Friday, November 15, 2013

Mere Christianity

Typically, i'd not post a review of a book anywhere but on the page i purchased the book from (or not at all if purchased in-store), but this one demands an exception. Mere Christianity is quite surely the most approachable book i've read on Christian living (outside the Bible itself, of course), and not only that, on Christianity in general.

The first portion of the book is devoted to making sense of a Spiritual Being from the physical standpoint. For the unbeliever, it brings logic into the idea of believing in a creator; to the Christian mind a fresh look at who God is, which, in turn, makes God much easier to understand and draw closer to.
He lays no scientific claim on Christianity (as he says, the existence of God can't be proven any more than it can be disproven by science). His perception, instead, of morality, the driving force to look past self in order to care for others, is how he proves God--and he does so impressively well. At times you would even feel God is the truly tangible and man the intangible (which is closer to reality, and he discloses such exquisitely).

After establishing why faith in a creator is not only plausible, but also logical, he then sets out to point towards the Judeo-Christian God. His goal, as he points out, is to make Christianity approachable without introducing any of the denominational differences (thus the title, Mere Christianity). Again, he does this rather well, though there are times that it comes off as a particularly Anglican text (after all, he was a member of the Church of England), sometimes even Lutheran, though the differences are trivial. All-in-all, it is a very non-denominational book.

When he gets into what a Christian life looks like, he has a way of skewing things just enough to make it new and applicable, though he doesn't lose the original intent. His metaphors are spot-on every time, even when you don't want them to be. When speaking on "good behavior," he answers why some Christians can be less "good" than some non-Christians, and that was something that had been a bothersome question for me.
His views on faith will challenge your own, but in such a way that it will bring it to a greater sense of resolve.

Through all of this, he keeps God on a very intimate level, which is a rare feat. When most try to make sense of believing in not only a god, but in the God, they tend to leave out that He's a very personal Being. This book is a great exception in such that it makes the case for God, it makes a case for Christ and why Christ died for us, what grace means, and reinforces the notion that God loves us, sinner, saint, and everyone in between.

Easily one of the most eye-opening books i've read on Christianity, though it presents few things that are not (or at least should not be) commonplace to a Christian. It does, however, bring these things up poignantly and in a way we can relate to.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Messenger Of Satan, Or The Adversary

Ever feel like you're completely unworthy of anyone's affections, especially those of One who is holy and pure? Ever feel like no matter how upstanding people think you are, you still fail God constantly? Ever feel like you're a waste of God's time and care?
That's how i often feel. Some people call it humility--it's not. In my case, it is not humility. This is self-criticism. This is a "messenger of Satan" picking at wounds, tormenting me. Rampant inadequacy.

How about this; you ever feel preposterously alone? Perhaps you are comfortable being alone, but you still get lonely?
Maybe you're surrounded by friends and family, but you still feel lacking companionship? Maybe not that of a spouse or anything like that, but just someone you can sit and talk to for hours and they will sit there and listen, hanging on your every word, no matter how dark the subject matter?
Again, that's me much of the time.
This isn't a pity-post, i promise. I want to offer some encouragement to those like me who feel always laced with shortcomings, be it physical, mental, or spiritual.

There's something to be treasured about those kinds of feelings, no matter how pervasive they may be.
See, when the Bible mentions the "messenger of Satan," it notes that Paul pleads to Christ three times to remove it. He doesn't. You know why?
Of course you know why, everyone knows the story.
I'll quote it regardless. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
That was Jesus' response. But if we dissect this, along with the following verses, we get more than just a bit of encouragement--we get a tidal wave of worth.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
Jesus' grace is sufficient, yes? Of course it is. But let's look at that grace.
A multi-billionaire faces financial ruin, losing all but a couple million. This person would be poor in relation to what they were. If they gave away billions to the point they were "merely" (that term being used in relativity) a millionaire, that would be a great measure of grace.
If a millionaire sold most of what they had and gave it to the poor, leaving them a hundred thousand or so, they'd still be financially stable in comparison to most, but they'd have given practically all away--and exhibited a great measure of grace.
If a person with but two pennies to her name gave it to God as an offering, that would be grace.
Now let's look at Jesus' grace. In John 1, we see that through Him, all that exists came to be. With that said, we have the Creator of the universe here, the Infinite, the Holy. He is the King of all creation, Ruler of all. And he gave that up to live as one of us, a Man -a lowly Man at that- who would be mocked, tortured, beaten, crucified in the supposition that He's being executed in the name of God, His Father. He goes to Hell and faced God only knows what, and was resurrected. He did this for a people who deserve Hell, so they would become heirs along with Him. That is more than just grace. That is beyond human capability or comprehension.
So when you face issues like that first paragraph mentions, remember to "boast all the more gladly about [your] weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on [you]." Because His grace covers you, and showing grace is one aspect of His power.
In Proverbs, it says this: "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you."
Basically, as Paul said, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
If your enemy (Satan, or a messenger of him) wishes to make you feel as Paul felt, then boast in your flaws. Heck, 1 Corinthians 12:10 says to delight in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. It says to because, when you are weak, you are strong.
Why you're strong is because the less of you that's in the way, the more room there is for Christ's power to be made manifest. Don't submit to the things Satan tells you, but delight in the fact that he has to bring up who you were, because that means he doesn't like who you are.

Regarding the loneliness . . . Well, to quote a song by The Almost, "We were made with fear inside our bones; the kind that makes you feel alone. So hold on, just breathe and figure out, we are not alone. This makes us feel alive"
In essence, God created us with a void inside of us called loneliness. It makes us crave a companionship that only He can fill.
So run to Him (and find that He will run to you), and let Him fill that void, that aching emptiness.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Don't mind me, just a Star Trek physics rant.

In The Original Series of Star Trek, they needed a way of getting people from the ship to the surface of a planet without using another set (such as the ship landing, or a shuttlecraft scene in every episode). So they decided on transporters. It was cheap, and required little when it came to production. They could change sets without a third set. Not only that, it added to the available storyline, as there have been several episodes that have revolved around the use of transporters.
Now, 47 years later, those same transporters, the cost-saving plot-device, are a feasible hypothesis. Only one drawback; it would require the power of something like 14 atomic bombs simultaneously detonating to reduce a human in such a way. And there's a slight issue with rematerialization.

Here's my addition to the reasons it wouldn't work: displacement.
Seriously, if you move one thing out of a room by making it cease to exist in said room, the displacement will pop the ears of anyone in there. Get six people, as they do on the show, and watering eyes and headaches will abound.
Now here's the big issue; displacing the air at the receiving end of things. If that didn't happen, people would be transported into solid matter, or else the air would exist in the same space as them, and they'd fall apart at rematerialization.
It would require not just moving "space" where the transported object(s) end up, but moving it from there back to the place where the transported object(s) came from, which would require two transporter pads.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Regarding "UnMarried"

Firstly, I would like to invite you to watch this video: "UnMarried: The Rise of Singleness." Don't worry, it's only 36 seconds long (I'd embed it, but viewing outside of YouTube has been disabled, apparently).

Now, I want to state my two cents on the matter.
The movie they're releasing, judging by that trailer, seems to imply delayed marriage, declining marriage rates, and prolonged singleness is going to cause a downfall of the "family," the Church, and of the country. That's a rather weighty accusation. And they want to say it's Biblical to not only marry, but to marry young.
I've some issues with that.

To start my side of the issue would be, of course, Jesus, who was unwed (the Church as His bride not counting), as well as most of the apostles.

Another would be 1 Corinthians 7, another obvious stance on the issue; "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (v. 8-9)
"I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." (v. 32-35)
"So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better." (v. 38)That does say singleness is preferable if possible. In many cases, it is. In some, it's not.

When Jesus gave the parable of the wedding feast in Luke 14, he said one man's excuse for not being able to attend was "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." (v. 20)
Does this say that, when it comes down to the Kingdom of God, it is quite binding to be married (possibly because, as Paul said, the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife)?

Another reason for condoning singleness is the image given of Jesus' return in Matthew 24: "For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (v. 37-39)
This implies that people will be so caught up in the ways of the world that they'll miss the fact that the doors were closed (and were before the rain started); one of the implications of living like the world being marrying and giving in marriage.

I'm not saying marriage is wrong.
Fellowship is necessary, and -a godly- marriage is one of the greatest, most beautiful forms of fellowship; two lives becoming one in Christ.
I think marriage is an amazing thing for those called to marry. But not all are called to do so.
So with this being said, I'm going to watch the development of this documentary, and weigh it against my own life, as well as, of course, Biblical doctrine.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Dear, Born of Estrella

  Once in a while, a star would fall to the ground, fizzle out in a cloud of smoke, and and dissolve into a pebble of quartz. This only happened a handful of times throughout my visit to this “Otherland.” Each would-be meteor was more breathtaking than its counterpart in the world or dimension from which I was called here. An enlightening turmoil ensued inside that could turn the world on its side, at least from one's own perspective, and cause a stumble, a stagger, a drunken-seeming clumsiness by its beauty, as though witnessing an angel stepping down to earth in full splendor, straight from the presence of God, still shining with lightning about its robes. And then it was nothing more than a rock, not unlike . . .

  Well, regardless of what it was like, it was beautiful to watch, though hardly supernatural.

  I reached out towards the stars, and one fluttered like a butterfly over to my hand and rest in my palm. It was warm to the touch, but not hot. The coarse surface of the thing was glowing a faint white, and smelled of hot copper. Immediately, it began cooling and dimming, but not shucking its rough outer layer like the falling ones.

  Many of these “signs” are meaningless, and not worthy of note. Note whatever you like, however, as it may mean something in the greater scheme, or perhaps subjectively; to you individually.

  It was a dull thing, dusty almost, resembling oxidization-flecked chrome. I took it to a pool of water -not water, but something much thinner, sweeter, and softer- and began buffing it. In an instant, tendrils of roots that routed between my fingers and to the ground sprouted from it and pulled downwards out of my hand. A bark-like coating formed like scales and softly-lit webs emerged from the branches. In a minute, flowers blossomed, glowing with a faint illumination, which then set fruits; new stars that fell not down but skyward, aligning with the others as a glistening speck in the sky.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dilated Time, Anyone?

So, there's this idea that the universe must be so many billions of years old because we see the light from stars/galaxies/nebulae billions of lightyears away (and, as we all should know and, sadly, not all do, light/visibility travels one lightyear in one year).
How is it i can go on believing the earth to be six thousand years old and the universe not much, if any, older?
It only makes scientific sense that the universe must be as old as those points are away.

Time is relative.
I'm not talking about how a "watched pot never boils," either. I'm talking literally relative.
Time and space are rather conjoined. They operate together. It's called spacetime. Time is, essentially, a measure of entropy (second law of thermodynamics). The more matter/energy (gravity) there is, the more time there is.
Atomic clocks on shuttles have to be constantly resynchronized with clocks on earth. On earth, there's more matter, more energy, more time ("Time Dilation" is the term for this).
There's basically no matter or energy in space. There are stray particles, some dust, little more.
Hypothetically, there would be just as little time between our world and one, say, 5 billion lightyears away, as there is matter and energy.
Getting my point?
Time is not a steady duration.

And as i like to say, God isn't bound by the laws of physics--He made those for us.

In fact, here's an idea i find fascinating.
God made Adam and Eve to live forever. They wouldn't have aged the same. Infinitely slower. There are holes in this theory, but it's interesting to entertain no less.
Astronauts return from space having aged slightly slower than people on earth.
God may have introduced entropy more recently than He made the earth.

Furthermore, a place of infinite energy would be, hypothetically, eternal . . . The pure, unfiltered, direct presence of God . . .

He could've used evolution. He could've made the universe billions of years ago. It doesn't go against His sovereignty if those things are true because He is, in fact, sovereign.
I just don't believe He did use evolution, or that the universe is "old".

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Only Cup . . .

 That was my last cup. My only cup, actually. I've only ever had but the one. It's necessary that I repair it, lest I forever cease to partake in brewed beverages of bitter, warm, sweet, Heavenly indulgence. And that is as essential to life as air, for without such things, existence ceases to be life but rather devolves into a state of survival and nothing more. So now I'm left to pick up the pieces of my carelessness. Again.
It's tedious, delicate work, reassembling broken ceramic dishes. It can take quite a while, but it's worth it. Cups like this, you can't just buy from the store. A sentimental thing, it is to be carrying the weight of the generations it's passed through to end up in my hands. Every last fragment must be found and aligned like a puzzle. Brushed lightly with polyvinyl and held in place for adequate time; if not held long enough, it falls back apart with caked glue that has to be removed from its edges, and the process must start over. It requires patience, gentleness and strength, steadiness and force. The cracks may be unattractive, even repulsive at first, but in time they become as details of the piece's beauty, contributing to the overall appreciation of the cup as a whole, adding to the history another story, another fall, another healing, another failure . . . Another failure. Failure. Another failure . . . No, another triumph. Not just new existence, but new life. Frailties overcome.