Category Archives: Kingdom Life

Why Atheism Is Not Absence of Faith or Ideology

Here is an excellent supplemental article to go with the first Everyday Faith iGathering class.  Thanks to tektonics.org

Often people insist to be atheists (only) because there’s no objective evidence of God. However as I am about to show, one could as easily claim to be a theist because no positive evidence for atheism exist. In this chapter I will show that atheism is an ideology, not absence of one, and how it is based on faith and needs circular logic (atheism true by default) and misuse of science (science has disproven God) to sound plausible. The “God of the gaps”-argument doesn’t help atheists because it is based on the assumption that atheism is true, so over time it will prevail. On the other words, if atheism is true, gaps in our knowledge will be explained completely by “naturalistic” methods. To call mechanistic (atheist, materialistic, you name it) ideology natural is of course misleading – it is an attempt to make other explanations look like fictionary.

But isn’t this article just an example of religious thinking? This notion is irrelevant, since as well I could start accusing atheists of being equally brainwashed and guilty of non-religious or even anti-religious thinking. It is rather frustrating to hear anti-theist complaining when someone is “accused” of being atheist, way too often these same persons accuse people of religious thinking! Of course anti-theists don’t give up easily, so they insist that because religion is an ideology and atheism is not, they have the right to accuse religious people of their worldview. Well as I am about to show that this is not just untrue, but the whole thing will become an embarrasment for atheists:

Religions are knowledge of the supernatural. Science does not tell The Truth (you don’t have to look further than Darwinism to realize how The Truth is not absolute, but always… evolving?), it tells us something that might be true. Knowledge does not have to be absolute. If we did stop teaching the knowledge we have, wouldn’t atheism find it’s most satisfied followers among vegetables?

There are very few things that haven’t been taught to us. Language is example of tacit knowledge which is something that has it’s basis coded into our DNA (this is something that is very difficult to explain with neo-darwinian mechanism). However most of our knowledge is not “natural”, but something like an ideology for which we have been exposed from the day of our birth. To stop teaching about the supernatural would be just about the same thing as not teaching anything at all. Saying “God exists” does not make Him exist, but neither would He cease to exist if all knowledge of Him would disappear. This atheist argument is circular reasoning, because it starts with the presumption that atheism is true. Following the “since it must be teached, it is not true”-logic, atheism and absolute lack of knowledge would be just about the same thing. I’m sure that this is not how Sickticks want their ideology to be represented.

Why are theists obligated to reason without religious motives? It is almost absurd to see how atheism is seen as absence of ideology! Once I grew up, I learned that completely independent thinking does not exist. We are all “victims” of different ideologies. Atheism is an ideology that claims that only material world exist. Therefore doubting Evolutionism because of religious motives is perfectly ok, because Evolutionism is an ideology itself! Unfortunately not everyone is ready to admit their prejudices. Appealing to the “natural” or what most people think is not generally a good idea anyway. Ideologies are not necessary obvious (like teaching it in school for example), in fact most succesful ideologies are hiding, this is why they’re so succesful, people see them as natural – so no reason for them is needed.

The atheist argument is often based on negative- , rather than positive evidence. On the other words: because existance of God can’t be proven, He doesn’t exist, and so atheism must be true by default. Intelligent Design movement is accused of the same reasoning, instead of trying to prove the design [1], it attacks the Blind Watchmaker-thesis; because neo-Darwinian mechanism doesn’t explain evolution of Irreducibly Complex-systems, these systems must have been designed (to evolve). Of course ID movement is furiously criticized of this kind of reasoning, but atheists barely ever.

Why the negative evidence doesn’t help atheists? If God chooses to be reached only by faith, negative evidence would not be valid argument, because it reduces and oversimplifies the situation. Basicly negative evidence starts from the assumption that only two options exist, when one of them is false, the other one has to be true. Sure, in some sense there’s only two options: Agnostic worldview is always a failure in the end, supernatural exist or it doesn’t. But there’s much more in it, consider the following points:

To “God doesn’t exist because there’s no evidence of Him”-argument to be valid, the following presumptions must be true, or the argument fails:
(a) God is obligated to reveal Himself to us, just because we demand
(b) God must act the way we predict, we want and we define (“God would not do it this way”)
(c) existance of God could be proven somehow

Why God doesn’t give us proof, why the faith is so important? I have to limit this article, this is why I recommend this article. Now back to the question of what should be default, if anything.

Since Origins of life and Universe are not explained by atheism, it should not be true by default. Of course neither is theism true by default, because no unambiguos evidence of God or the Creation exist either. Why should the science serve atheist-ideology? Atheism is based on the assumption that life was born spontaneosly, this is called abiogenesis. However it is known for sure that life could have not formed spontaneously (sometimes called chemical evolution) at present conditions on Earth. Well, the atheist have invented the prebiotic soap and biochemical scaffolding to make their worldview possible, however no evidence of the soap exists! It is mere a hypothesis – just like theism. At this point the ranting atheist is most likely to quot talk.origins to show that abiogenesis is a fact like gravity – it’s always as amusing because these guys don’t usually even understand the text they quoted, they just try to scare theist with list of plausible looking buzzwords. As always they’re willfully ignorant of the other side of the issue – whis in this case would be critique of abiogenesis scenarios. If you don’t believe in God because there’s no evidence, the only logical conclusion you have is not to believe in abiogenesis either! In this case the only option you have is to believe that Universe and life have always existed – idea that has been abandoned by modern science, thermodynamics is one of the best established scientific laws, and it shows that the Universe indeed had the beginning.

The Design, or lack of it, is there for those who want to see it. If God chooses to be out of our reach, I cannot prove He exist, and neither can atheist prove He doesn’t exist. Subjective evidence is not the same thing as fiction, tinnitus and hyperacusis (linkki tästä) are perfect examples of subjective experiences which are certainly not fiction, but a reality which one can’t share with others. In this sense every true Christian actually has subjective evidence of God. Of course it should be obvious that metaphysical theories about Origins and the Beginning (yes, it extremely likely that there was a beginning), cannot be fairly compared to the empirical sciences.

At this point anti-theists usually complain that they can’t prove that elves, orcs or balrogs doesn’t exist. I call this Argument of Quantity, which is based on the presumption that number of different options prove them all false, this logic is not reductive but additive, because it makes up arbitrary options. Argument of Quantity fails as absolute – it is not always true. Darwinism is a modern replacement for Creation stories of traditional religions, it is a religion and creation story itself [1]. If you examine it’s basic thesis’ (life has evolved from simple to complex) in the right context, it would look like a just another story. Let’s assume that I made a book about fantasy world like Middle-Earth, but with one exception: no gods, supernatural or anything like that. Darwinian evolution would be the creator in this World. Would this prove Darwinism wrong and make it just another creation-myth? No, because Darwinism existed before my idea. Making up arbitrary options to prove it false would not change anything. Besides, using anti-Christian logic, different Evolutionary scenarios should prove against Evolution.

At this point anti-Christians note that even if the sheer amount of options doesn’t prove them all false, it does prove that one of the options is not likely to be true, because it surrounded by other options that are seemingly true as well. Of course this could be used against single Evolutionary theory as well, because competing options exist, orthodox neo-Darwinism is not likely to be true. An anti-Christian will answer by saying that Evolution is a fact, even if doesn’t know the mechanism. Of course they show their true colours: It doesn’t matter exactly how life evolved, only one thing matters, that Christianity is not true, anything else goes. So it seems that purpose of the Evolution is to prove Christianity wrong.

Positive evidence for atheism would be complete explanation of what was before Big Bang, law of abiogenesis (it is just a hypothesis at the moment – not even a theory) and complete understanding of Origins of life and Universe in general. As the most clever readers know, it is quite unlikely that all of these things will, or even could be proven by empirical sciences. What happened billions of years ago is matter of history, not something you can put to test tube. Of course God can’t be disproven beoynd doubt, but at the moment He is not even close of being even remotely disproven or useless hypothesis.

Once atheist is asked to explain Origins without God, he accuses theist of appealing to the Gaps. Unfortunately this is circular logic which is based on presumption of atheism being true. As well atheist could be accused of appealing to the Gaps – if there’s God, over time our knowledge of Him will increase over time, and so theism will be once proven to be true (by Christs second coming for example). In this scenario all the attempts to disprove, or show that God is not needed, would be labeled as appealing to the Gaps in your knowledge of God. Of course atheists will appeal to the trend – reality is increasingly explained by natural mechanisms. But is it? And which trend we will choose, life is much more complex than it was thought – what if this complexity is machine-like, not just any complexity? Sure science is great tool to explain reality, but only when it empirical. Historical sciences are much more ambigious. If God was once used to explain all gaps in knowledge, it was obviously a mistake. But so what? Cell is not a simple bag of protoplasm, but a complex machine. Sometimes evolutionary biology is asked to explain how love for music evolved for example. This is somewhat unfair question to ask from biologists. Or is it? If reality is so mechanistic as materialists claim, if human behaviour can be explained just by chemichals in our brains and if sexuality is explained by genes, the question is no longer unfair. This would mean that Darwinism is excepted explain to something it was never supposed to – Darwinism was/is based on reductionism, and life being simple. Besides, it is almost funny when Evolutionists appeal to the Gaps by themselves – “We don’t know enough about evolution”. Of course this argument can’t be proven wrong – they can always appeal to the lack of knowledge, but still say that “we know that life evolved”. Basicly everything could be explained with “It evolved. End of discussion.”. Funny. When Creationists are unable to explain how Adam was created, Evolutionists complain that Creationism is not science. Talking about double standards… Of course the argument could be reversed to mean “We don’t know enough about design, but we know that life was designed”.

Thanks to Science God is not needed, because world can be explained without him. This approach is reductive. Even if it was once thought that Freud’s ideas can explain human behaviour completely, it doesn’t mean they did. Darwinism was once thought to be able to explain everything. If a method excludes options by default, it is not a valid tool to explain everything. Because modern science is based on naturalistic philosophy, teleological explanations (purpose) are excluded, this is why ID’ers have to “appeal” to the Gaps – because their opinions are excluded by default.

It is not news to say that Evolutionism is a religion [1] which attempts to replace tradiotional theism – especially Christianity. Philosophy of Evolutionism doesn’t want to see design, a perfect example of this is the so called “junk” DNA, which is used to prove that there was no design. My personal opinion about ID is that detecting design from the nature is very difficult, or even impossible – but this doesn’t mean that science should be misused to prove against it. Evolutionist philosophy is based on conscious misunderstandment of the design-argument (the desing doesn’t have to be perfect, because it is not recent). However just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it proves against theism! This is inversed version of “just because we don’t know, doesn’t mean that God did it”. Whole God of the gaps-theory is anti-theist circular reasoning and double standards, because it starts with presumption of atheism being true, therefore “once given enought time” it will be proven to be true and gaps explained by atheism, not by God:

“Unfortunately, the point is made with circular logic: it depends on the presupposition that life is not designed, which is the point at issue. If life is not designed then, yes, a theory of intelligent design is ultimately a blind alley (if not quite “giving up”). However, if aspects of life are indeed designed, then the search for the putative unintelligent mechanisms that built them is the blind alley. But how do we decide ahead of time which is correct?” – Michael J. Behe [11]
What we have here is a core of atheism, the reasoning behind it’s alleged superiority is circular: because atheism is true by default, it’s presumptions will be proven correct over time. I would have no problems what’s so ever with this – but I’m afraid that the explanations we have been given, and will be given, actually do not explaing enough. And once we make this objection, we get accused of being religious.

What we have is a circle, both sides demanding evidence from eachother and using negative evidence to prove their case. I think I’ll just cut it here because it should be obvious that the the burden of proof is not by default with the theist. I could say that I am a theist because materialists can’t explain without ideological prejudices how Universe and life came to be spontaneously. Especially interesting is the question: “What was before the Big Bang?”. Once I read an article from atheist who claimed that such questions are “unfair” – why make difficult and “arbitrary” questions of something that happened. Of course making arbitrary options is additive argument. But in my opinion questions of what was before Big Bang, and how did the order in Universe came to be, are not arbitarary.

I recently read an interesting article with the title “Whatever happened to atheism?” [8]. The author is an atheist who claims that militant atheism is no longer relevant, because religion is nowadays simply matter of belief. If it is about personal relationship with God-the-hypothesis, it is certainly not threatening. This is quite a good observation since it explains so well why religion is accepted, as long as it isn’t “concrete”. God is acceptable as long as He is not used to explain anything in this world. I guess this is why theist is excepted to prove his/her case, and atheism is the default.

Let’s assume that the atheists are right in their faith, and there’s no God, doesn’t this mean that I have wasted my life? But what would be so special in being right, if your worldview was just a lucky guess, as I have shown, atheism is faith as well. And if atheists are right, they will never know it! Well, actually I once saw an “atheist” claiming how Christians will know in the afterlife they were cheated 😉 Even worse kind of argumentation is appealing to the quantity and whining about possiblity if the god is not the God of the Bible, but let’s say Allah for example. Well, I am sure this god/Allah/whatever will appreciate that at least I take responsibility of my actions, including my faith – why would atheists who have been in denial, be in any better position in this scenario? Information is sometimes defined as measure of unexpectedness – the more bold your claim is, the more informative it is. Unfortunately bold claims are more likely to be proven wrong, than the confirmative ones. I see no problem in taking a risk, what is so awful of being wrong anyway? Cell was once thought to be simple lump or bag of protoplasm. This rather amusing idea of cell was once a fact, not fiction, and many believed it – including Darwin. At this point anti-theists start whining how Christians miss the “good things in life” – however these claims are based on caricatures and straw men of Christianity, it is always as frustrating to meet “Skeptics” who have made up their mind about Christianity, but are still so ignorant about it.

It is not a good idea to say: “Prove that God doesn’t exist”, once an atheist has asked the opposite, because he/she can’t. Actually both of the questions are somewhat unfair, but there’s no reason why the burden of the proof should be with a theist. Atheist should not whine about God of the Gaps – there are gaps in our knowledge, they could be explained by theism or by atheism. In a nutshell: There’s no reason to start from the atheist presumptions and prove God. The one who claims to know the Truth is wrong – at the moment – I can’t say anything about the future. It should be obvious that atheism is not absence of faith – what could be better example of faith if not materialism, “it just happened like we say, don’t ask stupid questions”?

Confidence In A Skeptical World

We live our lives in the midst of increasing skepticism.  The scriptures tell us to be able to give an answer to the hope that we have in our hearts.

Unfortunately, many Christians don’t have answers beyond, “Because I have faith” or because the Bible says so.”

Although those are valid feelings, the Lord told us in the Greatest Commandment that we are to love Him with all our strength, soul, and MIND.  Faith is not an either/or proposition.  True faith is an exercise of both heart and mind.

Skepticism has become increasingly aggressive and militant.  In my opinion, it’s not appropriate to be dismissive with answers they can’t related to.  We can have confidence and we can sew seeds of truth without have to have a stratospheric IQ and a list of college degrees in the sciences.

I’m happy to announce that my first Everyday Faith Internet Gathering is online.  In coming months, I will be taking on several different practical issues of Everyday Faith.  The launching series focuses on the subject of becoming confident in a skeptical world.

Thanks for watching: Just click on the visual below:

 

Why Christmas (or any) Frustration Is Unreliable

holiday_frustration-580x386For a time that’s supposed to be filled with joy and peace, frustration plays a great “grinch” role in your emotions, doesn’t it?

Does that exasperation you are feeling have any “legs to stand on.”

You will probably answer, “Umm yes.  Just live my life, right now, for one day and you won’t be asking that stupid question.”

Jangled emotions are facts of life.  We all deal with them for a myriad reasons.  But, the good news is this:

Contrary to popular belief, we can control our emotions.

“Oh, yea, Mr. Spiritual Smarty Pants.  HOW?”

I’m glad you asked :)

We can put a bit in the mouth of our emotions by deciding what we are going to believe TRUTH is all about.

“Oh, yea, Holier Than Thou!  Well it’s the truth that I am waaay behind on everything I have to accomplish.  There isn’t enough time in the day.” 

Let me clarify, then.  You’ve just defined the accuracy of your personal perception of circumstances.  Not truth.

What Is Truth?

Truth can be explained in two ways from God’s mind.

“Why are you bringing God into this?  I don’t need “feeling bad about myself” on top of everything else.  I already do a great job of that without your help”

Dear Reader,

I am not being patronizing.  I am sympathetic to your feelings.  I’m human and go through the same things everyone does.

I know how you feel.  I’ve felt the same way  myself.  But, I’ve found that God has a better answer.

Truth, as used in Scripture = 1.  The uncovering of God’s plan and purpose. 2.  Jesus, the Truth, as the embodiment of God’s plan and purpose.

You see, true Truth (a weird way to put it) is NOT accuracy of circumstantial evidence.

“Yea, yea…I know all that.”

Okay, good.  But knowing the information isn’t the same as embracing the reality.

Your Inner Critic Isn’t The Voice Of God

Boy, I wish we could get this one down pat.  But, although they might know better, many Christians misinterpret the voice of their “Inner Critic” as the Voice of God within.  And, it just ain’t so.

What Does God’s Voice Sound Or “Feel” Like?

Anything thought that glistens with hope.  Even when the Holy Spirit is correcting you, it still feels like there’s hope in the responding.

If your thoughts are accompanied by a sense of peace….even in the middle of a circumstantial storm….that is a telltale sign that God is speaking.

If your thoughts are accompanied by depression, confusion, and the like, that’s a sure sign that “Mr. or Ms. Inner Critic” is speaking.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to NOT listen to the voice of The Father of Lies.  It isn’t worth the time.  It only brings death.

My hope is this.  From reading this article, you will consider it, “The Voice of God” to you in leading you to reconsider your frustration, fear, and depression at this time of year (or any time).

Jesus said, “My Peace I Give You.”

Choose Determine, Demand…practicing the art of only paying attention to His voice.

Btw…Everyday Faith Internet Gathering Online Classes Are About To Begin.  And, It’s Actually Never Too Late To Begin.

If You’d Like To Be Notified Of Each New Online Posting, Please Send Me Your Email Address To:

garyellis1244@gmail.com   If you would, please also indicate your state or country.  Thanks :)

Gary

How Can I Help Make Things Better?

EFIG Ad IncompleteThere are lots of changes we would make to improve our situations in life – spiritually, physically, and emotionally…if we just knew how.  Here’s how I intend to help you:

My blog, “Encouraging Words” has been the tool I’ve used for the past couple of years.  I now intend to upgrade it to remain encouraging, but add a fresh focus.

From this date forward, this blog will be a written supplement for “Everyday Faith Internet Gathering” (or iGathering).  The encouragement you read here will be tracking with the topics being discussed on the FREE YouTube video series by the same name.

The online “experience” will be what is know as a Magazine Format.  It will include faith building testimonials, Q&A (via email contact), prayer, and a lesson series.

The Premiere Lesson Series:  “Confidence with Skeptics.”

There are many forms of skepticism in the world, today.  They are normally wrapped in a box called “Atheism or Agnosticism.”  The more aggressive “Skeptics” want Christians to believe they are taking over.  You may have actually seen billboards like this one:

billboard_sacramentocor_2450x273Freedom of speech is fine.  An atheist can advertise anything they want.  Although, it’s rather humorous that they criticize Christians for proselytizing (evangelizing) when the sudden surge indicates that they are also, now, becoming “evangelists.”

For me, the concern is that too many Christians are intimidated.  Not by thinking that maybe the atheist ideology is actually true.  But, that they believe they don’t have any good answers but…”Yeh…well…I believe because I have faith.”

However the Scriptures clearly say, “Be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you…(I Peter 3:15)…and it adds to do it “with gentleness.”  Aggressive responses are usually based on a lack of personal confidence in an answer.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  The greatest commandment also instructs us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and MIND…”

Here’s the good news:  We can have an intelligent response.

Even if you never venture into an actual discussion with a Skeptic, you can develop your own base of confidence that includes your MIND, and that without all of the “Christianese.”

I have personally discovered there are great logical foundations that your faith can be rooted in.  And that, without having to learn a ton of mental gymnastics that overcomes their “blabber gab.”

The truth is:  The more I have exercised practical mental as well as spiritual truth on thoughts that include creation, evolution, attacks on the bible, etc., the stronger my everyday faith has become.

In the weeks and months ahead, “Everday Faith Internet Gathering” (and Blog) will delve into many spiritual development classes, from how to get more out of the bible to how to increase the clarity of God’s voice within your own heart.  If it has to to with practical spiritual life that “re-presents” Jesus, we’ll be covering it.

At the present time, the first class will go on line via YouTube on January 6, 2015.  Each new session will be uploaded every two weeks.  Blog entries will be much more frequent.

The Advantages of This Kind of Class Gathering:

  1. Go at your own pace.
  2. In the convenience of your own home
  3. On you best availability
  4. Re-watch sections for better learning.
  5. It’s FREE :)

Each video gathering will be 30 to 45 minutes in length.

If you’d like to be reminded of new Everyday Faith iGathering Videos, please send an email with your name and email address to garyellis1244@gmail.com

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE USED FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN “EVERYDAY FAITH INTERNET GATHERING” INFORMATION.

Hope to have you join us!

Pastor Gary Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

Pierced Ears: A God Thing

ear-piercingI will be the first to say that the piercings in this picture are nothing more than contemporary fashion statements.

Pierced ears, eye brows, tongues, belly buttons, and the like that you see today aren’t spiritual declarations negative or positive.

 

A Voluntary Choice

During “biblical days” after a time of service to his owner, a servant could go free.  At that time he had an option to make another choice.  He could become his Master’s servant for life.  In other words, he was giving up all of his rights of independence…of personal freedom.  This was totally voluntary.  He was not under compulsion, whatsoever.

A Choice of Love

Why would a person that has been given their freedom choose to stay “bound” to servant hood, a bond servant?

Love.  The servant had developed love for his Master.  He had come to the decision that greater freedom was to be found being bound to the Will of his Master, than demanding his own rights.  He had discovered that his Master had a greater love for him, than he had for himself.
The servant realized that his Master was fair and just and that he would enjoy many freedoms the the Master’s love for him would bestow.  And, the servant’s primary motivation was to faithfully volunteer to serve at the will of his Master whenever called upon to do so.

The servant’s heart cry each day was, “My Master, whatever is important to you today is what is important to me.  Direct me as you will.”

A Choice of New Family

The Bond Servant also had another advantage.  He was now considered to be on the level of a member of the Master’s family.  He was embraced in life in a new way with new dignity.

The Pierced Ear of Dedication

In biblical days, the Master would publicly pierce the ear of the new bond servant with an awl on a doorpost.  (ouch!)  It is not conclusive whether or not there was any form of further adornment as part of the piercing.  Any suggestion one way or the other would be mere speculation.

For today, the pierced ear is a spiritual metaphor pointing to an attitude of heart.  It is also interesting to note here Psalm 40:6, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

The phrase, “mine ear has thou opened” is an allusion to the piercing of the bond servant’s ear.
Instead of it being the idea of being able to “hear” God speak, it is referring to the fact that God and received the Psalmist as a bond-servant.  The rest of what he says in that verse further establishes that meaning.

The Lord is declaring that His desire is not for the outward observances, but for the commitment of heart.

Pierced Ears:  A God Thing

In the New Testament the opened ear takes on the meaning of purposely, intentionally placing ones self under the loving and wise rule of our Heavenly Father.  It’s a conscious, daily choice of desired motivation.  It is the most freeing place a person could ever want to live.

What About the Prohibition on Bodily Piercing

Bond servants were not the only ones that were pierced as a sign of submission.  It was also true that there were body markings and piercings that took place with non Hebrews.  In some heathen cultures, young boys were marked as life-long slaves to foreign gods by ear piercings.  There were also adults that dedicated themselves to idols by piercings and cutting of their bodies.

The prohibition from God was against His people joining themselves with foreign gods and idols.  It cannot be accurately interpreted to be a blanket statement applied, in general, to anyone.

As I began this article, piercings (and tattoos) today are primarily “fashion statements.”  And, in my opinion, there is no reason to suggest that a person  who “inks” or “pierces” themselves in our contemporary culture is in rebellion against the Word of God.

Instead, I would like to suggest that we, as His people, become more intentionally dedicated to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  I suggest that we more consciously submit ourselves as His bond servants in our daily actions and attitudes.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happens When You Make Room For It

miraclesFrankly, I’d gotten weary of hearing about healings and miracles in other countries, as well as only experiencing them, myself, when I was on mine or someone else’s  missions trips.  I’d also grown weary of hearing other Believers commiserate, “When will it happen in the United States?” 

Then I heard the Lord speak to my heart.  He said, “Talking about the stuff, agreeing with doctrines about the stuff, and wishing for the stuff will not bring the stuff.  You have to  intentionally make room for it.”

Making Room Is Risky

What if nothing happens?  It will further discourage people.  Interesting.  What that really is all about is fear of loosing personal reputation.  C’mon.  Let’s be honest.  There’s a reputation risk involved.  But, do nothing and that is exactly what you’ll get.  Nada.  Zilch.  But…your reputation will be in tact, right?  Anyway…let me encourage you with what began happening as we looked to God and ventured out:

The Stuff Started Happening (Right Here In America) :)

Debra was rushed to the emergency room recently suffering from severe pain in her abdomen.  The E.R. sonogram showed a disturbing large black mass.  She was immediately taken to Iowa City.  Further examination revealed a great many fibroid tumors with a large black mass in the center that they were sure was cancer.  We prayed for Debra at church on two separate occasions. The last time, someone had a vision of Debra passing through the doors to the operating room and cancer was forbidden to enter with her.  When Debra was admitted for surgery, her roommate turned out to have exactly the same situation.  Following both of their surgeries, the surgeon had bad news for Debra’s roommate.  It was as they were sure.  She had aggressive cancer.  However, with a surprised expression, he told Debra that they removed her fibroid tumors, but that there was absolutely no cancer present.

Marie was also recently diagnosed with a family inherited breast cancer that had taken the lives of several of her female relatives.  Marie was told that, at minimum, she was facing a double mastectomy.  Prayer was also given several times for Marie…against the cancer, and her fear.  To make a long wonderful story short, she recently underwent her exploratory surgery.  All her lymph nodes were clean, and there was a small irregular patch that they removed.

Christine testified and demonstrated, last Sunday, the hand of God at work on her behalf.  Healing prayers have been prayed for Christine several times over the past few months.  She is in a wheel chair, but she said, “watch this.”  She proceeded to cross her legs.  She said, “I haven’t been able to do this for 25 years!”  She also said that a couple of weeks ago at her doctor’s appointment that he told her that she no longer needed her inhaler because her lungs were suddenly doing very well.

Larry had a two words of knowledge during last week’s teaching.  In one, he saw a vision of a knee with a spear like rod going through it.  The second second word of knowledge he heard the words depression and suicide together.  His mother took Larry and his niece and her friend, who had come to The Sanctuary for the first time, to lunch afterward.  As they were talking during lunch, Larry told them about the Words of Knowledge that he had had.  He knew nothing of the two girls emotional lives or physical conditions.  They both responded that they had severe knee problems that needed surgery.  When Larry prayed with them (right there at Applebees) her friend’s knee pain – on a scale of 1 to 10 – decreased to a 4.  Larry prayed again.  She said the second time it felt like something in her knee when hard and then soft and then there was absolutely no pain left.  His niece told Larry that she had been very depressed and had serious thoughts of suicide.  He prayed with her an commanded the spirit causing the thoughts to leave.  She was amazed and, in tears, she said she felt a heavy weight lift off of her.

Always Successful?

Nope, it doesn’t appear so at the time.  I don’t know why.  I don’t trying to spend a lot of time figuring out why.  I am always open to the Holy Spirit to show me a deficiency on our part, but gazing at the lint in my own belly button doesn’t appeal to me.  Also spading up my mind with the “why shovel” has never proven especially helpful.

There are times – that at the time – it would seem like nothing happens.  And most of the time it requires more than a quick formula “a little dab’ll do ya” prayer.  One thing I do know, when the prayer is proceeded by a God-given gift of a Word of Knowledge, the results seem to appear more quickly.

I could give you an opinion on why, but I would just be cluttering the water with more nutty “this is why” teachings that we really don’t need any more of.  Remember, opinions are like belly buttons.  Everybody has one.

So….let’s bring the good stuff to our shores by making room for the stuff!  Yay, God!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Powerful Than The Bible

open-bible2There is something more powerful than answering people’s questions than with the phrase, “Because the Bible says so.”  Or, it’s first cousin… quoting scripture verses.

Before you cast me off as a heretic…before you think I’m minimizing the authority of Scripture, please read further…

I Believe In The Bible As Authority In Our Lives!!

Make no mistake about it.  I believe in the reality, power, and authority of the Scriptures.  I believe that Paul told Timothy the truth when he said…

“All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and for instruction in righteousness.”  2 Timothy 3:16

[Side note:  I also believe that it doesn’t say ONLY Scripture, but instead ALL Scripture is profitable…”]

What Is More Powerful Than The Bible?

The Scriptures are a “must foundation” for our lives.  However, when we are talking to others in our daily lives there is something more powerful than saying, “Because the Bible says so.”  There’s also a more powerful way of giving hope and encouragement to someone who needs it than simply quoting scriptures at them.

Your Personal Testimony

Your personal testimony will always have the most powerful impact on someone.  Listen carefully please.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t speak the words of Scripture.  I am saying, that the principles and promises found in The Book should be able to be confirmed by your tell-able story of God’s fresh love.

Encourage and answer people with your stories with God.  Then point to what the Bible says.  Or the other way round.  But please…

“Have your own fresh testimony of God’s grace that you can relate.  If you don’t have one….get one!  In fact get a lot of them.  Make it a point to have an actual “personal” relationship with Him.”

Sometimes People Sincerely Say…

“I’m just responsible to share the Word.  The Holy Spirit will take it from there.”  I understand that seems like a truthful, God honoring thing to say, but…

If you don’t mind me saying so (although you may)…that’s just plain lazy.

It’s too often thought that the Holy Spirit will “put a buzz on quoted scripture verses like a “magic act.”  I’m sorry if that sounds cynical.  And, I do know that He empowers Scripture.  He illuminates it to people’s understanding.  But, I deeply feel that we’ve leaned on that far too often.

Authentic Christianity (as apposed to the “religious variety”) is about a personal relationship.  To experience that…it needs to be experienced…on a personal daily level.  I don’t mean all hearts and flowers.  A personal relationship lived out in the real world can be both bliss and blisters.  But personalized, it must be.

What Is Sharing The Word With People?

It can refer to quoting and sharing verses and passages from the Bible.  Quoting Scriptures is a form of sharing the Word.

However, let me suggest that “sharing the Word” is at lease equally…putting a personal face on it.  Sharing your stories of how the Word has been working in your life.  That is sharing the Word.  The Living Word expressed in, through, and as you!

May we all increase in Authentic Christianity.  And may we have plenty of our own stories, based on the Scriptures.  May we not fall into the lazy trap of only responding with quoted Bible verses.

How do you respond to that?  I’d love to hear from you!

Gary

 

 

What Does God Control?

God-is-in-Control-cover-photoI spoke on something yesterday that can be quite controversial among Christians.  In fact, to put forward what I suggested is similar to walking into a mine-field.  So, why did I venture into dangerous territory?

Taking Personal Responsibility

Let me say quite clearly and definitely that I am more than sure that I don’t understand or comprehend God’s Sovereignty (Theo speak for Control of Affairs of Men).

However, I am coming to an increasingly firm belief that many Christians (maybe you) have a different definition of the word “Sovereignty” as it relates to God’s relationship with His spiritual family that’s flawed.

Here’s How I Define God’s Sovereignty

I believe God has sovereignly chosen to give mankind free-will and to submit Himself to man’s choices….

Unless we invite Him into the events of our lives to exercise His wisdom and power to redeem and restore.  I know this raises some questions that rise beyond “my pay grade” but it has answered more questions for me than cause unanswerable questions.

God Does Not Violate His Gift and Privilege of Free Will

Here’s a common “spiritual” statement that sounds God honoring.  It sounds like “faith in God.”  In sounds so sincere and I’m sure it is.

“God has here who He wants to be here.”

The quizzical thing to me is that I never hear it said (or have never said it, previously myself) when the church, or the special meeting, conference, or concert is packed out.  It’s only said, when the numbers of people in attendance is low.

To say that means that you believe that God somehow manipulated circumstances in the lives of some people to be there and didn’t want anyone else to attend or else they would be there.

(Before you want to burn me at the stake because you think I’m making God less God-like….think about for a minute.  Honestly think about what your words are logically reflecting.)

So, why did I make it a topic of my last sermon, and why would I follow up by devoting a blog post to it?

Because, we need to learn to take more serious responsibility in our lives.  And we need to stop attributing the lacks in life to the work of God and His Sovereignty.  It’s giving God a bad rap, and it’s allowing us to not mature.

You Must Have Needed It

This statement is part of another common statement that I believe is deeply flawed.  More completely it is, “Don’t worry.  God is in control.  You must have needed for this to happen.”

Again, I don’t believe that actually nurtures trust.  It’s also interesting that that is a statement that is connected to a negative circumstance in life.   I know we are trying to be encouraging to someone else…or ourselves.  But we too often lay things at God’s doorstep that He did not have anything to do with.

Why do we say these things?  Because we think they sound God honoring.  Because we feel like we need to try to make sense of everything that goes on in our lives.  We need, instead, to invite God to walk with us through and out of the mess.  A negative result that, more than likely is the fruit of the flesh, a poor decision,  or the devil.

The sad thing is…a whole lot of weird, unscriptural teachings have resulted from man trying to explain the unexplainable.

I’d like to conclude this “hairy topic” by saying that God is not responsible for a positive outcome to your circumstances.  You are.  I am….by how we respond to the circumstance. 

Let me ask you a question to ponder for yourself:

What if you believed that you already have God-given control in your life.  How would it affect your life each day, week, or year?

Gary

 

 

 

When There’s Not Enough Money

one-dollar-bills-8875868Especially in the current world economy, for a high percentage of people, there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.  Sometimes it’s the result of bad financial decisions.  Other times it’s a result of issues totally out of one’s control.

I don’t know about you, personally, but I deal with a short supply more often than I like.  The reasons are all of the above.  Previously poor credit decisions as well as things totally out of my control.

I’ve made an important discovery that is supporting my emotional welfare a great deal on the issues of “shortage.”

I Am Fully Convinced

The thing is…I am fully convinced that God’s word, character, and reputation are absolutely true.  Philippians 4:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

I don’t need to beg Him to do what He’s already promised is “in the bank.”  In fact, my custom is not to ask Him to supply my needs.  I make a habit, instead, of thanking Him for what is already a done deal.

Why, then, do so many people that believe the same thing struggle with their emotions on this?

A Solution For The Emotional Struggle

In my case, I changed my prayer.  I’m suggesting that the same thing will work for you.  Instead of putting all my “faith eggs” in one basket (“He’ll supply all my needs, He’ll supply all my needs, He’ll supply all my needs…”) my prayer is a Daily Bread Wisdom request.  It goes something like this…

“Heavenly Father, it is my foregone conclusion that all my needs are being supplied by You.  For that I am deeply and faithfully grateful.  My request now, Lord, is that you give me today’s grace of wisdom to wisely manage what I have at the moment.”

What I Discovered

My emotional struggle wasn’t with trust in His “end game” for me.  The stress was struggling with daily wisdom. 

As I’ve made daily wisdom my focus, the emotional stress is greatly reduced.  With the daily wisdom I have a more peaceful appreciation of, “this is what I can do…this is what takes care of today.”

Frankly…especially in Prosperity Oriented Western Society…we have the added internal pressure that “things are not supposed to be like this.”  We feel like the goal is the good life that doesn’t have to be concerned with where money will come from.  After all…isn’t that the sign of God’s greatest blessing and pleasure on your life??   –  Wrong-o…Buck-o.

Any time our lives are resting on God Sufficiency rather than Self Sufficiency, we are ahead of the game in being what God has called us to be as His ambassadors.   That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to have “boooko bucks” in our earthly bank account.  But, it does mean that God can call on a withdrawl on that fullness at any time. 

In the end, we have what we have.  We don’t own what we have.  Relatively speaking, we should all be God’s paymasters.  With deep reserves comes deep responsibility (or ability to respond).

Believe God for the long haul.  Ask for wisdom for the daily bread that you have.

Gary

 

There’s Not An App For That

TheresNOTAnAppForThatHeaderFirst, let me start by stating that I have many useful apps and they’ve been a big help.  But, “help” is the key word.  There are apps that have pointed me in a good direction to connect with God. 

But, I have to do the rest!

There’s Not An App For That

I might benefit from an app that keeps tract of the number of steps I take on my “power walk,” but I have to get off the couch, go somewhere, and put one foot in front of the other.  The app won’t do that for me.

I might have an app that would help me keep track of how many calories I’m consuming each day, but I have to be the one who has to stop with one reasonable portion and then push myself away from the table.  The app won’t do that for me.

I do have an app that enables me to have several translations of the bible on my smartphone, but….(you know the rest of the statement)

The Bible app YouVersion has given me the ability to have a whole host of Bibles in my pocket and that’s often been a blessing to me.  But…it won’t meditate those scriptures for me.  I have to take the time to do that.

New School Technology

New school technology potentially puts tools in our hands that can enhance our relationship with the Eternal One, but “old school” one-on-one with Him is the key to growth.  There isn’t an app that will “lean your heart into God.”

There isn’t an app that will stir your heart for the soul in front of you.

There isn’t an app that will heal oppressed minds and bodies for you.

There isn’t an app that magically causes you to re-present the attitudes and actions of Jesus in your community.

There Are Lots Of Helpful Apps

Technology has its place.  Apps have their place.  But they don’t replace human and divine interaction.  (Neither does Facebook, btw)

Use the apps that help you, but remember they aren’t made of flesh and blood, and they don’t connect you to the Living Eternal God.  Jesus does.

Btw…P.S.

I’ve discovered a translation of the Bible that I’m over the moon thrilled with it.  Check it out here: The Voice Bible Online 

Gary