January 20, 2011

Land of Imagery

Buona sera. Tough call today. Do I discuss the effects of entropy on unstable radioactive isotopes, and then move on to point out that the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to both open and closed systems — or do I show another picture from Farmville?

Yeah, let's do the fun stuff.

I don't have a photo editor available at this computer, so I'll just give you some verbal discussions. This thing is full of symbolism. Perhaps people will be tempted to find some where it does not exist (there's a Cat Corral next to the villa on the left), but some things are placed for fun, or for convenience. You'll need to click on it for larger image, using your right-click and "Open in New Tab" or "Open in New Window". No, Norman. Right click. Your other right...

First, the big image: A cross. At the bottom is a gate in the hedge, and the gate is open. That means there is room for you at the foot of the cross. Near the center of the crop stuff is a lighthouse. Next to that is a sign, and my Farmville neighbors can see it, referring to Matt. 5.16 ESV: "Let your light shine before others". Near the lighthouse is the farmer character, which I call "Mini Me". He starts out there every time I go to Farmville, so he's not a part of the symbolism. Not on purpose, anyway. By one arm of the cross is a well (John 4.14). There are sheep near the cross (John 10.14-16). One of the sheep is "educated", and has a sign referring to Proverbs 1.7. Above the right arm is a fig tree, the subject of several references. At the upper left of the cross is a lamp post. Not a direct Biblical reference, but some people "get it". (Hint: "Is he safe?" Write if you really want to know.)

Outside the fence is a grove of olive trees, symbolizing Gethsemane. The ponds and things have nothing to do with symbolism. At the center of the bottom, partially obscured by the greened-out box is a schoolhouse. There's a sign next to that that says something like, "We home school. Welcome to Jesus Freak Church of Farmville".

I had big plans, wanting to put the cross in the center and do other stuff on the sides, but Mini Me would be on the cross, and that would look too tacky. So everything was thrown off. Still, I made my point. And I have some ideas to make it interesting for Resurrection Sunday...

January 15, 2011

False Christians (plus a scam)

Perhaps you'll think before you say that God is dead and gone
Open your eyes, just realize that he's the one
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate
Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it's too late. 
"After Forever" by Black Sabbath

Edited to remove distracting links and unnecessary verbage, Sat, 15 Jan 2011

Buon giorno. I have two sections to this article. Stick around and you'll learn something.

"Got an attitude today, Cowboy Azriel?"

You betcha. But then, that's one reason people come here, don'tcha know.

I have been reading and hearing about false Christians. There are three schools of thought of which I am aware:
  • People who made a profession of faith (and possibly still consider themselves Christian), but fell away and live like nothing ever changed for them. They were probably never actually saved, but simply had an emotional event.
  • Backsliders, or "carnal Christians" (Rom. 8.6 KJV) who said that they committed themselves to Christ but drifted (like I did for about fifteen years). These, too, may or may not refer to themselves as Christians.
  • People who are active in their church or religion, but have never actually committed themselves to Jesus. They are condemned and do not know it because they are unlikely to hear the actual message of salvation. This is similar to saying, "America is a Christian nation", but people are Christian in name only, and not actual followers of Jesus.
OK, enough background. One point that I want to nail into your head is that just because someone calls himself a Christian does not mean he really is one. I've read comments by anti-theists who say that Hitler was a Christian. Oh, please! How dumb can you get? Matt. 7.16.

Now tell me, since Black Sabbath did some songs with Christian themes, does that make them a Christian band?  When I was about twelve years old, I wanted to believe that. "After Forever" had a strong message. Added to that, "Lord of this World" took the point of view of Satan singing to the listener, including this message:
Your world was made for you by someone above
But you choose evil ways instead of love.
You made me master of the world where you exist
The soul I took from you was not even missed.
What more could a wishful-thinking young teenager ask? Of course, I was very disappointed when their next album had lyrics like "don't need no religion". I tried to make excuses in my mind, but failed. Anyone listening to the Black Sabbath live reunion album would not be able to even pretend that Ozzy is a Christian, what with all of the strong profanities.

OK, time to move on from Ozzy and company.

I received this in my e-mail from "Evangelist", about "your friend (Evangelist) in India". While I have made contributions, I do not have direct friends that are evangelists in India. It said:

Hope you are doing well and our warm greetings to you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ to you and your family. Now I bring to your kind notice that we have the 50 orphans and 40 widows in our place so I have been praying and hoping in God that I do something (to present new clothes and supply of food on the Christmas day) for them to the Christmas so it allows me to share the love of God with these beloved ones for this we need 500 $.(Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:7).  I kindly requesting you if possible please do help us to purchase the clothes and food items for the widows and the orphans. I need your help. Kindly please loan me 500 $ urgently to help us to purchase them.
 I will appreciate any amount you can quickly arrange and send to me via Western Union with the details below.

Name:     George. Velpula
Address: Evangelist
   Krishna District
   Andhra Pradesh-521185
 Please remember to send me full details of the transfer or scanned copy of the transfer receipt so that I can get he money here without any delay or problem.
Waiting for your kind reply
Thanking you
In Christ

Happy Christmas and Blessed New Year in Advance.
Uh, sure, Bubbles. The check is in the mail. Again, you know them by the lives they lead: Matthew 7.16.

Now, briefly, I will mention another point about "false Christians". Sometimes, it is a buzzword for atheists to use whenever they can find a fault (real or imagined) in someone that they have targeted. (I have been called something along those lines by an atheist before I had recommitted my life to Christ, and was making no pretense at being a Christian!) While it is true that you can know people by the lives they lead, it is irrational, illogical and just plain ridiculous to expect people to live up to some arbitrary standard. In the case of an obstreperous atheist, it is impossible to be "good enough". Especially since us Xtians is people, too. Even if we were perfect, we would not be good enough in the minds of some people.

The same goes for judgmental Christians, too! I'm going to do an article on the "Soldier" Weblog on this, but essentially: Just because someone does not live up to your standards, and is not as "holy" as you are, does not mean he or she is not a real Christian. We have different levels of growth, and we also make mistakes. Or, you could even be wrong about a requirement that you expect! As I stated above, Christians are people, too.

So, are you understanding what I am trying to say? Yes, there are false Christians in the world. They are pretty much "used to be" or "never was" (1 John 2.19) types, and their lives (and speech, Luke 6.45) are strong indicators of their spiritual status. Also, just because someone does not live up to a standard that someone has in their mind to judge over every little thing does not mean someone is a "false" Christian, capice? It is worth noting, however, if you call yourself a Christian and your priorities and affections are misplaced, perhaps you have a great deal of compromise in your life, you should examine yourself (2 Cor. 13.5). Perhaps you are not actually a follower of Jesus? You had better attend to that matter (Matt. 7.21-23)!

And now, for your listening pleasure, is a Christian metal band's remake of "After Forever":
After Forever by Deliverance on Grooveshark

"Deliverance", from the 1991 album What a Joke.

January 12, 2011

Changing Lives Again

In a previous post, I said that God is in the business of changing lives. When we humble ourselves and admit that we have sinned against a holy and righteous God (Rom. 3.23, Rom. 6.23), that we have a terrible destination awaiting us and ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives, we are changed (2 Cor. 5.17). When you are born again, it is instantaneous. No rituals, no magisterium, no earning it or keeping it by our own works. It is by faith alone (Eph. 2.8-9). Jesus paid our penalty on the cross (Gal. 2.20), and we have to receive him as our savior.

That is the short version. We are sinners until we become God's property and he changes us. Yes, we are changed instantly, but the process of growing in Christ is lifelong because we do not become perfect instantly.

But God continues to work in our lives. He does not solve all our problems (Jesus is not a cosmic bandage), but he is with us during them. Nobody has to be alone anymore.

In that other post, you saw John Schlitt's testimony of how he was a singer in the band Head East. He was such a junkie, that he was kicked out of the band and almost lost his marriage. After he gave his life to Jesus, things turned around for him. In fact, he was done with music. God had other plans, and he became the lead singer for the Christian rock band Petra.

Christians are the ones doing the "heavy lifting" when there are disasters (atheists have nothing to offer, and are doing nothing but criticizing Christians, and the cults of false "Christians" are not exactly doing much, either). Here is an example of what God's people are doing:
Haiti’s earthquake triggered a wave of international relief. More than 230,000 people died in the Jan. 12 quake. A million were left homeless. But thousands were spared because brave Christians ventured into the disaster zone to bring food, medicine and clothing, and to rebuild orphanages, clinics, churches and schools. Many relief agencies and churches are still working there to transform the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Compassion is alive and well.
Let's face it, people do not do things for other people on their own. At least, not large-scale and for extended periods of time. It's not natural. So, when the supernatural happens and God directs people's lives, good things happen.

In his broadcast "Let My People Think", Apologist Ravi Zacharias told an interesting story that happened in Colombia. I hope you can spare just over four minutes and hear it (original source here):

God can change your life as well, if you'll let him. All you have to do is repent of your sins, receive Jesus as the Lord of your life by faith alone and let God lead you. You can become a new person.

January 4, 2011

Changing Lives

Listen up. I know full well that there are people who claim to be Christians, but they live like the devil. (I have serious doubts that they ever were Christians, 1 John 2.19, Matthew 7.20-21.) For that matter, one reason that I went away from my faith for several years was because of false or nominal Christians, but never mind about that now. Like any group, there are members that do not uphold the beliefs and principles of that group. Especially if it's a large one. Seems to me that it has something to do with a simple problem, that of being human.

I'm saying this at the outset because there are people who will look for any excuse to negate Christianity, Christians, the Bible and God himself. You know the type: "I knew a guy that went to church and said he was a Christian, and he was caught stealing money". So? That means he had problems, not that God is fake. The exception does not invalidate the whole, and the exception does not become the rule.

I think I've covered the people that look for excuses to disbelieve. Now, on with what I really want to say.

God is in the business of changing lives, and his people are supposed to be going about their business of proclaiming the gospel so those lives can be changed. The short form is that if you humble yourself, admit that you have sinned, confess your sins and repent (turn away) from them, making Jesus the Lord of your life, you will be saved. And "saved" means that you will no longer be in danger of getting the justice you deserve in Hell. Instead, your place in Heaven is assured. You will become a child of God, adopted into his family.

None of this "I believe" intellectual assent nonsense. I'm not trying to just convince you of something, I'm trying to show you that you need to be committed to Christ so your heart can be changed and settle your eternal destination.

Even better, you will be transformed and become a new creation. As you grow in him, those rotten things you used to take delight in doing will lose their appeal, and their grip on enslaving you will be loosened. You life on earth can change if you let God have his way with you. If you want to discuss these things further, feel free to write to me, or use the links ("How to Get to Heaven" and "The Romans Road" links at the top right side of the page, and the "Good Person Test" in the right column).

John Schlitt was in the group Head East. He became such a druggie that he was a detriment to the band and got himself thrown out. Jesus made something of his life, and he became a minister by being the lead singer for the Christian rock band Petra (one video is here). I hope his story will speak to you.

January 3, 2011

Further Lessons in Logic

Buona sera. Decisions, decisions. Take the day off from this Weblog and work on another one that's overdue, post something very important, do something silly here — nah. I'll continue in a similar vein from yesterday's lessons in logic. Why can't people learn to think?

But first, I'll mention that the atheists in both of yesterday's examples refuse to admit error. That happens frequently, probably because they hate Christians so much, we cannot be allowed to be right, and God forbid (heh!), they cannot be wrong. (Just ask Norman. I'm wrong or lying, and he's right. Just ask him.) It's against the atheist code for an Xtian to be right, you betcha.

And now for something somewhat different. (Are these bits with the "highlighter" setting doing anything for you?)

I'll bet that atheists are glad that they get few, if any, of the sentimental religious stuff in their e-mail. I get quite a bit, and delete most of it (you'll see why in a minute). The rest of you, don't run off. This lesson in bad logic can be useful to everyone. (I wrote about the blackmail aspects of this over three years ago.)

It opens with this:

If I don't get this back, I will know you really didn't read it.

You know that I didn't read it how? If you don't get this back, all you know is that you didn't get it back. Don't go putting an argument from silence on it.

Too bad that the person who sent it to me did not know 10 people who would admit to knowing the Lord.

Some people needs lessons in thinking. Probably a product of American public schools.


First, STOP SHOUTING! Second, what if I'm busy or just don't feel like obeying your conditions?

After I cut out the poems and things, it concluded with,

They say if you pass this on, you will receive a miracle.

What miracle is that, Poindexter? Will AOL and Bill Gates share their fortune? No, that's a different e-mail. This one is worse, it turns the gospel of Christ into a superstition or wish fest. But also, it is a great demonstration of bad logic.

Addendum: This just in: 

Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways, meaning she  believed in doing the little things in life well and with great  love. She is represented by roses. May everyone who receives this message be blessed.
Theresa 's Prayer cannot be deleted.    

REMEMBER to make a wish before you  read the prayer. That's all you have to do. There is nothing  attached. Just share this with people and see what happens on  the fourth day...   

Sorry you have to  forward the message, but try not to break this, please.    

Prayer is one of the best free gifts  we receive. Read the prayer below.

Sorry, Selma, but this is too close to pagan superstition to please me, and degrading to the true gospel.

I hate it when "believers" act like that. If anyone wants to pass along something nice, then do it without the conditions or demands. And especially without the superstitions, capice?

January 2, 2011

Evolution (of Lies) In Action

Professing themselves to be wise,
they became fools.
—Romans 1.22

Twitter "Tweets" are public.

This will have two examples. First, I was in an altercation with some vicious trolls on Twitter on Christmas the day after Christmas (and I seldom use Twitter these days, as I have said before). Mixed in with those were some who wanted to have a detailed intellectual discussion (a bad idea on Twitter, which is designed to limit you to 140 characters). One made the outlandish statement that "animals are born atheists". Anyone who is capable of rational thought and is not brainwashed by propaganda can easily see the absurdity of that remark. And, it seems, so can the OP, because his comment appears to have been deleted.

But I can show you my response to his remark:

That's right, Buttercup, I called you on it. You made a statement that is nothing but faith — no, it is nothing but wishful thinking for your position, and I didn't let it fly.

Now, here is an example of a failure of logic (this guy was trying to talk it out, eventually):

No, it does not mean that. This is a faulty premise as well as rushing to a conclusion and skipping many steps. I do not want to pick on this Alex, but I think he is showing the faulty reasoning that the others used as an excuse for venomous  personal attacks.

Note that they were happy engaged in deriding the Xtian, and yet, they did not have evidence for their claims! I simply said that they cannot prove that animals are born as atheists. See what I mean, that hate stupidifies people? By the way, note that he capitalizes atheist, but refuses to capitalize the names of other religions.

For that matter, this "discussion" came about because of the article I posted asking the question, "Does Atheism Cause Brain Damage?" If you go on Twitter and read the vicious, hateful, profane rants of "theealex" (and possibly "Chaotic Neurons" as well), you will see that they may very well have answered my question in the affirmative.

(Also, their double standard is easily evident. It is perfectly acceptable in their eyes to attack Christians and ridicule our faith, but if someone even dares to question their position, their logic, their mental state — watch out!)

Further research is in order.

Wait, I do have some further research! Remember, I did say that I have two examples. Here is the second one.

I made a statement at Atheist Central (the link is furnished if you want to read everything in its entirely, but I think the highlights cover the matter well enough) that, "I know it infuriates you that many atheists have not only come to Christ, but are experts in defending the faith against the unknowing and poor thinking God haters."

So, Captain Howdy steps up. (By the way, what is it with atheists and military ranks?) Cap'n demands, "Name one Christian on this entire blog that started out on this blog as a professing atheist and has since been converted by Ray's arguments. Just name one, Stormbringer." Edit: This is a Straw Man fallacy, as well as an argument from silence.

My response: "Why should I? You are changing the discussion. Hey, here's an idea: Let people speak for themselves, since I do not know the heart and soul of everyone who has posted here since this Weblog's inception."

Remember, I said that I knew of atheists who became Christians and defenders of the faith. I did not say that I knew of them on Ray Comfort's Weblog.

Some other resident hateful types chimed in, but because they have demonstrated their viciousness as well as irrationality in the past, I ignored them.

This appears out of sequence on the Weblog, but Cap said, "Just what I thought." Edit: Argument from Silence fallacy in its full glory.

So, my refusal to let him change the rules in the middle of the discussion, and not fall for his bait, is proof that I am wrong? Cafone.

Cap also stated, "Well how about because your entire argument was based upon the idea that these people exist. Now you are saying that you don't actually know if any of these people exist, which invalidates your entire argument." Edit: Another Straw Man. He had some other stuff that was not worth quoting.

At the conclusion of my reply to this (I mentioned the first example of bad logic, shown above), I stated, "In both your case and his, putting words in my mouth, then saying that my argument is invalid, is, frankly, a lie. Where do people like you learn logic?"

He has not replied.  I am not going to be like these people and conclude that his lack of reply has any meaning, however. He may be replying right this minute, in two weeks (I will not be checking back), or not at all. Not than any excuse for putting words in my mouth will matter, nor will this demonstration of horrible logic lose its merit if he does reply.

So, if someone insists that Christians are inherently stupid (conveniently ignoring the great intellectuals and scientists of the past and present, by the way), it is best to use actual logic. Excuses for hate and ridicule are not logic, capice? See Romans 1.19-22.

If I'm wrong about something, fine. But don't lie about others to build up your own fragile ego.
Alex Botten

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