Thursday, February 26, 2015

God, Hell and Truman of St. Helens

Is God mean? Just because one doesn't believe on him, will he send that person to Hell?


However, another perspective may help us better understand.

Lets rewind back to the 1980’s. Harry Randall Truman lived near Spirit Lake leading up to the fateful day of May 18, 1980. He became a short lived celebrity – he refused to believe he was in danger. He loved the lake and it’s associated mountain – desiring to eventually die there. If he were to leave, heartbreak would probably have killed him because he loved his surroundings. He knew the risks, he just did not believe the reports. But on that fateful day, against the hopes and desires of those around him, it happened, Mount St. Helens blew, burying Truman 150 feet under debris.

Another narrative comes to mind – one that God wrote. You see, we also are in a predicament – impending doom awaits us unless we move. Think about this – 100 out of 100 people will eventually die. But there is another problem, worse. Hell is at the doorstep of death.

We have all done wrong and are broken humans. Who has not lied, lusted, stole or blasphemed God? Even if just one of God’s holy laws is broken – we still broke the law. Justice must be served. Just like a prison, Hell is a good place for bad people. It's not an evil place as some think. It's bad for those who go there – but good for justice.

There is only one fix, a path away from this impending doom. So narrow and so hard, many ignore its existence. Some believe but don't follow. This path was made by that great teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. Standing at its entrances, he beckons all to enter. He wants all to turn and come to the safety of God's mercy. Most will reject. Not wanting God, they hate him. The path we take now will dictate the location of the here after: with God or away from him.

Without God it's Hell.

Being a loving God, he will not force people to love and follow him – he lets us have free will. Just as a man's true love will not force a women to marry him, so also is God's love. As Truman would be unhappy severed from his lake, so are people with their life. His life was the lake and the mountain, if he wanted to really live, he would have had died to his love. Some love their life – but in the end comes death. This reminds me of that great Nazarene teacher who once said "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" [1].

But the first story brings home another thought, even if Harry did believe those around him, if he really did trust the experts, action would have to have been riveted to that trust or else he still would have been doomed. Obedience must be in sync with belief. Just as one writer put it, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead” [2].

Death and Hell are impending upon all of us, we have only one other option, turn and follow Jesus’ escape path.

[1] Luke 17:33
[2] James 2:17
Image source: Wikipedia

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Why Critical Thinking Skills are Essential, But Not Sufficient

For one like me, whose mind never seems to rest, there is a burden that I call “the thinker's bane.” You see, as thoughts increasingly swirl around in my mind my brain at times aches some. It's genetic. Writing helps releases those thoughts. But there is a concern when one thinks, one needs true knowledge and proper thinking skills so errors are avoided. Proper thinking skills are called logic or reason - these aid with truth. However, one needs more than just proper thinking, ones needs something to think about. Whether you are a deep or shallow thinker, you still need the two: knowledge and logic.

Martin Cothran, a classical education proponent, once told a story of a debate he took part in. A college biology professor and the chairman of the Kentucky State House Education Committee took the position that, instead of memorization, students should be learning "critical thinking skills" [1]. While Martin was not against "critical thinking", he said there needed to be more memorization in education as well.

He notes what he told his opponents, "I said that I doubted whether they even knew what 'critical thinking skills' were. And as it turned out, they couldn't give a definition." He went on to say "[w]hen the moderator of the debate asked me what my definition of critical thinking skills was, I answered: 'Logic.'"

Logic is given a bad rap by many post modern Christians, but this is confusing to me. Feel free to check out the first chapter of the biblical book of John, Jesus is called the "Logos!" The word logic is derived from logos and they have similar meanings. Think about this, as far as I know Jesus never made a logical error! Ah, now it makes sense.

In Martin's same piece, he made an interesting statement, "We can’t teach children thinking skills if we don’t know what they are—and we can’t teach them how to think if they don’t have anything to think about." Interestingly, this seems to be very similar to the teachings from the book of Proverbs, from the first chapter. Knowledge and wisdom are greatly praised.

[1] The Critical Thinking Skills Hoax
[2] The proper use of knowledge, in which logic is its main tool.
Image source: Flicker/Sodanie Chea

Monday, February 9, 2015

The IBITE Vision, And What It Means for You

A number of years ago, A biography of Patrick of Ireland was given to me [1]. He was connected with a fifth century group of Christians from ancient Britain (not Roman Catholic), he seemed to have had two main goals. One was for Christians to follow Christ closer, and the second, his heart was for the Irish people to come to Christ. Possibly he became the greatest missionary since Paul. His story, among other reasons [2], made me think bigger – giving a bigger vision for my life – this site is one aspect of that vision. Since inception, this site has reached literally thousands of people from around the world. From Christians to atheists, I have had diversity of visitors. This is not said in pride, rather I'm humbled for the impact that this little site may have and I present it for a following explanation.

The Vision, The First Main Goal

I would like you know that vision, it may be bigger than some think. It is not just focused on my own life, my family, or the group of Christians I meet with. The first focus is that I can be a positive challenge the unbeliever - to leave a stone in his or her shoe. I want to tear away the clutter of secular philosophies and their false views of Christianity. I want them to see their sin, turn from it and follow Christ. I want them to know “The Way”. I'm no Patrick, but my desire is to have a positive effect on all who want to hear. Maybe I can put a stone in another's shoe - I don't know, but I do what I can and leave the rest up to God. I hope you do the same.

The Second Main Goal

On the flip side, I have a second goal. My desire is that all Christians may come closer to Christ, follow and obey him more - whoever they are. My hope is that all would understand original mere Christianity. I want to encourage all to focus on Christ and his Kingdom - serving him in truth and in spirit. This is done by taking the focus off our desires, the perceived “essentials” and from the sin of this world, and fix their eyes on Christ and his Kingdom.

Reasons and evidences are presented so Christians can be more confident in this harsh world. I want them to know what Jesus taught so they can have knowledge what they believe and live that knowledge. I want them to understand why they believe it so they can have an answer for those around them, whether one asks or they initiate conversation.

This site is not for any specific group of Christians. Rather I try to post items that relate to many people - all my readers. For example, this was the case in a previous post on teachings, that many groups hold, that the Bible does not teach [here]. All the items presented are common among many Christian groups. One item I got push back on was “Altar Calls” - a novel practice that many groups practice. Another was the “Spirit Led” philosophy that some think started around the holiness or pietistic movements and spread rapidly to present evangelical Christianity and elsewhere. This one seems to always get push back from Christians of all strips - it is so desirable by so many, including myself. However, history is fairly clear on both items - but people can become emotional when we assess them.

Feel Free to Push Back

However, push back is okay, feel free to challenge my posts. That’s why I allow comments below, if one wants to respond. This is how we learn, by asking questions and assessing the reasons. However, I would ask everyone to be respectful, no character assassination and emotional responses - I don’t allow those to be posted. Always use love and respect, with reason and wisdom.

On the other hand, if the vision of this site is not yours, if what I say offends, if you have no desire to think deeper about what you believe and no desire to help others come to Christ – then feel free to stop reading. This site may not be for you. Of course, I desire all to read and grow, but if not, that’s fine. However, please, before passing judgment upon this site or me, check out the evidence I present and my motives. If you are a follower of Christ, please don't gossip and spread discord about this site or the writer.

For More Information

For more on the intent and goals of IBITE blog, visit these pages:

What are your thoughts on Patrick of Ireland, what have you heard about him? What is your motive for life, if you are a Christian, what are you doing for the furtherance of the Gospel of the Kingdom? If you are an atheists, agnostic or from some other religion, what is preventing you to come to Christ?

[1] Let Me Die in Ireland, the True Story of Patrick
[2] Such as Paul calls us all to be ambassadors [2 Corinthians 5:20], which he was as well, he behaved godly and spoke about the gospel of the Kingdom to all.

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