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  1. cb25
    14 March 2013 @ 10:36 am

    Charles, I cannot read your blog without a deep sense of pain and memories. My brother died at 13 from Cystic Fibrosis.

    The buckets of tears and effort; the desperate prayers, the long nights, the suffering, the heartache to the whole family; an annointing…was that twice over the years? Not sure.

    Life is deeply unfair, and it is in the face of these types of circumstances that the absolute failure of our bests efforts to justify that harsh, unfair, intensely troubling aspect of life, is most obvious. We hurt because our answers, and our pleas, begin to echo, bouncing of the walls like slaps in the face. I've been there.

    May I suggest, if your freind is struggling with these empy echoes bouncing off the walls, let the silence in. Strip away the religious context that can come to a point of causing more pain and hurt. Just let yourselves hurt, struggle, and grieve together without the guilt, doubt, shame, questions, burdens.

    It is not without reason that some surveys have found that very sick people prayed for do worse than those who are not prayed for. The added burdens of urgency, responsiblity, guilt, having to believe, can become counter productive. Whatever days he does or does not have – make each one a new one, with freindship and the support of fellow humans the center of everything. If God wants to poke his nose in he will, but don't hold your breath or stress over it. Just help your freind to live today.

  2. Stephen Ferguson
    14 March 2013 @ 11:01 am

    Charles I think the healing failed because what you and your friends essentially tried to do was magic.  Regardless of the intentions, magic doesn't work.  

    By magic, I mean the religious concept found in most cultures of performing certain rituals with the intention of forcing a deity or supernatural entity to obey our commands.  Sometimes it helps to know the deity's name.  Sometimes it helps to have an image of the deity.

    The Hebrew religion (which includes both Christianity and arguably Islam) doesn't believe in magic, and it is usually forbidden.  You can't force God to obey your commands, as much as we want.  It is part of the reason why God's secret name Yahweh was traditionally unprounceable.  It is why God's reply about 'I am' may actually mean 'What is it to you' (as in, 'No Moses, you can't control me').  It is why graven images are forbidden.  It is ultimately why the sons of Sceva failed in driving out the demons in Christ's name (Acts 19:11-20).

    Prayer isn't magic.  It is communication with God so we do His will; not so we can force God to do our will.  It is only when we submit to His will, and become His agents on earth, that we can move mountains.  

    As to why God chooses to intervene in some cases and not in others, we don't know.  On that I largely agree with Chris.  Sometimes it isn't a question of God intervening or not, it is human beings choosing not to listen to the Holy Spirit – and God won't force us to act as 'God has no hands but our hands' (Dorothy Soelle).  Sometimes there is a wider purpose we don't understand, like in Job.  Sometimes bad things just happen to good people without their being a reason, as Jesus noted about the Tower of Silas. 

    That's my general view and no doubt some of you will disagree, which is fine with me.  

    • William Noel
      14 March 2013 @ 1:43 pm

      It is "magic" only when we fail to see clearly that God is the source of the power we have seen at work.

  3. cb25
    14 March 2013 @ 11:19 am

    Stephen,

    I have to say, I'm a little puzzled, how you can say "that was magic" so it failed etc.

    James: annointing with oil? Not magic? Acts 19:12 Hankerchiefs healing sick? Not magic? Angels stirring waters? Not magic?

    "It is only when we submit to His will, and become His agents on earth, that we can move mountains." 

    Doesn't that take Charles' question full circle? Is that really not exactly what he tried to do? We certainly did with my brother. At every point in the circle, one is left desparately trying to "do God's will", and because nothing works, one never can ascertain they have done God's will.

    I know you agreed with me on some points, and wish I could return the fuzzy, but I find your emphasis a bit troubling.  

    • Stephen Ferguson
      14 March 2013 @ 11:30 am

      Chris, my point is you can't force God to do anything.  Sh#t happens, as the saying goes.  Much of religion (or superstitution) is aimed at trying to avoid that most basic reality of life.  Sometimes supernatural miracles occur, but not often.  We really don't know why God appears to intervene in some cases but not others, which is the frustrating thing.  But performing a certain set of rituals doesn't guarantee anything.  The annointing of the sick isn't magic, it is a symbol, just as the bread and white are not the literal blood and flesh of Jesus Christ.   

    • Stephen Ferguson
      14 March 2013 @ 11:36 am

      To use another example, wasn't Moses' great sin in striking the rock in effect his attempt to perform magic?  In the sense, he tried to force God's power to perform the miracle, rather than acting upon God's own instruction.

      I admit it is a very difficult concept but I think a fascinating one.  It it precisely fascinating because magic appears to be universal aspect of religion in most cultures.  Even within modern Christianity, much of it is in fact an attempt at magic.  From the invocation of the Eucharist (where I believewe get the term 'hocus pocus') to attempts by modern Evanglical Tele-evangelists preaching Prosperity Gospel, magic is found even in our own midsts.

      • cb25
        14 March 2013 @ 11:42 am

        Stephen, mmm, I think I see where you are coming from.

        Love that bit about hocus pocus! I guess I have to admit, I think it is all hocus pocus really. Perhaps that is why I feel so deeply for Charles's story in a way… so much pain over the invisible, almost making the physical/emotional pain more unbearable than it already is.

  4. William Noel
    14 March 2013 @ 1:40 pm

    Charles,

    My heart goes out to you because I've been in such a situation more than once.  There are few more discouraging situations than seeing death approach to claim someone we love and not seeing our prayers for their healing answered.  We've heard about God healing in answer to prayer.  Maybe we've seen God do it over a period of time.  Maybe we've seen God do it instantly.  So, God!  Why not my friend!?  Why not now!?

    I would like to encourage you to buy and  read Jack Deere's books "Surprised by the Voice of God" and "Surprised by the Power of the Spirit."  If you have a Kindle you can download them from Amazon.  In those books he gives a firsthand and scriptural exploration of gift-based ministries, how God designed for them to function and how they help build the church.  In a nutshell, learning to exercise the power of God to perform miracles requires a lot of us and is a learning experience.  God performs miracles for the purpose of creating believers, wither that believer is the recipient of the miracle or an observer.  Much more than that, it is completely and totally at the will of God and not our will.  We can wish with all our hearts to see the person healed and to be God's servant in ministering that healing and when that doesn't happen we can choose to become frustrated and let that damage our faith.  Or, we can seek God's answer to explain why so we can grow in our relationship with Him.  The surprise in His answers often is Him never saying why He did not heal that person, but to show us how He is helping us grow so we can minister with greater power because we are in closer harmony with God. 

    Your heart hurts, but in your pain you have a wonderful opportunity to grow in the Holy Spirit and to discover the ministry God wants you to be doing.  Based on my experience I'll give you at least a 95% probability that it has nothing to do with preaching, teaching, giving Bible studies, distributing literature, medical evangelism or being a colporteur.  So keep your eyes open to see where God is leading you.

    • Stephen Foster
      16 March 2013 @ 10:44 pm

      No offense intended here at all, believe me; but how can “based on [your] experience,” or anyone’s individual experience or experiences can anyone guesstimate “a 95% probability” of what someone else’s spiritual gifting may not be comprised?
       
      Your experience William is ostensibly reflective of what the Holy Spirit has gifted and guided you to do, personally. Those who are convicted and or gifted to do other things, including “preaching, teaching, giving Bible studies, distributing literature, medical evangelism, or being a colporteur” are, ostensibly, led by the same Spirit that guides you.
       
      Your role and your gifting in God’s economy is a personal and individual one. It is for the benefit and edification of others; but it is given individually.

  5. Stephen Ferguson
    14 March 2013 @ 2:29 pm

    'I have done, quite literally, everything I can think of in order to show him the love of God.  I have prayed the tears out of my eyes.  I’ve tried Bible studies.  Prayer circles.  Different doctors.  Just being a listener.  Pastoral counseling.  I can’t list all the things I’ve tried.  But he got worse, not better.  With every change in tactic I expected some type of improvement, yet there has been no change in his sickness or in his soul.'

    I guess another way of saying my point above is to say I hope Charles doesn't think he or his friends did anything 'wrong' or necessarily lacked faith.  I agree with what William says about but I think we can wrongly think being 'spiritual' means forcing God to do our biding, rather than listening to God – who sometimes says no or says nothing.  

    I know that is hard but that is the horrible warzone we live in now.  I am reminder of Job's children and servants.  We tend to focus on Job, who was tested for some higher purpose.  But what about Job's children and servants – they seem nothing more than collateral damage.

    There probably isn't some magical formular to make God give us what we want.  Using long words won't force God, as Jesus notes that is what the pagans do.  Using foreign languages won't force God, as God understands us all perfectly as we know from the Tower of Bable and gift of tongues.  Getting more people to pray won't necessarily force God either, nor will trying to bargain with Him, nor will vain repetitions.  

    I am reminded a my granfather's best friend.  This friend asked for a loan so he could pay for more masses be said so his mother could get out of purgertory.  As if God can be bought, as if paying people to pray would necessarily have any difference.  

    Truth be told, given enough time, all of our chances of survival reach 0%. Don't we think that if God could save us all from pain and suffering on this earth He wouldn't in a heart beat?  To that extent, I don't really believe God is 'all powerful', because as His nature is Love, and love requires free choice, that involves allowing evil to reign on this world – if only for a little while longer.

     

  6. Elaine Nelson
    14 March 2013 @ 5:10 pm

    When we realize that God is not Santa Claus, we will stop begging and pleading for our wishes to be fulfilled.  God has never promised to heal everyone, otherwise no one would ever die.  We are all mortal and some die much sooner than others.  But after doing all that is medically possible, if prayers help, they should be directed toward acceptance of the inevitable rather than fighting desperately for the impossible.

    All of us have experienced death of our close family and loved ones.  Being willing to "let go" is not easy, but we must learn to accept what cannot be changed.  Clinging and begging God is rejecting that His will, not ours, is what we should ask and a prayer of acceptance.  Grieving with anger corrodes the soul.

    • Charles Eaton
      14 March 2013 @ 5:41 pm

      You misunderstand.  It's not death I'm worried about, in fact, in many ways I would almost consider myself suicidal because I look forward to death.  But the reason why I can look forward to death is because I anticipate a new life afterward, a life my friend does not want to participate in.  I accept that he will die eventually, maybe tomorrow maybe years from now, I just want him to have that same hope for life after death that I have.  As long as he has that, while i'll be momentarily sad if he were to drop dead tomorrow, I would be very very happy over the long run.  I did not want to heal his sickness to extend his life, but rather to give him a clearer view of what Jesus is trying to do for His soul.

  7. Elaine Nelson
    14 March 2013 @ 7:04 pm

    Do only Christians die peacefully?  Muslims appear to with prospects of 72 virgins awaiting them.  Expectation becomes reality for many.  I  can face death peacefully (maybe not all the pain!) as God is always my judge and I leave it in his hands.

  8. Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
    14 March 2013 @ 7:44 pm

    Mr Eaton says: "I tried to heal someone this week."
    ———–
    I think you meant 'I asked God to heal someone who didn't believe in him'.  Your attempt to try and point your friend to the Healer is admirable and you did what most Christians would also do.  Pointing him to Jesus is where the healing process starts even before he feels better.  The 'didn't work' part isn't warranted in this context.  Is your friend still alive? Then there is always hope especially if he can give his life to Christ and receive eternal life even though God may say no to a miracle right now. 

    cb25's advice to leave God out of this process is bad advice indeed.  I'd like to see what study he mentions that says those without prayer fare better.  Unless of course, he is referring to Charismatics screaming and shouting all at one go.  That may be detrimental to some sick people but at least they cared enough to be there and pray.  So no sweat man, you did your thing.  You're not dumb for asking God to heal an unbeliever.  That’s faith. It would have been dumb not to do what you did and are doing!  Just knowing that God can make miracles happen and bring healing even to dying people is where the hope that makes every last moment of life worth living:  It’s because He lives, we can face tomorrow, no matter what.  Eh!  Yeah!

  9. earl calahan
    14 March 2013 @ 8:35 pm

    Having experience w/annointing & praying for members w/terminal illness, requesting healing to God.
    i've never witnessed a super natural happening, although there were a couple of serious accident victims
    that recovered, so can't say that was a miracle. i believe, unless the one thats failing wishes the miracle
    to happen, it won't. For instance the different attitudes of the 2 thiefs on the crosses w/Jesus. Or two sporting teams , before the game, asking God to favor their team. The winner shouts YES!!!YES!!!, HE ANSWERED OUR PRAYER. Charles, you should not be sad, or question why God has not answered your prayer for your friend. God does not coerce your friends decision, nor should you  agonize with it. Go to your friend, tell him how much you've valued his friendship, and he has your understanding, and you love him. Don't persist in your previous efforts.Let the friend die on his terms. God has heard you, rest in His peace. 

  10. William Noel
    14 March 2013 @ 8:55 pm

    James 5:14 asks, "Is any among you sick…?"  It doesn't ask, "Is any among you on their death bed or afficted with a terminal illness?"  Seeking God for Divine healing is something we should be doing more often and far earlier.  God performs miracles of healing to demonstrate His love for us and to create belief.  But not everyone is willing to believe and it is very easy for us to think we can impose the benificence of God on someone who is not ready to believe, or for whom God is allowing to complete their life here before eternity.  Learning to tell the difference requires that we develop a far closer relationship with God than any of us has imagined.

  11. cb25
    14 March 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    Earl,

    I wouldn't use the theives on the cross as examples. They both reviled Jesus according to Matthew and Mark. Only Luke says otherwise, so the weight of evidence suggests they both gave him their epithets.

    I do agree with you re Charles not pesisting in his efforts to "win" his friend.

    Charles, you are sincere, you truly believe, but you know, it is still possible in our sincerity to be wrong and cause pain. Walk with care, let love and compassion be your motivation.

  12. Elaine Nelson
    14 March 2013 @ 9:50 pm

    There is great danger in praying for healing as has been evidenced many times.  God has not promised to heal us from our mortality nor heal from incurable and terminal conditions.  Sincerely believing this has caused many to curse God and become atheists by believing so confidently and have their dreams smashed.

    Much better to pray for God's will and accept whatever occurs, resting in faith in God, not merely in miracles.

    Suggesting that we should somehow know the difference on someone's belief is refusing him the right of free choice not imposed upon him.  God has not promised to give us prescience or clarivoyance.

    • William Noel
      16 March 2013 @ 3:52 pm

      Elaine,

      Your words reveal your lack of faith and experience with God in neon.  Scripture makes it clear that God does not want His followers to be sick.  That is why He offers healing that comes both from the avoidance of disease that is the result of living as He has directed and through miracles of healing. 

      Healing miracles are grossly misunderstood because it is so rare that a professed believer in Christ is actually working under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit.  This leaves them trying to do things only God is capable of doing, yet without any of His power.  The gift of healing requires an intensely intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit by which God tells the gifted person whom to heal and who to not heal.  It is not our will that matters, but knowing the will of God.  Our desire to see someone healed is in accordance with God's love, but attempting to do what God has not directed us to do is to substitute our desires for the will of God in that situation.  Those who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform miracles of healing will tell you that the most important part of exercising the gift is seeking the will of God first and foremost so they will know what God is planning to do.  Likewise, God will not heal someone whom He knows will not give Him proper glory after receiving the miracle. 

      There is no profit to be gained from discussing why God does or does not heal, except perhaps to discover how desperately we need to draw closer to God and learn from Him.

  13. Yvonne Stratton
    16 March 2013 @ 6:57 am

    I do believe in the power of prayer.  As a physician, there have been times that I know I cannot heal my patient.  I have seen people I've prayed for (with their permission) be healed.  I've also prayed and not seen the physical healing but have seen peace and comfort arrive for my patient.  
    If God does not interfer with the results of sin in this world, it does not mean He doesn't care or hear us.  We have such a limited view of what is happening.  I trust Him to do what is best….And there are consequences to our choices, even if we are forgiven.  
    I would agree that your friend, Charles, if still alive, may yet have a turn towards God.  It doesn't take bible study and annointing to do that.  Remember the thief on the cross and Samson….

    • Stephen Ferguson
      16 March 2013 @ 8:43 am

      'If God does not interfer with the results of sin in this world, it does not mean He doesn't care or hear us.' 

      Yvonne have you ever thought that it is true, God does not usually interfer with the world directly.  However, have you ever thought that He does interfer, quite often actually, but through his delegates and agents on earth.  Perhaps when you extend your physican's hands that is God acting through you in this world.  One of my favouriate sayings from the theologian Dorothy Soelle is, 'God has no hands except through our hands.'  Perhaps you are someone else's answers to prayer?

  14. Preston Foster
    16 March 2013 @ 9:02 am

    Charles,

    My thought is this: maybe you are trying too hard.  If we believe at all, we have enough faith (e.g., the mustard seed).  If we believe He can — and will, then rest.

    Perhaps He doesn't want the answer to look like a result of our work of petition, but of His grace — a free gift.

    "Labor to enter into His rest," (Hebrews 4:11). 

    Rest in Him.  He has heard and WILL answer . . . and get all the glory.  

  15. cb25
    16 March 2013 @ 9:35 am

    "A 2006 "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer …was by far the most comprehensive and rigorous investigation of third-party prayer to date. [It] used 1,802 coronary artery bypass surgery patients at six hospitals. Using double-blind protocols, patients were randomized into three random groups, but without measuring individual prayer receptiveness. The experimental and control Groups 1 and 2 were informed they may or may not receive prayers, and only Group 1 received them. Group 3, which tested for possible psychosomatic effects, was informed they would receive prayers and subsequently did. … The congregations of three Christian churches who prayed for the patients "were allowed to pray in their own manner, but they were instructed to include the following phrase in their prayers: 'for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications'…. Major complications and thirty-day mortality occurred in 52 percent of those who received prayer (Group 1), 51 percent of those who did not receive it (Group 2), and 59 percent of patients who knew they would receive prayers (Group 3). Some prayed-for patients fared worse than those who did not receive prayers…."

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer

    • Stephen Ferguson
      16 March 2013 @ 11:22 am

      So it was not 'magical' answer then?

  16. cb25
    16 March 2013 @ 8:56 pm

    Stephen,

    I think we have to be honest, and stop finding ways of justifying silence. The outcome was worse than nothing. Do we really think a God who has any respect for his own name is going to allow that kind of outcome when people are seriously trying to evaluate his presence. Not to mention his "caring".

    I resisted commenting on your "we are his hands" bit yesterday, but will now.

    It is a very old and nice idea, but there are those who would suggest it is just using human kindness to perpetuate the God illusion. ie, Humans living out kindness, caring and compassion toward one another is hijacked by religion and declared to be an evidence for their god: Our God is doing it! We are his hands!

    Well, pardon me, but I've come to the place where I think it is time He got off his!

    Yes, I know the GC theme and all that (bs). Can we really suggest that "magic", "him getting the glory" (that makes me feel sick), "trying too hard", and so on, can  justify absolute silence from God,  while people like Charles and his freind agonize in the face of death, and indeed the death of faith? I don't think so anymore.

    So, yes guys, I'm sorry to rain on the parade, but it is the theme of this blog. Basically, where the hell is God? You can multiply Charles' experience by a billion. People living in a hell of anquish, and they can't even find God there!

    Yes, I know, we get the experiences like that of Yvonne above, but they are always subjective, always an element of doubt over what really caused the "healing". etc. When an in depth study of 1800 people is done, and God has a chance to shine – the lights don't even flicker. Instead, more patients die that are prayed for than not!

    Call me a skeptic if you want, but it does not look good for God.

    • William Noel
      16 March 2013 @ 11:13 pm

      cb25,

      I am sorry for you that you have such a skeptical, mistrusting and doubt-filled concept of God. 

      I'll tell you exactly where I find God: outside the traditional religious concepts of what He is and how He works.  My experience is that He is very real, very loving, very powerful and that He uses us to demonstrate His love and power if we are willing to first draw close to Him.  He is very different than most people believe He is because He is so much greater than they have imagined in their wildest dreams. 

      The Number One reason why people don't see God working through them is they are unwilling to follow the instructions He has already given thm.  That result is faith so weak that their religion refutes belief in God instead of demonstrating it.   

      • Stephen Foster
        16 March 2013 @ 11:24 pm

        If we are honest, we must admit that we can all relate to Chris’s rant, and his temper tantrum at God. We are all somewhat like spoiled brats when taken to the store and not getting everything we want or seemingly deserve.
         
        We have our faculties, we have some or all of our senses, we have breath in one or more lungs, our hearts continue to pump blood, we have food, clothing, shelter, education, transportation, internet access; but lo and behold, things don’t always go our way—and why shouldn’t they?
         
        Since our ‘parents’ aren’t fair and they don’t love us we’ll stomp the floor and poke our lips out; right Chris? Oh, that’s right; our ‘parents’ may not have had anything to do with us being alive; if indeed they even exist!
         
        It only sounds silly because it is.

  17. Stephen Ferguson
    17 March 2013 @ 12:58 am

    Chris: 'I resisted commenting on your "we are his hands" bit yesterday, but will now.  It is a very old and nice idea, but there are those who would suggest it is just using human kindness to perpetuate the God illusion.'

    For me personally, the 'God is our hands' bit isn't just a nice plattitude – it is a deep theological theme, which more and more underpins how I see the world and God's interaction (or rather lack thereof) in it.  The problem is, as defined by David Hume all those centuries ago, is that we expect both to be all-powerful and all-loving, and thus the notion of Charles suffering friends dying suggests either one of those two statements isn't true – God cannot be both all-powerful and all-loving.  People try to have it both ways but in the end, they kind of can't.

    For me personally, I have come to realise that if God really is all-loving, is Love itself, then He can't be all-powerful, at least in the way we think.  God gave dominion of this world to human beings.  Human beings are the images of God on earth – we are His agents.

    Thus, God largely can't intervene in directly this world, as that would violate His gift of free choice, even if He wanted to.  God can only intervene through human beings when we choose to allow Him in partnership, which isn't often.  Even God's most direct intervention in this world, through Jesus Christ, still required God to become a human being to do so!

    That is why my favourite text in the Bible is Judges 6:13,14, when Gideon has his own similar complaint about why God hasn't intervened with miracles despite people's prayers:

    Judges 6:13: “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

    14: The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

    God's answer to the question, where all you and why haven't you answered our prayers is – 'Am I not sending you, you are the prayer and the miracle?' 

  18. Stephen Ferguson
    17 March 2013 @ 1:02 am

    Chris: 'When an in depth study of 1800 people is done, and God has a chance to shine – the lights don't even flicker. Instead, more patients die that are prayed for than not!  Call me a skeptic if you want, but it does not look good for God.'

    Can God be so easily tested in a scientific experiment?  Does that not seem like an attempt to put God in a box? No wonder it failed!

    Religion is ultimately a subjective experience, not an objective one.  Trying to quantify and test it in a scientific way is about as useful as trying to prove why two young people are in love.  

  19. cb25
    17 March 2013 @ 3:50 am

    Stepheh Ferguson,

    Actually science can indeed prove two people are in love or not. One, or both parties can pretend, or believe they are, but science can tell if certain indicators are not present that love is not there! It can indeed be quantified.

    I won't keep the argument going with you, but I cannot agree with most your points, but respect your right to your view.

    Stephen Foster,

    "rant"? A reasoned response would be better than an attack imho.

    William, you find God outside religion. Fine, but your God is created in the image of your expectations I fear. The way I see you judge others spiritual experience on AT leads me to believe that your "Holy Spirit", is highly at risk of being entertwined with your self talk and deeply subjective religioius expectations. You have in a sense, created your own spirituality, the experience of which, you rather unfairly hold others to account with.

    If you really believe the HS is the personal experience you suggest, you of all people should know that  such a view makes judgement of anothers experience completely out of place.

    "The Number One reason why people don't see God working through them is they are unwilling to follow the instructions He has already given thm.  That result is faith so weak that their religion refutes belief in God instead of demonstrating it."

    Why do we always have to blame lack of faith, people, not following instuctions, etc etc for God's strange silence?

    No. I'm not angry at God. I'm not ranting at God. I am simply refusing to accept excuses we have used for millennia as to why this world is divinely silent to all objective observation. What does make me indignant, is the way we continue to justify a "loving God" with such reasoning. Especially when we can come out with such drivel as "stomping the floor", instead of reasoned responses!

    Sorry Stephen Foster, but sometimes a spade is a spade!

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 March 2013 @ 9:08 am

      'I won't keep the argument going with you, but I cannot agree with most your points, but respect your right to your view.'

      Thankyou Chris – same.  I guess as both Dawkins and Hawkings like to say, to these impossible questions such as the meaning of life, we need to find our own meanings.  I don't think there are any 100% answers.  Not in science and not in the Bible.  The Bible itself is pretty vague about much of this.

    • William Noel
      17 March 2013 @ 8:50 pm

      Do you want to experience the power of God in your life?  If so, doesn't it make sense to listen to those who are experiencing God's power instead of those who are not? 

      • cb25
        18 March 2013 @ 12:36 am

        William,

        Actually, yes it would make more sense to listen to those who are experiencing God's power than those who are not. But therein lies a massive problem. Who is? Who is not? How do YOU know? Is anybody really anyway? How do you know who is subject to mind games, delusion, illness, fantasy?

        Go to a Mosque, you will not find it hard to gather stories of how believers are experiencing God's power. Some are even dying empowered by it. Others are murdering loved one's in its name.

        Go to any of a range of cults that worship God in some form or another. Not hard to find those who experience God dramatically. I know, I have extended family who do. I dare you to tell them it is not. I also know you would be shocked at what they believe.

        When at College, one of the students on the same dorm floor as me was a deeply spiritual person. Experienced God's power often, had much wise and spiritual advice for others. He is dead now. Turns out he was schizophrenic. He commited suicide some time later.

        So much about religion/faith is dealing with the illusory and the imaginary that I sometimes wonder how fine the line is between over zealous religion/faith and mental health stability. Minds allowed to drift so far from reality in other situations would often be given a mental illness descriptor, but not in religion. Well, my dorm mate did eventually get a description of his illness. I wonder when he crossed the line?

        How does anyone know they have not crossed that line when they do not let reality determine meaning and truth for them? It all becomes a varying degree of fantasy.

        So, no. I won't be taking any advice from people who are experiencing God's power. More a sign of their delusion than wisdom imho.

        • Serge Agafonoff
          18 March 2013 @ 1:32 am

          Sadly, Chris, you are sounding like the 'natural man who cannot receive the things of the Spirit because they are foolishness unto him……..' (1Cor. 2: 14).  That is not surprising, given SDA's traditional reliance on a rejection of the 'immaterial' for its view of Reality.  But once such a person loses confidence in the SDA peculiarities of scriptural interpretation, there is nowhere to go.  At least, such was my experience.

          But then, one day, I took this text literally, 'the kingdom of God is within you.'  Once this utterly profound realisation sinks in, one begins to comprehend a whole new reality which is more rational than the old material-ism.  A trip to a mosque is, as you say, unlikely to yield much value in the spiritual quest.  But even a brief reading of Rumi, Sufi mystic extraordinaire, will reveal an elightenment not on display in religions which emphasis the external.  Here is a book which could prove useful:

          Silence is the Answer – to all the noise of doubt.  Robert E Draper.  (Kindle, $7.50)

        • William Noel
          18 March 2013 @ 6:52 pm

          "Go to a mosque…?"  How curious you would suggest that.  A man I know who was raised a devout Muslim (has lost relatives who were suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan) has become a Christian.  What persuaded Him?  He never experienced any sort of Divine guidance, just the preaching of the Imam exhorting to Jihad.  Nor did he find love in following Allah.  In Jesus he discovered both a God who loved him and wanted to be intimate with him so much that He provides personal guidance. 

          Go ahead.  Rant and rave at God.  He's big.  He can take it.  Gosh, I've done it enough times.  But I've got to warn you about something.  If you're going to rant and rave at God you also need to be willing to let Him sneak up on you in His quiet, gentle manner and show you His love in a way you're not expecting.  He will be more than happy to reveal Himself to you.  That is, if you will allow it.  If not, it's only your salvation that's at risk. 

    • Stephen Foster
      18 March 2013 @ 2:11 am

      Since I personally don’t believe for a nanosecond that you really don’t believe there is a God, I find some of your posts amusing. That’s not an attack.
       
      A spade is a spade just as a rant is a rant.
       
      This definition of rant is from freedictionary.com:
      v. rant·edrant·ingrants
      v.intr.
      To speak or write in an angry or violent manner; rave.
      v.tr.
      To utter or express with violence or extravagance: a dictator who ranted his vitriol onto a captive audience.
      n.
      1. Violent or extravagant speech or writing.
      2. A speech or piece of writing that incites anger or violence: "The vast majority [of teenagers logged onto the Internet] did not encounter recipes for pipe bombs or deranged rants about white supremacy" (Daniel Okrent).
      3. Chiefly British Wild or uproarious merriment.
       
      If referring to the G.C. theme as bovine excrement and asking “where the hell is God?” is not a rant then one has never occurred. Are you seriously suggesting this isn’t angry or extravagant? C’mon mate!
       
      But again, we can all 'relate' to those sentiments; no matter how rant-like.

      • cb25
        18 March 2013 @ 2:29 am

        Stephen,

        Have fun attacking my firm manner of speaking. Call it a rant if you want. Has it occurred to you, as it certainly has to me, that attacking my manner of speaking to get the point across, is a wonderfull detraction from actually answering the points I made!?

        As for "hell", I used that word delibarately to add weight to the use of the word which followed in the next sentence or so. It was designed to emphasise that point.

        As for bs. Show me one shred of evidence from nature that two personal, autonomous beings exist and are hovering over this world in a controversy of and over intervention, and I will happily retract my descriptor.

        Take the bovine by the horns brother and deal with the points I made, not the manner of making them. True I suggested you not use "stomp" etc in place of reasoned argument. I wouldn't even mind "stomp", if its in the context of reasoned debate, but pouted lips and stomped floors is not reasoned debate.

        Sorry.

        • Stephen Foster
          18 March 2013 @ 6:01 pm

          Chris,
           
          I am not attacking you or your “firm manner of speaking.” I would like to think that I am simply calling a spade a spade, my brother.
           
          You have purposefully issued a provocative rant at God, clearly designed to provoke a response. I have simply reacted and responded. But quite obviously I am not God.
           
          God, of course, is big enough to handle your anger and frustration. I’m not.
           
          You have tried to make it clear that you reject the assumptions under which many/most Christians, including many/most Adventists particularly, operate. So I cannot venture an explanation to you as to why we are still here or why the world did not come to an end, and all suffering ceased, when Christ was crucified on Calvary; other than to point to Biblical prophecy.
           
          In fact, I would also point to Biblical prophecy as evidence of who Jesus was; as well as of God’s omniscience. But again, you reject the Bible’s authority. (You also reject personal experience as subjective.)
           
          As for nature, the complexity of the human mind and body machinery and the ‘mystery’ of the authorship, and/or the genesis of the genetic code point to design.
           
          I can’t prove God to you, but I’m convinced that you have common sense. 

  20. Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
    17 March 2013 @ 5:49 am

    Dear cb25, Sir, The love of God, in Christ crucified, may hold the answers to the questions you asked.  If there is still, even the slightest inkling within your heart of believing (or perhaps just considering) that Jesus' crucifixion was an act of God's love, wouldn't that answer at least some of your questionings.  I know, I know, that you know the drill and that yo have lost faith in God; but I only plead Sir, that you revisit the Cross.  Science isn't able to give all the answers to life's often bumpy journey which may even prompt us to get angry with God; but the Cross can and will at least give as a glimpse of God's immeasureble love and bring peace to the human heart.  I hope and pray you find this…

    Do something crazy like umm, read an Ellen White book perhaps – any one of them – and see what transpires.  Even crazier: Read John 3:16 (again) and perhaps there may be some new experience for you.  Can I say: "God bless"?

  21. cb25
    17 March 2013 @ 7:02 am

    Ah, 22! 🙂 Gota love ya mate, but….

    Let me start with the last first. I was cleaning out my car port the other day & saw a box of "little red books". I have a vast array of them. I thought, "I should put them on Ebay, get some money for them…". One day I'll do it.

    Now the Cross? mmm.. If I believed the Story of Jesus was more than just an anti epic, of which Jesus is the Hero, that would be the first step. Then, because I do not believe in Last Generation Theology, (perfect, showing God's character before He can come, stand without a mediator etc), I would be left asking one key question:

    What did Calvary NOT achieve that causes God to allow suffering and death to go on as if Calvary had never happened?

    This is theological dead end. Either Calvary achieved what the NT claims, and an end to suffering was justfied, no demanded, long before 2000 years came and went, or it did not achieve what is claimed. We simply cannot argue against time. It has been near 2000 yrs! As Drf noted the other day, how will Christians be justifying this in another 6 or 8 thousand years!

    This particular question is not even one of science. It is theology and time since the event, contrasted with the claims. Time alone has falsified the claims of calvary.

    If indeed it (calvary) declared a God of love, its message now rings hollow in the face of 2000 yrs of human suffering.

    My human heart has peace. Nature around me is a wonderfull thing. Yes, it is red in tooth and claw, but still has its beauty, joys, hopes.

    We have a new cat, in addition to our old Mog. I call him Nali Bear. (We thought he was a girl when we named him after Nala of lion king fame.) Nali Bear loves life. Loves a comfortable cushion in a sunny spot, loves the back yard with "his" 5 acres. Loves playing with Teddy, our dog. Teddy loves life. Nali looks forward to his fish breakfast, waits till close to sunrise before coming to our room to suggest it is breakfast time. Teddy looks forward to his walks, hopes that today will be "walk day".

    Why am I telling you this? Let me take one line from your words above and put it in a whole new context:

    Take a look at nature, recognise that you and every other life upon it are one big family. See that to one degree or another, joy, love, hope, desire burns deep inside the heart of every life, from the heart of your loved ones to the heart of the furry critter on your lap. To the sparrow in the yard, to the furry fox hunting his lunch. Do this and immerse yourself in nature, it will bring "immeasureble love and …  peace to the human heart." Life to the full. You are what nature has made you, embrace it, live it, be fully human. And for Charles, don't let guilt over religious expectations rob you of the joy of living for the next 65 – 70 years.

  22. earl calahan
    17 March 2013 @ 8:39 am

    TO ALL:
    MAY THE SUN ALWAYS SHINE ON YOUR SMILING FACE
    MAY YOU & YOURS LIVE WITH LOVE AND GRACE
    MAY YOU ALWAYS BE AT PEACE
    MAY YOUR BLESSINGS NEVER CEASE.
    O' HAPPY DAY!!

  23. Ned
    17 March 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    What do we require of God?  That He prevent or stop or alleviate the worst of the suffering and misery in the world?  Physical suffering?  Mental suffering?  Relationship miseries?  The cruelty of humans toward humans?  (Including animals?)  For everyone?  Or just for Believers?  Believers in what exactly?  The way you see God?  Or as I see Him?  Where would He stop?  Where is the line between worst of suffering and acceptable?  What about my heartfelt prayers that don't get answered?  And yours?    How could God in this present world prevent confusion and misunderstanding about what He does and doesn't do unless He took care of it all?  Which I believe He will someday.

    A movie, Awakenings; a 36-lecture course, History of Freedom; and a book,The Future of Freedom, bring to me thoughts of our time in history possibly as a window, a window that will close like the minds in Awakenings.  That this world (universe?), this creation (whether one's belief is of a literal Genesis creation or some kind of evolution with or without God) cannot last.  That this "experiment" (if it can be called that) does not work.  That it will end when this is clear.  If this were measured only by cruelty, suffering, pain, heartache, it would already be clear.

    Through the current "dark glass," we mistake many things about God often causing ourselves and others much grief.

    • William Noel
      17 March 2013 @ 8:57 pm

      So long as we are asking what we require of God then we will never find Him.  We will always be left with religion utterly lacking in His power.  It is when we ask what God wants from us and obey that we discover Him and His power.   

      • cb25
        18 March 2013 @ 12:05 am

        Brother William, do you really think such a simple proposition as you put above has escaped the attention of the multitude of us who have sought out God and failed to find him?

        That is mocking the millions who have done such, but who ultimately are forced to put reason above imagination. Sure, yours may not be imagination, but because it is purely subjective neither you nore I can prove either way. And because you rely on imagination/subjective experience, you are not free to judge the validity of those who rely on objective data and reason.

        • Serge Agafonoff
          18 March 2013 @ 1:51 am

          Chris, it wasn't Bro William who said  'Few there be that find it.'  

          As for your faith in man's reason, I offer this:    It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.   — Bertrand Russell[ 2]… quoted in – 
          Draper, Robert E. (2012-12-17). Silence Is the Answer: To All the Noise of Doubt .  . Kindle Edition. 

           

          • cb25
            18 March 2013 @ 2:10 am

            Yes, and the same guy said being one of the sheep was as simple as giving a cup of water to the thirsty; or just asking as one would ask a friend for bread.

            And his test was simply: do you love God and others? Nothing more.

            Re Russells observation: Strange how he considered himself logical enough to assert such a  claim! Such claims are probably based on a conflation of rationality and logic. I dislike books that quote people either out of context to to feed a hobby horse.

        • William Noel
          18 March 2013 @ 1:42 pm

          That is how God started working in my life.  Dismiss it if you wish.  It is only your salvation that is at risk.

  24. Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
    18 March 2013 @ 4:04 am

    Dear cb25, I'm sure you don't mind us ganging up on you as you seem to quite enjoy yourself 'taunting' us religious people (haha) but if that's what you like then I'll give you another piece of meat here.  Let's put this in perspective.  Mr Eaton is finding it difficult to understand why his friend wasn't healed (completely) after sincere prayer and expecting a miracle to happen.  You respond by saying in a nutshell 'don't waste your time with God as he has failed to come to the party for almost 2000 years since the cross' because you see 'terrible things' happening on the planet and want to 'put God on the Dock' for this.  Am I close?  Ok.  Apart from you making numerous assumptions based on naturalism you have eroded all avenues of theological import, for now at least, until you get some answers either from evidence in nature or 'Jesus' comes.  We (at least I) can't give you this.  Only God can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit who represents Christ (as you know it being taught). 

    I just want to say two things.

    1.  Nature doesn't show God's Love Sir, it displays his omniscience and omnipotence.  In His marvellous handiwork and in spite of all the terrible results that sin has wrought, even in nature, we can still see beauty, serenity and tremendous indescribable power and authority.  The Cross displays His love.  Hence my urging for you to revisit the cross.  This can only be done in humility and surrender to His will and yes there's some red tooth and claw here in his experience at the Cross which he submitted himself unselfishly and more than adequately thereby making atonement for us and further unfolding the plan of salvation which will eventually eradicate the hurting and disappointment both you and Mr Eaton raise.  Sadly though you have dismissed the Cross as a lie even discounting the eye witness accounts, inspiration of scriptures, the validity and authenticity of scriptures and even worse: The Precious Blood of Christ.  Lord have Mercy!
    2. I was not as bad as you (you know what I mean – in terms of my belief) but I was hopelessly lost sin until Jesus came into my life and took me in.  I was saved, forgiven and changed by His Precious Blood.  For me – it was a miracle.  Going in one direction – then turned around by his Grace and Mercy and because of His Love.  My family and the Church were praying for me.  Jesus prayed too for me – in the 'garden'  – and for you too Sir – and everyone else – to experience the joy of salvation in Christ.  Nature won't do that: It can't.  It wasn't designed for that purpose.  You and I wouldn't have being here today to have this opportunity to experience salvation if Jesus did come in 1844.  My Lord delayeth his coming for you and me.  Jesus is still the answer though time and ages roll.  He is Creator, after all, and – believe it or not – is our Redeemer.  Praise God!

  25. Ned
    18 March 2013 @ 4:36 am

    I was touched by the first post on this blog, CB25's post.  It was full of sympathy and understanding for what Charles is facing.  And a lot of wisdom.  What I see him saying about prayer for the sick is the harm done by wrong prayer.  Prayer, for example, to always believe we will be healed if we just have enough faith and if we are right with God.  I don't believe God has promised this, not on this earth.

    I pray for all kinds of things, large and small, and believe God has entered in at times but not always.  That does not have to destroy our faith.

    • William Noel
      18 March 2013 @ 1:47 pm

      Have you ever asked God to show you what He wants you to do?  What His objective is in the situation?  When I do that the answer most often is something different than I had in mind.  No, he doesn't always explain Himself to me.  Sometimes that leaves me wondering what He is doing, or why He didn't do what seemed the logical or proper action.  Sometimes He gives me understanding later but there is a list of things He still hasn't explained to me. Those non-answers remain questions to me but they are overwhelmed by the knowledge of His presence with me and, based on my past experience with Him, that He is doing the right thing even when I don't have the "big picture" to understand all.

  26. Ned
    18 March 2013 @ 5:23 am

    I wish this weren't so long but am posting it anyway because it is an experience that was not subjective.

    Four "signs" Carol had given in her directions to the country park home of her aunt & uncle.  She was visiting there at a church outing and wanted me to come down.  It was 7 pm on a clear, sunny evening in August, 1994, as I exited the freeway and stopped at the crossroad.  The first sign was to my left, a metal gate, closed as Carol had said it usually was.  I sat there awhile puzzled; there was no dirt road straight ahead.  There was a line of bushes a short way up the hill, but no hint of a road before the bushes, road through them, nor on up the hill.
     
    I turned to the right.  After a distance of about a city block (rural so no blocks), there was a dirt road leading up the hill and a metal gate to the left of that road too, though open instead of closed.  However, Carol had said the road was straight ahead off the freeway overpass, so I headed back, looked up the hill again where the road was supposed to be, saw none, and drove across the overpass to check on the other side of the freeway.  No hill there.  I returned to the first side and said to myself as I sat once more with the closed chain link gate to my left, "Going straight ahead up the hill is not an option — there is no road!"
     
    Again I turned to the right and took the other dirt road up the hill.  The second sign Carol had especially emphasized–the dirt road was very bad.  That it was!  I drove slowly car jolting over ruts, potholes, and rocks.  As I neared the top, I saw the third sign up ahead, a cord (4'x4'x8') or so of split firewood stacked on the left side of the road.  Inside the fourth sign (a high wire fence) was a house and an outbuilding.  All four signs almost fully met (closed metal fence to the left, rough dirt road, cord of firewood stacked to left of road, high wire fence), but where was the church gathering.  In the distant trees?  But where a road to get there?

     
    I parked the car, got out, opened the gate, and walked towards the house.  On the other side to the back, was a woman working in the garden.  She saw me before I reached her, came my way, and asked in surprise how I got up there.  Her son drove a 4-wheel drive pickup.  I told her the name of the people I was looking for.  "Their place is the other side of the valley," she said, "the road straight ahead from the overpass."  To myself I said, "But there is no road!"  I thanked her and returned to my car anxious to be gone.
     
    Not wanting to meet her son coming home, I hurried down the hill with little concern for the car.  There was no place for two cars to pass on that road.  If we met, one of us would have to back up the full way.  Perhaps the road was no longer than a mile.  It would have been hard to judge when intent on simply maneuvering the rough road.  I made it down, headed back towards the overpass, looked up the hill, and saw a road as obvious as a road can be!  A road where there had been none.  A road straight up from the overpass to the line of bushes, through them, and on up the hill disappearing into the trees! 
     
    I took it, of course, not so bad a road in comparison to the one I had just been on.  There was a cord of split firewood stacked on the left side of the road close to the home site and a high wire fence. 
     
    Heading home the next day after spending the night with my mother and brother (half an hour on south), I pulled off the freeway at the same overpass, sat there awhile and pondered as I looked at the dirt road straight ahead up the hill.  So strange!  And the four signs Carol had given for this road also fitting the other road.
     
    I have been by many times since to visit family and have occasionally stopped and pondered.  Once soon afterward on a cloudy, rainy day, I stopped and took pictures of the road up the hillside.  More often than not when driving by on the freeway, I look over at that road up the hillside and wonder why it was hidden from my view and by whom.  
     

    I wonder too how those who believe nothing happens by supernatural power but that everything has a natural cause might explain the event.  What kind of natural cause, what possibilities? 

    • William Noel
      18 March 2013 @ 2:21 pm

      Ned,

      I am so glad you shared that story!  Reading that has given me reason to praise God today.  If you ever need a reminder that God cares about you and will direct your life, remember that story.  But don't let that be an unusual experience.  Please, keep seeking God's direction and growing in His love as you see Him answer. 

      Please allow me to share a similar story that is a powerful reminder to me of God's love and power.  Years ago my wife and I were working with a ministry on Long Island, New York.  One drizzly, rainy, cold and utterly miserable winter evening I felt impressed to pray for a couple whom God was drawing out of the Catholic church.  The husband was the one apparently most interested in following God and he was facing vigorous, seemingly overwhelming, opposition from the extended Italian family that had been Catholic for as many generations as anyone knew.  So I prayed and asked God to strengthen and guide the couple.  In my prayers I felt like God was telling me to visit them.  I tried calling to see if they would be home but got no answer.  Still, I felt God impressing me to go.  I had never been to their neighborhood so I looked up their address on a map.  I hadn't even been in their town so the route would be totally unfamiliar.  Still, I went.  At several intersections where I thought I should turn right I found large signs saying "No Right Turn."  Then I found a street where I could turn right.  It led me into their neighborhood where I soon found their street.  The night was so dark and the drizzling rain so heavy that it seemed even the street lights and my car headlights barely pierced the darkness.  That town required home owners to paint their house number on the curb at the end of their driveway.  None of those numbers was illuminated enough to read until I go to their house.  The rain stopped as I parked in their driveway.  Should I knock at the front door or the kitchen door at the side of the house?  The porch light over the front door was turned off, so I went to the side door.  The wife answered and before inviting me inside exclaimed in surprise to her husband that he would not believe who had come to visit them.  The reason they had not answered the phone was because they were arguing over a spiritual issue and he had prayed for God to send someone to them with answers.  She was surprised because she didn't believe God would send someone within the hour.  Oh, and if I had knocked at the front door they would not have know I was there because they had remodeled the house to rent-out the upstairs and the front door led directly to the stairs.  God blessed our meeting and the answers He provided helped influence her to join her husband in becoming Adventist.
      As for those "No Right Turn" signs.  When I traveled the same road a few weeks later they were nowhere to be seen.  And the next time I drove down their street on another drizzly winter night I could see every house number painted on the curb. 

      There is no question in my mind that God used natural circumstances on that first visit and changed some of them to limit my vision so I wouldn't get lost.  As for those "No Right Turn" signs, I can only say that was the miracle I needed at the time.

    • Ned
      18 March 2013 @ 3:27 pm

      PS  I realize that while the experience was not subjective, others reading this have only my word and don't even know me, thus to them it is not exactly objective.

      • William Noel
        18 March 2013 @ 7:00 pm

        Whether or not it is objective to them is utterly irrelevant.  Searching for objective proof of God is a fruitless pursuit.  What convinces us of the existence and nature of God is our experience with Him.  He is personal.  He is intimate.  He comes to each of us according to our needs and reveals Himself in the ways that are most meaningful to us.  Yes, that is subjective.  It is also very powerful.

        • Ned
          19 March 2013 @ 5:12 am

          I don't consider it utterly irrelevant, William.  It is true that we cannot prove God exists, nor that He enters into our lives.  However, I consider my hidden road experience one that cannot be explained by natural causes but must have come from a higher power.   My purpose in sharing it was in hopes it might speak to some who find no rational reason to believe in God.  Subjective experiences I have had, no matter how wonderful and significant they are to me, mean nothing to many people.

          • cb25
            19 March 2013 @ 5:44 am

            Ned,

            I didn't comment on your story yesterday because it is hard to do so without appearing to not respect it. I have no doubt it happened. I have had similar stories. You may or may not have read my "green light" experience.

            However, when you say they cannot be explained by natural causes, that prompts me to comment. That is not so certain. Time of day, angle of light, parked in a valley looking upwards, inferior mirages, etc.

            There are all kinds of possible natural causes to such an event. Even though you say it is not subjective – it is. It is a subjective experience. So too with Williams follow on story. It does not mean something didn't happen, but the actual experience and reality are your interpretations. So too are the interpretations you choose to put on these experiences.

            Such things don't mean nothing to me, but what they should mean to any of us is a far bigger issue.

            Rather than cause me to "believe in God", it does the opposite. To attribute such "mundane" (as in, no obvious essential, life saving, earth shattering outcome/reason) events to God almost makes a mockery of the incredible absence of action, the silence, in the presence of the momentous. As in, essential, life saving, sinking to your knees crying out to God as you watch a loved one die in the wreckage of a broken car – momentous! Multiply that by a tsunami worth of people who find themselves in situations where the objective intervention of God would be very measurable, very appreciated, very life saving – worthy of Worship!

            But, nope, he just puts an inferiour mirage over a driveway behind a gate, so that you end up driving up the other hill for nothing. No disrespect Ned, and this is why I said nothing yesterday, it is hard to fit these sort of things in with a caring God. I say mirage. I have no idea, but that makes my point. Depends on where the sun was late in that clear sky day!

            I have no worship for a god that can mirage a track, but ignore the agonized pleading of his Children. None.

          • cb25
            19 March 2013 @ 6:22 am

            I should just correct a possible wrong impression in that last sentence. When I say I have no worship for a God who can mirage a track, does not mean I think he necessarily caused the event. But if he did, such an action is God incriminating, not God affirming.

          • William Noel
            19 March 2013 @ 1:52 pm

            You have touched on what I think is an important point in our relationship with God.  God sends me reminders of His love all the time.  Occasionally I see Him work in some miraculous way.  Those events are powerful reminders to me of His greatness.  But they are only tastes and smells of the relationship banquet He wants us to grow into.  The challenge comes when we base our trust in God on having such experiences.  This leaves us celebrating the last event before sinking into hunger for the next and at risk of doubting God's love because we haven't seen it yet.   

            I am challenged by the experience of David after the death of the child born from his affair with Bathsheba.  The very next thing we find him doing after receiving news of the child's death is worshipping God.  What was there about David's experience with God that allowed him to worship after receiving such terrible news?  His faith was not based on events, but on a long-term relationship with a God who had demonstrated His love and power in David's live.

            Another challenge to me is Job's complaints to God about his suffering and God's answers.  How could someone's belief in God survive after suffering such grievous and terrible sores and having lost everything he owned except a wife who now tells him to curse God, give up and die?  It is because of the larger part of his experience with God and knowing that what he was suffering was not in the nature of God.  Still, he comes awfully close to losing his faith.  He complains long and loud at God.  Then God responds, not with explanations, but with a battery of questions that reduce Job's complaints to a miniscule factor in the larger issues of life and the universe. 

            Such situations combined with our own present us with a challenge where we can measure God subjectively or choose to worship Him because of who and what He is.  We can inseparably link the two, or we can utterly divorce them.  My challenge is to move from the former into the latter.  He is GOD.  He is our creator.  He is our redeemer.  He is our returning Savior.  I am none of those and nowhere close to them, even in my wildest imagination.  So, what are my complaints compared to that?

  27. earl calahan
    18 March 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    The way of life for (A) man,is personal, subjective. Salvation is subjective. Salvation from what? From any mental prison or hangup. What would be the ULTIMATE salvation to most humans? A paradise where there is no fatigue, no trauma, no illness, no fear, no hate, no pain, no death. But only love, manifested by each one, and the resulting synergy being universal. The potential realization, being used of GOD, to continue creating, shaping, and bringing order in the chaos of endless space. Creating Orbs of endless majestic beauty, with all the features of perfect EDENIC environment for all manner of beautiful creatures & cared for by loving intelligences. Being freed from Earth's limitations, where individual perfect brain power is able to flower unfettered by boxed in parameters of earth. Why not streets of gold & precious gems, billions of colors & hues & shadings, with a quantity of endless supply. To design & erect breathtaking structures of superb beauty in honor of the ALMIGHTY, who promised and provided the opportunity of eternity's potential, with HIS HOLINESS'ES NAME etched in every corner gem of exquisite brilliance. Man has no earthly concept of what GOD has planned for HIS redeemed human creatures. Now we see through a misty prism on Earth, but then the universe opens to us in perfect clarity. 1st Cor 2:7-11. Our GOD is a GOD of love, a GOD of beauty, a GOD of the most beautiful music, the music of the ages, ever praising the KING of KINGS, the LORD of LORDS, the GREAT I AM, the PRINCE of PEACE. Don't despair, not now, His returning is nearer than you think, to give to every soul yearning for His appearing, the gift of eternal life, to be used in the continued expansion of endless space. LOOK UP, LOOK UP, the heavens DECLARE, our GOD'S GLORY. Here on Earth we experience just a micro imaging of GOD'S GLORY, but in the moment of HIS DRAMATIC STUPENDOUS RETURN, the heaven's brighten with HIS GLORY, the Angels music, the sweetest qualities ever heard even with our perfect spiritual ears, so exquisite, we are overcome by our MAJESTY'S APPEARANCE. HE will say to each of us, COME YE BLESSED OF MY FATHER, ENTER INTO HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING AND INTO HIS COURTS WITH PRAISE, BE THANKFUL UNTO OUR GOD AND PRAISE HIM FOR HIS WONDERFUL MARVELOUS GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE. I have Crowns for every soul who wants one. Let no man steal you away from yours. 
    COME, COME, COME. COME ONE AND ALL, AND ACCEPT THE PRICELESS UNSPEAKABLE GIFTS I HAVE PREPARED FOR YOU. COME.  
     

  28. Charles Eaton
    19 March 2013 @ 1:06 am

    Many commentators have pointed out the uselessness of doing what I want, and that true power, true rest, ture purpose comes from what doing what God wants.  I fully agree.  The crucial question I am facing is one of faith:  Does having faith mean that I trust and believe that no matter how God answers my prayer that it will be in my best interests?  Or does having faith mean that I trust and believe God will add my request into His perfect will and do what I asked?

     

    The first sounds (for me at least) too easy.

    The second sounds terribly presumptive.  

    • William Noel
      19 March 2013 @ 2:29 pm

      Charles,

      " Does having faith mean that I trust and believe that no matter how God answers my prayer that it will be in my best interests?  Absolutely! 

      Your second question is like trying to move a concrete block wall by beating your head against it and then blaming God for giving you a headache.  You might get lucky and find your head thrust going through a window.  Or, you can change your direction, learn to live with the wall and enjoy the protection it gives you from the dangers on the other side.

    • Joe Erwin
      20 March 2013 @ 12:19 pm

      Charles, I recall struggling with the questions you have asked when I was a young person. I was very intent on doing God's will for me, and I prayed earnestly and long for guidance. The impression I eventually got was that I was being told (if I was being told anything at all) to grow up and be a man and use my head to make my own decisions. I pretty much did that and feel fulfilled in my life, and am now in my seventies. I think prayer can actually be a powerful thing, but I suspect that its power lies mostly (if not entirely) in the ways it changes the one who prays (more than influencing the behavior of Almighty God). 

    • Stephen Foster
      20 March 2013 @ 12:32 pm

      Charles,
       
      In the final analysis, everyone has to work it out in their own way, but for what it’s worth I reason that God knows absolutely what would happen under every and all conceivable sets of circumstances; and works within that knowledge for the best overall and eternal outcomes within a framework of man’s free will to think and believe and attempt whatever he (man) will. It is a tough job; but He is handling it because, contrary to popular opinion, He is way smarter and way better than we are.
       
      We can appreciate that it’s tough, when we consider how difficult we are as individuals. However the ‘trump card’ that He ‘plays’ is that He actually loves everyone; and Calvary proved that beyond a doubt. It is proof once and for all that He is working it all out.
       
      Most, if not all, of us can see this in our own individual lives.
       
      In times when our faith inevitably falters, when we doubt, we doubt that He is smarter and better than we are; which is of course tempting to do.

  29. Ned
    19 March 2013 @ 5:46 am

    Charles, here is a quotation that might be of help to you.  "We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good – that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are."  SC 96

    We don't necessarily know what is best, not for ourselves, not for others however much we might love them.  I believe we can pray for the desires of our hearts.  We can make requests large and small.  And we can keep asking until the time passes.  Then if the results are not as we so wished and asked, we need to leave it with God and ask for help in dealing with it.  Our best interests will be fully met only in eternity.  "The city of God will open its golden gates to receive him who learned while on earth to lean on God for guidance and wisdom, for comfort and hope amid loss and affliction." (EGW somewhere)

    • Ned
      19 March 2013 @ 2:35 pm

      As I understand it, the city of God will open its gates also to receive many who didn't even know God on this earth or knew only of a god not worthy of trust and love.  Only God can read the heart (mind); only He knows just where we are and why.

  30. William Noel
    19 March 2013 @ 2:34 pm

    Timo,

    Your reminder about the value of ministering to a person in their last moments left me fighting tears.  One ministry I am not the least bit gifted to do it is hospice.  So I am utterly amazed watching hospice nurses gaining joy by helping people in their last days and moments.  We brought in hospice to help with my father's final days and those people were as precious to us as if they were angels directly from Heaven!

  31. Ned
    20 March 2013 @ 6:18 am

    CB25,

    I missed seeing your reply to my post a day ago so will add this to the bottom since it's this late.

    No disrespect felt!  I wouldn't expect anyone to change conviction on the basis of one experience of mine.  And from my brother I listen so often to arguments (sometimes feels like a rant) that God does nothing, that everything has a natural cause; and if He does answer some prayers, it only incriminates Him because of what He doesn't do.  I understand where my brother is coming from.

    My words are often inadequate to say what I want to say, so I would like to clarify a few things about the hidden road experience. 

    • I was looking for a road that was to have begun straight ahead of where I sat in my car.  It led upwards, but not at first.
    • I cannot conceive of any possible angle of light that could have hidden a road beginning 10 feet straight ahead and on the same level of my car, a road that rose gradually up the hill before disappearing into the trees, thus at quite a range of angle to my eyes at 7 pm on a clear day, a road that half an hour later would be clear as day to me.
    • I wouldn't call where I was parked off the freeway overpass exactly a valley, except as a very, very large valley.
    • The road was not behind a gate.  The gate was 20 or more feet to the left of where the road was. 
    • That there was no "obvious/essential" reason for the road to be hidden doesn't mean there wasn't a reason.  I felt apprehensive on top of the wrong road, something I didn't mention because that is definitely subjective.   However, it is not a bad idea to give consideration to intuition.
    • I also did not mention (because I have no way of knowing) that I have felt it was not God that hid the road from my view, but the enemy.  This has no weight at all for those who don't believe in other powers, don't believe there is a Satan or his angels, don't believe there are angels.

    You mention God's silence in the presence of the momentous, such as watching a loved one die in the wreckage of a car.  What would you expect Him to do?  Prevent all car accidents?  Prevent tsunamis?  Prevent all heartache and sorrow and misery?  This kind of expectation doesn't make sense to me, and I tried to address that in my first post on this blog.  We live in this world, which I believe will end when it is absolutely clear that it won't work, that this kind of creation can't last.  I am beginning to wonder if what makes that absolutely clear is not the degree of evil, nor a last group of perfect people, but the closing of the human mind so that God can no longer reach us by any means.

    • Ned
      20 March 2013 @ 2:08 pm

      One more clarification:  The line of bushes a short way up the hill that did in fact extend on both sides of the road appeared to my view as a solid line of bushes, so any angle of light that hid the road from my view would also have had to add bushes.

      No, Chris, I have not read your "green light" experience.

  32. cb25
    20 March 2013 @ 8:06 am

    Ned,

    Thanks for the extra detail.

    Re your last questions. I know there is a sense in which God is damned if he acts and damned if he does not. Its only a simplistic answer, but I think anything above the zero objectively quantifiable would be good.

    If there is a GC and it will all come to an end when a point is reached. What is that point? Perhaps it is working back from that question and looking at nature's history that leads me to lean toward the absence of a GC event behind the scenes.

    No easy answers…

    • Ned
      20 March 2013 @ 2:26 pm

      I can think of a point (aspects, anyway) that makes sense to me but might not to others.

      Right, no easy answers.  And answers we come up with can only be very incomplete and often way off the mark.  Thank God He is far more accepting of differences of views than we humans are.