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Old 04-01-2010, 08:41 PM   #51
orthodoxymoron
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Default Re: Red Letter Church

Which is more important...reading the Bible or reading the newspaper? Being that this is a religiously oriented site, one might think that this is a rhetorical question. Actually, I'm going to say that they are equally important! Is that heresy? I don't think so!

The historical truth of the Bible, centered in the Teachings of Jesus, but without a convincing contemporary application to the events and issues in the newspaper, is like a Maginot Line against the Evil Empire! The Devil laughs and goes around the side of the church! Sometimes he even attends church! What better place to stir up trouble? How do I know? I’ve seen his tracks…

If the character of Christ is ever reproduced in the characters of those who are in positions of power and prominence, this world will turn upside down! Wrongs will be righted, and things which are already right will remain right. Not that religious jargon will be commonplace on Wall Street and Main Street, but that genuine goodness will be the norm. I don't think we're even close to that now! Are we?

I'm a naive dreamer! What about you? Maybe this is exactly what this world needs. Go naive dreamers!
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:45 PM   #52
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Special note regarding this post. I discovered...in my home personal computer...that the words which I have colored orange...were changed to bold print...and not by me. Someone has been in my home...and changed them. Or someone has a direct remote access to my computer. Actually...I suspect both to be true...based upon more than idle speculation. The particular words which were changed...reveals a deep theological understanding...in my view. I think I know who did this...but I'm not talking...at this point. Nuff said.

The Quest of the Historical Jesus by Dr. Albert Schweitzer, written a century ago, is not exactly a devotional book! It is a hard reading review of several major critical studies of Jesus, and mostly negative. But in the last chapter there are some positive gems which emerge from the darkness. The devotional aspects of the study of Jesus should not be neglected. But the scholarly and critical studies should not be neglected either! This is an often painful process, but it makes us strong. And don't forget to pray!

"But the truth is, it is not Jesus as historically known, but Jesus as spiritually arisen within men, who is significant for our time and can help it. Not the historical Jesus, but the spirit which goes forth from Him and in the spirits of men strives for new influence and rule, is that which overcomes the world." --The Quest of the Historical Jesus, pg. 401

"Jesus as a concrete historical personality remains a stranger to our time, but His spirit, which lies hidden in His words, is known in simplicity, and its influence is direct. Every saying contains in its own way the whole Jesus. The very strangeness and unconditionedness in which He stands before us makes it easier for individuals to find their own personal standpoint in regard to Him."-- pg. 401

"But in reality that which is eternal in the words of Jesus is due to the very fact that they are based on an eschatological world-view, and contain the expression of a mind for which the contemporary world with its historical and social circumstances no longer had any existence. They are appropriate, therefore, to any world, for in every world they raise the man who dares to meet their challenge, and does not turn and twist them into meaninglessness, above his world and his time, making him inwardly free, so that he is fitted to be, in his own world and in his own time, a simple channel of the power of Jesus."-- pg. 402

"He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake-side, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: 'Follow thou me!' and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is."-- pg. 403

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Old 04-01-2010, 08:54 PM   #53
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Must a Red Letter Christian be anti-Catholic? Absolutely Not! A follower of the Teachings of Jesus must be anti-corruption! Reading through the words of Jesus reveals that He was anti-arrogance, anti-hypocrisy, anti-violence, and that He insisted that the rich and powerful should help the poor and weak.

I believe that constructive competition improves everyone! Destructive competition destroys everyone! One function of Protestantism is to engage in constructive competition with the Roman Catholic Church. This keeps everyone alert and on their toes! Protestants help the Roman Catholic Church to be a better church! Roman Catholics help Protestants to be better Christians. It's a system of checks and balances…sort of like the Democrats and Republicans in the United States. We need each other! Absolute power corrupts absolutely! Any organization which grows too large and powerful quickly becomes riddled with corruption. Any organization…

I'm a fan of the Anglican / Catholic liturgy! I like the structure, dignity, and history! However, I would like to see a lectionary which features the Teachings of Jesus more prominently, and with Old Testament, Psalms, and New Testament readings directly related to the Gospel, which should always be from the Teachings of Jesus. The Teachings of Jesus must be featured front and center! Every homily or sermon should be from the Teachings of Jesus Christ, year-round…even at Christmas and Easter!

Then, the teachings of Jesus need to be lived every day. Every day should be a Sabbath day! Every day should be a holy day! Not just one day a week (Saturday or Sunday). No particular day should be
esteemed above another!

The elaborate churches should be enjoyed! They are already built, and the artistic expression is truly breath-taking! However, new construction should probably be more in line with the humble simplicity of Christ! There has to be a balance point somewhere…I’m just not sure where…

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Old 04-01-2010, 09:04 PM   #54
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A debate that has raged for centuries is between those who say Jesus was just like us, and those who say He had an advantage over us. Both views state that Jesus perfectly obeyed the law of God from birth to death, and thus secured our salvation, by doing that which we could not do, and that by believing in Christ and His sacrifice, we are accepted by God as though we had not sinned, and saved for all eternity.

If Jesus was just like us, some believe that the substitutionary atonement is just the beginning, and that we can overcome sin just as Christ overcame sin…and indeed we must do this at the end of time, just before the return of Christ, in order to be saved. That we must stand before God without a mediator! They believe that if Jesus had an advantage over us, that the substitutionary atonement would not be valid. That it would be a hollow victory! They also believe that there is no excuse for sin, and that if there is, then the Devil is right and God is wrong!

Those who believe that Christ had an advantage over us state that Christ is the second Adam, and that He succeeded where Adam failed, and thus secured our salvation. And that there was no taint of sin whatsoever in Christ, both physically and spiritually. Further, that we, with our fallen sinful natures, can never, ever, live sinless lives until Christ returns and gives us new bodies and minds. That it is only by laying hold of the merits of the crucified Christ that we are accepted by God as though we had never sinned, and saved for all eternity.

The first option tends to lead toward legalistic perfectionism! The second option tends to lead toward irresponsibility! Decisions, decisions!

I'm going to go way, way out on a limb, and say that these two views are delusion v delusion! They both turn the old, old story of Jesus and His love into a fairy tale! They imply that God is a legalistic-perfectionistic, blood-thirsty monster who doesn't think we're good enough for Him! They are both sort of logical, when isolated from the realities of every day life, but they are utterly illogical when reality is clearly faced without distortion or rationalization!

I believe that Jesus was just like us, but that He was very, very spiritually refined and developed, and that He demonstrated to the human race, the true character of God, and what we humans are capable of achieving, and indeed must achieve, to usher in a great awakening…a true renaissance…which will bring peace to the world! By His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus made the bloody Old Testament sacrificial system obsolete, and made a new and living way to be right with God available to all, by following His Teachings and example of loving neighbor as self in a non legalistic-non pefectionistic way!

To be right with God, we need to be right with God. Not just declared right with God! This symbolic and representational demonstration did not require perfection! God does not require perfection from us…and God did not require perfection from Jesus! This may be heresy…but at least it makes sense! Nothing changed between God and us! When we see Jesus, we see the Father! Christ-like Divinity is found from Genesis to Revelation! You just have to look a little harder in the Old Testament! Human perceptions of God changed from Old to New Testaments! That's all!

We must be in harmony with the character of Christ, and decidedly part of the solution! We must not be in rebellion with the character of Christ, and decidedly part of the problem! We need to be very good, but not perfect! This is an ongoing process of cooperation between humanity and Divinity! We need God…and God needs us!

This is a hard saying! Who can hear it! But please don't gnash your teeth! Crowns or implants are very expensive! Weeping and wailing is probably ok, I guess! And please put down those stones! Go back to your homes! Everything is fine!
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Old 04-01-2010, 09:23 PM   #55
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“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This, then, is how you should pray:

'Our Father' in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."--Matthew 6:1-15 NIV

Is Jesus telling people NOT to go to church? Is Jesus telling people that going to church can be hazardous to their salvation? Jesus started Christianity…not Churchianity! He instructed people in how to live and pray…not how to build churches or how to conduct church services. He did not instruct people to worship Him…did He?

It’s tempting to get a real harangue going at this point! It can actually be fun…for awhile…until people start getting hurt. I think there should be a delicate balance of going to church…and not going to church. One should not view attending church and participating in religious rituals as a means of gaining God’s favor and escaping the flames of Hell. One should also not go to church to see and be seen…to make business and political contacts…or to parade how virtuous, charitable, good looking, or successful they are. Church should be there if you need it. If you don’t need it…don’t go.

To me…the best time to go to church is when there is no church service. I like the Roman Catholic tradition of having the church open every day…at least during daylight hours. It is truly inspiring to see people kneeling and privately praying to God. It’s even better when the organist is practicing. There is something about a service…or a concert…that takes away something very special from a church. The lights get turned up, the sound system gets turned on…and the stained glass windows just don’t look the same. There are people talking and laughing…which isn’t all bad…but it just isn’t as meditative. There is a tension of pretension during a service or concert which is not totally unlike a secular show.

I prefer going into an empty church…sitting down at the organ…and improvising a prayer to God. I play music that probably would not work in most church services…but that is between God and me. I think about spiritual themes as I play. If I hit a discordant note…I quickly resolve it…without having to worry about being fired by someone who looks like they need an extra-strength laxative…always...

In this passage, Jesus connects salvation with behavior…how you pray and how you treat others. The forgiveness of sins was available prior to the cross…and this forgiveness was behavior related…not unconditional! Doesn't forgiveness of sins equal salvation…in a qualifying sense? If that is the case, then salvation was available before the cross! And notice that Jesus does not tell people to pray to Him for forgiveness…so that He could then plead their case before some big, mean-old God. Jesus taught that salvation is obtained by a right relationship with God and neighbor! Not by being declared righteous…while continuing to be unrighteous! The terms remain unchanged after the cross!

Also, it is helpful to really think about the words of the Lord's Prayer, and not just mindlessly say it with the usual Godbot-like monotone and pauses!
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Old 04-02-2010, 07:30 AM   #56
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"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do People pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
--Matthew 7:12-29 NIV

Does your pastor, priest, or rector preach the words of Christ with authority, or as a teacher of the law…without power? Is it time to change churches? Just don’t go away mad!
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Old 04-02-2010, 07:44 AM   #57
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Various churches have various statements of belief. One church believes this and another church believes that, and yet another church doesn't have a clue what they really believe! Some believe they are the one true church, that they alone are right and everyone else is wrong! They can't all be right, can they? Some believe that they have a unique contribution, but that all Christian churches are all legitimately part of the body of Christ. Many have creedal statements, or statements of belief. Many look at each-others statements in disbelief! After extensive discussions regarding beliefs, some simply believe they'll have another drink!

Let me suggest that the Teachings of Christ, without further refinement or distillation, should be the creedal statement of all Christian churches! A Christian Constitution! This could be the basis of a non-compromising Christian ecumenism! The contemporary application of these historic words would be left up to each Christian organization to apply in their own unique way, depending on their situation! This would combat corruption and confusion! I’m also guessing that various religious groups around the world might find this approach to be an acceptable common ground upon which to build a new world of peace, love, and cooperation!

By definition, a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ! Not a follower of Moses, Peter, Paul, Mary, Luther, Smith, White, Eddy, Peale, Schuller, Graham, the Pope, or the Anti-Christ!

Speaking of the Anti-Christ, with such widespread disregard of, and even hostility toward, the teachings of Christ within Churchianity, the Anti-Christ may not have a lot to do when he (or she) finally arrives! Perhaps the Anti-Christ has been here, alive and well, possibly in the form of a committee, for the past 2,000 years...

If you are ever involved in an exorcism, try using any of the above names, other than Jesus Christ, and see what happens, or doesn't happen! Demons really exist, and they really hate the name of Jesus Christ!
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Old 04-02-2010, 07:59 AM   #58
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There is a secret spiritual discipline that most neglect, but that may be the most effective character builder! That discipline is hymn singing! Not limping through an unfamiliar hymn in church. But privately singing hymns a capella, after studying the texts. Try it! Do this every day, and see what happens. You'll like it! The Devil won't…

Then, when you sing in church, you will have a new found understanding and confidence! Your spirited singing will inspire others, and they may ask how you learned to sing so well! The music director may be bold enough to have the congregation sing a hymn a capella! Your pastor or priest will be inspired to deliver a more spirited sermon! It's a chain reaction!

Sometimes a powerful sermon will inspire a powerful hymn! Tony Campolo was a guest speaker at a church I attended long ago, probably before he called himself a Red Letter Christian. He spoke in his usual aggressive style! The organ postlude was printed in the church bulletin as being Litanies by Jehan Alain. It is a wonderful modern French Romantic work which is full of fireworks and dissonant chords! But when the organist began to play, the postlude was the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers!” I spoke with the organist, and he explained that after a sermon like that, he just couldn't play a jazzy postlude!

On another occasion, in the same church, an upbeat guest speaker spoke of faith to a congregation who had been ravaged by doctrinal controversy. We sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” with real gusto! The pastor remarked that he had not heard the people sing like that for a long, long time!

I like contemporary music, even contemporary hymns which are well written and have meaningful lyrics. However, there is nothing like a great historical hymn of the Christian church! My guess is that the neglect of the proper singing of these great hymns has left the door wide open for the repetitive, musically uninteresting, and lyrically bankrupt praise songs! Sorry for the sore toes!

I love classical music! Especially sacred classical music! But often there is an elitism and lack of Christ-like spirituality connected with this music. This probably makes the praise songs more attractive than they deserve to be! More sore toes!

I believe the place for well written praise songs is in a more informal setting, such as when singing around the camp fire. Believe me, this is not a put-down! If the praise songs are to be used in church, I prefer a separate service devoted to this type of music. I am not opposed to new music, just bad music!

Sorry for all the sore toes! Oh my! Have I hung myself? Medic! Medic!!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:02 AM   #59
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"Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God. How surprised and gladdened will be the lowly among the nations, and among the heathen, to hear from the lips of the Savior, "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." How glad will be the heart of Infinite Love as His followers look up with surprise and joy at His words of approval!"

--Desire of Ages, pg. 686 by Ellen White.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:05 AM   #60
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I once drove for two hours, through Los Angeles traffic, to see The Last Temptation of Christ. I wasn’t impressed. I thought that it was more boring than objectionable! I once spoke with the step-mother of a famous Hollywood director about my desire to see a well done motion picture on the life of Christ using some of the special effects seen in a movie about UFO’s. On another occasion, I spoke with the director-son of a famous actor, again about my desire to see a well made life of Christ movie. I even talked to Dr. Timothy Leary about Jesus! What a trip! The idea was to do a life of Christ movie as a 2,000th birthday present for Jesus Christ! I obviously had no clout or power of persuasion! Nothing! Many years later, The Passion of Christ appeared. But my dream of a properly performed life of Christ motion picture is still unfulfilled. Movie people…please do this! Is anybody out there?

Can anything good come out of Hollywood? Maybe yes…maybe no. But I just saw a movie which came out of Australia, and I thought it was very good! It was Brides of Christ. It's about the painful time of change before, during, and after, the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II. Have you seen Brides of Christ? If you haven't, rent the DVD! I cried through most of it! Warning, there are some graphic scenes. Some of the characters had bad habits! Sorry!

Making organized religion work is a huge challenge! The bigger the church, the bigger the challenge, especially when change is contemplated and implemented. So many implications and ramifications! If you have a problem with organized religion, then try disorganized religion, and see if that works for you! The history of organized religion is a tragicomedy of trial and error, interspersed with horror and even atrocities! The triumph of good over evil, love over hate, wisdom over ignorance, pleasure over pain, order over chaos, makes the struggle to get it right worth all of the trouble!

While you are at the video store, rent Luther. This movie illustrates the peril and promise of trying to reform a corrupt organization. Luther didn't want to start a new church. He just wanted to cleanse the temple of the corrupt money changers and merchants. Isn't that what Jesus tried to do too? On one occasion he used a whip!

But, the 'bad guys' don't thank the 'good guys' for pointing out their sins! They don't promptly say they are sorry, and then clean up their act. Oh no! They attempt to silence the messenger! First, they attack his premise. If that doesn't work, they attack his character. And if that doesn't work, they try to kill him! This is the dark side of human nature. Is this an example of Original Sin? It is found throughout the world, and throughout history. It is not specific to one church or one nation. It is so easy to demonize one particular group of people! But all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God! We just have to keep trying to do better. Sometimes this is very, very difficult!

One movie I would not recommend is World Trade Center. The subject had potential...but I didn't like the plot! Sorry! By the way…conspiracy theorists…if 9-11 was an inside job from top to bottom, start to finish…do you really think that it would have been such a complicated and sloppy job? Did some Americans unwittingly or unwillingly facilitate this atrocity? Were loose-ends deliberately left untied? Was this an attempt to destroy our form of government and way of life? It’s not really working though, is it? Americans are smart, tough, and resilient!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:19 AM   #61
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I wasn't going to post anymore...but I found a duplicate post...so here I go with a substitute post! I'm presently reading through this entire thread...and I really like. I know I wrote most of it...so it's hard to be objective! But I am going to try to read through all of the threads I have made on Avalon...and re-think everything. I'm not going to post anymore on any forums after Avalon closes. In fact...I made my last 'real' post yesterday. See the end of this thread for that post. I think I'm on the right track...but other people are going to have to research what I have written...and second guess everything. This is only the beginning. I'm just going to try to put all of this into practice in my own life. I spoke up...and now I'm going to shut up. I know that's a crude way of putting it...but I don't go out of my way to be ultra polite or refined. I'm not as bad as Dr. Gene Scott! Google this name for quite a surprise! Then Google 'Pastor Melissa Scott' for an even bigger surprise!

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Old 04-02-2010, 08:26 AM   #62
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We live in a very negative, cynical, and skeptical world with regard to God, the Bible, and eternal life. Especially in the western world. The third world seems to be full of faith, in comparison! Some would say this is simply because of ignorance. Give them a few years and they'll be just as skeptical as the rest! What's going on here?

Let me suggest that many in the western world are battle hardened and fatigued. They've been beaten down by decades of nihilism, religious scandal, abuse, and general corruption. There has been a lot of false advertising and sensationalism, and many have been burned when the goods are not delivered or things don't make sense anymore!

Some have suggested that our concept of God is too small and limited. However, I would like to suggest that we often create an unrealistic God concept. That we make God into a fairy tale, which sets us up for disappointment, disillusionment, agnosticism, and even atheism…

I don't believe in the supernatural. I know by experience that the supernatural exists, by things that have happened to me, without me seeking anything! I will not elaborate. It's too private and even silly sounding! But I know that there is more to life than meets the eye! Further, from the myriad experiences of others, there is ample evidence for the existence of both good and evil supernatural forces! Just as there is obviously good and evil in the visible world. Perhaps heaven and hell exists in both the physical and spiritual world, side by side, but without harps or flames! I think we'll find out soon enough!

Having said that, I'm not expecting magical bail-outs from God! Occasionally, it is obvious that there has been divine intervention. But when and where this occurs is not up to us. It's up to God! Often, prayer is nothing more than us telling God what to do! I thought it was supposed to be the other way around! Who's boss, anyway? And, according to Jesus, God knows what we need before we ask! Prayer for me, is to make my life a blank check for God to write upon. To keep the lines of communication open. To respond positively to the Holy Spirit! Not to make demands on God, reminding Him of His promises to us in the Bible. That would be sort of like a lawyer pointing out contractual obligations in a court of law…

Jesus indicated that all of our prayer requests would be answered, so how does that square with what I have just said? I must confess that I haven't been successful in praying for a mountain to be cast into the sea! Or in emptying the local hospital. And often, more simple requests, such as for the healing of sick or hurt friends and relatives, are not granted. This is an area that I don't have a good answer for. Miracles…genuine miracles…do occur, but they are, in my experience and observation, far and few between, and they don't occur upon demand!

My favorite prayer is as follows: "Glorious God! In the name of Jesus Christ! With the power of the Holy Spirit! Work in my life as You choose!" I repeat these words several times to reinforce them in my mind, but not to try to convince God! This prayer puts God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, in the drivers seat! What they do in my life is completely up to them! I'm making no demands or pleadings. Who am I, to tell the Holy Trinity, what to do?!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:29 AM   #63
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A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good...except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'"

"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Peter said to him "We have left all we had to follow you!"

"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." Luke 18:18-30 NIV

Jesus, in a very real sense, was a rich young ruler, who had laid aside His royalty, and had become one of the peasants! Jesus wasn’t asking this young man to do anything that He Himself had not already done!

My favorite painting is The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough. It is located at the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, California. When I was six years old, I stood transfixed before this painting for at least 20 minutes. My mother was amazed! Now, when I look at “The Blue Boy” I imagine that this is what Jesus may have looked like when He dropped out of sight at the age of twelve! Was Jesus royalty between His twelfth and thirtieth birthdays? I always think of Jesus as both a royal and a commoner! This painting depicts a rich young ruler! It depicts royalty! Jesus was more than some brash young man who stumbled into the limelight, and who was disrespectful to the powers that be…and got Himself murdered! A lot more!

Reading between the lines here, I believe the point is to not neglect the poor, and to be completely in harmony with the character of Jesus Christ! One can technically observe all of the rules and regulations, yet not genuinely care about, and care for, the poor and suffering. And also not make Christ and His teachings, first and foremost. The proud observance of the rules can actually result in a downright devilish attitude!

Jesus calls us to responsible psychology, ethics, and spirituality. He wishes us to do whatever it takes to get to this level of character development! Participating in the kingdom of God does not require perfection…but it does require a high, though readily attainable, standard of living. This is accomplished through perspiration and inspiration! We cooperate with God, and work our tails off! It involves more than simply uttering the right words to God, or by being declared righteous by a member of the clergy!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:34 AM   #64
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Confession time. I have a problem with atheistic evolution and with fundamentalist creation. I think that the truth of our origins is an all of the above and more proposition. I don't think we really know! We think we do, but I think it is a grand mystery! Is that a cop-out? Probably! But the complexity and myriad possibilities should make all of us very, very humble. Including those with Doctor of Divinity or Doctor of Philosophy degrees!

The fossil record seems to indicate very long periods of evolution. The complexity and specialization of the human body is beyond comprehension, and seems to indicate creation or intelligent design. Consider the human head thou skeptic!

Charles Darwin, of all people, was also conflicted! “I am conscious that I am in an utterly hopeless muddle,” Darwin confessed. “I cannot think that the world, as we see it, is the result of chance; and yet I cannot look at each separate thing as the result of design.” See http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwi...ntry-2998.html

There are two Genesis accounts of creation…and there is a Babylonian Genesis also! Are these stories simplified versions of a much more complex process? I think this is part of the answer. Is the rest of the story something which is hidden from our view for a reason? Perhaps. Maybe the whole truth is something we are not prepared to handle, even now.

For those who don't believe in God, what about extraterrestrial genetic engineering, superimposed upon evolution? Is this something that can be easily proved or disproved? What a can of worms! I'd better stop! I might not be able to put the genie back in the lamp! Or maybe I should say…I might not be able to put the ET back in the saucer!

Have you considered the complexity of vision? There are two eyes, not one, with a nerve crossover, to give stereoscopic vision and depth perception. If you don't believe in some kind of design or intervention, please study vision in its minutest detail, over an extended period of time, in order to absorb the complexity of what's really going on here! And this process also involves that masterpiece, the brain! So many things have to be right for you to be able to read what I have written, and to understand it!

If you want to feel really small…look up into a clear midnight sky for an hour or two, with or without binoculars or a telescope. I really don't think we have this thing all figured out. We’re not even close! Come on! Be honest! Be humble! Be amazed!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:36 AM   #65
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In case you haven't noticed…I took a few days off. It's good to have a change of pace once in a while! I listened to a lot of Wall Street related lectures during the day. Then I listened to a lot of rock and roll at night! My ears are still ringing! Well now I'm back in the saddle again!

Can one talk or write about Jesus too much? I think so. This site is intended to promote a renewed focus on the Red-Letter Teachings of Jesus Christ, and thus does not venture far from this important subject. In every day life, this narrow of a focus would not be healthy! Balance is essential. But sometimes to undo you have to over-do!

Be open to all of life, yet be very scrutinizing and questioning of all you encounter! We should not be Jesus robots, or Godbots, if you will! On the other hand, we should keep coming back to the historical Teachings of Christ as a guiding and unifying force in our modern lives and in society. If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything! If our standard is too complex, then confusion and frustration are sure to follow! If our standard is not comprehensive and specific enough, then it really is not a standard at all! It's, as previously mentioned, a Maginot Line against a very savvy army of darkness!

The Teachings of Jesus allow very little wiggle-room for those who are corrupt! However, they give a lot of leeway for those who are doing the best they can to do what is right! I believe that Jesus wishes for us to make the world a better place, in our own way and in our own time! We're all different! We shouldn’t be cookie-cutter Christians!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:37 AM   #66
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Conservatives seem to know. They have the answer, and the answer is usually historical, and sometimes hysterical! Sometimes I have gotten the impression that a conservative is someone who rigidly guards a tradition, and is willing to do just about anything to make sure that the tradition, of whatever nature, is maintained without compromise or without admitting any deficiency or error whatsoever! This pursuit sometimes seems to involve denial of reality, or even lying, consciously or subconsciously. Historically, it has sometimes involved violence or even killing! Conservatives usually seem to view liberals with suspicion and contempt. Some conservatives act as though ignorance were a virtue! The conservatives often are the fund providers. Follow the money…

Liberals, on the other hand, seem to know better than the conservatives…but they don't really know anything for sure! The answer could be this, or it could be that…or none of the above. Liberals are often educated and sophisticated, and look down on conservatives, who they view as being rigid and stupid! Sometimes they act as though everything is a big joke! Especially everything conservative. They tend to have an in your face, rebellious attitude! The liberals often are the complainers…

What if the solution to the liberal v conservative dilemma involved combining the best of liberalism and conservatism? Wherein the best of a historical tradition is positively reinforced, but also treated with honesty regarding any deficiencies. And also having a commitment to applying a tradition to modernity in an intelligent and appropriate manner.

When one attempts to build a building, if you keep changing the foundation, you never get the building built! On the other hand, if you are not open to constructive criticism, you may end up with an unsafe eyesore! I believe that the Teachings of Jesus are the foundation or the solid rock upon which we need to build His church. All other ground is sinking sand! Let's learn from the building collapses and code violations of the past 2,000 years…

If the liberals and conservatives could come to realize that they need each other…the journey of life and discovery might be a whole lot more productive and enjoyable!

To embrace the Teachings of Jesus is to be both liberal and conservative! Jesus was arguably a liberal in style and in opposition to the corrupt status quo…but a conservative regarding upholding the best unchangeable principles and concepts of the Old Testament!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:39 AM   #67
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"As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

Some of the disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."

"Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?"

He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."

Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.'

But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.

When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.

How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because you redemption is drawing near."

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple." Luke 21 NIV

Luke chapter 21 contains basic soteriology, or how we are saved, and basic eschatology, or a study of the end of time. If you don't know what eschatology is…it's not the end of the world!

Jesus proclaims that by standing firm, we will gain life. Again and again, Jesus ties salvation to behavior…not simply belief! On the other hand, belief is the beginning of behavior. By beholding Christ we become changed! Visualize Jesus…and world-peace. Give Jesus and peace a chance.

The Luke 21 end time scenario contains enough upsetting information for just about anyone! If you want to become really upset and confused, read the books of Daniel and Revelation! There are numerical challenges here as well, if you're into numbers games!

It seems that the end here depicted by Jesus was to occur shortly after His death…not 2,000 years later! Could it be that the followers of Jesus fumbled the ball? Were the words of Jesus preached with power throughout the world after His death? Did someone circumvent the Great Commission, thinking they knew better? Have the Teachings of Jesus been placed first and foremost in Christian churches during the past 2,000 years? Are the words of Christ being placed first and foremost in Christian churches now? Could it be that the Teachings of Jesus have been purposefully and systematically suppressed and relegated to the back of the bus? Will humanity have to wait another 2,000 years for the return of Christ? World without end?
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:51 AM   #68
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How does one face reality? Might I suggest that a commitment to researching as many points of view as possible is a good starting point. Peer oversight and review is another sobering activity. It's, in a sense, asking, 'am I sane?' Might I also suggest a term: ‘contextual superimposition,’ which implies testing any one thing with a variety of other things, some seemingly unrelated! This can involve the combining of opposites. I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you that I learned the combining of opposites from Shirley McClain! It actually works! If it didn’t, then I’d be out on a broken limb!

Once upon a time…two lizards were sunning themselves on a rock in the desert…getting in touch with their higher selves and experiencing alternate realities! One lizard said to the other, “I have this odd sensation…this knowingness…that in a past-life…I was Shirley McClain!” Sorry Shirley! And by the way…I still don’t think that you are God! I don’t always agree with Shirley…but she has an inquisitive honesty and intensity which is worth taking a second look at. My father was a refrigeration technician in Hollywood for many years. He kept the stars cool! He told me that between takes…Shirley looked like she was in deep thought. And this was before she started publishing her controversial books. Deep thought is an excellent way to face alternate reality!

Reality is both positive and negative. If one is negative when it is appropriate to be positive, I would consider that to be a denial of reality! If one is positive when it is appropriate to be negative, I would also consider that to be a denial of reality! How does one know what is appropriate? Experience and honesty. One should be neither needlessly negative or presumptuously positive!

Faith, confidence, or positive-thinking helps one to not lose their way while dealing with a horrendous negative reality. An ability to deal with the most painful negative realities in an honest manner helps one to not lose their way in a positive dreamland, divorced from reality, that some mistakenly refer to as faith!

People who are stuck on negative and people who are stuck on positive are in deep trouble in my book. My guess is that there are many such people in mental institutions. One needs to be able to swing between the negative and the positive in a response-able manner!

Jesus was positive when appropriate, and negative when appropriate. Jesus Christ was, and is, the model of response-ability! When you read the Teachings of Jesus, keep the word responsibility in mind at all times. This magical word is the key which unlocks the true meaning of the teachings of Christ! The truth which sets us free is responsibility! And don't forget to pray!

Finally, do you know why Egyptians are so happy? Because they live in de-Nile! And perhaps because they know things about the Bible that some Christians don’t. Are some Christians living in denial?
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:55 AM   #69
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Those who engage in a devotional pursuit of Jesus are often wary of those who engage in a scholarly pursuit of Jesus…and often for good reason! Those who engage in a scholarly pursuit of Jesus often neglect a devotional pursuit of Jesus, and thus, tend to destroy their own faith, as well as the faith of the faithful. But the faithful often make themselves extremely vulnerable to a faith meltdown by not considering a variety of viewpoints while simultaneously engaged in their devotional-spiritual pursuit of Christ.

The scholars need to seek Jesus spiritually as little children. The faithful need to seek Jesus scholastically as little children. Jesus proclaimed that we must be like little children to enter the kingdom! This wasn't a weak suggestion! We must be teach-able or response-able to enter the kingdom. Don't think you know it all. We'll never know it all! If someone acts like a know it all…they know a lot less than they think they do…or you think they do!

Cults isolate their members from challenging or contradictory influences. They often neglect both the scholastic and devotional aspects of spirituality. They hate competition! They love control! One cult leader, in essence said, “You don’t need to study…just do what I tell you to do…go ahead and drink the Cool-Aid!” They sometimes isolate their members in compounds, or lead them into jungles. Be careful! It's a jungle out there! And don't forget to pray!
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:52 PM   #70
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"... as if one crying in the wilderness..."
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:41 PM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmo View Post
"... as if one crying in the wilderness..."
"Prepare ye the way for the retirement of the lord." My whole life has been an exercise in futility...so I'm used to it. But see the Albert Schweitzer quotes above (in orange) in post #52. Something went bump in the night...and messed with my computer. What are you going to do bigmo? I'm going to dig a hole...and go underground. I wonder what Hathor/Abraxasinas and Anchor/John are going to do? WWJD?
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Old 04-03-2010, 12:25 AM   #72
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Ortho,

For some reason no matter how far and wide I tread or what 'interesting & captivating' belief reveals itself to me I cannot discard the internal Peace I feel when I discuss Jesus as the Logos. Even though I partially discarded the catholic system of 'religion' long ago I still find solitude in my heart with the knowledge that indeed Jesus is the Christ and is the Christ consciousness and is Revealed to all who seek. That has remained a fundamental for me and I have found nothing of substance to change this point of view for me.

However having said that, I have met people who are truly 'saints' and though they may not believe in 'Jesus of Nazareth' for whatever reason (truly I have never asked any of the ones I am referring to) they contain within them that 'Christ Consciousness'; that love for their neighbors, that gives to the poor, that helps the lowly and the disenfranchised - lives without ego.

Jesus said "You shall know them by their fruits." and it has been the wisest admonition for me, for I am easily swayed by logic and passion. I do believe that Jesus' revelation was the knowledge that we are all 'Sons of God' in the truest sense of the Word. Then as now we have yet to realize our true nature.

His mission was the Revelation and ours was/is the Realization of who... we really are.

Peace to you Ortho,

Bigmo

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Old 04-03-2010, 12:52 AM   #73
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I guess I like the combination of simple Christ-likeness...combined with the pomp and ceremony of the Roman Catholic Church. This seems to be a contradiction...and in some ways it really is. But I think that the two seeming extremes should be combined. I picture Albert Schweitzer seated at the console of the organ at St. Sulpice in Paris...taking lessons from Charles Marie Widor. I picture Albert Schweitzer helping the African people at his clinic in Lambarene. I picture Mother Teresa speaking in the contemporary St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. I picture Mother Teresa helping the Indian people in Calcutta. Both Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa had profound doubts...yet they were both Christ-like. Everyone should be Christ-like...whether they believe in Jesus or not. Everyone should wrestle with the words of Christ...whether they are Christians or not. Once again...I seek a Perfected Humanity Living in a Perfected Solar System...which would include both Clinics and Cathedrals...perhaps under the same roof...but sans gargoyles, bent crosses, and black masses.

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Old 04-03-2010, 01:22 AM   #74
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What I am about to say is not from a Gospel text. It is simply an opinion of my own, hopefully guided by the teachings of Christ, but not derived directly. If you don't agree with me, don't blame Jesus! Blame me! My guess is that very few people will agree with me on this one…which might be a good sign, come to think of it!

Well, here goes! After conception, but prior to the existence of brain waves and a heartbeat in a fetus, allow abortion on demand, under the care of a licensed physician. Any time after the commencement of brain waves and a beating heart in a now very alive baby, the act of causing the brain waves and heart beat to cease would be considered to be premeditated murder. This is my attempt to answer the shrill cries of the pro-choice and pro-life crowds.

I hate any abortion! I believe it to be always wrong! It is a holocaust which continues day after day! The above view is a compromise, admittedly. Some, probably on both sides, would call it a deal with the Devil! However, in a free society, this is something which I believe would be a step in the right direction, and remove a lot of ambiguity and arbitrariness!

When a person is terminally ill or in an accident, they are considered to be alive until their brain and heart cease to function. They are then declared dead. Why not use this definition when dealing with an unborn child?

Wow! I can't believe I said it! I've said too much, and I'm going to stop now! Put down the stones, lay down the pitch-forks, extinguish the torches, and go back to your homes! Everything is fine! I wish...
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:24 AM   #75
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It's easy to be optimistic when you have lots of money in the bank, you're healthy and good-looking, and have lots of cool friends! But what if you have cancer, kidney failure, serious burns, people whisper that you're really ugly, you're bankrupt or you just lost your house, your faith, and maybe your will to live? I wish I had an easy answer...I could use such an answer more often than I care to admit.

One nice thing about staying close to Jesus is that he literally had a hell of a time when he walked this earth! He had a much tougher time than he would have, if he had not tried to help us. And, I believe, Jesus continues to have a hell of a time as he struggles to solve the problems of this earth…not to mention the whole universe! It's nice to have someone like that on our side, isn't it?

It's probably a good idea to formulate and maintain your faith with the extremes of good and evil, pleasure and pain, belief and doubt, success and failure...clearly in mind. If your faith doesn't work in the extremes of life...it doesn't work! Would your faith work if you were starving in Darfur? Or does it only work if you're netting a million a year, living in a mansion, and worshiping in a cathedral?

And why does there have to be some deep and profound reason for suffering? It just happens…to good people, bad people, children, adults, animals, etc. Suffering is the cost of doing business in the universe. I doubt that it can be eliminated…only minimized. Perhaps it’s Murphy’s fault. He wrote the wrong law, didn’t he? What amazes me, is how we humans seem to love to invent ways to increase our own suffering and misery. We even pay good money to entertain ourselves with human suffering on the silver screen. Are we addicted to suffering?

You have to work this out yourself. Glib advice usually hurts more than it helps. The earth is a battlefield and we are at war! If that sounds extreme, start reading the Bible and the newspaper! And I don't see this changing anytime soon...

Pray without ceasing! Not necessarily for protection or relief, but for the presence of God. I think God may be in more trouble than we ever dreamed of being in! We often think of God sitting on a throne, with everything under control, and no real problems, other than us! But what if God needs us as much as we need God? What if the only way out of this thing is for us to cooperate fully with God and work like our lives depended on it! Our physical and spiritual lives may very well depend on it! As much as possible, turn your eyes away from yourself, and turn them toward Jesus, others, and the responsibilities directly in your path!

If what I have said seems harsh, it's because I don't like to lie, whisper sweet nothings, or lead people down the primrose path. Life is earnest! Life is real! This is not a dress rehearsal! We have much to learn and unlearn. We're mostly making this up as we go! My guess is that for now we may have to struggle along, often not knowing why. For now, the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. I’d like to think that I have the answer…but you and I…and God…know better…

Cherish the light! Fight the darkness! And deep in my heart, I believe that we shall overcome some day! Truth will set us free! Stay close to Jesus…and don't forget to pray!
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