1. Never label any particular “race” of people as being stupid, ignorant, or bigoted. Stupidity, ignorance, and bigotry comes in all shades.
2. “Race” is a man-made term used to divide groups of people and often to build walls of division, derision, degradation, belittlement, and even hatred.
3. Accept all people for whom God created them to be, and always try to build bridges of hope, love, peace, and understanding.
4. To judge a person by the color of his or her skin is to prove your level of misguided ignorance, and not necessarily your level of intelligence. Intelligent people do not allow the color of a person’s skin to create walls of division, but rather they work together, regardless of “race,” to build bridges of hope, love, peace, and understanding.
5. Never make rash and hasty decisions or opinions about any person until you have tried to walk a mile in his or her shoes, and have strived to make some effort to at least understand what makes him or her who they are. In other words, at least try to view the world through their eyes and not always your own.
6. Never be quick to criticize another person, or quick to point out their shortcomings and faults, unless you have seriously taken the time to look carefully at the individual who looks back at you in your mirror and can honestly declare that person whom you see as being “perfect.”
7. Judge no person by the color of his or her skin, but only by the content of his or her character. The color of the skin has nothing to do with intelligence levels or anything else for that matter.
8. Be quick to show love, patience, and understanding, and slow and careful to despise or reject another because of supposed differences. Strive to find the commonalities that can bind you as brothers and sisters, and focus less on the differences that supposedly cause division between you.
9. Treat all humanity as persons of dignity and self-worth, and strive to eradicate the words “hate” and “hatred” from your vocabularies. For to hate another often, in turn, leads to more hatred, which eventually leads to a bloody battlefield of contention and strife. Always remember, hatred only begets more hatred. We need not be at war with one another, but should try to find ways to live together as brothers and sisters.
10. Those who are incessant to use the “race” card for every situation, or to judge another person according to the color of his or her skin or “race” are in and of themselves racist and bigots regardless of the color of their skin. Beware of being numbered among their ranks.
Who art thou, O’ man, that thou canst proclaim thyself to be the righteous judge of all Israel? Who art thou to sit in judgment upon the condition of the house of thy brother or sister, when it is apparent that thine own house is in dire need of repairs?
Judge not so quickly what thou perceive to be the grave sins of others, when thou also art a sinner who is oft found weighing in the balances in need of a Savior.
Nay, instead of criticizing and condemning another, first take a long hard look at thyself in thine own mirror, and then render an honest answer as to whether you are justified in being so harsh in your words and actions towards others.
Be slow to tear down, but haste to encourage and edify your brothers and sisters that they may through thine own light that glows, seek after that light to illumine their own lives.
At this blessed season of the year people greet one another with Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays and the like, and it seems that no one gets offended. However, as soon as someone says Merry Christmas or puts a sign out that says “Merry Christmas,” there are some people who seem to become enraged and claim that it offends them.
I will make no apologies to anyone for wishing everyone that I meet during this blessed season of the year with Merry Christmas. Yes, CHRISTMAS! I do not celebrate another holiday. I celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, God’s Precious Gift to the world, the very reason not only for this season, but for our very existence.
I respect everyone for their beliefs and traditions and only ask that they reciprocate by showing me the same respect. If we would spend more time concentrating on the things that should unite us as brothers and sisters, and less time tearing each other apart because of our cultural differences and belief systems, truly there would be peace on earth and goodwill to all men.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Humble Thoughts Concerning the Second Coming and the End of the World
With all the chaos and confusion that is happening in our world today, it is of little wonder that so many people are asking the same questions that the disciples asked of the Master centuries ago, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). The Master’s response to them still applies to us during these often turbulent, confused, and chaotic times:
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:4-14)
There are many good hearten people, including some Christians, who are anxiously anticipating the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, even to the point of making futile attempts at guessing the day and the hour when He shall appear. However, scriptures emphatically teach us:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 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. (Mathew 24:36-39)
Scriptures also remind us, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. . . .Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2,6)
While there are some people who put their trust in chariots, and some who put their trust in horses, I will continue to remember the name of the Lord our God (See Psalm 20:7) and strive to endure to the end.
Therefore, I will no more put my confidence and trust in the speculations of man about the Second Coming of Christ than I will in those who purport that the four “blood moons” signal the end of the world. Instead of being overly concerned and feeding into much of the frenzy of the false and nonsensical teachings about the Second Coming and the end of the age, I choose to make sure that my house is in order, and that I am ready to meet the Savior at any day, at any moment or hour of the day. I choose to keep my lamp filled with oil to be ready when the Bridegroom comes.
Instead of heeding the vain teachings and babbling of men, we would be wise to follow the teachings of the Master Himself as in the “Parable of the Ten Virgins:”
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:1-14)
O be wise; what can I say more? (Jacob 6:12, Book of Mormon)
People who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and adhere to the teachings found in His Word are far more blessed today than members of the early Christian Church in that they are able to possess a copy of the scriptures for themselves. They do not have to rely on an ecclesiastical leader to reveal to them the treasures found in the Word of God which can easily be left to the misguided personal interpretations rendered by said leaders. Also, they do not have to wait to attend a church service to have the scriptures read to them, but they are able to read and study the scriptures for themselves. Furthermore, those who wish to study the scriptures, unlike those in the early Christian Church who were only exposed to certain portions of the scriptures, now have a more complete canon. Many homes have more than one copy of the Bible, and in some cases, different versions and/or translations of the Bible can also be found. And with the rapid increase in technological advances, a person is able to open the scriptures and read them whenever he wants, and wherever he may be in the world.
Reasons for the fall of the Early Christian Church
In his Deseret News article titled “Defending the Faith: The fall of the early Christian church was almost inevitable”, Daniel Peterson exhorts, “The church founded anciently by Christ not only didn’t survive intact but probably couldn’t have.” He notes that there are perhaps several reasons for this. He states that one of the main reasons that Christ’s early Church did not survive intact was because with the expansion of Christianity beyond Palestine to many parts of the world, ancient means of travel and communication, as compared to our standards today, were extremely slow. Peterson also points out that, “the “supply lines” of ancient Christianity were long, fragile, corruptible and dangerously exposed to persecution, human sin and ambition, misunderstanding, forgetfulness and a host of other threats.” Another reason which Peterson states for the descent of the early Church is the fact that there was no New Testament. In his Deseret News article, Peterson commented,
To make things still worse, for at least the first century of Christianity (and, in sense, for much longer than that), there was no New Testament. It was still being written over the initial 30 to 70 years after the ascension of Christ, and, even when they were complete, individual gospels and epistles circulated separately; the “New Testament” hadn’t yet been gathered together, and the canon hadn’t yet been defined. Even after they had been written and put into circulation, copies of scriptural texts, expensive and hand-produced, were extremely rare. Ordinary Christians wouldn’t have had their own private copies of scripture, let alone several of them, as we often do today. (Many of them likely couldn’t read, anyhow.)
The Coming Forth of the New Testament
Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments as sacred scripture. The New Testament in particular deals explicitly with first-century Christianity. As such, as Christianity has spread throughout the world, the New Testament (in part or in whole) has served as a main resource for Christian theology and also as the true north of a Christian’s moral compass. Throughout the ages, the New Testament has had a major influence on religious, philosophical, and political movements in Christendom, and its teachings and doctrines are strongly evidenced in the literature, art, and music of many cultures. In almost all Christian denominations and sects today, the New Testament consists of 27 books. It was originally written by various writers who were early Jewish disciples of Jesus Christ in the first and perhaps second centuries of the Christian era. The language used for the text was Koine Greek, which was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the Conquests of Alexander the Great (335–323 BC) until the evolution of Byzantine Greek (c. 600). All of the writings which were eventually incorporated into the New Testament text were perhaps written no later than AD 150. The New Testament consists of:
- four narratives of the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – collectively referred to as the “Gospels”)
- a narrative of the Apostles’ ministries in the early church called the “Acts of the Apostles” (which is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke and perhaps written by the same author)
- twenty-one letters referred to as “Epistles” in the biblical context, written by various authors, and consisting of Christian doctrine, counsel, instruction, and conflict resolution
- an Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, which is a book of prophecy, containing some instructions to seven local congregations of Asia Minor, but mostly containing prophetic symbolism about the end times
Peterson further commented in his Deseret News article that “It’s literally a miracle that Christianity survived as well as it did” especially considering the fact that,
Local leaders, who perhaps joined the church after only the briefest of missionary instruction — commonly at the hands of preachers who, themselves, had received no more than a brief oral introduction to the basic Christian story and a few fundamental doctrines — would have had no scriptures to consult, let alone anything like a “general handbook of instructions” when difficult questions arose. And teachers and class members were unable to simply flip through their personal copies of the Bible in order to learn Christian doctrine and practice.
The Inability to Communicate with the Apostles in an Expeditious Manner
What did the early Church leaders do when they were faced with a crisis or dilemma that necessitated immediate attention? During the time of the Apostles, they could send them inquiries for help, but the problem arose in trying to locate them at any given time or in any particular place as they did not have a permanent headquarters. Also there was no way of knowing if they were dead or alive. Even the amount of time that it took to get an inquiry to one of the Apostles was considerably long considering the antiquated means of transportation that had to be used to reach a certain location. And after a message reached one of them, the next major concern was the amount of time it would take to receive a reply. Therefore, in some cases, local leadership may have deliberated important issues for weeks, months, or even years before seeking advice from an Apostle. If an Apostle were to visit an area, how would the people be able to identify him as being who he claimed to be if they had never met him previously? After all, the Apostle Paul had given stern warning against “false apostles” as recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Peterson concludes his article by stating, “For these and other reasons, as I say, it’s difficult for me to imagine how the ancient church could ever have survived without serious deformation. And we know by divine revelation that, in fact, it didn’t. That is why the Restoration was necessary.” He further points out that all of the modern conveniences and technology that we are afforded today have contributed immensely to the great cause of the Restoration of Christ’s Church.
Dr. Ravi Zacharias at Princeton University – Why I’m Not An Atheist
Defining the terms
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.
Theism is the belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in one God as the creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to His creation.
Deism is the belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.
Theology is the study of the nature of God and religious belief.
Ideology, in the Althusserian sense, is “the imaginary relation to the real conditions of existence.” It can be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one’s goals, expectations, and motivations. An ideology is a comprehensive normative vision, meaning that it is a set of standards that are followed by people, government, and/or other groups that is considered the “norm”.
The word “Christian” literally means “Christ Like.” Therefore, a person who calls himself a Christian should exhibit Christ like characteristics both in their personal life as well as in the way they deal with their fellowman. Being a Christian is more than just going to Church on Sunday. It is an every day way of life. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of a Christian.
A “Christian” is a person who is in Christ, his sins are forgiven, and his guilt is gone. He is a new creature. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Christ lives within the surrendered Christian, cleansing and filling him with His Divine love. He is there to lead, guide, protect, and direct the footsteps of the Christian. He has already marked the pathway that the Christian must follow and He will give him the strength to endure all trials and to serve Him faithfully. In Philippians 4:13 we read, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The desire of every Christian should be to act as Christ would act, to do the things that He would do, and to speak the words that He would speak. In any situation that the Christian finds himself in, he should pause and ask himself the question, “What would Christ do in this situation?” Christ is our Great Exemplar. In 1 Peter 2:21 we read, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” If we would learn to follow the Master’s example, we should be triumphant in every situation that we encounter in life. We learn of Christ’s example and become more like Him by reading the Scriptures daily, praying often, and treating others with kindness and compassion.
The Christian is for Christ as a good soldier is for his country. A Christian is willing to stand up for what he believes no matter how great the adversity. He is willing to endure afflictions and persecutions for Chrsit. The Christian should be ready at all times to share his testimony with others and to give his time, talents and treasures for Him. In 1 Peter 3:15-17 we read:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
Here and now and forever more, the Lord is with the Christian. He has promised that He would never leave nor forsake His own. Hereafter, with Christ, there will be no burdens, no trials, no suffering. The Christian shall forever be with the Lord. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 we read, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
We may not ever realize it or care to take notice, but the life that we live and the example that we set before others tells more about the type of person that we truly are than a myriad of words could ever say. We, especially those of us who profess we are Christians, are the shining light of hope and inspiration to the world. We may be the only scriptures that some people will ever read. We need to live our lives in such a manner that others will see the Light of Christ through us. We need to realize that to preach a sermon is one thing, but to live that sermon is an entirely different ball game. People may be impressed by our eloquent elocution, but they will be even more impressed by the way we live our lives as living testimonies of the things that we declare we believe, teach, and preach. Some people would rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye is a better pupil, more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear,
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see a good put in action is what everybody needs.
I can soon learn how to do it if you will let me see it done;
I can watch your hand in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there is no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles, and a strong man stands behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.
One good man teaches many; men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noted is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to everyone is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I humbly believe that there are many good hearten people who are equating love for their brothers and sisters to mean acceptance of lifestyle or behavior. I can love my brothers and sisters (as I am commanded to do), but that does not necessarily mean that I accept their actions and behaviors. They, like myself, have their free agency, and are free to choose their path in life. You will not get any argument from me on that matter. Therefore, I refuse to hate, demean, belittle, degrade, or even condemn any of my brothers and sisters to hell as it were because of their life choices and decisions. I do not claim, nor will I purport to be their judge or jury. Regardless of the path that any of my brothers and sisters choose to follow, I echo the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “I choose to love, because hate is too great a burden to bear.”
I do not pretend to know the heart of another person. I have enough to do to make sure that my heart is in the right place. I do not pretend to understand the life of another person or the choices that he or she makes. I have enough to do to make sure that I keep my life in order, make the right choices, and stay on the right path.
Therefore, I cannot justify trying to clean out the corners in somebody’s house, when there are cobwebs in my own that perhaps need cleaning out. Let us remember that we are all imperfect people in need of a perfect Savior. Let us not fall into the trap of judging other people because we feel that the size of their sin is perhaps greater than our own sin, or because we do not practice certain behaviors, we somehow feel that we are better or superior to others.
Now, there will be some who will argue, “By loving your brothers and sisters regardless of their lifestyle and choices in life, aren’t you really condoning their behaviors and conforming to the world?” The short answer is a resounding NO! Love is compassion. It is not conforming to anything. I can have compassion for someone, help and support him or her as one of my brothers and sisters in any way I can without accepting those things which are contrary to my own personal believes and morals.
I guess what I am saying is that we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. The truth of the matter is that all of our neighbors do not live by the same morals, standards, or believes that we do, but that does not give us a poetic license to shun them, hate them, or treat them as societal outcast. Through our love and compassion we are demonstrating how we can be in the world, but not of the world.
We need to stop always focusing on the negative aspects, and start focusing on the good in people. We need to try to build more bridges of hope and understanding, instead of adding mortar and brick to walls of division, contention, and strife.
Dear friends, all the bickering, arguing, and hatred needs to stop!