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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plumbing the Depths of Righteousness by Faith

Accidentally I chanced upon a post which included comments that I had forgotten I had left one year ago. I am providing the link below for various reasons. The article is about a favorite subject of mine: Righteousness by Faith. May it answer some questions but may it suggest new questions as well.

On Justification by Faith | Spectrum Magazine
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Knowing Yourself

Do you sometimes feel that no one understands you? You then focus on knowing yourself. God understands you from day one. That knowledge reassures you that you can know yourself as well. Being understood by others will eventually follow. Look at yourself in the mirror of your life and smile often.
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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Finding Light on Dark Days

Christ's favor is sufficent for you. His power is made perfect in weakness. . . . When you are weak [Christ's power] makes you strong. 2 Cor. 12
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Salvation: Old vs. New Testament

Old Testament: circumcision, religious feasts, executing of adulterers, incest and same sex practioners.

Keeping the minutiae of the law. Dietary prohibitions.

Animal sacrifices required as basis of salvation.

One human high priest. Only Levites could be priests.

Focus on the Sabbath as requirement for salvation or death to be inflicted on violator immediately. Offenses against God and man punished immediately.

New Testament: no circumcision, no religious feasts, after repenting sexual sinners were welcomed.

Broad principles of the law preferred. Love for God is shown by love for fellow man. God's favor is vehicle of salvation.

Dietary principles either changed or not focused upon.

Christ's sacrifice is basis of salvation. Animal sacrifices abolished.

Unrepentant sinners punished at Second Coming of Christ.

Christ as high priest. Believers as nation of priests.

Sabbath mentioned incidentally or said that it was created for man and not man for the Sabbath. No death for violaters.

Summary: abusing fellow human beings is never tolerated by a just and loving God.

Abusing one's relationship with God, including not acknowledging him as being the supreme creator, is never tolerated by a just and loving God. Exodus 20:8,11

Execution of offenders will take place eventually.

A daily love relationship with Christ Jesus strengthens one's faith in his saving power. Getting to know him better is by hearing or reading the Bible. Daily prayer also provides great strength. Assisting fellow human beings with their needs is evidence of genuine faith. A desire to tell others about your great friend, Jesus Christ, is further evidence of a living and practical faith.
Fear God and give him glory for the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the Earth, the sea and the springs of water. Revelation 14:7

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Marry Gay Men to Lesbian Women

Could Christian Adventist ministry use this approach presented in the article in question when evangelizing the lesbian-gay population especially the critical college-age demographic group? If fertility was absent though, it would be a less viable solution. Food for thought, nevertheless. God bless.

Please see the following link for full article:  Marry Gays to Lesbians

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Missing Book of the Bible

Read the Bible through and through and it's obvious one book is missing. It's one that connects all the books together.

It's no book that any cannonical council forgot to include centuries ago. Yes it's one that God also inspires. It is one that can at times be read by others. It's not one we can read accurately for ourselves, though.

The missing book of the Bible is one that God writes in our minds and in our loving and lovable selves throughout our lives so others will experience for themselves what God is really like.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Voice of the Holy Spirit Sang to Me in the Darkness

"Don't write about the Holy Spirit. Don't talk about him. He is too holy, too sacred, yes too dangerous, to even think about."

These words spoken long ago by some now-forgotten preacher still haunt me even five minutes ago as I prepared to start this post. For 20 years I had feared even saying the Holy Spirit's name lest he be offended in some way. Christ's warning about the finality of sinning against the Holy Spirit was taken to heart with a vengeance that amazes me now.

Six years ago this perplexing experience started to change. Let me share an experience that I have never heard anyone speak of before.

Out of boredom I started singing a Christian song I learned at 16 during a young people's weekend at Camp Berkshire in Wingdale, New York. I sang it both in Spanish and English as I walked my golden retriever, Callisto, on his long, long walks through concrete and green in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

It's important that I share the entire lyric as you will understand that it was the vehicle by which the Holy Spirit spoke to me and changed me almost against my will. I must state that I was bored out of my mind and had gotten bored with singing pop tunes on my long, long walks with Callisto. This song, however, sprang to life and wouldn't let go. It had a will of its own. I'd stop singing it and it reasserted itself.
It's a wonderful, wonderful life when you're with the Lord above./ It's a wonderful, wonderful life when you're saved by his love./ There's a joy that you never can tell and great peace with the Lord above./ As I walk with the Lord in my heart there's a song./ It's a wonderful, wonderful life. -- Author Unknown
Week after week prior to 2005 I had been singing this song out of habit. I'd sing other songs, secular songs, but no other spiritual songs at all. In late 2004 or early 2005 I noted something was happening or had already happened. Without explanation I had a new-found interest in rising early and spending 30 minutes reading a chapter or two of the gospels in the New Testament, e.g., Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I had no time to pray so I prayed on the way to work for 15-20 minutes.

After a few weeks of this I thought maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to attend church again. I hadn't attended church at all in over 15 years. For some mysterious reason I actually enjoyed going to church. More importantly I enjoyed reading the Bible, the writings of Ellen White and other Christan books. I played no Christian music CDs even though I probably had one or two in some bottom storage box--who knows where in my home. The new songs I sang in church, praise songs, were all I needed for my new phase.

Then it dawned on me that I had been touched by the Holy Spirit, almost without asking for it. I must share with you that I never stopped believing in God even though my impression of God was and still is imperfect and skewed by life's experiences. Out of guilt and to avoid psychological discomfort only, I  had continued for 20 long years to repeat the following words on most mornings as I drove to work:
If you then who are earthly know how to give good things to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to you if you ask him. Luke 11:13
These words were the only contact I had with God and with the religion of my parents and I was not about to give it up just in case there really was something to the God experience, salvation, heaven, eternal life, etc. It was how I convinced myself that I still held onto the only lifeline I still had in case these were more than just pleasant words written 2,000 years ago.

Three months after this change started occurring in me I was awakened in my darkened room at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. by a voice singing inside my  head. It awakened me from a deep sleep with the clarity of its melody. I had not sang these words in over 25 years. The voice grew louder and  louder and the sweetness of the words almost moved me to tears. These are the words the voice sang [I am translating from Spanish as the voice was in the tongue of the first five years of my life:]

The Shepherd loves his sheep with a paternal love. The Shepherd loves his flock with a love that cannot compare. The Shepherd loves his other sheep that are scattered and lost. He looks for them with great concern wherever they may be be.
Down on my knees I found myself thanking God for the first and only time I had ever experienced such a phenomenon. I was actually hearing God's voice and in song. This time I knew something was happening, had happened, that had never happened before--at least not like this. This was the God experience and it took me decades of my life to fall into it. This was not some transitory emotion. This really grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. This was God taking me by the hand and  leading me very much like how I walked with my dear Callisto and led him on his daily walks.

Life has been full of temptations, disappointments and yes, shocks to my system, for six years now. But what else can I do?

When you have been touched by God it is for life. You just don't turn around and go anywhere else.

If you've never been touched by God, repeat the lyrics of my childhood song about how this is a wonderful, wonderful life. May God also touch you and never stop touching you throughout your life.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Experiencing Glorification This Side of Eternity

If the title alarms you in any way, well you should be alarmed with a title like that. However, let me make my case.

In the Christian experience you normally hear of justification (forgiveness) and sanctification (cleansing). Both involve ridding one either of the guilt of sin which is a psychological state that needs to be avoided or of ridding one of the lingering presence of sin after the Christian has accepted Christ Jesus as his/her savior. You rarely hear anyone speak of glorification. Normally, the New Testament speaks of glorification (being transformed into the same character and nature that Christ acquired at the resurrection) as something that happens either when one is resurrected at the Second Coming or as one is "caught up together in the air" along with the resurrected saints "to meet our Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord." That perfection--finally--of the Christian believer is a future historical moment eagerly to be anticipated.

However, let us not forget Christ's words which  tell us "And this is eternal life: that they may know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ [and the Spirit of Christ] whom thou has sent." John the Apostle. Eternal life (knowing God) can begin in this life. Therefore it follows that to some degree--and an exciting degree at that--glorification can and does begin progressively in this flesh-and-blood reality.

Every aspect of the Christian life that I've mentioned, i.e., justification, sanctification and glorification, are through the divine gift of the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit. It is He that initiates and nourishes each of these states of Christan experience and blessedness.

There are many promises given us regarding the free reception of the Spirit of Christ. Only two will be given here though you can find others even in the Old Testament, e.g., Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

The first is my favorite because of its simplicity and accessibility: Luke 11:13, "If you then who are earthly know how to give good things to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him."

The other is Ephesians 5, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be not drunk with wine which is excess." This is an excellent promise as well though it hints at some effort on the believers part, especially of avoiding intemperance which would cloud the spiritual sensibilities to the point that receiving the Spirit of Christ would be quite difficult.

One essential caveat that affects both  promises is Paul the Apostle's reminder that the new Christian believer receives the Holy Spirit by "hearing with faith" and not by works of the Law (both ceremonial or moral) through which no man will be saved.

May you enjoy each of the spiritual states of bliss ushered in by justification (forgiveness of past sins), sanctification (being purified from your natural sinful state) and glorification (knowing the only true God.)

Most importantly may you receive the baptism of the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Evolving Male Christian in a Postmodern Culture

Forty years ago few men felt comfortable pushing a stroller unless a female was present. That's no longer true.

Forty years ago young Christian adult males would feel uncomfortable embracing and briefly giving a brotherly kiss on the cheek to another recently baptized non-related fellow Christian male, also in his early 20s. That is no longer the case.

One witnesses both formerly frowned-upon behaviors even in macho Latino conservative churches like ones I attend. Is this male bonding overdone?

What of the new freedom heterosexual men now have, especially after a great favor or unique social incident has occurred, to very confidently say in public, "I love you, Man. You're like a brother to me."

Is this progress or is something going on that needs further study? Are both cases Bible-based or condoned? Yes, they are. "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." (Paul of Tarsus in Ephesians 5) What better way for a Christian man to show love for his wife as his own body than to share parenting and stroller time duties with the woman who is his partner in the gestation of their child?

Additionally, Paul of Tarsus counsels Christians to "greet each other with a holy kiss." (Paul of Tarsus in Romans 16). Note emphasis on "holy." It can be safely assumed that "each other" refers to same-gender "holy kissing" as well as inter-gender "holy kissing."

Will these behaviors continue during the next 40 years or will the past be a blueprint which will be rabidly emulated?