Common Ground

Some Christians isolate themselves fearful of tarnishing their holiness. I do not share their fears. God told Isaiah a holier than thou attitude is a stench in his nostrils (Isaiah 65:5, NLT). The only people Christians are admonished to avoid are people who claim to be Christians yet habitually practice something the Bible condemns (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Most of my friends are Christians and the articles I write are about Christians, but I have written about Pagans. They were willing to share their stories and allowed me to film them because one of them is a friend of mine. I also have friends who are atheist, agnostic, homosexual, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal and Jewish. Exposure to my friend’s diverse beliefs has revealed common ground and strengthened my faith.

Jesus prayed that God would leave us in this world (John 17:15). Is there something God wants me to see and understand? I think there is and will not shut my eyes and ears to the world I live in. Therefore, when the New Orleans Lamplight Circle informed me of a meeting discussing the faith, beliefs, and spirituality of the Hare Krishna, I headed for the Fair Grinds Coffee House.

Joy, from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), was scheduled to speak, but she convinced Radha Rahmon, a traveling teacher from India, to speak in her place. He is a temple president from Sri Mayapur a village with 5,000 temples considered one of the spiritual capitals of the world.

The program opened with Kirtan which is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. Joy compared the Kirtan to the Bibles exhortation to “make a joyful noise to the Lord.”

The main Kirtan is the maha-mantra:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

Krishna is the name of God, Joy explained, which means all attractive. Hare is the energy of Krishna. The maha-mantra is praying to the energy of the Lord to “please engage us in your service.”

The Kirtan finished abruptly and Joy introduced Radha Rahmon. He immediately pointed out that the ultimate goal of life is to become God conscience, not Krishna conscience. “Hare Krishna’s strive to live a simple life with a constant awareness of God,” he said. After giving a brief history of how Hare Krishna spread to the west, he answered some difficult questions with patience and grace. His answers were intriguing. Most Christians would have said similar things. While my Christian concept of God differs from Radha Rahmon, his views on separation of church and state, abortion and homosexuality were common ground, but not common enough to worship his Gods.

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Gospel Bookstore to Host SCWGuild

Interested in writing? Unsure if this is your talent? Need the advice and support of other writers? The Southern Christian Writers Guild has expanded to the Westbank of New Orleans. The Westbank chapter meets at 10 a.m. on the third Saturday of the month in the Gospel Book Store, Westside Shopping Center, 91 Westbank Expressway, Gretna LA 70053.  

The SCWG welcomes Christian writers of all genres. We offer educational information to writers from experienced authors in traditional and independent publishing. Training in marketing and professional speaking is also provided. Meetings are free and open to the public.  

For more information visit SCWGuild.com OR email Teena Myers scwg@cox.net or Bill Roper GBScustomerservice@cox.net 

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Eye to Eye

Eye to Eye is a presentation of the distinctiveness of God given inspiration given by Teena Myers at the debut meeting of the Southern Christian Writers Guild Westbank Chapter.

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A Gift From God

crashAdam opened eyes to white walls and the sanitized smell of a hospital. His elbow, shoulder, knee and ankle were broken. Six ribs were broken in three places and both bones in his right leg were broken in multiple places. The last thing he could remember was admiring the beauty of the Georgia Mountains as he leaned his motorcycle into a curve.

His wife and mother stood by his bedside awaiting his death. When he survived the night, the doctors said he might live but would be paralyzed for life.  When their diagnosis proved wrong, they said he would never be able to use his right leg. When he moved that leg, they said he would never have full range of motion and would need a cane to walk. “None of their predictions came true,” said Adam. “They didn’t know how big of a God we serve.”

After spending a month in the hospital, Adam returned home in a wheelchair with an external fixator attached to his leg to maintain the correct position of the leg as it heals. The doctors drilled sixty-nine holes in Adam’s leg to attach the device. I couldn’t work,” said Adam. “But God blessed me. My business partner continued to give me half of our business income the entire time I was confined to the wheelchair.”

fixatorAdam endured a slow and painful recovery. When a bone did not heal properly, the doctors would break the bone and reset it. Powerful drugs were prescribed to ease the pain. One day, Adam realized he had become dependent on the drugs. He stopped taking his pain medication and suffered withdrawals. Rather than become a drug addict, he endure his pain until it was unbearable before seeking relief.

A turning point came when a friend invited Adam to volunteer at the Louisiana Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual 150 Mile Bike Tour for Cure. The event raises funds critical for programs and services that assist people living with Multiple Sclerosis. The two-day bicycle tour had rest stops provided every 10 miles for the cyclists. Volunteers were needed to distribute food and water at each stop.

Adam was reluctant to volunteer because his wheelchair made travel difficult, but his friend was persistent.  He parked Adam at the first rest stop. When a sea of cyclist in tight formation sped past, Adam thought I could do that, and then prayed, “God if you see fit to let me out of this wheelchair, I’m gonna do this to honor you.”

He returned home excited and set a goal to be a cyclist at the next Tour for the Cure. He reached a low point in his recovery when he failed to accomplish his goal. Discouragement grew with each passing cyclist as he sat his wheelchair handing out food and water. Refusing to be defeated he fought back the discouragement with hope and a renewed determination that one day he would ride in the Tour for a Cure.

The following February, he begged the doctors to remove the fixator, so he could begin training. His bones were healed, so they complied but warned him to take it easy. Two months later, he purchased his first bicycle. “I rode one mile and was exhausted,” said Adam. “It was harder than I thought it would be. My weight had increased to 330 pounds while I was confined to the wheelchair. After a month of riding I gained two more pounds.”

Adam struggled to exercise and watched his diet but losing his first two pounds after so much effort was little consolation. He felt himself slipping into depression when he heard the Holy Spirit whisper to his heart “You have to lose 2 pounds to lose 12, and 12 to lose 20, and 20 to lose 60.”  Spurred on by the gentle encouragement from the Spirit, he determined to be faithful in whatever his body could handle. He arose at 4:30 a.m. every morning and rode his bike for an hour. When he had time he rode again in the evenings and on weekends. By late August, he was riding an average of 300 miles a week and his bike was falling apart.

bike-raceHe had purchased a mountain bike to accommodate his weight that was not designed for riding long distances. Now sixty pounds lighter, with a goal of riding 150 miles, he invested in a road bike. “I was fortunate to find a bike with a chip in the paint that was marked down 40%,” said Adam.

After two long years Adam attained his goal. He finished the first 75 mile leg of the tour in four hours. “My time was slow, but a lot of people don’t finish. I never planned to compete. My goal was to complete the 150 miles and I did,” said Adam.

In addition to completing the Tour for the Cure, Adam accomplished more goals. He completed a half marathon and then he learned how to swim, so he could participate in Ironman.  The Ironman required a 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles on bike and a 13.1 mile run. Adam obtained permission from his doctor to run, but was warned not to make running a career.

“Exercise was not a part of my life before the accident. There was no way I could have done all of this without God’s blessings and favor. To me, being able to exercise is a gift from God,” said Adam.

 

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God Stories: Pastor Frank A Davis III

Pastors were invited to share God stories at a meeting of the Greater New Orleans Pastors Coalition. Pastor Frank A. Davis III, from the Bible Way Missionary Baptist Church, 3201 Orleans Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana shared how God led him to birth his church in an abandoned fish and pet store.

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A Three Way Debate

eternal_security-2Christianity is a religion that teaches its adherents to love one another. Within the church, I’ve found a roller coaster of love and quarreling, but so did Jesus. I continue to persevere, and sometimes wonder if Jesus’ “love one another” command is an ideal we will never attain.

From the beginning of the church those who teach the Bible fan the flames of disagreement. Teachers in the early church wrestled with the place of law in a believer’s life. Some of the Jewish Christians demanded Gentiles to obey the Law given to Moses as a condition of salvation. Other Jewish Christians pointed to Israel’s failure to obey the law as proof no one is saved by obeying God’s law. Both sides had convincing arguments. After years of quarreling Christianity embraced saved by faith.

A point of contention among contemporary Bible teachers is eternal security. Some claim the Christian can never lose his or her salvation. Others disagree. Both sides of this boxing ring have powerful and convincing arguments as well.

Those who embrace eternal security point to God’s nature as a loving father. Regardless of how badly a child behaves, he or she never stops being a son or daughter. The child may need discipline but never loses his or her place in the family. This argument is very appealing. I cannot fathom kicking one of my sons out of my family. On the other hand, my sons seldom fought with each other and were a joy to raise. Would I have a different attitude if they had been rebellious and disobedient causing great pain?

The eternal security adherents claim a person who abandons Christ was never genuinely “saved” in the first place. They point to Paul’s argument in Romans Chapter 8 that no power in heaven or on earth can separate us from the love of God. Jesus claim that no one can snatch us out of his hand appears to seal their position as true. In my own experience, I have found it impossible to abandon Christianity, and I have tried to on several occasions. (Matthew 7:21-23; Romans 8:38-39; John 10:28)

Those who claim salvation can be lost also have a convincing argument. They believe eternal security is a dangerous doctrine because it gives people license to sin. They agree that God is a loving father, but add that he is also a God of justice. We cannot sin and retain our salvation they argue. Without holiness no one will see God. Therefore, we must overcome our sin to be saved.

Conditional security is not as pleasant as eternally secure. My sister accepted Christ and attended church sporadically but she never overcame her drug addiction and died a tragic death at a young age. I want to believe her efforts to obey God, especially at the end of her life, gained her entrance to heaven. The thought that she is doomed to eternal torment in hell is too terrible for my mind to comprehend.

The conditional salvation adherents also have scriptures. The law God gave to Moses had provision for stoning a son who was a drunkard and glutton. Hebrews Chapter 6 addresses the impossibility of those who fall away finding repentance again. Jesus spoke about weeping and gnashing of teeth when some are cast out of “the kingdom.” If they were never saved how did they get into the kingdom?  The strongest argument comes from Revelation chapter 3, which promises Jesus will never blot our name out of the book of life if we overcome. The implication is clear. Those who fail to overcome their sin will have their name blotted from the book of life. (Deuteronomy 21:20-21; Hebrews 6:4-6; Luke 13:28; Revelation 3:5)

I believe both sides of the argument are correct when placed in the context of time. God has a way of calling things that are not as though they are. For example, on the last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus challenged the thirsty to come to him and drink. The author inserted a note of explanation regarding Jesus invitation: “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” Based on the author’s explanation, if anyone came to Jesus immediately after he made that invitation, he or she would have remained thirsty until forty days after Jesus’ resurrection. (Romans 4:17; John 7:37-39)

Our salvation is also something we possess now but receive later. Christians possess the hope of salvation, which is the redemption of our body from death. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” If I already possessed salvation I would not die. The truth is all of us will die one day. Therefore, to those who say we can lose our salvation, I would say, “We cannot lose what we do not possess. We can lose what we only have a down payment on.” (Romans 8:24-25)

The Holy Spirit, who arrived forty days after Jesus resurrection, is the guarantee that God will keep his promise to save us by giving us eternal life. Our Spirits don’t need eternal life because they continue to exist after the body dies. If our name is in the Book of Life our spirit will return to God. The spirits of disobedient people who never made peace with God will go to a dark place until judgment day.

One day, everyone, those hanging out with God in heaven and those wandering in a dark place, will be resurrected from the dead, another way of saying body and spirit with be reunited. Then everyone will be judged for the things they did while they inhabited a body on the earth. Christians rely on Jesus’ intercession to save us from the second death when we are judged. (Daniel 12:2-3; Revelation 20:4-6, 12-15)

Therefore, I agree with those who say we are eternally secure. After we receive salvation we are eternally saved from death. As long as we only hold a down payment on salvation, we are not secure unless we are obeying his command to love one another as he has loved us.

 

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Professor Solves Equation to Loving God

Prof. E. Sy solves the equation to loving God and Hosanna Church, Marrero Louisiana.

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