Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Vacation On The Islands

This is vacation time. Many are planning, thinking and just can't wait for that lustful destination. But let me "put a stone in your shoe" as you are on that extended vacation, or planning your third blissful retreat this year.


Why are you going? No really, what is the purpose? How much money are you planning on spending? Why so much?

It is interesting that some make to the case an extravagant vacation because Jesus went on a short sabbatical to get away to rest and pray (1). Check out the following: how long did he go for? What did he do while away? How much did it cost? How far did he go? Did he go for his pleasure or for rejuvenation?


Now, what I am not saying here is that vacations are wrong, even on the islands. But how much are you spending, how often do you go? Now I don't have a set limit of times you should go or the dollar limit you should spend. Rather I hope you are using wisdom from above to make those decisions. In the book of James, in chapter one, James tells us to ask God for wisdom, he will give it to us generously. Wisdom is the ability for one to both think and act using their knowledge, understanding, experiences, common sense and insight. For this case, as most cases, a strong foundation in the Scriptures helps inform this wisdom that God gives us. Have you desired and requested wisdom already? Have you done your research.

More offence coming 

Offended yet? Read on for more. Sadly some feel themselves very spiritual if they go on that grandiose vacation, but maybe a little worldly when sharing God's gifts with others around the world. It seems that some are always talking about their last get away, but does this not sound selfish, In fact is it not selfish? Why would a self-centered activity be more Godly than one where we share God's gifts with others?

What about you?

Will you be willing to give up some, if not all, of your vacation to go help the poor, feed the hungry, visit the widows and tell others about the Kingdom of God? Do you want to travel to a far away destination for a get away? Well here's your chance. I am sure you could help in some way to make a difference.

Don't know where to start? How much time did you spend finding that perfect vacation spot last year? Do your research, how much should you help, when, where and how. Instead of planning that utopic holiday, plan that trip to help another's physical and spiritual needs. I hope that "stone in your shoe" keeps bugging you all summer.

What are you doing for Christ's sake? We all have a job, find an opportunity and do it well. Give them heaven folks!

(1) Example: Mark 6:31-32 & 46

Image source: Wikipedia

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Unfaithful Steward

The Unjust Steward. Source Wikipedia.
One biblical passage that seems to stump people is from Luke 16:1-14 (see below), where Jesus tells a parable of a rich man and one who was hired to manage his goods.

Big Picture

First we have to remember this is a parable and it is meant to convey a big picture message. The first thing to realize is that we can get caught up in some of the particulars. So focus on the big picture. Second, is that the Pharisees did not like what he said because they were lovers of money. It seems as if Christ was talking somewhat to them.

The story

So here is the story. After accused of mismanagement, this manager was threatened by his boss. Being fearful that he was going to lose his job and not prepared for hard labor nor wanted to humble himself to beg, he came up with a plan. Calling on his boss' debtors, he struck off the amount they owed. Why would he do this? Well Jesus tells us that this manager would be taken care of by them if he lost his job. Maybe a little like “I pat your back, you pat mine.” Well the rich man praised this manager for his shrewdness.


Now here is the application. Jesus says that those who are of this world are wiser then the children of light. He goes on to say that we need to make friends with others with the money in our care so when we fail, or when the money fails us, others will be the ones to receive us into eternal dwellings. In other words, everything we own is Gods, we need to give to others the resources in our control. When we need help, such as prayer, or encouragement on our heavenly journey they will be there.


He then goes on to say that if we are not faithful with the money that God put in our control, how can we be faithful who would trust us with true heavenly riches? If we have not been faithful with God's wealth, how can we be expected to be faithful with God gives us for our own?

One master

Driving home the point, Jesus goes on to say that we can't serve two masters, money and God. Our service should be to God and our money should be used for his service. Money can't be our god if we want to follow Christ. Being lovers of money, the Pharisees ridiculed him. In other words they were convicted.

(Luke 16:1-14) And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spirit Led: Fact or Fiction?

Words can be used equivocally, that is they can be defined a number of ways. In fact phrases can be as well. Some can take on brand new meanings, this is what happens with many novel teachings in Christianity. Many times we become convinced of something and then we set out to prove it Biblically. The phrase "led by the Spirit" or "Spirit led" has become a doctrine in search for prooftexts.

Apply the logic

So using this logic, lets look at the phrase "Spirit led." Does the Bible teach it? Why yes, it does, but it also all depends on what is meant by "Spirit led." The Bible does not present it as a "feely" sort of thing. The Bible teaches that we need to be Spirit led, but in a totally different definition of how we usually hear it used.

Bible case for Spirit led

So let's unpack the correct and biblical case for this concept and how the Bible defines the phrase. First, here are two passages, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). And second, "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Galatians 5:18). These are the only two places that say we are to be Spirit led. (There are others places that talk about some being Spirit led (i.e. Jesus), but maybe we will talk about those another time.)

Now what does it mean?

OK, so we do know that the Bible teaches that we are to be Spirit led, so what does the Scriptures mean by the phrase? Well, remember one of the first principles in reading something? Yes, read in context! Let's do just that.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Roman 8:1-14).
Read through the text again and note the bolded items. These lead up to the phrase "led by the Spirit." If one will note, the passage is talking about sin and how if we are Spirit led, we will not live after the "flesh" or unrighteousness.

Well, what about the other passage?
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:13-26)
Now I think we are seeing the picture, if we are Christ's, we are dead to the flesh. Being Spirit led is walking in the Spirit which is two fold, not having the fruit of the flesh and second we will have the fruit of the Spirit. Both sides are defined between these two passages.


So does the Bible teach we are to be Spirit led? Yes, but not this contemporary and novel definition that teaches individual personal guidance. This new doctrine has understandably taken the church by a storm during the past two hundred years and has caused confusion, allowance of moral relativism, lack of scriptural knowledge, decreases in clarity and transparency, and lastly the lack of reason and wisdom based off of God's word. The real definition is one who overcomes sin and shows forth virtue. Now that is having a true Spirit led life!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Life's New Language

Artistic DNA molecule. Flicker/Keith Ramsey
For one who follows the world of biological news, one but can't help but have seen the news flash of "alien DNA" being incorporated into bacteria. It seems that many are praising the scientists as if it were some great and humanitarian leap for our progeny. However, is the hype accurate?

Yes, it is quite interesting that a group of scientists, Floyd Romesberg and team from Scripps Research Institute, were able to manufacture chemicals that were quite different from DNA's four bases: adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine (A, T, C and G respectively). To be frank it think the research is quite interesting. 
The bases engineered by Romesberg’s team are more alien, bearing little chemical resemblance to the four natural ones (1).
These new alien DNA bases, d5SICS and dNaM, were integrated into the microbes genome - this is the core of all the hubbub. Enzyme machines that help copy and translate the genetic code were able to interact with these novel bases.

Some are saying that we may be able to manufacture new drugs and unprecedented cures come from this research. In other words, with new letters one will be able to make new genetic words, which will expand the potential protein results.

My Perspective

However, I do have ten observations concerning this study, some on the skeptical side:
  1. Great, they accomplished adding new, man-made bases to a bacteria's DNA. But at this time the cell has no way of making more, if the microbe's human farmers discontinue supplying the cells with these bases, these bases will no longer be coded within the cell. Traditional bases will replace these artificial bases places.
  2. These bases are said to add information potential of the genome. This may be good, however, even with our computer systems, with only two "alphabets" (0 and 1), we are able to make images, videos, text, music, manufacture complex 3D objects and you name it. DNA already has twice as many "alphabets" as our technology, four bases (not counting the 64 codon combinations and used to put together 20 amino acids).
  3. OK, we have two new bases, so what about the RNA and all the protein complexes that help make protein? Yes, we can copy the text, but what about protein manufacturing? It is one think to copy text, but it is another to use text to build an aircraft. There is a whole level of magnitude above this accomplishment needed to even think about making protein.
  4. Proteins are made up of amino acids. The are attached to something called tRNA and are used to help build protein. So one is going to have to build "machines" help specify new amino acids to the correct new bases that make up the tRNA. Where will these machines come from? How will they be coded? What molecular machines will be automated to make them? There is a vicious loop going on here.
  5. To make protein, we need amino acids. Even if we get amino acids to "stick" to the novel tRNA and rRNA, we have to get the amino acids to form protein.
  6. We finely make a new protein. But form equals function. In other words, a protein needs to be folded just right for very specific jobs. Little machines, called chaperons, help fold proteins in the correct and usable shapes. Where are these new chaperons coming from for the new proteins with new types of amino acids? In other words, new code and new machines will have to be designed to fold the new proteins into correct orientations to even be potentially usable.
  7. They credit the origins of our current nucleotide bases to evolution through deep time. No intelligent source is invoked. However, it took a group of intellectual researchers over fifteen years to just get these microbes to uptake and replicate these artificial letters. This does not count the many other researchers, since the 1960's, who also have been attempting to work toward this goal. It took intelligence to get as far as they did, how could a blind, undirected process come up with four bases? It is even worse than that, think about it, as of now, the microbes can't even uses these bases for anything. They just sit there and get replicated. This hole system is irreducible complex, unless all the parts were in place in the first cells, the original bases would not have functioned.
  8. Along with this, we only know of information arising through intelligent minds. It is the inferences to the best explanation and the law of uniformity. Pure naturalism is not enough. As said on the point above, this study demonstrates this argument lucidly.
  9. Lead researcher Romesberg said the following within a piece in Nature: "If you read a book that was written with four letters, you’re not going to be able to tell many interesting stories" that is why these new bases are important, they will extend the informational content (1). Again, sounds good except for when one looks at even a simple cell, one is totally amazed by the stunning design and complexity. It makes our greatest accomplishments seem like foolish children's play. The biological story is one of the most interesting "stories" that can be told!
  10. Lastly, a quote from Romesberg states the following: "This shows that other solutions to storing information are possible and, of course, takes us closer to an expanded-DNA biology that will have many exciting applications—from new medicines to new kinds of nanotechnology" (2). Why does it seem as if all cutting edge (maybe on the offbeat side) "research" is argued  to help with health, medicine or improve technology? It seems to me that they trying to validate their research by saying "hey, this sounds a little silly, but it really does have importance." OK, maybe I am cynical, but that's what it sounds like!

(1) Callaway, Ewen. "First life with 'alien' DNA"
(2) Scripps Research Institute Scientists Create First Living Organism that Transmits Added Letters in DNA 'Alphabet'.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Disease

I wonder how much this study cost?
McDermott and her colleagues found that study participants were 75% more likely to become divorced if a friend is divorced and 33% more likely to end their marriage if a friend of a friend is divorced.

So divorce is contagious…and you can catch the divorce bug from your friends—even from a friend of a friend (1)?
This article goes on to say the following:
Sociologists call the phenomenon “social contagion”—the spread of information, attitudes and behaviors through friends, families and other social networks (1).
So I bet I could have helped them save a lot of money and time! You can find the following text free on-line. The following is one of the most respected resources ever published. In fact people will freely give you the book that contains the following quote:
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world (2; bold mine).
Yes, when sin becomes the norm and the "in thing", others follow suit.

(2) 1 Corinthians 5:1-10

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Mysterious Shroud

Part of the shroud with the
positive and negative images.
Source Wikipedia.
The Shroud of Turin. Yes, one very controversial subject. Back in 1988, a radiometric dating study indicated that the shroud was less than a millennia in age, not the 2K years needed if it were to be considered as the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth.


However, the strange twist is that most of the other evidence like tradition, seeds in the cloth from plants only know to exist in the middle east that are now extinct, coin images from that time period on the cloth and blood marks all seemed to point to the time of around 30 AD.

Most astounding is the form of a crucified man seen in the negative on the cloth. But that is not all, the image itself seems to have no know natural causes as it appears. We don't see other burial clothes with these types of images.

Recent Research

Researcher Carpinteri and his team seem to have an explanation for this discrepancy in the evidence - an earthquake.

"An earthquake in Old Jerusalem might be behind the famous image of the Shroud of Turin . . . neutron radiation caused by an earthquake could have . . . caused carbon-14 dating done on it in 1988 to be wrong" (1). In other words, when neutron radiation is taking into consideration, a much older age seems to be very likely, probably around the year of Christ's crucifixion.

According to the researchers, the novel and peculiar image of the crucified man on the shroud may also be linked to this radiation.

Biblical Comparison

I find both points interesting, the scriptures talk about an earthquake at the time of Christ's death and resurrection.

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:50-54).

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it (Matthew 28:1-2).


Did the quakes do more then just shake the ground?

Did it effect the radiocarbon dating?

Did the quakes release extra neutron radiation, helping form the images of Christ's preresurrected body as the earth quaked, as recorded in Matthew, during the early hours of the that peculiar Sunday morning?

(1) Review of journal article:
(2) Original Journal Reference: A. Carpinteri, G. Lacidogna, O. Borla. Is the Shroud of Turin in relation to the Old Jerusalem historical earthquake? Meccanica, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s11012-013-9865-x

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Casual or Carnal?

What does casual mean? Yes, this word does have an objective definition. However, it seems that this word also has a subjective application per diverse peoples and cultures. In other words, how people perceive it is relative to ones opinions and culture, much like the words "moderation", "warm", "appropriate" or "a lot". It's relative to individuals.

Is it that important?

In the past I have heard some suggest that we Christians should not be "causal" (culturally) because this leads to "casual Christianity" (I don't know the definition for this phrase). While this may be true and I may be missing something, I however know of no evidence for this slippery slope argument. As noted, each culture and peoples in time may define casual differently. So primae facia, I see no connection.


This argument seems to be fallacious because the Bible never talks about cultural casualness, even in principle. I have heard said that "casualness" is a salvation issue. My simple question is this, where in the Scriptures does it say this? If it was supposed to be there, God must have forgot to tell us.

What the Bible teaches

However, Scriptures do speak against ungodliness, carnality and immorality and teaches that we should be modest, up-right, pure, righteous, and obedient to his commands. In the place of "we should not be causal", wouldn't a more biblical and less vague term be better, such as righteous or godliness? The Bible does teach modesty, cleanness and order. But these attributes can be fulfilled either in a "casual" or "professional" setting.


Think of it this way, what is the antonym of casual? Well probably professional or formal. Do we want to be professional Christians? How about a formal Christian? These combinations don't even make sense. Is being professional lead to a more holy life? Think about elite businesses, parties or dances and you will see many who are very professional, but very ungodly as well. Many of these activities may be done in a casual atmospheres as well, but that's my point, it gets one no place.

Let's look at some other antonyms, what is the opposite of godly? Ungodly. How about the opposite of obedience to God? Disobedience to God. What about the spiritual, eternal and heavenly? Maybe a word like carnal would work.

As followers of Christ we should be shunning and fighting ungodliness and unrighteousness. We are to be godly and follow Christ's teachings. However, we need accuracy, truthfulness, and honesty in our language, otherwise we come to strange conclusions.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Brainwashing

Are you being brainwashed? In a post by Stella Morabito (see source below, it is worth the read), she tells the story of Patricia Hearst, who within two months was brainwashed into a totally different person. There were a number of things that she went through but here are some of the techniques her kidnappers ("Symbionese Liberation Army") used:
Patricia Hearst
Image source:

  • Formed a cycle of "...isolation, threats, and humiliation, punctuated by a little peace (reward) for compliance [this] broke down Hearst’s sense of self." She lost freewill.
  • "stimulated in her an overwhelming sense of dependency"
Marabito goes on and notes what Singer, a psychiatrists who eventually became involved with Patricia's recovery, says on how people are brainwashed:
  • "Keep the person unaware that there is an agenda to control or change the person and their thoughts"
  • "Control time and physical environment"
  • "Create a sense of powerlessness, fear, and dependency"
  • "Suppress old behavior and attitudes"
  • "Instill new behavior and attitudes"
  • "Put forth a closed system of logic"

The following are things that people use to brainwash groups of people. These are used by governmentssocial group leaders, some religious leaders and many charismatic leaders. Sadly these work, usually for devious outcomes.
  • "The atmosphere of coercion is reinforced by peer-modeled behavior." This is the good old peer pressure technique. Go into any group gathering or school and you will see this in practice.
  • " are exposed to a slogan often enough, you will repeat it, even if you don’t understand what it means." I'm convinced that this point alone is very dangerous. There are many slogans that may have some good and some truth, however, many that are used are used for devious purposes and used to shut people up and stop questions from being asked.
  • "...a climate in which the agenda is seen as an elitist movement for those who are enlightened. Those who oppose the agenda are labeled as lesser beings." Usually this is not stated outright, but a culture of ignoring one or placing one at a lower level with a derogatory label is often used.
  • “collective belief formation –describing how implausible opinions can be manufactured through a system of social/reputational punishments and rewards." Even illogical conclusions are twisted to sound logical. If one dissents, one is punished.
So what are the best ways to protect yourself? Again, Marabito gives some tips to prepare yourself and help guard against mass brainwashing:
  • "techniques 'should be studied and revealed so that citizens can be taught countermeasures in order to avoid being exploited by such groups.'" In other words, know the techniques.
  • "Education, information and vigilance are constantly needed if we are to keep us, and our minds, free.” The more you know the truth, stronger you will be.
  • Expand your "one-on-one personal relationships and conversations. This is where our power lies..." Form connections. You will find you are not alone in your defence. 
  • "...remaining silent about our beliefs when we are being abused is that we actually dig our own hole deeper. Every dissenter feels alone, perhaps even in a roomful of dissenters. Every fence sitter resigns himself to signing on with the perceived 'majority.'" In other words, speak!
  • "When unanimity is punctured, the group’s power is greatly reduced." The power here lies in the fact that when there is an outcry, the brainwasher's loses some of the control.

In your life watch out for others pressuring you to keep quiet, telling you not talk to others about topics, discouraging you from asking questions, the use catch phrases used without definitions given and "norms" that you are expected to hold to even if they make no sense. Be concerned if your pursuit of knowledge and information is discouraged against. Use the tools given here to prepare yourself for the war on your mind. Know the truth, gain knowledge, ask questions, talk to others and understand the techniques people use to brainwash others. Last but not least, pray for wisdom and discernment!

All quotes came from the following source:

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