Now that I am considered by some to be getting old, and the scarcity of my hair and the color of my beard seem to confirm that fact, I am beginning to realize that no matter what i say or write, at least half of my audience will disagree with me.
But, it’s not just the disagreement. We have always had disagreements.
It is the “That offends me!” response that makes this world so difficult.
I guess that is the nature of this “new normal” we are living in.
But it started way before the pandemic.
At some point, having a difference of opinion has become a reason for friendships to end, families to break apart, and discussion to turn into venomous attacks against one’s character.
You know that what I am saying is true.
I am living in a world where I am forced to take a side.
The other side becomes my enemy.
Or, I can just keep my mouth shut and try to stay out of the conflict.
I JUST CAN’T!
Now, a rope hanging in a garage or a park becomes a hate crime, a statue of an historic man or woman becomes a reminder of some horrible offense, a person’s skin tone is again becoming a reason to divide, law enforcement has suddenly become something the world is questioning, a protest that turns violent is considered a form of free speech, and hatred is applauded.
I remember when my mom used to teach me not to say I hate anyone.
There is a scripture in Matthew where Jesus is warning his disciples of the world that is to come where things are gonna get pretty bad.
He says, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12
So, since I can’t keep my mouth shut, here is my take on this world in which I find myself.
We can’t fix it.
There is no government, no movement, no radical protest, no violent protest, no well phrased speech, no chanted mantra, no charismatic leader that can change the course of “the love of many growing cold.”
The heart has to be changed.
And, that can happen!
Trouble is, I have to give up my efforts to fix myself, or fix you, and give myself back to the one who made me.
You have to do the same.
I know what you are thinking, “Here we go, the religious thing.” And you close me off.
I become the enemy.
That’s the natural thing to do.
This heart change, though, is not “natural”.
It actually is in direct opposition to everything you have ever done before.
Something happens to your thought processes and you begin to sense a love for others begin to grow inside. An affection, a sense of wanting to help others, a sense of peaceful rest, a sense of patience with the faults of others, a sense of kindness toward those that yell at you, a new found love and trust for your God, a sense of being gentle toward those around you, a sense of having control over your old way of reacting, a sense of joy that you just can’t quite explain.
That’s it. You just can’t explain it.
He calls you, “Come to me and I will give you rest,” and you come.
The eyes of your heart are opened for the first time.
You become a completely new person.
A little bit at a time.
And, you begin to perceive the “image of God” in those you meet, even if they haven’t had their hearts changed, yet.
You hear a voice inside saying, “This is the way! Walk in it!”
And that is when the change in the world comes.
26 thoughts on “CONFUSION?”
Randy, you say you are “forced” to choose a side, and we are. But, I think you are looking at that choice differently than I do.
The choice, to me, is the side of truth, love and righteousness. That is not a side that means left or right. It means what it is: truth.
Just as you were taught not to hate, as I was, I also learned that ideas and solutions to problems are not exclusive to left or right. Are there bad, perhaps even horrible, ideas and people? Absolutely! Do both sides have good ideas? Also absolutely!
I do not choose right or left. I look for quality of ideas AND flaws in ideas presented by each.
#1. Is it the TRUTH? (This rules my choice above most anything else.)
#2. Is it FAIR to all concerned? (This is perhaps the least considered thing by our government IMHO.)
#3. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
A change of heart IS the only thing that will get our country out of this divide. But, it will be slow, difficult and who knows how likely?
My two cents…
I agree, Randall, not left or right but right or wrong. Truth or falsehood.
And a changed heart.
The tacit implication being … it will never happen unless one becomes a Christian.
Sorry,if I mkae any typign errosr. It’s because I am laughing so much.at how utterly absurd your assertion is.
I don’t know if it is as obvious where you live, but, over here we are more divided than ever. And it is not getting better.
I’m glad I made you laugh, though.
Every generation has its issues and its problems, a scenario that will likely continue. This is part and parcel of what it is to be human.
But growth is also evident, and while there is still conflict lief is better than it was a hundred years ago.
Religion has NEVER been a solution and history bears this out.and it will always will be a major stumbling block to peace, freedom and equality.
Life is better than a hundred years ago, yes, as far as ease and conveniences and technology. But do you see any changes in human nature?
You always mention religion as a stumbling block.
Religion doesn’t fix things. But religions introduce the concept of God to awaken the heart to questions about the same God.
I say to you, that those who reach (or are reached by) this God find peace, freedom, and equality.
And medicine & nutrition,which are both huge contributing factors to extended life expectancy.
Religion has done little for the human condition but cause endless misery and discord.
Christianity aline has over 32,000 separate sects, and thee is no unifying agreed upon doctrine.
The concept of god varies from religion to religion and even within different sects of the same religion.
Which is, of course utter nonsense as demonstrated by the three Abrahamic religions and to state otherwise would suggest you are willfully ignorant or a liar.
You do realize that most hospitals have Christian beginnings.
Three abrahamic religions, two are tied together, Christianity emerged from Judaism. The third came from Ishmael, who was a son of Abraham, but not a son of the promise.
I’m not ignorant.
If I was lying to you, would you be offended?
(I’m not, but if I were.)
So what? Would you like to cite Mother Theresa as a shining example?
The military hospital was first developed in Rome.
And what has this got to do with the development of medicine & nutrition?
All 3 Abrahamic religions are linked by your god, Yahweh.
Only mainstream Christianity considers the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth to be be divine.
In fact, non-Trinitarian Christians do not accept the claims of divinity for the character Jesus of Nazareth, yet they consider themselves to be fully Christian.
I wrote willfully ignorant. There is a difference.
No. I would consider such behaviour fairly typical of many Christians.
Do you ever lie?
Are you acknowledging you may simply willfully ignorant?
Well, the ignorance I claim is that there is a lot I don’t know.
I do tend to side on the wisdom from above more than earthly wisdom.
But, I admit, I have a lot more to learn.
It’s funny that you can dogmatically say that prayer is useless.
Even doctors (science) claim that people that believe in prayer seem to do better in recovering than those who don’t.
Sorry, this is a load of bollocks and the largest intercessory prayer experiment/trial of its kind involving hospital patients was carried out by the Templeton Foundation and showed no definitive positive results.. In fact, some of those patients that were aware they were being prayed for actually showed a decline in their health , doctors believing this was because of failed expectations.
Well, we all get to choose our case studies, don’t we. Prayer changes much more than just physical circumstances.
But, how would you know one way or the other? I know you could ask your friends, or you could ask mine.
But, in my studies, it seems that faith is also required in prayer.
As it is considered to be the most comprehensive study to date, carried out by a Christian orientated and sponsored foundation it isn’t the case study I ”chose” as if I were specifically setting out to show bias. And believe me when I tell you, your sarcasm is wasted on me.
”But, in my studies,….”
Really? And just what studies are these please, and will you provide similar comprehensive data as that of the Templeton Foundation study to support you claim? Thanks.
Third try. I keep losing my comment before it posts.
My evidence only come from years of talking with believers. And reading some testimonies from doctors’ observations of their patients.
The gist of it is you don’t pray and you say it is useless.
I do pray and I say it helps in more ways than you could ever know.
I am not doubting the psychological/emotional benefits. After all it would be a pretty daft thing to do if you didn’t at least feel something,right?
However, what we are discussing is hard evidence that a call to your god has verifiable evidence that your plea was answered.
As I mentioned with regard the Templeton study for intercessory prayer no discernible positive results were recorded. None. Nada, Zilch. And of course there were a number of negative results.
So, the only ”evidence” you have is in fact nothing but anecdotal and unverified claims.
As it is highly unlikely you would accept such claims as evidence for any other assertion why should your religion be given a ”free pass” when it’s time to step up to the plate and ‘Show and Tell’?
Claiming prayer works leaves us with some awkward questions and some unpleasant facts to face.
If, for example you were to claim your god cured someone you knew of cancer – and there are any number of such claims circulating, as we both know – why would your god ”cure” the person you knew and yet, let die the person in the next hospital bed, who was also a devout Christian who prayed fervently every single day. Prayers were also offered by her friends and family, her church congregation, minister and several of the nursing staff who also happened to be devout Christians.
And two beds down was an atheist who also died of cancer in the very same week.
In fact, two weeks ago I lost a friend who lives in Australia to throat cancer. Unfortunately for him he was an atheist.
Are we to believe that your god did not hear those prayers, or are we to believe that your god was simply indifferent to both the other believer and the atheists, one of whom was my friend and your only response is: ”Well, God works in mysterious ways.”
Furthermore, there is an even more insidious side to the gob-smacking arrogance of Christian claims, and this is the 2 million plus children who die every single year from malnutrition.
How do we explain this when we are dealing with an omnipotent deity and also his … oh I am so sorry … His earthly representatives who seem impotent to do a damn thing about this? And we are not talking about a dreadful disease but simple lack of adequate food for these kids to stay alive! How can you explain the abject failure of your god in the face of this easily preventable disaster, especially when you and many other Christians whine on and on about abortion and yet refuse to do anything about those kids who have already been born and who are guaranteed to die!
I recommend you take a few moments to seriously consider that last sentence.
The amount of money the various churches ostensibly ‘rob’ by not paying tax runs close to $85 billion in the States alone. (And yes, I am aware of the separation of church and state argument used for this and it is a crock.)
Do you have any idea what this amount of money could do to alleviate poverty?
So when you say things like: ”My evidence….” regarding your claims about prayer, you can see it is not worth spit.
Sorry, Ark, but you want physical proof for a spiritual truth. Human words won’t open your eyes. (Haven’t I said this all before?) I am not copping out on your request, it’s just that, according to God, you can’t see Him unless you are born again, you can’t find Him unless you seek him.
The thing that troubles me, is that you see someone who says they have found peace, purpose, joy, and life in this God that you don’t think exists, and you just can’t stand to see them continue in that life.
How loving us that?
You are claiming real world physical manifestations of intercessory prayer and yet you now hand wave everything I wrote and write ”spiritual truth”. Seriously, what the hell does this even mean? It IS a cop out. A cowardly cop out to boot as you did not even address a single point of my comment.
Have some damn integrity and address the comment.
You didn’t explain to me why it is so important to you. Do you want to become a believer? Or are you more concerned with taking me down?
I am an atheist. We are discussing prayer and your claim that: ”I do pray and I say it helps in more ways than you could ever know.”
I acknowledged that psychological benefits can accrue but you are claiming physical manifestations.
Are you not interested in truth and honesty?
Yeah,but I say truth is in Jesus. You say there is no Jesus. I tell you the truth. You don’t believe it.
Prayer is way more to a believer than physical manifestations. When we pray for healing and it comes, we are thankful. When it doesn’t come, we trust the aOne who is all wise.
So, no,then you are not,in fact, interested in truth or honesty, and demonstrate time and again – as do all Christians – when faced with the truly difficult subjects also display an alarming lack of integrity.
You refuse to address the comment, and as I mentioned you simply hand wave away any scrutiny by using your own version of the wet dishcloth phrase: ”God works in mysterious ways”.
That is a cop out.
He is above my understanding, but he reveals I self as I am able to receive it.
While he is above my understanding, I know him, have known him for 42 years, and love him for the connection we have. That is the truth.
You cannot know that truth because you have no desire to.
You ought to get to know some other true believers, just to see if they confirm what I tell you.
I do have an affection for you Ark.
I don’t know why.
I like to think that I have been given to you as a gift for this time.
The fall I suffered could have easily killed me.
Or crippled me for life.
Or caused irreparable brain damage.
I broke two bones, and I stayed in the hospital for two days.
I can walk, talk, think, pray(I know, it doesn’t do any good, blah, blah, blah) and I just went to the grocery store for my wife.
And I can continue our talk.
Jesus told his disciples to “go and tell the world”. Not go and scientifically prove.
It may not be enough for you.
But that is all I can give you.
And still you do not address my comment.
There’s that gross arrogance again. What makes you believe I don’t know any?
Indeed he is claimed to have said this. However, HIS mission was, according to his own word was only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24)
In truth, based upon the complete lack of evidence, your god is as imaginary as your claims are impotent and 2 million children under five will still die of malnutrition.
Think on that every time you put your hands together and beg for forgiveness for ”sins”.