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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Is getting saved the same as staying saved?

We Accept All DenominationsOne of the perplexing problems of Protestantism is the lack of authority. Pray tell me which of these 33,000 separate denominations and/or independent churches[i] has that God given authority. How can anyone in their right mind claim that the Holy Spirit in these instances has lead them into all truth (John 16:13)? To make such a claim is preposterous foolishness. Yet, scripture unequivocally declares that the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15 NIV).”

The Calvinist, primarily Reformed and Baptists churches have their lopsided theology that rules under the tyranny of eternal security championed under the hubris of “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Lutheran and Anglicans and such have theirs. Almost all—if not, indeed, all, the evangelical and fundamentalists communions more or less cherry-picked their theology, but by-in-large, that includes agreement on sola fide, sola gratia, and sola scriptura. Left out, of course is the key to authority—that is, the Church (1 Timothy 3:15). The question, therefore, is: Should we add sola ecclesia to the mix? If not, then, why not? Scripture declares that it is “the pillar and foundation of truth.” How dare we declare otherwise? Give the average Evangelical, however, a multiple choice question with “Which of the following is the pillar and foundation of truth?” and chances are if given a choice between the Scripture or the Church I guarantee you that the most likely answer will be Scripture. Why? Because we all see through rose colored glasses which have been tinted since childhood or from conversion to see what we want to see. Me included; although, I am trying to break the habit.
Let us, however, at this point back track and ask ourselves if we have not boxed in the process we call sanctification and eventually, of course, salvation by restricting it to a single act of faith?
So, may I asked you how many people have been “saved by faith alone?” I would dare venture to say that none has. That is not to say, however, that faith is not one of the ingredients necessary in salvation, but it is not the sole ingredient. In short, faith of the intellectual sort may acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior but fail to follow through with a personal commitment. Intellectual consent is far different than committed obedient faith. However, faith, even committed faith alone will not save us, unless it is faith of the proper order. The Watch Tower Society and The Mormon Church are faith communities, but where their teaching authority, and on what basis? 
Hebrews 11:1 clearly declares that faith has substance (ὑπόστασις/hypostasis) which is something that we can place our hope in; in other words, there is structure and content to this faith—that is to say, Biblical faith has a distinctive essence. Not just any old faith will do. There are many false Christs and we must be careful not to buy into one of their twisted versions of the Gospel. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Matthew 24:24)."
I know that Paul says in Ephesians 2:8— 
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— (NIV) 
Being saved through faith is different, however, than being saved by faith. What Paul is saying here is that salvific grace will only operate in and through the substance of faith. Not just any faith; however, will do. We must “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints (Jude 1:3 NASV).”  
Thus we can readily see that in a real sense faith is both a verb and a noun—a verb because it is active (we must contend); and a noun because it is of substance with content (which was once for all handed down to the saints). The parameters of faith are, therefore, clearly circumscribed.  
Now, think with me for a moment. Which is the greatest: mustard seed faith or great faith? Shall I surprise you by saying, “Neither”?  
Here is how blogger Jeremy D. Myers put it— 
“Faith is the conviction that something is true. Jesus spoke of little faith and great faith, but He never spoke of more faith or less faith. Faith does not come in percentages or degrees. We are not made with faith containers in our souls which overflow when our faith is great, and which are nearly empty when our faith is little. Faith does not work like that.”[ii] 
So, in essence, God does the saving, we do the obeying.  
This either/or mentality that Protestants seem to obsess with is unscriptural to say the least, as it fails to take in “the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).” Now, I ask you, would it not be best, therefore, to approach theology with an open mind willing to concede that both/and may be scriptural and necessary? After all, we seek the full counsel of God. In line with this, one of my favorite questions to ask my sola fide friends is “How does one receive salvation, justification, the new birth, and eternal life? Is it — 
  1. By believing in Christ (John 3:16; Acts 16:31)? 
  2. By repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Peter 3:9)? 
  3. By baptism (John 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5)? 
  4. By the work of the Spirit (John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6)? 
  5. By declaring with our mouths (Luke 12:8; Romans 10:9)? 
  6. By coming to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4; Hebrews 10:26)? 
  7. By works (Romans 2:6, 7; James 2:24)? 
  8. By grace (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8)? 
  9. By His blood (Romans 5:9; Hebrews 9:22)? 
  10. By His righteousness (Romans 5:17; 2 Peter 1:1)? 
  11. By His Cross (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 2:14)?"  
Of course the answer is “all 11 of the above.” There is no short cut to salvation—it is obedience all the way. God does His part, but we must do ours also. To try and short circuit the process by adroit manipulation of some of these key principles, as if they exclusively stand on their own is simply not Biblical.  
 
Now, I am fully aware that faith that produces charitable works in compliant with sincere obedience to the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) is the essential ingredient; however, being fully persuaded (without rehashing the old Calvinism/Arminian debate) that the reason Calvinist so ardently fight charitable works as not just proof of their salvation but also a necessary sanctifying process is that by so doing they would have to give up the pet doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved (i.e., Unconditional Election).” The reason being, of course, that if anything (in their mind) can contribute to or short circuit the salvic process, then ipso facto it must be dismissed as out of hand—anything, meaning, of course, not abiding in the branch (John 15:6); making shipwreck of their faith (1 Timothy 1:19); apostasy (Hebrews 6:4-8; 2 Peter 2:20-22); straying after Satan (1 Timothy 5:15); falling from grace (Galatians 5:1-26); lukewarmness (Revelation 3:16); becoming a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:26-27); and many, many more.  

Talk about rose colored glasses! This is, of course, in direct contradiction to much of scripture, and is once again an illustration of the either/or approach to doctrinal issues. Simply put: Why warn someone of the dire effects of apostasy, if indeed apostasy is impossible? Yet, this is precisely what they would have you and I believe.  Why? Because theologically eternal security is out the window if we by the sheer strength of God’s working in us we freely cooperate in any sense of the word we have committed the horrible sin of works. So, as far as these men are concerned it is the sheer force of God’s determined will that overrides any reluctance we may possess as a product of a selfish free will, and so in essence we really have no choice.  

However, after considering all of these dire warnings, and more, [iii] as I have said, I want to pay particular attention to a quote by Charles A. Hodges a noted predestinarian theologian) which he made in regards to 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 which in my Bible reads reads—

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
 
Here is what Dr. Hodges had to say—

“It belongs (meaning all these verses and others of like nature) therefore to the same category as those numerous passages which make the same assumption with regard to the elect. [That] by God’s telling the elect that if they apostatize they shall perish, prevents their apostasy. And in like manner, the Bible teaching that those for whom Christ died shall perish if they violate their conscience, prevents their transgression, or brings them to repentance, God’s purposes embrace the means as well as the end. If the means fail, the end will fail. He secures the end by securing the means, it is just as certain that those for whom Christ died shall be saved, as that the elect shall be saved. Yet, it both cases the event is spoken of as conditional.  There is not only a possibility, but an absolute certainty of the perishing if they fall away. This passage, therefore, is perfectly consistent with those numerous passages which teach Christ death secures the salvation of all those who were given to him in the covenant of redemption.”[iv] 

Did you get that? In essence Dr. Hodges is calling God a deceiver? God tricks Christians into believing that they just might apostatize, but really He is just kidding because actually it is just a trick to scare them out of really apostatizing. The question is, however, why would I or God or anyone else warn someone of a danger when in fact a danger does not exist? To do so is a boldfaced lie. What else can we call it? 

Again, this illustrates the length that these predestinarians will go to maintain this damnable heresy. Strong language I realize; however, no stronger than that of scripture. A false security is in fact no security at all. Yes, God will accomplish His purposes in us, but not without our cooperation—which in itself suggest freedom to choose otherwise. Again, why suggest freedom if indeed no freedom exists? Preposterous, to say the least. 

Now, do I lie awake at night thinking I might not make it to Heaven? Absolutely not. You want to know why? The answer is that I have put my full confidence in God’s ability to keep me safe. Which is precisely what I have done; and I don’t have any intention on changing my mind, either.




[i] World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2001).
[ii] http://www.faithalone.org/magazine/y2008/faith.html
[iii] 1 Corinthians 9:27   (ESV)— But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
·        Matthew 18:15-18 (ESV)— “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
·        2 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)— You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
·        Hebrews 10:26-29   (ESV)— For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
·        1 Timothy 4:1-3   (ESV)— Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
[iv] Hodges, Charles, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, © 1978) pg. 149
[v] I use the words “ecclesial community” in the same sense as I would use the word fellowship or ekklesia.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Genderism in the court of reason . . .



Male and female created He them. Genesis 5:2
Do you sometimes get the impression that this post-modern generation has simply wadded up reason like a piece of paper and tossed it into the trash? I certainly do. Forget Caitlyn Jenner and that whole idiotic episode for a moment, and let’s get to the root of the matter—that of human sexuality and the phenomenon of choice and possibility, and, of course, ultimately that of responsibility.


Robert R. Reilly makes the following observation:

At stake in the rationalization of homosexual behavior is the notion that human beings are ordered to a purpose that is given by Nature. The understanding that things have an in-built purpose is being replaced by the idea that everything is subject to man’s will and power, which is considered to be without limits. This is what the debate over homosexuality is really about—the Nature of reality itself. [i]

So, in essence what we have today is as old as the first sin—not that of Adam, but of Lucifer, who declared,

 I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

In other words, today’s hip politically correct generation has openly declared war on the traditional notion of Godly purposes in all of creation—ignoring, of course, the prerogatives of the Creator to declare it so.  

The counterargument is, however, that just as watches are made to tell time, man, too, has a purpose. Were there no time to tell, however, there would be no purpose for a watch. Thus a watch would be an interesting but nonetheless useless invention. As, of course, would man.

Now, let’s move into the complexity of the functions and purposes of man and woman. Can we discover a purpose there? Perhaps, even several purposes?

The answer, of course, is yes.

If man without woman was a design with no purpose—he is a dead-end proposition. Like a watch with no time to tell. Just functional, interesting perhaps, but without purpose. The same applies to the female. Without a male counterpart she is without purpose, incomplete, and destined to extinction, as is the male. Cross circuit those purposes and mankind is just one generation away from being just a memory—but who’s left to remember, anyway?

Men and women were designed with a purpose in mind—a cooperative purpose, too, as in marriage, to be fruitful and reproduce among other responsibilities.   

As Dr. Ralph Martin, a Catholic apologist has so appropriately observed,

At the heart of the sexual revolution is an attempt to suppress the truth about the nature of sexuality. It’s an ideology, a collective deception to deny the nuptial meaning of the body and the procreative and unitive purpose of marriage. What makes the current fight so opportune is the strong, very public, and growing opposition to the Church by political and cultural forces.

Now, this may seem to be a very convoluted way to prove a point; however, it is a point well worth proving.

Circumvent the intended created purposes of God and you had just as soon suspend gravity and allow chaoticism to rule, which it would. The same applies to the created purposes of mankind, also. Create a generation of gay and lesbians, deprive them of the privilege of adoption, and what do you get? In the end nothing.

No enduring society can possibly exist when fueled by transgenderism and/or erotic homosexuality alone. Commonsense dictates otherwise.



[i] Robert R. Reilly, Making Gay Okay, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2014, Front cover sleeve.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Simple Simon may have been a great theologian ... who knows?


Faith is simplicity on the far side of complexity. The Trinity is a complex mystery; and yet the One Triune God is apprehended through simple faith—that of a little child, as it were. So, we can readily see that appreciation is not necessarily understanding; it is, however, as in this case a commitment to truth. Thus, the adage of St. Augustine that “I believe in order to understand” is an axiom that transcends the complexity of mystery. No scientists can pursue his research without believing that there is something in the test tube that can be tested. Theology is no different, either. He that comes to God, the Scripture says, must believe that He is and that he rewards those that diligently seek Him. God is not, therefore, that ever elusive character that we must find in a game of hide and go seek. No, He is real and may be apprehended, but only through faith that He actually is.


Unfortunately, some try to find God as an ostrich would with their heads stuck in hole in the ground as the world in general pivots around them. Their reason is the results of their own imaginative creation based on what they have chosen to see around them which is in fact a dark hole in the ground. However, in this case, the analogy starts to fall apart because ostriches do not have ears, and, therefore, it cannot be said of them that “having ears, they hear not” as in the case of those who chose to dictate their terms of understanding.

In his poem, Flower in the Crannied Wall, Alfred Lord Tennyson marvels at the mystery of complexity and simplicity of a small flower that he is able to hold in his hand. His understanding is beyond comprehension, he admits, but nonetheless this does not prevent him from appreciating what he holds in his hand. Nor should we be put off by a simple creed like “Jesus is Lord” simply because we do not understand the complexities thereof.

These lyrics of a song called “I Stand in Awe of You” by Hillsong capture the essence of faith expressed in the simplicity of worshipful faith —

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful of comprehension,
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp you infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you


To stand in awe is not to fully understand, but to appreciate. Simple faith does that; for after all, we shall never fully understand, yet, we can embrace the far side of truth without understanding the complexities thereof.
I do not now, nor have I ever or shall I ever expect to understand the complexities of my wife, but that does not prevent me from experiencing the joy of married life. Knowing and loving God is not a dissimilar experience, either. 

It is interesting to me, that – 

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:36-37 NIV)

Amazing, isn’t it. To reach God in all of His complexity, Jesus starts with a little child as the first step forward. In essence He says, Welcome this simple little child in my name, and you welcome God beyond all of his complexity.

Think about it.

JimR/_
 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Did you really mean that?

Christian Graphic: Words Scripture Papel de Parede Imagem
Gloria Estefan song, ‘Words Get in the Way,’ I think expresses what many of us feel at time when trying to express ourselves; but first the stanza I have in mind—
Won't even start to cry
And before we say goodbye
I tried to say "I love you"
But the words got in the way

This, of course, highlights a common experience that we all have, and that is: We just cannot seem to find the right words to express ourselves. 
 
Being the amateur philosopher that I am, however, I cannot help but observe that love and other emotions are not something that you can just abstract, refine and pour in a bottle from which you can just take a sip from time to time to get the feeling across. Words in and of themselves are elusive and multifaceted; and as such, of course, mean different things to different folks. 
 
As Pentecostals (a term I prefer to avoid being lumped in with all the kooks who claim to have the spiritual gifts and, in my opinion don’t—or at the very least fall into the category of those of whom Christ said, "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you.’” Matthew 7:21-23) … well, in any event, I do prefer to say, as Pentecostals we of all people struggle with trying to pin down an all-inclusive definition of what we sense when under the influence these gifts.  
 
At times, for instance, as in the gift of knowledge, we find it relatively easy to describe what God has shown us when compared to, say, the gift of tongues. With tongues we may feel good about it, but totally ignorant when it comes to understanding what has been said.  
 
Thus, we can readily see that words although necessary in understand may not, however, always be available when trying to communicate one’s feelings.
 
Words, however, are only part of the equation.  Words must be given flesh or if you prefer form, they must be in reference to a common experience or all we hear is “babble, babble, babble.”
 
So, words at their best are only as good as common experience allows them to be. You may not, for instance, have a notion of what a horse is, if you have never seen a horse, or better yet ridden one. Listen to words about a horse all day long if you wish, but only firsthand knowledge of a horse will bring you closer to what a horse actually is; and even then, certain aspects of the definition will still be lacking.
 
Therefore, we can reasonably say that words are never any more than approximates.
 
Let us, now, attempt to take one step beyond approximates. Can we do that? Well, yes and no. Yes, we can experience an iridescent semblance of the reality to which a word may point; however, the ever elusive reality it seems is in an ever elusive retreat mode. We cannot seemingly ever capture the moment, the object of consideration.
 
That being said, we as Christians are never left abandoned to the mercies of the ersatz. No, there is really something there, it is just beyond expression.
 
This observation is not without significance, however. I say that because Christ as the living word makes God possible not just as a word, but as an experience. Words are static, lifeless; whereas, the Word is active and full of life.
 
This to me is the most wonderful part of being Christian. We get to take part in not just understanding at best just a shadow of what The Word means, but we get to participate in the fullest extent of what The Word is and means. It’s not just head knowledge, words. It is actual and meaningful participation in a spiritual reality—that is, Christ the living word.
 
Is it any wonder then that Paul mused —
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13)”?
 
Why do I say that? Because God is love, and to understand God, there is no better way than to embrace that love.
 
 
Take care,
 
 
   JimR_/

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Bruce Jenner Saga: Psychiatrist Or Plastic Surgeon, What Should It Be?



What is a “runner”?Am I insane or is that whole Jenner-Kardashian family scenario more in need of a good psychiatrist than a plastic surgeon? Really! Enquiring minds want to know . . . especially mine. Pray tell me, what is it with all this reality television stuff? Naked and afraid? My suggestion is that these two put on some clothes and reenter the real world. That should take care of a lot of their whimpering. I don’t watch the stuff so maybe I’m missing something here, but I’ll take the chance. The news and commercial snips of these shows is enough to turn me off.


What I do see, however, is that a large segment of our society has gone off their rocker. And, understandably so, I might add. I say this because sanity has to have fixed reference points or it loses its bearings, and in my opinion, moral relativity just ain’t working. What else should we expect than communal insanity when large segments of citizens are fixated on the morally bizarre? I’m thinking here, mainly, of the politically correct crowd.


Forgive me if you disagree, but I guess I am just a little old fashioned. Well, as a matter of fact, so was Jesus. On one occasion he said—


“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square.

They complain to their friends,

‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t mourn.’

For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
 
I reference this because I think it speaks in a very special way to our generation also. Primarily, it seems, that generation was fascinated—perhaps, fixated on the imagination. At least it seems so to me based on Jesus’ assessment. In that generation for them it appears that reality was too cumbersome, and perhaps even frightening, so they attempted to reconstruct their world. No better way than playing games. Of course this didn’t bring any lasting satisfaction so they complained when the games didn’t work. Human nature has an ingrained desire for something better, more permanent than the imagination, entertainment and game playing. Yet, they continued in their cynical folly, thinking that will bring satisfaction as do the bulk of Americans today. They were a cynical bunch, too. John was criticized because of his austere life-style and was said to be demon possessed; whereas, Jesus was living it up, reveling with the low life. Confused, they just couldn’t seem to make up their mind on how one should behave. Jesus, however, nipped that indecision in the bud when in essence he said, “Do you want to really know how to live? Then follow the result trail, because ‘wisdom is shown to be right by its results.’” In other words, since it is quite obvious that you are dissatisfied with the results your philosophy of life is producing, no doubt it would be best for you to stop the make-believe and soberly take on a different set of standards by which to live.  
 
Amazing, isn’t it? People just don’t seem to learn.
 
So, back to the Jenners and Kardashians, do you really expect Bruce, at age 65, to find himself—or as they now say, herself? I doubt it.
 
Now, this is not to say that Bruce does not really want to be a woman or at least have the appearance of one, since as I understand it, he has decided against a sex-change—which, in my opinion, would not really be a change at all—more of a camouflage, I would say. Anyway, my question is: What ever possessed him to think that he was really a female captured in a male body? I do not know, that’s for sure. It baffles me. However, psychologists say that gender identity is usually fixed at between the ages of 3 to 5, and my guess is that perhaps at that early age he gave in to the female fantasy. It is not abnormal for a young boy or girl to switch gender roles. I know that I did. When I played house with the little girl and her brother next door, we constantly fought over who would be the mother. Mothers just seemed to have a more interesting life than 9 to 5 fathers back in those days. No child wanted to mimic a tired daddy, slumped in a chair, responding with an occasional nod in agreement with something mother said. Playing the kid was totally unacceptable for me, too. My little girl friend next door was too hard on kids for that to be any fun, either. Of course, I said all of that to say this: Not once, do I ever recall that I wanted to change my gender except in role playing, but fortunately I had the good sense to realize that role playing is never reality—it’s a game.
 
So, back once again to Miss/Mr.  Jenner. Do I condemn him? No, but I do pity him. What a sad reality. He is trapped in his own imagination, and for me that is sad, very sad, indeed. Apparently he is sad, too, if the number of times he tears up in interviews is any indication. There’s no happiness there. However, I will leave final judgment up to God, that’s his work not mine. Maybe God can find some redemptive quality there. I can’t, however.
 
What then is the solution? At this point, I am not even sure there is any solution. His fantasy is too ingrained for him to escape at this late date. Unfortunately, sometime in his early life he allowed his mind to trick him into believing that life is really an imaginary game. And, in all truth, the Scripture is right when it says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Thinking and imagination do affect behavior, who we are—but, as Jesus once said, No matter how hard we think (or wish) we cannot add one centimeter to our height. Nor, can we, just magically change gender by the sheer force of imagination or the knife of a skilled surgeon.
 
So, I suppose the lesson we can learn from all of this is that it terribly unsettling in the long run when we allow our fantasies to control our conduct.
 
The mind is a wonderfully creative mechanism; yet, it must be programmed. The outcome depends on the income. Garbage in, garbage out. Foolishness in, foolishness out. As a man or woman thinks, so is he or she. That is not to say that the will is completely disengaged—it most certainly is not. However, for the sane there must be a pliable option, something that works that squares with reality. Fantasy is fun, but in the long run is a poor substitute for reality.
 
While studying abnormal psychology at university we were shown a film of a young girl that was literally raised by dogs; and if I am not mistaken it was a control study done by some god-awful university in the former Soviet Union. Anything for science, I suppose. Yet, in my opinion it is not lesser of an evil that of Dr. Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. That, however, is a subject and topic of its own. So, now back to the subject at hand.
 
The young girl really thought she was a dog. She barked like a dog. Slept in a dog house. Ate out of a bowl and even chewed on grass. Why grass?  I don’t know. Perhaps to get some nutrients not provided for in the dog food. Fantasy controlled her. Was she a dog? Absolutely not. What really mattered, as far as research was concerned, however, was she thought she was.
 
Make sense? If not, it should, because morally she was reduced to the level of a dog. She selfishly fought over and hoarded food. She clawed and bit the other dogs to get her way. She was a dog. However, not really. She just thought she was a dog.
 
Well, enough of that analogy. I am sure you get the point, whether you agree with my conclusions or not. However, in the wise words of Solomon, may I encourage you, indeed all of us, to—

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. (Proverbs 4:23–26 (NIV)
 
For out of the heart flows the issues of life!
 
In any event, this is one man’s opinion.
 
Be blessed—

   JimR_/