Thursday, January 3, 2008

Resolved: Find resolutions that matter

It's a new year, and you know what that means ...

Fireworks! But no, we'll save the debate over the authority of scripture for another day.

Instead, let's talk about resolutions.

Like lots of people, I tend to make too many, piling good intentions so high that they inevitably crash and leave me with an even bigger mess to sweep away. It helps, I've found, to be more discerning -- to whittle down the list to one or two goals. And that very process helps me see which are most important and how they relate to my deepest values.

Take one of the most common resolutions: losing weight. Dropping pounds for the sake of looking like a runway model means nothing to me. But getting in shape by eating better and exercising can also be seen as honoring my God-given body. Better health can help me to better serve others. So if I choose to make this a resolution (as I should), I will approach the effort with a deeper understanding of why it matters.

Just about every resolution has a spiritual component:

Getting finances in order is not a way to afford more electronic gadgets or a bigger house. It is exercising wise stewardship of the gifts God has entrusted to us.

Clearing out clutter creates a more restful, meditative, prayerful space.

Volunteering in the community or helping individuals in need -- caring for "the least of these" -- teaches us how to love and makes this world a more heavenly place.

I'm still praying about my resolutions for 2008. What about you? Do you make resolutions? How do you choose them? How do they connect to your spiritual life?

41 comments:

D.J. said...

As resolutions go, one cannot do much better than the great preacher Jonathan Edwards...

http://www.reformed.org/documents/Edwards/index.html?mainframe=/documents/Edwards/j_edwards_resolutions.html

"Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world."

Soli Deo Gloria

Nick said...

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I try to make my whole life a Resolution instead.

Current Mortgage Rates said...

First the blade...then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

Line by line precept by precept.

You can only change your life with everyday decisions. New Year's Resolution are for those that need to make 'lose weight' commitments. :)

Anonymous said...

My resolution is that students like Matthew LaClair will not ever need to fight for what is the right thing. He stood up for all of us and for our future against all odds. He stood for our constitution and our freedoms.

My resolution is to preserve liberties and freedoms we have in this country so people will not gradually take them away in the name of democracy or anyone else's name.

If you are not familiar with this heroic person, you can read his speech at: http://ffrf.org/fttoday/2007/oct/laclair.php

Sincerely,
Iztok

Anonymous said...

Iztok,

I had no idea that there was a Freedom from Religion Foundation. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I wonder what 'freethinkers' like these really do when faced aquarely with death. I'll bet they cry out to God to save them...

Do you understand the difference between religion and being a follower of Christ? Being a Christ follower does not make you religious nor does being religious make you a follower of Christ. Organized religion, to me, can be a sinful thing when the purposes of the organization veer off of the course that Christ intended. Maybe this is why the "non-denominational" movement is exploding. Hopefully, those of us that are Christ followers see the evils that "religion" can cause and have learned from past mistakes. Religion was probably a good idea before it got a political agenda. Oops, wait, it has always had a political agenda!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

re: Mortality: The best I can sum up what I think about my own mortality and death is what Richard Dawkins said: "We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."

As far as followers of Christ not being a religion. Can you define what religion is?

Here is what I think: "a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices"

So yes you are religious.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

The FFRF is largely the work of Dan Barker who seems to have gone from being a fundamentalist preacher to being a fundamentalist atheist.

Anonymous said...

Nick: "The FFRF is largely the work of Dan Barker"

Huh? FFRF existed way before Dan Barker joined and well before he became co-president in 2004. Anne Nicol Gaylor has way more to do with FFRF establishment.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Danbo020759 said...

Anonymous wrote, "I wonder what 'freethinkers' like these really do when faced squarely with death. I'll bet they cry out to God to save them...."

I have personally seen my share of "Iztokians" who at the end, on their death beds, embrace the idea of a loving, saving God. Very few people leave this life as atheists.

It is as these times I recall Mt 20:1-16 -- The Parable of the Workers in the Field. Whether one accepts God from birth or waits to accept God with their last breath, we are all subject to the judgment of the Almighty.

As I've said before -- the gift of Salvation is a gift! None of us deserve it. When someone is handing out a free lunch, it's not my business to determine who should eat and who shouldn't.

Nick said...

Yes. I know it existed before Dan Barker. It's just today he's the big name that I know of in it and it's still the same. He went from fundamentalist Christian preacher to fundamentalist atheist. It was still the same mindset.

Anonymous said...

Danboo: "I have personally seen my share of "Iztokians" who at the end, on their death beds, embrace the idea of a loving, saving God. Very few people leave this life as atheists."

I severely doubt this. Obviously we've heard the Darwin story of so called conversion and many others but that doesn't make them true, does it?

Big question is how many we all know that actually died and gone to heaven or hell? I know exactly 0 (zero) of them and I am sure you know the same number as well. You might want to think they went somewhere but you do not know.

2007 was particularly bad for God. many atheists published bestsellers, God falsely predicts (through its prophet Pat Robertson) a massive terrorist attack in US in 2007, atheists and other non-religious people seem to be the quickest growing "religious" group in US (out-pacing christianity by factor of 10-20), members of congress came out publicly affirming their status as atheists, many are still "in the closet". The percentage of atheists amongst highly educated US population is growing by leaps and bounds (the higher the education, higher is number of atheists).

So sorry I don't believe your experience, evidence show different picture.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

hmmm. I have zero reason to believe God predicted anything through Pat Robertson. Bestsellers by atheists makes me think "So what? You can find best sellers from Oprah's book club." The propogation of atheist ideas does not point to the validity of them.

And as for the greater education, please tell me who determines what counts as "Highly educated."

Anonymous said...

Nick: "I have zero reason to believe God predicted anything through Pat Robertson."

I think you should put a period just after the word "anything" and we would all agree.

As fa as education goes... You full well know what is the standard educational model. You know, kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school, undergraduate, masters, PhD ... the higher the education achieved less likely is that people are religious.

Sincerely,
Iztok

P.S.: This takes us far away from the resolution part. As I stated originally, my resolution is to work on preserving our freedoms (yes even freedom from religion). And those who think that this is not covered in "freedom of religion" just think about it... we do have "freedom to choose our life partner (spouse)" which includes we have freedom not to choose one. We have freedom to have sex with another consenting adult (which includes freedom not to have sex with one).

Danbo020759 said...

I'll say it again -- Iztok sounds, to me, like a man who is desperately trying to convince himself of something he really doesn't believe.

If bestsellers written by atheists is your proof that atheism is on the rise and outpacing Christianity, let me point you to the #1 bestselling book of all time -- The Bible.

God exists -- get over it. He loves you -- rejoice in it. Jesus Christ died for your sins as well as for mine.

Why not drop the "I am the center of the universe" pretense, come to grips with why you are mad at God (because you do believe in Him) and settle it once and for all. God doesn't mind a good "discussion" from time to time.

Praying for you, Iztok.

Danbo020759 said...

Iztok droned, "2007 was particularly bad for God. Many atheists published bestsellers, God falsely predicts (through its prophet Pat Robertson) a massive terrorist attack in US in 2007, atheists and other non-religious people seem to be the quickest growing "religious" group in US (out-pacing christianity by factor of 10-20), members of congress came out publicly affirming their status as atheists, many are still "in the closet". The percentage of atheists amongst highly educated US population is growing by leaps and bounds (the higher the education, higher is number of atheists)."

Wrong. That's a bad year for "man" -- not for God.

Danbo020759 said...

Thinking further regarding what Iztok wrote --

Iztok wrote, "2007 was particularly bad for God."

From whom do you get this tidbit?

Iztok wrote, "Many atheists published bestsellers,...."

Many people of faith had bestsellers, as well. What does your statement prove?

Iztok wrote, "God falsely predicts (through its prophet Pat Robertson) a massive terrorist attack in US in 2007,...."

I cannot find a source where Pat Robertson claims that he is God's prophet. If someone else considers him to be God's prophet, does that amke it any more true (or false)?

Iztok wrote, "...atheists and other non-religious people seem to be the quickest growing religious group in US (out-pacing christianity by factor of 10-20),...."

Seem? Again, can you reference your source for this data?

Iztok wrote, "...members of congress came out publicly affirming their status as atheists, many are still "in the closet".

Many members of Congress are people of faith and have publicly affirmed such. Many Congresspersons of faith are "in the closet," as well. Again, what does this prove? That there are atheists in the world. Point taken. That they are on the rise? Dubious conclusion.

Iztok wrote, "The percentage of atheists amongst highly educated US population is growing by leaps and bounds (the higher the education, higher is number of atheists)."

Pending your references on this suspect finding, I can reference studies that say just the opposite.

Conclusion -- you prove absolutely nothing. Your diatribe is a collection of suppositions and non-sequiturs.

Faith is alive and well, as is God. In heaven there will be a celebration like none seen before on the day that you turn back to God, Iztok. Look for me there.

To paraphrase the Prodigal Son's father, "Rejoice, for your brother was dead and has been brought back to life."

D.J. said...

Iztok,

It's been a while since I've joined in the debate (a good sabbatical for me) but I feel up for one today, friend.

"I severely doubt this. Obviously we've heard the Darwin story of so called conversion and many others but that doesn't make them true, does it?"

Let's be frank - the Darwin deathbed conversion story is a flat out lie. I wish it would go away, but as long as there are email forwards (which rank just above taxes in my book) it will probably stick around. Now, how does that make Dan's experience untrue? You've never met him, you don't know the people he's referring to, so how can you know that he hasn't met several athiests who came to faith in their dying years? You're assuming he is making it all up, but you have no actual evidence to go on. Isn't that what you often deride us for? Just because the Darwin story is made up doesn't mean Dan's is. That's faulty reasoning, and it loses you credibility when you always demand evidence.

"Big question is how many we all know that actually died and gone to heaven or hell? I know exactly 0 (zero) of them and I am sure you know the same number as well. You might want to think they went somewhere but you do not know."

This one is silly. How many people do you absolutely know didn't go to heaven or hell? Neither of us have testable evidence of the afterlife, that lies outside the bounds of the scientific method. We each make presuppositions based on our worldview (we believe in an afterlife based on the teachings of Scripture, you don't believe in one because of the implications of your belief in methodological naturalism.

"2007 was particularly bad for God. many atheists published bestsellers, God falsely predicts (through its prophet Pat Robertson) a massive terrorist attack in US in 2007, atheists and other non-religious people seem to be the quickest growing "religious" group in US (out-pacing christianity by factor of 10-20), members of congress came out publicly affirming their status as atheists, many are still "in the closet". The percentage of atheists amongst highly educated US population is growing by leaps and bounds (the higher the education, higher is number of atheists)."

Many athiests did publish best-sellers. As did many Christians. Welcome to a free society. Pat Robertson has the spiritual credibility of a goldfish. You know what Scripture says about someone who proudly spouts prophecies that don't come true? They are false teachers, ignore them. As to your stats per the many atheists in the US - once again, this is the result of a free society. Just because there are many athiests does not mean that athiesm is correct. Also, I know many very well educated Christians, so your attempt to set up the stereotype of "Athiest=PhD" and "Christian=backwoods hick" just seems empty to me. Spend some time honestly observing Christian academia and your stereotypes will be seriously dented.

I think Dan summed up your stats well - not a bad year for God, but a sad reality for man.

BTW, Dan - can't wait for some new stuff on your blog, man!

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

Danboo: I don't desperately try to believe or convince myself into something. If and that is a big if God exists as you claim, he must not believe in a higher power thus he is by definition an atheist. If being an atheist is good for your God I don't see a reason why it isn't good enough for me.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Anonymous said...

DJ, "This one is silly. How many people do you absolutely know didn't go to heaven or hell? "

It is not for me to prove something like that as I NEVER claimed such a thing.

It is like I would say it is silly for you to not believe in Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pink Unicorn just because you don't really know for sure they don't exist.

Onus is on those who claim such things vs. those who simply claim there is no evidence of such thing.

I am sure that omnipotent God wouldn't have any problems providing strong evidence (beyond some rather cruel holy book). If it could appear to uneducated people in middle east I see no reason why he couldn't appear in modern world with some strong evidence to back up the claims.

Pat Robertson claims he has a direct line to God and either he lied or his God failed to fulfill his prophecies for 2007. If we can't look to so prominent evangelicals like Pat Robertson and trust them when they claim that God talks to them, how can we believe the rest who can't even master nearly as big of an audience to trust you? No pudding in sight.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Danbo020759 said...
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Danbo020759 said...

Iztok wrote, "If and that is a big if God exists as you claim, he must not believe in a higher power thus he is by definition an atheist."

I quote Sephora from Cecille B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1959) -- "Can a man judge God?"

You are judging God by man's standards.

As for Pat Roberston, the Bible clearly states that you shall know a false prophet (and since the last prophet was John the Baptist it's easy to say PR isn't one of them) by the failure of his prophecies to come true. Pat Roberston holds no more power than YOU ascribe to him. False prophets don't diminish the existence of God since they are, by definition, false. And your statement, "If we can't look to so prominent evangelicals like Pat Robertson...." tells me you ARE looking for God.

Why, oh why are you so unwilling to believe that there is a God who loves and cares for you and thought enough of you to sacrifice His own Son for you? What does it gain you to persist in your disbelief? Is it so unbelievable that someone greater than yourself loves you?

Anonymous said...

- Why, oh why are you so unwilling to believe that there is a God who loves and cares for you and thought enough of you to sacrifice His own Son for you?

I don't see any evidence for this so called sacrifice. Even if it really happened, was it really a sacrifice since Jesus supposedly did not really die but still lives? He might had a bad weekend but that is it. I see people who suffered a lot more in their life then Jesus supposedly did.

On top of that, did I ever request such a sacrifice? No. So why would I be grateful for something I don't need and never asked for?

- What does it gain you to persist in your disbelief?

There is no gain in disbelief really. I am not in for some reward or to avoid punishment as you are. This question is highly biased on your misunderstanding that things have to have certain goal/gain. Sometimes things just are.

- Is it so unbelievable that someone greater than yourself loves you?

No it is not. My mom loves me. My dad loves me. They are so great that they would never sacrifice their son, they would sacrifice themselves for me. I don't see sacrifice of someone else a personal sacrifice. It is throwing someone else under the bus for your own gain. I would be far more impressed if God would sacrifice himself instead of sacrificing his son to himself.

Sorry, not impressed with such vengeful creature. It is not deserving of our honor. Child abuse is not something I would hold dear. You do, that is ok, but I don't.

Sincerely,
Iztok

current mortgage rates said...

wow all she asked was your new years resolutions!

Danbo020759 said...

Iztok, your last diatribe is so full of mistakes, misinformation and out-and-out lies that it doesn't deserve a response on a point-by-point basis. You are in this only to argue. Only one thing will help you -- prayer! You've got mine.

Until you see The Light, I'm not going to provide the ammunition you need to villify God and those who love Him.

God bless you, now and always.

Nick said...

No Iztok. I want to know who determines what counts as educated and what doesn't. (And America is hardly stellar in this field.)

Also, I see that you have said that Jesus did not die. Surely you know that Strauss dealt the death blow to the swoon theory a long time ago.

D.J. said...

Iztok,

"They are so great that they would never sacrifice their son, they would sacrifice themselves for me. I don't see sacrifice of someone else a personal sacrifice. It is throwing someone else under the bus for your own gain. I would be far more impressed if God would sacrifice himself instead of sacrificing his son to himself.

Sorry, not impressed with such vengeful creature. It is not deserving of our honor. Child abuse is not something I would hold dear. You do, that is ok, but I don't."

I'm not going to go into a treatise on trinitarian theology, but you should know Iztok, that when you use that argument with people who believe that God is three-in-one, it just sounds silly. You act like God the Father and God the Son are father and son in the same way Kirk and Michael Douglas are father and son. That is a part of Mormon theology, but trinitarians understand God differently, and to a trinitarian the argument you used is a straw man and a false comparison. Just an FYI.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

Yes all she asked was resolution and I provided. It was further discussions that spurred this (which I didn't bring up).

Again, protecting our freedoms (of and from religion is one of them) is my resolution.

Re: trinity: DJ, not that there is a wide spread consensus on understanding the trinity really, right? Everyone pretends they understand but so far I've failed to hear any decent explanation from anyone. Not that I can find any peer reviewed scientific article about it either.

danboo: full of mistakes? Easy cop out for someone who believes in something that we inherently really can't know.

Fraud Finder said...
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Danbo020759 said...
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Danbo020759 said...
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Nick said...

Maybe it's just me, but that seems to be too big of an invasion of privacy

D.J. said...

Iztok,

"DJ, not that there is a wide spread consensus on understanding the trinity really, right? Everyone pretends they understand but so far I've failed to hear any decent explanation from anyone. Not that I can find any peer reviewed scientific article about it either."

Peer-reviewed scientific article? On the Trinity? Are you kidding? It's the realm of theology, not repeatable science. I think you have an overinflated view of the scope and usefulness of the scientific method.

Also, I'm pretty sure that Iztok has been open about the fact that he attends church with his family. Not really sure how that constitues fraud.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo020759 said...

Whoa! I am confused.

If Iztok has regularly admitted he attends Church with his family (I missed this one, obviously), how is he so vehement that God doesn't exist?

All I remember are his "big daddy of the sky" and "god [sic] of the gaps" comments.

Talk about a theological crisis! LOL.

Jane Pope said...

I agree with nick that the post identifying Iztok's church was an invasion of privacy. If you want to reveal information about yourself, that is one thing. Taking away someone else's anonymity is another.

I deleted that post and the two after it but then decided to leave the rest of the remarks.

Danbo020759 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nick said...

Or he's going to church out of respect for his family. Does it matter at all? I still treat the arguments like real arguments that need to be answered.

It does us no good to say we believe in absolute morality and then act like it doesn't apply.

Jane Pope said...

I regret removing yet another post, but I do not want this conversation to focus on attacking other people.

Danbo020759 said...

Jane, since when is it attacking to say that we have been duped by a poster who essentially has just played us for our time and efforts?

Anonymous said...

To all. I use my real name when I post. I don't have expectation of anonymity here. There are few churches I've used to frequent with my family and I don't mind sharing that information (info was deleted so I don't know what was said). I will say the following about this.

When I got married I've promised my wife to visit church with her at least 4 times a year (compromise). I've attended Whitnell United Methodist Church until we've moved to Charlotte. Then we've visited University UMC and Trinity UMC here in Charlotte for a while. But my wife didn't feel she belongs anywhere there. She was still seeking the church that would fit her. Some time ago we've hosted an exchange student that befriended one of the "founding families" (for lack of better description) of more modern nondenominational churches called Mosaic. While I don't believe or agree with things I don't see any reason to keep kids away from experiencing such things if they so choose/wish. So my youngest "Russian daughter" (I really consider her my daughter and she considers me her dad) got involved with Mosaic and helped as well as mostly regularly attended the services (together with me and rest of my family). At the same time we also had a Muslim student in our house. So during Ramadan we also made a point to go to one of the local Mosques and attended services there. I've even helped with setting up a stage at Mosaic, helping them clean after the services, running power cables, sometimes buying and bringing egg biscuits and sweet tea for the morning crew that was setting things up. Our family even attended church picnics etc...

Why you would ask? I really wanted to know what was this all about. Growing up what I thought was atheist and really was agnostic let me with open mind to learn and experience what I want/can. So I really did listen to the messages/sermons (and sometimes still do) and most of them were positive and found them useful even if one would take God out of the picture.

What was the problem? Well the problem was all the logical fallacies pastor would make when making sermons. I just couldn't go past that and I remember at one point I counted a dozen of them in one sermon and that was just it. I went and bought a book on the logical fallacies and intended to give it to the pastor but my wife prevented me from doing so. She thought it would be a bad thing but up to this day I don't consider how helping someone improving his skills is a bad thing. It is not that I tried to convert him or anything, just helping him being more consistent and use less logical fallacies in his sermons.

Anyway, this just didn't work for me, after reading the Bible and several books given to me by members of the church I just couldn't take it any more. Things made less and less sense and from agnostic I've turned into an atheist. So in an essence going to church and reading the Bible and other Christian literature turned me to being an atheist.

Now do I help my wife decorate a Christmas tree? Sure! Do I get presents for my family? Sure. I even put decorations outside the house (which I need to take down tomorrow or Saturday). But most of that is pagan origin anyway, after all winter solstice is the reason for the season :)

I still make a point to try make it to the mosque during Ramadan with my family, I still occasionally visit a church. I want my foster daughter to experience things and make up her own mind. (Something many Christians would never do for their kids.)

I am always open about my religious orientation (and yes I am ordained at an "atheist church" so I can legally perform marriages in US, including NC and I can technically sign it with "Rev. Iztok" just for the kick of it).

My family however doesn't visit church that often lately (and it is NOT my fault, it is just that my wife is not in the best of health and early services are just not working for her). But I am opened to visit any church in the area with my family upon invitation from any of you. And I promise I will be respectful and unless asked about my religion will not cause a scene :)

However having said that, I do draw a line where snakes are involved, plus I won't go into a church where life of my family is in danger (i.e. some sort of KKK type of church ;)

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

I do appreciate what Iztok said which is why I was quite bothered by people saying we had a poser in our midst.

But let's suppose we had one. So what? I would answer questions the exact same way. That's just the way it's supposed to be. This is more than about being right and wrong. Yes. It's important to be right in what you say, but this is also about persons who are souls created in the image of God Christ loves and died for.

I can understand where he's coming from and I agree, too many pastors are uninformed on the subjects they speak about and use logical fallacies frequently. In fact, if I see a pastor saying something I consider a big enough issue, I will tell them.

However, information about someone should not be given out without their consent. To have done so was a very cheap shot and not at all in line with the gospel of Christ.

Anonymous said...

You can't accuse someone of "giving out" information that is already published in a newspaper.