Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi

Isaiah 42:8-10  “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”  Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. 

December 2013 A.D. has been a busy month for me. A year-long planned vacation, a surprise retirement offer that I took, and a three state road trip to visit family for the holidays have made this an action-packed time. 

Now, a new year begins tomorrow, 2014 A.D. - Anno Domini - The term Anno Domini is Medieval Latin, translated as In the year of the Lord, and as in the year of Our Lord. It is sometimes specified more fully as Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi ("In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ"). I like that. Blessed New Year!

In Christ, Brian 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Psalm 92:13-15Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

I have always thought it interesting that many of the English “Surnames”, our family’s last name, especially the ones with occupational origins. Taylor, Wagner, Fischer, Smith, Baker, Thatcher, Hunter, Tanner, Mason, Barber, Carpenter, Cook, Gardener, Turner, and even Todd, indicated the family line of business, craft or trade. In that case, I guess that I am truly Brian, the Scotch-Irish “Fox Hunter” by surname profession. But, I wonder how few and far between we find folks actually involved in the occupations today which their surname represents? I’m sure that there are some, but seem rare today. Some of these occupations have changed or gone away as time and technology advanced also. But, even more common, is that people today choose their occupation, not on family business, but on their personality, their talents, their education field, their dreams, desires and likes. Oh, I know that there are plenty that have to take whatever work that they can find to make ends meet, and many that are in a job that they do not like, just to pay the bills and provide food, clothes and a roof over their head too, as the breadwinner.

I did not hunt foxes; never have or will, so in a way, you could say that I am a Todd in name only … a nominal Todd as far as the family business. But, I did follow in the footsteps of my father for my occupation and profession. My dad, after serving in the US Navy during both World War 2 & the Korean War, worked his entire career at the American telecommunications company AT&T. Growing up, I always wanted to be a “telephone man”, just like my father. I think that it is pretty common for a young boy to be like his dad; at least for me it was, so I chose that profession early on in life. I went to work for American Telephone and Telegraph Company in Southern California (Pacific Telephone and Telegraph company), just one week after graduating from High School and have been there my entire almost 39 year career, developing a skill and putting my knowledge, ability and expertise for this craft into practice daily. But, yesterday, I packed up and walked out the door for the last time, leaving behind the occupation and profession that defined my vocation to others all those years. We plan and build a “nest egg” for the day that we can stop working our job or career because we have reached an age and financial secure enough to where you do not need or want to work at that particular job anymore; better known as “retirement”. Now, some new young person starting their career has an employment opportunity for that telecommunications trade position and an ability to make a livelihood by the vacancy.

John 1:12-13 “As many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Surnames may have defined the family occupations in the past, but didn’t define “family”. Likewise, our jobs and career positions today also define “what we do”, but not “who we are”. In the family of God, the name “Christian” is not defined by what we do, but by what God did by sending His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to take our place and pay the price for sin in propitiation’s redemption and salvation for all those who repent, believe and receive Him. The child of God carries the family name, trusting and obeying our Creator Father in heaven, but is also in the “family business” of redemption, salvation and love. We proclaim, teach and defend the faith by (1) What we believe., (2) Why we believe it., (3) How we live it., and (4) How we share it. The kingdom of God is our family home and our profession.
I retired from my career trade, but will never retire from my family and name here. The next chapter of life begins. 

Isaiah 46:4Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Alternative Dispute Resolution

1 Timothy 2:5-6aFor there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”

As we are coming into Christmas week, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ around the world, its good to remember why this gala of merriment that naturally causes people to shout in joy, and gratitude the exclamation of “hallelujah!”, meaning “Praise ye the  Lord!” from the heart. It’s important because of the secular efforts to take an ax to the foundations of faith by trying to substituting and camouflaging the Savior of the world, the meaning for the Season. I’ve read lately that if anything strikes at the root of the tree of modern pluralism and relativism, it is the claim of exclusivity to any one religion. We have been inundated with the viewpoint that there are many roads that lead to heaven and that God is not so narrow that He requires a strict allegiance to one way of salvation. With today’s redefinitions and distractions from origins, the biblical declaration above is viewed as narrow and down-right un-American by the indoctrinated and deceived to where such a statement is twisted around to be seen as bigoted and hateful. But the Apostle Paul, of course, is not expressing bigotry or hatefulness at all. He is simply expressing the truth of God, the same truth that Jesus taught when He said:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6).

A mediator is a “go-between”, someone who stands between two parties that are estranged or involved in some kind of dispute. Paul declares that Jesus Christ is the solitary “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) between God and men. The writer points out that we have to understand the uniqueness of Christ’s mediation in terms of the uniqueness of His person. Jesus is the God-man, that is, God incarnate, literally God “here, present with us in the flesh”. Jesus Christ is Immanuel (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל "El is with us", the name of the Messiah as prophesied by Isaiah. Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Sin has separated us from our Maker, God. In order to bring about reconciliation between God and humanity, the second person of the Trinity united to Himself a human nature. Thus, Jesus has qualifications to bring about reconciliation, as He represents both sides perfectly. This is what we truly celebrate at Christmas. 

But the pagan humanists and pluralists ask, “Why is God so narrow that He provided only one Savior in His “Plan of Salvation” for Sinners. I do not think that is the question that we ought to ask. Instead, we should ask, “Why did God give us any way at all to be saved?” Who doesn’t admit that “Nobody is perfect”, and essentially that all have sinned against God and man at some time. So the question is: “Why did God not just condemn us all?” He didn’t “have to” provide a way to forgive Sin and its just penalty! Why did God, in His grace, give us a Mediator to stand in our place, to receive the judgment we deserve, and to give to us the righteousness we desperately need? The astonishing thing is not that the One Creator God did not do it in multiple ways, but that He did it in even one way. In 1 Timothy 2:5-6a, Paul brings all the strands together: there is only one God, and God has only one begotten Son, and the Son is the sole Mediator between God and mankind. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world, this Christmas, it is good for us to remember the uniqueness of Jesus in light of what He himself tells us in John 3:16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.May we never suggest that God has not done enough for us, considering what He has done for us in Christ Jesus. Joy to the world, the Lord is come and He is the “Alternative Dispute Resolution” of God.

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Merry Christmas!
In Christ, Brian

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Underdogs Welcome

Luke 2:8-14 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

While we were on vacation for the last couple weeks, Pastor JJ started a new Advent Sermon series titled “Wonder: putting the awe back into the Christmas story”. He told us that God loves an “underdog”. The young shepherd boy David was the least significant brother, yet this less-likely candidate trusted God to take on a giant warrior and lead his people. A stuttering fugitive Moses, filled with excuses, took on the most powerful Ruler in the known world and led his people out of Egypt. Fearful Gideon hid in a hole, but God called him, with a limited and under-manned army, to go up against the over-powering Philistine forces using only lanterns and clay pots and won despite the odds. Zealous Paul killed Christians and disqualified himself, but God chooses him as his instrument to save the gentile world. Then, who did God choose to be the first to receive the message of the arrival of the Savior of the world? Not the Royals, the Rulers nor the Religious leaders, but the lowly shepherds in the field, the underdogs of Israel, who had the menial task of watching the sheep go by.

What is the story all about? The good news of great joy is that our lives have been invaded by God in Christ Immanuel; God with us, among us. There is a God in heaven and He loves us, sent His Son to us for the redemption of all people, that forgiveness and salvation may come for those who believe because we were all “behind the eight ball” of sins penalty. This is all by His love and grace, to His glory. Those underdog shepherds received a glimpse into eternity with and vision of heaven by a multitude of angels with a message of redemption and God’s presence with us; the One that they heard about their whole lives, for all people, was here. And they didn’t keep it to themselves.

Luke 2:17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

The shepherd told everyone about the promised Messiah’s arrival. They didn’t just come to Jesus and worship Hi, but went and told all as God’s called Messengers. It wasn’t the powerful, nor the religious leaders, but the underdog with nothing to lose. Normal and ordinary faithful people to carry the message of how good God is and what He is doing, because He showed up to change our life and our future destination. If he can use lowly people, like underdog shepherds, then He can use you and I as a light in the midst of our dark, unknowing neighborhoods to bring the gospel message to a sin sick lost and dying culture, using our voice and actions to bring people back to God because He loves and underdog to touch peoples lives by His will and his passion. The angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will toward men.” Jesus’ message is of the peace of God and peace with God, as sins are forgiven and lives redeemed though faith in Christ. We are weak, but He is strong. Though our weakness, His strength is shown in our story. He came to us to share His message of hope and offers a relationship that brings life. This is the real Christmas story. We are all underdogs loved by God. Underdogs welcome.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Fright of & Flight from God (Part Two)

1 Corinthians 2:13-16 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Looking at the basic stages of natural man’s reaction to Almighty God the second category is “repression”. In Romans 1:18-19 Paul says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” God has clearly revealed Himself to all men through the created order. He maintains that all men “clearly perceive” this revelation. However, man “represses” or “suppresses” this knowledge. Repress may be defined as “to put down by force; subdue; to prevent the natural or normal expression, activity, or development of; to exclude from consciousness.” The word Paul uses is the Greek term “κατέχω” or “katechō”, translated as “stifle”, “hold down firm”, “suppress”, “Repress”, and “hinder”. J.H. Bavinck writes that repression is the process by which unacceptable desires or impulses are excluded from consciousness and thus being denied direct satisfaction are left to operate in the unconscious. Anything that goes contrary to the accepted patterns of life or to the predominant popular ideas may be repressed. Man receives a clear revelation from God but represses that truth and refuses to acknowledge what he knows to be true. He has a negative psychological reaction to the knowledge of God. The trauma is not maintained in its clear, threatening state but is repressed in captivity in the unconscious. That which is repressed is not destroyed. The memory remains, though it may be buried in the unconscious realm. Knowledge of God is traumatic and unacceptable to natural man, and as a result man does his best to blot it out or at least camouflage it in such a way that its threatening character can be concealed or dulled, but the memory is not obliterated. The “knowledge” is not destroyed; it remains intact, but deeply submerged and will work its way back to the surface in veiled or disguised forms.
John 3:19-21 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
The third stage or category of unregenerate man’s reaction to Almighty God is “substitution”. Sproul explains that it is because repressed knowledge is not destroyed that substitution or “exchange” - the Greek term μεταλλάσσω, (metallassō) takes place.  This exchange or “substitution” of idolatry for authentic religion indicates that the repressed knowledge is not actually destroyed. The original knowledge is threatening; its disguised form is much less threatening. In theological terms, what results front eh repression is the profession of atheism, or agnosticism, or in a kind of religion that makes God less of a threat than He already is. Translating this to religious terms, we see man has the propensity to soften his understanding of God by creating images of God in religious garb that is non-threatening. It is common for people to speak of belief in a “higher power” or as “something greater than ourselves.” These faceless, nameless deities are abstractions which make no personal demands upon us. It is one thing to believe in a “higher power”; it is another to believe in a holy personal God who makes ultimate demands upon us and before whom we are ultimately accountable. Either option, atheism or dilutes religion, manifests an exchange of the truth for a lie. The truth is exchanged for a lie simply because the lie seems easier to live with. This religion expresses not the fruit of man’s pursuit of God, but the product of his substitution-exchange propensity. We have witnessed massive attempts to soften the demands imposed upon us by the biblical God. While it is intimidating to bow down before the powerful God of the Bible, it is utterly pointless to bow politely to false gods of our own making.
Joshua 24:14-15 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

In Christ, Brian

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Fright of & Flight from God (Part One)

Job 40:1-14 Then the Lord said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Then Job replied to the Lord, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand.  I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.” Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: “Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. “Will you discredit my justice and condemn me just to prove you are right? Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty. Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand. Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead. Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.

The more that I read in this study on the debate between “Theism” and “Atheism” the more interesting it gets as the issues, facts and assumptions are laid on the table in the open market of free discussion. Sproul points out that all the atheist psychoanalysis theories of the origin of religion differ in points of details, but contain a common element of argumentation, the belief that religion owes its origin and its sustaining power to psychological needs runs as a common threat through all of them. There is no dispute that man has the power of creative imagination and the capacity to turn his fantasies into theories or full-blown religious systems. But the same thing can be said for atheism. The atheist has his vested interests too. Remember that the origin of religion set forth by modern atheist psychoanalysis theories offer no proof or falsification of the case of “theism”. Though the atheist offers an interesting study of human psychological means and motives for religious beliefs, they must also recognize that the New Testament of the Holy Bible (the Word of God) offers some interesting input about the psychological means and motives for “atheism”. A man or woman burdened by serious guilt may want very much for there to be no God. A man or woman wanting to indulge their own sinful desires at the expense of others may like the idea that they are not ultimately accountable to a just and holy Sovereign Creator God.  The idea of the wrath of God is not a popular concept. As stated last post: The basic stages of man’s reaction to God can be formulated by means of the categories of trauma, repression and substitution.  

Job 42:1-6 Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

The first stage or category of sinful man’s reaction to Almighty God is “trauma”. Trauma may be defined as “a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental and emotional stress”. A traumatic experience generally involves something negative or threatening to the individual. The trauma is produced by man’s encounter with God’s self-revelation. By Romans 1:18-25, God has revealed Himself to all men, but what is it about Him that would terrify us so much and lead us into this exchange-substitute process? Confrontation with God shocks and injuries man. God’s presence manifests a threat to man’s moral standards, a threat to his quest for autonomy, and a threat to his desire for concealment. Sproul states that perhaps the five most significant aspects of God’s being that make fallen human beings uncomfortable are: (1) His holiness, (2) His omniscience / all-knowing, (3) His sovereignty / supreme domination, (4) His omnipotence / all-powerful, (5) His immutability / never changing. God represents the invasion of light into the darkness to which men are accustomed. Reformer John Calvin wrote: “in estimating our spiritual qualities, so long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own (self) righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard , we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness, will become polluted with the greatest iniquity.”

Jonah 2:6-9 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”

Good studies take time, and this one is no exception. Let’s pick it up here on the next post. Blessings.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Psychological Prejudice

Romans 1:28-32 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, they have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Having returned from our Caribbean cruise (which, I hope that you enjoyed the digital photos that I took and included with the posts from sea), I continue my study of “Theism” verses “Atheism” in the search to understand the debate and educate myself further on the facts, feelings, logic and reasoning, so that I can be a better communicator and witness for the Lord. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. That is the goal. I have found, both in studying and experience, that in the debate between belief in God and unbelief, human psychological prejudice is a key component.

John 3:19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Sproul highlights that the list of human violations of divine law in the Bible verses above, does not indicate that man’s problem of psychological prejudice is a mild one; that the judgment of man upon God was the judgment that God was not worthy of human consideration. The error of the human mind does not proceed from a mere logical miscalculation, it was not an error flowing our of logical reasoning, but a deliberate evaluation of the worth of the knowledge of God. The error of the pagan is not accidental, but clearly deliberate. The “not seeing fit” per Romans 1:28 is an obstinate refusal to acknowledge that which is manifestly evident and true in the content of the knowledge of God revealed in creation. Not only is God’s existence known, but His attitude towards evil is likewise made manifest. The pagan knows the penalty for his evil, however, their rejection is seen not only in that they blatantly practice what they know to be evil, and know will be punished, but they applaud and encourage others to participate in their madness with them. Christian writer John Murray remarked on Romans 1:32 that “We are not only bent on damning ourselves but we congratulate others on the doing of those things that we know have their issue in damnation.”  Sin in the lives of rational beings on an irrational foundation: the refusal to acknowledge as true what one knows with clarity to be true.

Romans 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Sproul illustrates by asking: Where on earth could we go to find a person free of covetousness? Where could we go in pursuit of a man without envy, insolence, boastfulness, and haughtiness? No, the evils illuminated and elucidated in Romans 1:28-32 are “normal” and “typical” of men everywhere. They are manifestations of the normal irrationalism of the most sophisticated society. Why? Psychological prejudice against God. To translate mankind’s response to the knowledge of God into contemporary categories of psychology is not a difficult task. The basic stages of man’s reaction to God can be formulated by means of the categories of trauma, repression and substitution.  We’ll look at that next post, as we prepare not just for the birth of Christ, the “Savior of the world”, but also “God with us”, God incarnate – literally God in the flesh.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Learn, love, live.
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, December 12, 2013

When You Think of Laura

Proverbs 11:23-30  The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath. There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.  The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.  The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it. He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, but trouble will come to him who seeks evil. He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage. He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

December 14th marks the five year anniversary of the passing of my precious cousin Laura. Each year, I like to honor her memory by writing a post abut her and her life. A life that was separated from me by 2000 miles of real estate for over thirty years, but suddenly, by the grace of God, erased for a moment in 2007 for two Christian cousins to discover each other and correspond in deep emotional and spiritual intimacy by authentic faith, in open dialogue and honest feelings about this pilgrimage journey, called “living”.  Brest Cancer ended our relationship just a short year later, but proved a lifetime of priceless wisdom and inspiration that touched my heart and soul with pure love. I have copied and pasted together a few of Laura’s writings here, so you may experience the true caring of this godly woman, daughter, wife, mother … and cousin.

Laura wrote: Cancer has brought me out of my shell quite a bit, it has made me a focus of attention.  I don’t take to that naturally. I try to remind people that I am really the “shy” sister, the quiet one.  I appreciate hearing the positives you saw in me, I only hope to be a positive influence on others...to help them know you can live a happy and abundant life, even while having to address cancer.  I have to support other causes, too.  It is just part of who I am now.  Once awakened to these things, there is no turning back! :)

We are both Christians and it is so interesting to me that be both take it so seriously...yet another similarity between us.  I do a lot with my church and have found that my faith really kept me grounded when I was diagnosed with cancer.  I have ALWAYS believed this experience is about God healing me, not me dying.  It gets hard at times because even among other Christians, I have found that everyone’s faith is different.  Faith is a spiritual gift, of which there are many.  Each of us have our own strengths and weakness when it comes to the gifts....by faith is one that has always come easy to me.  I try not to take for granted and always want to help others understand that I continue to feel protected and buffered by God.  I continue to feel that He is protecting me.  

It is so interesting because this whole experience has been surreal for me...in some respects. What I mean is, I continue to feel privileged by my cancer at times.  That may sound wacky so I will explain.  We have had so many miracles along the way...with doctors, surgeries, modern technology with medicines.  I have always felt very guided by God, very directed to do very specific things.  The decisions that we have made have always seemed so easy to me, even though others may think we have always taken the hardest road.  I have always just taken the road that seemed to make sense for us.  My husband is very pragmatic, practical.  I have always looked to him for logical reassurance, for understanding that we are making the right decisions when it comes to my health.  He has always believed in me, always been gifted with the same knowledge that we are okay....just fine.

With my most recent confirmation of two small tumors on my lungs, one of my breast cancer survivor friends rushed over to my house and panicked...asked if I was okay, etc.  She started talking about my faith, about how I have a strong resolve and strong faith and she just didn’t understand how this could happen to me.  Her indirect question was how God could let this happen to me.  I just consoled her and told her that I had prayed to have access to good information regarding these two spots on my lungs.  We had been watching them for  a year and I wanted them out of me, regardless of if they were a cancer or not.  I did not care what they were, I wanted a clean slate.  That is what I am looking for, waiting for....full restoration, just like Job.  She was sort of shocked as she seemed so devastated by my situation.  But, if there is anything I could share with someone who doesn’t have cancer, it is to just believe that God can heal us. I know I am loved by God and have received way to many blessings by this disease.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I wasn’t a cancer survivor.  If I could take it all back or start all over, I probably would.  But, then I remember the story of Job or Noah or Jonah or Abraham.  All of them went through suffering and God allowed it to happen because that is just the way life is on earth.  Suffering happens.  It just does.  I am a better person because of all of this and my family(extended, included) are much better, closer.  We care about other people more and try to take on causes outside of our world.

Faith has always come easy to me, I understand now that it is a spiritual gift. I need Christian companionship.  I struggle with finding people who can mentor me.  Not that I am overly educated or gifted...I am not!  I just have a different perspective now and because of that...i sometimes feel that I have a hard time relating to others.  People worry about things that I don’t worry about.  Women my age are fretting about things that don’t faze me.  I have been given a gift of early retirement and the perspective of fully enjoying my kids.  I have many hang-ups.  My house is always messy and I over-volunteer all the time.  I want to be everyone’s friend and sometimes that gets in the way of what really matters...so I constantly push myself to work on the spiritual disciplines.  I can assure you I could always be spending more time in the Bible, in communion with God.  A lot of time, I am praying while on my bike...getting that communion time and allowing him to pump me with new ideas.

I do tend to go on overdrive.  I sometimes wonder if that is because I sensed I was sick before I got diagnosed.  I did KNOW something was wrong and I went to doctors to try to figure it out.  They ran all sorts of tests, but my body looked healthy.  Subconsciously, I think I was worried that I didn’t have a lot of time...so I just started pushing myself really hard.  Kind of surreal to say that to someone, that I thought I might die.  But, I always wondered what was wrong with me...why I was so tired.  I knew I used to have high energy and be athletic, but I was so drained all the time.  Then when I got diagnosed, it was like an “A HA!” moment.  I always feel that God prepares of for the next step in our lives.  Sometimes we can’t see it until we have those types of moments.  Now, I have a hard time slowing down.  I know and believe I am on the mend, that finding out about my cancer only helped with me living a long life; prolonging it.  But the subconscious stuff plays in sometimes ... I have to let God breath in the positivity into my brain. I work on it all the time!

What a blessing this child of God was. It was because of her that I started this Blog and continue it. Laura has gone to be with the Lord, but remains in my heart forever and I am a better man for having gotten to know her and hear her story. She was truly an amazing woman. Laura did not withhold the gain, but sold it to all of us generously. You can read her own Blog posts @ loloplunkett.blogspot.com

Proverbs 12:1-6 To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. The Lord approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness. Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots. A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones. The plans of the godly are just; the advice of the wicked is treacherous. The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives.
In Christ, Brian

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Psychological Analysis of Theism and Atheism – Part Two

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Sproul points out that any one of these psychologically different projections might possibly explain the origin of religion. To prove that it does, however, is a formidable task. The question of the origin of religion cannot be settled ultimately by the speculations of either the psychologist or the philosopher. The question of the origin of religion is ultimately a question of history, not psychology or philosophy. The psychologist may present us with data regarding what the human psyche can and does like to project. He can offer a multitude of possible psychological reasons why men “might” invent religion. But to show what men “can” do and “might” do is not to show what men “actually do”. For example, to prove that a man is capable of murder is insufficient evidence to convict a man of murder. We must be careful to note that the above arguments can never be used as proof for the non-existence of God. There are, obviously, other explanations for the existence of religion. In fact, all the agreements presented above really have no bearing on the issue of the existence of God. Freud, Marx, and the others were not attempting to disprove the existence of God. Their arguments already presupposed the nonexistence of God. They were dealing with the bias atheist question: "Since there is no God, why is there religion?" The issue of theism/atheism is not over the question, “Why does man believe in God?" The ultimate question is: Why are there thinking men in the universe fearing the problems of their existence? To show that men desire a God is not to demonstrate anything about whether or not there is, in fact, such a deity. The explanations last post do not touch on the issue of the existence of God. These are biased psychological analyses that begin and end on the psychological level. They may teach us much concerning man, but say nothing with respect to God’s existence. It is intriguing that many supposedly enlightened thinkers today base their unbelief or agnosticism on the above critiques, when, in fact, these critiques have no real bearing on the God question. Thinkers who often consider themselves liberal and open-minded often criticize Christians for holding to religious dogmas, yet unbelievers have dogma of their own. Sproul makes it clear that it is necessary to point out that classical theism does not rest its case on the existence of God on the phenomenon of religion. In terms of the debate, religion serves only as corroborative evidence for faith, not compelling evidence for the existence of God. Freud and other atheists offer a plausible "alternative" explanation to the “origin of religion” than those offered by theists.

1 Corinthians 2: 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The point is that it is one thing to argue that men can invent “religion” out of Psychological necessity; it is another to argue that he does. The former involves questions of psychological and intellectual ability (means and motive); the latter involves questions of factual history. There are limitations in all the theories of these great thinkers. Freud showed that man has a dimension of religious desire and helpful in relating the phenomenon of guilt to religious consciousness, but we cannot conclude that there is in fact no comforting reality such as God in the universe. A benevolent Father may be an attractive incitement to religious devotion. On the other hand, an angry Father may be equally inciting to move towards atheism.  Feuerbach called attention to the fact that men tend to portray their gods in their own image, giving their deities characteristics and attributes of themselves. That men are prone to fashion religions idols” in their own image is no surprise to the Christian. Feuerbach teaches us much about man, but precious little about the existence or non-existence of God. Marx’s critique of “religion” has great value, at the point of demonstrating the mis-use of religion to manipulate and exploit the poor and oppressed of this world, for the atheist, and the theist as wee. .  However, it adds nothing to the question of the existence of God. If life is ultimately without value and man’s basic characteristic is his lust of power, then Nietzsche has offered powerful reasons for negating, not only God, but religion as well. But this fervently anti-organized religion critique is not God-centered attributes and, again, these matters do not touch the issue of the existence of God, though they press heavily on the matter of religious behavior of man. While valuable insights may be gained with respect to human behavior by an analysis of the role psychological desires play in religion, the question of the existence of God cannot be solved by these considerations.

Exodus 20;1-4a “And God spoke all these things: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of slavery. You shall have no gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything.
What is true can never be determined by an analysis of what men desire or do not desire to be the truth. The fact remains, of course, that many people do indeed base their unbelief on the psychological arguments of Freud, Marx, and the others. But there are just as many arguments showing that “unbelief” has its roots in the psychological needs and desires of man. The atheist may claim that people believing in God need a crutch to face the threats of the modern world, but fail to see that the shoe could be on the other foot or the crutch used for the other leg because atheist can’t face their Creator. The atheist desires that God not exist. The Bible sees not only atheism but natural man’s human-fabricated religion as being grounded in such apathy towards the true God, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. The New Testament maintains that unbelief is generated not so much by intellectual causes as by moral and psychological ones. The problem is not that there is insufficient evidence to convince rational beings that there is a God, but that rational beings have a natural hostility to the holy and sovereign being of God. This is precisely why the Word of God and the children of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit bear witness to the light of truth in a world in darkness of unbelief, that they may see the light and walk into it and live. God exists and His love, mercy, grace and providence abound. This side of heaven, the debate between theism (the light of belief) and atheism (the darkness of unbelief) continues.  A debate with eternal implications and ramifications. Shine your light.

Psalm 51:1-4 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Psychological Analysis of Theism and Atheism – Part One

Psalm 10:4 “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”

Of course, Psychology is literally the study of the “Soul”, which is the mind, will and emotion of man, and precisely where “psychological prejudice” can enter the equation of the God debate. French scientist-philosopher Blasé Pascal defined man as a paradox, stating that man finds himself between the poles of infinity and nothingness. Man is acutely aware of his condition as he experiences the threat of nothingness. For God has put eternity in the heart of man; existence after this life, not cease to exist. Man’s grandeur lies in the ability to contemplate his own existence and a better future existence than he presently enjoys. Thoughts of “something more than this life” and/or “some higher Power” abound. But this side of heaven, he is never able to actualize the possibilities he contemplates. It is precisely this ability to contemplate a better existence that lies behind most psychological theories for the origin of religion. The notion of a heaven where there will be no death, no pain, no suffering, no tears, and no darkness can be enormously appealing. In this study of “Theism” and “Atheism”, Sproul points out that this undeniable appeal has been the rallying point for many opponents of religious beliefs. Here are some of these attacks.

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

Atheist Sigmund Freud wrestled with the question, “If there is no God, why is there religion?” Freud looked not to text books on religion but to the complexities of the human psyche for the answer. Starting from the view of “No God” and “no Sin”, Freud concluded that restrictions imposed on individuals by civilization as critical factors in the emergence of religion. Without societal restrictions, man is left in the brutal state of nature where only the strongest can survive. Freud stated, “In the face of nature, society is born. That these forces (quakes, deluges, diseases, and death, etc.) nature rises up against us, majestic, cruel, inexorable; she brings to our mind once more our weakness and helplessness, which we thought to escape through the work of civilization.” His answer is the projection of religious character on nature itself, in the humanization of nature, saying “If everything in nature there are Beings around us of a kind that we know in our own society, then we can deal by psychical means with our senseless anxiety.” Persons can be deal with in a way that impersonal forces cannot. Freud traces the development of religion from a simple animism to a complex monotheism that culminates in belief in a benevolent Providence who manifests father-like characteristics.   

Atheist Ludwig Feuerbach saw theology being as nothing more than anthropology. Starting from the view of “No God” and “no Sin”, Feuerbach analysis was that man has religion because he has self-conscientiousness and the ability to think abstractly and project his abstractions to ideal form. He believed that God is the projection of “Absolute Personality”. Feuerbach believes that God is important to man as He provides a means to reach immortality, therefore death would be the catalyst for religion. He felt that the resurrection of Christ was the realized wish of man to immediate certainty of his personal continuity of existence.”  That is, Feuerbach thinks that man created gods in man’s image, because our gods are mere mental projections of ourselves; that man’s deities express his egoism. HE felt that the consciousness of God was self-consciousness, knowledge of God was self-knowledge. He claimed that by one’s God you know the man, and by the man his God; that the two are identical because Feuerbach could not accept a Creator and Lord.

Atheist Karl Marx claimed that religion has its roots in egoism and fantasy. Starting from the view of “No God” and “no Sin”, Marx believed that man seeks a superman who mirrors himself. That religion creates the fantasy that provides man with comfort, with an opium for the masses. Marx saw religious documents (Holy Scriptures, Church Creeds and laws, etc.) as human fabrications invented by the ruling class for the purpose of economic exploitation. That the poor worker is told by the “religious” ruler that poverty is a virtue and the gods offered as the bearers of future bliss; that the land beyond the grave is promised to the productive and obedient worker as a future reward in heaven. So Marx, who knew no God, saw religion being due to the devious imagination of a particular segment of mankind only.

Atheist  Friedrich Nietzsche saw religion as having its roots in man’s fear of facing the struggles of, and burdens of existence, being locked in combat, resulting from mutual lust for power. Starting from the view of “No God” and “no Sin”, saw religions, particularly Christianity, as invented and perpetrated by weak men who could not face a universe where there are in fact no ultimate goals, no ultimate truths, and no ultimate meaning. Nietzsche saw Christianity as a negation and devaluation of all that is natural; the moral enemy of natural ethics. To Nietzsche, religion endured because weak men need it.

Atheist Bertand Russell based religion upon fear; partly on the fear of the unknown, and partly on the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand with you. Starting from the view of “No God” and “no Sin”, thought that science had forced its way step by step against the Christian religion, against the churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts, stating: “ Science can teach us, and I think our hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.” Science was Russell’s weapon against religion.

Isaiah 28:15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.”

These are their philosophical and psychological claims to the origin of man’s religion, but let’s look next post at the problem of these claims in proving the non-existence of God. Have a blessed Sunday!  
In Christ, Brian

Friday, December 6, 2013

To Error is Human – Part Two

Ezekiel 12:1-2 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son if man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.”

 Just as people can err in formal reasoning, so mistakes can creep into our thinking by virtue of errors made in collection of hard data; this is factual or inductive errors. We are aware of the limitations of our sense organs, which cannot grant us total knowledge and accuracy. There are sound frequencies that the human ear cannot perceive. Our eyes only see a narrow band of the color spectrum.  Other animals see better and farther and some can see at night. Not to mention the microscopic world. Natural limits of our sense perception will always be involved in the empirical process. As Pasteur proved, we simply cannot assume that things invisible or inaudible to us have no existence. God is Spirit. But not only are we materially vulnerable to the limits of our sensibilities, but we always face the problem of reaching conclusions on the basis of insufficient data. The problem of empirical error is complicated in the realm of negation of existence. It is obviously easier to verify the existence of something empirical than to negate the existence of something empirical. Because of this difference in difficulty of verification, it is virtually impossible to disprove the existence of God by an empirical method in a “universal negative”. To do so would demand a thorough search of the entire universe at the same time, and still, we may not possess the perceptual abilities necessary to find an invisible, transcendent Being.  Of course, the atheist could make the claim, then argue that the assertion of the existence of God has the burden of truth upon the affirmer rather than the denier, saying: “Prove me wrong .” Ever seen that?

Job 38:2-5a “Who is this that darkens My counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!”

The fourth category of “psychological prejudices as causes for errors, looms as a constant threat to accurate conclusions. Sproul states that if a person’s epistemological system is sound, their deductive reasoning impeccable, and their inductive procedure inerrant, then all this would not guarantee proper conclusions. By reason of emotional bias they might still refuse to yield to the obvious conclusions of their research, in following where the evidence leads. There is a tendency to persevere in an opinion against all evidence. A classic aphorism of our culture is:”a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Emotional prejudice is exceedingly difficult for the most brilliant of it. Philosophers and theologians are not free from vested interests  and psychological prejudices  that distort thinking.

Isaiah 40:12-14 “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in the balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed Him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?

Though the road to knowledge may be fraught with perils of error, it is a road that must be taken if we are to think at all. To be aware of the possibility of prejudice, or even of its clear existence, is not to cure it, but that awareness is a prerequisite for the cure. The question of the existence of God is a question that provokes deep emotional and psychological prejudice. In the arena of theological-philosophical debate the stands are crowded with vested interests. It is precisely this dimension of psychological vested interest that has been the driving force for much speculation concerning the origin of religious beliefs. Psychological prejudice may distort our reasoning, especially in regard to emotion-packed controversial issues. Perhaps there is no issue more vulnerable to bias than religion. We know that the questions of religion touch virtually every aspect of our existence. Even those who would seem to have no connection whatsoever with religion still are affected by it. Why is this so?  Let’s look next post.

Psalm 103:10-14a “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our inequities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows how we are formed.”

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

To Error is Human – Part One

Isaiah 55:6-9 Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him., and to our God, for He will freely pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
In this overview study between “Theism” and “Atheism” on the existence of God that I’ve been delving into, it has became very apparent that the logic, philosophy and psychology is involved in the belief or unbelief in the search or abandonment of truth. As Sproul pointed out, in the objective realm of the question of the existence of God both sides cannot be right, so logic must be a constant guide in the rational debate; that contradictions don’t lead the issue astray from truth. For philosopher Aristotle’s system of truth, logic was defined as being the origin of all science and truth-seeking. That is, logic is viewed as a necessary instrument or tool by which knowledge could be coherently expressed and understood. Statements that contradict are non-sense statements, to be meaningless with respect to context because we learn nothing from them and an atmosphere of confusion is permeated. We cannot solve the tension of the disagreement by affirming both poles. So how is it possible for men of equal brilliance, of equal intellectual prowess, of equal educational backgrounds and sophistication to arrive at two mutually exclusive conclusions? Experts, of course, are capable of making mistakes. Even, the great minds in the debate are subject to error. Wasn’t the world once thought by Scientists of old to be flat and the Sun rotated around earth? There are innumerable ways in which errors are made in the process of rational debate, because logic, philosophy and psychology are involved or not.   

Jeremiah 5:21-22a “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.

Four basic ways in which errors are made and by which disagreement comes are: (1) Epistemological errors, (2) Formal errors in reasoning, (3) Factual errors in empirical investigation, and (4) Psychological prejudice that distorts conclusions. By understanding these error factors, we can better see the issue of conflict in belief and unbelief today ... what people believe and why.

Epistemology is that branch of philosophy that deals with the question of knowledge. It deals with definition of truth and the methods of attaining truth. The two most famous schools of thought here are rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism has a great emphasis to the function of mind and reasoning in order to arrive at truth. The accent has fallen upon the formal and theoretical rather than upon the material and the tangible. Conceptualist argued that which can be conceived in the mind in rational categories must exist in reality. Conceptualist might argue that to conceive of God is perfectly proper within the context of rational speculation and is not irrational.  On the other hand, empiricist sought to discover truth through the examination of hard data, through what is perceived by the five senses, than through logical speculation.  A very strict empiricist would argue that a metaphysical Being called God, who cannot be perceived by the senses cannot be true. The conclusion to the theist or the atheist may be largely conditioned by the validity or invalidity of the epistemology employed. 

Sproul also explains that even though a philosopher uses a perfectly valid epistemology, that will be no guarantee that the conclusions of their thought will be equally valid because it is quite possible that “Formal errors in reasoning” may occur throughout the thought process. All philosophers have resorted to some kind of reasoning process to argue their views. The question of formal truth concerns the question of internal consistency. It involves questions of logic and of statements that can be verified or falsified by reason. Thus, a major reason why brilliant people disagree about important issues is because even brilliant folks are capable of making mistakes in their reasoning process. We must not assume that they all been consistently reasonable in their formal argumentation.

A long post today for me to get the whole message in, so breaking this one up for easier reading. i'll pick this study up tomorrow right where i left off today.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Third Alternative

Isaiah 1:2 Hear O heavens! Listen O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” They have forsaken the Lord; they spurned the Holy One and turned their back on Him.

In this study of “Theism” and “Atheism”, I read that there was another group that has captured the imaginations of many as an alternative of seeing the question of the existence of God as a subjective-practical question rather than an objective metaphysical question. Sproul states that by this thinking, the question is dealt with on the basis of a subjective evaluation of faith or its denial to produce a sort of truce in the debate. Have you ever heard someone say: there are no absolute truths, so what may be right for you may not be right for me, and what right be right for me may not be right for you, but nobody is wrong”? By this thinking, in concrete terms, may look at the issue this way: “I believe in God, and my faith in God is meaningful to my life. It brings me comfort.  It provides a goal and purpose in my life. It offers hope to me that the universe is ultimately meaningful and because the whole of existence is meaningful, than my individual life is meaningful.” But on the other hand, a person may say: “I do not believe in God, and I’ve found it quite meaningful to live without faith. So for me and my life, there is no God.” For the one who finds faith meaningful, God is true, and for the one who finds unbelief meaningful, God is not true. Live and let live, but there is no real peace. Light and darkness cannot coexist.  

Psalm 10:3-4 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
It was mentioned before, that in our contemporary cultural today, when intolerance is regarded as the supreme evil, this tolerant option seems like an attractive option for many people. But here, Sproul points out that the question of the existence of God is reduced to a question of practical meaningfulness in the life of individuals. If truth is defined as that which is meaningful to the one who believes, then of course anything that is meaningful to the individual may be regarded as true to them. Also, anything that is not meaningful to the individual may be regarded as false and depending upon how they feel about that matter or issue and what is meaningful to them at any particular time, they can change their mind. This approach to the question of existence of God does not solve the tension of disagreement. It does serve to soften the emotional hostility that often surrounds the debate. It does much to bring us peace, but little to bring us truth. The issues of the objective existence of God remains. The question of God’s existence is a different question from the question of what people find meaningful and practice.
By taking this third alternative, Sproul says that we discover many answers to questions of practical meaningfulness, but logically, we do not find an answer to the question of the existence of God.  For example, if I believe in God with all my heart and with all my mind and find that belief so meaningful that I devote my life to serving the God; if I pray to this God, and in fact that is not such God, all my praying and devotion and sacrifice will not bring Him into existence. That is, if I find all kinds of personal meaning by believing in God, that meaningfulness will not cause a God to be, if in fact there is no such God. On the other hand, if I do not believe in God and am convinced that God is the invention of superstitious minds, and is irrelevant to my existence; if I find my meaning in life without reference to God and in fact there is a God, then all of my unbelief and disinterest will not change that fact. In the final analysis, there is either a God or gods, or there are none. There is either something or someone ultimate apart from me. Or there is not. French scientist-philosopher Blaise Pascal proposed this logical wager or gamble: If I believe in God and there is no God, then I have lost nothing. If I believe in God and there is a God, then I have great gain. If I do not believe in God and there is no God, I have lost nothing. But if I do not believe in God and that is a God, then I have great and eternal lose.

Isaiah 29:15-16 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like clay! Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing?”

Our individual belief or lack of it cannot decide the ultimate question of the existence of God, nor can a number of individual beliefs decide the ultimate issue. The majority can only be descriptive of what the many believe rather than what actually is. They have little to say in regard to ultimate truth. A majority of people on the street can be wrong. In the objective realm of the question of the existence of God, both sides cannot be right. There cannot be a God, or gods, on one hand and at the same time be no gods. To avoid the pain of disagreement by affirming both poles is a logical violation of the law of contradiction. The law of contradiction is that “A” cannot be “A” and “non-A” at the same time. That is to say, there cannot be God and no God at the same time. To say that God is and is not is to speak irrational nonsense. No side-stepping the issue, distractions or running down “rabbit trails”, the debate of the existence of God wages on for truth. Let’s look at more next post.

Isaiah 25: 8-9 He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken . In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

In Christ, Brian