Tuesday, April 15, 2014

HOW TO STOP BEING A ZOMBIE

Believe it or not, many of the people in this world today are zombies. Worse yet, they don't know that they don't know that they are. Fortunately, there is a way to become unzombied, if there is such a word.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus that "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:" Unless a person is born again, as Jesus told Nicodemus, they can't see the kingdom of heaven. This means that non-Christians are dead to the spiritual truth of God and therefore need to be born of the spirit.

All this means that people aren't truly alive without becoming adopted into the family of Christ. All the good works in the world won't get people to heaven because they are done with wrong, often self-centered, motives.

Because Christ was raised from the dead physically, we who believe in him also have the assurance of physical resurrection. But first we need to be made alive spiritually. By repenting of our sins and surrendering our lives to Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit. This third person of the Godhead helps us understand the Bible and become steadily more like Christ. This process is called sanctification.

God has made the good news, called the gospel, so easy that even a child can understand it. Yet theologians spend their lives plumbing the depths of this wonderful offer from the Lord. If you wish to be made alive spiritually, admit to God in prayer that you're a sinner and you need saving from the eternal death sentence all humanity inherited from Adam and Eve. Jesus said he would never turn away anybody who came to him and asked for forgiveness.

The next step is to find a church where the pastor teaches from the Bible and explains what each verse means in context with the rest of Scripture. Since so many churches have ministers who would rather give moral advice than explain what God has said, it's a good idea to pray for help in finding a well-balanced church.

I wish I had known all of this when I surrendered my life to Christ at a home-based vacation Bible school in 1969. Because nobody helped me understand my new life, I ended up in a cultic house church. I wrote how the Lord led me to freedom in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. You can find out more about this wonderful story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"WHAT DID YOU DO, TAKE MUSIC LESSONS?"

Electronic music has been my passion for decades. The sound of analogue synthesizers evokes a sense of wonder in my soul. Being so moved by that futuristic sound, I purchased two electronic keyboards and a second-hand Realistic MG-1 synthesizer. With the help of an electronic music program host's four-track cassette recorder, I composed about six hours of tunes.

During the spring of 1989, I embarked on a project I called Seventeen Sites. Each track was named after an airport in Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories of Canada. Having no CD-R burner and having a CD made being so expensive, I recorded copies onto cassette tapes.

In the past, some of my friends complained that my music was repetitive and simplistic. I decided to strive for a melodic sound rather than only for a unique effect. The results astonished my friends, especially a DJ at CJSR, the local university radio station, named Gene Kosowan.

"What did you do, take music lessons?" he asked after hearing the tape. "This music is so much better than your other stuff."

I felt amazed that he was so impressed with my latest work. But an even bigger surprise came in July When a track from Seventeen Sites called "Hay River soared to the top of the weekly music chart. "You're number one," Gene announced over the phone to me one evening. I didn't understand what he meant until he explained that my tune was at the top of the chart that week. I had copied the tune to a C-10 cassette, never suspecting it would become so popular.

Twenty-five years later, I uploaded some of these tracks to SoundCloud, along with others that I recorded over the years. My hope is to create YouTube videos for these tunes using stock photos of the various places which each track is named for.

These days, I'm busily promoting my new book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. People need to be on their guard when listening to persuasive preachers peddling new ideas. I didn't know about such false shepherds and became trapped in a cult for fifteen years. Read more about this wondrous testimony of God's providential leading at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WINDOWS XP SUPPORT ENDS TODAY

Those who know me well understand that I don't like changing something that works and that I find useful. This is particularly true of computer programs and operating systems.

I resisted switching from DOS to Windows until November of 2000. Even then, I had Windows 98 installed on my new PC because I heard it had all the bugs worked out of it. What a disaster that was. It kept crashing and giving me all kinds of grief. In spite of it's problems, I resisted upgrading until 2008.

Though friends said that Windows XP worked well, I felt skeptical. "Could any Microsoft product work properly?" I thought whenever folks mentioned XP's excellent performance.

When I had a new computer custom-built for me in 2008, I let the tech install XP. My friends were right about it working better than past Windows operating systems. I'm still glad that the end of support for Windows 98 forced me to buy a new PC.

Now I face the same problem again. My old faithful operating system won't be supported with bug fixes and security updates after today, leaving me more vulnerable to hackers. Replacing Windows XP feels like jumping into the unknown but I need to upgrade sooner or later.

Thanks to the Radway Library, I have another PC which runs XP. If my programs aren't compatible with the new computer's operating system, I can always use that machine. Meanwhile, I'll have to adjust to Windows 8 or 8.1 and it's changes from XP.

For more information about the discontinuation of XP and how to test your machine to discover if 8.1 works on it, visit the Microsoft site.

As for MS DOS, I wrote all three of my books using it as well as WordPerfect 5.1. My first two paperbacks are featured on my Bruce Atchison's books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is in e-book, as well as paperback form, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMMERS

In my previous post, I wrote how my foolish notion of getting rich the easy way led me into many sorrows. The same applied for material blessing fads preached even today. Virgin Mobile recently sent me an e-mail outlining ways to protect ourselves from scammers. Here are these tips, paraphrased so I won't be sued.

Watch out for aggressive and pushy marketers, whether on the phone or by e-mail. They want to make you feel intimidated or guilty so you'll give them whatever information they ask for. I got conned into installing an expensive alarm system by a salesman who grew angry at my hesitation. I didn't want to seem churlish so I signed up. What a mistake that was, both in money and in lousy customer service.

Beware of chances to win prizes, especially if the caller or e-mailer doesn't give a recognizable company name. The same applies to claims that you've won something. I got burned by the "free alarm system" bait and switch by that alarm company I just mentioned.

Never give out any personal information over the phone or e-mail to anybody claiming to be your bank, phone provider, or any other business. When in doubt, call the number of that business from the phone book and ask if they called about needing updated account information. People have fallen for this trick and paid dearly for it.

Additionally, I've received calls claiming my computer was sending out malware. The individual claimed to be from Microsoft or a company affiliated with them. By installing a program on my computer, he claimed that it would stop sending out viruses. This is a ruse to gain access to your PC. The malware that this supposed computer company would install on your hard drive would take all your personal information and send out malicious code. Well-established companies such as AVG have better anti virus programs and they don't contain spyware. Freeware programs often conceal this elicit code as toolbars which install even if you click "No."

Many countries now have agencies which track down scammers. If you feel that some person or agency is impersonating the police or trying to trick you, call these agencies or the authorities. Only by being wise about personal data and not falling for too-good-to-be-true offers will keep you safe. Reporting scams can help your police forces track down these miscreants, thus saving others from falling into these traps.

I also mentioned in my previous post about How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It shows how I fell for many incredible lies. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers distribute this inspiring testimony of God's providential rescue of my soul.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

THERE REALLY IS NO FREE LUNCH

"Congratulations! You've just won a free trip to the Bahamas!" That's the phone message I keep getting from somebody hoping to trap me with a too-good-to-be-true scheme. Though the principle of offering something for nothing is ancient, modern people still fall for it. Why? Because people have the silly hope that maybe this time it'll work out for them.

I've fallen many times in the past for such easy-money schemes. Amway was one of the first to enchant me. It sounded so possible with its sponsorship of "downlines" who would sponsor more people and so on. Friends tried to warn me that only the few at the top would reap the real benefits of my hard work but I refused to listen. After five years of giving it my best, I realized that my friends were right.

I also became caught up in the Principal Group scandal of 1987. A man called me one day and said a friend recommended this investment plan that would net me a startling twenty percent annually. As I listened to his sales pitch, I realized this could be the break I was looking for. I invested fifty dollars into the scheme and also coaxed my brother to also put in his entry-level investment. Then the news broke regarding the arrest of the leaders of this Ponzi scheme. Though I felt fortunate that I received twenty-six bucks back, I hadn't been cured of my delusion regarding easy money.

The woman who sponsored me into Amway called me up all excited one evening. I thought she was just practicing some new pitch to convince prospects but this was something different. After rushing to the bank and withdrawing a fifty dollar bill from my account, I folded carbon paper around it and posted it to the name at the top of a list my friend gave me. Once again, a news report burst my bubble and I came down with a hard thud.

Believe it or not, there is a spiritual con game spreading through churches in the west and even into third world countries. Preachers such as Joseph Prince, Joel Olsteen, and Joyce Meyer are teaching that you can get whatever you want if you just keep positively confessing that you have it. They teach that we can speak good or ill fortune into our lives. I fell for this nonsense more than forty years ago and the lack of results turned me against God for nine years.

In How I Was Razed, I wrote about how I was taken in by false teaching and chain-letter-like gimmicks. This testimony of God's sovereign rescue of my soul is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

YOU'VE LEFT THE GROUP, NOW WHAT?

Do you feel embarrassed because you were in a cult? Please don't feel that way. Many otherwise-clear-thinking individuals have been fooled by false claims. Often times, what was initially a friendly group becomes a spiritual and even physical trap.

Realizing the need, some caring ex-cult members have set up groups designed to be a safe place for former members to belong to. Because most Christian churches still lack the insight and compassion to help those who were spiritually abused, various groups are taking up the slack.

The Cult FAQ site is one of many which provide excellent resources. Links on the main page take seekers of emotional and spiritual help to sites providing everything they need to know. I wish I had access to these resources when I left the aberrant house church that abused my trusting nature for more than fifteen years.

As for the types of cults which people have been trapped in, the Cult Watch site is loaded with information. This resource is good for exiting members but it also helps relatives of those caught in abusive organizations.

The Cult Help site also contains an extensive list of cult reviews and information on various "isms." A dash of humor is also added by the site owner to lighten things up. In addition to Christian cults, various types of political, psychological, and eastern cults are listed.

Some of these online groups specialize in particular cults. The Exit and Support Group Network assists as well as supports exiters of the Worldwide Church of God, or any related controlling splinter group or offshoot.  This site helps those who have suffered spiritual, psychological and financial abuse as well as exploitation by these pseudo-churches.

A Google search for "ex-cult support will bring up many more links to helpful pages. Some are for particular individuals while others help with those who have left any abusive and controlling group. As with anything in life, check these organizations out before taking their advice.

What a shame that nobody mentored me when I gave my life to Christ in 1969. Had somebody done so, I most likely wouldn't have fallen for the blatant blasphemy preached at a house church. Nevertheless, I wrote my memoir of how I was deceived and how God led me out of the cultic mindset. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

I also have set up a group on Linked In called Ex-Christian-Cult Member Support. Anybody who has been snared in deceptive organizations and wishes to talk about their experiences is welcome to join.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

HOW THE BLEB SAVES MY SIGHT

Glaucoma is a sneaky disease. People's eyes often have problems with draining the excess fluid from inside. Consequently, everybody with the malady is unaware of it. Excess pressure damages the optic nerve, causing irreversible blindness if it's left untreated. Patients are advised by ophthalmologists to have their eye pressure checked regularly to prevent this damage from occurring.

Unfortunately for me, my mother wasn't aware of this danger and how serious it can be. In the autumn of 1973, I complained to her that I was seeing rainbows around lights  with my left eye. Mom promised to call a ophthalmologist about it but she put it off for five months. By that time, I had lost most of the vision in my left eye.

Complicating maters was that my brain compensated for the lost vision by making it seem to me that I still had vision in my left eye. Otherwise, I'd have complained much more strenuously once I couldn't see with it.

I began taking eye drops in 1975. The medicine helped for a while but by 1984, my pressures went up alarmingly. Laser surgery didn't help because the holes made by ophthalmologists soon healed over.

Conventional surgery in 1986 worked for a while but I was soon back at the clinic with high eye pressures. After conventional surgery again in 1990, my pressures stayed low for a few years.

By March of 1995, they had gone up alarmingly. The new ophthalmologist felt shocked that my previous doctor had let the pressure build up while saying he couldn't see anything wrong. The new specialist pulled some strings and got me into surgery that week rather than waiting the usual three to five months.

Instead of cutting a hole and leaving it that way, the new ophthalmologist put in a plastic tube called a Bleb. It's worked remarkably well for me during the past nine years. Never have I needed another operation since.

My poor vision has always caused me grief. In Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, I wrote about being sent five-hundred miles from home for months at a stretch. I also mentioned my poor vision in When A Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies. Both books are available from the Bruce Atchison's books page.

How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity shows how cruel a certain house church was to me regarding my poor vision. You can read more about how God led me out of that sick congregation at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.