Sunday, September 02, 2012

Growing in Christian Faith is Seldom Easy

It's difficult to write about the quality of one's faith. Nevertheless, it is honest and may prove beneficial to the writer and to his readers. If possible, I will try to outline my journey in the recent past and contrast it with previous states of faith I've experienced through the years.

First of all, I'd like to share a favorite text about faith and the Christian life:

... Everyone who looks to the Son [of God] and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40
This text has been valuable to me for it presents in a nutshell the crux of the Christian life. It's simplicity delights me and gives me reason to continue pursuing the Christian life notwithstanding its challenges. Salvation is centered on Christ Jesus and not on ourselves. By directing our attention, in a variety of ways, to the Son of God and relating to him as a real and wonderful person, belief must surely follow. If it does not do so as easily as one would want, then going to Christ and asking him for help in this area is one solution to this dilemma.

There are other things one can do to foster greater saving faith in Christ. Reading the Bible or other Christian material, e.g., devotionals, is an honest first step towards having greater faith. Listening to Christian sermons whether recorded or live can also help to gain a desire to believe in Christ. Praying about what one reads or hears helps to solidify one's faith.

Living a life of faith is its own reward. Nevertheless, the quoted text rewards us with eternal life and being raised up [from death] at the last day. Again, there is a concentrated gospel message in this text that goes a long way towards simplifying the sometimes frustrating experience of living the Christian life.

Now to the problems in spite of the wonderful statements outlined above. What happens when doubt or unbelief rear their ugly heads? How to proceed. If possible, it might be advisable to talk with a trusted parent, friend or minister who you know to be a strong and loving Christian. Even though belief is the core of your problem, persist in talking to God about your problem. Because he is a loving God and has your interest in mind, he will do what you ask of him if what you need is greater faith. If new Christians believe that they have little or imperfect faith keep in mind the words of the apostle::
"... God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith." Romans 12:3 [Paraphrased]
God would hardly be a loving God if he asked us to believe in his Son for salvation and didn't meet us half way by giving us a quotient of start-up faith with which to move onto greater faith in the Christian experience.

There is still a lot more to this issue of faith, unbelief and renewal of faith, but the most important aspects, as I see them, have been outlined above. It is my sincere desire that at whatever stage you happen to be in the Christian walk, you may strengthen and find faith to meet your every need.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Conceptual Nature of Salvation by the Cross

Salvation through Christ's death on the cross sounds wonderful. It sure beats fulfilling every OT commandment as a means to salvation. However, I am frequently mystified by the concept of being saved by Christ's death on the cross. It seems to be a conceptual reality similar to a thought experiment. One is basing an entire system of salvation and its related lifestyle and experience to an event that not one of us can empirically prove.

Additionally, it's odd, for want of a better word,  that the God who said thou shall not also died to solve the "problem " of his creatures violating the "thou shall nots". No wonder Paul says that to the Greeks the Gospel seemed like foolishness.
With science daily redefining what reality is or might be, thanks to the unfolding of String Theory, dark energy, the Multiverse and the hint of parallel worlds, all inferred by the mathematics itself, it sometimes befuddles the mind to speak of the historical act of redemption as the quintessential conceptual and theological Theory.
Nevertheless, for whatever psychological and philosophical comfort it provides, I cannot abandon my faith, however tenuous or conceptual it has become. I've seen the  practical and transformative value of  the Cross in my life and in that of  others.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

World Trade Center 3001

Build a virtual time machine and travel back to September 10, 2001: the day before the twin towers fell. Take along with you a list of all the planes that crashed and the passenger lists. Underscore the names of the terrorists on each list. From the 101st floor of one of the towers, fax the list to major newspapers, radio stations, as well as the FBI, CIA and the White House. Cause all major airports to be shut down until the Towers are emptied and guarded.

When the Towers fail to fall on the following morning, go forward in time to September 11, 3001. Stand at the base of the Twin Towers and look straight up at the aging and abandoned towers that stand as a monument to your time traveling achievement.

Instead of documentaries about the destruction of the Twin Towers, only what-if movies will be filmed about what almost took place.

Origionally published in Northern Lord vs. Southern Lord blog (
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Saturday, September 03, 2011

God's Mercy Reaches All but at Different Degrees

Today we are no better or no worse than our forebears were. We can only wait for God's mercy to reach us wherever we are, however we are and whomever we happen to be. We can't speed up the arrival of the blessing or help. We can only keep on calling on his name until he comes to our rescue.

Until we receive God's favor, mercy and help we can only cope and hang on with whatever advantages our genes and ennvironment have equipped us with and keep on seeking for whatever source of help available.

Some wait longer than others before they are blessed. Some are still waiting for God's mercy to rescue them. Some have grown weary of the endless waiting. Others sadly fade away and for them God's mercy did not come in time. These cases are regrettable and can't morally be explained by any stretch of the imagination.

As we wait, those of us who are willing and able--not all are capable of rendering useful help--can fill in for God until he decides to take over. In those cases we act in God's stead, for better or for worse. Our imperfect assistance to those in great need may turn out to be the mercy they were waiting for all along. However, since we are limited in our resources the divine help the person in need requires is beyond our reach.

We then become something akin to persons who are called to provide parental care, in loco parentis, to children needing adult care when legal guardians are gone missing. We become "in loco Deus" or acting and functioning in the place of God for that individual.

Waiting for God's mercy. That's all there is.
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Friday, September 02, 2011

Block Negative Thoughts with Positive Ones

Daily Match in Your Mind: Solutions

Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) pop up in one's mind with annoying ease. Automatic Positive Thoughts (APTs) don't intrude as much as you would like them to.

On a moment-by-moment basis ANTs need to be challenged and immediately replaced with APTs. By doing so continuously Automatic Negative Thoughts will lose their power.

Automatic Positive Thoughts, as they are encouraged, will become more frequent and will outnumber their negative counterparts.


"I feel lousy today." Replace it with: "I feel great today."

"I hate when it rains." Replace it with: "Enjoy the rain. Flowers and trees will thrive because of it." Or: Blue skies and bright sun will peek through later on."

"I can't deal with this problem anymore." Replace with: "It's important that I find a solution. Bad situations need to be challenged and eliminated soon."
Write down the negative thought. Cross it off and replace it wigh a positive one.

This really works. Successful people do it all day long.

Share this approach with a friend or family member who tries to infect you with their negative thoughts about others, about you or about themselves. Do so with the proper tact. Realize that when a person is really hurting it may not be appropriate to challenge bad thoughts with good thoughts. If they come to you for help you have an open door.

If the negative thought is directed at you it's important that you challenge it audibly, if practical, or inaudibly by barely moving your lips or by saying it very deliberately in your mind. Hear yourself say the positive replacement clearly in your mind.

Do not let anyone infect you, or others you value, with their verbal poison. Take the positive antidote immediately.
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mysteries of Eternal Life

Not because we've done so much for you or for others. Not because we've refrained from doing other things that were selfish. Not because we've obeyed every last commandment we've been aware of. Save us because we could never do enough, merciful God, to deserve eternal life and unending blessings.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Capital Punishment and Christian Grace

Difficult subject. One good thing about not taking everything literally even in the Pentateuch is highlighted in the following note.

Note: When a member of the congregation in Corinth committed incest—one of the capital offences in Leviticus 20—Christ's apostle did not call for him to executed but to be excommunicated by the church. By God's grace, this was used to bring him to repentance and he was forgiven by the Lord and the saints, and restored to the congregation (II Cor. 2; 7). -- Rev. Angus Stewart.

Others that fall into the same chapter (Lev. 20) are adultery, same-sex acts and others. Can you imagine if all adulterers and homosexuals were suddenly to need capital punishment? You'd really bankrupt all of civilization. Who would be left to run things or to care for the children of the adulters? Terrible thought.

We live in more enlightened and kinder times.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The End of the Adventist Movement as We Know it. A Warning

Reinvent the Adventist church, not just the youth ministry. If we don't there will be no future for the Adventist church in North America, Europe and other similar congregations. That is something we literally cannot afford to let happen.

50 years have come and gone. A once apparently timeless chuch had a clear future in site. What historical or cultural event took place at the start of the 1960s that altered the socio-economic forces of contemporary society? Can it be counteracted realistically or what adaptations can be set in place to thrive in such a culture? Did the seeds of this history-altering force originate even earlier in another decade?

Specifically, what can we do to ensure that the Youth, a demographic group that is essential to ensure the survival of any religious or sociological movement or body, become an integral part of both the church's present and future existence?

The events or forces I am referring to can be found in news media and history books of both the 1950s and the 1960s. The solutions to the problem at hand is not so evident.

We can perhaps study the ways other organizations or movements have employed to guarantee both their survival and their success. That is, of course, no guarantee that the methods used by others will work in solving the problem at hand.

Surviving at any cost sometimes does more harm than good. History is full of cases where a movement or organization has changed so much that its founders would mistake it for another entity altogether?

How important is it that any movement or social entity be true to its founding ideals? Is success at any cost always appropriate for every group or movement?

In the case of an organization, company or philosophical movement adaptation at an price could be justified. In the case of the religious movement at hand that might not be wise.

History is rife with examples of groups or movements that have survived and have caused more harm than good. More importantly, sometimes the dogged survival of a movement or entity has prevented the formation of natural mutations or developments that would have done much good had they been given a chance to develop.

Sometimes selfishness and pride are at the heart of the persistence of a good thing whose time has come and gone.

Finally, if the religious entity being considered presently exists because God meant for it to exist then it will thrive if he wills it to continue existing in whatever form or stage that it is meant to exist.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Challenges When Approaching God

We need divine favor to assist us at times in drawing close to God. Not all children can approach their parent after estrangement, whether of long or short duration, with as much ease as they would like. The Good Shepherd went in search of the lost sheep. The lost coin the woman found by thorough sweeping was unconscious that it was lost.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Appeal and Benefits of Virtual Church Are Now International

The walls of the traditional church are disappearing or morphing into virtual constructs. Christians in other countries have made the Wimbledon Church Service their preferred one especially if it offers what a local congregation does not. Evangelism and church service have more power and reach than once imaginable via advances in technology.

Wimbledon International Church - Wimbledon, England