Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Doxology


A doxology (from the Greek doxa, glory + logos, word or speaking) is a short hymn of praise to God. A doxology is typically a sung expression of praise to the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace,
goodwill to all people.
We praise you, we bless you,
we worship you, we glorify you,
we give thanks to you for your great glory.
Lord, King, heavenly God, Father, almighty;
Lord, the only‑begotten Son, Jesus Christ,
and Holy Spirit.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father who take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us,
you who take away the sins of the world.
Receive our prayer, you who sit at the right hand of the Father,
and have mercy on us.
For you only are holy, only you are Lord
Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.
Each day we bless you, and we praise your name forever and to the ages of ages.
Amen.

Glory be to God on high.
And in earth peace towards men of good will.
We praise thee.
We bless thee.
We worship thee.
We glorify thee.
We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.
O Lord God, heavenly King
God the Father almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right of the Father,
have mercy upon us.
For thou only art Holy. Thou only art the Lord.
Thou only, O Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
art Most High in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God for all that love has done;
Creator, Christ, and Spirit, One.
Amen.
Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
These mercies bless and grant that we
May strengthened for Thy service be.
Amen.
Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
Thy people bless and grant that we
May feast in fellowship with Thee.
Amen.
From all that dwell below the skies
let songs of hope and faith arise;
let peace, goodwill on earth be sung
through every land, by every tongue.
Amen.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.
Amen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

O Holy Night


O Holy Night
By Placide Cappeau

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.


He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Luke 2:1-40


Luke 2:1- 40;
"...And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
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!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.


So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of Your people Israel."

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.
Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother,


"Behold,
this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign which will be spoken against
(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Isaiah 9:6,
"For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given;
and the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What About Love 3


God cannot abide evil. God hates many things -divorce, deceit, robbery, iniquity, homosexuality - "but there's nothing He hates that we would prefer He loved, or that we wished He were indifferent about". God hates what hurts us. Would a God of love be seen as otherwise?

It is easy to downsize God in our minds; in our theology; in our hearts; in our beliefs; to the manageable and manipulable, but this is no longer the God Who is "God, and not man - the Holy One among you" (Hosea 11:9) The God Who is loving is also, compassionate, faithful, forgiving, unchanging, just, patient and truthful. God is wholly other and utter holiness and this vision and revelation of God's true character is the most needed and corrective expression of God for our current society, as society struggles and copes with an ever changing and challenging view of life and love. The God we would create as a God of love is not the God revealed in Scripture. The created God of love is a trivialized and marginalized image of God Who is merely here to help us when we have difficulties, you know, the important stuff, like the closest parking stall to the mall doors, enough money for Christmas presents, the perfect dress etc. That God is just simply nice.

The true God of holiness and jealousy and wrath is the God Who exists in reality; this is a God to fear and revere; this is Marcion's God - Who is portrayed as a nationalistic warlord, who is impulsive, unpredictable, juvenile, and bloodthirsty: this is the God Who craves the same intimacy with us that we crave with Him; this is the God Who provides the means and resources for fellowship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His redemptive death on the cross for sin. This is the antidote for the poisoned view of a god of love who would allow mankind any and all freedoms.

God is bigger than all the hurts and harms and ways of man which deride His Sovereignty and Majesty. With God it is all or nothing, obedience is not an option.

Hosea 2:19-20, "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord."

At the start of this there was a quote, " You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand,..." We take a stand on the question as asked and answered by our Creator, we take a stand on the question as asked and answered by our religion and we take a stand on the question as asked and answered by love.

Spite


Spite is defined as ill will or hatred toward another, accompanied with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart; a desire to vex or injure; petty malice; grudge; rancor. Spite is usually associated with the desire to inflict or apply some concept of justice with regard to repaying selfish behaviour. The actions taken are malicious in their intent. Spite is often a more subliminal version of vengeance, no less malicious, no less purposeful, no less provoking, but often the effect is to leave in question the intent of the action so that there are no further repercussions to the offensive action. The intent is to harm and create misfortune without offering the opportunity for the offended party to have recourse for challenging or outright questioning of the offending action. The corrective nature of spite is usually lost on the victim and for the most part the offended party is just that offended.

Psychologists have experimented with the human psyche with regard to altruistic behaviour, which is that behaviour which seeks the benefit of another versus the opportunity to exhibit selfishness. There is a game which is played called the 'ultimatum game', one party is given a sum of cash and the power to determine the sharing of that cash at any division seeming appropriate to them. The catch is, the receiving party, the one not determining the division, if unhappy with their allotment can refuse the 'gift' and in the refusal negate the prize for both. In this we see the development of spite, if the selfishness of the first party is too great, the receiving party will refuse so that neither party receives any benefit from the game, this is spite. Goes back to that old adage - 'cutting of their nose to spite their face'.

Built into this is the concept of punishing selfish behavior and there seems to be a catch, for neither party at the start of the 'ultimatum game' had the money. It was a 'gift' to both, however the spiteful nature, our fairness gene, kicks in and determines the outcome based on an understanding of fairness and justness which is selfish. The strength of the definition is found here, that in spite of not having any money, a party will insure that no one has the money or the gift. We will refuse to give benefit to another if we deem the cost to fairness and justness is too high, if we can affect an outcome with our sense of equity. Most people are prepared to forsake personal benefit to punish selfishness. In the language of evolutionary psychologists, we are spiteful. Evolutionary psychologists recognise four basic forms of social behaviour: mutualism, selfishness, altruism and spite. Spite is uniquely human.




It brings to mind the question of when a gift is actually a gift and when isn't it?






Love


Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heaven’s free love dealt equally to all?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou; since against His thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Yet doubt not but in valley, and in plain,
God is, as here; and will be found alike
Present; and of his presence many a sign
Still following thee, still compassing thee round
With goodness and paternal love, his face
Express, and of his steps the track divine.
Which that thou mayest believe, and be confirmed
Ere thou from hence depart; know, I am sent
To show thee what shall come in future days
To thee, and to thy offspring: good with bad
Expect to hear; supernal grace contending
With sinfulness of men; thereby to learn
True patience, and to temper joy with fear
And pious sorrow; equally inured
By moderation either state to bear,
Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou lead
Safest thy life, and best prepared endure
Thy mortal passage when it comes.—
Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest
Live well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven:...
Milton

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What About Love 2


What we (Christians) care about is patterns of life that hurt or dehumanize. Again, God desires mercy and justice, not religious observance. In short, the conversations that occupy the Christian are not religious but focus upon the human predicament. This human predicament involves the understanding of love and relationship; the understanding of the obligations to the Sovereign God; the understanding of purpose and reason for our very existence; it is a question of Who we are and How we are to be; and in this process of understanding, to be human and dignified as a person uniquely created by a Holy God. The plight of man is 'universal', we have been created to question and answer; to seek and to find; to know; because God in His wisdom desires people to worship Him for the sake of Who He is. It is in this aspect that Christianity requires the interjection of religious thought into the mainstream of life. We have been created to experience the wholeness and fullness of life and that life lived with flaws and failures. As Christians we are to have an active role in the conversation of how that wholeness and fullness is to be worked out in life.

It is often overstated that Christians "hate the sin, but love the sinner" and as any astute observer will realize this does not always translate into clear and precise action as clearly as the words imply. We understand an implied mandate to resist evil and fight wickedness and in that it appears and is sometimes a consequence that victims are made of those who continually and blatantly practice those things which the Bible declares to be abominations and perversions. This is referred to as collateral damage and is not the anticipated or strived for result of Christian intent. We are simply men and women living life with the goal of surviving, nurturing others, examining our lives and dealing with the hypocrisies that exist, attempting to explain and reveal through the frailty of example, a 'good life'.

It is easy in the context of declaring 'right' and 'wrong' to view Christianity as a corruption of God's love; a facetious judging of the 'pure' intents of men and women seeking to live a good life, meaning and doing essentially 'no harm' in terms of their impact on the greater society by their life-style choices. As they look at the censure imposed upon them by the Christian community and come under the glare of that judgement they see only the narrow-mindedness of a people professing love, but seemingly supplying the seeds of disapproval. This places Christianity in a tenuous position in the eyes of the world. This may be at odds with the mandate of Christianity and religion.

Being religious, being a Christian is not a "I am right, you are wrong"; "I'm going to Heaven, you're going to Hell" agenda. Being a Christian more accurately is about relating to the world around us; it is about being visible as a resolute and viable alternative reality to the other life-style choices being made. It is about making clear in the minds of all those with whom we have contact that a decision was made that has had an infinite and clear impact on our lives and subsequent to that decision our paths have remained fixed on an objective or goal from which we will not turn aside. It is about communicating through our actions, deeds and words the commitment and sacrifice we feel obligated to give as a result of that decision. It is not about the things that are historically, politically, morally, intellectually and culturally significant. Proposition 8 was an opportunity for an elective voice to be heard with regard to a extraordinary request made of the law-makers of the State and that elective voice denied that request; this was in part a moral statement, a cultural statement, and a political statement made by a majority of people irregardless of their personal political or religious affiliation. I believe it is somewhat unfair to assume that a majority decision was reached solely upon the backs of a Christian vote. I believe the Christian vote had a significant effect on the outcome, but not enough to carry the day. This vote was more probably a reflection on how all of society currently relates to the aspect of gay-marriage being an institution recognized by the law of the land.


The Christian voice in this is blurred by the intense emotions surrounding this event, and I realize how easy it is to be misunderstood in relating the Biblical position on marriage and expressing God's view to those who are unaware of that view. It is difficult to be convincing in a parlay between opposing viewpoints, when both sides see the others position as totally dysfunctional. This sounds redundant. I may be trying to express a thought or idea that in reality does not exist in relating to conflicting views, but a thought that lies at the heart of the Christian message, in that love requires intercession when the 'good' of all is at stake; when there is harm being done to the whole; and an apology is due if God is portrayed as an intolerant bully by the actions of Christians in affirming their beliefs.

The role of Christianity is not the division of people into groups, distinct from each other by their behavior, religion or life choices, but the esteeming of the value and dignity of the personhood of each individual. Religion and religious thought seeks to divide and create distinction. Christianity, on the contrary, is to be about the business of being non-religious. In this we walk a tight-rope, offending those we most desire to help because the judgement of God rests upon our shoulders even as we profess God's love to a sinful world. We condemn by our presence and yet it is only by our presence that God's love can be expressed. We accept persecution because of the mantel of God's justice upon us and extol His mercy by persevering in the persecution. We are equated with intolerance and yet we are to move in every circle and community of life exhibiting the qualities of God in the representation of God's love exemplified in His Son, Jesus Christ. Matthew 9:11-13, ..."Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." We are to be a source of healing in the world, a vision of health, being vocal about the unhealthy is part and parcel of that. John 3:19-21, "...and this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

I really like the following quote, although I have not figured out its full implications for my life:

"[Religious man] must therefore live in the godless world, without attempting to gloss over or explain its ungodliness in some religious way or other. He must live a "secular" life, and thereby share in God's sufferings. He may live a "secular" life (as one who has been freed from false religious obligations and inhibitions). To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man--not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life."

Christians being vocal about the effects of laws, attempting to change public opinion about the cultural disputes of our time is not necessarily about an attack on the purveyors of alternate life styles, but about the protection of the others who will be affected by those decisions. It is fine to say 'what goes on in my home is my own business', but, that is an untrue statement. Whatever happens anywhere has a subsequent repercussion felt by the whole world. Luke 12:3, "Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops." This is the real 'Butterfly Effect".

Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
http://undertheeagleswing.blogspot.com/2007/10/just-man.html

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What About Love


"With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadness's, this is what your conscience tells you to do? With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."


You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand,..." Keith Olbermann

This was an editorial comment made with regard to the passing into law of Proposition 8 which made gay-marriage illegal in California. The comments are directed at the Christian and Conservative majority which are responsible for the passing of the proposition.

What strikes me is the constant use of the expression of universal love, and the belief that universal love or any love as an expression, automatically means tolerance, complacency, acceptance and negates any persons ability 'to stand' against that which they believe to be a perversion of love. This argument of universal love conquering all, states emphatically that hate is the predominant emotion towards those who practice such deviant behaviour, rather than understanding it is the behaviour in question not the people involved. The differentiation is between love of the sinner versus hatred of the sin. Universal love if it is to be universal must then allow for all perversions to exist as equal and indiscriminate aspects of society; universal love must allow for tolerance of all behaviors regardless of harm or the poisoning of minds and bodies. Even the most resolute defenders of universal love would balk at the extremes of perversions which would become common place in a society bent on the absolute tolerance of all behaviors. At points in time and process definitive lines would be drawn, but they would be drawn in sand and the washing of time and desensitization would allow for the line to move and that which is not endured to happen now will become ordinary and accepted and so on and so on... In this context Christians and Conservatives have the legitimacy of the Word of God 'to stand' on and that 'universal' truth allows for the drawing of a line 'on the rock', unchangeable and resolute. The use of universal love in the argument for the tolerance of gay marriage has become the fall-back cliche and the trump-card of the gay community and its use fails to inflame any emotional response form those who oppose the gay agenda. The bluff is being called.

The word universal is never used in the Bible, the context that God will love all who live on this earth is a fallacy and a myth purported by those who wish to have everything they want in this world without any accountability for their actions in light of the judgement of God, not only God the creator, but God the Holy One. The cry of universal love is to claim some intrinsic and 'universal' right which is believed to exist and to leverage God into denying His Holiness and accepting all people on their own terms. This is not based on the revelation of God as the Righteous Judge of His creation. God Himself declares that there exists only one avenue of approach and acceptance into His presence and favour. The only accepted application of universal love is found in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for those who will receive, heavy emphasis on receive, but this not only implies but mandates obedience and in that obedience we see the love of God manifested in His followers. In this we 'honor' God by being obedient to His Word and 'standing' against those behaviors which in good 'conscience' we cannot tolerate as an accepted lifestyle choice.

Yes, I agree this pits people against people, however, that ability 'to stand' affords people the opportunity to change society, if no one ever stood for what they believe society would never change. "If you will not stand for something, you will fall for anything." It is the revolutionaries that have stood in opposition to the faults and flaws in society that have made this world what it is today, and even in that there is still no assurance of 'happiness', there still exists such atrocities and harms being endured by the innocent. These atrocities and harms are not the result of either obedience to God nor disobedience but come as a result and consequence of the lifestyle choices and options that are available to people and to the leadership of those peoples in either an active or passive role. It is not believed that the world will change tomorrow nor that all blessings will now flow from heaven because gay-marriage is illegal, and the reality is that declaring this a 'victory' is a statement of prideful arrogance tainting the true intent in opposing such changes to the value of recognizing the traditional and Biblical view to the institution of marriage. The 'sanctity' of marriage is to be found in the value given not only to the people in 'love' but in the recognition of the Creator of that institution and the intended reason for that institution, and that being the union of a man and a woman, to borrow a phrase, "in Holy Matrimony". Those areas of concern which flaunt disregard for the dignity of man and woman as a created image of God, in prideful ignorance of not only the Biblical condemnation, but also the cultural norms of society are the areas in which the Christian and Conservative will disagree with the supporters of gay-marriage, for the stated reasons.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Belief & Faith


"Belief--or disbelief--in God is not a scientific opinion... It is an element in something larger and more puzzling...the set of background assumptions by which we make sense of the world as a whole." The relationship between belief and knowledge is subtle. The relationship between belief and knowledge is that a belief is knowledge if the belief is true, and if the believer has a justification (reasonable and necessarily plausible assertions/evidence/guidance) for believing it is true. Philosophy has traditionally defined knowledge as justified true belief. The background assumptions upon which Christians base their belief is contained in the Scriptures and the understanding that these Scriptures are the revealed truth of God and the revelation of God interacting with man in an ongoing story that is the foundational basis for the interpretation of that story as it applies to human history and the existential implications of that as revealed truth. Deut. 3:2, "'O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?" In this we see Christians making sense of the world by defining life in the context of truth as revealed as recorded history, and that history in the context of God as the sovereign, exerciser of rule and dominion. His governance and ruling power are seen as benign, not posing any serious threat; not particularly aggressive nor recurrent; manifested throughout time; sustaining and providential; faithful in word; merciful in deed. Psalm 145:3, "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations." This belief is questioned on the grounds of being justifiable because the knowledge of God is subjective. Belief is formed, as in opinions, based upon subjective feelings or intuition, not upon observation or reasoning, which can be influenced by preconception; coming more from within the observer rather than from observations of the external environment. The resulting belief is derived from or pertaining to personal mindsets or experience, arising from perceptive mental conditions established by a bias toward that which has been believed to be truth within the heart and mind and not necessarily from external stimuli.


It is this that allows people to ask, "But what makes anyone think that religion has anything to contribute? to the answering of life's existential questions because, "The entire history of the Church would seem [to be] eloquent testimony that religion provides no special insight..." Everything observable and felt can be explained in a rational and substantive manner using acceptable criteria of elaboration, quieting the suspicious and mystical claims of faith. Christianity is merely the claim that the extraordinary events that happened in the recorded history (The Bible) of a group of people is to be the impetus for the radical and astounding beliefs in a God of inestimable character. If the historical validity of any aspect of Scripture is in question then the integrity of the whole is made subject to the same criticism. In this Christians find themselves in a quandary between believing in the absurdities of the Bible as empirical truth; the dubious motives and intents revealed of God; and the problem of asserting that truth in spite of those same absurdities challenging our own sensibilities and gullibility. In this we see faith as opposed to belief. The empirical evidence and rational thought may not support the belief in an event or the reasoning behind an expectation of a future cause and effect relationship to exist by understanding that, ... "All [historical] questions must be decided, in terms of more or less probability, by historical research. They are questions of historical truth, not of the truth of faith. Faith can say that something of an (existential nature) has happened in history because the question of (existence) in being and meaning is involved."

To quote: "The Christian message provides the answers to the questions implied in human existence. These answers are contained in the revelatory events on which Christianity is based ..." The existential questions of human existence are associated with the field of philosophy and, more specifically, ontology (the study of being). Understand that there is a complimentary relationship between the questions and the theological answers, derived from Christian revelation. The task of the philosopher primarily involves developing the questions, whereas the task of the theologian primarily involves developing the answers to these questions. However, it should be remembered that the two tasks overlap and include one another: the theologian must be somewhat of a philosopher and vice versa, the notion of faith as resolving the existential dilemma necessitates that the theological answer be correlated with, compatible with, and in response to the general ontological question which must be developed independently from the answers. Thus, on one side of the correlation lies an ontological analysis of the human situation, whereas on the other is a presentation of the Christian message as a response to this existential dilemma. It is important to remember that no formulation of the question can contradict the theological answer. This is because the Christian message claims, a priori, that the logos “who became flesh” is also the universal logos. Implying that the answer is contained in and provided by God.

2 Cor. 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." While we are in the present state faith supplies the place of direct vision. Faith is for the lifetime. Here we have the testimony of God, the Bible, Church history, experience, and teaching and believe in that reality, because we don't disbelieve His word. "Faith is the state of being (existentially) concerned: the dynamics of faith are the dynamics of man's (existential) concern." To walk by faith, is to live in the confident expectation of things that are to come; in the belief of the existence of unseen realities; and suffering them to influence us as if they were seen. The simple account of faith, and of living by faith is, that we live and act as if these things were true, and invite and allow them to make an impression on our mind according to their real nature.

Atheist:I am laughing because I see what ignorant people you are, to make such a tedious journey, when you will probably have nothing but your travel to show for your effort.
Christian: Do you think we will not be received?
Atheist: Received! The place you dream about does not exist any where in the world.
Christian: But it does in the world to come.
Atheist: If I had not believed, when I was still at home, I would not have come this far to seek it; but finding nothing I am going back again, and I will seek to refresh myself with the things that I then cast away for the hopes of what I now see is not.
Christian; Is what this man says true?
Hopeful:Be careful!... are we not to walk by faith? "Cease son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge." ... let us "believe to the saving of our soul."
Christian: "... let us go on, knowing that what we believe is the truth, and that no lie comes from the truth."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thought-Provoking Quotes #2


"... and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Galatians 5:24

Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can be only made spiritual by sacrifice. If we do not resolutely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural in us. There is no royal road there; each of us has it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of performing.

Oswald Chambers