Salvation is only for bad people!
The Bible teaches that “the [human] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9)
The Pharisees were an ancient sect of people who prided themselves in how much better they were than other people because of their religious practices. In Luke 18:9-14, we read a parable about this. The Pharisees had observed that Jesus “ate with tax collectors and sinners.” They couldn’t understand why He would associate in any way with such “scum” of the earth. Tax collectors were employed by the Roman government to exact whatever the tax rate was. Anything they were able to extort from the people above that was theirs to keep. In this way, some became very rich and were therefore viewed as traitors and charlatans. They were hated as you can imagine.
The other group, sinners, refers to those people who overtly broke the rules, especially the Ten Commandments. They were also despised and scorned by the Pharisees. One of the Pharisees prayed to himself saying, “I thank God [actually referring to himself] that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, or even like this tax collector.” He went on to summarize all of his virtues. But Jesus saw through his hypocrisy, condemning him for his self-righteousness and lack of humility.
Another man, one of those tax collectors, standing far off, felt unworthy even to lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat on his breast saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus said this man went away justified, rather than the Pharisee.
Many, if not most people today, believe like the Pharisee. We tend to focus on our virtues and ignore our faults, reasoning that we are not as bad as others. We incorrectly think God is like us and will overlook our sins. But the Bible teaches that God is holy. That means He is absolutely perfect and without sin. He commands, “You also be holy, as I am holy.” (Matthew 5:48) Because none of us can measure up to this standard, we, like the tax collector, need to fall on our faces and beg for mercy. This is called repentance.
No one can be saved until we reach that point. Jesus stands ready and willing to save those who acknowledge their need and ask for forgiveness. But, He condemns those who think they can earn favor with God by any other means including religious rituals and virtuous living (by human standards).
Are you ready to turn away from yourself and fall on your knees before God? This is the only way to salvation according to Jesus. He said, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life: no one comes to the Father (God) except through me.” (John 14:6)
Ed Hill – Franklin, N.C.
Think before you move the fence
Say what you will, but the statement that man is naturally good and will better himself over time, is simply not true. We moderns are more so capable than ever of spewing out evil, confusion and hatred as those of the past. We have traded what was once good about America, for a disdained and evil America. Many that display this behavior have hijacked or attached themselves to what was once a worthy or good cause and made it into an evil cause, but yet call themselves good.
This confusion and lack of direction is the bedrock of corrupt leadership filling the void of a people seeking anything that seemingly will satisfy a troubled life. Riots and destruction of property and even killings are looked upon as justified in the eyes of many. So evil men can make themselves seem right, given the right lies and deception. Many great men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President John F. Kennedy and others, would be saddened by what was once a goal towards peace and equality for all people, and asking not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the betterment of your country. We as a people have moved so drastically from what was once a united common goal as a nation, to something most nations regret; or should I say, what the people regret; because the deception of the powerful get what they want and that is a blind willing vessel of people to carry their cause. As in the warning statement by G. K. Chesterton, “Before you remove a fence, you should first find out why it was there in the first place.”
Many see America with scornful eyes to the point of wanting their pound of flesh from anyone who dares gets in their way. They force moving the fence without even allowing the question of “why?” They shut the questioner down with insults and false narratives and any open discussion is not allowed.
This hijacking of a good thing or cause is nothing new; humanity has left no stone unturned in using whatever it can to get what it wants; and the question is left begging, just what is it do we want? What is it you want? It’s a honest question that needs an honest answer, and many are not honest with even themselves. We seem to bury our hearts yearning with whatever quiets the question of what is it that will satisfy, what is it we are forever in search of?
In the greatest of detail and boldness, the history book of past, present and future, the Bible walks each of us through the history of life and the knowledge within each of us of good and evil, which it shows itself daily in what we call life. It shows with stunning accuracy and is direct to the point that I find myself within its truth of what I am, and what I can or should be. Like a mirror, seeing myself for who I am and the light of Christ that dispels darkness, but shines truth, justice, kindness, forgiveness, peace … the same things people of the past and the present seek out so, so, desperately. Re-thinking life,
Deni Shepard – firstname.lastname@example.org
We the people …
We, the people respectfully request a return to civility by all candidates for public office.
In this highly charged political season, we are asked to choose from the two viable parties competing for offices in our national, state and local government.
No offense is intended to the libertarians and other alternative parties but we have not had a strong third party candidate since Ross Perot.
While bearing in mind that some campaigns have become increasingly negative in the portrayal of their opponents, a change is long overdue.
We, the people have endured the many negative advertisements that portray various candidates as irresponsible, flip floppers, and flat out liars.
Few voters are swayed by the constant negativism of many political advertisements. Even fewer believe their accuracy. Most voters believe them to be self-serving exaggerations designed to inflame. Such negative advertisements only appeal to the hard-core partisans whose votes were decided long ago.
Nonetheless, some candidates seem to feel that consistently portraying their opponents in a negative fashion is all they need to insure their own election to office.
Many voters are so disgusted by the continual barrage of negativism that they wish there were a viable third party alternative to vote for.
We, the people are very tired of the partisan rhetoric from both sides.
Be it therefore ordered and adjudged that the following shall be implemented henceforth:
No candidate may refer to their competition as anything other than, “My worthy opponent.”
Each candidate will provide an exact and simplified platform of their stand on the hot, push button issues of concern to the people. Explanations will consist of the utmost in brevity and no variance will be permitted.
Each candidate shall submit a written version of their personal vision, including what they shall try to change and how they intend to accomplish this. Again, brevity is required.
The candidate’s vision will become the focus of their campaign advertisements.
Each candidate will quickly and strongly condemn negative advertisements against their opponent, even by groups not affiliated with them.
Candidates, campaign staff and their supporters will acknowledge that the other political party is decent and honorable but their vision is different. This shall not be portrayed in negative terms.
Candidates will not be penalized by anyone if they respond to a question in this manner, “That is a good question but I do not know the answer. Give me some time and I will find out for you.” Such a statement will be taken as a sign of the candidate’s honesty. The statement will be followed up with an answer as quickly as possible. Brevity is required.
Candidates shall not suddenly change the subject or slip into an irrelevant diatribe in order to avoid a hard question requiring a specific answer.
Each candidate should clearly state that while loyal to their party, they would not do so to the detriment of their constituents. If a candidate’s party should require a vote against legislation that would be of benefit to their constituents, their party loyalty must become secondary. Serve the people not the party.
Candidates should make every effort to be responsive to the needs of their constituents. Ignoring requests for action and failure to provide explanations for their votes shall not be tolerated.
We, the people respect and greatly appreciate the fact that a candidate is willing to serve in public office. For far too long, candidates and their families have become targets for their opposition. Their most casual statements and their simple jests are dissected, expounded and spun out of control by their opponents and the media.
We, the people admire and respect self-deprecatory remarks and off the cuff opinions. Give us credit, we can tell what counts.
Some politicians have the gift of spontaneity. Perhaps, as political novices, they simply do not know any better than to speak before checking with their political consultants and opinion polls.
It seems that truth and accountability have been replaced by plausible deniability and procrastination until the issue disappears.
In today’s political climate, one must wonder if leaders like “Honest Abe” Lincoln or “Plain Speaking” Harry Truman could survive.
We, the people understand that candidates are fellow human beings. As such, they will make mistakes and deserve the same degree of forgiveness applicable to all.
We, the people call for a return to civility that we may focus on the important issues and visions of the candidates.
Arjay Provost – Franklin, N.C.
It matters where the garbage comes from
Back to garbage … That was a quite impressive haul at greenway cleanup, 2,040 tons. Does it matter where it comes from? It needs to be addressed, again! The islands of Thilafushi, Bahamas, Barbados, DR and many more are banning single-use plastic. It takes 450 years to decompose. They do not have the alternatives that we have. Also to Mr. Puckett’s note about denuding all interchanges, I was sitting at one of Mainspring’s preserves and it looked like a Monet painting, all indigenous plants, goldenrod, ironweed, asters, and natural grasses, would that be a thought? Of course if a few of the trees were left it would enhance the area. Then there’s the truck turnaround. An eyesore for sure, plus as it was under construction held traffic up for months and didn’t a semi recently crash going on the gorge, blocking traffic for hours? So do they notice the turnaround or just ignore it?
J.A. Williams – Franklin, N.C.