Featured Post

Why Political Speech Is Inappropriate from the Pulpit!

For years now, I have been criticizing the preaching of politics from the pulpit. Why? What's so wrong with talking about issues and can...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Is My God Your God?

There was an interesting editorial yesterday in The Charlotte Observer. Isaac J. Bailey's viewpoint is summarized in the title of the article:  "Franklin Graham's God isn't mine; is he yours?" -- http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article134819004.html In that editorial, Mr. Bailey points out that "There’s a long tradition of conservative Christian leaders making it plain that Christians don’t serve the God Muslims serve, because there is only one God, and you can’t get to him by following Muhammad, only Jesus." However, instead of excoriating the premise, Mr. Bailey accepts it and declares "I don't serve the God Graham serves."

But, if there is only one God, doesn't that make "him" the God of everyone? Isn't Franklin Graham (and his conservative allies) really arguing against alternative conceptions/perceptions of God? Likewise, Mr. Bailey points out the unloving, petty and spiteful nature of the God whom Graham and his associates worship. Don't atheists often make the same argument about the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible? In the final analysis, does our conception/perception of God change the reality of who and what God is?

Personally, my own perception of God is much closer to Mr. Bailey's view; but I don't believe that implies/means that Mr. Graham worships a different god. On the other hand, it does suggest to me that Graham and his associates have a distorted/flawed view of God. Nevertheless, isn't it a wee bit arrogant and self-righteous to suggest that someone isn't worshiping the TRUE God because their conception/perception of "him" isn't perfect? If perfection is truly the standard, aren't we all in trouble?

Mr. Bailey quotes Franklin Graham as saying:  "Jesus wasn’t real loving sometimes. He called the Pharisees vipers, snakes, white-washed tombs.” Mr. Bailey goes on to point out that the Pharisees were the religious conservatives of that age and that they "didn't notice the Messiah in their midst." He concludes his editorial by pondering what Christ might call Graham if he were walking the Earth today.

Once again, while I agree with Mr. Bailey's implication that Jesus may have some choice words for the good reverend, I do not agree with the underlying premise that "Jesus wasn't real loving sometimes." Scripture tells us that Christ had great compassion and love for the people who killed him. He was, after all, still willing to die for them (despite all of their misconceptions, ignorance and maliciousness. Shouldn't that give all of us some pause about suggesting/making statements that people who hold alternative viewpoints about the nature of God are not worshiping THE ONE AND ONLY GOD? What do you think?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

God, Earth and Those Pesky Exoplanets

We earthlings have harbored an exalted/distorted image of ourselves and our place in the cosmos for a long time. Our ignorance in this regard is underscored by our history and the current pace of exploration and discovery. The discovery of 3,453 exoplanets (planets outside of our solar system) in the last twenty-five years underscores the fact that we are just beginning to truly understand our place in the cosmos. -- https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/ And, to place our comprehension of the cosmos in the proper perspective, we still don't know for sure how many planets/planetoids are orbiting our own sun!

Many ancient cultures pictured the earth as being flat and existing under a great dome (or "firmament" in biblical language. In this view, the sun, moon and stars were positioned in the firmament exclusively for the benefit of us folks here on earth. The account of creation in the book of Genesis is a classic example of this view:  "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so...And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:6-9 and 14-18 -- https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1&version=KJV)

Eventually, man came to understand that the earth was a sphere - that it wasn't flat. Even so, the ancients still saw mankind and earth as being at the center of everything. In this view, the sun, moon and stars revolved around the earth. Later still, we realized that this Geocentric Model was also incorrect.

On this 25th day of February in the year 2017, we understand that our solar system is not unique - that there are other planets orbiting other stars. In other words, we now know that those stars do not exist just to help us distinguish between night and day, serve as signs, demarcate seasons/times or provide light here on earth. Moreover, the very existence of those 3,453 planets beyond our solar system suggests that we have much more to learn:  There are bound to be more of them out there. And, as we find more of them, it becomes more likely that some of them will be able to harbor life.

This possibility (probability?) was underscored earlier this week when NASA announced the discovery of seven "Earth-sized" planets orbiting Trappist-1. According to NASA, "Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water." -- https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1419/nasa-telescope-reveals-largest-batch-of-earth-size-habitable-zone-planets-around-single-star/ To be clear, we don't know yet that these planets have liquid water on their surface (and we don't know whether or not they harbor life). However, once again, the very existence of these worlds makes these things a possibility. We may still be engaging in speculation, but don't these discoveries necessarily make our ability to speculate more intelligent?

All of this brings to mind a few questions about the subject of this blog:  Does your concept of God depend on outdated understandings of the cosmos? Could God have other children elsewhere in the universe? Does it matter that we may not be as unique as we formerly understood ourselves to be? Does God have the ability to care for and sustain more than one world at a time? If there is life on other planets, is any of it intelligent? If so, do they have the same spiritual potential that we do? What do you think? 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Implications of Extreme Life

Yesterday (17 February 2017), Victoria Jaggard published a piece for National Geographic entitled "Weird Life Found Trapped in Underground Crystals." (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/crystal-caves-mine-microbes-mexico-boston-aaas-aliens-science/) As related in that article, scientists have apparently discovered microbial life within fluid that has been trapped inside of giant crystals for millennia. The crystals were found inside of caves which lie deep beneath the Naica Mine in Mexico. Scientists have also noted the extreme environment in which the microbes were discovered (the caves are so hot that explorers have to wear special insulated ice suits that permit them to stay in the caves for only minutes at a time). Moreover, after successfully extracting the microbes and culturing them, scientists discovered that they were genetically distinct from any other life on earth.

As the article points out, these microbes suggest once again that life on earth can exist in extreme conditions/environments and can remain dormant for long expanses of time. Think about the implications of that for the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, and the likelihood that our own exploration could contaminate other worlds!

We know that there has been much speculation in the genre of science fiction (literary and film) over the years about how life on earth began. Did life on earth get its start from microbes that originated on other worlds? Did a meteorite or asteroid crash into this planet and seed life here? Did aliens either intentionally or unintentionally seed our planet with life in the distant past? Could our own exploration of the universe unintentionally seed other worlds with earth life? What would happen to these microbes if the earth exploded one day and hurled debris into space? If the microbes survived on a piece of debris or some man-made spacecraft, could they seed life on some distant planet or moon that provided an environment which was hospitable enough for its survival? Over millions and billions of years, would such life evolve into more complex forms (maybe even humanoids like us)?

And, finally, if the discovery of these microbes makes all of these scenarios seem a little less far-fetched, does that suggest anything about the purpose of life itself? If so, does that imply some design or designer? At any rate, I believe that the existence of these microbes on this little orb we call home gives us a few more things to think about and possibilities to consider. After all, why is life so tenacious? Does the impetus toward self-perpetuation suggest any answers to some of the most profound questions that we have? What do you think?  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Godly perspective on REVENGE?

It has been widely reported in the press that Donald Trump recently offered to destroy a Texas Senator's career for opposing certain policies which he supports. (http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/02/07/trump-offers-destroy-texas-senator-help-rockwall-sheriff) By now, most of us have also heard about his reaction to the judges who ruled against his so-called "Muslim Ban." This brings to mind many past Trump statements and actions which have been focused on attack and revenge.

Just before the election last year, David Corn of Mother Jones reminded all of us that "Donald Trump Is Completely Obsessed With Revenge." (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/donald-trump-obsessed-with-revenge) In his article, he pointed out that:  "Following the first presidential debate, he spent days of valuable campaign time (and hours of valuable sleep time) slamming Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe. At other times during this contest, he could not let go of his feud with Rosie O'Donnell. He tried to smear Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the American-born federal judge hearing a fraud case against Trump University, as a "Mexican" unqualified to preside over this litigation. For days, he derided Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, after Khizr criticized him during a speech at the Democratic convention. He launched misogynistic attacks against Carly Fiorina and Megyn Kelly. Rather than attempt to unify his party after a divisive primary fight, he threatened to finance future campaigns against GOP rivals, most notably Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He encouraged violence against protesters at his rallies. And there were the mean and nasty nicknames: Lyin' Ted, Little Marco."

Corn went on to point out that these incidents were not random or isolated events, but that they represent an integral part of the man's philosophy and modus operandi. Indeed, Corn used Trump's own words to make his point. At the National Achievers Congress in Sydney (2011), he said:  "Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it." The following year, Trump said:  "One of the things you should do in terms of success: If somebody hits you, you've got to hit 'em back five times harder than they ever thought possible. You've got to get even. Get even. And the reason, the reason you do, is so important…The reason you do, you have to do it, because if they do that to you, you have to leave a telltale sign that they just can't take advantage of you." In 2013, Trump tweeted:  "Always get even. When you are in business, you need to get even with people who screw you. – Think Big." In 2014, he referenced a famous quote by Alfred Hitchcock:  "Revenge is sweet and not fattening."

So we know what Donald Trump thinks about revenge, but we would do well to ask:  What does the Godly perspective on revenge look like." Throughout history, there have been a good many statements on the subject that most of us would characterize as inspired. Here are just a few examples:
“The ultimate revenge is living well and being happy. Hateful people can’t stand happy people. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”-- Confucius
"The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury." -- Marcus Aurelius
"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love." -- Martin Luther King Jr.
"Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion." -- Jeremy Taylor
"When another person wrongs you, your typical first thought is one of revenge. We think that by inflicting similar pain onto this person, we’ll make ourselves feel better. While that may make our sick-minded selves feel better for a little while, it most likely will not in the long run. Seeking revenge doesn't cancel out the behaviors that hurt you. It just perpetuates the cycle of pain." -- Ashley Fern (http://elitedaily.com/life/why-we-need-to-stop-seeking-revenge/)

And then there is this one attributed to Jesus Christ:  "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles...You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:38-45, NLT)

A little later, in that same Gospel, we read:  "Then Peter came to him and asked, 'Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?' 'No, not seven times,' Jesus replied, 'but seventy times seven!'" (Matthew 18:21-22, NLT)

Hmmm, sure seems like God is not in agreement with Mr. Trump on this one. What do you think?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Thanksgiving is a pagan holiday, and Clinton and Obama are the Two Witnesses of Revelation!

We all know that God's Word says:  "You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2 - King James 2000 Bible) Moreover, secular history tells us that: "In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November." (http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving) We also know that "Lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims' menu." (same source)

Hence, it is clear that the celebration of Thanksgiving is a holiday which was ADDED by men - it was not instituted or commanded by Almighty God! Moreover, secular history teaches us that the people who engaged in that first Thanksgiving were deceived by Satan the Devil! (Revelation 12:9) The Puritans were the ultimate Protestants (daughters of the Great Whore, Revelation 17:5), and the Native Americans were PAGANS! We can also see that they ate unclean foods which God has declared unfit for human consumption! (Leviticus 11) Moreover, the holiday was made a national holiday by a secular leader - a President of the United States who was then engaged in one of the bloodiest wars in human history! Knowing these things, how can any of us ever celebrate this holiday again with a clear conscience?

Having dispensed with Thanksgiving, we all need to be aware of what's going on in the world around us. (Mark 13:35) We all know that at the time of the end there are going to be Two Witnesses whom God will use to warn the world. (Revelation 11:3) We are told in Scripture that:  "4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire." (Revelation 11:4-6, New King James Version)

Notice that these individuals are described as olive trees and lampstands who STAND "before the God of the earth." Olive trees are indicative of those who feed the people, and lampstands are indicative of those who give light to the people. It is clear that these are actual humans who are standing on the earth and performing these functions. Hence, these verses make plain that these are human leaders who are responsible for "feeding" people and supplying them with information (or light). Notice that we are also told that "fire proceeds from their mouths and devours their enemies." This makes clear that these individuals have the ability to use wit and sarcasm to defeat their political enemies in debate. Likewise, reference is made to the fact that they have power to influence the weather and control the spread of disease.

Think about the way these two individuals are described in God's Word! Who can you think of that is skilled in the use of sarcasm and sophisticated arguments to defeat their enemies? Who has been responsible for taking care of the people of this country for eight years and controlling the dissemination of information to them? Who has been involved in attempting to focus everyone's attention on climate change and impose policies that will impact global weather? Who has been actively involved in overhauling the nation's medical system and was over the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for eight years? Of course, the two people who come immediately to mind are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton!

Isn't this amazing! See what a little proof-texting and creative thinking can accomplish! And, only those of you who are reading this post have been given this understanding! You are special! You have been called by God to understand these things! Send in your money right away - WE MUST GET THIS MESSAGE TO THE WORLD!

If you've finished reading this post, you should check out the post by Dennis Diehl over at Banned by HWA! You can see it at this address: http://armstrongismlibrary.blogspot.com/2017/02/musings.html