Category Archives: Philosophy

Sadness for Hard Hearts

This is a post about many things… it’s about the Israeli/Hamas conflict, it’s about the different ages we have lived in along with the different covenants, and it is about the hearts of Christians.  Admittedly this is about my heart, because I find myself having to write today after a very disturbing happening on a Christian message board.  I worries me for the sake of some professed believers because apparently many people do not acknowledge the depth of their own sinfulness and the role Jesus plays in this age of grace, and it makes me incredibly incredibly sad.

First, let me be clear on a few things; Israel is doing the right thing in battling Hamas.  That is what I believe having looked at the facts of what transpired prior to Israel’s retaliation against Hamas rockets.  Israel has an absolute right to defend herself.  Israel is also right in doing something else that no one is talking about; Israel sends aid and even sets up hospitals in order to help the Palestinian people.  While Hamas tries to bomb and attack the roads and the workers bringing that aid to the civilians.  Hamas does not believe in civilians, Israel does.

There is coming a time when God will refocus everything on Israel because He still has promises to keep to them as a nation.  But right now we are in the Church Age, this is the age of grace.  The Church does not replace Israel, Israel still has a future front in center of God’s attention. In Christ, therefore in the Church, there is neither Jew nor Greek.  We truly live in a special age, an age of mercy and grace.  God speaks to us through His Son, for now there are no kings or prophets or judges leading Israel, there is no temple, hence Israel is not in the same position as it was in the OT with the ability for their leaders to receive orders directly from God.

So here is what has me upset, you can leave a comment if you like to explain why I either should or should not be upset.  The question was posed whether or not, given the capability, Israel should wipe out every Palestinian.  Seriously that was the question.  The argument is that Israel, under the Old Covenant, and in the OT was ordered to do that very thing in different circumstances.  I was saddened by all the responses that agreed that they should indeed wipe them out.  I pointed out that Palestinians are not all members of Hamas, nor do all of them support Hamas.  I also pointed out that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are Palestinian. None of that mattered.

Hamas needs to be wiped out, just like the Nazi were stopped. Of course they should be.  We all also know that civilian casualties in war are inevitable, and it doesn’t help when Hamas uses human shields… why do they do that?  Because they don’t believe in civilians. Literally, they believe everyone is a combatant.  But here’s the catch; they are wrong.  Perhaps these Christians I was conversing with would like to go kill all the Palestinian infants?  I’m confused, I’m saddened, and it is readily apparent they don’t recognize that we are in the Church age.

This is the age of mercy and grace, and yes, it will come to an end, but right now we are in it.  Jesus did not tell His people to go try to kill all the Romans, and we are the Body of Christ.  We represent Jesus now.  Again, there will be a time when the church is not here, then the game changes, and God resumes His direct interaction with Israel, but that time is not yet.  To see Christians promoting the wiping out of humans on that scale saddens me to the core.  Where is the mercy and grace?  Where is the acknowledgment that we are guilty sinners worthy of death ourselves outside of Christ?  Where is the teaching that we should be trying to reach both Muslims and Jews with the good news of Christ, right up until we are snatched away?  Where is the teaching on the difference between the Old and New Covenants, and why God ordered what He did in the OT? Ugh.

My heart hurts, and I’m so disappointed, and that disappointment is obviously directed at man, not God.  I will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to support Israel, and thank goodness that Israel herself doesn’t take the view of some very vengeful believers.

To my brothers and sister I say grace and peace be with you through Jesus our Lord.

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The Christian and Debt

Debt is all around us, and most of us have some type of debt currently.  I just read a statistic yesterday that less than 50% of all Americans have any net worth at all, meaning that less than 50% of us have monetary value (including assets) over the amount of monetary debt we owe.  Financially, then, most Americans are worth less than zero. Think about that.  Our country has changed over time and we are a nation of debtors living in a nation of debt.  Yes, debt has always, and will always be around, but we are now going into debt for things people in the past would never have considered signing away their future earnings for.

So, what does God teach us about debt, money, and how we can faithfully handle our finances? Now, obviously I’m not going to be able to cover every scripture or every situation.  There are many good resources out in the market today that do a better job covering all of that than I ever could.  But, I did want to cover a specific aspect of debt that people tend to wink at; Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.  Really think that over; you are a slave to anyone you have borrowed money from.  Do you owe a  bank, credit company, hospital, the government, etc…?

Whoever you owe money to, you are their slave.  You work for them.  Your money is theirs, and that is a Biblical concept.  In an age where we borrow money from all of these places, we have so many masters we can’t count them.  Remember where it says that we can’t serve two masters? Wow.  We just don’t think of these things, and what we want, we want it now.  If we need an automobile, why of course we take out a loan because the masters make it easy to make monthly payments.  We demand a college education, so we take out a loan because the masters act as though we’ll be able to easily pay it back.  Our very nation is sinking in debt, and whoever holds our debt is our master.  Scarey, hunh?

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another… If we owe someone money, we give them power over us, and it limits what we can do with our work.  Everything that we have comes from God, and our best position is to be free to use what God blesses us with how He sees fit.  If we owe money, our money is yoked to the lender.  Now, if someone is in need, the answer can be giving, not borrowing.

Giving someone money (or things) freely, with no strings is different than lending.  It by-passes usury, and hard feelings.  The other answers come in how we view the world and our needs.  When I taught logic and philosophy at college, I urged my students to sit and write out their actual needs; what do you need to live?  It’s a short list.  We live in a world that tells us we NEED all of these various things, but it is a lie.  Don’t believe the lie, live below your means, surround yourself with wise people, read wise words, control you money, don’t let it control you, etc…

We should strive to be aware, strive after Godly wisdom and Godly ways.  We should also chafe a little bit when contemplating who are master, or masters are, and finally ask ourselves if our money is serving us (and God), or are we serving it?

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It Matters Who Your Friends Are…

There are so many things that are different in our modern world than in days gone by that it is hard to pick out a topic to cover. Recently, however, I have been thinking and studying the effects of good parental involvement and teaching in children’s lives. One of the things in by-gone times that parents monitored were who their children befriended.

Now it seems it isn’t “cool” for parents to monitor something so “personal” as their children’s friendships, let alone to actually teach children that it does indeed matter who they hang out with, and that they need to be aware of the effects of their peers. We all know the peer pressure commercials and they have become a joke. How often, though, do we think about wisdom, intelligence, social manners, morals, etc… when it comes to who the next generation surrounds themselves with?

God makes no bones about it; Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. The teaching here is twofold; walk with wise individuals and you will actually be wise. Walk with foolish individuals and you will be hurt. It is crucial to remember that the bulk of Proverbs is underscoring listening to our Parents’ wise counsel, so the safe assumption here is that this bit of knowledge should be on the list to teach the next generation. Try that in today’s world, and the world will say that you have your nose in the air. That’s the world… so that underscores that we should indeed be teaching our kids to be selective in their friendships and that means monitoring who your children “befriend.”

For us older types, this brilliant Proverb also means we need to take a good hard look at who we attach ourselves too. As one simple example, this isn’t limited to friends, is it? How about our spouses? If we pay attention to the Lord and His guidance, and our blessed enough to stay married, our spouses are going to be one of the major people we “walk with.” So you’d better pick a good one, and not on the basis of the short-lived romantic hogwash love that the world forces down your throat. Do you want wisdom? The first step is to ask God for it, and that will include studying scripture to see what He has to say about wisdom. It is apparent to me that one of the keys is deliberately picking who we walk with.

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Jesus was not a hippie.

I can’t believe I actually have to type that.  I also have to apparently type; Jesus was not a Democrat, Jesus was not a Liberal, Jesus was not a Republican, Jesus was not a Conservative, and on and on and on.  Jesus was God made flesh, the Messiah, the Lion and the Lamb, the only perfect human who was also 100% God.

I’ve heard that phrase, “Jesus was a hippie” from several sources, and it always makes me wonder if the person saying that knows what a hippie was.  It is easy to romanticize political or societal fads and movements, but to associate Jesus with a romanticized version of a historical movement is dangerous in the extreme.  Some people do it to try to sound funny, some do it rhetorically to try to make a point as to how they would like Jesus to be.

Hippies.  What did they stand for?  One of the obvious things was “free love.”  What does that mean?  The idea of free love included an attack against monogamous marriage.  There is also a more generalized idea that a sexual relationship contains no obligation.  Sleep with who you want, whenever and wherever you want.  Does that sound like Jesus to you?

Another aspect of the hippie culture was their advocacy and use of drugs.  One of the focuses was on mind altering substances, such as LSD.  God desires us to have temperance and a sound mind.  We are never to imbibe a substance that completely alters our brain chemistry.  Even something like marijuana, despite its growing positive reputation, can trigger a psychotic episode that can in turn trigger lifelong schizophrenia.  The effects of these drugs on fallen human bodies and natures is negative in the extreme; for the individual, their families, and society.  Do you think Jesus advocates that?

How about peace?  The peace the hippies chanted about is not the peace Jesus preached to us and offers us.  We could have all the peace on this earth we desire and still lack peace in eternity.  Make love, not war.  Sure, that works in this fallen world.  The hippies could flourish here in the US where other people were putting their lives on the line to insure freedom of expression and freedom of speech.  The peace Jesus offers is grace unearned so that we can have a relationship with the creator of all.

How about nature and flowers and rainbows? Jesus is the Word of God, it was by Him and through Him that all was made.  Hippies made the age old mistake of worshiping the creation instead of the creator.  Rainbows should remind us of fallen man, and God’s promises.  Nature and flowers? Part of creation, so are we.  We were fashioned from the ground by God Himself.

As I mentioned before, most who try to paint Jesus this way want Him to fit an agenda that they personally believe in.  It doesn’t work that way.  To portray Jesus in any way other than Biblically is presenting a false Christ.

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Healthy habits for the New Year; pt. 1: Routine

Many people approach the New Year in a frenzy of goals and promises.  This is actually an unhealthy approach to change.  Take diet for example, if a person approaches “diet” in a frenzied state, making promises to themselves and others, they are setting themselves up for failure.

Any new goal should be approached in a balanced way.  I say that because even though this series is entitled “healthy habits,” if they are approached haphazardly, or even with an overabundance of enthusiasm, they are more likely to fail.  Also when I speak of health, I speak of the health of the whole human; body, mind, and soul.  Any or all of these suggestions should be approached in a balanced way, not to be seen as a set of rules that “must” be followed; humans don’t tend to do well with orders, even positive ones.

So, with that being said, the first “habit” is a bit redundant, it is “routine.”  This doesn’t mean you need to plot and plan every minute of every day, but rather it should be a framework.  Later I’ll specifically talk of sleep patterns, but every daily routine should begin with a plan of when to go to sleep and when to wake up.  This routine isn’t just a workday routine, but a routine that should be followed on weekends and holidays too.  In a later article, I’ll write about how waking early in the day is a way to get ahead, and be more successful at whatever you set out to do.

For now, you need to set a time to rise and a time to go to bed.  You also need to schedule time to eat during the day and try to stick as close to that schedule as possible.  These things help to regulate your body, which functions better with routine.  It’s the same with medication; in short, anything that will have an effect on your body and its metabolism should be a part of your routine, for your physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Establish “mini-routines” for the most important parts of your day.  When you rise, have a routine to kick off your day.  For example, an easy exercise (walking, yoga, etc…) or simple stretching routine, quiet time, a time for prayer and/or bible study/praise and worship, and then breakfast.  Then the steps you go through to make yourself presentable to the day; shower, brush your teeth, etc…  When you go to bed, the same thing (will blog about specific bed routines later).

One important routine to establish is a goal routine; you set specific goals in the morning, and review them at night.  Obviously this includes a lot of honesty.  If you failed to reach a goal, why did you fail?  Did you set too big of a goal, did you squander your time, did something else come up?  This is where you must watch for defense mechanisms, like rationalization.  Rationalization is where you basically fool yourself into believing an excuse instead of the real problem.  The truth is, many of us are lazy and just don’t want to do certain things, but routine and schedule will help to develop a level of discipline that will help get things done.

Figure out what else is important to you such as exercise, reading, gardening, etc… and make sure to set aside time for them as well.  There will be certain things you are willing to sacrifice in a day for the sake of already scheduled events, and somethings you make a priority.

Kids and pets thrive on routine, so they will thank you too.  What if you don’t have kids or pets?  You have friends or a boss, or a spouse, or co-workers who will also thank you, because you’ll be in a better mood and be better functioning.  One last point about routine; it is obvious but the routine you establish should be positive, if you establish a negative routine, you will reap the opposite results (for example, if going to bed at different times all week is your routine, that is going to have ill effects on your physical, mental and emotional state).

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Ayn Rand; Brilliant? Fool? Both? pt. 1

As a philosophy instructor I’ve of course learned and taught about Ayn Rand, but only recently have I really looked at her, as a person, instead of “just” the philosophy she adopted as her own and presented to the public.  Ayn had a lot of interesting philosophies, and many of those philosophies have a place in our current society, and could even be embraced by Christians; however, Ayn also had many personal and psychological issues that get in the way of her own philosophy.

Contrary to Ayn’s own apparent belief, her philosophy had been around for thousands of years before she was born; her objectivism wasn’t so much a new philosophy, as it was a mix of philosophies that could be found in the annals of philosophy that came before her.  She also lacked a logical basis for her philosophy, though that idea would insult her very much.

First, a run down of what “objectivism” is, according to Ayn. Objectivism is espoused to be an answer to subjectivism.  Objectivists like Ayn believe that our senses actually and accurately inform us about reality.  Human logic stands in for God (which is an illogical position that I’ll address later); meaning Ayn believed that human reason alone could result in absolutes.  For example, we can rationally conceive of a morality totally defined via human reason and have it be absolute.

One of the hallmarks of Ayn’s morality was the idea of selfishness; that selfishness is morally right.  She was fond of bashing (and misunderstanding) altruism, as well as Christianity. And, the one big thing we’ve heard recently because of the state of our economy and country; she pushed for laissez-faire capitalism with extraordinarily limited gov’t interference in the business world.

Ayn’s philosophies never caught on in any academic sphere.  One reason; she disliked academics, so there was her strike against the liberals.  She disliked religion and denied there was a God, so there was her strike against the conservatives.  She effectively cut off both routes to respect and implementation of her philosophies (this is important because one reason she wrote what she did when she did was to try to change the directions of the U.S.).  While her philosophies are popular amongst college/high school students, it is her stories that are popular amongst the “common folk” whom she often complained did not understand the deeper implications of her work.

Surprisingly enough, Ayn was anti-feminist and anti-homosexual, finding both positions to be immoral and disgusting.  She had odd ideas about sex and sexuality that are apparent just by reading her fiction stories.  To be a “good” objectivist was to believe that it was the man’s place to be worshiped, and a woman’s place to be submissive and to be owned.  Authors tend to write themselves into certain characters and by reading Ayn’s descriptions of her female characters, we can see a common thread that is both sad and disturbing.  I intend to take a look at this in my next blog post as well as discussing her take on altruism and morality.

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“Why does God need our worship?”

This question keeps cropping up in various forms lately in different quadrants of the internet, so I figured I’d blog about it in a post all of its own.  I mentioned this before in another post, but it does keep rearing its head, so here is another go at it.

First, I have to admit that the phrasing of the question itself is a bit puzzling, as I don’t know of anyone or any scripture that claims that God needs our worship in the least.  God doesn’t need anything.  Even if you want to discuss God from the general philosophical point of view of God being the sum of all perfections, that leaves no room for a need, which implies a lack.

There was one atheist/agnostic that seemed to keep returning to the idea of, “maybe God needs our worship because He draws power from it?” asked in a hypothetical way of course.  This reads just like a plotline from Stargate; SG-1 with the Ori.  No, God’s power doesn’t come from outside of ourselves, and this way of trying to figure it out shows human arrogance once more.  The implication is that God is really relying on us for His power, which makes no sense at all.  He had absolutely no issues in creating from nothing without us around, nor in making any of the major decisions about life, the universe and everything.

I feel the question in it’s legitimate form is closer to, “why does God request/command our worship?”  I’m absolutely positive there are many reasons.  Another popular reason non-believers put forth is that God is somehow ego-maniacal…that He demands worship to somehow stroke His ego.  Again, this would imply a lack which does not fit.  Many non-believers delight in trying to paint God as some kind of petulant tyrant.  I do believe that is why this question occasionally makes the rounds.

I think that one of the main reasons that God requests/commands our worship is that it is good for us, as I’ve mentioned before.  Anything else we worship doesn’t work out to benefit us, and in fact, brings harm.  Once more; food, money, other humans, nature, false gods, etc… it never works out.  Stick with worshiping The Perfect Being who loves and cares about you, it works out a lot better in the end.   Another aspect came up when a non-believer insisted that worship is really what keeps someone out of Hell, basically they presented a straw man argument about the nature of entrance into Heaven, or winding up in Hell.  Here is a very revealing bit of scripture:

Matthew 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

It isn’t all about worship folks.  There can be those that worship in a way that is completely meaningless.  The worship is in vain.  Salvation isn’t about worship, it is about faith, trust, love, etc…  Worship flows so naturally from these things that many Christians get a bit confused when non-believers get stuck on the idea of worship.   Yes, we get it, you don’t want to bow down to God, but don’t try to twist the idea of worship into something negative, nor some kind of lack in God.

I enjoy this passage too because the disciples are still learning, “but, but, but, you offended the Pharisees.”  Many miss Jesus’ straightforward answer, “Let them alone,” don’t bother with their offended pride, and off they go, the blind leading the blind, let ‘em fall in the ditch.  You see, it was the Pharisees caught up in this fake style of worship that was done, not from love, but from some odd sense of self-pride.  They worshipped all right, but that worship didn’t amount to a hill of beans; again, worship itself is not the point.

Does God deserve worship?  Now, there’s a question.  The answer is absolutely 100% yes, He alone deserves worship.  He’s the Alpha, and the Omega, He is absolutely Holy, Righteous, Just, He is Love, He is our Saviour.  Worshipping in spirit and in truth flows naturally from faith, love and trust.  It is never a negative thing when directed at God from the proper motivation.

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