A Look at Matter

Sight

If you’re not a scientist or engineer and you read the Wikipedia article on Matter (Click HERE) you’ll probably end up with a headache.  The nature of physical matter and its constituent parts is truly complex and I will admit far beyond my ability to fully comprehend. I could make it down to protons, electrons, and neutrons but when you dig deeper than that I pretty much start getting dizzy.  There are quarks, leptons, bosons,  Bose-Einstein and Fermonic condensates, gluon plasma and then the whole thing with ups and downs and spin orientation … and pretty soon you’re into some pretty deep 

Hearing

Kimchi.   And anti-matter, well, I just can’t go there.

Fortunately we can navigate life very well without understanding all the intricacies of chemistry,  physics, quantum mechanics, the space-time continuum, etc.

The Lord has, with our marvelously complex nervous system, given us a specific sensory capability dedicated to each sense.   We humans have a multitude of senses with sight (ophthalmoception),  Continue reading

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Am I Ready For Persecution? Are You?

Tuesday night our Life Group met for our continuing study of The Story – The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People.  The night’s session was devoted to a study and discussion of Paul’s missionary journeys and some of the letters written to the early church during his travels.  It was a fascinating study and was really good at helping us grasp the scope of Paul’s ministry and what all he encountered and accomplished as he was guided by the Holy Spirit.  With the one exception of Jesus Christ there is no one I admire more in all the pages of Scripture than Paul. He was an outstanding evangelist, a brilliant theologian, a faithful friend and mentor, and had a pastor’s heart.   Chuck Swindall described him has a man of grit and grace – and so he was.
The aspect of Paul’s life and ministry that stands out most to me is the role of persecution – initially the persecution he inflicted on the earliest Believers of the Way – then later the way Paul and other Christians became the objects of persecution for their newfound Christian faith.  Paul’s courage – courage in the face of personal danger and the terrible persecution he endured was remarkable.  Paul’s life forces me to consider my own level of commitment to Jesus and the Gospel message.  It mades me question how I would respond to the type of physical persecution and abuse that Paul endured during years of perilous ministry.
Well, as I was studying Paul in preparation for the lesson on his life I received the following blog post from Pastor Bob Russell.  It seemed to me like more than a coincidence. (Incidentally, my friend Gordon Dalbey tells me that there is no such word as “coincidence” in either Greek or Hebrew.)  The post appeared first at:  www.bobrussell.org as:  Is Your Faith Strong Enough to Survive Persecution?  I hope you will give Pastor Russell’s article your careful consideration.  RMF

 

Is Your Faith Strong Enough to Survive Persecution?
by Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Two weeks ago 29 Egyptian Christians courageously chose martyrdom for their faith in Christ. According to the Christian Post, Islamic terrorists massacred a busload of Coptic Christians who were taking a pilgrimage to a monastery to pray.

Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, repeatedly have pleaded with their government for protection from discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at the hands of the country’s majority Muslim population. Coptic Christians account for about 10 percent of Egypt’s 93 million people.

“According to a chaplain, Friday’s massacre in Egypt occurred after Islamic radicals marched them off the bus one by one and asked them to deny their faith in Jesus Christ. A priest identified as Father Rashed, a chaplain for one of the groups comforting the survivors of the attack…said that ten masked Islamic State militants did not simply open fire on the bus.

Instead, the IS radicals apparently stopped the bus, made the victims walk out, and asked each of them, including the children, whether they were Christians. Rashed explained that the victims ‘were asked to renounce their Christian faith and profess belief in Islam, but all of them — even the children — refused. Each was killed in cold blood with a gunshot to the head or the throat.’
Friday’s attack, at the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, was another devastating blow to Egypt’s minority Copts, who in the past year have suffered many massacres at the hands of radicals, including Palm Sunday church bombings that killed 46 believers.”  Continue reading

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Competing Claims of Truth

Christians are considered by many to be narrow-minded in their belief that salvation is through Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ alone.  From our human perspective we might prefer that anyone who acknowledges and worships God by any name or definition will be saved and spend eternity with God.  However, as uncomfortable it may be, that is contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible.  Orthodox Christianity insists that it is only through faith in Jesus that a person can be justified and so have confidence in their salvation.  The following is a post addressing the issue by one of my favorite Christian writers, Randy Alcorn.  The article appeared at: www.epm.org as: Christ’s Exclusive Truth-Claims Make Believing “All Religions Are Basically the Same” Impossible.  RMF

Christ’s Exclusive Truth-Claims Make Believing “All Religions Are Basically the Same” Impossible

By Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn

A Barna survey found that 59% of American adults believe that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God even though they have different names and beliefs regarding God.” And it’s not just secular people who believe that “all religions are basically the same”:

One-quarter of born again Christians said that all people are eventually saved or accepted by God (25%) and that it doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons (26%). An even larger percentage of born again Christians (40%) indicated that they believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

  A 2017 Barna Poll found that “almost three in 10 (28%) practicing Christians strongly agree that ‘all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.’” (I’ve written more about the question “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” in an earlier blog post.)

But truth-claims in all religions—including Christianity—are by nature exclusive. Jesus didn’t say, “I am a way and a truth and a life; I’m one way to come to the Father.” He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, emphasis added). If someone says Jesus isn’t the primary truth, then either he’s wrong or Jesus is.  Continue reading

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Beware of The Shack

Pastor Bob Russell offers some sound council against the theology portrayed in the popular book and movie, The Shack.  The article containing his understanding of the departure from orthodox Christian doctrine appeared at: www.bobrussell.org  as:  Ask Bob: What’s wrong with ‘The Shack’?  RMF

What’s wrong with ‘The Shack’?
by Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION

Dear Bob,

“What is your opinion of the new movie, The Shack?”

MY ANSWER

Over the past decade, I’ve often been asked about the controversial book, The Shack. That’s understandable because the book deals with the vital spiritual issues of suffering, grief, forgiveness and eternal life. The Shack touches the heart and has sold over ten million copies since its publication in 2007.

  I normally don’t enjoy reading fiction, so when questioned about it my standard answer has been, “I haven’t read the book and am not in a position to comment.” Recently The Shack has been released as a popular movie, and now the questions are resurfacing. So this past week I finally decided to read the book and see the movie.

The author, William P. Young, is a captivating writer and there are several very good spiritual lessons in the story. I can understand why many Christians are touched by the heart-warming portrayal of heaven and its relatable depiction of God. But The Shack communicates some very dangerous, anti-Biblical concepts that should concern us.

I’m trying to keep in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But the problem is it communicates theology, and people are significantly influenced by it. The false doctrine of universalism is sprinkled throughout the book. So is the popular notion that if you believe people should be accountable for their behavior, you are judgmental and lacking mercy.  Continue reading

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Peace for the Hurting

I love April “The Peaceful Wife” Cassidy’s blogs.  They’re mostly written for women with the primary goal of honoring God while helping wives find peace in life and especially their marriages.  As a guy I often feel somewhat an interloper when reading April’s postings – but the writing and the wisdom she shares transcend gender.  The following is an example that I find particularly useful.  I’m totally blessed to not suffer with any type of illness, pain, or exhaustion at this stage in my life but realize I, like anyone, can be thrust into difficult physical conditions at any time.   So, having this type of information available is a nice type of hip-pocket resource – always available for my own use or to share with others.  This particular blog posting appeared at: www.peacefulwife.com as: Being Peaceful in the Face of Illness/Pain/Exhaustion.  I have omitted the ailments which April lists in her post but you can read those through the link to the original article above.  RMF 

Being Peaceful in the Face of Illness/Pain/Exhaustion
by April Cassidy

April Cassidy
The Peaceful Wife

April Cassidy

I don’t think of myself as having any big health issues. I do have some problems, but, to me, they are very small in the grand scheme of things. Obviously, many people have vastly more difficult health issues than I do.

But just for the sake of transparency, for those who may be interested, I am going to share most – but not all – of the details of my situation (this may be TMI for some people, you are welcome to skip the following list if you prefer)…

Most of My Current Health Issues (Not including past issues here):

[Go to the above link to the original article for a list of April’s health issues.]

Some of my health issues are fairly under control most of the time by lifestyle changes – an anti-inflammatory diet, regular chiropractic adjustments, exercise, and a few supplements and OTC medicines. It gets tricky when multiple things flare up at once – which, of course, they did over the past week as I have been writing this post. Sometimes I wish I could avoid eating food entirely. Life would be so much easier!  Continue reading

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Getting the Best Out of Criticism

I’m always alert to good advice on how to respond to life’s challenges. Because of my personality type I’m extra sensitive to criticism. And, due to being messed up, I’m well acquainted with criticism, mostly very well deserved. So, when I saw this article by Christian writer Shane Pruitt, it immediately grabbed my attention. I love this article. It describes a very practical way of dealing with the criticism which is sure to come to each of us in one way or another — even those who are not so terribly messed up. The article appeared at: www.alreadyam.com as: 3 Ways to Respond to Criticism. I hope you enjoy it. RMF

3 Ways to Respond to Criticism
By Shane Pruitt

Shane Pruitt

In life, there are three things that we can’t avoid: death, taxes, and criticism. From the suburbs of Texas to the urban areas of New York to the jungles of the Congo to the mountains of Nepal, people are desperately trying to figure out how to respond to criticism.
Criticism is “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.”
We receive it, we despise it, we can’t avoid it, and most of the time it hits us when we least expect it. Criticism can come from our all sorts of people—our spouse, boss, friend, enemy, church member, or a complete stranger. Although, we can’t control how criticism comes our way, we can control how we respond to it.

There is a hope and a strategy. It’s what I call the C.O.T Response. Usually a cot is thought of as a portable bed used for lying down. However, C.O.T. allows you to respond to criticism in a healthy way, and not lay down in defeat, doubt, or discouragement.
Here are three ways to respond to criticism:
Chuck It: As a Christian, one thing that you can never forget is that you are in the middle of a spiritual warfare. You’re not wrestling “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).” You may not be ultimately fighting against flesh and blood, but the enemy sure does use the flesh of red-blooded people to destroy, discourage, and dissuade you from following the will of God. Yes, God is alive, but so is the devil. You can be sure that wherever God is moving, Satan will be attacking. It’s in moments like these that you need to discern the wiles of the enemy through criticism, and “chuck it”! “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).” Don’t be devoured by criticism.

  Own It: Let’s face it. Some of the most insecure people in the world are Christians, especially us Christian leaders. We tend to wear our feelings on our sleeves. We don’t enjoy being challenged, questioned, or criticized. However, you need to own up to a very import truth every single day—You are not perfect! Let’s be honest, we all make mistakes, a lot of them! There are moments in your life where you’re just not operating in the Spirit but rather walking in the flesh and making a mess. The Lord says that you must constantly, “consider your ways (Haggai 1:7).” There are moments when you to flat out need to “own it” because its time to consider your ways, then change your ways. You cannot arrogantly assume that every word of criticism is coming from someone being used by the enemy. In fact, sometimes those challenging statements are coming from someone being used by God because you needed to hear them!

Test It:There are times when you’ll know immediately that someone is operating in the flesh and/or being used by the enemy to speak to you with ill-intentions. There will be other times when you’ll be convicted by the Holy Spirit knowing that you’re in the wrong, with the wrong attitude, with the wrong motivation, and God showed you grace by speaking to you through someone else. However, most of the time it is not going to be so easy to know how you should respond to the criticism. Should you “chuck it” or “own it”? In those moments when it’s not so clear, what should you do? It’s in these scenarios where you should “test it.” There are three ways to do this.

  1. When criticism comes your way, the first thing you should do is take it to God in prayer. Ask Him to reveal truth in those critical moments, to bring comfort when you need protection from the enemy, and to convict you when people need protection from you.
  2. Second, test it with Scripture. God is not going to speak through someone in a way that is contrary to His Word.
  3. Third, seek wise counsel. People that you love and trust will be able to protect you from harmful words but will also be able to tell you when you’re in the wrong and need to change.Aristotle once said, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Always remember, if you’re doing anything of substance and meaning, criticism will come your way. It can’t be avoided, but it can be advantageous if you respond properly.

P.S.   The other side of criticism is praise.  One of my life heroes, Coach John Wooden, addressed both issues when he said: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”  Coach was right.  RMF

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Prayer and Healing

There is a ton of misunderstanding regarding prayer and healing.  The following article by one of my favorite Christian authors, Randy Alcorn, and the accompanying video interview of Joni Eareckson Tada by Pastor Todd Wagner shed some much needed light onto the subject.  For those of us who have the privilege of offering intercessory prayer for others it is particularly important to have a clear understanding of the way that God deals with pain and suffering in general.  The article appeared at: Eternal Perspectives Ministry  as: If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me? RMF

If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?
Randy Alcorn

Pastor Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspective Ministries

Okay, first let me say this: if you don’t have much time, just skip through what I’ve written below and go to the video at the end where Joni Eareckson Tada is interviewed by Todd Wagner. What Joni says in this video is more important than what I say below (though I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was also important).

When I became insulin-dependent in 1985, I wondered who wanted me ill, Satan or God. The obvious answer? Satan. But I’m also convinced, as was the apostle Paul, that the ultimate answer is God. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw God’s sovereignty, grace, and humbling purpose of his disease (see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10). I have clearly and repeatedly seen the same in my own life.  Continue reading

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