April 16, 2009

Tax Day TEA Party - Lynchburg, VA

UPDATE:  You may read some short accounts of the various TEA Parties across the U.S. here (morning reports) and here (evening reports).

I knew I loved this city!

Yesterday the United States witnessed a unique event. The people of the United States took to the streets in opposition to the government's extreme spending binge. Pockets of concerned citizens gathered in their towns and cities across America [click for map of TEA Parties] to plead with the Federal government to stop the irresponsible spending. And an underlying message was quite clearly, "or else."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently released a report that cast the folks who gathered for these events as potential threats to our national security. [DHS Report on Extremism - PDF format] But the folks I saw were not threatening violence of any sort. But they were truly threatening—threatening to vote people out of office if they can't control themselves and their spending; threatening to pressure their elected officials until they start behaving; and even threatening secession should none of the above work. Don't believe me? Check out this story from one of the Texas TEA Party events. In fact, listen to Gov. Rick Perry say it himself.

America is mad!

It was great to see how polite and well-behaved the folks were—at least those who gathered in Lynchburg. The rally grew so large—almost 2,000 people—that it blocked the bridge to the rest of the city. So a few folks who had parked their cars in that lower area of town for their work day were stuck behind the huge crowd. But as they began to pull out, the crowd politely parted like the Red Sea under Moses' command. A few folks didn't notice as the cars began to drive through the crowd. When that happened, another person would scurry over, tap the person on the shoulder and let them know that a car was trying to make its way through. No honking, no shouting, no shutting down of the traffic flow. These were folks not intent on bringing a city to its knees. They were folks intent on getting our nation back on track after its leaders have brought it to its knees.

I love this country and I hope her people are able to grab the attention of their leaders. I believe it's a now-or-never situation.

We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of the government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God
James Madison

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religions people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
John Adams

United States
July 4, 1776

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitles them...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Ronald Reagan

The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America ... our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal.

You can check out some more pics here and here.


  1. Sean Hannity was commenting on how diverse the crowds were at the Tea Parties. I guess watching it on TV, I couldn't help but notice that everyone seemed to be white and many seemed to be promoting Christianity. Not that theres anything wrong with Christianity, but I don't get how it has anything to do with spending.

  2. Our crowd was quite diverse for Lynchburg. We had people of many different skin colors, including some who appeared to be Hispanic. All ages were represented from very young to very old.

    As to Christianity - our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our laws derive their source from the fundamental laws of Christianity. Our freedoms derive from Christianity. And fiscal responsibility - both personal and governmental - is taught in the Christian scriptures. And government is clearly presented in the Judeo-Christian scriptures as being a keeper of the peace and not as a provider.

    Those are my thoughts, but judging by the signs being carried by the people, their reasons for promoting Christianity at this type of event included Barack Obama's recent proclamation that "the United States is not a Christian nation," the fact that the current administration is promoting murder and infancticide in our nation and overseas - and is coercively mandating that all Americans must pay for the murder of these children.

    If the signs were any indication, the abortion issue was one of the biggest ones on the minds of the people at these events. And I think they tied abortion and overtaxation together by recognizing that our government is now borrowing money that cannot possibly be paid back by us or even by our children. If we spend no more, our grandchildren will be paying for what we are spending now. So the government is promoting the murder of children, and those who survive this murderous intent are going to have to shoulder the cost of our irresponsible spending.

    All of this is shown in the Christian scriptures as evil.

  3. I respect your religious views. What bothers me is this notion that there is a preferred kind of American. I'm not sure if I'm stating this correctly, but this is a message I hear loud and clear from the Right. A person who is Muslim, Pro Chioce, Gay etc etc, is no less an American than you or me.

    You have a right to disagree with others. When the Right tries to say that people have fit a certain mold in order to be a true American, it frustrates me.

    I hate to use Bill O'Reilly as an example, but during the Bush years he often pointed his finger at people who critized the Iraq war as being Anti American. Personally I was for the war in the begining, but I couldn't understand how disagreeing with it, made you AGAINST America.

  4. Tim - I think you're arguing two different things. I would agree with you about the things you claim that O'Reilly said (although I never heard him make such a statement). I don't think it is a proper to cast anyone as anti-American unless they are saying bad things about America--things like our president is now saying.

    But your argument about a "preferred America" is actually nonsensical. We all have a preferred America. Our founding fathers established the vote to allow us to seek our "preferred America" and all active citizens become involved in the process of creating our "preferred America." This is actually what democracy is all about.

    The TEA Parties were speaking the other governmental philosophy that gave rise to our nation--Republicanism. We are a democratic republic. The people of the nation vote, thus, democracy--majority rule. But all of us, including our elected officials, are held accountable to the Constitution of the United States of America--thus republic.

    The tea parties were calling our officials to get back to the founding principles of our nation as laid out in the Constitution. Those principles are strongly Christian in nature. Sure, folks who would like to change our nation are given the chance to do so through the popular vote. But the leaders of our nation are to be held in check to the Judeo-Christian system laid out in the Constitution. So those folks must force their ideas on others through a rogue judiciary and unscrupulous politicians who are not held to account.

    What we all must remember is that individuals are not allowed to coerce others. It simply must not be done. But the government is set up to do just that; and it should be. But we, the people, must keep the government from overstepping its coercive bounds. That is an ongoing discussion that will continue as long as our form of government survives.

    Christianity is actually the foundation that has allowed massive freedom. So those who seek liberty would be well-advised to pursue government in accordance with the Bible. But that freedom also calls for responsibility and the people must be responsible for their actions to make it work. Christians actually believe in freedom of choice as long as it does not hurt another person. So then, those who go by the misnomer "pro-choice" must be opposed. They are seeking government sanctions to coercively harm other people--children. That must not be allowed. Christians do not hate gay people. But their lifestyle is sinful according to scripture, so Christians seek to use the coercive arm of the government to keep their behavior in check, as it involves someone other than themselves.

    With regard to Muslims, Christianity does not believe that conversion by the sword is even possible. Jesus taught that we are to love all people, and in that love for all people we must share with all people the good news that Jesus has made it possible to have a relationship with almighty God.

    The Muslim scriptures call for coercive conversion. This, again, is against the founding principles of our nation, and should be fought with fervor. But this one rises to a dangerous level. If Sharia law were to become the law of the land, the government, which is given the right to coerce, would press coercive conversion. So wise Americans fight hard against the infiltration of Islam into our government. This is not against Muslims as individuals--it is against the potential takeover of our government by those who hold to the teachings of the Koran. If that were to happen, it would spell doom for our nation.

    So although it may at times look like Conservatives are casting others as anti-American. I don't think they are actually doing that. What they are saying is, "this must not be allowed in my country." And that is their right as American citizens.

  5. I don't know where to start, so I'll address your comments on our President saying "Anti American" things. That is just not true.

    During the Iraq war, conservatives where first to point out how arrogant France was for not sending troups to help us out. If the President of France were to come forward today and say, "You know what, the U.S. is right. We did show some arrogance in our response to America's request for assistance." Would you think less of the man? Should his country think less of him and call him Anti France?

    Here is what Obama actually said. Of course people like Sean Hannity only mention OVER and OVER that the President called us an arrogant country....

    “Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”

    “But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognising the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what is bad.”

    And the comment you made about Christians wanting people to have freedom, as long as they don't hurt others, is totally false...

    Until recently I belonged to a Lutheran church. Our minister happened to be lesbian. On several Sundays, Christian groups tried to block members of our congregation from entering the building. They held signs that read "God Hates Fags", "Fag Minister Will Burn in Hell" etc etc.

    I volunteer at a community center, where I teach English to immigrants. When Republican's are in power the funding for this program is cut, under the heading of "waistful spending".

    Our Minnesotat Representative Michelle Bachman has said that she would like to start a commision to find out who in congress is Anti American. This would be based on her definition.

    These are examples I see in my life of how Christians are intolerant and to be frank, mean spirited.

  6. Tim - you're absolutely right about some Christians being mean-spirited and displaying hateful attitudes toward others. What I was saying about Christianity was definitional of Christianity, not of Christians. Christianity is defined by the teachings of Christ, not be the behaviors of its adherents.

    This accusation against the followers of Christ has been around since Jesus walked the earth. And it has been an accurate accusation, a well-founded accusation, the whole time.

    The wonderful thing, however, is that when this accusation was leveled against those who Jesus hung out with, Jesus said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31-32).

    So you're likely to find a pretty rough crowd when you look at Christians. I suppose that is why we are told that we are to point people to Christ. He was the only one who lived a life worthy of emulation.

    Regarding what Barack Obama said, it was anti-American by definition. I am not saying that he is anti-American, and I do not believe that he is. But his statement was anti-American and therefor it was ill-advised. I would not think less of President Nicolas Sarkozy if he made a statement that cast France in a bad light, but I think it would be ill-advised. He can say that to the French people in the context of encouraging them to behave better, but he should not say it to us; it does not promote the image of his country. Barack Obama could say to the American public while on our soil that we have acted arrogantly and use that statement to try to improve American behavior. Most folks would reject that statement if for no other reason than that Barack Obama is quite likely the most arrogant president our nation has ever seen. But that would not diminish the truth of his statement, which he certainly could say directly to the American people. But to speak such a statement to foreigners while on foreign soil was ill-advised and the statement in that context was anti-American.

    His saying that on foreign soil to foreigners does not make me think less of him, though. He promotes murder against the most helpless members of our society. He blatantly lies to the American people. He steals from us, our children, our grandchildren, and beyond without showing a shred of conscience. So, no, his making an anti-American statement does not lower my opinion of him in the slightest.

    Regarding the signs held outside your church and the things folks shouted, they are reprehensible and those people should be ashamed. The apostle Paul admonished Christians to "let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29).

    Again, the behavior of those who call themselves Christians does not define Christianity; Christ defines Christianity. And we have been told to not do such things.

  7. I agree with you about Christianity.

    I have to disagee with you about President Obama, He is not perfect and there are several things he has done recently I haven't agreed with. However, I think he he is doing some great things.

    When my kids make a mistake I want them to own up to it and take responsiblity. To me being able to admit when we're wrong, is a sign of strength and good ethics. The obvious point that President Obama was trying to make was that Anti American views in Europe have to change. To balance this statement he owned up to a single case of arrogance on the part of the U.S. And whether he made the statement here or on foreign soil is irrelevant. It's all part of the same planet. And according to you we all have the same creator.

    I was a young kid growing up in the inner city of Chicago when Ronald Reagan became President. I saw first hand the hurt his policies took on poor families. But somehow he has become a hero to right wing Christians. I don't understand that. President Obama, whether you like it or not, is focusing his policies on helping those who aren't rich. To me this is Christlike. (I'm not comparing him to Christ. But I think Jesus would support a Government that believed in helping the least of us and not demonizing those who need help.)

  8. I would have to disagree about Christ supporting a government that tries to help people. He has given us as individuals the command to help the poor, sick, and downtrodden. Nowhere in the Bible are governments given the duty to care for the physical needs of their people. They are given the sword of justice, individuals are given the arm of caring.

    So Ronald Reagan, who attempted to enact policies to help folks help themselves was for the most part walking according to the Biblical directives for government. The current administrations policies of coercing folks into helping others is not a Biblical way to do things.

    But the terrible thing that this overlooks is that we Christians as individuals have fallen hopelessly short of our duty toward others. Most of us are not feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or healing the sick. We should be doing that. And perhaps if we were our government would not find it necessary to do it for us.

  9. Do you think Christ would be against policies that all help people, or just policies that help poor people?

    And why is it okay for our Government to help the poor in other countries, but not the poor in our own country? President Bush did more to fight AIDS in Africa than any other Presdient. Why isn't the Right furious with him? Our tax dollars were given to these African's who should be picking themselves up by their bootstraps and helping themselves! Why don't they find their own cure for AIDS! Darn lazy African's!

    I'm being sarcastic because this is how the Right treats the poor in this country. When you listen to talking heads on the conservative side, they make the poor out to be greedy people, looking for hand outs. It is not any more true than the notion that all rich people are greedy.

    Most of the people in the class of immigrants I teach are in America in order to survive. One man brings a notebook to class with pictures of his family back in Hunduras. He works in a factory 12 hours a day, takes English classes every week night and sends most of the money he makes back to his family. Most of the staff at the community center is volunteer, but tax dollars do go to pay some staff, electric, heat etc. It makes me so angry when I hear millionairs, like Mr Hannity, making blanket statements that would lead people to believe that the poor are all out to mooch off the governement.

    When I talk like this to my fundamentalist Christian uncle he calls me a "bleeding heart liberal" What I don't understand is how on one hand he can be Pro Life and speak about how every life is special, while at the same time showing little or no simpathy for those who are poor.

  10. Hi Tim,

    Welcome to the blog! I understand your frustration with the Christians you have come across. I have met many myself who are belligerent, rude, and downright ungodly. But, just as you state that not all the poor are out for a handout, let me ask, have you met anyone that was what you might describe as a "real" Christian? What were they like?

    I have been poor a great deal of my life. Growing up, we were considered "white trash". I've struggled to make ends meet when the government considered me at the poverty level. I really do know what that feels like -- to hope that someone will stop by with basket of food. And do you know who did take care of us at Christmas? Our church people. They always made sure we had a full Thanksgiving dinner and extra for the cupboards.

    Around here, we do a "pounding" when someone loses a job or is facing difficult times. It's basically a food shower. We don't just direct them to the food pantry, we empty our cupboard and bring it to them. We also have sign up sheets for folks in the hospital or new moms, or cancer patients recovering at home -- we take meals to them and visit with them. I guess I see that as what a "real" Christian ought to be doing -- stopping by the front door when someone's hurting. Maybe you haven't had the privilege of meeting folks like that -- and having moved around the country, I can honestly say, that may be a cultural thing. I've met so many Christians who fit the description you've given, and I'm very sad that you've had way too many experiences like that. I'm also very grateful that God has moved me to this place and shown me what His church is supposed to look like.

    But if you can remember the one or two people you knew that you believed were sincerely followers of Christ, tell us about them. Then maybe we'll get a better idea of what you expect a believer to look like.

    By the way, on another post, you mentioned the "narrow-minded, brainwashing". I've been in those circles too. It's been a great joy homeschooling my children and teaching them not only creationism, but also evolution. They, unlike public school children, really DO get to make a choice about what they consider the truth. In our home we have a Koran, and I've read almost all of it. I am amazed at how many people tell you what Muslims or Christians believe without having read their literature. I agree that we need to investigate all sides of a matter and seek the truth. It's just that in my search (and I didn't grow up in a Christian home, but quite the opposite), I've found that the Bible is the truth.

    I'd love to chat more with you about your experiences. It has been stimulating to read your posts. Come back often.

  11. I don't think Christ would be in favor of or opposed to pretty much any government. That really was not what he did. He did say that we need to submit to the authorities and that the authorities are given to us by God. But that's about it.

    The questions you're asking are one of political and governmental philosophy rather than theology. And I can only answer according to my viewpoints on the matter.

    I am not a Republican. I am opposed to almost all of the Democratic platform planks, but am not too thrilled with what is thrust upon the public by the Republicans either. If I had to tag myself with a moniker, it would probably be Libertarian.

    That said, I am against the government using coercive techniques (confiscation of monies) to help rich, poor, national, or foreign. I just don't think that's what the United States government is for. I do think the government can help all of the above mentioned people by getting out of their way and out of their pockets and allowing them to do what people do--produce goods and services, and help each other.

    By the way - Mary and I have disagreements on some things, so don't take everything I say as indicative of Mary's position. She and I do, however, agree that the Bible is our sole authority in all matters of life. Sometimes the application of that comes out a little different for each person.

    I have not been particularly happy with things I've heard from Sean Hannity. I disagree strongly with Bill O'Reilly on a regular basis. And I was appalled at many things that came out of the Bush administration. But something I have to remind myself daily is that God has a purpose for all of this. And the ultimate purpose is to show his glory. We may not understand it all yet, but in the end "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord of all." So rather than worrying too much about political things, I need to do the things we've discussed in this thread.

    As Mary mentioned, people in our church are active in helping out folks in need. My family makes weekly visits to the homeless shelter to take supplies and to help out where we can. My wife cooks meals for people we know who are enduring difficult times. We visit friends who are shut-ins. And we pray for the people we know and some of the people we don't know so well but for whom God has laid concern on our hearts.

    These are not things that we loudly proclaim because we are told in scripture that our good deeds are to be done secretly - so secretly, in fact, that our right hand does not know what our left hand is doing.

    So the people who hurled insults at your minister, and the right-wingers who have made bold and nasty statements about poor people are the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. But they should not be considered indicative of Christians or even of conservatives as a whole. They're just the loud people.

    I'd like to echo Mary's sentiments about our conversation so far. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking with you, Tim. I hope you become a regular visitor here. And keep asking questions. I'll do my best to answer. If I can't--I'll let you know.

  12. Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. I have to apologize for unloading all of my frustrations on you. On the other hand, you've saved me a ton of money on therapy!

    As an Agnostic, I truthfully envy the peace and serentity you've found in your Christian beliefs. My wife would consider herself an Atheist, and she also has the peace of mind in thinking she knows "the truth". Being in the middle is very exhausting. At least for me. I refuse to believe there is no God, without solid proof. I also refuse to believe that there is a God, without solid proof. So basically I'm a total pain in the butt.

    Mary makes some good points and made me realize that I may have painted Christians with too broad of a brush. I agree that churches do a lot to help people. What concerns me is the very small but vocal group of Christians who seem to want to use events like the Tea Parties and our Presidential Election to pound their chest and say, "Look, we're the real American's. People need to be like us, OR they are immoral." At least this is how they come across to me.

    I thought the Sarah Palin rallies where especially divisive. Having lived in both the inner city, as well as a small town, I know that both places have their issues. In the small South Dakota town I lived in, I did hear people claim that the reason their town didn't have big city problems was because of THEIR values. It of course had nothing to do with the fact that there were only 75 people in the town.

    And I found it kind of humorous that Hank Williams Jr was leading the cheers at Palin rallies for small town values. I was a DJ at country western radio stations for several years so I've heard his songs. (He's great) Apparently, if city people were to do more drinking with their roudy friends and make getting stoned a family tradition, we'd all be better off.

  13. Tim - you said, I have to apologize for unloading all of my frustrations on you.On the contrary, I think you have been very polite and amiable, which indicates to me that you are a true seeker of truth--and that is not something that any Christian should be afraid of.

    The conservatives who exhibit hatred toward people in the gay community typically have a stereotyped view of gays as being like those outspoken, angry gay activists who throw condoms at people, interrupt church services, and perform public lewdness in Gay Pride Day parades. Those outspoken activists make for entertaining TV, but are not representative of most folks in the gay community. The same is true for the outspoken "Christians" who make outlandish statements against people and act as the moral arbiters for the nation.

    It is never appropriate to proclaim a "right" and "wrong" America. This does not lend to discussion, which could improve us all, but rather to (as you have pointed out) divisiveness, which hurts us all. Jesus gave his church (which, by his definition, means those who claim the name of Christ) the duty to share the good news of his death and resurrection to everyone. That is the primary duty of the church. He also gave additional mandates to his people. Those include living peaceably with all men, obeying authorities, displaying a meek and humble spirit, and showing love for others with such passion that it becomes characteristic of them.

    Nowhere did Jesus give directives to force Christianity on others. And nowhere did Jesus give the directive to make a "Christian" nation. So those Christians who make the statements you have mentioned are not about the work of Jesus Christ. That doesn't make them lesser Americans either though. In our great nation, we are all given the forum to speak our minds--even if we are filled with bile and accusations. The general public then must decide who it should listen to and how to vote based on the different arguments being presented.

    As a follower of Christ I would like to extend my apology for the misbehavior of others who claim the name of Christ. I will also extend my apology for those times when I have overstepped my bounds and have made such statements.

    BTW - I don't think Hank Williams Jr. is a good choice for moral arbiter either.

  14. My biggest regret today is having passed judgement on Hank Williams Jr. lol

    It just brought me back to my days in radio. I used to get calls from little old ladies who would thank us for having s station with such good values. They would point to the rock station in town as being a haven for sin. I often wondered if they ever REALLY listened to the lyrics of a country song.

  15. You know Tim, Rich and I have both been "harping" on the idea that "personal" holiness is indeed personal. Please read back through some of our previous posts, and you'll see a recurrent theme that believers need to LIVE rightly and stop pecking away at others. Truly, I know there's enough in my own Christian walk that needs attention, and that is what I need to be focusing on. That's not to say we can't point out obvious sin, but how, when, and why are very important components to that. I'm recommending that your read my December posts -- if you use the right side menu, you can separate my posts from Rich's. Plus, if you read them all, you'll get a little better picture of my "spiritual heritage".

  16. Is it a sin to be reading your blog while I'm at work?

    It's been really slow lately.

    I will definately read your December posts.

  17. I'm sorry for writing so much but in looking for your December posts I noticed that you have a banner for "Way of The Master" radio. The host of this show, Todd Friel is one of the people who has said terrible things about my former minister on his radio program. This was when he was doing a local show here in the Twin Cities. I guess I was just surprised that you would support a group like this.

    I actually emailed Todd several years ago. One day I was driving home listening to his show. A caller asked the question, "What is so terrible and evil about two woman in a committed relationship?" Todd's answer was, "In God's eyes there is no difference between a person who practices homosexuality AND a father who repeatedly rapes his daughter."

    When I emailed Todd to let him know I found his comments disturbing, he refused to apologize. Instead he tried to point his finger at me and question my beliefs. He even sent me a book in the mail that was supposed to convince me that there was a God.

    Let me just say if being a Christian means I need to become like Todd Friel, I really don't have any interest. I'm sorry for being upset. When I started listening to Todd I did believe there was a God. He did more than anyone to convince me otherwise.

  18. Maybe I spoke to soon. Todd Friel may not be hosting Way of The Master any longer. He's now calling his show Wretched Radio...


  19. Hey Todd, you brought back some very old and somewhat fond memories. My mom said those exact words to me when I first became a follower of Christ. There was a woman in my church who worked hard to earn the scorn she received from my mom. She was a bitter, contentious woman -- the Bible talks about that kind of woman. Anyway, my mom said, "If that's what a Christian is, I don't want to be one." Years later, my mother remarked to a friend, "Mary loves me in a way that the other kids never did." My friend told her that it was because I had experienced the unconditional love of God when I accepted Christ as my Savior. Not much later, my mom, too, came to Christ. Anyway, thanks for the neat memory jog.

    I just posted something on my facebook notes and I thought I'd share it with you. You were one of reasons I wrote this -- the other was a conversation between young people I know that needed some guidance.

    If you've read my reply from my other thread, you'll know, too, that I believe the Bible is plain in its support of heterosexual, monogamous marriage. But you will find something different with me --I believe the most important issue is not your sexual preference or your choice of lifestyle. The most important issue is the destiny of your soul, and that is entirely wrapped up in your faith in Christ or the lack thereof. We come to Christ imperfect. In the course of the "race" as the apostle Paul calls it, we are sanctified, day by day, through exposure to God's Word and our experiences. We are not fully perfected until we are released from our earthly flesh, which has been corrupted by original sin. That's why you're so irritated with believers who think they've got morality dwelling in their breast pocket, because they, too, are striving with the flesh. The scripture says, "let him who stands watch out, because he can fall." Not even believers are perfect, Todd. The apostle Paul called himself, "the chief of sinners." You'll find as you read my stuff that I struggle daily to walk a holy walk.

    Anyway, here's the note I posted on facebook, and I'd be really interested in your response to it. I don't get the best response from the people you've described so far who think our culture needs redemption. Also, if you don't get where I'm going with this in relation to the church, just ask and I'll try to explain it. Here goes:

    Some of you know that I have been blogging with a college friend on richgelina.blogspot.com. Recently, an agnostic has been asking some great questions of us, and the conversation has been very stimulating. But he has brought up something that has bothered me for some time, now -- how Christians treat unbelievers as if they are the dung of the earth instead of the ones for whom Christ died. I'd like to challenge you to think through what I'm about to write, and then maybe let me know what your thoughts are.

    Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." He knew what the end of unregenerate man was, and it moved him to action. I think we need to get a grip on the reality that this earth is the only joy the unrepentant sinner will ever know. Though it is a shallow, incomplete joy, it is far better than what he will experience in eternity. If his sin makes us uncomfortable now, think how much pity he will need when he has to live with the consequences of his rejection of the gospel in all of eternity. Surely it is far better to see the unregenerate heart of man and give all we have to take the gospel to the spiritually dead than to "clean up" his act on earth so that we won't have to suffer the shared effects of his current debauchery. We look forward to a day when Jesus will conquer sin and death. It is not for us to make heaven on earth, but to focus on bringing sinners to repentance so that they can share eternity with us.

    I just feel like American Evangelicals have lost their focus and have been duped by the devil into fighting a culture war that cannot be won. In our distraction, we have lost our compassion for evangelism!! We should be heralding the "Good News", not condemning the world. It is condemned already. (John 3:17)

    Consider this statement:

    "Man is incapable in his unregenerate state to live a righteous life. Our focus must be making the heart right, not the behavior. If we make this world "better" for the believer by redeeming the culture, but fail to make eternity "better" by redeeming the lost, we have done the world a grave injustice." (Mary Fuller, 1-29-09)

    For decades I have been physically sickened by people, who, in the name of Christ, carry placards promising gays a well deserved place in hell -- gleefully shaming them. I have been flamed to anger by people shouting at women outside abortion clinics calling them murderers. This is not reflective of the Christ who ministered to "sinners and publicans" instead of the religious "right". He told us that the sick need a doctor -- and He took them the news that they did not have to stay in their sin, that He could release them from the chains of sin so they could walk in the newness of life.

    Personally, I KNOW where I would be had the Lord not stepped in and redeemed me. For those of you who grew up with a Christian heritage, you probably have no idea what I witnessed as a young person. The world is indeed ugly -- I have lived in the "ghetto" of the world as an innocent bystander. BUT GOD... Ephesians 2:3-10 reminds us, "Among them we too ALL (emphasis, mine) formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Remember, we were saved while we were still sinning!! We didn't get right with God because we stopped sinning. We stopped sinning because we got right with God. This is the most important thing to remember when we deal with sin in our culture. The good news goes to the sinner -- the one whose sin is so awful it will make you physically ill. They are the ones to whom Paul felt constrained to share the gospel.

    If only we could remember who we are, and why we are -- we are ambassadors! Jesus left us with one mission -- to make disciples. So shall we fight the culture war and win a nation, or fight the spiritual war --
    and win the world?

  20. I enjoyed reading your Facebook entry, Mary. It was extremely well written. And I agreed with much of what you wrote.

    I've often asked myself why I can be so passionate about issues like gay marriage. I know I'm not gay. But while things are improving in this country, I see where gay people have been treated by "some" Christians in the same matter that blacks have been treated by the KKK.

    I live across the street from a lesbian couple, who have 3 special needs children they adopted. These are kids who no one else wanted, and now they are in a loving home. When I hear people like Todd Friel and Ray Comfort deamonize gays and lesbians for something they have NO control over, it makes me sad.

    My minister has devoted her entire life to serving God. She started an inner city food shelf to feed the poor. When I had a heart attack a few years ago she was one of the first people at the hospital to show her concern. Todd Friel went out of his way to mock this woman on the air, for no other reason than because she is not heteorsexual.

    In his email to me, Todd agreed that gays cannot change. He said that the sin in not in being gay, but in acting on it and having a gay relationship. So if I'm understanding him correctly, he is saying that my minister should resign from the job she loves, she should leave the woman she loves and has been with for 30 years and she should spend the rest of her life alone. It would be no different than someone telling me or you that we are displeasing God for our marriage and we need to leave our partner. Can you imagine?

    One more quick story. About a year ago I placed a message on the website of the radio station that carried Todd Friel's program. I explained my views on gays. In response I received a letter from a former Assembly of God minister, who has now become a good friend.

    He told me that there was a time when he would preach messages condeming those who were gay. At the same time he knew that he himself was gay. Because of his religious upbringing he decided to try to wish his gayness away. He married and had children. After 12 years of marriage and thoughts of suicide he came forward to his wife and his congregation. Eventually his wife was understanding and is still a friend. His congregation was swift in making sure he stepped down as minister.

  21. Hey Tim,

    I understand your desire to get to know a loving God. He has a desire to get to know you, as well. Granted, this statement is generated by my faith. I have looked at the evidences and have chosen faith over disbelief. You had mentioned in one post that you asked someone, "who created God?" That is an incredibly valid question. The same question must be asked about evolution...from where did the matter come from which life evolved? You see, no matter which system you choose, you need to exercise a measure of faith. You look at the evidence and you say, "this is acceptable to my way of thinking." I'll admit to you, even if others don't, that I interpret the evidence based on my belief system. Every single person does this, whether they are atheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, creationist, evolutionist, etc. The reason is, we can't use the scientific method here. We can't observe the beginning, the process. We can only hypothesize using the evidences we have, and we have no way of testing them. But, we will interpret the evidence based on our presuppositions (belief system). Don't you think that's a pretty honest answer?

    So, if acceptance of one thing or another is an act of faith, then you need to give due diligence to examining the evidences to be sure you're reaching the best conclusion. I dare say, Tim, that you've only looked at the one body of evidence of faith in Christ. It's much easier to allow the bad examples to be your evidence, but are there also "good specimens", people whose faith has produced evidence that appears irrefutable? I'll bet if I asked you to list ten people who were "inferior specimens" you could come up with them quickly. That's because the evidence supports your current presupposition. However, for a moment, I want you to name ten people who you know have honestly placed their faith in the Creator God and have given their allegiance to Jesus Christ. I'll bet, with some thought you can name ten. Ask yourself, are they supportive evidence for the existence of God?

    Another thing I've been thinking is that if I wanted to get to know you better, I could ask people about you. I could ask your neighbor, coworkers, wife, kids, pastor. But what if some of them were major idiots who really don't know you or are jealous or angry -- would they give me the clearest picture of you? Wouldn't it be better, to do what we're doing -- talking to each other and getting answers to our questions? Truly, Tim, to get to know the God of the Bible, you have to read what He said about himself through his servants who wrote the Bible, and eventually, get to know Him through a personal relationship that includes prayer. Now, I'll admit to you, God doesn't whisper in my ear, I have never heard an audible voice. But my spirit has heard His heart through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He convinces me of the sin in my life, He helps me understand the scriptures, and He reminds me of the things I know when I need it most.

    So, Tim, I guess that rather than judging God by the rotten folks you know or the troubling passages, you ought to at least examine the body of evidence that exists in those who reflect the character of God in their life, as well as seeking out what He has to say about himself in the totality of the scriptures, just like you'd like me to do in getting to know you. I maintain that I best get to know people through what they have to say about themselves in an interview process and what their writings tell me about them.

    Ultimately, as I mentioned at the beginning, no matter which course you choose, it will be a course the begins and ends with faith. Ask yourself, is the system you've chosen based on the best evidence, the most complete evidence, and has it had a beneficial effect on your life?

    The writer of the book of Hebrews said, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) Is the object of your faith worthy of your attention?

  22. Mary, It's a shame you can't be a minister because I truly believe you'd attract quite the following. I appreciate that your faith doesn't prevent you from being rational and having the ability to listen.

    I'm not sure if I'm really looking at the rotten apples as being proof that God doesn't exist. What I do think is that if two people earnestly seek God, then shouldn't God reveal himself to be the same to both people? (My head hurts just thinking about his. UGH)

    Here is an example...You asked if I would think of 10 people who have put their faith in Jesus. One of the people on my list would be my minister. So should I think of this as evidence of God's existence? If I listen to Way of The Master founder Ray Comfort, my minister is praying to a false God, because of her more liberal beliefs. They will go so far as to say that when she dies she will burn in hell for eternity. Both Ray Comfort and my Minister have earnestly looked for God. When I have prayed I ask God to reveal himself to me. While I don't hear an audible voice, I do find my ministers take on God to be more inline with what my heart tells me is right. Of course the Bible says that my heart is wicked, so I should not trust it, but instead put my trust in a book.

    SOOOO....What I'm trying to say is that having a relationship with God is impossible. If I ask God to reveal himself, the revelation I feel is different than what the scriptures say.

    Does this make sense or am I officially nuts.

  23. Tim - Don't worry about Mary's inability to be a pastor. She has a strong following anyway. I'm one of her fans, in fact.

    You've mentioned your minister many times and you've mentioned terrible things said against her. You said If I ask God to reveal himself, the revelation I feel is different than what the scriptures say. I can feel the frustrations you've had to deal with in trying to figure God out.

    I think Mary's encouragement to ask God who God is is the best one. You're right--the Bible tells us that our hearts are wicked. It also says that we cannot understand the mind of God, that his ways are not our ways, and other things that basically mean that we cannot look inside ourselves to discover God.

    But fortunately God has given us a description of himself. If you say, "I am told to not trust my heart, but to trust a book," it sounds like that's not very good advice. But the bible is not a book. It is God's book, written by men who were moved along in their writing by God himself. The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eye-witnesses during the lifetime of other eye-witnesses. Those documents report to us supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim to be divine rather than human in origin.

    Mary and I have both mentioned that we attempt to base all of our reasoning on what we find in the Bible. So here is the reason for the description I just gave of the Bible:

    2 Peter 1:16-21
    For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.What this means is that 66 books of the Bible, written over a period of hundreds of years by many different people from different nations, cultures, and languages contains accurate historical data that would have been proven false by those who were eye-witnesses, if in fact what was written was false. And the claims of the Bible include dead people being raised to life (not disputed by existing eye-witnesses), the lame being made to walk (not disputed by eye-witnesses), blind people being restored to full sight (not disputed by eye-witnesses), the sun coming to a stop in the heavens for an extended period, a man walking on the top of water, fishermen being shown how to catch a huge amount of fish by a carpenter after they had given up because of a lack of results--none of this disputed by existing eye-witnesses. The Bible is the most verified and most accurate book in history and you can fully trust what it has to say.

    And the Bible will tell you who God is. If that description goes against your feelings about God, you should reject your feelings because they are not reliable and they are based on a faulty view of the world (because all of us have a faulty view of the world).

    This may shake you to the core--as it did me (and Mary). It's hard to give up our friendly made-up concepts of God. But here's the exciting thing:

    The joy of the Lord is your strength Nehemiah 8:10

    Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good Psalm 34:8

    In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore Psalm 16:11

    The Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver Job 22:25

    Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart Psalm 37:4

    If you look to a God of your own making, or even one that has been presented to you by someone you respect, if that God is not truly the God of the Bible, you will not be satisfied. Perhaps that is why you are still seeking God. When you find the true God, you will be satisfied; your search will be over; you will have arrived home.

    And to find God, you must look to his description of himself--the Bible. Don't trust your minister. Don't trust Mary. Don't trust me. Trust only God. And then, if it turns out that God's description of himself is what we have been proclaiming, then you may trust us. But only after you have determined that what we have said conforms completely to God's proclamation of himself.

  24. Good Morning Spiritual Advisors!

    I'd be lying if I said I didn't lose a little sleep last night, in pondering your messages from yesterday.

    I'm sure it's me, but the more questions I ask about God, the more confused I become.

    Mary suggested that instead of focusing on "bad examples" of Christian believers, I should instead focus on good examples of people who display the character of God in their own lives. In thinking about the answer to that question I realized that many of the people I find most God-like are not even Christian. And I felt like Richard was saying that the example I gave of my minister was somehow not a valid example of a true Christian.

    I'd like to believe that God would reveal himself to any of his children who sincerely called about him. From what you wrote yesterday I take it that this is not exactly true. Before God will even listen to someone, he would require that a person first read the Bible and believe that it truly is the word of God.

    So basically God had his servants write down perhaps the most amazing and unbelievable words ever written. Instead of making it obvious that Jesus was the TRUE God, people were supposed to read the Bible and without any further proof, know that this was the inspired word of the only God.

    Those who were born into a Christian family, lived near a Barnes and Noble bookstore or were on death row, obviously had the advantage of having easy access to scripture. A child born into a Muslem family, wihtout access to a Bible is totally out of luck and will spend eternity burning and nashing their teeth in hell. WHY? Because this is what that child deserves, based on his or her lack of belief in a God that they never got to know. And I know you're going to say that it's not God's fault non believers are in hell. They deserve it! And it's the fault of Christians for not doing a better job at spreading the word of God to ever single person on the planet.

    I didn't mean for this posting to sound so angry. But I spent so much of my life believing in the Bible, because people repeated stuff over and over, until I simply just accepted it as the truth.

  25. Tim - I don't have time right now to give you a full answer, but I will do so as soon as I can.

    For now though - let me say that I did not mean in any way to question whether or not your minister is a Christian. I tried to group her together with Mary and me as human and, therefore, prone to error. What I meant by that is that the only person you can fully trust is God. And then, once you have read the Bible and understand God's nature, you can look at the things that your minister or Mary or I have said. If they agree with what God said about himself, we are right. If they disagree, we are wrong.

    If you recognize that you are a sinner (not perfect from God's point of view) and you turn to Christ's shed blood on the cross as the sacrifice for your sins, you are saved. I am every bit as much a sinner as Mary is, and as you are, and as your minister is. We're all the same--sinners in need of a perfect Savior.

  26. I'll just make a couple quick points.

    You believe that the Bible tells of God's true nature. Maybe you're right. But it's also possible you're wrong.

    Secondly, two people can read the Bible and come away with contradicting interpretations. On the issue of homosexuality for example. You believe the Bible condems it. While others believe the Bible is unclear about this matter. I've read an article where a theologan felt that the word the Bible used for "homosexuality" was translated from a Latan word meaning male prostitution. If anything he felt that God was coming down on prostitutes and not gays.

    I know you'll disagree, and you might be right. My point is that if God really cared if someone was gay or not, wouldn't he have made his message clear?

  27. Tim - Has anyone here even brought this up? Why are you so focused on this topic?

    Yes, I believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. And my Bible did not come through the Latin. It was translated directly from the original languages--Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The passage I will share with you does not contain the word "homosexuality," but it is abundantly clear and only someone with an agenda other than seeking the truth would be able to see anything different in this passage:

    Romans 1:24-27
    Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    But in fact, no one other than you has brought this up. Mary and I don't believe that we need to condemn others. But we do believe that the Bible calls people to repentance. If you seek the truth and read the Bible with the intent of understanding what God was saying through the authors of the 66 books as the original languages in their cultural setting would be plainly understood, you will find the truth. You should ask God to reveal the truth to you. If you are honestly seeking the truth and you ask God to show it to you, he will.

    Maybe it's possible that I'm wrong about the Bible being absolute truth. But in 2,000 years of folks trying to debunk the Bible, no one has ever been able to do so. No one can find any internal inconsistency. It is the most tested book in history and is continually proven to be true. No other book has anywhere near the amount of corroboration that the Bible has. We've got:

    3 languages - Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
    3 continents - Asia, Africa, and Europe.
    More than 40 authors, most of whom had never met one another because they wrote over a period of 1,600 years.

    When a book was written in that way and has never been shown to be internally inconsistent, it has massive corroboration. So unless you have any evidence to the contrary, you must reasonably accept that the Bible is is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eye-witnesses during the lifetime of other eye-witnesses (who never reliably disputed what was written). Those documents report to us supernatural events (still undisputed) that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim to be divine rather than human in origin.

    At some point, all seekers of truth must stop looking at failing human specimens and begin to look at and recognize the Creator rather than the creature. I know it's a hard journey, but if you really want to know the truth about God, ask him to reveal himself to you. And if you ask honestly, he will.

  28. Tim -- I left a wonderful example of my human frailty the other day -- I kept calling you Todd!! I'm sorry -- I didn't catch that until today when I was reading through the responses again today. Forgive me for my silliness.

    In my last response, I told you that, "...we (all) will interpret the evidence based on our presuppositions (belief system)." You reiterated that when you said, two people will get something different when they read the Bible. That's because we all go to the Bible with our already drawn conclusions, and we look for evidence to support our position. When it doesn't, we look for reasons why it doesn't mean what it says. As a Bible student of 30 years, I still struggle to come to the scriptures and let them interpret themselves, then I struggle with what to do when it tells me I'm wrong. Rich and I just had a "debate" a few weeks ago about some passages in the scriptures about quietly persevering under pressure. There are principles of Bible study which Rich and I try to use consistently that I mentioned to you before -- looking at the context in its historical setting, looking at the original language and what that word meant in that language, how it was used elsewhere in scripture, what was the author's purpose, what did it mean to the original reader in his cultural understanding?

    So, what was the cultural understanding of homosexuality in 1st century Rome? Was it aberrant behavior then, or readily accepted? Do our history books record any such behaviors of Roman emperors or senators who were openly gay? These are things you can look at yourself. From your notes, I can tell you're a pretty intelligent, analytical guy. Why let someone else tell you the answers when you can find them yourself. Does that word really mean what it says? You study the word in it's historical context. I'll be glad to help you find tools on the internet that will help you do that very thing.

    Having said all that, I'm going to repeat something again. We don't come to God because we quit sinning. That isn't what makes us right with Him. He doesn't wait for us to make ourselves righteous. He declares us righteous when we believe. (Romans 5 spends a lot of time on this concept). Then, because He creates in us a new nature, and because He gives us a new heart that desires to please Him, we are changed, and little by little, bit by bit while we obey, He makes us more like Him.

    As well, you sort of glossed over my main point in my last response. If I want to get to know who Muhammed or Allah is, should I read the Bible or ask Muslims about him? No, I should read the Koran. If I want to know more about Jehovah God, I need to read the Bible. If I want to know more about Tim, I need to read what Tim says in his emails and on his blog. That's why I say you should at least read "the rest of the story" (thanks Paul Harvey) before you draw final conclusions on whether the God of the Bible is the true God or not.

    I'm sorry we're making your head spin, but I am hopeful that it's because we are giving you reasonable answers to your questions. Thanks again, Tim, (not TODD!!) for giving us a chance to answer those questions.

  29. Thank you both for your responses. I still have a ton of questions, but for now I'll keep it simple.

    What is God's time frame for revealing himself? I've been asking for God to show me who he/she is for almost 20 years now.

    I guess I'll just keep waiting.

    Maybe I misunderstood one of your earlier posts, but I thought you were saying that unless I believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God, God will not listen to my prayers.

  30. Tim,

    That's a very easy question to answer. God will take as much time as it takes to show you who He is. But He will not smack you upside the head and say, "Yo, Tim, it's me." There's only one place recorded in scripture that I know of where that happened -- and that was to the apostle Paul. Jesus spent three years with His disciples, telling them over and over who He was and what His purpose was. Yet, when He was crucified, they thought it was all over. Three days later, they were flabbergasted when the tomb was empty. An ANGEL spoke to the women, and still Mary Magdalene was too grief stricken to believe until she heard His voice, calling her name. Peter couldn't believe it when he heard it from the women, he had to go see the empty tomb himself. But it wasn't until Jesus joined them in the upper room that they really believed He was alive again. When Thomas, who wasn't there, heard them tell about it, he thought they were all a little crazy and said, "until I see His hands and feet..." Guess what? Jesus showed up another time and showed Thomas His hands and feet. That's persistence! So Tim, He's got all of eternity to reveal Himself to you -- but our time isn't that long.

    Besides, He IS revealing Himself to you. He has motivated Rich and I to stay with this conversation and both of us are praying diligently for God to reconcile you to Him. He brings you back to the thread to find answers. Who knows why you visited in the first place, and why this blog? The question really, Tim, is how long will you make Him wait before you give yourself to Him?

    Here's an old hymn, and it asks the same question:

    The Savior is waiting to enter your heart
    Why don't you let Him come in?
    There's nothing in this world to keep you apart
    What is your answer to Him?

    Time after time
    He has waited before
    And now He is waiting again
    To see if you are willing
    To open the door
    Oh, how He wants to come in.

    If you'll take one step
    Toward the Savior, my friend,
    You'll find His arms open wide.
    Receive Him, and all of your darkness will end
    Within your heart He'll abide.

    Time after time
    He has waited before
    And now He is waiting again
    To see if you are willing
    To open the door
    Oh, how He wants to come in.

    Visit this link to hear a BEAUTIFUL rendition of the song:


  31. Tim - Here's an opportunity for you to see a disagreement between two people who both look to scripture for their information about God. I personally believe that God smacks many people over the head and says, "Here I am," just as he did with the apostle Paul. Perhaps our disagreement is more a matter of experience than anything else. I'm stubborn and tend to need two-by-fours across the forehead to learn anything. So that is the way God tends to deal with me. And you might be the same type of person. Hopefully not.

    God will reveal himself to you in the way that brings him the most glory. God loves us, but his highest purpose is revealing himself to humanity so that they will recognize his glory.

    God will reveal himself to everyone at some point, but some will not see God for who he is until after their deaths. How tragic that would be, because then it will be too late.

    I believe that God is currently revealing himself to you in answer to your prayers that he do so. God does not require you to subscribe to any particular theology before he will hear your prayers. But he answers only the prayers of those who seek him--not some generic god, or a god of their own creation. The only true God is the God of the Bible. You don't have to hold to any particular view of the Bible in your search for God, but your prayers need to be to the God of the Bible. Otherwise you are praying to a false god--an idol.

    It's not something you need to worry too much about though. If you really want to know God and honestly seek him, he will reveal himself to you. Jesus said in John 6:37: All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. So no matter what is happening, no matter your previous experiences with Christians and with non-Christians, no matter your politics, your lifestyle, your level of education--if you come to Jesus, you will be accepted; you will not be "cast out."

    I believe that you have begun that very journey. If I am right about that and you are truly seeking God, you will find him.

    Proverbs 8:17: I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. --

  32. Hey Tim, it's my night to lose sleep. I've been thinking of something, and I wanted you to ask you -- just what would it take for God to "prove" himself to you. Do you have an expectation that must be met? Otherwise, how do you know it hasn't been met already?

    I have an illustration. 22 years ago this month, I had a conversation with my (now) husband. He wasn't convinced that I was "the one". We had been best friends for three years, and had known each other even longer. There were no other girls he dated in those three years, even though we dated/broke up several times. There were none that I could even convince him to take on a date. But he was afraid of making the wrong choice. You see, he lacked the violins and fireworks he was expecting. We talked honestly that night. He saw other girls who were prettier than me. He knew I was a major "messie" (poor housekeeper). And he knew that I was college grad who still had a student loan -- he would be taking on debt. Finally, after much conversation, I had the courage to say to him, "There will always be a prettier girl, a neater girl, you name it. There will always be someone who is better than me at something. But NONE of those women will ever be Mary. At some point, you have to decide whether you want your dream woman or if you want me."

    I went home and prayed that night, "Lord, if you don't want me to marry this guy, make it plain. But I am ready to accept the breakup if he's not Your best for me." The next day, Lance came and picked me up and we had a full day planned. But first, we went up to the property he had bought and on which he planned to build a house. There, on that building site, he asked me to marry him.

    I tell you that because in an earlier note you said, "If I ask God to reveal himself, the revelation I feel is different than what the scriptures say." This sounds very much like what Lance was saying to me the night before I got my engagement ring. His feelings didn't seem to back up the truth. You are looking for a god that pleases you, rather than submitting to God who has the power to make you pleasing to Him. It seems, almost, as if you are on a search to find a magic lamp with a genie that will grant your every wish.

    Tim, you may continue searching for your "ideal" god if you wish, waiting and hoping for the "right one" to come along, but none of the gods you seek will ever be the Creator God who "so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

    By the way, I'm going to make a few posts in the next few days, poems I've written over the years. But in case you haven't read it yet, read "The Road Less Traveled". In it, you can find the story of how I came to faith in Christ.

    Have a good day...hope I can get a nap in!!

  33. Hi Mary, I had told myself that I wasn't going to so much as look at your blog today. The main reason being that I don't want to drive you and Richard nuts. Secondly, I find when I discuss religion I end up filled with anger. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because I'm searching for answer to questions that have no answers.

    My childhood which similar to yours in the sense that I felt neglected. My mom used to tell people that I was "THE ugliest" baby she ever saw. She took very little interest in me. In order to get my dad's attention and love I found that I needed to be as involved with the church as much as possible. (I think I mentioned that my dad was a minister) At 14I was in the choir, teaching Sunday school and vacation Bible school. At 15 I was the youngest member of the church councel. It was when I was 15 that my dad died suddenly. I mention this to explain some of my resentment towards religion. I tried so hard to please my dad, but he never seemed to notice. His first priority in life was the church. And as an alcohlic, his second priority was beer. Of course that was a side of him that most people didn't see.

    You asked what it would take for God to prove himself to me. I hope you don't mind me answering that question by asking you a question... Lets pretend that you're not already a Christian and you receive a knock on your door from a Mormon. The man tells you about why you should believe in his God. What would that man need to do to prove to you that his God was THE true God? He went on to ask what it would take for you to give your life over to his belief system. I'm just trying to give you a feeling of how I feel when you ask me why I don't just believe in Jesus. I can tell you honestly that the only reason I don't believe is that it all seems so unbelievable.

    In reading your story I wondered what would have happened to you, if at 10 years, a friend would have taken you to a loving Jewish community. Would you have become Jewish? When I read your story I could totally relate to how you wanted to receive those prizes, and how much you wanted those people to love you. I get it. But looking at the church as an outsider now, I see something different. I don't see people who are believing in God based on facts. They are believing based on their need for love and hope. There is NOTHING wrong with that. It's just not what I'm looking for. I don't want an adult version of Santa Claus.

    Can I tell you about the only time in my life that I really felt like God was guiding me? Okay thanks. lol About 10 years ago I was at rock bottom. Even though I had a beautiful family, I let addiction take over my life. After being kicked out of my house, I finally realized I needed help and started attending a 12 step group. This group taught me that God did not need to come in any particular wrapper. All I needed to do was to ask God to reveal himself. At the time I was desperate and bascially I died to myself and let God lead the way. I didn't call my God by any name and I let go of all of those religious rules I was taught as a kid.

    Since then I've started to question whether it really was God helping me. Maybe I was so down that I just found a way to trick my mind.

    I'm rambling. Sorry about that.

    Have a great night!

  34. Tim - Your comment was addressed to Mary, so I'll let her answer. But I just wanted to step in to say that you're not driving us nuts. And it's not because Mary and I were already nuts - however true that might be.

    I've really enjoyed talking with you. It's great to have you here.

  35. Hi Tim,

    Actually, your visits to the blog have been very intellectually stimulating. It's really exciting to read about another person's spiritual journey. isn't it?

    The source of my question, "what would it take for God to prove himself." was your question, "What is God's timetable for revealing Himself." I think you somewhat answered that question by your response, "I can tell you honestly that the only reason I don't believe is that it all seems so unbelievable." I'm going to ask Rich (the internet wizard...) to post a great song by Stephen Curtis Chapman that echos your thoughts.

    But I was amazed at how similar our backgrounds are. My dad died when I was seven of pancreatic cancer brought on by cirrhosis of the liver from years of alcohol abuse. It was actually a bit of a relief because the constant fighting between him and my mother stopped. Still, all my friends had fathers, and I didn't. There are several other traumas that threatened my sanity in those formative years. But I wasn't surrounded by people who professed faith as you were. And from your descriptions, I gather those people talked more about faith than they actually lived it....

    Once I came to Christ, I did not immediately have a huge commitment to the church. It took about two years for me even to begin regularly attending church, and I did that mostly on my own, but also because God used a young man to convince me I needed to be going regularly. The sad thing is this boy walked away from the faith just a few years later. Still, no one dragged me there. A couple of years later, my sister-in-law and I tried several area churches. But I was disappointed in most because they didn't preach the Word of God. They said nice things and encouraged fairly good behavior, and harped a lot on an "emotional" religion. I was convinced that since the Word of God had been around for thousands of years, unchanged, it was more reliable than somebody's feelings and thoughts about the Bible that changed with the wind. I was probably about 14 around that time.

    I was an independent thinker, still am, and I got the faith of "my choosing", so to speak. I was under no moral or emotional obligation to anyone in my "choice" of churches or my faith. However, here's where I going to delve into my own belief system and freak you out again. Jesus said to his disciples, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." He taught in John 6:44. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." Actually the entire chapter is great reading for understanding that God DREW me to Himself.

    I have read a good deal of literature from the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Koran, and it has not shattered my faith. I think you're absolutely right about people not believing in facts. I have spent more than thirty years sifting out truth from untruth, and I still come right back to the scriptures as being the only reliable source of truth.

    So I guess that's the long answer to your, "what if" question -- I believe that the Good Shepherd came looking for me and found me. And He may also be doing that with you. You've asked God to reveal Himself to you. I guess I just want you to explore the possibility that He is doing exactly that.

    Anyway, I've certainly enjoyed your visits. And it doesn't have to be "spiritual" in nature, either. We more than welcome your wit, humor, and general comments. So please visit often. Besides, it's a high compliment that you do return! It either says we've got something good to read or we at least make a great sideshow. Have a great day, Tim.

  36. I have posted the song, by Mary's request, here. Don't let Mary fool you, Tim. I'm not really an internet wizard. More of an internet wizard's apprentice, which would probably make me kind of a cyber Mickey Mouse.

  37. I don't think anyone has ever mentioned ME and the words "intellectually stimulating" in the same sentence before. Thanks Mary!

    I'm sorry to hear about how you lost your dad at such a young age. Our backgrounds really are similar.

    Since both you and Richard seem genuinly happy, I have to ask yet another question. Sorry. Are Christians generally more happy than other people or is that just a misperception that some have?

    I ask, because my mom has alwasy been very religious. She tells me that she knows without a single doubt that Jesus Christ is her savior. At the same time, my mom is the most depressed person I have ever met in this life. This confuses me, because I've always thought that if I knew there was a life after this life, and a God that loved me, that I would be really REALLY REALLY Happy.

    My stepfather wasn't a religious man until a couple years ago. During a difficult time in his life he became a born again Christian. He told us how he got down on his knees and accepted Jesus. A week later he took his gun (he was a Highway Patrolman) and shot himself in the head.

    Maybe I don't really have a question. This is just another part of Christianity that confuses me. Why is there so much unhappiness?

  38. Tim,

    Here's the scoop on happiness as I see it:

    First of all, we are all made up of different personality types. Some are by nature more happy, some are by nature more melancholy, and some hardly express emotions at all. When we become Christians, it is our spiritual nature that changes at the beginning, then as we submit to the Holy Spirit in various areas of our lives, we become more like Jesus in our behavior. But our basic personality doesn't change -- however, we may gain control over several of the negative tendencies and learn to channel the positive ones to best serve God.

    But there are several aspects, or "layers" of the Christian life. Right now, Rich is dealing with multiple issues, and it can affect his mood, just like it does yours and mine. But Rich has a "hope", very much like you described. He understands that God has a purpose in all that He does. Rich greatly desires that God get the glory in everything that happens, and so he can "rest" even in the difficulties.

    As I mentioned, there were MANY things that threatened my sanity in my youth, and truly, there are still vestiges of post traumatic stress disorder -- but it doesn't rule me. I have a great faith that God is up to great things in my life. I have already seen him do amazing things in my life. When I look back at who I was, and where I SHOULD have ended up, I know He has already done an amazing work in my life and He can be trusted to continue it. As the apostle Paul said, "I know who I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I committed to Him (my soul) until that day (when He takes us home to heaven)."

    But there are those who focus on the sorrow, the misery, instead of the hope. There are a few possibilities here. The person may not really have a hope to begin with, and should make sure of their salvation. Or, the person may have taken their focus off Christ. This is a spiritual discipline, the act of controlling our thought life so that we think as we ought. This discipline comes from studying scripture, prayer, and exercising faith. It comes from surrounding ourselves with encouraging music, and folks who will challenge and nurture us. Failure to work on this discipline may lead to wrong thinking and a very dour heart attitude. Of course, there's always the possibility that we are physically suffering, and that our brain chemicals need help. When that happens, it can affect our mood no matter how much we hang on to our hope. In that case, there's no sin in seeking help from your physician. Sometimes the victims of severe abuse have trouble climbing out of the pit in which they've been cast. They need a good deal of tender loving care and patience as God heals them.

    So, as a general principal, Christians should at least be "hopeful", and "joyful" even if they are not always happy. They should be looking forward and upward rather than around. Someday I'll do a blogpost on "20/20 vision", and share the different verses on what we need to focus on in our Christian walk.

    But the source of my joy is the Lord, Tim, and you're absolutely right when you say "if I knew there was a life after this life, and a God that loved me, that I would be really REALLY REALLY Happy." That's why funerals for believers are sometimes really weird, because rather than wailing and grieving, there is a celebration, knowing that the deceased is with the Lord they love, enjoying His presence. In fact, some of us who are left behind are rather envious, desiring ourselves to be in His presence.

    I have met more than my share of people who are horrible advertisements for becoming a Christian. But I would hope that if those who know me were asked, that they would be able to say that they could see Jesus living in me. That's my lifelong goal.

  39. Yeah! That answer actually made sense in my little brain. Thanks Mary

    I agree that some people are inclined to be happy, while others, like myself, are naturally more melancholy.

    It's been proven that depression can be inherited. Does God purposely prevent everyone from being happy, so that life isn't like one long "Up With People" concert?

  40. Hi Tim,

    One day, when the troubles of this earth are over, we will have all of eternity to celebrate an "Up with God" concert!! Revelation, though it talks about what will happen on the earth in the end times, also tells us something about what Heaven will be like, and it tells about great celebration, and worship like we have not yet seen on this earth.

    While we long for that day, the reality of our earthly life is that "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." In other words, this proverb is telling us that just as certainly as the sparks go up from a fire, we all have trouble. The original cause of that is sin, but some trouble is because of the sins of others, not our sin. Still, that trouble has the capacity to send us running for the Savior or send us running away. When your child is injured in a fall, or your teen is hurt emotionally, generally, they will come running to you for comfort. It's the same way for us. We will find the kind of comfort that satisfies in God alone. However, when a child has done something for which they do not want rebuke or of which they are ashamed, they may run AWAY from you instead of toward you. We're like that with God, too. We tend to avoid dealing with the things that we know are unpleasing to Him, either by ignoring it or running away. We might also run away if we perceive that He is the cause of our trouble or had the power to prevent our trouble and did not.

    But for me, there's two specific concepts that keep me running to God, even when I blow it. First of all, He is totally worthy of my trust and I am certain that He has a purpose in my suffering. Romans 8:28, and 29 say, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, among many brothers." I know that He desires to make me like Jesus in the course of my sufferings. Wow, can you imagine if I were to become more like Jesus in my character? The world would certainly be a better place if I were to move closer to that goal.

    The second concept is detailed earlier in Romans 8, verses 17-25: "And since we are his children, we will share his treasures – for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently." This passage clearly tells us we should have courage in our suffering because there is no comparison between the suffering now and the glory we'll receive in heaven because we endured.

    Here's what Paul had to say in his second letter to the Corinthians about the many sufferings he endured for preaching the gospel on his missionary journeys: "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you. But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, "I believed in God, and so I speak." We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. All of these things are for your benefit. And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

    So, if we understand that suffering has a purpose, that it will be rewarded, and that God will get glory from our sufferings, it makes it easier to endure. It will also pull us much closer to God since, even with this knowledge, we aren't able to endure on our own without His help.

    So, while God may send suffering or allow it, it is for our benefit, and produces much in our life!


  41. But if people are suffering with ailments or tragedies because of sin, then what did Jesus die for? I thought it was to pay the price for sin. Are you saying that the price was only partially paid?

    You seem quite certain that the Bible is the inspired word of God. What piece of evidence allows you to believe this with such certainty?

    This is where I feel I was brain washed. I have NEVER been given the proof. I've just been told that the Bible is the inspired word of God, because the Bible SAYS it's the inspired word of God. It's like believing that Fox News is Fair and Balanced because it says it's Fair and Balanced.

    I've heard the argument that either Jesus was the son of God, or he was mentally ill. The proof, they say, that he was not ill is in the fact that so many well respected men followed him. Had Jesus been crazy, the disciples would never have invested their lives to serving him.

    This argument made some sense to me until I started to recall some of the bizare religious leaders of our time and the masses of sane, intelligent people who followed them.

    Remember several years back when a cult of men and women, dressed in purple robes, all commited suicide, so that they could go live on a planet with a supreme being. Without exception, the members of this group were intelligent, well respected members of their communities.

    I'm not saying that I know as a fact that Jesus was a little crazy. You have to admit though, that even if he was sightly imbalanced, it's not far fetched to think that he could attract followers who were perfectly in their right minds.

  42. Hey Tim,

    Hope yours was a good week and that you have a restful weekend. We're a bit busy, but it's fun stuff planned, so I should enjoy myself.

    I am dead certain that Jesus is God, the Messiah, who died for our sins. His death was not to remove the curse of sin, not yet anyway, from the earth. That's why that one passage I gave you yesterday said that even nature itself groans with us for this world to pass. He died to satisfy God's wrath so that we could receive forgiveness from the Father and live forever with Him.

    It's interesting, I watched the movie, Les Miserables, last night. Have you ever watched it? It is an EXCELLENT picture of justice vs. mercy. I won't go into the details, but I'd recommend you watch the movie, not because of it's spiritual overtones, but just because it's good!!

    I have almost forty years of objections that I have tackled concerning God, the Bible, the deity of Jesus Christ. There's more evidence than just the Bible, too. That was the clincher for me. The Bible is a historical document that agrees with other sources. Characters from the Bible are noted elsewhere in historical documents. If you are truly interested in tackling this question, I will gladly point you to the sources that give credence to the Bible's claim that it is the Word of God.

    Again, I'm going to recommend some reading to you. The first two books are by Lee Strobel, "The case for Christ" and "The Case for Faith". In fact, I have extra copies I could send to you if you really would like to read them. "More than a Carpenter" by Josh McDowell is an easy-to-read, condensed version of his larger work, a two-volume set that is called, "Evidence that Demands a Verdict". If you seriously want your questions answered about the trustworthiness of the Bible, the Deity of Jesus Christ, and evidence for the resurrection, this work by Josh McDowell will give you a LOT to chew on. But it's set up in outline form and somewhat requires you to do some "first source" reading of your own. In other words, he will reference an original source, like, The Works of Josephus, and then you have to go read them and see what they say. However, my teen girls are now going through some of this stuff, because I want them to ask and answer their questions now, and make sure this is the faith of their choosing, rather than waiting until college to raise objections.

    But let me ask a simple question. How do you know that history books in school contain accurate information? How do you know, since mere men wrote it, that the information is trustworthy? We don't really, unless we lay it aside other writings from the same historical period and see what contemporaries of the Bible say. Archaeology backs up a great deal of the things we know about history. You're indeed right to be skeptical about the Bible on its own merits. If external evidence does not exist, then it isn't what it claims to be. But if you ask the questions, you need to be willing to dig for answers. There are answers for your objections, but it does me know good to answer you myself. You need to examine the evidence on your own, see it with your own eyes. Having me tell you about it is much like that brainwashing you talked about.

    God doesn't expect you to check your brain at the door when you come to faith. He encourages questions, and there ARE answers. But if you're going to ask them, take the time to find the answers for yourself. Those books I recommended are a great start. I'll bet you could find them at your local library. Again, if you can't, let me know and I'll send you copies.

  43. Hi again, Tim. I did some searching and found some links to some free ebooks you can read to look at some of reasons the Bible is trustworthy and why Christ really is God. Here they are.


  44. Hi Mary, I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

    It was so nice here in Minnesota that my daughter and I made our first attempt at planting a vegetable garden. Now we just have to remember to water it.

    I will definately check out some of the books you mentioned. Althought, my track record with books is poor to say the least. Usually I will buy a book, read a chapter or two and then lose interest.

    Recently I read most of a book by Dr. Gregory Boyd called "Letters from a Skeptic". Dr. Boyd is a minister here in the Twin Cities. In this book he shares letters that went back and forth between him and his father, who was an atheist. After years of questions and answers, the father is convinced that the Bible is the word of God. It's a good book, but obviously it didnt' convince me. However, it did help to make some of the Bible more pausible.

    What I'm looking for is the proof that others, like my mom have, that gives them 100 percent certainty. Where is that? And if it really exists then why doesn't someone publish it? Why is it such a secret?

    As far as I know, there has not been anything published that allows us to believe with 100 percent certainty that the theory of evolution is without error. That's why they call it a theory. So how can you know for certain that Creationism is accurate?

    I could probably say that I'm about 47 percent sure the the theory of evolution is all factual. There isn't enough proof to convince me without a shadow of a doubt But apparently some Christians have been presented with facts SO indisputable that they can say with absolute certainty that everything in the Bible is accurate. The story of Moses parting the Red Sea was written a long long time after the fact, but apparently there is some proof that the writter had the story complete correct. It's not possible that Moses parted his hair and over the years the story was exaggerated.

  45. Well, Tim, I'm going to approach the answer to this question in two ways. First I'm going to ask you if you have ever studied epistemology. If you think our discussion has your head spinning, spend a year at university studying epistemology. This is the study of what you know and how you know what you know. There's a great Wikipedia article that scratches the surface - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology. The question you ask needs to be applied to several things, not just creationism and evolution or belief that one religious document is inspired while another is not. How do we know what we know, and can we know with certainty?

    For instance, how do you know that there is "air"? You can't see it, you can't taste it. You can't even feel it, because when it moves, it's not air, but wind. However, you can test for its properties, and then prove with reasonable certainty that it exists. How can you know that there is static electricity? You can't see it, you can't taste, and although you can feel its effects, that is simply evidence of its existence. You test and retest your hypothesis and you get enough evidence for a reasonable conclusion. BUT, and all scientists know this, you can only make conclusions based on the evidence at your disposal. At some point, additional evidence may arise that disproves your conclusion. You may have to hypothesize and test again and again to reach a more reasonable conclusion.

    Children do this when they learn knew things, and it's just so fun to watch them guess/test, guess again, test again. Sometimes we help them discover the answers, sometimes we let them explore them for themselves. The best teachers know that the most foundational knowledge is best learned, not by lecture, but by hands on experience and self-realization.

    So, how do Christians know what they know? They've done some testing and based on the evidence they've examined, they have reached a reasonable conclusion. There is very little in our universe that we can know for 100% certain. For instance. If ten people who cannot swim fall into a deep pond, will all ten drown? We can't say that for certain, because there may be things that happen that keep them from drowning. One my land on a rock that gives them enough height to come up for air. One may realize that rolling over to his back and relaxing will keep him afloat till help arrives. Someone may see them and be able to rescue a few. We just can't know when or how one or another of the ten will live or die.

    Well, now I move on to the second part of my argument, which I actually tackled a few days ago. No matter what conclusion you reach you are going to have to put a measure of trust that you have the best evidence at your disposal and that the tests you've done have given you the most reasonable outcome. I'm afraid Tim, that the reason that there is nothing published that gives you 100% proof of God's existence or the reliability of the scriptures is because it CANNOT be given. We were not there at the beginning. We don't know if God created because we could not witness it. We don't know if the ocean was the source of life because we can't observe the process. We don't know if Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God because what would we use to determine it? He can't tell us, and would we have reason to believe Him if he could? Without the miracles, He was all talk, and we didn't witness the miracles, so how can we know for sure? We can't know for 100% positive that Muhammed was the prophet of Allah. He said he was, and many believed him. We can't know for 100% positive that Joseph Smith actually found tablets in the hillside of Palmyra, NY. We weren't there, we didn't see them. We can't observe. We can't touch. We can only test these things based on the evidence they leave behind. At some point we reach a reasonable certainty, not 100%, but enough to convince us that what we have surmised is true. But we will ultimately have to place faith in whatever we believe about anything. We do not possess enough knowledge about anything to be certain of it. The evolutionist requires faith, and sometimes, as has happened in the past, something will come along that makes him change the conclusions he's reached. The Christian requires faith as well as the Muslim, the Mormon, etc.

    But there's one small tidbit that few will admit, but by the evidence you can surmise that it is true: people interpret the evidence placed before them based on the hypotheses that they have already made. This is why it takes years for certain discoveries to be made, and why many discoveries are made by accident when one is looking for something else. We believe something, and then test it. But the answers we get may have come from the wrong questions, or maybe we didn't work with the right materials.

    A few days ago, I said, "Ultimately...no matter which course you choose, it will be a course the begins and ends with faith. Ask yourself, is the system you've chosen based on the best evidence, the most complete evidence, and has it had a beneficial effect on your life?"

    How do Christians know what they know? They "know" in the same way evolutionists "know" and can be so dogmatic that they refuse to allow the teaching of creationism in a public school. Just like Christians, evolutionists have faith in their idea because they went to the evidence and accepted evidence that supported their belief system. They still are trying to find out what to do with the stuff that doesn't fit. Yet many very intelligent people ascribe to that system. All you can do, Tim, is examine the evidence, and reach the best conclusion. It's what all of mankind does about whatever he "knows".

    There's one more reason, from God's perspective, why you can't know for 100% certain. It's a similar reason to what you feel toward your spouse or children -- a relationship is built on trust. Sometimes the evidence doesn't seem to support that trust. You receive a report that your wife has been cheating. But you know her character, you know the relationship you have. You are wise to investigate the charge, but in your heart, you KNOW it's not true, that it's just rumor or misunderstanding. And if you presented the charge to your wife with the attitude, "So and so said you were cheating on me. Why would you do such a thing?", that demonstrates that you don't trust her, and, once the evidence shows that the accusation was untrue, you have some damage control ahead, because she's going to be really injured that you trusted the person who gave you the report more than you trusted her.

    Here is what the Word of God says in the first chapter of Romans - "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes – Jews first and also Gentiles. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is THROUGH FAITH that a righteous person has life." And in the third chapter of Romans Paul argues, "For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight – not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God's sight WHEN WE TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God WHEN WE BELIEVE THAT JESUS shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN JESUS. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. IT IS BASED ON OUR FAITH. So we are made right with God THROUGH FAITH and not by obeying the law."

    God's requirement of you, Tim, and of me or anyone else is that we believe in Jesus Christ, and trust God to take away our sins because of the work of Jesus Christ. It isn't what we do that saves us from eternal separation from God, it's what we BELIEVE. The reason a Christian knows what he knows is that he has exercised belief, and God, through the Holy Spirit, assures us that we are His sons (Romans 8:16).

    Think through this a little bit and get back to me. I also have some great podcasts for you to listen to if you want to explore this aspect of "proof" and "faith" a little more. Again, Tim, although I came to faith in Christ at the age of 10, I have had many, many questions over the years and I dig deep to find the answers. God isn't afraid of our questions, after all He created the minds with which we think. He wants us to examine why we should believe Him, and then He invites us to spend eternity with Him when we do place our trust in Him.

  46. Mary... This is one of the best answers I've ever received. Thank you for being so honest and straight forward.

    I think I will need to take a little time to process this.

    Thanks again


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