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Friday, March 19, 2010

How do the Christian sacred writings teach? “Spin” or fact?
  I was reading an article by “Scientific American” called

 
 ’Neuroframing’ the global warming issue won't win converts” 

 by John Horgan
and thinking about the fact that so many people that teach us about Global warming are putting spin on it.

 Why give the facts? They consider us, the public dim witted! In this article the writer complains about the “spin” that people pushing Global warming go to.

In his words
 The message is that environmentalists will go to extraordinary lengths—seeking guidance from cutting-edge brain science!--to help the dim-witted public see the world in the same enlightened way that environmentalists do.”

 He concludes warning environmentalists 

 Not all global-warming skeptics are ignorant, irrational idiots. I teach at an engineering school, and about one third of my students identify themselves as global-warming skeptics. They tend to know more about global warming than students who accept it as a fact. Two sources at the Science Times section of the New York Times have told me that a majority of the section's editorial staff doubts  that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.”

Hmmm! Seems like not everyone is as dim witted as they would have us be! Not that I am against looking after our environment and reducing emissions, I am for it. I simply would like to have the facts put out, both good and bad, and then judge honestly what the truth is!


 When we come to look at the Christian sacred writings, we find it interesting that they contain so much that if it was a modern Journalistic approach would be left out.

That hero of the bible David’s sordid affair and killing of the mistress’s wife is in there. The fact that Moses a great leader was to cowardly to stand alone in front of his royal peers in Egypt at God’s requests and petition Pharoah was another. His argument was that he couldn’t speak well. Then he goes on to clearly author some of the most important sacred writings, perfectly.

 Yes, these bible writings don’t have spin! Maybe that’s why we fail to get what they say. We’re so used to having spin that we spend our lives looking for hidden meanings in things. We inspect leaves looking for tree’s instead of taking a step back and viewing the forest.

 God’s word has lot’s of stories, narrative styles, writers, and information sources. One can spend so much time looking at details of minute pieces of it one misses the whole message.
 A bit like just looking at one piece of data, say ice shrinkage, and then basing the whole of the global warming argument on that. Not wise!

 As John Horgan said in his article on the environment discussions:

  As naïve as this may sound, I believe environmentalists should try to influence public opinion by laying out the facts as clearly and honestly as possible and refraining from rhetorical trickery.” 

 We as Christians we need to :

 As naïve as this may sound, I believe biblical scholars should try to influence public opinion by laying out the facts as clearly and honestly as possible and refraining from rhetorical trickery!

 How about joining me as we try to do this? 

 Let’s speak truth as clearly as possible, without adding spin!

 Let’s Have a great day and try and not use “spin” to achieve our goals!

Fri, March 19, 2010 | link          Comments

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The third “day” of creation!
  

So what does the bible say happened in, and around that third “day” of creation?
Again I will be taking the “Ywm” or “yom” word used in the Hebrew as meaning “period”, not day for this discussion.
 

 

Let’s look at what the writings say. . .

 “And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good.
 
 Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day”
 

The dry land appearing is confirmed by current science knowledge.

Apparently we had a single huge super continent a few times in history. The first of these is called Vaalbara and is estimated to be around 3 billion years old. (It’s cool that I was born on a town close to the craton of this piece of ground!) 

A super continent is a land mass that contains most of the continents we know today
, but in one huge landmass. According to scientists these formed and broke up a few times before the Earth got to look like it does today.

 

The first was Vaalbara and it broke apart only to come together around 2.6 billion years ago forming another super continent called Kenorland. This broke down and recombined to form Columbia which was around about 1.8 to 1.5 billion years ago.

 

We aren’t finished yet because this happened again to form Rodinia about 750 million years ago. About this time life started on the Earth. No scientist can explain how! Rodinia did similarly to form Pangea about 200 million years ago. This then split into Laurasia (northern continent) and Gondwana (southern continent) which split into the continents that we now recognize.

 

Lots and lots of ground movements around the seas.

 

The important thing is that God’s statement “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” is agreed to by science!  It happened and not only once! How is that for accurate?

 

Okay now for that argument about life! First thing is that nobody knows how life originated. The scientists used to spin a story about how life was created to the simpler folk like you and me. They based it on an experiment called the Miller-Urey experiment. They used water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen, together with simulated lightening and after a week of heating and cooling in sterile environment they finally got some amino acids. Amino acids are not life, they are only some of life’s building blocks.

 

Well unfortunately, even this experiment has it’s flaws and now we understand the original atmosphere is nothing like that of the experiment and this shows this could not have happened. i.e. the experiment is worthless for explaining the origins of life. Nice experiment, useless results!

 

Let’s not disagree that life started, but lets all be mature, grown up and say we have not the faintest idea of how! The bible says God did it. How he did it is fun to investigate, but I trust that he did it!

 

Okay, so some tiny bits of organic life were established initially. The scientists suggest the first type of life energy used photosynthesis (I guess you could call them plants, but actually they are just small photosynthetic organisms like algae and bacteria). The best guess to date is that they started between three billion and two billion years ago.

So plants can be considered of as the next created things
. These get more complex and multi-cellular to just under a billion years ago.

 

Then we have a strange ice age that turns the Earth into a snowball about 716 million years ago and soon after this life according to the scientists starts to develop in earnest.

 

Now this is where some of the scientists get all bitter and twisted with the bible. They argue animals precede plants and the bible says plants precede animals. (My personal view is animals need something to eat!)

 

Hey, I wasn’t there, neither were the scientists. All we know is that from about 3 billion years to today, photosynthesis has been occurring.

I personally consider that plant stuff, and the scientists agree this was happening! In the last stages of this time animals appeared, just before the plant stuff gets all complex. So if I have to describe the sequence to simple man, I would also start with plants and then go to animals. I’m definitely not God, or close to him in understanding stuff, but that’s how he describes it in the bible!

 

For a book written 3000 years ago, this is pretty accurate stuff. Please show me a scientific manual written just 500 years ago that could even be half as accurate?

 

Now let me tell you what bothers me! It’s the fact that scientific people find one little thing and hold it up as disproving God and by implication everything in the bible. Of course it doesn’t! These people are going outside the realm of science to make anti-religious statements, which are profoundly non-scientific. Why? Are they scared of truth and challenging statements? Are we? We shouldn’t be and neither should they. God supports truth!

 

Also, lets be honest, this Genesis writing was direct to a bunch of released slaves from Egypt. They didn’t care too much about the order of creation and needed to be formed into a nation.

Scientific accuracy was not, I guess, the key focus of the Genesis
writing that Moses was doing at the time. Trying to control a few million unruly people was more than enough for him to do! Personally I think it’s a pure miracle that this writing is as accurate as it is!

 

Now, to defend this account a bit further, the plant “Cooksonia” was growing about 443 billion years ago and was a plant with vascular tissue. There was reproduction by spores at this time. As time went by the plants diversified more and the Carboniferous period with woody roots was from about 360 to 300 million years ago. It took until 35 million years ago for the grasses to develop.

 

So if you look at it simply, the bible gets it right again! Since the bibles purpose is to show how God loves us as men and women and not to teach us about science, I think it does rather well.

 
What do you think of God’s creation now you know what happened in the third period of time?

 

Thu, March 18, 2010 | link          Comments

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St Patrick was British!

...

 

Isn’t it an interesting fact that the Patrick of St Patrick’s day commemorates a British youth captured to be an Irish slave at the young age of 16 and taken to Ireland! He was a herdsman for six years. Not a fact that is well understood and I can see why! We love to believe in our folk hero’s don’t we?

 

Well, if my research does me well, this young lad escaped at around age 22 and got back to Britain and his family but couldn’t stay there. His heart was drawn by a vision he had to take him back to Ireland and he went back as an ordained bishop! Voluntary this time!

 

The facts are more interesting than the folk story aren’t they? He was a God driven youth with a God given purpose! It’s suggested that he lives between 340 to 440 A.D.  He was part of the very new movement of the world church! Most of what we know about him seems to come from the Annals of Ulster, a historical text written in a combination of Irish and Latin.

 

There is apparently two letters he wrote, Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus and the Declaration. The latter is contains a short description of his life.
 

 

When God moves us we do amazing things! Young Patrick did exactly this. Would he have liked the world wide attention he gets on this day? That is hard to say! He apparently never accepted gifts and was a straight laced guy. He would probably have found many of the festivities very pagan and unchristian in nature but would have probably been glad that the world was celebrating a festival that could be linked to Christ!

 

So, as we see green, we need to remember it started with a slave who obeyed God. Maybe if we do the same, someday, our legacy will remind people of God. If it does, I sure hope they don’t celebrate it by getting drunk! To end on a more sober note, lets remember the family of the young man who died by getting under a truck on the Montreal St. Patrick day parade and be careful of what we do today!

 

Lastly, the word saint in the new testament applies to anyone who is the follower of the Way, and Christian.
 

So you may be a saint too!

 

Have a wonderful day as we remember saint Patrick! May you have a saintly day as well!

 

Top of the day to you!

Wed, March 17, 2010 | link          Comments

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Illness, suffering and compassion

 This week I witnessed a lack of compassion is a church setting that was really not good! (although it was not intended to be accepted the way it was accepted at the time!)
 

There was a time of sharing in our church service and a lady got up and announced that God heals all illness, that it’s lack of faith that results in people not being healed.

 
What a load of nonsense!

 

God does not heal ALL illness on this Earth! We know that!

Our common sense tells us that to start with! God set an age at which men would die. This happened after us humans had been sent out of the place where we had eternal life. Work and illness came into our lives from that time on! Tough but true!
 
If Christians could manipulate God into healing every illness, then the hospitals would be filled with Christians sorting out cancer, AIDS etc. This just does not happen, although we do have scientific proof that prayer assists healing!

 

Almost everyone dies and most of us die of an illness! This is the normal course of our life’s events! It isn’t nice, but it’s a simple fact of being a human in a state that is not perfect!

 

The people who say that God heals all illness while we are on this Earth have their heads in the sand!

What about the fact that Elisha a very powerful man of God had the following said of him:

 “Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him.”[1]
 
It’s not even true that God doesn’t make people ill! He does. . .
 

“After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill.”[2]

Notice the child had done nothing wrong! It was his parents that had. (Please parents, think about that when you are doing selfish things you think will only impact yourself! sometimes the impact is wider!) Illness that God permits like this is NORMALLY due to selfish, ignorant and nasty things that someone has done! Not Always!

I sure hope I haven't been the cause of someone getting ill but I probably have, and I ask forgiveness of that person and of my loving God for having done so!

 

Jesus however did heal many people and can still do so today! It says about him.

 “News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.”[3]
 

Now, many people say he doesn’t heal today but I have personal proof he does!

A few years ago I was dying and nobody could tell why! I had seen many doctors and specialists and they couldn't help. Finally I could not get out of bed to go to church (very important to me!)

My wife got the elders of the church to come and pray and anoint me with oil quoting

 
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”[4]
 

I didn’t believe in healing at the time, and accepted this reluctantly. I expected to be raised up after I died. God had other plans!

The next week I had Coeliac Disease diagnosed!

Soon I could live normally, but not if I ate wheat, oats, barley or rye! Coeliac disease is incurable up to today. The diagnosis was confirmed by gastroscopy done by a specialist, and I joined the coeliac society to learn how to live in a world that eats things that could kill me!

 

To cut a long story short, a few years later God told me to eat communion bread (sacred bread passed out at a Christian celebration). It was made of wheat and didn’t affect me! However if I took any other bread I got very ill.

This was the case for a long while and then one evening while praying for a young lady, I got the impression from God that if she prayed for me, I would be healed.

In humility I accepted and was healed totally!
This has since been confirmed by a specialist with a gastroscopy! The lab shows I am healed. So, God still heals today!

 
Now, where does that leave us?
 

It leaves us with the fact that not everyone will be healed the same way!

The healing for some will take a very different form to that for others. Not everyone has the same faith and God will not always heal on this Earth!

 

Take Lazarus who suffered and died while Jesus didn’t come to heal him even though he was aware of what was happening. The sisters asked Jesus to come while Lazarus was alive but he didn't! That occasion the illness was to show the world that God can resurrect people.

 

Our God is just that! God! We cannot manipulate him!

In fact he warned the Israelites in ancient times if they left his law and did their own thing they would be in for trouble

 “If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God-  the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the LORD your God. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.”[5]
 

This was they way in those days that people expected the god’s to react. God however has kept his people going through to today, so I guess we can see he has deep compassion! Over the years they sure qualified for this promised treatment! God had mercy!

 

Actually if we want to be honest, we all have qualified by our behaviour to get a treatment of suffering and illness!

We are selfish, ignorant and nasty every now and again, and so are those around us!

In that famous part of Ecclesiastes , Solomon says in 3:3 there is 

“a time to kill and a time to heal,  a time to tear down and a time to build”
 

God does often heal, but in his own time. The greatest healing comes when we leave this Earth and go to our reward in heaven which includes no pain or illness!

 

We need to have compassion on those around us!

Unlike that lady in church we need to know that there are people in wheelchairs, sick beds, on crutches and mirriads of others states of health that love God dearly, have asked for healing that has not yet come! Let's not insult them!

 

Let’s not mistakenly label them as lacking faith or having unconfessed sin(often they did nothing to result in their illness)!

Let’s have compassion, Jesus would! Lets pray with them, encourage them, but lets not tell them God heals on this Earth every time, because it is fundamentally evident he doesn’t! Let’s speak truth since that is what God wants us to do!

 

It was Jesus who said

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous!”[6]

 

Why didn’t he just tell them to heal the people who were crippled, lame and blind?

Let me say it’s because I believe Jesus wants us to be kind, loving, caring, and these people are gifts to the human race

Yes! I said gifts! They are here to help us grow spiritually at great cost to themselves. They are the chisels God uses to carve our lives into great works of art. It hurts them and us, but results in great beauty and purpose in the lives around them (but only if we react in a Godly manner! And it is NOT EASY!)

 

This wonder can only happen if will get close to them, if we allow the pain of their lives to touch and mould ours. They are special people! Special to God, and special to us (if we let them be that way!)

 

So, let’s please be loving to the next person we come across in pain or who has difficulty overcoming life’s hurdles.

 

One day that could be us!



[1] 2 Ki 13:14

[2] 2 Samuel 12:5

[3] Matthew 4:24

[4] James 5:13

[5] Deut 28:58-63

[6] Luke 14:12-14

Tue, March 16, 2010 | link          Comments

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jesus! My God! Oh my God!

 

Imagine. . .A movie is going along just great, then something unexpected, horrific, or dramatic happens! Almost without fail one or other character will exclaim one of the following (or similar):


 
Jesus! My God! Oh my God!

 

The previous behavior of this character often portrays someone who is not a Christian in outlook or actions, so why do they say this?


 

To add to this, it’s not only the movies in which this occurs!
 
How many people have you heard making these exclamations as if  they're most normal expletive in the world. They are almost used with the frequency of other swear words. Particularly that word “Jesus!” is abused greatly!


 

What these unsuspecting folk don't get is the danger is unlike that of many swear words, this one comes with a significant warning from God himself. He warns us as follows:


 
“Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will find guilty anyone who misuses his name.”[1]

 

So by swearing using God's name we bring in a judgment on ourselves that is negative! Think of it this way. . .


 

Imagine that we end up in court defending a traffic ticket for speeding. Then in our explanation to the judge, who’s name happens to be "George" but needs to respectfully be called “your Honor”(only family and close friends call him George), we answer his legal questions with words like this. . .


 

“Oh my George! There I was traveling down the road. George! Oh George! I knew I was traveling too fast when the police officer pulled out with the lights on. George! What a fright I got. My George! I was only five kilometers over the limit and it was downhill so I don’t know what the fuss is about!”


 

I expect the judgment is likely to not go to well in this case! Right?


 

That’s what people who misuse God’s names are setting up for themselves!

Disrespecting God is bad.
He will judge us for everything we have done that is selfish, ignorant and nasty in our lives on that Last Day. We don't need to add fuel to the fire we are building for ourselves do we?

Then, if that’s not enough, People misuing God's name disrespect everyone who is a close friend of God and love him. Rather like a close friend of the Judge in that courtroom would not appreaciated us calling his frind the judge "George" in that way(even though its his name). The reason is we are not being respectful when doing so!


 

One strange thing that I have noticed is that it seems to be mostly the Christian God that gets singled out for this treatment!

Jesus’ name is abused frequently, but how many times do you hear people exclaiming “Buddha!” or “Mohammed!” or other names like that. Why is the Christian God singled out for such abuse?


Another thing I know is that this misuse of our loving God's name is something that upsets me and many Christians continually. It causes me to dislike watching certain movies because I am continually finding myself in shock and praying for the actor as well as all those listening. I ask God to go easy on them because they don’t know what they are doing!


 

Our language impacts others! Let’s see if we can keep it respectful. You don't have to love God to respect that others do!

I plan to try and keep my words that way today, how about you?



[1] Exodus 20:7, Deut 5:11

Mon, March 15, 2010 | link          Comments

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Death and dying relationships!
  “Jesus Wept”

 
This is the shortest sentence in the Christian bible. Without knowing the context, one would guess it was over the state of the evil in this world, or over some horribly devastating darkness he had seen or experienced.

 
No!

 
It was over the death of a friend!

 

Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus! I am sure that many times their home had been a refuge from the rain, cold, crowds and more. They were close to him!


 
A few days before the sisters had sent him a message to come because their brother was ill. Probably they hoped Jesus would heal him like he healed so many.

 
Nope! This was not what Jesus did! Why not?

 
Jesus often made the statement he was doing his Fathers work. I guess this time his Dad had stuff that needed to be done. That stuff included Lazarus. You see Jesus told those around him when they heard that. . .

 
“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory. God's Son will receive glory because of it."

 
When Lazarus died, I am sure you could hear the crowd whispering “He said he would not die! He cannot be the Messiah, the Messiah would know these things and get it right!”

 
I know I would probably have said that! I find I am so quick to judge and so slow to listen carefully. When we loose a loved one, whether its to death, or whether it’s just a breakup of a relationship, we can be devastated.

A breakup of a relationship can feel like someone has died sometimes doesn’t it?
 We need to take time to hear what God has to say when a person is ill or a relationship is disintegrating.

Like Jesus listened to the Father when Lazarus was ill! Sometimes we can do something, but sometimes we are not meant to. God has a purpose in everything. Also, God doesn’t like death at all. We need to remember that it is a human condition that we inherit from the beginning of time. We will all die if we live on this earth!

 
Okay, so there is one or two people who haven’t died but have gone to heaven in the history of the world, but in general we all die. We all have a terminal illness called life! The problem is that when someone is ill we don’t want to see them in pain. When they die, we don’t want to be without them. It hurts!

 
It hurt Jesus even though he knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus! 

 
Notice that Jesus goes to Lazarus even though people could have been there wanting to kill him. His love for his deceased friend was great! Jesus consoles Martha by explaining he will rise from the dead. She knows this because like all of us, she knows we will all do so on the “last day”.

 
This is not what Jesus means this time. Lazarus is about to be brought back from the dead before that. Jesus however confirms her belief with the words:

 
"I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even if he dies. And those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

 
Those words are for us as well. How do you respond to Jesus asking you the question right now. Do you believe this? If you have lost a loved one, do you hear Jesus question. Being able to answer YES will help a lot!

 
But it doesn’t remove the pain! When the sisters took him to the tomb,

 
“Jesus wept”

 
He wept for a lost friendship. A friend who had undergone the pain of illness to death. Because those around him were in such pain he sobbed in empathy with their pain. He sobbed because he could not be there when Lazarus had died. He was not permitted to by his responsibilities.

 It’s okay to be sad!

It’s okay to grieve when we loose someone or a relationship is destroyed. 
Getting seperated from loved ones is wrong! It’s due to evil in this world. That’s what brings in the illness and death. Yes, I know its bugs, cancer, heart attacks and old age illnesses, but it’s also due to evil! 
 
 The good thing is Jesus says we live again after we die and if we believe in him we don’t die again. 

So Jesus bawled! Now I feel better when those tears tumble down my cheeks.

It’s okay! If God can cry for a friend, so can I. Thank-you for this gift Jesus!

 Jesus is never without control of a situation. In this case, so you and I can know that he can bring people back to life, he brought Lazarus back to life.

 Can you imagine the party? I can bet the food and drink flowed. The stories that got told would have been amazing. All that time Jesus enemies never touched him. You see, when we are grieving God protects us. The grieving is for a while! Then we need to continue with our lives, but remember, the twinge of grief never full goes away. My earthly father died years ago and I am still sometimes pretty sad. Not for long however, because I know he’s having a good time and wouldn’t want me being sad all the time.

One of the beautiful things of being human is that we move on in time. That’s a gift itself. 

Let’s enjoy life and move on in the power of our Lord who is so sensitive he cried for a friend.


He’s the same one who loves us!
Sun, March 14, 2010 | link          Comments


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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

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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