Does God Hate Atheists

July 8, 2017

 

The bible says God loves the World (John 3:16) and that includes everyone who does not believe in Him. God wants to have a relationship with everyone ” He is not willing that any should perish but that all should repent.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Not all do come to God, and if someone persists in running from God, eventually they will separate themselves permanently. But that is not God’s doing. Its more like a divorce that only one party wanted.

Sin is vile, ugly and hateful. God hates sin and we should too. This may seem overly simple, but one way I think of it is this: I once had a dog who loved to roll in nasty stuff–manure, dead things–the nastier the better. Then she wanted to come in the house. The stuff she rolled in made me want to throw up, and she absolutely couldn’t come into my house. I did love her though, and did the job of cleaning her up–then she could come in. But if she ran away from me and wouldn’t allow me to clean her up–she would not be coming in the house. God loved us while we were still sinners, and Jesus died to clean us up. All who come and let Jesus into their lives will be in God’s house.

Atheism is not something to take lightly. It is a decision to reject God. It is like the dog who will never come when called. Someone who isn’t sure about God needs to be seeking truth.

 

Who is Christ?

July 8, 2017

“Christ” is Jesus title. Christ comes from the Greek word “Christos”, which means “anointed one”. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew “Messiah”. The name Jesus was His name given to him by Mary and Joseph at the direction of the angel Gabriel who announced his coming birth. The angel said Jesus would be the son of God. Jesus came to earth to be King and Deliverer.
Jesus is fully man and fully God–a mystery we cannot fully understand with our limited human minds. But this mystery of God is the greatest gift of all.

When you repented of going your own way and asked Jesus to come into your life as your Savior from sin, you also received many magnificent gifts. You received forgiveness of your sins, and you also received the King of kings as your constant companion, living in your life, working out his purposes for you. You need no longer feel that problems beyond your power to solve are hopeless because Jesus, who is all powerful, is there to work on your behalf.

You will want to learn more about Jesus. The best place to start is to read the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the bible. You will learn more about who Jesus is, what He has done, and his promises for you.

A Little Help for Depression

July 8, 2017

People who are depressed become inwardly focused.  The tapes that play over and over in their heads absorb all their attention, and leave them too emotionally exhausted  for anything social or creative.  The tide must be turned before the negative thinking can be changed, because as it is, there is no energy to change it.  But one tiny step in the right direction can be the nudge that begins to turn the great ship of the mind around.

The tiny step–one day at a time–is this:  Do one kind thing each day.  In the beginning, it may be very tiny.  Smile at someone.  Hold a door open.  Speak a kind word.  Each thing positive.  After awhile, the desire to change and grow promotes something a little more complicated, a little more personal.  The kind thing may be doing a chore for someone who can’t, sending a card or text, choosing a special gift that would be particularly meaningful.

A break is made in the negativity–even if only for a moment.  Positive actions create positive emotion that reinforces positive thought.  One day at a time.  One kind thought,  one positive emotion, one good deed.

Thoughts Matter

July 6, 2017

In the bible it tells us to bring every thought into captivity.  What does that mean?  Jesus also said our actions, good and evil are preceded by thoughts.  I always thought this meant don’t plan evil things, don’t plot revenge, and the like.

Later on in my life I learned thoughts mean a whole lot more.  How we reflect on the realities of our lives, the “spin”, so to speak, that we put on things that happen, the meaning we attach to things that are said or done, make a difference in us.  Our thoughts create our emotions.  If we think we are being attacked in some way we feel emotions of fear and/or anger.  If we think we are doing well we feel emotions of peace.  If we have pleasant encounters we feel emotions of love and happiness.  And so on.

Emotions have an effect on us.  Emotions, particularly strong ones, change our biochemistry.  We know fear and anger raise our level of stress hormones affecting our blood pressure and our hearts.  Grief and loss lower our immune system response.  But longer term emotions, buried emotions and the like apparently do things to our chemistry too.  Whole new fields of study are emerging in medicine involving the mind-body connection. Clearly, thoughts have consequences.

How can I change my thoughts?  They seem to come in without invitation, and they romp and play in my mind on their own.   I have to learn to be aware of what I am thinking.  If I, as a follower of Jesus, want to make love my greatest aim, then I must re-frame my thoughts to be loving towards people, and full of faith, trust and thanksgiving toward God.  This is something I can do in prayer as I examine what I have been thinking, and intentionally renew my thoughts.

Miserable and Thankful

July 6, 2017

It was really hard doing the necessary garden work in July.  I was hot, sweating, nauseous and tired.  I really felt like grumbling all the way through it.  Then I remembered something I saw about first world problems and third world problems.  This was definitely not a problem!  Getting food is a problem–not weeding the vegetable garden which only supplements our groceries.  We actually have a garden.  Lots of people in drought stricken places can’t grow anything.  We own our garden–and the land it sits on, and the house next to it.  We have our own home and a piece of land to call our own.  How many people can say that?  Owning a home entails responsibilities, but this is small compared to not having a home, or maybe not having shelter at all.

I decided to be thankful, and while I was at it, I found myself looking back on my life at God’s faithfulness to me over the many years I’ve lived.  Sure there have been hard times.  There have been times when we did not know where our next month’s rent was coming from, times when illness struck fear, times when a beloved one died, and other times of loss.  But God always saw us through.  God is faithful, and thinking thoughts of thanksgiving changed my whole attitude and my whole day.  I wiped my face, the job was finished, and my thoughts redeemed the hot, sweaty, miserable time.

Guilt

July 6, 2017

We all have it–guilt I mean.  What to do about it?

There’s reasonable guilt and false guilt.   Reasonable guilt means we did something wrong and we know exactly what it is.  We can also have guilt for a bad attitude.  Again, we know what it is, and we know what we should do about it–like forgive someone, have compassion on someone, quite being hateful, etc.

False guilt is when we aren’t sure why we feel guilty–we just do.  It might be a relationship that failed or an endeavor that ended badly.  We can’t let go.  We keep thinking we maybe could have done better, we might have missed something.  False guilt usually involves something we really had no control over, not something we did or didn’t do and we know what that is.  False guilt involves giving ourselves more power than we actually had, and then blaming ourselves because things didn’t turn out the way we thought they should.  A sad example is survivors guilt.  Surviving after someone else committed suicide, surviving after someone else in the same accident or incident did not survive, and so on.  It is ultimately blaming ourselves for not being in control, where it was never possible.

What to do about guilt?  Really, the what to do part is the same regardless of the type of guilt.  Go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to show you who you must apologize to and to whom you must make amends.  Do that.  Then let go and give it to the Lord.  He will redeem the situation eventually.  We can’t see or know how He will do that, but we trust He will.  When Jesus died, He paid the price to redeem all the sin and all the consequences of life in a sinful world.  By redemption, He turns everything–the good, the bad and the ugly into something beautiful, eventually.  We have to let go of our part from this moment on.  We can’t change what is past, we can only live the best we can from this day forward.  With God’s help we will.

How to Find Your Calling

January 24, 2017

It was once estimated the majority of people are unhappy in their occupation.  If it were possible to start over, most would choose differently–making it wise to choose correctly the first time.  How do you know where to begin?

There are basically 4 things to know about yourself:

  1.  What am I good at?  There are all sorts of vocational aptitude tests.  The Armed Forces ASVAB is given at many high schools and gives students a starting point when choosing further training.  Life experience may point out areas where we perform much better than average.
  2. What are my interests?  While we usually like what we’re good at and vice versa, oftentimes within our aptitudes are more than one interest area.  We will be much happier if we are operating within our interests as well as our strengths. Interest inspires us to learn more and excel further.
  3. What do I feel passionate about?  We often have areas that excite as well as interest us.  I may be interested in science, but passionate about animals, or plants, or medicine.  Past experiences may have me wanting very much to do something in a particular field.  For instance,  I may have a “cause” I care about because of something I saw or lived through, or that affected someone I loved.
  4. What is my basic personality?  Do I like to work with people, things or ideas?  Am I an introvert or extrovert?  Am I a leader or a follower?  Do I like to work with structure and routine, or am I highly spontaneous?  Do I like procedures or am I highly creative? All these things can help a person decide on specific areas within a field.  For instance, just within the medical field there are areas that will fit any personality type from the solitary researcher to the emergency room personnel, and things in between.  Someone who loves science yet finds the research lab too quiet, may enjoy pharmacy.  Someone who needs lots of drama and excitement might prefer the Emergency Department to routine operating room areas.  Someone who is highly creative might enjoy the inpatient mental health unit, or if artistic, the plastic surgeon’s world.  The possibilities are endless, but wherever one explores, it is important to find out what “a day in the life” consists of, and what personality traits are called into play.

Happy searching!  Its important as a young person to try on different roles to see how they fit.  This can be done through volunteering or “shadowing” someone working in a field that interests you.  Ask lots of questions and imagine yourself doing this work.  Don’t just do something because you admire someone else who is doing it.  Do it because you see yourself doing that job with confidence and joy.

Politics and Religion

January 23, 2017

I couldn’t help but marvel at the passion of the inauguration weekend.  I hadn’t seen so much emotion in 40 years at least.  I see government has become a god for many people–what they look to for significance, protection, care, security and so on.  And politics has become the new religion.  I can’t help but wonder if people loved God with the same passion and loved their neighbor with the same intensity, what kind of a world there would be.  I think of Mother Teresa multiplied by the 2 or 3 million who demonstrated, and wonder what would happen if those who count on government to help the poor, or who focus on ideology or sectarianism exchanged that for simple love and selfless service.

A Prayer for Christmas

December 20, 2016

Lord, it seems somehow selfish or greedy to ask you for a gift on Christmas.  After all, you have already given us everything you had when you came to earth as a man to live and die and redeem us.  But the gift I would ask honors you.  I would ask that you give a renewal of hearts to this earth for Christmas.  Warm our hearts with love for Jesus and each other.  Change us to be less about ourselves and more about you.  Give us insight into your heart’s desires, into what matters most to you, and let us model our lives around that.  Let their be conversions in high places this Christmas.  Let your spirit overshadow all the great ones of this earth.  Warm their hearts with love for you, and compassion for their fellow man.  Let these conversions be the kind that makes all take notice.  Drastically change the most unlikely of us–as the fictional character Ebeneezer Scrooge was forever changed by his night visions, yes, and even more like the apostle Paul was changed on the Damascus Road by an encounter with you.  We need these things so much, Lord, and ultimately they will bring you glory, when these people who live for self and not for you, change to transparently show love for you.  Let the warmth of love that brought us Christmas descend on this cold world like a blanket and warm all our hearts, Amen.

The Gravity of Christmas

December 19, 2016

Last week someone asked me why I thought the Old Testament was so harsh concerning the Law and Sin.  After a lot of thought, I believe it is so we will appreciate the age of grace which the New Testament reveals.   The Old Testament was so hard, it required the death penalty for some sins and animal sacrifice for others.  Many sins required blood atonement.  And we wonder, with the Age of Grace to come just a few centuries later, why was God so adamant about punishing sin severely.

Our culture doesn’t understand this because America and the West of the 21st century wink at sin.  We joke about adultery, other sexual sin, and our sexuality in general.  And yet, God considers sexuality, and particularly marriage and procreation to be his greatest masterpiece.  He considers marriage to most resemble his own heart.  Think about how we value our human artistic masterpieces.  They are surrounded to guards, alarms, and in some cases represented by replicas because the originals are locked away–considered too irreplaceable to even be displayed.  But what do we do with God’s Masterpiece of marriage and procreation?  It is like launching paintballs at the Mona Lisa and laughing while we do it.  We have lost so much sense of what is sacred and holy.  We have lost our ability to fathom the vastness, greatness and otherworldliness of God.

Only when we read in the Old Testament of God’s righteous indignation at the disastrous damage we do to his Holy Order, His Magnificence, His Beauty, do we even begin to appreciate all He did in restoring us, ransoming us from evil, and extending grace.  Otherwise His grace seems cheap to us and we fail Him all over again in not valuing the greatest of gifts.