"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way." -Juan Ramon Jiminez

Sunday, June 26, 2005

My Sweet Lord

Today it is 90 degrees out. HOT damn. It's Sunday, so I have church to go to. Due to the heat, my father, in a demonstration of the gargantuan amounts of wisdom one acquires after fifty years, opted to park in the shade. Every decision has its advantages and disadvantages, and the one obvious advantage to my father's decision to park in the shade was that the car would remain cool during the one hour we would be away from it, preventing us, the passengers, from burning alive within it upon returning. However, there was one disadvantage, and it stemmed from the location of the parking spot chosen. The spot is a relatively large distance from the church, and it increased the amount of time spent walking out in the sun a proportionate amount. Fortunately, our church is quite well air conditioned, and as I walked in, I said, perhaps a little too loudly to my brother, that air conditioning is god's greatest gift. My screen name should be hilarious myles.

Anyway, as we left the church about an hour later, we were offered paper bags with different items written on the front. The items were for homeless shelters, which, as was told to the congregation by Father Mike, suffer the most in the summer, since there are no charity-inspiring holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter to boost their supplies. Of course I did not take one, since I am lazy and apathetic. But I needed a better reason for myself. So, on the ride home, I came up with this: the church tells me that there are poverty-stricken people out there who need my help. However, they also tell me that there is an invisible being responsible for my existence who will send me to hell for my sins, but that he also loves me. It is this second story that I, along with what is I am sure many others, have varying degrees of difficulty believing. Which brings me to the difficult question. How am I to believe one thing the church tells me and not the other? Wouldn't that be hypocritical on my part? So my options are either to believe everything the church tells me, which I don't, or to believe nothing.


  • At June 30, 2005 at 12:33 AM, Blogger joycelee36 said…

    you make it sound as if the church is Jesus Christ himself... or the gospel...

    look at church history-- i'm sure the Crusades are not things Jesus would endorse.... nor would He endorse Stalin's reign [if you look at it, some churches believed that Stalin was the Messiah] or crucifying himself [which the church was the spearhead for basically]

    so what is Christianity to you? following a bunch of people that make themselves a "church" or following Jesus? believe everything these people tell you or believe Jesus? sometimes people are right-- God speaks through people plentifully.... but people are people and thus sinners.

    nothing is ever "believe all or nothing" because that's too black in white for a colored world.

    that's my view on Christianity at least

  • At June 30, 2005 at 2:26 PM, Blogger Myles said…

    I believe christianity contains several good ideas, like humility, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness, ideas I believe in and strive to incorporate in my life, but the ideas themselves are overshadowed by the huge figure and I guess celebrity of Jesus Christ and the need to believe in him. It's kind of like when a movie's qualities as a work of art are ignored because all of the attention is focused on the star.

  • At October 7, 2005 at 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Knowing God Personally
    What does it take to begin a relationship with God? Wait for lightning to strike? Devote yourself to unselfish religious deeds? Become a better person so that God will accept you? NONE of these. God has made it very clear in the Bible how we can know Him. This will explain how you can personally begin a relationship with God, right now...

    Principle One: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
    God created you. Not only that, he loves you so much that he wants you to spend eternity with him. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

    Jesus came so that each of us could know and understand God in a personal way. Jesus alone can bring meaning and purpose to life.

    What keeps us from knowing God? ...

    Principle Two: All of us are sinful and separated from God. Therefore we cannot know and experience God's love and plan for our life.
    The fact is, we need Jesus. The Bible says, "...all fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23). Though God intended for us to have a relationship with him, we naturally want to do things our own way.

    Deep down, our attitude may be one of active rebellion toward God or passive indifference, but it's all evidence of what the Bible calls sin. The Bible tells us that "All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

    The result of sin in our lives is death--spiritual separation from God (Romans 6:23). Although we may try to reach God through our own effort, we inevitably fail.

    This diagram shows the great gap that exists between us and God. The arrows illustrate that we might try to reach God through our own efforts. We may try to do good things, or earn God's acceptance through a good life or a moral philosophy. But our good efforts are insufficient to cover up our sin.

    How can we bridge this gulf?...

    Principle Three: Jesus Christ is God's only provision for our sin. Through him we can know and experience God's love and plan for our life.
    Jesus Christ is God's solution to the problem of human imperfection and evil. Because of Jesus' death on the cross, our sin doesn't have to separate us from God any longer. In his suffering and death on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sin and in so doing, bridged the gap between us and God. "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God" (1Peter 3:18).

    Instead of trying harder to reach God, we simply need to confess our sinfulness and accept Jesus and his sacrifice as the one way to God. "I am the way, the truth and the life," Jesus said. "No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). He also said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish" (John 11:25-26).

    But not only did Jesus die for our sin, he rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). When he did, he proved beyond doubt that he can rightfully promise eternal life--that he is the Son of God and the only means by which we can know God. He said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

    Yet just having knowledge about God's plans and purposes isn't enough. We need to consciously accept Jesus Christ as the payment for our sin and welcome him into our life.

    It is not enough just to know these three truths...

    Principle Four: We must individually accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our life.
    The Bible says, "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).

    We accept Jesus by faith. The Bible says, "God saved you by his special favour when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it" (Ephesians 2:8,9).

    Accepting Jesus means believing that Jesus is the Son of God, who he claimed to be, then inviting him to guide and direct our lives and make us into new people (John 3:1-8).

    Jesus said, "I'm standing at the door and I'm knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20).

    How will you respond to God's invitation? What will you do with the claims of Jesus Christ?

    Consider these two circles.

    Self-Directed Life
    Self is on the throne

    Jesus is outside the life

    Interests are directed by self, often resulting in frustration

    Christ-Directed Life

    Jesus is in the life and on the throne

    Self is yielding to Jesus

    Interests are directed by Jesus, resulting in harmony with God

    Which circle best represents your life?

    Which circle would you like to have represent your life?

    Begin a relationship with Jesus...

    You can receive Christ right now. Remember that Jesus says, "I'm standing at the door and I'm knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). Would you like to respond to his invitation? Here's how.
    The precise words you use to commit yourself to God are not important. He knows the intentions of your heart. If you are unsure of what to pray, this might help you put it into words:

    "Jesus, I want to know you. I want you to come into my life. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin so that I could be fully accepted by you. Only you can give me the power to change and become the person you created me to be. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me eternal life with God. I give my life to you. Please do with it as you wish. Amen."
    If you sincerely asked Jesus into your life just now, then he has come into your life as he promised. You have begun a personal relationship with God.
    What follows is a lifelong journey of change and growth as you get to know God better through Bible reading, prayer and interaction with other Christians.

  • At October 7, 2005 at 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just once wouldn't you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God's existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, "You just have to believe." Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.

    But first consider this. If a person opposes even the possibility of there being a God, then any evidence can be rationalized or explained away. It is like if someone refuses to believe that people have walked on the moon, then no amount of information is going to change their thinking. Photographs of astronauts walking on the moon, interviews with the astronauts, moon rocks...all the evidence would be worthless, because the person has already concluded that people cannot go to the moon.

    When it comes to the possibility of God's existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God.1 On the other hand, for those who want to know God if He is there, He says, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you."2 Before you look at the facts surrounding God's existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know Him?

    Here then, are some reasons to consider...

    1. Does God exist? Throughout history, in all cultures of the world, people have been convinced there is a God.
    Billions of people, who represent diverse sociological, intellectual, emotional, educational makeups...believe that there is a Creator, a God to be worshipped. Now, the fact that so many people believe something certainly doesn't make it true. But when so many people through the ages are so personally convinced that God exists, can one say with absolute confidence that they are all mistaken?
    "Anthropological research has indicated that among the farthest and most remote primitive people today, there is a universal belief in God. And in the earliest histories and legends of people all around the world, the original concept was of one God, who was the Creator. An original high God seems once to have been in their consciousness even in those societies which are today polytheistic."3

    2. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
    Many examples showing God's design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:
    The Earth...its size is perfect. The Earth's size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth's surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.4 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

    The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth's position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day.

    And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet it restrains our massive oceans from spilling over across the continents.5

    Water...colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water). You'll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:

    It has an unusually high boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.

    Water is a universal solvent. This property of water means that thousands of chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.6

    Water is also chemically inert. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.

    Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

    Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.

    Ninety-seven percent of the Earth's water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water.7

    The human brain...simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of this article in your hand. Your brain registers emotional responses, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body like your breathing pattern, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.

    The human brain processes more than a million messages a second.8 Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. A brain that deals with more than a million pieces of information every second, while evaluating its importance and allowing you to act on the most pertinent information...can we say mere chance brought about such an astounding organ?

    When NASA launches a shuttle mission, it is assumed a monkey didn't write the plan, but intelligent and knowledgeable minds. How does one explain the existence of the human brain? Only a mind more intelligent and knowledgeable than humanity could have created the human brain.

    3. Does God exist? Mere "chance" is not an adequate explanation of creation.
    Imagine looking at Mount Rushmore, in which the likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are carved. Could you ever believe that it came about by chance? Given infinite time, wind, rain and chance, it is still hard to believe something like that, tied to history, was randomly formed in the side of a mountain. Common sense tells us that people planned and skillfully carved those figures.
    This article only touches on a few amazing aspects of our world: the Earth's position to the sun, some properties of water, one organ in the human body. Could any of these have come about by chance?

    The distinguished astronomer Sir Frederick Hoyle showed how amino acids randomly coming together in a human cell is mathematically absurd. Sir Hoyle illustrated the weakness of "chance" with the following analogy. "What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for take-off? The possibilities are so small as to be negligible even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole universe!"9

    When one considers the intricacies of our life and universe, it is reasonable to think that an intelligent, loving Creator provided for everything we need for life. The Bible describes God as the author and sustainer of life.

    4. Does God exist? Humankind's inherent sense of right and wrong cannot be biologically explained.
    There arises in all of us, of any culture, universal feelings of right and wrong. Even a thief gets upset and feels wronged when someone steals from him. If someone violently grabs a child from a family and rapes that child, there is an anger and revulsion and a rage to confront that act as evil, regardless of the culture. Where did we get this sense of wrongness? How do we explain a universal law in the conscience of all people that says murder for fun is wrong?
    And in areas like courage, dying for a cause, love, dignity, duty and compassion, where did these come from? If people are merely products of physical evolution, "survival of the fittest," why do we sacrifice for each other? Where did we get this inner sense of right and wrong? Our conscience can best be explained by a loving Creator who cares about the decisions and harmony of humanity.

    5. Does God exist? God not only has revealed Himself in what can be observed in nature, and in human life, but He has even more specifically shown Himself in the Bible.
    God's thoughts, personality, and attitudes can only be known if God chooses to reveal them. All else would be human speculation. We are at a loss if God does not wish to be known. But God wants us to know Him and has told us in the Bible all we need to know about His character and how to relate to Him. This makes the reliability of the Bible an important consideration.
    Archaeological findings continue to confirm rather than refute the accuracy of the Bible. For example, an archeological find in northern Israel in August 1993 confirmed the existence of King David, author of many of the Psalms in the Bible.10 The Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological discoveries continue to substantiate the historical accuracy of the Bible.

    The Bible was written over a 1500-year span, by 40 different authors, in different locations and on separate continents, written in three different languages, covering diverse subject matters at different points in history.11 Yet there is an astounding consistency in its message. Throughout the entire Bible the same message appears:

    God created the world we live in, and created us specifically to have a relationship with Him.
    He deeply loves us.
    We have sinned and are under God's judgment, in need of His forgiveness.
    God provided a way for our sins to be forgiven.
    He asks us to receive His forgiveness and have a relationship with Him that will last eternally.
    Along with this central script, the Bible specifically reveals God's character. Psalm 145 is a typical summary of God's personality, thoughts and feelings toward us. If you want to know God, here He is.

    6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God.
    Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you're looking at Him. Though He talked about His Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in Him, believed in the Father.
    He said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."12 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, "follow my words and you will find truth." He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me."13

    What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can't do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people...blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects...created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature...walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because He constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I'm telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you're seeing.14

    What did Jesus reveal about God's personality? What about God's thoughts, expectations and His feelings toward humankind? Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of His punishment, His love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God would have His Son receive the punishment for our sin. And Jesus willingly accepted this plan.

    Jesus was tortured with a whip of nine sharp-tipped ends. A "crown" of two-inch thorns was pressed into his head. Then they secured Him to a cross by pounding nails through His hands and feet into the wood. Given His other miracles, those nails didn't keep Him on the cross; His love for us did. Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with Him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to Himself. Because of Jesus' death we can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."15 This is God, in action.

    The most conclusive proof that Jesus is equal to God was Jesus' most closely scrutinized miracle - His own resurrection from the dead. Jesus said that three days after His burial He would come back to life. On the third day after His crucifixion, the almost two-ton boulder in front of His tomb was catapulted up a slope.16 The guard of well-trained Roman soldiers saw a blinding light and an angel. The tomb was empty, except for the burial clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus' body. Over the years, legal, historical and logical analysis has been applied to Jesus' resurrection and the most feasible conclusion still is that Jesus rose from the dead.

    Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We're told that "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."17

    Do you want to begin a relationship with God and actually know you are accepted by Him?

    This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with Him, you can do so right now by asking Him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her]."18 If you want to do this, but aren't sure how to put it into words, this may help: "Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. Thank you that you want a relationship with me. Amen."

    God views your relationship with Him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in Him, Jesus Christ said of us, "I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand."19

    So, does God exist? Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way. If you need more information about Jesus' claim to divinity, or about God's existence, or if you have similar important questions, please email us.

    I just asked Jesus into my life (some helpful information follows)...
    I may want to ask Jesus into my life, please explain this more fully...

    I have a question...


    About the Author:
    As a former atheist, Marilyn Adamson found it difficult to refute the continuously answered prayers and quality of life of a close friend. In challenging the beliefs of her friend, Marilyn was amazed to learn the wealth of objective evidence pointing to the existence of God. After about a year of persistent questioning, she responded to God's offer to come into her life and has found faith in Him to be constantly substantiated and greatly rewarding.

  • At March 3, 2007 at 3:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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