December 29, 2010

Why I Got Disqus’ted

questionguyThis blog has has gotten a lot more traffic than commenting. I am figuring that this is doe to a problem I had somewhere within my code. Where do I start to track it down? My pages would turn to a blank white page seemingly at random. It was a white page of horror. So I picked through my widgets and started there.

I Get Disqus’ted

I used to use IntenseDebate to moderate, edit and manage my comments. It isn’t a desire to censor reader comments as much as it was a desire to maintain some sort of order and decency.You can believe whatever you choose. You can voice your opinion. But it came to my attention that sometimes things needed moderation – like vulgarity… hence my need for editing.

A special thanks goes out to my friend at As The Crackerhead Crumbles for unknowingly leading to the cause of my white page of horror. It turns out that IntenseDebate can be troublesome when used inside Blogger, especially when using the new Theme Designer. And I was not protected from such bugs. So, I switched to Disqus for my comment moderation needs.

I did have some minor problems migrating my comments over to Disqus. The comments I exported from Disqus were unusable by their own service. This is senseless to me, but not a terrible issue at the moment. I hope they resolve this soon.

Why Did I NOT Use Blogger’s System?

Blogger has made great strides in improving their platform I love their new themes and how easy they are to use and tweak. And, they are even improving with comment moderation.

But, there remains some things that I would like t see… Not only the ability to approve and disapprove comments. But, I would like to see the ability to edit comments as needed. For me, this is a priority.

Another thing that I will miss about IntenseDebate is CommentLuv. I think it is a great idea to allow my readers a chance to show off their greatest posts on their own site. Disqus does not have this… yet… or anything similar. I wish they did. I see this as a wish.

December 27, 2010

About DADT

Image via Wikipedia
When I enlisted I the US Navy, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was not enforced as it had not been written. It was a simple question upon enlistment that every potential service member was asked. And, plain and simple, if you admitted being a homosexual, you were denied becoming a service member.

Why did they ask? We were told it was because of National Security. National Security? It was said that, if captured, that the information about being a homosexual could be used against a service member to reveal military secrets.

It seemed to me to be more like this zero-tolerance policy was the cause of this National Security flaw… that being a homosexual was a cause of being dishonorably discharged and therefore the reason someone would not want people to know.

It was a policy that only justified itself. It was text book employment discrimination, but with the government’s approval.

Enter DADT

Everyone hailed DADT as a step in the right direction. Homosexuals had already been serving our country before this policy was in effect. But what did it change?

In reality, it made it harder to be a homosexual and serve. Before… you just had to lie and hide it. After… it was no longer a reason for discharge, but you could not talk about it. It was text book employment discrimination, but with the government’s approval.

Exit DADT

Now, we see the day when everyone can serve our country. I may not agree with the homosexual lifestyle, but they deserve the chance to serve our country. It define the fabric of our history, that even though we may disagree, we all deserve to be heard.

It bothers me that some of the “religious right” are embittered by the idea of homosexuals serving. I believe that they deserve that they are human beings too. I believe that they deserve to be treated as people. And I believe that we have the right to disagree.

I may disagree with the homosexual lifestyle. And they probably disagree with me. They deserve a chance to overcome employment discrimination.

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December 23, 2010

X-mas and the Xtain

xmas05Is it Christmas or X-mas? Or, do you say, “Happy Holidays” to avoid offending someone? Either way, the battle over Christmas wages on. The bottom of the battle lies in whether or not we should suppress our beliefs so that we do not offend others. And we all have heard about the argument… Don’t say “X-mas” because it is the same as taking Christ out of Christmas.

But this post isn’t about that.
Here is something for you to think about.

Enter the Xtain

But, for the moment, let’s switch up a bit. I have come across an atheist meme… that’s right, atheist meme that caught my attention. Xtain… it is meant to replace the term Christian. I am not sure exactly what the reasoning for this term is, but I am sure it is along the lines of Christ not being real to an atheist. Or maybe the name of Christ seems offensive to some, so they change it up to seem more “politically correct.”

Is anyone offended by the name? If so, then hang on.

Because I have taken this word into much consideration. And it may be a word worth using. If X-mas is taking Christ out of Christmas, would Xtain be taking Christ out of the Christian? Have you ever met that kind of person? You know… They claim to be a Christian, but… they don’t believe in God. Or they want to remove the cross from churches because they are offensive to others. Or maybe they think they can earn their way into Heaven…  by simply being good. Or by being a little nicer than their neighbor.

But, whatever the person is… maybe there is something here. Maybe an Xtain is someone who has removed Christ from their Christian life.

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December 17, 2010

My Entrecard Experiment

Image representing Entrecard as depicted in Cr... Image via CrunchBase
I have lost my faith in Entrecard. It took countless hours to do my daily drops. And for what? It promised to increase traffic to my blog. And it did. But I wanted something more than traffic… I wanted readers. Readers who not only read what I wrote, but appreciated it and maybe left a comment or two. But all I got was traffic. All I was doing was drive-by dropping on other blogs, spending at least two hours a day doing this. With work and my family, it left me no time to do what I set out in the first place – to write blog posts. So, I gave up doing my daily drops.
I took some time off… lots of time to reflect on my blog… to reflect on readers… to reflect on traffic and traffic generating site, like Entrecard. After some time and thought, I had an idea… Well, it is an experiment… and here it is… I am giving away a free ad slot through Entrecard. I ask you do some simple things for me… Write a blog post for your own blog and comment on mine.
  1. Write about my blog. Maybe you can tell people something about this give-away. Or you can write a review about this blog. Maybe just a quick paragraph to show that you saw my blog. What you write about is up to you. Be creative. Be thoughtful.  Be respectful.
  2. Include a link to my blog. It may be to this post. It may be to http://oscargecko.blogspot.com .
  3. Write a comment to this very post. Include a link to what you wrote. I use IntenseDebate to moderate my comments and it is CommentLuv enabled. You can use CommentLuv to put your link I would love a comment saying a bit more than, “Yeah, I did it.” But, it is not necessary. It is OK to tell me “Merry Christmas.”
  4. Make sure your Entrecard ad/widget is visible and easy to find. It is supposed to be “above the fold,” but I do not require that of yours. All I ask is that it is easy to find so that I can give you back your credits that you spent. After I find it, I will send you your credits that you spent back through Entrecard. Next, I will post a reply to your comment so that we both can keep track of the details.
  5. There is no limit to how many times you can do this, except for those enforced by Entrecard. Do this as many times as you like. It would be nice if you wrote a new post every time, but hey, I understand if you have more important things to write about than me.
  6. I can change any details listed in this post, comments and on this blog as I see the need. For this experiment, I will continue this until the end of this year – until Midnight, when the ball drops on December 31, 2010.
The neat thing is, you have control. You get to write for your own blog. You get a link back to your blog. You get a free ad.
I am excited about this experiment. Who knows what will happen. And, maybe I can finally get some use out of Entrecard. Maybe. Here is hoping.
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September 25, 2010

Tithing – Challenging Tradition

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...

Tithing is a time held tradition in churches. While it may be necessary, it is often times taught wrong. Some people feel that they only have to give 10%. Some people feel that they need to give above and beyond this. Then, there is the question of should you give your 10% before or after taxes?

What does the Bible really say about tithing? Is it really important? How much should be tithed?

Why Tithe?

Why should anyone put money into an offering plate? Does the Bible really command it? In the Old Testament, it is commanded to the Jews to tithe a tenth, or 10%. Not just 10%, but the first and the best portion.

But, let’s face it, I am not a Jew. So, should I tithe? In the New Testament, Paul mentions "receiving support" from churches with a greater ability to help churches with a lesser ability.

Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you.

2 Corinthians 11:7-8

This sounds like tithing to me. In reality, it sounds more like an offering. Paul mentions making a living off of tithes and compares it to the Law of Moses.

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?

I Corinthians 9:7-12

It is important to note that you can give more than money. Time is an important thing to spend in the right church.

What Is The “Right” Church?

Here are some important questions as they will often times lead to you know the spirit of the church. Is it of God or man? What happens to the money? Does the church use it pay a large staff? Or to purchase material items used by the church? Or is a portion used to give support mission type of work? 

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:15-20

Bottom line is, know where your time and money is going. If there is a substantial portion going into missions, then that is where you want to send your support. The more time and money poured into missions, the more valuable your gift means.

How much?

The is not one single reference to the 10% tithing rule anywhere in the New Testament. The only exception is where the New Testament references the Old Testament. The only reference to how much someone should give, is the Widow's Offering.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Mark 12:41-44

How much was given wasn't measured out of a fixed proportion, but out of one's ability to give.

And, Paul encourages a generous giver to support the church.

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

And, there are many references to helping the poor and giving to their needs (not necessarily money). And, it is often overlooked how much Paul gave in his devotion to preach, including not asking for support from churches who were not able. It isn't money that he gave, but it is worth much more.

The 10% rule is a good rule of thumb. It is good to have a way to pay the utilities in a church and other things. It is also good to have a good roof, heat and air conditioning as needed. It helps provide a place of worship and fellowship. It is important that is provides for missions work. For this is the heart of the church.

The 10% rule is not a rule, but a rule of thumb. The exception being for the Jews. If all you feel you should give is 10%, then give 10%. If you cannot, then do not. Whatever you give, if you give, give your first portion and your best portion. It doesn’t matter if it is time, or money.

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July 24, 2010

Can Religion Be Used For Social Control?

The Bible, Christianity, Religion

Jesus Puppeteer

Some people despise any form of religion. They say it is nothing more than a form of social control. Swaying the general public opinion, imposing their beliefs on others to outright brainwashing are their top complaints. They often times point to events in history that support their case. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project in Jonestown. David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. The War on Terror against Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network.

With the above examples, the questions are just begging to be asked about the Bible, Christianity and religion…

    1. Were they created with the purpose of being used for social control?

    2. Can they be used as a form of social control?

    3. Are they social control?

      The Bible – How do you use it?

      Can the Bible is used as a form of social control? Yes. Can a vehicle be used to kill someone? Yes.

      It is in what you do with “it” that is evil. There is only evil in actions, not objects. It is what we do with these objects that is evil. A Bible is not evil on it’s own, but it can be used with evil intent. A vehicle is not evil on it’s own, but it can be used with evil intent. It just stands to reason that it is evil to use the Bible to control the masses.

      What if the Bible was written to control people? The whole idea defeats itself. He was against the social control used by the Scribes and Pharisees. They created the “rules of religion” that they boasted to be how to obtain citizenship into Heaven. Jesus was against these “rules.” He was against their evil intentions of using the Bible for the purpose of social control.

      Christianity And Religion– Beware of the False Prophets

      I cannot speak for other religions as I have not studied them in depth. But, I have studied Christianity in depth and feel comfortable about speaking for “it.”

      Christianity is a personal journey. It is about searching for God and drawing closer to Him. If you fall into the trap of believing anything that is spewed out from the pulpit, you fall into the “rules of religion” trap. These rules often times will promote their own interest. They are not interested in promoting God, unless the idea serves their selfish interests.

      This is how we can tell that they are false prophets. Their spirit does not lead you to Christ. They have the spirit of the antichrist. They are self serving and want you to follow themselves and not God.

      Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

      1 John 4:1-3

      June 22, 2010

      Unanswered Prayers

      Does God Fail Us? AA034250

      Sometimes, it may seem like God doesn’t answer our prayers. From healing, to financial woes. From marital problems to protection from evil in a particular situation. We ask God for a lot of things. Sometimes, it may seem as if He isn’t listening. Or sometimes we think He tells us, “No.”

      But that doesn’t always seem like a good answer. When we lose a loved one after hours of tears and prayer. When we miss that promotion at work, after all the hard work and overtime that was spent to show your worthiness. When a loved one walks out the door and we pleaded our hearts out with God so that things would work out. When we get caught up in a world of dying loved ones, money problems and unhappy relationships that we often forget that we serve a mighty God.

      Does this mean that God has failed us? Did He not deliver on His promise to us? Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.”(Mark 9:23) If everything is possible, then why won’t He answer our prayers? But why won’t God grant healing? Relief from debt? Or give us a happy spouse? Doesn’t God care if we are happy? Doesn’t God want to provide for us all that we need?

      It can seem easy to think that God doesn’t care. He does. Then why won’t God answer prayers? It isn’t God. It is someone else. It isn’t the Devil. He cannot stop God. The answer might surprise you.

      It Isn’t God?

      God didn’t fail us. He cares for us. It is not the Devil. He doesn’t have the power to hurt us. If it isn’t God or the Devil, then who? That leaves us. We are asking God to give us the things that we want... The things that fill our desires

      You want something but don't get it... You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

      James 4:2-3 (NIV)

      What are our motives in asking for healing? For debt problems? Or for making a spouse happy? Often times, we try to make our lives set up so that we are comfortable. We want things from God to help us with this. We ask God to do things our way so that we can have it easy. We demand from God to fulfill our own pleasures. We may even think of our motives as being good. They are good, aren’t they?

      We need to put God first. Our prayers should glorify God. Our problems should be to lead people to God. Our sickness should be used to lift up the name of God. Our debt should be used to show His power. Our unhappy spouse should be an instrument to show the world what God can do for His people

      Jesus promised that “Everything is possible for him who believes.” The only question is, do we believe enough to trust God in keeping this promise? How can we show God this trust

      He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
         "God opposes the proud
            but gives grace to the humble."

      Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

      James 4:6-10 (NIV)

      Submitting to God means simply to put God’s plan ahead of our own. He wants us to be examples for a lost world to see His glory. He needs us to be pure and faithful to His teaching. When we lift up God with our lives, He will lift us up for the world so that a dying world can see Him and come to know him.

      And, by submitting to God and being all that God wants us to be, everything is possible.

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      May 21, 2010

      What Was “Good Enough For These Idiots?”

      To Be an Atheist? Or Not To Be?

      Atheists Portrait

      The picture says, “ATHEISM: Good enough for these idiots.” It takes a whimsical look at some of our world’s highly regarded leaders and innovators. It’s purpose is not to espouse these persons as idiots, but as revolutionary and ingenious thinkers. Bottom line, these people are smart.

      It suggests that these people are atheist and therefore atheism is a smart choice.

      But, what is atheism?  Is it a “disbelief” in a deity? or is it a lack of belief? Or is it a flat out denial? There remains a lingering question over what it means. There is also a lot of misinformation too. And everyone has their own infallible opinions to add to the mix.

      And yes, there is a lack of evidence provided here in support of these people being atheist. It can be argued in some length about the validity of any information and it’s interpretation. But, the intent here is not to prove anything, but provide food for thought –

      Everyone questions the existence of God.
      It takes faith to believe.

      Even the brightest and smartest of us wrestle with the questions about God. Their doubts do not suggest a disbelief, but a pattern of questions. Questions are a natural part of searching for the truth, not just settling for a simple label. Let these same people speak for themselves.

      • Ernest Hemingway

      There is not a whole lot of information about Hemingway about his religious beliefs.

      Hemingway had a very strict religious upbringing, but as he grew older and certainly more rebellious, he seemed to want to disassociate himself with the Christian convictions of his family. His second wife Pauline was a devout Catholic and in order to marry her, Hemingway had to convert to Catholicism, but whether he took this conversion and everything associated with it seriously is suspect.

      Timeless Hemmingway

      • Abraham Lincoln

      Is he an atheist? or not? It would appear that he wavered back and forth.

      As Lincoln matured, and especially during his term as president, the idea of a divine will somehow interacting with human affairs increasingly influenced his public expressions.

      WikIQuote

      • Carl Sagan

      Apparently, Carl Sagan would be offended to be of this picture. He would be of the opinion that atheism is a complete denial in a deity and that being an agnostic is not the same as being an atheist.

      Sagan, however, denied that he was an atheist: "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know." In reply to a question in 1996 about his religious beliefs, Sagan answered, "I'm agnostic."

      WikiQuote

      • Mark Twain

      Mark Twain was often critical about Christianity. But, does this define him as an atheist?

      In the essay Three Statements of the Eighties in the 1880s, Twain stated that he believed in an almighty God, but not in any messages, revelations, holy scriptures such as the Bible, providence, or retribution in the afterlife.

      WikiQuote

      • Thomas Jefferson

      Thomas Jefferson is one of many writers of the US Constitution. He possibly is most famous by atheist for using the phrase “wall of separation between state and church.” 

      But, does this label him as an atheist? Jefferson was a Deist in that he believed in a Supreme Creator but not believing in the supernatural.

      As an illustration to this are Jefferson’s own writings. The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as The Jefferson Bible, is a collection of verses from the four gospels omitting anything and everything supernatural.

      Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.

      The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazarath
      (The Jefferson Bible)
      Thomas Jefferson

      • Benjamin Franklin

      Franklin was a non-dogmatic believer, who felt that organized religion was necessary to keep men good to their fellow men, but rarely attended church himself. His faith in God was an important factor in his support for the American Revolution…

       

      When he stopped attending church, Franklin wrote in his autobiography:

      ...Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.

      Wikipedia

      • Albert Einstein

      I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with  books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.

      WikiQuote

      • Charles Darwin

      Would it be fair to assume that the “Father of Evolution” was an atheist for creating the one theory that dared to “defy” any theory of creation?

      Though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally "an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind…"

      In 1879 a letter came asking if he believed in God, and if theism and evolution were compatible. He replied that a man "can be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist", citing Charles Kingsley and Asa Gray as examples, and for himself, he had "never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God". He added that "I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be a more correct description of my state of mind."

      Wikipedia

      A Final Word

      Keep in mind, these are only one side of the argument. It is mere food for thought. Some are clear in saying that to call some of these people an atheist would be appalling at the least.

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      May 6, 2010

      A Prayer For Milk: Part 3 – Prayer Studies

      A Deeper Look

      Biology one-oh-whaaaa?

      Image by Moody75 via Flickr

      Nobody has built a prayer-proof room and we would think it unethical to tell patients or relatives not to pray. So, you cannot have a zero prayer control group.

      Dr. Mitchell Krucoff 

      The first study cited in the video was from an article in the New York Times. In the video, people were told they were being prayed for. Were they ever prayed for? That is unclear. Who was doing the praying? Was it some random person? Or someone who may have no believe in any god? That is also unclear.

      The study is more about intercessory prayer. But he overlooks a quote that supports the idea that there is more to prayer than asking God for stuff. This study is more about the psychological powers when someone thinks they are being prayed for.

      From the first study:

      Historically, religions have promoted many kinds of prayer. Prayers of praise, thanksgiving and repentance have been highly esteemed, while intercessions of the kind done in the Benson study — appeals to God to take some action — are of lesser importance. They represent a less-respected magical wing of religion.

      Faith-Based Medicine
      New York Times
      April 11, 2006

      The next study partly cited was by the Boston Globe. But there is much more.

      [Dr. Mitchell] Krucoff cautioned against concluding that prayer doesn't work based on his study. Nearly 90 percent of all the patients participating said someone was praying for them separate from the prayers commissioned by the researchers. So the study, in effect, measured whether distant prayer provided an added benefit to personal, local prayer, he said.

      The study offers no evidence about bedside prayer by patients themselves or their loved ones. Krucoff said he did not attempt to look at that question because of ethical and logistical problems.

      ''Nobody has built a prayer-proof room and we would think it unethical to tell patients or relatives not to pray," he said. ''So, you cannot have a zero prayer control group."

      A prayer for health
      Boston Globe
      July 25, 2005

      The third study cited has to do with “a positive attitude,” not prayer. One can only assume that the video is equating prayer with “a positive attitude.” Prayer is about much more than “a positive attitude.”

      But, maybe, the question “Does prayer work?” is the wrong question.

      April 25, 2010

      A Prayer For Milk: Part 2 – Give Me…

      milk jug

      Image by *MarS via Flickr

      The Best Optical Illusion Ever

      It can be found on this website… , WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com. It has a video and full text of the same video is posted. It is a web site dedicated to the self-proclaimed “proof” that prayer fails.  Is it proof? Or is it a parade of conditions and assumptions that lead one into doubting God?

      As I mentioned, there are many assumptions made to make this argument work. Travel outside of these assumptions, and the argument loses it’s worthiness.

      Now, onto the assumptions.

      April 15, 2010

      A Prayer For Milk: Part 1 - What Is Prayer?

      Dresden, Germany

      Image via Wikipedia

      Prayer for Milk???

      I have been asked about the atheist example for showing how prayer fails.  It comes from a website (found here) that asks the question, “Why won’t God heal amputees?”

      Very good question.

      This is the first of a three part series on this video. This part goes into the question, “What is prayer?” This is important because it is how most people think we would ask God to heal amputees.

      Part 2 dives into the first half of the video. In it, it compares praying to God to praying to a milk jug. It first appears to have quite a convincing argument. But, after further review, I have found it to contain some assumptions that would allure someone into losing faith in prayer and God.

      Part 3 continues  with the second half. It is about various studies about prayer. The video only talks about prayer and intercessory prayer. They do not give any information about the faith, beliefs or of the person saying the prayers. In fact, there are parts of the studies that are overlooked and have a huge bearing on how the data is interpreted. But there are studies that take it further. There are more studies that go beyond prayer and expand to the possibility that God, faith and church can be a powerful tool in life.

      But for now, the main focus is on prayer, what it is and it’s effectiveness. The video only limits prayer to asking God for material possessions or to grant wishes. Prayer is so much more than that.

      To only use prayer
      for the purpose of demanding our wishes from God
      is to limit the power of prayer.

      But, before we begin, we need a firm foundation of what prayer really is. Can prayer be used to ask God for things? Yes, but it is not just that easy. There is more to prayer than saying, “God, I want…..” or “God, give me…. and I will be good.”

      Prayer:

      • is a method of communication to God.
      • is a method of praise and worship to God.
      • is a private ordeal. (See an example from Raging Rev found here in his post “False Piety and Prayer.”)
      • is asking for God’s intervention in life.
      • often conveys to God our hearts desire.
      • is much more.

      Jesus’ Examples

      Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane… He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will…
      Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done...” 
      So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

      In The Garden of Gethsemane
      Mark 14:32-42
      Also found in: Matthew 26:36-46 & Luke 22:39-46

      This little passage can show us so much about prayer. How should we pray? Is it OK to ask God for our earthly desires in prayer?

      The important pieces that I see are:

      1. He went away, or a little further into the garden. He did not pray in the open hoping that the disciples would hear His plea. He did not ask to pray in a group as with the disciples. He went deeper into the garden to pray in private.
      2. He fell on His face to pray. When was the last time you wanted something so badly that you fell upon your face? When was the last time you wanted something so badly that it made you cry like a sobbing baby?
      3. He did ask the Father for his earthly desire. He did not demand that it be fulfilled. He also knew that there was a bigger plan to be played out.
      4. When He was finished, He knew what His Father’s will was. He immediately obeyed.

      Often times, we expect God to fulfill our wish list. We want God to give us all sorts of things. Yet we are not willing to listen to Him. We do not enact His plan for these things to come together. And we expect God to make it happen for us. We expect God to do all the work for us. We won’t even lift a single finger like we lifted our voices in prayer. And, we expect God to fulfill even our simplest request.

      Prayer is the language

      Image by Lel4nd (busy) via Flickr

      Does it mean He does not love us? No.
      Does that prove that God does not exist? No.

      God wants you to be successful in life. Are you willing to listen to Him to know what He has planned for you?

      In this manner, therefore, pray: 
         Our Father in heaven, 
         Hallowed be Your name. 
         Your kingdom come. 
         Your will be done 
         On earth as it is in heaven. 
         Give us this day our daily bread. 
         And forgive us our debts, 
         As we forgive our debtors. 
         And do not lead us into temptation, 
         But deliver us from the evil one. 
         For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
      .

      The Lords Prayer
      Matthew 6:9-13

      Here, we can see some more about what prayer can be used for.

      • praise and worship (Hallowed by Your name)
      • our daily needs (Give us this day our daily bread)
      • Forgiveness. We all need that. (Forgive us our debts/trespasses)
      • Forgiving. It goes hand in hand with forgiveness. (As we forgive our debtors/those who trespass against us)
      • A path to steer us away from evil and temptation (do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
      .
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      March 3, 2010

      A Defiant Little Episode

      lets-make-deal“I’ll Be Good, I Promise”

      My son was having a bad day. He had come home from school with a note from the teacher about the problems he was having there. Momma had informed me of the problems he as having at home before I got home from work. Overall, he wasn’t listening to anyone and getting into all sorts of trouble.

      And now it was Daddy’s turn. My first approach was to talk to him about his day. No. He did not want to do that. In fact, he just wanted to go play and do the exact opposite of what I had said.

      Time for a time out. My time outs aren’t set by time limits. They are not overly lengthy, so long as the child can sit still. They only have to last a short time. They don’t have to last very long at all. In fact, my time outs are more to calm down everyone involved so that a real conversation can happen. It serves the purpose of cooling off hot heads that can often let out spurts of angry words. My thought is that cooler heads will prevail.

      But this wasn’t as simple as that. He wanted to do things his way. He wasn’t interested in talking. That took too much time. And so came his plea, “I wanna get down. Please? I’ll be good. I promise.”

      Being the parent, I have to think ahead of my kids. And I could see a problem with just letting him go with his promise. I knew his only interest at that time was to go back to his own agenda. Why? Because I did not believe that he had a genuine desire to “be good.” If his desire to “be good” was as true as his words, would he have to get his way to start? Daddy wasn’t being fooled. Not this time.

      Our Professed Stipulation

      How many times do we try to make deals with God? We often times live our lives doing things our own way. We have no regard for what God wants from us. We even get put into a “time out’ (if you will) by God. And what do we do?

      We seek God. We sometimes try to make our own plea. We give the age old proposition: “God, If you give me… I promise I will be good.”

      We sometimes only seek after God for help when we have run out of options. We ask God for our desires. We ask for a promotion or a job. We ask for a love interest from someone else. We ask for a good grade on a test. We ask for a lot of things.

      And we try to broker a deal. “God, if you give me…. I promise I will…..” We will promise in exchange to go to church. We promise to read our Bible. We promise to do good, or be good. We promise to never do the bad deed that got us in this hard spot to begin with. We vow all sorts of things. Yet, often times, we have little intentions of going through with it.

      Putting Our Priorities In Order

      If my son had been interested in being good before hand, he would never have had to sit in time out. If he had been good sitting in time out, he would have been able to go about his own business a lot sooner.

      What if, instead of waiting for bad things to happen to seek God for help, we seek God first? If we learn to know His will, we can be in the right place at the right time. We wouldn’t have a need to make a deal. We wouldn’t have to ask God for our material desires. We wouldn’t have to beg for His favor.

      Our obedience would put align things that we never thought possible and open new doors. Our first priority should be doing what God wants first. Doing what we want should be second to God and His will. Doing what others want should be second to God. If we seek God and His will for us first, then God will take care of the rest.

      “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

      “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?


      “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

      Matthew 6:25-34