Life is Tough…God is Good

Life is Tough…God is Good

As I have scrolled through my Facebook news feed for the last 24 hours, I have been struck by how tough life is. A good friend of mine has been moved to hospice as a result of complications from a lifetime of smoking. Another friend from childhood is losing a battle with cancer. A young mother from my church is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. My country is being divided by hatred, racism, terrorism, politics, ideology, and greed. Many people struggle to keep a roof over their heads and adequate food on the table. Good jobs are hard to find, and people that have them are in fear of losing them. People struggle with depression, fear, sickness, anger, hopelessness, and death. Life is definitely tough.

Where is God in all of this? It seems most people have given up on God. They see God either as a fairy tale or as uncaring and distant. Even many born-again Christians struggle with the feeling that they cannot live up to God’s expectations and fear that He is unhappy with them and punishing them.

The bad news is that our world is slowly being destroyed by sin. It began in the Garden with Adam and Eve, but like a cancer, it has continued to spread ever since due to the sin of each of us. It’s not God’s fault the world is crumbling; we have brought it on ourselves by our constant rebellion against the God who created everything “very good.” Our collective sin is what has brought on death, disease, poverty, racism, and hatred. And, there is nothing we can do to stop it. We’ve tried legislating morality, but it doesn’t work. We’ve tried religion, irreligion, education, indoctrination, love, hate, freedom, and tyranny, and none of it has done anything to slow the tide of self-destruction that grips our world. We are under a curse (Genesis 3). We’re headed for self-annihilation, and we cannot stop it. Life is tough.

The good news is that God has a plan, and you and I can be part of His plan, if we choose.

LifeIsToughShirtGod is good. Rather than letting us annihilate ourselves, God’s goodness, mercy, and love demanded that He give His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for sin on Himself. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sin is what has torn us away from our Creator, and sin is what tears us apart from each other. Sin is what has brought on disease, hatred, poverty, racism, and death. Paul again explains that, “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). He continues: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here’s the goodness of God: Despite the fact that we are destroying His creation by our sin, God has already begun the process of restoration. The restoration began with the cross of Jesus Christ. Individually, it begins when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Paul explains in Romans 10:9-10, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” He develops this idea of personal restoration further in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The goodness of God is not limited to individual restoration, however. The earth and humanity has been cursed because of our sin (Genesis 3). Paul writes, “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:21-22). The apostle John explains that the curse will eventually be removed: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1, 4). He continues, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3).

Here’s the deal: For those who continue to reject Jesus Christ, there is no restoration, and no hope. Life stays tough, and eternity is a literal Hell. However, for those of us who turn to Jesus Christ, repent of sin, and make Jesus our Lord and Savior, the process of restoration begins immediately. The goodness of God begins to change us. The process begins immediately, but isn’t complete until we are with Jesus in eternity. God doesn’t want people to become religious or spiritual; He wants a restored relationship with us. God’s goodness has provided the means for restoration through Jesus Christ for all who are willing to receive it.

Life is tough, but God is good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GcBBPbtfoI

Why do People Support Abortion?

I honestly don’t understand how a rational person can support abortion rights.

To me, the argument against abortion is very simple, and goes something like this:

  1. Murder is the intentional killing of an innocent human being, and is immoral.
  2. Abortion is the intentional killing of an embryo or fetus.
  3. Embryos and fetuses are innocent human beings.
  4. Therefore, abortion is murder, and immoral.

The arguments for abortion rights seem to try to refute this argument in one of three ways:

  1. The most common argument is that embryos and fetuses are not human beings. However, I have yet to see a cogent rationale for this belief. Every argument I see is based on emotion or is utterly subjective.  Genetically, an embryo is human from the moment of conception. There is no other point in human development where scientists can objectively say, up this stage, the embryo/fetus is clearly not human, but from this point on, it is.
  2. The second common argument I see is that murder isn’t necessarily immoral. This view usually presupposes the first argument, that the unborn aren’t human beings. The rape, poverty, abuse, and birth defects arguments generally fit in this category. Sometimes, the “a woman’s choice” argument fits here as well. Again, I have yet to see a cogent rationalization for this view.
  3. The third argument I see is that abortion should be legal despite the fact that it is murder and immoral. This view is where the “a woman’s choice” argument usually fits. To me, this is the most illogical argument of the three. If murder by abortion should be legal, why not all forms of murder? Why make anything illegal?

The only justifiable exception I can logically defend is abortion to save the life of the mother. If both the mother and the fetus are expected to die without the abortion, and there is a reasonable expectation that the mother’s life can be saved if the abortion is performed, then it is better to lose one life than two. At the same time, every attempt should be made to save the baby as well.

I would very much like to understand why individuals who support the pro-choice position believe abortion is justifiable. If you are an abortion supporter, I would appreciate your comments. Please keep them respectful and on-topic. Disrespectful or irrelevant comments will be summarily deleted.

 

Muslims and Terrorism

Muslims and Terrorism

Thoughts on Islamic Terrorism

From recent News reports:

  • September 25, 2014, Moore, OK – a Sharia Law activist beheads a woman.
  • October 23, 2014, New York City – Zaim Farouq Abdul-Malik attacked four policemen in the subway with a hatchet.
  • May 3, 2015, Garland, TX – Two gunmen attacked the Curtis Culwell Center.
  • July 16, 2015, Chattanooga, TN – A Muslim extremist stages a suicide attack on a recruiting center at a strip mall and a naval center, leaving five dead.
  • November 13, 2015, Paris, France – A series of Islamic terrorist attacks kill 137 and wound 368.
  • December 2, 2015 – San Bernardino, CA – Two Muslim terrorists shoot up a Christmas party, leaving fourteen dead.

Around the world, there have been over 100 terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in 2015. Many American liberals are calling for strict gun control to curb the violence. Many American conservatives have called for bans on travel to the U.S. for all Muslims. Politicians and media seem to be completely caught in the echo chambers of their political ideologies, and the United States is more divided than ever.

There are two key issues that seem to be lost in the arguing over what to do about Islamic terrorism. The first is that the militant Islamists have declared war on the United States. The second is that Islam is not a single, unified ideology.

We Are At War, Whether We Like It or Not

isis_flagThe United States is already in a war. ISIS and al-Qaeda are two of the leading Islamic groups that have declared jihad, or a “Holy War,” on Americans and their allies. They are tied to numerous attacks on the United States, including the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the recent San Bernardino shootings. Yet, the President has been unwilling to acknowledge that war has been declared on the United States. We’ve sent a few token bombs into ISIS territory, killing a few leaders, only to have new leaders spring up immediately.   Until the American government comprehends that war has been declared, and starts to act like we’re at war, ISIS and their ilk will continue to gain strength and continue to attack the United States and their allies, creating more refugees in the process. There is no jihadist group in the Middle East that could stand a chance if the United States military went in with full force. ISIS would be gone within weeks. But, our Commander-in-Chief is determined that there will not be a war on his watch, so he continues to ignore the fact that we are already in a war, and does nothing of consequence. And ISIS continues to grow, continues to create more refugees, and continues to expand on American soil.

What Is Islam?

Some people say that Islam is a religion of peace; others say it is a radical political movement disguised as a religion seeking world domination.

Both are correct.

Muslim womanIn fact, Islam is not a single worldview. Islam encompasses a tremendous range of beliefs. There are “cultural Muslims” who call themselves Muslim for cultural reasons, but don’t actually believe or practice any of it. There are Muslims who reject the parts of the Qur’an that call for jihad, or interpret those passages so that they don’t apply to today’s society. There are also Muslims who take those same jihadist passages very literally, and have declared war on all non-Muslims. Anyone who states that “Muslims believe X,” or “Islam teaches Y,” doesn’t know what they’re talking about. There are only a handful of beliefs that are universally held by all Muslims, or at least nearly so.

Some conservatives have called for a “war on Islam.” That’s just plain ignorant. We need to wage war against terrorism and war on jihadists, but not on an entire range of people who identify themselves as “Muslim.” Could some “moderate” Muslims become “radicalized?” Sure, they could; some “moderate” non-Muslims have also been “radicalized.” Yes, we need to understand that jihadists base their ideology on a particular interpretation of the Qur’an; they are absolutely Islamic. But, we need to differentiate between jihadist terrorists and other Muslims, and recognize that not all terrorists are religious at all.

How should the United States Respond to Jihadist Terrorism?

Her are my current thoughts on how to effectively combat jihadism in the United States.

  1. Acknowledge that we are already in a war, and begin to act like it.
  2. Correctly identify the enemy. Political correctness and bigotry are both counter-productive and immoral. The enemy is Islamic jihadists, not all Muslims.
  3. Quit the political posturing and political exploitation of the crisis. It’s not about guns or global warming. It’s about jihadist ideology.
  4. Build alliances with other countries to create a coalition to defeat jihadists.
  5. Use the full might of the United States military to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaeda strongholds in Syria, Iraq, and wherever else they rear their ugly heads.
  6. Set up refugee camps in the Middle East, and work to reintegrate refugees into their own homelands as soon as the region is stable.
  7. Maintain a permanent military and humanitarian presence in the Middle East, much like we did at the end of World War II in Germany and Japan. Use these initially to prevent jihadists from reestablishing power in the region, to stabilize the region, then to build long-term alliances.
  8. Secure our borders. Temporarily stop the influx of people into the United States from the Middle East. Countries that are at war generally keep people from the regions they are at war with out. Deliberately bringing in immigrants from ISIS strongholds is a serious security risk. Create effective ways to properly vet immigrants and those on visas before reopening the United States to them.
  9. Use the full force of the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies to root out domestic terrorists, bring charges, and through due process, lock up terrorists of all ideologies, both domestic and foreign, before they have a chance to strike. We already have laws in place – enforce them!

Matthew 24:4-14 in Images

Matthew 24 4-5U.S. marines fire on a group of insurgents shortly after they launched a rocket propelled grenade at their 7-ton truck while on a 'movement-to-contact mission in order to flush out insurgents operating in the Fallujah area south of Fallujah on Thursday, April 15, 2004 in Iraq. The marines are part of the 3rd Battalion, 4th marine regiment, which saw heavy combat at the beginning of the war last year, and is now back in Iraq embroiled in intense fighting with the resistance. Today, the men of the 3rd Battalion were ambushed half a dozen times while they patrolled the palm groves and wheat fields around fallujah, and the marines killed at least 10 insurgents, and suffered only minor injuries. (Credit: Lynsey Addario/ Corbis, for The New York Times)Matthew 24 7aMatthew 24 7bMatthew 24 7cMatthew 24 7d 8Matthew 24 9aMatthew 24 9bMatthew 24 10aMembers of Michigan's Chaldean community, who are Iraqi Catholics, rally in Detroit Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. The rally was to express anger and frustration over what they describe as a lack of protection for Christians in Iraq. A siege Oct. 31 on a Baghdad church left 58 people dead. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)Matthew 24 10cMatthew 24 11Matthew 24 12Matthew 24 12bMatthew 24 13Matthew 24 14Matthew 24 14b

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Soul SearchingWhile scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across this web comic by Adam4d.com. The term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” was new to me, so I did a bit of digging. What I found was that the concept describes very well what I believed before I came to know Christ.

What is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?

The term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” (or MTD) was coined by American sociologist Christian Smith in his 2005 book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. What Smith found was that many if not most self-identified Christian young people he surveyed did not hold to the traditional beliefs of any particular church or denomination, but their theology instead boiled down to a handful of beliefs he dubbed “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:”

  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

Smith concluded from his research that, when it came to the most fundamental questions of faith and beliefs, most adolescents reacted with, “Whatever.” Yet, they all seemed to have some vague, basic beliefs. Most believe in a moralistic god who wants people to be good; a therapeutic god who wants people to feel good about themselves; and a deistic god who is “out there somewhere” but not especially involved in people’s everyday lives.

Smith primarily identified MTD with youth in American churches, but, from my experience, it’s not just a youth thing. Many of the religious adults I know are Moralistic Therapeutic Deists. Most of so-called “liberal Christianity” is in reality a form of MTD.

Is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism the same as Christianity?

MTDgodMoralistic Therapeutic Deism is just a fancy name for religious humanism. It’s the theology of American liberalism, of Oprah and Joel Osteen. MTD denies fundamental Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, original sin, personal salvation, and Hell. To a Moralistic Therapeutic Deist, the Gospel is about how God loves everyone and wants us to be the good people he created us to be, rather than that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It teaches that good people who do good things go to Heaven, rather than that “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

MTD is not Biblical Christianity. It cannot save a person from Hell. All it does is fools people into feeling good about themselves, without dealing with the reality that each of us is separated from God because of sin – a separation that can only be reconciled by the blood of Jesus Christ.

My personal conversion from Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

I grew up in a liberal denomination. A typical Sunday sermon was little more than a pep talk to go out and be a good person. I believed in God, but God was an impersonal spirit out there somewhere, who created everything good, and wanted everyone to love each other and get along. I cannot remember ever hearing in church that I am a sinner in need of salvation. Hell was a place reserved only for the truly evil people like Hitler if it existed at all. My religious purpose was to be a good person, to feel good about myself, and to help others be good and feel good. This, to me, was what Christianity was all about.

I remember during freshman orientation week in college taking a survey. The survey contained many questions about my political, religious, and social views. Two questions buried among the hundreds on the survey, I remember quite well: Do you consider yourself a Christian? Do you consider yourself a born-again Christian? I answered yes to the first, but no to the second. To me, being a Christian was about being moral, feeling good about myself and others, and belief in God. “Born again” Christians were legalistic nut cases.

In reality, my theology was extremely shallow. I gave very little thought to what I believed, and even less to why I believed it. “All you need is love” pretty much summed up my theology.

My theology (or lack thereof) was shattered by the simple question, “Who is Jesus?”

I realized that if Jesus was just a man, then the cross was nonsense. But, if Jesus is God in the flesh, then the cross was the most important event in history. If Jesus was just a man, then “all you need is love” is a nice sentiment, but nothing more. But, if Jesus is truly God, then “all you need is love” is just flat-out wrong.

I came to realize that my sin separated me from God and that only God in the flesh as Jesus Christ, dying on the cross, could pay the penalty for my sin. I placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I came to realize that, while God does want people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, being good cannot get me into Heaven. My purpose in life isn’t to be happy and make others happy; it’s to know Jesus and point others to Him. God is only distant for people who don’t know Him. For those who are saved, the Holy Spirit lives in us and is intimately involved with every aspect of our lives.

I came to reject MTD and to embrace Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Why is any of this important?

“Why is all of this so tragic? Because MTD is not Christianity. It’s not even a version of Christianity.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is a false religion created by and for members of the most rich, catered, defensive, politically-correct, over-protected, over-nurtured, over-fed society the world has ever known, and the fact that it uses the name Jesus and various select Christian buzzwords allows it to be passed off as Christianity.

It has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. It’s not in the Bible. Jesus didn’t teach it. Paul wouldn’t recognize it.

And yet it calls itself Christianity and it’s taught every Sunday by pastors in church buildings all over the place.” adam4d.com/mtd/

How many of us have loved ones who subscribe to MTD? How many of our friends think they’re Christians, but aren’t, and are on the path to Hell?

What about yourself? Do you subscribe to the feel-good, do good distant god? Or do you know the God who sent His only begotten Son to die for your sin? Do you believe you’re basically a good person, or a sinner who needs a Savior?

Make sure you know the Truth. There are eternal consequences if you don’t.

Why I’m a Climate Change Skeptic

The question of whether or not human beings are changing the climate is a critical issue in today’s world. If it is indeed true, then steps must be taken to reduce human impact on climate. If is not true, but is a hoax being perpetrated for political gain, then it needs to be refuted and put behind us.

ClimateChangePersonally, I am highly skeptical that human activity is significantly changing the climate, because I can’t find any actual evidence to support the theory. What I find is a lot of spin. I see claims without any supporting evidence. I see politicians appealing to global warming as the cause for the rise of ISIS. I see laws being enacted to reduce our “carbon footprint” without any evidence to support the need to do so. I see pseudo-science being sold as fact to support political ideology. What I can’t seem to find is actual observational evidence that man-made global warming actually exists.

In order to establish that man-made global warming is fact, two questions must be answered: Is the climate changing? And if so, is humanity responsible?

Is the climate changing? Yes, the climate is changing, but, that’s what climate does. There have been warming and cooling trends throughout recorded history, as well as evidence that climate has always changed. The question is, is there any statistically significant difference between recent changes in climate and changes that have occurred in the past? From what I have been able to find, there is no credible evidence that the climate changes today are any greater than climate changes in the past; in fact, from what I can tell, recent changes have been very minor when compared to historical data.

polarbearAre humans responsible for the changes we see? Again, I can’t seem to find any actual evidence supporting the claim that human activity significantly changes climate. There is evidence that carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is slightly higher today than it was in the recent past. What’s missing is direct evidence showing that this slight rise is due to human activity rather than natural causes, and that this rise has had any effect on climate. The evidence I find is that water vapor is the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate variation, not carbon dioxide, and that variations in solar intensity account for the majority of changes in climate.

Here’s a challenge to those who believe man-made climate change is real:

  1. Show me the evidence that recent changes in climate show a statistically significant difference from historical data.
  2. Show me the evidence that humans are responsible for these changes, ruling out all natural causes.

Don’t show me scientific opinions, political spin, or pictures of polar bears. Show me the empirical evidence. Don’t show me biased interpretations of the evidence, and don’t show me polls telling me what people believe. Show me the actual facts.

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