Monday, April 24, 2017

I Believe in God


This past weekend my church started a new series that you can see in the picture about.  If you would like to watch the sermon, click on the words below the picture.  

This is a timely series as a new movie is out called, "The Case for Christ," which is based on a book by the same name, written by a once atheist journalist who came to belief.  I've read the book myself and highly recommend it.

The sermon was good as always, as I had already worked out in my mind and heart why I believe.  The pastor talked about how there seems to be a dichotomy between science and religion.  But I think both can co-exist.  I do think that evolution has a place, as we can see that animals and humans adapt to their surroundings over time and space.  But I do believe we are not evolved from animals.  The proof for me is our sense of morality and theory of mind.  Theory of mind is our conscious thinking.  We know we are thinking about our thoughts, feelings, values, etc.  Animals don't have a sense of morality, they act on instinct.  They do have thoughts and feelings, but not like we do.  It's hard for me to explain.  People might think I don't love animals because of this.  But it is my love for animals that contribute to this. It is not fair to humanize animals, expecting from them what they are not able to give us.  Yes, they are far more intelligent than we give them credit for, but as I've said, their thinking is different than ours.  They don't think about God, eternity, etc.  It is because we are higher than animals that we are commanded to take care of them and respect them.  It does not mean that we can use them for our own purposes, or to make them more human.  

But I digress.  One more pint about science.  Even if the big bang were true, what caused the big bang?  Eventually you have to admit that something or someone created the circumstances for that to happen.  Noting exists out of a vacuum.  Therefore, I believe God created the world and all that is in it.

This makes all life have value.  At the turn of the century (1900), eugenics was very popular, which was based on evolution.  Eugenics is the belief of a superior race overcoming an inferior one.  This fit nicely with the Nazi's goal of creating a pure race and eliminating what they perceived as inferior.  There is no value in individual life in this theory.  On the other hand, being created by God gives value to all people and things.  Personally, I like this as I would have no value in the eugenics theory.  My life would not matter, and if not eliminated, as least not given the chance to pass on my progeny.

Morality exists, whether we want to admit it or not.  Most of us believe that murder and abuse are wrong.  We have laws to punish those who do this.  We may disagree on other actions that may or may not be explicitly wrong, but that doesn't mean we do away with all morality. Most religions have a sense of right or wrong.  These religions form the basis of governments around the world.  Communism is anti-religious.  No one life has value.  All are for the country.  No one has rights.  No one can exercise free will.  

It is true that religion sometimes has caused harm, like in the Crusades or the Inquisition, but those are caused by people, not religion.  Religion does good.  It brought the plight of the poor, disabled, and mentally ill to the forefront.  It stopped slavery.  It brought the civil rights movement.  My point is, again, you can't throw all of something away because of the few bad people that would use anything to take power from the people.  

My beliefs have been developed over years of study.  I don't just believe what others tell me, I want to find out through research and study.  God gave me a brain, He expects me to use it.  The more I study about Him, the more I am convinced He is real.  History, science, and literature tells me so.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter


The Easter message and music was just what I needed in my miserable estate of having a flu/cold/virus.  I was coughing so much I was unable to sing, so I just sat during the worship, sucking on a cough drop and sweating profusely while having a coughing fit.  

If you click on the words below the picture above, you can watch the sermon as well.  Along with that are discussion questions that i thought would share with you how I would answer them.

They asked about my hope.  I thought to myself, I don't just have hope, I know Jesus is real, and He lives!  That is what I hang my hopes on, for nothing else is as perfect as His love for me.  True, I have family and friends and pets that love me, but we are all human, we all hurt each other from time to time, and it is really not fair to totally depend on a human or thing for everything.  I made that mistake with Chocolate.  

I do believe I have been transformed by Jesus.  I know sometimes I don't show it, which I regret.  But I know in my heart and mind and soul, that I have peace, real peace, that comes from knowing Him.  Not only that, I have true contentment that I am blessed, and I have a good life.  It is not perfect, no life is, we all have problems.  But I know I am not alone, ever,  He is with me always.

Finally, they asked about relationships.  My relationship with God is, I think, growing deeper each day, as I read His word and pray.  I must confess I still get depressed and anxious.  Living with a mental illness, like a disability, is something you never get rid of.  You just learn to live with it, like whatever weaknesses a person may have.  Through that,  I can believe that God can bring something good out of it, which He has, like my writing, and my support group.  My relationships with others tend to fluctuate over time.  When I was away at college, I had a great group of friends that I still keep in contact with to this day.  Now I am home, and my friends are married with dependents, I have my family that I am close to.  So I think God has always provided me with others that I can talk to, have fun with, and help when needed.  

So there is my hope.  And in retrospect, I can see that following Christ has been the best thing for me.  I have hope, I have peace, and I have love.  What more do I need?  The rest is just gravy!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife


I just finished reading this excellent book, and the movie is now out in theaters, although I will probably not see it as it involves animals dying, which always sends me over the edge emotionally.  

It is a true story of a zoo keeping family in Warsaw, Poland that helped the Underground and hid Jews during WWII.  I had read a book a few weeks back about what happened to the Poles during WWII, and now I have read this.  Before these books, I had no idea of what happened in Poland, except for the Nazis' taking all the Jews from the Ghetto in Warsaw.  I wondered why I have not heard of these things until now.  I never realized the whole impact of WWII upon the European populace.  I suppose no one, but God, will ever fully know the impact.

The Nazis seemed to have an obsession with not only creating a pure race, but also a pure world, with nature and animals included.  At least what they considered pure.  So when they came to the zoo, they took the breeds they wanted to breed to its original state, and killed the rest of the animals.  

They came in and changed the floral and fauna, desiring to turn Poland into a pure German/Aryan country.  Thus, not only were Jews carted off to the camps and crematoriums, all the intelligentsia and political figures were killed.  They came in and destroyed Warsaw, obliterating it to ruins.  

Why did they hate the Poles so?  From what I can gather, and I may be wrong, Germany had considered the land Poland was on German, and it was right between Germany and Russia.  The Nazis had intention to invade Russia all along, but they had to take over Poland.  Russia wanted Poland too, so they agreed to divvy up Poland between the two parties, until Germany reneged on the deal.  I am surprised that Russia was stupid enough to trust Germany, considering they were just as ruthless.  

The Polish Underground was the greatest one in Europe, well organized and well managed.  They helped each other out, hiding Jews from one place to another.  They left animals at the zoo, know the family would care for their pets.  The Poles helped the Jews transform their appearance so they wouldn't look Jewish, but German, or at least Polish, coloring hair, teaching mannerisms, even cosmetic surgery.  

I guess Germany was mad that they lost so miserably after WWI that they wanted to punish the world.  Not all of Germany, of course, but when the Nazis came into power, they were  a murderous mob bent on destruction.  It is amazing to me how people can hate others so much that they indiscriminately kill, maim, or destroy.  

I can see why they have the EU.  They just don't want to go through that again.  And yet, there is a rise in neo-Nazism and antisemitism in Europe.  I don't get that.  Every where you go there is a museum about WWII and what happened.  Why would they want to go through that again?  Why would they deny something that is so obvious?  Are these people so brainwashed like in a cult that they just can't see what is in front of them?  It boggles the mind.

I don't suppose these questions can be easily answered, as we see this type of systemic destructive thinking and behavior all over the world, from gangs and cults, terrorists and extremists.  These systems give individuals a sense of power that they think they don't have.  And their solution is violence.  


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

To Walk Invisible


This past Sunday the PBS TV channel broadcasted this movie about the Bronte sisters.  I didn't know much about them, but that one wrote Jane Eyre, one of my most favorite novels, and another sister who wrote Wuthering Heights, which I did not like so much.

The three sisters never married, and lived at home with their reverend father and alcoholic brother.  The brother tried to make it as a writer but failed.  The sisters, ever mindful of their brother, used gender neutral nom de plumes partly not to upset their brother, but also partly because they lived in a place and time where women generally were not encouraged to work, and publishers didn't believe they could write.

My favorite sister is Charlotte, the short one, who wrote Jane Eyre.  She was a feisty and independent spirit, who expected a lot of herself and others.  She knew full well what people thought of her, short and homely and not capable of not much of anything, but her book was the most successful of all the sisters, and is still widely read today.  

She reminded me of me.  I think when people look at me and listen to me, they don't think much.  But I know I am capable of so much more than they think.  I may not have a book widely published, but I do have a Master's degree, and I still write, even though I will probably not ever be famous.  Even so, I still have a voice, and still plan to use it, like these sisters.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eagle Brook Church


This coming weekend, the Anoka campus will open its doors for the first time.  I am excited about it, as I have been going to this church, in other locations, for about 6 months now, and it is so cool to me that it will be right next door to me.  Little did I know that the old K-Mart that closed down a few years ago, would become the answer to my prayers, in more ways than one.

After the changes at Church of the Open Door happened that I was not happy about, I searched about for  a new church home.  I had heard of this place for years, but never wanted to check it out as I was quite happy at Open Door for about 20 years.  But now with the unwanted changes, I decided to check it out last summer.

And I was glad.  I felt at home right away, and a sense of relief, and peace.  For so long I had not gone to Open Door, for various reasons, and I actually missed going to church.  I used to hate church growing up, I thought it was meaningless.  But after I chose to follow Jesus, I found a church that I liked.  Now I was on the search again.  Thankfully, the search didn't last as long as 20 years ago.

Not only that, ever since I moved here to my own place, I had been praying for my neighbors, along with others.  I hate to admit that I get impatient with God in answering my prayers.  But when I heard Eagle Brook was building a church in my own backyard, I was ecstatic!  I couldn't believe it, how much closer could God get?  

I am trying to learn patience these days.  Sometimes I can get pretty good at it, but sometimes my moods swing, or someone irritates me and I lose it.  I guess for me, it is a day by day process. I am trying to learn to be at peace no matter what, and to be patient.  To remember that God has answered my many prayers over the years, and He has watched out for me for many years.  

Even so, I sometimes forget, or get impatient and want my way.  But I must remember that it usually works if I just give it to God and let Him do things His way.  If I take over, I usually muck it up.  But if I let Him takeover, He is faithful and will never leave me nor forsake me.  Amen.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Daylight Savings


This is what happens to me every year.  My sleep gets all screwed up.  It's amazing to me how one hour can affect me so much, but it does.  I don't know if it's depression, anxiety, or hormones.  But it is quite irritating and I question every time why we have to do this.  

So this week I have no idea what to write about.  I have plenty of what to complain about, but I don't want this blog to be a forum for complaints.  Especially when I think about how blessed I am to live in this place and this time.

So, what would you like me to write about? I need ideas!  Thanks!





Monday, March 6, 2017

Sudan


This is a picture of South Sudanese women getting food from Samaritan's Purse.  I had read on my BBC app last week that the people of South Sudan were facing starvation at epic rates.  

It never seems to end for the Sudanese.  Ten, twenty years ago they were embroiled in a civil war between the Arabic Muslim north and the African Christian south.  The lost boys of the south were coming in droves to all over the world in the hopes of a better life, after losing everything they had ever known because of the militia in the north.  I had read a book about one that wound up in Fargo, ND, of all places.  I had seen short pieces about them on news programs.  Our world was so different from them.  I couldn't imagine what it would be like.  

I made a female friend from Sudan when I was going to college at the U of MN.  She had been imprisoned for protesting the actions of the northern militia, but now she lives here.  I didn't know much about her, except about the imprisonment and how she had malaria multiple times.  I knew that she suffered discrimination at the U, despite it's supposed acceptance of all peoples.  I knew myself that the U was not accepting.  But that is a story for another day.

Now I am reading a fictional novel that takes place in South Sudan, and how there is war there.  Atrocities being committed by hateful men, against women and children.  I already knew this was happening.  Even though a supposed peace deal was signed a few years ago, it fell apart pretty quickly.  I know the South has natural riches that everyone wants, and that everyone is killing for.  Apparently it is worth millions of lives, according to the murderers.  

Most of Africa, if not all, was colonized by a European country.  By the time the second World War was over, most were out, or at least on the way out, of all the countries that they had colonized so long ago, all over the world.  

It was a race to get the most of the natural resources.  Then they just abandoned the people, when they could no longer afford to rule over them.  The people were left behind, with a broken country and a wasted land.  

Wars have been happening ever since.  

I don't know what the answer is.  People can say all kinds of trite things about it.  But there are no easy answers, no easy solutions.  

I wonder if this will ever be resolved in my lifetime.  I feel like I am world away here, safely in my apartment, typing on my computer.  

How easy we have it.  We know where our food is coming from, we don't have to worry about being massacred.  We have a government and militia that protects us.  I try to remember this when I feel sorry for myself.  I live such an easy life.