“Religious beliefs are very controversial and there are tons of religious groups. The more I care about is to live peacefully and consciously. The truth can be found within your heart and your divine formless aspects…”
I, too, hope you have a peaceful life. As I noted in reply to your blog, 2+2=4 but the one who answers 5 is closer to the truth than the one who answers 37. There is much that is true in the sayings of Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Aristotle, Plato and other philosophers. There is much one can learn by reading the four Vedas of Hinduism, the Gathas of Zoroaster, the Agam literature of Jainism and the Muslim’s Quran. Even the Book of Mormon and the Satanic Bible have rules, many of which can help someone live a good life (though I do not recommend any of these until one has a clearer understanding of the Bible).
Buddha and the other philosophers never claimed to be religious. They simply described how to improve one’s life by various means of self-discipline and learning. The religious literature all show ways that one can reach Nirvana, mystical absorption into the Infinite or find acceptance by God. The answers to 2+2 vary in accuracy from 5 or 6, or in the case of Mormonism 37, and in the Satanic Bible 5,489! 😨
The apostle Paul said to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). So there is nothing wrong with reading or studying teachings of philosophy and religion, but there is much “testing” that needs to be done when one reads these texts. They are not all good and at best will only give one a better life here and now, if that is all for which one is looking.
However, I genuinely fear for people looking for answers in religion. They will find at the end of this life that they have been deceived. The Bible has very little to say about religion (check an online resource for how rarely it is mentioned), and Jesus had his biggest problems with the religious leaders of his day. In fact, it was the chief priest and the religious legislative body, the Sanhedrin, that first condemned Jesus to death before handing Him over to the Romans. The Romans did not allow the Jews to commit capital punishment (though this was disobeyed at times with stoning [see Acts 7]). Unless it interfered with Roman governance, they tended to disregard anything the Sanhedrin or the Jewish leaders did.
Recognize first what constitutes “religion.” In dictionary.com’s definition, the operative phrase is that it “usually involves devotional and ritual observances, and often contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Thus religion is basically the human attempt to do what is right, and the popular view, even among many “Christians” is that this is what will make one okay in God’s eyes. To summarize, religions are human attempts to please God.
Being a Christ-follower does not mean I am not religious, but it means that religion is a very minor part of life. The central issue of following Jesus is to know Him as one knows a friend or brother. This can be difficult to get our heads around, because we cannot see Jesus in His flesh as we would our local friends or relatives. But that is where becoming “born again” comes in. Jesus told a good Pharisee that in order to enter the Kingdom of God he had to be born again.
The old man had some difficulty getting his head around this concept as well. It is not just taking on a different point of view or disciplining oneself to behave differently. That would be religion, and Nicodemus knew all about religion. It was that on which he had based his life!
Jesus said that he did not need to go back into his mother’s womb and be reborn, but rather to be reborn of the Spirit of God, like a wind over which we have no control. It is a yielding of ourselves to the divine in a way that we do not fully grasp just as an infant does not understand what is happening to him when he is being born.
You say “the truth can be found within your heart and your divine formless aspects.” But Jesus’ claim is that we cannot find truth on our own because we have been deceived from our natural birth. We are condemned even before we start searching! Just as the arithmetic illustration shows, if one starts with wrong premises, one reaches wrong conclusions. If you understand 2 is simply one plus one, you can begin to add correctly. But if one does not understand the basic of what 2 IS, wrong conclusions are certain to follow.
The whole of the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, because He is SOOO different from us that we cannot grasp who or what He is apart from Him telling us. Like a parent cuddling his baby saying, “Hush, little one, I know what you need,” He will guide us to understand, if we begin with what He tells us about Himself. And you will not find that in religious literature, nor in yourself, because religion is simply our attempts to find God or to please Him, and we are insufficient to grasp who God is because we are NOT divine. Just as the babe does not understand who his daddy is, he must grow into that understanding by living with him.
The only place you will find peace that lasts is in knowing The God Who Is. The only place you will find The God Who Is will be in the Bible. The only way to get to know Him is through prayer. And I genuinely wish peace for you and for your beautful country. God knows you have had such strife, it is difficult to imagine it getting any worse. The peace you seek can only come with the changes in human hearts that occur when people are “born again.”
your friend, always,
Rick Warren once said, “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, one has to wonder if he knows all the questions.”
When one goes on a date, he or she showers, puts on nice clothes, preens in front of a mirror for a while, checks to make sure teeth don’t have spinach between them, and preps their brightest smiles and best chuckles. The same goes for blogging. When we get on our computers, we take time to evaluate our words; we check for grammatical errors, examine links and think seriously about the topic: i.e., we put our best foot forward in both cases (at least most of us do!😏).
We tend to be experts when we get online, because no one can see all the background work we do to make a nice blog. We check our resources and polish the blog and show off how smart, informed, and perceptive we are. Most of us try to avoid harsh words or crass language (at least the blogs I follow; too much cursing or four-letter words and I will not follow).
Well, I am not that smart or “together” all the time. I sincerely try to be nice in my comments or just don’t comment (my mother’s words are still there in my head, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)
But sometimes I do not “have it all together.” Depression sometimes surprises me with lonesomeness that makes me feel even the sun is dark, as if I am under a rock with no light. I make solitary time either after my bride leaves our bed, or in places where I can get away from everyone, and I cry. . . And I cry. . . And I cry some more. So many folks in my family are wonderful and I know that I am loved, but loneliness still stands over me like an angry wrestler ready to push me down and hold me to the mat even after I say, “I give up.” He won’t let me up anyway.
I am not suicidal (See ). As my brother is fond of saying, “That ship has sailed.” But many times I feel like the days are just passing me by, and I am just waiting either for Jesus to return or for Father to call me Home from this world. Depression makes you question whether anything you do matters; whether your life matters.
But the bottom line is it is not about me . . . or you. Life is about Him!
Like the man in John 9 born blind, just as we are all born spiritually blind, “Once I was blind but now I see.” As C.S.Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The world, the universe, the animals, the oceans, the mountains, the people; it all makes sense when I begin with the Cross of Jesus and the Bible. Rick Warren put it this way: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”
In no other system, no other world leader, no other religious figure claimed to BE GOD. And if Jesus is not God, then nothing makes sense in the world, the universe or people. But sinse He IS God, it all does make sense. I was born spiritually blind and sinful. Jesus came to bear the penalty for my sin. He lived a sinless life and died an ignominious death on a mechanism for capital criminals at the hands of the Gentiles and Jews. But He rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb. And now He lives to make intercession for any who will put their faith in Him. It’s ALL about Him!
I do not intend this blog to be a ‘downer,’ but just to encourage you if you are feeling low, if you feel pressed into the ground by a boulder, or if you fight with the angry wrestler who tries to push you down; perhaps you wonder about your value, your worth, whether your life matters. It DOES! You matter so much to God that He sent Jesus to the Cross! And I know that my Redeemer lives, and THAT is all that really matters.
“I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold Him, and not another’s.” Job 19:25-27
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in YHWH. Habakkuk 3:17
Below the squirrel’s leaf
High up on a tree
A place where they can meet.
Memorial Day is often marked as only the beginning of summer.
On this first long weekend of the season, gather with your friends and family and remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. To mark this holiday, the Hillsdale College produced a Memorial Day tribute video honoring American soldiers who died in defense of our liberty.
The video features remarks from President Ronald Reagan. It is set to the Hillsdale College choir singing the moving hymn “Mansions of the Lord,” which was also sung at President Reagan’s funeral. You can watch the video using this link: https://lp.hillsdale.edu/memorial-day/.
Be sure to read the excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that shows up at 3:23 minutes near the end.
And spend some time praying for families of service members who recently joined the ranks of those who have valued our freedom more than their very lives.
Several blogs I have written address suicide, e.g. , but to get a really helpful handle on suicide I recommend the book, Hope Always, by Dr. Matthew Sleeth. It is an excellent guide for both professionals and lay people interested in helping friends at the end of their rope. It is a wonderful addition to any library with 24/6 or Reforesting Faith already on its shelf. (Note, I do not have any affiliates or compensation from books or items I recommend in my blog.)
Hope Always is Dr. Sleeth’s latest. With the insight of a director of a large hospital emergency room and the traumas endured there, he writes with an understanding of the pathos that drives people to consider suicide. His personal experience with friends who have chosen this route to end this life did not drive him to despair, but instead to forge deeper into faith that God is the author of Life with a capital “L.”
Written in an easy reading style that will be informative for lay people, without pedantry or complex medical terminology, he presents an argument for life and a plan for preventing suicide, whether the “final option” is one you are considering or you know someone who may be thinking about it. In all likelihood you have been touched by suicide, either a family member, friend or acquaintance who took their own life. It may have haunted your thoughts, or you may have even attempted it, and from Dr. Sleeth’s perspective, many are glad you failed.
The timing of this text is significant, as I expect sequel printings to probably include more on the “culture of death” into which the whole world is moving. Nine states in the USA as of 2019 have legalized PAS (Physician Assisted Suicide). Germany has recognized PAS and suicide itself as a non-criminal act for 150 years and in 1942, Switzerland determined that if a suicide was assisted for non-self seeking motives, the assistance was not a crime. The Netherlands and Belgium seemed to be racing each other in 2002 to be the first to explicitly legalize PAS to go beyond just suicide for the terminally ill, but to make euthanasia an acceptable way for one to end one’s life simply based on a person’s decision without regard for medical reasons. Luxomberg, Canada and Spain have joined this morbid club in the last 12 years, though with some constraints, though these are likely to be challenged in courts. Columbia authorized PAS in 1997 and in 2017 extended this to minors so that even “children could die with dignity.” Taiwan and Australia since 2015 have both passed laws allowing for PAS.
After a brief overview of suicide statistics, The “Life Continuum Scale” he presents in chapter 3 is alone worth the price of the book. It scales from the left side at -10 (Has a plan with deadly means) toward the middle of -1 (Experiencing melancholy and pessimism). Then to the right it scales up to the extreme of +10 (Sacrificially giving one’s life for others). It is the clearest presentation I have ever seen of essential mental health in relation to suicide and gives readers a clear tool for evaluating themselves or others with whom they may be concerned.
Dr. Sleeth then takes us on a tour of the psychology of suicide examining this uniquely human activity. Not even lemmings commit suicide, though this myth persists in popular culture. He reminds us that “There is no one-size-fit-all approach to examining and treating people. Medicine and psychology, like spiritual care, are a combination of art and science.” Yet, “50% of those who commit suicide suffer from a mood disorder.” Thus, he recognizes that while spiritual issues need addressing, the religionist who only tells the suicidal to read the Bible and pray more may miss some critical elements to help the hurting.
However, he goes on to address the real source of suicide, even if it is worked through psychological disorders. As Dr. Sleeth points out, there is one source for the desire for death: “Satan is always for death.” While examining many of the psychological and social factors surrounding desires for suicide with the intelligence of a highly trained physician, Part 2 of the book examines the Biblical worldview of suicide. Beginning with the first recorded suicides of Adam and Eve, Satan convinced our parents to trade Paradise for death! Though the devil claimed they would surely NOT die, Father had told them they would, and they chose to take that chance; to believe the Lie from the father of lies.
I suspect many suicides are still in this vein: someone decides to get attention and “attempt” suicide, expecting to be saved at the last minute, but miscalculations on when someone is coming home, the speed of a train, how severe a pill will be, etc., and they buy into the Lie that the enemy told them, “You will not certainly die.” (Genesis 3)
In contrast, Paul’s announcement to the Philippian jailer prevented his suicide. “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” Speaking on this passage to a group of prisoners, Dr. Sleeth told them, “When Jesus is in the house, people don’t kill themselves. They live.” Though many characters in the Bible voiced a desire to end it all, God shows us through them what He really thinks about suicide. From Moses, Elijah, and Jonah, he reveals that even God’s best can feel hungry, angry, lonely and tired (HALT), low enough to throw in the towel and die. But then Dr. Sleeth leads us through the process whereby God brings saving life into the picture. And he notes, “Jesus is still healing the hopeless!” and that He is always FOR life and against death!
Towards the end of this very readable book, Dr. Sleeth provides many helpful links, including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Beyond this, he has solid advice for church leaders and participants who want to help people struggling with depression and suicidal intentions. If the Life Continuum Scale is worth the price of the book, he should double the price for including chapter 10, The Hope Always Toolkit! From a simple 12-step program anyone can do, to a list of scriptures to help us “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” to music, movies and books that can lift one’s spirit, he provides practical resources to assist one if you are depressed, or that can be used to help others raise their hopes.
If you have felt like ending it all, do not buy the lie! There is Hope Always!
We were not in the path for the Blood Moon eclipse, but I happened to wake up in the middle of Kentucky’s night and shot these Super Moon pics with my Canon SX50 HS. These are hand-held pics which says a LOT for the SX50’s stabilization, though I could not get anything good zoomed in to its limit (200X), but pretty close (170x). One of these days I will set up my tripod for moments like these.
If you want to see some info and pics of the Blood Moon eclipse, which was very cool! Check it out at here.
Let’s address a concern for many followers of Jesus, called The Christ. What is the Mark of the Beast, the significance of the “666,” how will it be done, and what are the results of taking or refusing it? If you are not a Christ-follower, I encourage you to read on, to discover what may happen in the near future.
First, the Mark of the Beast will not be called that, any more than the Beast will be called “The Beast.” It will likely be couched in pleasant sounding euphemisms, e.g. The WISE Mark (Winning Implementation of Supply and Expense) or maybe the KIND Mark (Knowledge-based International Negotiation Dividends). And The Beast will be called a Miracle Man, a Savior of Humankind, the Answer Man, the Peacemaker. He will not be an evil-looking HellBoy, but rather a typical looking world leader. But those who are aware of the Bible’s teaching will recognize him for who and what he really is: the devil incarnate, the Anti- or “Other” Christ. Keep in mind these events will unfold as repercussions of the most mysterious disappearance in history of millions of people and all babies and little children! The global chaos will be ripe for someone, anyone, who seems to know what to do.
“[The spokesman of the Beast] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” (Revelation 13:16-18)
As for the significance of the mystery of the number, 666, this will remain a mystery until the time it is applied. Do not let anyone fool you into thinking they have ‘discovered’ who the Beast is by matching a name to the numeric values of the Hebrew or Greek letters. This was done with transliterations for Emperor Julian, Genghis Khan, Hitler, FDR, John Kennedy, George Bush, bin Laden, Khomeini and a host of others whose candidacy for being the Anti-Christ fell into varying degrees of believability. We will not know who this “Man of Lawlessness” is until he is revealed.
How is the mark applied? It is possible it could be a bio-metric identification or a chip implant, something the angel would only have noted as a “mark.” It could be a nano-activated ink tattoo or simply a literal tattoo, maybe even 666, that would show the wearer was “cooperating” with the government to address the chaos of the missing Christ-followers. “I’m a loyal (insert any nationality). Put it big and bold right there on my forehead!”
In any case, it will not be secretly administered as some right-wing . . . umm, conservatives (note, I did not call them “nuts” 😉) surmised in recent months. It will not be part of a vaccine or some obscure method that will fool people into getting something they do not want. It will be an open and reasonable method of accounting for your personal income, expenses, assets and debts. Everyone will be invited to participate as sensible and patriotic citizens of the world. It will simply be the way the world is working, and if you want to buy or sell, whether stocks and bonds, real estate or groceries, you will need to have an account.
The results of accepting this Mark are explicitly laid out in Revelation 14: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” So if it comes to the point that you are asked to take a Mark in order to buy or sell, just do not do that!
However, be aware that the results of refusing this Mark will be devastating as well. One will not be able to do business in any form. You will not be able to access your savings, your Social Security, your checking or any investments. You will not be allowed to purchase anything at Walmart or Costco, and forget about Amazon or Apple. The Kroger and Safeway will be out of your reach as will be any other thing that you want to buy or sell. Starvation is a slow and difficult death; ostracization by the community may be radical and murderous.
But there is an assurance in the next verses in Revelation 14: “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'”
Do not believe me! 😉 That is, do not take my word for this information. Read last week’s list of Bible chapters that address the End Times. At least take a couple hours and read two very short books: The Gospel of John and The Revelation. Each of these books should not take more than an hour or two to read in your heart language (the language in which you dream). The links are to English Standard Version (ESV), but you can select any language in the “Version Button” by selecting All and scrolling down.
So when will these things occur? Again, as noted last week, no one knows the day or the hour! So do not let anyone deceive you that they somehow have it figured out. But there are interesting developments that make these scenarios more believable.
When I was a child, Bible-prophecy preachers would speak of a united Europe to mimic the ancient Roman Empire; skeptics said this was absurd, that nationalism and language difficulties would prevent this; Europe would never be united. The preachers said money would be accessible only through a mark on your hand or forehead; again skeptics said we would never have computers powerful enough to regulate international commerce; check out Amazon’s latest development in September, 2019. The preachers said cash would be obsolete; skeptics laughed as they wanted to know how you could do business without a reserve currency; laugh no more; digital currency will soon replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency! It will be international, accessible anywhere in the world, and if it uses bio-metrics to access, perfectly (?) secure.
Recall that world events have at times occurred with the speed of a tsunami. The start of WW1, the execution of the tsar of Russia, the Communist revolution in China, the fall of the Berlin wall, literal tsunamis and natural disasters around the world: all occurred with fire-bolt speed, and the next changes in currency, political fortunes and world government will occur even faster when the Church is removed from the world like a lightning flash!
This is why I appeal to you that if you do not know where you will go at the end of your life, you CAN know! If you want to know how to escape the judgements of The God Who Is, He has made it very simple. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) If you come face to face with the events herein described, recognize that any death from human hands is nothing compared to missing the gift of eternal life Jesus offers. My prayer for each of you reading this is that you will take this warning to heart and Be Ready.
“At this also my heart trembles and leaps out of its place.
Keep listening to the thunder of His voice
and the rumbling that comes from His mouth.
Under the whole heaven He lets it go,
and His lightning to the corners of the earth.
After it His voice roars;
He thunders with His majestic voice,
and He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard.
God thunders wondrously with His voice;
He does great things that we cannot comprehend.” Job 37:1-5
Last week I presented a synopsis of events to be expected sometime soon. How soon? No one knows, and if someone claims to know, leave as wide a distance between him and you as there is between his brain and reality. Even Jesus claimed only the Father in Heaven knows the day or the hour that Jesus is to return to this earth to begin its last age.
That said, it is certain that the return of Jesus, called The Christ, is nearer than it was 2000 years ago when He left. Some surmise the history of the world is a “week” of ‘1000-year’ days. This is a very plausible theory for Young Earth theorists: 4000 years from Creation to the advent of Jesus to a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea; 2000 years of the Church Age; 1000 years of Christ’s millennial reign; concluded with God’s recreation of a New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21).
Since we do not know exactly the year of Jesus’ birth, this remains a possible interpretation of time for at least another 20-80 years. (This includes allowance for questions of exactly when to begin the 2000 year church age.) This would propose that we are very close to the end of time as we have known it, again though, not knowing the day or the hour, or I would point out, the year or even decade. However, given the shape of world events it is very difficult to imagine The Day waiting more than another few decades.
However, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your investigation into these propositions! You must not depend on someone else, not even me, Martin Luther, the Pope, Joel Rosenberg, John Stott or any other to feed you with such milk. You need to examine Scripture to discover what it says. To not do so is to remain a spiritual baby, accepting “predigested milk” like infants, unable to feed themselves. There is nothing wrong with starting out as a suckling, but think of how sad we feel if we see an adult who has never learned to feed himself or clean his own bottom. Though you may be new to faith in Jesus, begin to train yourself to read the Bible. If you have been walking with Jesus for even a few years, you should be more mature and able to read the Word and apply it to your daily activities, daily ingesting the food of the Scriptures and doing what it says, praying with the understanding and in the Spirit.
So I encourage you to read the first few verses of Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Do not be dissuaded by those who would say this book is too confusing or too full of symbols which must be studied in historical context. The book itself says you will be blessed if you read it or listen to its reading!
Along side of this, to understand what the Bible teaches about End Times (Eschatology), one needs to read Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 12; Ezekiel 7-8, 17, 38-39; Daniel 7-12; Joel 2; Zechariah 1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4-5; 1 Timothy 1, 4; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 1-3; 1 John 2; and Jude. There are other references in the Bible to the End Times, but these are the main ones wherein it is a theme of the writing and the study of these, with Revelation, will give one a fair grasp of what we are allowed to understand of what is to come.
Please underscore this: WHEN you believe Jesus is returning is not as important as your belief that HE IS RETURNING! There are differing views on the events listed in my synopsis last week, and I make no claim to fully understand everything about these things, nor to have every detail correct. This is the best understanding to which I have come based on years of study and examination of Scripture. But faith in Jesus is not dependent on agreement on these details of eschatology.
But these things I do know! What kind of people should we be, especially as we gain understanding of God’s plan for the ages? First, love your family! (1Timothy 5:8) Next love your fellow Christ-followers! (Galatians 6:9) Then, love your neighbors, those in your subdivision, your community, your city and county. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31) And then, if you are going to follow Jesus, get ready for some reeeally tough instruction: “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44)
That’s right, pray FOR bad people! Do not pray against them; do not pray for their deaths or for their destruction. Leave that up to Father; “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35)
We must pray FOR our enemies. For that politician who represents everything you voted against in the last election; for that relative who makes you feel like you want to avoid them forever; for that guy who drives like a maniac, running stop signs and racing to cut you off; for that woman who swears so terribly she makes sailors blush; for that person responsible for your loved one’s death; yes, pray for your enemy, that they will see how they have been deceived and turn from their wrong actions. This is God’s heart for His enemies: “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the LORD God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
Friend, the time is short. Jesus will come back, maybe in the short few years I have left on Earth; maybe later today or tomorrow; maybe not for another decade or more. But He WILL come back, and when He does it will be too late to get ready.
Our hearts and prayers are with India that The God Who Is will bring a speedy end to the suffering of its people.