On Progress

“We all want progress.  But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be.  And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.  If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”

C.S. Lewis

Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe, Chapter 5

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Published in: on January 26, 2014 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Christianity: A Position Statement

This is a re-post from July 2011, inspired by current events in Egypt and Libya, which appear to be indicative of an ongoing trend in U.S. foreign relations (as it relates to matters of faith and freedom of expression)

People of the world. We understand that many different people will respond in many different ways to our faith, and the person of Jesus Christ.  No matter your initial or individual response to Christianity, Christians respect your right:

  • To reject Jesus Christ and all that He stands for¹
  • To comment publicly on our faith and the manner in which it is practiced
  • To disrespect the name of Jesus Christ, the text of our Holy Scripture along with its physical iterations, and our faith²
  • To practice any faith of your choosing, even one which is openly hostile to ours
  • To reject outright all matters of faith or adherence to any form of religious observation
  • To establish or support non-Theocratic governments, so long as those governments respect and uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including especially Article 18.³

In addition to understanding our position on these points, know also that although there will always be fringe elements (in any religion) that insist otherwise, these are matters which the credible majority of Christendom agree to as naturally following from our faith, comprised primarily from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, as found in the canonized New Testament.

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1-Though we hope that at some point in your life you will make at least a half-hearted attempt to understand who Jesus was (even if, once in a while, some of us do a poor job at being His ambassador).

2-Though, it hurts when you do, and we wish you would make the conscious decision not to.

3-We even respect your right to support Authoritarian Theocracies, as many exist today…but hope you won’t.

Published in: on September 13, 2012 at 9:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Genuineness Speaks for Itself

I was reading one of Richard Wurmbrand’s memoirs and he said something that struck me.  He said,

“…but remember that it is always easier to fight for a principle than to live up to it.”

Addressing Christians specifically he continued,

“Don’t choose the easy way, but the way of the cross.  Don’t remain yourselves unrighteous and lacking in sweetness while you are fighting for righteousness…”

I have a strong feeling that this rings true for many of us.  Christians, in America especially, need to be so careful about focusing on how they live their lives, and how they treat others… things that are so much more important than fighting for this or that cause.  Reverend Wurmbrand is right; it is easier to fight for a principle than to live up to it.  Let us humble ourselves today, and maybe step back and take stock of our personal missions.  I’m thinking in particular about those who are good at things like debate, apologetics, legal affairs or concerned with politics.  Surely there is a time for all [proper] things [properly carried out].

…But fighting, it may well be, ought to be the rarest of these.

Published in: on January 3, 2012 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Making Our Position Clear

This post is for Christians the world over, especially those in influential positions living in contemporary Democracies…

It occurs to me, in these times we live, there is a clear message we need to send to the world…that there should be no misunderstanding about these things.  The message is as follows:

People of the world.  Christians respect your right:

  • To reject Jesus Christ and all that He stands for¹
  • To disrespect the name of Jesus Christ, the text of our Holy Scripture along with its physical iterations, and our faith²
  • To practice any faith of your choosing, even one which is openly hostile to ours
  • To reject outright all matters of faith or adherence to any form of religious observation
  • To establish or support non-Theocratic governments, so long as those governments respect and uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including especially Article 18.³

In addition to understanding our position on these points, know also that although there will always be fringe elements (in any religion) that insist otherwise, these are matters which the credible majority of Christendom agree to as naturally following from our faith, comprised primarily from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, as found in the canonized New Testament.

___________________________

1-Though we hope that at some point in your life you will make at least a half-hearted attempt to understand who Jesus was (even if, once in a while, some of us do a poor job at being His ambassador).

2-Though, it hurts when you do, and we wish you would make the conscious decision not to.

3-We even respect your right to support Authoritarian Theocracies, as many exist today…but hope you won’t.

Published in: on July 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Scripture Wallpaper

This folder contains a collection of Bible Verses in the form of digital wallpaper, otherwise known as desktop background images. Once you save them to your My Pictures folder you can right-click the image and select “Set as Desktop Background.” Alternatively, you can use a Wallpaper Changer utility that will randomly choose one for you (see below for two great options).

Feel free to browse through the folder, search for a specific Book of the Bible using the search bar to the right, or download the entire collection as a zip file below – be aware that the file is large (27 MB). It currently contains 489 scripture verses.

Download the Scripture Wallpaper zip pack

Version date:  4/4/14

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Here are three wallpaper changer utilities I can heartily recommend.  They are all Freeware (completely free and fully functional) but of course developers of free software always appreciate a small donation in appreciation for their efforts.

The first one, Wallpaper Changer by Frank Pleitz, I used for many years under Windows XP.  It strikes an excellent balance between ‘lightweight & unobtrusive’ and ‘special features.’  For example, it has the ability to stretch wallpaper that isn’t exactly the same resolution as your monitor.  Another choice for those who prefer more traditional software is Walyk Wallpaper Changer by Walter Estrada.  Of the three options this one is a little more full-featured though not nearly as lightweight as the other two.  And lastly is my current favorite, the one I’m using now, and it’s a tiny but brilliant thing called Wallpaper Randomizer by Danny Ben Shitrit.  The beauty here is that it does one thing well and then gets out of the way, just as most utilities should.

Visit Wallpaper Changer by Frank Pleitz  (Offline?)

Visit Walyk Wallpaper Changer by Walter Estrada

Visit Wallpaper Randomizer by Sector Seven

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Click HERE if you don’t see the Scripture Wallpaper images below

Published in: on July 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I am a Christian

What does it mean to be a Christian? This is something that can often be difficult to put into words, and in truth is better answered in the way Christians live their lives. I hope these few short paragraphs will provide some insight as well…

I am a Christian. It does not mean I am perfect or better than anyone else; in truth, I am far from perfect (1). What it does mean is that I have chosen to accept God’s forgiveness for my sins, a gift that I’ve neither earned nor deserve, but that He has given me in spite of my unworthiness. I make it my daily goal not to sin or live a sinful life, because that is what I am called to do (2). Learning to ask for forgiveness comes with the territory.

Though I may not always agree with the behavior, choices or lifestyle of others I am called to love and accept all people for who they are (3). I make a distinction however between loving a person and loving their behavior. This is because I also do not subscribe to moral relativism, which is the notion that people determine their own right and wrong, or that right and wrong cannot be objectively determined. God is the author of truth and we, as His creation, have only been empowered to search for rather than invent truth (4). This being the case it is not my place to redefine or reinvent what God himself has already deemed right and wrong. Nor do I have the right to skew His words or alter the teachings of Christ to fit the popular moral trends of the day.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died for me – not because I’ve earned it, but because he loves me, just as he loves and died for you (5). There is no other way to salvation, which scripture defines as eternal life, except through Jesus Christ (6).

I don’t believe that going to church would make me any more righteous than those who don’t attend church. Attending church is just another way of being closer to God, to discover how to better live one’s life, as well as an opportunity to fellowship with other Christians. The Apostles of Jesus Christ encouraged believers to gather* in this way, and for good reason (7).

I may not have a good answer for every question you throw at me, but will do my best to answer those I am able. There are some questions however that God has seemingly chosen not to answer; it is in these cases that I defer to Him in faith alone. For instance, I will never understand why the innocent are so often made to suffer in this world, but take it on faith that God has allowed this for a purpose beyond my ability to comprehend. God is not the source of suffering. He is however the ultimate source of comfort, peace and even – occasionally – joy in the midst of suffering (8).

I hope that you will consider opening up a Bible with the genuine desire to hear and understand God’s message to mankind. It is a moving and wonderful message that speaks to God’s unwavering love for you. Might I suggest starting with one of the four gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

One of my mandates as a Christian is to Love those with whom I disagree, those who mistreat me and even those who hate me simply because of what I believe (9).  When I manage to do this it is not because it comes naturally, but because that is the way Christ lived his life and requires that I live mine. Rest assured this is not an easy position to take, but it’s the right one, and I only hope that I succeed in it more often than I fail.

I realize that being a Christian probably won’t make me popular (10). Nonetheless I accept this outcome, for obedience to God’s Word (the Bible) must always take precedence over social status.  It is rarely easy to say or take a stand on that which is unpopular. Many of Christ’s followers have faced challenges and hardships on account of their decision to follow Him. Others have suffered persecution, and many have been (and continue to be) martyred for their faith. But because Christ sacrificed himself to save me, for better or worse, these are the burdens I must be prepared to bear (11). Should I find myself trying to please the world more than my Heavenly Father then it is time for me to reevaluate my actions, correct them, and ask for His forgiveness. Since becoming a Christian I have already had to do this…plenty.

I believe the Bible was recorded by men who were pre-ordained to do so, whose words were given to them by the Holy Spirit. That makes the Bible, in its original form, the infallible Word of God (12). It is God’s message to mankind about who He is, why He came, and how we should live our lives. It is a precious gift that I cherish and read, or should be reading often.

I try to make it my goal to consider all issues, whether political, social or otherwise as objectively as possible, but recognize that God (through His Word) probably already has something to say on the matter.  In many, though not all cases, the Word of God is the final authority on political, social and other issues.

Science and the so-called “laws” of science will always have their place in this world and in this vast, amazing universe we occupy. They are by no means a hindrance to my faith for God created all things, including heaven and earth, and all the laws that govern the universe around us (13). I believe that the genuine, objective study of our natural world produces far more compelling evidence for the existence of God than it does for His non-existence.

I am a Christian, a hopeful follower of Jesus Christ, a child of the one and only living God, and an imperfect person in so many ways. I thank our Father in Heaven that he sent his Son to die on the cross for my sins, giving me the hope of eternal life in spite of myself (14).  If you would like to share in this gift all you have to do is ask (15).  The specific words are not what matter, only the prayer that comes from the heart…

“Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my sins. I acknowledge the gift of salvation brought by the sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ. I want to follow you now in this life, and be with you in heaven when I leave this world and this earthly body. Thank you that you love me unconditionally and teach me to love others unconditionally. Please help me to live as Christ lived, with boldness and humility that I may grow closer to you. In Your name I pray, Amen.”

What next?  Seek out other Christians, especially those who have endured trials.  Then learn to discern between the good ones and the bad ones.  Start weeding out things (or people) that don’t sit right with your spirit…and prepare for many difficulties that are surely to come.  Try to learn more about who Christ really was, why he came, and what you think He (and no one else) would want you to do with your life and talents.  Hint: It won’t always involve sequestering yourself into the ‘safe’ and partitioned sanctuary of some American-themed Christian sub-culture.

* The first Christians didn’t attend ‘church’ as we know it today.  They gathered together in small groups in people’s homes, much like Chinese Christians have done in the 20th and 21st Century.

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(1) Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8; Mark 7:20-23
(2) Romans 6:18
(3) Galatians 5:14
(4) John 1:17; John 8:31-32; John 18:37; 1 Timothy 2:3-4
(5) Matthew 3:17; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 5:8
(6) John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6
(7) Hebrews 10:24-25; Matthew 18:20; Acts 2:41-42
(8) 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Philippians 4:11-14; Psalm 23:4-6; Romans 8:35-39
(9) Luke 6:27-28; 1 Peter 3:9
(10) Luke 6:22
(11) Luke 9:23-25
(12) 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21
(13) Genesis 1:1
(14) John 3:16
(15) Acts 2:21; Luke 11:9-10
(16) 1 John 1:9
(17) Romans 10:8-10

Published in: on March 25, 2007 at 5:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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