THOUGHTS & COMMENTS
Deciding what the two would do was difficult in the beginning because neither wanted to do what the other wanted to do. So they decided to take turns: one Saturday Tom would choose something for them to do, and the next Saturday Jerry would do the choosing. This system not only prevented agreements (much to their dismay) but also afforded a great deal of variety in their life. On the week-end Tom picked the activity they would ride motorcycles in the desert, or take in a auto wrecking derby, or endure a crushing crowd at a football game. When Jerry did the deciding the two would attend an opera in the park, or sip tea while listening to poetry, or watch a sunset over the Pacific.
Last week tom did the choosing, and his choice was an X-rated movie in the seedy part of town. It must be understood in order to be appreciated that movies of this sort are unlawful in the town which they lived, so only a select group of people were allowed behind the green door of this establishment. And in order to prove you were part of the privileged few, you must provide an appropriate answer to certain questions when asked at the door. And, of course, Tom had the necessary answers.
"Do you believe watching educational movies of this sort are beneficial and should be allowed by law?" asked the burly man through the opened slit of the green door. "I surely do," replied Tom. "How about you, bud?" the man forcefully directed the question toward Jerry. "Sure, I guess so, why not," Jerry affirmed.
This week it is Jerry's turn to do the choosing. And being disposed toward the spiritual, Jerry chose to go to a local church. Unbeknownst to either Jerry nor Tom, the church Jerry chose was even more tilted to the spiritual than was Jerry. In order to attend this church, one must answer a certain question, or be disallowed. A preacher in a long black robe met the two at the door of the church. "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?" the preacher asked Jerry. "For sure," Jerry answered without hesitation. "And how about you, my son?" the question was posed to Tom. "Um, yeah, sure, why not," Tom hesitantly replied.
After the service, as Tom and Jerry were crossing Main street, a Mac truck ran a red light. It was time for Tom and Jerry to meet their Maker.
The gates of Heaven, Tom and Jerry found, were heavily fortified and only an elite few were admitted through the gates of pearl. An Angel in a long flowing robe of brilliant white met the pair at the gate and asked the question that would prove they were or were not one of the elite few who were to be admitted. "Do you, from your heart, truly believe Jesus is the Son of God?" the Angel asked of Jerry. "Yes, I think so. My church teaches that he is, and so I must also, I think. That is, sure I do!" The Angel then posed the question to Tom: "Do you, from your heart, firmly believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of the living God?" "I suppose so, your Honorship. I mean, I don't know much about such things, but sure I do! Why not."
How about you? Do you think they made it? What does it mean to you when you read on your church bulletin what it says: "We Believe?" Is it speaking to you? Or for you?
Or, do you know at all what you believe?
Or, for that matter, are you even sure what "Believe" means?
Do you think you should investigate the matter?
In the past, Might makes Right was often applied to those who disagreed with whatever religion happened to be in power. It was the Jews over the Christians. Then it was the Christians over the Jews. Then it was the Christians under the banner of Catholicism over everybody. Then it was Islam over everybody - and now it's everybody over everybody. Everybody is right in their own eyes, and nobody else is right in anyone else's eyes.
Now we know that none of the powers that had the weightiest hand was right because they were the meanest and the strongest. But if it isn't the mightiest who is right, then who is? How do we judge?
Perhaps it's the oldest denomination that holds the Truth. In that case, the Jews are the winner. And if we only count the Christian denominations, then I suppose it would be the Nestorians, or the Eastern Orthodox church who holds the edge. But for us here in the Western world, I suppose it's the Roman Catholic church who takes the lead, and therefore the rightest.
But even the earliest of these known churches have to set their record aside if the claims of the Restorationists hold any water. These Restorationists, like the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), the Christadelphians, the Millerites (Seventh Day Adventist), the World Wide Church of God, and the Jehovah's Witnesses have the advantage.
If we use a very large base, that is, incorporate thousands of denominations into clusters, then it would appear that the Evangelicals have the lead in sheer numbers of adherents, followed by the Catholics, with the Mainline Protestants bringing up the tail. [How anyone can differentiate between Mainline Protestants and Evangelicals for any such comparison I have no idea. All I know is someone did it, and so I'm using it. I haven't gone out and counted them myself, so I won't stand behind any of these figures.]
If you belong to any of the groups listed above, I am sure you have chosen the group that your denomination was the head of the list to be the one that is "right." And if your church was not listed, or settled to the bottom of the list, then I am equally sure you decided that none of the above statistics are correct.
So then, since no human attempt works, how about if we look through the Bible and see if there is a way that God uses to determine validity.
The first method that comes to mind that God uses is: He just picks someone, regardless of whether that person has proven himself or not. For instance Abraham was picked. We know of nothing he did to warrant being picked. We know that later he proved himself worthy, but that was many years afterwards.
Jonah was another one who was picked. He obviously didn't want to be picked, but he was picked anyway and forced to do that which he least wanted to do in spite of all his attempts to avoid doing it.
Job was picked. He certainly didn't ask to go through what he did.
Paul was picked - after he was thrown to the ground and blinded.
The twelve Apostles were picked, again having done nothing that we know of to have proven their worth.
Worthiness, it appears, is what someone who is chosen by God proves after he or she is chosen, not what he or she does in order to be chosen.
Those people listed above proved their worth after being picked. But what about others? Does everyone God chooses prove themselves?
God picked Saul to be king of Israel. As I read the book of Samuel, Saul didn't do so well. I would even go so far as to say he flunked.
Then there's Judas.
And how about the nation of Israel who God brought out of bondage? Here there were at least two million possibilities for success. How many made it? Just two: Joshua and Caleb. Not even the man who was called the "Friend of God" made it. Nor did the one God chose to be His High Priest make it, after failing miserably by not only defying Moses along with his sister, Miriam, but in building the Golden calf.
But there is yet the sweet psalmist David, the innocent and faithful youth who slew the giant. God even called David; "A man after my own heart." Surely David made it though without failure. After all, just look at the vast number of Psalms he wrote that we use for inspiration in order to make it from day to day. And speaking of numbers, numbering was one of David's greatest downfalls. He numbered the people, something God clearly did not want him to do. A small thing you say? Well, because of this "small thing," God killed 70,000 men, innocent of David's sin, and destroyed the city of Jerusalem. And then there's Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband to cover up his, David's, adulteress affair.
It would appear that David also flunked out (Mat 20:16; 22:14; John 6:70; Acts 9:15).
Choosing large numbers of people isn't the answer, Israel proved that.
Picking small numbers of people doesn't work, Judas gave us evidence of that.
Perhaps it's the broad, well lit and well traveled way that is the right one. But the Bible tells us that it's the Narrow road that few find that is the right one (Mat 7:14).
Maybe if we spent all our time studying the Bible and reading all the commentaries and listening to all the preachers on the radio and TV we could learn the Truth. But then God said he hides the Truth so we can't find it:
10Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (Mat 13:)
n 1: someone who is learned in theology or who speculates about theology [syn: theologian, theologist, theologizer, theologiser]
SPECULATE \Spec"u*late\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Speculated; p. speculari to spy out, observe, fr. specula a lookout, fr. specere to look. See Spy.]
1. To consider by turning a subject in the mind, and viewing it in its different aspects and relations; to meditate; to contemplate; to theorize; as, to speculate on questions in religion; to speculate on political events.
"It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society." --Hawthorne.
2. (Philos.) To view subjects from certain premises given or assumed, and infer conclusions respecting them a priority.
Advance in value, and a consequent sale at a profit; - often, in a somewhat depreciative sense, of unsound or hazardous transactions; as, to speculate in coffee, in sugar, or in bank stock.
v 1: to believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds; "Scientists supposed that large dinosaurs lived in swamps" [syn: speculate, theorize, theorise, conjecture, hypothesize, hypothesise, hypothecate, suppose]
2: talk over conjecturally, or review in an idle or casual way and with an element of doubt or without sufficient reason to reach a conclusion.
3: reflect deeply on a subject; "philosophers have speculated on the question of God for thousands of years"; "The scientist must stop to observe and start to excogitate" [syn: chew over, think over, meditate, ponder, excogitate, contemplate, muse, reflect, mull, mull over, ruminate, speculate]
4: invest at a risk;[syn: speculate, job] Be abstracted, be caught short, be short, belong, brood, bucket, bucketshop, buy in, buy into, call, cast a horoscope, cast lots, cerebrate, chew over, chew the cud, cogitate, consider, contemplate, cut lots, cut the cards, debate, deliberate, deposit margin, digest, divine, dope, dope out, dowse for water, draw lots, draw straws, entertain a theory, espouse a theory, evaluate, excogitate, financier, forebode, forecast, foresee, foretell, fortune-tell, gamble, game, go long, guess, hariolate, have a theory, hold on, hypothesize, introspect, invest, invest in, judge, lay out money, lot, make a killing, make a prediction, make a prognosis, make a prophecy, make a scoop, make an investment, margin up, match coins, meditate, miss the market, mull over, muse, operate, overstay the market, perpend, place, play, play around with, play at dice, play the market, play the ponies, play with, plow back into, plunge, ponder, ponder over, postulate, predict, prefigure, presage, prognosticate, prophesy, put, pyramid, raffle off, read palms, read tea leaves, read the future, reason, reflect, reinvest, review, risk, ruminate, scalp, scoop the market, shoot craps, sink, sink money in, soothsay, sport, stag, stag the market, study, take a chance, take a flier, tell fortunes, tell the future, theorize, toss, toy with, trade on margin, vaticinate, venture, wager, weigh, wonder about.
DOCTOR \Doc"tor\, v. t. n. Doctoring.]
3. To tamper with and arrange for one's own purposes; to falsify; to adulterate; as, to doctor election returns; to doctrinaire.
One who would apply to political or other practical concerns the abstract doctrines or the theories of his own philosophical system; a propounder of a new set of opinions;
A dogmatic theorist. Used also adjectively; as, doctrinaire Notions.
adj 1: stubbornly insistent on theory without regard for practicality or suitability.
n 1: a stubborn person of arbitrary or arrogant opinions [syn: dogmatist, doctrinaire] antiblack, armchair authority, authoritarian, authoritative, biased, bigot, bigoted, bullheaded, chauvinist, chauvinistic, colored, conceited, doctrinarian, dogged, dogmatic, dogmatist, dogmatizer, dogmatizing, fanatic, hypothesist, hypothesizer, illiberal, infallibilist, influenced, interested, intolerant, jaundiced, jingo, know-nothing, magisterial, male chauvinist, mulish, nonobjective, obstinate, one-sided, opinionated, opinionative, opinioned, opinionist, oracular, partial, partisan, peremptory, pertinacious, pig, pigheaded, pontifical, positive, positivist, positivistic, prejudiced, prepossessed, pronunciative, racist, self-opinionated, self-opinioned, sexist, speculator, stiff-necked, stubborn, superpatriot, superpatriotic, swayed, theoretic, theoretician, theorist, theorizer, twisted, ultranationalist, undetached, undispassionate, warped, xenophobic
DOCTRINE \doc"trine\ (d[o^]k"tr[i^]n), n. [F. doctrine, L. doctrina, fr. doctor. See Doctor.]
1. Teaching; instruction. "He taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, (Mark iv. 2).
2. That which is taught; what is held, put forth as true, and supported by a teacher, a school, or a sect; a principle or position, or the body of principles, in any branch of knowledge; any tenet or dogma; a principle of faith; as, the doctrine of atoms; the doctrine of chances. "The doctrine of gravitation." --I. Watts.
Articles of faith and doctrine.
Syn: Precept; tenet; principle; maxim; dogma.
Usage: -- Doctrine, Precept. Doctrine denotes whatever is recommended as a speculative truth to the belief of others.
PRECEPT is a rule down to be obeyed.
DOCTRINE supposes a teacher; precept supposes a superior, with a right to command. The doctrines of the Bible; the precepts of our holy religion. "Unpracticed he to fawn or seek for power."
n 1: a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school [syn: doctrine, philosophy, philosophical system, school of thought, ism] Athanasian Creed, Catechism, Nicene Creed, a belief, article of faith, articles of faith, articles of religion, axiom, basic, belief, canon, concept, conviction, credenda, credo, creed, dogma, faith, fundamental, idea, instruction, maxim, opinion, orthodoxy, postulate, precept, principle, proposition, religion, religious belief, religious faith, system of beliefs, teaching, tenet, theology, theory, thesis, tradition
But what's the alternative? Leaving one church, or the dictates of one preacher or theologian to join another is nothing more than jumping from one frying pan to another, is it not? And trying to understand the Bible on your own is like becoming the blind teacher and the blind follower all in one.
There is only one way out of this mess, and no, that way certainly is not reading this website and accepting anything I've said. That's just choosing another frying pan. Here is the only way to find the Truth:
29The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
28The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
"You always say that. Ever since you received the Holy Spirit you're always in the middle of the good stuff!"
Then on the other hand there are churches who believe we must beat our bodies into subjection and thereby please God and be taken into Heaven.
But even setting the religious aspect aside, creating good habits and getting rid of bad habits is a good idea, so it seems. If nothing else such a practice is bound to boost our ego, make friends and influence people, as well as save us a buck or two in the process.
On the Spiritual plane, that is, as a Christian, is this what God wants of us? That is are we to learn self-discipline? There are certainly plenty of places where the Bible tells us to do just that, and who could dispute such? So apparently God does want that of us. But is it God's ultimate desire for us? That is, if we were to seek the most that God has to offer, what would please Him most, is there something beyond beating our bodies into subjection?
I think there is. It appears to me that the Apostles, as they walked with Jesus before His death, failed miserably to do that which was right, even in their own eyes. But after Jesus was resurrected, these same men did wondrous things that amazed even themselves.
What was the difference?
When these men, and many other men and women, received the Holy Ghost, they were transformed into new creatures. What did the Holy Ghost do? Did He make it possible for the Apostles to form good habits and to get rid of their bad habits? I don't find that to be true. It appears to me that these men did just the opposite of what we or the world would expect of us; they stopped doing anything at all, and began following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It seems to me anything we do that seems right in our carnal mind will only hinder the Holy Spirit's influence upon us.
This is not to say we shouldn't do good things. Not at all. But it does mean we should keep our Spiritual ears open to the faint voice of God and be ready to obey instantly without our "good habits" getting in the way.
Good things prevent even better things from happening. An example of this is a church service where everything is planned out to the second. Prayers are written out for you to follow, music is spoon-fed from books and choirs, and the sermon might as well have been played from a radio.
"Did you feel the Holy Spirit move in service today?"
Of course you know that the Holy Spirit can not "move" in a tin can or in a straight jacket.
We do the same thing in our personal lives when we have everything planned out; even our wonderful moments with the family in prayer and in Bible readings and in helping our neighbor. It might be that the Holy Spirit wants us to help our neighbor when we have scheduled prayer and Bible reading. In such a case, which do you do?
Paul spoke of times he had fully intended to do good things in a certain area, but the Holy Spirit forbad him, or directed him somewhere else. The Bible tells us this:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:)
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