Friday, October 15, 2010

Information Depression and Positive Thinking

*NOTE* -- this is not meant to diagnose anyone with depression. Rather it is to give information on it. Consult your medical doctor if you think you may be depressed



Did you know that depression has been on a steady climb since 1915?
Did you know that depression is becoming more common at the age of 25?
Did you know that depression was once known as the "mid-life crisis"?
Did you know that 350 million people worldwide are affected by depression?
Did you know that many people who suffer from depression are never diagnosed?
Did you know that depression is now affecting children as young as 9 years old?

Of all the entertainment this world provides, why is it that a lot of people are depressed?

Depression is not just caused by genetics or your development growing up. Put it this way. The brain is such a marvelous design! The brain comprises only two percent of your total body weight, utilizes fifteen percent of the body's metabolism, it contains 100 billion nerve cells, has thousands of different types of neurons (compared to ten or less in other organs), and one neuron can communicate with as many as 200,000 other neurons.

The brain can withstand only so many "hits", however before you will notice any damage. Now what are these hits I am talking about? Well, I have mentioned two of them, genetics and development. I will state each one and give an example.

-- Family history of depression or suicide

-- Early puberty in girls (begin menstruation by age 11 or younger)
-- History of depression in adolescence
-- Not being raised by both biological parents
-- Suffered sexual abuse

-- Low dietary tryptophan
-- Low omega-3 fat intake
-- Low folic acid intake
-- Low vitamin B intake
-- Diet high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and sugar
-- Marked anorexia and weight loss

-- Absence of social support
-- Negative, stressful life events
-- Low social class
-- Grandparents who raise grandchildren
-- Immediate family member is an alcoholic or drug addict

-- High lead levels
-- High mercury levels
-- High arsenic, bismuth, or other toxin levels (even clorine)

Circadian Rhythm
-- Regular insomnia
-- Sleeping more than 9hrs/day routinely
-- Sleeping less than 6hrs/day routinely
-- Not having regular sleep hours for sleeping or eating

-- Alcohol
-- Smoker or Tobacco user
-- Heavy caffeine user
-- Illicit drug user (such as marijuana)

-- Not on a regular exercise program
-- Not regularly being in daylight 30 minutes a day
-- Rarely breathing fresh air

Medical Condition
-- Hepatitis C
-- Recent head injury
-- Stroke
-- Heart disease
-- Terminal cancer
-- Parkinson's disease
-- Uncontrolled diabetes
-- Postpartum severe stress
-- Premenstrual tension syndrome
-- In adequately treated thyroid disease
-- Lupus
-- Inadequately treated adrenal gland disease
-- Any other disease that puts stress on the body

Frontal Lobe
-- On low carbohydrate diet
-- On high meat or high cheese diet eating lots of rich food
-- Regular entertainment TV viewer or movie goer
-- Entertainment internet or chat internet addiction
-- Frequent sex arousal outside of marriage
-- MTV (or other rock/country music) viewer
-- Undergoing hypnosis or Eastern mediation
-- No regular Bible study or abstract thinking
-- Going against your conscience

Keep in mind that there are many other things that can be included into each category. I have Crohn's disease, and although it is not mentioned above, it is still a stress on my body. Now as mentioned, one can't change his genetics or development, so if depression runs in your family, or if you had depression as a teen, it's in the past and can't be changed. But even if you had just these two "hits" the brain can still function and not be depressed. If you had two causes in the same hit category, it still counts as one hit (such as you sleep more than 9hrs/day and don't have a regular time to eat and sleep still counts as only one hit)

The brain can withstand a total of 4 of these hits before it cannot tolerate. Any more, then depression can settle in. As noted, two of the hits cannot be changed if one has them. But the good news is all the other 8 hit categories CAN be changed.

I am not against medications for depression, sometimes it is needed. The most common treatment for depression is antidepressants. 70 percent of patients will experience improvement in their mood or other symptoms. Less than 20 percent of patients on anti-depressants feel they are "cured" or back to normal while taking medication.

The other side of the "coin" of anti-depressants -- 25 to 30 percent do not improve with any medication. 50 percent report bothersome side effects (over one-half of these quit taking their medication). Two-thirds not very satisfied with their treatment. 75 percent on medication state that depression continues to impair their social life and their work performance, as well as affect family life.

Medications do do have their place -- if not used as an ultimate solution, reserved for moderate to severe depression, should be used in virtually all cases of severe depression, definite goal should be discontinuation within 6 months to a year in most cases.

The Prozac-Like Medications (Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Lexapro, Effexor, Serzone, Celexa)
-- Improves mood
-- Decreases crying
-- Decreases hostility
-- Increases social affiliations
-- Increases impulsiveness
-- May cause "I don't care" attitude, decreasing alarm responses

The last two points above are the side affects that can occur when using the drugs. It is good that it improves mood and decreases the crying and hostility, but impulsiveness isn't a good thing as it makes one impulsive to decisions and such. Also, in creating an "I don't care" attitude, it may make the person emotionless. (A good example is when my boyfriend and I have had arguments I don't feel anything, not guilty, remorse for what is said, just empty and emotionless, like I don't care) This is not something that is good as it can create more added stress.

Again, I am not saying anti-depressants should not be taken (I may be going on some temporarily), but they should not be used as a cure-all. It is not just our genetics that cause depression. Our body chemistry can even be changed by nutrition, positive thinking, removing addictions, and changing many things in our own lifestyles. If anything, anti-depressants should be used in combination with the other changes in a person's life.

Psychologists are now realizing that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy actually helps depressive patients. CBT is at least effective as drug therapy, it has no physical side effects, makes relapse less likely, makes staying depression free more likely, and it changes brain chemistry. CBT can effectively treat depression, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, anorexia, and bulimia.

Cognition is your thoughts or perceptions. Your cognitions are the way you are thinking about things at any moment, including this very moment. These thoughts have a significant impact on how you feel. Your feelings result from the messages you give yourself. Your thoughts have much more to do with how you feel, than what is actually happening in your life. You can change the way you think about things and you can also change your basic values and beliefs. And when you do, you will often experience lasting changes in your mood, outlook, and productivity.

Research has documented that negative thoughts which always cause emotional turmoil nearly always contain gross distortions. The thoughts on the surface appear valid, but you will learn that they are irrational or just plain wrong and that twisted thinking is a major cause of suffering.

Here are some forms of cognitive distortions:

All or Nothing thinking -- Looking at things as though they're completely black or while, with no room for neutral or contrary characteristics. "This job is the worst job I could possibly have. I hate it."

Overgeneralizations -- We come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. "My last two relationships ended badly: I must be completely incompetent at love."

Mental Filler -- Ignoring important facts to come up with a faulty conclusion. "Mom and Dad always paid attention to you and never to me."

Disqualifying the Positive -- Ignoring anything that might get in the way of a negative judgment. "It doesn't matter that my boss complimented my work: since I didn't get the promotion, I'm obviously a failure."

Jumping to Conclusions -- Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular we are able to determine how people are feeling towards us. "I waved to my friend on the street, but they did not acknowledge me. They must be upset or angry with me."

Mind Reading -- Making assumptions about what other people are thinking. "Everybody in the audience must think I am a complete idiot up here."

Fortune Teller Error -- Making assumptions about what will happen in the future. "All this studying won't help, and I'll fail the test."

Magnification or Minimization -- Exaggerating or understating anything about a situation. "I have to move? This is awful! This will ruin everything I have set up in my life."

Emotional Reasoning -- We believe that we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and boring, then we must be stupid and boring. You assume that your unhealthy emotions reflect the way things really are. "I know I planned the event carefully, but I know something's going to go wrong."

Should Statements -- Getting upset because one doesn't have control or governance over other people's actions, random events, or basic facts of existence. "That jerk shouldn't be driving so slowly in the left lane!" "I should be able to eat cookies whenever I want to! It's not fair that my co-workers can do that and not get fat!"

Labeling and Mislabeling -- Describing something in a way that prevents it from being clearly seen and often makes it seem much worse than it is. "I'm a coward and loser, and nothing's going to change that."

Personalization -- Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to us. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. A person sees themselves as the cause of some unhealthy external event that they were not responsible for. "I didn't win this contest -- they must think I am a terrible writer."

CBT is the process of changing cognitive distortions to more positive thinking. Instead of "I am dumb" the positive thought should be "I am thankful that I am intelligent, I graduated high school." CBT isn't a new idea or a new therapy.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7a (KJV)

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11 (KJV)

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." Matthew 15:11 (KJV)

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22 (KJV)

Truth is, our feelings are caused by what we tell ourselves about our circumstances, whether in words or in attitudes. A lot of the cognitive distortions are misbeliefs. Misbeliefs are the cause of destructive behavior people persist in engaging in even when they are fully aware that it is harmful to them (such as overeating, smoking, lying, drunkenness, stealing, or adultery). Misbeliefs generally appear as truth to the person repeating them to himself. You will believe what you tell yourself. In emotional and mental health, what you believe is all important. It makes a difference what you believe. Other people, circumstances, events, and material things are not what make you happy. What you believe about these things is what makes you happy or unhappy. If you believe it would be horrible if nobody talks to you at a dinner party, your mental and emotional self will react accordingly. You are the controller of your happiness and your unhappiness. What you think and believe determines how you feel and what you do. If you tell yourself something enough times and in the right circumstances, you will believe those words whether true or not.

You can change the way you think. It is not an overnight process. Realistic thinking does not come naturally. It must be a conscious choice followed by a strong effort. The more balanced feelings that result will be worth the struggle and the effort. Practice, practice, practice!


You may not be able to change your genetics, or how you were raised as a child. But you can change your nutrition, your lifestyle, your sleep patterns, your addictions, and even the way you think. No situation is ever hopeless, and if you are telling yourself that, that is a misbelief. You can change. As long as you are convinced that you can't change, you won't try. There have been many people who have believed they could never change. And yet, these same people have dug in and changed their misbeliefs in spite of themselves, and the result has been transformed lives. If we do not find worth in what we are and what we have now, we will tell ourselves we are less important than others or we have less than others. Be thankful for what you have, what has been given to you, not dwell on the negative aspects of your life and what you wish you could/should have. For me, my family is most important. There are times I wish for more things, but if I really examine my thoughts, I see that I have everything I need. I have an awesome partner, two beautiful boys and another on the way, I have a roof over my head and food on my plate. Yes, I get down and wish we had more money, or that things were not as they are. But life is full of trials. To stay positive is hard, but we will grow more in strength of heart when we overcome them.


Information gathered in this post has come from the following sources:

"Telling Yourself the Truth" by William Backus and Marie Chapman, 2000
"Depression The Way Out" by Dr. Neil Nedley, M.D., 2005
"Depression Recovery Program" by Dr. Neil Nedley, M.D., 2006

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Who is God? Part 2

"Corrie and Betsie were taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp. This was worse than any other prison they had been in. The first two days they had to sleep out in the open. It poured with rain, and the ground became a sea of mud. Then they were packed into a huge barrack-room. It had been built to house 400 people, but there were now 1400 prisoners in it. They had to sleep on straw mattresses filled with choking dust and swarming with fleas. Even the guards did not like going into the barrack-room because of the fleas.
Roll-call was at half-past four in the morning. There were 35000 women in the camp, and if anyone was missing they were counted again and again. So it often went on for hours. If the prisoners did not stand up straight the women guards beat them with riding whips.
The work was extremely hard. Corrie and Betsie had to load heavy sheets of steel on to carts, push them for a certain distance, then unload them. All the time the guards shouted at them to work faster.
If the prisoners became ill, the guards took no notice of them unless their temperature was over 40C, which meant they were seriously ill. Then they had to join the long queue for the camp hospital. But nothing was done for them when they finally got there. When the hospital was full, the weakest prisoners were put onto lorries and taken to gas chambers to be killed. Then their bodies were burned. The tall chimney above the ovens in the centre of the camp was always belching grey smoke. This was the "hell on earth" to which Corrie and Betsie had come.
All this time Corrie had been giving Betsie a few vitamin drops each day because she was so weak. But there were so many other needy prisoners that she began giving drops to them also. She gave them to more and more people. She knew the bottle must soon be empty. But every day more drops came. Nobody could understand it, until Betsie reminded them of the story in the Bible of the widow's jar of oil, which did not run dry for many days.
Gradually, however, Betsie became weaker and weaker. It was bitterly cold, for it was now November. In the end, Betsie was so ill that she was admitted to the hospital. Corrie was not allowed to visit her sister, but each day went to look at her through one of the hospital windows. Finally, one day Betsie's bed was empty.
Corrie was heart-broken. At first she did not dare look in the room where the dead where placed. Then another prisoner called her. There was Betsie. Yes, she was dead. But her face had changed. Instead of being full of pain and suffering as it had been, it was now beautiful, like the face of an angel!"

Taken from: Corrie Ten Boom: The Secret Room

World War II. Millions of people died, be it in the concentration camps or on the battle field. Both sides had casualties. Hitler rose to power, declared war on Poland, France, and many other countries. Nearly 6 million Jews died in concentration camps. With a broad look at the entire war, it was pure evil.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001. I remember this morning as my dad was at home, recovering from back surgery. He received a phone call from his boss; my brother and I had begun our school work. My dad turned the TV on and we all watched. The World Trade Center was hit by planes. We watched the news intently all morning. It was a world away to us, but I couldn't believe that it was happening. Seeing people jump out of buildings and then ultimately the towers collapsed!

I am not going to debate whether the Government was behind it the whole time, or any other conspiracy theory. For me, people died. Innocent people who had families, wives, husbands, children; they died on that day! And they died only because they worked in a building that had been targeted.

If God is so good, why does He allow evil? Better yet, if He is the Creator of everything, then He must have created evil, so why couldn't He stop the 9/11 disasters or ended the world war Himself?

When we are hurt and angry, we look for blame. Who did it, why did they do it, who could have stopped it. 9 times out of 10 people will blame God for all the bad things in their life. Why? Because God is all powerful, all knowing, creator of everything!

So the questions remain: Did God create evil? Could he have stopped the bad things from happening? Is He responsible for all the hurt and pain we endure on this earth?

Skeptics claim that since God created everything, that He must have also created evil. Bible verses are also cited to prove this point:
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things (Isaiah 45:7)

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (Amos 3:6, KJV)

Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
(Lamentations 3:38, KJV)
Note, however, that the KJV is problematic since it uses an archaic version of modern English, which doesn't necessarily mean the same things today as when it was translated over 400 years ago. Take Isaiah 45:7 in the NKJV version:
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the LORD, do all these things.’
Isaiah 45:7 contrasts opposites. Darkness is the opposite of light. However, evil is not the opposite of peace. Obviously, "calamity" is a better antonym of "peace" than "evil"

But there is one thing that needs to be considered. Evil is not a "thing". You can't have a jar of evil. You can't see it, touch it, feel, smell, or hear evil. It is not one of the fundamental forces in physics, nor does it consist of matter, energy or spatial dimensions. Evil has no existence of its own. It is really the absence of good. It is true that in everything God created, it was good. One of the things God created that was good was creatures who had the freedom to choose good. In creating this freedom, there had to be something besides good to choose. So God allowed the free angels and humans the choice to either choose good or reject good (evil).

A really good illustration that is well known may help to explain further. I want to ask you the question, "Does cold exist?" At first thought many will answer with a "yes". But that is the incorrect answer. Cold does not exist, it is the absence of heat. Just like darkness does not exist, it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.

So God does not create evil, but He does allow evil. Think of it this way: If God did not allow for the possibility of evil, both humans and angels would be serving him out of obligation and not choice, thus what would the point of free will be? God allowed for the possibility of evil so that we could genuinely had the free will and choice to decide whether or not we wanted to serve Him. We can choose to do good, or we can choose to do evil. We can choose to help, encourage, love one another or we can choose to steal, destroy, or kill one another. This is free will.

So if God didn't create evil, why does He allow it? Many will ask a similar question when a baby dies in a car accident, when a loved one dies in a natural disaster, when families are destroyed by war.

We have emotions and we get hurt by what happens around us, whether directly or indirectly. Whether we realize it or not, we care for one another. I saw a video of a nanny who abused an 18 month old boy. I couldn't believe what she was doing to the poor child! Grabbing him by the arm and tossing him into the play pen. While the child was sitting, she kicked him! Threw a ball at his face, tossed him on the couch, threw towels at him! The child did nothing to this nanny! He was an innocent victim, being abused by someone who his parents trusted to care for him while they were at work. This boy cannot defend himself. He doesn't know why he's getting kicked and things thrown at him. I cried! I did not know this child, I did not know this family, but I cried! Perhaps it is because I am a mother myself that I cared about this boy. But nonetheless this was not good. This was evil, a varied form of evil. This nanny CHOSE to do these things to this poor boy. She CHOSE to grab him by the arm, CHOSE to throw the child, CHOSE to kick him. She was not forced or coerced into doing it. She CHOSE to do these things. All we can do is pray that God protects the child.

God can't intervene when evil occurs. Because if He does, where is free will? The nanny chose to do the things she did to that 18 month old. She could have chosen to say "You know what, parents, I can't do this" or "I will put this child in a safe place and take 5 minutes for myself". She didn't have to do what she did. But that is what free will is. It is the choice to decide what we want to do with ourselves. Do I want to hit this child, or can I place him in a safe place and give myself 5 minutes to cool down? If God were to intervene than that would nullify the free will that we have. It is our choices that allow for evil to be. It was the choice of Hitler to allow the Jews to die, it was the choice of the terrorist groups to take over the planes and crash them. Humans create their own destruction, it is not the fault of God. We choose to do the things we do to one another.

God IS capable of preventing evil, He desires to rid the universe of evil. So why does God allow evil? I want to consider some alternative situations for how some people might have God run the world:

1. God could change everyone's personality so that they no longer sin. This, however, would also mean that we would not have free will. We would be "programmed" to do right. If God chose to do this, there would be no meaningful relationship between Him and His creation. God made Adam and Eve innocent, but with the ability to choose between good and evil. Because God did this, it allowed Adam and Eve to respond to God's love and trust Him, or to choose to do their own thing. As we all know, they choose to do their own thing. We live in a world where we can choose our actions, but not our consequences and when Adam and Eve sinned, their actions affected the rest of mankind. Our decisions to do good or to sin have an impact on us and those around us, be it directly, or indirectly. And it is the consequences of our actions that we cannot have any control of.

2. Another choice would have God intervene through supernatural intervention 100% of the time when evil happens. Many examples can be given, let's use the nanny example. In the case of the nanny who abused the child, God would somehow have to stop the nanny from ever making it to the home where the child lived, be it she became sick or what not. Or another example, a mother who is addicted to drugs and spends all of her money on this habit. God would have to miraculously provide food and social needs of the children so they would not be affected by the evil of the mother. In such a world, God would be a bad parent who enables a wayward child's destructive behavior. There are no consequences for one's actions and because of this, no one would learn integrity, honor, responsibility, or self-control. There would be no good consequences and there would be no bad consequences, what would people become except for more sinful and defiant?

3. Yet another choice would be for God to judge and remove all those who commit evil acts. Heh, there would be no one left with this possibility. God would have to remove everyone! We all sin and commit evil acts, from lying to stealing to murder. We all make choices that are not good. While some of us are more evil than others, where would God draw the line? Because ultimately, no matter the severity of evil, it causes harm to others.

No matter the option we create or attempt to come up with, God has chosen to create a "real" world in which our choices have real consequences. Our actions affect others. There will come a day when God will judge the sin in this world and make all things new, but He is purposely delaying that day in order to allow more time for people to repent so that he will not need to judge them. Until then, however, He IS concerned about evil. The Old Testament laws were established by Him to discourage and punish evil. He judged the nations and kings who disregard justice and pursue evil. In the New Testament God states that it is the government's responsibility to provide justice in order to protect the innocent from evil (see Romans 13). God promises severe consequences for those who commit evil acts, especially on the innocent (see Mark 9:32-42)

To conclude, we live in a world where we have free will to either choose good or evil actions that will have direct and/or indirect consequences to ourselves. God desires that for all our sakes we would obey him that it might be well with us. But instead we choose to do things our own way and then we blame God for the outcome and for not doing anything about it when in reality it was our own choice that led to the hurt, or someone else's choice led to the destruction. God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences of evil. If only we could learn from the evil deeds and go about choosing to do good instead.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Christianity really a Religion? defines religion as follows:
"a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."
In my experience, many who do not believe in God state that religion is the reason for the wars and bad things that happen on this earth. Granted some things have happened in the name of religion, such as the religious wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan, even the September 11 attacks. Let's also not forget about the crusades either.

Granted, I can see their point. It makes sense. However, I believe God did not intend for a belief in Him to be a religion or agency of beliefs. Personally, religion is a man-made word, with a man made definition. This word generalizes all beliefs into one word: Hindu Religion, Buddhist Religion, Muslim Religion, even Christian Religion. If there is any mention of a God, then those beliefs are a religion. Regardless of the beliefs, as long as there is mention of an afterlife, a God, things of this nature, it is automatically categorized as religion.

God did not intend a belief in Him to be categorized. God intended to have a personal relationship with us. Specifically, Christianity is not really a religion; rather it is a relationship with God. Now, what is a relationship? defines "relationship" as:
1. a connection, association, or involvement.
2. connection between persons by blood or marriage.
3. an emotional or other connection between people: the relationship between teachers and students.
Notice how none of those definitions reference a belief system, or an agency, or even ritual observances?

How can you say Christianity is not a religion but a relationship? Some may ask this question. This is why I say Christianity is not really a religion:

1. Christianity is trusting in Jesus and what He did on the cross for you and me, not what you can do for yourself.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
2. Christianity is not about ornate buildings, flamoyant preachers, or traditional rituals. Muslims have mandatory prayer times. In the eastern religions, rituals need to be performed at certain times of the year. This is not what being a Christian is about. What is more pleasing to God -- religious rituals or a right relationship with Him? What God desires most from us is a right relationship with Him! If our focus is always on doing rituals and traditions than seeking to know God we miss out on what Christianity is all about.

Jesus Himself showed us what exactly it is to have a relationship with God. He was in constant communication with God through prayer. His prayers were not like the Pharisees or like the religious leaders of His day.
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Matthew 6:5-7
Prayer was so intimate it it even touched the disciple's hearts
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
The relationship that Jesus modeled on earth was one of closeness, oneness, and love. There was an intimate factor not seen in the religious leaders of His day. Jesus' life was one marked with a passion for His Father and an intense desire to do and accomplish the Father's will upon the earth.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. John 4:34

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38
Religion has long been the enemy of God when traditions and man-made ideologies are imposed into the relationship between God and man. Jesus even spoke of this to the Pharisees in His day:
“Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Matthew 15:3-6
These Pharisees and Scribes put human tradition about God's divine word and their relationship with Him. They took the Sabbath and put more laws and restraints on it when it was to be a day of rest and worship, not "You can only gather this much wood" or "you can only walk this far". Please note that Jesus was not condemning all tradition in the above passage of scripture. Only tradition that conflicts with God's word. All tradition or rules MUST be based upon corresponding truths in Scripture. Religious traditions, human wisdom or contemporary customs which are exalted above the Bible must be resisted.

God has made provisions for mankind to respond to His love through the scarificial atoning death and resurrection of His son. God has always wanted a relationship with man from the very beginning. Immediately after the creation of the first man and woman, God would come down in the cool of the day just to be with them (Genesis 3:8). But this relationship was ruined when Adam and Eve sided with the serpent, disobeying God. The relationship was marred and sin became the ruling force of man's dominion. Yet God did not give up on His creation; He loves us enough to make provision for man to still approach Him, albeit on a limited level.

Let me explain this "provision" that God put in place. After the fall of man, God had instituted a set of rituals and laws through the Levitical system, which was passed down by Aaron's sons with the sacrifice of bulls and goats which could never take away sin. (Leviticus chapters 1-9; Hebrews 10:1-4). The rituals and the Old Testament law were provided because of sin and were top be used as a school-master to bring us to Christ. The sole purpose of the Levitical system was to point to a time where God would liberate men from their sins and once again enjoy the presence and fellowship of God. Thus, by Old Testament rituals, religion was birthed!

Someone has defined religion as man's attempt to know God. But God could not be known without revealing Himself to us! Jesus Himself said:
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44
Man is totally incapable of entering into a right relationship with God through religion. Religion could not and can not restore the broken relationship mankind entered when we fell into sin. It takes God's initiative to bridge the gap between God and man:
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6
The gap of sin can ONLY be restored through a relationship with God's only begotten son. He came to seek and save that which was lost. He became the propitiation for our sins:
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2
God never intend for us to just hold a pattern of religious rituals. The book of Psalms states:
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:6-8
And God said:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:31 – 33
There is one occasion in the Bible where Jesus encountered a Samarian woman who desired to debate the place of worship. Jesus had informed her that the hour is coming and now is that the true worshipers of God will not be concerned about the place of worship but they will worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:21-24). I want to consider the significance in what Jesus told this woman. Everything was related to the rituals of worship, formulated in the Old Testament law. However, Jesus redefined worship not in terms of rituals, but in relationship. It was unusual to approach God in a relational manner as a Father, much less to suggest that the Father is seeking such worshipers. When Jesus died on the cross, He restored this relationship to the Father, along with doing away with our sins.

We do not need religion in order to accomplish a right relationship with God. We do not need useless rituals. All we have to do is come to the Father through Jesus Christ, open our hearts, and pour our devotion and love to Him.

Christianity is not a religion. It is a personal relationship with God, through Jesus His son. Christianity is not based upon evidence, but is backed by evidence. Obviously, anyone could claim to be God but the difference with Jesus is that His life completely backed those claims of being God. Jesus fulfilled over 300 messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the reliability of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, both of which have been proven to exist prior to the time Jesus walked on the earth, it can be assured that these prophecies were not "conspired" after the fact.
No legitimate scholars today will deny that Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago, was a great teacher and doer of good works, and that he was crucified on a Roman cross for the crime of blasphemy among the Jews. The only dispute is whether Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion and that He was, in fact, God incarnate. This is where everyone must test the evidence for the resurrection, examine their hearts, and make a decision about who Jesus really was.

Christians do not go around saying Christianity is the only way because they are arrogant, stupid or judgmental. They do so because, based on the evidence, they believe what Jesus said. Christians believe in Jesus, who claimed to be God (John 8:58; Exodus 3:14), who forgave sins (Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20; 7:48), and who rose from the dead (Luke 24:24-29; John 2:19f). Jesus said that He was the only way. Jesus is unique. He was either telling the truth, He was crazy, or He was a liar. But since everyone agrees that Jesus was a “good man,” how then could He be both good and crazy, or good and a liar? He must have been telling the truth. He is the only way.

Buddha didn't rise from the dead, nor did Confucius or Zoroaster. Muhammad didn't fulfill detailed prophecy. Alexander the Great didn't raise the dead or heal the sick. And though there is far less reliable information written about these “religious” leaders, they are believed in and followed by millions.

From: All About Religion
Part of me is the prodigal
Part of me is the other brother
But I think the heart of me
Is really somewhere between them
Some days I'm running wild
Some days we're reconciled
But I wonder all the while
Why you put up with me, when...

I wrestle most days
To find ways to do as I please

I always have, I always will
You saved me once, You save me still
My longing heart, Your love alone can fill
You always have, always will

I was born with a wayward heart
Still I live with a restless spirit
My soul is so well worn
You'd think I'd have arrived by now
I'm caught in the trappings of
My search for lasting love
I've made mistakes enough
To last me a lifetime

I still slip, I still fall
But I'll always run back to you

I'm gonna keep trusting You
I see what You've seen me through
I'm goin' where You have gone (yeah)
I'm letting You lead me on
All my days (always and forever)
Never far (never leave me never)
Here I'll stay (ever love me ever)
Here's my heart
I'll always love You, love You (yeah)

Oh You always have, You always will.

Avalon -- Always Have, Always Will

Friday, June 25, 2010

Is There a Hell? Does it Really Exist?

*NOTE: unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text comes from the
New King James Version (NKJV)*

There are many passages in the Bible that talk about hell. What this post will specifically do is to determine if hell really does exist. And also by what definition does it exist by. Most of the Biblical texts being used are mentioned during the end times. Most Biblical texts will be from the New Testament, however there will be several from the Old Testament prophets as well.

Hell is one of the most misunderstood points in the Bible. Some say that it does not exist altogether because God can’t be that cruel for people to burn all eternity. Some say that it does exist and that it is a burning pit of fire that burns eternally. And some still say that it’s a tool to scare people into believing in God. While all these positions can have a valid argument to each, neither is Biblically true.

What happens when we die?

First, to determine if there is a hell, one must determine what our “state” is when we die. The Bible tells us that when we die, we sleep.

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” John 11:9-15

35 While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”
40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.
Mark 5:35-43

As we see from the two examples above, Jesus stated that Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter were sleeping, while the rest of the people stated that Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter were dead. How is it that death is actually sleep?

Death is called sleep at least 50 times in the Bible. If you look at old gravestones, some are engraved with phrases referencing sleep. One well known phrase is R.I.P., Rest In Peace. This is very fitting as we consider rest sleep.

Another misunderstood interpretation of death is what happens when one dies. Death is not a life in purgatory, hell, or heaven. Death is a sleep. The dead know nothing. The false assumption that we go to heaven/hell when we die is wrong. It would be cruel for loved ones up in heaven looking down and seeing the state of the world, heaven would not be a happy place for them if that were the case. Thankfully it is not.
5 For the living know that they will die;
But the dead know nothing,
And they have no more reward,
For the memory of them is forgotten. Ecclesiastes 9:5

This passage alone states that the dead know nothing. They don’t know about the lives they left behind, they don’t know about eternity ahead of them, they know nothing, they are asleep. In finishing with the topic of Death is Sleep, I conclude with a quote from the following website: The Bible Calls "Death" Sleep

So, if a man's thoughts perish at the moment he dies, how could he be "alive and well in heaven?" And if it's true that "the dead know not any thing," how is it that the dead can be in heaven in the presence of God? No, death is a sleep, and there are many proof texts in the Bible that support this view.

Think of it this way. Would it be fair say that Cain, who killed 1 man, was burning in hell for for approximately 6000 years to this day as compared to Hitler who killed millions not even 100 years ago? Would that seem fair? If you answered no, I agree with you. It is because of these scenarios that the possibility of hell being a real place that one goes when he dies is just not true. For where would justice be for a man who lived many centuries ago killing only 1 man compared to Hitler who lived not even 100 years ago and killed millions? This is why for those who believe that one goes to heaven and hell when they die, is simply not true. We are asleep when we die, we know nothing, we can do nothing, we can’t hear, see, touch, nodda.

Where is Hell if it exists?

If hell was a place, most people would attribute it to their lives as a living hell or as some would portray it as a very hot place underneath the ground we stand on. These two ideas of hell have simply misguided. Hell does not exist as a place where one burns for all eternity.

Jesus teaches that everyone will either be saved or lost. You are either for God or against God. There are no fences or gray area. There is a reason why I say this. No where in the Bible does it say ‘those who have neither accepted nor denied God will go either way’. You are either for or against God, there is no in-between.

Now let’s look at the first passage about hell.

I always like to use whole passages rather than verses, especially if the verse I want to use starts with “Therefore” or “Whosoever”. The key to understanding these is to read the context before and after the verse. With this in mind, I will quote the Parable of the Tares.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30

When reading in parables, one must realize that Jesus used the earth as a teaching tool. Whether it was the birds of the air or the fish in the sea, they each present a lesson within themselves. Because farming was a big industry of the time (as well as fishing), Jesus used every day tasks as a teaching method. The above parable basically states that instead of taking out what is rotten and risk uprooting the good, it would be best to wait until harvest time, at which all the tares would be gathered and burned first. The wheat, however, would remain in the man’s barn. Jesus explains this parable to His disciples:

The Parable of the Tares Explained
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 13:36-43

Remember, remember, and remember! All the parables that Jesus taught were taught with symbols and were not meant to take literally as it says within the verse. Rather, one should focus on what the symbols mean. Jesus already did this with the Parable of the Tares, but I will present it in a way that is easy to understand.

Within the explanation we understand the following:
  • The man who sows seeds is the Son of Man
  • The field is the world, the earth.
  • The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom (or in other words, those who are saved)
  • The tares are the sons of the wicked one (or in other words, those who wish to deny God and not believe in him).
  • The enemy who sowed the tares is the devil (Satan)
  • The harvest is the end of the age (when Jesus returns)
  • The reapers are the angels of God.

Those are the basic symbols. Jesus goes on to say what will happen. The angels will gather out all those who practiced lawlessness and all things that offended. They will be cast into the furnace of fire. Then the righteous will shine forth in the kingdom of God.

What I think is misinterpreted is the part where they are cast into the furnace of fire. To one simply reading that it would seem that hell is a place. BUT, remember that this is a parable; Jesus is discussing this parable, and remember He is talking about the end of the age. The furnace of fire, although may present the idea of a hell as a place, is simply not so.

Let’s take a look at another Parable. This parable has been one of the ones that is most scrutinized as well as misinterpreted.

The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell[d] from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores . 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” Luke 16: 19-31

At a first read, this parable seems to teach that Hell is a real place where one goes when they die. But again, we are dealing with a parable that with all parables uses symbols as a representation of something else. We learned this from the previous parable as Jesus clearly explained it. However, we are not so fortunate this time and need to be as open and truthful to the context as possible. There are several facts within the parable that clearly show that it is a parable and should not be taken literally (taken from Hell Truth).
  • Abraham's bosom is not heaven (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16)
  • People in hell can't talk to those in heaven (Isaiah 65: 17)
  • The dead are in their graves (Job 17:13; John 5:28, 29). The rich man was in bodily form with eyes, a tongue, etc., yet we know that the body does not go to hell at death. It is very obvious that the body remains in the grave, as the Bible says.
  • Men are rewarded at Christ's second coming, not at death (Revelation 22:11, 12)
  • The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die (Matthew 13:40-42). The point of the story is found in verse 31 of Luke 16. Parables cannot be taken literally. If we took parables literally, then we must believe that trees talk! (See this parable in Judges 9:8-15).
What Jesus was teaching within this parable was just because you are rich within your wealth doesn’t mean you are going to heaven. Jesus was demonstrating that anyone can be included in heaven, not just those who are rich and well off in their lives. As Jesus was saying this parable to the Jews, he was also telling them that just because they were Jews didn’t mean that they would automatically be accepted in the kingdom. It isn’t their birthright (we all know that the way to Heaven is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing in the Son, we would have everlasting life.) The Jews did not want to say Jesus was the Son of God, as they were only looking for a Messiah to free them from the Romans. However, as shown that is not so.

This parable was not meant to say that there is a physical hell. I will use the conclusion from the link Hell Truth -- Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus as it sums it up the best.

Furthermore, Jesus was seeking to lead His hearers to understand that only faithfulness to God's Word would prepare them to enter into eternal life. He told them, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

To use the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in order to promote the false doctrine of an eternally burning hell is to misuse God's Word and to misrepresent His character.

The Jews of Jesus’ time believed that it was based on their heritage that they would enter the kingdom of God.

So what is Hell, if it is Not a Physical Place?

We now understand that when we die, we are in a state of sleep. We know nothing, can hear nothing, one cannot even think his own thoughts.

It is taught that the soul is released from the body and goes to be with God. However, this is not the case. Once one is in the grave, they await judgment. The only thing that goes back to God is the breath of life that was given to us to live. But what about the last verse in the Bible to which Jesus says:

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
6 And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things,[d] and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving,[e] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:1-8

Again, we need to remember that this is a prophetic dream that John is having. Just like the prophetic dreams that Daniel had, none of this should be taken literally.

Jesus states at the end that all those who have done evil will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, the second death. Remember, that the punishment is the second death. The second death is the result of sin, it is in essence what hell really is. It is not a place. I will write a post specifically on this topic as it furthers understanding in what "Hell" really is.

For more information on this subject, please follow this link. It opens as a PDF within your web browser, so you will need the latest Adobe reader installed on your computer. Click on the titled article to go to the page.

Hellfire: A Twisted Truth Untangled

Monday, June 21, 2010

"You're Going to Hell if..."

Interesting article I came across, I had assumed it was more humor then anything really. But it wasn’t classified as humor, merely atheist and that this was titled “You’re going to hell if…” So I decided to look up these verses and see what they really do say. See this Link for the list

The following is my analysis of the verses in mention.

1. Eat fruit from a tree less than five years old. [Lev. 19:23]

Leviticus 19:23 (New King James Version) reads:

23 ‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten.

I will blatantly state that no where does this say that one is going to hell if you eat fruit from a tree that is less then five years old. The verse even indicates that it only refers to trees that are planted in the first three years of when the Israelites go into the Promised Land, no mention of 5 years.

I can only speculate as to what this verse truly means. But it by no means is a reason for going to hell. This simply referred to the time when the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land.

2. Cross-breed animals. [Lev. 19:19]

Leviticus 19:19 (New King James Version) reads:

19 ‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.

I will again blatantly state again that this does not vaguely say “animals” as the author states in his second point. This verse is actually very specific. This verse is talking about livestock. Do you really want to breed a cow and horse? That clearly doesn’t work. What about a sheep and cow? What about a donkey and ox? This is what is called critical thinking; does one breed a cow with a sheep? They are livestock, as this verse is referring to. Notice we can cross breed dogs, cats, etc just not livestock. This again is no reason one is going to hell.

3. Grow two different plants in your garden. [Lev. 19:19]

Leviticus 19:19 (New King James Version) reads:

19 ‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.

There is no mention of a garden; rather there is mention of field. Ask any farmer if they have mixed the seed they use to plant in their fields and they would call you crazy. To do so would not produce a good crop. Should wheat and barely be mixed? Should canola seed and green feed be mixed? Again, this is critical thinking for how we are to live and what will work best for us. And again, there is no mention of one going to hell over this.

4. Wear a cotton-polyester blend T-Shirt. [Lev. 19:19]

Leviticus 19:19 (New King James Version) reads:

19 ‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you”.

For one, I am sure they didn’t have cotton and polyester to make a cotton-polyester blend t-shirt. This verse is specific to wool and mixed linen. This again is just critical thinking like I have presented in numbers 2 and 3. Wearing a cotton blend shirt is not going to send you to hell, despite what the author says.

5. Read your horoscope. [Lev. 19:26]

Leviticus 19:26 (New King James Version) reads:

26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying.

Practice in divination and soothsaying is against God. Divination and soothsaying are not of God and thus are bad. Evil spirits, demons, fallen angels (who were once angels of God) or however you want to reference these things is what is behind divination and soothsaying. Dabbling in these things can lead to lots of problems, misguide a person into thinking something that isn’t or is. It seems harmful at first, but once in the door, it becomes harmful and can have a negative affect in your life.

So does simply reading your horoscope send one to hell? Not directly. Indirectly yes as it can lead you to investigate even more of the psychic world and what is not of God.

6. Consult a psychic. [Lev. 19:31]

Leviticus 19:31 (New King James Version) reads:

31 ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

Are psychics real? How many are in it for the money? Most are scams nowadays, do background information to claim they know what is going on. I cannot speak about those that apparently have the ability to show what is true, guided by evil spirits; this is where they get their supposed gift from. It is not of God.

Does consulting a psychic deem one to go straight to hell? Again not directly, but indirectly yes. Think of it as the snowball effect. Some people can become worried when they hear their “future” told to them. They want to change it, avoid it, and/or get it. No one knows the future but God. No human can ever have this ability unless it was given by God (This can be considered like the prophetic dreams in Daniel, the dreams that Joseph saw, they were given visions, dreams, of what was to come).

7. Cut your hair. [Lev. 19:27]

Leviticus 19:27 (New King James Version) reads:

27 You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.

In order to find out what exactly this verse means, one would have to find out the significance in having the beards during this time in the Bible. I will say that this verse deals with hair on the sides on one’s head and the edge’s of one’s beard. And it has no mention of cutting one’s hair; rather it mentions one not to shave the sides of one’s head and not to disfigure the edges of the beard.

Does cutting your hair grounds to go to hell? No, that is just silly. Most of the laws mentioned in Leviticus and Exodus were common sense laws. But cutting your hair is not a one way ticket to hell. I would consider this one more of a humor/joke then putting belief in it

8. Trim your beard. [Lev. 19:27]

Leviticus 19:27 (New King James Version) reads:

27 You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.

See above (number 7) for explanation

Again, trimming one’s beard is not a one way ticket to hell. I would again consider this a humor/joke then a belief.

9. Are tattooed. [Lev. 19:28]

Leviticus 19:28 (New King James Version) reads:

28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.

Are those people who have tattoos on them today going to hell? I can’t answer that one with a definite yes or no. Again, these laws were given to the Israelites for the Promised Land. What I will say is this. The Bible has stated that the body should be a temple for the Holy Spirit to allow God to dwell in us. This is about taking care of our body, being healthy. Tattooing practices nowadays are safe, although there are cases of infection and reactions to them. Now think about getting a tattoo nearly 4000 years ago, without the aid of what we have today. One could easily get an infection, it can be dirty as things may or may not have been sterile when used to create the tattoo. Getting a tattoo in Israelite's time could have been a death sentence due to infection.

I will say that having a tattoo alone in today’s world does not mean one goes straight to hell.

10. Plant crops for more than seven years. [Lev. 25:4, Ex. 23:10-13]

Leviticus 25:4 (New King James Version) reads:

4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

Exodus 23:10-13 (New King James Version) reads:

10 “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. 12 Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.

13 “And in all that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth.

My grandpa farms, he has a lot of land, and thus he plants a lot of crops. He has a system though – crop rotation. Crops are rotated between fields; reason for this is because certain crops only require certain nutrients from the soil. Keeping a crop on the same soil for years does not help the soil at all. That crop takes what it needs and the soil eventually “dies”. Having a different crop every year gives the soil a break as not all crops require the same nutrients from the soil, some need this and some need that. Another thing about crop rotation is that there is always a field that lays bare for a year. My grandpa refers to it as summer fallow.

Planting crops for more then seven years will not send you to hell. The most it will do is degrade the soil value. The soil, the earth, requires rest as well to replenish what was taken from it. In regards to the verse above, the seventh year was to be the summer fallow for the Israelites. Whatever the land produced that seventh year was free to the poor to eat. I would consider this very considerate behavior for humans, thinking about others.

This verse also states that for six days man does his work, tiling the earth, doing work. On the seventh day he is to rest from his labor of the six days. Have you ever worked continuously with no break in your work schedule? The most I did was nearly 20 days in a row. I was exhausted and tired, not to mention weak. Rest is essential not only for the earth, but also for man.

And why Exodus 23:13 is referenced is beyond me as it has nothing to do with planting crops.

11. Bear a grudge. [Lev. 19:17]

Leviticus 19:17 (New King James Version) reads:

17 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.

There is no mention of bearing a grudge in this verse. Having hate for someone does yourself more harm then the other person. You become hardened and only see hate. Hate is a very powerful thing; it is the absence of love. It becomes unhealthy to have hate in one’s heart, it destroys one’s self.

The next part of the verse again has nothing to do with bearing a grudge. I had to look up the definition of what rebuke means. defines rebuke as:
to express sharp, stern disapproval of; reprove; reprimand.
In order to understand what this means is that if the neighbor is in sin, one shall surely rebuke him (to disapprove of what is being said, done, etc) lest you fall into that sin as well. Ever heard of the saying “going with the crowd”? I believe this was to show the Israelites that they shouldn’t just go with the crowd. If it was wrong, then it’s wrong and should be dealt with. It doesn’t say that we need to go rebuke our neighbor by yelling at him and throwing it in their face. Rather in a loving way it should be done.

Again, this verse does not state anything about holding a grudge and if it did, there is no mention that one would go to hell because of it.

12. Collect interest on a loan. [Ex. 22:24]

Exodus 22:24 (New King James Version) reads:

24 and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

Now, isn’t that a powerful verse? To understand this verse one is going to have to study the preceding verses as this verse begins with “and”. It would even be best to begin at the beginning of the chapter if you want to know why the above is said and in what context it’s being said in.

Also, where is there mention of collecting interest on a loan?

13. Insult a leader. [Ex. 22:27]

Exodus 22:27 (New King James Version) reads:

27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious

Again, as stated in the prior number, to understand this verse you are going to have to read the preceding verses for this begins as a reason for something said prior “For that is his only covering”. A read and study of chapter 22 would help.

I do not see any mention in this verse in regards to insulting a leader. Maybe this one and the prior one were referenced wrong by the author.

14. Mistreat a foreigner. [Ex. 22:21, 23:9]

Exodus 22:21 (New King James Version) reads:

21 “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 (New King James Version) reads:

9 “Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The Israelites were foreigners in the land of Egypt. It never belonged to them; they ended up being slaves in that land. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is what I see this verse saying. The Israelites are told to not mistreat a stranger or oppress them, as they were once mistreated and oppressed. They knew what it was like to be mistreated and oppressed.
Does mistreating a foreigner send you to hell? It isn’t nice to do, how would you like it is what I would ask. This does not necessarily send you to hell, but it surely does affect your character in a negative way. I say again, Do unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You.

15. Spread false rumors. [Ex. 23:1] (Sorry, Pat Robertson!)

Exodus 23:1 (New King James Version) reads:

1 “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

Spreading false rumors is also considered lying. You are lying about something, creating something not true. The verse stated above says that one should not circulate a false report, a false story. It sucks when the truth ends up coming out and the person who gave the false report is found out. In today’s society it is unlawful to file a false police report, one can get fined or even spend time in jail.

Does spreading rumors send you to hell? Again, it will impact your character as a person. People will not believe you, they may not want to hang out with you or be your friend in worry that you may spread something false about them. There is no mention in this verse that a person is going to hell because of spreading rumors, however one of the ten commandments states “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. This verse is a standard of living. Lie, spread false rumors and your standard of living, your character, diminishes.

16. Drive a Mercury. [Ex. 23:13] (Look it up.)

Exodus 23:13 (New King James Version) reads:

13 “And in all that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth.

First off, and this is quite noticeable, where is there mention in this verse about driving a mercury? (And yes I looked up this verse just like the author said in parentheses to do). This point that the author makes I will definitely say it was more for humor/joke then being a real meaning of this verse. The Israelites had no “Mercury” to drive. Number 16 in this author’s list is rather pointless and should be removed.

A definite NO you are NOT going to hell for driving a Mercury. Now, if you worship the god Mercury, then we are discussing something totally different as this is what the verse talks about.

I want to conclude by stating that lots of the laws given in Exodus and Leviticus were given to the Israelites as a standard to live by. There were no prior laws before this, people lived as they pleased. Some laws just simply do not apply to today’s time and what we have presently versus what the Israelites had in the past.

Will you go to hell for any of the above? Most of the above was an attack on how to live, no where did it mention the Israelites were going to hell for not following. Their lives would simply be miserable if they didn’t follow; perhaps creating a hell in their life if they didn’t follow the laws. There is black and there is white. There should be no gray. One goes to hell when they do not accept Jesus as their savior. In that you can believe, trust, and know that you will go to hell. But then that leads me to ask, is hell really a place? Now that is a subject for another blog!

See friends, this is an example of why you cannot take things at face value, especially the opinions of others. I went right to the Bible, to read the whole context, to read the specific verse in question. Read your Bible, go to your Bible! See for yourself! Many I am sure have taken this article at face value, without ever searching further. Don't be fooled! Read your Bible and not the opinions of others, not even mine. If I quote or state something from the Bible, go to the Bible yourself and see if what I am saying is truth or not.

Peace to you


Whatcha thinking, doing the things you do
Whose opinion are ya listening to?
Justifying, you turn it all to gray,
Synchronizing to society's ways.

Society has gotten to be all outta whack,
Don't bother with excuses whether white or black.
To blame it on a color won't get a result
Because history reveals to me how ethics were lost.
In reality our decency has taken a plunge,
"In God We Trust" is an American pun,
Funny how it happened so suddenly, yo fellas, kick the melody...

Socially acceptable, it's okay, it's alright
Socially acceptable, it's okay, in whose sight
Socially acceptable

Times are changing, with morals in decay,
Human rights have made the wrongs okay.
Something's missing, and if you're asking me,
I think that something is the G- O- D.
To label wrong or right by the people's sight,
Is like going to a loser to ask advice.
And by basing your plans on another man's way of living life
I is creating a brand of ethics sure to be missing the punch,
No count morals that are out to lunch.
They're sliding away 'cause everything is okay,
It was taboo back then but today we say, "What the hey."

Socially acceptable, it's okay, it's alright
Socially acceptable, it's okay, in whose sight
Socially acceptable

We gotta back to the principles found in the Word,
A little G-O-D could be society's cure
From the state that we're in 'cause again we're slipping,
So pray for America cause time is ticking.

dcTalk -- "Socially Acceptable"