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Friday, February 12, 2010

There are lots of stories in the Bible telling us about creation!
  

So many people think there is one creation story in the bible. Sorry folk, there are more! There are more than two as well! Creation comes up quite often in different books of the bible. Here is a few of these stories:

 

Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3           Earths Full Creation – detailed by OT chiasmus

Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 2:7           Modern Man creation – (2 couplets concluded with a triplet)

Genesis 2:7 to end of 3                  Spiritual man creation and fall (why all mankind sins)

Genesis 5:1-3                                   Review of Man’s creation (short)

Deut 4:32                                           A statement that God created Man. (simple)

Psalm 89:12                                      A statement that God created heavens and Earth (simple)

Job 4:17                                             A statement that God created Man (simple)

John 1:1-3                                         Initial statements (Part of NT Chiasmus)

Revelation 21                                   (New heavens and New Earth)

 

Hmmm! Perhaps we need to read the lot before we start to consider what God is trying to say about creation? This could take a long time, that’s why I summarized them above.

 

It is really interesting that the first Chapter of John is also in Chiasmus! This Chiasmus starts with a statement about the creation. It’s interesting to compare the start of the Old Testament creations Chiasmus with the start of the New Testament creations Chiasmus.


 
Old Testament: Genesis  (New International Version)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
 

New Testament: John 1-3 (New International Version)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
 


These taken together these show that GOD was there, the WORD was there, and the SPIRIT was there! Later in that chapter written by John the WORD is explained to be JESUS!

 

This means that combined, they show the three persons of the Christian God were there right in the beginning taking part in getting things going! That’s cool!

 

These were written almost 1500 years apart and yet, they form a whole. God is central in both! Not only do they form a whole, but the central concepts of both the Chiasmus’ also form a whole! The New Testament has as a central part of its Chiasmus which is the following

 

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent,not of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” 


Now let’s put them together and see what they say:

 OT: “God created man in his own image
                In the image of God
      He created him, male and female he created them.”
NT: “Yet to all who received him,
 
           to those who believed in his name,
                  he gave the right to become children
                       of
God
                  children born not of natural descent,
           not of human decision or a husband’s will,
 
        but born of God.”

 Cool how these come together perfectly to explain why God created us and this earth!
This code puts the codes of “The Da Vinci Code” to shame!
  It’s REAL and TRUTH!  

That is what God wants to say about creation! 


Okay, I know I still have to explain the “day” thing!

Fri, February 12, 2010 | link          Comments

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Godís creation or scientific fact- the Genesis 1 conflict

In summary, there is a big argument out in the world it goes as follows:


 
“The bible says the Earth was created in 7 days, and the scientist’s perspective of earth’s creation / evolution is that it happened about 4.5 billion years!” 


The stupidity of this is that many people use this as an excuse not to respect Jesus. Huh!? Where do they get that?

 

There is a provable core truth that God wanted us to get out of Genesis 1. This is hard for scientists to refute, and not hard for Christians to prove. I will explain after I set the basis of our discussion. What we need to understand is that the bible was written a very long time ago, to a more primitive people, to explain to them how they could get to know God. It was never a science textbook!  In fact science still had to be invented after Jesus died!

 

God wanted us to understand ‘One Key Fact’ from Genesis 1 and to understand it we have to understand something called Chiasmus.

 

Chiasmus is a form of Jewish poetry without the rhyming words.

 

Chiasmus is a way of writing in which coupled concepts radiate out from a central key concept to emphasis it! See one example in the diagram below:

  Chiasmus1john3_9.JPG

 

Can you see that by reading those parts marked A+ and A- you get a complementary concept? i.e. they go together! Similarly with those marked B+ and B-.

 

The key concept is the central concept and is marked C. It is the core concept in the structure. The point the author wants to be sure you understand. In this case the point is that there is simply no way you can continue to sin if you have been born of God.

 

A more modern example would be to say:


Jane wanted to earn more money
    So she went to college
         getting awarded a diploma,
   to showed she had learnt relevant skills at that college,
so that she could get a better paying job.


The key concept would be ‘getting awarded a diploma’. Without this the rest doesn’t work too well!

 

Well Genesis was written in this type of concept poetry called Chiasmus! It’s very old fashioned since Genesis was probably authored by Moses at time of Exodus (probably around 1446BC), but it also lets us find the key concept that God wanted us to know above all others!

  Genesis1Chaismustree.JPG

 In a summary way, the coupled concepts of Genesis are shown and we can see the most important thing is

“God created man
      in his own image
                In the image of God     
     He created him,
male and female he created them”
 


Notice how although it is not right at the center he does point out  that he created men and women . Right in the center of this chiasmus is the statement “in the image of God”.

 

Have you noticed how man differs from every living being? That’s because we are created in God’s image. He used himself as the rough blueprint to create us! Wow! What an amazing fact!

 

We are in God’s image! That is the key message of Genesis 1. Look around you! What other creature can do what man does? God didn’t make them in his image. We have depth and capabilities way above the rest of creation. That’s TRUTH! That’s a fact! That’s what God wanted!

 

Isn’t that great?

 

Okay, so I still have to deal with the ‘day’ thing. We will get to that! Hang in there a little while longer!

Thu, February 11, 2010 | link          Comments

Godís creation or scientific fact- the Genesis 1 conflict

In summary, there is a big argument out in the world it goes as follows:

 “The bible says the Earth was created in 7 days, and the scientist’s perspective of earth’s creation / evolution is that it happened about 4.5 billion years!” 

The stupidity of this is that many people use this as an excuse not to respect Jesus. Huh!? Where do they get that?

 

There is a provable core truth that God wanted us to get out of Genesis 1. This is hard for scientists to refute, and not hard for Christians to prove. I will explain after I set the basis of our discussion. What we need to understand is that the bible was written a very long time ago, to a more primitive people, to explain to them how they could get to know God. It was never a science textbook!  In fact science still had to be invented after Jesus died!

 

God wanted us to understand ‘One Key Fact’ from Genesis 1 and to understand it we have to understand something called Chiasmus.

 

Chiasmus is a form of Jewish poetry without the rhyming words.

 

Chiasmus is a way of writing in which coupled concepts radiate out from a central key concept to emphasis it! See one example in the diagram below:

 

 

Can you see that by reading those parts marked A+ and A- you get a complementary concept? i.e. they go together! Similarly with those marked B+ and B-.

 

The key concept is the central concept and is marked C. It is the core concept in the structure. The point the author wants to be sure you understand. In this case the point is that there is simply no way you can continue to sin if you have been born of God.

 

A more modern example would be to say:

Jane wanted to earn more money    So she went to college         Getting awarded a diploma   to showed she had learnt skills relevant skill at that collegeso that she could get a better paying job.

 The key concept would be ‘getting awarded a diploma’. Without this the rest doesn’t work too well!

 

Well Genesis was written in this type of concept poetry called Chiasmus! It’s very old fashioned since Genesis was probably authored by Moses at time of Exodus (around 1446BC), but it also lets us find the key concept that God wanted us to know above all others!

 

 In a summary way, the coupled concepts of Genesis are shown and we can see the most important thing is “God created man in his own image                In the image of God      He created him, male and female he created them” 

Notice how although it is not right at the center he does point out  that he created men and women . Right in the center of this chiasmus is the statement “in the image of God”.

 

Have you noticed how man differs from every living being? That’s because we are created in God’s image. He used himself as the rough blueprint to create us! Wow! What an amazing fact!

 

We are in God’s image! That is the key message of Genesis 1. Look around you! What other creature can do what man does? God didn’t make them in his image. We have depth and capabilities way above the rest of creation. That’s TRUTH! That’s a fact! That’s what God wanted!

 

Isn’t that great?

 

Okay, so I still have to deal with the ‘day’ thing. We will get to that! Hang in there a little while longer!

Thu, February 11, 2010 | link          Comments

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Non Biblical writings around the time of biblical writings

People were writing things other than in the bible. For example Josephus and Philo, two historians, and another was a guy called Tacitus, but a few hundred years after Jesus walked around things started to warm up in the arguments with the bible. People started to invent things. This was to be expected.

texts.jpgThe bible says that in the later times Matthew 24: 23 “At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.

This was written by one of the guys who walked around with Jesus and it is reported to be what Jesus said! He knew people were going to start to twist his words.

The world didn’t have to wait too long. A religion that is not entirely unlike many of the modern religious or spiritual movements we see around us today started to form. (John seemed to be starting to combat these ideas in his book that he wrote about 90A.D. )

You know those people who say that everything is spiritual and seem to think that only the spiritual has value and that all spiritual can be tied together in some way and works for good? The Gnostics were a bit like them! (As an aside, Christians aren’t that way, we fully appreciate that physical fun, work, sport, sex, etc. are as important!)  

The Gnostics believed humans were spiritual souls trapped in the real “material” world (which they thought of as bad), by a god who was not perfect like our true God, but which they believed was “imperfect”! The way you escaped the real world was by getting some special knowledge (that they called “gnosis”)  which permitted you to understand this god and in this way become slightly godly and escape the real world! Only some people could get this way, the rest of us were doomed and would never have the capability to become one of these “special” people.

So why do we even care about this? Well, we want to know the difference between junk stories about Jesus and real ones!

These people claimed Jesus one of the supreme beings who came to bring “gnosis” to the world. However even their own writings differ in their agreement on this. Their story is disconnected and  doesn’t hang together very well at all!

Weird isn’t it? But people really believed this stuff! Some people still do!

Gnostic gospels were written in the second century after Jesus was born. I guess you may have heard of some of the more recent and popular ones that have been discovered. The television loves to cause people to get wound up about them! 

Some of them are

·         Gospel of Mary (recovered in 1896)

·         Gospel of Thomas (versions found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt in 1898, and again in the Nag Hammadi Library)

·         Gospel of Truth (Nag Hammadi Library)

·         Gospel of Philip (Nag Hammadi Library)

·         Gospel of Judas (recovered via the antiquities black market in 1983, and then reconstructed in 2006)

 

So what’s this Nag Hammadi library?

 

This is a story all in it’s own! In simple terms a lot of gnostic texts were found in 1945 near the town of Nag Hammadi by  peasant brothers. The brothers who found them hid them wanting to make money from them by selling them. They burned some and then gave others to a Coptic priest for safe keeping. From there they got into general circulation. After that, people went out and tried to track them down and buy them.

 
These are Gnostic books were all written after the fact and although they have a lot of interesting stuff to read, none is valid compared to those books of the bible canon.

They do however keep popping up in the media rumor mill to add controversy and increase ratings for the TV media giants.
 

Many non-canon writings got gathered into Apocrypha books. These are not truth, although here and there are pieces of truth in them to give them a feeling of validity.

 

So, you can rest assured that these are not inspired writings. We can trust our bible!


 
Would you consider documents written more than 100 years after Jesus by people who didn’t know him personally,???? reliable ?????
Wed, February 10, 2010 | link          Comments

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Screwed up relationships? Who is better?

“I am better than you”

 
Fighting words right? Maybe I am in the top 10% of the class, maybe I am more beautiful, more flexible, more sexy, richer, got a better set of wheels, better educated, more socially adept, about to get a large inheritance. 

Few of us go as far as to rub others faces in this type of talk, but some do.
However at some time or the other those words “I am better than you” are thought by us if they are not spoken. The moment that happens in a relationship, a separation starts to grow between us and the person we think of as of being of lesser value.
 

In teh sacred texts in Philippians 2 it says

 “Are you cheerful because you belong to Christ? Does his love comfort you? Is the Holy Spirit your companion? Has Christ been gentle and loving toward you?  Then make my joy complete by agreeing with each other. Have the same love. Be one in spirit and purpose. Don't do anything only to get ahead. Don't do it because you are proud. Instead, be free of pride. Think of others as better than yourselves   None of you should look out just for your own good. You should also look out for the good of others.   You should think in the same way Christ Jesus does.”  
 

This advises a different approach to that of much of this world.
Many people want to push ahead and trample others to get to the front. "That's the only way!" they say, "Survival of the fittest!" Is it? How do you feel about getting trampled? How do you feel about trampling? You will experience getting trampled, no matter who you are. Maybe this is wrong? We may be more capable in many areas than another person, but that does not give us the right to trample them in the process.


Notice it doesn’t the text above does not say that we should not be more capable!
 What it says is that we must not do things out of pride, putting others down. Instead we should be motivated by love!

Think about it. . .If you really love someone, would you consider yourself better than them? Not likely! Again, we all have different abilities and skills and need to use them differently, but we are not better than the other person because of a skill we get by our DNA and God's blessing. That skill can be taken away in an instant, then where would we be?


Think of Christopher Reeve, the guy who was Superman in the movies. One minute he was incredibly successful, good looking, wealthy and superbly healthy and well built, the next moment he becomes a quadriplegic after being thrown from his horse. Now he needs breathing apparatus to breath for him and cannot move any part of his body!
 ChristopherReeve.jpg

I remember attending a conference where he spoke and he said that immediately after understanding what the accident did to him he thought he was worthless, but when he saw that his wife and children loved him despite the fact he couldn’t do anything for them, he decided that we have a purpose in life by just being here! What a purpose!

He went on to motivate people in an incredible way using the only things he had left, his voice, his will and a damaged body as a public example of damage that was done. 
 

Everyone is of the same value to God. He loves us all!
 

Let’s agree to give others the respect they are due as part of God’s amazing creation.
 Let's give what we have to God to use for the common good. In that way we will experience true love, accomplishment and satisfaction. That's better than just getting to the lonely top!

Hey, have a great day!
Tue, February 9, 2010 | link          Comments

Monday, February 8, 2010

Screwed up relationships: How do we know whatís right?

Life can really abuse us!  Relationship get screwed up easily and often there are casualties. Often we think God can’t understand and doesn’t care! Today I want to show God cared about relationships from early times.

 

Abraham was different than those around him. Well he was a person with “stuff”! He had servants, soldiers, goods and a sexy wife! Not everyone around him did! Not everyone around him was a right in relationships as him either. For example his wife did a very stupid thing! God had promised Abraham he would have lots of babies, but his wife didn’t even have one after trying for more than 10 years. So she decided to “help” God a bit.

 

In those days as a woman you could take a slave or servant and get your husband to have sex with her to make a baby. Then, you could take that baby as your own! (A bit like those who use surrogate motherhood today! Today people take an egg fertilized by themselves (in a Petri dish) and plant it into another woman who then becomes pregnant with their baby so they as a couple can have a baby. That’s a similar sort of idea to the ancient way that Sarah used!)

 

God had promised Abraham he would have more descendants than he could count.

Sarah didn’t have enough faith to wait!

 

We may think we could do better. “I would have had more faith” we may think! However, remember that Abraham was 99 years old at the time so Sarah was no young babe!

 

So Sarah gives away this woman to Abraham who has a good time, and a baby is born. Now what happens is this woman “Hagar” also does the wrong thing, she despises Sarah!  So Hagar is also not righteous! Sarah then complains to Abraham.

 

What does Abraham do? He doesn’t take sides. Nope! He simply reminds his wife that Hagar is her servant and she is entitled to deal with her as she wishes. (Guys, never get between two women who are bitching about each other if you want to stay in good relationships with both!) So now Sarah makes another mistake, she mistreats Hagar! Then Hagar makes her own mistake and thinks she can run away!

 

This a real screwed up set of relationships! Think of it in modern terms. This guy has an exceedingly beautiful wife who couldn’t have kids so she find him a mistress, lets them have sex. The mistress now build a relationship with her husband (I wonder why?) and the wife get annoyed and envious (hardly surprising) and starts to cause trouble for the women. The mistress is pregnant with the husband’s child. Three people and a nasty situation! Now it will take a miracle to sort this out! Fortunately God specializes in miracles!

 

God sends an angel to intervene and get peace between the people again and things go back to a reasonable lifestyle.

 

Mow I want to add in some more practical advice from the sacred writings. We do this by reading Philippians 2 that says


 
“Are you cheerful because you belong to Christ? Does his love comfort you? Is the Holy Spirit your companion? Has Christ been gentle and loving toward you?  Then make my joy complete by agreeing with each other. Have the same love. Be one in spirit and purpose. Don't do anything only to get ahead. Don't do it because you are proud. Instead, be free of pride. Think of others as better than yourselves   None of you should look out just for your own good. You should also look out for the good of others.   You should think in the same way Christ Jesus does.”  


We can learn a lot from this but I want to point out one thing. Let’s keep away from pride! Sometimes we do things better than others. That’s good! God gave us different talents and we must use them. The key thing is to do so without thinking that because we have done something better than someone else, that we ourselves are actually of more worth or better than someone else in God’s eyes. If we think that then we are wrong! God loves us all, and not for what we do!

 

We need to treat everyone with respect, even when they are less capable than ourselves.

 

That’s my challenge for today!

Mon, February 8, 2010 | link          Comments

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How to do a study the complicated parts of the bible: step 4 : stuff the non-key characters do. . .
I am doing one part in a series on how to read complicated parts of the bible. So far we have done four steps:

  • Step 1 of Bible reading: Just read the piece you are going to try and understand to get a feel for it.
  • Step 2 of bible reading. Figuring out where the story took place!
  • Step 3 of bible reading. Figuring out when the people in the story lived(if possible)!
  • Step 4 of bible reading: Understanding the daily life, sufferings and purpose of the main character.

Abraham is the subject for our learning experience since he is a guy who's DNA contributes to much of the Middle Eastern peoples and his "spiritual DNA" is a basis for understanding much of the first group of writings called the Old Testament.

We read his story in the bible starting at Genesis chapter 11 verse 27 and to get it all we read up to Chapter 23.


In this week's blog on the subject we start with

Step 5 of bible reading: Understand how the main was different to those around them in the same circumstances.


The key person in this story is Abraham and he had an amazingly complex life, doing many things.

Last week we discovered, by reading his story that:
He had about 318 fighting men with him,
he was rich,
he didn't live in one place long,
he seemed to travel along the caravan routes of the ancient middle east ,
his wife was one of the most wonderfully beautiful woman in the known world of the time (i.e real sexy woman!),
he had difficulty getting children ,
he was expected to lead people every day,
he moved in and out of places where important people treated him as a significant person.


So how was he different than those around him?

Well he was a person with "stuff"! He had servants, soldiers, goods and a sexy wife! Not everyone around him did!. Not everyone around him was a righteous as him either.

For example his wife did a very stupid thing. God had promised Abraham he would have lots of babies, but his wife didn't even have one. So she decided to "help" God a bit. In those days as a woman you could take a save or servant and get your husband to have sex with her to make a baby. Then, you could take that baby as your own! (I know it's a crazy thought, but it's not much different from surrogate motherhood nowadays. Nowdays people take an ege fertilized by them and plant it into another woman who becomes pregnant with their baby so they can have a baby. That's a similar sort of idea!)


Sarah didn't have enough faith!


"I would have" we may think! Remember that Abraham was 99 years old at the time so Sarah was no young babe!


So she gives away this woman to Abraham who has a good time, and a baby is born. Now what happens is this woman "Hagar" also does the wrong thing, she despises Sarah!  She is also not righteous! Sarah complains to Abraham.


What does Abraham do? He doesn't take sides. He simply reminds his wife that Hagar is her servant and she is entitle to deal with her as she wishes. The Sarah makes another mistake, she mistreats Hagar! Then Hagar makes a mistake and thinks she can run away! Finally God sends an Angel to intervene and get peace between the people again and things go back to a reasonable lifestyle.


We see that to really understand Abraham as a person, we need to understand the people around him and some of the mistakes they make in their life. This story shows us

  • 1. that God knows better than we do
  • 2. that it's unwise to "help" God when he appears to be slow doing something
  • 3. that jumping in ahead of God gets us into trouble
  • 4. that sometime the right thing to do is to let God sort out others problems rather than getting involved

we learn

  • 5. That Abraham is not a reactive person
  • 6. that Abraham submits to the law provided it doesn't go against God's instructions in his life
  • 7. that Abraham doesn't just tell his wife off when she does wrong things

There is plenty more to be learned here, as we have just scratched the surface, but you can see by looking at how the people around the main character are different to the main character we learn a lot more about the story!


So having done this we need to cosider how this applies to us! 

Think about people around us in our life? How do they help us show our strength of character, and Christian values? Do they? How do we live our lives for God each day? I am going to think about each of my friends and pray for the correct relationship with each person.

By thinking and praying through these relationships we can improve our lives and those of our friends by understanding who they are, what they mean to us and doing the right thing!

Have a great day!

Sun, February 7, 2010 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

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A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

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