Category Archives: religion

Set back for the Christian Community

Today is Monday, 6th February 2017. A well known radio preacher made a fool of himself on the air. Not only that, but he demonstrated a huge ignorance of claims made by Christian preachers in the past. Your humble correspondent does not know if the glaringly erroneous statements were made in complete ignorance of the prior claims, or if the speaker assumed no one would ever check.

A little research would have turned up the past claims; and to assume ignorance and blind acceptance on the part of the audience is both insulting and puerile.

The thought upon which he was expounding is valid. Essentially, he was saying the Bible makes no claims counter to that of modern science, and never conformed to the science – mistaken in the macro and sometimes in the micro – of the past.

There is an underlying assumption here that the scientific understanding of 2017 will never be altered. That ‘we’ are at the pinnacle of scientific understand. That in another three hundred years, or one hundred years, or fifty years or twenty minutes, discoveries will be made that alter the current views.

Probably not completely over rule current understanding, but alter it in the sense of expanding understanding and possibly altering the context of certain understanding. Much like how Dr. Einstein’s concept of Relativity expanded and contextualized Sir Issac Newton’s laws of gravity.

The speaker – who your servant hesitates to name – spoke about how the Bible never supported the Earth being flat. This would come as a shock to nearly all students of Theology and Biblical studies until sometime AFTER the age of Copernicus, Galileo, and the like.

Isaiah 40:22 (In the King James Version AND in the original Hebrew) reads that the Lord sits “… on the circle of the Earth…” and was held to be ‘literal’ – meaning as the reader understood it, not as the writer intended it – and indicated a two-dimentional shape (as understood later in Pythagorean or plane geometry). Therefore, the Bible implied the Earth is flat.

I’m not sure if the speaker mentioned it – I turned the station selector in disgust – but there are three passages of the Old Testament – two describing the same event – wherein the Bible implies the Sun stopped or reversed direction of travel, causing the day to be extended. (Joshua 10:12 to 14, 2nd Kings 20:1 to 11 and Isaiah 38:1 to 8) THEREFORE, the Bible says the Sun rotates around the Earth and the geocentric theory of the Universe is proved – according to the ‘science is bunk’ faction which lasted at least into the 19th Century. I notice it is not mentioned much currently.

I have no doubt of the extension of the days in question. Nor do I have any great scientific theory to explain it. The occurrences may well be miracles in the unexplained things of God sense. However, the heliocentric nature of the solar system is reasonably secure. Nor does the Bible anywhere claim otherwise; it does however record reports by eyewitnesses of what they observed. Which may or may not explicable in simple or familiar terms.

I wonder what repercussions this speaking session portend for the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) movement? The entire YEC theory is based on a ‘literal’ understanding of the King James Version of the Bible. Which this speaker denies.

One can conclude Christianity is not as monolithic as sometimes claimed. Then again, God is a very big God.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Flat Earth, religion, science

The Order of Saint Ballistica

I have started the Order of Saint Ballistica. It is a religious order. More or less.

Anyone is welcome to join, provided one can fulfill the requirements, as listed following:

One: Know and observe all the requirements of basic, mainstream, Christianity. (Orthodox or not, but observing a sense of mutual Christian respect and love and consideration for the details of others observance.)

Two: In addition, an adherent of the Order of Saint Ballistica must observe three additional sacrements:

* Firearms ownership. One must of one’s own volition own and approve of firearms and firearms ownership. If prevented by law or circumstance, one must be in favor of firearms ownership.

* Firearms possession. One must be in possession of a firearm, loaded and adequately maintained for use. Again, if prevented by law or circumstance, one must be in favor of such activity and state of being.

* Coffee.

Details.

Dues:

None

Gender:

Yes. One must have a gender.

Application process and membership bestowal:

In good faith, an applicant will acknowledge the above and post a placard showing affiliation in a reasonably visible place.

Excommunication process:

Should a member be found in blatant violation of the above requirements, a quorum of four other members will gather in view of the violator, point at the violator and say, “Neener, neener, neener!” followed by evidencing the raspberry.

Then go for coffee and exchange lies about one’s shooting ability.

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Filed under Firearms and their use, General Idiocy, religion

First Time in Six Years at Least

Today, Sunday 15th January, In the Year of Our Lord 2017.

Church was cancelled due to the incoming ice storm. The Pastors and Elder Board decided conditions could – would probably – get too bad for some members to safely return home.

Time is now 0844, I just a few moments ago returned from the church building and the streets aren’t impassibly by any stretch, but I would not be driving recreationally this morning. Whatever storm shows up, whatever quantity of freezing rain falls, will NOT make things any better.

I am now officially ‘in hiding’ until about half-past Tuesday. Tuesday is predicted as a high of 39 degrees Fahrenheit and some rain. At that temperature, the rain will melt extant snow and ice somewhat. (When it freezes at night will not be accommodating.) Then Wednesday through Sunday it should be above freezing during the days, at least.

Just for the record, I didn’t order the freezing rain.

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Some Random Observations Regarding God

Following is a rather unconnected and rambling list of thoughts. They are all based on statements or questions presented by non-believers – and a few believers in some cases – and have demanded my explanation. Some of these items have been addressed before in this blog. Perhaps not in exactly the same manner, but hopefully with the same mindset and arguments.

Giving the same old answer to the same old question is to be expected. Asking the same old question after the answer has been provided – and explained, ad infinitum – is rather childish.

1. Dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

The stimulus for this is typically a complaint along the lines of someone dying when the speaker didn’t want them to die. The speaker/complainer feels rather victimized because someone – a child, one’s parent or other relation, one’s dog, a favorite actor or singer – has died. Not only has the someone died, but in the opinion of the speaker/complainer, at the improper time or instant. “Why did the little girl (or boy) die because a drunk ran them over? Why didn’t God – obviously God’s fault – stop it?”

In some cases, the dead person died far away and possibly long ago. For instance, “Why did all the various Christians die in the Roman circuses?” Or “Why did God allow the [pick an evil group] to kill such and such a Christian?”

Where I cannot clearly answer all details of all questions, I do have some basic information about the phenomenon.

First, everyone dies. It’s a rule. Not only everyone, but everything. Horses, trees, governments, ideas (perhaps not all ideas, but the ‘fad’ ones anyway), and so on. So even if Uncle Cletus had survived the automobile accident, the cancer would have killed him anyway. Or his age. Or his lifestyle (drank whisky like a fish and smoked like a steam engine). Perhaps an angry husband. But die he would have.

Every so often – less currently – the attack of 11 September, 2001 is mentioned. God is berated for the death of around 3,000 people. Sometimes Moslem terrorists are mentioned in passing, sometimes not. Allow me to point out, had that not happened, would those people have lived forever? Probably not. Dying is often a tragedy and nearly alway inconvenient. But it happens to everyone, sooner or later.

When one accepts the concept of God’s sovereignty and omniscience together, one understands it is God who determines when everyone – anyone – dies; and when it happens, it was the ‘right time’. Just to be sure everyone has a chance to get this, it was the ‘right time’ as far as God was concerned. It may not be the ‘right time’ for the grieving survivor – including me – but it was the right time in God’s plan. If one of the survivors don’t agree, it makes little difference in the long run. One might as well be mad Rembrandt didn’t ‘lighten up’ the painting “Man with a Golden Helmet”. It is decided and done.

Not to mention we haven’t mentioned the sometimes imbecilic decisions which preceded the death. Why blame God when a child is never taught not to run out in the street? Why blame God when a relative abuses his health for years? Why blame God for being God? Some of this thought will be further discussed in section five.

2. Denying God’s existence will not make Him go away.

Many of the non-believers which whom I have discussed the matter justify ignoring God by the simple and circular reasoning of “I just don’t believe it”. One gets the feeling because what I have said does not convince the non-believer on the spot, it is not valid.

I haven’t been convinced of many things, but neither my ego nor faith is enough to convince me they cannot exist simply because I’m not convinced. It seems the non-believer’s faith is great enough to convince them they are the ultimate arbitrator of validity in the known universe.

It really isn’t, of course. It is the near ultimate form of denial. As long as one keeps repeating “Not real…” to themselves, they are safe from any consequence of the entity to be avoided. No doubt someone will post a reply to this essay, denying what I just said. Which proves they really don’t believe and they’re safe from God.

By the way, this denial doesn’t work with many other things in life. The death of a loved one, a diagnosis of cancer, a deadline, insufficient balance in the checking account or a flat tire. Nothing in reality ‘leaves’ just because one is not thinking about it or even honestly unaware of it.

3. The significant difference between ‘love’ and ‘approval’.

“Does God love homosexuals?” Variously, this is phrased as “Does God love [fill in blank of a person or group in opposition to God]?” Examples coming to mind are: Adolf Hitler, NAZIS in general, abortionists, women who abort babies, telephone salesmen, ‘sinners’ (non-specific) and so forth.

It is a ‘trap’ question. If one answers ‘no’, the questioner immediately pounces and announces, “Aha! So God doesn’t really ‘love’ everyone!”

If one answers ‘yes’, the clever questioner immediately pounces and claims, “Aha! Since God loves them, you must be wrong in condemning them as sinners!”

It’s the old ‘heads-I-win, tails-you-lose’, ‘unanswerable question’ gag. Much on the order of ‘Have you quit beating your wife (or husband, I suppose) yet?’

I have provided the answer on several occasions. Yes, God loves everyone, even ‘them’; however, that does not equate to approving or endorsing their actions. This of course is a ‘weasel out’ answer; it doesn’t play into their ‘gotcha’ game. They pretend the answer is artificial and doesn’t make sense, or they don’t quite understand it.

The mistake is in assuming evidence and definitions not given in Holy Writ. Nothing in the Bible suggests that one who rejects God can also ‘claim’ God’s protection.

4. The distinction between a moral code and peer group consensus.

God presents a code of ethics for His followers. In the Mosaic Law, it was seemingly formulated and specific. In Christianity, it is fairly loose in specifics and instead a general set of principles rather than a list of “do and don’t” articles. In fact, the Mosaic Law – the Ten Commandments and associated instructions for living life – was fairly general until the Holy Men of the Rabbinic league decided to specify what everything meant and issued – over a period of time – what everything meant.

This is not to point fingers at the traditional Jewish Rabbis. They did their work with great trepidation and with little monetary gain. Most of them did not get any pay as such for working as a rabbi. The great bulk of them served the Creator to the best of their knowledge and attempted to make others aware of what the Creator – The Name as usually used – wanted everyone to know.

So it has been in Christianity. Since the time of Christ, there have been people who claimed to speak for the Lord, as representatives of Christ and/or the Creator who further defined what Jesus instructed His followers to do. Rather than the formalized teachings of Mishnah and Gemara (look them up), Christianity has issued various documents of instruction in various forms and levels of authority.

The formal, organized, orthodox groups have demanded attendance at certain church functions during the year. Certain dress codes were published, especially for church attendance.

Protestant – as they are called – groups also issued ‘group specific’ rules of conduct and decorum. When I was a young man, a proper Christian was not to drink, smoke (cigarettes), dance, go to movies or engage in any form of sexual conduct with the ‘opposite’ sex. (Hardly anyone really knew if they were the ‘opposite’ sex or the other person was.) Card playing was usually forbidden; whether stud poker or bridge.

Other groups – church denominations – had either more strict or lax sets of rules. Some were very specific and demanding – like no female of any age could use make up or color their hair – and some allowed most everything. This is a whole study in itself and I won’t try to get more specific, other than to say Christianity as a whole has no less ‘commentary’ on what the Bible says than Judaism. It might be mentioned here that Judaism has a few distinctions between ‘groups’ as well. They range from the very Orthodox Jewish to essentially a ethnic, social society.

In the past one hundred years – more or less, it’s been a rather creeping process – many non-believers have set up a parallel belief system to Christianity, but one largely without Christ. The main thrust of the concept is “Christ doesn’t really matter, what He TAUGHT is what matters.” Except for the part about Christ being God, a relationship with Him as the key to salvation, miracles and that sort of thing.

For instance, Christ did teach about helping the poor. Therefore, in the Christianity without Christ religion, ‘giving to the poor’ is of greater significance than knowing and recognizing Christ as God. This ‘giving to the poor’ is also attached to various political systems who claim to assist the poor. For this reason, socialism is deemed to be more friendly to the poor than capitalism. Even if empirical, historic data shows otherwise.

This leads to the view that everyone should be removed from and protected from the results of their actions. “Freedom” is construed as action without limits or constraint. Therefore, birth control and abortion must be available to all women and at public expense. By the same token, medical treatment for sexually transmitted diseases – which could be easily prevented by ‘chastity’, the ‘old fashioned’ idea of only engaging in sex with one’s own and single partner – should now be provided to all at public expense. Recognizing a person brought some disaster – either legal, economic or medical – on themselves by their own choices – misdeeds in most cases – is considered ‘judgmental’ and forbidden.

On the same line, ‘environmentalism’ is a holy and required view; espousing ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ is far more important than other considerations. This is now to the point where evaluating ‘climate change’ and realizing the claims made are insubstantial and non-substantiable is considered heresy. Seemingly punishable by burning at the stake or at least a total and complete excommunication from society.

All these things – and many other associated – are now ‘assumed’ to have equal – indeed, preferential – standing with the moral code promulgated by God. Therefore, ‘free’ (public funded) abortions are now more important than celibacy or chastity and ‘environmentalism’ is more important than ‘thou shall not steal’.

In this logic, the God who said “Thou shall not steal” is wrong and the pretend god who who said ‘Gaia is the Earth Mother’ is right. Consequently, anyone who recognizes the Creator of the Universe is, at best, out of date and in error.

5. The significant difference between ‘holy’ and ‘happy’.

God commanded His people to be Holy, as He was Holy. This is recorded in the Mosaic Law and re-stated by Christ in the New Testament teaching of Christ. Whereas there are writings and poems or songs in the Old Testament book of Psalms about wealth and prosperity, the record of both Old and New Testament writings demonstrate God does NOT guarantee His followers with health, wealth, prosperity and “a rose garden” at all times. The story of Job, the history of the nation Israel and the deaths of Jesus and many of His followers demonstrate this concept.

What it – the message of God – does teach and guarantee is God keeps His followers in a positive state of mind through bad times. The Bible teaches those who rely on God will be ultimately rewarded in eternity, not immediately.

If it hasn’t been mentioned before, or no one has noticed, one is not issued a Rolls-Royce, a mansion in Beverly Hills and a wardrobe from the most fashionable designer immediately upon becoming a Christian.

Nor have I been protected from injury or illness due to my belief in God. I have to admit, I thought I was dead a couple of times, but God has preserved me. I expect to die at some point. All my grandparents – both sides – and my parents have died. Most of them were better Christians and probably better people than me. I have to replace the tires and oil in my car periodically. My dog got old and had to be put down.

The idea God makes life perfect for His followers is simply NOT part of Christian (or Jewish as I can tell) doctrine. Those who expect all their wishes fulfilled and a perfect life are confusing Christianity with a 1960 television show with Barbara Eden or a Disney movie.

6. “I don’t like it!” is not a valid criticism.

When dealing with those non-believers who justify their non-belief on what God ‘fails’ to do or does wrong, I’ve noticed a commonality. All of them are upset that God doesn’t do things they would do, or not in the way they would do them.

The conversation invariably comes around to ‘God shouldn’t do [such and such] – or allow [fill in the black here] to happen’. In other words, God didn’t follow this person’s wishes and is therefore wrong.

Not only that, but the person objecting demands God comply with their wishes in order to gain the objector’s favor.

So, just exactly is God in this case? Or more properly, who assumes they are God? If I had a nickel for every time some nitwit with a runny nose and no kleenex told me God was in error – I’d have a bunch of nickels.

So what is to be done?

God is going to win. I read the book all the way to the end. God wins. (Go figure.)

For those intellectually honest, admit to yourself God is really God and ask Him to show you the reality. Then have the intellectual honesty to understand God is telling you the reality and listen.

You will NOT have to start dressing like me, or get rid of everything you have. You won’t have to make any ‘specific’ changes prior to becoming a follower of Jesus. You won’t have to exile your girlfriend or boyfriend (regardless of participant’s sex). You won’t have to divest yourself of all your worldly possessions and become a monk or nun and live in a cave or anything.

You may have to make some changes in your life. However, you will not have to change anything until after you become a believer – and only then when God instructs you to do so. You will not have to change anything to placate me. Nor to placate the local pastor or priest. Placating your Mom is up to you and her. I would expect most everyone to change something in their life; but not everyone the same thing. Mostly what a follower of God needs to change are the things which stand between the follower and God.

If one does not believe God exists and continues in that belief; go ahead. No lightning bolt will strike – usually. In eternity – after you die – God will demand some explanations. It is up to you, obviously. I will still talk with you, share with you and even like you – depending, on how we ‘mesh’; there are some Christians with whom I don’t really get along. If you don’t shower often and never change your socks I may not ‘hang around’ as much.

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Filed under Civilization, God, religion

Interesting Statement, this…

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/05/20/john-glenn-evolution-should-be-taught-in-schools/?intcmp=trending

At first glance, this seems obvious as to meaning and will be sneered at by many in the ‘religion’ business. However, all people – Christian believers or not – should read the small print and determine what Senator Glenn really thinks on the matter.

Among other statements of Sen Glenn, he said “to look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is to me impossible” (‘this kind of creation’ is space in this context). However, he also thinks science and discoveries should be taught, including ‘evolution’.

Yes, there are those in the religion business – not to be confused with God’s believers known as Christians – who will lose income if their message is removed. That sole message being the evil of evolution, evolutionists and science in general. That sole message being ignorance and willful denial of reality is key to pleasing God. Too bad if they lose income. God directs no one to lie or cater to prejudice in order to get rich.

The ‘good news’ – the Greek word translated ‘gospel’ – is Almighty God through the sacrifice of God (Jesus Christ) has provided a way to forgive humans for sin and rebellion. The ‘good news’ is this forgiveness is available to any and all who will ask God for it. The ‘good news’ is Almighty God loves without stinting and renews life to those who seek it.

The ‘good news’ is that Christians do not have to be ignorant or stupid in order to please God. A Christian pleases God by listening to God and following His will. Not by obeying a list of ‘shall’ and ‘shall not’ items invented by some ‘religious person’. No one has to please the Pope, or the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, or the Dali Lama, or Billy Graham or Billy Sunday or me or anyone, in order to obey God. (Some of us probably get some of the concepts right from time to time, but the key is to obey God.)

Do anti-God and anti-Christian people use some aspects of science (in the large and vague sense) to attempt to discredit God? Most certainly. One notes anti-God and anti-Christian people use some aspects of politics, social concern and religion attempting to discredit God as well. So what?

It is the duty of all Christian people to be well informed about all of God’s nature and all of God’s creation. In doing so, we can better serve God in whatever manner He sees fit. We can also separate the wheat from chaff in other fields – like science (in the large and vague sense) and politics and social concerns. Ignorance is NOT a strength.

Except for dictators. See the quote about ignorance and strength in the novel 1984, by George Orwell. That is NOT what God commands.

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Can a Christian be Happy?

I thank a fellow Christian and blogger for the title and basic thought of this essay. My thanks and blessings to Kristeen Nicole Gillooly at https://kristeennicolegillooly.wordpress.com

She can’t help being good at what she does; she has a Celtic surname.

The title was originally Can You Be Happy if You are Not a Christian? In my mind this brings up other associated questions, like “Is a Christian Happier Than a non-Christian?” or possibly even “Does Christianity Make One Happier?”

My considered answer, after some sixty-five years of life, fifty-four years ‘officially’ a Christian, is “It depends. What do you mean by ‘happy’?”

I must be a philosopher; I answer every question with a question. Either that or an incipient politician. (Lord forgive me!) Or perhaps just a dedicated jerk.

The key to the answer is ‘What is Happiness?’

Your humble correspondent finds that virtually no one (believer or non-believer) is ‘happy’. Everyone (non-believer and believer) is beset with the idea of ‘something is missing’. Everyone thinks they are not quite pretty or handsome enough. No one has quite enough money. People think their butt is too big or too small. I’m not tall enough and she’s too tall. Either I’m too drunk or too sober. I trust the reader gets the point – I’m getting weary of belaboring the concept.

Most people think that the key to happiness is attaining what they think they lack. Oftentimes this comes in the form of bits of special fabric with green lettering and pictures of past Presidents on the front. However, even those with vast quantities of funds do not particularly exhibit the characteristics of ‘happiness’. The late Howard Hughes was rich beyond most of our dreams of avarice; he died a hermit, afraid to venture forth from his apartment.

I recommend the Biblical book of “Ecclesiastes”. Written by Solomon, King of Israel and arguably the richest man in the history of the world. It is a personal account of his search for happiness. I will not fully repeat it here, but he tells of chasing wealth, knowledge, women and fame. In the end, he says it is all ‘vanity’; a King James era English word used as the translation of the Hebrew ‘hebel’ (pronounced ‘heh-VEL’). In Hebrew, the word literally means ‘vapor’. So it’s air. Nothing in the vernacular. One of the meanings of the English word ‘vain’ is useless or without effect.

Gentle readers, no one is really happy. Not as adults, at least. When we were kids we were probably happier. When we were young enough not to know. For most of us, we had a place to live, clothing and enough to eat. Someone else paid the bills. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we had pretty much what we needed and we played and we were happy. Except maybe for baths and when we broke something.

I once knew an adult who was generally happy. I mean really happy. Everything to him was new and fresh and neat. He had a serious mental deficiency. But he was probably the happiest fellow I ever met. Much happier than me at the least. That strikes me as a high price to pay for happiness, though.

People who are not believers can attain a level of satisfaction in life. However, there is always something ‘not quite there’ remaining. An unseen desire, an unthought thought. C. S. Lewis talks about this and I’m sure correctly diagnoses the problem as a lack of God. Please don’t think this is criticism; it is merely an observation of the human condition. The illustration of the ‘God shaped hole’ keeps returning. We all have a void in our soul – that inner part of us which shapes and becomes our mind in the sense of character, ego and moral fiber. It was made when mankind rebelled against God in the beginning. We are all aware of the lack, even if we don’t know exactly what it is or why it’s there.

Christians also have the void. Except, being with Christ, we have some mitigation of the ‘lack’ awareness. It is not that God has fully entered us and there is no lack, no void awareness; but rather that God partially fills it – AND we have the positive expectation that it will be properly and fully filled when we meet Him in Heaven. Christians know – at least should know – why we have that unsettled feeling of lack or waiting for something.

So, are Christians happy in the sense that ‘anyone in the world’ would recognize? Probably not. However, Christians who understand the relationship (not fully understand, but basically understand) between God and us as individuals have a certain ‘contentment’ that does no attach from conditions. Yes, Christians are happy in the sense of contentment; which may or probably may not be discernible to non-believers. Again, this is not a judgment or nasty comment; it is merely the statement that non-believers judge success or happiness by a different standard. That non-believers do not understand Christian standards is not a slam either, the statement only reflects a non-believer cannot understand that which has never been exposed to them.

One last word to Christians who are not happy and unsure they ever will be.

Full happiness, that knowledge the ‘hole is finally filled’ and the unspoken desire is fulfilled will only come when we receive our final reward and enter eternity. If one is without the ‘contentment’ of blessings to come, do not panic! The contentment part is much like prayer and push-ups. It comes with practicing with God and the effects are not instant, but cumulative.

Don’t Panic! God has you.

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On Prayer (Part Two)

Does God answer prayer?

That’s a loaded question.

The answer is “Of course God answers prayer”. Then the argument begins.

“God didn’t answer MY prayer!” is usually the beginning of the counter-argument.

So… The concept of God answering prayer is rather misunderstood. To begin, God is not a Cosmic Genie (djinn) who is obligated to grant all requests. Far too often, this is a common assumption although not usually spoken aloud.

Consider the djinn. To obtain wishes – be it three or unlimited – one must first locate the djinn bottle or lamp. Then, one is obliged to polish or rub the lamp in order to summon the djinn. In a rather far-stretched analogy, in order to obtain some favor from God, one must first establish a relationship with Him. There’s no point in asking much of anyone unless one has open lines of communication, some sort of relationship.

A standard bit of Christian doctrine is the only prayer a non-believer can submit that will be heard and answered is that of a request for forgiveness of sins. This action includes and cannot be made without a request to God to ‘fix’ one’s life. So an opening prayer without prior communication to win the lottery is probably not going to be answered affirmatively.

In short, nonbelievers should not expect anything material from God; other than what God provides to the world at large. Forgive me if this seems rather curt and dismissive, but that’s how it works. One wouldn’t expect a gift of several thousand dollars from George Soros (who has it to give, by all accounts) without at least being on speaking terms with him. Get real.

In my observation, God gives three answers to any given prayer.

1. “Yes.”

2. “No.”

3. “Stand by, I’ve got a better idea.”

The third answer is the most common. When Christians ask The Lord for something – either knowledge or merchandise – and honestly want an answer, God is most willing to assist.

One should be aware of asking for silly things. Even if one is serious in asking for, say, attached, bird-like wings powered by one’s own muscles; humans do not as a rule have wings. All manner of ‘super powers’ can be safely included in this consideration. Also, consider that if The Lord should grant such powers, He may expect one to use those powers appropriately. Being Batman might become a burden.

As long as I’m on the subject of silliness, I’ll include this idea. Don’t expect God to cover for sloth, negligence or carelessness. A student who has ignored all lectures, homework and studying for the entire course of a class. Praying for a ‘good grade’ is not a good idea. There are all manner of ‘problems’ which are caused by human misconduct for which one cannot reasonably expect God to cover. Driving into a tree by neglect, for instance; then expecting God to fix the damage to the car. Getting liquored up stupid and then expecting God to cure the hangover. Sow wild oats all week and then pray for crop failure.
Or worse. You pick.

As I mentioned in the previous installment, prayer is a two-way communication. Not only that, but as one’s prayer life develops, one understands more of what God expects and desires. So our prayers as Christians become part of the effort to grow in knowledge of God and to serve His will and kingdom. One doesn’t ask a ‘friend’ for a favor which revolts the friend’s sensibilities or morals. One cannot seriously ask God to perform – or fail to perform – an action in total disregard of God’s nature.

Usually, when God answers “No”, there is an obvious explanation – as above – or a specific explanation. God does not, even in ‘normal’ life encourage sloth, covetousness or lack of motivation. Winning the lottery will not – by God’s design – take the place of work and thrift. Or just planning ahead.

The most common answer to prayer is “I’ve got a better idea”. Usually, when Christians pray they have thought through the perceived problem and offer their own solution for God’s action. When The Lord agrees that a problem exists, He already has a plan. Prayer will allow a Christian to understand, agree with and submit to The Lord’s will in the matter. That is part of the feed back God gives us through prayer. This qualifies as a “Yes” answer, but usually in a manner other than one thought. Which is good, when thinking about it.

This also covers things like ‘world peace’, ‘hunger’ and ‘violence’. God has already given humanity the knowledge and instructions to take care of all those issues. The problem is humans tend to ignore God and do what suits them – and usually just for the moment. God chooses not to ‘fix’ everything right now. That would entail changing everyone and they way everyone thinks against their will. That doesn’t seem to be way God operates. He wants humanity to willingly accept Him, and follow the already disclosed directions. Then all those horrid things in world history will end.

Learning to pray as a mature Christian is a learned task. And like most learned tasks, or skills, it requires practice and paying attention to why it didn’t go as one expected – the first time.

One more item. Nearly every Christian has prayed for God to reveal His will to them. He will, but only when the Christian is already doing what God wants them to be doing now. If one refuses to follow God in the simple things, He isn’t likely to trust one in the advanced things.

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