, within the context that Jesus is commenting, is the belief of one person and the disbelief of another person in Jesus the Christ.

Actually, the writers of the vitriolic atheist sites are living out Jesus’ very words. Their verbal violence and someday their physical violence is turned toward followers of Jesus, NOT the other way around. It’s they who are turning against members of their own families. Jesus wasn’t preaching that Christians should or will become involved in violence. He is warning His followers that violence will be turned against them by the kind of people one reads on atheistic sites.

To say that Jesus preached hate or that he encourages his followers toward violence and hatred is a working definition of defamation. The atheist web sites contain the cruelest of lies for they turn people away from the one and only source of love in the whole universe.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

CNN: Lisa Marie Nowak in love triangle

CNN reported today that NASA astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak has been involved in a love triangle with another shuttle pilot and has been accused, among other things, of attempted first degree murder. Gee and genius Stephen Hawkings was so certain that all we needed for our species to survive was for humans to move to another planet. What an idiot.

Friday, February 2, 2007

"An Inconvenient Truth"

Much has been made about this documovie. This morning Time Magazine titled an article "Climate Change - Case Closed." I'm not sure exactly why people have fought against accepting the reality of this change. Well, I guess I know. It's the same as always, money. To have to consider scaling down or doing something differently or reining in our greed is indeed to many an inconvenient truth.

However, there is, I think, a much greater inconvenient truth that also demands that people adjust their beliefs. This Truth is the fact that global warming, the warming of the oceans and the colossal storms this warming creates were predicted a couple thousand years ago.

"On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world ... Luke 21:25,26 (See also, Matthew 24:1-44; Luke 21:5-36). Of course "famines and earthquakes" are also said to be noteworthy of our times but those have nothing to do with climate change.

In case you're wondering, God hasn't just turned a blind eye to those who abuse the earth instead of subduing it and managing it properly. In Revelation 11:18 it talks about God "destroying those who destroy the earth."

For what it's worth, I find this an interesteing verse from Revelation 16:8 - "The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they curse the name of God ... and refused to repent and glorify Him." Sound like a lack of ozone?