Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Take on C.S. Lewis and "The Screwtape Letters"


 

 



If the great author C.S. Lewis were alive today, I wonder what he might add to his famous “The Screwtape Letters?”  As an avid fan of his work I would like to make a feeble attempt on what he might write about the fictional “Wormwood” and “Uncle Screwtape.”  Their dialogues in “Screwtape” were fascinating and entertaining.   I would like to present the following examples of a fictional 21st dialogue between the evil pair that might appear in an epilogue for The Screwtape Letters.  It might go something like this…

“My dear Wormwood, I want to congratulate you on keeping the family unit divided, disorganized and poor.  Good job on holding the family down in such abject poverty!  Without money, the squalid families will have no desire in life except to “survive” and then waste what little money they have left on fast food, cigarettes, lottery tickets etc.  They will have no time for education and dreams.”

“Congratulations on bringing the morals of the country and family down.  The low moral climate, aided by the media and key educational systems--have helped to keep everyone indifferent to the degradation and increasing immorality of their cities and nation.  Because many are indifferent to the morals of their leaders—state, local and federal-- they care little about their families or themselves. I’ve noticed that the lowly human is increasingly feeling superior to those who are in charge--especially when the elite—government officials, movie stars and such—are succumbing to lawsuits and other juicy sidelines of life. Why look at the politicians! It seems that most of them will do anything—promise anything—to keep their political lives alive and working!  They care nothing about their fellow man or woman! But that is good news!  Much good can come from their indifference and greed!

I want to commend you also, Wormwood, on keeping the lowly human in a busy state of  activity.  By keeping him or her busy in various activities, they have little time to think; and therefore will neglect family and friends.  By the time he or she reaches the end of their life, it will be too late to do the really good and decent things. And, that’s exactly what makes our line of work, wonderful and so fulfilling!

Wormwood, my dearest nephew, even though you’ve done splendid work in so many areas, you must do more about “rudeness.”  Yes, I know that rudeness has reached an all time high but your efforts are not consistent or persistent, enough.  The rudeness must be of a quality where it brings despair and a touch of anarchy for it to be effective and pleasing.  Rudeness must be more “personal” in nature.  Bring back the “glare” in a person’s eyes when he or she feels offended.  Let the rudeness come from someone they know and love, preferably a family member. Oh, that is so delightful when that happens!

Mediocrity, my dear Wormwood is doing much for our side but it must be in all areas of life not just the “customer service” areas.  Mediocrity must be especially prevalent among family and friends.  Let the lowly human only do what is necessary to sustain a friendship or family situation.  Indifference, that wonderful companion of ours, has helped exceedingly in destroying the family and friendship!  Keep it going, good buddy.

I also want to commend you, my dear nephew, on the wonderful job you are doing with our best ally.  I’m speaking of course about selfishness!  Here is where we shine, my lowly Wormwood!  Selfishness is at an all-time high, especially with the young and the very old.  The young and the old are thinking of only themselves these days and is helping to discourage and alienate families and friends. Keep this going by telling the lowly human that it’s only right and fair that they focus on themselves first—and everyone else—last. After all, these days it’s survival of the fittest and the little human does want to survive at all costs, doesn’t he? Yes, selfishness, my lowly fiend, must stay high on our list of obstructions!

Now, to a different but more disturbing topic….What has happened my dear Wormwood with the “return of front porches?”  You know that this will only help the other side!  Porches are bringing back the neighborhood and neighbors are sharing and caring again. We cannot have this!  However, we can use the porches by whispering into the lowly human’s ear that it would be fun and not harmful to once in awhile—on their own porch—poke fun at their neighbors.  This will cause separation and hostility, “cousins” toward those wonderful feelings of loneliness and separation.  Keep your eyes on this potential “fireworks” situation…Could prove very beneficial and I might add, extremely entertaining!

Wormwood, again I must commend you on the affluence you are having with TV Sitcoms.  Most of them make adults, children and the elderly look totally moronic, stupid and selfish.  The old saying “monkey see, monkey do” is causing great harm, division and such a plus factor for our side!  Keep it up but be careful; some of the sitcoms are actually becoming “decent” and “interesting.”  We must not allow this!  I’ll be monitoring you on this, rest assured!
(More on Screwtape, next month)
Copyright Toni Star 2014

 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What I Learned Today...

Today, May the 25th, I have learned several things that I should have learned years ago but I'm glad these incidents happened today.

Early in  the morning, after church, my husband met with a lady in our complex. She has had some serious health concerns and may continue to have more concerns, but she is feeling better. Most of us, when we feel bad, go on a bit too long or maybe worry more than we should but this lady, even though she has been quite ill, said little about her illness but a great deal of how good God has been good to her and her family.

This lady is always trying to do good things for others and often has positive and Christian sayings that she likes to share with those who are interested. What I learned today was, no matter what you're facing, how bad the outcome looks or how disinterested others may act toward you; you are never alone and you are precious and loved by God and Jesus. How do I know this? I know this from my own life, my husband's life and how God and His Son has brought us through difficult, negative and destructive times. And, now this morning, talking with this lady who has been through so much; I have been reinforced that none of us who believe in Gold and Jesus,
have anything to fear. And even if you and I end up alone, we will not feel alone; as in this picture. Jesus will be with us, always.

Sure, there will be times when all looks bleak; when everyone we thought cared about us, will turn away from us. But, we needed worry or feel that no one cares. God cares and so does His Son, Jesus.

So, as the song from the musical Carousel said, "Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain. Though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on...with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone....You'll never walk alone!"

Copyright Toni Star 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Online Witnessing: Writing and Spreading the Gospel


Online Witnessing: Writing and Spreading the Gospel

 
I am convinced that if Christ were physically walking on earth in this the 21st century, he would be using the Internet in wondrous and creative ways to help others in need, witness and save souls! Just as evil is being used every day in insidious and dark ways on the Internet to influence and harm the young and all ages,  forces that work for good such as online Christian witnessing and evangelizing on various Christian sites, can and are, being used to bring souls to Christ.

Some might ask, what is online witnessing and how can it be of real help? A good definition can be found from www.allaboutGod.com , in an article titled, “Christian Witnessing: Matter of the Heart,” retrieved April 10, 2008: “Christian witnessing is merely sharing our heartfelt faith in Christ—what He’s personally done to change our individual lives!” The article goes on to state three important elements about witnessing and they are written in bold letters:

“Christian Witnessing—It’s Not About Intellect Or Debate Skills, Christian  Witnessing----Share Simply As A Child And Christian Witnessing----The Power Of Our Story Rests In Jesus Alone.”

What powerful words! I might also add that the best way to witness as a Christian is the way you live your everyday life. Everything you say, do, write and even body language, reflect whether you are ‘for’ or ‘against’ Christ.

We’ve all met people who have witnessed to us and found it to be either effective and comforting, or pompous and self-serving. It seems that those who witness the best reflect some of these qualities-- open, caring, good listening skills and are kind and helpful.

Perhaps the online site, www.whitestonejournal.com offers some good insights for effective on or offline witnessing. Here are just a few of the twelve ways offered: Do your job well, Be loving, Know the gospel and practice it, Be joyful and happy and Avoid all illusion and pretense. In my opinion, the last one is the best because when we acknowledge our failures and doubts and join that with a genuine attempt to seek and serve Christ and His Father, God, we present a powerful witness!

Many Christians know about the power and effectiveness of using blogs and websites but perhaps there are those who are unaware of the many Christian websites that are available, that offer great Christian/Bible online sources of information.

There are many great Bible sites where one can read the Bible daily, weekly or monthly. Just check out these Bible sites. I use several of these often when writing Christian articles and stories or just when I want to read them online. Bible.com and BibleGateway.com are two of the best online sites when seeking Christian help. With Bible.com you have the following: Bible Resources, a Daily Devotional, a Christian Community link, a Prayer Room, Bible.com Ministries, Bible.com Inc. and e-Newsletters.

With BibleGateway.com you have some of following website resources: The Quick Search Tool—where one can find Bible passages or certain words one is looking for, Verse of the Day, Recent BibleGateway.com news, and an online tool where you can “listen” to the Bible.

Online websites such as Christianwriters.com and The Lookout are two additional Christian sites that offer contests, free writing helps, wonderful Christian and other articles that stimulate the mind, are interesting and very helpful. Many Christian sites also offer groups that one can join, where sharing of one’s faith and helpful tidbits can be given. Christianwriters.com have many interesting and helpful forums and is a great way to share one’s faith and beliefs. There is so much that can be done on these Christian sites that are free and that offer a way to connect with other Christians.

Having a Christian blog, I can tell you that I have received many kind responses from readers, thanking me for the Christian articles I’ve written; some writing that I’ve helped them get closer to Christ and others writing such words as: “I didn’t know that was in the Bible” or “Is it really that way when one is a Christian?” If you are interested in beginning a blog—Christian or otherwise—go to www.blogger.com.

Keep in mind that most blogs are free, easy to start up and you can write and share your Christian point of view. Of course, common sense and presenting one’s work clearly and truthfully will help bring others to your site. And always, check out the “rules of engagement before posting and publishing anything!

A note of caution needs to be made about blogs or websites. Online writing can be addictive and one may think that whatever one writes—be it Christian or otherwise—is alright. But, it is best to be judicious about the words one writes. And, always keep your reader in mind. What you find offensive concerning religious topics, others might also. Even with non-Christian writing, the writer needs to be cautious and disciplined in what one writes.

I can’t emphasize enough the power of online Christian witnessing. As a Christian, I have learned so much from such sites as Sprit Led, The Lookout, and several of the online TV evangelistic sites. These sites often have archives of sermons and articles that are inspiring and helpful, that add to one’s Christian faith. Devotionals, spiritual testimony, links to other Christian websites, etc help to make online witnessing and searching for the truth—fast, easy, interesting and extremely helpful.

With so many of us living hurried and busy lives, blogs and websites can be helpful and a life saver; connecting us to online Christian sites where we can witness or be witnessed to, the Gospel and more of Christ’s life.

Jesus was and still is the Word and because His life story is never-ending, finding online Christian witnessing helps, can inspire and help those who want to expand their witnessing tools and knowledge. Keying in such words to the “Search Engine” as –online witnessing, Jesus Christ, Bible knowledge and Christian help, can bring a “world” of information to you at the “click of a finger.”
 
In addition to checking out online witnessing and Christian websites, one can also become a part of online church groups and if interested, write a Christian testimony or perhaps an article. However, with online church groups be sure to check out the site thoroughly before you commit yourself.

Always keep in mind the power of the written Word! Be a part of spreading His Word by checking out the power and effectiveness of online witnessing and online writing…Remember, “your” words may be the very ones that someone is seeking and could transform their lives, forever!

And, as all Christians know, when you accept Christ into your life, He lives within you and when you witness, be it on or offline, you are working and representing, Him. Therefore there should be no need to fear; for He will give you the words to write and from those words, the “power” that will transform and brings others to Him..

 

References:
 
www.blogger.com Creation of Blogs

www.scambusters.org  Internet Scams: How to Protect Yourself. (2008) Retrieved April 15, 2008.


 

 
 

 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Jesus is Lord!


As Christians, we know the importance and meaning of the resurrection of Jesus but when someone asks, “Why do you believe in the resurrection,” how do you respond? What are your reasons; your validation for believing in something that happened thousands of years ago? For some, the resurrection is hard to believe; simply because it happened so long ago and is  not relevant to their lives.

In my opinion, there are several indisputable proofs that Christ rose from the dead; one of the most basic proofs comes from Acts 1:3: “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Jesus showed himself alive after his death to His apostles. He showed them his wounds and the stripes on his back and the piercing in his side.

“Here in Acts 1:3, we are told that Christ was "seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). It is important to note that the unbelieving Romans and Jews also knew that the tomb was empty. Matthew 28: 11-15 states: “Some of the watch came into the city…And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept. And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” What makes this fascinating to read and study is that he was seen not just a couple of times but many times!

Another important validation that Christ rose from the dead was his appearance to his disciples. He showed himself to his disciples many times over a 40 day period. When 10 of his disciples were gathered together in a locked room, He was there “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:19-22).”

However, Thomas, one of the disciples, was not there and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he did not believe them. He said,

“Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side [into the sword wound], I will not believe" (John 20:25).”
This action from Thomas and his other disciples clearly showed that Jesus had to convince his disciples and be adamant about it in order to prove to them that he did indeed, rise from the grave. This also showed that his disciples were not gullible or had a predisposition about resurrection.  There is an important and crucial fact here and that is his disciples did not hallucinate in what they saw and heard; even though Jesus showed them evidence of his sufferings on the cross.  Once they saw the wounds, talked with him and realized that indeed he was alive, then they believed.
Another very interesting fact from John 20: 26:
"And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold [look at] my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God" (John 20:26)

The third and most important proof of Jesus’s resurrection was when the disciples made a decision to die instead of denying that Christ rose from the dead. This, in my opinion, was the greatest proof of all of what transpired on the cross. Research shows in the Bible that his disciples lived out the rest of their lives saying to those who wanted to know; that Christ had risen from the dead and that they saw Him alive and well.

To conclude, for those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead, no further evidence is needed; however, for those who doubt about what happened so long ago, the proof is clearly presented in the Bible. All one has to do is to read it and then believe on it with faith!
 
Copyright 2014 Toni Star

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Importance and Meaning of Lent

Lent is the time on the church calendar that marks the beginning of Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is particularly important because is it remembers and celebrates the beginning of Jesus's fasting of 40 days and his temptation in the desert. Easter Sunday celebrates and commemorates His resurrection from the grave.

Lent is observed many ways such as attending Ash Wednesday--the first day of Lent--by attending special worship services that focus on a person's need for repentance, by giving up something for Lent such as not eating chocolate or fasting during certain days of Lent or by adding a special activity to their daily Lent observances such as reading from the Bible every day or doing some volunteer work in their community.

However, no matter what you do to observe Lent and prepare for Easter, do it with a kind and open heart and keep in mind what a miraculous event Easter is and what it means to you and me. Keep in mind, that you and I and every one on this earth would be lost; if not for Jesus. His death and resurrection saves our very soul; so that when we acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, we will be with Him in Heaven for all eternity. His death paid for our sins and for the sins of all mankind.

So, give glory and honor and respect for Lent and especially for Easter! Most importantly, attend a Lenten service and attend an Easter service! You will be blest in ways that are hard to describe.

God Bless,

Toni Star

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We have a Choice with Jesus when it comes to Life!


Think for a moment about what Jesus said to the woman who was found committing adultery and what happened. Everyone found her guilty of adultery and was picking up stones, preparing to throw them at her. One spoke up and said, “We found her in the very act of adultery.” The woman of course, was frightened and embarrassed and no one was standing up for her, except Jesus, who happened to be walking by. Jesus, at that moment, gave the finest example of grace there ever was when he said, “Whoever is without sin, let him throw the first stone.” Every time I think of these words, I’m taken aback.

Imagine what they all thought when they heard those words! Something like, “Who does he think he is?” But Jesus stood firm and soon, one by one, they all put their stones down. When Jesus said, “Whoever is without sin, let him throw the first stone,” they knew he was right; and they then put down their stones. John 8:1-11 NKJV

Imagine for a moment, if this kind of action happened somewhere in our society and a woman was going to be stoned to death or killed by some other means and someone spoke up and said the same words, I wonder what would happen. Would they laugh? Would they try to kill the person? Sometimes in our society we see individuals helping others in peril but we also see others who join in and kill randomly anyone in their path.

When you think about the world and how many countries and individuals no longer look on sin as sin, how does this attitude on sin affect us worldwide? Look at the in-fighting overseas with governments killing their own people so they can stay in power. Look at the many talk shows here in the US and overseas where anything from incest to murder is discussed like it was part our daily lives.

Going back to what Jesus did with the woman who was going to be stoned. What a wonderful and blessed standard he set for people back then and now. If Jesus didn’t do what his Father told him to do as far as helping and loving people and spreading the word of God, we would be living in a world with no hope of redemption. But of course, Christ did die for our sins and we have had for several thousands of years the choice of following him and going about our Father’s business or following a much darker path.

When Jesus said, “Woman go and sin no more, he not only showed leadership but also grace, two options to choose from, unconditional love and forgiveness.

The word grace has several meanings such as extreme kindness and goodness but the meaning of that word that stands out the most is “allowing someone to be free;” even though he or she committed a sin.

Again, take another look at what Jesus did. He said, “Whoever is without sin, let him throw the first stone.” Of course, everyone in the crowd knew that they were sinners; so the stoning of the woman stopped. What made this event extraordinary was what Jesus said to the crowd and how the people reacted to what he said. He spoke as if a leader; which he was and with His Truth, they were convicted. 

Another interesting point was made in Jesus’ dialogue with the woman. He also said to her, “Go and sin no more.” One could interpret that as meaning, “I will not throw stones at you because of your sin; however, it is important that you turn away from sin and sin no more.”

Again, he was offering a choice. She could go and sin no more, or she could walk away and sin another time. Clearly, this was not a dictator talking; it was a compassionate, all-caring person, better known as the Prince of Peace.
 
Isn't it wonderful and isn't it amazing that Jesus doesn't dictate to us on how to live. He offers us a decision; we can choose an abundant life with Him or we can choose a life that is less than mediocre and often filled with a path that leads nowhere.
 
Which will you choose?
 
Copyright Toni Star 2014

 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As the New Year comes in: Make note: Christianity is Changing!


Christianity is changing; however, even though this is nothing new it is disturbing how Christianity is changing. Church attendance is dropping—not just in the U.S. but also in many countries overseas.  However, there is a rise in Christianity in many other parts of the world. In addition, some are looking at the Bible differently. Some are questioning the Old Testament and are trying to interpret its meaning by themselves.

It is important to note that many teachings of Christianity that have been solid for centuries are now being questioned such as the place of women in church, Jesus as the only way to God and changing views on homosexuality. Most importantly, many are no longer following the normal and established Christian way of living such as being married before having sex or teaching their children about God and Jesus and why they are so important in a Christian’s life. Instead, many are now accepting premarital sex, finding out about sexual abuse within the church and discarding it as something that “happens now and then” and being more tolerant of other beliefs.

Keep in mind, too, that other types of faith are being more and more accepted such as alternative worship or an emerging church type of faith.

So, how are we as Christians react to react when we see our faith being watered down in our churches, on TV or in the movies? Do we look the other way and say, “Well, that’s O.K. as long as it doesn’t affect me or my family.” Or, do we say, “No, I don’t agree with this and I will either go to another church or continue stay with my church but follow beliefs that are set by God?

The decision, of course, is up to each person. From reading the Bible and praying, most Christians know and understand the importance of believing and following God and Jesus. I think, too, that if or when we see situations that we can safely take a stand, then I think we should. Of course, this is up to the individual and of course, like Jesus we can certainly show our displeasure with how Christianity is presented by switching to another TV station, not watching a movie that degrades Christianity or staying away from individuals or groups of people who are leading ungodly lives.  

Most importantly, as Christian writers we can proclaim the word of God and give factual information on the goodness of Christ and the importance of staying close to Him.

Perhaps one very good reason for following Christ and His Father, God comes from the following statement that was written in Revelations:

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!



Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

To conclude, Christian faith and how we proclaim and live it is up to you and me. We can either set the standard of Christianity or we can follow a path that will lead us into darkness. And, as a Christmas tree inspires us with its beautiful lights and shape, let us, as Christians light the way for others. For, Christ is born and that is the best "change" of all!