April 23, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I am writing this on Easter Sabbath — the Sabbath during which Jesus Christ rested in the grave, dead to the world and to heaven, until he was resurrected early Sunday morning. I want to invite you to discover God on your own terms this Easter. By that I mean you should reason out for yourself who God is for you, why you believe in Him, and what that means for your life as you see it from this day forward.
It is vitally important that each person who calls himself a believer in God, or an atheist if you will, know exactly why it is they take that stance and how that decision has affected them. If they are just blindly going to church, and following a faith they believe only superficially, they will have wasted one of their most important faculties: that of free will. For I believe that faculty is a gift from God, and it was given to us specifically so that we may choose to acknowledge Him — or not.
To help guide you in your discovery of God on your own terms, I have selected three videos below that I’d like you to watch. These videos may be unsettling for some, but they are important, because for one thing, they will help distance your belief in God from organized religion (which I think is key in getting closer to God), and for another thing, they express the thinking of two very lucid people, who have synthesized for us the problems that arise when a church gets too big for its britches — when it gets big enough to pass laws, torture and kill people.
You may realize that I point my finger at the Catholic church, but I do not blame them directly, or say that other churches are better. Any one church that might have been in their place would have acted the same way; make no mistake about that. A rose by any other name would still have the same painful thorns. Once a church gets big enough to become an institution with worldwide influence, they will abuse their power. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then the church is not immune from corruption, as history states in horrid details about every such church organization.
I often think atheists are the best people, in a sense. Whatever they believe, most of them have reasoned it out and have to live with their decision, day in and day out. They live their lives with the painful knowledge that they will end within the span of 70 short years, more or less, and they will be gone, completely, when they die. If they do something good, they do it because they think it’s right, not because they expect to go to heaven for it, or because they want to expunge their sins through it. If they’re decent people, and most of them are, they do it because it’s their nature to be so, not because their Bible tells them so, or their church commands it. If you’re being good or decent because you expect to go to heaven, I’ve got news for you — you probably won’t get there. God doesn’t want people who do things because they expect something back from Him. He wants people who do good and decent things because it’s their nature to do them. Therefore, I suggest we all start learning a thing or two from atheists.
I hope you’ve taken the time to watch these videos, and will take some more time this Easter weekend to think things over. May you awake one day soon with a newfound personal perspective on your faith, on God, and your life from this point forward.
June 26, 2010 § 5 Comments
One of the things I keep hearing is that I ought to turn the other cheek when someone does me wrong, because I’m a Christian. That I ought to love a bad person and make amends for him or her, because that’s what God would do, and that’s what we’ve been told in the Bible.
Really? I don’t think so.
Only a superficial reading of the Bible, or as most Christians do, a non-reading of the Bible, coupled with what a minister or priest or preacher once said, lead to that sort of understanding.
A Christian in doubt need only consult his or her Bible to see how God deals with the wicked, in both the Old and the New Testaments. Even Jesus Christ, while on Earth, didn’t waste His time with the wicked. Look through the Gospels to see how he dealt with the pharisees and the moneychangers in the temple. And see His instructions to the disciples regarding the cities that would not listen to His message.
Why then do pastors keep clinging to the same clichés when it comes to Christian behavior? Perhaps they love the touchy-feely message of the New Testament, which would be a wrong reading of the gospels. Perhaps they’re not comfortable with judging others. Perhaps they themselves are superficial and haven’t taken the time to read through the Bible properly. Who knows… What I do know is God doesn’t waste His time with bad people. Jesus condemned their behavior constantly, berated them, judged them and warned them to change, then left them to their own devices. Remember free will? It still applies, for both good and evil.
What then of turning the other cheek and all the rest of it? Yes, we ought to, when it’s someone we love, or when it’s someone who we see is trying to lead a good life but has stumbled, someone who’s made a mistake but wants our forgiveness. Jesus constantly forgave His disciples’ shortcomings and glaring defects, because they were trying to obey Him, and He wanted to work with them. He went into Matthew’s house (the tax collector) because he wanted to be good in spite of his bad lifestyle. He associated with good people, stayed with them, spent time with them, but only tolerated the bad ones, or eliminated them from His daily walks altogether.
Some might say we don’t have His insight into the human soul, so we can’t tell who’s truly good and who’s truly bad. Perhaps, but I don’t think He’d begrudge us if we eliminated someone from our lives who is constantly gossiping about us, or making things up about us, or lying to others about us, or lying to us. And He’d definitely not mind if we had nothing more to do with someone who’s tried to cause us harm, physical or financial or some other kind. It’d be foolish of us to continue to associate with those kinds of people, both from a worldly and Godly point of view. You can keep turning the other cheek to those people, and they’ll keep on slapping you. They don’t deserve our kindness, nor our time, nor our consideration.
Keep this in mind the next time someone says you ought to turn the other cheek… And if you don’t believe me, search your Bible.
March 2, 2010 § 2 Comments
Akiane Kramarik, a self-taught 15-year old girl, started having vivid dreams of heaven at the age of 4, and soon started to paint what she saw in her mind. The results are amazing, and they’re even more remarkable given that her family were atheists and had never talked about God in their home. They reveal a world beyond our imagination, and a vibrant, growing talent.
She was featured on CNN at the age of 12, as you can see below, and she was interviewed by Oprah when she was 10. She has received numerous awards and prizes, and she will likely receive more, as her talent continues to improve with age.
July 14, 2009 § Leave a Comment
I was reading Ezekiel 33 this morning, and verses 7-9 state perfectly why I feel the need to write here at Dignoscentia.
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.”
As a believer in God and in God’s Law, I feel the need to share what I have learned from the Bible with others, in the hope that if they’re doing something that may be wrong, they might learn it’s wrong and turn from it. I’m not saying what I write is necessarily right — who knows, I could be wrong too — but at least I’m trying to shed light on the truth. I’ve always said that it’s each person’s responsibility to seek out the truth for themselves. It’s not about forcing people to believe in certain things or behave in certain ways. It’s about letting them make free, yet informed choices about their beliefs. If I can only get someone thinking and searching for the truth and for the right path in their life, then I’ve done my job.
Here’s how God feels about it:
“Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
“Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, ‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.’ If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done. And if I say to the wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right — if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die.”
“None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live.”
Those were verses 11-16 in the same chapter (33) in Ezekiel. Now isn’t that something to rejoice about?
April 11, 2009 § Leave a Comment
The byline for this psalm is “a psalm, a song for the Sabbath day”. It’s yet another mention (among countless in the Bible) of the Sabbath’s importance, and I’m not referring to the false Sabbath of Sunday, which many obstinate and misguided churches are lobbying for, but the true Sabbath, Saturday, which was sanctified by God from the creation of the Earth.
As a photographer, I couldn’t agree more with verse 5: “How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!” The more time I spend in nature, seeking natural beauty, and the more I examine that beauty, the more I realize how great God’s work truly is, and how beautiful He made this Earth before we spoiled it. As for the second part of this verse, I don’t know if we’ll ever know how profound God’s thoughts can be. We are too limited to realize how He thinks, how much He loves us, and how He cares for us.
The rest of the psalm is eschatological, and includes clear references to the destruction of the wicked, and to everlasting life with God, in heaven and here on the renewed Earth:
“Though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed.” (verse 7)
“For surely Your enemies, O LORD, surely Your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.” (verse 9)
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” (verses 12-14)
Verse 15 echoes the promises made in Daniel and the Revelation, that all will realize God’s perfect nature and goodness, and will proclaim it aloud, saying: “The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
Not all of the promises made in this psalm are prophetic. Some are for the present. Verses 10 and 11 say:
“You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.”
My Bible’s footnotes indicate the term “horn” refers here to one’s strength. The original Hebrew version is likely even clearer on that meaning. It’s encouraging and inspiring to see that God sometimes blesses His faithful ones during their lifetimes, not just in heaven. He chooses the time and method, but when He pours out His blessings over them, there is no mistaking His hand. I can attest to this myself, and I’m sure many others can. When we’re in the direst of circumstances and things cannot possibly be solved by human means, He works something out miraculously and we are delivered in a way we could not have imagined if we hadn’t seen it.
Praise be to God!
March 28, 2009 § 2 Comments
Some of the most beautiful promises of reassurance I know of are contained within this psalm:
“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” (Psalm 91:7)
“For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11,12)
“I will rescue him; I will protect him.” (Psalm 91:14)
Aren’t those promises amazing? I don’t know about you, but shivers run down my spine when I read them. To think, God will personally command His angels to protect me completely, no matter what the circumstances! All that He asks in return is:
- Make Him my dwelling place (Psalm 91:9)
- Love Him (Psalm 91:14)
- Acknowledge His name (Psalm 91:14)
That’s not too much to ask, is it? Of course, the key is to dwell in the Lord, as verse 9 says. How does one do that though? It’s got to be a symbolic statement, one that likely refers to keeping our minds on God, all day, every day, and inviting Him into our lives. It’s a natural extension of that second thing we must do in order to qualify for His full protection, which is to love Him, as verse 14 above says. Or, as another Christian puts it, to dwell in the Lord is to keep His word in our minds all day — to study the Bible carefully and to meditate upon it. Once we love Him and dwell in Him, it’s only natural that we acknowledge His name, or that we speak about Him to others, and give Him credit for all the blessings He bestows upon us.
The wonderful thing about God is that He loves us so much He’ll protect us even when we don’t love Him. He’ll bless us even when we curse Him. He is truly amazing. I’ve heard stories of people who were atheists or pagans, and yet God protected them in terribly dangerous situations. What do you think happened afterwards? Many became Christians. They began to believe in Him, to love Him, and to acknowledge His name publicly. They realized He exists, and He watches out for all His children, even though He may not always answer our prayers the way we expect. Yet if only we could see His angels at our side when in dire circumstances, we would know He never fails to deliver on His promises.
He doesn’t falter. Only we do, and that’s the hard part to accept, isn’t it? The Bible is full of God’s promises, and yet we have a hard time believing them, because we either don’t think He, who created the entire Universe, has the power to help us, or because we think He slighted us in the past when we prayed for something and didn’t get it. But that’s our pride that stands in the way, isn’t it? We can’t seem to be able to swallow it down and to accept the fact that God did what was ultimately best for us, even if it wasn’t the outcome we expected. Let’s face it, sometimes, when those arrows come our way, as verse 7 says above, we may be among the ones that fall, not among the ones that are left standing. Don’t ask me why — only God knows that. The thing to do is to put it in His hands and let Him figure things out. Let the chips fall where they may, knowing He is in control.
I think that’s the hardest lesson to learn.
February 14, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Here is a short passage from Isaiah 46, verses 6 and 7:
“Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Though one cries out to it, it does not answer; it cannot save him from his troubles.”
Notice the ridiculousness of the situation: a human being will create an object out of inanimate metals, set it on a pedestal in their home, and start praying to it — what’s worse, they’ll expect results.
Some may read this and say it’s no longer relevant. It’s what the ancient people did. But let’s look around the world and we’ll soon find out that this is still practiced. In some religions, people won’t bother to carve out gods from metals or stone. They’ll pray directly to stones. Or they’ll pray to the trees, or to nature itself. Then there are those religions that still pray to statues that depict human or animal likenesses, and they’re dominant in some parts of the world.
What’s worse, the practice of praying to graven images or statues isn’t limited to pagan religions. It happens right under our noses in the Western world. All you need to is to enter a Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal or Anglican church, and you’ll see statues of Jesus Christ or Mary, or the apostles, or of some saint or other, to whom the people pray and cry. They light candles to them and lay flowers at their feet, hoping in earnest for an answer when God clearly forbids it.
These people have forgotten the Ten Commandments, haven’t they? Here’s what God Himself wrote on the tablets of stone He gave to Moses:
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Deuteronomy 5:7-9)
When one looks at these things through the lens of God’s Word, the matter becomes very simple: you shall not do it. When human reason enter the equation, we hear excuses like “But this is only a likeness that reminds us of God. We are really praying to God, and this helps us imagine Him.” The list goes on and on.
Problem is, God won’t listen to these excuses when it comes time for the final judgment. He won’t care what you intended to do. He clearly forbids the worship of statues and graven images, and all who call themselves believers in God should obey His wishes.
January 22, 2009 § 9 Comments
I have always been pro-choice. As a Christian, I can’t see it any other way. It’s about free will, and it’s about tolerance. Those two notions are clearly set out in the Bible, and if you’re a Christian who tries to love your fellow human beings, as the Bible says you should do, then you should also be pro-choice.
This is why I love this video I found on YouTube. A young man went to a group of pro-lifers who were demonstrating on the streets and asked each of them this question:
“If abortion were illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions?”
It’s a simple question, but one which gets back to the principles of compassion and tolerance so entrenched in the Bible. Watch them struggle to come to grips with what sort of punishment these women should receive, and you’ll see they can’t answer.
I’m glad someone had the courage to go out there and ask this question, because people who try to impose their religious beliefs on others are not doing God’s will. The pain that women suffer through after aborting is greater than any sort of pointless legal action that could be taken against them. They have pangs of remorse and go through bouts of depression for years or even decades. It’s not something I’d wish on anybody, but I strongly believe that they should have the option to do this if they feel it is necessary.
[via Unreasonable Faith]
January 6, 2009 § 2 Comments
Got this via email. See my thoughts at the end.
Professor: You are a Christian, aren’t you, son?
Student: Yes, sir.
Professor: So, you believe in GOD?
Student: Absolutely, sir.
Professor: Is GOD good?
Professor: Is GOD all-powerful?
Professor: My brother died of Cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?
(Student was silent)
Professor: You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fellow. Is GOD good?
Professor: Is Satan good?
Professor: Where does Satan come from?
Student: From… GOD…
Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And GOD did make everything? Correct?
Professor: So who created evil?
(Student did not answer)
Professor: Is there Sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?
Student: Yes, sir.
Professor: So, who created them?
(Student had no answer)
Professor: Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son… Have you ever seen GOD?
Student: No, sir.
Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?
Student: No, sir.
Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?
Student: No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
Professor: Yet you still believe in HIM?
Professor: According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.
Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem science has.
Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?
Student: And is there such a thing as cold?
Student: No, sir. There isn’t.
(The lecture theatre became very quiet with this turn of events )
Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.
(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater)
Student: What about darkness, professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?
Student: You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light… But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?
Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man?
Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.
Professor: Flawed? Can you explain how?
Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never been seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going)
Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and can not even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?
(The class was in uproar)
Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?
(The class broke out into laughter)
Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so? So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?
(The room was silent. The professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable)
Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.
Student: That is it sir… exactly! The link between man and GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.
My version of the email forward specified that the student was Albert Einstein. Snopes.com says that’s false.
At any rate, it’s an interesting conversation and the student makes some very good points. So does the professor. And that’s the trouble with this argument. You can’t really win it either way, not without a “deus ex machina” situation. The best thing to do is to stick to your faith and go on, leaving others to believe what they will if they aren’t interested. At some point, they may find God for themselves, or they may not. Instead of lecturing, live exemplary lives. A concrete example always beats a good theory.
November 29, 2008 § 1 Comment
Two years or so ago, I first heard that the Ark of the Covenant had been found in Israel, near Jerusalem. I wasn’t sure quite what to make of it, and I figured that time would offer more evidence that would help sway the balance in either direction.
For me, that time has arrived. I now believe that it’s quite likely that the Ark of the Covenant was found, deep in a cave near Jerusalem, underneath the very spot where Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. From what I understand, Jesus’ very blood came down from the cross and found its way, through a crack in the ground, to the very Mercy Seat of the Ark, where it acted as an atonement for our sins. The crack was formed when the ground shook at His death, and then closed again when He was resurrected and the earth shook once more. I’m not sure how to put this, other than it makes sense to me. It’s like the pieces of a Biblical puzzle are coming together.
I offer the following information for you to consider. You don’t even need to be sure of what you see or hear at this point. I believe that we will get more evidence in the near future to support or refute these findings, and at that time, the evidence will be conclusive.
The person who I believe quite possibly saw the Ark of the Covenant was Mr. Ron Wyatt, an American from Tennessee who conducted an extensive search for it in a cave system known as Zedekiah’s Cave, near Jerusalem. He financed all his trips to Israel himself, out of his own savings, and that’s what makes it more authentic for me. After his death in 1999, an organization that he formed, named Wyatt Archeological Research, continued his work. I can’t vouch for that organization, since some of the things they’ve been doing since then seem to refute Wyatt’s original findings.
There is, as is expected, plenty of controversy surrounding Wyatt’s work. After all, the Ark of the Covenant would be a very important find, of tremendous Biblical significance. His Wikipedia page doesn’t inspire confidence. Then again, there are plenty of people who support him, some of which refute the claims made on Wikipedia and say that any attempts to correct his Wikipedia page are always erased. What I can say is that to me, Ron Wyatt seems like an honest, God-fearing man (from the videos I’ve seen of him), and he looks like he truly believed what he found was the genuine article, so I think he deserves to be heard, and his evidence considered.
Certainly, what I’d like to see happen is that the Ark of the Covenant (if indeed it is the Ark of the Covenant) is revealed for the world to see. Perhaps there are good reasons to keep it hidden still, such as the possibility of a holy war erupting over it — I don’t know — but all I can say is that all this secrecy fuels speculation, and it’s not right.
This video from David Gates gives a good overview of the Ark of the Covenant find. Watch it from minute 10 to minute 15.
There are many videos of Ron Wyatt on YouTube. I chose two of them to show you here. First, there is a video of Wyatt made in 1999 (the year when he died), where he talks about the Ark of the Covenant. The second video is also of Wyatt, and here he talks about the dried blood sample that he recovered from the Ark, and of what he found when he sent it to a lab for analysis.
What I find amazing about the blood analysis, if true, is that Jesus’ blood only had 24 chromosomes, 23 from his mother, and a single chromosome from a divine source. It certainly make sense, from both a Biblical and scientific view, if you believe that Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit, and not through a sexual act.
Apparently there are people who are actively trying to discredit Ron Wyatt. Some have even gone as far as try try and destroy his archeological findings. His two sons gave a talk in Israel recently, and they show, first hand, how others have gone out of their way to destroy what Wyatt has found there. Some are even trying to extract the Ten Commandments out of the Ark, for reasons unclear to me.
Ron Wyatt’s sons, Danny and Ronnie, also talked about the six Levites that were sent in to retrieve the Ark after the Israeli authorities were informed of the find. Apparently, all of them died when they approached it, and Wyatt was called in to retrieve their bodies. Their deaths made front page news at the time, though the official story said they had died by driving their car into a field of landmines.
Look, I’m not saying Wyatt’s findings are conclusive. Wyatt could have been overzealous, and, desiring to find what he had been searching for, he could have glossed over certain things that might have led him somewhere else. Who knows… But what if what he found really is the Ark of the Covenant? I think that possibility deserves our consideration, especially when you consider that his findings have spurred so much discussion, and have convinced so many others to go and search for themselves in those areas.
There are many agendas at play here. Some, are trying to find the truth. Some are trying to hide it. And others are trying to destroy it. And that’s what I think makes this seem like the genuine article. You know the old saying — where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be fire. There wouldn’t be so much controversy over this if there weren’t some truth to it.