It can happen to anyone!

It can happen to anyone: Fraud!

From credit card fraud to hacking, criminals are rampant in today’s society. As far as I’m concerned, credit card fraud could never happen to me. I rarely use credit cards, so the chance of it happening never entered my mind until….

8:01 am, 3/11/2015 “Chase Fraud Alert – Did you use card … at a specialty retailer on 3/11/2015? If YES reply 1, No reply 2”

Then it happened, that’s right! Today I was the victim of credit card fraud. Thankfully, my credit card company noticed the unusual activity on a card I hadn’t used in years. It was such a small amount that, on an active card, the majority of people would never question the charge. But still it occurred. After contacting the credit card company, they righted the charges and closed the account. But how many others are victims and don’t know it?

It happens every day! There are people everywhere victims of fraud in the world. Most people are sucked in by the innumerable commercials that sell the latest and greatest gadget. Others have their time sucked away by hours spent behind the walls of cyber space in Facebook, or in a vegetative state in front of a flat panel TV. Fraud, in terms of not knowing the truth about God, and focusing instead on worldly matters victimizes millions daily!

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having something you want, posting an update to Facebook, or watching TV. However, there is something wrong with that being the center of your life!

Dilbert’s corporate cartoon yesterday was simply the following:

Dilbert: “I’ve got two good prospects on this dating site. One is addicted to Facebook and the other is addicted to prescription pain meds.”
Dogbert: “Sort of a tie.”
Dilbert: “But only one of them is likely to make eye contact.”*

By themselves, the little things in life won’t get you…until you let them control everything about your life. Do you let Facebook (or smartphone, TV, or something else) take the place of God in your life?

Jesus said, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30, KJV ). Benjamin Franklin said “Time is money.” I say “Where are you spending your money?”

Don’t be a victim! And don’t let your friends be victims.

1) Tell them about God
2) Spend time with God today! …and everyday!

* March 10, 2015 Dilbert.com by Scott Adams, Inc. copyright 2014

An apple? a day

Common saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away

I don’t know if that’s true, but it does seem to help keep one healthy.

And despite how much I think I don’t like to eat fruit, it really is pretty enjoyable. Interestingly, it’s only when I’m eating fruit that I remember just how good it is. Any other time, I think I’d rather enjoy some good ‘ole caramel candy that’s been frozen solid.

What’s interesting though is that after the fact, the fruit sits nice and quietly in your stomach, while the sugary candy seems to well up and if you’ve eaten too much can upset your stomach.

Christian saying: A chapter a day keeps the devil away.

I don’t know if that’s true, but it does seem to help keep one healthy.

And despite how much I think I don’t like to read, it really is pretty enjoyable. Interestingly, it’s only when I’m reading the Bible that I remember just how good it is. Any other time, I think I’d rather enjoy some good ‘ole TV watching.

What’s interesting though is that after the fact, the Scripture sits nice and quietly in your soul, while any other sin seems to well up and if you’ve had just a little, it can upset your whole day.

How can it be?

In the story at the Mount of Olives (John 8:1-11), the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery to Jesus. The Pharisees declared that the law of Moses permitted them to stone the woman for her blatant sin. Jesus, seemingly perturbed by their ignorance of the true meaning behind the law, simply ignored their request until they demanded a response.

Finally, Jesus replied that any man that was free from sin was free to stone the woman. We all know that after a few moments, not one of the accusers remained behind. None were free of sin, nor capable of accusing someone else; when they too were guilty of other sins.

. . .

The only person that remained with the woman was Jesus, free of a life from sin. Jesus had the right…, maybe even the responsibility, to accuse her, and even stone her.

I can only imagine her sense of guilt at 1) being caught, 2) being accused before Almighty God, and 3) awaiting her punishment.

As she stood there looking at Jesus, He, unlike the others, rose above them and did not condemn her. Instead, He told her “Go and sin no more.”

I’m sure that the look on her face, and the thoughts in her head had to be something like “How can it be?”<click HERE>

Perhaps she would have said ‘I am undeniably guilty, yet you have forgiven me. Not only forgiven, but shown love to me.’

This song by Lauren Daigle describes the same feeling that we may feel when we realize that Jesus did the same for us when He saved us.

Difficulty 8b: evil and Free Will

A world without free will is not a world that I want to live in! The alternative then, is a world with free will; a world where humans have the right to be immoral, unjust, and evil.

By why would anyone want to live in a world with evil? And WHY would God allow this to happen?

Interestingly, evil makes good things better. Let’s take first a simple cup of water. In the deep south in August, an outdoor heatwave (unjust weather perhaps?, but not necessarily evil) makes a simple cold drink of ice water REALLY GOOD! A fateful flood where a baby is drowning (evil?) allows a simple human’s act of intuition, to save the baby, show bravery and heroism (an innate good that is brought to light only in a bad situation). Inherent evils allow “good” to rise triumphantly.

But what is evil anyway? We’ll actually discover that evil is a relative term (no NOT a “relative,” but a relative term, even though we probably all have evil relatives).

Is a lazy dad evil? Is he immoral? In our society, we would probably just say he’s lazy and a moocher. But let’s change the scenario, let’s populate a deserted island with just one family. The family goes around minding their own business creating a place to live. But the dad decides he’s going to rest. And not just today, but everyday. He never does anything but eat, sleep, and watch TV (assuming Charter has cable there :-). Is he just lazy, or now malicious because he takes and never gives? Does he now become a symbol of evil on the island?

We now start to see that evil becomes evil only when compared against “good.” Therefore evil truly doesn’t exist without good as the root. (Ooh, that’s scary!) But God designed us as good people (look into Genesis when what God created was “good”).

So, did God create evil? Or did He create good, and that which wasn’t from God, …that which was influenced by the Devil became less than good, and labeled evil? And as evil progresses without Godly influences, it continues to become more evil.

For a more in-depth analysis of “The Problem of Evil” see my research into evil at this link.

Difficulty 8a: Evil

If God is the creator of everything and the source of love, how could He allow evil into our world?

A not so famous person once wrote: “If God is sovereign and in control of everything, God is responsible for evil, therefore God is evil.”*  This is the stance that many atheists take, leading them to yet a final conclusion that God can’t exist. However, their thought process is flawed, because if we reverse their thinking: 1) God doesn’t exist, 2) God is evil, 3) God is responsible for evil, 3) God is in control…. Notice anything wrong? If God doesn’t exist, how could He be evil, or responsible for anything?

Another process to consider then is:

1)      God is in control [sovereign]

2)      God knows what will happen (both good and evil) [omniscient]

3)      God allows both good and evil to occur (even though He is in control)

4)      God is therefore responsible for good and evil

Why then does God allow evil if He can prevent it?

The answer may just lie in Scripture. Take the story of Job, for example. Job was a righteous man; yet God allowed terrible things to happen to Him. In the end Job’s faith was stronger than ever. Was God responsible for the evil? Or did He just allow it to happen?

The answer can be found in Free Will. If God had not given us Free Will, He would not allow us to sin. There would have been no need for a Savior, no reason for us to love God. In fact, God would have made us all love Him. However, that type of love is shallow. It is a one-way relationship that is not mutual, but forced through design. A mutual relationship is one where love can grow strong, and praise and worship are sincere.

A world without free will would be like shopping for a TV Provider: “You can use any provider you want, as long as it’s Charter Cable.” That’s right, no Satellite, no U-verse, just Charter. Doesn’t that make you feel happy? Oh, yeah, and you get to choose either the “Premium” package or the “Premium” package….that’ll be $300/month. Don’t need internet, too bad, that comes with it, another $75/month!

. . . blog to be continued tomorrow . . .

* source to be acknowledged in tomorrow’s blog

DIfficulty 3: Is God evil?

Some people declare that God is cruel…

I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the Lord. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.’” – Jeremiah13:14

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.Nahum 1:2

6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”  – Genesis 6:6-7

So how does this fit in with our perception of God as loving?

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

How then do we reconcile this?  Simple, the previous verses, as well as others throughout the Bible speak of God’s judgment, not evil. God has granted each of us free will.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.Galatians 5:16-17

Even Jesus said:

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.Mark 8:34

God allows each of us to make choices in our lives. For those that choose righteous paths, God has blessings for you. However, for those that choose lives of sin, He will judge as evidenced by many Scriptures already noted, as well as numerous others throughout the Bible.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.Deuteronomy 32:4

27 “‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. –Leviticus 26:27-28

Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t see these blessings and judgments immediately.  After all, look at the lives of many non-righteous people we know.  But…

Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished, but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered. – Proverbs 11:21

God’s promise to all righteous and Saved people is a place in Heaven for eternity. The wicked, in turn, will be punished in hell forever. Where would you rather spend eternity?

Is God evil?  No!  Is He just and fair, YES!

 

 

 

But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them. – 1 Samuel 6:19

You too can be a loser!

That’s right, you too can be a loser!

This morning, I overheard a good friend’s journey in a competition everyone knows called “Biggest Loser.” So far, he has adjusted his eating habits, type of food, and exercise routine.  In just a few short weeks he has lost well over 15 pounds!

He was featured today on “His Radio,” and had the opportunity to tell his story on the local tri-state radio station. It was really great to hear about his success!

Many people can probably relate to his story, either in their desire to lose weight, or maybe in their competitive nature. What I’ve discovered, however, is that we all need to be a loser like him!

That’s right – you too, can, and SHOULD be a loser!

Let me explain – What follows is an EXAM….

But before I finish this blog (which I won’t), I want you to understand that I am taking a new approach to an old problem.

This is a multiple choice exam:  except – instead of one question with multiple answers to choose; you will receive 3 selections, then you get to choose the question and answer that will finish the blog:

What you need to lose:

1)      Sin:

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10 NIV); Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6 NIV)

2)      Weight:

18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19 NIV); 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Cor 3:16-17 NIV)

3)      Worldly Life:

25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Matthew 16:25-26a NIV); 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:28 NIV)

Now what?

Have you read the instruction manual for that?

It’s 2014, as if you didn’t know. And that means a New Year!

Many people have updated their Facebook status – talking about having no regrets for 2013; commenting that we should forget the past and live 2014 as if it was a new beginning.

They are right, to some extent. We shouldn’t labor over what happened or what we did or didn’t do. Although we should repent of our past sins, I want to focus on the scriptural basis for new beginnings today.

When I think of new beginnings, I look at the life of Saul/Paul. His life was once marked by overwhelming sin: relentless persecution, constant destruction, and murder.  Yet, God performed remarkable changes to, and through him. If God can do this for Paul, then what does the Bible say God can do for us?

Sometimes people see the stories in the Bible as just that: “stories.” However, the Bible has been given to us as a guide for life, sort of “instruction manual” (ok men, we do have to read this one!).

The Bible is not just stories. It has life application, and many times speaks directly to us.  While much of the Bible is historical in nature, it contains more than just chronological elements. For example:

Poetry and Songs (Psalms, Songs of Solomon… )

Laws , Rules, and Wisdom (Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Proverbs, James,…)

Hope/Good News (Gospels)

Letters (New Testament writings)

Paul wrote his letters to people with all types of issues in their lives.  His letters spoke about the past, but more specifically what change was necessary to bring about new life.

Let’s look at several letters and an Old Testament writing about New Beginnings:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5-17-19 NKJV

18 Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.

19 Behold, I will do a new thing, – Isaiah 43:18-19a NKJV

22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-23 NKJV

Each of these passages (and there are more in the Bible) remind us that the past should be done away with. We have the opportunity to start fresh in Christ.

Therefore, as we start 2014, I encourage each of us to put off the past and start new.  Maybe you will want to do this as a family, in prayer, where you repent of your sins, and ask God to help you be renewed in your spiritual walk.

Underwear for Christmas . . . again?

I remember many Christmas mornings as a child waking up and getting toys under the tree from Santa. It was such a fun time with joy and celebration: opening presents and seeing all the goodies under the tree.

Then, we would make the trip across town in the afternoon to visit with relatives we hadn’t seen lately.

It always started with the quite embarassing and unappealling kiss from a lady so old she could be my great grandma (oh, wait, she was my great grandmother).

Only to be followed by one of the largest home cooked meals on the planet, enough to feed 50 people (which would feed us for hours).

Then, the opening of the gifts. For some reason, this was not what I looked forward to:

The first gift always seemed to be something for school – oh great, why do I NEED that? And as a Christmas gift?

Then, some miscellaneous items that probably only cost a few cents back then. They were rarely anything cool, but did contribute to some fun (at least for a few hours).

But before it was all over, each of us boys would unwrap that fateful gift – the TIGHTY-WHITEY UNDERWEAR. Not that we didn’t need it, but to open it up in front of the whole family! And we got it EVERY year! I mean come on, really grandma? (At least the girls would unwrap pastel colored panties, not stark white!)

  • What did YOU get for Christmas? Was it what you wanted?
  • Or should the question be: Was it what you NEEDED?

What we want for Christmas and what we need often do not go hand in hand.

In fact, many times in life, what we want and what we truly need are rarely the same.

Paul, formerly known as Saul, seemed to really have it together after his life changing experience on the road to Damascus. From the very beginning of his preaching, to his many mission trips, and even during his time in jail, he realized what was truly important in life, and what mattered.  In his letter to the church at Phillipi, he noted:

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:12-13 NIV).

Wish I understood life a little more like Paul does. Sometimes I think I really need more than I have.

Paul goes on to share later in the passage concerning what we need:

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19 NIV)

Isn’t it great to know that God WILL supply our needs!  Let’s try to remember that in 2014.  Maybe we didn’t get what we wanted for Christmas, but do we really need that?

 

 

 

Your PC has a Virus!

That’s right, if you clicked to get here, you are one step closer to fixing your PC – that is your Political Correctness….

You see, your God given American Freedom has been violated; you have been told that you must be Politically Correct by the world (despite what our Constitution clearly states in the FIRST Amendment).

It is interesting that the idea to write this blog came a little over a week ago. Now this week, the popular Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty has quickly held to his beliefs and NOT been Politically Correct. Hallelujah for him! 

This week we saw the world attempt to influence and distract the beliefs of many Americans as A&E suspended the patriachal leader and Duck Commander, Phil, from filming in future episodes. All of this because he took his right to free speech to heart and expressed his opinion. Oh my!  He can’t do that! Well, that’s what A&E said. Supporters of the LGBT community and GLAAD were outraged and wrote letters demanding A&E do something about Phil’s freedom (uh… I mean his remarks). Interesting that they have the right to speak out against him, but he doesn’t have the right to speak?

How is it that A&E aired the series Bonnie and Clyde that promoted robbing banks and killing people ON television, but yet they have a problem with something a Christian says off-air? Sounds like a double standard!

Sure, I’ll admit the First Amendment really states that “Congress shall make no law….[prohibiting] free speech.” BUT, what happened to the popular phrase we all have seen on TV:

“the views and opinions expressed on this program by the artists, producers, host/co-hosts, etc. are solely the opinions of the original source who express them. They do not necessarily represent the opinions of _____, it’s sponsors, or it’s Affiliates.”

That’s a pretty easy out for any company, and we have all seen or heard that statement innumerable times in our lives. Why didn’t A&E just choose to use this during the upcoming season starting January 15th?

It’s because of Christ and people are offended by His truth! It hurts when people are scolded, and he scolded some people, but he also mentioned that he himself is not perfect. And in the actual interview Phil is quoted saying: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether  they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists.”

I’m not a big fan of the show although I have watched a few episodes, but I am a fan of Christians who speak the truth.

The Bible records Jesus on keeping His Truth:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-34 ESV)

Many will try to argue with Christians saying that Jesus promoted love and that we should love one another. This is absolutely true, however, that did not stop Him from dropping the hammer on sin:

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)

This is not meant to say we should attempt to bring war (sword) to the world, but to bring truth to it. We are not to love the world more than we love Jesus.

Stand your ground Christians, this is a democracy. We founded this country on Christian principles, let’s keep it that way!

Thanks Phil for standing up for your Christian beliefs!