“I AM” 2017-40

                                                               “I AM”    2017-40

Where do we state what we are today?  Do we make a declarative statement of who we are, and how we are? Are we brave enough to say what we believe in, and more importantly, live the life of what and how we believe?

What is “I AM” and how does this relate?  Way long time ago, a man-God, named Jesus, stated this. Jesus said, “I AM” and in fact, He WAS and STILL Is, what He said! As God revealed Himself as “I AM who I AM”, His Son let it be known that He was also, “I AM”, as a divine name equating Himself with the “I AM” title God gave Himself, to Moses, centuries before.

Moses was a reluctant man, not ready to do the will of God, and questioned just who God was at the time. God had to identify Himself as being the divine being to Moses and stated, “I AM” to Moses and still Moses kept questioning Him. This can be read in Exodus regarding Moses, and in the Book of John about Jesus and His “I AM” statements, especially in John 14:6 where Jesus said, I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.

So, how or what does this mean to me?  I can state I am a husband, a father, a son, or many other things, but more than that and more important to me, is where I say this:

I declare a fact that “I am” a child of God! I do NOT hinge or deviate from this fact, but instead proudly state this, as I said, a fact, not a supposition of life.

I therefore say, “Do NOT try to force me to say otherwise, for I willingly say, “I am”. I do not even hint of my being anything other than a child of God, and nothing more. I feel others can make the same claim, and go further by reiterating their beliefs in a divine being that created all of us.

As such, do not try to tempt me, for “I am” and will not be tempted by you or anyone else, from my beliefs in God or what He means to me.

Do know, that “I am” and anything like greed, wealth, riches, and any material things cannot sway me in my beliefs, because I cannot be bought and cannot be changed on how I feel toward God, my Creator.

Also, do realize that, because “I am”, nothing you can say, do or show me, will change my mind; for what you think is what you think, and may not be what I think.

I say this, “to you Mr. Devil, the evil one — be aware that “I am” baptized and am immune to your wishes, your desires that are not what I want — ever, and I will reject you, I will fight you, I will not accept your evil presence around me —- ever!!!!!

For listen again, “I am, I am, – forever more, I am, and always will be a child of God, loving Him, being a student disciple of Jesus Christ and enjoying the presence of His love. God, the Almighty, is alive, He is aware, He is active and foremost, His presence is with me always.

Den Betts                            bettsden@gmail.com

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Is Religion Dying Out? 2017-33

Is Religion Dying Out? 2017-33

No, Not dining, dying.  I don’t know! Though, I do see signs of religion not being that important to people today. 

As we, in the more civilized world, have become more affluent and as we feel we are more secure in our environment, and even more educated perhaps, it is possible that people, in general, are becoming more rational and less in need of religion.  Many areas of the world, and in certain cultures, are divorced from the domination of religious affiliations, and influence. Religion, for many, is becoming less important in everyday life in the upper advanced cultures. I will not even mention anything like moral reasons at this time.

When I travel to my church on Sunday morning, I feel, that I am the only one up and the roads are NOT busy, not crowded, and not full of vehicles going to their church for services.  Since I live in an Amish community, I must say, there are horse and buggies on the road, so I must watch out for them.

I would think that, as improved living conditions occur, a decline in a religion also is the result. The feeling of need is lessened or unimportant.  I remember 911 and the uptick of religious feelings for a small period of time afterwards.  We were fearful of the unknown and church attendance had a surge of recurrence right afterwards.

The decline has occurred worldwide and I read that many modern secular democracies, more and more people are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion. I realize that it is “uncomfortable” to discuss this subject with people, because of many reasons. I do know some people that said it is convenient not to go to church for many reasons. Those that said this do not have a logical reason, but it could be said by some, their reasons are petty at best. Everyone is different, and I realize this as fact.

I do not believe that those that say they are non-affiliated, can be called atheists, but instead belong to the secularism group of people. When I looked at my notes from my teaching Sunday School at church, I could see that Christians made up about 31% in the world then, and declining, Muslims around 23% and growing, and the non-affiliated about 20%. So, religion is not dead, just not doing well today.

In addition, many people state they do NOT belong to an organized religion, but are spiritual, whatever that means to everyone stating this. Instead of dying out, religion may be, becoming dormant. I do not think atheism will take over, but those leaving religion will become members of a less defined religious belief or just simply unaffiliated overall.  I know, I consider myself, Spiritual and Religious, two different words meaning different things in my mind.

In a contradiction, I read that places like China, Christianity is growing the fastest, which is strange.  Some places, like Australia, where church attendance is about 10% is somewhat holding at that percentage, but they were always thought of as a predominantly secular country.

This discourse has many source references so I did not list any.  I do not know what Wikipedia has on this, which is weird, my not going there for data.

Anyhow, I believe that there is a God.  God is alive, God is active, God is aware, God is Present and around and in us always.  He, as the living God, loves us regardless.

Den Betts

Prayer/Psalm 2016-48

I think I wrote this as a simile to a written Psalm in the Old Testament, but cannot be sure. I tried to find the actual (if so) psalm but could not. So, I will claim it as mine and instead call it a prayer. It still sounds like a psalm…….

 

Prayer/Psalm 2016-48

 

He shall be my light and salvation

To hide me, shelter me from my worst fears

Allow me to sing, to dance and be merry,

With joy and happiness of a knowing protection

Be gracious to me, when lonely and afflicted

Forgive me, when I have gone astray

Create in me a clean, pure heart,

Protect me from my own transgressions

Become my strength, a shield against adversity,

Gird me with gladness of living and life

Comfort me in my worse times of grieving and despair

Deliver me from the evils of the world

Cleanse my mind of wrongful thoughts, words and deeds

Save me from those that would do me wrong

Praise be to God, for He is the one, the only one

To have the power to be, to do, for life everlasting

 

Den Betts

Saint or Sinner???? 2016-38

Saint or Sinner????    2016-38

I am NOT a saint and most definably AM a sinner. Let me define both. A Saint is, by definition, a person who has exceptional holiness of life and is recognized as such by the Christian Church and may be canonized as such. Well then, a sinner is probably the opposite in many ways, but is one that violates the will of God, or disobeys Him.

I would think that there are not many saints compared to the multitude of sinners around or have lived in the past. The Catholic Church has distinguished some saints, that is sure, and these people are indeed revered as such. So, we common people are in the groups that are not held in esteem by others as the saints are looked at in life.

I would think that all religions have people that could be looked at as saints. In the Lutheran religion, dear old Marty Luther could have been made one if Lutherans did these things. He was not a saintly person though, but I would guess he was a nice guy, regardless.

I believe that Theresa of Avilla of the Catholic Church deserved to be sainted as she was somewhat special for her time. I encourage anyone to read up on her.  Mother Teresa, of the 20th Century, whose real name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was nominated for sainthood and what she did probably will help her become one.   She was a nice old lady and supposedly did really great things in her life. There are those that think differently, but they don’t count in my mind. I wonder what God thinks about her?

I had to laugh (later) when someone told me they were not a sinner and followed a good life, even though they were not very religious (their words). At least they did not follow or practice any religious denomination at the time he said. I asked him, what he meant and he said, “I do not, and never did, any of those things in the Ten Commandments.” I just blinked and told him, I was happy to hear that; but thought to myself, he was full of self-righteous crap…

I believe that God of the Universe thinks ALL of us are sinners in some way. It really does NOT matter what WE think, it is what He knows. It is the same for me and for anyone. We might believe we are living a life in a good way, but if we look back we will probably see that there are some cracks in the veneer of life where we really are not spotless.

Guess what! God the Father, maker of Heaven and Earth STILL loves us; all of us. He might not LIKE what we do at times, but we, as His children, are loved by Him. Simple as that…. It is hard for me to fathom that He could love many of the humans on Earth, His children that do some of the things they do; but that it the way it is.

It does NOT give us a blank check to do what we want to do and expect Him to have a blind eye on what we do; just is NOT going to happen. I cannot tell you what will happen because every episode is different and He is the final say on whatever He decides. Sinners probably warrant a second look by Him perhaps and I guess that would be fair.

I also believe that any Saints are a creation of man and not of God. He may love those that mankind has decreed to be Saints, but that doesn’t cut the ice for how He comes to terms with them. We are ALL equal in His eyes and any judgements are His and not for us to decide the good and bad of what they have done. I would guess the Catholic hierarchy thinks different on this idea.

I guess, what bothers me is the feeling that many of us, just don’t give a crap about whether or not we are sinners, and instead just go about living and doing what we do without any thought of the repercussions. The feeling is to live life the way we do and sometime in the future we die; so what? OK, we might know we are doing bad things that are not good in the eyes of man or an unknown God, but so what? If we get away with it or don’t break the laws of mankind, so be it; let me alone. What I do is my business and not really anyone else’s, so, again, let me alone.

If I don’t fit the mold of others, that is their problem. I never promised great or think of myself as a Saint and know I am not close to being one, so let me alone. I may be looked at as a sinner in their eyes, but I will deal with that on my own and live with anything that comes down from my actions. So be it!!

The understanding that if God so decrees, I may have eternal life beyond the human existence is in the far future. Many of us look at that eternal life concept as the unknown and not really something to think about now in our human reality.

Eternal is a long time. It does not mean just 80 years on the average. To perhaps, get to see our parents again and kick around our memories, research our ancestry, question anyone of the past, and do an untold multitude of things is staggering to think about. Eternal, again, is a long time to be with God and those that have passed.

I am not a Saint but am a sinner and admit it. I join all the sinners of the world to contemplate my very survival of eternal life with God, His son Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, now and forever more. I continually ask God for forgiveness of my sins here on Earth and ask that He consider me as one of His chosen ones to be with Him, again, forever, eternally.

Den Betts

Faith 2015-06

 

Faith     2015-06

A simple word about a complex subject!!  I have used this word in the context of explaining things like Spirituality and the Holy Spirit.  BUT, what is it and how easy is it to explain?

Webster defines it in many ways, but the easy one is— where there is a belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion. This could be in reference to any religion of course, so I will go where he expounds on it further—- the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved. The second one is under the title of Christian Theology, which makes sense to state it that way.

I could stop right there and say it is that easy. I will stick with the doctrines or teachings pertaining to Christian religions for now. As a point of interest, not all religions use the concept of faith in their practices, but let me stay with Christianity for now.

Because the word itself includes Christ faith is based on His workings in His lifetime and His teachings. I would think that Christians are not distinguished by the word faith itself, but instead by what Christians look as the examples of His life as written in the scriptures. If someone does not have faith, I would think that person does not have the basic confidence as of what is written in the Bible.

That is not hard to understand. If that person of non-faith does not have the trust in believing in what is written, or thinks that the Bible is not reliable, then the faith may not be there. I wrote a history of the Bible a few years ago for Sunday school. To read the history and to know how it morphed into what is seen today is so very interesting.

I will not go into that now, but needless to say, it, the Bible, had its slow progression to what it is now. The King James Version is what most other versions take from and what was used before then was difficult to read and understand.

So, the Bible is where I said the trust begins.  I think that you would have to trust that what is written was inspired by God, even though it was not written by Him. I know some religions look at it as the absolute word of God, and they can do so, but I will use “inspired by God” instead for now.

It takes believers, scripture, traditions, personal experiences, a community foundation of belief to be assured about God and Jesus Christ. There is more written about the man names Jesus, than any other historical figure from the past. There are more manuscripts telling about His life than any other person from history, so that is part of it.

All well and good, but what is faith again? It still comes down to a feeling!!!  I wasn’t at the crucifixion, I did not see the miracles occur or hear Jesus pray and teach. So, I have to trust in the work or stimulation of the Holy Spirit where He endorses the Scripture writings, which comes about by the divine inspiration of Him. The finality of these dealings is what faith is all about.

I remember when someone I know had problems believing in God, and was basically a doubter and not really an unbeliever. I told him so, and he did not agree, saying he did not have doubts, just not enough hard facts to support his believing.  I understand that thought process. There are some things that are difficult to believe in, and without concrete, absolute, engineered, scientific evidences, it is not easy to come to terms with in life.

The Sun comes up from the East and sets in the West. The planet Earth is round, not square or flat. The word –faith comes up when the desire to substitute emotion for evidence is pronounced. If there are emotions by many people, faith cannot be rationally made into fact and friction can occur in the process.  So, faith is— believing without evidence. So, by my saying I have faith, I am saying to you, I think I know something or believe something that some may say I really do not know for sure. That is my faith, believing in the Father, the man God Jesus ,and the Holy Spirit of God, that has no physical proof laying around. Except, I know there is a God, and perhaps I will tell you why some day.

Peace,

Den Betts

Presence 2015-01

The Presence     2015-01

I use the words, “The Presence” in my essays and poems at times, and when I do so, I am relating to the Presence of God. The Triune God of the Christian faith that is. The one God of the Universe who reigns over all people, that are on Earth.

He can be the Father Almighty, the Son, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, but still each (or as one) is the one that comprises The Presence.  Many have a problem with this concept of One.  I would think that it would be easier to just plain accept it as fact that is unproven, but is.  That is hard to do, I realize, but in the process of trying to understand the concept, it is like the word Faith, it cannot be proven by anyone on earth; just is, or so I say now.  If you do not believe in the Presence, the Triune God or even in Faith, then it really doesn’t matter much then and I would suggest you just move on with  your life; no problem.

But, if you DO have Faith, then consider these words.  God can be all of one and being one, then is all. It is like the equation 1 x 1 x1 = 1.  Even I can understand that mathematical calculation. Let me move on with this thought.

Thinking of the presence again and the three in one concept, how are they related?  I would like to tie in the two with basically this statement.  When we talk about God, I relate to the One God and the essence of God being one.  In discussing the Presence, it is better to just think of it as God and not worry about the form or who exactly we are mentioning.  When I pray to God, I sometimes put names to Him, by saying “God in Heaven, maker of the Universe, or Lord Jesus, I ask you for ——, or Dear Holy Spirit, help me in what I am trying to do.” That is OK, in my mind, and I think with God, that it is also ok. He is God, and it doesn’t matter the exact title or term you use for Him.

I said the Presence, God, is with us always.  Not sometimes, or special times, but always; not when He feels like it. That can be daunting to think about. God is watching us when we eat, sleep, pee, do great things and not so great things. He knows all that we do and when we do it. That is not easy to comprehend for some.

Do we really want God to know when we do things that are not exactly those actions we want Him to know about and have Him realize just how we are at the time?  When we cuss out someone with words that are vile and especially use words that are using His name in vain, do we want Him to hear? Probably not, but sometimes we do. The great thing is, He does forgive us for swearing and doing those terrible or not so Christian/religious actions that we do. I would think asking or praying for forgiveness would be the thing to think about then.

His Presence, in the form of one of the Triune essences is with us when we have to contend with the horrors of life also. He is with us even though the act done is unimaginable to us. That is hard to fathom for some also. I remember someone telling me, “If He was there, why didn’t He do something to prevent what happened?” He was asking me? I can’t answer that question, but do believe He does NOT prevent all the things that happen in the world. Why doesn’t he stop a hurricane, a tornado, a flash flood or other natural calamity from happening? Maybe, I will ask Him when I die, if I have a chance. Why didn’t He prevent my mother, father or brother from dying? Hey, death is part of life, I heard one time, so it is also a natural occurrence that just happens.

I like to think His Presence is with me always. Not just when I need it, but all the time. I can pray to God at any time and know He hears me. That is the neat thing about having God with us always. We have Him to hear us all the time, both at good times and bad. He can laugh with us when we have a light moment in our lives and console us when the bad times arrive. The one cost of having His Presence with us might be our love for Him and it would be great to let Him know just how much we do love Him, because I believe He loves to hear us say it to Him.

Some could bring up weird things that can be thought of that would preclude having God present when we are doing something, but let me state that He is capable in the seeing, hearing and knowing what ALL we do, and nothing can surprise Him in our actions.

I like to think of God as the being that created us, died for us in the form of the man Jesus Christ, and is with me in my soul as the Holy Spirit and is near me, so close to me, always………..

Think about what I have said and like or comment if you wish.

Peace be with you,

Den Betts

God and Devil’s Presence 2014-12

God’s and the Devil’s Presence    2014-12

 

I never thought about God’s presence when I was younger than I am today. It only has been recently (last couple of years) that I gave it any thought. I had the same thoughts (or non-thoughts) about the Devil himself. It was sort of like, taking it for granted that there was a God and also a Devil out there somewhere.

Then something happened that I ended up calling “The Happening” (made sense for me to do so at the time).  That is an event that has its own story/description that I will not go into detail here, but is on record elsewhere. Suffice to say, that experience affected me to where I started a spiritual journey which changed my life forever. I am no longer the person I was before, but instead am what I am now, which I identify as a spiritualist, for the sake of using a word. This is where I do not fit the mold of typical spiritualists that claim they can communicate with the dead or that type of context. I am a Christian, church going person that has a relationship with God and as such, I also feel His Divine presence at all times and all places.

God’s Presence

This concept is not new of course, and much has been written about this presence of God. Some other religions make the same claim, but in almost all, they make the same theological terms. God’s presence is in nature, in all human beings and especially in each human being. It could be perceived as an outside, environmental or natural entity that could be in the mind but instead is an unseen being that influences human perception. You cannot see it perhaps, but it is there, it is felt and in the feeling it actually “is”.

Some would call this presence “an angel” (perhaps) that has somewhat of a human personality and can therefore interact with humans without actually revealing themselves. The Divine or Holy Spirit, or the archaic expression of Holy Ghost, is tied into the Triune God that interacts with humans in God’s name as God Himself. What we hear at Christmas as Immanuel, “God is with us” which is a Biblical concept of the Divine presence as a title for Jesus.

What you believe about the presence, is what you believe and that goes for my thoughts as well. It is the same as the word “Faith” that is said so much. Either you believe or you do not. The “Presence” (for short) is mentioned in religious context very much, but is it felt or experienced? Maybe it is and we do not know of its affecting us or being around us when it is. Jesus Christ is part of the Triune God and because of this fact, or opinion, if you think this way, His presence is with us always.

Allow me to quote from my favorite source, Wikipedia. “Considering the notion of Jesus’ presence within the Christological area of study, one can articulate an account of presence in nine themes and so throw light on Christ “in himself” (in se) and Christ “for us” (pro nobis), thus recalling the strikingly new modes of divine presence to humanity and the world that the missions of the Son of God and the Holy Spirit brought, according to the Christian faith. As Word/Wisdom/Son of God, Christ is eternally and personally related to the Father in the Spirit. To adapt a central statement from Nicaea I, “there never was a moment when God was not present to/in him” ( Col. 1:19; 2 Cor. 5:19)  This divine “presence to”, which constitutes the triune God’s life in communion, is mirrored in Christ’s earthly existence — from the Trinitarian face of his virginal conception and baptism right through to his “being exalted at the right hand” of God the Father and jointly “pouring out” the Holy Spirit on the world (Acts 2:33). The Trinitarian presence takes into account the ultimate reality of Christ’s eternal and temporal existence.”

Let me digress to discuss the Devil’s Presence.

Much has been also written about the Devil and his presence. This entity (the Devil) is considered to represent evil and many religions have a devil to talk about in their writings. Many Christian writings have things about the Devil that are fabricated, or taken out of context.

The devil is sometimes called Lucifer and is thought to be a “fallen angel”. This has been taught in some Sunday schools for a long time. The only occurrence of the name Lucifer in the (KJV) Bible is in Isaiah 14:12, in this verse: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations?” Seems pretty straightforward, but it turns out that it’s another case of misinterpretation and mistranslation. If you go back to the original Hebrew text, you find a story not about a fallen angel, but about an unknown or named Babylonian king who figuratively fell from his throne when he began persecuting the Israelites.

The same goes for the number 666 that has been tied in with the Devil. This is cited from the Book of Revelation, in which John associates the number with the Antichrist, but the details of the story aren’t entirely clear. I don’t know many or any that truly understand Revelations. Another number, 616 has been mentioned as the other more accurate number based on numerology and different translations of text.

Now, there are many mentions in the Bible about Satan (The Devil), so I am not going to say there is not a Devil, but would like to offer the fact, or opinion, that the Devil is an evil presence that represents “sin” and, as such, is a factor in our lives. The Devil tempted Jesus Christ and was renounced by Him for his efforts. I will not call the Devil any name such as Lucifer, but say he is “the evil one” that corrupts humans to go against God’s wishes.

How do we know that the Devil is at work? Many do not know or ever will because what they do is normal (to them) and not evil in their mind, but instead, a way of life. He is described as hating all humanity (or more accurately creation), opposing God, spreading lies and wreaking havoc on the souls of mankind. Other Christians consider the Devil in the Bible to refer figuratively to human sin and temptation and to any human system in opposition to God.

In the Bible, the Devil is depicted as the serpent, which convinced Eve to eat the forbidden apple, and therefore Satan is shown as the serpent. Many snakes have been killed just because they represent the Devil in the minds of those doing the killing.

Is the Devil’s presence around us and affecting us? Once you get past the name calling and the myths that have been made, and consider what evil is, then you might believe that there is an evil one out there, coercing us to do those things that go against God’s wishes or Commandments. Modern conceptions of the Devil include the concept that there is a Devil that symbolizes humans’ own lower nature or sinfulness brought upon by evil actions.

What is evil?

What is evil? The easy answer is the opposite of good or  the dualistic antagonistic opposite of good, in which good should prevail and evil should be defeated. In the context of religion, evil is complex and well discussed in Scripture. I read that the word evil occurs over 613 times in the KJV or 481 times in the Old Testament and 132 in the New Testament. Evil is described as a biblical term as being opposed to God and His purposes as “sin”, and describes the human perspective as being harmful and nonproductive, as in suffering. The fact of evil creates, not only a problem for existence, it creates a problem for belief in an all-good and all-powerful God allowing evil to exist.   Almost all religions and denominations of the Christian faith have evil as a force to be reckoned with in one way or another.

I believe that evil exists and that learned people know when evil has entered their lives. As such, I can blame the Devil, called Satan in my mind, as the evil one that tempts me or entices me to do the things that are contrary to God’s will. That is a simple statement, but one which I will stick to. Others can bring up a load of facts and past opinions by academic scholars or text written by well educated people, but when it boils down to reality, “The Devil Made Me Do It” is real.

Is there a Presence of God or the Holy Spirit and is there a Devil called Satan that is hovering around us on a continual basis.  I think so.  I feel His Presence and at times when I have the feeling that the evil one is lurking near me, at those times I say, “Be gone, in the name of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit”, and I feel a calming effect come over me and I am at peace.    DDB