Where Do You Find Meaning?

How can people base their actions on how they feel? Where is "common sense"? Why can man determine their destiny?
Although this article is long, it gives the framework on why people do what they do, and how man has meaning.

 “Watch your thoughts for they become words, watch your words for they become actions, watch your actions, for they become habits, watch your habits for they become your character, watch your character for it becomes your destiny.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson. 
The Bible says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. 
How a person looks at life will determine what he considers as truth. A man's presuppositions determine his truth and meaning. 
History shows when man bases his belief system on what God says, he has completeness and wholeness, but when man elevates himself as supreme, his belief system falters and truth becomes dysfunctional. Art and music reflect this shift.

Rome’s presupposition was that man was supreme. Their gods amplified humanity.
Their values degraded to a thirst for violence and a gratification of the senses through rampant sexuality. Rome was cruel.
Culture and freedom are fragile. Without a standard, pressure and time will destroy them (Schaeffer, p. 23).
In Rome's final days, because man did what was right in his own eyes, chaos ruled. Man allowed an elite, authoritarian government to relieve their civil wars. 
Then tyranny ruled. No one cared who worshipped whom as long as the worshiper did not disrupt the state’s unity—Caesar worship.

Christians were rebels. They would not worship Caesar, only God alone. That was treason.
No totalitarian state “can tolerate those who have an absolute by which to judge that state and its actions” (p. 26). Because Christians had a standard, they were enemies to Rome and fed to the lions. Roman citizens paid to watch as Christians were dismantled.
Apathy was the final stage of Rome, evidenced by lack of creativity. Art was decadent, music was bombastic, and work was poor quality. Freedoms were lost. Oppression increased. Civilization was not worth saving.

Early church leaders like Ambrose of Milan (339-397) and Augustine (354-430) presented biblical Christianity. Later as the church moved away from biblical teaching, art reflected this move. The real figures painted on the catacomb walls changed to mosaics or symbols representing people, and reflecting unrealness.
As the church authority took precedence over the Bible, salvation came through man’s efforts. This effected their values and worth.
Baptized Christians were the only ones deemed worthy of certain jobs.  Jews were non-persons who were relegated to certain occupations like moneylending.
As man became the standard, the church became the supreme power. When man sets the standards, they change with man. 
The farther their authority fell from the Bible, the easier for man’s supremacy to be accepted. Divine revelation and human reason were equal.
Under Charlemagne, the church became an extension of the state power.

Renaissance or “rebirth” was another of man’s attempts to elevate man to the center of all things.
During this time, Aquinas thought man’s fall affected only part of man. His reason was not effected and therefore, man could rely on his own wisdom.
People mixed non-Christian philosophers with the Bible. This diluted the Bible. By its distortion, there were problems.
What gives unity or absolutes and morals?
“If one considers what is created—earth, what is visible, what happens in a cause-and-effect universe, individual things, acts of man—it has no value or absolutes and thus no morals, without an outside source.
God, the Creator, Ruler of the unseen, gives earth unity or absolutes which gives existence and morals and values, and ultimately meaning” (p. 55).

When the Renaissance started with man, they could not give creation meaning. By elevating man, particulars were lost. There was no unity. Meaning disappeared.
By not considering the Outside Source, nature, emotions, and reason became distorted. 
Emotions like love were either totally sensual or totally spiritual. For example, Dante wrote of Beatrice, his mistress, with passion, yet his own wife never had a place in his poetry. She merely cooked and raised his children as a "dray horse" (p. 58). This dichotomy brought ugliness, not beauty.
The humanism of the Renaissance shifted from man as center, to man as his own measure, totally independent of God. Man was taking “great leaps forward.”
With man as center, space became subordinate to man. Mathematical principles resulted from man’s mind.
Art reflected this shift. Portraits became an accepted art form.

Nature held a true-to-life quality. Masaccio was the first painter who used one-point perspective and brought light from the naturally correct direction. His world had real composition. He balanced the figure’s size and shape with the entire picture. He was the first painter with people actually touching the ground.
At the same time but with a different foundation, Jan van Eyck in the north worked the same techniques in his painting Adoration of the Lamb (1432). His central theme was the rich, poor, all classes and backgrounds can come to Christ. Christ was the Lamb of God who died for all sin.
Music brought the art of orchestration. They provided homogeneous sound.

After Masaccio, man made himself more independent and autonomous. This brought loss of meaning.
Art reflected this movement. Prior to this time, Mary was considered holy, above normal people. Paintings of her reflected that purity. During the Renaissance, Mary became a real person, representing what the Bible tells of Mary as a real woman. But as the Renaissance “bloomed,” the king’s mistress was painted as Mary. All holiness was gone, the meaning was destroyed, ugliness ensued. Meaning was lost (p. 71).
When man sets himself up as autonomous: “Man will make himself great” (p. 71).

Michelangelo’s statue of David has few equals. But David was not David from the Bible. Michelangelo knew his Judaism. This David was not circumcised. This was not the biblical David, but a symbol of the humanistic ideal. Man is great. David represented that future, great man. 

Another man during the Renaissance who stood at a crucial place was Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). He was a chemist, musician, architect, anatomist, botanist, mechanical engineer, and artist. He embodied the Renaissance man. Leonardo foresaw where humanism would end. When man starts with man, he finds no meaning in the world. The meaning becomes mechanical. Man becomes a machine. Realizing this, Leonardo tried to bring unity to what was missing by bringing the soul to his art. If he could paint the universal, then he could bring meaning to mathematics. Man can solve every problem. By the end of his life, Leonardo was despondent.  His humanism brought, not unity, only pessimism.
“As a man thinks, so is he.”

As the Renaissance was making man the center in the south of Europe, the Reformation was forming in the north.
During this time, stirrings of the outside Source came.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the Wittenberg church door. 
John Wycliffe (1320-1384) taught the Bible as supreme and final authority, and salvation was through Christ alone.
Reformers corrected Aquinas’s mistake that man’s mind had not fallen. Human reason alone would not solve the problems, only God and His Word.
By this revelation—life, man, and morals have meaning. Distortions from the church were corrected. The Bible united man and nature. Truth was known.
By looking at nature from an outside Source—God, man could know both truth about God and truth about creation. Everything has meaning. Man could be great.

The irony of humanism is that by setting man as center, man loses his value and meaning.
But when man is created in God’s image, he is given dignity, worth, and meaning

Two practical results happened: all vocations had dignity, not just clergy. A housewife had as much dignity as a king, even as all Christians are priests. And all people are equal. This provided the framework for what would later become the democratic government.
But with that Biblical Source, man is fallen. He had rebelled against God. All have sinned. This helps understand man’s greatness and his cruelty.
Man’s sin could only be redeemed by Christ’s death. Salvation through grace alone. The Bible enabled all men to come to God.
As the Bible became their standard, art changed. Prior to this, statues were worshipped, not as art forms, but idols. Reformers destroyed these images, not because they were against art, but because they represented idols.
Bach’s music (1685-1750) represented the Reformation’s theme, “To God alone be the glory.” His music gave unity to creation; therefore, the parts had meaning.
Handel’s Messiah (1741) restored Christianity’s message to music. “The Messiah could only have come forth in a setting where the Bible stood as the center” (p. 92).

As the Reformation developed in the north, the Renaissance blossomed in the south.

Why could those men—Leonardo da Vince and Michelangelo—with a humanistic viewpoint still paint beauty?
All men are made in the image of God.
God is creative. Man will be too.
A person’s world view will  show in his creative output.
Reformers showed their biblical base. Rembrandt showed through his paintings that his sins had sent Christ to the cross.
Rembrandt was a man of the Reformation. He did not idealize nature nor demean it. Because of his biblical base, he painted people with psychological depth. Man was great, but man was also cruel, broken, and rebellious against God. He lived in the midst of God’s creation, but did not have to make himself god. Whole life was presented with dignity and beauty.

The Reformation gave a clarity to where beliefs lead. The freedoms gained by the Reformation made man responsible and accountable as determined by the Bible. This required even monarchs to be accountable to God. The law gave a standard, not movable by man's whim.

In contrast, in the south with the Renaissance, their freedom became license. Why? Man without God has no absolutes or morals.
Those in the north under the Reformation stood on the Bible with its freedom, yet values. Those in the south held no restraint, leading to anarchy.

Wherever the Bible is taught, though distorted by man, it has changed society, arts, and politics.

Remember Rome? A Roman citizen held privileges and selective freedoms not given to others. (The Apostle Paul was treated differently as a Roman citizen.)
The Reformation gave these privileges to all men, for all men were created by God.

Because the Reformation recognized fallen man, they were not romantic about fallen man, especially those in power. They placed checks and balances on the government.
Paul Robert (1851-1923) painted Justice Lifts the Nations. He painted Justice pointing her sword toward a book on which was written “The Law of God.” This provided the legal base for society.

According to the Bible, absolutes don’t change. Man can say, "This is right or wrong." God does exist. Justice is good and not just expedient.
Alexander Vinet (1797-1847) said, “Christianity is the immortal seed of freedom of the world” (p. 106). 

The Reformation created riches in both government and society. Things flourished.
By acknowledging God and His Word as the standard, culture and true freedom in society and government could be established. The Bible’s absolutes provided a means to judge society. One citizen can stand against the majority and declare their actions wrong.

Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) presented a government of laws based on the Bible as its base.
John Witherspoon brought Rutherford’s writing into the United States Constitution, laying forms for freedom.
John Lock, also influenced by Rutherford, stressed inalienable rights, government by consent, separation of powers, and right of revolution. All these biblical bases were discovered in Rutherford’s work based on this biblical background. 

Locke’s own work emphasized “natural rights.” “Empiricism would rest everything on experience. But ‘natural rights’ must either be innate to the nature of man and not based on experience (thereby conflicting with the concept of empiricism) or they must have an adequate base other than man’s experience” (p. 110).
Lock’s view contradicted Rutherford’s Christian base. (He secularized Christian teaching.)

This brings up the point: an individual can live in the realm of Christian consensus, yet not be a Christian.  Many men who laid the foundation of the United States Constitution were not Christians, yet were willing to live under its rules.
“To whatever degree a society allows the teaching of the Bible to bring forth its natural conclusions, it is able to have form and freedom in society and government” (p. 110).

By secularizing Christian teaching, distortion to biblical justice resulted in two racial abuses: slavery and the abuse of wealth.
Aristotle defined a slave as a living tool. The black man was not a person  but something, forsaking the biblical standard that all men are equal. 
In Europe, men stood against these policies to end slavery.
John Howard (1726-1790) labored for prison reforms.
Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885) battled against exploiting women and children in mines and factories.
John Wesley (1703-1791) criticized slavery.
John Newton (1725-1807), former slave trader now converted Christian, fought to stop slavery.
William Wilberforce (1759-1833) fought in Parliament to recognize the black man’s humanity under God.
“The British taxpayers paid twenty million pounds sterling as compensation to the owners of the slaves. One could wish that the United States had had some outstanding Christian as consistent as Wilberforce, someone in a position of influence who could have produced the same result in the United States at the same date, or better, much before!” (p. 118).

The other racial abuse was the emphasis on accumulated wealth. No biblical base was acknowledged during the Industrial Revolution. Man held no limits. The church stayed silent. It was not accumulation of wealth that was wrong, but the discrepancy between the vast wealth of the few and the suffering of the many.

The evils of slavery and the uncompassionate use of wealth merged. The Biblical standard was ignored. This allowed “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” to be manipulated.

Non-Christian influences worked in culture and society. Influential people, calling themselves "Christian," were not Christian at all, but merely using the socially acceptable church-going form as a means to further their own needs. Clergy changed their message to appeal to their congregation. The Gospel was no longer needed. Man was not a sinner.
Society will change when the Gospel is preached.

Man has not achieved perfection, even with the Bible as the standard, because man still rebels, thus the Enlightenment came.

The Enlightenment
Man wanted reason, nature, happiness, progress and liberty to shape his destiny. 
Man was center again.
Man and society could be made perfect.

When the French Revolution tried to reproduce America’s conditions without the Reformation base, the result was a bloodbath and anarchy. The cause? Man was center.
This welcomed Napoleon Bonaparte to control their chaos. That’s how perfect man could be.

In the Russian Revolution, the same humanistic system created anarchy, then welcomed repression to bring control.
When Lenin analyzed the Paris Communists defeat in 1871, he concluded, “The Commune had not killed enough of its enemies” (p. 127).
Lenin acted on this conclusion. As leader, Lenin set up oppression never before seen, controlling not only political freedom, but freedom in every area of life. 

Karl Marx’s teaching in 1848 Manifesto of the Communist Party declared marriage as part of capitalism (private prostitution) and the family to be destroyed.
Man’s worth became cheap.

Machiavelli (1469-1527) witnessed the Florentine republicanism. He said that an “ideal” prince could push through the cycles of power by ruthlessness. His book, The Prince became the handbook Mussolini and Hitler used—standing in contrast to the checks-and-balances brought by the Reformation.

The Greeks, Moslems and Chinese lost interest in science, because their base was wrong.
But scientists operating on a Christian base know objective truth is attainable. This truth brings a rightness to work and dignity to all vocations.

Not only could non-Christians paint beauty, but non-Christians could research and find truth, based on the premise that all men are made in God’s image, even though not all are redeemed. Scientists can research with confidence, expecting truth by observation and experiments, based on a world created by God, the outside Source.

Medieval science depended upon authority not observation. Logic ruled over experimentation.
When Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253) challenged Aristotle’s science (that man’s mind was infallible), science expanded.

Copernicus, Galileo, and Bacon—all Christians—furthered science by changing the base upon which science was based. “Because the early scientists believed that the world was created by a reasonable God, they were not surprised to discover that people could find out something true about nature and the universe on the basis of reason” (p. 133).
Man was not autonomous.
These early scientists had no problem asking why.
The same God Who had given the truth of the Bible would reveal truth in nature and the universe.
There was a unity.
The Creator has implanted laws in the universe that man can discover.
God made a cause-and-effect universe.
But it is an OPEN universe.
God is outside the universe, infinite and supreme.
All that exists is not a machine that can be explained by natural causes.
There is a place for God to intervene and change.
There is a place for man to operate.
The machine is not everything. Man is not part of the machine. Man can be man.
With the Christian base of God, people were free to investigate all things.

The worldview shows and determines how these creative stirrings proceed and continue.
But Christians are influenced by humanistic thought, distorting the truth. Man's thoughts crept in and became supreme, again.
When this foundation was lost, momentum carried it toward pragmatic needs of technology and changed its emphasis.

Plato saw if there were no absolutes, then individual things (like nature or man) had no meaning. There is no unity to the whole.
Absolutes don't change.
For morals to exist, there must be absolutes and real values.
Without absolutes, what is there to know? We have no meaning.
If man provides the ideas, who judges between an individual and a group?

The Reformation acknowledged an open system, where God and man were outside the system of cause-and-effect.
Man was held accountable for his actions; he wasn’t just made to respond.
Modern Science closed the system. That left no place for God. Man disappears.
Everything, including man, becomes part of a cosmic machine.

Today this mechanical cause-and-effect is applied to psychology and sociology.
Man no longer has choice or a will. He must respond.
In this closed view, not only did God died, but man died.
Love died.
Morals don’t exist.
Freedom is non-existent.
People must respond, like the machines they are.
Life becomes pointless, with no meaning.

Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” enabling man to explain everything through naturalistic science. This view allowed racism and uncompassionate use of accumulated wealth to be respectable in the name of “science.” This also enabled the Nazi regime to further “the survival of the fittest.”

After World War I, political and economic chaos in Germany created an environment ripe for grasping any hope. The confidence and optimism of man answering all their problems failed.  Man could not solve his own problems.

Leonardo da Vinci saw this in the Renaissance. Everything becames mechanics. Man became a machine.
“The noble savage” anticipated man to elevate himself to civilized man.

Rousseau saw civilization as evil, that restraint, culture, authority, and absolutes inhibited man's freedom. He wanted the freed individual as center of the universe.
Yet the utopian society was not achieved by the French Revolution. Instead, death came. Humanistic utopianism ends in tyranny.

Rousseau further argued that the best education was no education. 
His autonomous freedom led to the Bohemian ideal where all society’s standards, values and restraints should be removed. This led to the hippie movement of the 1960’s.

Consider Rousseau’s follower Gauguin. In his hunt for total freedom, Gauguin abandoned his family and went to Tahiti to find the noble savage. The noble savage was illusory. In his painting—Whence are We? What Are We? Whither Do We Go?—Gauguin showed that man in himself cannot answer these questions.
Uninhibited freedom became death and cruelty. He failed while trying to commit suicide.

David Hume (1711-1776) criticized reason as a method of knowing truth. He questioned the ability that cause-and-effect gains knowledge. He elavated human experience and feeling.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) equated nature and truth. This made nature god.
As reason was the hero of the Enlightenment, now emotion became the hero for Romanticism.
Beethoven followed this stream into music.
Wordsworth found his values in man’s instincts not reason.

The concept that natural was morally good became accepted. They applied this natural law to civil law.
But nature is cruel, as well as non-cruel. If nature is now the measure of goodness, cruelty becomes equal to non-cruelty. Nature gives no standard.

If nature is all, then what IS is right. Nothing more can be said.
The result?
Sadism and cruelty, especially to women.
Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) understood the logical conclusion of deifying nature. “As nature has made us (the men) the strongest, we can do with her (the woman) whatever we please” (p. 160). With no moral distinctions, no value system, what IS is right.

But rationalism held man as a machine. But man could not be a machine AND have freedom. (That implies a will, choice, responsibility.) There is no unity.
By emphasizing man as becoming perfect, then morality is relativized. Truth and right change with man. There are no absolutes.
Truth has died.

Reason brought pessimism. 
Meaning must be found without reason.
Where did man turn? 
Without reason, man turned to faith. Not faith in an outside Source, for the system is closed and man is still autonomous.

Optimism is blind and based on non-reason. To achieve meaning, everything people did was determined. Man must act this way. Freedom or choice was an illusion.

By making himself great, man found he is nothing but molecules linked together with no meaning. To make it work, man added time.
Yet man cannot live like a machine. Leonardo da Vinci guessed it long before modern man.
Man's machine became intellectual suicide by separating meaning and values from reason (p 166).

Karl Jasper (1883-1969) suggested a “final experience” that would give meaning. This gave man hope. But to verbalize this "experience" was impossible and so it slipped through one’s fingers as nebulous.

Huxley proposed drugs to provide that experience. They no longer waited for their experience.
Truth was found in one’s own head.
Objective truth was gone.

Music became the means to carry the drug culture. Hinduism and Buddhism united with the Western World.
Goethe, Wagner and others brought Eastern thinking together.
Drugs, Eastern meditation, and occults brought this experience to our minds.
The chasm between reason and non-reason grew. The result was no unity.

How did this change theology?
Some tried to hold Jesus as a historical figure without his miracles (after all he is just a machine, too).
By removing the supernatural, there could be no historical Jesus. He was outside the sphere of man.
The Bible must have mistakes, yet it could provide "religious experience."
Have faith—not in Someone, but faith in faith.
Christ could be exchanged for Krishna. They are equal.
Reason has no place; therefore, no discussion can be made.
This cannot explain evil. Everything is equally god. Cruelty is equal to non-cruelty. There is no measure of right or wrong.

God is dead, because God represents nothing. Emotions can bring up a form of God, but He does not exist.
“If God is dead, then everything for which God gives an answer and meaning is dead” (p 178).

With no personal God, all is dead. Yet man is man, not machine. He cries for meaning.
Nietzsche’s words are profound: “But all pleasure seeks eternity” (p 180).
If the infinite-personal God does not exist, insanity was the only philosophic answer. Nietzsche went insane.

This philosophy propounds “the greatest good for the greatest number.” Sounds high and noble.
That phrase encourages cruelty for a few so that more can have "good."
But lived out it becomes a “scientist concentrating on some small point of science so that he does not have to think of any of the big questions, …it can be a skier concentrating for years on knocking one-tenth of a second from a downhill run. Or it can as easily be a theological word game within the structure of existential methodology. That is where modern people, building only on themselves, have come, and that is where they are now” (p. 181).

Art reflects this disunity
Monet portrayed this ideology. Nature became a dream. Impressionism fell apart.

Post-Impressionists tried to bring back reality, to have absolutes for individual things. Art tried to bring man’s view back to truth.
Instead, it merely showed life's fragmentation.  Extreme abstraction reflected this attempt.
Reality was so fragmented that man was left to make up his own world. Man was lost.
The more art tended to be an intellectual statement, rather than art, the more it became anti-art.

Believing all nature came about by chance leads to devaluation of all things. Picasso reflected this fragmentation. Yet when he painted Olga and later Jacqueline, his wives, Picasso painted them as they really were. They meant something to him.
Music reflected this absurdity by removing order, hovering suspension, producing chaos and ultimately noise.

John Cage showed one could not live on such a base—chance did not fit with the universe as it is. “If I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operation, I would die shortly.” Mushroom picking must be selective. His chance theory did not fit the universe that existed.

Positivism basically says that "look at an object, there it is." Yet scientists did not look at objects with total objectivity.
Without total neutrality, positivism can no longer be a base for knowing.
When positivism died, humanism had no base for knowing anything certain.

Modern man was in trouble. These thoughts are not confined to art, music or movies.
People function daily on the basis of their world view.
For this reason, it is unsafe to walk at night through the streets of our cities. Every man does what was right in his own eyes.
“As a man thinks, so is he.” 

To function, people adopted two values: personal peace and affluence.

“Personal peace means just to be let alone…be undisturbed... Affluence means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity—a life made up of things, things, and more things—success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance” (p. 205).

When the Christian base is removed, the work ethic no longer has meaning. Work becomes ugly. There is no reason to work. Without values work means nothing. It has no meaning. "Can't wait for the weekend mentality."
The utopian dream brought death to the mind through drugs. When on drugs, problems are solved.
But the drug world was ugly. It was not the solution.
Drugs provided only the escape.

What was left?
Apathy. Just like Rome. Hope was gone. 
To control the resulting chaos, a leader came on the scene.
In Russia, it was Communism.
In Russia, “young people are acquiring the conviction that foul deeds are never punished on earth, that they always bring prosperity. It is going to be uncomfortable, horrible, to live in such a country.” 
Marxist-Leninism used Christianty's words—freedom, dignity, rights—but without its base. It was empty, without meaning. No individual had dignity.

U.S. courts can rule what they feel is sociologically helpful at the moment. The courts not only interpret laws; they make the laws.

As Christian consensus died, hedonism reigned. Every man does his own thing. But society based on hedonism brings chaos.
One man can do as he pleases on an island by himself, but two men cannot both do as they please without confrontation.

Jeremiah was one, lone man proclaiming truth to the Israelites. He told them to repent. From what? He had an absolute, the Bible.
But now, no longer is one individual able to judge society regardless of the majority.

Hedonism has no absolutes. With a 51% majority, that lone man must sit down.

Hitler was perfectly entitled to do as he wished, if he had popular support.
In that same thought, if the majority voted it would be right to kill the old, the ill, the insane, the misfit, the unwanted, no voice could raise against it.
Sexual right and wrong depend only on what most people are doing at this moment in history.
Modern man changed the law.

Greeks built their foundation on the majority. It was not strong enough. When chaos ensued, and majority could not calm the tide.
What is left?
One man or one elite group who ruled with their own rules. “If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute” (p. 224). 

Leonardo da Vinci saw it coming. Starting with man leads us to nothing.

Franky Schaeffer said it like this, “Humanism has changed the 23rd Psalm.
                                                              They began—I am my shepherd.
                                                              Then—Sheep are my shepherd.
                                                              Then—Everything is my shepherd.
                                                              Finally—Nothing is my shepherd.” (p. 226).

In Judges, Israel turned from God and truth.
Jeremiah cried, "There was death in the city." It was not just physical death; it was death of a culture and society.

In the end, Rome was marked by “degeneracy, decadence, depravity, and a love of violence for violence’s sake” (p. 226).
Society cannot stand chaos.
Someone or group will fill the vacuum and offer peace and freedom.
In Communism, the elite filled the vacuum. The elite answered all decisions of government, business, education, and man’s daily life. They controlled everything.

Where are the Wilberforces today who shout against wrong?
Will Christians show the world that meaning comes only from God?
Or will they give up their liberties little by little as long as their own personal peace and prosperity is not challenged?

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire said Rome was marked by these five attributes before it fell: 1. mounting love of show and luxury (affluence), 2. a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor, 3. an obsession with sex, 4. freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasm pretending to be creativity, and 5. an increased desire to live off the state (p. 227).

We have come full circle. We are back at Rome.

Where do we find meaning? Only by acknowledging God for Who He is.


Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture.Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1976.

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               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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Memories of a Hero Mom
The Ripple Effect
How Do We Think Like Jesus
Litany of a Waiting Woman
Ever Cook a Frog?
New Year's Reminders
They Galled Her Gammy
When God Speaks
A Russian Christmas Story
Be Thankful
Be Grateful
Are You Tired of the Same, Old Thing?
Laughter—Why Laugh?
Are You Disturbed?
Unity of the Brothers
Encouragements To Declutter
Do You Have Too Much Stuff?
Too Much Stress
Getting Past the Noise—The Value of Silence
Are You Scatterbrained?
How Good Are You?
Looking for Something Good To Read?
A Cup of Cold Water
I Will Trust When I Cannot See
Encouragement—What Is It?
Being in God's Presence
"Einstein and the Professor"
When God Is Silent
Do You Crave Beauty?
Using Stories to Discipline
The Danger of the Wrong Story
Using Stories to Teach Lessons
God is in charge of the future
November Dare Joy Challenge
Developing an Attitude of Gratitude
Looking for Jesus
What Do Your Prayers Reflect?
Life's Little Pleasures
Daniel—Greatly Loved by God
Take Every Thought
Jars of Clay
What Do Your Words Reveal about Your Heart?
How Do You Get Strong Faith?
Too Busy for God's Word?
How Do You Think Like Jesus?
Reflections from a Mom
Pain—What's It Good For?
Why Marry?
Consider the Robin
One Life Who Made a Difference
What Day Are You Living In?
Interrupted by God
Is Jesus Really the Answer to Everything?
Are You Beat Up?
What's Your Hurry?
Are You a Manipulator?
Are You Salty?
Are You Condemned?
Trying to Understand?
Do You Expect Answers to Your Prayers?
Do You Eat Your Stress?
Need Focus?
Going through Trouble?
Immanuel—God with Us
Looking for a Relationship?
When God Says, "No!"
What Do You Do with Left-Overs?
How Great Is Your God?
Are You Needy?
How Do You See Sin?
What Do Your Words Mean?
Is Evil Overwhelming You?
Those Aha Moments
Is Your Soul Happy?
Are You Ignored?
Looking for the God Moment
Do You Know Truth from Almost Truth?
I Believe in Jesus—What Now?
Do You Have Your "Son"-Glasses On?
Less Is More
Singing His Praise
Are You Trying To Do It All?
What Do You Do with All These Prayer Requests?
Have a Problem?
Do You Know How to Pray?
Looking for God in Every Moment
Are You Receptive to God's Blessings?
Tell the Senate: Mothers Aren't Birthing People
Is Your Life Complicated?
How Do We Fight Evil?
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Giving Up or Taking Away
the Bible is simple
Are You a Dripping Faucet?
What's Your Testimony?
The Final Move
Be Careful What You Wish For!
Are Your Prayers Answered?
I Choose Joy
What Have You Learned from Your Hardship?
Who Are You Trying to Change?
What's Your Five-Year Plan?
The Danger of "Aloneness"
My Colors
Are You a Whiner?
Are Your Works Approved?
Do You Think You're Stressed?
Is Your Soul Feeling Ragged?
God Speaks to the Heart of the King
What about the Details?
Have You Felt the Long-Suffering of God?
How Does God Lead You?
Do You Have Enough?
Don't Carry More than You Need
Cast the Seed
God Is Faithful
Are You Deceived?
Are You Essential?
Are You Safe?
Are You Tired of the Same Old Thing?
Does the World Make Sense?
Have You Seen God's Majesty?
Do You Feel Judged?
If You Only Had One More Day To Live
Are You Understood?
Do You Long for the Word of God?
Slow Down and Smell the Dead Leaves
Are You Hospitable?
Our Heritage Is Bought by Blood
Are You Disturbed?
Are You Depressed?
I Did It My Way
Finding the Simple Life with Meaning
The Simple Life
Do You Have the Right Words?
Did Your Dream Die?
On the Other Side of the Fence
Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence
Confessions of a Desperate Mom
Saving for Tomorrow
A Wedding Remembered
Who Will Stand in the Gap?
Are You a Protector or a Ruler?
Who Are You?
Are You an Image Bearer or a Wad of Cells?
Are You a Watchman?
Where Do You Find Meaning?
The Lamb of God as Told by a Scribe
What Love Is This?
Remember: The Symbols of Passover Explained
Tea and Rest
Do You Have Peace?
What Makes a Marriage Work?
When Life Is Awful
Are You Strong Enough?
Be Faithful through Suffering
Do You Know the Word?
Wake Up! Strengthen What Remains
Are You Spit in God's Mouth?
Is Jezebel in Your Midst?
Do You Stand Against Satan Himself?
Are You Tired of Being a Mom?
What in the World Is Happening?
It's Not My Story
How Would Your Faith Compare?
Are You Sinking?
Are You a Rule Follower?
Useful for Him
An Intimate Moment with Mary
The Worldview that Makes the

Thoughts to Ponder
What Does It Take To Know the
    Heart of God?

See the Story in the Stars
Do the Scriptures Burn You?
Being in His Presence
Contentment: It's Not for the Timid
How Secure Are You?
How Do You Respond To Stupid People?
The Earthworm Is My Hero
Heart Issues or Issues of the Heart
Things Aren't Always What They Seem
More faith articles are found here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Or here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Articles on Suffering can be found  here, 
under Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Special Days
Remember: The Symbols of 
   Passover Explained

Aug 12, 2017 The Heavens Declare the Glory of God
July 4th, Freedom
What Is an American Soldier?
Valentine's Day: A Day of Love?
Memorial Day-A Day To Remember
Veterans' Day-To Honor Our Men
Fall Colors
First Thanksgiving Day

Christmas: Stories behind the Songs
Christmas: Stories behind the Songs, part 2