Posts Tagged With: Atheist

Put It On The Devil’s Bill

Perhaps you’ve heard the story about the spry Christian missionary woman who retired to Virginia. Living alone at her rural home, nestled in the foot hills of Appalachia’s Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Roanoke, she enjoyed her golden years in fellowship with God. As a woman of deep faith, her prayers were copious; she and Jesus had many conversations, discussing everything in life. 

This vibrant widow woman made a habit of praying out loud each morning, while stationed on her front porch overlooking a beautiful mountain meadow, dappled in wildflowers. Heedless of her advancing years and petite form, she had a robust voice that reverberated through the mountains and valleys. 

To the south, the prayer warrior’s property adjoined a neighbor’s lot where an avowed atheist, a sexagenarian, had recently moved in. It didn’t take the man long to tire of the daily irritation—hearing the widow’s morning praises to the Almighty. So, he began to push against it. 

The first time it happened was on a sultry Tuesday morning that sported a commanding sunrise. Standing beside the front porch post, she began to pray. “Oh Lord, what a beautiful day you’ve given us! Thank you for revealing such splendor that You have created. I praise you Father, for you’ve provided everything I could possibly need.” 

Suddenly the atheist’s voice sounded with contrived laughter from his concealed position behind a hedge.  “Aha-ha-ha-ha—there is no God! You’re just talking to the air.”  

But the woman simply kept praying. “Lord Jesus, please grant my neighbor faith. Bless him real good. Take the blindfold off of him and let him see.”  

Further irritated, the atheist went back inside, only to return the next morning, shouting the same words, “Aha-ha-ha-ha—there is no God!”  

This went on for many days, but one morning the heathen thought he’d found a crack in the woman’s joy-filled armor.  

She had prayed, “Heavenly Father you are so very faithful. Thank you for your tender mercies. You, Lord, have always provided me with all I could possibly need, and even those secret things I wanted. Father, as usual, the bills are all paid, and You’ve given me this wonderful home and clothes. But this month is different, because I have no money left to buy groceries. I know that You, Lord, will provide somehow, just as You always have.” Her prayer continued with praises and talk of her past work and her family that was mostly all in heaven now. 

Oddly, her difficult neighbor did not shout his usual diatribe against God—he simply went back inside.  

As the sun rose the next day, the widow came out onto the porch to offer her morning praises. There, sitting on the porch were five bags full of a variety of food. Instantly, she began to thank and praise God. “Oh, holy Father, you are such an awesome God! Thank you, Lord for providing these groceries…” 

 Once again, she heard her rival taunt. 

“Ah-ha-ha-ha,” roared the neighbor, this time bursting through the hedge to stand akimbo in front of the woman.  “I bought you those groceries, Lady! You see, I told you, there is no God.” 

Without missing a beat, the woman simply continued her prayer. “Oh, this is so wonderful, Lord. I thank you for providing all of these wonderful groceries…and You even made the devil pay for them! ☺

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What an inspiration it is when we meet people of great faith like the widow woman in our story—what great power we witness in their lives. Her story came to mind as I read about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. 

We’re all familiar with the Christmas story and all the characters involved: the inn-keeper, Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus, the shepherds in the field watching over their flocks, heavenly angels, and later on the three wise men from the East. And we even remember ‘Herodes Magnus’, Herod the Great, infamous for the slaughter of the innocents. 

Interested in knowing more about the three wise men—the magi, I dug into a bit of a word-study. The word “magi’ is from the Greek ‘magus’, from which our word “magic” is derived. Technically these three who visited Jesus’ family were practitioners of foresight into the future, usually, the immediate future. We also know from the bible as well as from many fine historians, researchers, scholars and biblical detectives that these three wise men were astrologers…not to be confused with astronomists. This point does have its detractors. Some people reject the idea simply because they think the wise men had to have been righteous men, which is not at all necessary for God to use them in the way that He did. There are multitudinous examples in the bible of God using heathen idolaters and terrible sinners to advance His grand plan. Besides, all of us are born into sin. 

We’ll get back to these particular astrologers momentarily, as the need for a word of caution about astrology is profoundly needed here. 

Astrology is the earliest recorded type of formal, systematized idolatry—the same thing was practiced by the people who’d gathered together in biblical Shinar, aka- Babylonia, to build the Tower of Babel. Perhaps it would not be improper to call the Tower of Babel the first elevated observatory to the heavenly constellations. Could that have been the birth of astrology, some 4200 years ago? Some historians believe astrology to be only 2400 years old. I’m still digging, but I think the older date might hold true. For now, I’ll forego stating it dogmatically. 

What we know for certain is that in Old Testament times, kings from every nation, with the exception of Israel, would not go into battle before checking their fortune in the stars—they hoped for the heavenly luminaries to portend victory in their conquests. All across the known world people idolized the sun, moon and stars, and presaged their futures from them, encouraged through the subtlety of Satan’s agents of darkness. The spiritual realm is quite real, so, of course, there’s real supernatural power there. Two sources of supernatural power, that’s all there are—God, and the fallen angels, led by the Prince of Darkness.  

Today, people think reading their horoscope is harmless fun. But be advised, God forbids it and warns of the dangers associated with astrology, also called horoscope. It’s probable that by looking to astrological signs we inadvertently give demons permission to attack our minds—to oppress, depress and deceive us. An apt name for it would be “horrorscope”, yikes! 

The spiritual realm is just as real, if not more so, than the material world of matter, time and energy to which our earthly bodies are confined. But often in scripture, the veil between these two worlds has been pulled back so that a finite person could see spiritual things, places and beings. Prophets received knowledge of future events from God and His messengers. The heavenly angels heralded the birth of Messiah in spectacular audio-visual fashion. Evidently, fallen angels or demons are also, in a limited capacity, able to see some future events.  

Now, let’s get back to our original topic. 

We know that Jesus’ mother and earthly father, Joseph were not among the aristocracy of their day. In fact, Mary and Joseph were considered poor, as evidenced by their offering of two young pigeons for the sacrifice instead of a lamb: recorded in Luke 2: 24. (See Leviticus 12:7-8 to see God’s directives concerning this sacrifice.) 

The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that the three magi gave to Jesus and His family were all extremely valuable commodities. It is my belief that God was providing for the material things Jesus’ family would need. God always provides for all His children, so certainly He’d provide for His only begotten Son.

We just never know when God may cause the devil himself to foot the bill.  

Categories: Christian Living, Devotional, The unexpected, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Killing an Enemy

ambush

The following true story covers one of the two shootouts I took part in. I was only 19 years old at the time, but was good at my job. Spiritually speaking, I was still as green as a Granny Smith apple, but the Lord has His ways of educating us. This ordeal taught me about how easy it is to be so very certain about something, and yet have a wrong perception altogether. It seems a lifetime ago…

Distinctive Sounds

 

The Red Georgia dirt had baked to a sweltering clay in the hot summer sun, making our feet sweat. Our platoon would pound out five mile runs in combat boots and full gear. Infantry training is grueling work, but committing thousands of new things to memory was the hardest part.

If we didn’t pay close attention, or were to forgot some critical piece of training, it could cost us our life, or the lives of others. We were learning how to fight and how to survive in a myriad of difficult situations. There was a lot more to this soldering thing than I had anticipated—so many things to know, some of which we couldn’t imagine there would ever be a need.

The instructor barked a question “What sound is this?”

“Swish, swish, swish.” Everyone remained silent.

“Tell em Sergeant,” the teacher ordered.

“That’s the sound of brush against the pant legs of U.S. fatigues,” he replied.

“You mean you can tell they’re American just be the sound?” I asked.

“Different countries, different uniforms, different materials. In Vietnam we learned this next sound well.”

“Swish, swish, swish.” As usual, I couldn’t keep quiet.

“Sounds the same to me, Sarge.”

“Listen again to both, and you’ll hear a subtle difference in the sound of brush against our uniforms, and the all cotton of the Vietcong’s.”

Amazingly, there was a difference. We learned to use all of our senses to their full potential. Eighteen months later, that listening skill would prove invaluable.

There are many night-time sounds along the Demilitarized zone spanning the border between North and South Korea, where our five man squad was on ambush patrol.

A strange insect that we called “kimchee crickets” made clicking sounds. I was on point, with all my senses focused on detecting any man-made sounds or smells. Our job was to catch North Koreans sneaking across the border to infiltrate the democracy in the south. Some of them have been successful in obtaining high-level positions in the South Korean government.

Trying to filter out the slight sounds of the men behind and to my right and left, in a wedge formation, we stalked a semi-wooded area around a known infiltration route. The crickets were clicking away when I heard two clicks that sounded slightly different. They were similar to the crickets, yet distinctly metallic clicks. And crickets aren’t made of metal.

I signaled a halt, and then flagged for a consultation with Sergeant Davis, an old combat veteran who had been serving as rear guard. Using night vision field glasses, we discovered three enemy soldiers escorting two infiltrators. They had heard us coming, and were lying in ambush, waiting. The clicks I had heard were the safeties being taken off of their AK-47’s and switched to automatic.

Sarge deployed us into a semi-circle around the enemy, and we caught them in a cross-fire. Bullets whizzed past my head like super-sonic bumble bees on a deadly mission. When the fire-fight ended, my friend, “Robert (Crash) Kolowitz,” was grazed by a 7.62 X 39 mm round. But that was our only injury. The communists didn’t fare as well; with two dead. We captured the would-be infiltrators and one soldier. That was in 1980.

Today, as the world keeps fearful eyes on North Korea and their god-like supreme ruler, Kim Jong-un, there are still firefights along the DMZ. It doesn’t happen often, and you won’t hear about them in the news. As far as the U.S. Army is concerned, they never happened at all. Politics!

My knees are paying a price for the abuse they took in the Army. Whenever I kneel down, each knee complains with a loud “click-clack”. But I imagine those clicks are a sweet sound to our Lord, as I kneel and thank Him constantly for bringing us safely through that ordeal. My knees might be rickety-clickety now, but I have an entirely new body waiting for me when I get to heaven.

Many nights I can’t sleep, thinking about those two soldiers that died, wondering whose bullets did that. Lord willing, I’ll never touch another gun. In North Korea, every young man is required to serve in the military, and those soldiers were only doing as ordered. The penalty for disobeying is death.

I’ve learned there are undercover Christians in North Korea, who face severe persecution and death because of their faith in Jesus Christ. The possibility horrifies me that maybe those two men…

Before you click over to the next web-page, how about saying a quick prayer for our men in uniform who fight for our freedoms? And then say a prayer for those we call “enemy,” who never had a choice in the matter.

Categories: Current Event, Faith, Military, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can Atheists Be Good People?

After one of our often spirited debates, a certain relative by marriage asked me to write an article on how someone can be a good person regardless of their faith, or lack thereof. As an agnostic with atheistic leanings I believe he, like many folks today, feel that they are good people. And by the world’s standard of what is good, he is correct.

As I pondered covering such a topic, I was rather loathe to do so, having had my own heart revealed to me in the light of God’s glory. I’m fully persuaded that every person on earth is quite flawed. However, after checking with the big boss upstairs, He’s disclosed the door to enlightenment which such a discussion can present.

As humans it would be quite offensive to say, “You are not a good person”. It goes against what we believe. And of course the prospect that we are not good people is repulsive. It just down right makes us feel bad. In fact if you tell a person they are not good, their response might reveal the truth of the statement.

I don’t like to see Christians acting unwisely and unkindly towards those who disagree with them. It is necessary for me to acknowledge that atheists and agnostics can be very nice people, charitable, and have a good sense of morality. There is no denying mankind’s capacity for doing good works separate from a belief and trust in God. That is a result of an innate awareness of good and evil (God consciousness), an inherent knowledge of good and evil which mankind received in the Garden of Eden. But to me that’s never really been an issue. By my fleshly perceptions atheists can be very good people.

Christians are not better than non-Christians based on their own merit. We understand that we are in need of God’s grace like all other people. But God views those who are saved differently than those who are not. Because the righteousness of Christ covers the redeemed. Note that it’s Jesus’ righteousness that makes me good in God’s eyes. Yet God loves all people regardless of their lack of faith. Christ died for my sins before I even committed them. Faith in and obedience to the Lord has to do with the restoration of mankind’s relationship with God, not His love for mankind. God loves you very much! But He must remain true to His nature of holiness and justice, because He is the epitome of good.

I do believe that a Christian’s motivation to do what is good becomes greater because of their love for God. They receive joy by pleasing Him. Their capacity for goodness is aided by the power of God sanctifying the individual. Therefore the Christian has a distinct advantage over the non-Christian for doing good, because they are following the one who is perfectly good. I do however, feel that when a non-believer comes to faith in Christ, that their capacity for love, and ability to perform good works becomes exponentially greater than before. They would then have the capability to be a better person than they ever thought possible. This, due to the enlightenment they’d receive by contrasting their goodness with that of the pure holiness they’d see in God. But mostly by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit who would then dwell within them. We must remember, it is God’s power at work within believers that makes them different. Therefore no Christian can boast of being good and doing good. It is God who does it.

However, let’s look at the difficulty with our perceptions of goodness from an earthly viewpoint.

Though I’m only five foot eight, God has blessed me with a great deal of physical strength. Pound for pound, I felt as though I was one of the strongest men around. Back then, my schedule allowed me to hit the gym in the middle of the day on weekdays. It was the time of day when the place was sparsely populated. Then I started coming in on Saturdays too, and the place would be packed. Making some friends, I found several guys who all weighed the same as me (within about five pounds). Was I ever in for an education!

A lot of them were stronger than me—most by just a little. But Jack was extraordinary. My eyes must have been bugging out of my head when I first witnessed his strength. After each three repetition set on the bench press, he jumped up and added two more forty-five pound plates, clanging the steel disks together. On his last set, he pressed five hundred fifty pounds for eight repetitions! Back then my one rep maximum was about 300 pounds.On every exercise, including dead lifts, squats and curls, he could lift twice the amount that I could lift. And do more repetitions.

Compared to Jack I was not very strong at all, and he was the same size as me. What amazed me even more was what he said.

“I’m not very strong compared to some other guys I know. They’re about the same size as us, and they can put me to shame!”

I went home a humbled man that day.

But this story as an analogy can’t hold a candle to the vast expanse between the goodness of homo-sapiens and the perfect paradigm of God’s goodness. The best person in the world pales in contrast with God’s purity and holiness.

It’s not all that difficult to be good enough for the world. The world’s standard is much lower than God’s standard. I think we’ve all heard, “Nobody’s perfect”. There’s lots of faithless humanitarians and do-gooders out there who spend themselves for the sake of others. And they accomplish countless good things. Only an idiot would say that you have to have faith to do good things and be considered a good person by the rest of the world. But that’s only the physical or natural world, which many times cannot even perceive its own corruption. Yes deeply egregious evils we recognize, but to God, the slightest flaw is egregious, because it introduces impurity.

Though housed in a physical body we are also spiritual beings, we do not cease to exist once fleshly life ends. God will hold us up in comparison to His righteousness. If there is the slightest flaw in us, then we are not fit to be in His holy presence. That’s why we need a Savior. As a Christian, I believe God when He says to trust in Christ Jesus alone to make me fit to be in His presence.

There is not a perfect person on earth. And if we are not perfect then we won’t make the cut. All the good works in the world won’t make a shred of difference in our admittance to eternal life in God’s loving presence. The kindest, the nicest and the most loving person on earth is not good enough. There is no way to earn salvation. The only escape from God’s wrath against sin is the way He has provided for us. It is by faith in the sacrifice He has made of His Son Jesus, to pay our fine for us.

God’s law states that the penalty for sin (being less than perfect) is death. But God can legally dismiss our case because He’s paid the penalty in our behalf.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Notice the severity of God’s judgment. Directly followed by His loving provision to negate the harshness of such judgment.

The escape from being judged by the standard of His perfection is a gift. It is received by accepting His gift in faith that God will honor His word. He then imputes the righteousness of His Son Jesus to us. In a sense, we borrow Christ’s perfection to gain acceptance. When our Savior returns He shall complete and perfect us so that we may dwell with Him forever.

By God’s standard none of us are good. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23) Yet, He wants to be with us, because He is a God not only of law and justice, but also of mercy and love.

The next verse (24) completes the sentence of Romans 3:23, and reveals the other side of God’s nature.

“(23) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

He has redeemed us from the death penalty that is upon all people. And because none are perfect by God’s standard, His love demanded He provide a way to save us. Then, when Christ returns, the redeemed will receive a new spiritual body, an eternal body which is no longer prone to sin and imperfection. We will be truly good as God created us in the first place, before disobedience, or sin entered the picture. Perfect and good—God’s kind of good.

By all means, to the best of your ability, continue to be good and to do what is good. Be a nice person and a kind, charitable and loving person. But don’t depend on your own goodness to save your soul from damnation. Accept the gift.

The more a person comes to discern spiritual truth the more they realize how far off the mark they actually are. Each year, God progressively reveals more things in me that need to change, as I strive for His standard of perfection.

I’d like to say I’m a good man. But I cannot do so in good conscience, because I know God.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

 

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