The journey of a nerd who loves the Lord

An Eternal Perspective

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A number of years ago, I received word that a beloved relative found out she had terminal cancer. I reached out to her, and her husband answered. I asked if I could talk to her, and he told me he would check. He returned and said, “She’ll talk to you, but she asks that you do not talk about religion.”

The request did not surprise me. While I rarely spoke with her about my faith in God, the few occasions that I did revealed the deep differences we had on questions such as the very existence of a deity. 

I replied that I understood and would respect her request.

She got on the phone, and I asked her how she felt. We eventually began chatting about finances. However, at some point, she abruptly changed the subject.

“I don’t understand how a loving God can send people to Hell, simply because they chose the wrong faith. I have met monks with more faith than any Christian I met! It makes no sense!” She continued to rant about exactly how she felt about the Christian idea of God. Wishing to honor what I agreed to earlier, I let her do so without interruption.  When she finally came to an end of her stream of thought, I responded, “You bring up some important points.  Do you want an answer?”

She did not.

I can discuss these particular concerns with anyone who sincerely seeks answers. In fact, I have written several blog entries on these issues. However, as the saying goes, “the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.” People do not want to hear the answers, because they want to live their way without a true challenge to their world view.

Anger towards Christianity, and the truths that God laid out, is nothing new. I have heard many atheists and agnostics echo the same sentiment that my relative did. Their anger defies logic for two reasons.  First, if one believes that God does not exist, why do you feel such anger? Who has offended you? Certainly, no one feels angry at Santa Claus, even though we all know he does not truly exist. No one writes books upset about the theology of the tooth fairy.

Second, and more importantly, in pondering this argument, one must consider perspective.

A parent tells a child that they must take a trip to the dentist. The child has a cavity and it must be drilled. The child cries; she does not want to go. She can only think about the pain, and does not understand why her mother insists on taking her to such a horrific place. She yells. She screams. She says she hates her mother. She may even believe it.  

Yet, the mother acts out of love. She knows that the pain is necessary. As an older, wiser, mature adult, the mother understands that this will ultimately help her child enjoy her adult years with a full set of teeth intact. The mother has a different perspective. Unfortunately, due to the child’s youth and limited view, the daughter cannot understand the reason they must take the trip, no matter how the mother explains.

With this analogy, we must ask a question. Assuming that God exists, is it possible that He has a perspective different than our own? Could His ways differ from our ways? Could His understanding vary from ours? And may it feasibly be something that upsets us? Personally, I not only believe in the possibility, but would think it likely.  

And if you can accept that premise, than you can also understand the problem of arguing against God. It would be the height of stubborn pride to shake one’s fist in the air and declare that you will not follow God because you do not agree with His direction. The road to hell is paved by such hubris.

None of this necessarily proves the existence of God, and only provides a small argument in support off the Christian God. Such a discussion exceeds to scope of this article. However, I hope everyone can see that the argument to walk away from God simply because one struggles to understand His ways, in and of itself, lacks any real logic. 

Given that, it follows that the Bible says over and over again that we need humility to come before the Living God. We need to understand not only our place before Him, but our own brokenness, before we can even approach Him.  If we do, we will find hope, love and forgiveness waiting for us. For He is rich in mercy to all who seek His face. Yet His wrath awaits those who continue to spur His Son.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” – John 3.36

As always, thank you for reading.  Please leave your comments below, or hit me up on Twitter at jcservant.  Thank you and God bless you.

Face Masks and Abortions

Salutations.

Those who have read my blog for some time know that I describe myself as logical, yet creative person. I love to write, imagine and draw, but I also enjoy math, solving problems and thinking through things. I came to my faith mostly through logical deduction rather than some deep, emotional need. And I constantly review other alternatives, including the modern day narratives our society tries to sell us. I often find the disconnects in logic simply appalling. Today, I want to share a more modern example of such a concern as I compare our society’s reasons for mandated mask wearing during COVID-19 to its reasons supporting a woman’s right to abortions.

First, let us consider the reasons behind mandating masks. Politicians often focus on what the scientists say about the subject, so I started there. This write up by the University of California San Francisco cites numerous sources for its view endorsing the widespread use of masks in public. I found some very useful takeaways from this peer reviewed journal written by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. In short, we have plenty of evidence to suggest that masks help. However, the paper admits that scientists do not know if wearing masks helps a little or a lot. There remains much we do not understand about the virus, including exactly how it spreads. Yet, I found the comments in their conclusion most fascinating.

UNESCO states that “when human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm” (94). This is known as the “precautionary principle”. The World Charter for Nature, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1982, was the first international endorsement of the precautionary principle. It was implemented in an international treaty in the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The loss of life and economic destruction that has been seen already from COVID-19 is a “morally unacceptable harm”. The positive impact of public mask wearing on this is “scientifically plausible but uncertain”. This notion is reflected in Figure 1 – while researchers may reasonably disagree on the magnitude of transmissibility reduction and compliance, seemingly modest benefits can be massively beneficial in the aggregate due to the exponential character of the transmission process. Therefore, the action of ensuring widespread use of masks in the community should be taken, based on this principle (95)

I have seen many posts from people expressing disdain, and even anger over ‘anti-maskers.’ And following the logic above, it makes sense. The ‘anti-maskers’ argue that forcing them to ‘mask up’ infringes on their rights. They find the mask a hinderance, and uncomfortable. Yet others would argue that one’s rights, such as they are, end when they place others at risk. Or, more to the point, citizens have an obligation to take certain actions if it reduces the risk of sickness or death in others… even if it intrudes on their ‘rights,’ costs money (for the mask) or causes inconvenience and discomfort. In fact, we should take such precautions even if we remain unclear as to the exact benefit, as long as we have solid ‘scientifically plausible but uncertain’ chance to avoid harm.

In fact, our government has asked us to make much greater sacrifices in the name of public safety. They have closed businesses, stopped gatherings and even limited constitutionally protected rights in an effort to slow the spread and death. And, mind you, the evidence suggests that the correlation between these government mandated lockdowns and an effectual slowing of the spread is tenuous, at best. Yet, they argue that even if it’s a chance to save lives, we must sacrifice our careers, freedoms and even constitutionally protected rights to do so.

This brings me to the point of the ‘pro-life versus pro-choice’ debate.

A while back, I wrote an article articulating how one could not defend the ‘right to choice’ with logic. If you have not read it, I implore you to do so, as it will help flesh out some of my argument here. In short, we all agree that one should not kill an innocent life. We do not know exactly when life begins. Between doctors, scientists and politicians, there remains little agreement. Therefore, we should not allow abortions, despite concerns about a woman’s perceived ‘right to choose,’ because the greater right, the right of an innocent to life, takes precedent. And where there’s doubt and debate on the subject of when begins, we should err on the side of caution and life. Again, I draw our attention to the quote from the scientific paper mentioned earlier.

“…when human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm” (94). This is known as the “precautionary principle”

And this brings us back to the earlier arguments regarding masks and lockdowns. How is it, we live in a society and with a government that demands we sacrifice so much when it comes to protecting the population against a disease with a rather low death rate, but we allow a woman and doctor to terminate the life of an unborn child because it’s ‘her body, her choice’? Either life is worth hard choices and sacrifices to protect, or it is not.

Of course, these are not quite direct comparisons. On one hand, we have a naturally occurring disease that we have to take action to slow down. We cannot stop it. We are asked to sacrifice to slow the spread so our hospitals can effectively treat people to save as many as possible. We are throwing millions out of work and suspending constitutionally protected rights for months (or longer) to slow a disease that has claimed nearly a quarter of a million people in the USA.

Conversely, an unwanted pregnancy asks a woman to carry a fetus to term and go through the pains of childbirth. If left to nature, the vast majority of the 647k aborted pregnancies’ (2016 state per CDC) would have lead to healthy child births.

It seems to me that a huge disconnect in logic exists in our society where it justifies and enforce one effort to potentially save lives, while allowing Americans to terminate over 50 million potential lives (since 1970). One might argue we’re working to save those we know, for a fact, are alive versus protecting those who may not be considered a life. However, I would fall back on the ethical principle outlined above. If we are to be consistent, as a society, in how we protect life where gray area exists, we must have a stricter approach to abortion.

With that said, I do not expect such a change to ever occur in my lifetime. After all, without God, we all seek our own pleasure and our own ends. We protect abortion because we do not want to cost, pain and hardship that comes with the responsibility of having a child at an inopportune time. Yet, we will fiercely fight for tougher government mandates to protect us from pandemics because no one wants to die. Conversely, God asks that we lay down our selfish desires, pick up our cross and follow Him. The road is hard and long. Inside, we all know that the right choices in life often involve sacrifice. Eleven of the twelve died for simply stating the truth. Yet, He promises to walk with us every step of the way.

Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to leave comments below or hit me up on Twitter. Thank you and God bless you.

Under Attack

My study of theology started back in the eighties. I recall reading numerous materials that predicated the ‘end of times.’ They described how the church would come under attack by the government which would also force individuals to take the ‘mark of the beast.’ I have never claimed proficiency in the matter of interpreting Biblical prophecy. However, I have studied plenty of history, and one pattern I identified early on stands out in my mind today. When any government goes to grab more power from the people, it attacks the church.

Yet, here we are. In the year 2020, our American government is doing everything possible to tear down our churches in the name of ‘safety.’ Our cry, as Americans, changed from “Give me liberty or give me death” to “Give me safety from virus even if it cost me my liberty.” As part of this new, social contract, many states have focused closure orders and incredibly challenging orders on church organizations. As just a small example, I have included a clip here as John MacArthur reads what the state of California expects from churches there.

As he points out, following those guidelines would effectively kill their organization. And, indeed, many other similar church have already closed their doors permanently.

Now, followers of my blog know that I have never carried the banner of support for institutional churches. Modern churches fall well short of the ideals set in the New Testament. At the same time, most claim to have the ‘best model’ of church either implicitly or explicitly. I have many concerns about the model of church western society used for the last two millennium.

Yet, even I cannot ignore these blatant attacks by our government to shut them down. And, while governments such as China or North Korea make any such gatherings illegal, our government has taken a more sinister approach by enforcing closures and strict requirements over an obscene period of time in the name of ‘safety.’

Some would point out that the government applies such pressure to all organizations equally in its quest to ‘squish’ the virus, but that idea falls shorts when one reviews the facts. In the states with the tightest regulations for churches, organizations such as liquor stores, abortion clinics and home goods stores work with much easier requirements (if any). The governments serve court summons to any church that dares to defy their ‘health orders’ while allowing groups to organize and protest in large numbers in any manner they see fit.

To see my country blatantly grab and stubbornly hold onto the constitutionally protected rights of its citizens breaks my heart. This kind of action, performed in the name of ‘safety,’ is nothing new. Again, study history of other nations, and how they took freedoms from their people and other egregious actions (including murder and genocide.) Those leaders always had a great ‘reason’ for their actions to pacify the people of the time.

One of the books I read back in the 80’s foresaw this possibility, and reviewed a ‘back to the Bible’ secret as an answer to this challenge. When persecuted, Christians in the darker ages met in homes. In fact, the Christian churches in China and North Korea have seen unprecedented growth over the last few decades even as they quietly meet in each other’s houses. Governments find it much harder to hunt down followers when they do not have a huge building-shaped target with a cross at the top.

Sadly, most Christians will not consider such radical approaches. They have somehow bought into the lie that they must remain apart from their siblings in faith to ‘stay safe.’ (Compare this approach with the disciples’ in the Bible. Did they put safety over spiritual/church meetings and following Christ?) They ‘attend’ church once each week by watching a broadcast and move on with the rest of their life. And, in that regard, Satan wins a decisive victory.

While this may seem dark and depressing to most, I end this entry with a silver lining. While we bemoan the dark times where government represses churches, we should take note of another fact. When the church is persecuted, God acts. In our weakness, He is made strong. We have seen the most explosive growth and the biggest miracles when facing our darkest times. The blood of the martyrs fertilized the ground for generations of faithful followers to grow.

This is your time.

Let’s Press Forward

Salutations.

I wrote my last blog entry months ago.  The ‘new normal,’ continues to change life for many people, myself included. The current conditions forced my company to lay off the vast majority of our workforce.  While those of us left certainly feel blessed to have a job, we also find ourselves trying to  carry the workload and responsibility once carried on by a full team.

Like most, I have also watched more than my normal share of news.  The government’s handling of the pandemic, the riots burning entire cities, the masses crying out for justice and natural disasters (I type this as my city experiences a blackout caused by 90 MPH winds) dominate the headlines. As the saying goes, if it were not for bad news, we would have no news at all.

It seems to me that we have entered a new, dark age. Free thought, comedy, satire and various forms of entertainment have been effectively silenced. After all, what kind of heartless soul laughs when thousands are dying in a pandemic? The person performing satire invites angry retort by those with differing points of view. Even sports, a popular form of diversion, has been seriously curtailed.  Where allowed, one cannot find true escape as leaders there feel forced to acknowledge challenges in society and politics before the games even start!

Clearly, higher powers want to ensure that we do not experience joy and happiness in these trying times. I have always known the media to drive a fear-based narrative. Years ago, I asked my wife to stop listening to the news because their constant fear-mongering caused ongoing stress in our lives. I feel that they do so because fear drives people to watch/listen/read more news, which, in turn, pays their bills. Also, politics seems to motivate many of the networks, as they push a narrative that only their candidate can fix the problems that plague us.

So, where does this leave us? As a country, we clearly have more struggles than ever before. Yet, for the Christian, these events must act as constant reminders that we are not home yet.  We are strangers in a strange land. When the news and media demands we pay attention and listen to them, we should get on our knees and listen to Him. When they internet and social media screams that we must read what it says, we should open our Bibles and read what Jesus says. 

We must remember that God warned us of events like this. And we asked us to not fear those who can destroy the body, but the spirit. Therefore, we have nothing to fear from COVID, the government, or even social media. We serve a God who reigns over the entire universe and lives from eternity to eternity. We serve the King to which all other kings will bow. We praise the LORD that every tongue will confess. Every knee will bow to Him! What should we fear when we serve the one who conquered death itself? 

It is time that Christians stop living in fear, and step out boldly for their God. Eleven of the twelve died standing up for their Lord in a cancel-culture that rivaled our own. In those times, if you preached the gospel that others did not like, you died in a most horrible way. They did. Yet, they did so with joy in their hearts for they knew who they served. They understood what treasure waited for them in the afterlife. They did not fear death, but looked forward to hearing the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  

Let us hold these truths in our heart, and push forward towards the prize God has called us for. 

Philippians 3:14, NIV: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

An audio recording of this blog is available here.

I tweeted the following this morning. About 1,000 shot each year by police in USA, 20-40% black (Source) . Over 10,000 killed by impaired drivers (Source). Over 850,000 abortions in 2019 (Google). When will the world see that we need Jesus? Recent events bring up a few different thoughts that I would like to share with those who care to read or listen.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias recently passed away, to be with His Savior whom he loved so much. I wanted to take a few moments out of my very busy and hectic life to share my thoughts on this man of faith, and his impact on my life.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Problem With Polls

Listen to this article here:

Salutations.

Up until mid-March, I spent little time actually watching news. About fifteen years ago, I gave up cable television in favor of focusing on other forms of entertainment and leisure. Enter the pandemic. Because this event impacts me directly, I have kept a close eye on developments via local and national news. For the last month or so, the news media has delivered non-stop coverage on the COVID crisis. They provide up-to-date infection totals and death rates as well as personal stories of tragedy and good deeds.

Read the rest of this entry »

On-Line Church?

Salutations.

Due to recent events, many states have asked churches to shut down all traditional gatherings and services done in buildings, to slow down the spread of infection. The vast majority have complied, moving to on-line services.  Read the rest of this entry »

LDS Handbook Pt 1

1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Brevity of Life

Salutations.

Recently, a famous basketball player passed away in a tragic flying accident. People everywhere mourn his death in different ways. Jeff Zillgitt at USAToday.com wrote,

A few quotes from last week keep coming back to me, all connected in some way to the fleeting existence of life, the importance of living in the moment and figuring out what matters.

I can certainly agree with his points.  Better yet, the Bible does, as well.


Psalm 39:4 ESV says, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!

James 4:14 ESV states, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

The psalmist writes in Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

BibleAs Jeff notes, life goes by quickly, like a candle that burns down in the night. Not only does it burn within a matter of a few, short hours, a single breeze can snuff it out well before its intended time. We must therefore choose today who we will serve and ‘live in the moment’ for we may not see tomorrow.

Joshua 24:15 ESV
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Matthew 6:24 ESV
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

And after we die, we are judged.

Hebrews 9:27 ESV
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Romans 3:23 ESV
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Thankfully, for those who choose to follow Jesus, eternal life awaits.

John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 10:9 ESV
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Let us take a moment or three to remember these important truths as we reflect on the brevity of life. God gives us these reminders so we have opportunities to turn towards Him before we die and face judgement. Choose this day who you will serve.