Friday, November 30, 2012

How Good a Hater Are You?

Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: Psalm 139: 21,22

How would you rate yourself as a hater? Please check one:

1) Never hate at all
2) Hate sometimes, a little bit
3) Can really hate at times
4) World class hater (these have become very rare)

the very word hate has been banned. People hate it. I am not so good, so I can hate. I am not in the class of David, but I am old fashioned enough to be able to do it.

don't hear a lot about Jesus cleansing the temple, but I have a dear friend who sat up when she first heard about it. She was just a little girl. "Now here is a Jesus I can understand!" she thought. She loves and serves him every day.

Believe hatred is being bred out of believers. They have been gelded. I was in a church class not long ago and read "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." (Romans 9:13).

People recoiled as if I had thrown a snake in their midst. "What kind of Bible is that?" a man asked. I was reading from my King James. I have checked this passage in many translations and looked up the root word for "hate". All agree. The people of the class did not.

I had returned to my old denomination to see if they had changed. Apparently not. C. S. Lewis, whom I really like, said, in effect, God who is love can obviously not hate anyone.

But Robert Haldane, a hundred years previously, anticipated this argument. He wrote the finest book on Romans that I have ever seen. To Robert, it is not what you think, but what God has said that mattered.

Show me how you hate and I will know how much you love.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's My Home

He wanted to read the Bible through once for every year of his life. He was on his way. "Even the begats are familiar after awhile," he said. The people in them are like family members, not all good, but then Cain and Abel were brothers.

His example makes you wonder why the Bible is such alien territory for so many. "That's what we pay our preacher for," many say.

"But how do you know if your preacher is right?" I ask. You can't fire a man without knowing when he is wrong. Knowledge keeps them honest.

"I tried it because our priest said to, but it was so dry," a man told me.

Surely the story of David's life is not dry. After awhile you can become so familiar with the wonderful places in the Word, it will become your home too.

When you are at home in the Bible, the world seems strange by comparison.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brother Gadd

For God so Loved the World (except Esau)...

Pastor Joe Gadd said he was probably the only Baptist minister who had to look up John 3:16 to get it right. He felt it was over used and in the wrong way. I knew him well. He taught me what an Independent Baptist was. I have known several preachers personally. I am not overawed by them.

Brother Gadd started young. He was ordained at 19. He began to put up his Christmas tree when several elders came to visit. They asked what he was doing. He told them he was just putting up his tree. "Oh, no, no, no," they explained. "That is not to be done in our church." It was his last tree.

Joe was trying to witness to a young man. None of the scriptures "took". The young man was a total unbeliever. "I know the problem," said Joe. "I'm trying to preach to a lamb, but you are a goat." The man took hold of the table between them and turned it over. "I saw him approaching me one day. He crossed the street to avoid me. But he never denied being a goat."

Joe was controversial. "Preach 'em in, preach 'em out, was his motto. He gave sermons on the birth of Jesus. "In July or August, usually," he told me. He avoided Christmas that way.

His doctrines of election and predestination were strictly from the Bible. Maybe that is why his church was so small. Visiting the church of a friend, he saw about forty folding chairs. "You're not going liberal on me, are you?" They both laughed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Baby Dressed in Black

My sister worked for a time selling baby clothes. She enjoyed finding the little outfits that people liked. She found pink clothes for girls, blue for boys. "It used to be just the opposite," she said. "Pink was considered more lively and blue more modest and subdued."

She followed the general rule one day for a couple from Pakistan, but they found nothing they liked. One of the parents found some baby clothes in yellow and red. "This has the color of life," they explained. They wanted the liveliest colors there were, to give their baby a good start.

I was waiting for a friend to arrive at the bus station when I was amazed to see an infant, held by her mother. The baby had on an all black outfit, including a coal black bonnet. I must have stared. My attention was diverted by the father. He was giving me the hardest look I have ever seen.

I hope the child grows up to renounce the world. She will never see a movie or sin in any other way. With real effort she may even go to heaven some day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

He Used to be Amish

There was an attendant at the recovery place where I stayed. He was young, fresh faced and genuinely concerned about people. He moved about quickly, stopping at tables to greet people by name.

He couldn't do enough for his folks. "Get you some water?" And he did.

I mentioned that I had slept through lunch one day. I was happy to, I needed the sleep. But he was so concerned about it. "I'll never let that happen again," he told me. "I'll look for you."

He had wheeled me back to my room. Before he left he looked at me closely. "I used to be Amish," he said, reading my face. He saw neither approval or astonishment. He continued. He seemed to need to confide.

"My father cried over me three days. He thought I was going to hell. You can imagine how I felt about that. I thought I would go to hell too. So I lived it up for five years. Might as well."

He told me about the issues that came from separating from his dad. But he had made a clean break.

Apparently he had grown tired of attempting to win his way to heaven by good conduct. "My righteousness is as filthy rags," he told me. He had found out about grace.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Heavy Stuff

One thing is certain and the rest is lies
The flower that once has bloomed
Forever dies.

A nice thing about being near death is that it really sorts things out. Helps you realize what is not important, get it out of the way. The basic questions take over and the things you used to like start to fade away. Old age helps too.

I went to Uncle John's home for a little reception. His son opened the door. "Can I take your coat?" he asked. He got me a chair and asked if I would like something to drink.

"Your son sure is thoughtful," I told John. He sighed, "But Buddy, it took a lot of beatin' to get him that way."

That pretty well describes it for a lot of us. A lot of beatin'.

I had Santa Clause beaten out of me--the whole Christmas thing, actually. In theology, a lot of stuff was beaten out--a lot of pride and illusions. I started to really believe the Bible. Not just what people said about it, but the book itself.

I had a terrible thought. If you can't find it in the Bible, maybe it was just made up? How much of my belief about things is tradition and human nature, not the Word?

I'm not kidding, this hurts. You can lose friends, maybe even family members, with such an attitude. Gets lonely out there.

Are there compensations? There sure are. Aquinas said, "When you love one thing less, you love another more." Instead of loving people at Christmas time I loved them year round. Instead of the beauty of a decorated tree, I saw the beauty of a tree never to be brought into a house. The 25th of December faded as I thought of how precious every moment of time is, every date.

But the really heavy stuff arises. Eternity becomes so important. You have seen so many die, some quite young, that you want to live where people do not die, ever. Everything in its time, I guess. Now is the time to look at all of life and say, What really matters?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Byzantine Christ

How many people remember President Johnson? His daughter's wedding ? I am not so interested in her wedding dress as in the church where she was married.

Above the altar was a portrait of Christ. Not the kind of picture we are used to, but a dramatic, fearsome, Christ portrayed in tiles, tessare, I believe they are called.

The Jesus in this church's tiles was a risen glorified Christ, the eternal Word Himself. Let us not forget, He is not a carpenter any more. He did not just live a long time ago, He lives today. Soon to return in all his glory.

He certainly is not a baby, He has done that. Judgement is coming and He will do it. I am so glad.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sow in Tears, Reap in Joy

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

Has any nation had a history like Israel's? But what about you? What is your history?

The Egyptians had a custom. They would capture their tears in little bottles and seal them up. They saved their tears of joy often.

Are your tears in God's bottle? Has He sealed them up to remember them?

About 3,000 years ago David trusted God to remember his tears:

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears in thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Psalm 56:8

Time goes away as I read this. How can anyone not love the Old Testament. It is filled with raw emotion.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

But First Must He Suffer

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. Luke 17:25

There is a pattern in our lives, where suffering precedes joy. To really carry it out to its fullness we need to go beyond this life. We will go beyond this life. Christ set the model for this in his suffering in this world.

We do not see what lies ahead in its fullness. We only have the promises of what will be.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: Daniel 7:14

Is there any loss which He cannot restore? Only in our new bodies can we partake in the joy that awaits us.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

They Took My Dog Away

Her name was Belle. She was a black Cocker Spaniel. I asked that her tail not be cut when she was a tiny puppy, so she had a nice long feathery tail. I was a very young boy. She was my only companion for many hours in an empty house as I listened to Captain Midnight and other radio programs for children.

But her big love was when we went for long walks, or so they seemed to me. At the end of each walk there was a challenge. We would run across the railroad tracks not using the crossing. She took her leash in her mouth so she wouldn't trip. We ran as fast as we could. No reason, just for the fun of it.

She never faltered. Her little legs skipped over the tracks as if they were hurdles. Then there was a reward--lots of praise, hugs and kisses--for a "good job!".

One day our phone rang. My Dad mainly listened. "Son, we're going to give your dog away." A neighbor was complaining that her dog watched Belle, got excited and ripped her curtains. We couldn't have that. So I lost my friend Belle.

I saw her once again, a few years after she was taken away. She was in another room and heard my voice. She did not bark--she screamed, a piercing cry. I hugged her once before we had to go. I never saw her again.

Events shape our lives like a hammer on hot metal. As an old man, her memory still makes me cry. What did this hammer blow do for me? I learned that life isn't fair. Often your deep emotions are brushed away as if they did not stab your heart. You don't really matter.

And please don't talk about window treatments to me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sometimes a Fig Tree is Just a Fig Tree

So much has been invented concerning the parable of the fig tree, while the real meaning is lost.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. Matt 24:32.

"Now we know that the fig tree means the nation Israel. We know that the UN created Israel in 1948. We know that all these things Jesus talked about will happen in one generation. So figure a generation from 1948 and prophecy will be fulfilled."

The date of this event or events varied with how long you figured a generation to be. Many figured 30 years. But as 1978 came and went by, the time for a generation kept being advanced. You don't hear as much about this date setting any more.

That is how clever people talked. Now this is not a criticism against preaching about Israel. But what happened in 1948 was not the creation of Israel, or the fulfillment of prophecy.

Reminds me of a statement attributed to Ignatious Loyola, "Don't be too clever." But more than mere cleverness is not the problem here. Before we leap, or follow those who leap, we should look at the scriptures.

I cite Luke 21:29. And he spake to them a parable; Behold, the fig tree, and all the trees;

We could all gain if we checked the scriptures. Before we claim to know what the Bible means, should we not be certain what it says?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Kingdom of God is in the Pharisees

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21

My best friend gave me a nice King James Bible. It has large print and is easy to read, but is not a study Bible with a lot of notes. Yet it has a little note by the above verse--"Or among you."

So many teach and believe that the kingdom of God is a hidden, personal thing. It is something inside you. In fact it was in the Pharisees who questioned Jesus (Luke 17: 20).

But I do not. I believe the kingdom is without you. It will rule the world regardless of how you feel or do not feel about it. Imagine someone saying "The government of the United States is within you." Try not paying taxes based on that.

At the very moment these Pharisees asked Jesus about the kingdom, they were talking to the king.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

But Now, Jesus Said, "But Now"

The kingdom of God has been made so mystical and mysterious. Like only "experts" understand the kingdom. They tell us it is very hard to understand. Trouble with me is, I don't trust the "experts". I even put them in quote marks like they're not really experts at all.

Did Mary know about the kingdom of God? She certainly could not even read. Some people think that she was a simple, pure, woman who was not an expert at all. But she had a great advantage over all the others--the angel Gabriel spoke to her.

Gabriel told Mary about her baby's destiny. "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." Luke 1:32.

"his father David." Now Mary could understand this. David is documented in the Bible very well. No one's name is mentioned in the Bible more than David's . His throne is spoken of too.

This is not mysterious at all. Now I am going to say something shocking. The throne of David and his kingdom will be the Kingdom of God on the earth.

But experts say His kingdom is not of this world. Didn't Jesus himself say so?

Let us look at what Jesus said to Pilate:

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world, : if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. John 18:36.

But now, Jesus said. It was not yet time for him to be king. He had to die first.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Like a Quilt is Made

The last time I went to a fair I headed for the handicraft exhibits. I knew the quilts were there. Guess I am a guy type guy, but quilts fascinate me. I saw one being made once. In almost total silence a group of ladies sewed by hand. Sometimes an older hand had advice for the young ones.

I know that computerized sewing machines can turn quilts out quickly, but where is the joy in that? A good quilting session is not exciting. It is gentle, patient, work. All kinds of fabric may be used. Pieces that seem like nothing fit into the pattern to make it complete.

In the Kentucky countryside they are on sale from porches in the remote regions. The interlaced wedding rings are traditional, and very nice. How do they do it? Is there such a thing as a "developed gift"? First the yearning, then the work and the experience.

Good Bible study is like that. It can be very slow. Some people do not have the ability to do it. It is not exciting, but the results can be beautiful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Song of Solomon

Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. Song of Solomon 4:7

He prayed to understand this book of total love. Many had tried and failed. No one had the key to unlock it. They all knew it was about the love God had for His people. But they could not fit the pieces together.

Finally a man fastened upon it. He made it a prayer priority. Many wise teachers feel Harry Ironside's prayer was answered and yielded to his interpretation.

An old time preacher said, "Any part of the Bible can be understood, if you love it enough."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Liberal's Paycheck

He had a lot of bills to pay. His wife would lay them out for him, but he like to write the checks. He knew his balance to the penny. Money was important to him, he was very definite about that. He liked real estate and stocks too, and his nice car. He was at home with material things and always wanted more.

It was payday for his new job. His first check should be at the secretary's office. As a starter he would get $1,000. He had negotiated for that. Then there was the income he expected from the book he was working on, What the Bible Could Mean.

It was a ponderous volume of 971 pages. The first page had over 300 footnotes, starting with "the" as footnote number one.

He arrived at the office and stated his need--his money. The secretary had a vague, distracted look. She appeared to see right through him. She slid an envelope towards him and returned to her work.

Outside, he opened the envelope. There he found the following:

"Pay to the bearer an indefinite amount." The dollar sign had been crossed out. In its place were rupees, drachma, guilders, pesos, or whatever. "This check expires in 70 A D."

He panicked, what would he tell his wife? He was not sure.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Laughing at Peter

Several times I have heard Peter called "the big fisherman." I can't find such a Biblical reference. Must be the movie of that title starring Howard Keel.

I have also heard the laughter associated with his name. What could be funnier than one who betrayed Christ? None of us would have yielded to the pressure Peter was under. That Peter wept bitterly later is often left off--it not being funny.

I have heard a pastor mention Peter, then shake his head. We must never make a resolve, then fail to keep it. Of course we never do. But Peter was unforgivingly human. He did not follow through, like we always do.

Sometimes a congregation will join a pastor in his laughter. After all, the head man is laughing, we should too. I prefer the Bible to any preacher.

In the Bible we see Peter as the one who recognized Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. We see the only disciple who walked on water, who witnessed the transfiguration, and to whom are given the very keys of heaven.

But these facts are not funny. We won't mention them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aunt Ellie

She was a little woman from the hill country. People there were noted for their feisty personalities. Hers had been modified by life to a more reflective mood. She lived with family. Her husband had died. Hers was mostly a solitary existence.

"I stay in my room," she told me. "I can hear people talking, sometimes arguing, but I stay out of it. I don't want to cause trouble."

She had a nice view, trees, mostly. "I study on 'em," she told me. "Some are young, just starting life. Some are old and gnarled, like me." There was no bitterness in her voice.

"People think we hill people don't know how to talk right,", she once confided. "Take 'heared'," she went on. "Now herd is supposed to be correct, but it is a bunch of animals." She paused to see if I got the message. "Heared is when you have listened to something." She went on to make her point.

She was visiting her sister. One morning it appeared she had lost her mind. She looked looney as she emerged from the bathroom. Her sister thought the worst. "Did you ever see anyone's hair so crazy?" Aunt Ellie finally spoke. She had left it as it was to show her. They laughed together.

I wanted to take their picture together, but they posed so formally, I resorted to a trick. The camera was set on a tripod and focused on them. I told them I wanted to get something and I would be right back.

I had threaded a timer on the shutter release and left the room. I could hear them talking and laughing as I waited outside the room. Suddenly there was a gasp as the flash went off. I reentered. "Sorry about the trick," I explained.

Back in the days of chemical photography, I had to develop the picture. There they were, seated close together, their heads almost touching as they shared a story. It was such a cute picture because they had thought they were alone.

This is how they were, long ago, alone together and natural as could be. How I miss such people, a type gone away. I am so eager to see them again, this time forever.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Has Your Government Been Satanized?

Please don't worry, this will not be a warning about evil governments. Rather, it is about the advantages of Satanization.

Almost over night your government can achieve real status! Great knowledge and great power are available through this process. Sooner or later you may be asked to join in a Satanic union. You can be ready to join soon. I mean join the revived Roman empire.

Too bad about the US, though. Looks like we are headed for the process of "Balkinisation" and may soon be a collection of regions instead of a nation. After all, we started out as a group of colonies.

How did this subject come about? My good friend Hilary mentioned that Walvoord believed the great dragon of Revelation was not Satan, but Rome. It has its points, but I hold that the dragon is Satan.

But what if we are both right? As much as I hate compromise, I can see each view has its points. What if the old Roman empire had never gone away? And what if the remaining parts of Rome were Satanized? There is your great power and knowledge. Of course it is not to last very long.

Jane of Virginia has issued a very wise warning--we are not to add to or subtract from the book of Revelation. We do not intend to ever violate this warning. But for those who are willing, its study is truly worthwhile.

This writer does not believe the process of Satanization has yet taken place. But that is in the near future. I believe we can be joyfully ready to leave before it does take place (Rev. 3:10).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Sound the Refrigerator Makes

We used to listen to an all-night radio program. The host, Jean Shepherd, would say, "If you're sitting alone tonight, in a quiet house, and listening to the sound the refrigerator makes, come on out and join us."

He mentioned an eating spot. On my eighteenth birthday, someone drove me out to the place, as a special treat. I got to meet my radio friend. He shook hands with me, congratulated me on my birthday, and said, "May you have sixty five more."

He is gone now and I am approaching my last days. I have learned about the refrigerator's sound. It's that quiet in my home. I forgo t v and radio. Too many breaks and too much froth for me. Silence can be good. But the pain closes in too. The pain of sorrow. So many have gone before me, some quite young.

Often, the sounds of their voices, and the images of these people is more real than the people surrounding me. Something has been lost in my life. Old photographs come alive, of people both young and full of life.

It seems so wrong that they have passed on and I remain. Even lost pets haunt me. My childhood dogs and cats who have lived and died so long ago.

I know the scriptures that promise all will be restored, all will be well. If it were not for these reassurances, I believe I would go insane.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Uncle Arthur Gets One Wrong

As a child I hated to go to bed and go to sleep. My litte mind was always going. But my mother would read to me from Uncle Arthur. She had bought a set of his bedtime stories. "Just one more, please," I would beg.

The stories had morals to them. I didn't want to be taught so much as to prolong the inevitable, lights out! The stories were expanded into a large set of blue books. You may have seen them, sometimes in doctor's offices.

The illustrations were pretty good. I remember the sleeping king dreaming of the great image in Daniel chapter two.. But I was much older now and tried to be more discerning. I saw the prophet Daniel on his hands and knees. He was seeing the latter days. Knowledge had increased and there was much running to and fro.

Daniel was supposed to be dazzled by it all. Seemed logical. But it was so wrong. The vision being illustrated was from the end of the book of Daniel:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Daniel 12:4

Many a preacher has used this passage to prove that we are living in the last days. As the church, we have been living in the last days for a long time. But the reference is to Israel, and her last days are yet future. "But many are running to and fro," some say. "And knowledge certainly has increased."

Such a pitiful attempt to make the Bible fit the times! I learned that the authors of the series teach a gradual fulfillment of prophecy where events will quickly be brought about.

Years went by. The scripture reference remained a mystery. Someone wrote about its true meaning and cleared it up for me. The passage is about Israel's current blindness and its ending some day. A literal reading is:

The eyes of many shall run to and fro over this prophecy. Their knowledge of it shall greatly increase.

This will occur in Israel's latter days. Christ will be revealed to them.

Uncle Arthur put me to sleep many a night, but I am awake now.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Gate of Heaven

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:12

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid , and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Genesis 28:16,17

How lovely is Genesis. It is so easy to glorify these people, to make them super human. It is enough to realize they really lived. In some ways, they were children, primal people unmarked by civilization. But the first city was built by Cain and the mark was upon him. A sinner protected by God who had mercy upon him. How can anyone read these things and not feel the power and passion in them?

When my little cousin Mary Catherine died, so young, so innocent, I thought of her in heaven. I had not learned of the rapture. No one knew about it or told me of it.

I have seen her grave. I remember a sweet, quiet little girl, with long braids. Her mother loved to braid her hair. One week I was playing with her, then she was gone. I did not understand. I was not taught of the wonderful resurrection that awaits us.

All I knew was heaven and I wanted to be there. I wanted to go there and be with Mary Catherine. I still do. I want to go through that gate.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Other Lazarus

An entire theology uses the story of Lazarus and the rich man as its basis. This story is becoming known now as a parable, not as a description of an afterlife.

But the story of the resurrection of Jesus' friend in John chapter eleven is no parable. It is a literal account. Martha understood what many today do not understand--the sleep of death.

Jesus says of his friend, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. John 11: 11.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:14.

I wonder why we do not hear of Martha's words, but instead hear of another Lazarus?

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. John 11:23.

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: John 11:24 and 25

Our theology has been diluted. So many do not understand. The clergy often mislead us, but Martha knew Jesus as a friend. Martha understood.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Baby is Born

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13

Probably the hardest part of being born is choosing your parents. Wouldn't you agree? I mean if you had made the wrong choice you would not have been born. Someone else would.

Then there is the time of year. I like summer, so I chose June 19th. It is hard to believe I was so wise. My free will came through for me once again.

I was calling my father "Daddy" at an early age, as soon as I was born, actually. Some people may think you are born first, then later you call him "Abba,father."

It was all up to me--parents, time of year, knowing who had given me life. But I figured it all out on my own. I am so proud.

Oh, God did His part, but the idea was mine.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do Not Teach Prophecy, Especially Revelation!

It was in the nineteen forties and I was about nine years old.I had found a copy of Believe It Or Not, by Ripley. .My little mind was just opening up. I proudly read the words of a section called "contradictions". "the steel guitar is not made of steel, but is played with a piece of steel."

I got about three of them off. My father scowled,"Debunk, debunk, debunk, that's all you do." I had been so proud of my new knowledge.

But I had made a serious mistake. I had found errors. I had contradicted. My job was to learn and believe what the authorities said.

Later, a voice came over the car radio. Someone had given us a ride. As we were getting out of the car, the voice began to speak of the book of Revelation. "Hold on, mister," my father muttered. "You're getting in over your head. You're talking about things no one understands."

It was a dark warning. The man was probably a fanatic. Who else would talk about the forbidden book. We weren't meant to know about it.

As a young man, a member of the church I belonged to had lunch with me. I was talking about Revelation. Particularly, chapter seven. I read off the twelve tribes that comprised the one hundred and forty four thousand. As I finished with the tribe of Benjamin, he said, "Of course that is the church." Wonder which tribe he belonged to?

My pastor reluctantly agreed to my teaching Revelation. "I was told "Do not teach prophecy. It divides people," he told me. Wonder who told him that? Better to obey them than follow the Bible. Blessed is he that readeth, and they which hear the words of this prophecy, ... Revelation 1:3.

So many warn you not to study it, or tell you how difficult it is. I have ignored them.

Debunk, debunk, debunk. That's all I do.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Paid Her Monday

A true skeptic is skeptical even of his own skepticism, tomorrow I may believe.
David Hume

Confession of a high school skeptic--I was one. I was so smart and dumb people were the believers.

We had moved into a nice old house. Two school teachers had lived there. They had left most of their possessions behind. One of them called one day. Could she please have her old can opener? But they had left their books. I didn't find any pirate stories or Robin Hoods, so I left them alone. I was only six.

Years later, when I had proclaimed my atheism, I went exploring in the attic. There I found a curious volume of forgotten lore, as Poe would say. It had a Latin title, the chapter headings were in Greek. It was called Pater Mundi. I was intrigued. Could this old volume, from another century, hold my interest?

Inside, I found the classic proofs of God's existence. Give him a chance, I thought. The old man doesn't know any better. I thought of him as old. But as he laid out his case, I was astounded. The author had total logic at his command. He was of a scientific mind. He was so logical, I was caught in the net of it all.

But the author went far beyond any pious reasoning I had ever heard. He said that the existence of evil in the world was used as an excuse for doubt. How could God let bad things happen? There were several answers to this seeming dilemma, he explained.

Maybe God exists, but is too weak to overcome the evil of the world? He went on. The presence of evil is only an objection to the existence of a good God. What if God was evil!

He asked one to believe if there was more evidence for God's existence than against it? A fair person would yield their unbelief if there was the slightest preponderance of evidence. Then he reasoned tons of evidence.

I was defeated, but would not acknowledge it. Walking home with a Catholic friend, I expressed my doubt. He objected. "Father Montanus says unbelievers just can't admit there is anyone greater than they are."

That was, for me, the fatal blow. That night I prayed with tears in my eyes. Forgive me Lord, I believe. I thought of the words of Jesus, "O ye of little faith." That had been me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

From Omar Khyyam to Christ

My sister belonged to a book club. Soon she hadn't time to read her books, but I did. This was a low point in my young life. People had failed me so far. My father would rather talk about what he had had for lunch than show any interest in his son.

Packages arrived at my quiet home. One was a paisley jacketed volume, lavishly illustrated of a world I knew nothing of. People sitting under trees, drinking wine, some of a man merely thinking. I was thinking too. I did not like what surrounded me, people or things. How many young people know what they hate, but not what they love?

I put away the volume, but it stayed in my mind. I was surrounded by industry, workers doing their jobs, and little else. I saw nothing that would appeal to a young man like me. So many questions were on my mind. No one had the answers. I reopened the volume, out of curiosity. Beautiful illustrations beguiled me. Then the words. It was the Rubiyat of Omar Khyyam. Omar had all the questions I had. I was awakened. Here was a man who thought.

Omar did not have the answers I needed, but my mind was turned on, never to be turned off. I did not understand yet, but this was my preparation. Later on, not much later, I found Christ. Jesus had the answers.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand laboured it to grow:
And this was all the harvest that I reaped-
I came like water, and like the wind I go.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"I'm Saved," She Said - We Were Shocked

Her name was Harriet, she was young, still in high school. She asked to speak to the congregation of our little church. She stood before us and began to speak. "I am a sinner who was saved. Thank God my sins are forgiven. I am so thankful that Jesus has saved me."

We were shocked. How dare anyone, especially anyone so young, say they were saved? We knew that a lot of good works had to be piled up for a person to be saved. Even then, it might not be enough. We were supposed to be working on our salvation, all of us. Giving money was good, attending church was very important. I got a little white Bible for perfect attendance. My dog chewed it up pretty good.

Ours was a small church, but we hoped we would grow. "The church is growing," my father said. So many times that even my sister, who worshipped him, could not stand it. Still, we knew that although there were temporary setbacks, we would eventually save the world.

If we just attended enough meetings, that might do it. Meetings were very important, I still don't know why. Foreign missions were good. The farther away the people, the better.

My father was president of the Sunday School. I remember him, chin on fist, studying the incomprehensible lessons. Years later, after enough people complained, the church admitted it. The lessons were terrible and had to be discontinued. They had been busy work only.

In all this time, my mother was not certain of her own salvation. My father, busy as he was, never knew it.

No wonder, is it, that religion was not for me? I left the church, never to return, not to that denomination. Turns out, Harriet was right, not studying lessons, or endless meetings, were the answer.

It was so simple, I finally found out, Jesus doesn't just do "His part". He does it all.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nobody Reads My Books

This was my grandmother's lament. The books she spoke of were by M.R. DeHaan. Loveable but foolish, old woman, I thought. DeHaan had been a physician who gave up his practice to teach the Word of God.

And teach he did, by radio and books, the ones she complained about. I was quite young. Though a believer, his literalness was too much for me. Giants upon the earth--who believed that? He cited Genesis 6. I wouldn't even read that part of the Bible. Her own son did not believe in God, and married a woman who did not. My grandmother was alone in her faith.

She was named Arizona, named after the territory that became a state the year she was born. Her husband, a faithful believer, had died, leaving her by herself. We visited and got along well. "Grandma, they have their own books to read." I spoke of her son and his family. But she mourned for those who laughed at the Word.

Years went by and my faith grew. What if the stories in Genesis were true? I bought a little book on Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks, but found it incomprehensible. By then, I realized the fault was mine. Oh how slowly God works! How patient He is! Years roll by and some of us develop so slowly.

Grandma, I wish I could speak to you now. Your books are treasures. I have studied them. Your son did not read your books, but your grandson did.

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:4

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Frank Sinatra Theology

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; Matt. 27:51

About Frank, many once almost worshipped this man. Some despised him. Others considered him an excellent singer. I have another view in mind. He was a sensitive actor who got even better with the passage of time.

I am thinking of "The First Deadly Sin," where a man's wife dies. See how many times a cross is portrayed in this film.

Why mention theology, and why Frank? When asked what his views on religion were, Mr. Sinatra said that it was between a person and God, with no one intervening. Sounds like what I believe. Imagine being able to pray directly to God. When Christ died the way was opened. To many an alien idea. But I try to do it every day.