Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Is The Meaning Of Life?

The answer is simple to understand but difficult to face. We're here on earth to be refined and purified, much as gold and silver are purified.

Ah, but some people say, "What importance can we possibly have, being so small in the scheme of things? We're nothing compared to the vast universe." But consider this: We value rare objects highly, and the rarer they are the more we value them. It wasn't very long ago that astrophysicists - such  as the famous Carl Sagan - said, "The universe is brimming over with life!" He oversaw the initial SETI Program (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) which has been active for more than thirty years. Powerful radio telescopes all over the globe have been continually scanning the cosmos looking for radio and television waves that would mark any advanced civilization. To almost everyone's surprise there has been no sign at all. Turns out the universe is an incredibly violent and hostile environment for life as we know it. Huge Gamma Ray Bursts periodically blast, sterilize, and roast whole regions of our Milky Way galaxy. If we were trillions of miles from one, earth still could be incinerated. That's how powerful they are. 

This has led to the formation of a new theory of life in the universe known as the Rare Earth Hypothesis. We on earth may very well be the only advanced life forms of our type in our galaxy; or within any reasonable range of communication. It's a sobering and lonely thought, that we're alone. On the other hand, that means  we're incredibly valuable, a miraculous anomaly. The kind of miraculous creation only God could perform:

Look what's happening outside of earth in the rest of the universe. The Hubble Space Telescope has been able to see back in time, 13.5 billion years, capturing light at the far outer reaches of our physical universe. Everywhere Hubble looks the same physical laws apply - gravity, inertia, momentum, thermodynamics - and the materials are the same: hydrogen, oxygen, helium, iron, nickel, and so on.

The refining processes unfolding in the trillions of stars in the trillion galaxies we see produces hierarchies of elements from the lightest hydrogen to the heaviest uranium; and the garbage disposals known as black holes. They're so heavy and have such powerful gravity that nothing can escape from them, not even light.

No doubt other mysterious things are happening out there in the unimaginably vast universe, like the discovery of Dark Matter, which is pushing and accelerating the expanding universe. But there's no dispute about the refining processes. All the heavy metals on earth we know - such as lead, silver, and gold - were created from dying stars that exploded billions of years before the earth was formed.   Our earth's elements will continue to be recycled and purified.  The process is eternal and we are a part of it. Our suffering has a real purpose, just like the heat of a furnace; to force our consciousness into shape. If we have character, and can bear it, a moral conscience can be born in us. Just as gold and silver emerge brilliantly through heat and strife, so can we. God is the forger, the craftsman, and the purifier.
From Malachi 2:17-3:6: 
"You have wearied the LORD with your words. 'How have we wearied him?' you ask. By saying, 'All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them', or 'Where is the God of justice?' 
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple; 'The messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty. "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." -  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do We Have Too Much Freedom Of Expression?

The so-called progressives in our world are guilty of an amazing hypocrisy that is never mentioned. They always come down on the side of pornography, profanity, slanderous character assassination of their enemies, and entertainment that celebrates amoral behavior. Hollywood is the "dream factory" in their eyes. They furiously condemn people who dissent with this belief as "religious fanatics" or "hypocrites" because - they say - nobody can be perfectly moral, so even the attempt to be moral is doomed to failure. Therefore you are a "hypocrite" for trying. There's no God anyway, so believers are delusional as well.

At the same time, they have invented political correctness, which is nothing less than an attempt to control our thoughts. All over America and Europe certain types of speech are absolutely forbidden and can even earn you a jail sentence. Talking about IslamoNazism, minority racism (which progressives have ruled impossible), or the rising tide of illegal immigrants swamping many states and countries is condemned and actively prosecuted. Why? Because such speech will encourage and amplify racism and bigotry, they say.

Isn't that also true of amoral entertainment? Of course. Either we are affected by both or we are not. The problem with censorship is that it's difficult and dangerous to manage. Is the truth too much to handle? Can lies overwhelm a people? Who decides what's safe to hear, or true? That's too much power to give to any group, but many people are so fearful they would allow it.

This attitude is exactly what George Orwell's landmark book 1984 was all about. Orwell saw what was happening in the Soviet Union and saw, too, that Great Britain was drifting in that direction. (They have now arrived at it. Britons are the most spied upon people on earth. There are more video cameras watching them than any other place on earth, yet their crime rate soars). Orwell didn't exaggerate the results of such attempts at thought manipulation in his book. In fact, Joseph Stalin invented the idea of political correctness to cement his tyranny and control over the minds of his people, and many millions were murdered for their dissenting thoughts.

The actual goal of progressives is to replace God with the State. In this way they believe they will become gods. They are no different Nimrod, Nebuchadnezzar, Ramses, Nero, or Napoleon. There's nothing more evil than trying to unseat the Lord, and it always leads to disaster and death.

The question of human freedom - and how much we can safely handle - has annoyed and haunted Americans since the founding of our nation. The early days of the republic were almost as raucous and uncontrolled as they are now. Particularly in the election of 1796 hysterical and violent rhetoric reached frightening levels. Tom Paine accused George Washington of being "an agent of the British monarchy."  Newly-elected President John Adams pushed through The Alien and Sedition Act which prosecuted speech and jailed people for their opinions. It was very unpopular and probably cost Adams his presidency.

Thomas Jefferson and other Founders believed that relatively unfettered freedom of speech was the only answer. He wrote, "We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." --Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe

People must be free to counter any and all scurrilous attacks with the truth. There are a few exceptions, of course. You cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater or slander a private individual without risking serious punishment.

So what is the answer to the problem? Personal virtue. It sounds a bit trite, I know, but personal responsibility is our only hope. This is just one more reason why we need God in our lives.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

If You Say "No" To God, Is That The End Of The Story?

Many of us - me included - have rejected God at one time or another. Some of the greatest prophets in history have also. But we can change our minds without losing face. It's acceptable to be angry with God, but not acceptable to stay angry. Jesus had a parable about this. He said to the priests and elders in the Temple:
"A man had two sons. Now he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
  “‘No, I don’t want to,’ the son replied. But later he changed his mind and went.
 “The father said the same thing to the other son, who replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ But he didn’t go.
 “Which one of these two did his father’s will?” Jesus asked them.
   The priests and elders replied, “The first one.”
   Jesus said to them, “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you. For John the Baptist came to you on the righteous road, and you didn’t believe him. But tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Yet even after you saw this, you didn’t change your hearts and lives and you didn’t believe him." - Matthew 21:28

The Parable of the Tenant Farmers is another one, related to the first, but much more important. It's about the moral choices we're making right now on earth. Jesus said:
 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he rented it to tenant farmers and took a trip. When it was time for harvest, he sent his servants to the tenant farmers to collect his fruit. But the tenant farmers grabbed his servants. They beat some of them, and some of them they killed. Some of them they stoned to death.  “Again he sent other servants, more than the first group. They treated them in the same way. “Finally he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
“But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come on, let’s kill him and we’ll have his inheritance.’ They grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 
“When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenant farmers?”
The priests and elders said, “He will totally destroy those wicked farmers and rent the vineyard to other tenant farmers who will give him the fruit when it’s ready.”

Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the scriptures, The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Lord has done this, and it’s amazing in our eyes? Therefore, I tell you that God’s kingdom will be taken away from you and will be given to a people who produce its fruit.  Whoever falls on this stone will be crushed. And the stone will crush the person it falls on.”

Now when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard the parable, they knew Jesus was talking about them.  They were trying to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, who thought he was a prophet. - Matthew 21:32

We who bear witness to these world events now are in danger, but we have to learn to live with that danger, and not let ourselves be deterred by it. It's a hard task, I know. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Who Is Worthy of Saving? We Cannot Know

Only God knows who is worthy, for only God knows our heart. The common wisdom today is that the Roman authorities of Christ's time - particularly the military - were cruel and heartless automatons who oppressed and tormented all their conquered peoples, particularly the people of Judea. But the Bible directly refutes that view in the Book of Luke, Chapter 7:

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant
Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum.  And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die.  So when the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant.  And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving,  “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.”

Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.

When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”  And those who were sent, returning to the house, found that the servant who had been sick was now well.

Is this not remarkable? A centurion of the Roman army - an officer in charge of one hundred soldiers - built a synagogue for the Jews; which was an extremely expensive undertaking. Jewish law required that many specific standards be met for a synagogue to be considered clean and holy. And when Jesus approached, the centurion sent his friends to tell Jesus he wasn't worthy to be seen by him. Jesus then held him up as a paragon of faith, greater than any he had yet seen in Israel. Can you believe it? A Roman soldier!

This is an extraordinary example of how preposterous and misguided our understanding of God and Scripture can be. Because often the most despised and criticized people in society turn out to be the most blessed and beloved by the Lord.   

As it says in Matthew 20:16, about Judgment Day: "So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last."