Reasons for Joy; In Gentleness, and Respect.

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Choose Your Own Topic / Flat Earth Theory: Light Argument
« on: May 30, 2017, 08:53:49 am »

The light argument begins at about the 20 minute, 30 second mark. 

For the record, I am not a FE proponent.  I am curious though what the response is about the light argument from people who are smarter than me.

Choose Your Own Topic / PCUSA vs PCA (Gordon, I'm looking at YOU)
« on: January 30, 2017, 11:25:05 am »
Gordon, I was a little surprised to see in your signature that you're seeking ordination with PCUSA compared to PCA, given their extreme differences.

On ordination for example, PCUSA permits both men and women, as well as non-celibate homosexuals.  PCA only ordains men that are in, "obedience to the NT standard for those who rule the church and teach doctrine."

As far as innerancy, PCUSA does not teach it, while PCA does.

PCUSA teaches that abortion can be morally acceptable though that it ought to be a last resort. PCA teaches that abortion is immoral.

With regards to divorce, the PCUSA general assembly moved to amend sections of the Westminster Confession to eliminate "innocent parties" language and broadened it to include no-fault divorce. PCA teaches that divorce is sin except in the case of adultery or desertion.

With regards to homosexuality, for PCUSA, In 2010, the General Assembly expressed that “The PCUSA has no consensus in the interpretation of Scripture on issues of same-sex practice.” Currently, homosexuals (both celibate and non-celibate) can serve as ministers and the churches endorses same-sex “blessing” ceremonies. Recently, the General Assembly amended the Book of Order to redefine marriage as between “two people” rather than between a man and a woman and allows ministers to perform any legal marriage between two people. That amendment will require the approval of a majority of the presbyteries before it will take effect.

PCA teaches that homosexual practice is a sin.

Given the posts that you've made on this forum, I actually figured you for a more conservative Christian than this. So what gives, you really consider yourself more align with PCUSA as opposed to PCA?

And as far as anyone else reading this, which of these two branches of Presbyterian do you identify with more? I would be interested in that as well.

Choose Your Own Topic / Is Islam a Threat?
« on: November 22, 2016, 08:08:20 am »
I'm curious to see what people have to say about Islam.  I'm not sure why, but it almost seems as if Christians on this forum see Islam as a threat, and the atheists see no problem with the growth of Islam.  I don't see much agreement between the two sides over Islam, and honestly - I'm not sure why.

I really think it must come down to an education level over what Islam teaches that causes the divide between people.  I think anyone who actually takes the time to study Islam and understand what it teaches and what its goals as a religion are - would be concerned.  The fact that there are so many people on this forum defending Islam is concerning.  I don't know if it's ignorance, or if it's just that people like to argue. 

Islam is a dangerous religion.  Perhaps it is the fact that Western minded people cannot think past the idea of separation of Church and state and realize that there is no such separation in the mind of a Muslim.  For a Muslim, they desire to live under a government that is under Shariah law. 

The simple fact is that as Muslims move into a population, they begin to grow.  Once they reach critical mass, they are able to overtake the government and turn the country into an Islamic State.  This is quite simply - inevitable.  Places like France and Germany, I believe, could find a majority of voting power in the Muslims hands within 25 years.  That may seem like a long time, but it's really not.  And once they have a voting majority, then it's all over. 

Christianity can survive and thrive under almost any form of government, even governments that are openly hostile towards Christianity.  Christianity and other religions, while certainly opinionated on political matters, are nothing compared to Islam. 

Even if 95% of the Muslim population could be considered passive, and non-aggressive, that wouldn't matter.  Imagine in America we get to the point where there are 70 million registered Muslim voters.  At that point, even if 95% of them are passive and non-aggressive, they would still vote for all Muslim candidates.  Then you have a Muslim house, a Muslim senate, and a Muslim President.  How long do you think it would take for them to dismantle and institute Shariah Law? 

The growth of Islam should be alarming to people. 

Choose Your Own Topic / XO: The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today
« on: November 21, 2016, 07:42:26 am »
The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today

Imagine walking up a mountain alone. But it’s no ordinary mountain. The ground beneath you is shaking, and the entire mountain is covered in smoke. At its peak is a thick cloud with lightning and thunder. God descends onto the mountain in fire, and each time you speak to him, he responds in thunder. This is what Moses experienced in Exodus 19.

Now compare that experience to your last time in prayer.

Distracted, obligatory, ordinary — I doubt any such words came across Moses’s mind as he ascended the mountain. But some three thousand years later, we rarely marvel that God permits imperfect humans into his presence.

How did the shocking become so ordinary to us? Is it even possible for our experiences with God to be that fascinating?

Going Up the Mountain

A mentor of mine lives in India. Last year, he called me on the phone crying, distraught over the state of the church in America. “It seems like the people in America would be content to take a selfie with Moses. Don’t they know they can go up the mountain themselves? Why don’t they want to go up the mountain?”

When was the last time you enjoyed meaningful time alone with God? Time so good that you didn’t want to leave. It was just you, reading God’s words, in his holy presence.

I was fifteen years old when my youth pastor taught me how to pray and read the Bible alone. Now, more than thirty years later, I still can’t find a better way to start my days. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t refocus daily by going up the mountain.

It is alone with him that I empty myself of pride, lies, and stress.

  • Pride: standing before a Person clothed in unapproachable light has a way of humbling you (1 Timothy 6:16).
  • Lies: speaking to an All-Knowing Judge tends to induce honesty (Hebrews 4:13).
  • Stress: kneeling before the God who causes men to fail or succeed replaces our anxiety with peace (Psalm 127:1).

Professional Gatherers

We often spend a lot of time and effort gathering believers together. We’ve become experts at gathering Christians around great bands, speakers, and events. Where we have failed is in teaching believers how to be alone with God. When is the last time you heard someone rave about their time alone with Jesus in his word? Gathering believers who don’t spend time alone with God can be a dangerous thing.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together:

Whoever cannot be alone should be aware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. Alone you stood before God when God called you. Alone you had to obey God’s voice. Alone you had to take up your cross, struggle, and pray, and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot avoid yourself, for it is precisely God who has called you out. If you do not want to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.

The word community is thrown around quite a bit in Christian circles today. But our gatherings can be toxic if we do not spend time alone with God. I’ve been in many groups where people share their insights. The problem is not only that our insights are not as profound as we think they are, but that we’re so eager to share thoughts originating in our own minds, when we have a God who says,
“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
               neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
          For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
               so are my ways higher than your ways
               and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:8–9)

I want to know the thoughts of God. I want to gather with people who have been reading God’s words, people who have prayed and interacted with him. I want to fellowship with those who fellowship with God. I couldn’t care less if you have a doctorate in theology or sixty years of life experience. I would rather talk with a fifteen-year-old who has been in the presence of God.

Can You Love Sermons Too Much?

There is so much discussion around books, sermons, and conferences. I’m not against those. After all, I’ve given a significant portion of my life to preaching sermons and writing books and going to conferences. But sometimes I wonder if it’s time to shift our focus.

We have to look at the facts. American Christians consume more sermons and books than any other group in the history of the world, but consider the state of the church. Has the increase in resources led to greater holiness? Greater intimacy with Jesus?

You could argue that the state of our churches would be even worse without the resources. Maybe that’s the case. Or could it be that these resources (and even this article) has the potential of distracting people from the Source itself? Maybe all of these books and sermons about Jesus have actually kept people from directly interacting with him. It may sound blasphemous to suggest our prayer lives may be weakened by all of the consumption of Christian material. Nonetheless, I want to throw it out there.

We live in a time when most people have a difficult time concentrating on anything. We are constantly looking for the quick fix and for faster solutions. So the thought of sitting quietly to meditate on Scripture and praying deeply in silence can be eagerly replaced by listening to a sermon while driving to work. While it’s definitely better than nothing (considering all of the other messages we are bombarded with daily), the point of this article is to say that there is no substitute for being alone with God.

We must learn to be still again.

Something Has to Go

It was simple for Paul. He loved being with Jesus. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Knowing Christ deeply consumed him (Philippians 3:8). There is no substitute for being alone with God. If you don’t have time, you need to quit something to make room. Skip a meal. Cancel a meeting. End some regular commitment. There is literally nothing more important you could do today.

God literally determines whether or not you take another breath. “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). Could anything be more important than meeting with the One who decides if you live through this day? Could anything be better? How can we not make time to be with the Maker of time?

What plans do you have today that you think so important that you would race past the Creator to get to them?

I pretty much said how I feel in the topic.  Yes Steve, this is aimed primarily at you.  This isn't really a political forum. I feel like it's lost a lot of quality thanks to all the political threads. 

Choose Your Own Topic / Voting for Trump IS a Morally Good Choice
« on: August 01, 2016, 09:33:53 am »

Sorry, it's too long to copy/paste the content, and there's no good way to summarize it.  If you care, you just have to read it~

Choose Your Own Topic / Jehovah's Witness Miracle Wheat
« on: January 05, 2016, 07:49:17 am »
ZWT: 03/15/1908 page 86

The public press is telling of the origin of "Miracle Wheat" in answer to prayer. The description has the earmarks of truth to it, in that it gives the address of the man whose prayers are said to have been answered -- "K. B. Stoner, a farmer of Fincastle, Botetourt county, Virginia." It would appear from the account that the original stalk of wheat appeared in the midst of a crop of the ordinary kind, but with "142 heads of grain."


"Mr. Stoner was amazed. It seemed incredible. When a Frenchman, in 1842, announced that he had discovered a species of wheat in the Mediterranean country which produced four heads to the plant, people said he was crazy.

"But here was a plant with 142 heads!

"Naturally Mr. Stoner carefully preserved the heads, and the next year sowed the seed, continuing to do this each year, for he realized he had discovered a phenomenal brand of grain. And each year his amazement increased.

"That first year after discovering the plant he got 2000 grains. In 1906 he got sixteen bushels, and has now raised the crop of wheat, all carefully preserved for seed, to 800 bushels.

"What is most remarkable about the wheat is this: Whereas there is produced in the wheat sections of that country an average at the best of seventeen bushels to an acre, the average yield of the "miracle wheat" during the last three years has been fifty-six bushels to the acre; and whereas from eight to ten pecks of seed are required to plant an acre in Virginia, Mr. Stoner uses only two pecks, and, in comparison to the yield of ordinary wheat in the neighborhood, which is eight bushels for each bushel of seed, Mr. Stoner gets about seventy-five bushels for one. An ordinary stalk of wheat covers about four inches of space. The miracle wheat covers twelve."

This astonishing account in Zion's Watch Tower concludes by asking breathlessly,

If this account be but one-half true it testifies afresh to God's ability to provide things needful for the "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." -- Acts 3:19-21.

Zion's Watchtower of October 1, 1908, brings further reports of 'Miracle Wheat' with the rapturous hope, "Our thought is that in this natural way God is preparing for the Millennium, when 'the earth shall yield her increase.'" (p. 291).

Religious claims were made on behalf of this humble commodity:

ZWT: 09/01/1910, page 279

"The Divine purpose will not be thwarted by the permission of sin to mar the original. The sacrificial death of Jesus is the complete offset to the penalty pronounced on Adam and his race. Restitution to perfection and Divine favor will result in God's 'due time.' And we believe that time near at hand.

"Do we not see the promised blessing coming? What are our vast irrigation schemes by artesian wells and by aqueducts but fulfillments of the prophecies pertaining to the reign of Messiah and the blessing of the earth? Hark to the message: Streams shall break forth in the desert; and the wilderness shall bloom as the rose. -- Isaiah 35.

"Burbank and others are under Divine guidance working miracles in horticulture, just as Edison and others have been the instruments of Providence to give us electrical devices. What beautiful fruits and flowers are the result! It is difficult to imagine greater perfection either in Eden of old or in the world-wide Eden to be restored!

"Referring to the 'times of restitution' of Messiah's reign the Prophet declares, 'The earth shall yield her increase.' (Ezek. 34:27.) Behold preparations for the fulfillment of this promise: About three years ago a Virginia farmer found one abnormal bunch of 120 stalks of wheat from one root -- the offspring of one grain of wheat. Under the name of 'miracle wheat' it is now being developed slowly in various parts -- the average yield appears to be about 1,200 grains from one kernel..."

No doubt by this time readers of Zion's Watch Tower down on the farm were eager to get their hands on this miraculous seed. What do you know, the opportunity arose:

ZWT: 06/15/1911 :R4844 : page 178:

Brother Bohnet writes us that he has gradually accumulated a crop of miracle wheat from the few grains he obtained as a start. He prefers that the first opportunity for obtaining this wheat shall go to THE WATCH TOWER readers. He will sell it for $1 per pound, including postage, and give the entire proceeds to our Society. All orders for this wheat should be addressed, Miracle Wheat Bohnet, 17 Hicks street, Brooklyn, N. Y. This will keep mail on this subject separate from his personal mail and from ours.

At trial, Mr. Russell admitted the seed packets had been mailed from the Watch Tower offices: "For the accommodation of our readers, we allowed this seed-wheat to be put up in pound packages and mailed from THE WATCH TOWER Office, just as the U.S. Government handles such seeds at Washington." (ZWT 02/15/1913).

So did the farmers who sowed this miraculous wheat - note, the "proceeds" from the sale of which went to "our Society" - notice streams breaking forth in the desert or the wilderness blooming as the rose? Well, no, the results from this exorbitantly priced strain of wheat were not remarkable. It was a hoax, and the JW religion bought it hook, line, and sinker.  That's the type of foundation that the JW religion has.  That's what it's based on.

This is a strange time for patriotic American Christians. On the one hand, we will observe the 4th of July this weekend. Most of our neighborhoods are ringing with fireworks and are adorned with symbols of American pride. Many will celebrate the 4th with family, friends, and an open grill. At the same time, our stomaches are still turning by the fresh reminder that we and our Christianity are increasingly not welcome here. This is truly a strange confluence of emotions.

In talking with a number of Christians last week I was struck by how the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage brought such an unsettling clarity to their perspective. Any morning fog that lingered in our minds that this was a nation that was at least neutral towards biblical Christianity was quickly eradicated last Friday. With the court’s affirmation, the chorus of celebrations on the news and in our neighborhoods, and then the White House being lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate the decision, it seemed to bring clarity. Most Christians knew this deep down but for some it did not home until last week. At some point they looked up and said, “I’m not welcome here.”

What do you do about this?
Well, we definitely should not turn into a bunch of evangelical jerks. As tempting as it may be to join in the tit-for-tat sarcasm, mocking, and crudeness, we must remember that we have a higher calling than such sophomoric trolling. We reflect Christ in our speech, conduct, and love.
We also should not shut-up. The court’s decision on marriage does not change what we believe about marriage. The Bible is still very clear and the church’s practice remains very clear. This changes nothing for us; we still have a prophetic voice to speak the truth of biblical marriage and how it displays the glory of the gospel. We still have something to say.

We do need to remember that this is not our home. Christians have for centuries lived in communities that did not welcome them. However, they made it and the gospel made it. The writer of Hebrews, writing to Christians who were feeling the pinch of a culture around them that did not approve of their religious convictions, provided these words at the end of his letter:

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
We today do not have a lasting, abiding, continuing city. Everything has an expiration date on it; it is only a matter of time. We have to remember this as Christians living in America (or anywhere else in the world). While you you may have a physical address where you lay your head at night you are not home. Because as Christians we seek the city that is to come. This seeking is an ongoing, intentional pursuit. It is to characterize our lives. We keep on seeking the city that is to come. Hebrews uses several words to describe this city. It is described as heaven (12:23), rest (4:11), kingdom (12:28), a better country (11:14), a city that God built (11:10), a heavenly Jerusalem (12:22), and a heavenly country (11:14). We are looking ahead to the city that will come down from heaven where we will dwell with God and all his blood-bought saints forever! There are no feelings of being unwelcome there when we are gathered round the great table to enjoy feasting and fellowship with the church. Oh, and Christ will be there, ruling and reigning with all of his people giving themselves to him freely (Rev. 21-22).

We are a people who pray earnestly the words and intentions of the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed by your name…Your Kingdom Come…Your will be done…” We want God’s name to be honored rather than disregarded. We want the King to rule and his will to be done. This is our great desire. When this is not happening here it serves to unfasten our grip upon this present world and lift our chin the look ahead, to seek the city that is to come.

If the events of last week knocked the wind out of you and made you feel unwelcome, then remember that we seek the city that is to come. If the current events serve to remind you of this, than bless God for his kind providence to you. Realizing you are not welcome here can actually be a blessing.

Finally, remember that Jesus never called the church to redeem culture or create a Christian America. Our job is to glorify God by declaring and demonstrating the gospel. The church is an embassy of grace on foreign soil. And we must remember that this church has been, is being, and will be built by Jesus Christ (Mt. 16:18). The gospel will advance and the church will be built whether the cultural wind at our backs or in our face. Our death-conquering King ensures it.

For those of you truly interested in seeing how the Israelites in the OT viewed God, and if you want to see Jesus in the OT, and if you also want to see how Jesus IS God, then I highly recommend watching this video:

I would love to discuss it with anyone willing to take the time to listen to it.  The first 20-30 minutes are pretty dry, and you will want to kill yourself - but if you stick with it, it gets really interesting.  I couldn't recommend this enough for people who are struggling with believing in the Divinity of Christ, as well as people (a large number on this board) who don't actually have any Biblical languages education.  He does a great job at breaking down the language and putting the OT in context. 

I really think it would benefit anyone willing to spend the hour listening to it.

******* EDIT ********

I'm adding this video as well as it specifically goes into the aspects of Jesus in the OT.

Choose Your Own Topic / Why I don't think Catholic's Have it Right
« on: May 19, 2015, 07:31:40 am »
This is a problem that faces all protestants, they don't believe in the infallibility of the Church

Do you recall the Arian heresy? You see this today with the JWs.  Pope Liberius (352-366), rather than defending Athanasius, signed a document that supported those against him and condemned Athanasius. Nearing the end of his pontificate he recanted his signature and reinstated Athanasius. Infallible?

Pope Honorius I (625-638) was condemned and excommunicated for heresy by the sixth general council in 680. The Roman Breviary contained the condemnation of Honorius on the Feast of St Leo II right up until the 18th century.

Pope Steven VI (896-897), was consecrated (possibly against his will) by Pope Formosus who, during his reign, was excommunicated for leaving the Papal seat and “conspiring to destroy the papal see”. He was eventually forgiven and returned to Rome. When Stephen VI came the Papal Throne, he had the body of formosus exhumed and put on trial (this is the famous Cadaver Synod). Formosus was accused of transmigrating sees in violation of canon law, of perjury, and of serving as a bishop while actually a layman. Stephen had Formosus’ papal vestments removed and two fingers from his right hand cut off. Formosus’ body was thrown in to the Tiber. After the Synod, public opinion turned against Stephen. He was deposed in an uprising and strangled to death.

Pope John XII (955-964) Through his mother Alda of Vienne, John XII was a seventh generation descendant of Charlemagne. John was the temporal and spiritual ruler of Rome and during his pontificate he virtually turned it into a whorehouse. Moral corruption in Rome became a major problem. After crowning Otto I Emporer of Germany in order to secure his support in a war against Berengar II of Itlay, he changed his mind and began communicating with Berengar. Otto learnt of John’s treachery and returned to Rome after defeating Berengar. He called a council which deposed John who was hiding in the mountains, and elected Leo VIII in his place. John, with a large group of supporters, returned to Rome to depose Leo VIII before Otto had even left. Otto pledged to assist Leo against John but before the matter went any further, John died. It is rumoured that he was killed by the husband of one of his mistresses.An account of the charges against him in the Patrologia Latina states:

"They testified about his adultery, which they did not see with their own eyes, but nonetheless knew with certainty: he had fornicated with the widow of Rainier, with Stephana his father’s concubine, with the widow Anna, and with his own niece, and he made the sacred palace into a whorehouse. They said that he had gone hunting publicly; that he had blinded his confessor Benedict, and thereafter Benedict had died; that he had killed John, cardinal subdeacon, after castrating him; and that he had set fires, girded on a sword, and put on a helmet and cuirass."

I could go on, but needless to say, history reveals quite clearly that Pope's are just men.  Men who are fallible, men who sin, men who frankly, carry no more spiritual authority than the Protestant Pastor down the street.

I have yet to see a strong and reasonable Biblically based argument that would support any sort of infallible position of the Catholic church.  If anything, I would agree with my Orthodox brothers that the Catholic Church is the one that split away in the Great Schism of 1056, not the Orthodox.

From what I've seen, the most widely accepted number for the total number of human beings that have existed on earth is currently at 108b.

Also, the general consensus seems to be that the earth can sustain about 10b people at any given time:

Harvard University sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, bases his estimate on calculations of the Earth's available resources. As Wilson pointed out in his book "The Future of Life" (Knopf, 2002), "The constraints of the biosphere are fixed."

Aside from the limited availability of freshwater, there are indeed constraints on the amount of food that Earth can produce, just as Malthus argued more than 200 years ago. Even in the case of maximum efficiency, in which all the grains grown are dedicated to feeding humans (instead of livestock, which is an inefficient way to convert plant energy into food energy), there's still a limit to how far the available quantities can stretch. "If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people," Wilson wrote.

The 3.5 billion acres would produce approximately 2 billion tons of grains annually, he explained. That's enough to feed 10 billion vegetarians, but would only feed 2.5 billion U.S. omnivores, because so much vegetation is dedicated to livestock and poultry in the United States.

So 10 billion people is the uppermost population limit where food is concerned. Because it's extremely unlikely that everyone will agree to stop eating meat, Wilson thinks the maximum carrying capacity of the Earth based on food resources will most likely fall short of 10 billion.

Finally, upwards of 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.  The actual number of miscarriages is thought to be closer to 40%. 

So if the above is actually true, and if life begins at conception, and if unborn/aborted/mentally handicapped are allowed a free pass into heaven, then won't we have an overpopulation issue once Christ returns?

For those of you who aren't familiar with Christian eschatology, Christians believe that when Jesus returns, eternity will actually take place here, on a redeemed and restored Earth.  Revelation teaches that heaven will come down to earth, and that earth will be where we all reside. 

So doing some basic math, there have been roughly 71b miscarriages in the world. 

Should Christians believe that the implantation of the soul/spirit/sinful nature begins at conception?

Choose Your Own Topic / I chose my own topic
« on: March 27, 2015, 08:01:49 am »

Try 1: 454 CPM, 91 WPM, with 1 error
Try 2: 492 CPM, 98 WPM, with 2 errors

Choose Your Own Topic / Interstellar *Spoilers*
« on: November 18, 2014, 01:16:28 pm »
So has anyone here seen this yet? Am I the only one who felt like it suffered from the same paradox as the Terminator?

Choose Your Own Topic / God does not exist
« on: December 05, 2013, 12:15:56 pm »
1. It is [metaphysically] possible that God does not exist.
2. If it is possible that God does not exist, then God does not exist in some possible world.
3. If God does not exist in some possible world, then God does not exist in every possible world.
4. If God does not exist in every possible world, then God does not exist in the actual world.
5. If God does not exist in the actual world, then God does not exist.
6. Therefore, God does not exist.


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