January 20, 2015

Isaiah's Logical Reasoning Rings True After Thousands of Years

At first glance, a few sentences offered by the prophet Isaiah don't seem to carry very much philosophical weight, even though he challenges his readers to, “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1.18). But the few words that he penned on the subject of moral reason have far-reaching implications and underscore some serious challenges that atheist philosophers struggle with to this day and have yet to overcome. When Isaiah stated, “Though your sins be as scarlet,” he was stating a premise that can be explained within a completely logical context in accordance with a logical worldview. By contrast, no secular atheists to date have been able to adequately offer a logical and reliable basis for human ethics and human morality that will not ultimately lead to a very cold and very brutal society. The fact is, the world is quickly becoming a more brutal and corrupt place. I'd offer that the human condition and human society today are worsening mainly due to the rejection of basic Christian principles and ethics that had been prominent for approximately 2000 years. A number of points outline how post-Christian society is becoming more and more twisted. Contrary to a popular myth, the crime rate is increasing today when undocumented government crimes and widespread white collar crimes are taken into account. Let's consider the wisdom of Isaiah in contrast to alternative secular positions. 

January 02, 2015

True World Crime Rates Much Higher Than Statistics Report

True crime statistics outlining actual crimes committed would reveal that the crime rate is actually much higher than what is being projected. One of the issues at hand is that vast networks of high-level criminals that are breaking laws are not being prosecuted, therefore, the mainstream world crime statistics are artificially low. The reality of this expanding elite criminal class has been documented in numerous sources. It is not just that elite criminals are being left alone, but that values are being totally reversed as well. Even the crime of torture is not being prosecuted in the US today. When searching for world crime statistics, the main subjects that appear are "homicide" and "murder." But there is much more to the picture. Consider, for example, that governments are not likely to allow their own government agencies to report on criminal activities presently occurring by the very same governments. But this is typically how global crime rates are reported.

I. The Economist Highlights how Crime Statistics are Based on A Small Fraction of Categories

The Economist journal published a misleading post titled, "Why is crime falling?" wherein the same post offers a revealing quote that contradicts the title: "Electronic crime and fraud has distracted some professional criminals from traditional ways of stealing stuff." The author claims that "fraud" is distracting run-of-the mill criminals from petty crimes. I would offer another opinion: Petty crime statistics are distracting statisticians from the much more widespread and pervasive problems of white-collar corporate crimes, government crimes and twisted ethical positions and laws that no longer define heinous crimes as crimes. Crime is not actually "falling" today at all, it is alive and well, even as the Economist article insinuates. The statistic problem is plainly outlined, though, that statisticians who focus on petty  crime categories and standard crime categories while white-collar corporate crime, government crime, and twisted ethical and legal positions should also be considered prior to claiming that, "crime is falling."

December 26, 2014

Another Study Confirms That Religious People Experience Greater Happiness - But Reviews Falter

A freshly-published study on happiness highlights a greater degree of happiness for religious people. What I find notable is that two of the most popular summaries published on the Internet focus on the significance and benefits of meeting with others once a week, but neither summary posits the possibility that tangible joy and happiness could be heightened through a tangible experience of God's presence within the context of community among fellow believers. Psalms 22.3 states, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." (KJV). Psalms 16.11 states, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (NIV).
Religions that do not advocate a tangible presence of God would not offer that quality as a context for happiness. However, an objective reviewer of this study could have taken a minute to research and note that in the U.S., where the study was performed, evangelical Protestants still make up a majority, 51.3 percent of the religious population, as noted at Pew Research. Even so, Catholics, Orthodox and even Jews could also experience God's presence in worship services in accordance with Protestant understandings of scripture and theology. In accordance with Einstein's 1954 essay, "Science and religion" - science is basically "blind" when the implications of religion are not fairly assessed employing true critical thinking and true objectivity.

December 17, 2014

21 Signs our Post-Christian Society is Twisted

The following are 21 key points underscoring the fact that we live in a twisted post-Christian society where things are getting worse rapidly. I've followed this by offering 21 key points that highlight how we have excellent reasons to be hopeful and optimistic during this time, despite the increasing darkness.
1. If the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court have opened with prayer for centuries, exemplified by a prayer of  Benjamin Franklin on June 27, 1787 at the Constitutional Convention, but these days a public school student can be suspended from class for saying the words, “bless you”, then you might be living in a post-Christian society.

2. If a religious lifestyle has been shown to provide the greatest sense of happiness in scientific studies, such as ones mentioned here and here, and “Studies show that rates of depression for Americans have risen dramatically in the past 50 years.” – with 1 in 10 US adults presently reporting a struggle with depression, then you might be living in a post-Christian society.

3. If the phrase, "In God we trust" first appeared on U.S. 2-cent coins in 1864 and the phrase, "In God is our trust." is in the official national anthem and “one nation under God” is a phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, but presently public school students are censored from saying the word “God” or “Jesus” in their personal farewell valedictorian speeches, then you might be living in a post-Christian society. 

November 12, 2014

Pastor Zehnder Claims "Longest Speech Ever" Title in Guinness Book

Pastor Zehnder of Florida preached for 53 hours and 18 minutes. According to a summary in Christianity Today,  he was inspired to raise money for a non-profit cause as a part of his speaking marathon:

"The Powerhouse Addiction Recovery Program will help people with addictions including alcohol, drug and sex among others. The target of $100,000 was surpassed on Monday with a $10,000 cheque that took the total to more than $102,000."

October 27, 2014

Truth and Treat - Turning a Negative Into a Positive on Halloween

There is a lot of negative energy on Halloween and a lot of pressure aimed at children towards conforming to the celebration of evil, darkness, death, the occult and witchcraft. I believe, however, there are some excellent teachable moments and talking points available that can help parents engage children together towards, “overcome evil with good” as scripture directs us (Romans 12.21). Your own convictions and guidance by God's Holy Spirit will help you as a Christian to determine if and how you can exchange the worldly standard of “trick or treat” for some helpful truth and treat. The following are some points to consider:

1. Real witches increasingly support the truth of the spiritual realm - Real witches are increasingly coming out of the broom closet. A survey of 822 witches revealed that a majority have already come out of the closet.  A 2009 book, “Out of the Broom Closet: 50 True Stories of Witches Who Found and Embraced the Craft” is celebrated by a majority of reviewers on Amazon . A recent Huffington Post article outlines how a present-day academic, “witch in multiple pagan traditions,” Sam Webster delights in the rise of witchcraft and the significance of Halloween for these people: "There is a national holiday that showcases our religion every year!" He adds, "In the West we've started taking that word (witch) and using it as a word of power. We've taken on an insult and reclaimed it." Children appreciate it when you tell them the truth, especially when it comes to subjects that interest them. There is in fact a spiritual realm and the promotion of witchcraft by real witches underscores this truth.

September 18, 2014

If Your Life was a Word Cloud - Would There be More Positive or Negative Words?

Are you a positive person or a negative one?  Do you tend to affirm others and build others up in person or do you tend to gossip and put others down when they are not around? Do you have positive "self-talk" in your private thoughts or are you producing negative emotions and negative results through your private thought life? If a day in your life was reduced to a word cloud, what would it look like? What would your entire life look like as a word cloud?

After over 20 years of research, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson "..shares how experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio to negative emotions leads people to achieve what they once could only imagine."

September 15, 2014

The Positive Life Challenge

The reason for coming up with this challenge is fairly simple. I was looking into the scandal with Victoria Osteen, as described at this link, and as I researched a bit on the benefits of positive in life, I found that there is scientific evidence that demonstrates how living with a positive attitude really is a very good approach to life. I have generally lumped the emphasis on the positive and the "Word of Faith Movement" together and there were usually obvious contradictions with scripture that immediately had turned me off. After looking a bit more into this subject, however, I have come to see the emphasis on the positive as very important and desirable, when taken in a biblically-sound framework. There are a number of points I had studied earlier that seem to come together in this subject and, if you are interested, you can take on the challenge along with me to become more positive in life. This will be a process for me and I will no doubt continue to adjust the precepts and the ideas in this challenge as I learn more. I will explain why I believe the following points are a good beginning. I also want to emphasize that these things can be put into practice today in both my life and anyone's life:

The Positive Life Challenge

1. Practice the presence of God each day.

2. Use at least 3x more positive speech than negative.

3. Do justice and love mercy.

I'd like to emphasize that this is not meant to be a formula of some kind or a legalistic set of practices. These are just some principles and guidelines that I wish to aim for in my own life and I believe they could be helpful for others as well. Like a good marriage, it goes without saying that the love and the personal relationship are of utmost importance, while learning helpful principles about marriage also helps. Ultimately, the emphasis should be on the personal aspects of life, not just the principles.

No matter what your basic beliefs are, there is evidence that we are all under the influence of a "negativity bias" wherein we humans are wired to remember the negative much more than the positive in life. This can effect us, and often does, based on experiences as far back as from childhood. This is just one reason why we should probably attempt to achieve a "positivity bias" in our lives.

September 11, 2014

9-11: Important Facts Everyone Should Probably Know By Now

This trivia is far from trivial. Test your 9-11 knowledge. It's been 13 years since the tragedy, and, surprisingly, a lot of people still don't know some of the most basic facts regarding what happened on 9-11-01. Following are 11 facts on 9-11 outlined by A & E For 9-11 Truth:

1) The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 

It is commonly known that the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, but did you know that a third World Trade Center high-rise building also fell that day? WTC Building 7, a 47-story steel-framed skyscraper located one block from the Twin Towers was not hit by any plane, but collapsed at 5:20 that evening, imploding in the exact manner of a professionally engineered demolition. It fell suddenly, straight down, at near freefall speed, and landed in a compact pile of rubble, barely damaging any of the surrounding buildings. These are but a few of eleven characteristics of Building 7's collapse that are consistent only with controlled demolitions. Further, the leaseholder of the three buildings, Larry Silverstein, said in 2002 on PBS that on the afternoon of 9/11 he suggested to the NYC fire department commander that they "pull" WTC 7. "Pull" is an industry term that means "demolish," but it normally takes a team of skilled people many weeks to design and implement large demolitions. Astonishingly, there is no mention of WTC Building 7's remarkable collapse in the 571-page 9/11 Commission Report. 

2) Fire has never — prior to or after 9/11 — caused any steel frame building to collapse. The sudden, vertical, explosive, and total collapse of the Twin Towers at near freefall speed can only be explained by controlled demolition.

3) The WTC steel, which if fully examined could have relvealed the effects of explosives, was quickly shipped overseas and melted down. This was an unprecedented violation of federal crime scene laws.

4) Whenever contact is lost with any airplane, fighter jets routinely take to the air to investigate. This commonly occurs about 100 times per year in well under 20 minutes. But on 9/11 nearly two hours passed without any interception.

September 05, 2014

Newsflash: Osteen and Piper Agree on Christian Hedonism

A lot of people are throwing Victoria Osteen under the bus for her recent comments, with claims of heresy and blasphemy topping the list. What is remarkable is how similar her quotes are to quotes by John Piper regarding his concept of Christian Hedonism. Ultimately, this is the question: "What do you believe is the true basis of and motive for glorifying God?" Both Osteen and piper offer that enjoying pleasure is the primary means by which we glorify God, thus, they both agree to the central tenet of Christian Hedonism. Mrs. Osteen is being raked over the Internet coals for a video clip in which she stands by her approving husband at church (the largest church in the U.S., BTW) and says the following:

 "I just want to encourage every one of us to realize that when we obey God, we're not doing it for God — I mean, that's one way to look at it — we're doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we're happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy.”

 “So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy. Amen?"

Everyone from Bill Cosby (in a pirate YouTube spoof) to the ex-gay Christian blogger, Matt Moore are basically heaping it on. Personally, I do not agree with most of the Osteen family Christian message, including these quotes. However, what I find interesting is that no one seems to be pointing out that this subject of seeking pleasure in God is actually a pretty deep and complex one that deserves a bit of thought. And what would you say if I outlined some quotes by revered Christian figures, such as Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, John Piper and C.S. Lewis that emphasize the same focus but offer a bit more care and eloquence:

 Quotes on Seeking Pleasure in God

1.      "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever" – John Piper (his version of the shorter Westminster catechism)

2.      "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." – John Piper (Desiring God – 1986)

August 18, 2014

Why Jesus is the Most Controversial Person in History

Following are 25 reasons why Jesus was and is considered the most controversial person in history. Jesus didn't become controversial because He was bad, rather, because He went around doing good things that disrupted, rather, burst the seams of the existing status-quo system. Jesus made extraordinary claims and He demonstrated the truth of His claims with extraordinary actions and extraordinary resolve.

Because Jesus was a spiritual light in a world of corruption and darkness, He stood out like a shag on a rock. In case you aren't aware, this shag idiom is an Aussie reference to a sea bird alone on a rock in the middle of the ocean, not quite the same as Mike Myers' use of the word as Austin Powers. Jesus wasn't politically correct, but He was spiritually correct. I noticed that Greg Laurie prepared a video clip on the same subject with excellent quotes on the controversial figure of Jesus: The Most Controversial Figure in History?
List of 25 Reasons Why Jesus is Considered the Most Controversial Person in History
  1. Jesus experienced an extraordinary divine conception.
  2. He performed extraordinary miracles.
  3. Jesus claimed to be divine, as Messiah.
  4. Jesus offered an extraordinary sacrificial death.
  5. He rose in an extraordinary resurrection.
  6. Jesus never sinned.

July 31, 2014

Core Essentials of The Christian Faith

Recently, Bill Gates' "Common Core" program for U.S. Education was quashed by massive opposition. The Christian common core of the gospel has faced massive opposition over the centuries, but has not been quashed.  Rather, it has stood the test of time. It's important to understand our common ground as Christians so as to know our common basis for fellowship and community within the universal Christian Church at large.

If you are familiar with the teachings of pastor Rob Bell and his book, “Love Wins” - then you are probably aware that the concept of “grace” alone is not enough for us to find practical common ground as Christians. Rob Bell teaches that there ultimately is no eternal punishment for those who reject Christ, but that all people are eventually welcomed into heaven by God's grace. His belief that, "We can have all the hell we want.” - doesn't really mesh with scripture. Based on Bell's example, it is fairly obvious that accepting God as a gracious being is not enough to establish practical common ground for us as Christians, that is, if you believe that doctrines repeated in the Bible form the basis of the Christian faith.

So, what is the true common core basis of Christianity? While there is a lot of “liberal theology” today, most Christian scholars who regard scripture as the most dependable and accurate basis of spiritual truth would agree with the following list:
List of Core Essentials of The Christian Faith 
1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ 
2. The Resurrection of Christ 
3. Salvation in Christ Alone 
4. Salvation by Grace 
5. The Gospel 
6. The Trinity 
7. The Virgin Birth 

July 07, 2014

Red Heifer Birthed in Secret Location Supports Prophecy of Rebuilt Temple

Michael Snyder at his informative American Dream blog has released some stunning information that a necessary key to the completion and functioning of the prophesied new temple on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem has been discovered, a pure red heifer. Only 10 in history have been recorded. A farm in the U.S. discovered this rare animal and has offered to raise it in accordance with Orthodox Jewish requirements in order to be used in sacraments of the predicted Third Temple. Itsaak (Isaac) Rubin offers a description of the event in the following video. Mr. Snyder's original article is posted in full, as follows, with a link to his blog. My wife and I had visited The Temple Institute while visiting Jerusalem and can testify that this organization is dedicated to the rebuilding of the destroyed Jewish temple and has prepared almost all of the clothing, utensils and vessels necessary for the sacraments. This red heifer was the final sacramental requirement! Scriptural prophecy is an accurate and reliable testimony of the veracity of biblical truth. This has been well documented.

 Up until now, one of the major barriers to the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem has been the lack of a red heifer.  A qualified red heifer has not been seen in the land of Israel for nearly two thousand years, and without one it would not be possible to resume Temple worship.  But now a candidate has been found that could change everything.  The Temple Institute in Jerusalem has released stunning video footage of a red heifer that they believe meets the Biblical requirements.  This red heifer was born in the United States, and the owners of the red heifer contacted the Temple Institute in order to receive instructions about how to care for it.  It is hoped that this red heifer will eventually be transported to the land of Israel and be used for the purification of the priests and the vessels that will be used in a rebuilt Jewish Temple.

June 26, 2014

China's Increased Crackdown on Christianity

The China Aid organization, founded by a Chinese insider with many connections throughout China, has released new that the persecution of churches and Christians has increased dramatically in the past month. This includes the demolition of churches, the demolition of crosses, the arrest of Christians and more, as noted by China Aid:

(Zhejiang–May 20, 2014) China Aid recently received a compilation of all known church demolitions, cross removals or modifications and notices received concerning the prior actions in China's coastal Zhejiang from a source. The list, below, gives the name and, in most cases, the date that  64 churches were persecuted.

The actions against churches in Zhejiang are all connected to the province's “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, which claims to target all illegal structures. However, based on government documents, which can be read below, some speculate that the campaign is really just a crackdown on religion (see http://www.chinaaid.org/2014/05/zhejiang-government-document-reveals.html).

See the original post at China Aid for more info.

June 10, 2014

List of Some Notable People Converted to Belief in God via Apologetics

While all conversions are truly notable, in this post I'll highlight names of some notable people converted to belief in God via some aspects of apologetics. This is simply a fancy word for reasoned arguments. I will also post related quotes.  If you know of notable people converted to Christianity or belief in God in general through reason and apologetics, please add a comment below. It would also be helpful to add any relevant quotes by the people. General comments and debate on this subject are of course also welcome, so long as there is a civilized tone.

List of People Converted to Belief in God with the help of Apologetics
"St. Augustine was a passionate seeker of truth: he was from the beginning and then throughout his life. The first step of his conversion journey was accomplished exactly in his progressive nearing to Christianity. Actually, he had received from his mother Monica, to whom he would remain strictly linked, a Christian education, and even though he lived an errant life during the years of his youth, he always felt a deep attraction to Christ, having drunk in with his mother's milk the love for the Lord's Name, as he himself emphasizes (cf. Confessions, III, 4, 8). But also philosophy, especially that of a Platonic stamp, led him even closer to Christ, revealing to him the existence of the Logos or creative reason. Philosophy books showed him the existence of reason, from which the whole world came, but they could not tell him how to reach this Logos, which seemed so distant."

Dr. Francis Collins
"Francis Collins, a medical doctor, is director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and passionate about science. But the self-described Bible-believing Christian is just as passionate about his faith, which he came to after reading C.S. Lewis and seeing how religion sustained his gravely ill patients."

June 06, 2014

Which Congressmen Voted to Pass the NDAA Bill in 2014?

As voting opportunities approach, it's interesting to see how present and past reps voted on the NDAA bill. In case you aren't aware, the NDAA bill was first signed by President Obama in December of 2011. It has passed through congressional approval with minor changes since then. When you begin to understand what exactly the bill states and stands for, then you may wonder how any U.S. citizen or U.S. politician could possibly support it. It seems to be a defining issue.

Though it has been slightly modified, the NDAA bill today still includes the right of the U.S. Government to enforce indefinite detention of untried U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without due process. Sound shocking? It probably should. It cuts against everything that the U.S. has stood for. Sadly, the congressional rep for New York in our area, Mr. Timothy Bishop, voted, "Aye", that is, in support of this bill. This bill is more in keeping with a Joseph Stalin gulag than a present-day democratic republic.

If you plan to vote for a congressmen in the upcoming elections, please do us all a favor and try to find out where you candidate stands on this issue and do not support anyone favorable to it. Whether you are fond of the Democrat, Republican or Independent party, there really is no excuse for supporting anyone who would vote in support of this type of bill.

March 03, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Answers to 7 Key Questions

Are you familiar with key questions regarding the unfolding events in what has been dubbed "the Ukraine crisis" by many? My background as a missionary for 10 years in Kyiv and Simferopol Ukraine helps me to offer a perspective with regard to both eastern and western views. I don't wish to support or promote one particular political side of this issue, but, rather, to simply raise important questions and provide possible answers from a Christian perspective.

After an interim caretaker government had been installed in the capital of Kyiv,  it was noted that ousted President Yanukovych claims he is still the official president of Ukraine, though he is presently in Russia. Russia has taken control of Crimea, so far without firing a shot. And there are signs that the aggression will continue unabated. Interim prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk has stepped up the rhetoric, claiming that the announcement to invade Ukraine made by Russia's Vladimir Putin was not a threat, but "the declaration of war to my country".

Across the globe, Obama has threatened "costly" economic sanctions and isolationism against Russia as the Commander in Chief is presented in a Washington photo op on the phone wearing rugged Reaganesque blue jeans and a denim shirt. It seems that there are dramatic new developments in Ukraine news on a daily basis. But some of the underlying questions remain consistently important and poignant. Addressing these issues can help to shed some light on the situation.

1. The Ousting of Yanukovych: Was the overthrow and ouster of President Yanukovych in Kyiv valid, even though  the once "peaceful protests" eventually turned violent against the Yanukovych authorities and visa versa?

2. The Ethics of Military Invasions: Was Russia justified in its military invasion of Crimea? And would a military attack against Russian forces by Ukraine and other countries be justified in response?

3. Threats of Economic Sanctions and Isolationism from the West: Are threats against Russia by the West regarding economic sanctions and isolationism really an acceptable and adequate response to Russia's aggression?

February 10, 2014

Webclips Demonstrating How Rand’s Objectivist Definitions Presuppose Naturalism

When you see the word “objective” associated with the word “philosophy” you expect to find an approach to truth and meaning that is unbiased and, well, objective. Such is not the case with Rand’s Objectivism, however. It is difficult at first to discern whether Rand promotes Materialism or Naturalism, because Rand avoided identifying her beliefs with either. However, commonly accepted definitions of Naturalism seem to apply best to her propositions.

Naturalism is embraced in definitions from the very onset, as other metaphysical possibilities are simply ignored. Simply ignoring and censoring other valid metaphysical options, however, is not quite the same as logically refuting them. As one blogger put it, Rand attempted “to define God out of existence.” That’s just not cricket.