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
 
Augustine
"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.

February 02, 2014

Definition of Metaphysical Primacy

Definition of metaphysical primacy: the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.

The above definition is based upon a logical approach towards the subject defined and the process of formulating definitions. Searches on the Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a definition of "metaphysical primacy" do not yield a definition. This issue came to my attention when I realized that the philosophy of Objectivism is based upon comparing two conditions of perceived metaphysical primacy without ever defining what metaphysical primacy is in the first place as a point of reference.This issue was pointed out in two articles. One is titled, Rand’s Primacy Argument Refuted and the other, Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism. Hopefully,  addressing and defining the subject of metaphysical primacy will help to bring some clarity to this subject for anyone interested in discussing and debating it. I welcome a critique of the ideas posted herein.

January 26, 2014

Rand's Primacy of Existence Argument Refuted


Ayn Rand’s primacy argument is basically an illogical atheist rant dressed up in a cheap tuxedo. As I’ll show, Rand eschews the most basic logical principles, offers a specious and false dichotomy, and presupposes materialism in the definitions of her philosophical argument (I use the term “philosophical argument “very loosely in the case of Objectivism).

By age 13, Ayn Rand had declared herself to be an atheist, as noted in a New York Magazine article. The same article declares that, “she repeatedly withheld or distorted facts in order to feed her own mythology.” This quote is not surprising to me at all. I’ve come to see how Rand withholds critical information in her philosophical definitions in order to promote atheistic materialism. Rand’s primacy argument highlighting her specious definitions of consciousness and existence may be likened to a rigged election in which two fraudulent candidates are presented and both stand for basically the same agenda.
 
How have Ayn Rand and her objectivist followers attempted to pull off their slight-of-hand in supporting their atheist-materialist philosophy? Like any effective scam or magic trick, the key to the deception is not immediately apparent. I’ve been able to identify and document many of the subtly deceptive and fraudulent aspects of Objectvism by examining articles written by objectivists and by asking pointed questions.

Outline
  
I.                    The Avoidance of Basic Logical Principles
II.                  An underhanded Substitution of Theist Primacy
III.                Presupposing Materialism in Definitions

January 12, 2014

Three Refutations of Objectivism

It's not every day that a secular humanist information source rips  into a secular philosophy that promotes secular atheism. That in and of itself speaks volumes. Nonetheless, RatonalWiki offers some choice words on Ayn Rand's philosophy, “Objectivism has not met wide acceptance in academia. When they bother to comment on it at all, academic philosophers usually dismiss it as a rather juvenile imitation of a real philosophy.” RationalWiki is not the Rosetta Stone of academic authority, but they do bring up some valid points, some of which I had already raised.

There are a number of reasons why a person would be justified in rejecting Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. First, it promotes an extremely warped value system that is simply untenable for society. Therefore, it may be rejected for pragmatic reasons. Second, it stands in conflict with valid science. Third, when its propositions are examined they are riddled with logical fallacies, especially with regard to Rand's primacy argument.

I.    Pragmatic Considerations Refute Objectivism

One pragmatic test of any philosophy is to ask the question, “If everyone adopted this philosophy, would this create a functional and desirable society? In the case of Rand’s Objectivism, the answer is a resounding no.
 
Consider what would society be like if everyone adopted the ideals of Objectivism.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “Conspicuous by their absence from Rand's list of virtues are the “virtues of benevolence,” such as kindness, charity, generosity, and forgiveness.” Objectivism promotes selfishness as an ideal. Because Objectivism promotes selfishness and relativistic ethics, it is not really all that surprising that Ayn Rand glorified and romanticized non-consensual forced sexual advances of the hero (what most dictionaries would define as rape) for the sake of pleasure in her novel The Fountainhead, as quoted:
 

January 04, 2014

Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism

There are two aspects which stand out in definitions of metaphysics: the fundamental nature of being and the fundamental nature of the universe. There are two aspects which stand out in definitions of primacy: that which is most powerful and that which is preeminent. The concept of metaphysical preeminence ties into the concept of timeless and universal truth. At the time Jesus was physically on earth, Pontius Pilate mockingly derided the concept of truth with a rhetorical question for Jesus, "What is truth?" According to theism, Jesus did not have to answer this question for Pilate with words because Jesus as God incarnate standing before him embodied the essence of metaphysical primacy and timeless truth, that is, God's existence.

The reason I am pointing out these basic definitions is because a certain atheist blogger, Dawson Bethrick, seems to be hell bent on linking theism with a “primacy of consciousness” in his attempt to philosophically prove that God does not exist, as noted in a previous argument he prepared, linked here. In contrast to Pilate's mocking and skeptical tone, Bethrick has assumed an over-confident tone that corresponds with multiple logical fallacies, as noted in my first rebuttal, linked here, and as defined in logical outlines presented in this present post.

December 29, 2013

Bethrick’s Refined Primacy Argument Against God Refuted


(Note: there have been a few posts since this one on this subject, including the following:  Rand's Primacy of Existence Argument Refuted,  Three Refutations of Objectivism  and   Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism)

I will give credit to Dawson Bethrick for agreeing to my request to provide a summarized form of his primacy argument against God’s existence, as quoted in blue at the end of this post. Stephen Law was unwilling to provide any such outline or summary of his favored and long-winded EGC argument, as addressed here.
 
No amount of prolific prose can make up for precise premises in a structured and logical philosophical argument with a logical syntax. And it is truly a rare treat to find an atheist apologist willing to offer such an attempt at an argument in these terms. The reason why it is so rare is because summarized logical arguments distill elaborate presentations down to their essential features and it becomes much easier to identify and address logical flaws and fallacies.