Archive for January, 2012

Greed: Is It Good?

Are you among the deprived having to live without what advertisers tell us are the bare necessities of life: a car that is more than two years old without high tech sensors plus a camera, heated seats and Sirius radio, a 4G smart phone, a 3D Plasma TV, a Super Micro Computer, and an assortment of techno-gadgets?

These staples of life are depicted as basic to life for the average citizen. They can’t live today without certain items even if it is necessary to indenture tomorrow beyond reason.

Remember a formerly popular mantra: “Greed is good.” It was once called avarice, but now greed. It is an inordinate desire to gain and hoard wealth or material things. It is even broader than that narrow definition. It includes a desire to possess, control, and dominate.

There was a cartoon depicting a little man standing at the base of a ladder looking up repeating, “I want. I want.” He is a clone of many today. Food, clothing, and shelter are basics. Even with them moderation is expedient.

A generation has been reared to live beyond ones means in order to try to find meaning and fulfilment for life.

One study shows greed is not primarily a desire for money, but for the things money can get, such as, acceptance, power, influence, popularity, prestige, and clout.

We are material creatures and live in a material world. Therefore, it is apparent things aren’t bad, they are neutral. They were placed here to be our servant. It is our attitude toward them that makes many people their servants.

The inability to feed greed has increased as our economy has decreased. The disparity between our desires and resources has increased discontent among many.

It has been said we are rich in relation to the number of things we can do without. Conversely, we are poor according to the number of things we consider essential to function. The operative word is “contentment.”

Reputedly a Baptist moved in next door to a Quaker and the Quaker visited the Baptist and said, “If thou needest anything ask me, and I will tell thee how to do without it.”

Greed is a merciless master, a tyrannical taskmaster.

Patience, temperance, and self-discipline are essential to finding the desired state of being more elusive than a butterfly. That state is contentment. Many in our society, and the society of many cultures, have been led to believe “things” afford contentment. NO! Write it across the horizon of your mind from heaven to earth — no they don’t. Our attitude regarding them does.

Consider these words of a sage who had position, prominence, power, and possessions, but not contentment until . . . .

“We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and have pierced themselves through with may sorrows.”

Then, he nailed it, “Now, godliness with contentment is great gain.”

It was the Apostle Paul who recorded that profound insight in I Timothy 6: 6-10.

This is not an anti-wealth article for it is “God who gives us the ability to get wealth.” This is an encouragement to find the contentment that comes from the right attitude and use of money.

God’s Judgement On America

Delightful themes run through the Bible.

God’s love is a prominent and popular one. “God is love” is descriptive. The Scripture does not just say He loves, but that He is love.

His compassion is reassuring and comforting.

Fortunately He is depicted as longsuffering.

His mercy is interwoven with His longsuffering. Mercy speaks of Him protecting us from the bad we deserve.

The counterpoint to His mercy is His grace. Grace is Him providing the good things that we don’t deserve.

Patience and longsuffering go hand in glove.

Gentleness and kindness are indicative of Him.

These are but a few of His many admirable traits. Sometimes various traits commingled. At times only one of these attributes in involved in a situation.

There is an attribute people want to ignore or at best think because He is loving, patient, and forgiving this trait does not apply. In Scripture it stands out like Mt. Everest would on a Florida beach.

Axiom: God is just and exercises judgment.

The word “judgment” appears 496 times in the Bible and “justice” 45 times. In a judicial sense “just” appears many times.

In reaching your conclusion regarding divine retribution consider these secular testimonies.

In the Jefferson Memorial in DC are inscribed these words of the statesman, “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

During the Constitutional Convention someone raised the question: “When does a nation answer to God?”

In his notes taken during the deliberation George Madison records George Mason replied, “Nations can’t be judged in the hereafter as people, so Providence punishes national sins by national calamities.”

Ever aware of this Ben Franklin concluded, “We need God to be our friend, not our adversary.”

One of several Bible evidences of God’s judgment on a rebellious nation is provided by the rhapsodic prophet Jeremiah who presided over the death of the nation summarily said, “Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins.”

In considering supernatural discipline the explanation given by the prophet is worth noting. “Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces the heart!” (Jeremiah 4:18).

In an effort to ignore the possibility of divine retribution most folks just look the other way. Others angrily retort with criticism of anyone who would suggest He does. Some just deny the very existence of God. Others are inclined to comply with the spiritual antidote noted in II Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins (now observe this) and heal their land.”

Now consider your role in this equation.

The Value Of The Christian Culture To Atheists

Non-Christians have cause to value Christian values. Not all so called Christians live the values espoused by the one whose name the movement bares. Some are an occasional embarrassment and some are an absolute abiding disgrace. Add to that the cults who mascarade under the guise of Biblical faith but are totally fraudulent giving a bad name to the authentic.

Still there are core values by which millions contentiously seek to live. These life changing values sustain devotees and color their conduct.

There is a global shift in the world Christian population. The Christian share of sub-Saharan Africa has soared over the past century from 9 percent to 63 percent. Meanwhile the Christian population of Europe has dropped from 95 percent to 76 percent and the American decline is from 96 percent to 86 percent.

In Nigeria thousands have died in Islamist bomb attacks targeting Christians gathered for prayer. In Iran and Pakistan Christians are on death row for “apostasy,” that is defecting from Islam.

Many churches in Indonesia, the world’s most populace Muslim county, have been attacked or shut. In Egypt Muslim zealots threaten long entrenched Christian groups.

Globally Jews are suffering a similar fate.

Here in America there is little blood shed; however, there is increased encroachment on freedom of Christian speech by PC extremists which limits participation in the market place.

There are those who say America was not and is not a Christian nation and I agree. Nations, schools, and organizations aren’t Christians. Only people are. However, there will have to be a lot of books burned to deny America having been formed and governed by Christian values for years. Not nearly all Founding Fathers were Christian, but with very rare exceptions they knew Scripture and were tutored in Christian values which they incorporated in establishing the country.

It is these values and virtues that give liberty to opponents of Christianity. Atheists particularly should be thankful for that freedom. You don’t hear of any atheists in Muslim ruled countries. Guess why? You don’t hear of atheists from America going to one of those countries trying to tell them there is no Allah. Imagine the response if Mohammad were debased as Jesus often is.

Christians will defend the rights of atheists. In those countries not only are atheists not granted the liberty to disparage a person’s faith, they are denied the right to life itself.

Having a right and neglecting it is little better than not having it. This is an appeal to clergymen of all faiths, study the history of our nation and the Old and New Testament values of our nation and teach/preach on those values using Scripture to validate the truth. If ministers do not these truths will be eroded from our history and the knowledge of the roots of our origin as a nation lost. Christians and Jews alike have a lot at stake.

Though atheists and radical Muslims are poles apart on most issues they have a common desire to see our history obscured.

Son Of God – What Does It Mean?

Various disciplines have their own vocabulary. They use language peculiar to their discipline that is well understood within the circle of users. Athletes talk “sports speak,” musicians “music speak,” Geeks “computer speak.” It is only reasonable that various faith groups have their own distinct terms.

“Christian speak” as spoken by a few is perplexing. Some speak like they have a steeple in their throat or are speaking through a stained glass window.

One of the descriptive words used of Jesus is understood within the Christian community, but not outside. It is the title “Son of God.”

Children sometimes ask, “Who was Mrs. God?”

The dictionary recognized “son” to signify not only generation but association.

The apostles James and John were called “sons of thunder.” Barnabas was known as “the son of encouragement.”

Following is how the word “Son” as used in the Bible for Jesus is understood within the Christian community.

In Scripture Jesus is called “God’s only begotten Son.” The word “begotten” is a compound of two Greek words used in Scripture. One word is mono, meaning “one.” The other is genes, meaning “kind, type, or species.” Combined they are used to speak of God’s only one of a kind son. The Greek monogenees is used to mean the only one of the same nature as. In Scripture Jesus is not spoken of as a Son of God, but the Son of God.

Two different Greek words are translated “son” in Scripture.

Teknon stresses the fact of human birth. It is used of homo sapiens.

Huios emphasizes dignity and character relationship. It is used of Jesus.

This is the line of logic that leads Christians to revere Jesus as the nexus of God. The angel messenger in speaking to Joseph called Jesus Immanuel, meaning God with us. Incarnation is a word describing the process. The root “incarnate” means embodied in flesh.

As such Christians believe Jesus was God manifest as a corporeal, touchable, human being: the man/God-God/man.

Ideologically this belief separates Christians from persons who are not Christians, but it does not have to separate us in our interpersonal relationships. In all of life when our understanding of an issue differ we are given an opportunity to prove we can disagree without being disagreeable.

A summary of why Christians celebrate the birth and life of Jesus is noted in I John 4: 9, “In this the love of God is manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

That enables persons to give the right answers to these questions raised by the brilliant Henry Van Dyke.

“Are you willing to…stoop down and consider the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old, to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough … to bear in mind what others have to bear in their hearts…? Are you willing to believe love is the strongest thing in the world — stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death — And that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem two thousand years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?

Life In Outer Space

You don’t know what you don’t know, you know.

Scientists are constantly making new discoveries and disposing of long held theories. Discovery is an endless process. There are two recent ones with enough support to cause scientists to rethink two major concepts regarding the origin of our planet. Both of these concepts are awaiting confirmation.

New research by NASA suggests Jupiter’s moon Europa has a body of water the size of the Great Lakes just two miles below its surface. Scientists have long believed there exists below Europa’s surface a huge ocean more voluminous than all the earth’s oceans combined.

One theory regarding how our world could have been flooded in the days of Noah involves a great underground water depository
here on earth. The Scripture related to the universal flood speaks of the “fountains of the deep” being broken up.

Couple this with the envelop theory regarding the earth at one time being surrounded by water vapor similar to the water causing rings around Saturn. Add an upheaval causing the rising and collapsing surface of the earth to the surfacing of the fountains of the deep and you have a scenario for a possible global flood.

A second recent discovery comes from a group of preeminent scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research postulates they have witnessed neutrinos traveling at 60 nanoseconds faster than light. That is 0.0025 percent faster than light. So!

The speed of light which has long been considered a constant is integral to measuring time and space. If the speed is off dating is off. If the measurement of the speed is off could it be off even more than 0.0025 percent?

Imagine this. Is it possible there was an occasion when light and time stood so still they didn’t even exist and suddenly there was light, space, and matter in an event called creation? It may not have happened that way, but there will be persons who will hop all over the concept in an attempt to disallow anything hinting of creation. For them to do it will require three scientific principles that are essential for a thing to be considered scientifically creditable.

It must be observable.
It must be demonstrable.
It must be repeatable.
Otherwise a thing is a theory.

Maybe it wasn’t that way, just maybe. However, did anyone see the origin of the universe? Has anyone demonstrated it or repeated it?

The respected response of the NASA scientists is admirable. These learned scientists had been trained in a certain way of thinking. They had long accepted Einstein’s theory regarding the speed of light. Light is the constant in dating the universe. Suddenly they were confronted with evidence disputing what they had always believed. Though their study is yet to be confirmed they didn’t disregard the new findings they admitted they would have to rethink the evidence.

These and other emerging discoveries evidence true scientists are open to new evidence. They are not intransigent refusing any evidence contrary to what they have always believed. They realize you don’t know what you don’t know, you know.