Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Is trusting in Christ a “selfish” act?

I have heard some folks declare a moral dilemma between not being “selfish” and what they have been taught as the selfish desire to save themselves from hell by trusting Jesus.  Both of these moral values are understood as the teachings of the Christian Church, rightly or wrongly.  They perceive that it is a selfish act to declare their faith and trust in Christ as a means for a reward in heaven or to avoid eternal damnation in hell.

What they may be asking is “how can I possibly express my faith and trust in Christ without seeming to do it for selfish, self-serving reasons?”

I agree that such motivation to cause or force ourselves to “believe” for these reasons IS selfish.  For me, it is also not a very inspiring reason to believe.  It is self-serving. 

The promise of “reward” or threat of “punishment” for believing or not believing misses the mark of God’s intention.  In Islam, such threats are both coercive and temporal.  They literally force conversions upon people by threatening severe punishment.  In the message and methods of many Christian evangelicals the threats and promises are spiritual and eternal.  In both cases, the motivation to “believe” is self-serving and not as God intended.

Here is one way to look at it.  Do you love a spouse to avoid punishment?  Wouldn’t THAT be a horrible relationship.  Do you love a spouse to get a reward?  Sometimes.  (I won’t go there).  But is that the best motivation for love?  These are selfish and self-serving reasons. 

Or are you able to selflessly love a spouse because of their character, goodness, beauty and their love and care for you – without feeling selfish?

Another example:  Think of your favorite singer.  You think the world of him or her.  You respect them for their talent and dedication to be as great as they are.  You get a chance to meet them in person, not to satisfy your own passion, but to convey a message of praise and encouragement to them – telling them how they make you feel when you hear them sing and how much you appreciate their music.  Was that selfish on your part?  I didn’t think so.

Ok, shifting gears.  We have a God we say we believe exists.  He created everything.  He created beauty, music, life.  He did us favors along the way through his angels or Holy Spirit.  He had a son, Jesus, who is part of God’s being, who asks us to trust Him for eternal life in a paradise with Him.

Here we have a choice of motivation.  We can trust Him for selfish reasons to get us out of a major jam and get a reward in the bargain.  Or we can trust Him because of his character, goodness, beauty, and His love and care for us, unselfishly because of our appreciation and admiration of Him.

Which way do you think He would have it?

Like selfishness, jealousy is not a good thing either.  Unless you are God.  He is a jealous God.  This means that He wants us trusting in Him more than anyone or anything else.  We are not selfish when we do that.  We are His creation.  We love Him because He first loved us.

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Here is an article I found on the internet on the same topic that may be helpful…


The Selfishness of Salvation

By Frank Fredericks

GETTY IMAGES


This is a rant mostly relevant to my fellow Christians. Anyone else is welcome to come along for the ride though.

Recently, I saw a young man loudly shouting to the captive audience during the rush hour on the N train. Specifically, he was passionately pontificating on the certain damnation that awaited those who strayed from the Way of the one Jesus Christ, complete with the vivid imagery of fire and brimstone. But the reward if we choose wisely is an eternity with riches in heaven. Accustomed to any and all forms of absurdity, the mix of tired businessmen and women, several young Latina mothers an Orthodox Jewish man and an old Chinese woman with a pushcart of the wares she was vending, seemed rather unimpressed. After all, if you ride the subway in Queens, you’ve probably seen it all.

That’s when it struck me. I was quite familiar with the story, as I myself am an evangelical Christian, and remembering being sent to the streets of Portland in middle school to evangelize, complete with a small paper track that described the four-step path to salvation. Granted, our approach was much kinder than the hell and damnation talk we were witnessing this late spring afternoon, when the newly arrived humidity finds itself into the bowels of the city, and into the train cars struggling to air-condition the smell away.

But I was also struck with another thought, a new, perplexing, troubling, thought. Something about the reward of salvation made the whole thing feel a bit self-centered. Salvation was at the center of all Christian theology I was taught. The single most important thing in life was my status as “saved.” The only other thing that mattered was convincing more people to adopt said “saved” status.

While I still identify as an evangelical, my tendency to question has allowed me to grow theologically beyond some of the more common peripheral beliefs of the evangelical movement. It has given the opportunity to hear this language with fresh ears. Upon doing so, salvation-focused theology poses two issues to me.

The first issue dived into the very basis of our morality. As Christians we’re called to live a moral life. Without going into the much larger (and warranted) debate on the nature or morality, morality is most commonly seen as the way one should act to be a good, selfless person. Putting ethical standards above our own wants and needs. However, are we truly selfless in our actions if we are seeking a reward? If I help someone with no desire for a return, then we would assume that’s moral. But if I help someone because I believe next year they’ll give back to be tenfold? It sounds like an investment.

Here lies the challenge of spiritual investment: If we are are only being honest, faithful, loyal and humble for the payment of an eternal mansion in the sky, then are we really being “good people”? If we allow salvation to be our true motive in living moral lives, then I can’t see how we’re not self-serving in the process. Do good, or else.

Which brings me to the second issue, the else. Just as heaven makes a compelling incentive for upright living, hell sure sounds like a scary place. And we can work our way backwards. If my main reason for serving God and living righteously is out of fear of eternal damnation, then how authentic is my devotion?

This is a line of logic that you can take into very murky territory. Is there any good you could do worth risking of your salvation? Today, like everyday, 16,000 children will die of hunger-related causes. Would you risk your salvation to keep them alive? If God would punish you for taking such a risk, is a God worthy of worship? Would you embrace eternal damnation upon yourself to end all human suffering? These hypotheticals should challenge us to ask if we’re really selfless in our daily lives, or just following the rules for the rewards.

This isn’t an argument about how we should look at the concepts of heaven and hell. It’s about motivation. If we let go of whether or not we are saved, or other people are saved, and love as Jesus instructed, perhaps the rest can work itself out. Maybe if we focused on making sacrifice, actual sacrifice from our own comfort for the glory of God in selfless service, rather than shouting at crowd of commuters on the N train, people may actually take notice.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Journalism equals Opinionism

Sometimes the simplest definitions of things are the most accurate.

For several decades I thought of Journalism as the high art and skill set of conveying accurate information, synonymous with “reporting.”  That gave journalists waaaay to much credit.  And was I wrong.

What is journalism, really?  It is keeping a journal.  What is a “journal” but simply a written record of how a person sees and experiences things over time.

Every person who keeps a journal jots down his observations based on their own feelings, opinions and biases.  Journalism is the most basic form of communication, but with a twist.  The “twist” is the filter the journalist imposes on his journal entries.

Where are the vast majority of journalists educated?  Public schools and leftist universities.  Is there any wonder or doubt why the journalists views are slanted leftward?  They are, for the most part, parrots.  They impose the bird seed of socialism on their observations and parrot back the bird poop of life as they see it. 

NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, New York Times, AP, Yahoo News and a thousand other news outlets are full of leftist parrot poop journalists.

Reporting is a bit different.  Hopefully the reporter is trained to eliminate his filter and simply report facts.  Facts not as he “sees” them (read: facts not as he filters them) but objective facts, devoid of all bias.  That has become increasingly difficult even for non-journalist, trained reporters.  And it is the rare news outlet that makes a clear cut distinction between journalist articles and pure reported articles.

One day I would like to see a news source that 1)  Prints the facts, and 2) Offers 3 perspectives of those facts.  One from the leftist perspective, one from the right, and one middle of the road.  Each perspective would be accompanied by the reasons why they take their approach – how and who it benefits or hurts.

Most news sources report that “the far right” did such and such.  Of course its far right because it was reported by someone on “the far left.”  Two millimeters to the right seems “far right” to far leftists.

When we read the work of journalists, we need to read their bio first to understand their filter.  When we read the work of reporters, we need to understand the editorial policy the their employer.

Don’t be swayed by someone else’s biased filter.  Use your own filter to understand the difference between filtered (biased) reality and facts.

By the way, the journalism on this blog is middle of the road.  Most everyone else is far far far left.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Challenges of Witnessing to Muslims

What Christian evangelists won’t tell you…

There are numerous Christian-based articles and books written about witnessing to Muslims. Most treat Islam as if it is just another erroneous version of Christianity, like they would treat Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, or Christian Science. Big mistake.

Many evangelists stress the commonalities of Islam and Christianity as if they believe the same god, the same “Jesus”, the same Abraham and the same Old Testament. Another big mistake. Many focus on the love and forgiveness inherent in Christian doctrine. Many propose a form of “friendship evangelism” where the objective is to “friendship” the Muslim into liking and trusting you. “Give your personal testimony” and surprise and engage them into something they’ve never experienced before. Stress “forgiveness” because there is none in Islam.

Some of these suggestions may be helpful, some are totally off base. All of them are subject to the uniqueness of Islam that makes such witness especially challenging, maybe treacherous compared to witnessing to any other group of people.


Here is a list of challenges that are unique to witnessing to Muslims:Image result for frog and the scorpion

Islam is a total way of life. It is spiritual, social, cultural, legal, economic, political, and militant. Muslim morality and sense of justice is different. So the Christian witness needs to understand the nature and degree of the Muslim’s adherence to each of these components of their heritage and faith. Some Muslims may believe and practice the whole package. Others maybe bits and pieces. But how can we know for sure?

Most Muslims were taught distorted history about the Crusades and hate Christians because of them. They ignore the facts of Christians enduring 400 years of Muslim persecution and conquest across most of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa even before the First Crusade. The Crusades were the delayed Christian response of “enough is enough.”  The Crusades were the last resort to the existential threat of Islamic conquest and dominance.

Islam also distorts Biblical history. Is Islam really an Abrahamic religion? No! Not when Ishmael is their father. Not when Islam believes the Bible is full of distortions. More on that HERE.

Islam teaches “taqiyya”, deception to misdirect the unbeliever and protect the Muslim. This requires the Christian witness to be wary of what the Muslim claims to believe. He may express things that cause us to believe he is a “nominal” Muslim in the same way we understand a “nominal Christian” who only goes to church on Easter and Christmas. Is said Muslim truly “nominal”, or is he a bit more devout and practicing Islam’s very effective “taqiyya.” Many if not most Muslim terrorists in this country were first known to be the “nice Muslim next door” or a “moderate” or “nominal” Muslim.

Islamic doctrine promotes the concept of being friends with the infidel outwardly, but inwardly keeping a distance from them.

Here are just three of numerous sections of the Qur’an about infidels as “friends.”

Quran (5:51) - "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

Quran (5:80) - "You will see many of them befriending those who disbelieve; certainly evil is that which their souls have sent before for them, that Allah became displeased with them and in chastisement shall they abide." Those Muslims who befriend unbelievers will abide in hell.

Quran (3:28) - "Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them..." This last part means that the Muslim is allowed to feign friendship if it is of benefit. Renowned scholar Ibn Kathir states that "believers are allowed to show friendship outwardly, but never inwardly."

HERE are more quotes from the Religion of Peace website on this topic.

Understand that Islam is like no other “religion” in that it is the ONLY one that doctrinally imposes its precepts and mandates on those of other religions and those of no religion. This characteristic is more akin to a political ideology that imposes its laws and mandates on those who are not of that political persuasion. Islamic law, Sharia, imposes severe, often barbaric, penalties and punishments upon both Muslims and non-Muslims who violate Islamic law.

Understand that many Muslims may know more about our Christianity than we do. And certainly know more about their own doctrines than we do. So we may find ourselves at a distinct disadvantage when we attempt to use facts and reason with a Muslim.

Speaking of facts and reason, Islamic culture and doctrine is dualistic. That means that they are able to believe two opposing, incongruent ideas are true at the same time, as in something can be both black and white at the same time. No, not gray, not striped, not polka dotted, but both black and white. Try reasoning with THAT mentality.

What helps that dualistic thinking is the culture of inbreeding common in predominantly Muslim nations. Muhammad did it. And Muhammad is the most perfect human – as Islam teaches. So it is normal and natural, even desirable for Muslims to marry first cousins and other close relatives. Guess what that does to the gene pool? Guess what that does to human intelligence. Guess what that does to reasoning abilities. Any wonder why Muslim protesters often appear to be psychotic?

Finally, if a Muslim claims the label “Muslim”, whether he or she is devout or not, they believe in some or all aspects of their faith. Only when we know a Muslim really well will we be able to discern their words from their beliefs. And “knowing a Muslim well” to the extent needed to be adequately discerning will be quite the challenge given the Islamic doctrines they may or may not embrace.

So, what to do? Yes, we should witness to Muslims when the opportunity arises. But prudence should direct us to treat such opportunities with caution. Some Christians who give advice will say “give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove themselves otherwise.”

The much more prudent advice would be “witness with caution and discernment. Be wary of their words; consider them to be devout Muslims until they prove themselves otherwise.” As long as they continue to call themselves “Muslim” you know that they believe some aspects of Islam that may cause them to lie, be deceptive or even be dangerous. When a Muslim disassociates himself from being called “Muslim”, then there may be a bit more room for meaningful dialogue.

Allow for the distinct possibility of endless debate – they may be trying to convert YOU. Remember the wisdom in Matthew 10:14: “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”

A fact to note: There was no “Islam” in the days of the Apostles, so there is little equivalent to devout Muslims as examples in Acts or any other part of Scripture.  However, there is a situation in the New Testament that comes close to the conversion of a known anti-Christian terrorist and that is the story of Saul.  How was he converted?  What formula, method or words did a well-trained apostle, disciple, deacon or evangelist use?  It was by none of these.  His conversion was through the direct intervention of Jesus Christ.

The problem today is there is not just one “Saul.”  There are potentially 1.4 BILLION.  We need to pray that similar interventions occur 1.4 billion times.

Should Muslims be a priority for our witnessing?  Actually,next to Christ,  former Muslims make the best witnesses.  For those who are so led, HERE are tips from former Muslims that may help you reach Muslims for Christ.

It is almost certain there are people who would be more receptive to and appreciative of God’s message. The chosen of Israel for one. At least they have at some level embraced the Old Testament – not the perverted version taught by Islam. Most Jews just haven’t gotten around to seriously considering the numerous Old Testament prophesies that clearly point to the first coming of Messiah at 0 AD.

There are also numerous “Christians in name only” running around this country. Many of these even attend Church, especially the liberal ones where they have learned to doubt the Deity of Christ and His forgiveness of or even the reality of sin. These may be more receptive to God’s pleas than the average Muslim.

The unchurched 20 to 30-somethings will certainly learn things they never heard.  And the elderly who are closer to an eternity with or without God, may be welcoming.

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Christian leaders, on the whole, have shown a dismal ignorance of the threat Islam poses to our nation, our freedoms and our lives. Many are no better than our newly appointed Director of Homeland Security John Kelly. In response to 30,000 jihad attacks committed in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings since September 11, 2001, he suggested Christian and Jewish beliefs are also causing terrorism. No, John, there is no moral equivalence.

Final thoughts about witnessing to Muslims: Trust the Holy Spirit more than your abilities or the potential deceptions of Muslims. Use your time wisely. Others (than Muslims) are likely to be more genuinely receptive. Avoid throwing pearls before swine. And be careful not to mention swine.

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Here are two “bonus” tidbits that help us understand the current problem:Image result for aussie shot by muslim cop

1.  The Somali Muslim cop who “inexplicably” shot an unarmed woman in Minneapolis HERE.

2.  The failed attempt of an Arizona Congressman to adopt legislation that would bring attention to the numerous Islamic doctrines that promote violence and terror against less devout Muslims and non-Muslims, aka “infidels”,  HERE.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Education, healthcare: What else will we hand over to the Federal Government?

We well understand the Constitutional responsibilities that are given to the Federal government.  National defense, and entering into treaties with other nations come to mind.

Over the last century several other functions that had been under the purview of responsible families, the Church, local governments, and even the states have been assumed by the Federal government. 

Education, transportation, environment, energy, health are among the extra-Constitutional Federal responsibilities.   

Here is when several of these Federal departments were created:

  • Education:   1979
  • Transportation:  1966
  • Energy:  1977
  • Health and Human Services:  1953

I was going to write that the Federal government “usurped” these formerly local responsibilities.  But the reality is these transfers were voluntarily handed over by an increasingly passive, unengaged, and often indifferent local and state electorate. 

Over the past several decades we have seen an attitude shift among citizen activists from “personal and local responsibility” to “collective Federal responsibility.”  Now virtually everything seems to be the responsibility of the Federal government.  Banking, jobs, health care, education, the cars we drive, the air we breath, the food we eat.

The problem with this is the more responsibility we give up to more distant levels of government, the more regulations, higher taxes and fewer freedoms we will locally enjoy.

What’s next in this potpourri of responsibilities individuals and local governments hand up to our bloated bureaucratic Federal government?  And I don’t mean to use “bureaucratic” in a demeaning way.  That is just the nature of a government that must impersonally rule over millions of increasing diverse and in-united people with diverse heritage, nationalities, interests and values.

So now comes Federally legislated, regulated, controlled and mandated health insurance.  Obama, the national traitor, and his socialist minions so decreed it eight years ago.

Lets step back 38 years to the creation of the Department of Education.  What has that 38 years of multi-million, now multi-billion dollar budgets gotten us with regard to the quality of education?  $5.4 billion and over 4,40 employees in 2012, to be more exact.  And this doesn’t include the untold billions collected by local school districts for “free” public education.  It’s gotten our students a continually lower quality of education  since the formation of that Department – dismal to non-existent education in most large cities, with Common Core being the rotten cherry on top.

So now that we’ve experienced the results of the Federally controlled education fiasco, what do you think the Federally controlled health care fiasco would look like in 38 years?  We experienced what happened in the last 6 years of Obama-care.  More people are insured with premiums and copays they could not afford with care being even less accessible to more people.  No wonder it has been called the Unaffordable Care Act!

So I have asked myself this question:  Why is Trump, why are the great majority of Republicans even entertaining the concept of Obamacare 2.0?  Why are they even considering massive Federal involvement in health care?  Why can’t they leave it alone?   Why can’t they let the States, and doctors and hospitals, and insurance companies work it out? 

The answer, again, is this is what the electorate demands, in all its apathetic “let someone else be responsible” fervor.

Up till now we’ve earned the reputation of the nation with the greatest health care system in the world.  Why muck it up with Federal bureaucracy?  Why repeal and replace?  Just because it sounds catchy?  Why not just REPEAL?  You see what happened to education.  The same is virtually assured with our health system under a massive and assuredly unmanageable Federal program.

Sadly, I believe Federalization of our health care system is virtually assured.  I admit it.  I am a pessimist.

So now I look beyond Federal health insurance. 

Food:  We’ve had food stamps.  Now we have EBT cards.  It is also assured that in the not too distant future, food will become free for the masses, paid via federal taxes through a massive, inefficient and corrupt Federal program.

Income:  We’ve already heard some of the more “progressive” (read “Communist-inspired”) legislators suggest we are all mean-spirited if we don’t enable the Federal government to provide a guaranteed income to EVERYONE:  Employed, unemployed, motivated and slovenly, productive and unproductive alike.

This will all come on TOP of new laws following Europe's lead that prohibit us from writing or speaking the TRUTH if it offends ANYONE.  Anyone claiming he is offended from something someone says, such as saying “Muhammad was a pervert”, even if true, may file charges that will subject said offender to fines and or imprisonment.   So-called “hate speech” laws are proliferating in Europe out of all proportion to their original intent to curb anti-Semitism that peaked in the ‘40’s. 

From Jihad Watch:

In Britain last week, a hamburger vendor named Jim Gardiner refused to serve a customer, Piers Palmer, after Palmer disagreed with Gardiner’s Islamocritical views. That was a bit rude, but then Palmer reported Gardiner to the police for “hate speech.” Gardiner went to court, and was fined.

And the worst of it is that such laws will be applied unevenly depending on the favored group of the moment.  Right now, Christians get the short end of the stick, while urban rioters, Muslims, and gays receive special privileges.  They are the current “in” groups.

There is no end in sight as to the personal responsibilities we are freely giving over to the Federal government.