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Activated May 2012

Faith - May 2012

Are faith and reason at irreconcilable odds, or can reason be used to draw us deeper into faith? This issue tackles that age-old question.
 

01-05-2012
Personal Convictions
Personal Convictions

It seems that a lot of people, Christians and non-Christians alike, think Christianity is all about dos and don’ts. Keep the rules and we earn God’s blessing; break the rules and we fall out of favor. Is it really as clear cut as that?

In Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome, he jumped into a controversy that was consuming much of the early Christians’ time and energy and threatened to divide them: Did God expect Christians to keep the Mosaic Law?1 That controversy was actually an extension of the discussions and debates that had been going on among Jews for...

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01-05-2012
I Choose Faith
I Choose Faith

A friend of mine has extensively studied a number of religions, and we regularly enjoy deep discussions about variousbelief systems—discussions that invariably come around to our own beliefs.

“I respect those who believe in God, but I can’t manage to myself,” my friend once said. “I don’t feel it. I also can’t understand all that spiritual and supernatural stuff.”

I could relate. Not the part about not believing in God, but the part about not feeling or understanding the supernatural, which is what many people equate with faith.

“I don’t feel it either,” I told him. “I believe because I choose to. For...

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01-05-2012
Healthy Doubts
Healthy Doubts

Accepting points of doctrine without question does not come naturally to everybody. Just as God made people very different in their personalities and physical makeup, there are also different kinds of faith. Whether you need time to study and reflect and reason before reaching a place of belief, or you embrace spiritual concepts with little questioning, the goal is what counts—a living faith.

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01-05-2012
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities

In Acts chapter 17 we read about apostle Paul’s first experiences in Thessalonica and Berea, two cities in what is modern-day Greece. Both cities had Jewish populations, synagogues, and apparently a number of prominent Greeks who had converted to Judaism.

In Thessalonica, “as was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said.”1 Some of his listeners were persuaded, but others were not. Those who weren’t...

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01-05-2012
Whom I Have Believed
Whom I Have Believed

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him.”1 Last night, thatverse came to mind and hovered for a long time. It’s not unusual for a Bible verse to show up in my thoughts, but this time was different. The words and their richness were enhanced—they seemed “louder” or something. I turned the phrases over and over, and looked at them from all angles, meditating on what that passage meant to me.

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01-05-2012
Loving God with Our Minds
Loving God with Our Minds

Jesus said that we are to love God “with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.”1 Notice that He didn’t just refer to our heart and soul, but also to our mind. God gave human beings mental faculties. He created us to be intellectual beings, capable of rational thought, intellectual growth, critical thinking, and reasoning. He also gave us a conscience to guide us in making choices that are morally right.

The apostle Paul said, “One person considers some days to be more sacred than others, while another person considers all days to be the same. Each...

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01-05-2012
Influences
Influences

When the topic of personal and social values comes up these days, it’s often in the context of what kinds of movies, music, reading material, computer games, and Internet usage are good or acceptable, and which aren’t. Often, this generates quite a bit of disagreement between generations and even between peers. That’s not surprising, because all of these things are highly subjective. Something that has an obvious bad effect on one person may not seem to have a bad effect on someone else.

Some people have the attitude that a lot of violence, gore, or foul language in movies doesn’t have...

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01-05-2012
Faith and Comfort Zones
Faith and Comfort Zones

People often talk about “getting out of your comfort zone.” I hate hearing that. I confess—I like my comfort zones. I don’t like doing new things, especially things that I don’t understand or don’t think I’ll do well at. Lately, however, I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone regularly. I think about the magnitude of some new project or venture, and I start to shrivel inside, mentally backing away.

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01-05-2012
The Bright Boys
The Bright Boys

Unlike many of their modern counterparts, it seems that most of the bright boys throughout history had faith. How could that be? Wouldn’t their exceptional ability to reason have led them to conclude that faith was illogical and naïve? Apparently not. Sure, they didn’t have the benefit of knowing all that science has discovered since, but I don’t think that is really the answer. Science can neither prove nor disprove matters of faith, such as the existence of God.

So did they believe because it was the norm and they caved to pressure from authority and their peers? I don’t think...

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01-05-2012
Faith in the Real World
Faith in the Real World

What practical benefits does faith provide? Here are a few. In essence, it’s a short list of God’s promises.

 

New beginnings

The life which I now live … I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.—Galatians 2:20

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.—2 Corinthians 5:17

 

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01-05-2012
True Values
True Values

Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion towards men.

—Albert Einstein

 

Mahatma Gandhi identified the seven sins in the world as wealth without work, pleasure before conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principle.

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01-05-2012
The Seed of Faith
The Seed of Faith

When Thomas the Apostle doubted that Jesus had been resurrected and that the other disciples had seen andtalked with Him,1 it took seeing the Savior himself and touching the nail holes in Jesus’ hands and feet to convince him. Such privileges are rare in the walk of faith. It seems that more often God wants us to believe without seeing, for which we will receive special blessings.2

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01-05-2012
I Love You for Who You Are
I Love You for Who You Are

Those who have learned to live in the realm of My Spirit are happy and fulfilled because they have a deep understanding of My love. They don’t question My love for them, for they have experienced the height and breadth and depth of it. They have great peace and great joy. They don’t waste time and energy worrying about how they measure against others, because they have found contentment in the knowledge that I love each of them for who they are. They understand that each is precious to Me. They understand that I died for each one and have...

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