Saturday Song: ‘Tar and Cement’ by Verdelle Smith

city buildings @ nightEven though I was only nine years old when I heard this song on my mom’s radio, it still touched my soul. This was because I had been sent from my home in the town of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta to a school for blind children in the metropolis of Vancouver B.C.

In this song, the person left the familiarity of the small town for the money and excitement of the big city. Like many people, the grass seemed greener on the far side of the fence.

When the protagonist returned to that once-small town, it had become acres of tar and cement. Gone were the lilacs which perfumed the air. Gone was the child-like joy of running through the grass and enjoying merely being alive.

Fort Saskatchewan is now a city. Where a farmer’s field and the town dump used to be is now a conglomeration of big box stores. And half of the forest at the creek where I used to play has become a parking lot for fast food joints and industries.

Even the vibrant downtown has been subdued because of big box stores siphoning off customers. And the Fort Hotel, one of my favourite landmarks, burned to the ground back in 2010.

As I’ve pointed out before, we can’t relive the past. So what can we do? Follow the Apostle Paul’s example. Philippians 3:13-14 (KJV)reads, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Saturday Song, ‘El Paso’

My good friend Abbie Taylor has been writing a feature on her blog called “Saturday Song” where she writes about significant music in her life and she also provides links to them. I like this idea so much that I’ve decided to do this on my blog too. After all, religious subjects can be intense and burdensome. So let’s have one day of lightness to offset the heaviness.

“El Paso”texas is my favourite Marty Robins song. It’s the earliest song I can recall. In 1959, I was only three years old but somehow the song stuck with me.

Though “El Paso” is about murder, jealousy, and cowboy justice, this song gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Like in the movies, the actors all get up and become themselves again when the director yells, “Cut!”

That’s how I feel when I hear Marty’s classic song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Is Sin the Cause of Disabilities?

jul21aThe question of retribution for past or ancestral sin is one which people have pondered for millennia. In superstitious cultures, people assumed that disabled folks were cursed for some misdeed done in this or a previous life. Even I was the victim of such heartless speculation.

When I joined a charismatic house church, the minister and the woman in whose house services were held assumed I could be healed by them. After every attempt of the congregation as they spoke in tongues and placed hands on my head, my vision never improved. Instead of consoling me, the elders accused me of lacking faith to be healed

Instead of asking themselves if their faith was strong enough, they blamed me for hidden sin, lacking faith, ancestral sin, and lusting for sight. No matter how hard I squelched all doubts, my vision remained poor.
A minister in Zambia named Chipita Sibale preached a pertinent sermon recently on people to avoid and why they should be shunned. His comment on John 9:1-3 was especially relevant to me.

The passage in the Bible in Basic English reads, “And when he went on his way, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples put a question to him, saying, ‘Master, was it because of this man’s sin, or the sin of his father and mother, that he has been blind from birth?’ Jesus said in answer, ‘It was not because of his sin, or because of his father’s or mother’s; it was so that the works of God might be seen openly in him.'”

One fact that Chipita noted was that this uncaring attitude breeds indifference in people. They soon lack compassion for sufferers and blame them or their families for the disability.
This certainly was true of the cultic church which I stupidly attended for more than fifteen years. In retrospect, I can see plainly how heartless such judge mental people were.

In my book called How I Was Razed, I detailed the cult’s ridiculous doctrines and how the heavenly father rescued me. Read about this wonderful testimony of his loving grace at Amazon.

Why is Christianity so Full of Rules?

A stack of very old hard cover print books.Where do people get the notion that Christianity is just a bunch of DOs and DON’Ts? Study the New Testament and you’ll find out that there aren’t as many “rules” as people think. Let me explain why this is.

Jesus Christ said that the whole Old Testament law hung on two commandments: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. That’s all a Christian needs to do.

I liken the Old Testament law and Christ’s new commandments to be similar to MS DOS and Windows, though the analogy is a bit shaky. To start a program in DOS, you needed to type in its exact name or initials. In Windows, you click on an icon and the program starts. That’s much easier for most people.

The Old Testament Ten Commandments, and subsequent ordinances, were like DOS in that they were specific. Christ’s commandments, like Windows, are both intuitive.

How is this so? When you love God, you won’t make any idols and bow down to worship them. You automatically want to put the Lord first in every aspect of your life. Neither would you murder, lie under oath, covet what isn’t yours, dishonor your parents, or do any other evil thing. In fact, you will naturally want to worship the Lord and do good things for others.

Some folks think this is too simplistic. They want to impose rules upon rules to keep people in line. That is why many denominations have come up with regulations which aren’t in the Bible or have been superceded by the New Testament. These legalists want to go back to Sabbath worship and some think certain activities such as gambling and listening to rock music are sinful. Truly, there’s no “thou Shalt not gamble” commandment in either testament.

I know from bitter experience about legalism. The cult church elders objected to me listening to rock music, talking on the CB, and the like. They also treated me cruelly because of my poor vision. I wrote about how God delivered me from those false Christians in a book called How I Was Razed. This glorious testimony of God’s providential grace is available directly from me.

How Could God Send Millions of People to Hell?

red scalesHere’s another question asked by critics of Christianity. To them, God sounds like a petulant little boy who punishes his pets for not doing what he wants them to do. I’ve even felt in the past that he was stingy and sadistic because my faith wasn’t enough to heal my eyes. No matter how I tried, the prayers and laying on of hands by Christians resulted in only disappointment.

How sad it is that critics of God don’t know him personally. These people only know about him from what they hear TV preachers say or from Bible stories they heard when they were children. Isn’t that unfair of such folks to condemn the Lord because of what others have said?

Knowing about somebody isn’t like knowing them. I know about famous people but I actually know none personally. For example, I couldn’t call David Bowie on the phone like I could an acquaintance or personal friend, even if I had his home number. He doesn’t know me and doubtless would be upset if I called him. In the same way, people who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ can’t accurately judge him and the other two members of the trinity.

Because critics don’t understand the Lord’s character, since they don’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, they mislead others with their misconceptions. Perhaps the worst of their misapprehensions is that God sends people to hell. Like John Cleese noted on one TV show, hell is a voluntary organization. People choose to go there rather than obey God. The Lord has given us a choice, limited though it seems, so we could either surrender to his plan for us or go our own way.

God doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked. In fact, he would rather have people surrender their lives into his loving care. Since forced love is not love at all, he gave us the option to obey or disobey. At death, he graciously lets people face the consequences of their decision.

In my How I Was Razed memoir, I showed how I finally learned that God is the heavenly Father who providentially led me to know him better. Check out this glorious journey from cultism to Christianity at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books. What a huge difference knowing his true character has made in my life. I hope others discover the real character of God like I have.

Don’t All Religions Lead to God?

Orthodox priest holding up a cross.While having lunch with friends at a local restaurant, a woman asked me this question. Thanks to excellent Bible teachers such as Hank Hanegraaff, R. C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, Alistair Begg, and John MacArthur, I was able to answer her question in a reasonable way.

So, why don’t all religions lead to God? Let’s look at four major world religions. Buddhism teaches that there are no gods and that we must achieve complete selflessness to obtain enlightenment.

Hinduism teaches that there are many gods. Also, those who live a life filled with good deeds¬† will come back as a higher life form. If they are wicked, they come back as perhaps an insect or a rat. Those who finally get their spiritual act together will reach nirvana, according to what I’ve learned about it.

Islam teaches that there is only one god who has no partners. Allah is portrayed by the Qu’ran as distant and uncaring. If adherents do good works and beg forgiveness for sins, Allah might consider letting them into paradise. The only way to be assured of salvation from hell is to be martyred in the cause of jihad.

Christianity teaches that God is a tripartite entity, being one what and three WHOs. Unlike in Islam, God so loved the world that he sent his son so that whosoever believes in him would have eternal life in heaven. And unlike all other belief systems, no human works are righteous enough to allow people into God’s holy presence. Christ paid the price for those who turn from their self-centered ways, ask forgiveness of their sins,¬† and surrender themselves to his rulership.

As you can plainly see, none of these religions agree with each other. This is why history is filled with religious and sectarian violence.

From my study of these religious systems, I conclude that only Christianity corresponds with reality. The Bible has proven itself reliable through its fulfilled prophesies, textual consistency, historical accuracy, and understanding of sinful humanity’s behaviour.

I hope to write at length about this and other topics in a new book called You Think You’re Going to Heaven? Eternity is a long time and scripture shows us that there are only two destinations for souls after death: heaven and hell. I hope people think long and hard about this. According to Christ, there are no second chances after death.

Please check out my previous paperbacks. How I Was Razed is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books. Deliverance from Jericho and When a Man Loves a Rabbit are for sale on my book page.