Posts from the ‘wisdom’ Category

Life, Creation and Wisdom – We See So Little of All That Really Is

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Men look up into the sky at night and marvel in wonder at the sheer number of stars and the vastness of the universe.

Yet with our most sophisticated telescopes today we can see that far more is actually there  than the unaided eye can see.

The voids of blackness begin to fill in with the light of discoveries previously unknown.

You may then realize that in a similar way that you can never know it all.

But rest assured you CAN know the one who does know it all, and He calls each of the heavenly host by name.

He is God, and has also promised;

as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

(I Corinthians 2:9)

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

(John 20:29)

God’s Love is Unconditional but A Relationship with God is Conditional – All Close Relationships Come With Conditions

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We are saved by Grace. We know this as God’s unconditional  and unmerited love.

Some very wise people question, “How can God’s love be unconditional if I will be sent to Hell for all eternity if I reject Christ as my Savior.”

The answer is found in the realization of understanding the difference between God’s unconditional love to us,

(God so loved the World)

Christ’s having satisfied those conditions for us,

(That He gave His only  Son)

and our having met the only condition for the restoration of a relationship with God.

(that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.)

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God personally settled the condition for us to be restored to a relationship to Him.

He took responsibility for our debt on Himself.

All He asks is that we freely receive His offer.

He will also allow us to reject Him, 

But we must then accept responsibility for that decision

ourselves.

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The following link is to a half hour audio by Ravi Zacharias on this subject.

I gave it my own title because Ravi actually covers a lot of theological ground on most occasions, and covered this subject well here.

God’s Love is Unconditional but A Relationship with God is Conditional – All Close Relationships Come With Conditions.

“WHAT ANSWER FOR THE WICKED HUMAN HEART, PART 1 OF 2”

In this audio,Ravi Zacharias reveals how he is often invited to speak with some of the world’s richest and most influential people.

On one occasion, Ravi was invited to go on a private yacht owned by a very wealthy man who had recently come to Christ through attending a Ravi Zacharias event.

 Before the speaking event,this man told Ravi that he only came to fulfill a promise to his own wife that he would be there.

Ravi then told the man that having fulfilled his promise to be there, he could leave at any time while he is speaking if he chooses, and that would be okay.

Instead, the man accepted Christ as his Savior at the event.

This man then invited many of his own friends, and Ravi, to a private yacht cruise along the coast of Sicily.(perhaps in hope they would find new life in Christ as well).

This audio tells of a man on that cruise who also became a Christian when he finally understood true love and relationships all have conditions for them to exist.

Yacht

Yacht (Photo credit: WaterpoloSam)

The Deconstruction of Absolute Truth and the Arts

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“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Imagine a painter throwing away half of his or her color palette.

Or imagine a black and white photograph without white, only shades of dark gray.

Whether the subject is painting,photography,theater, or literature, all the above involve using contrasts to make images or tell stories.

Painters use colors ranging from light to dark.

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Photographers use bright sunlight to dark shadows.

Theater and literature use contrasts in good and evil, peace and conflict, justice and injustice, love and hatred,truth and falsehood.

Now imagine a World that no longer accepts or believes in Absolute Truth, where the contrasts between right and wrong are no longer clear, and men stumble in the darkness because they cannot see.

The Deconstruction of Absolute Truth and Belief in the Bible – The Biggest Threat to Any People

A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a bible-reading people. The principles of the bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” 
― Horace Greeley

“Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”

(The Apostle Paul – Galatians 4:16)

The vast majority of modern Americans believe everything is relative and there are no absolutes.

Deconstructionism of truth, and the growing sceptisism regarding the authority ,accuracy and relevance of the Bible as the source of all truth, is creating a generation of people who feel lost and alone.

In this environment, anyone who has absolute faith and belief in a given truth, and states it as such, will likely be considered rude, pushy ,over bearing ,and judgemental.

The inevitable degradation of society will follow any people who abandon truth.

Without truth as a basis for what can be known, we cannot hope to solve the problems we face because we cannot build upon what is known since we deny that anything can be known!

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

(John 17:17)

The source of truth is the Bible. The living , breathing Word of God is Jesus Christ.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

(John 1:1-5)

 “But as many as received Him, 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.And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 (John 1:14,15)

May the light of truth of Jesus Christ the Savior, shine in our hearts and minds.

Related articles

Ethos,Pathos,Logos – The Image of God

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a ...

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God created man in His image.

Aristotle identified three primary areas of influence and response that comprise the mind, heart, and soul of mankind.

He called them Ethos, Pathos, and logos.

God is sovereign and all Powerful- this is Ethos

God is the author of wisdom and is all knowing- this is Logos

God is Love and so loved the world He gave His Son – this is Pathos

The Psalms puts it this way;

Psalms 139:1-4 “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways. For there  is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.”

God knows us, understands us, comprehends us altogether because He loves us.

His pathos brought His ethos and logos to our rescue.

His pathos / love bridged the gap between us and God through Christ.

God wants our love as well.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6)

The most remarkable thing about what God requires from us is that He gave all of himself for us in Christ first.

He expressed all His ethos, pathos, and logos for our benefit through the cross.

Is God not worthy of all our love in return?

“To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.” ~George Washington~

1795 - 1823

1795 – 1823 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.”

~George Washington~

(May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge)

“The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest of purposes.”     

   ~George Washington~

 Moral Principal is no longer a mutually forgone conclusion, and no longer frames healthy debate to the degree that our politicians can agree on anything enough to affectively govern.

Without a clear definition of right and wrong there is no basis for healthy reasoning.

Right and wrong look more like shades of gray instead of black and white.

Instead of civil discourse, power struggles, gridlock, and underhanded dealings rife with slander have become the means of politics of our once great nation.

Hollywood no longer has a clear definition of right and wrong and therefore finds it difficult to effectively tell a good story. Every artist knows contrast gives definition, be it photography,paintings,storytelling, and movie making.

And the church, not the Bride of Christ whom God alone can confirm, but the small ,”c”, institutions church in America, have turned many away through not proclaiming Christ above all else. And moralism drives those seeking genuine compassion away, and likely never to return.

If you want to view a true reflection of what Christianity should be, look at the life of Jesus in the Bible.

You will find nothing wrong with Him.

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“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

(Matthew 11:28-30)

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

(John 14:6)
Jesus is everything Christianity should be.
DON’T FOLLOW CHRISTIANS, FOLLOW CHRIST.
CHRIST WILL SHOW YOU THE WAY.
CHRIST WILL SHOW YOU THE TRUTH,
CHRIST WILL SHOW YOU THE LIFE.

DNA is Evidence of God – “order with content,” is proof of Intelligence Based Origin -Lee Stroeble

 Our genetic code is language, and is but a record of what,”God said.”

Lee Stroeble , former Court Journalist for the Chicago Sun Times, presents the overwhelming scientific evidence found in our DNA to support the Biblical God as our Creator.

Using the Story line from the movie,”Contact”, Stroeble makes his case.

Stroeble points out that Carl Sagan said that if we ever received an ordered message with content from outer space, then we could reasonably conclude that the message originated from intelligent life.

Though Sagan denied God as creator, his claim for ,”order with content,”as proof of Intelligence would come years after his death in modern Genetic scientific discoveries in DNA.

The Bible record of creation in the book of Genesis repeats the words,”God said”,11 times during the creation of the world and all living things.

The correlation between Genesis and the language of DNA at the core of all living things means our genetic code is but a record of what,”God said.”

DNA is a ,”message with content,” far more sophisticated than our greatest minds can fully grasp.

DNA is a coded language so sophisticated that our greatest minds still can’t fathom it fully, and those most familiar with the ongoing work say we will be deciphering it for the next 100 years. (Genetic Encyclopedia Project,ENCODE, 2012)

Appendix

The 3% of our DNA that is “STRUCTURAL” meaning that it defines our biological characteristics, has been mapped.

The rest of our DNA appears to work as a series of switches comprising a communicational network for our structural information, and was previously considered random ,”junk”.

It is this apparent communication network that we know least about.

This is the part of our DNA that is subject to discovery.

JUNK DNA- May Not Be Junk After All

(Quoted from Gene exchange no 2, 1996)In another reminder that we may not understand the full ramifications of genetic engineering, Science magazine recently reported new work on the function of genetic material*. Scientists have long been puzzled by the fact that fully 97% of the DNA in human cells does not code for proteins and appears to consist of meaningless sequences. The possibility that this apparently useless DNA has some as yet unknown function continues to tantalize scientists.The Science article reports on a paper suggesting that the non-coding 97% of the DNA, commonly referred to as junk DNA, might have a function.

The authors of the paper employed linguistic tests to analyze junk DNA and discovered striking similarities to ordinary language. The scientists interpret those similarities as suggestions that there might be messages in the junk sequences, although its anyone s guess as to how the language might work. (* F. Flam, Hints of a language in junk DNA, Science 266:1320, 1994)

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26,27)

“Freedom” According to Islam – Theocracy vs. Democracy – Ravi Zacharias with Jeff Foxworthy as Moderator – 6 min. Video

Is there compulsion to believe in Islam?

Or does anyone have the freedom to reject Islam, Mohamed, and Allah?

The answer is in the definition of Islam and the doctrine of government in their book, the Quran – Allah governs and Islam means ,”Submit”.

This is ,”Theocracy”, or a ,”Theocratic form of government”.

Christianity has no doctrine of government calling for the forcing of rules upon the will of the people.

Christians are called to win the hearts and minds of men and women by the Good News of Jesus Christ ,

Both they who govern and they who are governed are called to accept Christ,

and they are also free to reject Him.

Not so in Islam.

Ravi notes that many major Western universities have centers for the study of Islam,

but no Islamic country has a university that has a center for the study of Christianity.

Even the most moderate and advanced Islamic countries, such as Turkey,

have no such center for the understanding of Christianity at universities.

Illustrations include Ravi’s interactions with leading figures in the Islamic world.

Ravi asked one such leader,”If your daughter became a Christian, what would you do?”

The answer Ravi was given by this Islamic leader?

“I would hand her over to the authorities and have her killed.”

Maxim-“The Will of the People is the Law of the Land” is Good Only as Long as the People are Good

This 1866 engraving depicts Washington praying...

This 1866 engraving depicts Washington praying at Valley Forge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The foundations of our National policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality”

George Washington

max·im . A succinct formulation of a fundamental principle, general truth, or rule of conduct.

The word,”Choice”, has become synonymous with freedom in American society to the point that anything that restricts our freedom of choice is considered wrong.

Does not right and wrong exist and boundaries then are established to keep us and others from harm?

Violence shades our days and intrudes our peace of mind, and robs us of hope for a better tomorrow.

We can’t deny something is indeed wrong.

If WE THE PEOPLE want the freedom to practice the 2nd amendment, the right to bare arms, yet we fail to live the 1st amendment, freedom of religion, the result will be gun control for lack of heart control. In fact, all other freedoms grow out of the willful practice of the first amendment by the society at large.

True Freedom is composed of two conditions of restraint; The absence of externally imposed restraints by others, and presence of internally imposed restraints by ourselves.

The two are essential to have together, but self-imposed restraints are dependent on willful desire for moral virtue that comes from God.

The greatest challenge to a free people is not to throw off restraints to freedom, but to willfully impose responsible restraints on themselves by means of the pursuit of virtue.

But we have proven we are unable to help ourselves.

We are all like Lazarus in his tomb for 3 days,…dead and even unable to call out to God.
Christ calls us.

God gives life ,and awakens us to knowing Him.
American Christians have taken their gaze from steadfastly looking to our First Love, Christ, to things, status, power, pleasure and ease.

Christ Centered love, and then a resulting Christ Centered hunger for knowledge of the One we love above all other affections, is what America and the World needs most.

Heralding the truth of how ,”we love Him because He first loved us before we KNEW Him,” is the key to restoration and life, and freedom.

This is the definition of social reform

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

2 Corinthians 5:16-18

And with freedom comes great power and possibilities,…and great responsibility.

We will either be a people who worship our God who,”created all men equal and endowed us unalienable rights”, or we will ignore our creator and worship the creation instead, such as freedom or self.

In the final analysis, we will either pass an enduring freedom to the next generation, or destroy our future as a free people.

The choice is ours.

 “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”
“No longer virtuous, no longer free;”

Benjamin Franklin

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are the gift of God?That they are violated but with his wrath? I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep for ever.”

Thomas Jefferson

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” ― George Washington

Pascal on Mankind and God

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“Man would desire to be great and sees that he is little; would desire to be happy and sees that he is miserable; would desire to be perfect and sees that he is full of imperfections; would desire to be the object of the love and esteem of men, and sees that his faults merit only aversion and contempt. The embarrassment wherein he finds himself produces in him the most unjust and criminal passions imaginable, for he conceives a mortal hatred against that truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults.” ~Blaise Pascal~ (Pensees)

God Will Help You

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“Behold, this river of God is full for your supply;”

“He Will Help You” 

by C.H.Spurgeon

“‘I will help you,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 41:14 (NKJV)

This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us:“I will help you. It is but a small thing for me, your God, to help you. Consider what I have done already. What! not help you? Why, I bought you with my blood. What! not help you? I have died for you—and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help you! It is the least thing I will ever do for you; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose you. I made the covenant for you. I laid aside my glory and became a man for you; I gave up my life for you; and if I did all this, I will surely help you now. In helping you, I am giving you what I have bought for you already. If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it you; you require little compared with what I am ready to give. ‘Tis much for you to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. ‘Help you?’ Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of your granary asking for help, it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat; and you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. ‘I will help you.’”O my soul, is not this enough? Do you need more strength than the omnipotence of the united Trinity? Do you want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither your empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up your wants, and bring them here—your emptiness, your woes, your needs. Behold, this river of God is full for your supply; what can you desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this your might: the eternal God is your helper!Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay’d!I, I am thy God, and will still give you aid.“How Firm a Foundation”Adapted from Morning and Evening.By: Charles Spurgeon on Dec 16, 2012

“America is Lost on the High Seas of Time, Without Chart or Compass” ~Ravi Zacharias~

RaviZacharias

“Every heart has the potential for murder. Every heart needs a redeemer.

That is the message of Christmas.

The world took that child and crucified Him.

But by his triumph over death He brings life to our dead souls and begins the transformation within.

Unto us a child is born and He shall save us from our sins.”

~Ravi Zacharias~

http://us5.campaign-archive2.com/?u=45b75085e6ab57e339ea89d67&id=43e1a268bb&e=db221c7bff

Dear Friend,The tragedy that shook Newtown, Connecticut, and indeed the entire nation, defies analysis.
What must have gone on in the mind of this young man for him to walk into a school of little children and wreak such devastating carnage numbs the soul.
At the same time this was happening, I was under the surgeon’s blade for minor surgery. When I left the recovery room and returned home, among the first pieces of news on my phone was the news of this mass killing. Something within me hoped that I was still not clear-headed, but I knew deep inside that I was reading an unfolding story of horror and tragedy.
What does one say? What is even appropriate without violating somebody’s sacred space and their right to scream in protest?I am a father and a grandfather. I simply cannot fathom the unbearable weight within a parent’s or grandparent’s heart at such a personal loss. It has often been said that the loss of a child is the heaviest loss to bear. I have no doubt that those parents and grandparents must wonder if this is real or simply a terrifying nightmare. My heart and my prayers are for them and, indeed, for the family of the assassin. How his father will navigate through this will be a lifelong journey.
When a mass-killer like this ends by taking his own life, there is an even deeper sense of loss. Everyone wants to know, “Why?” Not that the answer would soften the blow but it would at least give some clue, some release to speak, to hear, to try to work through. But all we are left with is twenty-eight funerals and lifelong grief. To all of those who have suffered such loss, may the Lord carry you in His strength and bear you in your grief. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.
My own attempt at saying something here is feeble but carries a hope that somebody listening will make this world a better place. My heart goes back to Angola Prison in Baton Rouge where I met such people whose savagery took them to that destination. It was interesting to see a Bible in every cell and to hear many talk of how it had become their only means of life and hope. Someone with me said, “If we had more Bibles in our schools maybe we would need less of them here.”
To the skeptic and the despiser of belief in God, I know what they will respond. I am quite convinced that the one who argues against this ends up playing God and is ultimately unable to defend any absolutes.
Hate is the opposite of love and while one breathes death, the other breathes life. That is what we need to be addressing here. The seeds of hate sooner or later bear fruit in murder and destruction. Killers are not born in a moment. Deep beneath brews thinking and the animus that in a moment is uncorked. We are living in a society that nurtures hate on many sides with the result that lawlessness triumphs.Even in ideal settings, killing can take place. Murder began in the first family when a brother could not stand the success of his sibling. The entire history of the Middle East–five millennia–is a tale of two brothers. Centuries of killing has not settled the score. Maybe in Adam Lanza’s case we will find a deep psychological reason behind what he did. But that does not diminish the reality that there lurks many a killer whose moment will come and the nation will be brought to tears again. We can almost be certain of that.Yes, we can discuss all the symptomatic issues—security, gun control, early detection signs, and so on. These are all worthy of discussion. But it’s always easier to deal with the symptoms rather than with the cause.The fiscal cliff is tame by comparison to the moral devastation ahead if we do not recognize the malady for what it is. Hate is the precursor to murder. Jesus made that very clear. Playing God is the dangerous second step where we feel we are the ultimate judge of all things and that we have the right to level the score.

Here, I would like to address our political leaders and media elite:

You may personally have the moral strength to restrict your ideas to mere words but many who listen to you do not. To take the most sacred privilege of democracy and transform it into the language of aggression plays right into the hands of hate-mongers. This is not the language of a civil society or of wise leadership. It is not the ethos of a culture of co-existence. It is not the verbal coinage with which we can spend our way into the future.

Our political rhetoric is fraught with division, hate, blame, and verbal murder. Our young are listening. Remember that what you win them with is what you win them to.

As for the entertainment world, what does one even say at a time like this?

Calling for gun control and then entertaining the masses with bloodshed is only shifting the locus from law to entertainment. Do our entertainers ever pause to ask what debased values emerge from their stories? The death of decency is audible and visible in what passes as movie entertainment and political speech.

This is the same culture that wishes to take away Nativity scenes and Christmas carols from our children.

God is evicted from our culture and then He is blamed for our carnages.

America is lost on the high seas of time, without chart or compass. The storms that await us will sink this nation beyond recognition if we do not awaken to the rapid repudiation of the values that shaped this nation.

The handwriting is on the wall. Freedom is not just destroyed by its retraction. It is destroyed even more painfully by its abuse.

There is one more thing.

It is so obvious but is seldom ever addressed. All these recent mass murders have been done by men. Many of them young men, yes, even mere boys.  Jonesboro, Columbine, Virginia Tech, now Newtown.

Is there something within our culture that doesn’t know how to raise strength with dignity and respect?

Is this how boys are meant to be? From bloodletting in hockey games while thousands cheer to savagery in school shootings while thousands weep, we must ask ourselves what has gone wrong with us men? Where are the role models in the home? Is knocking somebody down the only test left for strength? Is there no demonstration now of kindness, gentleness, courtesy, and respect for our fellow human beings?

One young man on death row in Angola Prison told me that he started his carnage as a teenager. Now in his thirties with the end of the road in sight, he reached his hand out to me and asked me to pray with him. Life was lost at the altar of power and strength.

The Bible only speaks of one remedy for this:

the transformation of the heart by making Christ the center.Those who mock the simplicity of the remedy have made evil more complex and unexplainable.

Every heart has the potential for murder. Every heart needs a redeemer. That is the message of Christmas. The world took that child and crucified Him. But by his triumph over death He brings life to our dead souls and begins the transformation within. Unto us a child is born and He shall save us from our sins.

Before the first murder was committed, the Lord said to Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

To gain mastery over sin there is only one way. 

Just as Victoria Soto put herself in the way so that the children in her class might live, Jesus Christ put himself in the way that we all might live.

That is the beginning of the cure for us as individuals and as a nation.

All the laws in the world will never change the heart.

Only God is big enough for that.

Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias Answers Stephen Hawking – Part 2 – Video 14 min.

Stephen Hawking declared that God was not needed for the universe to be created.
Theologian Ravi Zacharias and Dr. John Lennox,( a triple doctorate in science and philosophy from Cambridge university where Hawkings also studied, and has studied and is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford), respond to Hawking’s claim.

Ravi quotes Cambridge Professor John Conwell who states of Hawking’s claim;

“Dare I suggest the oracular Steven Hawking is not in keeping with the philosophers and theologians of our day instead of the other way around ?”

Ravi Zacharias Answers Stephen Hawking – Part 3 – 20 Min.

“Hawking has done himself a disservice.” Ravi Zacharias

The Pressure to Be Nice – Ravi Zacharias Ministries – Christians, We Must Find Our Voices

Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul Called by God

A SLICE OF INFINITY
BE NICE
September 27, 2012 by Stuart McAllister

Every culture or era has its own way of defining issues that invoke shame and guilt. These are connected, but different. Guilt is a feeling associated with things done or not done. Shame has a much deeper and wider impact. It is, in a sense, a deep embarrassment about who we are. It is an almost visceral contempt for some act or behavior that leaves you feeling disgust, contempt, or humiliation…at yourself.

In 2 Timothy 1:8, the Apostle Paul tells the young Timothy, not to be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus. The apostle understood the pressure against telling others about Jesus, the cultural dynamics that militate against boldness, and the real dangers and threats from militant traditional Jewish audiences or hostile Roman Imperial authorities. The dangers were many, and as we know from the history of the early church, they were real.

One danger, however, that I’m fairly sure they did not face was the pressure to be “nice.” What do I mean? In our time, we have lived through the expansion of the market, the explosion of media influence, and what Philip Rieff of Chicago University calls “the triumph of the therapeutic.” We are immersed in values and visions of the good life, which we inculcate with almost every breath that we breathe. It is a cultural moment where looking good and feeling good are paramount, and anything that threatens, disturbs, or challenges the cultural value-setters is ruled out of court.

I am not suggesting that following these values is a conscious choice for many, but I would propose it is the default setting of most lives in our comfort-driven, convenience-laden moment. Our internal radar system is fixed on the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. We simply “know” that certain things, difficult things, and yes, even some good things, are just too much to ask in our context.

For instance, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel…” Well, maybe for some people. “Be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you…” But they may think I’m a fanatic, or worse, some kind of religious nut. Anyway, the doors of the church are open and we have a special speaker on Sunday. They can come if they want to (or not). I can’t jeopardize my status, my peace, my equilibrium, and thereby risk becoming not “nice.”

I must confess it is hard for me to envision the apostle Paul worrying excessively about not being “nice.” It is equally difficult if I consider others who risked reputation or safety to speak of the God they found. They were not rude, belligerent, ugly, or unnecessarily aggressive. They were clear, confident, compassionate, and courageous. At stake were some key issues for all of the above, the importance of truth, and the necessity of obedience. The Christian story is not advice, a set of ideas, or a moral exhortation for those who happen to like such things.

Perhaps you’ve never reflected on whether your sincere desire to be “nice” undermines any expression of belief or disbelief. If you are effectively stopped by an internal dialogue that insists the need to be nice trumps all other goods or needs, perhaps it is time to seek afresh, resist that voice, break the hold of bad ideas, and step out in faith and obedience and do or say what is needed.

There are worse things in life, after all, than not being nice! Perhaps being without Jesus is one of them?

Stuart McAllister is vice president of training and special projects at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

© 2012 RZIM

The NEW Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept that you can do anything, Courage to believe I can do all things through Christ, And wisdom to believe it is so.”– God Came Down

“The Spirit which rests upon Jesus must anoint us also, or the measure of faith will not be enlarged.”
Breathe then the prayer to God, my brother, “Increase my faith:” this will be a far wiser course than to resolve in your own strength, “I will believe more,” for, perhaps, in rebuke of your pride you will fall into a decaying state, and even believe less. After having made so vainglorious a resolution, you may fall into grievous despondency: do not therefore say, “I will accumulate more faith,” but pray “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Herein is your wisdom.”– C.H.Spurgeon —

Defending The Faith – Sometimes The Best Answer is a Question

” A question that allows the questioner to think through their own logic is a good question.”

Having Eyes That See

“I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
C.S. Lewis

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” ( Luke 10:23)

Ravi Zacharias “The Law of Non-Contradiction and the Trinity” Video( 9 Min.)

Who Authored Hebrews?- Why I Think it Was Barnabas

 

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The question of ,”who authored the Bible book of Hebrews”, has been a subject of debate for almost two thousand years.

If you are a student of the Word of God and doctrine this is an important issue for one primary reason.

The author of Hebrews gives an ALMOST contradictory set of statements regarding Salvation by Christ alone. One is one of the most assuring and the other is very disconcerting. It is known  as a paradox. They only APPEAR to cancel each other. There is another truth that the simple explanation of makes sense of both.

So it really matters that we know and understand all we can about this author.

Tertullian, the third century Christian theologian, believed that Barnabas wrote the book of Hebrews.

I was glad to hear that because I had already come to the same conclusion before reading about Tertullian.

Here’s my reasoning.

First clue.

1. Most researchers agree that the book of Hebrews reads similar to the books that we are sure Paul wrote.

But a closer look by literary experts seems to conclude that it is somewhat like Paul’s style but not enough that it really could be him, given certain differences that stand out.

I think that Paul is the one who has a similar style of the author of Hebrews.

Take a look at the early days of Paul to see what I mean.

Barnabas and Paul had a traveling ministry to the Gentiles for a while.

Both spoke to the crowds regularly, and would have influence each other’s speaking and therefore writing styles.

If I’m right,the correct way to state the similarities is to say that Paul and Barnabas influenced each other and have similar styles of delivering a message.

Second clue.

2. Theological non- negotiable differences between Paul and Barnabas ,namely that of Grace and its rightful emphasis.

Paul never would have put things as ambiguous as the author of Hebrews in regards to salvation and the  fullness of the meaning of grace.  Nor did he endure it well when he and Barnabas where missionaries.

Here is an example of where Paul stood in regards to his grasp of God’s Grace through Christ as compared to Barnabas’ grasp of God’s Grace through Christ.

 “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” Galatians 2:12-13

It is also revealing to know that Galatians was written by Paul to Christians who wandered off the path in regards to the purity of salvation by faith in Christ alone and sanctification by Christ alone more than any other books of the New Testament.

That is true of Galatians in both clarity and content.

Paul’s appreciation for God’s grace ,and his understanding of it, served to save the purity of  the message of Grace Alone for salvation, earned by Christ Alone.

The good deeds a Christian does are then the result of Christ’s working in the heart and desires of the true believer.

And…

The scripture records that Paul and Barnabas split over a dispute regarding Barnabas’ nephew ,John Mark , who abandoned them while the two of them spread the Gospel to the gentiles.

I propose that John Mark was not enough reason for the parting of these two, and that this incident was only the straw that broke the proverbial camels back.”

I think Paul would have stayed with Barnabas if he thought the Gospel was going out in its fullness to the gentiles. He cared more about Christ and the Gospel than he cared about his own life.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Philippians 1:2  

And that was Paul’s last letter before execution.

Paul’s grasp of God’s grace was completely resting on Christ’s finished work on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus Christ paid for the sins of all people who ever did and ever would live.

Only Jesus was the only perfect human to ever live, so only Jesus was worthy to pay for our sins with His life.

He died for us.

On the cross, Jesus said, “it is finished”.

And if we believe, we can choose to respond as Paul did,

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

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