Chronological View of All of Stephen's Writings

This shows all the blog posts in sequence that I have made since the beginning of this website. If the reader wants to read all those posts, they will show some of the progression of Stephen's change in beliefs and thoughts from that time to the present day.
In a real sense, this is a partial record of my spiritual journey, although this journey began long before the start of this website.

Updated 2018: This website is a chronical view of my thoughts and ideas and about life, God, religion, character and the like. (To see all the articles in chronological order, click here.) Over many years I have been thinking and journaling and then putting my thoughts on this website, I have been transitioning from the idea that  "God is in total control" to where I am now. To show where I started from, here is what I wrote when I first started this website.

"Our Basic Premise for the ideas on this website is that God is in total control of everything (both here on earth, in the universe, and everywhere else. God's ways are far higher than our ways. His ways are beyond understanding. Everything that happens is part of God's plan. There is nothing that happens here on earth (and everywhere else) that is outside of God's plan or outside of his will. Nothing that happens here on earth catches God by surprise. God does much more that "allow things to happen", instead he is the cause (whether directly or indirectly) of every circumstance, situation, happening, etc. Even the most (seemingly) horrific things that happen are all in God's plan. He sees far more that we can see or understand. At the same time, he (seemingly) gives us total free will to do as we please. Along with our "free-will" choices we also to experience the consequences of our choices. Once we begin to grasp (to our limited ability) the immense power and purpose of his plan, everything changes for us. We are no longer afraid of disasters."

Over the years since I began this website my thinking has transitioned quite a bit. Here below is closer to where I am in my thinking and beliefs in 2018.

What is God?   AND  What do I mean when I say God?
These two things are not necessarily the same thing. Just because I think that God is something does not make it so. At times the word "God" seems beyond my ability to understand or comprehend. And yet for the sake of understanding I must try to explain what I mean when I say God.

There is something that is the source and initiator of all things.
There is something that keeps all the planets and solar system on their courses.
There is something that makes plants grow
There is something that makes truth to be indisputable and undeniable.
There is something that is the source (the mother and father) of all things.
There is something that is the power that holds all things together.

To continue reading about what I mean when I saw "God", click here.

To read about the later part of my spiritual journed, click here

 

6 Sep 2006

Some Thoughts about the Holy Spirit

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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As I have grown up in “christianity”, and throughout much of my adult life, I have heard much talk about the “Holy Spirit” and the “Trinity”. We are told that the “Spirit” is a person, one of the “three in one” of the Trinity. Is that true?

What does the evidence say. For one, the word “trinity” is not found in the bible any place. Let’s look at the term “spirit”. Look in Galatians 5:…. It says that the “fruit of the spirit” is a “way of life”, not in such petty things as “speaking in tongues”

Let’s examine the attitude of the “believers”. If someone disagrees and says something about the holy spirit that they disagree with, how will they respond? Will they respond with “love, joy, peace…..” (fruit of the spirit) or with “outbursts of anger” or pride “We are right! You are wrong!” To see how … look at their actions and behavior; look at how they live their lives. This will show you if they are true children of the Father above. The lives of true followers will be characterized by; humility, truthfulness (always telling the truth in love), honesty, integrity, love, joy, peace, patience ….. Anyone who speaks religious words, but who is impatient, prideful … is not a mature follower of the Lord our God. Too many religious words are spoken today without understanding, without living the life that is spoken.

We are told that God is beyond our understanding, that his ways are not our ways. We can’t put God in a neat little box that fits within our understanding.

The chinese have a saying “The Tao (god) which can be spoken (explained) of is not the true Tao.” (inserts mine) The Chinese are way ahead of us is that regard. We “Christians” are a proud and arrogant lot, thinking that everyone has to think like us, or they will “burn in hell” (scare tactics).

6 Sep 2006

How Long Will We Homeschool?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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We have children, Sarah (age 14) and Joseph (age 7, almost 8). We have been homeschooling them both from the beginning. Sarah is starting 8th grade and Joseph is starting 2nd grade, but 3rd in Math. We have had our challenges trying to figure out what and how much to teach them, how to plan out their lessons, etc. Over the years we have tried out various methods and materials. My wife Emmy has been very instrumental in starting Sarah off right. When Sarah was still a todler, she’d have her help sort the laundry as she taught our daughter her colors. When Sarah was 4 we started teaching..

Over the years it has been a long and somewhat arduous process, many times not knowing what to do, but we keep plodding onward anyway. We keep trying to do it better each year. Once a year we go to a home school curriculum fair in Portland. A couple years we purchased a full curriculum from two different suppliers; the first was Rod and Staff and the second was Bob Jones University Press. We found that we liked part of each of those curriculums (those parts we kept), but much of the rest of those choices we didn’t like. As we have tried out various types of curriculum and books, we keep finding more and more things that we like. You might say that we are “working out our salvation (well-being and right-mindedness) through this process.

As I wrote in a previous entry, we are not ones to use someone else’s “out of the box” curriculum, or “ready-made” life or belief system.

We have a friend in church who is a teacher. In times past when I’ve shared with him about homeschooling, he has asked me something like “How long do you think you’ll keep homeschooling.” Then he’ll go on talking about how great the public schools are and how much better it is for the kids, etc. I’m sure that he is genuinely very concerned about our kids. (Sarah has consistantly tested in the 92%-96%th (top 8%) since we started. She is very bright).

It really amuses me when other people see how bright our children are, that some of them, like this above friend, tell me how well my kids would do in public school. I even have another aquaintance (a customer of mine), who has seen how bright my daughter is, go on to tell me how wonderdful the new high school is in this part of town. These caring friends of mine don’t seem to think that perhaps the reason our kids are doing so well is because they are home schooled.

Lets look at an example of why our daughter does so well in math (which she doesn’t like) is that we dillegently correct every lesson, and then make her redo every problem until it is correct. If she needs help, I’ll help her work through the problems. But she is needing my help less and less. In public school how often does the teacher have the students redo the lessons until it is correct? I see that this is a very important part of the student learning, by having to work through every problem correctly. This helps prepare her for what’s coming up ahead.

6 Sep 2006

Chose Your Path

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I think of the past few posts that I have written here. The thought came to me that, among other things, is that I’ve been a little bit gripey about some things. It doesn’t take much effort to gripe about something, especially about someone else. But the griping about others is really an exercise of (inappropriate) pride. We all have challenges to face, and it is more beneficial to everyone to think about solutions, rather than gripes.

The other thought that came with this is that I have choices to make. Do I want to to become a more encouraging, thoughtful, helpful person, or do I want to become a gripey discouraging person. I’ve heard it said that we each have two sides fighting within us. These two sides have been called numerous things, such as: immature or mature, selfish or genorous, sinful or righteous, good or bad. We could go on to give these two sides numerous names, but for this example, I’m going to call them selfish or generous. I’ve also heard it said that whatver side we feed, is the side that grows. If we choose to think more of our own needs and to discount the needs of others, then we become a selfish person. However, if we choose to think more of the needs of others, and actively do what we can to help them, then we become more of a thoughtful generous person.

These two sides are not just one time choices that we make. At any point of our life we can choose to switch sides, to become more selfish, or to become more generous and thoughtful. But these choices are not static; each side is either growing or dieing. The more we choose to use one side or the other, the more we grow in that characteristic. For example, if we continue to be self absorbed, to think only of ourselves, then we grow more and more selfish. This path leads to unhappiness and misery both for ourselve and for others. However, if we choose to think of helping with the needs of others, then we become more and more selfless and helpful. This path leads to others becoming more connected to us and responding to us in a more kindly way. The more we try to meet the needs of others, the more likely they are to respond in kind. However, here is the tricky part. If we are treating others "nice" in order to get them to like us more, that can backfire. Our motives are wrong and will bear bad fruit. We will continue to become more and more like the path we choose.

Which will you choose; today, tomorrow, the day after, and on and on…..

26 Oct 2006

Someday, God Will Be God

Submitted by Stephen Winters
Blogs: 

“Some years ago I wrote this as a spoof, of sorts. I was dealing with the concept; Is God all powerful, is He really in control? This article highlights the contradictions that we often see people deal with:”

God made a perfect earth, but it has been spoiled and seems to be bent upon destruction. This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

He made a perfect man and woman, but somehow he failed to make it so that they could stay perfect.
Why did he just stand by while they were corrupted by the serpent?
Was Satan just to much for God to handle?
This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

I’ve heard it said that he made a perfect angel called Lucifer, But somehow God failed…
Something went wrong and this perfect angel got spoiled.
It is said that he got puffed up with pride and rebelled, and took many of the angels with him.
This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

Somehow my life was supposed to be perfect,
Somehow I was supposed to have everything that my little heart desired,
but I didn’t get all of my heart’s desires.
This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

Oh god, Satan keeps attacking my weak spots, he keeps pointing out my evil desires.
Oh Lord, I so wanted these to remain hidden, but now, Oh God, they’ve been exposed.
This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

I’ve heard that someday there’ll be a great battle of good against evil
and on that day God will win over Satan and over all evil, but not now.
He must be too weak of a God to win over evil now. Satan must have the upper hand right now.
This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

Oh God there are so many things that seem like they are just out of your control right now.
Lord, if you are Lord, there is so much evil right now, there must be so much involved with
keeping this world going that you must have looked the other way
and things got out of your control.
It must be just to much for you to handle Lord, if you are truly Lord.
This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

Someday God will be lord of my life, but not now. Lord, I’m just so self center and so selfish.
I’m such a sinner, my life is so messed up. Lord I know that I am outside of your will
When you made up your plan you didn’t know how messed up I would be,
This is not what God intended, somehow he failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

Lord, are your really Lord? How could my life get so out of control?
Lord, why do I have so many problems? why are things not going my way?
This is not what God intended, somehow he must have failed,
Somehow things went wrong, things got out of God’s control.
Someday God will be God, Someday He will win the battle, but not now,
He must not be strong enough to overcome evil now, but maybe someday.

Well my bible says that God is working “ALL THINGS” ……………

It says that God is all and through all ……….

Well, the bible must be wrong … God must have failed

If Satan is not here by God’s … plan, then why is he here. Why does God let Satan remain here. Is Satan too big for God to handle? Is God so weak that he needs many people to pray for him so that he can someday defeat Satan?

   You might ask, “What is the point of this article?” I merely suggest, think about the deeper implications of what you believe.  If God is not in control of EVERYTHING (including the evil and disastrous things), then He’s not God at all. However, if He is in control of ALL THINGS (As the Bible clearly says), then why are we so worried about the way “seems” to be going, all toward evil. Remember who is in control. He has a purpose in everything that happens on this earth. Also, God sees things from a different perspective, from an eternal point of view.

    We often live in this world as though this was to be a final destination. We want everything to go according to our own preconceived ideas of right and wrong, good and bad. When disasters or “evil” things happen, we don’t want to attribute those things to God. I’ve often heard it say that God “uses” the bad things for our God. No one seems to want to say that God causes those things to happen. However the Bible says that God is ALL in ALL, He is the beginning and the end. The Bible clearly says that everything that happens is according to his plan. Think about what you believe. If the bad and disastrous things that happen did not have their origin in God, if those things are not planned by God, then that means that they are outside of God’s plan and they are outside of God’s control. And, if they are outside of God’s control, then God isn’t All-Powerful; God isn’t God.

I just ask you to think about the implications of what you believe….. more to come…

1 Nov 2006

Ministry & Service

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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People often us the terms of “Christian ministry” and “serving God” to identify specific “types” of activities in specific places. For example, “serving God” by teaching a Bible study, or preaching, etc.
As I’ve thought more about this, the realization comes to me that we (all of God’s followers) are all “called” to be “ministers” at All Times. Our lives are not meant to be divided up into “spirtual” and “secular” components. We are to serve God with our every life and breath throughout every moment of our lives. When we speak kindly to our family, neighbors, customers, and aquaitances, we are either “serving” God or our flesh. We don’t serve God just because we call it “serving God” or “Christian ministry”

“Serving” God and “ministry” are not meant to be religious terms. They refer to the way that we live our lives on a day to day basis. Very simply put, “serving” can be rightly used in attending to the needs of others. Similarly, the word “ministering” is ver similar in meaning to “serving”, only it seems to have more of a healing sense to it.

We don’t have to be constantly using the name of God or Jesus to call something service. I so appreciate what St. Francis of Assisi said “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

For most of my growing up years I’ve heard about the need to “witness to unbelievers”. I was always to intimidated because I didn’t know what to say and also felt so uneasy abuot it. When I was older I had taken a “Master Life” course at a church. Part of this course was to teach people to develop a “testimony” and to be able to witness others. During this course I had finally written out a “testimony”.

13 Jun 2007

Daily Living and the Church

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When we try to “do church” or “be the church” we actually mess up the free and natural functioning of the church. In the “doing” of church it becomes artificial and lifeless. When the people “meet as a church” it then becomes all about “us” (about us trying to “act” spiritual). When we “do” church, we take the church out of our daily lives and try to give it a life of it’s own separate from us. The church is not something that we do. The church comes about, the church “lives” and expresses itself as we live and express ourselves. Because we are the body of Christ every day and wherever we are, the church is a natural expression of us and our daily lives as we care for our family, as we help our neighbor. The church is where we are. The church is the body of Christ, and it is alive in the neighborhoods wherever people are expressing God’s love and caring for one another. This could be at a barn-raising, of helping someone pack up and move to a new house, of crying with someone who has lost a family member, of treating a fellow worker responsibly and honorably.

The church is the people. The “church” is a natural and ongoing expression of our daily lives. The church is not some building. The church (Christ’s body) is always present and functioning. Just as Christ’s body is always here and always functioning, the church is always alive and functioning every place God’s people are living and active, in their homes, jobs, schools, every place and every day. We are extensions of Christ’s body, a living and active part of Christ’s church no matter where we are and whatever we are doing.

Expressing the life of God is something that we are supposed to do naturally and organically on a daily basis. We are not supposed to “do” church. We “are” the church every moment of every day.

The church expresses itself (or you could say that the church “happens”) when the members get together for some purpose outside of itself, such as; to help a neighbor, to care for the sick, to comfort the wounded, etc.

The church functions as a church when it doesn’t try to “be” the church. When we try to meet as the church, then the focus is about us and what we are doing. We try to act spiritual, we try to act like we are worshiping God. In the process me hinder the life of the church.

The church is functioning when people are working together for a godly cause, when they are fighting evil by doing good.

18 Jun 2007

God is Not in the Talking

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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How many times in Christianity have we had the “Gospel” preached to us over and over again. Christians seem to love to argue over doctrine, “saying it in just the exactly right way.” We kill each other over the words that we use to describe the love of God.” I love the way that other religions have said it.

“Tao is not in talking, whatever can be described is not the real Tao. This is the same as we said that the dishes in cookbook are not real dishes and are not edible, only pictures and descriptions. We have to cook according to the recipe described so that we can eat the real food. The important point is cooking instead of just having the recipe.
Therefore, the main point of Lao Tze is to act according to Tao instead of talking about it. Without any action, it is not the constant Tao.”

Tao is therefore in the action and not merely talking.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Teow_Aun_Chew

In my mind, I translate this as, Christianity is NOT in the talking, but in the LIVING. The God who can be explained is not the real God. The true God is beyond our ability to comprehend.

20 Jun 2007

Beliefs

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Two nights ago I was in a men’s group. During my time to share I had read a page from a book called The Criminal Personality, Volume 1, starting on page 297. This book was based upon the pioneering work, that spanned well over a decade, of it’s authors. The page I was reading described how a large percentage (about 99%) of criminals (in the study) had had some religious training in their childhood. The page also talked about how criminals thought concretely about heaven and hell, God and the devil, etc.

One of the two co-leaders of the group was really set off. He went on a tirade about how he believes in a literal heaven and hell, God and Satan. He continued to raise his voice more and more to emphasize how important he though it was to believe these, and other, things he thought were so important. At first I tried to further explain, but that just set him off even more. He raised his voice and put strong emphasis on what he believed. His actions showed that his beliefs were going to win out and silence any opposing viewpoints. (In this case, the opposing viewpoint was mine. I could see that if I continued it could, and probably would, lead to a heated argument. I could also see my own sense of “wanting to be right” raising up within me, “wanting to be Right!” This was just my pride wanting to come out. So I quieted myself and just let him talk, let him “win”. And that was OK. My trying to prove myself right would have only have been destructive.) While beliefs are very good, we must make sure that what we believe is true. Our beliefs are not what it most important. Truth and love are important.
I did a Google search and found this:

  1. Feelings are not facts
  2. Don’t believe everything you think
  3. Don’t believe everything you believe

This was first published on my other blog here.

27 Aug 2007

Modesty is Beautiful

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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As I was looking up the subject of Modesty for use in teaching my daughter, I came across this note:

Noticing the attractiveness of modesty among FUS women
Noticing the attractiveness of modesty among FUS women
……at the Easter Vigil Mass on campus this year I couldn’t help but be struck by the appearance of the young women attending. Virtually all the ones I saw were dressed with unquestionable modesty–most with ankle-length skirts or dresses, without garish make-up or jewelry. Their outfits were form-flattering, not revealing or attention-grabbing. They radiated femininity and beauty. I had to agree whole-heartedly when someone commented that, dressed that way, they were even more beautiful than when they were decked out for a formal dance.

5 Nov 2008

Input and Consequences

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Much of our lives are based upon the principle of stimulus = response, and cause = effect. Much of the time we get trapped in trying to change the consequences without changing the causes. For example, overeating is abounding in this country today, and with it all the diseases and illnesses caused by obesity. So, we try to change the symptoms without changing the behaviors that caused the problem (obesity and its accompanying side affects, disease, etc.) Our efforts would be better spent in changing us and our behavior. Then the consequences and the accompanying side affects would go away.

8 Sep 2009

Following God's Leading

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Much too often people have used the term “Following the Lord”….. to justify doing whatever they want to do. How often to people get tired of struggling or get tired of doing what is right, and then just justify running away by saying, “God told me to go….”. When someone uses the words “God told me… “ or “the Lord led me” etc., it is very easy to use these words to shut people up from asking more details. After all, who are we to “question the word of the Lord.” As for myself, I would be inclined to really question and search out the details of anything where someone says that God told him to do something.

A more appropriate definition of Following God is to “do what is right” and “to fulfill one’s obligations and responsibilities.” One of the characteristics of maturity is discernment, having the wisdom to make responsible and correct choices. Part of this discernment is asking advice of other mature responsible people.

People should not let the words “God told me”, etc. intimate them from asking for more details, or insisting on appropriate behavior.

I use the word “responsible” instead of the word “godly” because people use the word godly to justify all sorts of irresponsible behavior.

16 Sep 2009

Meaning To Life

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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We each are (only) a small part of the total scheme of things. We each only see or know such a little part of the total scheme of things.

Part of the problem some of us have had, or have, is that “we” want to “see” the meaning to our lives. As I was pondering that this morning, it hit me. When we want meaning in our lives, could it be that we are wanting to see that our lives account for something great and significant, or even that others will look at us and say “That person really affected and changed our lives. That person is great and wonderful.” Of course I’ve overdoing my example for effect. When we want to see the meaning to our lives, we want to see that our life meant something to somebody, that our life was of some value to somebody. That desire or idea does seem to have some merit, but but, that whole way of thinking is about Us, About ME!!. “It is important to ME that MY life have meaning and significance.?” This whole way of thinking is kind of screwed up. I think of Mother Theresa. For what I understand she went to someplace to serve, not to find meaning about her life. And yet (I would assume) that she found meaning in her life because of the way she lived her life.

Trying to find meaning in life is very self serving. It is all about us. Instead, “The question is not, says Frankl, “What do I expect from life?” but, “What does life expect from me?” We must realize that we are being questioned by life—daily, even hourly.” http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=9e1705481ae6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

What people may not understand is that trying to find meaning is life is all about trying to satisfy our emotions. “I want to FEEL like my life has meaning.” Instead of trying to find meaning in our lives, we need to answer the questions that God and life are giving us right now. We find true meaning in life acting responsibly in every situation, i.e., being a good husband and a good father, etc. In fulfilling our duties and responsibilities we don’t always “feel” that our life has meaning. But our life has meaning because it means something to those that we love and serve.

2 May 2010

Brokenness

Submitted by Stephen Winters

What Does Brokenness Mean

What does Brokenness mean? What does it mean to be broken by God?

What Causes Brokenness

A lot of brokenness has to do with receiving the consequences of our own poor behavior. We have had previously been living for our own selfish motives, not caring who got hurt.

 

What is the Result of Brokenness

We can't seek brokenness ourselves because we seek it in areas where we can manage it, where it won't hurt too much. Many sing about or claim brokenness.

Our shell of selfish pride is so .... that it takes a lot for us to be truly broken. When we are broken it hurts down to our deepest inner defenses.

The result of true brokenness is that our pride is broken and we see ourselves for who we truly are? We quick blaming others and see that we are the primary cause of our pain and problems.

When we are truly broken, it hurts us to much and so deeply that we never want to go back.

True brokenness, coupled with ... gives us true wisdom. Be begin to see ourselves and the other people in this world as we truly are.

18 May 2010

Faith

Submitted by Stephen Winters

To see all the articles about Faith on one page, click here.

Our Basic Premise is that God is in total control of everything (both here on earth, in the universe, and everywhere else) AND we are able to make choices about our lives and our future. 

God's ways are far higher than our ways. His ways are beyond understanding. Everything that happens is part of God's plan. There is nothing that happens here on earth (and everywhere else) that is outside of God's plan or outside of his will.Nothing that happens here on earth catches God by surprise. God does much more that "allow things to happen", instead he is the cause (whether directly or indirectly) of every circumstance, situation, happening, etc. Even the most (seemingly) horrific things that happen are all in God's plan. He sees far more that we can see or understand.

At the same time, he (seemingly) gives us total free will to do as we please. It is obvious that we can make choices about what to do with our lives. In an instant, we can choose to do either good or evil in small ways, or in ways that alter our lives dramatically. Along with our "free-will" choices we also experience the consequences of our choices. Those consequences teach us teach us to listen to God and to be obedient to his ways. 

Once we begin to grasp (to our limited ability) the immense power and purpose of God's plan, everything changes for us. We are no longer afraid of disasters.

The links below explain more about faith in our daily life. 


18 May 2010

Submission

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What does it mean to submit?

In our struggle to be free and independent we often think that we want to be totally free, to call our own shots, to live our lives without anyone or anything else having any control over us. In reality, we will always be subject to rules and regulations. For example, we might say that we have to submit to the law of gravity. In reality we are subject to the law of gravity whether we willingly submit or if we (think that we) won't submit. For example, we can't walk of the edge of a cliff and expect to just keep walking.

In many ways, submission is much more refined and simpler. For example, I don't do anything major unless my wife is in agreement. If she says no, I can either (over a period of time) take more time to more clearly and truthfully (with no manipulation) explain what I wanted. However, if after all my explanations she still doesn't agree, then I'll just put it aside.

18 May 2010

About

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Listening B & W
For many years I've listened to what others believe, and never had come to any real deep convictions about what I personally thought and believed. In fact, I was trapped in the land of "What will other people think" for much of my life. That kept me trom reaching outside of the "norm" and also kept me from thinking deeply about anything or saying anything about what was inside me. I was too concerned about being accepted. And yet, even with that, I never felt accepted. for much of my life I've felt like an outsider, never really fitting in, wanting to be accepted, but never feeling accepted. However, over the last 20 plus years I have went through some intense trials and had to rethink much of what I thought that I believed.

I have done a lot of deep soul searching, thinking, writing, wrestling with difficult concepts, researching, looking up word meanings, etc. I'm tired of just hearing what others think or believe. It takes a lot of effort and deep inner work to really struggle out what one truly thinks or believes about the important things of life. I've ignored it or put it asside for much of my life. I'm glad, and extremely blessed, to finally be on the journey. In one sense I don't care any more what religious people think or believe any more. I just want to know what is real and true. I want to have an answer when people question me about the deep things of life, even if the answer is simply, "I don't know."1

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15 

The Bible talks about "joy in sorrow". Now I have a better understanding of what that means. Some of my most meaningful times have been when I've had such a deep sorrow that wanted to just overwhelm me, while at the same time I had such a deep and abiding joy. Those were the times when I felt the presence of God more deeply that at any other times.

Building the Live-Anew website has been such a blessing to me as it has allowed me to put the fragmented pieces of my thoughts and beliefs together in a way that makes sense to me. There are still a lot of unfinished pages scattered throughout the website. That speaks of this being a process. Some pages may eventually be more or less finished. some pages may never get finished, and that is OK.

This website is devoted to learning how to discover that which is true, reliable and honorable. Much has been preached about "the Bible" and about religion, Christianity, and Jesus that just isn't true. However, many people don't take the time or the effort to think about the implecations of what they think that they believe. 

“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him discover it within himself.” Galileo 

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." 1 John 1:1-3a

More important than finding the "Truth" is learning how to think, explore .... and to discover for oneself what is real and true. Too much of the trouble that comes upon people is the result of people just accepting (without any evaluation) what other people say. It is a lot of hard work to think out what is really true. It is a lot easier to just "believe whatever the preacher says".

It is important to know what you believe, because it affects so many of your decisions in life. For instance, what we believe about heaven, hell, and salvation, governs much of our purpose in life. When we believe that hell is a very real place, created by God to punish wrong-doers forever, that belief system sets up a very subtle "better than them" mentality. "We", the saved, focus on trying to get others to be "saved" (to believe like us).

When we believe that we have to preach to people to try to save them from hell, then that affects how we relate to people. Many people go to great lengths to try to "convert" people before they die. When that is the focus, it is so easy to neglect the physical and emotional needs of the dying person while he is still alive.

God is in total control. He controls the hearts of men (he hardens whom he will, and he has mercy on whom he will1), and that "No one can come to me unless the father draws him2"

Although I was raised as a "non-denominational Christian" I no longer go by that. I don't know what to call myself anymore. In some ways, at least at this point, I think labels are too confining and restrictive. One main trouble with following a particular religion (i.e. Christianity) is that people get caught up in either trying to defend that religion, to prove that specific religion right, or trying to convert people to that religion. In the process the basic premise of the religion (loving and serving others, and living an honorable life) gets lost. We need to get our minds off of trying to "convert" others (to our belief system) and just learn to love and serve them.

 

Instead I try to live by doing what is right, being kind and considerate, treating others as I want to be treated. As Mahatma Gandhi said "Be the change that you want to see." Rather than trying to follow a particular religion, instead I try to live my life by the principles that are (or should be) common to all religions and all responsible patterns of living (Virtues, ethics, etc.) 

  • 1. "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." Romans 9:18
  • 2. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44
20 May 2010

Religion

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What is true religion and what part should it play in our lives?

"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:26-27

True religion is not about forms and rituals, of creeds, holy books, and ceremonies, nor of services. True religion is about keeping ourselves pure, how we treat others, and living a responsible, obedient, & compassionate life. It has to do with how we think and behave towards others and learning to live a life worthy of a child of God.

Instead, much of what is called "religion" today is about doing endless "spiritual duties" that do nothing to genuinely help and serve others. It is like a fog that settles over the hearts and minds of each religion's followers. It prevents them from seeing or seeking the truth. The followers call their religion the only true religion, and block their minds to all other points of view. They are not open to see that what they may know about God and holiness is only a small piece of what is true.

 

 

20 May 2010

The Bible

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If we want to see all the articles about the Bible on one page, click here.

The Bible is-what-it-is no matter what we may think about it. Whether some believes that it is a holy book or if someone believes its a common book doesn't change what the Bible is. It is-what-it-is. Our beliefs don't affect what it already is. However, What we believe about the Bible can greatly affect what forces affect or influence our lives.

During most of my childhood and earlier life I heard over and over again that the Bible is "the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God."

There seems to be this common misperception among Christians that they have to see the Bible as the "Word of God" or the Bible will be seen as not valid (full of errors, etc.). This is erroneous thinking. If you were to say that the Bible is of no value unless we can claim that it's perfect, then that is a black-or-white fallacy1. Consider the immense quantity of books that has been written and of the great value many of them are. Any type of writing, speech, is either true or false, or a mixture. (However, to be realistic, if something is mostly true, but some of the key foundations are false, then it is false.)

If we don't call the Bible the Bible the Word of God, then how will we (or others) know that it is true? Any book or writing is true because the writing in it is true and can be validated.

There are many many types of books that are not called the Word of God that are very beneficial.

One of the fallacies that people claim about the bible is that ALL of it (every word) is the Inspired Word of God. For an example of that teaching, go here.

 

Look at all the other books that have been written. There are many valuable books that have greatly benefited and changed many people's lives.

What is the Bible?

The word "bible" means "book". The Bible is a book, plain and simple. 'The Bible is said to contain records of God's laws, His speaking to and dealing with His people throughout time. The Bible gives principles and concepts and examples of how to live. It tells about God and His son.

 

Note

Whether the Bible is the Word of God or not, the important thing is how we live our lives. These articles are just a way for me to write out what I think or believe is true. But each person should come to their own set of beliefs

 

Explosive!!!

I've noticed that many people are explosive in their beliefs. If they perceive that someone is "attacking" the Bible, or their ideas of religion or God, they get very angry very quickly (otherwise known as an "Outburst of Anger".) If people are truly mature and well founded in their beliefs, they don't get angry when they hear differing beliefs.

  • 1. Black-or-White The black-or-white fallacy is a false dilemma fallacy that unfairly limits you to only two choices. Example: Well, it’s time for a decision. Will you contribute $10 to our environmental fund, or are you on the side of environmental destruction? A proper challenge to this fallacy could be to say, “I do want to prevent the destruction of our environment, but I don’t want to give $10 to your fund. You are placing me between a rock and a hard place.” The key to diagnosing the black-or-white fallacy is to determine whether the limited menu is fair or unfair. Simply saying, “Will you contribute $10 or won’t you?” is not unfair. http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Black-or-White
20 May 2010

Who Wrote The Pentateuch

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Early this morning I woke with the question, "Who wrote the first five books of the Bible?" I started to do some writing and these thoughts came:

Who wrote the Pentateuch?

The first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch, were generally assumed to be written by Moses. Did he really write all those books? Where did the author get his information? Were the stories and events over ....... time period just passed down orally from generation to generation? Were there a collection of writings of various writers over the years that the Pentateuch's author used as reference material?

Many religious people imply that the Holy Spirit just supernaturally came upon him and "poof" he wrote out all those books.

Adam and Eve

I take a look at the detailed account of the creation of the world. Then I look at the detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve. I go on to remember the conversation and interaction of Eve and the serpent. Who wrote all this out? Moses obviously wasn't alive at that time. He was not there to see and hear1 what went on.

As I thought more I wanted to know more, so I began a search on the Internet. I did a Google search on "what period of time does the pentateuch cover" I quickly came to this article :The Analysis of the Pentateuch2  

  • 1. In First John 1 John wrote, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." John wrote about what he had seen and heard. This is a very good example of an author's credibility.
  • 2. This page is parch of a larger work that seems well researched. I am linking this because I want to go back and read more of this article.
20 May 2010

Questioning the Bible

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Over the years I have noticed that many people are very explosive (get very angry very quickly) over anyone questioning that Bible as being "the Word God". I've wondered, why do they get angry. If the Bible was indeed true, then why would they get angry over it. People generally get angry when they are covering up a lie and it is about to be exposed. Why would anyone get angry over something that is supposedly true?
If the Bible is supposedly true, then it would not need to be defended. Truth can stand up questioning.

In addition, whenever I've even insinuated that I was questioning the Bible, I've experienced religious leaders trying to "set me straight".

Why would anyone get angry over someone questioning the Bible, when the Bible says (Galatians 5:20) that "Outbursts of anger" are one of the deeds of the flesh.

20 May 2010
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The bronze serpent had a purpose, which it fulfilled. When the children of Israel grumbled, the Lord sent snakes into the camp  of the Israelites. Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Those that looked at the snake would live.1 However, the children of Israel turned that which was a blessing into something that was profane.2 The Israelites had begun to worship the bronze serpent and turned the object that had been a blessing into object of disgrace. In much the same way, a similar thing has happened to letters and documents that were written to help people. The different epistles (letters) that were written to help straighten our the improper beliefs and living immoral lifestyles that some Christians were involved in. At the time that they were written, those letters had a noble and just purpose. However, many years later (just like the children of Israel) the  modern day Christians have taken those letters to early Christians and have made them into an idol (object of worship).

One may ask, how have we made the holy into something profane? Because we focus on the words of the message rather than the message itself. We are (seemingly) very careful to make sure that the words of the bible are carefully translated into each language. However, we have lost track of the message of those words. Those words are about learning to live life as children of the Most High God. The words tell of a life that is to be lived sinlessly and beyond reproach. Those words tell of how to love one another. True love, which is what God is, will draw all men to him. Our endless stream of words3 does very little to win anyone. Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father draws him." We think that we can draw people to God with our endless preaching. However, what did Jesus say

  • 1. "And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, for there is no bread or water, and we detest this worthless food.”  So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit the people; many people of Israel died.  Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD that he would take away the snakes from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Num The LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous snake and set it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will live.” Numbers 21:5-8
  • 2. In the third year of the reign of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Ahaz’s son Hezekiah became king over Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah. He did what the LORD approved, just as his ancestor David had done. He eliminated the high places, smashed the sacred pillars to bits, and cut down the Asherah pole. He also demolished the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been offering incense to it; it was called Nehushtan." 2Kings 18:1-4
  • 3. Evangelizing and preaching the gospel (in churches, on radio and TV), giving out the Bible to as many as possible)
22 May 2010

Asking Questions

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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It's OK to ask questions. In fact, if you ask the right questions it will change your life. Don't be afraid to ask questions of God, of the Bible, about work, family, etc. Learning the art of asking questions is more important than the answers that come. When you focus on asking questions (even of the answers that come) your percepts will change.

Recently I've begun asking questions about the authority and inerrancy of the Bible. There is a modern day view of the Bible that says.....  I ask, where did this view of the Bible come from? Who started this view of the Bible? and many others. The actual questions are not as important as developing the freedom to question anything and everthing. Even though I say this, I also add a word of caution. Be careful not to get in the habit of asking question at the wrong time. Be careful not to ask question instead of fulfilling your responsibilities (as a child will often try to do). Question can often be used as an excuse to not do anything. When I say ask questions, I mainly mean to fulfill your responsibilities first, then at the proper time feel free to ask your questions.

Again, it is not any one question that is important. Usually when I ask questions I get more questions. If I only focus on trying to get answers, then I won't get more questions. When I'm on a quest, as I often am, questions will come in a string, one after another. When I ask the first question, sometimes I get an answer, but sometimes I just get the next question.

Often times we hold onto our misconceptions so tightly. One question won't set us free. It often takes a whole series (or multi-series) of questions before we begin to experience freedom. Part of walking into this freedom involves the crumbling of our tightly-held-onto belief system. The many questions allows our minds to look at and question our beliefs from many different angles. In reality, asking questions primarily has to do with tearing down our own  inadequate belief system. This can be, and usually is, a very scarey process because questioning can demolish much of our core beliefs. This was very scarey for me when I first started questioning my own beliefs. It's like having almost everything that I relied upon, the things that I held to be true, all just crumbled to the ground. To be sure, at the beginning it took a period of some months before my incorrect beliefs began to crumble. At the time I didn't know what was happening. Yet, with the crumbling of my old beliefs came a new freedom, a freedom to search for that which was true.

Much of the time we have received our belief system from our parents or other authority figures in our lives. At the time we received our beliefs we were very young and didn't evaluate or question what we were thought.

It might be said that if you question the bible and your beliefs that your faith and your belief in the Bible may be destroyed. How true, as it should be, if your beliefs have been built upon errors and traditions of men.

However, truth can stand up to questioning. Upon deep and sincere questioning, truth will stand up and found to be truth. But errors, mistakes, and faulty belief systems can not stand up to thorough question.

One of the biggest benefits of questioning yourself and your deepest beliefs is that which is false will crumble. In the end, in the midst of all the rubble, you will find that which is true. Then you can build your beliefs upon truth. Truth can stand the test of time.

22 May 2010

Matthew 28:19

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Men should not rely upon writings, but upon the truth of God. For example, for years I have heard people quoting Matthew 28:19. For years something has been subtly nagging at me about that verse, but I never recognized the nagging until lately. This morning I did a Google search errors OR mistakes in the Bible "matthew 28:19"   and found these web pages:

  1. Constantine Wrote Matthew 28:19 Into Your Bible!    ,
  2. Very similar pages were also found here:  Constantine Wrote Matthew 28:19 Into Your Bible! Part 1, Were You Baptized (Immersed) Into Apostasy?  and here: Constantine Wrote Matthew 28:19 Into Your Bible! Part 2, Were You Baptized (Immersed) Into Apostasy?  .
  3. Analysis of Matthew 28:19 in A study of the Text of the New Testament
  4. A Collection of the evidence for and against the traditional wording of the baptismal phrase in Matthew 28:19 So arranged that the reader may judge for himself which phrase was written by Matthew: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" or "in my name"? Second edition with addendum
  5. Matthew 28:19, Genuine or Fake? The institutional church uses the formula “ Father, Son and Holy Spirit” when invoking the “Name” in baptizing believers. The scriptural basis for using this formula is found in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age”
    Let’s look at this passage for a moment. My first observation is this: nowhere in the scriptures, nowhere, is this formula found or used. In the book of Acts, where we have several recorded instances of water baptism, this formula is suspiciously absent.
22 May 2010

The Bible Throughout the Years

Submitted by Stephen Winters

If we make a claim that God wrote the Bible through the hands of men, and that it was perfect, infallible, inerrant in it's original documents, then we would also have to believe that God was also in control of all the people that copied and translated the bible throughout the milenia of time. If that was true, then why was the Bible locked away for centuries in Latin, only available to the priests and monks? If the Bible was truly the Word of God, then why did God not make it immediately available to all people from the very beginning. If God is God, can't he do anything that he wants? Is He not the Lord of all creation?

If the Bible was the Word of God to us, would God not make sure that only the true and accurate copies of His word were available to all people throughout time? Why are there some many translations. Why are the translators continually "correcting" and "improving" the various translations? If the Bible is truly the Word of God to us, is he not able to give us accurate translations at all times?

23 May 2010

Writing about the Word of God

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Many of my writings up to this point have been to clarify to myself why the Bible is NOT the Word of God. But in reality, that's not what I want to promote with other people. I'd rather spend more of my time clarifying what the word of God IS. I found this very interesting (to me) article about the word of God 1 that goes into detail about this very topic. The authors writes from the perspective that "the Bible is NOT the word of God". Even though much of my writings on this website have taken that stance, I'd rather take a more positive aproach and write about what "the word of God IS". People hold onto their beliefs so strongly. It seems like it would be easier to get them to belief the truth about what is, rather than just destroying the belief that they do have.

26 May 2010

Purpose

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What is our purpose here on earth? Why did God put us here? What does he want us to do? Answers to these, and similar questions will help determine what careers we choose.

One verse that is quoted over and over again by many Christians is:

Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Many lives are built around this verse. People go to Bible college, go to seminary, and become preachers and missionaries. Many who don't choose one of these "callings" often feel guilty that they are "serving God".

John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

 

 

30 May 2010

What is Sin?

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I've wondered for a long time about the seeming contradiction between 1John 3:9 and 5:18 "He.... does not sin" .... and the modern day Christian teaching that "we are just sinners saved by grace."

30 May 2010

God's Plan

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In Christianity I've heard MUCH about "The Fall" (when Adam and Eve sinned" and thereby FELL away from God's plan and FELL OUT of God's grace. (Supposedly) Adam, Eve, and the serpent "messed up" God's perfect plan. God created the perfect environment in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve "were supposed" to live out their lives in happy bliss. However, they disobeyed God, fell out of his will, and messed up God's perfect plan. Now, because of Adam and Eve's screw up, then God had to send His Son Jesus to die for the sin that came into the result as their sin. Jesus had to clean up and correct the mess of things that Adam and Eve made.

"working out everything according to his plan

Before the creation of this world "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. " 1 Peter 1:21    

Before anything came into being

Eternal plan

"3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he[c] predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory." Ephessians 1:3-14

 

31 May 2010

Name Calling

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I've noticed that many leaders of all types call people names. It is especially sad when religious people call others that they disagree with various name. In the ancient times the Jews called Jesus names.... They used the terms Blasphemy ... Child of the devil ...

Throughout the ages, they have used terms like "Heretic", "Herasy" etc. as an excuse to murder people with differing beliefs.

Modern day religious people still call people name who have differing beliefs, although they use different names and different degrading terms. For example, some of the modern day... are "New Age conspiracy" "conterfeit Jesus", heresy, and others.

Why do religious people call others names? I recently read something that makes sense.

"It’s easier and takes less intelligence to throw a stone at someone who disagrees with you than to sit down and present logical reasoning for what you believe, then listen to the opposing viewpoint and recognize some truth in it."1

I wonder if much of that isn't true. How many Christians really take the time to examine and think deeply about the things that they say that they believe. It takes a lot of time and effort to think deeply about anything.

1 Jun 2010

Parenting

Submitted by Stephen Winters

So many parents are struggle nowadays with raising their children. Children are a real test of the parent's beliefs. If the parents' belief system is off center, then the children will go way off track.

As adults it is so easy get into our own mindset and not have to change anything about ourselves. But, once we have children, everything changes. If we want to raise our children correctly, so that they will be good responsible godly human beings, we parents have to critcically examine ourselves, our beliefs and our behaviors. In any area where we are off-center, the children will take it to excess.

1 Jun 2010

Attacks of Satan

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I'

Many times an "attack of Satan" is nothing more that the consequences of our own poor choices or inappropriate behavior.

How many times have seen good Christian people make a decision and then pray to God to "make it work out" or "bless this ." without ever investigating and check out the possible consequence of their desired...

 

Dave Ramsey has a saying ... "Let your bank account make the decision". this is very similar to what Jesus said, "...if a man builds a house.... count the cost."

1 Jun 2010

Foundational Beliefs

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Over the years I've heard much said about how important is to believe the "foundational" beliefs. Here is an example1.

I think that they have that all mixed up. Jesus say, "the greatest command is Love... the brothers". People are so quick to argue and expound on a variety of topics, such as, the Trinity, The Rapture.... etc. And yet Jesus said that Love was the most important. What difference does it make if we have different beliefs about God, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, Justification, etc. People who are growing are going through a process of learning new ideas and beliefs. Their ideas and beliefs with change, grow, and expand as they begin to mature over the years. If we don't have love, we don't have anything. Love is the important thing, Love is the foundational belief, not all those other doctrines.


2 Jun 2010

What Are Your True Beliefs?

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True beliefs are the things that you do, not the things that you say (unless they are both the same). For example, a person can say, " I believe that you can carry a man on your back as you walk across Niagra falls on a tight rope." But then that person is asked, "Will you be the person who is carried on the tightrope walker's back?"

True belief is more than just a mental assent (i.e. "I believe that ...."). True belief will actually do it. For example, if you say that you believe in God, but you don't live in accordance with God's commandments and ...., I would question when you truly believe in God. Your actions are what show your true belief.

3 Jun 2010

Wisdom of Crowds

Submitted by Stephen Winters

A little while ago I read a book titled The Wisdom of Crowds that talks about how, in a crowd, there are people with all types of different thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Their ideas go from one extreme to the other, but when you let everyone express their views and beliefs and take an average of all the beliefs, the final outcome is very on target. When everyone is allowed to participate, from one extreme to the other, they all kind of balance out each other. Consequently, the resulting conclusion is very wise, wiser than any one man can come up with.

This principle has such a tremendous application for the body of Christ, and agrees with the concept of having a "multitude of counselors."

3 Jun 2010

Falling Away?

Submitted by Stephen Winters

It seems that a large percentage of "Christian" youth and young adults are "falling away" from the "church".

It seems to me that this is a direct result of the "church" and parents trying to tell kids what they are "supposed" to believe. The church and religious leaders write up "Doctrinal Statements" "Statement of Faith" and "Membership Covenants" all designed to have people believe everything that the "church" teaches. These "beliefs" are spoon-fed to all the children and people in Bible Studies, Sunday School, and in Worship services. Apparently this is "supposed to" make people to be "solid" in the faith.

In real life, we all believe a little differently, or a lot differently. Our true belief system is a product of our training, our family life, our culture, which are brought into our real life experiences. It is healthy for us all to different belief systems. It is inherently unhealthy to have the leadership try to teach and impose a belief system on those in their church. As I've heard before, we are called to "unity", not uniformity. We are not supposed to be carbon copies of each other. We all come together having different ideas and beliefs. In a truly healthy environment people have the freedom to share their beliefs and ideas. An unhealthy system tries to squash any opposing thought, idea, or belief.

To get back to my opening sentence, it seems to me that some of the people who "fall away" are really just leaving an unhealthy system. Many of these people are beginning to wake up to their own beliefs and ideas. Since they see that these ideas are not welcome at church, then they (rightfully) leave to find a place where they will be accepted.

Others who "fall away" have no idea of what to do or where to go. They just sense that they don't fit in at church and are tired of the guilt and judgementalism that has been constantly dumped on them.

The truth is that people don't willingly leave a place where they truly feel loved and accepted as they are, where they can openly share their own ideas and beliefs. When people have a real sense of family, normal healthy people just don't run away from people who truly love and care for them.

4 Jun 2010

Inspiration of the Bible

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Scholars of today put such extreme inportance upon the Bible being the inspired Word of God. Many scholars quote 1 Tim 3:16. This thought just came to me. If it was indeed true that all the Bible was written by the Holy Spirity through men AND if it was important for us to know that, would not each author have included that fact within the context of his writing? If the Bible were of such extreme importance, would not each author have stressed the importance of the readers knowing that their writing was being written by the Holy Spirit? Does God leave to chance the things that we are supposed to know?

11 Jun 2010

What's in Your Heart

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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The things that you consider special show the motives and condition of your heart. What do you want to do on your birthday that you consider really special? Now, look deep within and consider your motives? Can you be truly honest with yourself about why you want to do it? Is that desire all about yourself, about what you want, or is about how you can serve others?

26 Jun 2010

Who am I?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Who I am at home is who I truly am.

It is easy to try to be religious, spiritual, or to have others think that I'm a super person, a great "soul-winner" etc. But what I do when I'm at home shows me and everyone else who I truly am. How I treat my family reveals my true character.

30 Jun 2010

Examine Ourselves

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When we judge others we shut our minds off from seeing our own faults. When we don't see our own faults, then we likewise don't recognize our downward spiral of behavior. We should not accept something just because "we believe it or we think it is OK." We need to examind our own thinking, to examine ourselves, our motives ...deeply to find our own faults.

Thinking man

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Just because we think that "something is OK" does not mean that it really is OK. What your own thoughts and think about your own thinking. One of the greatest faults any of us have is when we accept thoughts, ideas, predjudices, etc just because they came from use. Instead we should hold ourselves up to a higher standard than other people. We should think about and examine our own thoughts and behaviors to see if they are true or if we need to correct them.

Just because we think that something is true does not mean that it is true or OK. Watch your thoughts and think about your thinking.

 
30 Jun 2010

Religion Must Be Practical

Submitted by Stephen Winters

To be of any value to anyone, religion must be practical. For example, in ... it says, 

 

Orphans by Thomas Kennington

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"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

True religion should make us better, more compasionate and loving people. Religion should not be just about go through religious motions, or doing religious actions. The main function of religion should be to help us keep on the right track, to help us to love and obey God and to love our neighbors.

True religion is not about us thinking that we are the chosen ones just because we go to endless worship services and Bible studies.


8 Jul 2010

Living the Life

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 

With modern-day Christianity it seems that people are content with using "Christian" words and phrases, but are they willing to live the life? What does it mean to live a godly life? (I have purposely not used the word "Christian" since it really doesn't mean much nowaday.)

I know of a 15 year old boy who has signed onto Facebook. He said that he was a christian and wanted to tell others of God's glory. He wants to be pastor some day and wants to dedicate his life to God.

Then he put his Relationship Status as Single. He put his birthday month and day, but left out the year that he was born. He put his interests as: Women, and that he was looking for friendship and dating.

It would seem that he wants women to think that he is older than he is. Why did he hide his age? Why would a 15 year old boy say that he's looking for a relationship with a woman for friendship and dating? Since a teenage boy is obviously not ready to settle down, get married, and raise a family, why does he want to date women?

Going through counseling, I learned about a thinking error called the "lie of ommission". We lie by ommission when we leave out important details in order to not reveal the truth. What did that boy do when he left out part of the details of his age? What was his intent?

Another important concept I learn in counseling was "right-to-know, need-to-know". We don't leave out important details with anyone who has a right to know, or who needs to know.

Why am I even writing about this? There is a big incorrect focus of modern day Christianity today that implies that if you "believe the right thing" (which is really meant that if you say the right "religious words") or if you "agree to the correct statement of faith", then you are a true christian. I ask, where did the concepts of integrity, honor, truth, justice, and responsibility go. It use to (rightly) be the men and women were judged by the quality and integrity of the character. Nowadays, character takes a back seat to speaking the right religious words. Consequently, the non-christians see the hypocrasy of the lives of many christians.

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13 Jul 2010

Religion, Science, & Superstitions

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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True religion and true science are in agreement. They both are about seeing the world as it really is.

a true definition of faith is the day by day living out of what you belief (know to be true). a false definition of faith is believing the illogical.

Over the past two thousand years the Christian religion has picked up a lot of superstitions  and erroneous teachings. (give examples)

Back in the days the Jesus was on the earth, many of the common people believed superstitions. Since they didn't know the truth (lack of knowledge, lack of science) about many things (sickness, bad behaviors, death, etc.) they made up all types of false beliefs (superstitions about witches, spirits, demons, etc.) to try to make sense of what was happening. Only their superstitions were not very helpful because they became even more afraid. Their false beliefs gave them no power over what was happening. Jesus came to show people the truth and to set people free from their erroneous and harmful belief systems. He came to show people the truth about God and about the world around them. Jesus was a true scientist. Following his death his disciples continued to spread his true science. Many people came into the light of understanding the truth about God,  themselves, and the powers of this world. They came into freedom. The people in the church were people of faith (the people who lived by the truth). They were lights to those who lived in darkness (who lived by their false beliefs and superstitions)...

 

Through the centuries, when those superstitious people came into the church, they brought many of their superstitions with them and mixed them with the religious beliefs. These erroneous beliefs have been made a part of the theology of the church and have been carried down even to the present day. Nowadays much of the church is living in the bondage of those false superstitious belief systems and they are fighting against the truth of modern science. Just to clarify, not all that claims to be science is true science, just as all that claims to be true religion is of God.

True science is merely examining to see what is true and how things really operate.

 

 

19 Jul 2010

Thoughts About Prayer

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Summary: Prayer is not about telling God what to do do, or giving Him advice. Prayer is not about trying to get God to act and do something. Rather, prayer is about changing us, helping us to change our old self-centered thinking patterns so that we think and act with love and compassion, that learn to act responsibly and obediently, preparing us to be ready for His service,


This article is not intended to try to convince anyone else of the "truth", but rather this is written with two objectives in mind. 1. To clarify my own thinking on the subject of prayer, and 2.) to explain to others what my thoughts are about prayer and about why I think that way.

For most of the early years of my life I had a very immature attitude about prayer. It was basically, "God, please give me this" and "God, do that over there." My  whole thought and focus of prayer was trying to get God to do something for me or give me something OR trying to tell God what to do. It was treating God like a vending machine: make a request and get something back.I've seen much of this same type of prayer in modern-day Christianity (i.e. "Pray of my Uncle John that he might be healed", "Let's have everyone pray on the National Day of Prayer" and many other similar thoughts.) This view of prayer is almost saying that God isn't listening, or doesn't know what is going on unless we tell him, or that he will only act if we pray hard enough or long enough, or God won't act unless there are enough people praying at one time.

In recent years, after going through some intense trials, where my concepts of prayer just didn't work, my whole idea and thoughts about prayer have changed drastically. God is our Father and he will provide for our needs. A human child of good parents doesn't have to beg and plead with his parents to give him food, clothing, and a place to sleep. His parents will provide for his needs just because he is their child. And that is what good parents do, they provide for their children. In the same way we don't have to beg and plead with God to provide for our necesities. God is faithful, he will provide for us without us having to continually ask. God also loves and cares for every human on this earth. We don't have to tell God to take care of someone. God is fully in charge. He fully knows the situation of every human on earth and He knows what every human needs. We don't have to ask God to take care of people. God has it fully under control.

Setting Our Minds

Now that brings us to a new awareness. If we aren't to tell God what to do, then what are we to pray for? How are we to pray? What are we to even think or say in our prayers.

Here is a new concept that I live by in recent years.

"Pray = set your mind". What does this mean? Prayer is directing the course of our thoughts and minds. Prayer is preparing our minds for action.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:13

Let's take a look at how this applies to life. Let's look at this verse.

 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48

Here Jesus is talking about our attitude and our behavior. This is all about how we are to think about and treat our enemies. We are to pray (set our minds) [my words] to love our enemies.

Another part of the equation. We are told to love our enemies. What does that mean?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

To  say it bluntly, we are to love our enemies (treat them kindly, not be rude to them, not be angry with them, not keep a record of wrongs done by them to us.) This way of thinking and behaving is not natural to us. To accomplish this we are to pray (set our minds) on showing them love. Prayer is a first step to living out the love that we are to show our enemies.

Prayer is much more than about loving our enemies. It is also about loving and caring for our own families, even when we feel ambivalent about the whole thing. Prayer is "setting our minds" for action. As we pray, we are telling our minds and ourselves how we will think and behave. We are setting the course of our actions as we face the challenges of each day.

Practically, how does that work? Whatever we do repeatedly or think about repeatedly becomes a habit, which becomes a part of who we are. For example, if I have an enemy in my life that I hate and he hates me, then it's easy to think mean thoughts about him. My hatred for him, and my bad attitude towards him becomes a part of who I am. I take on hatred and a bad attitude. However, once I realize that when I view someone as an enemy and am treating him badly, then I'm at fault because I'm behaving incorrectly. Once I realize that I'm suppose to love my enemies, then I begin to pray ("set my mind" on wanting good things for him). I think good thoughts toward him, and start behaving in a kind and friendly manner towards him. I am to do this "without ceasing". These new thought patterns and behaviors are not dependent on whether or not my "enemy" responds or changes in some positive way. Therefore they become a part of who I am. As a result my new attitude towards my enemy first change me. It can't help but have an affect upon him.

Prayer is mainly about changing our thinking and our behavior. When we begin to make these positive changes in us, we begin to change the world around us.

Similarly Mahatma Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

"Pray without ceasing." How long are we to pray ("set our thinking") in this new way. "Without Ceasing". We are to continue in this new way to the very end of our lives. When we realize that we have to change the way that we think and behave "forever" (without ceasing), then our whole life changes, as well as many of those around us. We have to change first before we can expect anyone or anything else to change.

Guidance

Another aspect of prayer is praying for guidance. There many difficult decisions and many tough choices that come to us. Which is the "correct" one? I think that part of our fear is that we want to make a good choice (that will have no bad consequences that come upon us or others). Another way of saying it would be, "God help me to not make a mistake." Is this even reasonable. Many times we seemingly make bad choices causing (what we think are) all sorts of things to go wrong, but in the end it turned out to be the best choice. It was the path that we were supposed to take. Those challenges were all part of the path that God had for us.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life." When we make a decision, we should tell the truth in all the small and large details. When making a decision it is so easy to want to "fudge the details" OR to tell "only that which will make it happen the way that we want it to happen." In plain English, this would be lieing.

Whenever we have a decision to make, we do have some instructions. Always tell the truth. A good barameter is, "Right to know, Need to know." We don't always have to tell everyone everything. But we do have a responsibililty to tell the full truth to anyone who has a right to know or who has a need to know. We need to tell as much to each person as they need to know to make a wise decision on our behalf. In addition, if their are others involved who have a right to know anything, then we need to tell them anything that they have a right to know.

When we are fully truthful and honest we "loose control" of the outcome of the decision. This "loosing control" is the process of "turning it over to God." This is the scarey part. How do we know what is going to happen? We don't.

So, it boils down to this. We can pray for guidance; but we've already been given the directions. Be truthful, honest, compassionate, and responsible in all that we do. Don't let any deceitfulness come into the picture. When we are fully honest in all that we do, we do as much as we can by those guidelines, we are, in reality, turning the outcome over to God.

Does that mean that we will never make a "mistake"? There are times that we have to make a decision, and none of the outcomes seem desirable. If we choose poorly, bad consequences can seem to come upon us. "God, help me to make the right choice." But it seems that God doesn't answer. Or has he already answered? We don't want to make a mistake, and yet God seems to allow us to make what we think to be mistakes. Experiencing the consequences of our mistakes is all part of the maturing process as we grow into the likeness of the Son of God. As long as we make each decision based upon His truth and principles, then God goes with us through each decision no matter what the outcome. It may not be what we want or what we expected, but the outcome is from God.

Always make a decision based upon truth and love, both to ourselves and to the others that are involved. When we hold fast to God's principles (putting them into practice), then we can be sure that the outcome is from God.

When we have a decision to make, get all the facts, tell everyone who needs to know or who has a right to know the full truth about everything that applies to them.

Prayer = Focused Intention

This article is really for me and my family. (Perhaps it can be of some help to others as well.) We were in the middle of having to make some major decisions in our life. We didn't know what to do. This article came to me in stages; in the evening before I went to bed, and in the middle of the night, during the day as I was working..

The Law Of Averages

When I was of the old mindset about prayer it was easy to think that when something happened that I prayed about, that my prayer caused the event to happen. In recent times I've had a new thought about that. The law of averages says that if you bet on enough horse races, you'll will a few of them. If you make enough prophecies, some of them will come true. If a fortune teller will predict enough events some of them will come true. (i.e. let's say a fortune teller will predict the outcome of 100 events, the law of averages says that at least a few of them will happen. Then she can look at the few that she correctly guess about and proclaim her powers of predicting the future.) In much the same way, if someone prays for enough different things, some of them are bound to come true. As humans, we also tend to see what we want to see. Then, if we see that some of our prayers have seemingly been answered (even though it is just the law of averages) it's easy to think that our prayers caused the desired thing to happen. But what about all the things that we have prayed about that never happened? It's so easy to brush them into the closet and forget about them. It's so much more builds our ego to think that our prayers made things happen.

I believe that a large part of people believing in the power of prayer is that of "people  see what they want to see." When a person believes in the "power of prayer" then he only sees the things that fit into his belief system and he discounts anything that doesn't fit into his paradyme.

Over my 60 plus years I have in the midst of many people praying. I have also watched may prayers that were prayed with "great power" (of strong emotion). No matter how the prayer was said, not matter how great of "power" was put into the prayers, I have seen nothing more than what could be attributed to the law of averages. Some people will get well, some will not, according to the law of averages.

Confirmation Bias

Another consideration is the tendency for the human mind to want to prove what it already believes to be right. For many people, it really doesn't matter what is true, they want to believe what they already believe and will go to great lengths to keep ahold of their beliefs.

"If one were to attempt to identify a single problematic aspect of human reasoning that deserves attention above all others, the confirmation bias we be among the candidates for consideration. Many have written about this bias, and it appears to be sufficiently strong and pervasive that one is led to wonder whether the bias, by itself, might account for a significant faction of the disputes, altercations, and misunderstandings that occur among individcuals, groups, and nations."1

 

The Power of Prayer

Anything that we do repeatedly will have an affect. If we say or think something over and over again, the repetition builds pathways in our brain in those areas. It doesn't matter whether those thoughts are true or not. The repetition can make it seem true to us. In much the same way, if we prayer repeatedly it will have an affect upon us. This can go in several different directions.
1.) If we pray repeatedly that our eyes will be opened to the needs of others or of a specific person, then that builds an awareness within in our minds to begin looking for the people who are in need.
2.) If we pray repeatedly that God will work in specific ways, the repetition of those prays builds within us thoughts that we can cause things to happen. We don't see all the things that happen contrary to our prayers.

The continued repetition can be extremely beneficial in helping us to become persistent, or to build positive thoughts in our life. Conversely, it can also be very harmful if it makes us believe things that just aren't true.

In prayer, if we think something might be true (whether or not is actually true) the continued repetition can convince us without a doubt that something is true. The continued repetition builds those thoughts and ideas deep down inside of us. So the message is, "Be careful what you pray" because the message will be planted deep inside of you.

Additional Notes: 

There are many challenging situations in this life that really stretch us, that push us to the limit, the  tear at our emotions. Prayer is a practice of controlling our mind and our emotions, of calming us down.

 

20 Jul 2010

Faith Can Move Mountains

Submitted by Stephen Winters

When I was much younger I would read the verse that said, "... Faith can move mountains..." and I thought that if I could just "muster up enough faith" then I could say, "Mountain, go into the sea." Of course, I could never muster up enough faith to make anything happen.

In recent years I've come to understand that concept of "moving mountains" entirely different. I think of one man with a shovel and wheel barrel. He looks at the mountain and says to himself, "I will move that mountain!" He sets out at the base of the mountain and puts his shovel into the dirt and digs out a shovel-ful. He dumps the dirt into the wheel barrel. Then he takes another shovelful and puts it into the wheel barrel. This cycle continues over and over again until the wheel barrel is full. The man then pushes the wheel barrel to the new location and dumps the dirt on the ground. He goes back for another load of dirt, then another and another. On and on it goes, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. As the new pile of dirt grows, and as people see the excitement of the man moving the mountain, people come to help. Each of the new people bring shovels and wheel barrels. Soon there are hundreds of people loading up their wheel barrels and moving dirt.

The point of this message is to show faith in one of it's finest forms. Faith combined with hard work and perseverance. Now, let's look at that verse that says, "Faith without works is dead." Here we can see that if that man just sat in his chair trying to "muster up enough faith" to move the mountain, nothing of value would ever have been accomplished.

So, the definition of faith we will use in this situation would be: Intention + having a plan + putting plan into action + perseverance = Faith in Action.

How does this apply to my life and to your life. If we believe God has called us to some task or goal, get up and get busy. Do whatever is set before you without complaint. Grumbling and complaining can destroy even the strongest faith. Instead of complaining "this is too big", start dreaming and planning how to make your dream happen.

 

 

20 Jul 2010

Living A Godly Life

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When many hear the term "godly life", visions of men or women spend hours each day on their knees in prayer, praying for the lost people in the world. Along with the come thoughts of being faithful about attending church and prayer meetings, reading the bible, witness to the lost.... Is this what it means to be godly?

What does it mean to be godly?

25 Jul 2010

Trials come for a purpose

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Trials come to either tear you down or to build you up, your choice. If you run from the trial you are slowly torn down and become less capable. Trials often come to teach us lessonsH. If you face the trial head on, keeping a good attitude, resting when you need to, studying out and working through the problem, you become more capable, more knowledgeable and less afraid.
Face your problems with acceptance and a good attitude.Learn to work with life, don't avoid life or fight against it. Face your problems with acceptance and a good attitude.

Trials and tribulations come for a purpose to either teach and train us, to give us direction, or to mature us. "He who endures to the end (of the trial) will be saved (made whole, corrected, or matured). This applies to each and every trial that comes our way. If we run from the trial or fight it, then we don't learn the lessons and don't receive the growth that submitting to and perservering through the trial brings. Then a stronger trial may come our way because we didn't learn the lessons of the earlier trial.

Many of us are weak and immature in many areas. We struggle helplessly, wanting change and freedom, but now knowing how to attain them. We want the quick and easy way out. We continue to cause many of our own problems because of our ignorance, our selfishness, and our immaturity. Trials come intensely over a long period of time to thoroughly burn into us ... and to mature us and teach us...

Trials come to teach, train, and to prepare us for that which lies ahead. Blessings lie on the other side of the trial. The blessings are a fruit of the trials. If we try to avoid the trial, then we miss out on the blessings and fruit of the trial as well.

1 Aug 2010

Our Thoughts Determine Our Path

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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"Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." What does that mean? We are to submit every part of our lives to God, down to our very thoughts. Every deed and every action begins in our thoughts. There is no such things as an unintentional evil impulse. It all begins in our thoughts. The thoughts that we think determine the path that we walk. There are no secret thoughts that are hidden from God. He knows our every  thought intention and every desire. Any evil or .... thought that we hold onto and nuture will someday reveal itself in our actions.

1 Aug 2010

knowing

Submitted by Stephen Winters


"Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without know God makes for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ strickes the balance, because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness." Blaise Pascal

 


13 Aug 2010

We've Been Forgiven

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Tell about the cell phone

We've already been forgiven. The reason that we still live as captives to sin and keep on sinning is that we don't know that we've been forgiven. In addition, we don't understand or don't realize what forgiveness means. It means that we have been set free from the power of sin. But it also means that we have to walk in that freedom. Every person is different, the path to experiencing that freedom may be different for each person.

14 Aug 2010

Purpose was Life

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Jesus said, "I came that they (K)may have life, and have it abundantly" John 10:10b (or "My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." New Living Translation) Jesus came to give us a rich satisfying life. He did not come to bring us a new religion. He came to free us from religion. If there is anything to religion, it is to help widows and orphans in there distress. If there is anything to religion, it is only to help us to live the abundant life that Jesus talked about.

30 Aug 2010

Religiosity

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Religiosity uses religion to excuse poor behavior, or to make excuses to not behave properly. Religiosity also stops growth.

For example, "That's not in the Bible, so I don't have to do it."

"They didn't say it in the "correct Christian words" so I won't accept it.

30 Aug 2010

Questioning Your Faith

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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It's OK to ask genuine and sincere questions. It's very appropriate to question even the existance of God,

 

"So here's what I want you to do in the next 40 days. Remember the phrase that came from Thomas Jefferson. It changed my life. Question with the quote, the full quote is, when it comes to religion, above all things fix reason firmly in her seat and question with boldness even the very existence of God. For if there be a God, he must surely rather honest questioning over blindfolded fear.

That changed my life. Fix reason firmly in her seat. And question with boldness even the very existence of God. Find out what you believe. Don't go to church because you've always gone to church. It's not enough. You must have a personal relationship. You must know that he exists. You must know who you are in relation to him. When times are when times are troubled I'm almost quoting the Beatles here. I'm trying hard not to say Mother Mary comes to me. But when times are troubled, you must know that everything is going to be okay. Because he cares. And you must trust him." Glenn Beck, What does it all mean?


 

10 Oct 2010

The Saving of the Soul

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What is your soul? I've thought or heard that the soul is that place inside us where the affects of all that we are or do is stored and active. Another way of putting it is that your soul is who you really are, throwing aside all pretense.

Next, let's think about salvation. I once heard a preacher or speaker say something about salvation means to bring to a wholeness or wellness.

Next, when we talk about "saving" your soul. Using the previous two examples, when we talk about salvation, we think of the person we really are, our very innermost being, coming to a wholeness or wellness. That makes so much sense to me. True salvation means that we begin being real and honest, both with ourselves and those around us. This realness is part of the path leading to our becoming truly whole and complete, to be truly "saved."

Much of Christianity today spends way too much time and effort trying to get people into heaven rather than getting heaven into them while they are here on earth. What does "getting heaven into someone" mean. It means helping them to become whole (being real, truthful, honest, living a life of integrity and honor).

Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" John 6:44. Take a look at how that should affect "soul winning." If only the Father can draw people to Christ, then why is so much effort given to soul-wining by the Christian community. Only God can truly save souls (bring our innermost selves to a wholeness/wellness).

11 Oct 2010

Memorization

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Today I was listening to Micheal Savage on the radio. During his show he said that one of his professors in college said something like, "Don't worry about memorization. Just learn to get the information when you need it. And know the stuff that is important"

That immediately hit me. So true! I think about how many people memorize the Bible and how I spend years memorizing the Bible. And for what purpose?

To summarize what Mr. Savage said, "Know the stuff that is important and know where to look up the rest."

Living out what is important is so much more important than memorizing lots of scriptures. What should we live out? "Love the Lord your God with all you mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." AND "I give you a new command... love your brother..." AND ... ".... if I have not love.... I am only a noisy gong or clanging symbor.

17 Oct 2010

Learning Humility and Thoughtfulness

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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This morning, as my oatmeal mush was cooking in the microwave, went over to get a banana (that I usually cut up and put on top of my mush.) As I came to the counter I saw the bananas. Some were large and a nice clean yellow. Some were smaller and had some small dark spots on the skins. It's so much my nature that I want to take the biggest and best looking. But in recent years I've been trying to teach myself humility, to think of others, and to think of the future.

  This morning, as I stood looking at the bananas, I consiously chose one of the smaller slightly darkened bananas, peeled it, and began cutting it up to put on my mush. As I did this my mind began to wander back to the period of when the Israelites were required to make sacrifices. They were to give the firstborn and/or the best of the crops to the Lord. As I thought about this I began to understand that giving the best to the Lord might of been, among other things, a way to teach humility and thoughtfulness to the children of Israel. It is so much human nature to always want the best for onself. But it the best was to be given to the Lord, then (theoretically at least), it would sort of disarm that self-serving attitude. When we purposefully give the best to the Lord, or to someone else, then we can stop trying to get the best for ourselves.

  As an example, there are times in daily life when I want to get something to eat, there might be one apple left. I notice my impulse is often "I'd better get that so I'll have an apple." I recognize my response as being selfish. And, because I recognize that selfish attitude, I choose to act contrary to that impulse. So cut the apple into smaller pieces and I ask my son or daughter if they want some apple. Often they do. Here comes another choice. The apple pieces  are not all cut the same size. My eyes instantly pick out the largest pieces and my selfish nature tells me "give them the smaller pieces". Since I recognize my selfish thoughts, I purposefully give them the larger pieces and take the smaller ones for myself.

There is a lot of freedom in giving away the best and taking what is left. For one thing, it disarms that selfish tendancy and activates thoughtfulness.

18 Oct 2010

Who are we to Love

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Our feelings towards others are largely based upon how we think about and how we treat others, and not as much upon how they treat us. Much of our thinking about others is based upon our own misconceptions and prejudices. Our own erroneous thinking causes us to act poorly towards others. This causes them to look upon us as enemies and for them not to trust us.

This is why Jesus said to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matt 5:44-45. Whether it is towards our enemies or our brothers, the standard is love. (1 Cor 13:4-5 ff "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.")

Our actions towards others should not be based upon their behavior or about our thoughts or feelings about others. Instead, our thoughts, attitudes, and actions towards others are to be based upon who God is and who was are as his children. We are to love both our brothers (John 13:34) and our enemies (Matt 5:44).


22 Oct 2010

Beliefs are actions

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Beliefs are your actions that you work towards a goal. Beliefs are not emotions. Beliefs are what you do. Can can feel (have an emotion) that you Can't do something. But if you use your beliefs and continue to work towards your goal, you have a much high changes of accomplishing your goal.

29 Oct 2010

Ongoing Forgiveness

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Throughout the course  of each day their are countless... that occur that can build resentment and bitterness. The process of forgiveness is monitoring and being constantly aware of our thinking. As each event happens that triggers a pain or ... response, then we consciously let it go. Whenever we feel hurt and want to withdraw, we instead reach out in kindness. With each .... we disarm it by proactively acting contrary to our emotions. We think kind thoughts and proactively do some acts of kindness to those who hurt us. To be .... much of the pain we receive comes from our own minds. Much of the hurt we receive from others is of our own imaginations.

It is so easy to build up tiny resentments which can damage relationships. To disarm the resentment we continually let go of our "rights" to be treated as we imagine. It is a matter of "dying to self" moment by moment of each day.

Forgiving others is not a one-time act, but an ongoing process. It is a way of continually acting with humility, not expecting to be the center of everyone's universe.

 A lot of the pain that we experience is because of our incorrect focus. We think of ourselves and of our "rights" of what others "should" do for us or how they "should" act towards us. Then we are constantly dissappointed or angered because we perceive that others are not meeting our needs.

Where is our attention focused? Is it focused on what I "should" be receiving, or on how I can serve others?


11 Nov 2010

Persevere to the End

Submitted by Stephen Winters

"He who perseveres to the end will be saved." This came to me today, "He who continues to be fully aware and engaged to the very end will be made whole."

I like to play Spider Solitaire on my computer whenever I just have a few minutes. It's kind of a mindless game that usually only takes a few minutes to win. The more I play it, the more I'm able to win more and more games. That's partly because as I play more I"m more aware of how to play better. During the times I've played, I've had a number of games that seemed hopeless. I was in the middle of the game and didn't yet have any sets, and I didn't see any way to proceed. It seemed like I had lost and it is easy to just zone-out (mentally disengage from the game) and give up. But as I've played it more and more I've come to realize that if I stay fully engaged to the very end, I have a very high chance of winning almost every game. By Fully engaged, I mean that I keep my mind fully away and fully on the problem of finding one more move. Sometimes it might mean that I have to back up a couple moves and play the cards differently.

This is much like real life. There have been many times that life seemed overwhelming and I didn't know what to do. The saying comes to me, "Do what is before you (at this moment)". One thing that quickly overwhelms us is when we try to see the big picture and understand what is going on. It just doesn't make sense. Jesus said, "I AM". The Jews wanted to stone him because that is how God calls Himself. But let's take a look at that. "I AM" In the structure of language "I Am" is "Present Tense". God is the god of right now. That brings us back to "Do what is before you (in this moment)". We do what we can in this moment (truthfully, with honor and integrity), and God works out the details.

When we come to the difficult or challenging times in life it is so easy to just want to step back out of the fight and zone out. I believe that God purposefully sends challenging times our way to grow us so that we can handle more and more challenging times. It is as we pursevere (keeping fully awake and fully engaged, acting with integrity and honor) through each challenging time that we become more and more like God's son. It is through these times that God transforms us into His image.

Part of the reason it is so important to keep fully aware and engage all the way through the challenge is there are things that you need to either learn or accomplish before the trial will end. To successfull finish the trial, you must succeed through the trial. The way out is not to escape from the trial. This only makes you have to go through it again. To successfully leave the trial you must learn the lessons of the trial. The lessons can only be learned if you keep fully awake and are fully engaged in working through the tasks of the trial.

14 Nov 2010

Who is the True Child?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Who are the true children, those who were born to a parent, or those who are living the life worthy of bringing honor to the parent? If a child has come into a family by being born, and yet treats the parents with scorn and catempt, is that children a true child? In contrast, if a child wasn't born into the family, but was adopted instead. If this child treats the parents with kindness and honor, and if that child lives a live that brings honor to the parents, is this child a true child of the parents?Which of those two children has the true spirit of the parents?

17 Nov 2010

Thoughts about Repentance

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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For much of my life, whenever I heard a preacher preach about "repentance", I always thought of it as something like, a person had to be totally broken, kneeling "humbly" before God, and saying something like, "Oh God, I'm a horrible sinner. I'm not worthy to come to you, but I cry out to you. Change me...." The sinner had to admit his sin and recognize and admit the horribleness of it. (I'm being a little overly dramatic here, but, hopefully, you get the point.) But Jesus and the Bible didn't have that attitude.

(To the woman who as caught in adultery, after her accusers had left,) Jesus said, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

 11 “No, Lord,” she said.

   And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

Jesus did not condemn her. He cared about her and wante what was best for her.

 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

In recent years my view of repentance has change markedly. I see repentance as more of a realization, "Oh, I've been doing that incorrectly." and with that a decision to do things differently.

Repentance is not a one time event, but rather it is a continually change in the way one thinks. It's a matter of being open to correction, of being willing to change and improve the way one thinks and acts.

24 Nov 2010

Religion and Friendship

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Being a true friend is helping another person to discover his own path. "You can't teach a person anything. You can only help him discover what is in himself."

A religious mind will try to make that person like onself.

When Jesus encounted the woman who was caught in adultery, he did not try to "convert" her to a religion. He merely said, "neither do I condemn you. Go and sin and more." In effect, he was telling her to find that part inside her that calls her to the higher way.

15 Jan 2011

Working Premise

Submitted by Stephen Winters

When we begin with a  premise about a subject we distort the outcome. For example, if we believe that the earth is flat, and we "know" that to be true, then everything we discover must fit within that parodym or we won't accept it. In other words, we only accept proof that supports our premise.

For  example, if we begin with a premise that says that Christianity is the one true religion we will only accept evidence that supports our premise. This is true for the other religions as well. If we believed that Buddism, or Atheism was the only true belief, then we would likewise only accept evidence that supports our premise.

For example here is a text box from my son's Science book. 

"Thinking Christianly1 

1. Study everything the Scriptures have to say about the subject, not just a single verse. 

2. Determine whether the Bible speaks directly about the theory. If it does, then you must believe the Bible and you must reject the theory or modify it to conform to what Scripture clearly states

3. If there is disagreement because the Bible does not make a clear statement on the theory, then the presuppositions for each position must be examined. If the theory is based on any presupposition that excludes God as Creator or denies the Bible as true, then one must be cautious about accepting or rejecting the theory, because it is possible to have a workable scientific model based on wrong presuppositions

4. Investigate the possibility that conditions affecting the theory in the past may not be identical to conditions today. To assume conditions were the same gives credence to the uniformitarian view of the universe, which claims that the present is the key to the past. 

5. Research what other Christian scientists say about the apparent contradiction."

 

Notice the underined text (underlined by me) in the box above: in #2 it says that "must believe the Bible and you must reject the theory or modify it to conform to what Scripture clearly states". Here the premise is that the Bible is true and anything that contradicts the Bible is to be rejected. the author if that "Thinking Christianity" text is working with the supposition that the Bible is the infallible inerrant2 Word of God.

In much of today Christian "Faith", a presupposition is asserted and then everything has to fit into faith system. It doesn't matter if something is true or not, what is important is if one believes something to be true. 

 

 Instead of beginning with a presupposition, such as that "The Bible is true" or (or view of) "God is true, we should begin fresh to find out what is true and what is not.. A good beginning point would be to use something like the Scientific Method.3

Here are some Scientific Method Steps4 

Scientific Method Step 1: Make Observations
You may think the hypothesis is the start of the scientific method, but you will have made some observations first, even if they were informal.
Scientific Method Step 2: Propose a Hypothesis
It's easist to test the null or no-difference hypothesis because you can prove it to be wrong. It's practically impossible to prove a hypothesis is correct.
Scientific Method Step 3: Design an Experiment to Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 4: Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 5: Accept or Reject the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 6: Revise the Hypothesis (Rejected) or Draw Conclusions (Accepted)

These steps are also common 

Scientific Method Step 1: Ask a Question
Scientific Method Step 2: Make Observations and Conduct Background Research
Scientific Method Step 3: Propose a Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 4: Design an Experiment to Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 5: Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 6: Accept or Reject the Hypothesis

A main difference in Christian faith and in the scientific inquiry is that the christians begin with the idea that they are right. In science the quest is to find what is true, but also realized that there is a lot that can't be proven.

 

 My Background

I was raised by parents who called themselves Christians, but had their own set of beliefs. As a result I developed my own set of beliefs about God, the bible, church meetings, etc. Part of my belief system was what seems common in the Christian world today. That belief was "The bible is the inerrant, infallible, Word of God, the final authority in all things relating to faith and practice".

However, when I went through some very long and difficult years my religious beliefs crumbled. I realized that my beliefs weren't based upon truth. Although my faith in God has been greatly strenghthened,  I've had to rethink and evaluate much of what I once thought and believed about the Bible and religion. As I write these pages, my working premise is that various parts of the Bible were written by some godly men. (They wrote as honestly and truly as they were capable of writing. They wrote about what they had seen and learned about history and God's working.) However, the perceptions of the Bible by many today is distorted and has gotten way off track. The Bible has been made into a form of an idol. (Everything is based on the Bible, and it is called the "Word of God".)

Much of what I've been learning over the years is kind of fragmented, and just in my head. I decide write these pages to help me to put together what I've been learning. In other words, I'm mainly writing these pages for myself so that I can better understand all this myself. These web pages are a collection of ideas and beliefs that I've been learning over the years. This section of pages are focused on what I've been learning about the Bible. I'm writing these pages to clarify:

  1. What do I think or believe about the Bible
  2. What is true?

It is my intent to study, research, and write about the Bible:

  1. What is the Bible?
  2. Who actually wrote the various parts of it?
  3. How is it perceived?
  4. What is it's purpose?
  5. How can it be used?
15 Jan 2011

Authorship of the Bible

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Who wrote the bible, and under what conditions?

Did men write the bible as the "Spirit" told them what to say? Did the "Spirit" actually move the hands of the authors, so that in fact, the men's minds weren't involved in the writing process?

If we are to say that the Bible was actually written by God, let's look at the implications of that belief:

If the books of the Bible were written directly by the hand of God (basically grabbing ahold of the bodies of all these men and making their hands move to produce writings on the writing materials), what are the implications? Among other things it would mean that:

  • The (supposed) authors of the various books of the Bible had nothing of value to share from their lives. Perhaps living a godly life didn't give them anything of value to write about.
  • Men aren't capable of writing anything of true significance.
  • The minds of mens were of no value in the writing process.

If the Ten Commandments were written by the very hands of God, isn't that proof that God can produce writings without using human bodies and hands?

If God can and did wrote the Ten Commandments himself, then why didn't he write the rest of the books of the Bible the same way? Was He incapable of writing on papyrus or other fragile writing materials?

 

 

To say that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, that covers a period of XXXX years, is questionable. If we follow the line of reasoning that God gave him a supernatural revelation, or that God personally told him what to write, or that God, through the Spirit, took control over his Body and personally wrote XXXX, we then have to ask some Questions. Why did God not do that with the rest of the books of the Bible. But then you might say that God did write the rest of the books. If that is so, then why did God stop writing?
As I understanding it, the Pentatuch contains several writing styles, meaning that it shows to be the writings of several people.
It would seem that if God were indeed the writer of the Bible, then the stories of the Bible would progress sequentially in order, without all the jumping around, duplication of events, etc.

 

 

 

I was raised by parents who called themselves Christians, but had their own set of beliefs. As a result I developed my own set of beliefs about God, the bible, church meetings, etc. Part of my belief system was what seems common in the Christian world today. That belief was "The bible is the inerrant, infallible, Word of God, the final authority in all things relating to faith and practice".

However, when I went through some very long and difficult years my religious beliefs crumbled. I realized that my beliefs weren't based upon truth. Although my faith in God has been greatly strenghthened,  I've had to rethink and evaluate much of what I once thought and believed about the Bible and religion. As I write these pages, my working premise is that various parts of the Bible were written by some godly men. (They wrote as honestly and truly as they were capable of writing. They wrote about what they had seen and learned about history and God's working.) However, the perceptions of the Bible by many today is distorted and has gotten way off track. The Bible has been made into a form of an idol. (Everything is based on the Bible, and it is called the "Word of God".)

Much of what I've been learning over the years is kind of fragmented, and just in my head. I decide write these pages to help me to put together what I've been learning. In other words, I'm mainly writing these pages for myself so that I can better understand all this myself. These web pages are a collection of ideas and beliefs that I've been learning over the years. This section of pages are focused on what I've been learning about the Bible. I'm writing these pages to clarify:

  1. What do I think or believe about the Bible
  2. What is true?

It is my intent to study, research, and write about the Bible:

  1. What is the Bible?
  2. Who actually wrote the various parts of it?
  3. How is it perceived?
  4. What is it's purpose?
  5. How can it be used?
15 Jan 2011

Belief in the Bible

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I've learned a few things. Just because someone believes in something does not make it true. Just because someone believes INTENSELY in something does not make it true. Someone's belief in something has nothing to do with whether or not something is true. Something is true because it is true, and for no other reason.

My Belief:

My Faith is in God and in his working in my life and in the lives of others. He has demonstrated his love and his care for me through many trials. He showed Himself to be real to me. My faith is not in the Bible or in any other book. I believe that godly men wrote much of the Bible. But, like the writers of  any book they were human and were not perfect. What they wrote wasn't perfect, but it has great value to many people.

Written by Godly Men

The bible was written by the minds and hands of godly men.

  • "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." Luke 1:1-4   [Luke very clearly said that he had personally investigated the facts (the implication is that he used his own mind) and the he had written an order account. He said nothing about the he was writing for God or that God was writing through him. Luke was doing the writing on his own account.]
  • "I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand....." Philemon 1:19 [Paul very clearly said that he wrote letter to Philemon. He said nothing about God writing it through him. It was Paul's personal letter to Philemon.]
  • "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you." Colossians 4:16
  • "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15-16
  • "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13
  • "I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete." 2 John 1:12
  • "I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink." 3 John 1:3

Paul would be appalled if he saw that his letters were taken to be the "Holy Word of God". He did not see himself as someone who would be viewed as equal to God.

"But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:  “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them." Acts 14:14-15

 

Christ came to this earth to show us how to live. It's the life that we are to live that is important, not the words that describe.

God cares deeply about all of us on this early, so much so that he

The Word of God is very personal and very specific to each person and each situation.

We don't hold onto our beliefs; that doesn't give our beliefs a changes to grow and evolve. Rather, we hold onto those things that are true. Our beliefs will follow as we grow and mature into that which God has for us.

 

Paul considered his writings as letters

  • "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." Colossians 4:

Peter also considered Paul's writings as letters, 2 Peter 3:15-16

 

God's principles and concepts that are lived our are more important than how the words are expressed. Immature people, who have little or no true understanding, will focus on making sure that the words are said correctly. Mature(ing) Christians will understand and put into practice the principles and concepts of godly living.

The only time the phrase "word of God" is used is when God sent a message..

It is true that God is in all things. When the men wrote the documents that were later put into the Bible, these men wrote the things that they had learned from God through their own life experiences. They did not learn these things from just reading "Scriptures", but from God teaching them through each situation in their lifes. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete." 1 John 1:-4

Just because some men got together and put all these writings into a single volume does not make it into anything more than they were initially. After all, the name Bible simple means "book". To be practical, it is easier to read and refer to all these writings in a simple form of a book as they currently are. However, they are still the same documents as they were at the beginning.

Writings of godly men are unquestioningly valuable to other believers and all people trying to live godly lives.

You might ask, what difference does it make if we call the writings of the bible as the "Word of God". It makes a lot of difference.

  1. We are not being true to the intent of the original authors to distort their purpose and meaning.

Too many people hold onto their beliefs about the truth rather than holding onto the truth itself. John had it right when he said, " That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." 1 John 1:1-3a

Church

Look at the wide range of "Christian Churches" that claim to believe the Bible (Bible-preaching, Bible believing). And yet, why do they fight and quarrel about so many different things. Why are there some many different denominations, with all the many split-offs.

15 Jan 2011
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(If we want to see all the articles about the Bible on one page, click here.

Many religious leaders and other people claim that the Bible is the Inerrant Infallible Authoritative Word of God. Many of those people also claim that the Bible itself claims to be the word of God. Let's look at what one of those authors wrote:

"One of the objections raised by critics of biblical inspiration is that the Bible is not the word of God but that it contains the word of God.  Is this accurate?  No.  First of all, this doesn't fit what the Bible says about itself.  The collection of 66 books that the Christian Church recognized as being inspired speaks as the very words of God in many places.

"Thus says the Lord" occurs over 400 times in the Old Testament.
"God said" occurs 42 times in the Old Testament and four times in the New Testament.
"God spoke" occurs 9 times in the Old Testament and 3 times in the New Testament.
"The Spirit of the Lord spoke" through people in 2 Sam. 23:2; 1 Kings 22:24; 2 Chron. 20:14."1

The inference here is that just because a book says "Thus says the Lord" OR "God said" in it's content, then that proves that all the text before and after "what God said" was also spoken by God. Does this even make sense?

It says that God spoke.... or God said. Now to whom did he speak each time. It doesn't say that God "wrote" anything. But rather, God "spoke" to specific people for specific purposes. In fact, was anything said about putting "what God said" in a book?

"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." Hebrews 1:1-3

 

Making a claim doesn't make the claim true. Just because a writing has some words that are claimed to be from God, does that mean that the entire writing has written by God? No, of course not. The Bible makes no claims about itself because it is not an entity in and of itself. The Bible is a collection of the writings of various authors spanning perhaps a couple thousand years. When the claims were supposed to have been made, there was no such thing as the Bible.

Let's look at a hypathetical example. Let say that, as a college student, you write a letter home to your mom who wants you to come home for the holidays. In your letter to her, as you explain why you can't, you quote your professor word for word. You write that Professor Smith said, "You failed that test, which makes up 1/2 of your grade for the course. I'm going to give you another chance, I will retest you right after the holidays. If you wish to pass the test, and thereby past this course, you will need to stay at college and study hard for the test." In your letter you go on to say how much you love your mom and how much you will miss her. You also write a lot of other information in the letter.

I ask you, who wrote that letter? You. Whose letter is it? Yours. Just because you would have quoted your professor doesn't mean that the Professor wrote your letter. It doesn't matter if you quoted the professor once or a thousand times, it is your letter. You wrote the letter. In the same way, if the writers who wrote the different documents of the Old or New Testament said that "God said" or  "God spoke" or "Thus says the Lord" doesn't mean that God wrote those entire letters. The human authors wrote each of those documents by their own hand. Within the context of their letters they quoted what they thought God had said.

The Bible is not an authority or an identity in itself. The Bible cannot speak itself. It can make no claims regarding itself. It is merely a collection of writings of various authors. We have to look at what each writer said in context.

Often times an whole bunch of Bible verses are given at one time to "prove" that the Bible is the "Word of God". Well, let's take a look at the common verses that are use to make that claim.

In reality, is there any such thing as the Bible, or the Old Testament or the New Testatment? Each of those is really just a collection of writings of various prophets and other authors. If you look carefully through each of the books of the Bible, or Old Testament, or New Testament, you will notice something. None of any of the writers had any idea that someday their writings would be part of something call the Bible, The Word of God, The Old Testament or the New Testament. It was only many centuries after they were written that MEN put them together into a book form.

 

They say that they need to have the Bible to have a guideline, a word from God, a standard, to know what is true and what is not.
If that is true, then what about all the people throughout history who never had a Bible. For well over XX years there were no Bibles in the hands of the common people. All throughout history how did people know what was true? How did God speak to people through all of this time...
To say that the Bible is needed as the Word of God so that we know what is truth, does not make it into the Word of God and saying that doesn't make it true.
Rom 1

Old Testament

 

New Testament

Much of the New Testament was written in Greek. Greek was not a "Christian" language, but was just the common language of the people. To find out the true definition of Greek words we should not go to a "Theological" or "Biblical Greek Dictionary". Instead we should go to a common language Greek Dictionary.

Biblical scholars are often promoting the study of (Biblical) Greek, as if that it he best way to understand "the book that God wrote". Consequently, in Christianity today you would think of Greek as a "Biblical" or religious language. In reality, Greek was just a common language of the day. It was not a religious language. (See "Biblical Greek".) Paul and the other writers used common Greek words. They did not make up words to write their letters, otherwise no one would have understood them.

Here is one of the verses that religious people have used to "prove" that the Bible is the Word of God. Let's examine it more closely.

Scripture

2 Timothy 3:16

" All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.........."

Let's look at the word "scripture" that is used in the New Testament. Let's see how a common Greek dictionary defines it:

According to http://en.wiktionary.org the Definition of the Greek word for Scripture

Etymology: From γράφω.
Noun: γραφή (genitive ?) ?, (graphē)
   1. drawing
   2. painting
   3. writing, a writing
   4. description

Greek: Noun
γραφή (grafí) f.
   1. alphabetism
   2. writing (written letters or symbols that express some meaning)
   3. script (written characters)
   4. hand (style of penmanship), handwriting

In other words, the word "scripture" means "the act, process, or the product of writing". There is no "spiritual" meaning to the word itself. It was just a common word to describe either the act of writing or a document (of any type).

Prophets

Now, let us look at the concept of "prophets". Is that a specially appointed office designated by God himself?

2 Peter 1:21

"For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (NIV)

Definition of the word: "proph·et  (prft)
n.
1. A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.
2. A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression.
3. A predictor; a soothsayer.
4. The chief spokesperson of a movement or cause."

Again, starting with the word "prophet", let's put aside the the thought of "Biblical Greek?" and the "religious" definition and look towards a more common down-to-earth definition. So, let's examine #2 above, and possibly #4. Let's also look at the meaning of Holy Spirit, as decribed here,  meaning "pure and blameless mental disposition". So, the meaning of the prophet goes very well with definition #2 "A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression".

 

 

 

15 Jan 2011

Demystifying the Word(s)

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I would suppose that the documents of the Bible (see footnote below) were originally written as very practical everyday letters and documents to help others live a responsible and fruitful life. However, over nearly two thousands years of retranslations and adding religious meanins to the original Greek and Hebrew words, the meaning of the writings can be altered considerably. But, once we remove the layers of layers of built up religiosity from the defintions of the words in the Buble, then we can begin to understand the original intent of the authors.

Let's start with a very basic but foundational concept. In the period of time that Christ was on the earth (and before this time), very few people could write. (see history of writing_) So writing was more in awe. Scripture was a term for writing in general, and for generic written documents.

(note to myself: look up the history and usage of writing in general. Also look more into the word "scripture")

The books1 2 in the Bible were originally written as individual documents, letters, etc. At the time they were written there is no indication that any of the authors intended their writings to become part of a "holy" book. The authors wrote each document for a specific purpose, some of which we know and some that we don't know.

The documents of the bible are very practical and they have the ring of truth.

Religious people have taken the term "scripture" and made it into a "spiritual" term. But is there really an indication that at the time of this word's usage that it was considered anything other than the act or ... of plain writing?

The word Bible originally meant "book", as in it contained scriptures (documents).

Truthful words are helpful whether or not they are said to be "inspired by the Spirit". But, to go a step further than that, since God is the very embodiment of the truth, all truthful words are "inspired by the Spirit".

Definitions of the words.

As I look through a Greek or Hebrew dictionary of "Bible" words, one thing I notice is sthere is of then the "Religious" definition of the words and then there is a natural or plain definition. It's almost as though there are two primary definitions of the same word. I often wonder if the religious definition was put there to support people's religious beliefs. Then the natural definiton seems more like the real definition that was actually used in the time period that was written about. It seems to me that if we would just strip away all the religious definitions of the words then we would have a closer understanding of what the original authors really meant.

[note to myself: look up "revealed truth" as used in religion."]

  • 1. Bible:

    Look up Bible at Dictionary.com early 14c., from Anglo-L. biblia, from M.L./L.L. biblia (neuter plural interpreted as fem. singular), in phrase biblia sacra "holy books," a translation of Gk. ta biblia to hagia "the holy books," from Gk. biblion "paper, scroll," the ordinary word for "book," originally a dim. of byblos "Egyptian papyrus," possibly so called from Byblos (modern Jebeil, Lebanon), the name of the Phoenician port from which Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece (cf. parchment). Or the place name might be from the Gk. word, which would then probably be of Egyptian origin. The Christian scripture was refered to in Gk. as Ta Biblia as early as c.223. Bible replaced O.E. biblioðece (see bibliothek) as the ordinary word for "the Scriptures." Figurative sense of "any authoritative book" is from 1804. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Bible

  • 2. Main Entry: bi·ble

    Pronunciation: \ˈbī-bəl\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin biblia, from Greek, plural of biblion book, diminutive of byblos papyrus, book, from Byblos, ancient Phoenician city from which papyrus was exported Date: 14th century

    • 1 capitalized a : the sacred scriptures of Christians comprising the Old Testament and the New Testament b : the sacred scriptures of some other religion (as Judaism)
    • 2 obsolete : book
    • 3 capitalized : a copy or an edition of the Bible
    • 4 : a publication that is preeminent especially in authoritativeness or wide readership

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/netdict/bible

15 Jan 2011

Effects of One's Belief System

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Just because we belief somthing doesn't mean that it is true. Just because we believe something very strongly doesn't make it true. The strength of our belief has no bearing upon whether or not the object of our faith is true.

2Cor 13:5 "Make a test of yourselves, if you are in the faith; make certain of yourselves. Or are you not conscious in yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, if you are truly Christ's?" We are not to just assume that something is true just because we believe it. Take a look at all the followers of the various religous beliefs. Do all those people believe that they are right or wrong?

What difference does it make what someone believes about the Bible? It makes a lot of difference because our beliefs how we act and thing about ourselves and others. As an example, here are some things that I've noticed or experienced from religious people who are "Bible centered". (I am well familiar with this because I was raised in this belief system.)

  1. Immature Attitudes and Behaviors
    1. Outbursts of Anger: Some Christians get very angry if you say something they believe differently about. As an example: when I said something that the leader of the men's group believed differently about, one of the leaders angrily blew up and tried to set me straight.
    2. Religious Pride: They think that (their brand of) Christianity is the only religion that is right.
    3. Closemindedness: They will only talk with you about religion if you agree with them. If you talk about thigs that they don't agree with, then they won't even listen and will try to "correct" what you said.
    4. "Concerned About Your Salvation": The subtle implecation here is that "I'm right, you're wrong. If you believe differently that what I do, your salvation is in jeapordy."
    5. Scare Tactics:
      1. Going to hell: The thought his is that if you disagree or believe differently about something, then you will go to hell.
  2. Lack of Critical Thinking: Readers often don't critically evaluate the text that they are reading
    1. They are focused on the words rather than what the words mean
    2. They don't try to understand the deeper meanings and concepts of what the words mean.
  3. Bible Centered: The Bible becomes the centerpiece of which all ..... Quite often it seems like Christians don't know how to get together without doing a Bible study. Since everything is focused on the Bible, there is no ..... of individual thought.
    1. The emphasis is often put on "memorizing scripture" with a thought that if someone memorizes scripture, then that will somehow change a person's life.
    2. Children who know more Bible verses are rated and praised higher than those who don't know any or very many.
  4. Exclusionary: Even if someone lives a life of integrity and honor, but doesn't accept the Bible as the final authority, that person is excluded.
  5. Religious Words overvalued: What a person says is valued more highly than how one lives his or her life. People who use a lot of religious words are thought to be "very spiritual".
  6. Source Discrimination: This is a really big Fallacity that I see running major big time in Christianity: If an idea comes from another religion, or from some non-christian source, the idea is seen as bad. However, if a "Christian" source has the same idea, then it is seen as "spiritual" and thereby acceptable. The problem here is that Christians learn to accept or reject an idea base upon the source, rather than upon the quality and relavance of an idea.
  7. Age of Accountability
    1.  "The concept of the "age of accountability" is that children are not held accountable by God for their sins until they reach a certain age, and that if a child dies before reaching the "age of accountability,' that child will, by the grace and mercy of God, be granted entrance into Heaven."1  2
    2. Children of Heathen saved by death. The thinking error that can often follow the age of accountability thinking is, "If all unbelievers (i.e. Aethiest, Muslims, Hindus, etc.) will go to hell when they die, what about their babies and young children? Surely they wouldn't go to hell if they died before the age of accountability?" Then the haneous thoughts that follow, "If those unbelievers will go to hell after the reach the age of accountability, wouldn't it be better if they died as babies3 or young children so that they can go to heaven?" 
15 Jan 2011

Evaluating the Bible

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Any thinking person will evaluate what he or she is reading. While reading it is normal to ask questions about the content of what is being read.

  • Who is the author?
  • Does the author have first-hand information about what he or she has written?
  • If the author doesn't have first hand information, did he or she thoroughly research the subject?
  • Does the author have any prejudice or biases that distort what was written?
  • Is what was written true? How much of it is true and to what degree?
  • Has the author proven himself or herself true in othe things that they have written?
  • Does the author write in a well reasoned and credible manor, or does he or she make outrageous claims?

 

I have been told by well meaning people that I could loose my salvation if I don't believe that every part of the Bible was written by God's Holy Spirit. Is this true? Upon what basis is this claim made?

Any thinking person should evaluate the writings in the Bible to see if the are true.

 

Inerrancy of the Bible?

It has been emphatically stated by numerous Christian leaders that the Bible is without error..... Is this true? The inferance seems to be that if there were to be found any errors in the Bible, then it would be found to be false. But this conclusion in itself is erroneous. This leads to many errors

 

Why are religious people afraid to examine the validity of the bible itself? If people claim

Many people stake their lives and salvation on a book they haven't critically examined.

 

Many people claim that the bible was inerrant in it's original....

However, no original copy of any part of the bible exists today. All we have are copies of.... So, no one who is alive today has ever seen or examined those originals. In addition, none of the authors of the books of the bible ever claimed that their writings were free from errors.

But, even if those original documents were written by divine inspiration and were totally errorless, what about the copies and the translation that are around today. Are they inerrant? Do the modern translators have proofreaders to check for errors? (I'm being rediculous here now) If God is in the business of making sure all of his writings are perfect and error-free, then what would be the need for proof readers? After all, if God is in charge, wouldn't the translators just automatically make perfect copies the first time.

If god was watching over the original documents to make them inerrant the first time through, then God could and would protect the following copies from error (in the same way that he is said to have guided the writing of the first documents.) Has that happened without fail?

  • Are all the copies error free?
  • Are all the translations error free?
  • Why are there so many translations?

With all the modern word processore (and their built-in spell checkers), typesetters, and other computerized equipment of today, there are still many  documents that have errors. Therefore these documents need to be proofread.

To say that Paul's pen never slipped, that he never made an error in his writing, is ludecrous.

 

Here's a problem. If one says that the Bible is the Word of God, that was written by the Holy Spirit, then you have to claim that "there are no mistakes in the Bible". When mistakes are found, then you have to say that they are really not mistakes OR

God himself will be our teacher.

15 Jan 2011

History of the Bible

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When we look at historical events we need to realize

  1. There are the events that actually happened. There is a lot more happening, and a lot more people being affected by what happens, than anyone can ever know.
  2. Each person who ...... the event interprets it within the framework of his own past experiences, biases, prejudices,  and his ability to understand and express what he knows or has learned.
  3. Written documents (of history, prophecy, poetry, psalms) etc. don't just get automatically written. They are written by educated people who have learned how to read, write, and to adequately express themselves.
  4. There are the perceptions of what happened of the people who actually lived through the events. They generally saw and interpreted the events by how those events affected them. They were also limited in their awareness and understanding by what they saw, heard, and experienced.
  5. There are the perceptions of what happened of
  6. Each person cherry-picks the bits of the event that happened that tends to (prove their case?).
  7. A true historian will thoroughly investigate, research, to find out what actually happened. He will also truthfully and accurately record events to the best of his ability and understanding. He will be truthful, honest, and ... in his writing out the record. Even so, he will only see what he sees from his limited perspectives.

How can we know if a written document is truthful and acurate?

  1. The document can be verified by what is known elsewhere. We probably won't be able to very every word and sentence in the document, but we should be able to verify bits and pieces of it.
  2. Our ability to recognize and understand whether or not something is true depends greatly on our awareness, education, knowledge ....
  3. Throughout history, when very few people could read, they depended upon those who could read.
15 Jan 2011

Is the Bible True?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Is the Bible true? Can we trust the Bible? When someone asks these type of questions, we need to answer with truth. It doesn't give the bible any more credibility when we speak falseness about it. The Bible will stand or fall on its own. When questioned about the validity of the bible we need to give credible answers that have meaning. Just replying that "the Bible is the Word of God, so of course it's true" doesn't prove the credibility of the Bible. Instead, we need to give truthful and meaningful answers. For example, what are the concrete specific things that we know about the Bible the show that it is reliable?

Like any other book or writing, the Bible is true or false depending upon whether it contains truth or falsehood. Having a certain belief about the Bible does not make it true or false. Like any book, the Bible has to be judged and accessed by the character and truthfulness of the authors of the various components.

Many of the things written in the Bible we can't prove one way or the other. Other parts we can find out about.

Another way we can judge the trustworthiness of the authors of the bible is looking at the manner and .... of how they wrote.

Providing Proof

In any court trial (such as a person who claims to be the rightful heir of a large estate, etc.), the testimony of the claimant himself is not enough to prove his claim. There must be other reliable witnesses, documents, etc. to colaborate his testimony. To prove that the Bible is true we can't use the Bible (by itself) to prove that it is reliable. That would be like ONLY having the defendent's testimony as the only proof needed to claim his estate.

As I write this, I'm reminded that the Bible is a collection of the writings of fourty different authors of XXX number of years.

Follow the Logic

If something has mistakes in it, that doesn't make it untrue or worthless. We homeschool our children using homeschool text books. Sometimes we find typos in the text book. For example, in the Saxon mathbooks we have found several wrong answers in the teacher's manual. We just recognize that there is a typo and go ahead. We still value the lesson book. Having a mistake in the answers is no problem, as long as we recognize it as an error. But, if we thought of the teacher's book as Inerrant and infallible, then we'd have to see the incorrect answer as correct. That would cau Ese other problems.

Were the Authors Right about Everything?

The authors were human just like the rest of us. They were not perfect, they could make error judgements just like any other human. Even the most godly men make mistakes, even when they write things out. The difference is that when the realize they have made a mistake, they correct themselves.

The Maturing Process

In the life we grow and mature. The things that we think we know when we are younger, when we grow and mature we see how little we knew when we were younger. Paul the apostle was no different. When he was younger he said, "I am not the least among the Apostles." That was a prideful statement made by an immature man, and shows that not everything he wrote was perfect in faith and practice. Much later in life, after he had matured more, he said, "I am the least...." This showed how he had grown and matured over the years.

Like any of us, the apostles and prophets all had to grow and mature over the years. The advice they gave earlier in life was not as good as what they gave while later in life. If we look closely, we can see evidence of some of the apostles and others actingly immaturely and had to be corrected. i.e. look at how Peter ate with the Gentiles until the Jews came, then he drew back. Paul corrected him for his hypocracy. In another instance take a look at how Paul and ... got into a sharp disagreent about John Mark rejoining them after Mark had disserted them earlier. The argument was so strong that they split up. This was an immature behavior.

When we begin to realize that the apostles were human, and had human frailties like the rest of us, we begin to see how improperly they acted at times.

Does that mean that what they wrote was worthless. Of course not!

15 Jan 2011

Labeling

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I've noticed how quick some Christians are to give negative labels to people or ideas that they disagree with. For example, one common negative label is to call some beliefs "New Age". Once the Christians give the idea a label, then they can just quick disregard the idea or belief. In many ways giving something a negative label is a very prideful thing to do. It implies, "I am right" and "You are wrong."

In a way this is kind of humorous. When Jesus was here on earth, it seems that the main people he have labels to were the religious leaders.

15 Jan 2011

Notes

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Perhaps make out a multi-part questionaire, survey, or test, or use CCK (as I did in the homeschool writing website) Say in the questionaire that there are no wrong answer. This is about you, and helping you discover what you think and believe. We would suggest that you not ask anyone else about this. (It's OK to show the questionaire to others to get advice about the questions, but in giving the answers you should think about what you yourself think and believe. The answers shouldn't be about what others have told you, or what you heard somewhere. Again, this is about you and your ideas and beliefs.

 

If a person has held firmly to his same beliefs all his life, then he is probably an immature literal thinker and has never let himself grow.

 

I still have to study this out, but I seem to remember that "we" are supposed to be the "Living" word of God. I'm not sure if I'm remembering it correctly, so will have to look at it more.

15 Jan 2011

Scriptures

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What does the Greek word for scripture really mean?

In Christianity there is much said about the "Scriptures". But what did the Apostles and other really mean with they wrote in their original languages? Let's look at what a Greek dictionary says about the word:

G1121 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G1121 γράμμα gramma (gram'-mah) n.
1. a writing, i.e. a letter, note, epistle, book, etc.
2. (plural) learning
[from G1125]
KJV: bill, learning, letter, scripture, writing, written
Root(s): G1125
[?]

I'm no expert and I'm not a Greek scholar, but some things seem evident to me. During a time when very few people could read or write, those who could (including the apostles and prophets) valued greatly the ability to read and write. They knew how important it was to keep a written record and note about what someone wanted to remember or to learn. It is much easier to remember something accurately if you keep a written record and refer to it as needed.

Take a look at the above defined Greek word "G1121 γράμμα gramma (gram'-mah) n.", which has been translated in the Bible as "Scripture." Gramma looks strikingly similar to our English word "grammar".

It really seems to me that when authors of the biblical (book) content talked about scriptures, they meant "the act of writing" or "the product of writing". Plain and simple,there was no religious meaning to it. They knew the importance of learning and of the written document.

When we have a corrected view of the word "γράμμα gramma" means, then written documents take on a whole new meaning. We begin to realize the great value of the process of writing and of the written documents. We understand that God has spoken to many people through many writings, and that he will continue to speak through current and future writings.

Before we leave this subject, let us understand that God is not limited to speaking through written texts. He speaks to us in many other ways as well.

From Ray Geide, a Bible translator's explanation of this, go Here: Breakthrough Version about Scripture.

15 Jan 2011

Study it Out

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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We have some excellant examples of intelligant thinking people....

Luke 1:1 "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

The Bereans: Acts 17:11 "11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

 

These are excellant examples of people wanting to know something was true and studying it out.

Any reasonable person should ask these questions, and more ...

  • Is the Bible true?
  • Is every part of the Bible true?
  • To what degree is it true?
  • What is important, the words or the concepts?
  • Is the Bible inspired?
  • What is meant by the Word of God?

People of true faith should not believe something just because they have been told that it is true.

15 Jan 2011

The Law and the Prophets

Submitted by Stephen Winters

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

It's not important that we memorize a whole mountain of Bible verses. More important is living by the message of these and similar verses.

15 Jan 2011

Why

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 

Why am I spending so much thought and so much energy on debunking the Bible misconceptions?

Because the focus of many Christians is on the wrong ...... Our main focus should be on...

We need to think beyond just studying or memorizing the words on the page

We also need to realize that God is all around us, and he has much to teach us through each interaction or situation in our life. God can give his word to us through our families, friends, employers, co-workers, etc.

One main reason that I'm writing this information about the Bible and the Word of God is to study out what is true and right

Another reason is that there is a common belief around that says, "If you don't believe that the Bible is the Word of God, you are going to hell. I'm also writing this out as an answer to this.

I'm not trying to convince anyone else of these ideas, but am only studying and writing out what I've been thinking for the last few years.

15 Jan 2011

Word of God - Bible?

Submitted by Stephen Winters

What the word of God is....

What the word of God is not....

It is simplistic to say that any one book (i.e. the Bible, or any other religious book) is THE Word of God. If there is a God, and if he spoke to prophets and others, who wrote it, is it rational to believe that God quit speaking once some words were written down and bound into a book? It is more rational to believe that if God spoke over a long period of time to people in the past that he also continues to speak.

It doesn't matter whether we think the Bible is the Word of God or not. The bible is whatever it is no matter what we think about it. What we think or believe about the bible does not change what it is.

"The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword...." This says that when God message comes to us, it hits us where we are, down to the deepest reaches of our souls.

Bible, Only Way to God?

It has been said that the Bible is our (only) way to know and come to a personal relationship with God. When Christians are asked "What about those who have never had access to or heard the words of the Bible?" They answer that the heavens and the creation are a clear evidence of God, therefore the unbelievers will be judged because God had made himself plain to them through the creation. Therefore He will judge them based upon God revealing himself through creation and then rejecting God's proof.

This is a contradiction. If the Bible is the only way that we can come to God, then God can't judge those who have never had access to the Bible. Conversely, if God can judge people because they have rejected his proof displayed in creation, then that shows that people can come to God without reading the Bible.

In addition, if people can't come to God without the Bible, then all the people throughout the ages who didn't have access to, and never heard of, the Bible, those people are going to hell. In this case, God is an unjust tyrant who condemns people to hell with no way to escape it. But if God reveals himself through his creation and people will be judged by that, then that proves the Bible is not (the only) the way to God. It shows the God can bring people to himself through whatever means is appropriate to each person.

People who haven't heard

What happens to people who haven't heard the gospel or the bible.

If God has made provision to judge those who haven't heard by something else, then that shows that there are other ways to come to God besides the gospel.

The Word to Us

The word means a message for each of us individually and/or corporately. The Word is any messages, whether it be written, spoken, a thought, picture, landscape, location, etc. that gives me messages of help, hope, correction, insight, etc. God speaks to us through many vehicles. But the core of his message is  (always the same?)

Contains the Word of God

It is obvious that there are a number of places throughout the documents of the bible that say that the "word of the Lord" OR "the word of God" came to this individual or to that person. But what the text says it is clear that the word of God came to that person. However, just because a document or letter "contains" a message that is the word of God does NOT mean that the document itself is "the word of God". If that would be true, then ANY letter, document or book that contains any those word of God messages would have to be considered the Word of God. For example, if I wrote a letter contained any of those verses , then my whole letter would be a Word of God.

Implecations

The Bible either has errors or it doesn't have any errors. What are the implecations of either way?

If the Bible is indeed the Word of God, what would the implecations be? Would it be free from errors? If the Bible has errors, would that mean that it is not the Word of God?

If someone claims that the Bible is inerrant, does it mean that:

  1. They have exhaustively researched and studied it out themselves and they know for certain that it is error free.
  2. Are they relying upon the claims that they have heard others make "inerrant.... Word of God"

If someone believes that the bible is error free, then:

  1. The Bible is truly error free.
  2. The bible has errors, but they are relying upon the word of others about it being error free.
  3. If the Bible has errors and they don't know it, then some possibilities are:
    1. They haven't studied it out for themselves.
    2. They are blind to the errors
  4. If the Bible has errors and they do know it, then some possibilities are:
    1. They are lying to cover up the errors.

Making A Claim of Inerrancy is Huge!

Claiming the any book is totally perfect and completely free from error is a huge statement of great magnitude. To make a statement like this there would have to be exhaustive tests given the Bible to examine every aspect. Even then, could anyone be certain that every possible tests that could reveal any error had been given. What would the test criterea be?

  1. On what basis does anyone claim that the Bible is inerrant? Is it just a matter of one's belief with no proof or evidence to back it up?
  2. What criteria was used to prove that the Bible has no errors?
  3. What is considered an error?
  4. What test method was used?
  5. How did they seek to discover any errors in their test methods?
  6. Who did the testing?
  7. What are their biases and prejudices?
  8. What have they to gain or lose depending upon the outcome?
  9. What are their perceptions of what finding an error might mean?
  10. What is the credibility of the testing persons, methods, and equipment?
  11. How many other books or materials have they rated?
  12. What was the outcome of those ratings?
  13. Who certifies and monitors them and their equipment for reliability and accuracy?
  14. Show me where any of the authors of the documents of the Bible made any claims that their documents were free from error. Show me where the authors made any claim that they were writing the Word of God.

If someone knows that the Bible has errors and doesn't say anything about the errors,

I would assume that all books have some errors of some kind. If the information or instruction in the book works, then the errors don't make the information in the book any less valuable

Inerrant in Original?

I see many writings that say that the Bible was inerrant in it's original form. So, my thoughts are: No original exists today, so no one has seen the original. Consequently, no one can prove that the originals were without error.

But, even if the originals were written with divine inspiration (so that the were without error), then God could and would protect the subsequent copies and translations from error. However,

  • are the copies error-free?
  • Are all the translations error-free?
  • Why are there so many translations?

Even with all the modern typesetting and computerized equipment of today, many documents still have errors. Therefore we have proofreaders. To say that Paul never made mistakes with any of his writings is not reasonable.

If not the Bible, who will be our teacher?

God himself will be our teacher

These verses have been endlessly quoted by Christians to prove that non-christians will be judged.

God's Wrath Against Mankind

"Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Well, if it is indeed true that non-Christians (who have never seen a Bible) can be held accountable because God has revealed himself through nature, then it is also true that people can find God through nature (without ever having seen or read the Bible). This clearly shows that the Bible is not the only way to find God.

Notes

1Pet 1:23 You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

When you use the word "the", you usually mean that there is only one. When you say that the Bible is "THE" word of God, then that means there is only one. There is none other. When you say that the Bible is THE Word of God, this is what you are also saying:

  1. God only speaks by means of the Bible. God doesn't speak to us any other way.
  2. Everything that God has to say to us is contained in the Bible.
  3. God stopped speaking almost two thousand years ago. He hasn't spoken since.
15 Jan 2011

Words Versus Concepts

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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The writers of the different documents of the Bible describe their lives and what they had experienced and learn ed. They give us examples of how to live our lives. Many of their writings give us examples of how to live our lives. Some of those are examples of what NOT to do, and the consequences.

The lessons, concepts, and examples are what is important, not the words that were used to express them. Other words could have just as well be used to tell about them and the message would have been just as valid.

When people get stuck in idolizing the words that are in the Bible, they  then they

15 Jan 2011

Word of God Came to Me

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Although I had read and studied the Bible for years, the word of God never reached me during all those years. The word of God came to me and became real through my journey through my journey through the Oregon criminal justice system

20 Jan 2011

Looking past the Offense

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Tonight my son was playing with our new 2 1/2 month old puppy. I think that my son may have played a little rough with the puppy because the puppy either bit or clawed my 12 year old son. I didn't see it happen, but my son came and showed me the scratch, which was about 3 or 4 inches long, on his arm.

As I thought back about this incident it would be very easy to see the dog as being an offender (biting or clawing, etc.) and to begin to treat the dog as a bad dog. This would become a kind of self-fullfilling prophecy. When you treat an animal, or even a person, as a bad personality, then it could easily drive it into being that kind of person/animal. This is where the power of forgiveness comes into play.

Forgiveness is not looking at the "offender" as evil, or a sinner, or as an offender. But it is looking past the offence to see the person or animal as a person of value. It is looking at the person as who they will become. It is also treating it with respect and dignity, honoring the person and helping him to become who they were meant to be.

24 Jan 2011

The words

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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As I was walking today I got to thinking about all that God has been teaching me over the past few years. Much of it doesn't agree with "traditional" christianity.

Then a realization hit me. God is not human. He is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. When the writers of the New Testament, they used human words to try to express spiritual truths and to try to tell about God. However, mere human words cannot adequated explain things of the spirit or of God. God's truths are beyond the ability of humans to comprehend, and yet God reveals them to use by his spirit.

What does that mean, to reveal it by his spirit?

25 Jan 2011
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Just because a writing mentions another writing doesn't make the first writing to be the second writing. For instance, if I were to write a letter telling how valuable the Rodale cookbook is, that doesn't make my letter into the Rodale Cookbook. Here's another example. If I write an essay about the history of America, and if I quote Poor Richard's Almanac, my essay would not become the Poor Richard's Almanac. The fact that a written document quotes or mentions a fact or an item doesn't make that document to

The fact the book that is called the bible mentions something doesn't mean that it is the thing that it mentions. The fact theat the bible mentions the "word of God" doesn't mean that the bible itself is the word of God. Similarly, the that that the book of 1 Timothy mentions that "all scripture" ... "inspired by God" doesn't mean the the bible or the book of 1 Timothy is "scripture that has been inspired by God". This doesn't make the Bible any less valuable of a book than it is. Let's just be truthful about what is true and what is not true.

26 Jan 2011

Spiritual and Secular

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When I was young I looked upon life as divided into two parts, the spiritual part and the secular part.

Nowadays I don't see a separation, all of our life is one. What matters is how we live our lives in all circumstances.

27 Jan 2011

Our Perceptions Affect Reality

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What we think that we believe (our perceptions) will guide our actions, and those actions will affect reality. For example, let's say that someone believes that his highest calling is to preach to the unsaved and try to win souls at all costs. He sees the world full of unsaved people who are going to hell. He believes that the bible is the word of God and that if he quotes enough scripture to people that  it will penetrate their heart. .. Consequently whenever he has a chance he strikes up a conversation with anyone he can. He tries to share the gospel with all of his friends and with his fellow workers at his job. Whenever he gets on a bus or an airplane he looks for an opportunity to sit next to someone and preach the gospel and quote bible verses to his quary. He sincerely believes that all these people are going to hell and that it is his responsibility to win them to Christ.

Gradually his coworkers shun him. His friends don't return his calls. He wonders why people are avoiding him. He thinks that he needs to try harder, but his friends and aquaintances avoid him even more. He does not seem to know it, but he is driving all these people away from him.

Compare this to a person who believes that all people are God's children, and that God loves them all. He understands what Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father draws him." He realizes that it's not his job to try to win souls. His job is to be a light, meaning, to live as Jesus did and to love them1.  He loves all people and is helpful and courteous wherever he goes. He is quick to lend a hand wherever he goes. He is cheerful and pleasant to be around. He helps those in need. He is quick to listen whenever someone is depressed or hurting and needs someone to talk to. People enjoy being with him because he uplifts them. "Preach the gospel always, If necessary use words." ~ St. Francis of Assisi.

Christians of today have been taught that they need to constantly witness and preach the gospel, in words. But the reality is this doesn't work. Very few people come to Christ (and stay) because someone preached to them. If preaching the gospel with words worked, out churches would be filled to overflowing. Yet, this is not the case.

Much of preaching comes from a position of subtle pride. "I am saved, you are lost." The subtle message here is "I am better than you are." This drives people away.


  • 1. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
31 Jan 2011

Portals to the Dark Side

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Portals are merely openings or entrances to another place. They can be either good or bad. In this writing we are describing portals to irresponsibility or the dark side.

The portal has enticing sites, sounds, and smells the draw the ignorant to it. The portal is often located close to a seeming desirable location. The progression into the portal can seem very inoculous and seemingly harmless. The path to the portal dull the senses. Invisible vines reach and slowly wrap themselves around the legs, minds, and perceptions. Portals have fingers that reach our and entice us to come closer. Portals trigger our weaknesses. Weaknesses are those things that call us to take the easy way out.

The hidden message of portals is that we can have what we want without any effort, that we are right and others are wrong. We don't need any advice, we are the smart ones. It tells us to compartmentalize, that if part of it seems OK, then it is OK. It appears as an angel of light to try to deceive even the elect.

The way out of the trap is painful and hard to find, very few find it. The path to freedom is to become real, to admit and confess our wrongful thoughts and behaviors, to put our selfish side to death, over and over again.

1 Feb 2011

Our Attitude Can Affect the Outcome.

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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This morning I had been walking with a new friend. During our walk I had laid on him some pretty heavy stuff. He seemed to handle it OK. At at the end of our walk we parted pleasantly, but we didn't make any plans for walking tomorrow. Tonight I wanted to talk to my friend about walking tomorrow so I pulled over to the side of the road. At first I felt grumpy and felt like he wouldn't want to walk any more and I was about to call and, kind of disapointedly ask him if he wanted to walk tomorrow, with a sense that he wouldn't want to walk any more. The strange thing is that I recognized my addtitude as an incorrect thought and would be doomed to failure. The message came to me that my attitude would greatly affect the outcome. So I took time to sit a bit and correct my attitude. I spent a few seconds just focusing and readjusting my attitude. I then called my friend and cheerfully asked how he was doing. After some friendly interaction I told him that we hadn't talked about walking tomorrow morning. I asked him about if he wanted to walk in the morning. He replied that he was busy in the morning. I kept quiet and just waited. After a few seconds of silence he went on to say that he could on the following morning.

This was a very clear message to me that we can affect the outcome by how we handle each situation.

1 Feb 2011

A Self-Centered God?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I recently heard someone who is close to me say, "God is selfish. It's all about him." In a very real sense this is true. For example, if we met a human whose main thought was having everything to be about him, and if he sought glory for himself, we'd call that a very selfish man. However, we attribute those same motives to God. We say, "It's all about God!" I repeatedly hear Christians talk about God seeking his own glory. If we were to attribute those exact same set of attributes that we attribute to God to a human, we'd say that human is very egotistical. He is very self-centered.

How would I differentiate (or would I) human selfishness versus God self-centeredness. For the sake of clarity, I'm going to call God's focus as "God(self-)centeredness". Let's take a look at this. Everything in this earth already belongs to God. Even we humans are the property of God. He made us for his own reasons. His self-centeredness plays out like this. He desires the best for all of his creation. What is best for his creation is also best for God AND what is best for God is best for his creation.

To fuller illustrate this, let's look at the relationship of a husband and a wife. What is the most selfish thing that a husband can be and do? In a worldly sense, he would go have countless affairs, have sex with many different women. He would go from one to another without end. But does this bring him happiness? To the man blinded by his passions, he thinks of "getting some" for each female as his goal. In reality, he's not happy, he has no one in his life who really cares about his. No woman would truly care about a man who just uses her body for his own satisfaction. In contrast to this, a godly man, who is a true man, cares deeply for his wife. He does whatever he can to please her and satisfy her. He has an eye for her alone. She is his treasure and his pleasure. He submits to her, as she does to him. She cares deeply for him and gives herself fully and freely to him. She eagerly says with her actions, "Here I am, come take me and have your way with me." She fully trusts him and has full confidence that he will only do what is best for her and that which pleases her. She holds nothing back from him.

In much the same way, when we have lived life for some time we begin to realize that God wants what is best for us, that he shows his love and care for us on a daily basis, we begin to trust him more with each passing day. As time goes by, we begin to open ourselves more and more to him. We finally say to him, "Here I am, do as you please with me. I am yours to do with as you will." In a very real sense, what is best for us is best for God. God is most pleased with us when we give ourselves fully to him.

What is best for God is what is best for us. He created us in his image. Yes, God is self-centered, but Godly self-centeredness brings about what is best for us, because we belong to him and are part of his body.  "for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church," Ephesians 5:29

In a very similar sense, a truly wise husband will be fully self-centered, meaning: He knows that whatever he plants he will get back. To get the best back he must plant the best. To get a wife who truly loves him and one who will truly give herself fully to him, he must treat her well, take care of her needs, love her fully. So he will do whatever he can to please and satisfy her because it will come back to him many times over.

In conclusion, when God loves himself, he loves us. We are his body, we are part of him. So, God being (god)self-centered is best for him and it is also best for us.

 

Here is a similar article that I found on another website after I wrote this article: Is God Self-Centered?


10 Feb 2011

Truth

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Thy word is truth, OR, conversely, you could say, Truth (that which is true) is thy word.


It is questionable just how open and truthful humans can be.

As we grow and mature, we are (hopefully) able to tell truth to a deeper level. When we are very immature, we may be only able to tell a surface level (or partial) truth. However, as we grow and mature, that same level of truth would be a lie

10 Feb 2011

Through the Ages

Submitted by Stephen Winters


If you were to bring an aboregenie, who had never seen anything of the modern world, out of the most primitive areas of Africa, into a modern day city, with all the modern cars, buildings, electronic gadges, etc. what would his experience be like? What would he think? He wouldn't be able to understand the language, and would have no way to relate to people in this society. In the same way, if you were to bring someone here from two thousand years ago, what would his experience be like? If he were to see cars and trains and TV's, and rocket ships that went to the moon, what would he think? How would he describe it to those at home?

If you want people to understand you,  you would use examples and illustrations from their language and ideas from their own culture to share your ideas with them. It would be pointless to try to describe a jumbo jet (telling about jet propulsion, pilots, landing gear, etc) to a primitive person who had never seen any modern..... So, it would seem that to try to describe the using things they knew about.

Imagine these same primitive people trying to describe these objects to their friends and others in their tribe. They might describe the jet as a huge bird. They might describe a train with a huge snake. A primitive people would not have the words in their language to describe what they say in our culture. (Now think about the book of Revelations.)

If you were very ill, would you want a physician of 2000 years ago (such as Luke) to treat you, or would you go to your family doctor? Do you have more faith in modern day medicine over the medicine of 2000 years ago? That could probably be debated and come up with a wide variety of answers. Irregardless, there is an abundance of knowledge about an innumerable amount of subjects that wasn't available 2000 years ago.

 

Some things haven't change: Telling the truth is still telling the truth. Telling a lie is still telling a lie. Working hard, living with honor and integrity, being humble and compassionate while you serve others is still valid, although the methods may have changed.

16 Feb 2011

Spirit and The Letter

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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"The letter kills, but the spirit gives life." This applies to many areas of life.

We are use words to communicate with one another. Sometimes we struggle with trying to find the right words to express our thoughts. Sometimes we bungle and say the wrong words to express our thoughts.

 

Some people are very much into quoting all the "right" Greek or Hebrew verb tenses. "(i.e. "The original Greek says that ......") There is a big difference between know the words ... and know what the writer was trying to say, what his true meaning was.

22 Feb 2011

Possible Topics for Study and Essays

Submitted by Stephen Winters

I have a number of topics on my mind that I'd like to study and write about.

Character Development

  • How to apologize
  • How to Take Responsibility
  • How To Genuinely Love
  • How to be a Good Father
  • How to be a Good Husband
  • How to Change a Habit
  • How to be a Man, OR what does it mean to be a man
  • What does Responsible Living mean

Relationships

  • How to Start a conversation
  • Conversation Starters
  • Use People's names in conversations
  • How to remember names and faces

Faith and Religion

  • What is God?
  • What does it mean that God is our Father? (What does "father" mean.) God as the source....
  • Who are God's children?
  • What affect does living in this world have on our spirit (or soul)
  • What affect do our decision have on our spirit?
  • What does it mean to be holy?
  • What is the spirit?
  • What is the "Holy Spirit"?
  • What is hell (Is there a real hell)?
  • What affect do good manners have on us (& on our soul or spirit)
  • What is Religion? (Are we supposed to be religious?)
  • What is witnessing? (Are we supposed to witness, and what does that mean?)
  • What is "Salvation"
  • What is the condition of those who haven't believed?
  • What does it mean to "believe"? (What is belief?)
  • What is sin?
22 Feb 2011

What is Sin?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Sin has two or more parts, the act and the motives. One part is the sinful part, which is the act of sin. The other part is the reason for the act. True sin is committed with intention. A person intended to do the act. When we speak of intention, we also speak of a pattern of wrongful thinking.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.  Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. 16 Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters. 1

Sin doesn't spring out of a pure mind.

In addition, there is also a mind that is very willing to sin, that makes excuses for sin and justifies their thinking and behaviors.

Too often we focus on the sinful act itself, and we don't acknowdge or confess that the power to sin dwell within us.

 

"Everything that does not come from faith is sin..."

When we don't have faith, we seek to ...,, ourselves through whatever means possible to make sure that we have enough. We don't think about the people that we injure, but only think of ourselves.

 

What is sin
In some sense, sin is a way of thinking and behaving.
One might argue that no (thought?) or action is sin in itself. What makes it sin is our way of thinking about it. Could it be that when we change the way we think about XXXX that we no longer sin.
Is making a mistake sin? That depends, what was our attitude and thinking about it...
  • 1. James 1:13-15
24 Feb 2011

Purity?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I once had a christian tell me, "I don't want to live a pure life because my co-workers and friends would feel like I'm judging them." This is the thought I'm addressing in this post.

We just recently got a puppy, which is currently about 3 1/2 months old. We are in the process of house training the puppy. The purpose of house training the puppy is to enable it to live successfully with the others (the humans) in the household. As long as the puppy was living ing the kennel, it never had to worry about where to go potty or poo-poo. It just did it's business whenever and wherever it was. The other dogs didn't give any thought to where the puppy went to the bathroom. Who cared? That was normal for that stage of the puppy's life.

However, once we (humans) bring the puppy into our home, that behavior is not acceptable. Which of the humans wants to be walking around the house and step into ...... (you get the picture).

In one sense, sin is making messes in this life that others have to clean up. We are not thinking about the difficulties that we cause others, but are only thinking about the immediated gratification and convenience to ourselves.

Purity is about learning to live one's life in a way that doesn't messes for others to clean up. It's about changing our behavior to that we no longer make the messes OR we clean up our own messes. It's not about living a "perfect" life. (What does "perfect" even mean in the context of living anyway?)

A large part of learning to live "pure" is putting down our pride and learning to look at ourselves, our0 thoughts & motives, emotions, behaviors, and actions honestly. We learn to look at ourselves from a perspective outside of ourselves. We learn to see ourselves as others see us and as God sees us.

Confession is not about guilt or condemnation, but rather about learning to live a life of freedom, responsibility, compassion. Confession is part of a process repentence (learning to live a better life).

Getting back to the thought of purity. Jesus was said to have lived a pure life, and yet sinners flocked to him. (i.e. the sermon on the mount, the many healings, etc.) Jesus did not condemn them. (He only condemned the religious leaders and other hypocrites). He only wanted to show them a better way, a way to escape their sin and bondage.

There were also times that almost everyone left him. Jesus said to his disciples something like, "Will you also leave?"

24 Feb 2011

What is Your God

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Everyone has a god of some sort. One major difference between the many false gods and the one true God is that, with a false god there is no change of thinking or behavior. The "worshiper" continues on with his normal lifestyle and just "prays" to his god to bless him in his lifestyle. The life of the believer continues to be about himself. In contrast to this, to worship the true God we must change our whole way of thinking, behaving and acting. We must examine our motives and intentions.
We must submit to God, the governing authorities, etc. Life is no longer about us, but rather our life takes a turn to be about serving God, others

24 Feb 2011

"I Believe!"

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Over my 60 years of life I have heard many people say, "I believe..." in Jesus, in God, etc. Some say this with such a conviction or with such emotion or force in their voice.

One hard FACT for many of us to accept is, "Just because I believe something doesn't make it true." Belief is not the same thing as truth. Belief is not the same thing as reality. Spoken words of belief is a mental construct. Just because I say, or I yell, that I believe, that doesn't mean that I truly believe.

In reality, when it comes to belief, words have very little meaning UNLESS they are accompanied by a living out of one's beliefs. For example, someone can say, "I believe in God." but, by themselves, those words don't really mean anything. Truly believing in God encompases a whole lifestyle.

Honesty in all of one's interactions with people


24 Feb 2011

Will You Forgive me?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When forgiveness is requested, the focus isn't on where it needs to be. When there is an ongoing problem, forgiveness is not the issue. Repairing of the damages and a change of behavior by the offender is what is needed. When there is a genuine change, then forgiveness is often a natural result of the changed behavior. But that often takes time (sometimes months and years). The longer the offense has been ongoing, and the greater the offence, the longer time that is needed for true forgiveness to occur, if it ever happens.

Christ tells us to forive. But does he ever tell us to ask for forgiveness? I can think of no place where christs or the apostles ever told the offending party to ask for forgiveness. Now in the case of Onesimus, Paul did make a request on the behalf of a runaway slave to his master. But the slave did not ask for forgiveness himself. Also, it appears that Onesimus went through a change and ...

You Can't Ask For True Forgiveness.

True forgiveness is something that only comes about over a period of time, if the right factors are involved. It involves a true and lasting change in the life of the offender AND also involves the offended party seeing the changes over a long period of time and realizing that the changes are real.

All to often the offender goes to the person he offended and asks, "Please forgive me." Now Stop! When an offender asks for forgiveness, what is he asking for? If he were to ask for forgiveness without using that word, what would he ask? Perhaps something like this. "Please pretend like I never hurt you. Put it out of your mind and treat me like you did before. Let's put the relationship back to what it was like before." Do you see what I see? This form of asking for forgiveness requires nothing of the offender. The whole thing is put on the back of the offended party. Then, when you add the supposed "Christian duty" to forgive someone, things get even more tricky. The offended party may try to forgive the other person, but finds that her forgiveness often isn't real. It's not real because its not true forgiveness the .... of forgiveness aren't present. The offender has not done anything to genuinely make changes in his life so that he no longer offends people. There has not been sufficient time (often it requires many years) for the offender to get well established in his (presumed) new behaviors and thinking patterns.

In reality, when an someone offends another person the relationship is permanently changed. It can never be what it was before. However a new relationship can be built based upon truth.

You Can't Rush Forgiveness

It takes however long it takes, if it comes at all. The length of time that it takes to offended party to forgive may vary from person to person. The more devasting the offense the longer it may take the offended party to forgive, if she is ever able to forgive.

If you are the offender, put aside all thoughts of desiring to be forgiven. These thoughts are all self-serving, which is what caused you to hurt her/him in the first place. As long as you are wanting to be forgiven you will be putting on a show, that isn't real, to impress the offended person. Instead, your thoughts need to be turned towards living a permanent honorable and virtuous life. Try to repair or fix everything that you have done wrong. In addition, live you life in a way that is honorable, truthful, and noble. Do your best in all situations. Treat everyone honestly, kindly, and compassionately. Remember, you won't do it perfectly. You may often fail. That is of no matter. Every time you fail at living honorably, get back up and try again, and again, and again. NEVER give up. With time you will get better at living virtuously.

24 Feb 2011

God is All

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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There are some things that confuse me.

It has been said that God is all and

How much of everything is ALL?

Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Let's start with God. He created ALL things. He holds them all together by his might hand. He set the heavens in place

1 Mar 2011

Faith is a New Life, Not a Religion

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 

Faith is not about a religion, but a life to be lived. It speaks of the way that we live our lives. It involves putting aside our old life and learning to live a new kind of life.

Faith was never intended to be about religion. Rather, it was about one's relationship with God, with oneself, and with others. Faith is about one's everyday behavior, not about religious forms, rites, and rituals.

God is Love

God is love1. As children of love, we must live a life of love. One might ask, "What does that look like?" In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a we have a picture.

  • Love is patient and kind.
  • Love is not jealous
  • Love is not boastful
  • Love is not proud
  • Love is not rude (unmannerly)
  • Love does not demand its own way.
  • Love is not irritable or easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of being wronged
  • Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always perseveres
  • Love never fails

 

Jesus also said, "Matt 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you;"

God is Truth

 

God is truth. We are to speak the truth,2 in love. We are to tell the truth without selfish motives. We are to live holy lives

Anyone who knows us should know that they can believe whatever we say, because we only speak truth. What is truth?

Truth is telling anyone whatever they have a right to know or that they need to know.

Truth is checking out the facts before we answer, rather than just giving our first (often emotional) impulse.

  • 1. 1John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.
  • 2. Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, who is the head, even Christ:
3 Mar 2011

Turning Trials into Blessings

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I really enjoy eating. I could easily become the world's fattest man, if I let myself go. I could just eat and eat and eat.

I also notice that many times when I get into an unhealthy pattern of overeating I get sick afterward. Being sick is no fun. But the good part about being sick is that it helps to get me out of the "pigging out" cycle. In fact, when I'm sick, I just don't feel like eating. Whenever I'm sick, I try to eat light (soups, salads).

A trial is something that your mind fights against. Once you stop fighting the trial and submit to the learning process of the trial, then the trial changes. Trials can become blessing once you accept the trial. Trial generally involve bringing changes into your life. If ou fight the trial, the changes can become destructive to you. But once you finally let go of the who thought that you are right, then you open yourself up to building positive in you.

Trials also show who really cares about you.

24 Mar 2011

What is Our Goal in Learning?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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No matter how skillful a teacher may be, if his/her only knowledge of a subject is what is written in the textbook, then that teacher will be greatly hindered in instructing any students in that topic. For example, a teacher may have thoroughly studied, and even memorized, an auto repair manual. But if that teacher had never done any auto repair at all, he would ge greatly limited in his ability to teach his students how to repair cars. The main thing that he could teach  them would be how to study and get to know the text in the repair manual. But he would not be able to adequately teach his students how to repair the cars. When a student takes an auto repair class, his primary interest is (or should be) to learn how to repair automobiles. He doesn't take the class just to learn how to read, study, and take tests out of the repair manual.

The knowledge in the repair manual, or any book can only be correctly understood when the knowledge in the book is put into practice. There are many things that an instruction manual can't teach you, that can only be learned through actual experience. This applies just as much to someone wanting to live a godly life. He can read any number of holy books, he can put himself under a great Bible teacher, he can memorize hundreds of verses. But unless he is putting the knowledge into practice, he is not going to have any true understanding of what the text really means. For example, if he goes to goes to a dedicated and sincere "Bible believing" church, where the Bible is preached, taught, studied, memorized, and discussed, will he learn to put all those instructions into practice? Many Christians think that being a Christian (or being godly) means to study and learn what the Bible says.

True godliness (god-like-ness) consist of thining, behaving, and acting as a child of God. This means that we think and act like God. What does this mean? How does God act? God is Love (patient, kind, longsuffering, etc. (see 1 Corinthians 13). As His Children, we are to take on the character and nature of God, who is our Father.

In a very real sense, the best person to learn how to repair automobiles is an experienced auto mechanic. He can walk you through each part step by step. By actually getting your hands on the wrenches, screwdrivers, gauges, etc and repairing  the motor, you have true learning. If you are studying the repair manuals at the same time you are working on the car, with the mechanic teaching and showing you how to do each part, your study of the manuals will gain much more meaning and reality.

The goal of any godly or religious training should not be to have our student be able pass written tests or to quote lots of Bible verses.

29 Mar 2011

Freewill and Predestination

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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This morning It discovered a message thread "Do You Have Free Will? Yes, It’s the Only Choice" in a forum that was discussing freewill versus predestination. I must say that I was both delighted and amused at all the comments and often seemingly jovial bantering back and forth about a seemingly deep subject. I have really enjoyed reading both sides of the discussion. This posting is a result of the thoughts stimulated by that message thread. At this point of my life, my own personal thought is that it is neither freewill nor predestination (by themselves), but rather that it is both freewill and prestination in combination. This is my view, I'm not trying to convince anyone else of this.

The reality is that there are pretty defined consequences to our behavior and our actions. For example, if someone gets lazy and doesn't work and doesn't take care of necessities, eventually he'll go hungry and have no place to live. In another example, if a man kills people, the police will come and arrest him, put him in jail. After the trial he could be executed or spend many years in prison. We can spend a lot of meaningless effort trying to argue whether or not he had the free will to kill the people. In any case, he will suffer the consequences of our own behavior. He had a thought or an impulse and he acted on that impulse. On the other hand, many people may have a thought or impulse to kill someone, but don't act on the thought.

In many ways, we are a product of our own thinking and of our own behaviors. For example, if a man steals, he becomes a thief (of course, one could always argue that he was a thief already, before he had stolen anything, and the act of stealing only confirmed that he was indeed a thief. But this doesn't hold up under close scrutiny because many people have a thought to steal something, but they don't act on the thought.) In many ways, "we are what we do", not what we think we are.

But even all of this explanation seems pointless because I mainly hear the discussion of "freewill" versus "predestination" from religious people in talking about the afterlife. Much of this is focused on whether someone will go to "heaven" or "hell" after they die. The accompanying thought is, "How can God condemn people to hell unless they have free will?" (The subject of "hell" is another discussion, which I won't go into here.) 1

The reality is, in this life we all have daily moment-by-moment choices. We decide whether to get up in the morning, or not, We decide whether we will eat, and what we will eat. We decide whether or not we will go to work, or to school, etc. You might say, "but I don't have a choice. I must .... (go to work, go to school, etc.)". The truth is that any of us can decide to NOT do anything. But most of us realize that with each choice we make comes a consequence. We can chose what to do, but we generally don't have a choice about the consequences of our choice.

I've heard this ongoing debate over freewill versus presdestination for many years. I've seldom got in the middle of the discussion because, who really knows. And what difference does it make anyway? Things are what they are. Our responsibility is to find out what that is and then live our lives according to that reality.

Of what value is the question about free will versus predestination? It seems that the question mostly just comes up in conjunction of people being sent to "heaven" or "hell".  A more useful question might be to ask if we humans control where we "spend eternity", or what happens to us after we die.

If people who do wrongs here on this earth are punished here on earth, will they also be punished "forever" in a place called "hell"? So, do "evil-doers" get punished twice, one while or earth and then again forever in another place after death? If the people who sinned here on earth were punished for those sins here on earth, would God punish them for those same sins again after they die?

  • 1. As a person who was raised in the Christian faith, I would say that much of modern day Christianity is all mixed up. Although I still consider myself a Christian (of a different sort) I really don't even like to use that term.
1 Apr 2011

April Fools Day and Jokes

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Today is April Fools day, the day the many people like to play pranks or tricks on people, and then say, "April Fools!" The perceived expectation is that saying "April Fools" after playing a trick will make the Prank OK. However some people like to play hurtful jokes, such as, "I want a divorce" while handing the target a supposed divorce papers. This is a cruel type of emotional prank. Another type of prank might to be set something up so that the target person unknowning does something that triggers a physical disaster to happen or a mess to made. This is another type of cruel joke.

When playing a joke on someone it should only be something that the victim will think is funny.

2 Apr 2011

What is integrity

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What is integrity? What does it mean to have integrity. An immature person may ofter think that he has integrity by the very fact that "It's me!" An immature person has self-pride to the extent that he thinks that everything he does is right. This is part of his whole outlook of always being right. He never even considers the idea that he might be wrong.

Well, putting all that aside, what does it truly mean to have integrity? I found this definition after searching on the Internet I found this definition: "integrity: Wholeness; uprightness; honesty or soundness of moral principle and character."1

1 May 2011

"Lord, Protect me."

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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How many times have I heard myself or others pray, "Lord, protect me from ....."?
If we overeat, we get fat and bring illness upon us. If we steel from others, the police may come and arrest us. If we jump off a cliff we will be injured or killed.
God doesn't protect us from the consequences of our own behavior. I'm convinced that consquences are from God. It is ludecrous to pray for potection from something that is sent from God. Consequences of wrong behavior are designed to bring pain upon us so that we change our behavior. They are designed to help us stop doing things that are unhealthy for us. We are told that God disciplines those that he loves. That discipline often comes to us in the form of consequences.

2 May 2011

Predestination And Free Will

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Definitions:

  • Predestination
  • Free Will

What are the implications of Predistination and Free Will?

If predistination is correct, then everything has already been planned out and there is no hope to change anything.

If Free Will is correct, then God's plan can be changed at any time by anyone. Either that, or God doesn't have a plan and is kind of flying by the seat of his pants. Perhaps, then, God is waiting to see what we are going to do and then see what happens.

2 May 2011

Is Hell Real?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Is What We've Been Taught About Hell True?

Is Hell real? When we look through religious literature at how hell is used, we see that hell is used as a threat. The threat is that you must believe a certain way (that is suspiciously in agreement with the beliefs of the speaker) or you will be burned and tormented in hell forever. Let's take a look at this. Is the only way that God can get people “saved” to threaten them with hell unless they “repent”?

Many modern day preachers seem to try to scare people out of hell into heaven. But is Hell real?

An example of some religious teachings about hell:

It is humanly impossible to comprehend the Bible description of hell. Nothing on earth can compare with it. No nightmare could produce a terror to match that of hell. No horror movie could describe it’s fright. No crime scene with all it’s blood and gore could begin to match it’s horror.

It will be beyond anything humanly imaginable!

The Bible warns in Psalm 9:17, you will not only be in hell — you will BE TURNED INTO HELL! You will literally BE HELL!

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Psalm 9:17

YOU will see HELL. . .
YOU will smell HELL. . .
YOU will breathe HELL. . .
YOU will hear HELL. . .
YOU will feel HELL. . .

YOU WILL BE HELL. . .

1 http://www.av1611.org/hell.html

 

From reading the above mention web page about hell, one might assume that the purpose of hell is:

  • to scare people into "coming to God". With so many preachers using hell in their sermons, it is obvious that God can't get people to come to him unless he "scares the hell out of them."
  • and to "punish evil-doers throughout eternity

But, Is that True? Is there really a hell?

To listen to many preachers, you would think that the purpose of hell is to keep people on the "straight and narrow" road. The logic behind this would seem to be that God gives us "free will", but he has to scare the living daylights out of us for us to choose him. We are told that God created mankind with free will, and yet we are told that if we don't "chose" to follow God, then we will be sent to hell to be punished and tortured forever.

It has been said that God made man with "free will" because he wanted man "to freely choose" to accept him. Then, if hell is true, that means that if anyone doesn't "freely choose" to come to God, he is sent to hell to be punished and tortured forever and forever. This is free will?

Some Questions about the Concept of Hell:

If there truly is a hell, then let's look at these questions.

  • If hell is true, did God plan it from the beginning of time OR was it an afterthought
  • If hell is real, when was it created?
    • Did God created hell at the same time he created the heavens and the earth?
      • If so, then that would mean that God knew in advance that people would "fall away".
    • OR Did God create hell afterwards?
    •  
  • If hell is real, then who created hell?
    • If God is the creator of all things, then does that mean that God created hell?
    • If God didn't create hell, then that means that God is NOT the creator of all things.
  • If hell is real, then why was it created?
    • Was hell created because God failed in his creation of the perfect man?
    • Was hell created because God is retaliating against man for disobeying him
  • If hell is real, then what is its purpose?
    • If hell is real then is God using it as a device to scare men into following him?

If hell is true, then it means that:

  • before the foundation of the world God's plan was for many people to go to hell. This would mean that God knew that his plan for mankind wouldn't work and that he'd have to scare them into living right. OR it would mean that God likes to torture and torment people.
  • OR hell was an afterthought because he found out that his plan wasn't working.
  • God didn't do a very good job making man to be good enough to escape hell
  • OR hell is part of God's plan from the beginning, which means that
    • God planned to torture people for eternity because .....

Modern day Christianity has taught us that God is loving, kind, faithful, etc. At the same time, it teaches us that if someone doesn't "accept Jesus Christ as Lord and savior" that God will send that person to hell to be punished and tortured forever and ever. Quite frankly, if this was true, God sounds like a vengeful mean and cruel God. It is no wonder that so many people walk away from this portrayal of God.

Quite frankly, I don't believe that God is like that.

In reality, if we are truly living our life according to God's will, then does it really make any difference whether or not there really is a hell.

Is God capable of making things as they are supposed to be?

Free Will

The whole idea of there being a hell goes against what God is all about.

Going back to the idea of "Free Will". If you were put up against a wall in front of a firing squad and told that you could leave there any time that you wanted, but if you left you would be shot, is this free will? How is the concept of hell any different. "You have the freewill to reject God, but if you do you will burn in hell forever and forever.

A conversion under threat?

"A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." If someone "accepts Christ" and is "converted" ONLY because they are afraid that they will go to hell, then they aren't truly changed. Instead, they are just living in fear and pretending to be a "christian".

 

6 May 2011

God's Desire

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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"God desires that all men to be saved." If hell is true, then, either God is not powerful enough to carry out his desires, OR his desires are wishy washy meaningless dribble. Why would God desire something that He knew that He can't have? What does desire mean? is desire a choice? Is desire static or does it grow or move? Does desire indicate any movement or working towards the object of one's desire?

Does God get what he desires, or are his desires sometimes frustrated? If God doesn't get what he desires, why does he not get it? Would God desire something that he knew he couldn't have? If God is all powerful, what could possibly prevent him from obtaining his desires? Is God pure and faultless? Then would he ever desire something that shouldn't happen? If he would ever desire something that shouldn't happen, then why would he desire such a thing?

That brings us back to, "Why would God desire that all men be save if it was a bad thing?"

Many Christians believe and teach that Satan is the God of this world. Is That true? The common teaching is that “wide is the gate that leadeth to destruction, and narrow is the path the leads to….” , the common belief that goes with that is that most of mankind is going to hell.

Is God all knowing and all powerful? Does he know every event of the future, from the beginning of time to the end of time? If both of these are true, then why would God intentionally create mankind, knowing that most of them would end up in hell, being tormented and tortured forever.

14 May 2011

The Law and the Spirit

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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The difference between walking in the Spirit and living under the law is very simple. Those in the Spirit WANT to do what is Right. Those under the Law only do stuff because they HAVE TO do it.

You could put it simply like this.

  • Walking by the Spirit = WANTING to do what is right.
  • Living Under the Law = HAVE TO what is required.

Those who walk in the  spirit (pure and blameless mindset) WANT to do what is right. In fact they continually think about how to do the best job. The quality of their atititude and of their work continually improves.

Those who are under the Law ask, "What do I HAVE TO do? Their mindset is on what is the minimum that they can get by with and still "fulfil the law".

One major problem with this mindset is since they are not fully engaged in each tast, they don't look for ways to improve. They are only seeking to get any task done as  quickly as possible so they can go do what they really want to do. The quality of their attitude and that quality of their work both greatly suffer.

With this attititude, one who is living under the law can never truly fulfil the demands of the law.

When one is living "by the law" it is so easy to bypass the meaning of the law by redefining what we are doing so that we think we are not breaking the law. For instance, the law says, "You shall not steal." But we can get around that law. If we take something that is not ours, we can tell ourselves something like, "He (the owner of an item) probably left if there for someone to have. He probably doesn't want it any more anyway." People can twist words around to make them mean to suit one's purpose. We need to go beyond mere words to try to ind the true intent.

"The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the "letter") of the law, but not the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_and_spirit_of_the_law


Living "by the spirit" of the law is learning the principle of the law. Living by principles goes much deeper than merely living by the law. One can always "get around" the written law. But when one lives by the spirit, by the principle of the law, that means that one has taken the law to heart and has understood and accept the deeper meaning of the law. Once one takes the law to heart, he is no long "bound" by the law. Instead he willingly and joyfully lives in accordance with the spirit of the law. He accepts the law and is no longer fighting against the law.

The law was given for our benefit, to help us live a life of peace and wholeness. The law is meant to be our servant, not our master.

Living by the Spirit means internalizing the intent of the law. The immature person will fight against the words of the law. The law was given for a purpose, to point us to Christ. What does that mean? When we "accept Christ" we stop fighting against the "restraints" of the law. Instead, we look deeper than the mere words of the law and seek to understand the true meaning of the law. As we begin to understand and live by the true meaning of the law we begin to live by the spirit of the law. Then we have peace with God and peace with ourselves.

Literal

Conceptual

Living Consistantly

What does living in the spirit look like?

14 May 2011

The Way of Love

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What did Jesus mean when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me"?

Let's break his question down into smaller questions:

What is "The Way"

What is "the Truth?"

What is "the Life"?

What is "the Father"

What did Jesus mean by "comes to"?

What did Jesus mean by "but by me?"

16 May 2011

Fruit of the Spirit

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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To get good at anything we must be instructed in the right way and the do it over and over again until it become natural and automatic for us. Similarly, if we want to have eat fruit off of a tree, the tree must first be planted, fertilized, watered and cared for for a number of years. We are also told that what we plant is what we will reap. In a similar way, to have the "fruit" of the spirit we must do the .... of the spirit over and over again until it becomes natural. On one level it is like developing good habits, only it is much more than that. We must stop fighting against and .... accept it in our minds. So, it is a combination of changing our way of thinking and our behaviors... (more to follow)

The message here is that fruit is the result of planting and much patient tending and cultivation over many years. It's not automatic, nor does it happen instantly. We might receive the desire instantly, but the fruit comes much later.

17 May 2011

Fighting Evil

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"Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." Romans 12:21


In your life many times evil shows itself, trying to entice you. There are at least two evil enticements. One type is to participate in the evil. The second enticements is to fight againsts the evil. This second enticement, the fighting againt evil, may actually be more enticing to some people than participating in the evil. Fighting evil is so enticing. It is a call to our pride, that "we are right" and that "we" are not evil. Evil is that other thing, that which are fighting. However, in many ways, we become like the thing that we keep our mind on. If we keep our mind on "fighting evil", then our mind is on the evil. That is what fills our minds.
If you stop to fight it, then You stop doing the good that you have been doing, and you stop growing.
You actually open yourself up to let evil find a way into your life


Our primary defense against evil is the shield of righteousness. Righteousness is, by ... definition "right acting", or, in other word, "doing good."
In doing good, you continue to build your character, you make yourself, and others, stronger, and you keep your focus and attention where it belongs, on that which is right and true.

However, if we keep our minds filled with doing that which is right, then evil has no place in our lives.

For example, let is take a look at abortion. Many people take up signs and picket abortion centers. They sometimes march and protest, etc.

However, all this "fighting evil" prevents people from looking at the root cause of abortion. It's ownly focus is on the killing of unborn babies. It neglects to cause of abortions: the children who are growing up without loving parents

The fighting evil is much easier. It gives us something to do that doesn't require much from us. We make signs, make a few speaches, make a few protests, and then we go on with our lives.

 

Successfully overcoming evil usually involves us getting involved, finding solutions, and working through the many difficulties in challenges. Overcoming evil often means that we leave the comfortable status quo and find real solutions to real problems.

 

We also have to define what evil really is. All to often evil is subtly defined as "things we don't like or are not familiar with" OR things that we don't do" OR "consequences of our own behavior". For instance, if we don't smoke or drink, we look upon smoking and drinking as "evil", but we don't look upon our own gluteny (which is just as bad) as evil. We don't look upon our own prejudice and bigotry as evil, but we judge the prejudice and bigotry of others whom we don't like as evil.

18 May 2011

Questions About God

Submitted by Stephen Winters

What is God? What is His Form and Substance? What is He made up of?

Who is God?

Where did God come from? How long has He been here?

What are His abilities?

Does He have a plan for his creation, or is He flying-by-the-seat-of-His-pants?

Does he know the future, or not? If so, how much of the future does He know?

Is he all knowing or is he not?

Is He all-powerful, or is he not?

Is He everywhere or is he not?

Doe He hold the world together with His power, or does He not?

Does He purposefully limit himself in his power or his knowledge of the future, or does He not?

Is He able to make His creation perfect, or is He not?

18 May 2011

True Beliefs

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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There are our true beliefs and our stated beliefs. There can be a big difference between what we truly believe and what we think that we believe. Our actions, not our words, show what we truly believe. Our true beliefs are what govern our thoughts and our actions. For example, if we say that we believe we can be the president of a company, but we never do anything to work towards being the president of that company, then our true beliefs are not in agreement with our stated beliefs. Our words say that we believe, but our actions say that we don't believe. Otherwise, it can be plainly stated as, "what we do is what we believe."

In much the same way, many people's stated belief is not the same as their true belief. Our perceived beliefs are not truth. They are only our perceptions of our imagined realities.

Foundational Beliefs. What are your beliefs based upon? Many beliefs are opinions masquading as beliefs. They are built upon traditions.

Many churches, organizations say that they are Bible based. In much the same way,  many people who claim to be Christians say or imply that they are "Bible believing". The implication is that the Bible contains and is the source of all knowledge and truth. Yet, none of the writers of the texts of the Bible ever said that their writings were anything more than their (human) writings.

When we base our beliefs on the Bible (or any other book), one major problem is that its words can be understood and interpreted in a number of different ways. This can be seen by the countless denominations and "Christian" religions who all claim to be Bible based, yet who disagree or argue of many trivial or meaningless topics.

Yet, we can join or participate in a "secular" organization, business or group which is based upon the principles of Integrity, Honor, Truth, Loyalty.... etc. As a participant of these groups we (should) realize that we are called upon to act in a manner worthy of the groups principles.

 

 

22 May 2011

The Word of God

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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(To see all the pages about the Word of God and the Bible on one page, click here.)

Many people in this nation and world call the Bible "the Word of God". This article attempts to present another thought and what the phrase "the Word of God" means and it's appropriate use.

Before we begin our dicussion about the "Word of God", let us take a look at that term itself. When the term "word" of God is used, what is meant by "word"? What is a "word"? Among other things, a word is a thought or idea that that has been crystalized into an expression of communication.

Greek definition of Word:

G3056 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)

G3056 λόγος logos (log'-os) n.

  1.  something said (including the thought)
  2. (by implication) a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive
  3. (by extension) a computation
  4. (specially, with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ)

[from G3004]

KJV: account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say(-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work 

The "word" of God is a message, not a book.

When we limit "God's Word" to just a book of 66 smaller books, then we limit our awareness of the many ways that God can and does speak to us and to others. It has been said that a group of godly men wrote the original documents that compose the book that we call the Bible. But God did not stop speaking after the Bible was canonized. He continues to speak today.

The word of God is much more than a book. God speaks to us at many times and in many ways. God's word is any message that comes to us from God, through any means. This word can come through watching a movie, or when we are "correcting" or "teaching" or children and then we realize that our words are actually meant for us. It can come to us through a normal family or business interaction.

 

In the Bible there are number of places where it says something like, "the word of the Lord came to....." In other words, the word of the Lord came to those prophets by whatever means. The writing about it is not the same thing as the word of the Lord. The writing about the word of the Lord coming is just that, some writing. In each of these instances the word of the Lord may have come in various methods. It may have come through some life experiences or .....

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield1 and the one who will reward you in great abundance.” Genesis 15:1

How did the word of the Lord come to Abram? "in a vision". The method that it came was not the Word of God. Rather, the "words" and the message that came, they were the "word of God". Let's not confuse with the method by which it cqme with message from the Lord.

 

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." John 17:13-17

Let's take a look at what Jesus said in this page. In verse 14, speaking to God, Jesus said "I have given them your word." At this point he said the he has already given them God's word. Jesus was obviously not speaking about a book here.

In Verse 16, Jesus said, "Santify them by the truth." What is he saying here? Could it be as simple as Jesus meant exactly what he said? What is it that sanctifies in this verse? The truth sanctifies. Now let's look at the last half of the verse. "Your word is truth." That seems simple enough. Your (God's) word is truth. What does that mean? Sometimes things can be made clearer by just reversing the order of the sentence. "Truth is God's word." Now, let's look at that. One plausible meaning is, "Any time anyone speaks the truth (tells the truth), he is speaking God's Word, because telling the truth is God's Word. (Telling the) Truth transforms lives. When we learn to speak the truth in all situations, that has a transforming power in our lives and in the lives of others. We realise that when we have to always tell the truth, then we have to change our behavior so that we don't bring heavy consequences down upon ourselves. This is part of the transforming power of telling the truth.

 

When you call anything "God's Word" (i.e. the Bible or any other book) you make it into an object that can be held, objectafied, and even worshipped, rather than...inter

 

24 May 2011

Reading the book

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Attitude in Reading

Our attitude will make a lot of difference in what we learn and/or understand from our reading.

Prideful Reading

Some people read with a purpose of proving that they are right in their (opinions that they call their) beliefs. They look for words and phrases that support their opinions. They disreguard or retranslate in their minds anything that may contradict their opinions. This may be so automatic or habitual that they don't even realize they are doing it.

Reading for understanding.

It takes a lot of work to think out what you are reading. Many people just read the words and don't think about the true meaning of what they are reading. Nor do their think about the implecations of the words they are reading in relation to their own opinions.

Transformational Reading

"be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only". There are many good books out in the world, the Bible being one of them.
Read carefully to try to understand what has been written. Use a dictionary and/or a thesaurus to look the meanings of words that you don't understand.
Rewrite out the passage(s) in your own words, according to your own understanding.

The reading is only of value if we put it into practice. In a way, the understanding is cyclicyle. We can't really do it unless we understand what to do. The other part is that we won't really begin to understand until we start to do what it says. At the beginning we will make many (seeming) mistakes. But, if we are open and aware, we will learn much in the mistakes that help us to succeed.

24 May 2011

Is The Bible Inerrant?

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Inerrant? This word is not in the Bible. So, where did this word come from? I don't like to say anything about the writings in the Bible that they don't say about themselves. Did any of the writers of the various parts of the Bible say, or even think, that what they were writing was inerrant?

Inerrant?

Definition of Inerrant: " free from error "

To litterally be "inerrant" it would mean that there couldn't be even one letter out of place, there couldn't be even one misspelled word in the entire Bible.

Many christians say that "We believe that the Bible was without error in it's original..."

What difference does it make if the original manuscripts supposedly were without error.... we don't have the originals, or even first generation copies of the originals. We have translations made from multi-generational copies that have errors in them. Is it really logical to say that God wrote the original manuscripts (through human hands) without error, but then to say God couldn't or didn't keep all the copies error-free?

We are told by well-meaning Christians that the bible was "inerrant" in the "original" manuscripts. However, this is illogical. For one thing, none of the original manuscripts are still around and no modern scholar has ever seen the original manuscripts. Therefore, no one can rightfully make a claim that they are without error.

Secondly, if God had the power "through the Spirit" to have the original documents created without error, then it only stands to reason that He would also have the power to keep the subsequent translations free from error. It makes no sense to say that the "Spirit" caused or enabled the original writers to write error free, only to have the following translations contain errors. What's the point in there being error free original manuscripts unless all the following translations were also to be made error free?

Thirdly, in order for the assertion of inerrancy to stand, their could not be even one error in the original writings and of all the following translations. 

of unholy lips

Where did these claims originate?

Think about it. Did ANY of the writers of the individual books of the bible make any type of claims that their writings were inerrant and infallible? I have not seen such claims by any the authors of the books of the Bible.

If the authors did not make any such claims, where did those claims originate?

Why are people making that claim?

Then the next question that begs to be asked is, "If the authors of the original documents made not claims of inerrancy or infallibility, why are other people trying to make that claim? What is their true purpose?

Is The Belief of Inerrancy Necessary? 

Many religious people think (and adamantly claim) that the Bible has to be viewed as perfect and without error to be of value. However, God is constantly telling us to look at the lowly things, for in them we find God.

"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Many Christians so strongly try to claim that the Bible is inerrant. Yet They are promoting an unprovable illusion. Anyone with an open mind can find countless websites and books that show the myriad of mistakes and errors in the Bible.

Would The Bible Be Of Any Value it Had Errors?

The power of any writing is not in the supposed perfection of the text, but in the truth and reality of which the authors wrote. Truth can be found in the midst of the errors and contradictions. As humans, they did not write perfectly (perfection is only an illusion, it is not real), but they spoke truth. 

Here, can you read this:

"For God so lveod the wlrod taht he gvae his one and olny Son, taht wohveer bieleves in him sahll not piersh but hvae ernteal lfie."

Here is another paragraph from here:

"RDIAENG.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe."

 Could you read those paragraphs? If you were like me, and I presume many others, you could probably read those paragraphs without too much trouble. You might ask, "What was the point of my asking you to read those paragraphs?". Before I answer that question, let me ask you one more question. Have you ever seen any other writing, such as a letter, that had a lot of mispelled words? Were you able to read and understand the meaning of the letter?

My Point it this. All this discussion of the "inerrancy" of scripture seems irrelevant. As you have seen for yourself, you can read and understand text that has mistakes in it. So what if the original manuscripts of the bible had mistakes in it. (And I believe it did. But what would the problem with that be.)

An Incorrect Focus

When people call the Bible the Infallible Inerrant Word of God, they poison it, because that statement is not based upon truth.

Trying to claim inerrancy of the text takes the focus away from the message that was written and instead tries to make a lie into a truth. Whether or not the original documents had errors in them is not important. What is important is the message that the authors were trying to convey.

The "Black Or White Thinking" Falacy

A Black and white, or and "Either OR" Falacy only gives your two choices. 
In this case, the Either Or Falace is, "The Bible has to be viewed as 'inerrant' OR it is of no value." This is a thinking error. In fact, the Bible can still be very useful even when we realize that it does have errors. 

Notes:

 

If the Bible is Error Free,

then that means that God wrote it himself, because anything written by men would have mistakes.

If that is true, then the Bible is God's Word

Then the Bible is the only book that God has spoken through

It is the only error free book

25 May 2011

A Tree Falling

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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"A tree falling in the forest without ears to hear makes no sound". I have heard this saying a number of times. Now I think that I may have finally understood this saying. When a tree falls in the forest, it only moves air and moves and cracks branches. These send out vibrations. It is only the ears of a living thing with ears that hears. When the vibrations enter the ear canal they are translated or recorded as sounds within the brain of the living thing. So, in a way, you could say that the sounds only happen within the brain of the living creature. When they are not within the ears and brain, they they are not sounds.

26 May 2011

Focused Awareness

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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We are not aware of everying in our surroundings or our environment. We are aware of the things that we choose to be aware of or that are "in our face" at the present time. For instance, we are not aware of the

Going through life there are many little affects (disturbances) that can't reasonably be fixed, but that can only be attended to.

Awareness is that sense in you that is "turned on" to notice the seemingling small and insignificant things in your life and/or environment. For example, We just purchased a house recently. A refrigerator (which is about 8-10 years old) came with the house. One of the defects in the refrigerator is that whenever you open the door to the freezer, a tiny light on the outside of the door (mean to light up the area where you get ice and water on the front of the door) is turned on. About 7 years ago the manufacture sent out a recall notice for clients to have that fixed at no charge. But now, after these 7 years, that free repair option has ceased. So, our options are to either pay for a service call + labor + parts, or to just live with it. Not having a lot of extra money, we are just living with it. In the larger scheme of things, it just a small insignificant trifle. No one else in the family seems to pay any attention to the light. The point of all this explanation is that I have chosen to be aware of the light and turn it off each time I go by it. At this point it is an almost automatic habit.

Awareness is often coupled with some type of response. Sometimes that response is an action, sometimes it is just an appreciation of what we see, hear, taste, touch or smell.

28 May 2011

Preaching

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Preaching is speaking a message of value to the hearers

one must speak in the language of the hearers

go to where the hearers are located

Get down at the level of the hearers

29 May 2011

The Art of Confessing or Apologizing

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Whenever we hurt or affend another, it is so easy to not want to be seen as the guilty party. We may say something like, "I'm sorry for hurting you, BUT, I didn't hit you that hard OR, the offense that I did to you wasn't that bad. YOU are making a big do about nothing." Often this is subtle attempt to get the blame off of us and to transfer at least part of the blame to the other party.
As a parent, one thing that I am learning, is when I apologize, I only focus on what I did that was wrong. Even if the other party was (in my mind) as much or more to blame than myself, I only confess to what I did, without mentioning anything at all about what I think that the other person did.

An apology or a confession that says or implies, even to the smallest degree, that someone else is partly or largely to blame is a hollow confession. It is our subtle attempt to get the focus off of us and onto the other party.

Our confession is about our own inner cleansing. It is about taking full responsibility for our own behavior. It is also deeply connected with our practice of humility.

If someone else has offended us, that should be dealt with at a different time. Whenever someone has offended or hurt us, we need to deal with it promptly so that their offence doesn't get intertwined with our own behavior later on.

 

Defusing Pride

Restoring Relationships

Self Examination

Any time that we even remotely involved in or associated with an argument or disagreement, we need to step aside and examine our own thoughts, motives and actions. For example, recently my two children were involved in fight of sorts. I went out to take care of it. After letting them both tell me both sides, I was overly zealous to correct the one I thought was at greater fault. The child I was correcting and I both were at odds with each other. It was only after I had stepped away from it and went for a walk that I realized that I was at fault for the way I had handled the child. I could have made an excuse that the child was really at fault. But I knew that I had to set the example. I took time to examine what I had done wrong. Then, when I got back home, I told the child, "My behavior was wrong. I was too harsh and judgemental when I spoke to you earlier...." After I had finished apologizing, my child also apologized to me as well. I'd had that happen a number of times. It seems that I have to be the one to apologize first, then the other person will often also apologize also.

30 May 2011

Asking Questions

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Many times in life we don't get our questions answered because we don't know how to properly ask the questions.

Clarify what the question really is.

Most reponsible people in life (who are the ones who may be able to answer our questions) are busy. We don't want to bother them needlessly.

Here are some good articles on how to ask better questions.

How to ask questions the smart way.

How to ask a question.

How to ask better questions.

How to ask a question intelligently.

30 May 2011

Forgiveness

Submitted by Stephen Winters

What does it mean to forgive? What is forgiveness? In Christianity we are told to "forgive", but what does that mean? We are also told that if we do something wrong to someone, then we should go ask for forgiveness. But in truth, when a person is asking for forgiveness,what are they asking for? Let me make it simple. How would you ask for forgiveness WITHOUT using the word "forgive". Let me give it a try. Would this be an equivelant of asking for forgiveness, "Please pretend like I didn't do anything wrong, pretend like I didn't hurt you, and don't hold any illwill towards me. Treat me as though I had never done anything wrong to you. AND if you don't "forgive" me, YOU will be the unspiritual person, you will be the one who is wrong."

If we were to say those words to a person we have wronged, how utterly repulsive and despictable that would be. To heap all that garbage on someone we have already injured. To ask them to put aside all their feelings of anger and hurt towards us would be unthinkable.

Here is one problem with the world's (or Christianity's) view of forgiveness. It does nothing to change the offender. If anything, all "forgiveness" (in the typical sense) does is to set the offender free from the consequences of his behavior.

I propose that we look at the process of forgiveness. There are two parts of forgiveness:

Part One is to set the offender free from the power of sin in his life. (Only God can do this, but the offender can do his part.) Truly forgiving is taking away the offender's desire to sin, which includes putting away his pride by showing who and what he really is. This involves confession (closely examining oneself and confessing ones deepest darkest fears and sins.) It involves getting a trusted mature friend or a good counselor to help him examine his immature and hurtful thinking patterns and immature behaviors. This is a process that can take months or years. It involves a complete transformation of the offender  so that he no long is an offender. It involves the offender making restitution, as much as in his power, to those whom he had harmed. In doing so, he should have no expectations from the people he has harmed. he should in no way ever ask for forgiveness of those whom he has injured. To ask for forgiveness would be to injure them again. Asking for forgiveness is often an attempt by the offender to escape the consequences of his actions. Instead the offender should repent (permanently change the way that he thinks and behaves. This is a long process, but over a period of time the changes slowly begin to  take shape as the offender develops new thinking pattern, new habits, and new behaviors.

The Second Part of forgiveness involves the injured party letting go of the anger and ill will that she has against the offender. There are two paths to being able to truly forgive another.

  • One path often naturally follows Part One, that of the offender becoming a new person. As the injured party sees the offender acting responsibily over a long period of time the anger can slowly melt away. This can take many months or years. Sometimes some people are not ready to let go of the anger or illwill that they feel against the offender. For some people it takes time, even a lot of time. We should not pressure them to forgive.
  • The other path involves the injured party making a decision to forgive (not hold illwill towards) the offender. This person realizes that holding anger or bitterness towards someone is harmful to oneself, so she lets it go.
  • This does not mean that she should not hold the offender accountable for his actions. Instead, true forgiveness often involves holding the offender accountable while at the same time letting go of the anger and bitterness. As has been said by someone else"“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." We let go of the anger and bitterness towards our offenders because holding onto them damages us. Holding onto anger and bitterness towards another turns us into the very type of person that we abhor. Even as we struggle to let go of our rage, we can still call the police or other authorities to report the crime that was committed against us. If the offender escapes consequences, then he is left in the power of his offending behavior. Going the consequences of his behavior is part of the path of setting him free from his bondage, which causes him to hurt people.

Some people are not at a place where they can just instantly let go of their anger and truly forgive someone who has hurt them deeply. Don't try to coerse them into "forgiving" someone before they are ready because you would injure them again. Their anger at what the offender did is a very natural feeling.

Other people are deeply offended at the idea of a horrendous murderer or someone who has caused great harm just being let off scott free. Their sense of justice cries out against someone who has hurt many others should escape being punished severely. Part of the reason they may feel this way is that they don't believe people should be able to escape punishment and they don't believe that people can truly change.

30 May 2011

Asking Forgiveness

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When I was in counseling, my counselor told us clients not to ask for forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness victimizes the victim again.

We who have offended or injured someone want to be forgiven of things that we have done. We don't  want to have to experience the consequences of our behavior. However, God sends the consequences of our behavior upon us to set us free from our offending behavior. How often, when we have sinned, and then "ask for forgiveness" are we "offended" and sometimes "outraged" becaue the offended party didn't forgive us.

One of the hardest things for us to do is to look deep within, to look beyond the "sinful act" that we did and to see our ingrained pattern of offending people. That offending behavior and thinking pattern is called sin.

We may try to comfort ourselves by saying "God loves me just as I am", but in reality, God loves us in spite of who we are. But, even more, God lovesus so much that he wants to change us from the inside out so that we might become like his own son.

We want the offended party to just forgive us because we said that we are sorry and have asked "plese forgive me." However, true forgiveness (from the offended party) is based upon that person "seeing and experiencing" (over a long period of time) a permanent change in behavior from the offender. True forgiveness doesn't have to be asked for. (Does it really say any place in the bible to "ask" for forgiveness? But, rather, true forgiveness is a natural bi-product of an ongoing change of behavior of the offender. Forgiveness doesn't have to be requested, but it is naturally given. This is a process that can take years.

Modern day forgiveness ("ask for forgiveness and "poof!" "No consequences.") doesn't work, there are no lasting results.

Any parent who has successfully raised responsible children knows that a child must consistantly experience the consequences of his behavior in order to have a permanent change in behavior.

31 May 2011

Life Examples

Submitted by Stephen Winters

This will start out with examples of children (and or adults) growing up in two or more different families. In one family the child(ren) spend their extra time watching TV, playing games, etc. The older children frequently complain that their parents don't treat them like adults.

In the other family, the children get right in and do their chores and schoolwork first thing. The older children also make out their own chore/task lists. In addition, they are very observant and see the other things that need to be done, or that the parents would like to have done. They follow up each day or series of completed chores by showing their parents what they have done. Then, when they ask for permission to do various things the children give all the details about each event (time, place, who will be there, why they want to go.... The children know that the parents will want to know all these details, so they don't wait to be asked. These children have a proven track record of being truthful, responsible, considerate of others.... Then, when they ask their parents permission, the parents talk it over and readily give permission, as and when appropriate.

31 May 2011

True Life

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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True life, godly living, or Christianity, or whatever you want to call it is not in the form and structure of religion, and it is also not in the absences of those things. Rather, it is in how we live our lives and treat other people in the midst of where we are and what we do. Unless what we do is evil, we can do all the religious things that we do, OR we can abstain from all those things. It doesn't matter so much what we do as it does matter how and why we do what we do.

3 Jun 2011

Being a Light, Witnessing

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 

The true Word of God
is not about quoting lots of bible verses
but in living a life that
is pleasing to our God and Father.
This shows the Word of God
Expressed through you.

"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself"

Being a light is nothing more than just living out what you know (Loving and caring for others in spite of how other treat you, training up your children to be responsible, obedient, trustworthy, and caring individuals.) As others see how you live (over a period of time) and they see the outcome of your way of life, then their eyes are opened. They see how they can live to improve their own lives.

For example, today I was out walking our dog Teddy (a Sheltie). As I came to a yard sale I decided to stop and have a look. I heard the owner of the garage sale say, "What a beautiful dog! What kind of dog is that?" I told her that it was a Sheltie, short for Shetland Sheep Dog. She wanted to pet Laddie. After a bit I handing the leash to her so that she could walk Teddie around. She eventually petted Teddie. She had been wanting a Corgie, but after seeing Teddie, she said that she had changed her mind. She called her husband over and told him that she wanted a Sheltie. Before I left I have her my card and the name of the kennel that we got Teddy from. 

I realize that this is a very superficial example, but it demonstrates how, when we just live our life, people will be drawn to us if we have something that they want.

Being a light, or witnessing, is not about going around quoting Bible verses to people. Instead, it's living our life in a way that is pleasing to God (being honerable, trustworthy, truthful, considerate, lving, kind, gentle, peaceful), people will take notice. It's nothing that we ourselves do, except to just live our lives.

Jesus said, "....you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7

In a court of law, you can only witness to the things that you personally have seen or experienced. You would not be able to be a witness to something that you have only read about in a book.

John said, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touchedthis we proclaim concerning the Word of life." John 1:1

We are only to witness to the things that we have seen and heard, not that we have merely read in a book. Witnessing is NOT quoting Bible verses at people.

 

 

6 Jun 2011

Love demonstrated, but misunderstood

Submitted by Stephen Winters

God is love and he is spirit, which we really don't understand. 

He sent his son down to earth in the form of  a human to "show" us how to live. He wanted us to learn how to live a life of love, and for that love to be so much a part of us that it penetrates us to our very inner being. Jesus son, spent much time on earth teaching and ...

Some of his followers wrote down what he said. Then in the years that followed, people began to worship and argue about the writings. They made the writings into something sacred. All the while they neglected living the life of love that had been taught.

8 Jun 2011

God

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 

As one writer said:

"When a theist claims that a god exists, one of the first questions atheists should ask is "what do you mean by 'god'?" Without understanding what the theist means, the atheist simply cannot evaluate the claim. By the same token, unless the theist is very clear about what he means, he cannot adequately explain and defend his beliefs." What is God? Definitions, Characteristics, and Attributes of God

This is so true. How can any religious person make a claim for God if they don't know what god is?

‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’  Acts 17:28(NIV)

If we "live and move and have our being" in God, then we are in the midst of God at all times of our lives.

What is God?

Just saying that God is a person is too simplistic. It doesn't really say anything about God and what that implies to each of us.

He is the Father: He is the source and beginning of all things. All things originate from and with Him.

  1. God is all and in all

He is spirit: He is the vital principal....
He is truth: He is whatever is true, he is the spirit and intention of telling the truth.

Some would say that God loves us or that God "has" love for us. It is really that simplistic?

 One could say that  then follow it with  The result would then be..
God "is" love. (True) Love "is" God. When we walk in God, we are walking in Love.
When we walk in Love, we are living in God.
God "is" truth" (Real) Truth "is" God When we walk in God, we are walking in Truth.
When we walk in Truth, we are living in God.
God "is" light (True) Light "is" God When we walk in God, we are walking in Light.
When we walk in Light, we are living in God.
God "is" spirit. (True) Spirit "is" God When we walk in God, we are walking in Spirit.
When we walk in Spirit, we are living in God.
God "is" life. (True) Life "is" God When we walk in God, we are walking in Life.
When we walk in Life, we are living in God.
     
     

When God "lives" in us, in what form does He live in us? Could it be that when he lives in us He is alive as the desire to tell the truth, (the spirit of truth), the spirit of love (which gives us the abililty to love even our enemies, he gives us the light to take one more step (when all the world around us seems dark), as we follow his precepts and directions he gives us a life beyond compare.

It is so easy to see God as "only" a "Person" and lose track of what God truly is.

God is not a single item or characteristic. It is true that God is ONE, and that one is everything. God is All, and in all and through all.

Men and religion want to make God into a "person" so that he can be like us. But God can't be confined into our own likeness. God is more than all that we can dream or imagine.

13 Jun 2011

Hold onto your principles.

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 If we are not careful, the process of desensitization can have a large negative effect on our course in life. This is the process of slowly and gradually eroding your principles and values. Many enticing things come along to try to get you to put your wants first above your principles and your honor.

It’s presumably easy enough to say that  “I won’t do that bad thing over there!”. But if we make one “tiny” exception at a  time, over a period of time our collection of “tiny exceptions” add up to a very large deviance from Integrity. Just taking one “tiny” at a time often takes us down the wrong road so that we are going far beyond that “bad thing”  which we said we’d never do. Then we justify and make excuses to try to cover up our behavior.

Each time we take a tiny step away from our values we justify it to ourselves in saying, i.e., A girl might think that "the neckline’s only 1 inch lower than my last blouse", or "the hem is only 1 inch higher than my last skirt." Slowly, bit by bit, the necklines get lower and the hems get higher. Slowly the girl's sense of modesty is eroding away without her paying any head. OR to give another example, in the case of music, we might say, this song only has one or two questionable words. Then later, we think, this next song only has a few more questionable words. Slowly, we take a seemingly "tiny" step further than we did before. We don't realize that we are getting further and further away from the true standard. Eventually we find ourselves listening to lyrics that should make shocked at what we are doing.

It often looks like we are “going after that which we want”, while all the  time we are slowly drifting away from our principles and values. We need to firmly set clear boundaries, to put our line clearly in the sand and say “I will not cross that line.” We need to examine and clarify what those values mean to us?

The truth is that our boundaries keep us safe. They keep us from doing many things, things that we think that we want at the time.

For our ethics to stand the test of time, we have to put our principles and values up as the defining guideline BEFORE our likes or dislikes. How many times do we make a decision because “I like it” OR “I HAVE TO make this exception or I won’t be able to participate.” We don’t realize that every time we make a tiny exception to our values “so that we won’t be inconvenienced”, then we are saying that our values don’t mean anything. Our immediate wants or conveniences are more  important than our character.

Want-based Choices Versus Character Based Choices

Many seemingly inviting situations come our way throughout the course of our lives. The manner and method we use in choosing what to do is more important than the actual choice we make. The manner in which we make the choices builds or erodes the quality of our character. Although there may be may methods to make choices, here we will focus on just these two: Our wants versus our character.

Want-Based Choices

Using a want-base choice system, our immediate wants take top priority. We will do anything or give up anything to obtain what we want. If we have to compromise our principles "a little" to get what we want, that's not really a big deal. After all, we got what we wanted. We don't notice that with each "little bit" of our principles that we give up, our character keeps eroding, until......

Character-Based Choices

Using a Character-based choice system we put maintaining our character first. We base each and every choice on our integrity, virtues, honor, and the quality of our character. We realize that everything we do in life, and all the choices that we make, either strengthens or erodes our character. When we put our principles first, we will only do the things that we can do without compromise. We draw the line in the sand and will not cross over it.

Additional Notes

 

Making Wise Choices
Put something in your mind above you. It can be your view of God..
Make all of your decisions subject to .... Virtue and honor, or your... goal
When we make decisions that are based only on the emotion of the moment, that leads us towards a destructive path.
 
For example, in deciding what type of clothes to purchase, you can either put your desire...
I would suggest that you put the virtues, honor, & integrity as the measuring stick for all of your decisions. For example, when looking for a dress, slacks, skirt, blouse, etc. Examine every desired purchase in the light of those principles. Ask yourself, is this blouse chaste (cause men to think horable and noble thoughts about you) or will it cause men to think sexual thoughts about you.
One might say, "whatever they think they will think anyway." However, we have a duty to "NOT put a stumbling block in front of anyone and to not cause anyone to sin."
8 Jul 2011

Stages of Growth

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Over the years I've come to see that growth and maturity (being considerate of others) can be expressed in many ways. Here are some examples of the stages of growth shown by different materials or books that I have read. This chart is my attempt to show how the different growth stages connect and overlap with one another. This is not to say that these are the only growth indicators.

 

Various aspecs of growth, maturity, and leadership compared
Under idea circumstances.

Human
Development

See here & here

Growth    Godly Stephen Covey
See a description
here: 7 Habits 

Tribal Leadership
see chart here.

   

infancy &
childhood

Immaturity Unrighteous Dependent Stage 1: Despairing
Hostility "Life is bad"
   

Puberty and
Adolescence

     

Stage 2: Apathetic Victim
"My life is bad"

   
Young
Adulthood
    Independent

Stage 3: Lone Warrior
"I'm Great!"
(and you're not)

   

getting
married

  Repentance
i.e. conversion
 

Epiphany
(Awareness, awakening)

   
Middle
Adulthood
 Maturity    Interdependent Stage 4: Tribal Pride
"We are great"
(and they're not)
   
Late
Adulthood

Righteous
Living a live beyond
the power of sin

Synergy Stage 5: Innocent Wonderment
Doing what people think can't be done,
"Life is Great!"
   
             
             

 

Tribal Leadership

While the concept of tribal leadership is focused towards leadership, the concepts of the stages seem very applicable to stages of growth from immaturity to maturity. One important thought explained in Tribal Leadership is that everyone has to pass through all the stages. No one can skip any of the stages. For example, Stage 3 is all about "Look at Me! I'm Great!".  Part of this stage is beComing very good at something. Before anyone can progress into Stage 4, he must have owned stage 3, trying to...  and finding out that it doesn't work. Until someone deeply realizes that stage 3 "It's all about ME" doesn't work, they can't go into Stage 4.  Stage 4 principles won't work for someone who is still embedded in Stage 3.

None of us can instantly become mature.

22 Jul 2011

sound and hearing

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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"If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" To answer that, we need to define, "What is sound?"

Definition of sound: "the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium."

So, in other words, when a tree falls in the forest it sends out vibrations through the air. When those vibration reaches a hearing organ, it produces a sensation that we call sound. It takes to parts to make sound.

  1. A cause: When a tree falls it cause vibrations
  2. A transmitter: secondly, the cause needs something (the air) to transmit those vibrations over a distance.
  3. A Receiver: Lastly, for those vibrations to become sound, they need a receiver that will convert those vibrations into sound.

So, for the tree falling to make a sound, it needs all three parts. Consequently, if no one is around to be a receiver, then those vibrations are not converted to sound.

25 Jul 2011

Repentence

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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In recent times I've been giving more and more thought about the concept of repentence. What does it mean, and how do we repent?

Today I had two times of realizing that I needed to repent.

On one time I went to the chiropractor. I had thrown my back out a week ago. While it had gotten better, it still wasn't back to normal. I finally went to the chiropractor today. While I was in his examining room, I had made a comment that in the past I had found that "If I didn't go to the chiropractor, my back would hurt for half a week. But if I did go to a chiropractor, my back would only hurt for 3 or 4 days." The message is that going to a chiropractor didn't help at all.

After I left his office I realized that I had said that same thing to him before. It was a rude thing to say. I shouldn't have said it. I went back to him and apologized.

Later I went to the hardware store. When I was ready to check out I went up to the cashier. After she had rung up my purchase, while we were waiting for the cash register to activate the electronic signing device, she said, "It'll be about 15 seconds." I immediatly started counting to myself. When the device was finally ready I said, "22 seconds". I've done this before in this hardware store. Today it finally dawn on me, what I did is wrong. That is my pride of wanting to prove them wrong. I need to change that. This time I didn't go back in, but just thought about and rehearsed a new response. In the future when the cashier says, "It'll be about 15 seconds", I will just say something like "Thank you."

Repentence is not an event (something that we can do oece and then forget about it), but rather an ongoing process, a change in our life's thought patterns and behaviors. It's:

  • An awareness that one's thinking processes and behavior patterns are wrong
  • A decision to make changes and to live differently.
  • An ongoing process of continuously monitoring and examining one's own thinking and behavior
  • Making corrections as necessary. Sometimes the correction will be going back in one's mind, examining what one did wrong, clarifying how one should have thought and acten and then rehearsing how one should have acted.
  • Whenever appropriate or necessary, going back and apologizing and say that "I was wrong" and making amends, as appropriate.

It's not just having to repent of doing the big things wrong. It also includes those tiny seemingly insignificant things (i.e. judging & condemning people in our minds, thinking or saying cutting words about others)

To help others out of being critical or condeming of others, we can't do it by being condemning of them. We have to get those characteristics out of our lives before we can have a meaningful impact on others.

I'm not convinced that we should ask for forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness is often used as an end in itself. The subtle implication can be, "If I'm forgiven, then all is well. It is done and finished." In reality, it is more important that we change our thinking and change or behaviour permanently. Then a forgiveness for our inappropriate behavior will naturally flow out of others. The forgiveness may not even be realized by the previously offended party because they will see us acting differently and therefore will respond to us differently.

26 Jul 2011

What is a Statement of Faith?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Any "Statement of Faith" is the perceived beliefs only of the person or group that wrote it. It is entirely too easy to sign a generic statement of faith just so you can be a part of some organization. It is entirely different, and much more difficult, to write one's own Statement of Faith.

For examples of what typical some "Statement of Faith's" look like, search for them in our Biblio here: Statements of Faith , or do a search on the Internet.

 

 

27 Jul 2011
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Faith is:

  1. the thought, the determination, the umption that there has to be more to life than the way things are or appear to be.
  2. the action, the moving force that keeps us on track to keep going, to keep our eyes on the goal, as we persevere, to keep going through the most severe difficulty, to keep us pressing on when it seems impossible.
  3. perseverence. Faith keeps going until the end. Faith helps us to move mountains, to do the impossible because we never quit, we never give up. Every time we fall down and get discouraged, we get up and go again. 
  4. is our inspiration and motivation to see ourselves as we really are and to be willing to change., and to keep going through the difficult things of life that God uses to change us.

One of the biggest challenges in life is realizing that we are wrong, our thoughts are wrong, our ideas are wrong. (STOP! Pause a moment and examine yourself. How did you respond when you read that first sentence?) This is because many of our thoughts and ideas are based upon our emotions. We get often emotionally attached to our thoughts. We think that because we have a thought, then our thoughts are correct. Our thoughts keep us captive. We look at a seemingly difficult task and think, "That is too hard. I'd never be able to do that!" And so we defeat ourselves before we get started. OR we look at a new coworker or a new neighbor with judging thoughts. Something about the way they look or behave gives us judging thoughts. So we avoid them without knowing anything about them.

There have been many times in my life when, before I started a project, had a certain idea about it. But, once I get started on it, find out that it was much different than my initial idea.

I have found a similar thing in correcting/disciplining children, my first thoughts are usually wrong. As an example, I hear an argument or fight between the children in another part of the house. Then one of the kids will come to me and complain about the other child, giving an explanation of how the other child is causing the problem. The description of this child often triggers in my mind thoughts of how the other child is wrong. My first emotional response is about how that other child needs to be punished. However, from many times in the past, I recognize that my first thoughts and emotions about what happened are quite often quite wrong. So, I take the children who complained with me and we go back to the other child and have them each tell me what happened. Many times I have them act out what happened. Most of the time I find out that what I had thought happened was way off.

"19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do" James 1: 19-20

So, when our thoughts and emotions tell us to quickly do something, it is much better to pause (hold off our angry or emotional response, and to investigate what really happened.

"14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25
Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2: 14-26

Then we might then ask, what is faith? One way of looking at faith is that faith is the umption that gives us the will to begin and to keep going when we get discouraged and want to quit.

We all have ideas of how we think things are or how we think that life works. From all of our life experiences we think that things are a certain way. What we don't realize, and don't want to see, is that our thoughts are wrong, we are wrong. The result is that our misunderstandings give us a lot of fear, which keeps us in bondange.

Many times in life our first thoughts are wrong. We instantly prejudge a person or a situation without finding out what is real. It often takes a lot of courage, perseverance to face our thoughts and to work through to find out what is real. Faith is the spark that should keep us going to work through until the very end.

The prize is at the end. We don't find out what is real, we don't see things as they really are, until we work through the situation until it is complete. At the end comes the awareness and knowlege of how things really are. It is only then that we realize how wrong we were. It is then that we are released from our fears and the bondage of our own misconceptions.


 

 


28 Jul 2011

What does it mean to have faith?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Faith is not like a single cube-shaped building block sitting on a shelf by itself. Faith is more like a cloud that has a vague shape and almost imperceptable edges. When you try to define concepts like faith, integrity, perseverence, truth you will find that they all overlap one another Each one is a part of the others. Instead of being able to clearly define each one separetly (like setting up building blocks), it's more like trying to stack clouds on top of each other. There is a core component in the middle of each cloud, but it's hard to determine where one concept ends and the other begins.

As an example, we'll look at just one of thse concepts, perseverence is very much connected with faith. If you try to separate one from the other, each one becomes quite useless. i.e. what good is perseverence if you don't have a purpose or a goal in mind. Faith gives you that purpose and goal. Faith gives you the thought that there is something of value to be obtained or achieved. "There is something out there that is of great value."

Now, if you were to try to isolate faith by itself, it too would become useless. What would the point of "believing" that something was possible if you didn't work trough the countless details and if you didn't have perseverance to keep on going and never quit.

You can't truthfully say, "I have faith so I've got it made". Faith is not an isolted component in our lives. Faith is usually connected to some process. You can say, "I have faith that God will provide for me." That faith is coupled with your efforts to work hard and to provide for the needs of yourself and your family. If you use your "faith" as an excuse to sit around and be lazy, while claiming to have faith, you are lying to yourself and to others..

Our faith is not supposed to be static. If you say that you have faith, but then you don't do anything to work through to the completion of the object or goal of your fiath, then you supposed faith is meaningless. "Faith without works is dead." James 2:17

In much the same way, you can say, "I have faith in God", but what does that mean? Faith in God is not a single component that means we are therefore special and don't need to do anything else. God has a purpose here on earth. He doesn't just drop that purpose into our laps, but we have to work it through and find that purpose. Perserverance keeps us going when things seem pointless. Faith gives us the idea, the though, the assurance that it is out there somewhere waiting for us. In some ways it is like the prize in a treasure hunt. But, as much as anything, God's purpose for us is found in the journey more than the destination. The trials and difficulties that we have to work through to h God's purpose for us is what helps to grow us into his children, people of integrity and honor.

God gives us faith for a purpose here on earth. Your faith grows throughout your life as you continue to take on and work through the challenges that God sends your way.

The growth of our faith is a cycle. Our faith either decreases according to the decsions and actions we take or avoid in our lives. For example, each time we back away from the tough things God sends us, then our faith decreases. Conversely, if we have a little faith, and then put our faith to use working through the tough challenges of life to completion, then our faith grows. We can thank God for the hard things that come out way. Because through them God becomes more and more real to us.

In our immaturity we want everything to come easy to us. We don't want to have to put a lot of effort into anything to make it happen. So, if something doesn't easily come together we give up and go onto something else. The big problem here is that each time we give up on a task, we make ourselves weaker and less able to do anything of real value. Then we think that life is too hard. We feel trapped, we feel like life is against us.

By contrast faith makes the (seemingly) impossible possible. Many things in this life seem impossible because they take a lot of thought, awareness, planning, research, diligence, perseverance, and effort to work them through to a successful conclusion. An extremely important part of the process is to keep our minds focused on the task until it is thoroughly finished. There are often many unexpected twists and turns, and (seeming) roadblocks along the way. Each of these has to be noticed and worked through as they come along. (Each of these may be a opportunity to learn what is needed for the next stage of the journey or process.) You must keep thoroughly awake and engaged in the process. If you let yourself become bored (being bored is a choice), then you may miss some of the turning points along the way. This will cause you to fail or to go through needless extra trials or difficulties.

Each time we stick with it and work through a challenging project to the very end, we increase our abilies to accomplish difficult things. Few people choose this strenuous path on their own, but those who do are greatly rewarded. Their fear of life lessens while their faith and confidence increase dramatically.  This is the path to growing and maturing as one of God's chosen and valuable vessels.

28 Jul 2011

What are your values base upon?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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That's the way I was raised.

I think it's OK OR, I like it.: This says, I long as I like something (it ) then it's OK.

 

These are values that put onself as God. "I" think that it is OK, so it must be OK.

 

But what are our guidelines? "Let every man (woman & child) examine himself  to see if he is in the truth." Take a minute to look at that verse and what it is saying.

 

"Out of the heart of man springs

28 Jul 2011

We become that which we accept

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When we accept something into us, we stop fighting it

 

When we accept something into us, it becomes normal to us.

When something becomes normal to us, then we put our defensed down when it comes to us.

When something becomes normal to us, we  open ourselves up to doing it.

 

Whatever you put into your mind is what you get out of it. This is merely one of the laws of science. If you put peaches into a basket, you will have peaches come out of the basket when you are ready to eat them.

9 Aug 2011

What is Prayer

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What is prayer?

When I was very young, I thought of prayer as basically two things, "God, please give me this" and "God, please do that." Over the years my view of prayer has changed drastically.

 

Here is a video of people answering the question, "What is prayer?"

Here are some of the answers.

"I thought of prayer before as asking for something, but now I've realized that for me, prayer is accepting what already is."

".... so, it's open my eyes so that I may see the glorious reality that's really here."

"Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. "1 Mohandas Gandhi

Another thought about prayer is:

"Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God "2

Now, of course, if we talk about, we need to define what we mean by God.

Some thoughts about Prayer

Prayer is focused intention. Keeping some desire in your mind as you work towards the fulfilling of that desire.

19 Aug 2011
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On Bible.org, in an article titled Introduction to Bibliology, I found these two paragraphs.

"Our view, approach, and attitude toward the Bible is foundational. If our view of the Bible is inadequate we will naturally handle the Bible accordingly. If I do not think it is God-breathed, I won’t think it is profitable and vital. If I think it might contain errors, or that only some of it is inspired, say the thoughts, not the words, then I am left with a dilemma and I must approach it much like a cafeteria line, choosing according to my own likes or bias. What do I believe and not believe? If it is wrong in some places, then how can I be sure what it says about Jesus is true? On the other hand, if I believe it is God’s infallible and inerrant Word, as the evidence supports, then I should accept it all and study it carefully. An unfortunate element very obvious today within the evangelical community is that most who call themselves evangelicals will theoretically, at least, claim allegiance to the Bible as the all-sufficient and authoritative rule of faith, but in practice, many are raising other sources on a level with or even above the Scripture as their authority for what they believe and practice.

We believe that the Word contained in these books [of Scripture] has proceeded from God, and receives its authority from Him alone, and not from men. And inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that is necessary for the service of God and for salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, to change it. Whence it follows that no authority, whether of antiquity, or custom, or numbers, or human wisdom, or judgments, or proclamations or edicts or decrees, or councils, or visions, or miracles, should be opposed to these Holy Scriptures, but on the contrary, all things should be examined, regulated, and reformed according to them. (Italics added)"

Let's examine what this says:

"Our view, approach, and attitude toward the Bible is foundational."

This is so true. However I approach any book or idea will greatly affect how I view what it says.

"If our view of the Bible is inadequate we will naturally handle the Bible accordingly."

Where does the author get the idea that "the bible has to be adequate" for anything? The author is true in his assessment that how we view the Bible will affect how we handle it.

"If I do not think it is God-breathed, I won’t think it is profitable and vital."

The author is false in his assessment here. In the world today there are literally millions of books and writings that are immensely valuable to many people, without the claim being made that they are '"God breathed". For someone to say that I have to view a book as "God-breathed" or I won't value it is an invalid claim. A book, or any writing, stands or falls on the truth of the content it contains.

"If I think it might contain errors, or that only some of it is inspired, say the thoughts, not the words, then I am left with a dilemma and I must approach it much like a cafeteria line, choosing according to my own likes or bias. What do I believe and not believe? If it is wrong in some places, then how can I be sure what it says about Jesus is true?"

The author sets us a false dilemma, saying that if I acknowledge that the Bible contains any errors, the "I must approach it much like a cafeteria line. Any reasoning man knows that even great books will have errors, that nothing is perfect. Anyone can do a search using the Google search engine to see that numberour errors have been found in textbooks. You can do a similar Google search to see that errors happen frequently in newspapers as well. You could probably do a similar search in many of even the most valuable writings in the world and find many mistakes. Do people still find these writings profitable and vital? I would think so.

You can do another Google search to find many sites that list Bible errors and contradictions. An article called A List of Bible Contradictions1 gives a long list of contradictions. Any reasonable and honest person can clearly see that the Bible isn't perfect. It is not inerrant. But that doesn't mean that it is without value. It has great value to those who believe in God.

"On the other hand, if I believe it is God’s infallible and inerrant Word, as the evidence supports, then I should accept it all and study it carefully."

Here the author claims that the evidence supports the Bible being:

  • Infallible
  • inerrant
  • God's Word

Just making a claim that the evidence supports something doesn't make it so.

19 Aug 2011

Written by an All Knowing God

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 

Written by an all knowing God,

"God sees the end of a matter before the beginning"

"In Him, we live and move and have our being."

Let's pretend that we are God and are writing the Bible. Since God is not bound by time, we can imagine him seeing everything happening throughout time as if it were all laid out before him on the table. Imagine yourself as God, with everything that ever happened or that will eve happen, all laid out on a table right in front of you. So, let's imagine that God is looking at every moment in every life of all 6 Billion people alive on earth today. Now lets also imagine that he also has all the millions and billions of people who have ever lived on this earth. God sees every moment of every life. Let's say that the average person lived 80 years (60 minutes per hour X 24 hours per day X365 days per year X 80 years =  525,600 minutes in a person's life X 50,000,000,000+ estimated people since the beginning of time = 26,280,000,000,000,000 minutes all before God at one time. Let's say that God is looking at all those 26,280,000,000,000,000 minutes of everyone's lives at one time. He is now working everything together. In addition, he ..

24 Aug 2011

God's Word Comes Alive

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Since I've let go of the idea of "the bible is God's Word",  it seems that the whole world is opening up. For example

"God Word is true(th)" and conversely, "(that which is) truth is God's Word." To put it plainly, anything that is true is God's Word, because God's word is Truth."

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

Now, you might ask, how does that work out in our daily lives? For example, in any situation, instead of asking "what does the Bible say about this", I simple ask (myself or a trusted advisor), "What is the right thing to do?" What is the honorable and noble thing to do?" Of course there are some principles and guidelines (from the Bible and other good books) that can help us. For example, "Do onto others as you would have them do unto you"

When we come into any situation, as we find what is true in that situation, that truth is God's word.

6 Sep 2011

What Do You Truly Believe?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What do you truly believe? Have you ever heard these following quotations?

"Don't believe everything that you think"

"Don't believe everything that you  (think that you) believe"

These remind us that just because we have a thought or an opinion doesn't make it true. Examine everything to see if it is true. Most important, examine your own thoughts and beliefs to see if there are true.

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves." 2 Corinthians 13:5

This is not just a one time self-evaluation, but rather it is an ongoing moment-by-moment watching of our thoughts, behaviors and actions. Each moment we should be examining ourselves to see if we are living out the life of God our Father. For example, if we are mistreated, we should not be judging and condemning others. Instead we should be watching ourselves. Are we thinking and responding out of our true selves. Are we showing love in our response?

"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst a spark that creates extraordinary results."
-- UNKNOWN

"It doesn’t matter so much what happens to us but how we react to what happens that counts."

How we respond to adversity shows our true nature. When we go through hard times, we should watch our own thoughts, attitudes and behavior. Our true beliefs are shown by what we think and do.

Much of what people call their beliefs is either their pride or their opinion. We humans are very prideful and think that we are right about everything. This is especially true when it comes to religion. Many people have been killed in the name of religion. Much of what is called religion is just self-centered pride. It can be very destructive. Be careful of what we do in the name of our beliefs.

When you go over to someone's home and they invite you to sit in a chair, do you have to "make a decision to believe" that the chair will hold you up? If you are a normal person, you probably will just sit in the chair without giving it a second thought.

If you have a normal good running automobile, when you get into your car, you don't have to make yourself believe that it will start and take you where you want to go.

These are just natural outflowings of you deep internal belief system. A true belief you don't even have to think about. You just do it. If you wonder what you or someone else truly believes, don't listen to their words or the "professions of faith. But rather examine what they do. What they do is what they truly believe. Their words only carry any value IF they are in agreement with how people live their lives.

12 Sep 2011

John 1:1 The Word

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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For much of my life I've heard and read John 1:1, which says:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

When many religious people quote this verse "In the beginning was the "word,", they refer to the "word" as Jesus. Look at the definition of the word "word", we get this:

G3056 λόγος logos (log'-os) n.

1. something said (including the thought)
2. (by implication) a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive
3. (by extension) a computation
4. (specially, with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ)

[from G3004]

KJV: account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say(-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work 

Root(s): G3004 

This is what I get, "In the beginning was the (something said, including the thought, a topic, also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive." Now, let's take a look at that.v What is this saying? If we want to use the traditionial Christian venacular, are we then saying that "Jesus is (something said, including the thought, a topic, also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive.)? To me, looking at the meaning of "Word", it either isn't referring to "Jesus" OR "Jesus, the Son" is different than I have thought of him/it before.

I take a look at the original Greek language that was used at the time the Apostles were on this earth. Since the Roman Empire, and the Greek people (whose language the I suppose the language belonged to) were not "Christians", then it seems to me that a word like this "logos", was not religious by nature. I would assume that definition #4 was added by religious people at a later time. It doesn't make sense that this definition would have been part of the original Greek language. It does not seem that "Christ", as it related to the word logos, was part of the Greek language structure.

Consequently, it doesn't seem that the tradition Christian application "IN the beginning was the Word (Christ)" fits here.

23 Sep 2011

The God of Simplicity

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Much of theology seems so complex and hard to understand. Is God supposed to be hard to understand? Is there a way to make it simple?

"I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

In recent times I've been thinking such things as, "If God is love, then the reverse is also true, love is God. If God is spirit, the spirit is god. If God is truth, then truth is God." I haven't had the words to go any further than that. This morning I decided to look up "God" on Wikipedia. After reading that article, I was led to the Wikipedia link for "divine simplicity".

In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc. are identical to God's being, not qualities that make up that being, nor abstract entities inhering in God as in a substance..... In classical Christian theism, God is simple, not composite, not made up of thing upon thing. In other words, the characteristics of God are not parts of God that together make up God. Because God is simple, God is those characteristics; for example, God does not have goodness, but simply is goodness.  Wikipedia: Divine Simplicity


Then it hit me, that's what I was thinking about, but just didn't have the words, "Because God is simple, God is those characteristics; for example, God does not have goodness, but simply is goodness." I had never heard of the concept of "divine simplicity", but it makes such perfect sense, especially when compared to the above quote by Holmes. God is simple, but at the other side of complexity. True simplicity has all the details and loose ends worked out.

Now let's add another quote

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Albert Einstein

Now it is beginning to make sense. If someone needs a lot of theological  doctrine and words to try to explain about God, then they just don't understand God well enough yet. For example, this concept is very simole. God is love, therefore love is God. If you want to show someone God, then show them true love. Here we have an example of how to show someone true love:

"4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

If we are to truly walk in the spirit, we do so by living out the life of God. In a very real sense, we are to take on love and have it be who we are. Not "we have love", but rather 'We are love".

And again, God is truth, therefore truth is God. If you want to show someone God, show them truth. More simply, tell them the truth. And the same can be said for the other "attributes" of God.

Then it only follows that if we are to "walk in the spirit" we are to walk in God.

Love is patient, love is kind

 

 

God said, "I AM." If God is the "I AM", then he is .... He doesn't "have" love, but he is love.

 

 


 

 

 

25 Sep 2011

One God

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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God said, "I AM." If God is the "I AM", then he is .... He doesn't "have" love, but he is love.
"I AM love"
"I AM truth"
"I AM life"
"I AM the way"
"I AM spirit"

God is one
God is all and in all

There is only one God,
Who created the universe
who is the god of all mankind. Whether the people be Christians, or Islam, or ... There is only one God, who is the God of all peoples, religions, languages. The main difference is that each person or each religions sees God differently.

The native indians saw God as a big spirit.

The islam's see God as Allah.

Just because each person and each religion sees god differently doesn't mean that God is different for each religion. It also doesn't mean that each religion is worshipping a different God... God is who God is no matter what men think or believe about God. Men's beliefs or opinions about God don't change or affect who or what God is. God is who God is not matter what people think or believe about God.

We are all God's children. Our (supposed) beliefs are what separate us from one another. Like little children we bicker and quarrel, each claiming to be right. We subtly say that you have to "follow my beliefs, or you will tortured forever."

God's son said, "When I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me."

30 Sep 2011

God's Word and Bible Study

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I'm sixty years old and have went to numerous Bible studies over many years. Quite frankly, I don't like bible studies. All I ever found there has been an endless studying, for knowledge, the same book over and over again. It seems to me that, in general, many Christians don't know what to do with one another except to have a Bible study.

The main focus I found there was, seemingly, "Bible knowledge." The main focus of each of the Bible studies was on studying the text of the Bible. It's as though the prevailing thought is that we get to know God and become closer to God by studying "God's written Word". To me, this seems like endlessly studying a driver's manual so that we really know it inside and out, but never getting into a car to drive. Yes, we need to know laws of the road, which the driver's manual gives us. And yes we need to know the technical aspects of how to drive. This is best done by 1.)  us seeing by example how others drive and 2.) us doing lots of driving ourselves. This is a good example of how Christian living should be done. It's mostly in the doing.

In recent years I rarely go to Bible studies. I'd rather fellowship with other Christians one on one, or, in some cases, with just a few others. I'd rather be discussing what is going on in each of  our lives, and how we can motivate one another towards "love and good deeds." Yes, the Bible can have a place, but it is on the bookshelf with other helpful books. It can be referred to as needed, but it should not be the main focus, as it is so much today.

I did a search on the Internet today and came across this webpage: Why I Don't Like Bible Study where he writes this:   

"In our current educational climate "study" more naturally carries the connotation of dissection-for-comprehension. Rather than searching in order to meet God. It suggests that coming to the Bible is primarily an exercise in increased knowledge rather than increased love for God."

He wrote the Title as basically a way to get people to notice and possibly read his article. Much of he said was kind of tongue-in-cheek, but he made some good points. The thing that caught my attention was about, "Why do people study the Bible." It is important to have a proper focus when we study. Our focus will determine the outcome.

As I wrote previously, The word of God is a message, not a book." God did not stop speaking two thousand years ago, but rather he has been speaking throughout history, and he continues to speak today. God has so much more to say to each one of us than can ever be written in a book.

When we call our small group meetings "Bible Studies" we give an incorrect focus about what we should be doing in our meetings. I think about Jesus saying, "All men will know you are my disciples by your love...." I did a search of that phrase and found this

"Jesus said simply, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)2  This leads to an obvious question, what did Jesus command?  There is only one thing that the Bible records that Christ explicitly commanded his disciples to do: to love one another (John 13:34, John 15:12, John 15:17).  Jesus told them that their love for one another would become their trademark. And, indeed it did.  At the end of the 2nd century, the church father Tertullian described the reputation that the early church had earned: “What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our loving kindness. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another’”3" Principle 6: By this will all men know you are my disciples.

The author also said:

 "The words translated here as “love” and “loved” are forms of the Greek word agape.  Jesus didn’t leave us with a long sermon or a book on the meaning of agape.  He instead chose to show us the meaning of agape by living it out before us:"

Yes, we need instruction to live out the life of God, but that instruction needs to come more by example than by study. And, in much the same way witnessing,, if I'll even use that word, needs to come more by example than by words. We are to be living examples of the "word" of God.

"Preach the gospel always, if necessary, use words" has been attributed to Francis of Assisi

The main point of this blog entry is that yes, we need to learn about how to love. When we get together, we need to spend time getting to know one another and helping each other to live a life of love.



 

1 Oct 2011

The Blessing of Grace

Submitted by Stephen Winters


Grace is like having a savings account. None of us lives this life perfectly. We all make mistakes. Graces us a measure of a cushion to get up and try again.

For example, my wife and I have made our share of financial mistakes. The first few years of our marriage we didn't have a savings account. We also didn't manage our money very well. Whenever we make a financial mistake, it would throw us into a tailspin and take away what little money we had.

In recent years we have had a savings account.

3 Oct 2011

Fellowship

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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For some time I've been thinking about trying to develop a series of articles about Fellowship.  To start with I'll write out what have I experienced in the past that has really touched me, times when I've experienced true Fellowship. Then I'll research and found out what are other people doing to encourage fellowship.

(millie talking about the "Connections" group, ask her more details, ask for the leadership name)

Ideas For Fellowship

3 Oct 2011

My Experience of Fellowship

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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As I was typing in the title for this page, I accidentally typed "My Experience of Followship". As I corrected the title, I suddenly realized that for people to have true fellowship, they must all be followers of a similar values, goal, idea, god, etc. So, followship is a part of true fellowship.

I was raised in, and have spend my life in what is called "Christianity". I was raised by parents who considered themselves to be Christians. I've spent the majority of my 60 years going to various "Christian" churches. I've went to countless Bible studies. I've spent many years listening to "Christian" radio. Throughout all of this I've have very little of what I'd call true fellowship. But I have had some, and that is what this article will focus on.

4 Oct 2011

Using "THE" word

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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When you call something "THE".... then that negates the possibility that there are any others. You are in effect saying that it is THE only one. When you attach "THE" to an object, then you are, by implication, saying that there is only one. There is no other, and there is no other way. Conversely, if you call something "A" Something, then you, by implication, indicate that it could be only one of many.
Now let us attach "THE" to an object, more specifically a book that many call "THE" Word of God.

I have a question. Has God ever spoken outside of the Bible? Did God ever speak before the Bible was put together?

7 Oct 2011

What is Salvation?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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We hear the words "Salvation" and "Saved" used quite a lot in the modern day Christianity. The common "accepted" meaning of these words is that we will be "saved" from hell and therefore have a place in heaven.

I propose that this is a misunderstanding of what is meant by "Salvation" and "Saved". These words speak of coming to a wholeness and wellness here on earth. These words speak of the result of God transforming our lives here on earth.

To Further explain, when we start out our lives hear on earth we are very self-centered. The world (we think) revolves around us. Because of this immature way of thinking, we make decisions and do things that cause damage to ourselves and others. In our self-centered blindness we don't see that we do anything wrong. Our behavior and actions are caused by our immature thinking patterns and behaviors.

When God "calls" us He "saves" us. This means that he takes us through experiences that show us the error of our ways.

What is meant by those words?

Well, let's look at some verses in the Bible where these words are used, and then look them up in the Greek dictionary  and see what the definition of each of these words. (The Numbers preceded by "G" are the numbers referring to the Greek definitions.)

"Neither  is there salvation G4991c in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men , whereby we must be saved G4982." Acts 4:12  (KJV)

a.) G4982 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G4982 σώζω sozo (sode'-zo) v.
1. to save, i.e. deliver or protect
{literally or figuratively}
[from a primary sos (contraction for obsolete saos, "safe")]
KJV: heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole 

 

b.) G4990 σωτήρ soter (so-tare') n.
1. a deliverer, i.e. God or Christ
[from G4982]
KJV: saviour 
Root(s): G4982

c.) G4991 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)|
G4991 σωτηρία soteria (so-tay-ree'-ah) n.
1. rescue or safety (physically or morally)
[feminine of a derivative of G4990 as (properly, abstract) noun]
KJV: deliver, health, salvation, save, saving 
Root(s): G4990 

"He who endures(the trials) to the end (of the trial) will be saved (healed or made whole).
God sends trials our way for a purpose, to show us that our own way of thinking leads to disaster (There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end (of that way of thinking and living) leads to death.(disaster))"

"The word salvation has been hijacked by many different groups of Christians in recent years. It has been misinterpreted, used as a weapon for submission or control, and has basically lost its vitality and power to keep us on the road to abundant life. While there are many interpretations of salvation in the Bible, I would like to define salvation using modern terms and thinking. Salvation is the healing of the human race; the process by which we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. Salvation comes from the Latin word, salve, which has the meaning of healing. So instead of making you nervous by asking you if you are saved, I would like to ask you this instead. Are you healed? Are you whole? Is the human race healed and whole? And if you and the human race are not healed and whole, then what must you do in order to experience true healing?"1

In a very real sense, God's process of saving us is opening our eyes to how selfish and destructive we have been and then giving us the power (through changing our thoughts and behaviors) to live our lives differently. We learn to live in a way that brings peace, restoration, and healing to ourselves and others. This is the "salvation" of which the Bible speaks.

7 Oct 2011

Christ and Religion

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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In the Bible it says, "we have the mind of Christ."

What is Christ? What does that mean? How does that practically work out? If Jesus "christ" as the son of God, and if God is love (as we are told), then could it be that the term "christ" is what refers to our motivation, our desire, our wanting to do what is right?

True religion is helping the widows and orphans in their distress. True religion is not true religion because it is call by a particular name. Just because a building or a group of people are called "christian" doesn't mean that they are true followers of God.

After Christ died, his followers were called "the way". Later on the followers "were first called christians at antioch." Was it a name that they took on themselves, or was it a title of derepute that others called them?

8 Oct 2011

What is Correct Doctrine?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Let's have a look at the definition of the word "Doctrine".

Definitions:

doc·trine   [dok-trin]     noun

  1. a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government: Catholic doctrines; the Monroe Doctrine.
  2. something that is taught; teachings collectively: religious doctrine.
  3. a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject: the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/doctrine?s=t  
doctrine:
"That which is held to be true by any person, sect, or school; especially, in religion, a tenet, or body of tenets"
http://www.innvista.com/culture/religion/diction.htm  

Doctrine:

"A belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group"
A Google search 

If good doctrine were the most important thing, then all churches, or even all religions, should have the same doctrine. However, but the very fact that there are many thousands of "Christian" denominations, we know that isn't true. Each denomination has their own set of doctrines. If that isn't true, then why the need for all the different religions?

What it is not:

Often used like a weapon, the word "doctrine" is often bandied about to try to prove that someone else is wrong. "That's not correct doctrine!" What is meant, "you don't agree with my beliefs, so YOU are WRONG?" How prideful and arrogant is that?

In this country there is a strong emphasis on having "correct doctrine." There seems to be countless doctrines and countless varieties of those doctrines. These doctrines are what separate and divide those who should be acting as brothers.

In reality, I don't think "doctrine" is nearly as important as many religious people place on it. Most of what I've seen that has been called doctrine has just been some men or group's opinions. Then people get their pride attached to their opinions and things can get really explosive. Each person or group has to be "right". Then, when someone claims that they are right, by implication, that means that everyone else is wrong.

Instead of claiming correct doctrine, shouldn't we put our emphasis on (our) correct thinking and behavior? Jesus said, "All men will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another." That is focusing on correct thinking and behavior, not focusing on doctrine. If one's doctrine does not major on loving one another, then that doctrine should be discarded.

13 Oct 2011

The Law

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Although my wife is mathmatically challenged she has been homeschooling our two children. My wife has been doing what she could, but she hasn't been holding my son to the line, making him work out all of his problems. Although I've told both of them repeatedly that my son needs to work out the problems completely, Joseph has still been mostly just writing down only the answers, not the answers with the formulas. A couple days ago I told my wife that I would take over working with my son and his math. I have been making him work out all his math problems and label everything correctly. I've also been helping him wherever needed. Today, after correcting his math he said, "I think I finally getting the hang of his math."

The law was given that we might have a richer fuller life, an abundantly life. But it will only work if we take the law inside of us so that we are living the way the law directs because we want to live that way. That is called living by the spirit of the law. When we follow the essense of the law we learn to follow the direction of the law. The teachers are there to help us learn the precepts of the law. In other words the teachers are there, not to help us to escape our difficulties, but rather to help us learn how to successfully work our way through the challenges. That means we are to focus our minds on how to do all the little steps involved in overcoming the difficulty.

16 Oct 2011

Ideas for Small Groups

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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As my wife and I are discussing  the idea of starting to meet with another couple for fellowship, I thought that I'd start putting some ideas together here for why we are meeting and what we could do when we could meet together.

In the past, I've been a part of many "Bible studies" that mainly focused on "studying the Bible". I'm burned out with that whole concept. I believe that the focus is wrong. The purpose of a small group should not be to study a book, any book. Instead, the purpose should be to help one another live out the life. The book can be a help, but it shou.d not be a focus. For example. Think about when we all started to learn how to drive a car. One of the important things we did was to study the driver's manual. The purpose of studying the book was to learn the laws and rules of the road about driving. Connect that with some practice and then we were ready to take out our driving test. Assuming that we passed the test. Then we drive out car according to the rules and laws that we learned from the driving manual. Nows hes the corelation; After receiving your driver's license keep studying and memoriing your driver's manual for the rest of your life? Hopefully you continue to drive according to what you learned from the book, but you do not contiually refer back to it. In stead you just drive your car. You get better at driving your car the longer you drive. However drivers can get together to motivate each other become better drivers. This sometimes happens when drivers disregard the rules of the road by driving drunk or speeding or driving recklessly.

Purpose

This brings us to the purpose of getting together. "All men will know you are disciples by your love for one another." John 13:35   "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24

Love is our primary command. How can we show the love of God to others if we don't know how to love one another. In all the Bible studies and religious meetings that I have went to ove rthe years, this is the missing focus.  Now, how do we love one another? Love has to be learned, just like driving a car. We must learn the basics and then we need to put it into practice.

When we realize that our purose is not to study a particular book, but to to learn and put into practice how to truly love and to live a godly life, then we are set free to use whatever methods or materials that would be helpful. This would include finding or leaning about godly men and women to use as examples.

18 Oct 2011

The Spirit

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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To see all the articles on the Spirit on one page, click here.

Once we've been taught and have believed something all of our lives, it is so difficult to accept or believe something else. It took me many years to begin to understand about the concept of the Spirit.

 It seems that most of traditional Christianity, which I grew up in, teaches that the "Holy Spirit" is a person, the third person of the Trinity1, 2 In recent years, through many trials, God has given me a different idea.

In some sense trying to understand what the "spirit" is may be difficult. In another sense, it is extremely simple. We just look at the words and see what they mean. To start with, let's examine the term "Holy Spirit" by looking up the individual words: "Holy" "Spirit". Since many the epistles of the New Testament were said to have been written in Greek, we'll look up the Greek definitions.

First,  the Greek definition of the word "Holy3" The part of the definition that fits our purpose here is "2.(physically) pure 3. (morally) blameless".

Then let's look up the Greek definition of the word "Spirit4" The part of the definition that fits our purpose here is, 3. (humanly) the rational soul 4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc." To make it simple, we will just call it 'mental disposition.) 

Now, let's connect those two definitions: Holy (pure & blameless) Spirit (mental disposition). So, let us now put all this together. When God gives us a "Holy Spirit" He is actually give us a "pure and blameless mental disposition". To simplify it even more: "Holy Spirit" = "pure and blameless mental disposition." And to put it another way, "Holy Spirit = The strong ongoing desire to do what is right".

The Bible talks about us receiving power from on high. This makes so much sense, when God gives us [the desire to have] a pure and blameless mental disposition, we receive a power to be the kind of person that we've never been before, and we receive the ability to do things that we've never done before.

 

  • 1. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. In addition, many Bible scholars question the validity of the concept the Trinity.
  • 2. G. Johnson, Is God really a MYSTERIOUS Trinity?, 2011. [Online]. Available: http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/is-god-a-mysterious-trinity-no-one-can-understand.html.
  • 3. G40 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G40 ἅγιος hagios (hag'-ee-os) adj. 1. sacred 2. (physically) pure 3. (morally) blameless 4. (religious, ceremonially) consecrated [from hagos "an awful thing"] KJV: (most) holy (one, thing), saint Compare: G53, G2282, G3741
  • 4. G4151 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n. 1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze 2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit 3. (humanly) the rational soul 4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc. 5. (superhumanly) an angel, demon 6. (divinely) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit [from G4154] KJV: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind Root(s): G4154 Compare: G5590 [?]
18 Oct 2011

The Evidence of the Holy Spirit

Submitted by Stephen Winters

This is much the same as the fruit of the spirit, as shown in Galations 6

When we realize what the spirit is, as shown on this page: The Spirit, determining the evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer becomes simple. It is basically seeing a person who is living an honorable, noble, loving, compassionate, truthful life. (more later)

One the strongest evidences sthat we can see is a person living a righteous (right acting) and godly (living in harmony with god and man) in the midst of intense trials and adversity. Anyone can act good for a while when everything seems to be going our way. The true test of what living by the spirit is how one thinks and acts when everything seems to be going against him. Will he hold the course (of doing what is right) no matter what happens?

19 Oct 2011

Prayer

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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What is prayer? What is its purpose? What does true prayer look like? Can we change what is happening to us or others by praying?

First, let us clarify a principle. “The sun shines on the good and the bad alike. The rain also falls on the good and the bad alike.” We have no control over the sun or the rain. In the same manner, if a gardener, who lives in a dry climate, doesn't water his plants, they will die. So, what is the principle? There are universal laws or principles in this life;; if you follow the principle you will thrive. If you violate the principles, things will not go well with you. It doesn't matter if you are a "godly" person or an ungodly person, believer or unbeliever.

  • If you jump off a cliff, you will fall.
  • If you consistently overeat, you will get fat.
  • If you stop eating anything, you will lose weight.
  • If you never eat again you will die.
  • If you are shot, you will be wounded or die.
  • If you eat poorly and abuse your body, you will not be as healthy as if you eat nutritious foods and take good care of your body.

What am I getting at? If you violate the universal laws you will experience the consequences that are also designed into those laws. It doesn't matter whether you are a sinner or a saint, you will experience those same consequences. It doesn't matter if you pray or not, you will still experiences those same consequences. If you don't want to experience the consequences, then don't violate those laws.

  • If you don't want to fall, don't jump off the cliff
  • If you don't want to get fat, don't overeat
  • If you don't want to lose weight, don't stop eating
  • If you don't want to get sick, take good care of your body

What does all of this have to do with prayer? You can't go on violating life's principles and then pray to your idea of God to take away the consequences. It doesn't work like that. Prayer, in this sense, is to focus one's mind on the situation to find the cause. When the cause is identified, then, again, prayer (focusing one's mind on finding a solution) is appropriate to find a solution.

Prayer is not meant to let a person continue to violate the universal  laws of creation and not experience the consequences.

Many times the cause of the problem is not apparent. It these cases we need to call in knowledgeable people (elders) to help identify the causes and to help find solutions. (What are elders? Elders represent older or trained people who are experienced in the area of need. For example, doctors who will apply the oil (medicine or treatment))

 

A large part of prayer is learning to train your thinking and your awareness to

The reality is that both the righteous and the unrighteouls  will both experience the consequences of any of life's situations. The main difference between a righteouls and an unrighteous person is in one's response to the situation. "keep a good attitude".. makes all the difference in the world in the outcome of the situation.

19 Oct 2011

Conditions

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Broadcasting

Broadcasting is theprocess of putting out a lot of messages with the hope of someone responding. The outcome depends on the law of averages

The Law of Averages

 The law of averages says that if you bet on enough horse races, you'll win few of them, even if you don't know anything about the horses or betting. Here's another example: If you make enough prophecies, some of them will come true. If a fortune teller will predict enough events some of them will come true. (i.e. let's say a fortune teller will predict the outcome of 100 events, the law of averages says that at least a few of them will happen. Then she can look at the few that she correctly guess about and proclaim her powers of predicting the future.)

In much the same way, if someone prays for enough different things, some of them are bound to come true. As humans, we also tend to see what we want to see. Then, if we see that some of our prayers have (seemingly) been answered (even though it may be just an outplaying of the law of averages) it's easy to think that our prayers caused the desired thing to happen. But what about all the things that we have prayed about that never happened? It's so easy to brush them into the closet and forget about them. It's so much more builds our ego to think that our prayers made things happen.

20 Oct 2011

"Biblical" Greek

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I do a lot of thinking about many of the concepts and principles of life. I also do a lot of thinking about the meanings of many different Bible verses that I "learned" as a child and young adult.

I often look up the definitions of Greek words so that (hopefully) I can better understand a verse in the New Testament. In looking up the definitions in a Greek dictionary, I see that many words have a both religious definition at the top and then have "other" non-religious definitions at the bottom. I have found that the religious definitions often make the work unclear or hard to understand, or it brings some "spiritual" (magical) meaning to the word.When religion gets in the middle of defining greek words, it seems that the definitions get all muddied up and magitized (or sprititualized).

I'm not a Greek scholar, but in my limited understanding it seems that the non-religious meanings of the words make a lot more sense to me. So I've developed a habit to mostly disregard and look past the religious meanings of words.

I also don't think that Greek was a religious or a Christian language. I think that it was just a plain language of the times. Which means, I really wonder if, and doubt that, those religious meanings were part of the original Greek language.

It is my understanding that "Biblical" Greek was actually just the common language of the day.

"Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, (known as Archaic), c. 5th–4th centuries BC (Classical) , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD (Hellenistic) of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek. The language of the Hellenistic phase is known as Koine ( common ) or Biblical Greek, the language from the late period onward has no considerable difference from Medieval Greek." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek

What is called "Biblical" Greek (which is really Hellenistic Greek) spanned the time from the 3rd century before Christ to the 6th Century after Christ, although it seems to have its roots back to the 9th century before Christ.

Now, what does this mean? It would seem apparent that Greek was not a religious language, but just the regular language of it's time. I question the whole concept of putting "Christian" meanings to the common non-religious words. For example, let's look at the meanings of some Greek words.

Let us start with the word "word", as in "In the beginning was the Word...."

Greek Definition of "Word"

G3056 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G3056 λόγος logos (log'-os) n.
1. something said (including the thought)
2. (by implication) a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive
3. (by extension) a computation
4. (specially, with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ)
[from G3004]
KJV: account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say(-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work
Root(s): G3004

It is clear to me that definition number 4, "the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ)" was not a part of the original Greek language that was spoken at the time of Christ. The Greeks with whom the language originated did not know or believe in Christ. in fact, it would seem apparent that the Greek language was in existance centuries before Christ came to earth. So, how could the word "word" have the religious meaning, refering to Christ, since they had no reference point to even associate the word with Christ.

Greek Definition of "Spirit"

G4151 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n.
1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze
2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit
3. (humanly) the rational soul
4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc.
5. (superhumanly) an angel, demon
6. (divinely) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit
[from G4154]
KJV: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind
Root(s): G4154
Compare: G5590

Now, let us look at the Greek definition of the word "Spirit". Read down through all the definitions. When we come to the definitions 5 & 6 we see that they are religious definitions. If we eliminate the religious definitions (that were probably added later, see what the other definitions say.

When looking up the definitions of "Biblical" Greek (which can be presumed to really be a non religious Greek), look through all the definitons and eliminate any religious definitions. I would presume that this would bring us to a closer true definition of meaning of the words.

When we eliminate the religious definition of the Greek words, it would seem that we would come up with a better understanding of what was actually written and what it meant.

 

Greek Definition of "Scripture"

Consider how a couple regular Greek dictionaries define the Greek word

 γραφή

Dictionarist Defines γραφή like this:

Greek To English - γραφή  n. hand, quill, script, writ, Scripture, style, writing
http://www.dictionarist.com/
γραφή

Wicktionary Defines γραφή like this:

γραφή (grafí) f

  1. alphabetism
  2. writing (written letters or symbols that express some meaning)
  3. script (written characters)
  4. hand (style of penmanship), handwriting
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/γραφή

Now let's look at how a "Biblical" Greek dictionary define

G1124 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G1124 γραφή graphe (graf-ay') n.
1. a document, i.e. holy Writ (or its contents or a statement in it)
[(not given)]
KJV: scripture

Notice how the religious definition of "Holy Writ" has been added to the regular Greek  definition. Again it seems that the religious definition has to be added in order to try to make the word into a "holy writing" in order to try to prove that the Bible to be the "Word of God".

So, if you strip away the non-original religious definitions to the words, the supernatural interpretation of is taken away. The the Bible is put into the status of a regular book, which it is.

 

Since I have mostly put aside using the religious definitions of the Greek, the New Testament has never been clearer to me. And, I think, the meaning has change to (my perceived) actual word usage, not the religious meaning word usage.

 

 

24 Oct 2011

Computer Hardware Sources

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Here are some places that I'm looking at for Computer Hardware.

 

Online Sources for Hardware:

Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers ...
 

Newegg.com - A great place to buy computers, computer parts, electronics, software, accessories, and DVDs online. With great prices, fast shipping, and ...

 

TigerDirect.com - Computers, Computer Parts, Computer ...
 

The Best Deals on Computers, Computer Parts, Computer Components, Netbooks, Electronics and more at TigerDirect.com.

 

Geeks.com - Computer parts, Laptop computers, Desktop computers ...
 

Your Source for the Best Deals on the Net; Save on Computer Parts, Computer ... Geeks.com Home - Cheap Laptops and Computer Parts ... Buy the One DayDeal! ...

 

OutletPC.com - Cheap Computer Parts, Motherboard and CPU ...
 

Computer Memory Deals ... Laptop Computer Parts. Hot Top 5! .... We've worked to deliver the best computer deals and lowest prices on PC parts, ... Customers visit our our site knowing they'll find everything they need to fix or upgrade a PC or ... OutletPC is an Online Computer Hardware Store and Las Vegas Computer ...

24 Oct 2011

My Computer Hardware Thoughts

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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   Here is the basic list of what I think we are looking for in a computer. Could you give me a price quote about how much it would cost to build us a computer. Feel free to ask any questions about anything I may have left out, or that you don’t understand..
I don't know if I listed everything. If I forgot anything we want in the computer, we can make adjustments as needed. Please include whatever else is needed to make the computer function properly.

In your estimate can you please give me the specific brand and model number of each major component so that I can research the specs online.

Here are my thoughts about each of the major components of the computer we are thinking about.

The Tower: Don't care about anything fancy, more concerned about it being functional

  • Would like it to have memory card reader on the front, preferably nearer the top.
  • Enough bays for future addition of other possible drives, blu-ray drives, etc.
    • possibly a floppy drive
  • USB ports
  • USB 2.x - 2 or more on front, 4 or more on the rear
  • USB 3.x - at least 1 or two, possibly room for more in the future
  • Openings on the front for additional Drives (DVD, Blue ray, etc.)
  • speaker/microphone jacks on the front and the back.

Power Supply
Adequate to power all the components in this computer, with enough power to add a few more items.
Motherboard
At least 4 RAM memory slots, housing an initial 8 Gig RAM in two of the slots, leaving the others empty for future memory addition

Cooling Fan/s
We've had problems with our current computer getting hot. Want sufficient fan/s to keep computer relatively cool.
CPU
I don't need a gaming computer, but would like a powerful enough CPU to do some reasonable video editing.
I like the idea of a quad (or more) core. Would having a quad or more core cause any problems with any programs operating correctly.

We often have half a dozen or more programs or windows open. Want enough RAM and CPU power to run it all
Also want to be able to do video editing without it slowing the computer down.
Dual Monitor support

Video Card (would consider Integrated graphics/video only if it really did a good job for video editing.
DVD Writer

Keyboard and mouse

Windows 7  64 bit (would prefer the Pro version, but would consider the Home version if necessary) One reason why we'd prefer the Pro version is that there is a Windows XP emulator that is available for Windows 7 Pro or higher. It seems like a higher probability that more of older software should run on Windows 7 Pro.
While I would like to be able for the computer to run my older Windows XP 32 bit software, we'd prefer to have the 64 bit version because we are looking towards the future. I would guess that software will be going 64 bit in the future.

Hard Drive: Minimum 1 TB, but would prefer 1.5 TB or larger
We are considering the possibility of having a small hard drive (such as 100 GB) to install the software on, and then having the larger hard drive for the data files. What do you think. Is the feasible?

Budget:
What could you do for about $700 - $800 (possibly $900 if necessary). What is realistic? Perhaps you could give us 2 or 3 options that would tell us what we'd  get for what price?

Optional:
VHS & other video tapes. Is there some type of available card, or other, that would allow me to import video from tapes and convert it to digital video?

My Research:
These are only a few of the articles I've been looking at
The best PC's you can build for $600 and $1200  
32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

We Use the Computer for:
This is primarily a business computer. We use it for
Bookkeeping
Wordprocessing
Desktop Publishing
email
Photo editing
Graphics
Building and Maintaining our websites
Internet Research, Facebook, and surfing
Video Editing

At the moment the video editing is a secondary use, but hope to have it be more in the future.

The most important programs we use are:

  • Quickbooks
  • Quicken
  • web browsers (Firefox or Chrome, each with additional extensions)
  • Microsoft Office 2007 Word, Excel
  • LibreOffice (Open Office), Writer, Calc, Draw
  • video editing: Cyblerlink PowerDirector 9

Additional programs we use include
Gimp (Photo Manipulation)
Google Picasa
Microsoft Publisher 2007
and a number of other programs I can't remember at the moment.

24 Oct 2011

Computer Building Tutorials

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Here are some websites that have given some good tutorials about building a computer.

From Life Hacker.com

The Best PCs You Can Build for $600 and $1200

"A few months back we took you to night school and walked you through building your own computer from scratch. What we didn't do at the time is give you a suggest parts list for that new computer. In this post—which we'll update regularly as prices and components change—we'll walk you through the parts and hardware we'll need for the best of two different system builds: a mid-range PC for those on a budget, and an enthusiast's system for gamers and media professionals."

 

How to Build a Computer from Scratch: The Complete Guide

"Last week, we showed you how to build your own custom PC, from picking the parts, to putting it together and installing your OS. Here's the complete guide, along with a printable PDF version that you can use as a reference."

Lesson 1: Hardware Basics
Lesson 2: Choose and Buy your Parts
Lesson 3: Building The Computer
Lesson 4: Installing Your Operating System
Lesson 5: Further Resources

 

How to Build a Hackintosh Mac and Install OS X in Eight Easy Steps

"Building a Hackintosh from scratch—that is, installing Mac OS X on non-Mac hardware—has never been easier, and the final product has never performed better. Here's how it works."

 

From Wiki Books

How To Assemble A Desktop PC/Choosing the parts

"The first step to building a computer is acquiring the parts. This guide will start with a quick explanation of essential parts and elaborate on them further on.

A computer is made up of a case (or chassis) which houses several important internal components, and provides places to connect the external components, including non-peripherals.

Inside the case go the following internal parts:"

 

Build Your Own Cheap Computers.com

Build Cheap Computers Using Cheap Computer Parts

"Would you like to Build Your Own Cheap Computers? Your own 'State-of-the-Art' machine? Well, I am sure you do!

 Well, here is a step-by-step guide to assemble all your cheap computer components together to build the best system (the Perfect PC!)."

 

Guide to Choosing a Cheap Computer Part

"Step 1: Acquire Cheap Computer Parts

Cheap computer parts are readily available at many online and 'brick and mortar' stores.

When acquiring your computer parts, some questions that will come to your mind are :

  • What components do I buy?
  • Where can I get the best parts at the cheapest price?"

 

 

24 Oct 2011

How to Choose Computer Hardware

Submitted by Stephen Winters
Site Keywords: 

 

How to Craft the Perfect Computer Spec List for Your Needs

Whether you're building or buying, the perfect computer isn't necessarily the product of the most expensive parts. Your perfect spec list makes up the machine that works best for you and your budget. Here's how to put it together.

 

 

How to Buy a Computer Case

Author: Dave Melchiore

So the time has come to build a new PC, and you already have a good idea of how you want it to perform. Perhaps you already know exactly what components you are going to put in your case, but what about the case itself? If you need help sifting through the myriad choices available to computer builders, this article will be of benefit to you. After you have read the article, exploit the information you have gleaned by checking out Xoxide.com’s vast selection of PC Cases.

The article gives specs and sizes of computer cases.

 

Here is a link to a chart of the parts needed for various price ranges of computers "PC Buying Guide"

 

computer-hardware-explained.com

 

"Choosing a Graphics Card

Choosing a graphics card and knowing what graphics card you need to suit your needs is very difficult. This page will explain how to determine those needs and how to choose a video card according to them. Do you use your computer for high-end gaming or are you just surfing the net? These are the questions you will need to ask yourself."

Related Articles

 

Checking Parts Compatibility

There is a website that you can go to to check the compatibility of the computer parts before you order the parts. The website is called GooeyPC.

24 Oct 2011

Computer Kits

Submitted by Stephen Winters
Site Keywords: 

 

Tiger Direct

Barebones Kits, All brands

AMD Based Kits This has basic kits built around the AMD processor

 

NewEgg.com

DIY PC Combos All price Ranges of Do-It_Yourself Kits. One you get to the website, you can choose what price range of kit that you want.

 

 

 

 

25 Oct 2011

Useful Specifications

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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The page contains the specs I find that will be useful in determining the type of hardware I need

 

Case

 

 

Motherboard

 

 

CPU

 

Power Supply

 

Graphics Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Oct 2011

Which Belief is Right?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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 Which belief system is the right one?Whether we are religious or not religious, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Atheist, I would assume that we think that we are the ones who have it right. Otherwise, why would we believe the way that we do unless we think that our belief is right? There are many belief systems and religions in the world  (see List of Religion and Spiritual Traditions) Let's take a look at the concept that one belief system is the right one. (I'm going play devil's advocate here. With everyone believing differently, not everyone can be in the right belief system can they? But, wait. Let's examine this common belief, only one belief system can be right. Stop! Is that concept even correct?But, for the sake of argument, let's pretend that it is correct.) Would the correct belief system be a non-religious or a religious belief system? Since religious people are a large part of society, Let's assume that the religious people are the ones who have it right. Now which religion? Since I was raised as a Christian, let's pretend that I am part of the one true belief system. Of course, that would be the Christian belief system. But which one? Protestant or Catholic. OK, since I was raised in the Protestant branch of religion, let's pretend that the Protestants are the ones who have it right.

"As of 1980 David B. Barrett identified 20,800 Christian denominations worldwide . . ." ("Denominationalism," page 351)

The 2001 edition, successor to his 1982 first edition, which took a decade to compile, identifies 10,000 distinct religions, of which 150 have 1 million or more followers. Within Christianity, he counts 33,820 denominations.
www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a120.htm

OK, now which Protestant group? A denomination or the non-denomination groups. I'm going to pretend that since (I presume that) there many more people in a denomination than who are not in non-denominational groups. So, let's assume that  the people in Christian denominations are the right ones. Now we know that all the denominations don't agree, so they can't all be right. So Which denomination believes the right way? Well, since Baptists make up a large part of the Christian religion, let us assume that the Baptists are the ones who believe correctly. On the Wikipedia page List of Baptist Denominations there are hundreds listed.Now, which Baptist demonimations are the correct one? If I were a Southern Baptist (which I'm not) I would probablly say that "My church is the church that believes the Bible. We are the ones who believe correctly!

 So, are we going to have God send every other belief system to hell because they don't believe the same as we do? Well, OK, let's allow some of the other religious people to also "go to heaven". Now, which other belief systems will we allow God to bring to heaven with us. Certainly not those other people that we disagree with.

Do you get my point. We humans are very prideful. We think that we are the ones who believe correctlly. How arrogant is that?

A More Realistic View

The answer is not to be found in man's view of religion, but in a personal faith.

"To give all religions due respect, but give none the power to control our connection with God, nor allow any middleman to restrict our freedom to articulate personal faith that is divinely ordained with a free will to choose, change or contemplate." No 2 Religion, Yes 2 Faith

Over the past few years I've come to realize that God can be found everywhere and that we can learn many things if we will but open our eyes. Organized religion is not the answer, but we can still learn much from each of them. It has been expressed so well here:

"Nonetheless, fragments of the truth are scattered everywhere, and I like what the reverend Lowell Grisham has to say about learning from other beliefs. Growing up in Mississippi in the days of the Civil Rights struggle, Grisham feels strongly about the need for tolerance in a diverse society and admits he learned the following from other religions:

“From Buddhism I have learned a sense of the interdependence of all life and the non-dual oneness of the contemplative experience.

From Hinduism I have learned the richness of a mythology that is embracing and inclusive of the complexity of human experience, while honouring the divine in the midst of it all.

From Jainism I have learned the ideal of Aahisma—non-harming, that challenges my violent and power-based cultural norms.

From Islam I have learned the power of disciplined prayer and surrender to God through faithful daily acts of devotion.

From Judaism I have learned to delight in vital and living conversations with ancient holy texts interpreted through the centuries.

From Native Religions I have learned the holiness of nature and the revelatory wonder that is the living breath of our mother earth.

From Zen I have learned the limitations of the rational.

From Catholicism I have learned the power of the sacramental presence of the divine within the created. From Protestantism I have learned the passion of a personal relationship with God.

From Science and Humanism I have learned of the exquisite order and relationship of all creation and the responsibility of human beings for the welfare of this fragile earth.” "1

When we put aside our pride and arrogance of being "the one true belief" and put on Christ's humility, we can truly begin learning. Truths about God and his character, and the lessons that He has for us can be found in many places. We have to be open to His leading.

Which is Right?

Now, back to the question: Who is Right About what to believe? What is the right Religion? Does it matter what you believe?

In looking through the many books about theology and religion one can see that many authors have a wide variety of thoughts and opinions In searching the Internet about faith and religion one can find countless websites with differing ideas about faith and religion. Many of the books and websites seem to be written for the express purpose of proving someone's belief as the right one. In contrast, many websites are written to denounce a variety of supposedly heresies or "false beliefs." How is one supposed to make sense of it all?

If it doesn't make sense....

My basic philosophy is:, "If it doesn't make sense, then throw it out. True faith and true religion is logical. It will make sense." For example: Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another2.”  and again he said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you3."This doesn't take a theologan to figure this our. Just treat others with love and kindness.

27 Oct 2011

Fables of Faith

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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These are stories yet to be written or rewritten

 

Climbing the cliff to the higher life

 

The tapestry

 

7 blind men go to see the elephant

 

Pushing against the rock

 

The Tortoise and the Hare

 

Pushed out of one's comfortable room into the fog

 

The Diving Board

 

The Dragon in Smoke and Mirrors

28 Oct 2011

Walking In The Spirit

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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About 12-15 years ago we were attending a church clear across town. We had been there for a few years. During a period of time I thought I was living by the spirit, and let the spirit decide whether we would go to church. There would be times when I felt led by the spirit to go to church (I felt so bonded with the church and the people) and I would would excitedly go to church. There were other times when I didn't feel "led by the spirit" to go to church. I felt lost and unconnected with anything about church, so I'd stay home. Staying home would reinforce my feeling isolated and alone, that no one cared. After a period of time of bouncing back and forth (going, not going, going, not going) I finally realized that I wasn't living by the Spirit. I was really living by my emotions. After that I made a decision to go every Sunday and then, after a while, my emotions followed my actions. I nolonger bounced back and forth about whether to go to church.

Too much of what is considered "walking in the Spirit" nowadays is really living by one's emotions, which is a recipe for disaster.

To truly understand what "walking in the spirit" means we have to go back and look again at meaning of the words [implied: holy1 = pure and blameless ] "spirit"2 = rational soul/mental disposition. So, in this sense, living by the [holy] spirit is using one's mind and intellect to discern what is the virtuous and moral thing to do any any given situation. It is putting aside that (emotional) sense of "I want to be done with this, and throw everyone out. This pain is just too much." Instead it is "putting to death" that human desire to want to be right, to want comfort and ease, to want my own happiness above all else. Walking by the spirit is an exercise of using our minds to control our emotions and do what is right in any situation.

When one first decides (yes, it is a decision) to walk in the spirit, he/she mail fail at the first attempts. That is to be expected, but one should get up and go again, and again. In addition the process often feels "mechanical", (i.e. "I'm only doing this because I have to do it because it's the "right thing to do."). One does it only because they feel like they "have to". A large part of succeeding at walking in the spirit is "letting go" of the desire to be in charge, of trying to control everything, of dieing to self, putting aside the desire to want life to be "my way". Sometimes it takes a lot persistence to follow through. At first the whole thing make seem fake, not real.  My counselor told me over and over, "fake it till you make it." Keep doing the actions until it finally becomes real to you. Whatever you do over and over again long enough eventually becomes a part of who you are.

"Walking in the spirit" is not just something you can just decide to do one day and have immediate success. (i.e. "Today I will walk in the spirit!) A large part of learning to walk in the spirit is a product of maturing. Immature people too often want immediate results. They just react according to their emotions. When the going gets tough they want to give up. Any can act nice when there are getting what they want, or if they feel good. It takes maturity to keep calm and keep a good attitude when the whole world seems to be falling down around you.

  • 1. G40 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G40 ἅγιος hagios (hag'-ee-os) adj. 1. sacred 2. (physically) pure 3. (morally) blameless 4. (religious, ceremonially) consecrated [from hagos "an awful thing"] KJV: (most) holy (one, thing), saint Compare: G53, G2282, G3741 [?]
  • 2. G4151 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n. 1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze 2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit 3. (humanly) the rational soul 4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc. 5. (superhumanly) an angel, demon 6. (divinely) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit [from G4154] KJV: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind Root(s): G4154 Compare: G5590 [?]
30 Oct 2011

Science, Truth, and Faith

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Science is often seen as an enemy of those of faith. But we would like to make the case that true science and true faith are closely related and can work hand in hand. True science searches for the truth. True faith is based upon that which is true. Since both are .... truth, we will start with the Truth

Truth

"Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality.[1] It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character.[1] The direct opposite of truth is falsehood, which can correspondingly take logical, factual or ethical meanings." Wikipedia

In many ways, truth seems so simple. You tell what is. "Do you solemly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

"We see the world, not as it is, but as we are." We are all flawed humans. Our ability to see or to tell the truth is:

  • tempered by out biases, prejudices and opinions.
  • distorted by our desire to be right and wanting the truth to agree with our distorted views of the truth.

Science: A Search for Truth

 

The steps of the scientific method1 are to:

  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

Science has something called a hypothesis

Hypothesis Definition

  1. A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.
  2. A proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of its truth.

 

you  have an idea that you think to be true, and ou work through some processes to either prove or disprove it. Just because a scientiest has a hyosis doesn't make it true. The focus is (or should be) to discover what is true.

Faith: Based Upon Truth

Faith is the evidence of things than seen. The focuus of this faith should be in following through the direction of your faith. Just becuase we think that we have faith in something or someone deosn't mean that it is true.

30 Oct 2011

What is Faith? What is PseudoFaith?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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(this article is in process of being written, and will be frequenlty update as more is added or changed.)

The Idea for this article came from a similarly Titled article "What is Science? What is Pseudoscience?1" The question that begs to be asked is how do we recognize true faith? The other question that follows is: "How do we recognize pseudofaith?

The key is, once you learn what true faith, it is easy to recognize the imitation.

 Let us take an example about how to recognize a genuine dollar bill

"A Lesson from the US Treasury

Many years ago, I was employed by a large bank in Louisville. Although I never attended these classes, I was told the Treasury Department conducts seminars for training bank tellers in identify counterfeit currency. Their training techniques are quite ingenious and effective and to everyone's surprise, never once are tellers shown actual counterfeit bills, rather, the Treasury agents teach bank tellers everything there is to know about genuine currency. The tellers are taught to recognize the special properties of the unique paper that is used for the printing of currency. The tellers learn about the special inks used in the making of paper money. In addition, the tellers are taught about the government's meticulous engraving techniques. By the time these classes are concluded, the bank tellers know all there is to know about real money. So familiar are they with the genuine, a fake bill passing through their hands is immediately recognized as a worthless phony!" http://jesustory.orgfree.com/treasury.html  

While I don't know if this story is true, it beautifully serves to illustrate the message of this article. Once we learn to recognize true faith, we won't be intimated or fooled by a pseudofaith.

In this Country countless demoninations, ministries, religious, businesses, media all use the name "Christian". So, instead of using the term "Christian" to describe faith, we shall look at what true faith looks like apart for any religious context. True faith is not a  label by any religious name

  • Faith is Internal. Similar to prayer in this regard, it does not cause anything to happen outside of us. Faith is a mental presence ... It causes us to act in certain ways.
  • Faith is incompatible with fear. Faith and fear control the same decision.
  • Faith isn't increased by laziness or inaction. i.e., you can't pray yourself into having more faith. (Faith without actions is dead.)
  • However, if you act on the tiny bit of your faith that you have, through the process of working through the task or ... at hand, your faith will be increase.

Think of the early settlers who lived in the east and heard of the new lands and opportunities that were available out west. It must have been a fearful thought for many of them, leaving family, friends, farams, homes. and going out to someplace they had never seen before. Yet many of them went out west. They had hope for a better life, and had faith enough to begin the journey. Many of them lost faith and returned to their old homes. Yet many had faith to continue until they recieved the object of their faith. The amount of their faith was unimportant. Their continued actions, fighting through the difficulties and .... that was what was important. Faith grows as you continue to do the actions prompted by the faith.

Faith is not like an isolated block that you can pick up and touch all the sides. Instead, faith is like a cloud, that overlaps and is intertwined with many other clouds. How can you isolate concepts like faith, trust, perseverance, hope,  Each of these concepts overlaps and interwined with each of the others. For example, you can't truly have faith in someone unless you truly trust him. How can you separate faith from hope?

True faith is like a journey, not an event. It doesn' t grow instantly just because we want to have or think that we have true faith.

5 Nov 2011

What is Legalism?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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It is so easy for one who is under another's authority to fire off "You are so legalistic" to those in authority. One real potential problem with this way of think is it can be used as an excuse to not follow the rules.

The rules are not the problem. No matter where we are we all under rules, guidelines. It's our attitude toward the authority that is the problem.

A driver can think and say, "following the speed limit" is so legalistic. That works out to be, "The speed laws are so legalistic THEREFORE I won't obey the laws.

It's a heart issue. First we must look at the reason for the rules.

Rules in themselves cannot be legalistic. When a supervisor applies rules, that doesn't

Rebellion against rules is a heart issue.

There are (at least) two types of "legalism", real legalism and pseudo-legalism.

5 Nov 2011

The Spirit and the Flesh

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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The flesh wants to be free from the constraints of the law.

The flesh refers to our immature selfish nature. A vivid example of the flesh can be seen in a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. "Mine! Mine! Mine!" he screams. He wants what he wants, and he wants it NOW!

6 Nov 2011

Not By Works - Work Out Your Salvation

Submitted by Stephen Winters

 

Works of righteousness

For it is by grace

Work out your salvation

We become what we to. For example, a man becomes a thief by stealing. A man becomes a carpenter by building stuff with lumber.

It works the same way in the things of the spirit. We become righteous people by doing righteous (right actions) deeds.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

 

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13

 

 

6 Nov 2011

Perseverance & Consistancy

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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In one's growth there needs to be a stable foundation to build upon. Befosre a builder builds a house he first levels the area and lays a solid foundation. Withought the solid foundation the house may crumble and fall down.

Consistancy of responsible thinking and behavior provides a  stable foundation to build one's life  upon, no matter what you are trying to build. IN Character develop, that consistancy comes in the form of regular habits. Habits are things tha you do regularly without having to give it much thought.

7 Nov 2011

Faith Without Actions is Useless

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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It has been said, "Faith without works is dead." I'd rather translate it so it is clearer. "Faith that is not put into action is useless and meaningless." We can't say that we have faith and then not do the actions that our faith proclaims.

A person can have faith that he can be a great doctor, but if he doesn't put in the actions (going to school, diligently studying, etc), his "faith" is useless.

7 Nov 2011

Parenting

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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As we grow up in life, we develop a lot of theories of how we think that life works. However, once we get married that begins to change. If we are aware, we begin to see that we don't know as much as we thought. Then, when children come along and begin to grow up, our whole world changes. We realize that we are not the center of the universe, but a small part. We realize that we know very little about how life truly works.

7 Nov 2011

Accepting Correction from One's Child

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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This morning I had taken a walk with our dog, a Sheltie named Teddy. While it wasn't raining, the streets and sidewalks were still wet from the rain of last night. Consequently, when we got home Tedd's legs and underside were quite wet. When I brought Teddy inside, I picked him up, carried him over the carpet, and put him on the kitchen floor. I told him to stay (I didn't want him going ont the carpet and getting it dirty) while I stepped over a few feet to the closet and took off my cap. When I turned back Teddy wasn't where I had left him. I raised my voice and called him sternly to come. He quickly came back to me with his head down and his tail between his legs. I then picked him up and put him in the sink as I began to wash his legs and tummy area.

Sarah, my 19 year old daughter, called to me, correcting me about having been to stern with Teddy. My first inner response was annoyance that my daughter had talked to me that way. However I didn't respond right away. I decided to just pause and think about it while I took my bath and got dressed. I finally realized that my daughter was right. The confirmation to this was the fact that Teddy had come cowering to me.

I then went in to where my daughter was on the computer and asked to talk to her. I told her that she was right, thatI was wrong in the way I had spoken to Teddy. I then thanked her for having the boldness to correct me.

As I was talking with my wife about this, I told her that if I expect my daughter to accept correction, then I have to set an example by allowing her to (rightfully, in a good attitude) correct me. If I expect her to admit when she is wrong, then I have to set the example by admitting when I am wrong.

7 Nov 2011

Truth

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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 Calling something the truth does not make it true. Truth refers to those things that are true. Truth stands up to investigations and questions. In fact, truth invites questioning and close examination. Those who walk in truth don't have to "defend" the truth because the truth is self-evident. For example, the truth is that we can safely walk upon the ground. The ground will hold us up. This truth is self evident. You don't have to convince anyone of the this truth. Everyone can see it for themselves.

Truth is simple. It is what it is.

7 Nov 2011

Confession

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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""For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ."

Confession is quite simple. It is correctly stating what happened or what is.

For a doctor to be able to correctly diagnos someone, he needs to know that facts as they truly are. He needs to know the family health history. He needs to know any injuries or illnesses the patient has had. As the patient (hopefully) accurately and fully shares with the doctor past and present conditions, he is, in a large sense, confessing. There is no condemnation from the doctor of anything that the patient shares. This information is needed for the doctor to accurately prescribe medicines or forms of treatment.

 

True and full confession is most helpful when it is done to knowledgeable person or a trained professional. They know what information is needed and ...

 

However, confession given to an immature or person of little knowledge is really just waisted effort.

 

True confession..

Many people are so resistent to the idea of true and deep confession that most won't be real. At most, they might "confess" by saying something like "I sinned" with little or no details. Consequently there is little or no true release or forgiveness. So many people want to be forgiven, but they are willing to say what that want to be forgiven of.

The Purpose of Confession

 

8 Nov 2011

Believing is Faith in Action

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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I'm slow at times. Sometimes it takes me a while to finally grasp some things. For a long time I've wrestled with, trying to understand, the difference between "faith" and "belief" or "believe". Do the mean the same thing (if so, why use two different words) or do they have different definitions. I finally looked the definitions in a Greek dictionary. This is what I found:

Greek Definition of "Faith"

G4102 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G4102 πίστις pistis (pis'-tis) n.
1. persuasion, i.e. credence
2. (morally) conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher)
3. (especially) reliance upon Christ for salvation
4. (abstractly) constancy in such profession
5. (by extension) the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself
[from G3982]
KJV: assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity
Root(s): G3982

Greek Definition of "Believe"

G4100 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G4100 πιστεύω pisteuo (pist-yoo'-o) v.
1. to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit
2. (by implication) to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ)
[from G4102]
KJV: believe(-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with
Root(s): G4102

So, it finally dawned on me. Faith is a noun (person, place or thing) and believe is a verb (it shows action). So, to "believe" is to put one's "faith" into action. So, on a practical sense, what does that mean? Do I just turn on my "believe" switch as I would turn on a light switch? How do I start believing instead of just having faith?

Here's an example. A person can sit in their recliner in the living room and say, "Yes, I have faith that I can put a computer together." If he continues to sit in his recliner and does nothing, his faith is useless. Conversely, if he follows that "statement of faith' with action, (he orders the computer parts and begins putting the computer together) his faith is put into action. At this point his faith is actually "believing".

Believing is more than a mental assent "I believe" and then that's it. Truly believing also brings our motives and intents inline with our beliefs. Everything that we do centers around our true beliefs. We can tell what people believe by what they much more than what they say. Word are cheap. But our actions (when we thing that no one is looking) clearly display what we truly believe.

 

9 Nov 2011

The Decorator and the Cornice

Submitted by Stephen Winters

I'm and upholsterer (since 1966) and have been making upholsterered cornices for one decorator for over 10 years. We have a real good working relationship. I respect her integrity and her professionalism. She respects the quality and preciseness of my workmanship. She and I have talked through and planned out the making of many cornices.
Today I'm making another cornice, which will be covered in a vine pattern, with branches coming off the center vine. I called her to discuss where to place the vine pattern. Since she wants to vine to run horizontally across the face of the cornice, she has three basic choices. I had previously laid the fabric of each choice on the cornice to see what each choice would look like:

  • a.) Put two vines running horizontally. With this pattern placement, the pattern is too wide to have a full width of both vine patterns. So part of the upper pattern will be cut off along the top edge and part of the lower pattern will be cut off along the bottom edge.
  • b.) A second choice would be to center one vine horizontally in the middle  of the cornice height. Since the branches of the vine pattern are much longer on the top side of the cornice than on the bottom, the width of the pattern would not be centered. Also the branches on the adjacent pattern, top and bottom, would be longer on the bottom than on the top.
  • c.) The third choice would be to center the full width of the vine and branches horizontally across the cornice. This would mean that the center vine would not be center, but be below the center of the cornice. However, the branches on the adjacent  patterns would be evenly spaced an even amount top and bottom.

After I had explained her 3 options she asked me for my recommendation. I told her that I liked choice c, and I explained why. She told me that it sounded good to her and that she would go with my recommendation.
In a very real sense she would acting on faith. She couldn't see what the pattern placement would look like, but, because of long association and her having seen the results of my work all these years, she had faith in my recommendation. I know her and I made a recommendation based upon what I thought would give her client the best job.
Her faith in me wasn't something that she instantly decided to "have faith" with no substance and no history of proven quality and trustworthiness on my part. Her faith was based upon something real.

12 Nov 2011

A Father Provides Security

Submitted by Stephen Winters

I just received another lesson on the role of a father. A father should be very similar to a good Internet Security System for computers.

Since I am setting up a new computer, I'm also re-evaluating our Internet Security Software for the computer. Besides all the security features, a good security software should protect your computer fully, but not bog it down.

This morning I did some research at these websites:

A good Internet Security Software should be:

  • Easy to use
  • Not overpowering
  • not in the way
  • Provide real-time protection and blocking
  • Detect Adware, spyware, Keyloggers, Trojans, Viruses
  • Monitoring all Internet traffic

The security software should also do its job almost invisibly, except when necessary.

After I took a break from reading the reviews and the comparisons I realized that being a father is much like the security software. A father is to supply security and protection to the family without getting in everyone's face and making them all prisoners. A father should protect the family almost invisibly while bringing warmth and compassion.

A good father should  be:

  • Knowledgeable of the dangers that are lurking in the world.
    • Observant and aware of what the children are doing.
    • Only step when needed or to protect from danger
    • a protector.....
    17 Nov 2011

    I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    "I am the way, the truth, and the life." This is such a good pattern for living. Let's break the sentence apart and look at each section.

    "I AM"

    It all begins with the "I AM" of God. God is Love, God is Spirit, God IS...... While Jesus was here on earth, he lived his life with integrity, honor, boldness. As children of the Most High, we are to live our lives by his character. We are to take on the character and mind of Christ.  We are to live our lives with honor, integrety...

    "I am" is present tense, right now. Living in the moment.  Being aware and open to what needs to be done right now, at this instant. Making wise choices in the "NOW"..

    "The Way"

    As we live our lives in him, by his character and his mind, the "way" becomes obvious. Doors close that are not meant for us. Doors open up before us that take us into ways of living.

    "The Truth"

    He is the truth, AND he gives truth. Very simply, He always told the truth because he is truth.  In him there is no falsehood. He is anything that is true. When any type of truth comes to us, that is him. And, just as simply, we are to live in truth. That means that we are to always to live by the truth and to tell the truth.

    When we tell lies we damage our character.

    As we attempt to always tell the truth, we have to distinguish our own thoughts, perceptions, biases, prejudices and opinions from the truth. These things hinder our ability to see the truth.

    We also have to realize that the truth is often much more than we know. We are limited in our ability to know the truth. We only know what we know. And yet there is much more to the truth than we are able to comprehend. Part of living by the truth is to seek the truth, to find out what is true is each situation.

    In response to many situations in life we respond emotionally, to how we feel at the moment. This takes us outside of the character and life of He who is the truth. Instead, in each situation we should stop, step outside of our emotions, and to think about and seek out what is true. This will often change how we behave and respond in each situation.

    "The Life"

    The result of our new way of living will be "the abundant life" that he promises us.

    24 Nov 2011

    Healthy Religion

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    Of what value is man-made "religion"? Over the centuries countless people have been killed and tortured in the name of religion.

    True religion is about a way of life, of serving and caring about people. It has nothing to do with fancy buildings, services, etc.

    James... has it right, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:26-27

    Religion, in its purest sense, is supposed to be all about helping people to become honorable and noble, and to live better lives. Part of this is helping them to live pure and blameless lives, to think clearer, and to act with love, compassion towards around them. Healthy religion seeks to bring everyone together in true unity.
    True unity encourages everyone to have their own thoughts, ideas, opinions, and beliefs while, at the same time, teaches everyone to respect the thoughts, ideas, opinions, and beliefs in other people. True religion is about people, not about making an organization.

     However, in unhealthy religion, the organization becomes the important thing. People are there to serve the organization. Unhealthy religion is all about obeying rules and trying to get everyone to 'believe" the same way. Unhealthy religion tries to substitute uniformity (having everyone dressing, acting, and believing the same) for unity.

    Healthy religion encourages everyone to think for themselves, to have their own ideas and to use their own gifts to serve others in ways that have meaning to both the servers and the recipients.

    Unhealthy religion wants to make sure that everyone believes the "truth", which so happens to be the same as what the leaders believe. Anyone who believes differently is wrong or is going to hell (to be tortured forever and ever).  This religion has programs that they want done. The leaders see people as being there to do the programs, which gives an appearance of  life, but in reality only brings death.

    30 Nov 2011

    God Speaks to Us

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    “God's Word” to us is simply that which God speaks to us. It doesn't have to be, and often isn't, called "God's Word." God can and does speak to us in and through many and various ways:

    • the message we receive from reading a book. It might be from the words written in the book, OR it might merely be other thoughts that the book triggers.
    • the words of comfort, reassurance, admonishment, or instruction that a friend speaks to us.
    • a message we receive from hearing a speaker.
    • the words we ourselves speak in correction to our children, which come back and remind us that those words we spoke were for us.
    • the lessons we learn from going through a trial or experience in life
    • the words that we write in our diary or journal.
    • the awe and wonder we feel as we admire God's creation
    • the consequences we experience for our wrong behavior. God disciplines those whom He loves1  That discipline is God's message of His love for us.

    God's word to us is very personal and directly to us.

    One reason that we don't hear God's word to us is that we are often hearing or reading God's message to other people and expecting it to be for us. Sometimes God can speak to us that way, but we should be open to hearing God's voice directed towards us.

    God is everywhere and can be experienced wherever we are. As Paul the Apostle said, "In Him we live and move and have our being.2" We don't need to go anywhere to hear or experience God. We just need to be open to, or aware of God in our daily lives. We go through live blind to God's presence. It often takes (what we think of as) some trial or trajedy to open our eyes. In the midst of our pain and grief our eyes begin to open......

    • 1. .“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:5-6
    • 2. Acts 27:28
    2 Dec 2011

    Faith & "Satan"

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    Adult behavior is taking on the challenges of life and working through them through to completion ... Adults are constantly working through many challenges at one time

    Immature behavior is only doing what is required.

     

     

    To say that this earth is anything except how God planned it to be is to say that God is not in control, that God is not God.

    To say that "Satan" was once an angel, but then "he" somehow went bad, is to deny the power of God. That is saying that something happened that was outside of the control of God. If you say that anything is outside of God's control and plan, then you cannot say that God is the almighty, ruler of heaven and earth, and that he is in control. That would be illogical. Some might say that it is a matter of faith. There is a website that says "Faith means believing the unbelievable" www.awesomecg.blogspot.com It's no wonder that modern day Christianity is all messed up. True faith is based upon a proven track record. i.e. because someone has acted consistantly in a responsible truthful matter for a number years through intense trials, we can believe (have faith in) that he can be trusted. True faith is like a diving board. Part of it is based on  what is known to be trustworth and part part of it extends into the future.  It is anchored in the things that are true. 

     

    By contrast, unsound faith has no basis of reality. It is a mental construct saying, "I will have faith that has no proven track record." This is having faith in the idea of faith.

    4 Dec 2011

    Finding the Truth

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    In some ways, finding the truth is relatively simple. We just find out things as they are. In some ways finding the truth is complex because we often have to do a lot of inner work (finding and correcting our defects of character the prevent us from seeing the truth.)

    Some examples of how inner defects can affect our ability to see and use the truth can be found in the computer field. For example, since 1998 we have been using an accounting software called Quickbooks in our business. When I was first learning it I did a lot of experimenting to figure out how to use it. To practice I also entered some experimental transactions.

    Over the years we have upgraded to new versions of Quickbooks. A few weeks ago we upgraded from Quickbooks 2004 to Quickbooks 2012. It has been 8 years since we upgraded. Part of the upgrade process is to upgrade the data file to work with the new version of Quickbooks. After upgrading the data I set up the backup file path and clicked on the backup link. If first went through a process to verify the integrity of the data file (I don't think that I had done that before). It failed to back up the data. The data file failed the verification process. I went onto the Internet and search for a solution to the problem. I found a couple of web pages that had some detailed instructions about how to fix the problem.  However, at that time I wasn't of the mind and didn't want to take the time to make the corrections in the data file. I bookmarked those web pages before closing off the Internet. The problem in Quickbooks did not prevent us from using the data file, so we continued to use it.

    This morning I went to the computer, intending to do some research on the Internet. Since there were a number of programs open, I thought that I would close down most of those programs first. After closing several programs I came to the open Quickbooks program. I was about to close it, but hestitated a moment. Something inside me seemed to say that now was the time to fix the Quickbooks file. I really didn't want to spend the time, hestitated again. I finally relented and went back to those pages that I had previously bookmarked. I spent probably about 20 minutes following instructions, which told me how to find the problem. I ended up deleting a duplicate template and an expermental transaction that I had entered into Quickbooks over 10 years ago. Those problems weren't much, but they prevented me from making a verifyable backup of my Quickbooks data file.

    Here is another example from my computer useage. I have been creating and using spreadsheets since about 1986. Back in those days, when I had very few other bookkeeping programs, I had a spreadsheet. So I learned to use it and have used it lots. Nowadays, in my business I often create and use spreadsheets, which make doing complex calculations quick and easy. I can enter a few figures into the spreadsheet and it will give me various totals. One of the uses I have for the spreadsheets is making out estimates for my upholstery business. In the course of using the spreadsheets, every and now then, I have found some answers that don't make sense. After closely examining the formulas in the spreadsheet I have found an error. This one "tiny" error can throw off the quantities and prices for the entire estimate. To find the true estimate all the formulas have to be correct AND all the figures entered into the spreadsheet have to be correct.

    In much the same way, if we follow all the correct procedures, finding the truth can be relatively simple. But sometimes the process can take a while. Like the spreadsheet formulas, if we have any character defects, they can prevent us from finding the unbiased truth. When we let our own biases, prejudices, and opinions get into the mixture, then our perceptions of the truth will be altured. We won't be able to see the truth as it really is.

    5 Dec 2011

    What is God?

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    As I think about answering the question of "What is God", I'll start my thoughts in my blog here. I'm also researching what others have written about the subject. You'll find those articles here.

    One of the first things that we have to realize is that God is what he is no matter what we think about him. The reality of God is independent of what we might think about him.

    Secondly, each person and religion has their own thoughts about God. For example, the American Indians thought of God as the Great Spirit.

    Thirdly, if we are to truly know God, we must put aside our thoughts and beliefs about God and seek out what is true. When we carry our own biases and misconceptions with us, then we blind ourselves from seeing the true character and presence of God.

    To you the reader: Do you want to know God? Do you think that you already know God. Let's start with an exercise For this leave all books and other information sources aside. Don't search the Internet or an encyclopedia. This is about what you personally know or think that you know.

    Either in a notebook, or in a word processor, or whatever else you use to write, write out what are your thoughts about God. Here are some thoughts and questions to get you started: In answering them put aside all those standard answers that you you've heard in church or from preachers. Instead use your own thoughts and ideas. With each answer let your thoughts run free. Don't settle for simple answers but try to write at least a long paragraph in response to each question.

    Who is God?

    What is God?

    Where did God come from?

    Is God Real? Why do you think that? What evidence  do you base your answer on? (Do not say "faith" or "I believe", which only evade true thinking)

    Where do your thoughts about God come from?

    5 Dec 2011

    What is God? - A beginning of thoughts

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    This blog entry is a ... of my thinking about writing an article about what God is. That article will be found here.

    When I was first asking myself this question, I could almost imagine myself asking, "What is the chemical makeup of God?" Of course, instead of chemicals, the components would be such things as "Love" and "Spirit", etc. Another question might be "What is the basic function and purpose of God? and yet another question might me, "What is God in reality, OR What is God in the minds of each of us, or in each religion.

    Are we even capable of defining and knowing what God truly is? Or would the question more properly be asked, "What do I mean when I use the term God"? So, I need to consider what the focus of this article to be. Should be directed towards explaining what God truly is, OR should it be directed towards what I mean when I speak of God?

    If I start with the Question of "What is God", then what will be my source material? My own thoughts and reasonings? My Experience? The writings and thoughts of others?

    5 Dec 2011
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    In the Christian world we are taught that we are all sinners bound for hell. Christ is said to have came to save us from hell. Consequently, some websites try to scare people out of hell and into heaven.

     

    What if hell (as taught by Christian churches) doesn't exist? What if hell was just a mistranslation of .....

    If we are not "saved from hell", then what? What is salvation all about?

    11 Dec 2011

    Links

    Submitted by Stephen Winters

    Here are some links to other sites

     

    Nonconformity

    The Art of Non-Conformity: I really like the Title of this website.

    Advance Living Skills :

    • Inspiration and the Art of Nonconformity : "The vast majority of people are not particularly inspired and their lives are anything but inspirational. That’s a trap that you and I would prefer to avoid, right? So, the question is: How do we become part of the inspired minority who live lives of passion and enthusiasm?"
    18 Dec 2011

    Only God Can Truly Save

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    Men want so "see" instant results. They want to say a few words that will cause people to want to  "accept Jesus" So they preach scary sermons to try to scare people into heaven. Preachers tell about an angry God who will send "unrepentant" sinners to a Hell where they will be tortured forever and ever. "Come to Jesus and escape the flames of hell."

    Preachers don't seem to realize that, instead of drawing people to God, their sermons about an angry God actually drive people away. Who in their right mind would want to have anything to do with an Angry God who severely punishes everyone who disagrees with Him.

    Only God Can Truly Save

    Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father draws him." What is he saying here?" What does he mean by "come to me". Is he saying to simply "say the sinner's prayer"?

     

    Only God can truly save people. God brings people through a lifetime of experiences to bring people to himself.

    18 Dec 2011

    The Concept of Hell

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    Let's Examine the Concept of Hell

    People are so afraid of the idea of "hell" that they don't take time to think out the implications of their fear of and their beliefs about hell. Let's put aside all fear of hell and think out what hell would mean?

    If hell is a real place, then these questions must follow:

    What is hell?

    For this purpose, let's look at what at the typical religious beliefs about hell. to quote, "The abode of condemned souls and devils in some religions; the place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death, presided over by Satan." from Hell, theFreeDictionary.com

    Who created hell?

    If hell is real, then where did it come from? Who made it, did God create hell, did Satan create hell, or was it made by someone else? If God created hell, what does that say about God? If Satan created hell, what does that say about him?

    When was it created?

    Is hell part of the original creation? Was it created at a later time? If so, when? If God created hell at the time of the original creation, then did he intend to put the people he created into hell? Why would he do that? If he created hell at a later time, was it because he had failed at his purpose in creating humans. So he created hell as a motivation for humans to come to him? Let's think about this. Let's look at an example of a father. What would a father do? (and God is said to be a far more loving Father than any man on earth.) Would a loving father say to his children, "You children must obey me or I will throw you into a large fire where you will be burned alive."

    Why was it created?

    Was hell created because he failed at his attempt to make a perfect creation with perfect humans?

    What is the purpose of Hell?

    How do people get into hell?

    Where is hell?

    How was hell created?

    What kind of mind or person would create a place of the most extreme everlasting torture? If a person here on earth would create a place like that, and put his victims into it, what would be said of him? How would the police and courts act towards him?

    Is Hell Real.

    Various authors have studied out the concept of hell.

    "There is no mention of "hell" or any possibility of suffering after death anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament (OT).  The Hebrew word Sheol clearly means "the grave," not "hell." This can easily be confirmed because if Sheol is translated as "hell" the Christian dogma of hell as an inescapable place of suffering where God is absent is immediately refuted."1

    "Hell was not a place in early Jewish thought. Sheol, the original place all dead people went, was just a place dead people went, sort of like Heathen conceptions of afterlife, where we think in terms of the “halls of our ancestors” – the place where all our dead family go. 2

     

     What About Evil-Doers?

    Some might argue: "If there is no place called hell, does that mean that "evil-doers" get off scott free? Does that mean that they are not punished for their sins and their crimes?" That presupposes that "we" are the good people who deserve better, and that "they" are the bad people who deserve all the hell can dish out. 

    Are "we" really any better than "them." If we had been through their childhood and been through their life, would we have acted any better or any differently? Your response might be, "I" accepted Jesus. What did Jesus mean when he asked this question, "Why do you call me good? There is no one good except for God." Mark 10:17-27

    I might go on to ask, "What about the people who have never heard, who have never had a chance to hear and to repent?"  What if I were to go on and ask about where it says about God, "I will harden whom I want to harden and have mercy upon whom I want to have mercy..."  and "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?"  Romans 9:11-25  If hell was true, this verse could be interpreted to indicate that God created some people just to send them to hell.

    I would strongly suggest that you really think out what you believe. In addition, think out the implications of your beliefs. Remember, just because we believe something, our beliefs don't make it true.

    Random Notes

    If someone says that "There is a hell", then we have to ask some questions:
    If there is a hell, then when was it created?
    Did God create hell at the creation? At that time did he know that he was creating faulty people? Did he create faulty people on purpose, or was he unaware of his sloppy workmanship?
     
    The common argument is that God created humans with free will (i.e. they had the freedom to choose God or reject God.) However, this is faulty reasoning. If God truly gave humans "free will" and then threaten them (with hell) if they made the wrong choice, is that truly free will? Truly, if God gave humans the freedom to make any choice that they wanted, then he should not punish or destroy them for "making the wrong choice". That's not true free will.
     
    Now, let's look at the .... of choices. To be truthful, man can only choose what is available for him to choose. He can't choose what he doesn't think of or what is evident. If men had a thought to choose something, then where did that thought come from.
     
    Too often men say that the thought (to make a wrong choice) comes from Satan. Then we have to consider, where did Satan come from.
     
     
    One common instruction today says that the Bible is .... This is a subtle way of saying that the Bible shouldn't be questioned. "If you question the bible, then you are defying God!" Really? Where did that thought come from.
     
    Everything in life is up for questioning. Even the question of God should and must be questioned. Is there truly a God? If so, then what is God?
     
    If so, then why was it created?
    18 Dec 2011

    Authority of the Bible

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    Using verses out of the Bible to try to prove the authority of the Bible must presuppose the authority of the bible, and therefore renders that proof useless. No matter how many verses one might use to prove this case, it always comes back to assuming the authority of the Bible to prove the authority of the Bible. This is circular reasoning and leads nowhere.

    19 Dec 2011

    Living "In the Spirit"

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    Being in the spirit has much to do with our mindset and behavior. But, before we look at that, let's examine the flesh and the law.

    Living in the Flesh

    • Only doing what makes us feel good or look good
    • Stopping doing anything if it gets difficult or we get "tired"
    • Attitude:
      • Uncaring: they don't care about much of anything, unless it directly and immediately benefits them.
      • Prideful. Think that the are the best while putting very little effort or thought into doing something
      • Superoptimistic: They think that everything will go along fine without any planning and without much effort.
      • Controlling: They think that they know best and try to get everyone to do things their way.
      • When things go wrong they
        • get angry
        • blame others
        • make excuses
        • justify their actions
      • Energy: When someone wants them to help, they are very tired. However, they have lots of energy doing things that they want to do.

     

    Living by the Law

    • Only doing what I have to do.
    • Giving only enough effort to make it look like I'm doing what is required

    There's not much difference between living by the flesh or under the law. They are both about "me".

    Living by the Spirit

    Living this way because we "want to", not because we "have to". It is our desire and intention to do what is right in every situation. Living by the spirit is living with a pure and blameless mental disposition. :

    • Continually doing our best
      • realizing that our best will vary from hour to hour and from day to day)
      • Always looking for ways to improve oneself and one's work.
    • working through problems
      • Examine what went wrong.
      • Make corrections 
    • Being helpful to others.
      • Continually looking around at how one can be of assistance to those in need
      • Being connected with others enough to know when someone really needs help versus someone who is too lazy to work.
    • Being Self-Aware
      • honest about our strengths 
      • honest about our weaknesses
      • watches for and corrects own mistakes
      • Asks for help when needed.
    • Responsible:
      • Takes care of personal and family responsibilities before helping others, yet doesn't use that as an excuse not to help others.
    • Attitude:
      • Humble: considering others better than oneself
      • Flexible, willing to make changes to specifications and expectations as necessary
      • Willing to work with people to iron out difficulties
      • Eager and willing to do what is best for everyone involved.
    • Communicative:
      • When working with or doing business with others, thinks out details and clearly tells everyone what they need to know to make wise decisions
    • Character:
      • Always tells the truth
      • Living a life of true love

    When people are living by the spirit, they do far more that those living under the law. They put their whole heart into whatever they do and do things with all their might because this is what they want to do.

    25 Dec 2011

    Virtue

    Submitted by Stephen Winters

    These are the four virtures that my counselor suggested that I live by.

    Compassion: Learn to care about others, look for opportunities to help and to serve.

    Responsibility: Just do what's right & keep my word.

    Humility: Know myself for who I am, think of others as better than myself.

    Chastity: Keep myself pure; don't think or act deviantly; think well of and bless others.

     

     

     

    25 Dec 2011

    Franklin's 13 Virtues

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
    2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
    3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
    4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
    5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
    6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
    7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
    8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
    9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
    10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
    11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
    12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
    13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
    27 Dec 2011

    Our Pride Keeps Us Immature

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    Our pride keeps us blind to our own faults and immature. It is only through seeing our own weaknesses and correcting them that we start to grow towards maturity. An immature person will get angry if you call her immature, and yet that very anger is a strong indicater of her immaturity. Compare the response of a more mature person. When you point a character defect of a maturing person, she will be thankful and will begin correcting it.

    The truth is that we all are immature in one way or another. Maturity is not static horizontal line. We don't mature evenly in all areas at the same tims

    Flat Mature Level

    Instead, our maturity could be viewed as as Variable Maturity level chart.

    Varied Muture Level

    Some levels we may be (seemingly) vey mature in, and in other areas we may be very immuture in.

    Any areas that we get angry about, refuse to change, or are blind to are areas in our life that we stay immature in.

    The virtues are the areas that help us to mature. As we improve in each of the virtures, we become more mature.  Conversely, if we stay selfish, angry, etc., we stay or become more immature.

    27 Dec 2011

    The Spirit of the Virtues Causes Growth

    Submitted by Stephen Winters
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    It could be said that practicing the virtues cause growth, but it goes deeper than that. Just practicing the virtues can make us just as legalistic as following the law. For us to truly grow we must take the spirit of the virtues within us. We must look at the meaning and the intent of the virtues. This is more that us taking the virture inside of and saying, for instance, I love people. For us to truly have love in our lives, we must become love. Just as God is love, we also must be love. (This applies to all the virtues .....) What does this mean practically? Let us look at the difference between "having" love and "being" love. When I, as a human, have love within me, it doesn't necessarily mean that love will be within every part of me. I can put love in it's own compartment, ready to be used whenever I so desire. But I can also have