Thinking Out Loud http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud A Place to Share Thoughts en-us Fri, 29 May 2020 04:48:30 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Faith http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/faith Chapter eleven of The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews teaches that faith is how we understand and believe what we cannot see. Faith is how we understand that God spoke the world into existence. Faith is what gives us the strength and resolve to understand and ]]>

Chapter eleven of The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews teaches that faith is how we understand and believe what we cannot see. Faith is how we understand that God spoke the world into existence. Faith is what gives us the strength and resolve to understand and follow God's will. Abel had faith to offer his best to God. Abel's first instinct would be to keep the entire harvest for himself, but it was reasonable to return a portion to God, who made the harvest possible. Faith enabled Noah to have the courage and strength to build the ark. There was no precedent for a flood, but in light of the revelations from God, it was reasonable for Noah to prepare by building the ark. Abraham ventured into unknown territory due to his faith. People tend to remain in the familiar, but it was reasonable for Abraham to seek the inheritance promised to him by God. Faith enabled Sarah to conceive a child in old age. A woman of Sarah's age would not expect to conceive a child, but Sarah had experience of God doing what He said he would do. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac due to faith. Isaac was the child through which Abraham's lineage would be established, but Abraham knew that God could do all things, so it was reasonable to follow God's instructions. Faith enabled Moses to turn from the wealth and comfort of nobility to help his own people. He considered the rewards of following God to be of greater value, so it was reasonable to turn away from wealth and comfort to follow God. Throughout time, people have been strengthened and guided by faith, even in the face of violent persecution. Faith enables people to understand what is not immediately apparent and to see what is truly the best course to take.

The photograph is a sunrise over Indiana on 16 September 2017.

What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comment section. If you would like to think out loud on any other topics, click “Community” at the top of this page and start typing.

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Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:51:05 +0000 http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/faith
Many Paths http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/many-paths I have been wondering lately if God uses several paths towards the same destination. There are several different religions, and way too many different denominations within Christianity. Many, maybe most, people believe that their religion or denomination is the only one that leads to God or their final goal. When I look at different religions, I see almost complete agreement in the basic teachings about human behavior. A faithful follower of one religion is not very different from a faithful follower of any other religion.

Did the Creator blaze several paths for us to follow? If we all find the path that feels right to us individually, and stay on that path, will we all reach the same place?

What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comment section. If you would like to think out loud on any other topics, click “Community” at the top of this page and start typing.

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Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:10:14 +0000 http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/many-paths
Language Learning http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/language-learning ]]> I received this book (Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World) today, and I am excited to start reading it. Benny Lewis has been an inspiration to me as I learn Esperanto.

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Fri, 14 Mar 2014 15:46:23 +0000 http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/language-learning
Doing Good and Being Good http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/doing-good-and-being-good One of the books I am currently reading is Walden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry Thoreau. I have read the first few chapters several times since I was a teenager. Walden was my inspiration to study philosophy, in which I have a bachelor degree. When I left Air Force Basic Training and went to Lowry Air Force Base for technical training, my mother mailed me a box of essential items, which I had prepared before I left home months before. She added Walden to the box. When I called her on the telephone and thanked her for adding that book to the box, she replied, “I thought you might need it.” That showed me that my mother knew me very well, and it made the book even more important to me.

I just read Mr. Thoreau's thoughts on philanthropy. He said that he was not very good at it. He realized that there were those that truly were good at philanthropy, and he was glad that they had that as their calling in life. I got the feeling that he viewed most people that professed the benefits of engaging in philanthropy to be nothing more than busybodies. In response to people that say we should set out with the intent to do good, Mr. Thoreau said that we should set out with the intent to be good. That got me thinking.

It is easy to do good. It is easy to know you have done good. It is easy to show others that you have done good. It is easy for others to know that you have done good. If you are seeking the praise of others, doing good is an easy way to reach your goal. When you receive that praise, you have your reward (The Gospel According to St. Matthew 6:1-4).

The author of The General Epistle of James taught that faith without works is dead (The General Epistle of James 2:20). I assume that he meant good works; therefore, we must do good. Jesus taught that we should do our good works without fanfare or self-promotion. We must do good, but we should do so without seeking the praise of men.

I think many people confuse doing good with being good. Doing good and being good are far from the same quality. It is quite easy to do good without being good. A murderer, while traveling to the home of the intended victim, may stop to save the life of a child. The murder has done good, but is not good (if I may be so bold as to pass judgment on a murderer). I think it is impossible to be good and not intend to do good. The intent to do good would be in the very nature of a person that is good.

It is not easy to be good. It is not easy to know if you are good, and the very quality of being good would probably include such humility that you would never feel that you were good. There is no way to show others that you are good, and the humility associated with being good would prevent the attempt to demonstrate your goodness. There is no way for others to know that you are good, as goodness is a purely internal quality. The reward for being good will come from a loving Father in heaven that knows all and sees all.

It is important to do good, but it is better to be good. If we are good, we will strive to do good. We will never know, in this life, if we are good; therefore, it must be a goal towards which we constantly strive. When we stand before the Judge Supreme on that day of final reckoning, He will tell us if we achieved the goal, and His judgment will be perfect and our reward will be just.

What are your thoughts on doing good and being good? Please share them in the comment section. If you would like to think out loud on any other topics, click “Community” at the top of this page and start typing.

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Mon, 24 Feb 2014 05:30:44 +0000 http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/doing-good-and-being-good
Thinking Out Loud http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/thinking-out-loud I think about religion a lot. Usually my thoughts take the form of debates with specific people about their religious thoughts and attitudes. Those debates take place only in my mind. I am one of the most liberal members of my congregation, so there is a lot to debate. It would not be productive to have those debates for real. Neither of us would be spiritually uplifted, and neither of us would convert the other. I have been thinking lately that a weblog might be a good place for me to share my thoughts in a non-confrontational way. If you disagree with me, you can comment or walk away – the choice is yours.

I am a Christian. I try to follow the teachings of Jesus, as I understand them. When I hear other people talk about His teachings, I sometimes think we are following two different people. I follow a man who preached love. Jesus told the rich to give up their wealth; He did not preach the Gospel of Prosperity. Jesus told his followers to practice nonresistance; He did not preach the conquest of His enemies. Jesus told his followers to love their neighbors; He did not preach hatred for those that were different. Jesus made it clear that it is not our place to judge others. We are to love like He loved.

I am not perfect, and I think that is okay. I strive to do what is right, and I consistently fail. That just means that I am human, not divine. I believe that we will be judged based on our desires and efforts, not our accomplishments. I also believe that we will be judged as individuals. I will be judged based on my situation, which may be very different from my neighbor's situation. Maybe that is why we are not to judge each other; we do not truly know each other's situations.

My views of sin differ greatly from those of the conservative majority with whom I worship, particularly in the areas of sex and violence. I would rather my daughters see two men kiss than two men kill each other. I disagree with those that will play violent video games but are greatly offended that a movie contains a scene with a topless woman. I am not advocating promiscuity, though many of my fellow worshippers would disagree. I think that sexual activity is a sacred event and should be treated as such. I do not think that fornication is worse than violence, though I am often reminded on Sunday mornings that sexual immorality is second only to murder. Those who say that are wrong. I know that is a bold statement.

The prevalence of violence in my society bothers me a great deal. Even in my congregation, violence is treated lightly, even glorified. There is an elderly woman that carries a gun on Sunday mornings. Those that know about it think it is funny. There is currently a debate in my county about zoning ordinances. One of the congregational leaders was lamenting that it was a crime to kill those that favored the ordinances. He said that his only consolation was that he knew they would burn during the Second Coming.

These are some of the topics I think about. I would like this to be a place to discuss these topics. I hope that you will comment and question. I am not preaching, I am thinking out loud. My thoughts may change based on your comments and our discussion. I have never done anything like this, so I will be learning as we go along.

Feel free to click "Community" at the top of this page and think out loud about other topics.

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Mon, 17 Feb 2014 04:57:22 +0000 http://sett.com/thinkingoutloud/thinking-out-loud