Social Media has its limits. But, the advantages make it well worth the struggle to communicate. You see, communication is the highest order of existence for mankind. We strive to communicate our needs, our affection, our thoughts, our plans, our hopes and dreams, and often we just communicate for the sake of communication... companionship. Being a somewhat shy person face-to-face, it often falls my lot to meet many of my communication needs through writing, through web design, and through social media.
Twitter is an excellent geography! I like to go there almost every day. The 140 character limit for each tweet forces you into a sort of train ride experience when trying to hold a conversation, and I am slow of speech, (even slower in person often.) Usually several boxcars hurtle past before I have a chance to hop on board. This means that I sometimes struggle to do an impromptu question justice, especially if unfocused.
The following "Conversation with an Atheist" story is compiled from one such Twitter interaction where I feel I fell off the train somewhere, and still don't know where I missed a step. "Occult Think Tank" was presenting some very good questions, I think, though he became quite angry at some point. When I realized he was angered by my return questions, I stated such and broke off the 'convo', knowing we would get nowhere with that line of emotion, as you can see. Such "antisocial" arguing would only defeat my purpose for being on Social Media to start with. I believe there are a total of 36 cars on this train, mine and his, so be sure to click the READ NEXT PAGE button at the bottom, if it shows up and only the first 24 are showing.
I can see several of the classic questions athiests have about religion in general and God specifically here in this conversation. Even though OTT was hurling insults in the end, I believe that many of his questions were sincere. To name the questions as I see them, there was one nontraditional question I hadn't expected:
1. Why should a God care about individual humans (or me,) since He is so big?
And a few traditional questions I've heard before:
2. If God is real, why does He allow children to starve?
3. Do you personally care about the lives of inchworms or ants? Do they pray to you? Do you get [angry] over their behavior?
4. If God is not in our dimension, then how could He possibly exist?
5. What if Christians are wrong about their pompous ideas of God and what if God sees their belief in His concern over their lives as pompous pride, which He despises?
Since I did such a bad job of communicating within the 140 character limit, I think I should be given a do-over. So, allow me to speak directly to @OccultThinkTank I heard you and I wasn't ignoring your very good questions OTT. My answer was presented in the form of 2 questions:
1. How is it that you exist, in the presence of starving children?
2. Does the fact that I can't see someone negate their existence?
I know that I have a habit of answering a question with a question, which annoys some people. It really is a habit because I was an elementary school teacher before I retired, and it is not meant to sound so condescending. It was just the way I answered questions for so many years to children. So, it became a part of my habits, even with adults, and probably this is not a good thing about me. I apologize if it offended you.
To elaborate, when you say that the fact of starving children proves God does not exist, you are saying one existence proves another's non-existence. That is as illogical as me saying that because starving children exist, then Occult Think Tank must not be real. You can't use one existing phenomenon to deny the existence of another. The question of "Why do children go hungry?" is both a philosophical argument and a question of morality. While I agree wholeheartedly that the existence of world hunger shames the human race, I deny that it shames God, their Father. We as humans residing on Earth with these hungry children are the ones with the most "power" to do something about the problem of human hunger. We shouldn't expect God to do our work for us. We should and can expect God to do the work that we can't do. If I see my neighbor starving and send God to feed him, then as you said I am being pompous and using God as a pet, in addition to neglecting my human duty to my neighbor. But, it doesn't disprove the existence of God. It just makes us seem invisible as humans who do nothing.
Often children go hungry while they have earthly Fathers and Mothers, or grandparents who could feed them. For example, if a man fathers a child unwed, and the mother doesn't tell him he is a father, and in her state of emotional upheaval wanders around uncared for and is unable to feed the child, then the child will be hungry. Or, if the mother tells the man he is going to be a father, and he abandons her, and she can't feed the child, then the child will be hungry. But, that doesn't prove that the father doesn't exist in either case. The father does exist. The only question here would be 'Does the father care about his child?' Whether he cares for the child or not won't matter if he is not given a say in the matter. The mother can even choose to have an abortion without his consent today. To me that is sad in the case of men who would gladly raise a child, but are denied the life of their own flesh and blood. And, here is the parallel I was trying to draw, that God is our Father, and He gives us free will to choose our own lives. If we choose to allow our children to starve, we made that decision ourselves, not God. God was taken out of the matter by the separation of church and state. Do you want Him to overrule the governments now, who allow their citizens to starve?
To explain my second point, the fact that you can't see God does no more to disprove His existence than the fact that I can't see you prove your non-existence. I do believe you exist OTT. I certainly know that because, as you pointed out, I interact with you. We communicate. I was trying to draw the parallel there when I asked if the fact I can't see you means you don't exist. God does interact with us. I know this because He speaks to me in prayer, and I speak to Him. He also has worked for me, saving me miraculously from many situations that I could have never saved myself.
And, I believe that because I accept His love for me, and because I believe in Him and His death on the cross, this makes me His child. I receive Him as my Father. Because I am His, when this world ends, I will have eternal life after death. My Soul will live with Him in glory. We all are living souls, and souls are eternal. You are more than flesh and body. You have a Soul and Spirit that are invisible to the human body. Just look at a dead body and you will see that something is missing... the spirit and soul have left the body. Just because you didn't see them doesn't mean they don't exist. Just because I can't see you doesn't mean you don't exist and have feelings.
But, what about the question of why God cares for the human race? As I stated on Twitter, God is an omniscient Spirit who both formed & desires communion with the mind of man. This is the part that is the most shocking to you and to many Christians. God not only created us, but He created us to communicate with us on an interpersonal level. He wants our love and praise, just as much as you or I want each other's friendship. He is not only in some far away dimension where we can not interact with Him, but He is here in the affairs of man. He sees the things that we do to each other, and He cares. We will all one day answer to God for the way we have treated our brother. Perhaps you don't believe at all in God's personal communication and interaction with mankind. I recognize your disbelief, but I also recognize the existence of the spiritual world.
In regards to the ants and inchworms, yes they intrigue me. I kept ant farms in the classroom, and ordered mealworms when I taught Science/ Biology, along with many other critters. But, the only one that ever spoke to me was one of my cockatiels. Amos would whistle and call "pretty girl." I was not sure he was referring to me :) But, he knew those words when he was given to me and I had no luck trying to un-train these catcalls from his speech, nor with teaching him any other vocabulary.
Now for the last question. What if Christians are wrong in their belief of God, and god is real, but not in the way that they expect? That is my favorite of all your questions OTT, because it points out the importance of communicating with God. You can go to church all you want, and listen to all the sermons you want. You may read hundreds of books, and even wordy blogs like mine, but in the end the ideas they give you may be all wrong about God. How will you know? Allow me to here answer your question with a reminder for Christians. You will only know a God you have interacted with personally yourself. In the end, will God know you?
Matthew 7:20-23 Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
****Note: There is so much to say that I have to resist the urge to fire off multiple blogs. I realize I am early today, but this is what happens when I take a week off, as I did this past week. I already had Hootsuite loaded up with a stack of re-runs through Saturday night, which left me straining at the bit with several ideas before the re-runs ran out. No harm done, though since I will be home late from Travis' classes tonight.
Friday morning... 9:58 am Eastern ... we will see the second full moon of August. This event, called a Blue Moon, won't happen again until July 2015. And, it won't be anything special, considering size or color, since the moon only appears blue if there is a lot of dust or ash in the atmosphere from your vantage point. The name came from the old English word belewe, which can mean either blue or betrayer. That certainly can carry a lot of story weaving with the idea of a betraying moon. But, it is used now to refer to the 2nd full moon in a month. This happens because the moon, and women and neonatal babies, have their own month, whereas we use the calendar month for everything else. So, it is really just a quirk of our calendar system and a technicality. Regardless, you may have a peek Friday morning.
Once in a blue moon, we forget our promises. We make them and can not always keep them. We are only flesh and blood. But, God who set the moon in the sky, and spun it around the Earth... dancing in time to the synchronicity of our mutual gravitational pulls keeps His promises. He assigned the celestial bodies their orders in the heavens. And, they will not change their minds.
Jeremiah 31:35-38 Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the fixed order of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who divides the sea when its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those fixed orders depart from before me, says the LORD, then the descendants of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus says the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the descendants of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD. Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that the city shall be built for the LORD...
Here, God is promising to the people of Israel that their city will one day be rebuilt. He is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, reminding his people that just as He is Lord of the heavens, He is Lord of the nations. He compares the likelihood of his forgetting Israel to the likelihood of the celestial orbs forgetting their place, or man suddenly learning how to measure outer space and explore the depths of the earth; about a googolplex to one odds.
Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
It stands to reason, that if Jesus made a covenant, or a promise to wash away our sins, that it is as ordered as the heavens. Once in a blue moon, you may be listening to Him calling you to turn to Him. Don't let His word pass unheard.
Click here to zoom and enlarge infographic!
Click here to take the quiz on Space.com http://www.space.com/15334-moon-master-easy-quiz-lunatics.html
School kids often don't even know what part of what you've said it is that they don't understand. They often just raise their hands timidly and say, "I don't git it." Sometimes we have questions. It's difficult enough to get answers when we ask. But, when we have trouble articulating our questions, it's even more difficult to find an answer.
People in Jesus' day were no different. They just didn't get it. They wanted something more concrete. Look at the following two situations from Jesus' interactions with the disciples, and with the antagonistic Pharisees and the Sadducees.
***************** Situation A ***********************
And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man;
but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
Then came his disciples, and said unto him,
Know you that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.
Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind.
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
(They were both offended and blind.)
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
And Jesus said, Are you also yet without understanding? (You still don't get it?)
Do you not yet understand, that whatsoever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly,
and is cast out into the drain? (Jesus is explaining the human digestive process.)
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. (And, here they were thinking about food. But, Jesus was talking about our words and thoughts.)
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defiles not a man.
***************** Situation B ***********************
The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came,
and testing him desired that he would show them a sign from heaven.
He answered and said unto them,
When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and overcast.
(Everybody wants a sign... make it clear for us... something concrete.)
O you hypocrites, you can discern the appearance of the sky;
but can you not discern the signs of the times?
A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign;
and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.
And he left them, and departed.
(What was the sign of Jonah? The prophet himself. The prophet's escape from the sea preserved in the belly of a fish. Notice that in Revelation the sea is symbolic of nations. And, in Greek tradition the fish became the symbol for Jesus and the church. We are preserved from among the nations through Jesus.)
And when his disciples came to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O you of little faith,
why reason you among yourselves, because you have brought no bread?
Do you not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand,
and how many baskets you took up?
Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?
How is it that you do not understand that I spoke not to you concerning bread,
that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread,
but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
(They were confused that Jesus was talking about the Word, or doctrinal teaching. They were thinking about food again.)
I will leave you to ponder these situations with a few questions.
1. Why do people need a sign?
2. Can we be made filthy? Is there such a thing as sin?
3. What type of doctrine will give you indigestion?
4. Do you remember what God has done for you already?
5. How big is your faith?
Have you seen Jesus lately? He's easy to find. Jesus is somewhere among the weak, the poor, and the broken. And, Jesus is within you. These two places are the best places to start your search. Look for those who need Jesus. There you will find a chance to fill that need, and there you will find you are giving to Jesus Himself, for He said that when you do for the least, you do it for Him. Matthew 25:45 I'm not talking about salvation at all. I'm talking about finding the way to Jesus' heart.
"I am a worship leader,” he states. “That is what I do. I’ve been on staff at churches and I’ve been a pastor, but mainly I’ve operated as a worship leader. I’ll be honest…it worried me when worship music began to run to the top of the Christian music charts. It seemed that worship started to become a part of the industry with the center of attention on the artist. But worship has nothing to do with a person. Worship is anything that brings pleasure to the heart of God, and if we really want to please the heart of God, it probably has very little to do with the songs that we sing. Worship is more about ministering to the lost, the least, the downtrodden, the broken, the marginalized people of society; the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, the sick. It was a revelation to me that I could be close to the heart of God if I ministered to the poor. The song, ‘Among the Poor,’ flows out of that revelation.”" -Jeremy Riddle (source: http://www.vineyardmusic.com/vm/content/jeremy-riddle )
While you look for those with needs, look to yourself, and the way you treat your own body. Though this is often overlooked as unimportant, our bodies are the temple of God. If we abuse our own body with drugs, or alcohol, take the life within us lightly, for example, we are defacing the temple of God. Yes, it's like destroying a church... the house of God's Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19
Beyond the way we treat the poor and our own body, the heart of God can be found in our worship of Jesus. John 12:8 Jesus said that we have the poor with us always to do good for, and to feed. But, when we worship Him, and praise Him, when we speak to Him in prayer, that's the way to His heart. But, we'll never get that far if we don't take concern for our own body and the poor and weak among us. So, when we find Jesus, are we ready to lavish our praise on Him?
When was the last time you invited Jesus to dinner? Introduced Him to all your friends? Engaged Him eagerly in a conversation? I'm reading in Matthew 9:9 and Luke 5:27 where Jesus was hanging out with all sorts of people. It all started when He told Matthew, who was a tax collector and a publican as everyone knew, to follow Him. Matthew stood up immediately from his work, and walked off the job. He didn't even work a notice, just walked out and tagged along to hear Jesus.
The first thing Matthew noticed was that when it came supper time, Jesus had no plans. So, he invited Him to come over to his house after the busy day of preaching, teaching, and healing the crowds. Jesus came in to dinner, and Matthew had been so excited over having Jesus in his house, that he told all his neighbors and friends... all the wrong crowd too. It seems he had friends in low places. And, he told them all about Jesus, and that He was at his house for dinner, come quick!!! The more the merrier.
The house filled up really fast, and all the townsfolk who had seen Jesus stop in the neighborhood just stared as the Great teacher sat at dinner with this lot of sinners. And, just as soon as the most religious people among them could get close enough, they asked the disciples why in the world their teacher was eating with people like that. Jesus heard all about this, and He answered their question Himself. Of course, you can sum up the mouth full he had to say with His one word "mercy."
Apparently, Jesus was serving mercy at dinner. Do you need mercy? Looks like Jesus has no dinner plans. What are you waiting for?
Matthew 8:24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
I checked all the cupboards, the pantry, the closets in my soul and it appears my head is empty. Sorry, we're closed tonight. I'm having to shift quite a bit of gears to grow accustomed to the college thing with my son. I took a forced nap :) when I got home today...just sort of passed out for a few hours in the recliner comatose. And, now I woke up with nothing on my mind but the screen-saver. I'm drawing a blank. But, the verse above is lovely. Jesus was tired, washed out. So he went to sleep. What would Jesus do in this situation? I think He would go to bed. So, look for something tomorrow night.
Goodnight and God bless you!
Interview with Robert Caldwell, a local Children’s Pastor and young minister who visited an orphanage in Haiti this month. Robert talks about the journey that is salvation, taking responsibility for the fatherless next door, and around the world, and leading those who don't know their Heavenly Father to a relationship with Jesus. And, he shares some more tangible ways in which we can "visit" the fatherless. Tonight's Podcast is available on the Podcast page at http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/ or on the player below. Also, I have compiled a video of Robert's mission photos.
"I Choose to Praise You"
Used by permission from Mark Snyder
Written by Mark Snyder of Tree Hill Collective
Vocals by Helene Immel
Tree Hill Collective’s music may be purchased at:
"Faithful" by Calvary Chapel Saving Grace
Public Domain music
The modern worship songs are copyrighted by the artist but can be freely shared. The Hymn files are all placed in the public domain.
We speak of Sunday being the Lord's Day. Aren't all days the Lord's? Jesus told us that He is even Lord of the Sabbath. Matthew 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
The Bible uses the phrase "The Day of the Lord" about 26 times in 13 different books. Nine of the 16 old testament prophets mentioned it. Peter and Paul spoke about it in the New Testament. Jesus used parables to speak of the judgment day.
Matthew 24:50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looks not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in pieces, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
I think these passages point out the reality that all days belong to God, and that there will be a final day of reckoning where we will account for the use of our days. Robert Brault has a humorous blog about the topic, which I have pasted in below, about Judgment Day.
Ten Ways to Ace Your Judgment Day Interview
1. Be on time.
2. Tell the Lord you've heard a lot about heaven and like what you hear.
3. Be neat, alert, make direct eye contact.
4. Don't stare at the beard.
5. When the Lord speaks, lean forward, look interested.
6. Be familiar with the Lord's background. ("I really liked your Ten Commandments.")
7. Be clear on where you want to be in five years.
8. Be honest about personal flaws. ("I tend to be too forgiving.")
9. Do not hesitate to underscore qualifications. ("I go to church every Easter.")
10. Make it clear that you'll accept the standard benefits package.
~~ Robert Brault
It becomes obvious in reading through these how different of an experience that the "Day of the Lord" is going to be from anything we have ever experienced. What do you think about Judgment Day?......
The story behind the four women who were at the foot of the cross as Jesus died, in it's beautiful correlation to Mothers everywhere is told as a prequel to "Mother's Day."
Tonight's Podcast and more notes and info about the Four Women Beneath the Cross is available at: http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/ or, you can listen on the player below.
Worry more about what you do than what happens to you. This bit of advice, though it seems obvious on deeper analysis, is difficult to follow. In the book, The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, the opposite advice is given by Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, to use in instructing his assigned human. The whole point is, Wormwood is seeking to drag his human down, much like a guardian angel would try to encourage him for good. So, all of the advice that Uncle Screwtape gives his nephew is generally intended for us to turn around and follow the opposite advice. Whereas, Satan would prefer that we spent our time worrying more about what might happen to us, than about what we are doing in this world.
I think the essence of this idea is represented in the Scripture where Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 If I am more concerned with doing something for the Kingdom of God, I won't have to worry about what happens to me. This reminds me of the Apostle Peter asleep in prison, the night before he was to be executed. He was not concerned about what was going to happen to him at all. He had been busy about the work of the ministry. When things went South, as they sometimes do, he went to sleep. So, God interceded on his behalf. The Bible doesn't record that Peter did anything about his situation, but sleep.
Good night. I'm going to sleep myself. :)