Spiritual Tornadoes

Tornado with Lightning

Tornado with Lightning

The month of May is peak tornado season across the U.S. plains and southern states. Already this year five separate tornadoes have caused fatalities, in Cisco, TX, Van, TX, Nashville, AR, Fairdale, IL, and Sand Springs, OK. Just over the weekend several tornadoes touched down in southwestern Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle, damaging buildings and causing power outages.

Every region of the country, and of the world, has its dangers and its natural disasters. For those living in Tornado Alley, it’s twisters.

In my younger childhood years, when my family lived in the states of Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri, we got used to the sound of tornado sirens piercing the air from time to time. Fortunately, our town was never hit. Others have not been so lucky. Even when the tornado warnings give local residents time to take shelter, tornadoes are a devastating experience for those who live through them.

Then comes the monumental task of rebuilding shattered buildings, shattered towns, and shattered lives.

A tornado causes more than physical destruction. The terror of the experience itself, and the heartbreak of destruction and loss in its aftermath, also create huge emotional, even spiritual devastation. The physical destruction is often mirrored by a sense of wreckage and desolation in the soul. This requires a painful process of psychological rebuilding.

And even people who have not experienced a tornado or other natural disaster sometimes experience spiritual tornadoes and hurricanes.

For more on storms of the soul, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Spiritual Growth

Is there a Biblical Basis for Wives Divorcing their Physically Abusive Husbands?

(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I recently wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)

Divorce Petition

Divorce Petition

Since the Bible was written in a very different time and culture than that of today, it is difficult to draw a straight line between the few biblical injunctions about marriage and divorce on the one hand, and marriage and divorce as they exist in today’s society on the other.

For example, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 speaks of a man who is displeased with his wife writing her a certificate of divorce. According to Matthew 19:7-8; Mark 10:2-5, this was interpreted as a commandment of Moses that allowed a man to divorce his wife. However, there was no similar commandment allowing a woman to divorce her husband. For all practical purposes, in Old Testament times only men, and not women, had the right to divorce their spouse.

However, by the time 1 Corinthians 7:8-16 was written in New Testament times, women had apparently acquired the right to divorce their husbands as well.

For more about the Bible on divorce and domestic violence, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships, The Bible Re-Viewed

Faith Alone Is Not Faith

My post two weeks ago titled “Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does” drew a strong reaction.

Most of the reaction was positive.

But since the article assailed a fundamental defining and distinguishing doctrine of Protestantism, it also drew some negative responses.

Some of the people who objected insisted that faith alone does save, and quoted various Bible passages in an effort to support their contention. However, none of those Bible passages actually says that faith alone saves.

That’s one of the big problems with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone: the Bible never says it. In fact, the Bible specifically denies it (see James 2:14–26).

There’s another big problem with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone:

Faith alone is not even faith.

For more on the non-faith status of faith alone, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

The Spiritual Anatomy of Physically Abusive Men

Yet another woman has been murdered by a physically abusive man—this time in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Janessa Spencer, 1989-2015

Janessa Spencer, 1989-2015

On April 12, 2015, Janessa Spencer was at home with her boyfriend, Samual Cook, when they heard a loud banging on the door. As Spencer feared, it was Daniel Guajardo, her previous boyfriend and the father of her three young children.

There’s no need for a blow-by-blow. You can read all about it in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle here and here. Short version: Guajardo broke into the house, shot Spencer’s boyfriend non-fatally in the shoulder as he escaped through the bathroom window, shot Spencer dead, then fled to Fort Collins, Colorado, where he was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

What struck us about the story was that Janessa Spencer thought it was all about jealousy, and that she could calm her ex-boyfriend down if she just got her new boyfriend out of the house. And also that Samual Cook felt tremendously guilty and a coward because he had run away instead of protecting his girlfriend from a man with a gun who had burst into the house.

Unfortunately, they were both laboring under common misconceptions about abusive men. It was not about jealousy, nor was it about anger or “calming him down.” Spencer probably saved Cook’s life by getting him out of there just in time. But by staying herself, she was only facing her executioner.

There are plenty of good resources out there about domestic violence. In this article, we’ll take a look at the spiritual anatomy of physically abusive men.

For more on the spiritual realities behind domestic violence, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Pain and Suffering, Sex, Marriage, Relationships

Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does

“We are saved by faith alone.”

The Bible doesn’t say it. In fact, the Bible rejects it.

It was not part of Christian belief for the first 1,500 years of Christianity.

Even today, only about one-fifth of Christians belong to churches that teach it.

And yet, the minority of Christians who do believe in it think it’s the most important, essential teaching of Christianity.

Justification by faith alone” is the Protestant doctrine that the one and only thing that saves us is believing that Jesus Christ died for us on the cross. Our “works,” meaning what we do and how we live, do not contribute anything to our salvation. If we believe that Jesus died for us, we will go to heaven. If we do not believe that Jesus died for us, we will go to hell.

I have been told that I am going to hell because I am unwilling to say and believe that faith alone saves.

Now that could be a problem!

For more on the fallacy of faith alone, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

What is the Biblical Basis for Humans becoming Angels after they Die?

(Note: This post is a slightly edited version of a question and answer I recently wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the StackExchange version here.)

Clarence and George: It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

Clarence and George: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Many Christians, and many people living in predominantly Christian cultures, believe that people who die become angels.

This belief is reflected in numerous popular novels and movies, such as the classic 1946 American movie It’s a Wonderful Life, in which a guardian angel named Clarence occasionally refers to events of his life (and death) as a human being on earth.

And when someone has died, family members and friends of the deceased person commonly speak of him or her as being an angel in heaven now.

What is the biblical basis for the belief that human beings become angels after they die?

For what the Bible says about angels and people, click here to read on.

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Posted in The Afterlife, The Bible Re-Viewed

Easter, Resurrection, and the Germanwings Airliner Crash

On March 24, 2015, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz took his place in the cockpit of Germanwings Flight 9525, originating in Barcelona, Spain. The destination was Düsseldorf, Germany.

Lubitz had done his research. He was ready. He just had to wait for the right opportunity.

That opportunity came when the pilot on the flight, Patrick Sondenheimer, asked Lubitz to take the controls and left the cockpit, presumably to use the restroom. The plane had reached its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet just a few minutes before.

Once he was alone in the cockpit, Lubitz locked the reinforced cockpit door, taking advantage of improvements to airline security made in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Then he put the plane on a rapid descent path.

The pilot returned, and tried to re-enter the cockpit. When he couldn’t get in, he asked Lubitz on the intercom to open the door. There was no response. The pilot pounded on the door, and tried repeatedly to break it down, but the door held. Lubitz ignored both the pilot and questions from air traffic control over the radio. He did not transmit a distress call. Just before impact, the passengers began screaming. Through it all, Lubitz’s breathing remained steady, as recorded on the cockpit voice recorder.

Germanwings flight 9525 crash site from the crash on March 24, 2015

Germanwings flight 9525 crash site

Lubitz knew exactly what he was doing. The inescapable conclusion is that he intentionally flew the plane into the mountains in a remote part of France. Initial investigations revealed that he suffered from severe depression, and had been contemplating suicide. His weapon of choice for his suicide was airplane filled with 150 people, all of whom died instantly on impact. Among the dead were sixteen schoolchildren returning home from a student exchange trip.

This tragedy happened less than two weeks before the Sunday on which Western Christians celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

How can we make sense of this senseless loss of 149 innocent lives at the hands of one man committing suicide under the stress of severe depression? Where is God in terrible disasters like this?

For more on Easter and Germanwings, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Pain and Suffering

What Kind of a King is That???

The King.

For most people these days, it has an old-fashioned sound.

Yes, there is still some royalty left in the world. But few of today’s royals have any real power. Today, the powerful people of the earth are called President, Prime Minister, or Premier—and in the business world, CEO or Chairman of the Board.

In the ancient Biblical world, if you took all those leaders, rolled them into one, and gave that person absolute power within the nation, that would be the king. Common people would bow and tremble before the king, knowing that he held in his hands the power of life or death over them. One word from him, and their days on this earth would be over. A different word from him, and they and their family would be lifted up to prominence, wealth, and power.

For people in Bible times, “The King” stirred up deep and powerful feelings of pride or of fear, of safety from enemies and oppressors or of ruin and death for themselves and their families.

Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem

Jesus rides into Jerusalem

These and many more powerful thoughts and emotions ran through the heart and mind of the crowd as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a ceremonial donkey. They were suffering under the oppressive yoke of Rome. Here was a King of Israel, a descendant of David their great king! Here was the Messiah, who would throw off that Roman yoke and rule over them with justice in their own independent, sovereign nation once again!

And so Jesus, jubilantly hailed by the crowd as a king upon his entry into Jerusalem, went directly to . . . the Temple?

For more on Jesus the King, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed

Prosperity Gospel is Spiritually Bankrupt

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Richard Neer:

Hi Lee,

What is your position on Prosperity Gospel? I find the notion ridiculous, if not downright absurd! The premise that tithing promises health and wealth seems quite far-fetched. It does not promote spiritual growth. In fact, the only growth I see it promoting is the personal pocketbooks of the pastors and/or preachers behind the pulpit. Though I can understand and agree that donations to church groups and organizations can be fulfilling for some and even, to a degree, necessary for the continued existence of an organization (non-profit, in theory!), the in-your-face over-the-top request below is one I can’t fathom how anyone can actually make with a straight face, much less be absolutely serious about.

This current CNN article just shocks me and makes me wonder, “Is humanity so hopelessly lost, or are people just that ignorant these days?”

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/13/living/creflo-dollar-jet-feat/index.html

Thanks for the good question, Richard. Short version: I agree with you 100%!

Prosperity Gospel

Prosperity Gospel

How Prosperity Gospel even qualifies as a religious teaching is beyond me. Yes, Prosperity Gospel preachers talk about God, the Bible, and other religious subjects. But the goal of this “Gospel” has nothing to do with love for God or love for the neighbor. Instead, it’s all about gaining worldly wealth and success for oneself.

That, to me, is not religion. It is a spiritually bankrupt substitute for religion.

However, despite its spiritual bankruptcy, it does serve a use for some people as a stepping stone toward something better—which, I believe, is why God allows it to exist.

First, what is Prosperity Gospel?

For more on the spiritual bankruptcy of Prosperity Gospel, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Money and Business

“The World is Going to Hell in a Handbasket!”

“O tempora, o mores!”

Marcus Tullius Cicero growled these famous words to the Roman senate in the first century BC to decry the deterioration of civilized society. “Oh the times!” he lamented. “Oh the standards!”

Today, over two thousand years later, the world is still going to hell in a handbasket.

The evidence is all around us. There are wars and insurgencies everywhere. Every day political corruption is exposed in one place or another, and disgraced politicians scuttle off to exile, prison, or death. Traditional marriage is breaking down. The divorce rate is soaring. And what’s the matter with kids today?

For more on the end of society as we know it, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Science, Philosophy, and History
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly

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