Sunday, May 27, 2018

Must We Suffer To Achieve Heaven?

Life can be so pleasurable sometimes that we forget about pain and suffering altogether. And when it is that good, it's normal to ask God, or Providence, why it can't always be that way. Maybe you've had many days, or months, like that; which made you wonder if you finally had achieved a permanent state of bliss. Most of us know it cannot last for very long.  

All adults know that suffering is an inescapable part of life, but we've probably never known anyone who is really comfortable with that fact. True masochists - who enjoy pain - are very rare. Which is why we wish we had money, or power, or status that would insulate us against suffering. But wealth, power, or status can't guarantee us or our loved ones that we won't get cancer, dementia, or some other incurable physical or mental disease. On top of which, most wealthy people hate the loss of privacy they have to endure, and the haranguing relatives or associates begging for loans. You might also be kidnapped and held for ransom in many countries. In any case, we eventually age and then die in this world. But not in the next (more about this later). 

Suffering is built into the material world. Darwin was certainly right about "the survival of the fittest." Strength and agility endure, for a time. The loving God of Scripture doesn't appear to be active in the jungles or plains of this world. Alfred Lord Tennyson noticed this and it deeply troubled him, so he wrote,

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed

The universe is a deadly and dangerous place outside of earth's atmosphere, where stars and planets and galaxies are forged in fiery, million-degree, lethal gamma ray furnaces. Now astrophysicists are certain that life like ours is extraordinarily rare in the cosmos. 

Is a brief and painful life, then death, all there is? Face it, the world is not enough to satisfy our yearnings. Were we made for something better? Yes. 

  Our lives are immeasurably enhanced by having faith in a good and just God. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Can Life Be Simplified and Still Be Good?

Modern life is complicated and getting more so. It's annoying, too. Just when we think life makes sense, something - or someone - comes along and messes things up, and our whole world collapses into chaos. Jobs, marriages, fortunes, and friends may be lost forever. Sometimes it's not our fault. But it's a good idea to find out for sure.

On the historic global stage wars are fought, bad guys are defeated, peace and prosperity arrive; we feel the good sense of it all. Then a new threat or complication comes along. Whole nations may collapse. Who now can say that large-scale evil and good are not in play? Or that a crucial turning point has not been reached?

Many do deny it. The modern scientific view is relativistic; that is, not absolute. Good and evil are not open for debate, they say. There are no firm, immutable truths, and no Creator God who made anything: (Link) Therefore, debate is pointless and a waste of breath. 

Only the most arrogant, proud, and self-deluded among us could believe that we can dispense with debate about right and wrong. Discovering which ideas are "bad", which are "good", and exactly why they are that way is a never-ending challenge. There are nuances and gray areas that may only be understood by looking at the span of human history, the individuals, and the groups who shaped our world for good or ill. The main reason the global Leftist-Socialist-Marxists want to erase our magnificent history is that it proves how idiotic and destined to fail they are. Leftist utopias have NEVER worked, except on a very small scale.  

We should take heed that we are smack in the middle of the age of the Anti-Christ. His army is demolishing every good thing in this world. There are no walls or guardrails that can protect us; only the armor and weapons of the Truth and God Himself with His angels. Do not let fear grip you, nor allow your heart to be troubled.

There's more. And it's vitally important:

We're in the most exciting period ever in world history. Our opportunities for success, true glory and riches are vast. Join us.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Most of Us Have Failed Every Test of Competence and Worthiness. Our Time Is Up

By every decent measure - with a few notable exceptions - we of the human race have failed to produce cities, states, or nations that live up to the goals and promises we've made to ourselves. Our past and present ideals have been lofty and good, for the most part; to produce a city, state, or nation that is just, merciful, honest, beautiful, prosperous, and peaceful. But we failed. Good intentions aren't enough. What's worse, we've made no measurable progress in over 100 years. Why is this, when so many of us claim to be willing, even eager, to spare no expense or effort to do it? 

We have had success with appearances, and there always have been certain cities and states that looked attractive and beautiful. But that's easy to do compared to teaching people the truth, and training their inner soul and spirit. This is where the horror show unfolds; in glittering cities like Tokyo, with 1428 annual suicides (almost four per day); and Moscow, with 2331 (more than six per day).  

The problem, and fault, must be within ourselves. It becomes clear the more we look that families are the major source and nurturing place of error, ignorance, abuse, and crime. Physical and psychic wounds that parents inflict on their children unjustly (particularly psychic ones) can and will haunt children all their lives. Our sense of justice is inherent, and is even shared by the animal kingdom. Anyone who has raised horses knows that they have a keen sense of it. Elephants also. Physical abuse and injuries can and may be forgotten, but the psychic torture some parents inflict can and will provoke children to murder and mayhem. Not living up to the standards we teach children breeds contempt within them. Contempt for rules, laws, and authority. 

Another large-scale form of abuse has surfaced for over a generation now in the western world. It's child neglect, where parents refuse to discipline their children, and allow them to be rewarded with "participation trophies"; which they think will develop their "self-esteem". Instead of teaching their children the real-life skills of competition and the pursuit of excellence, they indulge and pander to them. This failure has caused a surge in mental illness among the young, and an inability to deal with real-life stresses. One in four westerners now suffer, or have suffered some form of mental illness, according to the EU and other western sources.

The Bible considers child abuse to be nearly unthinkable, and aside from warnings to parents, it never mentions a personage who did such a thing. Even the mad King Saul, who sought to kill David, didn't abuse his children. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is a frequently quoted but misunderstood scriptural phrase in Proverbs 13:24. "The rod" means "authority" in the original text, not a club. 

Jesus said, "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?" (Matthew 7:9-10). Chances are some of you have met or know of parents who would do such a thing. This author does, and it gives us some idea of how purely evil it is to wrong a child. Children are innocent, and need to be taught right from wrong, except in rare cases. Damaged children become damaged adults, and the evil they do reverberates through history from generation to generation. To harm any innocent living thing is a direct affront and a wound to God. Jesus spells it out to all of us that the punishment for this is very grave. 

Punishments are not, unfortunately, effective enough to deter criminals; especially if they're far into the future. Most criminals think only of the present, and don't believe they'll be caught. So crime goes on unabated. The world as a whole is getting measurably worse from month to month. 

For us now, today, there are only two paths to choose from. One is to join with the world, set aside all moral considerations, and do whatever we can to enrich ourselves and fend off or eliminate enemies. But this comes at a price. We'll never know what true peace is, or the goodness of prosperity fairly earned. In most cases even successful criminals are punished in the end. How many can you think of who ended their lives well? 

The other path is the moral one that takes God and His promises into account. An ethical life brings happiness and joy beyond death. There is a much better and more desirable world in store for those of us who have faith. 

In addition, we'll also see the true reasons for this world's demise. The escalating power-mad scramble for more and more deadly weapons can't end well. Someone, somewhere, will pull the trigger, and nobody can say when. Consider: if there is no God, we're all in the same boat, and it won't matter. But if God exists, His people, you and me, will find glory and salvation forever. 

This is why the world is disintegrating in chaos. For almost two centuries our faith in God, religion, and morality has been under attack by the false religion of science and pure reason. Science and reason are gifts from God, but should never be worshiped themselves. Only our Creator is worthy of worship, not His creation.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

Friederich Nietzsche vs. G.K. Chesterton; The Anti-Christ vs. God's Word

Two men born in the 19th Century became prophets of the 20th and 21st Centuries, and their words and thoughts reverberate daily in our political media and conversations. One man's ideas are thought to be so new and radical that very few of us are aware of how old - even ancient - they are. The person shown below, Friederich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) coined the phrase "God is dead... and we have killed him", then opined, "There are no facts, only interpretations"; "Morality is just a fiction used by the herd of inferior human beings to hold back the few superior men"; and "In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point." These are the same anti-Christian phrases that the ruling powers of Rome and Judea made to Christ and his followers 2,000 years ago. These supposed 'insights' are the common rationalizations of criminals and the mentally ill. Every culture that has adopted them has destroyed itself. It's worth noting that Nietzsche was an aristocrat with wealth, yet he committed suicide before the age of sixty. 

Nietzsche's ideas are now the backbone of global Leftists, countless college and university curriculums, and the basic platforms of western, so-called 'liberal' and 'progressive' political parties today. Do you doubt it? Just try introducing the mere idea of the Judeo-Christian God in any college or university classroom, student or faculty lounge, or 'liberal' political gathering. This author has never seen less than squints or eye-rolls, and often a verbal firestorm of scorn, criticism or outright condemnation. You can count on losing friends and acquaintances for mentioning God, and it will be painful; which explains much about our broken world. 
We have no choice but to swim against the currents of culture if we want to be moral, know God, and have true self-respect. It's not that hard. You just avoid the main stream and seek the shore where the current diminishes. Often eddies form, and the flow reverses course at its edges. You will find allies. 

It's a documented truth that we ourselves bring a great deal of suffering into our lives and the world by making bad decisions. Becoming addicted, resorting to violence and revenge, committing crimes, and projecting onto others our own faults and failings cause us to suffer and die. So many millions - even billions - of people are suffering, and we're rightly upset and angry about it. But if there is no fixed, unalterable standard of morality, it means nothing. Who says we shouldn't suffer? And die badly? Only God is that fixed standard. If there is no truth, then there is no right and wrong. It's hard to stay sane when you harbor that view. You be the judge:

Friederich Nietzsche, in his own words, on the meaning of life, the roots of Nazism, and superhuman evolution. (acted by Kevin O'Brien).

G.K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936) was the opposite of Nietzsche, and the two led radically different lives. Chesterton became a renowned professor and a Catholic convert known for his good cheer and love of life. He inspired others, like C.S. Lewis, who was enormously successful as a Christian author and teacher. His most famous books, The Chronicles of Narnia, have become globally popular films. 

Some quotes of G.K. Chesterton:

"Men do not differ so much about what things that they will call evil, but they do differ enormously about what evil things that they will call excusable." 

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

“Truth is sacred; and if you tell the truth too often nobody will believe it.” 

“Civilization has run on ahead of the soul of man, and is producing faster than he can think and give thanks.”

“It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”

"The finding and fighting of positive evil is really the beginning of all fun."

While a young man in school, Chesterton met someone who nearly perfectly personified evil, and it changed Chesterton's life:

                           Chuck Chalberg acts the part of Chesterton.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Does Prayer Work?

As the world reels and staggers to The Day of Judgment - when all the accounts of good and evil deeds ever done on earth are finally settled - the tension around us builds to a crescendo. Is there anything we can do that will have a positive effect on us and our loved ones? Yes, there is. 

We can make sure our lines of communication with God are open by petitioning for answers and proofs. The Righteous Prophet Job successfully put God on trial for his sufferings, and had the tables turned on him. But in the end he was vindicated and granted more from God in recompense than he ever dreamed of  (The Book of Job).

The name Israel means "wrestles with God", and whoever does so is proclaimed righteous by the Lord. All the great and good men and women of history have struggled and questioned moral laws and rules, wrestled with them, sometimes even to death. It's not the safest route in life, but the most precious and glorious rewards are never won by timid, risk-averse people. We can do nothing better in life than plead our case for ourselves and humanity, insisting on the fulfillment of promises made by God. 

It's reasonable to ask why we should pray, because God knows all and sees all into infinity, far beyond us. Christ said, "Your father knows what you need before you ask him." - Matthew 6:8. The Creator of the Universe cares deeply about all life and every one of his creations. We are part of it all, and have a right to request answers and communicate with the Master Builder of all. 

Jesus had some choice words about being persistent in our prayer requests. In what is known as The Parable of the Persistent Widow, (Luke 18:1-8), a needy woman pleads with a callous and uncaring judge in her city who has been ignoring her. Again and again she waylays him and begs, "Grant me justice against my adversary!" Finally she breaks through his psychic armor and he's worn out by her, so he grants her justice. Jesus says, "Shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him...?" 

Two things, at least, are operative here. One: If we spend time petitioning God we're tuning ourselves to his frequency, so to speak. We can then be used by him in ways we'll never understand in this life.
Two: We need to be clear about what we're praying for and the importance of our requests. If we're asking for a new car, and can take an extra job or work harder for the money, is it reasonable to ask the King of All Creation for it? 

If you were granted permission to ask a multi-billionaire for a grant, that he or she indicated a favorable intention to give you, what would you plead for? A Lexus? A Tesla? A house in the Hamptons?

Who do you think God would be more favorably disposed to, a person who wants a new house or the one who wants to join those who will be with him in the front lines of the Final Battle? We who pray for that will become rich in all things, beyond human measure or understanding. 

Ideally, prayers should be for large scale and high stakes things. Consider The Parable of the Talents (Link), in which the Lord gave the most to his servants who did the most with what they had. They took risks, invested over the long term, and trusted in God. To the servant who did nothing with his talents, the little he had was taken away. 

We must never accept the modern world's "politically correct" notions, such as  "we're all equal"; or that mediocrity and "just being who you are" is enough; or that someone else can give you "self-esteem". Real self-esteem is earned by hard work, taking risks, failing sometimes, working through it, and developing character:

God loves victory and grants glory to the bold in heart. This is called chivalry:

                           Both men and women can achieve chivalry. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Who Is The Messiah?

It's heartbreaking to think there are faithful people in large numbers who still await the coming of their promised Messiah - a word meaning "anointed one" - who is destined to lead them to salvation and glory.

Jews have waited for their prophesied Messiah since King David began building the First Temple in Jerusalem over 3,000 years agoTalk about loyalty, faith, and steadfastness. It's almost unbelievable; superhuman and saintly. 

Meanwhile, the true Messiah came and fulfilled His life's ministry regardless of the fact that many Jews refused to accept Him. That, too, had been prophesied around 700 B.C. (Isaiah 53)

This misunderstanding has separated Jews and Christians for almost 2,000 years, and it's all about the nature of Jesus Christ. Israelites of the the 1st Century were looking for a warrior who would re-establish the kingdom as it had been under David and Solomon, but they didn't understand the most important truth of all. The Messiah was for all mankind; the whole world, Jews and non-Jews; the Gentiles. And inevitably, everyone in the world from then until now. 

Many Jews couldn't live with the idea of their Messiah as a non-violent human sacrifice "taking on the sins of the world" and then being visibly resurrected to eternal life. A non-material heaven violated their fondest expectations.  Jesus saying, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36) was too much to take. 

After Jesus completed His mission, the predictions of His coming written by the prophet Isaiah - known as the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible - were removed. They clearly showed that Jesus was the promised king everyone was waiting for. 
Here are the prophesies and their New Testament fulfillment:

      Messiah Prophecy                                        Fulfillment In Jesus 
      (8th Century B.C.)                                        (1st Century A.D.) 

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a          Was born of a virgin named
sign: The virgin will conceive, and give birth        Mary  (Luke 1:26-31)
to a son, and will call Him Emmanuel
meaning "God with us"  (Isaiah 7:14)

Will have a Galilean ministry (Isaiah 9:1-2)       Ministry began in Galilee of                                                                              the Gentiles (Matthew 4:13-16)

Will be an heir to the throne of David                 Was given the throne of his
(Isaiah 9:7; 11:1-10)                                        father David (Luke 1:32,33)

Will have His way prepared (Isaiah 40:3-5)         Was announced by John the 
                                                                       Baptist (John 1:19-28)

Will be spat on and struck (Isaiah 50:6)              Was spat on and beaten
                                                                        (Matthew 26:67)

Will be exalted (Isaiah 52:13)                          Was highly exalted by God
                                                                 and the people (Philippians 2:9,10)

Will be disfigured by suffering                      Was scourged by Roman soldiers     (Isaiah 52:14, 53:2)                                   who gave Him a crown of thorns
                                                                  (Mark 15:16)

Will make a blood atonement (Isaiah 53:5)  Shed his blood to atone for our sins
                                                                  (1 Peter 1:2)

Will be widely rejected (Isaiah 53:1-3)        Was not accepted by many
                                                                                         (John 12:37,38)

Will bear our sins and sorrows                     Died because of our sins
(Isaiah 53:4-5)                                           (Romans 4:25; 1 Peter 2:24-25)

Will be our substitute (Isaiah 53:6-8)           Died in our place (Romans 5:6-8)

Gentiles will seek Him (Isaiah 11:10-14)      Gentiles came to speak to Jesus
                                                                 (John 12:20-21)

Will be silent before His accusers            Was silent before Herod and his court
(Isaiah 53:7)                                             (Luke 23:9)

Will save us who believe in Him                 Provided salvation for all who believe
(Isaiah 53:12)                                           (John 3:16)

Will die with transgressors                      Was numbered with transgressors
(Isaiah 53:12)                                        and crucified with two thieves
                                                                (Mark 15:27-8; Luke 22:37)

Will heal the brokenhearted                      Healed the brokenhearted
(Isaiah 61:1.2)                                         (Luke 4:18,19) 

God's spirit will rest on Him                    The spirit of God descended on Jesus
(Isaiah 11:2)                                            (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10)

Will be buried in a rich man's tomb          Was buried in the tomb of the wealthy
(Isaiah 53:9)                                          Joseph of Arimethea
                                                             (Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:38-42)

He will judge the earth righteously           Jesus is given authority to judge
(Isaiah 11:4-5)                                       (John 5:27; Luke 19:22)

What more can anyone say? If you know the Bible is from God this is proof of the Messiah and His eventual return; the Second Coming of Christ.

Note: Muslims have their own version of a Messiah, known as The Mahdi, or Twelfth Imam, whom they believe will come to save them from Armageddon. Because Muslims deny the divinity of Christ, and scoff at the idea that He was the Son of God, their Messiah is not the Judeo-Christian one. The Mahdi of the Muslims will come only for them, and they believe that the more mayhem and violence there is in the world the sooner he will come. So, many Muslims see violence - or jihad - as a duty for their salvation 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Is Equality Good?

First, have a joyful Hanukkah!

Our modern political world pretends that equality is a good thing. But is it? And what does equality mean? It's a huge, over-arching concept. If we mean equality under the law regardless of wealth, status, parentage, skin color, or race - and that laws and rules must be applied to all people fairly - then that is considered good, in the Western world. In Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, family connections, friends, or other factors may grant you immunity from the law. 

We all know that genetics doesn't endow all people equally with talents. Most of us don't have any exceptional talents that we know of. We're not beautiful, athletic, very smart, great dancers, performers on instruments, or charismatic personalities. Only perhaps 20% of us have skills good enough for us to excel in the world. If you watch television programs like America's Got Talent, British Idol, The Voice, or the permutations of them around the globe, you've seen many would-be performers who think they're superb, but really, truly, are not. It's painful to see these deluded individuals being laughed at and eliminated. 

Of all the twisted modern ideas of equality the most damaging and deceptive is the enforced belief that men and women are equal. This is false. It's not a matter of superiority either way, because both sexes are often uniquely excellent and ingenious. Young boys and girls display their differences very early in life, and if left free to choose, will select toys the way most of us would predict. Girls like dolls and doll houses; boys want planes, cars, and guns. There are exceptions, of course, which manifest themselves later in life. 
The so-called "progressive" view that masculinity is "toxic" and femininity cannot be toxic, is deranged and dangerous - as is the trend toward erasing masculinity and femininity. 

Regardless of our ordinariness and defects, we still have worth in God's eyes. God sees inside us, mysteriously; very differently from humanity. King David of ancient Israel, as a boy, was thought to be a wimpy, homely loser by his father and family. When God sent the prophet Samuel to find His future King of Israel, David's father Jesse hid young David out of embarrassment, and pridefully showed off his handsomer, more muscular older sons. But God chose David to be king and He said, "...[David] is a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do." - Acts 13:22. No one was more surprised than David, who was only a shepherd, but he was exceptionally good at killing wolves with his sling. Later on he learned to play the lyre, and soothed the mad King Saul with his playing. Still, from shepherd to king? Until Jesus came, David was the most beloved man of God on record. 

So we don't know what our greatest talents are. We likely have some we've never tapped. Don't despair. Pray to the Lord. Becoming rich and famous isn't a key to happiness. Many of us don't want the attention, lack of privacy, or trouble fame brings anyway. And there's never going to be  equality in the human world regarding the things the world values: power, money, glamour, sexuality, and so on. Equality would make the world dull and monotonous. 

There are quite a few nations in the world which have achieved a high level of equality by force. It can be done if you ruthlessly imprison or kill people of great talent and ability who can't bear the sameness and evil banality. It takes years and has to continue on some level with the secret police. Once that's done, almost all citizens will experience equal misery and want, since the talented and productive problem-solvers have been "liquidated" - a term these regimes like to use. Ninety-percent of the population will have little food, the same grim housing, monotonous menial work, repetitive literature praising its leaders as gods, and no chance at excellence or escape. 

All real religion has to be destroyed as well, because God and His angels and prophets rule from regions of light and joy far above the muck and mire of earth. They make a lot of people look bad, especially the greedy rulers of these dark dominions below. 

"Equality for all" is a deadly trap. We must be careful what we wish for. As the French say, "Vive la difference"; meaning, "Contrasts and differences make life exciting." 

The natural world is a radical hierarchy of variables, dazzling in its colors, and complexity. There's no equality at all between a lamb and a lion, a flounder and a whale. Even among the same species some excel over the others and rule them. Herds of horses and elephants have leaders and masses of followers, based on their respective strengths and weaknesses. 

We're happiest when we study nature and learn from it. Consider the airplane, for example. The Wright Brothers imitated birds as closely as they could, and succeeded wildly, beyond their dreams. Our modern jet aircraft are supremely attuned to nature, and developed over time as their shapes and parts became more integrated into the whole. They can fly up to 800 passengers at 500 mph, 330 days a year for twenty or more years before they have to be recycled. 

So where did we ever get the idea that there should be equality of outcomes in human society? Participation trophies and self-esteem courses don't prepare anyone for the realities of life in the real world of work, competition, struggle, and the pursuit of excellence. Genuine self-esteem comes from real accomplishments and good parenting that helps children learn to succeed.

Ancient Greece and Rome were the first societies to recognize that human beings had intrinsic worth regardless of birth, wealth, or status. Initially it was only in a spiritual sense, but because these societies gave voting rights to their citizens, politicians pandered to voters, spreading the idea of "equality for the masses" as a means of seizing power. Once in office they didn't care that their promises were seen as lies. Military force was used to hold power. The French Revolution, Marxist takeovers, and Stalinist totalitarianism all failed. The residual leftovers from these these poisonous ideas still guarantee misery and want for billions of people. 

Today we call it Socialism and Progressivism; the redistribution of wealth, power, and status from those who have to those who don't. It fails every time, because it defies the natural laws of God. It's a rebellion against the very idea of God, and His hierarchies. It's anti-theism, and nihilism as well. God has doomed these systems and the people who promulgate them to terrible destruction.