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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Apart From God We Are Nothing; With God, We Share Everything That God Is

By ourselves, how strong and content are we? How meaningful is our existence? Each of us alone has to answer this question, but most of us would agree, not very. Which is why we form friendships, tribes, towns, cities, churches, political parties, and nations. 

Socializing with friends and allies is also a key to happiness, as many decades of studies show. When people are asked to rate their life happiness quotient, and they rate themselves 'happy with life', they also rate themselves as 'social'. The opposite is true, too. Those who are 'unhappy' rate themselves as 'not social'. True hermits are so rare and inaccessible that it's impossible to know much about them. 

The same is true for the sense of meaning in life. Those who rate themselves happy and social also find more meaning in their life than those who don't. Those who rate themselves 'open to ideas' and having 'empathy with others' also find more happiness and meaning.  

What if we had a relative who was phenomenally wealthy, powerful, joyful, sociable, generous, attractive, loving, heroic and - although extremely ancient - looked and acted like a vigorous thirty-year-old? If he or she were searching for you, would you try and hide? Or would you send a note of invitation? What if this relative also had an immense family that shared all the wealth, beauty, power, heroism, glory, and endless youthful life? What could possibly keep you away?

Maybe you aren't well, or your house is a mess, or your clothes are worn out? Perhaps you're so short of money that you can't afford a gift? Or possibly you've been bad-mouthing this relative and family out of jealousy? What if you committed a crime against this person or the family? That really would put a damper on things. How awful it would be to experience rejection from them. But what if the invitation said you would certainly be forgiven? Could you forgive yourself?

Or perhaps it's not you, exactly, but the crowd you run with and your closest friends and family who are slanderers that have been envious and jealous; maybe even at war with this great family? You know for certain that if you attempted to respond to the great invitation your 'friends' would be angry and might even excommunicate you from their group. You've seen this kind of shunning before, and know how others crumbled - maybe died - of loneliness and disgrace. Perhaps, as with some eastern religions, leaving them would bring a death sentence on your head. Your misery would be great indeed. Still, we're all going to die anyway, so maybe it would be better to risk it; to 'face the music'? Many others have done so and freed themselves from nightmarish bondage. 

This is the state of the world today, and that great person is God, our Creator, who is looking for every lost family member who ever went astray. Most of the world is lost in the wilderness and afraid; estranged and disconnected from their only hope of escape from worldly hell. Life on earth almost everywhere is filled with hardship and trials; strife, great suffering, and death. It's getting worse, too. 

But it's not too late to reconnect with the glorious family. It's your relatives who are searching for you. Make the first move. A simple prayer will do. You'll know what to say. 


                                               The Prodigal Son

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

So You Find It Hard to Believe In Christ's Resurrection? Join the Club

Almost anything is easier to believe than the reports that Christ came back to life after being crucified, and spoke to his Disciples and Apostles before ascending to Heaven. Even though he bore the torture wounds on his body, he appeared more healthy and joyous than he was in life, they said. This
resurrection claim is unique in human history; only existing in mythology before Jesus came to earth. 

It deserves mentioning that the word Christ means "The anointed one." Jesus was a Jew who was recognized as the Christ only after his execution, and his believers were dubbed "Christians" by the authorities, and not with respect. 

But it is a documented fact that after seeing the resurrected Jesus in the flesh, his Disciples were transformed from cowering, panicked, and silent fugitives into fervent speakers, witnessing on his behalf. All but one were murdered for their faith, but not one recanted or tried to flee his fate.  Millions more Christians experienced similar visions and went happily to their death in the following two-thousand years. Miracles and testimonies about them fill our literature. How else could a religion that demands so much of its believers have thrived and taken over the Western world? In 312 A.D. Emperor Constantine himself had a vision and converted to Christianity, thus ending the persecution.  

The Apostle Paul - who was once a rabbi and a deadly enemy of all Christians - heard and saw the resurrected Jesus as an all-powerful and luminous angel, brighter than the sun. The vision caused Paul to fall off his donkey, and he was blinded for three days. He ate nothing during that time, ceased persecuting and killing Christians, and converted to the new faith. 

The deeds of the early Christians are recorded in Roman state documents, such as those by Josephus, an historian living in Jerusalem at that time, and not a believer. He ingratiated himself with the Flavian family - Emperor Vespasian, and his two sons, Titus and Domitian - who were tasked with subduing the Jewish rebellion of 69 A.D., occupying Judea, and destroying Jerusalem; including the Second Temple of Solomon.  

The evidence is there for all to see that Judeo-Christianity has always been vibrant and powerful, until recently. It exists outside of human reason and science. We moderns should be used to such things by now. Science itself has gone beyond reason and logic, in many instances. The technology we see in old episodes of Star Trek and Star Wars, such as talking computers and smartphones, are becoming commonplace. Take a look at Quantum Mechanics, which is now cutting-edge science, no longer science fiction. Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein never saw this coming: (Link) 

Still, the dead coming back to joyful life is a tough nut to chew on. So the big question is, can you be a faithful Christian and win the reward of Heaven even if you think the literal Resurrection is merely a metaphorical story? The answer is yes. This author never believed it until witnessing it, and it was this author's faith in the spirit of Jesus - not the written words - that made such a revelation possible. Consider these good reasons for believing in the spirit of Christ: 

The example of Jesus willingly going to his death with courage, poise, and fearlessness is so powerful that it enriches the lives of everyone in every age of humankind. If we understand the power of faith, and the love of God, we become indestructible, emotionally and intellectually. Death, suffering, anxieties and irritations disappear like a bad dream. Faith, like a candle in the night, draws others to us and lights our path. 

How is it that snow-covered and dead-looking branches and twigs suddenly burst forth in flowers, leaves, and fruits with the coming of spring? Isn't this a resurrection?

Christ's example of nearly-infinite forgiveness heals and repairs damaged friendships and loves every day. You won't read about this on the internet, but such generosity is the key to lasting relationships.

One aspect of the crucifixion is a real stunner. Christ gave salvation to the thief who was next to him on the cross, because he recognized Jesus and asked for forgiveness: Matthew, Luke, and Mark

Here is the key: