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Monday, December 31, 2012

Food for Thought #4 Redemption - Part 1

The first book of the Old Testament is Genesis. Genesis is purported to have been written by Moses long after the accounts mentioned in Genesis had already happened. However the accounts of people mentioned in Genesis were handed down through tradition to the time of Moses and the accounts are considered to be the inspired word of God. God inspired Moses to write these accounts using his own creative writing abilities but ensuring, through his inspiration, that Moses would adhere to the basic truths of what God did through his care and inspiration to the characters mentioned in Genesis.

Genesis begins with the creation by God of the first man, Adam, and later the creation of Eve to be a companion for Adam. They were placed in a paradise called the Garden of Eden with all kinds of animals and plants created for their use. Adam and Eve were created in a perfect state of control over their emotions. they were naked but not ashamed. Everything was provided them in this garden. They did not need to work for their food. They did not experience discomfort from cold and heat in their environment.

When, through the deceit of Satan posing as a serpent,  Adam and Eve failed the test (not to eat of a certain fruit) given them to show their complete love and trust in God alone, and as a result, they lost all the gifts they had been given freely in paradise. They now were ashamed of their nakedness and God told them they would have to work hard for all the necessities of life and their emotions would be difficult to control. They are removed from Paradise, never to return.  But God did not desert them.  He would help them in their difficulties.  God revealed little about their future at this time except that He would be with them to help them.  One thing God did reveal: a future conflict between a woman and the serpent and the woman would crush the serpent's head.

There were many descendants of Adam and Eve and God helped them through many trials. Finally these descendants covered the earth of that time but God observed that they all did evil things and found comfort only in his servant Noah, who did what was right. His servant Noah, all his family and relatives, all the animals by pairs of male and female and plants of different kinds were put into a large boat or Ark.

Then God destroyed all the people and all the animals and plants outside the Ark through a great flood that covered the earth while Noah and all on the Ark were saved. When the flood receded, Noah and all his people with all the animals went out from the Ark. God made a covenant with Noah that he would never again destroy the earth and its people by a flood and that he would help the descendants of Noah and his family forever. Many descendants of Noah again covered the earth with God always present to help them.

Some time later, in the city of Ur in Babylonia, God called upon Abraham who was a good and just man to settle in a new land he would give to him and his descendants. Genesis continues with the accounts of Abraham's family in the new land. God made a covenant with Abraham that his chosen people, the Jews, through Abraham will be a numerous people with numbers as great as the number of stars in the sky and that God would be with these people forever.

The rest of Genesis introduces the immediate descendants of Abraham. God promises a son to Abraham through his wife Sarah who is old and barren.  When a son, Isaac, is born to Sarah as promised, God, in order to further test the faith of Abraham asks Abraham to offer his young son as a sacrifice to Him.  Abraham, in spite of his understanding that a sacrifice of Isaac would mean a loss of the promised descendants through his son, he put his trust in God who, just before Abraham is about to carry out the sacrifice, calls him to stop.

Thus Abraham becomes famous for his faith and trust in God; he is the father of believers.  Isaac has a son Jacob who fathers twelve sons with names that represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the new name for Jacob.  Notable among the sons of Israel is Judah, after whom the southern part of Palestine later becomes known, with the northern part named Israel.

The most notable of the sons of Jacob is Joseph who, because of jealousy of his brothers, is sold into slavery in Egypt.  In Egypt, Joseph's God-given ability to interpret dreams allows him to interpret a dream of  Pharaoh.  Joseph's interpretation of the dream is that God will provide a seven year period of plenty followed by a seven year period of famine.  He advises Pharaoh to choose someone to arrange the storing of grain during the first period so there would be plenty for all during the famine.  Pharaoh is so grateful that he appoints Joseph Governor of Egypt to organize the storing of grain.

During the famine his brothers and his father Israel are suffering so the brothers journey to Egypt to seek food.  They do not recognize Joseph but he recognizes them.  He wants to reveal himself to his brothers but he at first finds a way of putting them to shame for what they had done against their brother.

Finally the brothers are reconciled and the entire family of Israel is welcomed into Egypt where they and their descendants thrive for many years until Joseph and the Pharaoh are long dead and the new Pharaoh does not have knowledge of the contribution of Joseph to Egypt but only sees the great multitude of Jews as foreigners.  The Jews are enslaved and cry to God for help.

Thus ends the book of Genesis wherein God has established his people Israel.  He has helped them through many trials and sufferings but does not abandon them.  He has promised them they are to become a great people.  This is the first phase of God's plan to redeem His people.  The next phase is to establish His Law by which they are to live and through the prophets reveal more and more of His Plan to redeem them through His Messiah.

Next will be Food for Thought #5 Redemption - Part 2

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Food for Thought #3 What God Desires of Us

There is only one God. There is no other god.  Wanting other beings to share in his glory, God created heaven and earth. In heaven he created angels; on earth, amidst many other creations, God created man, male and female.

In heaven, God created Angels, pure spirits with free will, and desired that each of the Angels freely choose to love Him and serve Him only. This was the mission given to the Angels. Scripture reveals in The Revelations given to St. John, the apostle, in Revelations 12:7, that there was a great battle between the Angels led by the Archangel Lucifer, who, through pride, fancied himself to be equal or greater than God and St. Michael, the Archangel, who led the Angels who, in obedience to the desire of God, chose to love, adore and serve God alone.  Lucifer (Satan) and his angels (devils) were defeated and banished from Heaven.

On Earth God created a man and a woman with many gifts including free will. As with the Angels in heaven God desired that both these human beings love and serve God only.  In order to display this love for God, as written in Scripture in the book of Genesis, they need only avoid eating a certain fruit in a wonderful paradise given to them on earth. They unfortunately succumbed to the wiles of Satan disguised as a serpent, and ate of this fruit.

The point of this story in Genesis is not that this is actually how God required Adam and Eve to prove their love for God (not eating a forbidden fruit); the point is that our original parents were given some relatively easy task to accomplish and could not do so because their love of God was not strong enough. Having thus failed to demonstrate the love for God he desired of them, they were banished from paradise. In addition to this banishment they lost many of the personal gifts given them by God, not the least of which was the perfect control of their senses and appetites.

Their banishment from paradise meant they no longer had everything supplied to them in terms of food and the necessities required for the maintenance of their bodies. They now had to make clothing for themselves as well as find and cook food and build accommodations. They had to work to get the essential needs that were originally, in paradise, freely provided them.  And worst of all, whereas before the fall they were not subject to death, now they must suffer death.

These deprivations resulting from their freely choosing not to do what was pleasing to God are called the results of original sin. Since the rest of us are descendants of these, our original parents, we share in this loss of gifts and the need to work to provide our needs; we also must suffer death.  We cannot inherit from our ancestors what has been taken away from them.

But even though Adam and Eve and the rest of us, as their descendants, are in an imperfect state of being, God did not abandon us and still wants us to demonstrate our love for him and our willingness to serve him as the only God; this is our mission and God wants to give us another chance.  But how?  We do not have the status to accomplish this in light of our imperfect state.

It is now that God shows us how much he loves us, even though we are in this state that does not allow us to adequately demonstrate on our own how much we love God.   God promises to send us someone who has the proper status and will buy back our lost status. God promises us a Redeemer. Throughout Scripture we see references to this promised Redeemer. But how will this person actually redeem us and bring us back to our lost status needed to demonstrate our love for God?

This will be explained in: Food for Thought #4 Redemption

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Food For Thought #2 Why I exist

Speaking to a friend of mine last evening at the Cheese Factory in Waikiki, I related to him the story of my speculating about the fact that my existence as I explored it in Food for Thought number #1. He made me realize that thinking about my existence as if I was a soul wandering in time waiting for God to infuse my soul into parents at a different time is in reality a result of my not understanding the essence of God.

God is. God exists.  God exists in eternity. We exist in time. God created man, both male and female. We cannot say that God created us at a particular time. That would be saying that God is subject to time. But God creates time. In my simplistic view of God's plan in creating man, I view time as a kind of capsule in which God, in eternity, sees all his creation within that capsule from its beginning to its end, as if we were to think of it as one moment. He sees his creation of man within this capsule, created in His own Image and likeness.  They have free will as He does.  He assigns them with a mission, and asks them to use that gift of free will to cooperate with His plan to accomplish that mission.

There are no free souls, sort of floating around in time, waiting for their parents to choose them. God sees all choices of parents.  The choice of humans, as parents, to freely choose to have children infused with souls is all part of God's plan, in allowing humans to freely choose to have children or not. God simply allows his human beings to make choices and that is within God's plan for humankind.

Thus when I wonder at my particular existence, I must see it as a result of God's plan, with the cooperation of generations of parents having made their particular choices in conformity with God's plan. I certainly may wonder at my existence, but to worry about possibly being created at a different time, in a different age, is in reality to diminish God and his plan for me to exist starting at the moment he has planned through the cooperation of my parents, in all eternity.  

What I must do in my joyous reflection upon my existence is to thank God for creating me, and not only thank him, but endeavor, with all the gifts that God has given me, to search for that particular mission for which God has created me; and to accomplish that mission through my grateful love for my creator, with my willingness to accomplish everything God has created me for and to help other human beings to do likewise.

But what is that mission and how do I find it out? That is certainly food for thought and such thought is the most important endeavor each of us has throughout our lives.   This will be the subject of Food for Thought #3.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Food For Thought #1 On Existence (Revisited)

Having reviewed the thoughts in this essay I came to realize that they were motivated by a lack of maturation in my education of Cristian belief in a Catholic grade school beginning in the first grade.  Too many events at that time distracted me from my life in God and caused speculation about myself without the proper connection with my God as my Creator.  

Principally, I had a urinary tract infection for which I was hospitalized many times over several years in a "Childrens' Hospital" to allow elimination of the infection caused by a kink in the tract, using a procedure of constant irrigation of the tract . These hospital visits were followed by years of office visits until I was around 18 years in age.

At this time, in the early 1940's, they had not developed antibiotics of today to eradicate infection and my doctor correctly reasoned that surgery would not be necessary since with my growth, the tract would stretch and the kink would be removed naturally; but in the meantime irrigation would be necessary to help clear the infection and gradually open the tract.  I remember being terrified of these procedures; most were done with ether gas anesthesia which caused me to vomit  every time after recovering consciousness. 

I remember one time in the hospital hearing a number of footsteps, fearing they were coming to do this procedure while I was in bed.  My fear was not unfounded. Unannounced, a team of doctors and nurses descended upon me, the nurses holding me down while I screamed with fear of needles leading the irrigation tube into the urinal tract through what I later learned was called my "penis".  No anesthetic.  Only after a question from one of the nurses, "Do you want to go home?", words seeming more of a threat than words of comfort, did I submit and was able to calm myself.

Being made fun of at school for wetting my pants required the sisters through several years to privately talk to my fellow students explaining that I was not able to control my urination all the time,.  This finally stopped the making of fun. 

I bear no ill will toward these hospital doctors and nurses for their ignorance; they had no clue about the effects such lack of understanding and non-provision of information about procedures could have on a young child - they simply were not trained properly.  My only consolation is the fact that children are today treated with more consideration of their psychological needs using kindness, reassurance and proper information.

My state of mind in these early times were clouded with moments of fear and lack of understanding of how things in life worked.  Hence what follows is the thought of such a person even later in life:

#1 On Existence
One of the most persistent thoughts I have had during my life is the thought and questions that arise from this thought:  the thought of my own existence in time. I began my existence on this earth during the middle part of the 20th century. Why during the 20th century? Human beings have existed on the earth for, perhaps, millions of years, as more and more archaeological findings are made all over the world. Why was I not born, or brought into existence before my time in the previous century?

Where did I come from? As a Christian I believe I have a soul. As I understand it, every human person brought into existence has a soul.  A soul in a person is the spiritual part of the person. When a human person is first conceived in its mother’s womb the father and mother are in a sense co-creator’s with God of their new offspring’s body and soul. But where does the soul come from at the moment of conception of that person in the womb? Is it a brand-new, never having existed before, soul? In my case, why was the new soul me? I began to exist from the moment of conception in my mother’s womb. Why me? Did God decide to give me existence at that moment in time but not before?  Why me and not someone else?

That I exist at all never ceases to be a wonder to me. I, I exist!  I observe the beauties of the world around me!  A frightening thought occurs to me when making these observations, namely, what if my parents failed to have me as their son by perhaps some accident, disease, separation, death? Would I, never have existed? Or would I have been brought into existence later by perhaps other parents and I would have existence as a totally different person? Or would I  be the same person but in a different environment with different parents but still be the same I?

Are there perhaps a great multitude of persons who never came to be because of the many failures in the very nature of human procreation, or perhaps, because of decisions made by prospective parents not to have any children or to limit the size of their family? It is more a problem of the present-day for parents to make such decisions, that is, to be able to make such decisions.  But my point is:  what happens to human persons who were supposed to have been born but were not? Do they come to be or exist at a later time?

I don’t think this kind of thought on our existence is unique to me. However, it may be more unique to a person who believes in the existence of God. The reason for this is that a belief in God brings with it a belief in an after−life in which we will exist, after death, for eternity. To live in eternal bliss with God with none of the problems and pain that we have to go through with our existence in time on earth, is such a pleasing thought that to be naturally thankful to God for giving us this gift of life, of existence, through time and eternity, must surely be the reason for having the fearful thought:  What if I had never been born?  What if I never were to exist?

Friday, December 7, 2012

A New Common Sense Leader in Congress

Here is a common sense, honest warrior in the US Senate, Rand Paul, who was elected to the Senate in 2010 and has given notice that he stands for constitutional government and doing what is necessary to bring our country back from a disastrous four years of an administration that has wrecked the American economy by spending tax-payer money and borrowed money on "investments" that nobody is able to fathom.

More and more printed money comes off the presses and is gone, flushed down some federal toilet, landing in whose hands nobody really knows.  Over $16 trillion of debt and rising while singularly honest politicians like Senator Rand Paul urge Republicans in both House and Senate to stay away from the poisonous "Newspeak" of the leadership who are interested only in preserving their jobs, but instead to go home and talk to their constituents in their neighborhoods and business places about their Problems and needs to remind themselves they are working for the people and not old encrusted Washington bureaucrats.

Listen to plain talk on this video: