Scared to even utter the name Jesus Christ?

1Earlier this month in Kenya when Muslims had left the university to head to the mosque for their morning prayers, Al Shabab attacked and killed almost 150 Christian students still at the school.

Last year 3,000 Christians in Mosul, northern Iraq were told over loudspeakers to convert to Islam, submit to its rule and pay a religious levy, or be put to death if they stayed. 2The last to leave was a disabled woman who could not travel. The fanatics arrived at her home and told her they would cut off her head with a sword.

Two years ago, Saeed Abedini, 33 years old and a pastor at Boise’s Calvary Chapel Church, was accused of trying to convert someone to Christianity and sentenced to 8 years in a Tehran prison where he languishes today. Abedini had traveled to Iran to visit family and help build an orphanage there.

3Many of the comments that followed the article in the “Boise Weekly” mocked both God and Abedina, suggesting he should “have kept his mouth shut about Christianity.

Today Christians everywhere are being exhorted to “keep their mouths shut” about their faith. Everywhere I go, from public forums to social media forums, whenever someone speaks or posts anything Christian, the taunts, mocking, insults, hatred and the inevitable “take it somewhere else” trail the post like some sad yet revealing commentary on just where the world stands today on the subject of Jesus Christ.4 “We will NOT have this man to rule over us,” Luke the physician and one of those who accompanied Jesus during His 3 ½ years’ ministry wrote of a parable Jesus taught them.

Jesus said to His faithful followers, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 5But today people are afraid. They are afraid of what their friends might think, they are afraid to speak up at work and risk losing their job, they are afraid of possibly being mocked, taunted, and ridiculed if they speak for what they believe. So instead, many are quiet, hiding behind a veil of “this is my personal faith and I don’t want to offend anyone by saying so….” Thus their faith becomes a well-kept secret and in many cases their friends, even family might be shocked to learn that they had a relationship with Jesus Christ at all!

Jesus said this: “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

8But sometimes the first hint of persecution and Christians slink away after apologizing for their offense, careful never to broach the subject again. We were warned what would happen at the end of this age, just before Jesus Christ would return: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” When I read the comments and posts on social networks, the vast majority of those posts reflect this admonition perfectly. People have indeed become unforgiving and arrogant, lovers of pleasure and money, wanting nothing whatsoever to do with the things of God.

So what should we do? None of us want to ridiculed, or jailed, or murdered for our faith. Pray. Pray that the Lord will give us the strength to stand. The Lord said, “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.” Our courage comes from God. Seek Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, ask that He fill you with His strength “that whenever we speak, words may be given to us so that we will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel,” and in so doing perhaps save people from eternal damnation. If ever the time has come, it is now, it is today. Lord bless and strengthen you all. Amen.

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Did Jesus Claim That He is God?

Did Jesus Claim That He is God?

0Only God can forgive sin. When Jesus did so the religious rulers were incensed. Yet He pointed out it would be easier to heal the lame man on mat than to forgive sins. He said this because He knew the suffering, humiliation, agony and death that would be required to forgive men their sins. (Mark 2:5). No man has ever raised someone from the dead as Jesus did when Lazarus had been dead several days and ensconced in his tomb (John 5:25-29). More importantly, directly and to the point, He claimed to be honored as God (John 5:18, 23) as well as to be equal with the Father (John 10:30).

John 8:58 states, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.'” This “I Am” reference is made in connection with Exodus 3:14 when God revealed His name to Moses at the burning bush as “I Am.” Jesus’ statement is a claim for the deity of Christ.

1Jesus claimed to be Yahweh God, the same God of Israel from the Old Testament. This included His claim to have eternal glory with the Father (John 17:5), His claim to be the first and the last (Revelation 1:17), His claim to be judge of all humanity (John 5:27), His claim to be the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), His claim to be the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1; Isaiah 62:5), and His claim to be the light of the world (John 8:12; Psalm 27:1).

Jesus also claimed to be the Messiah God. This is evident in many of the titles attributed to Him in the Old Testament that are referred to in the New Testament. These include reference to Jesus as God (Psalm 45:6 and Hebrews 1:8), Lord (Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 22:43-44), Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9 and Mark 14:61-64), and as Messiah (John 4:26). These references affirm the biblical deity of Christ.

2Further, Jesus accepted worship as God. Though the Old Testament commanded not to worship anyone but God alone, Jesus accepted worship on many occasions. Some of these included the healed leper who worshipped Him (Matthew 8:2), the ruler who knelt before Jesus after his son had been healed (Matthew 9:18), the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:25), the mother of James and John (Matthew 20:20), and a demon-possessed man (Mark 5:6). The disciples even prayed to Jesus (Acts 7:59) and in His name (John 14:6; 15:7).

And lastly, Jesus’ followers recognized Jesus as God. They called Him God on multiple occasions (John 20:28; Colossians 2:9), referred to Jesus by other names used only of deity, such as Savior of the world (John 4:42), and prayed to or worshiped Jesus as part of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). John taught He was with God in the beginning as “the word” and that “the word was God” (John 1:1).

3While the New Testament never makes the direct statement “Jesus is God,” it is clear that He is referred to as deity in a variety of ways. Colossians 2:9 confirms, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (See also Philippians 2:6). Those who claim Jesus never referred to Himself as God deny many clear statements in Scripture (such as John 14:6). The deity of Jesus is biblical. Jesus is God, the second person of the Triune Godhead, consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If you have a red letter Bible, indicating Jesus speaking, make note of the following if you’re not yet convinced that Jesus is indeed God:

4“Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!”

Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.”

“No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”

5“…that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he then said to the paralytic–“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God…”

He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

“For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

“The Father and I are one.” Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?” They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd….My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

“…he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him…. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

“…behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

6Even though you will not find certain words in the Bible (trinity, rapture), nor certain unequivocal claims, you must take the preponderance of evidence to determine what is meant when you compare Scripture upon Scripture and examine the totality of the book from Genesis through Revelation. There is indeed a triune God, three distinct persons in the Godhead. When Jesus was being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove while His Father spoke from heaven, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The evidence is persuasive and can be summed up in this: “I have come in the volume of the Book as it is written…even so Lord Jesus, come quickly…I am the Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End. Our King of Kings and Lord of Lords will soon be returning and will rule and reign for 1,000 years on earth from Jerusalem.

Time to give up on Christianity  

1I know you dearly want to hold on to your fairy tale, mainly because it just sounds nice. But there is no God, and there is no Savior. Worse, the Christians are the main source of all of the problems in the world today. From the corruption in the church to the Crusades, the only things Christians have managed to do in their imposition of their unreasonable and unscientific worldview is to wreck havoc on the rest of us. But I won’t leave you alone; I won’t orphan you so that you have no security blanket. I am here to offer you several excellent and acceptable alternative worldviews that can be embraced; all having far more merit and credence than does Christianity.

2First, and probably the best choice, is to reject the notion of a celestial dictator altogether. The brightest among us, scientists and philosophers alike, are learned and intelligent enough to have determined that no God could possibly exist, especially the God of the Bible. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, science has proven that as a fact. The Bible is full of errors, inconsistencies, and fables such as Jonah being swallowed by a large fish, prophets calling down fire, a worldwide flood, the Red Sea being parted, and the craziest notion of all: that God would become a man and leave His so-called celestial throne only to be humiliated, taunted, tortured and executed. What kind of King would allow such a thing as that? Is that your idea of an all-powerful God? It is certainly not mine.

3But if you are weak and atheism is not your cup of tea, there are several reasonable religions from which to choose. If I were a weaker vessel as you may be, I would adhere to Islam. The main reason is that people are fighting for a cause, and that always brings out the heroic in men. If you are brave enough and strong enough to annihilate the enemies of your God, all of your friends and family, indeed the world will see you as a man’s man, someone willing to stand up to evil without fear of death. But if Islam doesn’t quite fit your idea of a religion you can endorse, then I can recommend several other good ones: Hinduism. At least Karma you can control. Your good works can outweigh the bad stuff you may have accidentally done, right? Or any numbers of groups that are not foolish enough to think that an eternal Son of God would become a man in order to save us…save us from what exactly?

4Lastly, if your parents are putting pressure on you – to attend their Christian church — and you love them too much to hurt their feelings – you can certainly go to your church, I can’t stop you. But don’t keep calling things that are good – evil, when in fact it is the reverse. Same sex marriage is as right and acceptable as marriage between a man and a woman. Stop discriminating! Aborting an unborn child is the right of every woman to have her say and control over her own possession: her body. And stop – please stop – dangling people over the pit of some fictitious place called hell. Do you really think a loving God, if He did exist (which I personally declare unequivocally that He does not exist)… would He send people to a place of eternal suffering? Do I look stupid to you?

6So get your life in order. You do not need God. You need you — and you alone. Stand strong, be positive and optimistic. Motivate yourself to become all that you know you can be if only you will conquer your fears and step out, never accepting defeat, never quitting. Be the master over your own destiny, be a man! The fact of the matter is this – and I leave you with this one thought to ponder – if there really is a God, guess who He is? He is you my friend, yes YOU!

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Sincerely yours,

 

Lucifer, Son of the Morning, Anointed Cherub, Prince of the Air.

Why I am Christian

Growing up in rural Wisconsin in an area that could have been part of the shooting for the film “Deliverance,” I often sat and wondered about why I was even born. We all do. My mom had 8 kids and we were dirt poor. My father came off a farm and started a construction business with equipment that was held together by hope and duct tape.deliverance-3

My mom was a Lutheran and dad was a Presbyterian, suffice to say their differences largely centered on the concept of pre-destination (Calvin & Luther). Looking around the church at the people only a step from the grave and listening to the pastor talk mostly about social and community issues, I stopped going to the Presbyterian Church as a young teenager. It all seemed to me to be the handiwork of men with wild imaginations and a desire for their name to live on as someone historically significant.

In college I studied world religions and also loved learning science, especially physics and mathematics. Of the world’s religions I tried to understand the basis for Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, largely because they had all been around for centuries. Anything that some man created in the past several hundred years was easy for me to dismiss. Indeed after reading the incredible claims of some of these erstwhile religions, I wondered if as a people we had all gone completely mad.Education

Though not a scientist, Charles Darwin’s observations in the Galapagos quickly gained traction among the scientific community. From Lucy to the Hobbits of Flores Island, all the pieces of evolution began to fall into place to explain the puzzle of life.

LucyBut I think the part that first began to trouble me most regarding the Theory of Evolution were mathematical models of probabilistic combinations and permutations constructed to measure the changes over time through the various stages in evolution. Darwin didn’t know what we know today about the complexity of something as “simple” as the basic cell. So to deal with the remote probabilities to achieve such complexity the Theory of Evolution introduced two postulates (prerequisites for the model to work): First, the Principle of Uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism underpinned evolution, asserting that over a long period of time, very long period indeed, things just kind of stayed on track without major interruption. This is needed because cataclysmic intervention, the kind that doomed species to extinction, would necessarily require a reset of the clock. Secondly, as the complexity of life forms began to emerge, the mathematics of the combinations and permutations required a proportionately longer period of time to explain how things became so amazing today.

Over my lifetime the science books continued to expand timeframes exponentially, from the life of the universe to all creation therein. So given enough time and mutations, we achieve what we see around us today. Unfortunately life forms are becoming more complex, not less, as we continue to learn more about them. So time needs to be extended accordingly. As the time frame heads toward infinity, in a mathematical-probabilistic equation, the possibility of having this complexity can be explained. But here is the rub: If you need to approach infinity in order to get possible mutations sequenced in the order required for advanced complexity, then it is also tautological to say that the probability of these complexities developing through evolution approaches zero as the time requirement to make them work approaches infinity. And Uniformitarianism? I think the fact is that we have experienced several major cataclysmic events, one meteor perhaps so large that it knocked our earth 23 degrees on its axis. Today the earth literally wobbles its way around the sun in an elliptical trajectory.

So I lost faith in evolution but was now faced with a real dilemma. I scoffed at man-made religions, thinking all of them incredulous, even ridiculous to the point of insulting our intelligence. And my friends who were atheists believed religion helped people deal with the unfairness of life – a two-year-old suffering and dying of leukemia for example. Good logic right? So for atheists religion served a purpose. But for me I didn’t need it. I wanted to see how far my own search would take me.  I wanted to get as close to truth as I possibly could, however painful this truth might be.

So I began to study the Bible as a textbook without any religion. As I came across historical events I also took a look at secular history (e.g. Josephus) to see if these things happened according the accounts in the Bible. I learned that even the Jews believed in a historical Jesus (not His claims about Himself however), and that Jews, Muslims and Christians alike believe the Torah (books of Moses) right up to the point of Abraham. After Abraham’s two offspring, the Jews and Muslims go in different directions, and after Jesus (essentially the New Testament) the Jews and Christians go in different directions. Interestingly other long-time religions such as Buddhism had many of the same admonitions and advice that I found in the Bible. Many parallels. “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you,” is just one of these parallel admonitions.

So Jesus was a real person after all, indeed our very calendar is split based upon His birth. Next step was to see what people said about Him. Probably the most striking historical account was that all of the apostles except for John died a horrific death for holding to the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. These were eyewitnesses who instead of accepting torture and inevitable death could have denied the events and saved their lives. Apparently holding to the truth of their convictions, supported by their witness, was the better choice than denying what became of Jesus two thousand years ago. Our own system of jurisprudence would authenticate the veracity of these claims the apostles made.

I spent many years searching, questioning, checking, doubting, verifying. I finally came to my own conclusion. God is — and Jesus was — the only begotten Son of God, coming in the flesh for no other purpose than to die for our sins so we could be reconciled back to our Creator and spend eternity with Him. I would challenge anyone to read the Bible, cover to cover, all 66 books written by roughly 40 authors from Genesis through Revelation. If you will do so and then still reject Jesus as Savior, I defer to you and have nothing but respect for the views you hold.r_mann