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Friday, August 5, 2011

Just a drop of water, please!
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"In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference"
Rachel Carson
 
Today I have just heard of a person in our Canadian community that needs food and is humbly asking for help from our churches. This got me thinking of Africa where I come from originally! There, often the request was for water and it was much more urgent.

 We really need to have water in hot dry climates don’t we? Can you imagine not getting more than one chance to quench your thirst all day in a hot 30 to 40C (80 to 100F) temperature environment. It is really a great need.

 If we read than account of Jesus and the woman at the well, we need to realize how much Jesus really wanted some water. Yet, it was more important to respect and help a woman who was an outcast than to get that water.

 Here is the story from John 4 NIRV, it says “he left Judea. He went back to Galilee again” so he had walked perhaps 35km or about 20 miles in the hot sun. His friends had gone into town and he was waiting near a community gathering place, the well, the watering hole of the town.

 There would have been few people about because it was noon. That’s when the sun is the hottest and is the time people stay indoors, in the shade and way from the hot sun. So here he is in the sun, thirsty and this woman arrives to get water. She is only here because she is avoiding the woman of the town.

 The woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" She said this because Jews don't have anything to do with Samaritans.

  Jesus answered her, "You do not know what God's gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water."

  "Sir," the woman said, "you don't have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

  "Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?"

  Jesus answered, "All who drink this water will be thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life."

  The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water. Then I will never be thirsty. And I won't have to keep coming here to get water."
 
  He told her, "Go. Get your husband and come back."

   "I have no husband," she replied.

    Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands. And the man you have now is not your husband. What you have just said is very true."

  "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our people have worshiped on this mountain for a long time. But you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

 Jesus said, "Believe me, woman. A time is coming when you will not worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know. Salvation comes from the Jews.

  "But a new time is coming. In fact, it is already here. True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. They are the kind of worshipers the Father is looking for.

  "God is spirit. His worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth."

   The woman said, "I know that Messiah is coming." (He is called Christ.) "When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

  Then Jesus said, "I, the one speaking to you, am he."

 Now we know that Samarians didn’t deal with Jews and vice versa, Jewish men didn’t address Samarian woman and overall this was a cross culture exchange looked down on by both of their communities.

 Yet look at the mastery in the words Jesus uses. Not one is out of place! He draws the Samarians to him and the Jews to him without compromising truth. The words of God are few but focussed. He announces in a way that cannot be misunderstood, that he is the living water, the messiah, God come to earth!

 I do wish I had Jesus’ amazing ability to communicate, don’t you?

 I feel so childish in the presence of the greatness of God and I draw hope from the words found in Psalm 119:130 NIRV

 When your words are made clear, they bring light. They bring understanding to childish people.

 It’s a privilege to worship God and learn from the words he brought to us through Jesus isn’t it? I cannot help but wonder how Jesus would deal with the Palestinian/Israeli interaction today. Perhaps by studying how he dealt with this encounter, those that are busy with this political mess can gain insights.

 I plan to try to gain from God’s words today. Will you?
Fri, August 5, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let there be lights in the vault of the sky

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"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction"
Antoine de Saint-Exupery


       
Those stars up there in our night sky are beautiful to see, probably better than some of those Hollywood stars J.

 Part of my privileges is that I live out of the city lights and my home is in the rural woods where the night sky is lit with amazing displays of stars, both of the stationary and shooting types!

 That canopy of twinkling lights have guided men since the start of intelligence, I am sure. They have been the subject of great stories and mystical inventions. Now we see them as symbols of other suns, worlds and galaxies far away and our mind flows to “what is out there?”

 I love the stars and even took a university course to study them. In Africa I used to lie on my back and using binoculars investigate the Southern stars.

  Now I do similar with the northern stars and even find some friends from down South that show up in our Northern star field.

 The bible says in genesis 1 that

 God said, "Let there be lights in the huge space of the sky. Let them separate the day from the night. Let them serve as signs to mark off the seasons and the days and the years. Let them serve as lights in the huge space of the sky to give light on the earth." And that's exactly what happened. God made two great lights. He made the larger light to rule over the day. He made the smaller light to rule over the night. He also made the stars. God put the lights in the huge space of the sky to give light on the earth. He put them there to rule over the day and the night. He put them there to separate light from darkness.

 This piece of bible writing causes controversy because scientists know that the Sun was created before the Earth.

 It appears on first read that the bible is contradicting the scientists.

 The scientists have a really good argument for the fact that the stars would have already formed in many places when this timeframe was experienced on Earth.

 What is the going on?

 When we get an apparent contradiction like this, it is good to investigate a bit further. Now the bible does say “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky. Notice we get the word sky mentioned.

 There is an Earth centric focus in the words. It’s a focus looking away from the surface of our earth upwards into the heavens (sky).

 Could it perhaps be that before this time the stars couldn’t be seen?

 Maybe the earth was blanketed in an overcast sky until this time.

 I know that often I go out to look at the stars only to see nothing but dull black outlines of the clouds that cover the night sky! Sometimes the days are similar, no sun to be seen. I know it’s a day, but the sun is obscured by all that water vapour up there in the sky and sometimes it rains down and makes me rather wet!

 In the early earth atmosphere the earth was probably blanketed by gases like carbon dioxide, water vapour and ammonia.

 It is surmised that in the upper atmosphere, the light of that sun started to break down the ammonia releasing nitrogen into the atmosphere. That ammonia is nasty stuff, so getting rid of it was important to getting the path straightened out to allowing life to be established.

 So the light was there, (dimly shining through the solar dust that was probably still accreting) and as it reached the overcast earth, it broke down that nasty ammonia.

 Then, they say that about 3.3billion years ago cyanobacteria used the light energy to produce oxygen using photosynthesis. Slowly the atmosphere changed to the one similar to today’s. This took a few hundred million years to do according to scientific estimations.

 So, after that time the atmosphere would have cleared up enough to allow us to see the sun, moon, and later the stars from the Earths surface.

 This seems to agree with the unfolding of events in Genesis as well!

 Now, for those that think God did this quickly within an Earth week, I don’t disagree either! I was not there and neither were those scientists.

 No matter how it was done, I think that what we discover daily about our origins from astronomy and science is amazing and it only continues to show how magnificent and totally awe inspiring our God is!

 I cannot look at Hubble telescope picture without reflecting on the magnitude of God’s power and the extent of his reach.

 That’s why I find it amazing he decided to come to this earth as Jesus the man.

  Just to get down to our level, experience what we experience, correct the mistakes we make, and communicate with us in ways we can understand.

 Isn’t God amazing?
Thu, August 4, 2011 | link          Comments

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The world’s tallest tower . . . again?
         
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“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”
 Saint Augustine

Ever notice how it seems to be a “prestige” thing to have the highest tower in the world, with nation after nation competing to build these edifices.

 For a while Toronto had the CN Tower, or the “Space needle” as it was called (it’s a very sharp pointed tower). Today in the news there is a report of a new attempt by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to build the world’s tallest building in Jeddah.[1] This one will be about a kilometre high.

 Why do we do this?

 It’s not easy! You cannot normally even take a single elevator to the top. Safety becomes a huge concern (what if a fire breaks out 1km up?) Even getting water from the ground to the top apartments is a challenge. These towers cost over a billion dollars so the price tag is large!

 It seems we have an internal need to be higher than others. An egotistical twist of human nature that seems almost genetic.

 Even the ancient writings show this!

 The biblical Eden was in high country (4 rivers ran out of it and since they only flow downhill we generally believe rivers start in hilly country).

 We know that ancient near eastern men and women built mounds to stand on in the early days of worship and that these got bigger and bigger. There  is a form of worship structure known as a ziggurat where the mounds were built up into a type of stepped pyramid which was the worship site of the city gods. This was about 5900 to 4000B.C., so it was a long time back! There were others built to perhaps 600B.C. but these were more “modern”.

 The bible talks of the tower of Babel, where men tried to build a mud brick building up to God. They failed, argued, even developed different languages before dispersing their different ways. See Genesis 11 (NIRV) where it says. . .

 The whole world had only one language. All people spoke it. They moved to the east and found a broad valley in Babylonia. There they settled down.

  They said to each other, "Come. Let's make bricks and bake them well." They used bricks instead of stones. They used tar to hold the bricks together.

  Then they said, "Come. Let's build a city for ourselves. Let's build a tower that reaches to the sky. We'll make a name for ourselves. Then we won't be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

  But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, "They are one people. And all of them speak the same language. That is why they can do this. Now they will be able to do anything they plan to. Come. Let us go down and mix up their language. Then they will not understand each other."

  So the Lord scattered them from there over the whole earth. And they stopped building the city. The Lord mixed up the language of the whole world there. That's why the city was named Babel. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

 So, the need to build a tower was inherent in man from early on!

 Since then we have seen pyramids and mounds of various types all over the world. Even the recent Mayan pyramids draw crowds.

 America for a while had the world trade center, and then that was eclipsed with the bigger and better towers as new pundits tried to capture the world stage with their glory.

 Why?

 Why do we think that by emulating God’s supreme overarching glory and majesty, we can grab a little of it for ourselves?

 Why spend a billion dollars when Jesus came to give us that glory at cost only to himself?

 We need to realise fancy towers do nothing more than bring headaches and maintenance costs, but Jesus brings glory and eternal life.

 Jesus told a story containing a tower. It goes like this. . .(Mark 7:1-9 NIRV)

 Jesus began to speak to the people by using stories. He said, "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it. He dug a pit for a winepress. He also built a lookout tower. He rented the vineyard out to some farmers. Then he went away on a journey.

 "At harvest time he sent a servant to the renters. He told the servant to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they grabbed the servant and beat him up. Then they sent him away with nothing. So the man sent another servant to the renters. They hit this one on the head and treated him badly. The man sent still another servant. The renters killed him. The man sent many others. The renters beat up some of them. They killed the others.

  "The man had one person left to send. It was his son, and he loved him. He sent him last of all. He said, 'They will respect my son.'

  "But the renters said to each other, 'This is the one who will receive all the owner's property someday. Come, let's kill him. Then everything will be ours.' So they took him and killed him. They threw him out of the vineyard.

  "What will the owner of the vineyard do then? He will come and kill those renters. He will give the vineyard to others.

 What is the tower in our life? What are we building to prop up our self-image?

 How about we forget the towers and treat the Son right?

 That’s my plan today! You have a wonderful day!
Wed, August 3, 2011 | link          Comments

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Geb or God?

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Be able to recognize the dangerous snakes, spiders, insects, and plants that live in your area of the country.
Marilyn vos Savant

     
It is amazing how people have fear of snakes! Coming from Africa originally, I have seen and handled many snakes.


 People often think of them as cold and slimy.
 
 Nothing is further from the truth! There scales are pleasant to touch if they are stroked in the direction of the scales. Snakes like warm places and staying warm (that’s why we find so few of them in Canada where I live now) and so are warm to the touch. They are surprisingly strong and often lively and difficult to hold. Not all are poisonous and many are entertaining and fun to handle!

 Even though I have explained this, many of us will still be “creeped out” by a snake. Somehow we have, within human existence, developed a negative attitude to this creature.

 This negative feeling is probably added to by our Christian religion in that it depicts Satan, the negative personality of the universe as first interacting with people as a snake (one with legs J ).

 What is interesting is that one of the Egyptian gods is also often depicted as part snake!

 Geb or Gebeb was the Egyptian God of the Earth who’s laughter was earthquakes. He made crops grow. He was also shown as a ram, crocodile or bull. The variability showing this concept was not well formed. He was sometimes described as the “Father” of snakes. This is mildly interesting since the snake form taken by Satan in the garden is obviously an negative aspect and for the ancient Israelites wandering through the desert they would have seen the story as a warning against Geb.

 Geb was also depicted in green with a somewhat mossy, vegetation look. This Egyptian god was linked with vegetation.

 Genesis describes the third day as; Then God said, "Let the land produce plants. Let them bear their own seeds. And let there be trees on the land that bear fruit with seeds in it. Let each kind of plant or tree have its own kind of seeds." And that's exactly what happened. The land produced plants. Each kind of plant had its own kind of seeds. The land produced trees that bore fruit with seeds in it. Each kind of tree had its own kind of seeds.    God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning. It was day three.[1]

 There is no doubt that Moses or the writer of Genesis was making sure those Israelites knew the true God, Elohim or Yahweh, was the creator, not Geb.
 
 Geb was a god of the underworld as well.

 We see that Yaheweh, as God, seems to be a God who is above all and present everywhere. While Geb was part of the group of gods from Egypt that later got called the Ennead, or group of nine Egyptian gods, the God in Genesis is shown to be one. That one God doing all that the group of nine achieved.

 So perhaps Moses was making sure that as the Israelites wandered through that semi-desert region, they respected the true God and not Geb. The Israelites were not sure of where they were going and so perhaps would treating any vegetation with great respect because without it their flocks would die.

 This teaches me that we need to be sure to get our priorities right!

 We need to be sure we look at things the way God asks us to. Instead of asking how we are to approach and categorise these things, how closely we conform to what other have done in similar circumstances, what human designed boxes our activities can fall into, how best to explain things in terms of what we already know, we need to best be concerned on how to promote and follow the true God!

 Our God is above all this human classification and control! He is the God who defies rational explanation no matter how much it supports him! God is not boxed. He does not ask us to do constraining activities with what he asks us to do. Instead we are asked to seek him with all of our energy and strength in what we do each day. We need to listen to his Holy Spirit. We should not let false gods redefine our activities or alternatively constrain them into false patterns and boxes. We need to seek truth and clarity of direction!

 That way we live successfully! We get rid of the snakes and empower God!

 That’s my objective today. What’s yours?


[1] Gen 1:11-13 NIRV

Tue, August 2, 2011 | link          Comments

Monday, August 1, 2011

“We no longer believe just because of what you said. We have now heard for ourselves”
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Truth only reveals itself when one gives up all preconceived ideas.
Shoseki



        So much of what we believe is things we hear from others!

 Consider how much of each day we spend listening, looking at and reviewing something that is told or shown to us.

 Consider our average day and how much time we spend on computers, the radio, television, in department stores, riding past advertisements. Here is some hearsay that is interesting “According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day[1] so that’s about “2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year

 A huge amount of teaching of values, and what to buy, and what is important and how we should do things is pre-programmed into us by this medium alone.

 If we don’t use a television, how much do we get fed to us on the internet?

 How much of all this information that is fed to us is what we personally know to be true?

 If we consider this, we will probably realise that it is not much that we personally know is true!

 This means that the little that we do experiment with and that we discover is true for ourselves, has much higher value to us!

 So, when people ask us why Christians are so strangely into what they believe and enthusiastic about it, we can understand, it’s something they have experienced for themselves and KNOW is true.

 
 This is so much more valuable than being TOLD it’s true!

 So today my suggestion is like those people that years ago got told that Jesus was real, but once they experience this themselves said, “We no longer believe just because of what you said. We have now heard for ourselves[2] we need to get to the point where we do more than know about Jesus, but instead have experienced him. We need to ask him to forgive us for being stuck-up, selfish, nasty and ignorant and instead ask him if he could come into our lives and show us the truth personally.

 I know he will, because he did for me!

 Have a great day!


[1] http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html

[2] John 4:42 NIRV

Mon, August 1, 2011 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

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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?

Evil tendrils tighten on their lives and the interplay between the visible and invisible world shows opposing forces at work.

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