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Archive for the ‘Questions ya never knew ya had’ Category

The other night we watched the movie “Waiting for Forever” about a boy who had been in love with his childhood girlfriend since they were 10 and officially lost touch when his parents died in a train accident and he and his brother moved to their grandparents. As he grows older, though, he follows the love of his youth wherever her professional career takes her, himself making a living of 3 dollars a day (“on a good day”) as a juggler dressed in pyjamas.
Although this wasn’t the best film I watched of late (for instance, there was the excellent 2010 film “Fair Game,” which gives further insight into the insanity that’s still being perpetrated in Iraq), “Waiting for Forever” moved me most. Not so much because of the plot, but because of the fact that I was watching it with my 28 year old wife who might never get to know the kind of culture that grants a fellow the liberty to make a very unstable living on 3 bucks a day as a juggler, traveling wherever his dream would take him.
Although the boy in the movie was met with heavy criticism from his older brother (a banker), and was being called a stalker, and despite the fact that his kind is a dying breed in the West, at least we have come to know that sort of a culture, while other countries, such as the one I’m currently residing in, probably never will.

Though the culture whose hospitality I’m currently enjoying is by no means an exclusive example of what I’d like to call the “imposed realism” that not only political leaders, but even more so cultural and traditional elders seem to feel obligated to circumcise their offspring’s dreams and ideals with, it is definitely an outstanding example.
You cannot just marry the man or girl you love. Any man that intends to marry is expected to have a house first. My wife has told me of an experience in a Shanghai park where she watched hundreds of elderly couples looking for suitable spouses for their daughters (or sons) with a list of criteria in hand that any potential candidate would have to live up to; criteria primarily based on income.

A juggler making 3 bucks a day wouldn’t stand an chance in hell to get married under that set of conditions. It might me hard in the West, but just about impossible in the East.

Of course, when I was a young lad back in Germany, I got to hear much of the same tune from my folks. Not that they would have expected of me to be able to buy a house before I started messin’ round with the opposite sex, but I was repeatedly advised to “get a good education” to secure a “solid existence” for myself. When I came home one day telling them that I met a group of people who were “foolowing Jesus,” and that one day I would like to do the same, they were naturally horrified.

In the meantime they have accepted my somewhat loose, though not entirely carefree life-style, and my father, having seen his own supposedly “solid existence” and career go down the drain due to fluctuations and instability in the economy has told me since that I made the right choice when I set out to do what I did.
In the West, though, parents have their existence taken care of by retirement insurances, and both my parents are currently better off with their pensions than I am as an English teacher in the Far East, where the only old-age insurance elderly parents have got are their children and their respective incomes, so it’s somewhat understandable that they want their kids to be able to care for them. Many young people live under a lot of pressure because of that responsibility.

Then again, my reasoning is that many things in life are simply beyond our control. Everything is potentially subject to drastic and unexpected changes: death, illness or financial and economic disaster can hit anyone at any time, and what power does anyone really have, to effectively impose their own little reality on anyone in the long run, even their kids?

When Jesus went around luring established young men with flourishing businesses away from their homes and responsibilities telling them He would make them “fishers of men,” certainly He wasn’t met with strong enthusiasm on behalf of those men’s families. For all we know, some of them (like Peter) were even married and possibly had children. What an irresponsible thing to do, to just walk off with a perfect stranger of questionable reputation, Messiah or not…
And from a “realist’s” point of view, that criticism may well be justified: 10 of those young men ended up as martyrs, one committed suicide, and only one died of natural causes on an island where he exiled by the Romans.
Their philosophies and beliefs as expressed in their writings are questionable to this day, and even most “believers” only accept those parts of the Gospels that they can reconcile with the consensus of the imposed realism of our day and age.

The first rule and law is not “to love one another,” but to secure one’s own existence, which, as the Founder of their faith claimed, is no different from what unbelievers adhere to.

So, what would be making a difference then? – Trust.

The people who really made a difference throughout history were those who despite all the seemingly rhymeless reality all around us never ceased to trust that there was Someone ultimately in charge Who not only knew what He was doing, but was also going to take care of them, provide for them, and help them through this mess somehow.

In my own personal experience, I can only confirm that to be true, and I would strive for nothing more than to go down in history as one of those trusters who refuse to accept the artificially imposed realism from those around us – even our loved ones – no matter how justified their reasoning may seem; a person known for the belief that there is a greater Mind than even the wisest of our parents, how ever strange some of the things may first sound that this Great Mind may ask of us – much like a Parent Himself, asking His children to trust Him for the things they do not know, which basically is the essence of faith – the one currency that will outlast any of our existing ones.

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Well, since we all enjoy a good round of gossip, I’ll let you have a delicious swig of some with this one: I’m pretty backslidden!
At least from my good intentions to stay or become politically correct earlier this year, as I unfortunately will have to prove with this post.

A few years back we still had “once-a-week Christians:” Even if you didn’t see or hear any sign of your fellow brethren throughout the week, you could be sure to meet them somewhere among the pews on Sundays.
That Christianity may be in somewhat of a decline again may be assumed by the fact that the surge of “once-a-year Christians” is becoming alarmingly evident.

Folks you never heard of for 364 days straight, now will at least send you their Christmas emails as a reminder that there was something you had in common, namely the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus.

The notorious party pooper I am perhaps, I was never all too fond of that sort of relationship, religion, tradition, or whatever you’d like to call it (since it couldn’t possibly be called anything like genuine friendship)…

While it is probably better to hear from (some) folks once a year than never at all, what takes a bit of the magic out of the whole thing is that it does come across as somewhat stereotype.

Blame it on my distaste for any type, shape or form of ritualism ever since I got an overdose of Catholicism as a boy that quickly drove me to atheism (if God was like that: no thanks!), but I just can’t get warm with people using the same words over and over and over again to express something which seems to represent the very role you played in their lives over the previous dozen of months, the equivalent of which, in numerical terms would be zero.

So, here’s to all the zeroes of the world who are only remembered by their friends and relatives on that special day on which we celebrate the event that marks the year Zero…
And if you feel like a zero, cheer up! The Guy born that day didn’t amount to much more in terms of bank accounts, Facebook friends and followers on Twitter, either, latest by the time He hung on that cross 33 years later, when He was able to count the friends He still had left that day on the fingers of one hand with room to spare…

So, nevermind if I’m not sending any of you any Christmas greetings this year: I only mean to do you a favor.
If I didn’t write you all year long, then shame on me. But I certainly wouldn’t want to make matters worse by sending you a mass mail equal to the ones from previous years, not to mention those of the dears who had exactly the same idea… or lack thereof…

I might send you a note on Holy Friday, though, to remind you that even when you don’t have a friend in the world left, there’s always Someone Who knows exactly what you’re going through, and that that was the purpose for which He had been born: to be there for you when no one else will be.
The time may come. You may not see it now, but at the rate not only (true) Christianity, but things like lasting friendship and interhuman relationship are on the decline, don’t be too shocked if it might even happen to you one of these days…

Merry Christmas!

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In the search of the deeper meaning of everything, I have found that similar to a soccer game, our lives are usually somewhat divided into two half-times:
There is that first, perhaps more energetic, but somewhat less mature half during which we’re prone to act a lot on our impulses and make a bunch of mistakes accordingly, and there’s the latter half, during which we mature into a ripened personality and hopefully have learned some lessons from the former and tend to do things differently than we used to.
Oddly enough, the same principle seems to apply to God’s church, body, or, as it has also been referred to, His bride. There’s an Old Testament way during which God’s people tended to call down fire and brimstone upon their opponents, sometimes drowning them in a universal flood and at others devouring them with fire, and then there’s the New Testament approach of love.

Sometimes you can tell that a movement really is anointed by God when it shows those same signs of maturation.

While folks are often criticized for their opinions, it is usually so, that those opinions are really only the result of the input those folks have been fed. Once the opinions of the folks at grassroots level become too embarrassing for their leaders to want to be associated with them, some serious brainstorming takes place (in movements that are alive and flexible enough to do so, that is), about how best to avoid unwanted politically incorrect attitudes spread from among the followers.

Thus it can happen, that a once “radical,” “white-hot,” “revolutionary” and somewhat militant movement can mature into a wiser, more diplomatic one, just as it can happen that a once young and perhaps slightly overly zealous hot-head can finally come to his senses and calm down a wee bit and realize that it might be better to just live and let live instead of being a constant prick in everyone’s side.
Of course, it helps if the leadership makes the first step and adjusts its own approach first and makes it clear that, “That is the way we used to do things, and this is the way we do them now.”

Well, after one half-hearted attempt earlier this year to roll a new, more politically correct leaf over that sort of petered out, I’m happy to announce that I hereby officially will bury all my differences of opinion I may have had with my fellow believers around the world, and I shall carefully try not to utter any more criticisms of any of them any longer.

There’s a thin line between being not of this world, as Jesus told His disciples they were, and the fact that God so loved that world that He gave His own Son for it, not to condemn the world, but to save it. Perhaps even God Himself has gone through a process that made Him change methods and approaches somewhere along the line…

In any case, you won’t hear anymore rants about “lukewarmness,” “half-heartedness” or proneness to materialism or any other sicknesses of society on this blog, nor any other judgmental statements that might only create further barriers between parties, instead of eradicating them.

Sometimes God gives us more relevant things to worry about than trying to figure out how we can take on and challenge the whole world at once.

It’s not as if the entire experience would have been useless. After all, we still do read the Old Testament. But the New One is a whole lot more relevant, and when it’s time for a change and a new direction, it’s just simply that. Sometimes it takes half a life-time to get there. Sometimes more.

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Through a close friend, I’ve recently been allowed a glimpse into world of the Anonymous Recovery Groups, and while it is one of these groups’ principles not to rely on advertisement to flourish, I would like to share some thoughts and lessons I’ve gleaned from my acquaintance with them, and from my many discussions with my friend about them.

As Christians, it has been drilled into us that it is expedient to do whatever we do in the name of Christ, and it is my belief that salvation from our sins and death is found in no other, as the Bible states.
Yet here is a program that seems to be accomplishing a world of good, yet without calling it “Christian” or associating it with Jesus, even accomplishing the salvation of tens of thousands from physical addictions, but also what one might call spiritual problems, even if this may be a slightly different matter than the spiritual Salvation the Bible refers to.

The honesty, openness and depth of conversation within these groups is something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in a church or even during Home gatherings, meetings or in Bible groups. After all, Christians are usually people who have their act somewhat together, at least more, on a general scale, than those that attend Anonymous groups. Having a common problem that provides a common basis for Anonymous group members to come together presents – from my point of view – an advantage that many churches and Christian movements don’t: the humility, the readiness to open themselves concerning a weakness, thus ready to attack sin head on in a way one will hardly ever find in a church where people often play a masquerade for years, one hardly ever gets to know their brethren on a truly personal level, and all that connects one another is the fact that they just listened to the same sermon, sang a few of the same songs, etc.

The question I’ve had to ask myself as a Christian was, is it possible that God instigates movements on earth that may not be able to be defined clearly as Christian? Apparently, yes. Is it possible that these non-Christian movements can sometimes bring forth more and somewhat even perhaps better fruit than some obvious Christian movement or church? Apparently, yes.
It reminded me of the passage in which Jesus talks about those who prophesied in His name, cast out devils in His name, etc., (and mind you, one has to be a Spirit-filled and born again Christian, in order to cast out devils!), and yet telling them, “I never knew you.” Yet in another passage welcoming those who all they ever did was visit the prisoners, care for the sick, feed the hungry, no matter in whose name.
Apparently Jesus does not mind whether what we do we do in His name as much as whether what we do is the right thing to do.
Obviously, a lot of wrongs have already been committed in His name, as it is. Apparently God is more concerned about genuinely helping people than He is about the advertisement, and whether it was done on His behalf or not.

Imagine you were God and had to watch how people slaughtered each other by the millions for millennia on His behalf… Wouldn’t you be glad if someone eventually came around who gave you a break and just did something good, no matter in whose name, or in no one’s name in particular?

Yes, the name of Jesus is important and powerful, and it is our duty to spread the good news that He indeed saves. But apparently there is something even more important in God’s eyes than what we say and preach, and that is what we do.
God seems to avail Himself of any program that works, and the 12-Steps programs have proven to work in millions of changed lives around the world, and God doesn’t seem to care much whether this has been accomplished under the flag of Christianity.
If a program works, you’ll use it. You install it, run it and enjoy the benefits. Totally regardless of whatever it says on the package, or what brand name it is.

One would have to ask themselves to what extent Christ Himself would consider Himself a Christian, if He were to walk among us today. Maybe in the light of all that’s being said and done in His name, He might even prefer to remain anonymous.

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I used to wonder about this passage in Matthew 24: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Mt.24:37-39).

I used to wonder, “Why, Jesus, what’s so bad about eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage? Why should that merit the end of the world?”

But if you take a closer look at people’s eating, drinking and mating habits, you get the point.

While 40.000 starve daily in one part of the world, obesity is becoming a major disease in another.

While in one place people don’t even have enough drinking water to survive, in another they drink themselves to death.

It’s the imbalance, the selfishness that matters and makes it so ugly… the unwillingness of the rich to share, and their sickening, self-indulging indifference.

And then there’s the mating game. A whole nuther story.

Have you ever frequented a dating site? Like – in a “civilized,” Western country?

I once wrote an entry about the devaluation of human life in reference to what some nations are willing to pay for the corpse of a butcher as compared to what they’re willing to eke out for the corpse of his victim…

Well, you’ll see the devaluation of human life (along with the sheer absence of human intelligence) nowhere as blatantly as on a dating site.

Here they present themselves like merchandise in a supermarket, and mind you, the customers are picky. “Looking for Mr. Right” or “the perfect man” … or woman, the “girl of my dreams, ” etc.

Whereas members of less “developed” countries are a lot more modest. Perhaps one day the world will see the difference between so-called civilization and truly civilized people, among whom respect is still a given, and courtesy not a “Huh, what’s that?”

Not to mention that in the entire process of feverishly trying to obtain the objects of their affection that might quench their burning needs (or lusts?), the most important Factor is – as usual – left out of the equation almost entirely: the Giver of all things in the first place.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said not labour for the meat which perisheth… although everybody of course, keeps doing it, even the most devout of His followers.

Of course, it would be a sacriliege and the epitome of political incorrectness to preach anything different, for man’s greatest religion and god has become the work of his own hands. After all, the work of his own hands is what will earn him those most desired shreds of paper in the universe, which Jesus said we couldn’t serve, if we served God,;and those, in return, will by us foood, drrrink, and will help us to impress the other sex (either by means of taunting our apparel and plastic surgery, or our vehicles, houses and yachts). In short: materialism.

Since everything begins (evolution) and ends (lifeless corpse in coffin) with mere lifeless matter which is supposed to have brought forth itself, the space between the beginning and the end, that which we refer to as life, revolves around the same: lifeless matter. In other words, not really life at all, since the one thing that gives life, as Jesus said, is Spirit (John 6:63), coincidentally, the same stuff that God Himself is made of (John 4:24).

It’s not that I don’t like to eat, drink or am not totally amazed by the opposite sex. Nor do I try to pretend to come across as some sort of spiritual wonder child, since I’m subject to the same desires and needs as everybody else.

It’s just that the way we go about it and still have the nerve to call “civilized,” to me comes across as rather barbaric.

If that’s what brought on the flood (along with many other evils that find their modern counterparts), then let it rain, Lord, let it rain!

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Being a politically correct Christian with a politically correct God and Christ these days means to refrain from separatist tirades indicating that there should be any sort of division between true believers – Christ’s genuine disciples, and the rest of the world.
“The world,” that mass of people Jesus told His disciples they were not a part of, if existent at all, are always the Hottentots in far-off countries who wouldn’t be able to afford our bestsellers on Pop-Spirituality in the 21st century anyways.

So, let me be politically incorrect here once again and heat up the old forgotten and despised doctrine of John 15:19 and harp a little bit on that: Is there such a thing as “the world” in the sense of something we should not be part of, if we call ourselves followers of the Maker of that statement, or is it just a myth, and we’re all so super goodie-good and moving toward the point of enlightenment in our evolution which will usher in universal peace without the Almighty having to resort to any of the drastic measures He announced in the portions of His Book that are carefully being avoided by popular Christian authors?

Of course, it’s natural to want to erase any existing lines of division between yourself and your target audience when that audience is supposed to eke out 30 bucks for your latest compilation of divine wisdom. But are those potential readers really being helped and enlightened by the illusion that all is at peace, the Devil’s on vacation and there is no actual spiritual warfare going on?

Progress, in the eyes of the liberal, widely accepted brand of the Christian faith, seems to be equivalent with the eradication of any and all lines of separation between them and the world, and thus it’s being drilled into our minds for the umpteenth time that “We are,” indeed, “the world…”

But ignoring innumerable wrongs still won’t make a single right, and remaining silent about some of the qualities of the world may easily put us on the side of the enemy camp, as far as God is concerned, no matter how vocally we may be rooting for “Christianity.”

Personally, I think I’d rather watch “Matrix” one more time, for some inside scoop of what’s really going on.

One of the reasons why I do believe in the existence of such a thing Jesus called “the world” (that I don’t feel I belong to), is that I have found out that there is, in fact, also a distinction between lies and truth.
Now, for many folks in our success-oriented world, that distinction is nearly non-existent. They’re so used to lying, they can’t tell the difference anymore.
It wouldn’t occur to them to call anything their political leader or anyone says on TV or anywhere, for that matter, an untruth or a lie, because it would mean that they would have to be more careful about their own truthfulness (or lack thereof), and who wants to pay that sort of a price?

So if mass murderers like Charles Manson or warmongering Nobel peace prize winning presidents (see why you can’t be serious about being part of this world?) want to go on and on about how much they love Jesus, we’re all cool with it, because that sort of hypocrisy is what we call “freedom” here, in the liberated West, and watch out, we’re soon coming to a town near you to liberate you, too!

When Christians talk about “the world,” it’s usually in the context of John 3:16 to let everybody know how much God loved the world, no matter how haywire it had gone.
But we ignore the admonition of that same John a little later in the Bible for us not to love the world, nor the things in it.

That’s a lot harder message to preach, brother, and if you do, just wait and see how many books you’ll be selling then!

I like the way Bethany Dillon put it in one of her songs, “Aimless,” (and I strongly hope that she still knows what she was singing about):

“They’ve always known this wasn’t home.”

I’ve always known this wasn’t home.

How about you?

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A Slightly Different Interpretation of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse...

A Slightly Different Interpretation of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse...

When Jesus made the much dreaded statement in Matthew 6 that we cannot serve God and Mammon (the god of wealth = materialism), He must have already known that while millions would someday profess to be His servants, in reality they were going to dedicate the bulk of their attention and efforts in service to this competitor in the quest for man’s most precious commodity, time.

While most interpretations of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse claim that the rider on the white horse is supposed to be the Antichrist, I personally contend that the proper interpretation of this passage should ascribe the identification of the white rider to Jesus, and the other three His fiercest competitors throughout time, perhaps in some sort of a race for our souls, and when time is up (literally!), there will only be one of them left.
Who are those mystery riders? War, materialism and death, also known by other ancient names by which they were known, revered and even worshiped for millennia: Ares (the Romans called him Mars), Mammon and Hades.

Luckily, the Bible already tells us who is going to be the winner of the race, since it foretells a time in which men will beat their swords into plowshares and will learn war no more, which eliminates Ares, the god of war from the equation.
We are also told the fate of Hades, the god of death and hell in the lake of fire.

So what about Mammon, the god of wealth? In our current terms, Mammon can easily be replaced by a word for the stuff that allegedly rules the world: money.

Some think it will last forever.

The Bible tells us differently.

In fact, from what the Bible tells us, it seems that of the four riders, Mammon will be the first one to yield up the ghost.

Granted, this is just one of my own personal theories, but it’s based on some serious thought:

When the Antichrist imposes his mark of the beast in the new economic order everyone from Kissinger to the Pope is expecting with excitement (as foretold in Revelation 13), it seems that will be the end of money – or at least cash – as we know it.

Perhaps one reason why the Almighty won’t be so fond of that new method of trade at all will be the fact that Satan will have managed to create the perfect imitation of His own system of currencies: faith. The object of man’s desire will have been placed from the visible to the invisible realm, the perfect counterfeit of God’s system.
And for those who fall for it, I guess it’s going to be like having made their choice for the other side.

If my assumption is correct, and it’s Mammon who bites the dust first when the AC implements the mark, it might also explain one of the most mysterious passages in the Bible about the Endtime:

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only
he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
And then the lawless one (The Antichrist) will be revealed,
whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth
and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
(2Thess.2:7,8)

Some scholars interpret this passage as to be referring to the Holy Ghost as “He who now restrains…until he is taken out of the way;” that the Antichrist cannot be revealed unless the Holy Ghost be taken away.
But how are the final two witnesses in Rev.11 going to give their testimony without the Holy Ghost?
And for the benefit of all those “left behind” during the Great Tribulation (which might be more than many people think, especially in the light that the Rapture is only going to occur after it, as Jesus said), let’s all pray to God that the Holy Ghost isn’t going to be taken away.
But it would have to be someone or something that was already around in Paul’s day, which certainly applies to money…

So, here’s my little theory for you on the race of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Jesus, Ares, Mammon & Hades…

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