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The principal button

1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:1-5)

The act of repenting is metaphorically speaking the "principal button". Romans 2:1-5 speaks of people who judge other people, and they who judge do the same wrong things. Example: one who steals that judges other people who steal. However, this passage makes it clear that he who does not follow God, has no power to judge any person, even if he does not do the same wrong things for which he judges others, since he is a guilty person who does not follow God, and will be judged by God if he continues not to repent until the end. He knows that he is wrong when he judges others. Note that the verse does not want to tell us that no one can judge under any circumstances.
Now we understand the key to solving some situations that constantly occur in life. It is known that those who live in the way that leads to destruction, judge and exclude each other. Being people rebelling to God, they did not press the principal button. The principal button has priority over any choice. The act of judging and excluding each other does not produce anything; it might seem like something changes, but it actually solves problems and creates others. This happens because those people have pressed the secondary buttons that should only be pressed after the main button is pressed, otherwise everything is nonsensical. The secondary buttons can pressed by those that follow God and who exclude from the community someone who has done something wrong. After he has repented for that mistake, the community should readmit him (2 Corinthians 2:5-8); if he does not repent, then that person is like those who don't follow God (Matthew 18:15-17). If the act of excluding is done among those who live in the way that leads to destruction, because a particular person has done something wrong, they continue to do wrong, since they continue to not press the principal button, continuing to frequent people who are always in the way that leads to destruction, in order to take pleasure in unrighteousness, that may be worse than that person who made that particular mistake. That person must always be forgiven (Matthew 18:21-22). When one repents, that is, presses the principal button, he should make the choice of not attending for the purpose of taking pleasure in unrighteousness neither the person who hurt him, nor those who did no wrong but who are always in the way that leads to destruction. He can attend them for valid reasons, for example, to bring them to the faith. Note that Jesus attended sinners (Matthew 9:10-11), but certainly did not frequent them to take pleasure in unrighteousness.
Let's admit that the wrongdoer repents, that is presses the principal button. For the one who has been wronged, who is also repented, the person who has done the wrong must obviously have priority in terms of importance, compared to all other people who do not follow God. Assuming that he who did the wrong pressed the principal button, and the one who did the wrong did not press it, makes it clear how incredibly foolish is if he sides with people like him who do not follow God. If he sided with the person who pressed the principal button instead, it would make it clear that he might have been born the principle of repentance in him, or better yet, it might make think that he has already pressed the main button through this right act.

How to share the gospel with atheists

Last week I sat next to James on a flight from St. Louis to Denver. As we talked the subject turned to spirituality and religion. I confessed that I was a preacher and he confessed he was an atheist. What unfolded on the rest of the flight was a deep, thought-provocative, laughter-laced gospel conversation.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of engaging many atheists like James in various settings. I’ve discovered five helpful tips when sharing the gospel with someone who says to not believe in God.

1. Don’t be shocked and do ask tons of questions:

Some atheists like to shock believers with the fact that they don’t believe in God. This brand of atheist pulls the pin on the “there is no God” grenade and drops it in the middle of the conversation, expecting believers to run for cover.
Don’t be phased. As a matter of fact start asking questions about their atheism. Find out what they mean by atheism (some are agnostics but call themselves atheists). Ask questions about their background.
And remember that, as you ask questions, your goal is not to trap them but to understand them. Find out areas where you agree. Just like Paul found common ground with the athenians when he discovered an altar “to the unknown God” we can find common ground in a mutual rejection of legalistic religion and a passion for science
Although James spoke somewhat negatively of religion he spoke well of Jesus. While he didn’t view Jesus as the Son of God he did perceive him as an enlightened soul. At the minimum that was something I could build on in making my own case for Christ.

2. Listen deeply for the real “why”:

Often atheists have a reason (other than “reason“) for becoming atheists. Listen for it. Sometimes it’s anger over losing a loved one or because they were hurt by the church in some way. Sometimes there other reasons, like the fact that they are afraid of the truth, because if they embraced the truth, they would be submitted to God, and would not be free as they were before; so they prefer to embrace a lie which makes them freer. Whatever the reason, there’s always a “why” behind the lie they are embracing.
James shared with me about his upbringing in England and his regular attendance at The Church of England. He told me about how his wife had left him and how he could only see his kids every other weekend. James shared how he reads at least a book a week and how he loses himself in novels.
As he shared I couldn’t quite nail why he was an atheist but I could sense that he was a lonely man. My heart went out to him and I think he could sense my sympathy.

3. Connect relationally:

James and I joked together as we sparred each other. I listened to him and he listened to me. Bottom line is that I like James. He is an interesting guy with an interesting story.
We should heed Paul’s reminder to Timothy about how to deal with those who disagree with us theologically,
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

4. They do believe in God:

There are no people who totally rejects the existence of God. Sure, there are many who say that God’s existence is lie but they really do believe there’s a God.
Why? Because Scripture makes it clear in that there are no real atheists:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:18-22)
They may try to suppress their belief in God but, sooner or later in the discussion, atheists say something like, “well if God is so good then why does he allow…” This is the point in the conversation where they have “forgotten” their atheism and revealed some of their challenges with, not the reality of God, but the nature of God.
When you assume that an atheist does really believe in the existence of God it gives you the freedom not to have to prove God’s existence but to share God’s story. You can be sure that, the gospel is churning in the soul of the atheist.

5. Frame the gospel as a love story (that just happens to be true):

When I shared the gospel with James I wasn’t trying to prove God’s existence, I was simply sharing the story of God’s love. I said something like, “James, at the core of Christianity is a love story. Jesus put it this way, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but has everlasting life." (John 3:16)
I could tell that James was intrigued by this view. He listened respectfully and asked thoughtful questions.
Yes, I dipped into some apologetics at this point (C.S. Lewis’ Lord, lunatic or liar argument, teleological argument, etc.) but only after I had framed the gospel as a love story. In the words of my friend Bill Jack, too many times too many believers use apologetics as a sledge hammer instead of a crowbar to pry open closed minds. As a result the conversation turns argumentative instead of respectful.
James and I had a respectful conversation where I heard him and he heard the good news of Jesus. My job is not to lead him to Jesus but to “set forth the truth plainly” and let the Spirit of God continues his work.
James didn’t say the sinner’s prayer when the plane pulled up to the gate after landing. But I believe that somewhere between Denver and St. Louis the Spirit of God nudged him closer to Jesus. It is my prayer that he will cross the line of faith and receive Jesus as his Savior.

10 guidelines for christian living

1. Read your Bible daily. Do not be content to skim through a chapter merely to satisfy your conscience. Hide the Word of God in your heart. It comforts, guides, corrects, encourages – all we need is there.
2. Learn the secret of prayer. Prayer is communicating. Every prayer that you pray will be answered. Sometimes that answer may be “yes” and sometimes “no,” and sometimes it is “wait,” but nevertheless it will be answered.
3. Rely constantly on the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26), and what a comfort that should be to the weakest of us. Stand aside and let Him take over all the choices and decisions of your life.
4. Attend other christians regularly. Christians need one another.
5. Be a witnessing Christian. We witness in two ways: by life and by word – and the two, where possible, should go hand in hand.
6. Let love be the ruling principle of your life. Jesus said to those who followed Him, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). The greatest demonstration of the fact that we are Christians is that we love one another.
7. Be an obedient Christian. Let Christ have first place in all the choices of your life.
8. Learn how to meet temptation. Temptation in itself is not sin. Taking negative pleasure in thoughts is sin. Let Christ through the Holy Spirit do the fighting for you.
9. Be a wholesome Christian. Our lives and appearance should commend the Gospel and make it attractive to others.
10. Live above your circumstances. Don’t let your circumstances get you down. Learn to live graciously within them, realizing the Lord is with you.

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The Gorgeous Tanzanite Gemstone

#Tanzanite is a gorgeous gemstone of striking brilliance and breathtaking blue purple or purple blue color. At first, the stone was called Blue Zoisite but it was thought in the jewelry trade that the name sounded like blue suicide and would not sell well. Hence, as a part of the marketing campaign, the gemstone was renamed by Tiffany after the country of its origin, Tanzania.

It was the Masaai tribesmen of Tanzania who stumbled upon the shining blue crystals in the foothills of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in 1967. It is fabled that the brown crystals lying on the parched earth were caught in a fire lighted by lightning that struck the grass-covered hills. As Tanzanites are brownish in color in raw state, the crystals lying on the surface were never seen. After the grassfire had heated the stones, they turned a bright, sparkling violet-blue. The Masai herders grazing cattle in the area spotted the beautiful blue color, becoming the first collectors of this gemstone. Initially mistaken for Sapphire it was later correctly recognized as belonging to the family of mineral Ziosite.

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