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1) Matthew 28: 16-20 (New International Version)

 16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It is my perception that all Christ Followers are called to spread the Gospel of Christ.  It’s part of their God’s plan for them.  They may make this the focus of their life, as with evangelist.  It may be by being an example in their community of the power of God’s love.  Encouraging non-belivers to seek a connection to God, and learn the healing powers of his love.

However a person is called to spread their faith it should always done with love and respect.

Colossians 4:2-6 (New International Version)

2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

There are two ways to sell any idea, the soft sell and the hard sell.

The soft sell is to focus on non-believers who are lost, and defeated by life.  Helping these lost souls in both how to live in the world, and to save their souls to make sure that when they pass on it will be to the reward of Heaven.

The hard sell is to try to convince those who believe they have found the faith they need that their faith is a false one.  That they need to convert to the one true faith of the Christ Follower.

The message I have received, on more than one occasion, from people of faith is that if I don’t surrender my will to their God I will suffer everlasting torment in Hell.  I think that goes under the hard sell.  🙂

How do you think you have been called to spread your faith?

What do you think is the most effective way to do this?

2.a) Atheist have also begun to spread the message of our faith, although most of my Atheist friends don’t use the word faith.

I consider myself as part of the soft sell.  I try to avoid debates, and focus on creating a dialogue with people of religious faith.  To improve understanding between us.

I encourage people to use the process of asking questions, examining evidence, then testing that evidence to see if it supports an idea that will make their life, and world, better.

Following this process could confirm the existence God.  The starting point for any search for the best answer must start with being willing to accept that anything is possible.

2.b) The hard sell is represented by Richard Dawkins.

From is bio on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_dawkins

“Dawkins has described himself as a “cultural Christian, even proposing the slogan “Atheists for Jesus”, but that his opposition to religion is twofold, claiming it to be both a source of conflict and a justification for belief without evidence. Following the September 1,2001 attacks, he pointed to the incident as evidence of religion as dangerous nonsense that was undeserving of respect. He argued that atheists should be proud, not apologetic, because atheism is evidence of a healthy, independent mind. He argues that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis.”

Some quotes from his web site: 

http://richarddawkins.net/ 

“Who will say with confidence that sexual abuse is more permanently damaging to children than threatening them with the eternal and unquenchable fires of hell?”

“The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as ‘faith’.”

“I doubt that religion can survive deep understanding. The shallows are its natural habitat. Cranks and fundamentalists are too often victimized as scapegoats for religion in general. It is only quite recently that Christianity reinvented itself in non-fundamentalist guise, and Islam has yet to do so. Moonies and scientologists get a bad press, but they just haven’t been around as long as the accepted religions.

Conclusion – Trying to convince someone that their personal faith is wrong always has the potential for some level of conflict.  My only concern about how we do it is that it must always be done with love and respect, which of course is not easy when discussing something as personal as faith.

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I was just sent this video and had to share it with you.

Swedes may be the coolest people on the planet.  One group came up with an idea for a fun way to get people to get more exercise by climbing stairs, instead of just using an escalator.

Brought to you by The Fun Theory – http://www.thefuntheory.com/

The Piano Stairs:

Would you ever choices to use the escalator again?

Sneak preview – My next post will be a Bible Study on evangelism, spreading the word of Faith.

Today January 26th, was the National Day of two countries, Australia and India.

1) Australia Day per Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Day

“Australia Day (previously known as Anniversary Day, Foundation Day and ANA Day), and also referred to as Invasion Day by several groups within Australian society, is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, the day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, the hoisting of the British flag there, and the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia.

For some Australians, particularly Indigenous Australians, Australia Day has become a symbol for adverse effects of British settlement on Australia’s Indigenous people. The celebrations in 1938 were accompanied by an Aboriginal Day of Mourning. (Sympathies many Native Americans of the US share about my countries founders)

Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with Governor Lachlan Macquarie having held the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales in 1818. In 2004, an estimated 7.5 million people attended Australia Day celebrations and functions across the country.”

The unofficial national anthem of Australia is of course “Waltzing Matilda” written in 1887 by Banjo Paterson.

Slim Dusty – Waltzing Matilda

2) Republic Day of India commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India came into force replacing the Government of India Act of 1935 as the governing document of India on January 26, 1950.

From Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_Day_(India)

Although India obtained its independence on August 15, 1947, it did not yet have a permanent constitution; instead, its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India ACT of 1935, and the country was a Dominion, with George VI, with George VI as head of state and Earl Mountbatten as Governor General. On August 29, 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar as chairman.

A draft Constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Assembly on November 4, 1947. The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on January 24, 1950. Two days later, the Constitution of India became the law of all the Indian lands. The Constitution of India  came into effect only on January 26, 1950, 10.18 AM IST. Following elections on January 21, 1950, Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president of India. The Indian National Congress and other parties had been celebrating January 26th as a symbol of Independence, even before India actually became independent. Thus, signing the constitution on January 26, to mark and respect January 26 and the freedom struggle and the freedom fighters.”

The song “Mera Joota hai Japan (translation My Shoes are Japanese), a Hindi song composed by Skankar Jaikishan was widely embraced in its time as a representation of the newly sovereign nation of India.  

From Wikipedia:

“The songs first and most famous appearance was in the movie Shree 420 where it was picturised on the popular Bollywood star Raj Kapoor. The opening lines are:

Mera Joota hai Japani
Yeh Patloon Inglistani
Sar pe lal topi Rusi
Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani

which translates to

My shoes are Japanese
These trousers are English
The red hat on my head is Russian
But even then, my heart is Indian

Raj Kapoor – Mera Joota Hai Japani

What is your favorite patriotic song(s)?

The story of the outgoing president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is another inspiring example of why there can be hope for those, growing up in the worst of circumstance, to make a better life for themselves. 

Born into poverty in Brazil’s impoverished northeast, at age 7 Lula came to São Paulo, where he was mistreated and beaten by an alcoholic father. He ovecame these obstacles to rise from a shoeshine boy to become the thirty-fifth President of Brazil.

An article in the Christian Science Monitor tells some of his story:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0122/Brazil-Where-a-shoeshiner-became-president

“Born into poverty in Brazil’s impoverished northeast, at age 7 Lula came to São Paulo, where he was mistreated and beaten by an alcoholic father.

He left school to shine shoes and sell peanuts but returned to technical college to get the qualifications necessary to find a job as a metalworker in the area’s car factories.

There, after seeing his wife and son die in childbirth, he became active in the local union and rose to lead hundreds of thousands of workers in famous strikes at the end of the 1970s.”

The Wikipedia bio of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luiz_In%C3%A1cio_Lula_da_Silva

It takes a lot of faith, and of course some luck, to rise above the circumstance da Silva grew up in.

Questions – What lead you to your faith? What person(s) inspired you the most?

1) Buckminster Fuller is someone I related to because at the 32 he was a bankrupt and jobless, living in a housing project.  He had lost his daughter to polio, which he felt responsible for.  A complete failure in life.  On the verge of suicide he decided instead to embark on “an experiment, to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity”,

A great deal of what he wrote was, and still is, beyond my ablility to understand.  As a teenager I considered my self a complete failure like Fuller.  If it was possible for Fuller to change his life so completely so could I.

The Wikipedia bio of Buckminster Fuller:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckminster_Fuller

2) Stephen Jay Gould’s Natural History Essays, which were collected into the books “Ever Since Darwin” and “The Panda’s Thumb” led me to rediscovering my love of science, and reinforced the importance to me of critical thinking.  Such as the paradox that poor design is a better argument for evolution than good design, as illustrated by the anatomy  of the panda’s “thumb”—which is not a thumb at all—but an extension of the radial sesamoid.

The Wikipedia entry on Stephen Jay Gould

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Jay_Gould

Cead Mile Falite (Gaelic – A Hundred Thousand Welcomes) to my Scots friends as they celebrate the Birthday of Scotland’s favorite Native son, the poet Robert Burns, 25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796.

Wikipedia bio of Robert Burns – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Burns

The most famous of the songs from The Bards poetry.  Auld Lang Syne.

 

Monday night,  January 25th, Scots around the world celebrate The Bard with a traditional Burns Supper.  The most important food served at these suppers is Haggis.  I had Haggis at a Burns Supper with a friend.  It was served along with  Johnny Walker Scotch Whiskey.  I would have preferred if that had left out the Haggis and just served the Johnny Walker.  🙂

Wikipedia entry on Haggis – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haggis

“Haggis is a dish containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with the stock, and traditionally simmered in the animals stomach for approximately three hours.”

Questions 

What is the worst food you ever ate?

Have you ever had to pretend you enjoyed a friend’s, or relative’s, meal, when it really made you gag?

The Burns poem “Address tae the haggis” is an important part of every Burns Supper.

In a comment to my Martin Luther King post my blog buddy Ric lead to back to something he wrote about King.  His post included 1 Peter 3:9.  I think during this week of remembrance of MLK 1 Peter 3:8-15 contains guidance we all can learn from.

1 Peter 3:8-15 (New International Version)

8Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

10For,
   “Whoever would love life
      and see good days
   must keep his tongue from evil
      and his lips from deceitful speech.
 11He must turn from evil and do good;
      he must seek peace and pursue it.
 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
      and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
   but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

 13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.

God has called mankind to act towards one another with love and compassion.  To repay evil, and insult, not in kind, but with blessing.  The more you are able to do this, the closer you come to acting as Jesus did when he was being tormented, the more you will be blessed.

You should not speak with evil, or deceitful intent.  You should seek peace, and turn from evil.

Verse 13, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” sounds naive.  However men like Martin Luther King prove the wisdom of this guidance.

MLK was able to inspire millions because he lived by these words.  He was a revolutionary, like Jesus.  He fueled his revolution with love, even as his enemies used hate.  Love will always overcome hate, when given a chance.

The more the Christ Follower can act with love towards those who act against them in hate, the greater God’s blessing will be, the less that have to fear of God’s judgement.

How is this working for you?  

It is a good thing I am not a Christ Follower or, based on my actions in the past, I would have a great deal to fear of God’s judgement.  🙂

When someone insults me, or gives me the finger, I am afraid my reaction is not one of love. 🙂  As I have become older I have worked very hard at becoming less confrontational than I was most of the life.  I still do have a ways to go.  Maybe if I had another 100 years to work on it I could finally learn the lessons taught by the way Martin Luther King, and Jesus, live their lives by. The guidance in 1 Peter 3.

1. Good for a laugh.

The following list was sent to me by one of my retired buddies, who I will be joining at our Pizza Lunch on Saturday.

Feel free to add any jokes you want.

Law of Mechanical – After your hands have become coated with grease, your noise will itch, and you’ll have to pee.
 
Law of Probability – The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.
 
Law of Biomechanics – The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
 
Law of the theater – At any even, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.
 
Oliver’s Law of Public Speaking – A closed mouth gathers no feet.
 
Brown’s Law of Physical Appearance – If the clothes fit, they’re ugly.
 
Law of Logical Argument (My favorite) – Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.
 

2. The bad.  I can’t think  of many bad things worst than most people’s daily commute.  The following link is to a list of America’s worst commutes.

The worst commute is, no surprise, the Hollywood Freeway, Los Angeles, California.

Being retired the only traffic jam I have to deal with is the one in my bowels.
 

What is the worst commute you face now?
 

What is the worst commute you can remember?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-01-19/americas-75-worst-commutes/full/

3. The ugly.  I haven’t seen any men’s fashions uglier than those at a recent fashion show, “Skulls & Bones”.  The picture is from a New York Times article linked to below.

 
What is the worst fashion trend you can remember.
Leisure suits, enough said.
 

In the 1960’s afro-americans had a choice of two messages to follow.  H. Rap Brown’s “”If America don’t come around, we’re gonna burn it down”, or Martin Luther Kings, Jr’s dream.

From his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on  August 28, 1963.

  • “Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
  • As with all revolutions there was some violence, but the vast majority followed King.  We will never know how many American lives, black and white, he saved through his inspirational leadership.

    Martin Luther King, Jr delivered on the promise our forefounders made in 1776, that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”.

    During my lifetime Martin Luther King was America’s greatest leader.

    Glass Frog

    The creatures invented by science fiction writers can match some the amazing animals that inhabit our plant.  Above we have the Glass Frog, one 30 new species of frogs, along with new species of snakes, recently discovered by a team of American and Ecuadorian scientists working for Reptile & Amphibian Ecology International.

    It’s a good thing we have a record of these animals because we may not share are planet with them much longer.  Their home, the Pata de Pajaro rain forest, is under siege from widespread deforestation for cattle grazing to timber harvesting and hunting.

    Image Gallery:

    http://biodiversityphotography.smugmug.com/Press/Press-Release-1132010/10938870_p9Hpy#764212359_AioMJ

    Question:  Extinction is the natural cycle of life on earth.  There is a good chance that every day some species goes extinct somewhere.  However our planet is a collection of interdependent eco-systems.  When one, such as a rain forest, disappears it likely has some effect on all the others.

    How concerned do you think we should be about losing habitats like the Pata de Pajaro rain forest?

    Researchers from the European Southern Observatory obtained the spectrum of a giant exoplanet that orbits the bright, very young star HR 8799.

    Our body of knowledge about distant planets and stars may be growing at a faster pace than any other area of science.  We can now know the chemical makeup of a planet 130 light years away.  Mind blowing!

    From the ESO site:

    http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1002/

    “The system is at about 130 light-years from Earth. The star has 1.5 times the mass of the Sun, and hosts a planetary system that resembles a scaled-up model of our own Solar System. Three giant companion planets were detected in 2008 by another team of researchers, with masses between 7 and 10 times that of Jupiter. They are between 20 and 70 times as far from their host star as the Earth is from the Sun; the system also features two belts of smaller objects, similar to our Solar System’s asteroid and Kuiper belts.”

    The last image is by way of the Christian Science Monitor.  It speaks for its self.

    Compassion

    Genesis 3:1-13 (New International Version)

     1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

     2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

     4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  

    7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

     8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

     10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

     11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

    12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

    13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”    The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

    1) Right at the beginning we see the willful nature of mankind.  God asked only one thing of Adam and Eve, that they not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were easily tempted and eat of this fruit.  We are just as easily tempted.  The simplest way to get a person to want  something is tell them they can’t have it

    It takes discipline to resist temptation.  Discipline is not something that  comes naturally to us, just ask the credit card companies.  🙂

    When a Christ Follower surrenders themselves to God they are replacing their willful nature for his Grace(?).  Their reward is eternal life in Heaven, the life Adam and Eve turned their backs on.

    2) When I looked at the life Adam and Eve had in Eden it’s my perception that I have a different perspective from that of CFs.

    In the perfect world of  Heaven the Sun is always shinning. There are no storms, earthquakes, rain or snow. Everyday is perfect.  The world I live in is constantly changing.  If you live in New England, USA, it can change every hour.  🙂

    I do greatly enjoy the warmth of the sun on a summer day.  However after the first hundred years or so I think I might actually look forward to a snowstorm.  🙂

    In Eden Adam’s and Eve’s every want was provided for them.  To be honest I get the picture of a couple of less than scintillating personalities.

    Eve, “Adam, what do you want to do today?”  Adam, “I dunno, maybe sit in the meadow and soak up the sunshine, just like yesterday.”  Eve, “Cool!”.  🙂

    The quest for knowledge is for me what separates us from the rest of the creatures I share my world with.  Along with the imagination to visualize what to do with it.  It’s the challenge of dealing with a changing world that keeps my world interesting.  It’s the destructive side of nature that fuels this change.  That means dealing with hell as well as heaven.

    Questions:

    When faced with the temptation for something you know is wrong, how do you resist it?

    If a being appeared before you and offered you immortality, and all you wanted, that the only thing you had to do was surrender your will to him, how would you know if he was God or the devil?

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