PUTTING THE ‘DUMB’ IN FREEDOM.

ImageHow long will it take for everybody to realize that releasing domesticated animals into the wild is cruel? These creatures have lost the edge that being born in the wild would have given them. Consequently, many once-loved pets end up as coyote food or die gruesome deaths. The few who do survive breed rapidly and become agricultural or civic nuisances.

A variety of animal welfare agencies have striven to educate the public regarding the dumping of animals. Though progress has been made, many thoughtless individuals continue to discard pets like beer cans. They have no interest or inclination to honour their commitment to their animal companions. Worse yet, this attitude is often passed down to the children.

I was fortunate that Mom taught us to care about animals. We frequently had stray cats visit our home. She wasn’t a perfect example , letting one of her own cats become pregnant and giving away the kittens, but she did inculcate the basic concept in our heads.

Though I had to give my cat away because I couldn’t afford to feed her, I’ve been responsible for caring for quite a few rabbits. Many of them were cast-offs from homes where they weren’t wanted. I adopted bunnies, such as Gideon, from the animal shelter as well. Gideon was a stray that somebody found. We had seven and a half years of good times together. Had Gideon not been rescued, he might have been killed.

As with litterers, pet dumpers don’t care about the inconvenience they cause others. In the past decade, news stories have repeatedly told about the damage feral dogs, cats, and rabbits have done to parks and neighbourhoods. Such people figure it’s somebody else’s problem. Because of this, many beautiful animals have been euthanized or destroyed by other means.

In my Debut book, When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies, I wrote about the surprising things I learned about house rabbits. For example, they can be litter trained. Bunnies are social creatures who enjoy petting. They love to shred newspapers inside cardboard box houses and they even toss plastic rings. Gideon loved to dig rolled-up socks from behind a bookcase and hurl them between his legs. I also saw bunny after bunny change from a frightened fur ball to a confident companion because I related to them on their terms.

For more information on my first two paperbacks, visit the Bruce Atchison’s books page. My newly published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

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EARTH: THE PRIVILEGED PLANET.

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Are scientists correct when they say that Earth is just an insignificant speck orbiting a ho-hum star in an average galaxy? Are we just some cosmic accident? We’ve been told these things in school textbooks and in popular media but are the conclusions of scientists right?

Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970. It was designed to help people appreciate the ecology of this planet and to take good care of it. If Earth is just a nowhere place in a humdrum star system, why bother caring about it? On the other hand, empirical observation clearly shows what a remarkable home we have.

Earth is the right distance from the sun for life to survive. Liquid water is an amazing retainer of heat. The moon keeps the oceans stirred up to the proper degree so they won’t go stagnant or wash over the continents. The sun is neither too small or too big and emits light in the optimal wavelengths to penetrate the atmosphere of our planet. The access of the earth gives us seasons that allow for more life to prosper than if the planet was perpendicular to the sun. Our star is in the right spot in the galaxy. Too far out and Earth would lack many necessary elements. Too far in and the radiation would kill off any life.

Our home world has an amazing variety of life forms. Each one is suited for its niche in the environment. From the ice caps to the equator, this planet teams with wondrous creatures. As we examine each with electron microscopes, more amazing facts come to light. Organisms once thought to be simple blobs are now known to be incredibly complex.

Some environmentalists claim that humanity is a virus that should be eliminated. Naturally, they don’t include themselves in that elimination. The truth is that we have been given the place at the top of the food chain for a very good reason. Since we can plan for the future, rather than doing whatever instincts tell us, we have the duty to care for this world. Though we need to farm the land and build places to live in, our job is to manage this place.

Earth truly is a privileged planet. From all the observations of empirical science, we can feel confident that this wonderful globe was the product of an immense intelligence. Furthermore, we can see that our place in the universe is optimal for studying the stars. From the microcosm to the macrocosm, we have definite evidence of the designer’s design.

The Privileged planet is a video documentary produced by Illustra media. It contains spectacular computer animation and quotes from many respected scientists. For further information, visit the Illustra Media web site.

In my How I Was Razed book, I also mentioned how I learned about empirical science and its revelation of a creative mastermind behind this universe. This journey from cultism to Christianity is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

HOW A SEAMING LIABILITY CAN BE AN ASSET.

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I’m sure we’ve all known classmates who had some sort of disability or some quirk that made them different. Such children are often teased or ostracized for inconsequential differences. Fear of the unknown often makes people uneasy.

Thankfully, educators are striving to teach students that having some sort of difference is all right. Whether it’s poor vision, as I suffered teasing for, or a large nose, kids are being taught that we all have the same needs and feelings.

I love Janis Cox’ new book, Tadeo Turtle. This poetic picture book tells the story of a youngster who wishes he could be rid of his heavy shell and play like other forest creatures. I totally identify with Tadeo because I longed to join in the games of the neighbourhood kids and students at school. My poor vision always got in the way of my desires, as did the attitudes of children and grown-ups alike.

As I’ve finally have done, Tadeo came to accept his shell and value it.  What was once a distressing handicap has become an asset for the both of us. The message is simple but profound. God loves us and has made us the way we are for his good purpose.

The pictures in Tadeo Turtle are beautiful as well. Cox used water colours to give the scenes in the book a special quality. I’m impressed with their loveliness.  It’s as if the scenes are almost real. Parents and pre-school children alike would enjoy this charming story and the evocative paintings in this book.

At the back of the book are activities for children related to the story. With a little help from their parents, kids can become involved in making their own turtles.

For more information on Tadeo Turtle, visit Janis Cox’s page. For my own story of growing up with poor vision, visit the Bruce Atchison’s book page and read about Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It’s on the upper left hand side of the page.

HOW I MIGHT HAVE BECOME A SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR.

ImagePerhaps I’m wrong but it seems that blasphemous books sell. With the success of such books as The Shack, Your Best Life Now, and The God Delusion, I certainly have to wonder.

I wrote How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity to show how I was taken in by The World Tomorrow radio program and then by a cultic house church’s elders. The memoir shows how God led me out of that legalistic congregation to the proper knowledge of the scriptures.

If I had no conscience and no fear of divine retribution, I could have written how right the cult leader was. I could have twisted scriptures to fit Brother Herald’s notions and rebuked established churches for not embracing them. People with poor biblical literacy, and that includes many professing Christians, would have been easily fooled by what the leader of that church taught and what I wrote.

Furthermore, I could have agreed with the elders that my continuing poor vision was a sign of hidden sin, a root of bitterness, generational sin, and a lack of faith on my part. Many people are being taken in by health-and-wealth teachers who believe you can get whatever you want from God if you just work up your faith to the right level. Preachers of this doctrine rake in millions from their devoted followers who are kept hanging on to their dreams by clever manipulation.

Alternately, I could have followed the lead of militant atheists and written about what a load of baloney Christianity is. I could have demonstrated that by the failure of any genuine healings to happen. I also could have demonstrated how ridiculous the superstitions of Thee Church, as I referred to it, were in light of scientific reason.

There was a time in my life when I believed in Evolution. I could have written a book on how cruel Christianity is with its condemnation of people’s weak faith. I once believed that evolution was better because nobody was to blame for genetic imperfections. Eugenics and the Holocaust would be left out by me in that book because they would disprove my contention.

Since I’m an honest person and since I love God, I feel constrained to write the truth. Everything in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is true to the best of my knowledge. I worked hard to “show” rather than “tell” in my memoir. Any temptation to rant, I purposely squelched. In fact, I included quotations from letters that I had received over the years in the text.

My testimony of the heavenly Father’s kindness to me is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers. As for my previous two books, check them out at Bruce Atchison’s books.

HOW TO INTEREST CHILDREN IN THE TREES OF THE BIBLE.

ImageBelieve it or not, some children don’t know what a palm, sycamore, broom, cedar, mustard, oak, or a fig tree looks like. They hear these types of trees mentioned in Bible stories but they can’t relate to them well.

This was the way it was for me when I was young. Fortunately, author Kimberley Paine has just published Trees of the Book: Learning from God’s Creation. This colourfully-illustrated activity book not only lets children have fun but they learn about the various types of trees and how they fit into Bible history. As an added bonus, the trees describe themselves and their place in biblical history.

Payne has also included scientific facts, complete with metric and imperial measures, to further enhance the learning experience. At the end of each chapter is an activity that tests children’s comprehension of the things they learned but in a challenging way. At the end of the book is a colour-by-numbers picture.

Trees of the Book was written for children aged seven to nine. It can be used by grade two and three teachers as a supplemental text when they teach about plants.  

Trees of the Book began as a bulletin insert in Payne’s church. She gathered up the seven lessons, added scientific facts, and had help with the pictures from Esther Haug. She began the project in 2008 and conducted intense research on the seven types of trees for five years. Though there are more kinds of trees mentioned in the pages of Scripture, Payne concentrated on seven for this book.

Payne plans on writing more books about life sciences in a series she calls Science and Faith matters. They will also target grade two and three students. Topics in this series will include animals of the Bible, the five senses, and other areas of the life sciences.

Payne’s book is ideal for teachers, home schoolers, and grandparents. The full-colour illustrations and interactive nature of the text will make for great story times at school or home.

Trees of the Book can be purchased from Amazon, Chapters indigo., Barnes & Noble, and through local bookstores.

MIRACLES VERSES SCRIPTURE

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There was a time in my life when I believed that being healed of my poor eyesight would convince skeptics that God really existed. Now I know better.

Pastor Steve Wells, of South Main Baptist Church, preached recently on Luke chapter sixteen in regard to miracles verses the plain scriptures.  In Christ’s parable, the rich man asked Moses to send Lazarus back to his brothers so that they wouldn’t end up in hell. This is what he replied in Luke 16:31. “And he said to him, ‘If they will not give attention to Moses and the prophets, they will not be moved even if someone comes back from the dead.'”
This happened when Christ raised his friend, Lazarus, from being dead for four days. Instead of surrendering their lives to Jesus, the Pharisees sought to kill him. Even most of the average people followed Christ until he was arrested. Many citizens of Judea and Gallalee marveled at the miracles but few took the next steps of repentance and discipleship.

Even in the Old Testament, we can see this pattern of miracles not impacting the lives of those who God led. After seeing the waters of the Red Sea part and then slam together after they crossed, the Israelites quickly turned back to worshipping idols. Moses had been on the mountain for forty days and the people became impatient. Neither did the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night make a permanent change in the hearts of those former slaves.  Only Joshua and Caleb were left of those people because they believed fully in God.

The whole history of the Israelites  followed a repeating pattern of falling away from the Lord during the good times and calling on him when he let them suffer the consequences of their unbelief. Even in Christianity, people tend to depend on their own works rather than placing their trust solely in Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Some churches figure they must accommodate the culture with plays and modern songs in the worship service. This draws those who want to be entertained but it doesn’t bring anybody to a true understanding of their need for Jesus to be their Lord. Neither does supposed faith healer miracles save people. Those folks just come for what they can get, as the crowd in John chapter six did.

Faith healers also put on a great show but no real miracles happen. As The Fifth Estatereported, Benny Hinn and others won’t let truly disabled seekers of healing on stage. As Hank Hanegraaff of The Christian Research Institute often said, these people use slight of hand and autosuggestion to convince people that their tumors or back aches are healed. Nobody has ever regrown limbs or raised people from the dead.

I wrote about my experience at a charismatic house church in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. The elders believed that if I worked up enough faith, God would heal my eyes. I wanted to have 20/20 sight so desperately that I stayed with that pseudo-church for fifteen years. Now I understand how the heavenly Father led me to the proper understanding of his Word and character. Like a good father, he wouldn’t let me be snared by the idea that God could be manipulated to fork over the miracles by us puny humans if he healed my eyes.

For more information regarding How I Was Razed, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm. My two previous books are featured on the Bruce Atchison’s books page.

DON’T BLAME GOD FOR CHRISTIAN IDIOTS.

ImageLong hair, rock music, CB radio, watching TV: these things were labeled sins by certain house church elders that I had the misfortune to meet. Their main worry was that these entertainments would turn me away from Christianity. Instead, it was their legalistic nagging that turned me against the faith for nine years.

The elders’ chiding led me to the belief that God was unfair. No matter how much I worked up my faith and squelched all doubts, my eyes weren’t healed. In fact, I lost my left eye to a hemorrhage. Because of those unrealistic expectations and their incorrect teaching about the Lord’s nature, I turned against Christ.

Years later, I came to realize that the heavenly Father wasn’t at fault for not giving me 20/20 vision. Neither was I at fault for lacking faith. I attended church regularly and contributed much to its finances. I learned the doctrines of its leaders and tried to teach others what I’d learned. Thanks to proper Bible scholars and teachers, I found out how wrong the house church elders were and how misinformed I had been.

The Bible teaches that God is sovereign. We can’t boss him around with demands for healing or material prosperity. Furthermore, he gives to believers what they need at the time they need it. This sometimes happens during persecution or illness. We don’t like it but we benefit from his wise choices in the end.

Unfortunately, many radio and TV preachers claim that faith is a force, words are containers of that force, and we can speak blessing into our lives using the name of Jesus. Whenever such people are asked why this or that claim never materialized, the victim is always blamed. These misled believers  often are accused of having a lack of faith or hidden sin. As a result, many sincere people drop out of Christianity and never return.

My hope and prayer is that my How I Was Razed testimony will help wounded seekers of the Lord realize that God isn’t responsible for misguided or false teachers. Those wicked helpers of Satan will have to stand before God Almighty and explain why they didn’t teach the truth. I also want non-Christians to realize that most believers are kind and sincere. As in any endeavor, the few ruin it for the many.

I wrote extensively about this errant house church in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the electronic version of my book while Virtual Bookworm Publishersstock the paperback edition. Please also visit my http://www.bruceatchison.blogspot.com page which features my previous memoirs.