The Pursuit of Happiness

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They talked about their wives and families, their jobs and where they had been. And every afternoon when the man in the bed at the window could sit up, he would pass the time telling his roommate all the things he could see out of the window.

The man in the other bed would live for that hour when his world was broadened and enlivened with all the activity and color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water, whilst children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape with the city skyline in the background.

As the man described what he saw, the man in the other bed would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. The man grew envious of his roommate’s position at the window. He thought it unfair that he never got to be at the window and he became resentful. Late one night, as he was lying staring at the ceiling, the old man at the window began to cough. He turned his head and watched the old man struggle to breathe as the fluid filled his lungs. He knew he could press the button to call the nurse, but did nothing. After about five minutes the coughing subsided and the room was quiet. The next morning the nurse arrived to find the man’s lifeless body and took him away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if his bed could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to move him and as soon as he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, the man propped himself up on one elbow to look through the window. Finally he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to look out of the window at his bed. It faced a blank wall….

(Author unknown)

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Above is the story of two men reacting differently to the same circumstances they are trapped in. Despite the situation, the man at the window had made a conscious choice to see beauty instead of bricks and in so doing was able to find joy and share it with his roommate thereby lighting up his life. The roommate, however, was not content with what he heard. He was envious and resentful of the man’s joy which he attributed to the position at the window. He wanted it all, so he callously watched the man’s death without lifting a finger in order to obtain that position for himself. Finally, when he had what he had coveted, he was rudely awakened to the harrowing truth and ended up with nothing.

Someone once said, “The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice. It is a positive attitude we consciously choose to express. It is not a gift that gets delivered on our doorstep each morning, nor does it come through the window.”

Our circumstances do play a significant role as regards to what makes us joyful, but if we wait for them to become perfect, thinking that will bring true, lasting joy, we will be gravely disappointed in the end. We live in an imperfect world where there is much sadness, suffering, pain and poverty, and this situation is not getting better. However, when we know who Christ is, what He has done for us, and we choose to allow His Spirit to dwell in us, true joy flows from within giving us strength to face and overcome life’s many challenges, and at the same time touch the lives of those who come in contact with us.

Paul had discovered this joy and strength in Christ. That is why he could say, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:12)

May our knowledge and understanding of Christ and His love for us grow in the year that lies ahead as we allow Him to dwell in us and give us joy and strength to face and overcome whatever obstacle or challenge lies ahead.

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

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HALLOWEEN – A CHRISTIAN POINT OF VIEW

Many people believe that Halloween is just a fun time, especially for children. Halloween parties are held for small children, whilst the older ones roam the streets on the night of October 31, dressed up as witches, demons or ghosts, knocking on the doors of homes, and playing “trick or treat.” Adults, not wanting to spoil the children’s fun, play along and hand over candy or other nice things to eat. The people who do not play along could find themselves the victims of some or other mischief carried out on their possessions – for example broken eggs or some other messy substance discarded on their cars or homes. There are even adults who involve themselves in Halloween by attending Fancy Dress parties where they dress up in different demonic costumes. All this is said to be just innocent fun.

There is however, much more to Halloween than most people realize, and one needs to go right back to the origin and roots of this ceremony to understand more fully what it is all about.

Halloween has its origin in Babylon where the worship of the false god Baal was carried out. After the fall, where Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden, mankind turned away from worshiping God Almighty (the Creator) and instead began to worship creation. The Assyrians started a complex system of sun worship, and this spread throughout the world from Babylon. The Celts of France, Britain and Ireland developed their own system of worship and called their sun god Samhain. (Some research articles refer to Samhain as the lord of the dead). The priests were known as Druids and they sacrificed humans, usually first-born babies, to this god of theirs. These sacrifices occurred in places in the UK, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Generally priests are allowed to eat the sacrifice after offering it as a blood offering to their god. In the case of the Celts, where they offered humans, they actually ate human flesh afterwards. (The word “cannibal” comes from the priests of Baal or “Cahan-Bal” who ate human sacrifices).

When Britain was conquered by the Roman Empire in AD 52-3 Caesar issued a decree banning human sacrifice.

In the 5th century, in Celtic Ireland, their new year officially began on November 1 with the festival of Samhain. November 1 was the beginning of a long cold winter. Summer officially ended on October 31 and Druids believed that on this night the spirits of dead sinners were released by Samhain from their place of torment, and roamed the earth. It was believed that they returned to their own homes to be entertained by the living. To ward them off, food offerings were put outside the homes and frightening lanterns were made in pumpkins and turnips to scare them away. It was believed that if the evil spirits were not satisfied, they would cause havoc, and create terror as they haunted the living or put spells or curses on them. This was a demonstration of demonic activity carried out by Satan and his demons to which people, who were uninformed and ignorant of the devil and his evil ways, reacted – trying to solve the problem in the best way they knew how.

The Samhain celebration used nuts, apples, skeletons, witches and black cats. Divination, accompanied with signs about what would happen in the future was practiced as well as magic to seek answers for the future. Black cats were considered to be reincarnated beings with the ability to divine the future. Because of this involvement in divination and witchcraft during the festival, Satan and his demons were given the legal right (or permission), and opportunity to participate, and these supernatural demonic beings (masquerading as spirits of the dead) then terrified the people of the particular areas.

Thus nowadays, children who roam the streets playing trick or treat, represent the evil spirits demanding food from the homes they visit. Those who do not comply with the demands and do not give a “treat” receive a “trick” which is usually some sort of mischief or damage done to the property of the non-complying. This is representative of the curse or spells that were placed on the home by the evil spirits. Halloween is therefore a tribute to, or an act of respect and admiration of the devil and his demons, as the activities associated with Halloween condone, remember and imitate – be it in a small measure, but nevertheless – their demonic activities on this day.

Satanists consider October 31 to be one of the most important nights of the year. It is believed that on this night Satan and his witches have their greatest power. Attempts are made to remove the barrier between this world and the spiritual world of darkness. Blood is shed and sexual rituals are carried out. Sexual association with demons takes place. Animals and humans are sacrificed to Satan on this night.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory the third changed All Saints’ Day (a day when all the dead Roman Catholic saints were remembered, honored and prayed for) from May 13 to November 1, and in the year 834 Pope Gregory the fourth extended this celebration to the entire Roman church. This event was called Allhallowmass, and there was a celebration on the evening before on October 31, called All Hallow E’en, “all hallow” meaning all of the hallowed (or holy) ones. Halloween is derived from the words “hallow” and “e’en.”

The Samhain celebration, All Saints Day (All Hallows Day), Halloween and All Hallows Eve are events that have become interlinked. Catholicism originally used force and bribery to “Christianize” this joint event of remembering the dead. For example, sacrifice was allowed, but only the sacrifice of animals, and not of humans. Catholicism tried to replace the pagan rituals by substituting them with their Catholic practices and beliefs.

Furthermore, although it is not wrong to remember the dead, to pray for the dead is against Scripture.  In Hebrews 9:27 we read that it is appointed for all to die once and after that to face certain judgment. This means that man does not receive a second chance after death. Man’s destiny after death depends on his way of life and decisions made while he was alive.  Jesus said to the repentant man on the cross next to him, “Truly, I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43 The Amplified Bible) Jesus Christ died once for all. He is the perfect sacrifice; he paid the full price for all the sins of mankind and nothing more is required from man except true repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (John 3:16) To continue with other sacrifices or to pray for the dead would mean that Christ’s death was just not good enough or sufficient to save man from his sins. A born again Christian does not pray for the dead and has no place for the celebration of either All Hallows Day or Halloween.

During the middle Ages there was open practice of witchcraft – of which there is a revival nowadays in many countries. Certain cults held periodic meetings known as witches’ Sabbaths. One of the highest of the witches’ Sabbaths is the High Sabbath or the Black Sabbath of witches on October 31. Much of the Halloween folklore of today such as black cats, broomsticks, cauldrons and spells come from the Black Sabbath. It is said that in Germany the occult (the use of magic powers and things that cannot be explained by reason or science), is considered to be more common today than in the Middle Ages.

Halloween has spread to many different countries in the world where it is celebrated on October 31. Traditional Halloween symbols appeared in the U.S. during the late 1800’s. Witches, black cats, death’s heads cut from pumpkins, candles, masks, parties and pranks were used. The jack-o-lantern, also known as will-o-the-wisp, fox fire and corpse candle, among other things, was believed to be a wandering soul who could not find refuge in either heaven or hell because of a particularly evil deed committed in its lifetime. A corpse candle is said to be a small flame moving through the air in the dark and is believed by the superstitious to be an omen of the observer’s imminent death. According to ancient folklore from many places, a will-o-the wisp wanders about swamp areas, enticing victims to follow. These strange fires were also known as “foolish fire” because only a fool would follow them. Today’s pumpkin face is symbolic of that mocking, wandering spirit.

The uninformed Christian is usually not aware that there truly are demonic spirits that are contacted and activated as people dabble with the occult or associated activities.  They do not realize that by participating in this so called “harmless fun” they are giving Satan the permission (or legal right) and opportunity to exert a certain amount of control over them and even harm them. When Satan gains certain control over persons it means they have lost control in certain areas of their lives to Satan. Satan now uses that control to influence them to think and do bad things that they would never have allowed themselves to do before. Because they have lost control, they cannot stop themselves and so they are forced to submit to Satan’s evil demands. Satan can start using these persons as his instruments, and slowly and surely he will gain more and more control over them until they eventually become obedient slaves of his. Once caught in Satan’s grip, it is not easy to get free. Every act around Halloween is in honor of false gods, which are spirits (or demons) in the realm of the satanic.  Those who have been deeply involved in witchcraft and who are now free, (no longer under Satan’s control) state that even by worshiping spirits of nature, one opens the door to satanic influence. This is because demons often attach themselves to, or enter things that are being worshiped. Some research articles state that the Celts did not worship demons but that they believed in the presence of fairies. Scripture however, only refers to angels as other supernatural beings. These are divided into God’s angels and Satan’s angels (also known as demons). God does not make use of fairies. Satan and his demons however, use whatever and whoever is available. They are expert masqueraders – even as fairies. People need to beware!

Some may reply, “But we only do this in fun – we don’t practice witchcraft.” We need to remember that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Thus he will try to deceive people by camouflaging himself. In this situation it would be to hide behind “fun.” However, what seems to be harmless fun is in actual fact playing with fire, and one could get one’s fingers badly burnt. That which represents Satan and his domain can never ever be considered to be “fun.”  Such involvement places an individual in enemy and forbidden territory and that is very dangerous ground. The average person is ignorant and lost in this territory and unable to defend her/himself against the cunning tactics of the evil one. Before a person knows it, s/he is caught in Satan’s trap so as to be controlled by him.

Satan is also known to be a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). One of his most common tactics is to pretend that he does not exist. If he does not exist then surely this kind of celebration is just innocent “fun” – everyone is celebrating this event so it must be okay. It definitely is not okay and many can testify that Satan is a very real and deadly enemy. He hates and wants to destroy mankind, and will use whatever he can to entice people into his deadly web. Once caught, it is very difficult to get out of his trap and be free from his control.  Halloween is thus a very useful and powerful device in his hands.

To introduce this celebration to our children and encourage them to take part in it could cause them great harm, especially if Satan already has some control or influence over them. This control would usually be due to the child’s parents or grandparents having been involved in the occult, or in some sort of sinful activity that gave the devil power over them. This power or control, if not broken, could be carried down from generation to generation – thus affecting the children or grandchildren of the involved persons. Halloween would then serve as a tool to strengthen this influence to a greater degree and the child would be drawn deeper into Satan’s web of control without initially being aware of it. Later the adverse effects of this control would be experienced, and usually the trapped person, being ignorant of Satan and his ways, would not know how to get free and his life would be an absolute misery and torment.

Through the ages, Halloween has gone by various names but none give glory to the Living Almighty God. The child of God who seeks to walk in the light and freedom of Jesus Christ has absolutely no place for the celebration of Halloween with all its spiritual forces of darkness.

There are many other ways of having “clean fun” which are beneficial and safe to all who take part. If we want to celebrate – let’s celebrate the light, life and love of this world, not the darkness, death and destruction of the evil one.

We have a tremendous responsibility towards our children, and part of it is to ensure that they receive only what is beneficial and positive for their development. What is beneficial and positive about celebrating Satan’s day of murder and demonic rituals? What is beneficial about exposing oneself, one’s child or other children to satanic influence and even control? Is it beneficial to expose a child to the risk of a life of misery and torment? I think not! It is a risk we cannot and dare not take.

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

Lorna Kirstein, MDiv, ACoT(TESOL), MCollT.

© 2006, Soterion International, P O Box 1464, Somerset West, 7129. South Africa.

http://kirsteinonline.com

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Satanism – The Seduction of South Africa’s Youth, John and Helen Gardiner.
  2. Halloween what it is from a Christian Perspective, Mrs. Gloria Phillips.
  3. Understanding the Occult – Josh Mc Dowell & Don Stewart.
  4. All Roads lead to Babylon – study 185 by R. C. Nickels  (Review of Babylon Mystery Religion by Ralph Woodrow).
  5. Halloween’s Satanic roots exposed – A Christian perspective on Halloween, Colin Melbourne, English Missionary in Asia.
  6. A Historical Perspective on the Origins of Halloween, The Rocky Mountain Family Council.

 

BIO-OPTIC ORGANIZED KNOWLEDGE

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade-named BOOK.

BOOK is a revolutionary break-through in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It’s so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere—even sitting in an armchair by the fire—yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called binder, which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages.  Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.

BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

BOOK never crashes or needs rebooting—though, like other devices, it can become damaged if coffee is spilled on it and it becomes unusable if dropped too many times on a hard surface. The “browse” feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move backwards and forwards as you wish. Many come with an “index” feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli (PENCILS).

(Original source unknown)

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com


A Chinese man and a Jewish man were eating lunch in the same restaurant. Suddenly, without warning the Jew got up, walked over to the Chinese fellow and smashed him in the mouth, sending him sprawling. The Chinese man picked himself up, rubbed his jaw and asked, “What in the world did you do that for?” And the answer came back, “For Pearl Harbour!” His response was total astonishment, “Pearl Harbour? I didn’t have anything to do with Pearl Harbour. It was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbour.” The Jew responded, “Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese… they’re all the same to me.” With that they both sat down again, and before too long the Chinese man got up, walked over to the Jew and sent him flying with a hard smack to the jaw. The Jew yelled out, “What did you do that for?” And the answer came back, “The Titanic.” The Jew responded, “The Titanic? Why, I didn’t have anything to do with the Titanic!” Whereupon the Chinese man replied, “Goldberg, Feinberg, Iceberg… they’re all the same to me!”

Even though we can truly smile at the tenacious stupidity of prejudice portrayed in the above illustration, we have to admit that our own behaviour isn’t much different on many an occasion! Yes, the very same prejudice portrayed above finds its way into our very own lives in such a subtle way that we stand amazed when accused of such stupendous behaviour. And this happens in the sociological, political and economical spheres of life; in business, politics and church; in absolutely every area of our lives.

  • Have you ever suffered harm or hurt at the hands of a person from another race (white, black, pink or green), and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever done business with a Christian (or Muslim, or Jew, or Greek, or Indian, or German), had a raw deal, and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever been molested by a man (or woman, or adult), and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever had a bad experience in your dealings with your bank (or church, or doctor, or municipality, or lawyer, or supermarket, or police), and now you classify them all as…?
  • Have you ever … and now you classify them all as…?

The list is infinite. The common denominator is prejudice where the thinking is basically that all must pay for the sin of one. This is diametrically opposed to the message of the Gospel where One paid for the sin of all!

Prejudice is a luxury true leaders can’t afford. When policies, philosophies and practices are founded on prejudice, the vision is distorted, the mission is corrupted, the emission is hatred and the final conclusion is death.

Adolf Hitler orchestrated the rise of the Third Reich on racial purity and supremacy, amongst other reasons, which resulted in the extermination of “inferior” peoples like the Jews and the Gypsies. The basis of hatred, founded on prejudice, was well established. And the end result? Death of the vision… death of the mission… and death of the leadership…

In South Africa we have deep embedded prejudices. The government strives to “legislate equality, acceptance and tolerance.” However, prejudice is not a matter of the law, but a matter of the heart! The law is limited in function by only being able to punish offenders. But a change of heart, a change of thinking, a change of how we see other people, results in a permanent change of the attitudes of people, which will render the law irrelevant and immaterial. When we listen to the political rhetoric of certain of today’s firebrands, it’s quite clear that prejudice is alive and well in our society, and that a change of heart is desperately needed.

Leaders need beware of prejudice. Those who engage in it are merely emulating the behaviour of the Chinese and Jewish gentlemen in the illustration. Not only does prejudice prove personal stupidity, but also out of it is born diseases like racism, sexism, superiority, pride, and the like—which in turn lead to hatred, violence and those terrible diseases of the soul. And how the devil enjoys division! He actually specialises in this field. When a person falls prey to prejudice he’s a very effective tool in the hands of the devil in causing division. And this is regardless of the standing or position of the person concerned.

The process to eradicate prejudice starts with the leaders. There are normally more followers than leaders, and the followers emulate the example of their leaders. Leaders who advocate tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness, radiate a Godly love that changes people. However, leaders must have a first hand experience of receiving that Godly love, tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness prior giving it away—for one simply cannot give what one does not have.

As leaders it is imperative to determine whether there is any prejudice alive in our beings, and to remedy the situation in our own lives without delay—through the grace and love of God.

Where we all desire a better South Africa as far as business, government and Christianity is concerned, let each leader take up the challenge and act—having said, “It starts right here! It starts with me!”

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

The Man who Stilled the Water

Only when you’ve lost everything, and there seems to be no hope, do you fully understand what it means to put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water. Only then do you truly experience the saving grace and salvation of the Man who calmed the sea. You come to understand that the salvation He offers is not only spiritual, and for the world to come, but also for all insurmountable situations and practical problems suffered on this earth.

Sometimes we kick and fight a door that will not open until we come to the end of ourselves, and give up in hopeless dejection. Only then do we turn to our Saviour for help, and only then do we realize that this Man from Galilee has the power to open doors that were impossible for us or any other man to open.

Many times the door that God opens for us is not the one we would have chosen, and for us to pass through it means we have to give up our precious comfort zones that give us safety and security. The situation can be aptly compared to that of a mother eagle kicking her unwilling chicks out of the warm nest in order to teach them to fly. Once out of that comfortable nest they were initially so reluctant to leave, they discover the greater wonder awaiting them outside. Likewise, most human beings find change disturbing and often vehemently resist it, so there come times when God has to deal with us in a way similar to that of the mother eagle with her offspring. Once we have been set free from the limitations of our comfort zones and securities, we discover and experience God in an amazing new dimension, our faith is stretched and we are able to trust Him more than ever before.

If the eaglets had remained in their nest they would have experienced warmth and safety but they would never have learnt to fly. They would never have discovered the world outside, or the potential inside of themselves enabling them to be part of it. The same applies to us. When we remain in our comfort zones we feel safe and secure. However, we will only discover the greatness of God and our potential in Him if we of our own accord break free from our confining boundaries, or if we allow Him to set us free from the limitations of our false securities. Peter had to get out of the boat, and walk to Jesus in order to experience the miracle of walking on the water. If he had remained in the safety of the boat he would never have known it was possible to accomplish such an astonishing feat.

All things are possible for those who believe and put their trust in this Son of God who is the great I Am. He will never turn away from, or ignore those who cry out to Him in anguish and fear when their fruitless efforts fail, and all their securities crumble. What a great and awesome God we serve who loves us with such deep and eternal love. He is, and must be, our only security because He alone is faithful and worthy of our trust. Throughout history He has proved Himself to be the omnipotent Rock of ages and He hasn’t changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and He will see us through our darkest hours and bring us into His glorious light.

All He desires is our total dependence and trust in Him, however, there are times when these attributes are severely put to the test—for instance when our salvation is not immediate and we find we have to wait for it. That waiting period is undoubtedly a perceptive test of our endurance and trust in Him. The secret is that if we are able to depend totally on Him in a formidable situation, He gives us the strength to wait until the end—and be saved by His mighty hand. Irrespective of how daunting, grim or impossible a situation may seem He will certainly give us ultimate victory. We need never hesitate, doubt or fear to put our hand in that strong, faithful hand of His.

The lyrics of an old song “Put your hand in the Hand” that was sung by Elvis Presley and many others in the 1970s come to mind and still ring true:

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who stilled the water…

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who calmed the sea…

Take a look at yourself,

And you can look at others differently,

By puttin’ your hand in the hand of the man

From the Galilee!

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com

The original lyrics and music of “Put your hand in the Hand” were written by the Canadian songwriter Gene Maclellan.

QUESTION AND THINK
We live in an “instant” world and in a “spoon-fed” society. Sadly, I’ve found that most people are too lazy to think for themselves. They rely on what they’re fed, and swallow anything and everything that’s dished up—bait, hook, line and sinker. And if it’s dressed up and well presented, it goes down even better. The coming of the Internet has facilitated research and the flow of information. However, too many Internet users accept, believe and propagate what they read without doing any verification homework.

True leaders simply aren’t like that—they question and they think! Questions such as who, what, where, when, why, how, etc. need constantly be asked to prevent indoctrination and misinformation.

Ontology is that branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of being. Thus the ontological question endeavors to provide an answer to the question, “What is it?” Epistemology is that branch of philosophy that deals with the validity, methods and scope of knowledge. Thus the epistemological question endeavors to provide an answer to the question, “How do we know that.”

Leaders needn’t be philosophers, but leaders need to ask questions and think for themselves. Too often we coin the phrase, “knowledge is power,” yet we fail in our responsibility to obtain verified knowledge. We’re content in our comfort zone of untested information.

In failing to ask the question, “How do you know that?” we become prone to the reasoning of other people. Their arguments, statements or agendas dominate the table, and we inevitably end up by discussing and debating the opinions of others. By asking the simple question, “How do you know that?” the entire emphasis is shifted from discussing a statement that everyone is supposed to accept as factual, to proving that statement as factual in the first instance, prior discussing it.

Let’s look at a very practical example. A person says that the remains of dinosaurs that lived 150 million years ago were discovered. Now the ensuing debate normally is about whether there were dinosaurs or not, whether evolution or creationism is the correct interpretation of origin, and the like. However, by simply asking the question, “How do you know that dinosaurs lived 150 million years ago?” the entire emphasis is shifted on the one making the statement, to prove his statement. And the irony of this exercise is that he can’t, because there are too many suppositions in the equation to make any reasonable sense at the end of the day.

Mankind has firstly been conditioned to accept the words of those in “authority” for they “know” what they are talking about. But do they? Unless we challenge their statements we’ll never really know what’s right and what’s not. Furthermore, mankind has been conditioned not to question for it’s an unacceptable practice, very rude and extremely disrespectful. Thus we’re conditioned not to think for ourselves—and to be followers where others lead.

Academic schools of thought present a certain sense of credibility which results in the fact that Joe Soap hardly ever questions their allegations and findings. This gives them power over the people. When a school of thought can control what people believe and think, they have power over those people, and they have “willing” and “controlled” followers!

Of this there are many practical examples throughout history. In South Africa the political concept of “apartheid” was dished up to the masses, who, without questioning and thinking for themselves, swallowed it for many a year. Not only do we have this in politics, but also in religion, where but a few “anointed” have the “insight” and “revelation” to interpret “the way.”

Sadly, this is also evident in Christianity! And this happens despite the fact the Bereans were commended for daily verifying the Scriptures to see whether Paul had been teaching the truth. I’ve a very simply question to the person in the pew, “Do you check what you’re being taught?” I also have a question for the person in the pulpit, “Do you ask your hearers to check if what you teach is true?”

Scientists are another group of people prone to this kind of thing. The theory of evolution has become a fact—without anyone proving a thing. Medical science has ridiculed the spiritual as “unscientific” to such an extent that believers have more faith in their doctors and their pills than in their Creator and Healer. A very small group of academics who prescribe to the humanistic world view have virtually taken over the world with their value system.

Evidently, if you make enough noise, if you sound credible enough, if you use the right platforms, you aren’t questioned sufficiently and your hollow philosophy turns into a masterpiece!

Tradition is another very powerful tool in the hands of manipulators. We are told to do things or believe things in certain ways because “it has always been done that way.” This is found in the political, spiritual, sociological and economic spheres of life. And because we simply don’t dare question our forefathers and think for ourselves, tradition, instead of reason and truth, rules our lives and dictates our belief systems. Thus today we still have societies in certain parts of the world that are governed by traditions dating back thousands of years—ignoring progress and innovation for the sake of tradition.

Why is it true that when a fable is repeated often enough it becomes accepted as a fact? Because no one questions the fable sufficiently! Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? These questions separate the leaders from the followers. These questions separate the thinkers from the undiscerning.

Ignorance and blind acceptance of what you’re told and taught give others power over you. Knowledge, truth and understanding enable and empower you—it makes a leader out of you. No wonder then that Jesus Himself said that knowledge of the truth sets free! In politics, in business and in the church, start asking questions. “What is it?” “How do you know that?” “Why should I do that?” These questions serve as a dividing line between fact and fable, between substance and nonsense, between reality and fantasy. It’s one of the marks of separation between a leader and a follower.

The Biblical reference that “rebellion is as witchcraft” is often misinterpreted and very effectively abused by classifying questioning as rebellion, and thus suppressing the development of independent thinking. The full context of the Scripture refers to obedience to the voice of the Lord and rebelling against the word of the Lord. It has nothing to do with questioning the rules and laws of man, with questioning the reasoning and revelations of the learned, or with questioning the authority of man over man.

Just for a moment picture a scene so often seen on TV: There’s a speaker—a religious preacher, a political orator, a public speaker, a popular entertainer… And there’s an audience—fascinated, captivated, entranced, emotional, and lapping up every word… Have you ever wondered about what you’re witnessing? Have you ever marvelled at the seeming adoration of the hearers? Have you ever been a part of such an audience? Have you ever questioned the speaker? “How do you know that?” “What is it?” Questions such as who, what, where, when, why, how, etc.

True leadership consists of integrity and accountability. If truth and knowledge of the truth is not part of the equation, both integrity and accountability become no more than mere empty words.

How then can a leader obtain knowledge, and in that, knowledge of the truth? Ask! Ask questions! Think! Think clearly about the answers, evaluate them carefully and discerningly—and then ask even more questions! And most importantly, leaders question everything! Often we’re apt to only question the things that don’t suit us, but we blindly follow the things that suit us or sort of make sense to us.

My challenge to you, dear reader, is simply this: QUESTION and THINK. It is true knowledge that empowers, and truth that sets free—not the indoctrination, manipulation or control of others.

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.
All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Emil Kirstein

(Author of Quest for Freedom)

http://kirsteinonline.com

Do you ever think about Heaven?

The other night I lay in bed thinking about heaven. When my husband Emil came to sleep a little later I was still awake so I asked him, “Do you ever think about heaven?” He answered that he had never really thought about the details. He just believes that he is going to heaven some day and he’s happy about it.

I had also thought that way until a few years ago when I developed kidney problems in South Korea, and had to have a few operations. I had always been an extremely healthy person so when I discovered a lump in my right side, my first shocked impression was that I had cancer and was going to die.

Today I am fine again. I don’t have cancer—never did. It was just a kidney complication that was soon sorted out. However, that incident certainly got my attention and since then I have seriously started to think about death. I had always thought I was prepared for death, but when I experienced my kidney problems, I was unpleasantly surprised to realize that I was actually far from ready.

I needed time to get myself and my thoughts sorted out. I began to think about the reality of my death and what it would entail for me in a practical sense. My body had to be cremated, there would be a funeral. My dear loved ones would be left behind and we would never see one another again on this earth. All this brought a great deal of sadness and anxiety into my heart as I saw all these incidents taking place in my mind’s eye.

It took me quite a long time to work through all those things, and get to the point where I think I am ready to die today if it is God’s time for me. And so, I began to think about the next step—heaven. I asked myself what it would be like going to heaven. Some of my questions were would I go alone, and when I got there would God be there to meet me? Would I recognize some of the people there or would I find myself amongst a lot of strangers?

The other night as I lay thinking about heaven I thought about God’s love. In actual fact, God IS love. I thought about the time that I was conceived and kept safe and protected in my mother’s womb. When she gave birth to me I came into this world alone, but caring hands immediately placed me into my mother’s welcoming arms. I was raised by a loving mother and father until I was old enough to take care of myself. My mother died when I was fourteen but my father was always there for me until he died a few years ago. God has unfailingly taken care of me either through my parents, husband, family members, friends, or in other wonderful ways. Why would it be different in heaven? He does not change like shifting shadows—His love endures forever.

Most people don’t speak about heaven. Its reality is considered to be a rather awkward, uncomfortable subject. Songs are sung where heaven is portrayed as perfection. An old song, Cheek to Cheek, made famous by singers like Frank Sinatra and others comes to mind. Some of the lyrics are:

Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek,
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.

Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And the cares that hung around me through the week,
Seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak,
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.

And so forth…

Irving Berlin, author of the lyrics, describes a moment’s happiness as heaven. He paints a loving, carefree relationship as heaven.

My husband and I love each other very much—but our love is imperfect. I love my children very much—but my love is imperfect. God is love—and His love is perfect! There is nothing here on earth that can fully describe the perfection of heaven.

There are certain scriptures in the Bible that clearly refer to heaven or the life hereafter. One of them is where Jesus said to the penitent thief on the cross next to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” So the journey from this world to heaven can’t be very long—or not longer than one day. Jesus also said, “In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go there to prepare a place for you.” Jesus is preparing places for us to live in heaven.

There is no place for Satan in heaven. Therefore there will be no sin, no evil, no sickness, no poverty, hunger or suffering, no selfish ambition or bitter envy, as all these things come from him. In heaven we will permanently be in the presence of perfect love because God is perfect. We will not be alone, lonely or fearful as perfect love drives out all fear. In His love we will be made perfect—we will know all things and so we will know everyone in heaven as we live in His perfection. There is so much more…

Heaven is a real, amazing and wonderful place. The way there is simple. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Our lives go by so quickly and death is often thought to be far in the future. However, none of us know the time of our departure from this world and we could be caught unawares. We need to be sure we are ready for the journey. The nice thing about it is that we don’t have to pack any bags. Think about it will you.

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PS This article is by no means intended to be a theological exposition of life hereafter.

“Cheek to Cheek” music and words by Irving Berlin.

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

All that I ask is that you include the copyright and URL of my website.

© Lorna Kirstein

http://kirsteinonline.com