Author: smcintos

And you think you have problems: Other People

How big are your problems? This is the year when things really go wrong, and we all can feel the effects. The man with the most problems, that I know of, was Job. He lost everything that was important to him, including his children and his health. I remember reading his depressing story when I was young because I thought those Bible stories were good for me. It’s a depressing story about human suffering. “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3: 25 and 26) I didn’t feel pumped after reading the story, but I did learn something useful. God told Job about other parts of the world, when he complained about his suffering. “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?” (39: 1) and “Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied its ropes?” (v 5) and “Will the wild ox consent …

This year: Does anything matter?

Have you noticed that Internet sites and videos now come with advertising? And this is the year of the angry radical, shouting for something and burning things down. Everyone wants a piece of us. In the last few days, we had some early cold weather. Our rain barrel is frozen over and I can’t break the ice. I would break it because I saw a big bird, a magpie, trying to get a drink of water. The bad news for the birds might be good for us. We have experienced some petty crime in our neighborhood, and the police don’t like to get involved, if the offenders look poor. It was becoming scary, and then the cold weather came, and kept most of us in warm places. I feel safer in the cold. Also, several elections will happen in the next few weeks, and maybe people will stop bickering and shouting so much, when decisions are made. We could use some peace, in this troubled year 2020. What is important to you? If I went …

What if we pray for the wrong thing?

A man named Robert Joamie prayed and asked God for something, and he would probably tell us now that he prayed for the wrong thing. He “asked God to end his suffering, then passed out from exhaustion. When he woke up, he laughed at himself and told God he’d changed his mind” Robert is Inuit, what we used to call Eskimo, and he got lost while hunting. He survived for four days without food, although he did have one can of Pepsi and he ate some wild plants. I think he is more durable than most of us. The good news is that God didn’t answer his first prayer; he was rescued and taken to a hospital. READ: Nunavut hunter survives 4 days on the land with no food, plenty of polar bears Simple faith in God is for all of us ordinary people, whatever we do in our day. God has told us: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah …

This is the future. Are you shocked?

When I was younger, there didn’t seem to be as much news as we have today. If that sounds strange, rapid change and too much information was predicted, in the year 1970, by Alvin Toffler. His famous book is “Future Shock” and he explained how we will not be able to cope, we will be shocked, by the changes that we make, and the speed of those changes. We are now living in that future, and we should be wise about our new world. It is a dangerous place. READ: Alvin Toffler: What he got right – and wrong Here is some good news; we are not alone, and our plans are not the only way to the future. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

Aliens? Have we been visited?

If we want to understand people in our modern world, we should know there is a persistent belief in Aliens who visited the Earth. The belief is that humans now revere those ancient visitors as gods. READ: Ancient Astronauts Advocates of these ideas refer to stories in the Bible; the God of the Bible is from some other place that we call Heaven, and that makes Jesus a visitor from another world. At the root of this belief is the knowledge that we all started somewhere, and our ancestors communicated with beings from another place. We seem to all know that. The Bible record is that we moved away from the truth: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts. Although they claimed …

Does the Devil exist, really?

Atheists don’t believe in the existence of God, and they might laugh at believers who have an ‘imaginary friend in the sky.’ If people don’t believe in God, we don’t even need to ask, they don’t believe in any other beings from the Bible. I find that most Atheist arguments are with Christians, but it is fair to say that other religions also believe in evil beings who cause destruction among us, and that includes Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others. Most religious people believe there is something bad out there, and most Atheists don’t. In 2009, a survey of people who identified as Christian, in the United States, showed they do not believe in the Devil: I remember old rock songs like “Devil you” and “Beware the devil woman” but those are just entertainment on the radio. So, does that evil person exist, and how does this question even matter today? Human beings do their own evil deeds, and we don’t need an evil ally for that. Or do we? I know I’m not a …

Protesters and Their Message: What truth?

Probably the whole world knows that a man named George Floyd died after being detained by police, on May 25, 2020. After the death of George Floyd, demonstrators went into the streets in many cities, around the world. The demonstrations grew, and persisted, and became violent. Probably the most important development was that the demonstrations became news stories, and we all started watching and reading. We were interested and we all started to form opinions. It’s important to remember that our news come from corporations, and they like making money. Even government-owned news sources like to attract audiences and sell advertising. In a strange development, George Floyd was a gold mine for media corporations. The whole world watched and read the news about his death, and the demonstrations. Like any other business, news corporations have to pay their bills too, and a world audience of billions is their gold. READ: Killing of George Floyd: Wikipedia And then other demonstrators became interested. 2020 is the year of Covid 19, and it is probably no coincidence that …

Signalling for Virtue Points: The New Religion

Do you drive an electric car, or at least a hybrid? Do you eat meat? What do you own that is ethically sourced, or organic, or renewable? What is your opinion about climate change? Would you like to demonstrate in the streets about something? Is it important for you to tell other people about these important things in your life? You might be virtue signalling. If you are angry at me for asking those questions, here is a correction; you are free to earn your living, and buy the things you like, and you can have your own convictions about social issues. If your car is a hybrid, and you can afford the payments; good. Just ask yourself one question: What is the attitude behind the action? Virtue signalling, or posing, seems to be tied to the spread of information on the Internet. People who don’t know you can believe whatever you tell them, if you project enough virtue. And I know that I am writing this for publication on the Internet, and you probably …

Christians: What happens when we quit?

Are you a believer; in anything? Have you thought about quitting? Do you know anyone who has? The pandemic with the Covid virus has closed churches where I live, and it feels like everyone is dropping out. Quitting is like a modern fad. Often, millennials do not like the things that were important to baby boomers, especially religion. There is a growing trend these days, to quit religion. I have some close relatives who have done that. If you do an Internet search with “ex” and any belief, you will find many discussion sites. There are ex-Mormons, ex-Muslims, ex-Evangelicals, and probably any other belief you can think of. Some have video testimonials. I’m a Christian, so what should I do with this information? This is important. I was raised with the idea that new converts would find their way to the truth, but now we have reverts who leave. There are several possibilities: a) They never really believed. People easily drop out of ‘Churchianity’ if they have only joined a religious tribe. Subscribing to a …

The news that’s about to happen: Who is your god, really?

There was a time when religion was important for everyone. Now, many parts of the world are secular and religion is only a personal choice. This brings problems for believers, whatever they believe in. This news video is several years old, but the problem has only grown since 2012. Note that it is from Al Jazeera, a news source owned by Muslims. They saw something happening to Christians and they were interested: I have learned, that there is always a new generation of children, and they will be adults soon. The children that we see in a playground will be voting in a few years. I remember talking to a pastor in my church, when I was a young man. I don’t remember what I was concerned about, but he told me to look at the little children in Sunday School, and know that they would be running the church in a few years. Their decisions would rule. When he told me that, my big concern got smaller, as I found a new perspective. He …

When Darwin went to church: Where is the systemic racism?

In 1859, Charles Darwin published his book “On the Origin of the Species.” What he did not mention was the future of the species, also known as “Social Darwinism.” We all know the general idea, Darwin tried to explain the past, or how we got here, with his theory of evolution. What Darwin did not explain was where we go from here. If we evolved to this point, it must also be true that we will continue evolving and become something else. If evolution is true, it did not stop with us. In practise, this idea of Social Darwinism is one of the most horrible ideas in human history: READ: Social Darwinism Eugenics is the name for science that aims to improve society by ridding the world of “undesirables” which is similar to a farmer breeding cattle. This includes getting rid of the unwanted cattle, and only keeping the best ones. The evolutionary science of Eugenics was founded by a cousin of Charles Darwin. Probably the most famous eugenicist, or forward looking evolutionist was Adolph …

How to be homeless: Coping without God

2020 is an interesting year, so far. I don’t think we know how much the world around us is changing, mostly because of the COVID 19 pandemic. Some changes were happening slowly, but our response to a virus is making things move faster. I met some people a few days ago, and they surprised me. I was working at a site, and I took a break for lunch. For me, that’s a fast food snack. As I walked into the food outlet, I saw some young adults standing near me, and someone said ‘We need face masks to go in there.’ They wanted food, and the rules are to wear a mask inside a business. I have a government job and my employers supply me with more PPE than I need, so I gave them face masks and showed them how to use them. We talked for a while, and I remember one man saying that he needed to get a driver’s license from the Government some day. I think the whole group agreed, and …

The Virus Wars: Are you ready?

Many people are protesting the restrictions we live under, with the COVID 19 pandemic. I work with the public, and recently a woman talked back to me and protested me. I am trained to wear a mask and use disinfectants; we have safety procedures, and I think they are good. I think we are all safer with the procedures and disinfectants, and I can still do my work. One woman protested that face masks cause distress for the client I was talking to. The woman took out her phone and found a government web site with information for people who have problems with masks. If you are wondering, I didn’t look to verify the information. The place was isolated and there were no known cases of COVID 19 for many miles. I carefully disinfected myself and made sure my mask was in position, and I finished my work, and I cleaned myself carefully after. The risk was small, and those people made their own decisions about their safety. I did not want to be a …

Faithfulness: Why is this so hard?

I have a relative who I am very fond of. When I was a boy, she was married to a good man, and we always wanted to see those two at family reunions. We liked them both so much. It was not easy for me to understand when the stories began to circulate, and even I heard, that the husband had another woman in his life; he was unfaithful. It made sense for me, that they should stay happy together. I still don’t understand why he did that to his wife. Most of the details were never told to me as a boy, but I learned that the “girlfriend” would come to the house, and when the wife answered the door, she would ask for her “boyfriend” because they were going on a date. Many years later, I met someone who had worked with the “girlfriend” and that person was shocked that the man would leave his nice wife for the other woman. Apparently, he did not get the best one. If you want to …

God in Mongolia: Things are changing

Until recently, Mongolia was controlled by Communists. The nation was a Soviet satellite, and a neighbor of Communist China. When the Soviet Union collapsed, life changed in Mongolia. One change was a rapid increase in the number of Christians. This is a new idea for most Mongols. It is easy for us to focus on ourselves and to believe that important things happen among us. The world is much bigger than us, and it is interesting to see what God is doing in some places that we might overlook. People matter in those places too. “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You.” (Psalm 22:27)

Credit: NASA Johnson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Watch our world as it changes

Social Media, including You Tube and Facebook, and many more new offerings, is a big part of life today. For most of us, it’s a huge part of life. The Internet has changed the world everywhere. I remember bulky computers on desk tops, and now we have phones in our pockets. I also remember life before the Internet, when phones had dials, and we talked on them; we only talked on them. We live in a time when old things pass away quickly, and new things emerge and dominate the world. God has promised to shake this world, and it’s easy to see how that could happen. We can’t keep what we have. “Now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken; that is, created things.” (Hebrews 12: 26 and 27)

The nerd rapture: Are we in a religious revolution?

One rule about religion is that things change when communication changes. The first Christians spoke and wrote on scrolls. Things changed with bound books, and then printing presses, which produced the Protestant Reformation. Radio, and television, and now the Internet have radically changed human communication, and we can expect big changes in the way people find God. Some people call this the nerd rapture. We are connected by the Web, and this year we are isolated by a virus pandemic. Expect changes. In the time of scrolls and preachers, Jesus told His followers to communicate: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16: 15 and 16) That is easier to do that now, than any time in history. The speaker on the TEDx video predicts a religious revolution based on communication. He mixes in his own advice, but he is correct with his basic prediction.

Beirut: What is God doing?

Right now, we are in this year 2020, and this is the year when the world changes. We all know about a virus from China, and violent demonstrations in the streets. Life has changed in a big way. And then we had an explosion in Beirut Lebanon. At this time, more than a hundred are confirmed dead, and searchers are still looking for bodies. Apparently, a ship filled with Ammonium Nitrate was abandoned in Beirut harbor a few years ago. High nitrogen fertilizer, if that was the product, is very dangerous. I have worked in transportation safety, and that fertilizer mixed with petroleum, is as explosive as dynamite. It was used by terrorists to blow up a government building in Oklahoma City, and do you know the meaning of TNT? That powerful explosive is Tri-Nitro Toluene. Toluene is petroleum, and nitrogen is in products like fertilizer. Beirut was just waiting for the explosion, and it was like an atomic bomb without the radiation. READ: Beirut explosion: Angry protesters storm government ministries Lebanon is in the …

Does religion put us at risk?

Jesus spoke to a conservative religious woman, a Samaritan, and told her “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4: 23). He warned that change was coming on them. As the world struggles with the COVID pandemic, many religious groups resist health restrictions and regulations. Conservative groups that live with rituals and traditions find it hard to adapt; people who have lived their own way for centuries are not interested in changing now. This is not only true for Christian groups, the major center of infections in Israel is one Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. READ: Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities ‘ignoring’ COVID-19 rules In Canada, Hutterite colonies have high rates of infection. These people practice their conservative religion in communes, and they love their lifestyle. I often meet Hutterites, Russian Old Believers, and Mennonites through my work, and I find them friendly and likeable, but they don’t like to change their ways. READ: Canadian Hutterite colonies struggle with coronavirus outbreaks

Orthodox Rituals in a Changing World: How do believers cope?

What we do might have to change, for health reasons. Belief is important to any Christian, but many struggle to adapt their practices. Eastern Orthodox Christians have many rituals, practices that are sacred to them, but they also have a health emergency. This new world can bring us all back to the starting place; “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) We might laugh as the priest in a country area, but he is trying to keep his faith in challenging times. On a larger scale, many churches are struggling to adapt to a world-changing crisis.

Baptismal service in Iran Photo: Elam Ministries elam.com

Something Good From a Pandemic

We might have missed the news, but the COVID pandemic has produced a strange effect in Iran. The nation is an Islamic Republic governed by conservative Shiite Muslims, but millions of people are moving to Christianity. This is a scenario that generates religious persecution; the government is strict and it does not like this change. Iran has also suffered from the pandemic after receiving the virus early from China. To protect people from the virus, many prisoners have been released, including many persecuted Christians. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8: 35) READ: Iran Releases a Third of Christian Prisoners Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Are you ready for the 2020 COVID famine?

It’s impossible to miss the virus pandemic that has spread around the world. I remember hearing the first rumours about a virus in China, in February of this year. Those rumours quickly became a fact and the disease spread to every place in the world. We all know this. Did you know this is qualifies as a biblical famine? Our reaction is now as dangerous as the disease. People will suffer from a virus infection, and some will die. Also, our social controls to resist the disease have disrupted the world economy. Now, more people will die from the remedy than from the disease. We are really hurting ourselves: READ: Coronavirus-linked malnutrition is killing 10,000 more children a month, UN warns When we think of a famine on a biblical scale, we always imagine a lack of food. That is partly true, but in ancient times, food was the economy. Everyone worked on a farm and lived by the food they produced, except for a few who lived in a village, close to the farm …

Whatever happened to the Age of Aquarius?

Do you remember the song with these words “It is the dawning of the age of Aquarius”? I wasn’t supposed to like that song, in my religious family, but for me it was easy listening, and I liked the optimism. Also, it’s a Hippy New-Age hymn, and I had friends who were Hippies. The lyrics are mostly about the positions of the planets and stars, and it’s based on Astrology, which is really a religion, and I am a Christian. The Bible is clear, wisdom comes from God who made the stars, and not from the created objects, like Jupiter in the seventh house. We are not supposed to get direction for our lives from mediums; “anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 10: 10 to 12) God can give us what we need. Maybe the singers were mediums and astrologers, …

The Solution to Racism: Maybe God knows something.

One word is the modern translation of the Bible word “sin.” The new word is “racism” In the Bible, one word “sin” describes anything wrong that people might do. We have ten commandments, and many other warnings, and the offence is always against God. If we hurt other people, we are offending the God who made them, and loves them. There are many ways to hurt other people. The hyper concern for racism makes one offence really matter, while other things might get overlooked. For example, it’s possible to be extreme and violent if the other person can be accused of racism. The U.S. Air Force Academy had a strong reaction to crude racist messages on their campus, and then investigators learned that one of the victims wrote the messages. The incident might be described as a stunt, but the possibility of racism required a severe correction. READ: Air Force Academy Prep School: Black cadet admitted to writing racist remarks on dorm doors I believe our concern for racism is in part based on the …

Chile: A Bible Lesson from a Newspaper

The country of Chile, in South America, has a problem with the COVID 19 Coronavirus, like every country in the world. One concern is for Christians who claim that they are protected by God, and they don’t need to take precautions. That is also happening in other countries. Strangely, for a secular newspaper, the Santiago Times, gave a Bible lesson to Christians, to show why they should take precautions. Someone knows the Bible well, the examples are well-chosen and the lesson is easy to follow. It seems strange when the press tries to help, instead of the usual angry partisan hysteria. They didn’t blame, they just gave their best advice. “The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.” (Psalm 37:30) READ: Protect Yourself! Don’t Test God!

Turkey and COVID 19; Blaming the Christians.

In the country of Turkey, there are reports of attacks on Christians because some many people blame minorities for the COVID 19 pandemic. Christians are a minority in Turkey where most people identify as Muslim, and the government has a strong Islamic agenda. About half of the Turkish population strongly supports the government, and some protesters have pulled down crosses on churches. One protester was caught trying to burn down a church in Istanbul and he told the police that he blamed the Christians for COVID 19. There is another side to this story; a Christian broadcaster SAT-7 TURK, has been working to support Christians in Turkey for about five years, with television broadcasts. In the virus pandemic, they are receiving more questions about Christianity, from Turkish people, than at any time in their history. Not all of the attention is negative. God told us “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” (Romans 10:20) READ: Turkey: Attacks on churches spike as …

Those annoying Baby Boomers and God

Did you know you belong to a generational prison? Experts have tracked the characteristics of each generation, and sometimes assigned a letter of the alphabet to each one. The ones we live with now are Boomers, and then generations X, Y, and Z. Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, and they are very numerous, in western countries. X is from 1965 to 1981; Y is the Millennials, also known as the me-me-me generation, from 1982 to 1994; and Z from 1995 to 2010. READ: From the baby boomer to the post-millennial generations: 50 years of change Baby Boomers generally annoy Millennials, or so we are told, and there is a popular insult “OK Boomer.” There are some problems with this description; we are each one person and not a generation. We can make our own choices about life, and many people don’t fit the profile. Some people are poor, even homeless, and many are immigrants from places where the dynamics are different. When we make one group all the same, we create a …

The Abortion Conspiracy

This is an election year in the United States, and history is being remembered that most of us forgot. Planned Parenthood is an organization that promotes access to abortions, and offers abortions in many clinics. In this year of “Black Lives Matter” the history of the founder Margaret Sanger has been remembered. She advocated for eugenics, guided evolution through population control, and she was quoted “We must make this country into a garden of children instead of a disorderly back lot overrun with human weeds.” Apparently the founder spoke to a women’s group of the Klu Klux Klan, in 1926, and there is suspicion about her advocating for more access to abortions and birth control, in black communities. This history has been revived by Kanye West, a black rapper and a Christian, who said Planned Parenthood has “been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.” This is an explosive debate, and we can expect to hear more arguments. The issue is reported: READ: Kanye West’s Planned Parenthood fight revives rift between …

Is it OK to be angry?

It is so easy to be angry these days. Why did those people in China, whoever they are, let that virus into the world? Why did we manage the spreading infection so badly? Why are those people burning businesses and tearing down statues? Why did that other driver just cut me off on the freeway? ,,, It is always easy to find a fault in someone, and that makes anger a good thing. We know the offenders deserve it. Strangely, Christians are not told, in the Bible, that they should never be angry. The direction is “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26) So, don’t do anything wrong while you are angry, and finish it before the end of the day. Control the damage and the duration. Medical science has discovered one important reason why anger needs to be limited; it will make us sick. We think our anger is a force to use against other people, but it is mostly harmful …

Atheists: No God, or No Christians?

Richard Dawkins is a scholar of evolution science and one of the best known promoters of Atheism. He admits that he is strongly opposed to Christianity, and progressive leftists support him in this. He is an intelligent man, and highly respected as a scholar, and his dislike for Christianity is expressed in many hurtful comments. When he attacks Christians, people either don’t care, or they cheer him on. Apparently Christians are a fair target for prejudice and abuse, in progressive society. But now Richard Dawkins is being attacked by the same people who used to support him. He decided to be fair, and to also criticize other religions that believe in God. Since he claims to be an atheist, a ‘no God’ believer, that is fair. When Richard Dawkins criticized Islam in the same way he commonly attacked Christians and their beliefs, he was labelled a bigot, and at least one major event was cancelled where he was the speaker. This creates an obvious question; Is militant Atheism a rejection of the concept of God, …

How much money do you need?

“Money can’t buy happiness.” We have been told this since at least 1750. It is probably true that money can’t buy happiness, but money does generate unhappiness when it goes away. So, how much money do you need? What will make you happy? 95 thousand U.S. dollars. Researchers studied income and happiness, and they now have an answer: an income of $95,000 USD per year will give you “life satisfaction” and $60,000 to $75,000 USD per year will give “emotional well-being.” Now you know. The research is too simple, in my opinion. I know places where that money would make you the richest person in town, and there are other places where you couldn’t afford to buy a house. The researchers could probably explain and modify their findings, and it is interesting that they studied money and happiness, and they have a scientific answer. READ: Experts say there’s an ideal income for happiness — here are three ways you can reach it But is there a spiritual answer? I am writing this as a Christian, …

Blasphemy Against Jesus in India

A group of Roman Catholics has applied India’s blasphemy laws against a man who describes himself as a rational atheist. A Catholic group has a statue of Jesus, and apparently the statue weeps. Water drips down the face of the Jesus statue, and people have described this as tears. They have begun drinking the “tear” water because they believe it has healing properties. Weeping Jesus statues have been reported in many parts of the world, and they usually become pilgrimage sites for Catholics. The group in India is offended because an atheist has examined the statue, and according to him, the “tears” are leaking sewage. He believes people should not put the liquid in their mouths. The Catholic group that owns the statue is offended, and they see the atheist’s claims as an attack on their religion. They have enforced religious blasphemy laws and the atheist might be sent to prison. To avoid legal problems, the investigating critic has moved far away to Finland, where he can’t be charged. He can be exonerated in India …

Following Jesus in Saudi Arabia?

Something strange just happened in Saudi Arabia, the home of Mecca, the holiest place in Islam. Saudi Arabia could be described as the heartland of Islam, and it also has the highest infection rate for COVID 19 in its region. The Governor of Asir Province, which is in the south west of the country, has encouraged people to have faith as they confront the deadly disease.