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A Simple Letter back from a Christian
Posted: 26 September 2006 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
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To Noggin, you are right about glass houses and stones.  For me, I believe that no human developed utopians will succeed.  I am as leery about humanist built utopians as I am about Christian built utopians, or any form of man made utopian.  The history books show dictatorship coming out of both ends of the equation, so to speak, and that by human hands we can only make sand castles which will, sooner or later, be destroyed in the waves.  That is why I am against a lot of what I hear coming from my own Christian community—such as the separatist movement (i.e. the desire to separate SC from the US and make it a specifically Christian “nation”).  That is also why I am against the thought of transforming the US into a pure humanistic society where all undesireables (i.e. people like myself) are shipped to the side.  Same would go toward the myth of a “Christian” nation, I would be against them when they started shipping “undesireables” to the side.

I think that a humanist society’s form of utopia is run with the same egotism that I hear coming from my own Christian community when they state that America is “going to hell” and the Christians should separate and go to the side.  In terms of Church and State and the desire for a utopian society, I believe that there is a need for separation of Church and State because a) the State shouldn’t tell the Church what to do such as, historically speaking, what we have seen in England and b) the Church shouldn’t tell the State what to do such as, historically speaking, what we see in Italy/Rome.  The Church and State can compliment each other but they should not control one another.  You might ask about my belief in the Millennial Kingdom or the New Heavens and the New Earths of Revelation, but I will point out that those prophetic kingdoms have GOD at the center, visible and knowable and willing and able to communicate and explore and have a relationship.  It isn’t man centered, it is GOD in the seen centered.

In the end, when all is said and all is done, any man made and man focused “utopia” whether created under the disguise of a philosophy (such as humanism or communism) or a theology (such as Christianity or Islam or what not) will ultimately turn into dictatorship and from dictatorship to ruin for everyone involved.

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Posted: 26 September 2006 10:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
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CanZen, you are right, not all other religions are “evil” per say.  That is, not all religions and philosophies are violent or persecution oriented.  For me, through my studies, I have found that the ideas of Buddhism compliment those of atheism, that man is man’s own savior, that man (through whatever means by the ideologies of humanism or the noble truths of the Buddhist) can save himself through this or that action or meditation or belief.  Here is an article I wrote a long time ago on Buddhism.  It is a bit out dated, but it might show a fraction of the research I have done on Buddhism in comparison to that of Christianity.

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Christianity and Buddhism
What and how do the Buddhists believe?  How do the Buddhist believe the world is the way it is and how does it contradict what we know to be the truth in the Bible?  How does the Buddhist worldview differentiate from the Western worldview of Judeo-Christian values and ideas that have lived for so long and are now dying in the West due to relativistic and pluralistic mentalities found in government, in social organizations and law firms, and in our own educational system.  Such questions are important because you may find yourself with a friend, or a business partner, or even a son and daughter who has come to the Buddhist worldview and beliefs.  Thus you need to know and understand this belief system not only to witness but to know what you are up against in this world of false gods. 

There is of course the historical founder Gautama Buddha and his exploration of finding a path to freedom and the riddle of life.  Here was a prince, someone wealthy, someone who had all the materialism that everyone would want or say they want, and through circumstances as the history of Buddhism shows, he threw them all away and went to find nirvana.  His trek into what he felt is the way to enlightenment was filled with mystical and humbling experiences, so says the Buddhist (98-100 Ridenour).  To understand how Christianity differentiates from Buddhism, one must first understand the psychological religion of Buddhism and its creator, the man who would be entitled Buddha . 

Buddhism says to one and all that it is a message of being awake, a message for every man and every woman.  Within this message the proponents say the eyes will be opened up ears will be made ready to hear.  Buddhism suggests that the world is asleep, not physically but spiritually.  So many people are asleep and are focused upon the dreams of this sleeping–anger, want, need, lust, violence, etc.  To awaken, to wake up, is to bring enlightenment…casting away the dreams and fully living body and mind and soul.  By the term budh, you are not only awake but you know.  You know what life is about, beyond the mere day-to-day sort of living, which is a part of the dreaming.  When one is awake one is able to strive toward a rational life that is not bound by one side or the other of life’s extremes (82-88 Smith). 

The life of Buddha as the stories and legends and histories suggest, is a route and a proverb for all to hopefully understand (as is the hope of this worldview).  There are many legends and lore that have transformed and evolved from the beginning stories and history of the Buddha.  From the original meetings he encountered that brought him to the quest for enlightenment to the very war between him and Mara under the tree, to the rest of his life, there is a linkage of quests and visions and considerations that aim toward fullness in awakening and striving to bring the society around into awareness.  His life goal was to find a way and to share this way for those who he hoped to bring into his belief in the light of enlightenment.  The wrestling with life’s situations and with life’s problems and life’s seductions caused him to conceive of something he believed as new and inspiring (84-87 Smith).

One of the problems with Western thought when first examining Buddhism is that Buddha himself is not a god, despite the multitude of statues of him across the East and now in the west.  Buddha is not a god or even a God made Flesh.  Instead he as Buddhism explains, an enlightened pilgrim who has now ... so thinks the Buddhist ... show us all the way to being awake.  Buddha was supposed to be an ordinary man who found himself transformed in extraordinary and almost divine situations and synchronicity that transformed him to one who sees and finds enlightenment.  In fact, Buddha as the stories go, strongly discouraged anyone from thinking of him as a god or supernaturally powerful or heroic, stories show Buddha as being humble and objective toward himself and his surroundings (88-92 Smith).

First Buddhism is traditionally against a central authority.  Yes today we do have known people as the Dali Lama and he is indeed a formative speaker for Buddhism.  Reliance is not to be from the Dali Lama but from oneself and one’s own trek.  Second, the teachings of the Buddha are without rituals in the sense that Buddha strove to take away the rituals of Hinduism.  What is known is that he did not care for rituals (as seen in Hinduism) because he felt they were not really helpful or imperative.  As examination of Buddhism shows, the thought behind Buddhism is that of psychological examination of oneself and one’s world around, that of scientific and almost mathematic deductions on spiritual questions, and that of striving to have a therapeutic value toward those who practice it (94-96 Smith).

Both Christianity and Buddhism say that one of the main problems of the world is that there is suffering and that this suffering is universal.  This suffering begins with birth and continues to death.  The difference though is the following.  For Buddhism, Buddhism says that death does not end suffering, because there is a cycle of rebirth, suffering, and death.  One finally finds salvation by being able to be relieved from the cycle.  Of course when this relief from the cycle happens is not known and could last hundreds to possibly thousands of years (100-101 Ridenour).  Christianity on the other hand says there is one specific way, Jesus Christ, to be free from the suffering of the world.  Yes a Christian will suffer in the world, but when the Christian dies, he or she is brought to God through Jesus.  With God there will be no more tears, there will be no more suffering.  As the Book of Jesus’ Revelation says “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). 

For the Buddhist, the cause of suffering is craving and of selfish desires.  There is some truth in this because Christianity says that our base craving and our selfish desires work within our fallen nature.  The way to bring salvation, though, is completely different from Buddhism to Christianity.  The people are cycled again and again until they can evolve past wealth, status, and concrete comforts, to name a few.  This is called being a victim to tanha (101 Ridenour).  Christianity on the other hand says that the root is much deeper than mere craving and selfish desires.  The very seed is the sinful nature that was brought into humanity through the Fall of Adam and Eve at the dawn of Creation.  Because we are a slave to sin, not just mere cravings and desires, we then fall short of the glory of God.  Thus instead of evolving past being a victim of tanha, the key to salvation lies in the humble realization that through Christ Jesus there can be freedom.  Jesus Christ took the sinful nature head on and won over it through the cross and the resurrection three days later.

The Four Noble Truths concern a broad overview and look at the description of the worldview of Buddhism.  These four truths try to answer the reasons and the whys of this world.  The first of the truths is that there is suffering.  You suffer, I suffer.  Living contains suffering.  Secondly, as there is suffering so there is then a cause or causes of this suffering.  Why do you and I suffer in this world?  Why does it seem the guilty get lifted high and the innocent brought down low?  From this then is the third truth, that is, there must be an ability or abilities to cease the sufferings.  Something must be done or should be done to prevent and end the sufferings in ourselves and in others.  This brings us to the last truth, that is, what is called the Eightfold Path, to be explained below (231 Eerdmans). 

Christianity also realizes that there is suffering.  This suffering is because, simply, the world is in chaos due to the Fall.  Even more so, when Christians suffer, it is because stumbling blocks are placed in our way simply because we are Christians and place our faith and heart and soul in Christ’s hands.  Yet we as Christians know that God is with us and with anyone and everyone who has accepted the gifts of Jesus.  Jesus said to one and all, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

The Eightfold Path is the forth portion of the Four Noble Truths as taught by Buddha and in Buddhism.  The Eightfold Paths are specific examinations of what was described in a much broader case the Four Noble Truths.  The Eightfold Paths seek to answer the beliefs and reasons suffering exists in the eyes of Buddhism.  These are:  1 right viewpoint, 2 right aspiration, 3 right speech, 4 right behavior, 5 right occupation, 6 right effort, 7 right mindfulness, and 8 right meditation.  In the worldview of Buddha and the religion of Buddhism, to break free from the slavery of tanha one must follow the Eightfold Path.  This brings enlightenment and brings (eventual) freedom from the cycle.  Working along with the Eightfold path may take many years and many more lifetimes.  The Eightfold Path is an evolution that could span the very ages of a soul’s existence (101 Ridenour).  Jesus Christ also had a very specific teaching, this was of course the Sermon on the Mount which is in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5.  Yet through exploration of the Gospels we see again that we ourselves cannot follow this path without God’s revelation to our hearts and souls through Jesus Christ.  When Jesus ascended into Heaven, the promise of God came at the beginning of the Book of Acts by way of the blessings of the Holy Spirit.  When a Christian becomes a Christian the Holy Spirit enters our lives into our hearts and souls and helps us follow the path in God’s strength toward the freedom of Paradise (God’s home). 

The view toward divinity is vitally important in examining the differences between the Christian God and the Buddhist philosophy/religion.  Buddha and Buddhism does not declare there is a personal god and personal historical transformation.  There is no specific face of God, such as there is in Christianity in the facet of Jesus Christ–His virgin birth, life, death on the cross, and then resurrection.  To some believers of Buddhism, there is the belief that god or the presence of god is irrelevant and just not important.  God does not have a distinct “thereness” so to speak.  Further, this deity within the philosophy of Buddhism is also not the provider or helper toward salvation.  Salvation for the Buddhist is self effort only by becoming free through the Eightfold Path along with other exercises of the body and spirit (310 Graham).  Christianity on the other hand specifically says through the Old and New Testament that God is not only present but extremely personable.  God is there and knows and sees our problems, our sadness our questions and through the revelations of the Bible and through ministers like Paul in the past and fine men like Billy Graham in the present.

For the spiritual heaven of the Buddhist is his or her belief in what is called Nirvana.  The belief in Nirvana is taught within the Buddha’s dharma.  Dharma is, of course, the teachings and preaching of Buddha.  These teachings first by the original Buddha then by the monks along the history, have evolved to what is being taught by many American Buddhists and world Buddhists.  To be brought to Nirvana, one must let go of one’s personality, for one’s personality, that is, one’s self and self view is really an illusion that is hampered by what is in this world.  You must as a Buddhist take leave of “I” and “Me” and transform it into what is called an-atman, or, non-self.  Here is where suffering will end.  Here, in Nirvana, is where you become a part of the greater whole of the universes.  Reaching this an-atman is gained by such practices as meditation, study, ritual exercises, to name a few (232-235 Eerdmans). 

Heaven, by what the Bible teaches us, is a real and physical place conceived by God’s eternal creativity and artistry.  This Heaven is where you find yourselves growing forevermore in a spiritual relationship one to one with our Lord God and Savior without any sinful barrier that occurs in this world.  In this Heaven, there is only joy, happiness, learning, exploring, and understanding for those who have accepted Christ Jesus as their true Lord and Savior and Redeemer.  Specifically, the Bible shows us that Heaven is a place where we will live in God’s glory, God’s love, and God’s wisdom.  The Book of Jesus’ Revelation states the following, “‘...And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” (Revelation 21 4-5).  This is a real place, a real world of wonder and of beauty to those who have found Jesus to be their Savior. 

An example of some of the titles that are available by followers of Buddhism today are the books by Pama Chodron such as the title Start Where you Are.  Chodron is a follower of Buddhism and is one of the leaders in America’s Buddhist tradition. In her works she explores several of the worldview’s pondering such as the saying “Regard all dharmas as dreams” (22).  That would mean, in consideration, the idea that in Buddhism much of what we see and hear in this life are dreams and visions that hamper us from becoming the nothingness striven for in the desire to head to Nirvana.  Another sample of what she explores in this book is the relativist idea that “...good and evil coexist and are not really opposites” (23-25).  She explains to the reader that we are our own teachers, our own Buddhas as we head toward enlightenment of nothingness that Buddha taught centuries ago (23-25). 

Such views are a cliche, some might say, since much of America’s so-called intellectual elite speaks the same view in the sense that we are our own teachers, our own educators, and in the end, our own saviors through one means or another.  This is then a disquieting thought, because of how people believe this idea and living this idea to the fullest.  Biblically, though, there is a specific consideration.  The Bible though teaches specifically that there is good, that which comes from God, and evil, that which comes from Lucifer and the Fall of Mankind.  By Adam and Eve following the temptations set before them by Lucifer as the Snake in the Garden of Eden, mankind was thrown off the course of where the Lord was wanting us to go to–that which is a full and intimate relationship with Him.  By following Lucifer, mankind kills, mankind rapes, mankind has hopelessness, mankind has despair.  The only way, the Bible specifically teaches us, to regain hope and glory and holiness is through Jesus Christ.  Jesus did what we could not do, or will ever be able to do on our own, that is, to save us from our sinful, evil nature.  Jesus Christ is and will always be the one and only who can give us hope in this hopeless world that we all live in.

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Posted: 27 September 2006 12:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
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Hey Storm good to hear from you, hope that this day is a bit shinier than the last.  Things going well for you I hope?  I’m at class right now, waiting for the class to start, and it is drizzling outside.  The class that I am taking right now is New Testament I, a “overview” kind of course that focuses on the history of the time period up through the Book of Acts.  Though I am enjoying it immensely, I do have to admit that I am definitely not a morning person!  The seminary I go to is about an hour and a half away from where I live so I usually have to get up around five in the morning to get ready and set out.  And yes, I do drink lots of Pepsi’s lol.

Concerning the few spankings that I had as a child, I really can’t say that they have “scarred” me for life, as some people might put it.  The spankings were never done out of anger, more out of punishment for the sake of punishment.  Very rare, and spankings are to do done at the last resort.  I myself would and will probably not spank a child, but since I wont be getting married and having children, I guess I don’t have to worry about that component in life. 

You are right, there are so many denominations and so many believers here where I am and abroad.  I myself do not push religion, I rely upon my personal relationship built on both intelligence and passion and love and wisdom.  My relationship with GOD is unique in that it is a personal relationship, not a group-demanded style of relationships (that is, the relationship I have with GOD is not built upon the idea that we all are to do the same thing at the same time in the same manner in our religion).  We aren’t meant to be robots, we are not meant to be mindless surfs doing this and then when the whistle blows, doing that. 

And yet, while we have all these different churches, different regions of the world, churches that are visible and churches that are underground due to persecution, all of our voices come together in a chorus.  All of our voices, our experiences, our love for GOD through Christ and from that love to GOD to love for one another, the song that we sing is powerful and wise.  The priest is not the one who provides breath, but a good minister, which I hope myself to be one day, will be one who doesn’t focus on myself, but instead, help the congregation focus on the GOD-song (so to speak).

It isn’t that GOD needs help or that GOD is constricted by “forces”…it has to do, on the other hand, on two basic principles:  (A) GOD wants a relationship with His creation, that is, GOD wants you and I to come to Him and be feed by Him the “living water/living breed”…but, still, (B) we have free will and we choose whether or not to pay attention to that “GOD’s breath.”  Our relationship to Him must be out of freedom of our choice, our decision, GOD will not run you through with a remote control.”  You do what you choose to do, for better or worse, for good or for ill.

Well hope that provided some food for thought.  I tried to keep this post level low so you have an easier time reading what I am trying to talk about.  I know I am wordy, I blame my father!  But seriously, good to hear from you Storm, have a great day!

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Posted: 27 September 2006 03:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
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I will go backwards from your reply Noggin because that is how it would be easier for me (like I said, I don’t think I’m crazy, but I will try to make sure you do not ask my managers!).  Concerning the idea of the horrors of the world and how no god would, if said god existed, allow it to happen.  We see poverty, we see disease, we see enslavement, we see discrimination—all of these are an intrinsic part of the world and has been a part of the world for ages.  My view is that it happens because we have the freedom to choose, we have free will, and that as we have free will, just as our will is distorted by the fact that we are imperfect, that we are sinners, so too is the world around us cursed because of the Fall.  We as humans, and especially we as Christians, have a choice to choose between what we do in our interaction with one another and our interaction with the world that surrounds us.  So how does the Christian, whether here in America or in China or in Africa or in Europe, face the world…how does the Christian be in the world and not of the world, how does the Christian face the changes of the world, the persecution of the world, the uncertainties of the world, and not…on one extreme…become extremists or…to another extreme…just give up and loose all hope and meaning? 

How does a Christian honestly face situations we see in Algeria?  How must a Christian realize the truths that are there when we read articles as the one you give to me to view.  I think the answer relies upon Job—the world is as it is, as we see in Genesis, and we do not understand, we do not comprehend, when do not know the Mind of GOD but we do not the revelation of GOD and because we know the revelation of GOD (here and now through GOD’s message of the OT and NT), we can find peace in GOD even in the most stormy of situations.  Through faith, but you do not believe in faith because you do not see how faith works, how faith reacts and interacts.  I would like you to study one group that is a very important Christian organization.  This organization is called the Gospel For Asia Ministries.  These are men and women, Christians, from all walks of life, willing to serve GOD and to live for GOD and to minister for GOD no matter what, no matter the persecution that is so visibly there.  Why?  Why do these people do this?  When they face torture? When they face death?  Why do the people that hear the message trust in the message and hold faith in the message?  Because they have eyes that see and ears that hear and hearts that know and minds that trust.  They perceive what so many in this humanistic world do not see, and they also perceive what a lot of American and European Christians have forgotten.

The failing that a lot of American churches today have is the same failing that I see the Humanist beliefs have—we are our own savior, that we are good and will be seen as being good and that is all that is important.  The Humanist says that he is good by showing himself to Society through Social connotations that he believes in.  Society is to the humanist what GOD is to the Christian.  The American Christian so many times says that he is loved by GOD during the good times and then when bad times come he is confused and uncertain and scared.  Why doesn’t GOD rescue me?  Says the Christian.  Why doesn’t Society rescue me?  Says the humanist.  We think to ourselves that society will love us by being good, so the humanist will do all he can because it “makes him feel all warm and fuzzy inside” because people will say “he’s a good man.”  Same thing with the modern Christian.  GOD loves me because I give to the poor, or I give to the church, or I help out at the soup kitchen.  So again, I feel “all warm and fuzzy inside” and so I am a good man. 

What the true Christian will know that many modern Christians have forgotten and what the atheist, no matter what point in history, doesn’t even understand, is that we are broken.  We come to GOD broken.  When we come to GOD broken we realize that we come to Him with empty hands.  Like a child.  We come to GOD like a child because we cannot depend upon ourselves, we cannot depend upon society.  Even if the horrible times continue, we rely upon GOD because…as the humanist fails to see…we are only looking at a small point, a small passage, in a far greater story, a far greater epic, a far greater reality.  And that no matter what happens now, whether we are persecuted in Algeria or in China or we have a mentally ill child or we are fired after twenty years, and no matter even if we ask questions in our doubts and our troubles, GOD is still there as a Savior and will bring us out of this fallen world into His arms.  Into His love.  Through Jesus Christ.  We aren’t saved by being good, or being rich, or being powerful, or being smart, or being white, or being black, we are saved because the world is broken, we are broken, and only GOD (not society as the humanist believes in his utopia) can save us…and bring us into the real story, the real world.

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Posted: 27 September 2006 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
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Hey Franklin! Thanks for the respons.

I guess we wont go any further on the issue of using a book to communicate. I still question the use of paper as the superior means of communication for an all-powerful god.

About the A and B principles:
(A) was a statement that god wants a relationship with his creation. I could go two ways, so I will go both. All he has to do is ring my doorbell. I have a limited intellect. He needs to be clear with me. He knows where I live after all. He’s all-knowing, right? Which brings me to the other of the two ways. Why would an all-knowing god have any interest in a creation that can bring him no new experience? If he is all-knowing it would be the boring task of talking to someone knowing what the person would say. Not anticipating. Knowing. He already knows everything about the “relationship” beforehand. He already know what his experience will be. Already felt it. It would be like paying to see a movie you’ve seen a thousand times. Why do that?

(B) talks about the freedom of choice. To chose not to pay attention demands that I know what it is I’m not paying attention to. If I think it’s an ordinary breeze I’m not choosing to not pay attention. I simply didn’t know that it was more than that. The fact that “god’s breath” can be mistaken for an ordinary breeze is remarkable. Why is it not stronger than that? God has demanded things before. Why not now?

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“If your original Hebrew disagrees with my original King James—- your original Hebrew is wrong.”—FSTDT

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Posted: 27 September 2006 03:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
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Hi FranklinBR

Thank you for your thoughtful response.  You shore up a defense against world wide attrocities with God at the center of it, controlling the ins and outs of what said massecres mean or do not mean in his infinite master plan.  I have thought about what you imply there.  However broken humans are, however inept, whichever means we are found lacking to act rightly with, the facts remain that humans err in gruesome ways, god (if he is omnimax) knew this would happen and yet did nothing to place a proper boundary on what is allowed to play out.

None of the exterminations in Algeria, gang rapes in Somalia, soccer field executions in Afganistan, incest, genocidal starvation, or what have you needs to happen.  You take a wide lense view to compartmentalize (trivialize?) it away.  I used to be devout.  I know the numbness you might be feeling towards the horror on earth.  Your salve,

“But God knoweth the end from the beginning and designed it (free will) all this way”

now makes me wretch because the companion statement has to be

and isn’t it beautiful, God is great!

How can one praise a being who allows for such gross scale non-benevolence.  Exterminations in Algeria, gang rapes in Somalia, soccer field executions in Afganistan, incest, genocidal starvation,... these are not beautiful things.  The balance (empowerement) your god allows for men to even be capable of choosing to carry these things out is not beautiful.  It is heinous.

These are ...Christians, from all walks of life, willing to serve GOD and to live for GOD and to minister for GOD no matter what, no matter the persecution… Why? Why do these people ...face torture? ... face death? Why do the people that hear the message trust in the message and hold faith in the message? Because they have eyes that see and ears that hear and hearts that know and minds that trust.

Because, also, they choose to ignore that their god allows for it.  It is a willful ignorance.  A cognitive dissonance from reality.  A mental gymnastic feat or contortion.  They forget that with their Christian world view, the gang raped Somalian 13 year old isn’t even going to get snatched up into heavan after she dies from exposure.  She gets gang raped and then, since she did not accept Jesus, off to hell with her.

You might argue that with heinousness also comes the capacity for supreme acts of goodness (M. Theresa).  I should focus on things like that more.  Maybe even things out a bit.

Noggin

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Posted: 27 September 2006 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”]What the true Christian will know that many modern Christians have forgotten and what the atheist, no matter what point in history, doesn’t even understand, is that we are broken. We come to GOD broken.

FranklinBR,
I appreciate that you are a sincer person, one, moreoever, who is willing to try to explain and rationally defend his religious beliefs.  I commend you for that.  But I find statements like the above to be absurd and annoying.  They really are debate-enders because those who assert them (usually) do not even want to begin to consider the possibility that they might be wrong.  But it is patently obvious, after some reflection, that the notion that humans are broken is just incompatible with the notion of an fully rational and omnipotent God.

If humans are broken, whose fault is it?  Clearly, when a car breaks in the first few months of use, it is the fault of the manufacturer.  Of course it’s possible for a new car owner to abuse the vehicle, but most of the time, if the car breaks immediately after the owner takes possession, the fault is with the maker. 

Same should apply to God.  Adam and Eve were not misusing their bodies when they took the fruit.  Sure, they were disobeying God, but first, God did not give them a good reason to obey Him; and second, disobeying a rule does not necessarily involve abuse (when I speed I disobey a rule, but I did not thereby abuse my car).  God decided that disobeying him resulted in Humans being “broken.”  But He didn’t have to do that. 

He could have said to Adam and Eve, “Look, I told you not to take that fruit.  I understand that you are new to the world and are curious and are just trying to figure things out.  But it’s really important for you to obey my commands.  I’m omniscient after all; I know what is best for.  The way I want this relationship to work is that you make your choices freely and come to me for guidance.  I will only be too happy to offer my perfect advice and wisdom, after all I am your father and I love you.  Let’s try this again, shall we.”

But God didn’t do this.  He decided to infer that humans are just broken.  He didn’t try to fix us or to explain the importance of listening to Him.  He just got angry (like a disfuctional father) and gave a punishment that was far out of proportion to the crime.

Look, when my children disobey me; I will not throw them out of my house and consider them broken.  I will explain to them the importance of following my rules, in much the same way that my fictional God did.  Parents who throw their kids out, who force them to undergo tremendous pain and suffering, are not good parents they are abusive parents, and they go to jail.

If Adam and Eve “broke” so soon after thier creation, the fault lies with the man who created them and refused to try to mend the break.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 27 September 2006 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”]If humans are broken, whose fault is it?

Adam and Eve were not misusing their bodies when they took the fruit.  Sure, they were disobeying God, but first, God did not give them a good reason to obey Him; and second, disobeying a rule does not necessarily involve abuse (when I speed I disobey a rule, but I did not thereby abuse my car).  God decided that disobeying him resulted in Humans being “broken.”  But He didn’t have to do that. 

He could have said to Adam and Eve, “The way I want this relationship to work is that you make your choices freely and come to me for guidance.  I will only be too happy to offer my perfect advice and wisdom, after all I am your father and I love you.  Let’s try this again, shall we.”

But God didn’t do this.  He decided to infer that humans are just broken.

If Adam and Eve “broke” so soon after thier creation, the fault lies with the man who created them and refused to try to mend the break.

You misunderstand omnipotence. Omnipotence means never having to say you’re sorry.

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Posted: 27 September 2006 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
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Hi Storm!  It is so good to hear from you.  Well I am back at home.  What a long drive it is back and forth from school.  If you’ve ever heard of the term “one red light town” or could the term be “one road town” that would pretty much describe the territory I have to drive through to get from home to school!  Luckily I have radio programs like, I don’t know if you are familiar with the character or not, Doctor Who radio/CD dramas?  They’re usually about two hours, so I’m able to listen to one hour going and then one hour coming home.  That and the fact that I IV Pepsi into my bloodstream helps a lot! 

Yes GOD could just easily walk up to your door and ring the doorbell and say “hey, how goes it!”  That would be easy.  Yet I wonder, how many of us would even consider even if He did do that to us?  I wonder how many of us would still rather look toward ourselves or society, anything rather than looking toward something greater than even the world around us?  Then again, concerning that He knows all before hand, then again you get into the debate between predestination and free will, a debate that is sometimes found in the school I go to because, as a Methodist, I believe in Free Will, as the seminary I go to is Presbyterian, they tend to believe in predestination.  I like how I once heard it said:  GOD knows the past, present, and future, but outside of what we already read in the Bible, He doesn’t act so that we can make our own choices.  We make our own decisions.  In other words, He already knows what will happen (on the infinite scale) but He allows us to act on our own accord on the finite scale. 

Then again, why do we sometimes not feel “God’s breath?”  Well then, you might as well ask why did so many Israelites fail to fall back to the LORD after the battle between Elijah and the priests of Baal?  Because it was easy.  Because people have learned to compromise on eternal truths and instead choose to hold unto finite truths because it is just a lot easier and “safer ground”—by that I mean, by witnessing eternal truths you realize that there is a scheme, a reason, a meaning, to not just ourselves but the universe around, on the other hand, by choosing to focus only on finite truths, then you don’t have to worry about consequences as long as you make good in what you yourself and the deity you make society to be.

If you permit me, I wish to give you, and anyone else who’d be willing to check this out, a simple exercise by way of the Bible.  It isn’t a complicated exercise, but it is an in-depth exercise.  First read Psalm 63.  It isn’t a long Psalm so you don’t need Cliff Notes to help you out (if you, Storm, understand that reference).  Ask yourself what the narrator is asking for.  Ask yourself then what the narrator is given.  Then read two passages from the Gospel of John.  First passage is that of John 3:1-21.  Ask yourself what Nicodemus is asking for and what Nicodemus receives.  Same thing, then for John 4:1-43.  Ask yourself what the woman at the well is asking for and what the woman at the well receives.  How are all these connected?  What is the underlying message and how does it prescribe a greater truth, at least in the eyes of the Christian? 

Hope to hear from you again soon, Storm.  If you are having a wet and dreary day, turn on all the lights in the house…that usually helps.  Just teasing! 

LOL

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Posted: 27 September 2006 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
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Job says the following:  “…Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”  In this life, this imperfect life, can we not expect to see both the good and the bad? 

Hi Noggin I hope your day is a good one?  Hope you are having a bit more sun than I am, seems like a hint of rain.  Which will be a bit of a pain since my dog demands that I take him out to use the bathroom and will, with rain, expect me to hold a umbrella over him.  Ah, to be a slave of one’s pet.  Then again, that’s probably more information than you asked for!

The questions you are asked are very important questions because we must realize something greater.  Why is there pain in the world?  Why is there starvation, poverty, rape, murder.  These are not light questions and these are questions that need to be answered.  I believe, though, that the Bible does hold the answers but you have to take a greater look at the Bible from one end to the next…by that I mean this, I see through examining the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, that there is horror in the world.  A horror that was brought about, not because GOD doesn’t care, but because we through Adam and Eve and through our base theologies, our base philosophies, and our base corruption, invite.  Yet even in the most horrific of situations, GOD’s miracles can be seen.  I will use several examples.

One is by pointing toward the Gospel for Asia ministries.  Here are men and women, simple men and women, men and women who come from all walks of life and from all different social backgrounds and all different races, holding together a specific mission.  These people are willing to take the mission of the LORD into countries of persecution like China (who I will add doesn’t just persecute Christians but also persecutes the Buddhists as we see in Tibet) and spread the word of the Gospel.  These men and women do not do this for fame.  They do not do this for money.  They do this for something that is of the most complicated to you as a humanist. 

Another example is for me to point toward the international group called The Voice of the Martyrs…men and women who are willing to go anywhere, just like we see in the Gospel for Asia ministries, to bring a message of love, of strength, of reconstruction and reconciliation.  The martyrs are everywhere from Asia to Africa from the Middle East to South America.  The faithful underground are willing to give themselves, give their lives, for the call of Christ to the heart and mind and soul.  Why do they do this?  Why are they willing to sacrifice everything, and I mean everything?  Family.  Friends.  Money.  Freedom.  Jobs.  It is because they see something that humanists do not see.

They do this for the Cross.  On the cross we see man’s greatest inhumanity to man (and I am not one of those replacement theologians who “blame the Jews” please realize that)  by the crucifixion of GOD’s only Son and yet, at the very same time, we see GOD’s eternal love because by laying out all of our sins, all of our pains, our burdens, our thoughts, our deeds upon Himself, He is able to make a very easy, a very simple door between Him and us.  One door.  Yes.  But still a beautiful door indeed.  Yet to describe the Cross to the Atheist, to the humanist, why that would be like trying to describe in detail a rainbow to a blind man.  The Atheist doesn’t know how to see the Cross and the blind man cannot see the rainbow. 

I think one day each and every one of us will stand before GOD.  And I think we will be questioned in a bit of a way like Job was questioned when GOD said to him:  “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements?  Surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?  To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

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Posted: 27 September 2006 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
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To waltercat, greetings and salutations to you this fine day.  Thank you for your honest reply.  So what does it mean to be broken?  What is broken?  What is hampered?  What is static?  What does it mean for me to say that we come to GOD broken?  I say this not out of some cliché answer, because I try not to deal with cliches as best as I can.  I can only say what I honestly believe.  When I look at the world around me I do see that the world is broken.  You only have to turn on the television or read internet news reports.  We see the wars in the Middle East, genocide in Europe, we see school shootings in the America’s heartland, and we see poverty everywhere.  We see the statistics for teen pregnancy.  We see the statistics for divorce rates.  We see statistics for suicides of our children.  Yes.  I do believe that we are broken.  Where does that “break” come from, though, the humanist and the Christian will be different on that notion.  The Humanist says that society can fix its own ills, that society can use reason to make everyone happy and everyone safe.  The Christian, on the other hand, says that man can create as many towers to the stars that he wants to, but because there is a break on the level of the soul, then we ourselves cannot fix our woes.

If the world is broken who’s fault is it?  God’s fault or man’s fault?  If I go into a store and I steal, is it not my fault for doing that action?  I had the freedom of will to pay for that item, but I stole it anyway.  Should the store clerks or the store manager be blamed for my own action?  Then again, when man rebel’s who is at fault?  Man or GOD?  I would say it is man’s fault for man’s rebellion because man has rebelled since Adam’s rebellion from GOD…that is, when given a clear opportunity to follow either GOD or one’s own desires, Adam and Eve chose to follow their own will…and I wont go to the idea that “the devil made me do it” because while I do believe in a Devil, I believe that we, on our own accord are quite willing to choose the wrong action simply because we want to do what we want to do.  Selfishness.  Self attention.  Self worship.  Of course you might say that “GOD could have made Adam and Eve not choose the apple.”  Well.  Yes.  Then what?  Is that not GOD wanting nothing more than wind up toy soldiers following Him?  How can there be a relationship with someone who does all that you tell him to do without him even going through his own free will in deciding to do what you tell him to do.

You say that He didn’t try to fix us.  Of course He did!  You only have to look at the covenants that He develops first with Adam (examine the covenant and judgment and salvation in the first part of Genesis), then skipping through history, go to the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  Then forward to Moses, the covenants between GOD and the Israelites, forward onward along the road of kings and prophets, scribes and warriors.  Then, as if to place an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence, He gave us Himself in the visible, in the flesh, but still fully in the divine, as Jesus Christ the Son of GOD, the Son portion of the Trinity.  The life lived, the cross lifted up, the death, then the resurrection.  The Gospel.  The Good News.  The Hope. 

Now we can surely go into more complicated details.  We could examine how long the time frame was between the Creation of Adam and Eve and the fall.  We could examine what GOD was offering Adam and Eve and what befell them with their fallen choice.  As I know a lot of you wish me not to spend hours talking!, I will instead wish to point to you to two books on the subject.  I wish that you would read them, not that I am wanting to force you to read them, but that you might be able to “walk in my shoes” by reading them and understanding where I am coming from.  The two books are the following:

Kingdom Prologue by Meredith Kline
How to Read Genesis by T. Longman

I don’t not agree with everything these two authors have to say, but, then again, I don’t have to…but both authors have given me a greater respect and a greater understanding (at least for myself) of Genesis and the underlying currents and reasons and whys behind the first book of the Bible. 

I hope you have a great day! :shock:

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Posted: 27 September 2006 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”]If the world is broken who’s fault is it?  God’s fault or man’s fault?  If I go into a store and I steal, is it not my fault for doing that action?  I had the freedom of will to pay for that item, but I stole it anyway.  Should the store clerks or the store manager be blamed for my own action?  Then again, when man rebel’s who is at fault?  Man or GOD?  I would say it is man’s fault for man’s rebellion because man has rebelled since Adam’s rebellion from GOD…that is, when given a clear opportunity to follow either GOD or one’s own desires, Adam and Eve chose to follow their own will…and I wont go to the idea that “the devil made me do it” because while I do believe in a Devil, I believe that we, on our own accord are quite willing to choose the wrong action simply because we want to do what we want to do.  Selfishness.  Self attention.  Self worship.  Of course you might say that “GOD could have made Adam and Eve not choose the apple.”  Well.  Yes.  Then what?  Is that not GOD wanting nothing more than wind up toy soldiers following Him?  How can there be a relationship with someone who does all that you tell him to do without him even going through his own free will in deciding to do what you tell him to do.

Thanks for the reply, FranklinBR, but I think I must have failed to make my point clear.  God did not have to make us such that we will never choose evil.  That is, he didn’t have to take our freedom away.  But He does have the obligation, as our creator, to teach us how best to use the gift He has given us.  And He has the obligation to be understanding (as any parent does) and not to overreact at the first sign of disobedience.

I have read Genesis many times and I am unable to find any point at which God explains to Adam and Eve why it is so important not to eat the fruit.  Nor does He even explain to them the value of listening to their all-wise creator.  He just tells them not to and threatens them with death (a rather harsh punishment for so small an infraction).  And then, when they disobey, He becomes very angry and banishes them into a hostile world.  This is certainly an overreaction.  Adam and Eve were brand new beings, the first of their kind, the first coporeal beings capable of free choice.  If God thought things would be easy, He never should have made these children.

Human parents do not react in the way that God did.  When human children disobey, yes, they are punished, but they are not left to fend for themselves in a hostile world.  Parents who refuse to help their children just because of some small infraction are NOT good parents, such people are sent to jail.

Here is the main point:  God did not have to react to Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience in the way that He did.  He could have given them a stern lecture, sent them to their cave, grounded them for a week, and explained to them the importance of listening to Him.  Instead He throws them out of Paradise.  Why did He do that?

You say that He didn’t try to fix us.  Of course He did!  You only have to look at the covenants that He develops first with Adam (examine the covenant and judgment and salvation in the first part of Genesis), then skipping through history, go to the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  Then forward to Moses, the covenants between GOD and the Israelites, forward onward along the road of kings and prophets, scribes and warriors.  Then, as if to place an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence, He gave us Himself in the visible, in the flesh, but still fully in the divine, as Jesus Christ the Son of GOD, the Son portion of the Trinity.  The life lived, the cross lifted up, the death, then the resurrection.  The Gospel.  The Good News.  The Hope.

Interesting though, isn’t it, that God abadoned so many of his people to a lifetime (and perhaps an eternity) without the moral guidance of the Law, and, later, without the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Why did God not provide the same oppurtunities for ALL of His children (Native Americans, Asians, Africans, etc.) Why let Native Americans flounder without a moral guide and without the hope of salvation for so many years?

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 27 September 2006 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
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Evening Franklin! Hope your fingers aren’t getting tired. smile

[quote author=“FranklinBR”]Doctor Who radio/CD dramas?

Never heard of the radio version, but I have seen some of the tv-series episodes from the old series and some from the new. Love the craziness and the british humour.

[quote author=“FranklinBR”]
Yes GOD could just easily walk up to your door and ring the doorbell and say “hey, how goes it!”  That would be easy.  Yet I wonder, how many of us would even consider even if He did do that to us?  I wonder how many of us would still rather look toward ourselves or society, anything rather than looking toward something greater than even the world around us?

Not only would it be easy. It would be highly effective. A god could make it so that I without a shadow of a doubt would recognice him as god. You’re saying that this would be less effective than the text in a book?


[quote author=“FranklinBR”]
...I believe in Free Will,...

So do I. I fail to see how you can believe in Free Will and still believe in prophets. A being, not saying a god or even supernatural, able to travel in time as you and I travel in the three dimensions we know, back/forth up/down, side/side, would be able to travel back and forth observing how things unfold. The being would, to us, know all. However, at the moment the being tells us about it, the future change. Let’s say a prophet tells me that if I turn left at the candystore tomorrow I will get run over by a truck. The prophet has been told this by the being, who has seen it. The moment he tells me I will either: have the ability to turn right at the candystore saving my life, or be unable to turn anything else than left at the candystore, driving to certain death. At one side, the being is wrong, rendering the prophet to be wrong, as I did not die that day. On the other side I have no free will to talk about.

If a true prophet can’t be wrong I have no free will, as I will be unable to change things. I will have the free will to try to stop it, but that kind of freedom is the same as saying that an intern is free to move about in his cell.

[quote author=“FranklinBR”]
Then again, why do we sometimes not feel “God’s breath?” Well then, you might as well ask why did so many Israelites fail to fall back to the LORD after the battle between Elijah and the priests of Baal? Because it was easy. Because people have learned to compromise on eternal truths and instead choose to hold unto finite truths because it is just a lot easier and “safer ground”—by that I mean, by witnessing eternal truths you realize that there is a scheme, a reason, a meaning, to not just ourselves but the universe around, on the other hand, by choosing to focus only on finite truths, then you don’t have to worry about consequences as long as you make good in what you yourself and the deity you make society to be.

Easy not to feel the breath, and hard to notice it… Why? Wouldn’t a smart god have made it the other way around?
What is an enternal truth? Or better yet, what is truth?
Is it ‘what really happend’ ? Please define.

[quote author=“FranklinBR”]First read Psalm 63. John 3:1-21.  John 4:1-43.

I could have cracked jokes all night over those, but I will make an effort not to.

The psalm.
David searches for god. He seeks, thirsts and longs for him, yet have seen him in the sanctuary. God will help him kill his enemies and throw their corpses to the dogs.
Basically love god and be safe. Your soul will be happy.

John 3
do right. Happy soul, happy god

John 4
Jesus doesn’t like doing things for himself. If the desciples aren’t there, he will ask someone else to do things for him.
The title prophet is easy to get. Know just a little about someone and you’re in.
Listen to Jesus.

So…for a happy soul, love god, do right and listen to Jesus.

a. Do I have a soul? How would I know?
b. How can I love something I don’t believe exists? I will have as much luck trying to truely love santa claus.
b. Doing right is a good cause, if we can agree on what is right. I doubt we can.
c. If he ever speaks I will listen. Might not agree though.
d. It is all based on a belief I don’t have and can’t recieve through a book. The doorbell would be a better option for me.

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Posted: 27 September 2006 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
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Hey Storm no my fingers aren’t getting tired. I’m rather use to writing.  While I tend to write the papers from class, and due to learning disabilities I am able to use a laptop at class, I also like to write fictional stories.  From fantasy stories to horror, and a little bit in-between.  Maybe writing is my way of examining and placing into letters what goes through my mind during prayer, meditation, and the usual rigors of daily life.  In person I tend to be very quiet, except at work where everyone is insane and we all have a blast…

I have to wonder myself if it would be effective if God came up to me, spread His arms, and said “believe!”  Humans, and I know I am included in that, are a rather stubborn lot.  Especially when we are being dragged away from what we want to do, even though, say, our parents know that it isn’t good for us to do this action.  I jolly well know that I’ve had many occasions where, to put bluntly, I’ve had to be dragged kicking and screaming to something or someplace. 

This reminds me of when the people asked Jesus for a sign again and again, despite their receiving signs from the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, and the dead coming back to life.  And still they did not believe Him!  Why? Well several reasons, but the most important reason, to me, is that they didn’t believe Him because they didn’t WANT to believe Him.  Due to human stubborn nature, a nature that goes from the soul to the heart to the mind, we could have the color red before us and still call it blue!

Concerning the prophets of the OT, I will use Daniel and Ezekiel as an examples toward being a true prophet.  A true prophet was the voice of God for the people of Israel, but that did not mean that they understood everything God was showing them.  Daniel was a true prophet but that does not mean that he understood all the information that came his way.  Remember, in fact, an angel of the Lord had to come and practically give a point by point explanation toward what the future held for Israel. 

Another point I will use is Ezekiel and how Ezekiel’s prophecies of the return to Israel after the Diaspora came true in the mid of the last century!  Two thousand some years almost between the scattering (in AD 70) and the recovering of the Jewish land for the Jewish people in the 19-forties through the sixties.  Both Jews and Christians alike have seen this return after the scattering to be a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy!

About the ease of not feeling the breath.  Yes.  It is quite easy to not feel the breath, or to think of it as something else.  It goes back to my point on humans being a stubborn lot.  We want, on our base needs, for things to be simple and exact for us.  We want to be handed the “silver platter” with everything on it.  And yet even if we are handed the platter, we’re still not happy until we have something else!  If the “God breath” is not suiting us, for example, if I choose not to feel the God’s breath because I want to do something else—then the fault is placed upon me because I am doing what I want to do, even if it causes me or someone else harm.  It also goes back to being broken.  Which you already know what I believe toward that. 

And about the three set of verses, just a mere exercise I wanted you to go through.  For me, they are fully connected.  We long for God, but we don’t know how to come to God.  God comes to us, but only half way because we must take that leap of faith.  We must step out of what we think we know into what is really there, into the world that is really real.  Let me do a quick exegesis for you using the Psalm. 

Ps. 63:1.  We thirst for something, we hunger for something, as we live in this world of longings, and that something can only be fulfilled by God. 

63:2.  But we can’t let God come to us, we have to come to God, because taking those steps in faith bring about a treasure trove of love.  God doesn’t force us to come to Him, we must accept the mystery and go to Him. 

63:3.  Why?  Because God is greater than this life that we live, God is larger, wiser, loving, far more than we humans will ever truly realize and it is in that we find completion, not in a wife, not in society, not in children, but solely in God. 

63:4.  Because of what I realize, because of what I receive, the very revelation of God, how can I not praise Him even when the most painful of times occurs?  How can I not praise Him even when I’m beaten and bloody?  He is God, I am man, He is the creator, I am the created, through faith, that bridge that no atheist can ever possibly see because they don’t believe in either the bridge or the other side, and so even when it hurts, I will love Him because I realize a greater world than the small world that I face now. 

I think you get the idea as to where I am heading toward. 

Sorry that this ran overboard Storm, I will try to keep my posts simple so you have an easier time reading them.  Have a great evening!  The weather still “great” out your way?  rolleyes

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Posted: 27 September 2006 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
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[

Then again, why do we sometimes not feel “God’s breath?”

In the midst of the giberish I noted this phrase and recall that somewhere I read that the original Celtic work for “whiskey” meant “God’s Breath.”

Works for me.

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