Month: August 2014

Prayer And Action

For Christians, prayer is an important part of their religious life. When Christians say they’ll pray, atheist usually get annoyed and react very negatively.

One Atheist said to me, “I hate Christians because they believe all they have to do is pray, so all they do is pray and then they sit back and do nothing about the situation…”

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I wanted to investigate these two claims:

  1. “Christians believe all they have to do is pray”
  2. “All Christians do is pray and then they sit back and do nothing about the situation…”

CLAIM 1: “Christians believe all they have to do is pray” — what does the Bible actually teach on this subject?

  • Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
    • James 1:22 

(In short, the Bible instructs believers:  don’t just read the Bible… Don’t just pray… do something! What good is it to read the Bible and pray and then sit around and do nothing? this person is a hypocrite)

  • Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
    • James 1:27

(The Bible instructs believers very clearly into doing something (action is imperative) — care for the orphan, care for the widow and those in distress.)

  • What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
    • James 2:14-17

(In other words, faith without actions is not pleasing to God nor is it beneficial for anyone.)

Point: The Bible clearly instructs believers to do something (not just pray or read the Bible)Matthew 16:24 says,”Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

For the Christian following Jesus and picking up their cross means:

  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means giving your possessions away?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means going to a far off country and helping people you’ve never met?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?

CLAIM 2. “All Christians do is pray and then they sit back and do nothing about the situation…” — Let’s look at actually data:

While popularly held beliefs—and characterizations by US government officials—purport that many churches/temples/synagogues/mosques/etc. and faith-based organizations give money internationally. However, the actual data via studies and research found that the overwhelming majority of religious-based (worldwide) international aid is Christian. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith-based_foreign_aid

The top 4 Christian humanitarian organizations: fighting poverty, slavery, lack of education, abuse, discrimination, war, and world hunger http://www.sharefaith.com/blog/2013/06/top-4-christian-humanitarian-organizations-fighting-poverty-slavery-world-hunger/

1. Compassion international

2. Food for the hungry

3. World vision

4. Samaritans purse

Here is a very small list of Christian organizations who put their prayers into action: CAREuse.org, Caritas.org, Catholic Relief Services, Doctors without borders, Food for the hungry international, Hunger plus, Internal committee of the red cross ICRC, The Red Cross, International organization for Migration, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran world federation, Mennonite Central Committee, Mercy Corps, Overseas development institute, Refugees international, Save the Children, UNICEF, World vision international…

In addition to these resources, ReliefWeb (http://www.reliefweb.int/) provides a comprehensive Directory of Humanitarian Organisations.

Conclusion: For Christians, prayer is an important part of our religious life —

  • Prayer is not asking a magical genie for treasures or favors
  • Prayer is not trying to change God’s will

When Christians pray we usually go to a quiet place where we can meditate and come to God honestly and openly in order to discover more about God and His character. Prayer is nothing more than communication that builds a relationship through dialogue. Genuine prayer has all of the qualities and characteristics of a deeply meaningful conversation between two people. God said to the prophet Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together” Isaiah 1:18. This image of God and man sitting down together for a good talk is our best image of prayer.

 

 

“God is unfair and cruel because He allows the murderer of the victims to enter into Heaven”

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Maybe you’ve seen this picture on facebook or on an atheist website…

Many atheist and people who hate God… (maliciously, and intently) misinterpret the Word of God in order to defame Gods Holy name in order to:

  1. Some want to provoke Christians into anger and sin (rile them up).
  2. Some want to promote there own man made, flawed arguments.
  3. Some have no reason to prove… they just hate God and hate Christians.
  4. Some just want to teach wrong doctrines because they love there own knowledge above truth.
  5. Other just want to be as vile and nasty as they can be… they want to push the limits of evil and sin by spewing hateful speech and disturbing/wrong ideas.

However, Christians should not fear or be angered by these man made arguments because there is nothing of substance in them. The picture above proves my point.

The point of the picture is fairly simple:

  1. This image conveys the thought that God is not a logical being, rather He is an unfair and cruel God.
    1. God is unfair and cruel because He allows the murderer of the victims to enter into Heaven.
  2. The picture also conveys Biblical forgiveness and repentance as arbitrary.
    1. Anyone can commit a heinous and cruel act (i.e. murder) just as long as they say sorry before they die. 

Since these atheist and non-believers never bother to do honest research (for example in this case) what is the repentance that the Bible speaks of? they often remain ignorant to the topic and negligently discuss the topic without any real basis or understanding. 

Q. What is Repentance? Repentance is properly understood to mean a renewed life, a change of mind–a change of the intention from wanting to sin to not wanting to sin–that results in a change in action. It involves the decision to make a change of behavior and/or attitude about something. Biblically, repentance means to turn from sin with a heartfelt desire to change and not do it again.

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2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

God knows we are weak and prone to sin: Hebrews 4:15 says, 

  • “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet He did not sin.”
    • In other words, God came down as a man to show us the way to eternal life… he lived like us, ate like us, was tempted like us… God spoke directly to us so that we may see Him face to face, man was able to touch Him and learn from Him… many were healed by Him and they knew that He is Emmanuel : God with us Isaiah 7:14

So Jesus also said,:

  • The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
    • Because He knows His creation – who would know better the Creator or the creation? 

In short, repentance is NOT saying your sorry and expecting God to forgive you… rather it is a lifelong process of reconciliation to God. We have to daily carry our crosses with each step we put to death the sinful deeds of the body, through the Spirit, by repenting of and forsaking sin and living to Christ (Rom 8:12-13).

  • Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8
    • Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
    • And remember before you start judging others that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 so thank God for His great mercy and grace on our lives.

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“I always appreciate it when churches admit the only people who believe in god are morons. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. #Atheist”

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I always appreciate it when churches admit the only people who believe in god are morons. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. #Atheist

Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

 

My first comment is this: The atheist who posted this deliberately tasteless, provocative and juvenile statement (resorting to name calling)  is misunderstanding the meaning of the Calvary Baptist Church.

  • Is the church admitting that people who believe in God are “morons”?

NO, anyone with critical reading and comprehension skills can understand this simple statement… however, it is easy for those who have never read the Bible to be confused since  they don’t know who God is and they’ve never attempted to find out who God is…

Q. Who is God?

A. In short, The person of God is: Self Existent, Eternal, Infinite, ALL POWERFUL, ALL KNOWING, ALL PRESENT, The owner and Creator of the Universe (everything seen and unseen), He is Changeless, Self Sufficient and Sovereign

The person of God

We believe there is only one God who created all things and was never created. The Holy scriptures describe God as self existent, eternal, infinite, all powerful, all knowing, all present, changeless, self sufficient and sovereign. God is loving, merciful and full of grace, yet he is also righteous and just. God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each one of them is called God and is worthy of the same honor, yet they are distinct from one another even though they are one.

Deuteronomy 6:4,  Psalm 90:2,  Isaiah 40:12-31,  1 John 4:10,  Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:26,  Acts 5:3-4,  1 John 5:20, Psalm 24:1

Since God is ALL-KNOWING would He need smart people? Since God is All Powerful why would He need strong soldiers (men and women)? Since God is the owner and Creator or the Universe (everything seen and unseen) why would He need wealthy people?

The answer is simple, He does not need anything or anyone – He is self sufficient… All the while God demonstrates His great love . The Psalmist asked this same question:

  • When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  (Psalm 8:3-4)
  1. God loves us and wants a personal relationship with us (1 John 4:10)
  2. God wants us to know Him  (Acts 17:27)
  3. God wants us to know the extent of His love that He would give up His most precious prize — whatever it takes just to have a relationship with us redeem us and bring us back to Him (John 3:16)

 

Personal reflection: I too remember when I was an atheist – alone in the science lab, making fun of believers in a similar vile and malicious manner… my eyes and my heart were closed tightly to anything vaguely religious. My mind was made up even though I considered myself the most open minded individual… it wasn’t until I began to question my identity, I began doing some self inspection of my own heart and soul… I forced myself to really looked deep inside in order to find out who I really am as a person and what I really believed in…

I remember one day reading the cell theory and this is what kind of sparked the whole thing:

Cell theory is the foundation of biology the three tenets to the cell theory are as described below:

  1. All living organisms are composed of one or more cells
  2. The cell is the most basic unit of life.
  3. All cells arise from pre-existing, living cells.

Pre-existing living cells… well keep going backwards in time (I told myself), lets “re-create” creation… so that’s what I did, I kept going backwards in time (my cells came from when my mother and father … and their cells came from… and so on) I kept going until I came to the beginning of the universe (it was a tremendous roadblock for me) — my puny human brain could not overcome the mysterious question – why is there something instead of nothing?

and I came to lex parsimoniae otherwise known as “Occam’s razor” — it was something I had used when debating against people of faith.

Occam’s razor is a principle of parsimony or economy used in problem-solving devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

To make the argument simple: Creation requires a Creator much like a baby requires a mother and father to be created — a baby doesn’t just pop up out of thin air.

Secondly, I realize that nothing in this world or universe is eternal, just look around things are born and then they have an inevitable end – so all I had were these two thoughts:

  1. Something comes from something else — nothing just comes into existence by just appearing magically
  2. Nothing in this world is infinite (everything has a beginning) even our vast universe.

Edwin Hubble uncovered important evidence that the Universe is expanding (via the Hubble telescope)… if the universe is expanding (go backwards in time) until the universe is just one atom… we know that there is no such thing as an uncaused cause…

What caused the universe to be – why is there something instead of nothing?

 

 

Hypocrites Are Welcomed In Church!!!

We grow tired of people saying one thing and living something that’s completely opposite. According to the dictionary, a hypocrite is “a person who pretends to have beliefs or practices which he or she does not actually possess.” As used in the Bible, the term comes from ancient Greek theater, where one actor would often play two parts. When saying something humorous, he would hold up a mask with a smiley face; when playing a tragic part, he would hold up a mask with a sad face. A good actor could imitate the speech, mannerisms, and conduct of the character he was portraying. The word literally means, “One who hides behind a mask.”

Matthew 23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

and He continues… “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

“Woe to you, blind guides! Hypocrites!”

If we think we are any different than these hypocritical church leaders think about this story of a man who told his pastor that he doesn’t go to church anymore because there are so many hypocrites there. The pastor responded by saying, “Oh, don’t let that stop you. There’s always room for one more.”

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I believe that one of the reasons why there are hypocrites in the church is because not all church people are real Christians. You see, going to church will not automatically change anyone’s behavior. People go to church for all sorts of reasons — maybe out of habit or ritual, maybe to seek the truth, seek community or perhaps to just network with other people.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going into a garage makes you a car. We have to live with the possibility that what some people perceive as hypocrisy in the church is in fact, the result of mistaken identity.

OK. So some people in the church who profess to be Christians are not even Christians in the first place. That leads to another question, doesn’t it? Why does it appear that so many true Christians are hypocrites? I think it results from some confusion about what a real Christian is. In fact, as we better understand what a true Christian is, we’ll have a better understanding of what a hypocrite is.

1. Real Christians Are Forgiven Sinners
“Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” There’s a difference between being a sinner and being a hypocrite. 1 John 1:8 puts it very clearly: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” A hypocrite, or one who wears a mask, claims to be free from faults. 

Since we have been forgiven of such a huge debt – a Christian can forgive those who have injured them. This is the fruit of forgiveness.  “By their fruit you will recognize them…” Matthew 7:16

2. Real Christians Are Not What They Used To Be
I am totally different today than I was before I became a Christian. I used to have a terrible temper full of selfish desires and criminal behavior; I drank a lot. And I had a foul mouth.

I once told an adversary of mine, “I’m glad I didn’t know you before I became a Christian because I would’ve probably beaten you or killed you”
He responded with unbelief, “You? you couldn’t harm a fly…”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

3. Real Christians Are Becoming What They Will Be!

A real Christian will be transformed completely and will become perfect one day. And that’s not going to happen in this life, but at death, when we will be radically changed and spend eternity with Christ.

In the meantime, God through the Holy Spirit provides some divine housecleaning in our lives. When we mess up, He prompts us to confess it. He gives us the courage and humility to ask for forgiveness. He gives us the power to live the way the Bible teaches. He develops the character of Christ within us and causes the fruit of the Spirit to ripen in our lives.

As authentic Christ followers, we experience forgiveness of sin and life-change as we surrender to Jesus on a daily basis. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” That’s why being a Christian gives me hope: God’s not finished with me yet. I’m in process. I’m not what I used to be and I’m becoming what I will be.

What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?

Being Christian is not gathering with like minded friends and singing Michael W. Smith or Amy Grant songs…

Being Christian is not dressing up real nice on Sundays…

Being Christian is so much more than just copying and posting really pretty Bible verses on facebook for all your friends to see…

Being Christian is not defined as one who arrogantly does good deeds and then goes around telling others how to live there lives…

Being Christian does not mean hating: Gays, non-Christians, minorities, women, the poor, or even hating progress/change…

Being a Christian does not mean you have to follow hundreds of old rules and you don’t ever get to do anything you want… because God isn’t any fun…

Being Christian does not mean you belong to a political group (Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Communist party…)

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Just being religious doesn’t equal being a Christian…

Q. IF you were arrested for being a Christian… would there be enough evidence to convict you?

When I say … “I am Christian” I’m not shouting “I’m clean living”
I’m proclaiming “I was lost, but now I’m found and forgiven”

When I say … “I am Christian” I don’t speak of this with pride.
I am confessing that I stumble and need Jesus as my guide.

When I say … “I am Christian” I am not trying to say I am strong.
I am confessing that I am weak and need His Holy Spirit to carry on.

Be honest
Be vulnerable
Be real
Your life IS a testimony… get real

A Place Where Justice And Peace Are Reconciled

Psalm 85:8-13: God the Lord will speak peace to God’s people who turn to God in their hearts.  Surely salvation is at hand.  Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; justice and peace will kiss each other.  Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and justice will look down from the sky.  Justice will go before the Lord, and will make a path for the Lord’s steps.

 

MICHAEL BROWN: The entire city of Ferguson, Missouri has been rioting in the streets as an act of protest after an unarmed 18 year old teenager who had just graduated from high school was shot 8 times – 14 witnesses said the boy laid on the floor while the officer in broad daylight walked up to him and killed him in broad daylight.

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CNN asked the question – “Are the police getting away with murder?”  http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/12/opinion/baez-police-garner-michael-brown-chokehold/

Last month, Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, died from an illegal police chokehold during an encounter on Staten Island, New York. The 43-year-old father of six died that afternoon and the medical examiner ruled it a homicide due to a police chokehold and chest compressions. Shocking video first posted by nydailynews.com showed Officer Daniel Pantaleo with his arm wrapped around Garner’s neck. Pat Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has denied Pantaleo used a chokehold, a tactic banned by the NYPD since 1993 PAt Lynch would late say “and even if he did (use an illegal choke hold) we (NYPD_ wouldn’t change our stance on Pantaleo’s use of force in this situation.”

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Just three years later, a BART police officer in Oakland, California,walked up to Oscar Grant while he was facedown on a subway platform, posing no threat and proceeded to shoot and kill the 22-year-old Oscar Grant . This murder inspired a movie, “Fruitville Station.” The transit police officer who shot him was never convicted of murder.

 

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We know all too well that Justice is hard to come by in this world. Officers, Organizations, Courts make mistakes and sometimes innocent people suffer for crimes they did not commit. Currently there are many protestors out in St. Louis protesting and clashing with the authorities demanding JUSTICE…

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However, because of our fallen nature this problem (lack of JUSTICE) will never cease in this broken world. In the midst of all the News stories we become more familiar with our broken justice system and I am once again reminded of Jesus Christ.

Because this is exactly what happened to Jesus when he was crucified 2000 years ago. Though he had done no wrong, uttered no threats, committed no crime, and had hurt no one, the powers that be decided that He had to die. So they gathered up false witnesses, they gathered charges against him, shuffled Him from one hearing to another, until they got what they wanted.

Jesus died a criminal’s death, hanging between two thieves. But he didn’t deserve to be there.
Jesus says, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”  John 15:18
Ultimately, we must realize that it was our rebellion against God brought sin into the world. Sin has permeated and manifested its ugly head all over this world, all over history, all over our lives… if we are to change this world we then must look at ourselves first and repent because we are all responsible for what is going on. Even though times look tough we do have hope and we patiently await for Jesus’ return and only then can we experience the reconciliation of Justice and Mercy in the coming Kingdom which will have no end  for “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.Rev 21:4

 

 

The Most Awful Name In Allah’s Sight – Sahih-Al-Bukhari Bk 73; Num 224

What is a hadith? in religious use is often translated as ‘tradition’, meaning a report of the teachings, deeds and sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The hadith literature was compiled from oral reports that were present in society around the time of their compilation, well after the death of Muhammad. The hadith I am using is the Bukhari’s collection… this is considered by many traditional religious scholars as the most ‘reliable‘ and was compiled two centuries after the death of the Prophet. Hadiths reports claim to originate from important characters of the earliest years of Islam such as the companions of Muhammad or Shia Imams/Religious leaders.

 

In the hadith (Sahih-Al-Bukhari Bk 73; Num 224) Mohammed said, “The most awful name in Allah’s sight on the Day of Resurrection, will be (that of) a man calling himself Malik Al-Amlak (the King of kings).” I encourage you to Google this verse for your own verification

http://www.hadithcollection.com/sahihbukhari/106-Sahih%20Bukhari%20Book%2073.%20Good%20Manners%20and%20Form%20(Al-Adab)/7033-sahih-bukhari-volume-008-book-073-hadith-number-224.html

1. Who is this King of kings? 1 Tim 6:13-15 and Rev 19:16

  • 1 Timothy 6:13-15  In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you  to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,  which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
  • Revelations 19:13-16  He (God) is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

    “King of kings and lord of lords.”

2. What will Allah do when he see’s the King of kings?

  • Revelations 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

3. Why would Allah say that the most awful name in (Allah’s) sight will be on the day of Resurrection when the King of king appears? Why is this awful for Allah?

  • Revelations 20:10  (On the day of resurrection when the King of kinds appears – there will be judgment) “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”