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Friday, September 16, 2011

“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
 
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"I speak the truth not so much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little more as I grow older"
Michel de Montaigne

     
 The title of today’s blog “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent" is not mine, but are words said to that ancient guy Paul, by God himself, while Paul was in the city of “love”, Corinth.


 
Ever get that feeling that if we speak up about our Christian beliefs then we will either suddenly be shunned or the center of criticism by those around us?

 

How many of us get taken to court by people for these beliefs and if we did, how many of us would continue speaking about them?


 Since I have never been to court for my beliefs and nobody I know personally has, I guess we need to be thankful we live in such a wonderful part of the world that they allow us to have these beliefs.

 
Many other parts of the world don’t have the luxury of freedom of religion!


 
We do!

 Paul in Corinth was in a city that was very focused on sexual excess (many thought they connected with gods at the moment of orgasm and so the city even had 1000 temple prostitutes to help them. A religion by men for men as Bruxy Cavey says).

 Christian beliefs that focus on respecting others generally is perceived as flowing counter to sexual excess (although within our marriages sexual activity is promoted by Christianity). So Paul was getting himself into trouble.

 Since Paul was originally a religious person of Jewish persuasion, these people picked on him the most.

 The bible then says “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.”

 So Paul must have been getting afraid! We know he started out that way because he says, 1 Corinthians 2:3 “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.”

 
There is no shame in being scared!


 We all find our heart pounding and stomach churning at some time.

 If we find we are in that situation because we feel we should be saying something about God, we need to know that it is normal.

 The question we need to ask is why we need to say something?

 Is it our desire to convince, or our compassion and love for the other person?

 If it is our desire to convince, we need to stop right there! The desire to love and help the other person should be uppermost and above that desire to convince. Then above this desire, should be the desire to do what our loving God wants! That should be supreme above all other desires!

 If this is the case, we will probably find ourselves in the same situation as Paul did in Corinth. It says;

 
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

 We need to keep on speaking with compassion! If we really care, people will see it sooner or later. Whether they admit this is a different situation, but they will know. If they know, then they know our hearts are pure and actions are true. If they know this they will start to appreciate us, even if they do not agree with everything we say.

 That’s how we connect them with Jesus. Not by convincing arguments, but by exposing them to the truth found in Jesus and letting God take it from there.

 Sometimes we use arguments simply because we are people who communicate with words.

 When we do use arguments, can we try to be sure to be both truthful AND compassionate?

 Today my objective is to speak freely with truth and compassion!

 

What’s your objective?

Fri, September 16, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Investigating “crossing the red sea dry shod”
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      Yesterday I was listening to a well known Christian evangelist propounding that the crossing of the Red sea by Israel under Moses leadership was not due to winds driving back the sea because the bible says they were

 
“crossing the red sea dry shod”.

 

He was talking nonsense!


 I researched to find these words in the bible finding them in only one place. That is Isaiah 11:11-15 in the King James version,

 The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt;
      With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River,
      And strike it in the seven streams,
      And make men cross over dryshod.

 Now this is not referring to the original Red Sea crossing but as it says a little earlier, it refers to a descendent of Jesse

 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.


 So, this does not refer to that original crossing 
 by Moses and Israel!
 

Also, in other translations it says “so that anyone can cross over in sandals.” NIV.

 Checking the Hebrew it says in Strongs the word is naal – meaning a a sandal, shoe.

 This radio evangelist was so convincing and applied it to the original red sea crossing so effectively that I am sure he had many people believing there was no way God could have used natural forces to achieve his plan when Moses stretched his hands out over the sea.

 Why do we feel that a miracle is any less a miracle if there is a natural explanation for it?

Timing had to be perfect! Only God could cause this to occur in this precise way at that time. Even if God used the natural forces (he created) obeying scientific laws (he created) to do it, it is still a miracle!

 We don’t have to have unexplainable and beyond nature events to have a miracle!

  God can use normal events any time he wants. The fact that he selects to use them specifically at times to bless his people makes it wonderful and just as miraculous.

 The fact this evangelist misused a quote is almost unforgivable.

The end does not justify the means and convincing people using mis-truths is lying.

 A prominent Evangelist lying on television depreciates the value of all other Christians.

 Is this why people mistakenly reject Christ, because we have lying self serving evangelists?

 I think this could be the case in some circumstances.

 The best descriptions of the Red Sea crossing (note it could also be called Reed sea) are found in Exodus 14. Since this is expected to have been written by Moses or those with him around the time, one would expect the information to be more exact.

 In Exodus it says “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.”

 “…Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel [m]went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”

 “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”

 On the internet a meteorologist, Allan Brunt did some investigation of this event. His article is interesting and found at http://ed5015.tripod.com/BRedSeaCrossing.htm and I will highlight some of the key points.

 His opening paragraph states “The Bible's account of the Red Sea crossing is one of the most meteorological parts of the Old Testament. The sequence of events described in Exodus 14 has been repeated in other parts of the world during severe storms. In other words such a parting of the sea occurs in nature. “ and summarizes the findings.

 In NO way does it say this was not a miracle, only that events that allow this to occur have been observed elsewhere. He correctly points out we interpret the words "yam suph"  as Red sea, but they could be as easily translated “Reed Sea”.

 Investigating the region, he concludes “The only situation which can produce a marked surge in the southern Red Sea is a cyclone of tropical origin drifting in from the Gulf of Aden.

 Severe tropical cyclones have done this several times in recorded history.

 
The 160+ Km/Hr winds and very low pressure over southern parts of the Red Sea proper would produce a positive surge in this area.”

 
He points out a drop of 2 to 4 meters would expose the sea bottom.

 He then explains that;

 a)    They crossed against a “strong east wind” so the wind was strong,
b)    He says “A major cyclone in the southern parts of the Red Sea would produce an east wind in the crossing area as winds blow anticlock-wise round lows in the northern hemisphere.”,
c)    It was on all night(a strong east wind all night), and therefore a widespread occurrence. It lasted about 12 hours. He then calculates and states “The maximum distance for such a volume of water to travel as a gravity wave along the full length of the Red Sea is about 2100 Kms. That is, at a velocity of 194 Km/Hr the longest period before the sea returned would be 2100/194 or about 11 hours. This is consistent with the Biblical record.
d)    The depth of the wall of water increases in shallow water, and he uses Green’s law to calculate that Pharoah’s chariots would have had a 3.5m incoming wave to deal with to survive! This upholds the biblical account.

 I like his honesty as he points out the wall on the left and right is the one part that doesn’t fully fit his model. However he investigated the term חֹמָ֔ה or chomah (Strongs number 2346) is also used to referred to walled cities enclosed by a wall. Strongs suggests the words meaning is “a wall of protection -- wall, walled.”


 Brunt suggests a better interpretation is “the Israelites were enclosed in a narrow path with a body of water on the left hand and a body of water on the right hand rather than vertical walls of water.”

 This is still consistent with the original text!

 WHY DO I EXPLAIN ALL THIS?

 Well I understand it is much more difficult to explain to the average person the detail and information of this second explanation and that it is way easier for the evangelist to contrive some ‘facts” that are simple for people to understand even if they are less true. However this is lying!

 I can even understand accepting the original story on face value(red sea, vertical water walls etc.) by faith (this is an illogical non-scienrtific approach but totally still an okay approach if we state it is totally faith based and not subject to logic).

 What I do have a problem with is misleading people! I do my best not to do that (but probably fail sometimes since I am human like the rest of us)

 If feel that we, as Christians, need to face the facts God puts in our way and sensitively put them forward for evaluation.

 We should, where possible, allow logic and science to help us as so much of our life is based on these pillars of modern society.

 We should be willing to learn new things and love to do so, because God gave us wonderful minds we can use.

 We should write back and counter falsehoods propounded by tele- and radio evangelists. These people are often so convincing but so “off the mark”. Someone said to me the best lies are just missing the truth by a narrow margin. Let us try to be sure to call out these lies so that people don’t end up getting hurt.

 Today as we speak, let us also be careful to try and hit the target with our words and not be guilty of the same mistakes as these evangelists.

 However honest a miss-speak is, it still damages others!

 Can we try and help not damage others today?

 Have a great day!
Thu, September 15, 2011 | link          Comments

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When people turn against us!

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Insecurity is the reason why Backstabbers are born.
Unknown



       Even been shocked to find out that someone you thought was supportive, was actually negative towards you?

 
I have found this in the past!


 Some people talk about these types as being “two faced” or “stabbing people in the back”.

 Basically they undermine us don’t they?

 When this happens to us it can be very demoralizing and is hurtful, right?

 I was thinking about this as I looked into the bible to read more on the activities of Paul when in Corinth. (I have been reading Acts 18 in the NIRV for the last while).

 It is interesting that this story points out that Paul stopped teaching in the synagogue. It says the following;

 “Then Paul left the synagogue. He went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a man who worshiped God. Crispus was the synagogue ruler. He and his whole family came to believe in the Lord. Many others who lived in Corinth heard Paul. They too believed and were baptized.”

 So, we find that he was not doing well teaching to the traditionally religious crowd, but the guy who led that crowd understood what Paul was doing and joined Paul. Crispus must have come to know the living God and so couldn’t ignore learning about him even though it cost him his position.

 It’s interesting that when we start to learn truth we want to learn more, isn’t it?

 Then we find the following. . .

 “So Paul stayed there for a year and a half. He taught them God's word.

   At that time Gallio was governor of Achaia. The Jews got together and attacked Paul. They brought him into court. "This man," they charged, "is trying to talk people into worshiping God in ways that are against the law."

   Paul was about to speak up for himself. But just then Gallio spoke to the Jews. "You Jews are not claiming that Paul has committed a crime, whether large or small," he said. "If you were, it would make sense for me to listen to you. But this is about your own law. It is a question of words and names. Settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." So he had them thrown out of the court. Then all the Jews turned against Sosthenes. He was the synagogue ruler. They beat him up in front of the court. But Gallio didn't care at all.”

 Seems like Paul was having a bad time and got unexpected support.

 Those guys at the synagogue wanted to get him in serious trouble. They had been following the leader of the synagogue.  We find out the guy who replaced Crispus was a guy named Sosthenes. He had been working against Paul doing the whole undermining bit.

 What is interesting is that we also find Paul didn’t even have to defend himself. A pure case of what it says is found in Romans 12:19 (NIRV)

 My friends, don't try to get even. Leave room for God to show his anger. It is written, "I am the One who judges people. I will pay them back,"—(Deuteronomy 32:35) says the Lord.

 God is the one in control! Here he uses Gallio to give the synagogue ruler punishment. It seems that his own people turned on him. I guess Gallio didn’t like Sosthenes either!

 Isn’t that what really happens with a back-stabber? Those who are happy to go along for the ride on the comments and attitudes of the undermining person are just as easily swayed when the going gets tough.

 Why?

 Well, a person who back stabs is also a person who cannot be trusted!
 
 Even the people who are aware of what they are doing and want it to happen, know that! People like that have few real friends because their integrity is blown. You never know when a back stabber will turn against you!

 As Christians, that is not our mode of operation. We are gentle, direct and honest. We approach people if we have differences with them. They get to know where they stand. We love them! We give them space to disagree because we know not everyone in this world can agree on everything.

 In simple terms, we let Jesus love rule the relationship not our selfish desires!

 Today as I go to work, I want to remember that people who perhaps want to undermine me, don’t have to answer to me.

 God will organize my protection if I stay right towards them.

 Hey, hope your day will be successful! Have a great one!
Wed, September 14, 2011 | link          Comments

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why even get married?
   
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Marriage seems to be on the way out!

The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life."
Oscar Wilde
 It seems like living together to check compatibility, to perhaps validate that we really love the other person is being accepted more and more as the norm.

 I had a deep discussion with many young people last Friday, on this subject. I put the question to them, “why should we avoid sex before marriage?”

 
This was like lighting a fire in a fireworks factory!

 The discussions became heated and in many ways polarized. I understand we had some people present who had children with multiple fathers and they were not in favour of marriage. "If two people love each other then they should be able to live together", was the argument.

 When I asked what the true biblical meaning of marriage was nobody in the room could answer correctly! Answers included “Deep significant love for each other”, “Wanting to share in another life”, "commiting to another" and other similar comments.

 I then asked about why in the Asian and Eastern countries where marriages are arranged, they have similar success rates to our western culture marriages. This was met with incredulity and disbelief! They forget this was the norm for nobility and royal people until very recently even in the west. Amazing how our media can promote the bad sides of things conveniently forgetting the good, but that's another story!

 The problem with marriage is that it is now a word that has little biblical basis. We have legalized it and used it as a means of controlling access to children, gathering taxes, and for other human control purposes and in so doing have changed it’s meaning.

 
Christian marriage IS NOT BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE!

 
It is between three!


The two people that are getting married, and God himself. The leader of the marriage is not the husband or wife, but God!

 Therefore it is worthless arguing whether compatibility, testing love etc. is part of the equation. They should be, if at all possible, but fundamentally a Christian marriage is a promise by individuals to God to unite with another Christian under God's guidelines for their lives and then to live their lives together within his will.

 So the modern legal marriage has take the concept and stripped it of its truth!

Marriage has become an empty hulk with legal complications.


Why get married?

 If you do not love Jesus, there is no real reason to get a church marriage. Rather go get the legal contract! That would simply be selecting a type of legal contract to try and ensure success in a human venture. Those marriage contracts are as effective as any other contract we make! Some work, many don’t!

 If however we submit to Jesus first as individuals, then ask God to mould us together, if we choose to love (not simply let feelings and emotions drive us), then we find a rich life together in a Christian marriage.

 I tend to agree with most people that marriage today is just a bunch of rules. What else could it become other than a ritualistic shadow of the true experience once we strip God out of it.

 Let’s get married as Christians for the right reason. Let's know that love is not only an emotion but a decision! Try reading 1 Corinthians 13 and asking how much of those qualities of love are decided upon as opposed to felt. That will explain why love is a decision. Then, lets decide to be truly married to our partners! Yes partners! God is there as well!

 The reason we avoid sex before marriage is to be true in our love to God, and also to respect our future partner, not because we are narrow minded.

 Have a great day!
Tue, September 13, 2011 | link          Comments

Monday, September 12, 2011

When I am afraid, what should I do?
       
Anxious, trembling and having to make a move?
IndoorWall.JPG

 In my home in the North of Canada I have an indoor climbing wall that goes up about 18 ft and slants back into the room slightly as it goes up.

 Most people decorate their lounges differently, but our lounge is the center of community fun and challenge as people of all ages and sizes try their hand at conquering the different climbing challenges that we establish on the wall.

 Last Friday we had a young woman who had never climbed before join us. There were probably about 12 teenagers climbing complex routes on that wall and after watching she tentatively asked if she could try.

 Others climb without ropes but her fear required us to put her in a harness and attach her to a rope so there was no possibility of falling.

 Despite this, once she reached about 9ft from the floor, her legs started to visibly shake and she told me how scared she was.

 It was a defining moment!

 All the young people in the vicinity gathered around and words of encouragement were shouted up to her. Fearfully she struggled against her fear and listening to our advice found the rocks to hold onto and stand upon. It took a long while, but she finally reached the top.

 When she came down there was high fives all round and I asked her how it felt to overcome her fear. She was still shaking so much she could hardly stand, but was elated! A beautiful smile lit up her face as she thanked us all for our faith in her. She explained how it felt so very good to have achieved what for her was an almost impossible task!

 I relate this story because this wonderful woman can teach us all something about fear.

 To tie this to the biblical accounts, I want to explain that the apostle Paul knew of this experience of fear. He had been in Athens and had the experience of failing in total manner for the first time. Athens was the one place where despite much effort, he never managed to get a church going. Then he came to Corinth, the business and sexual excess center of the Greek world of the time.

 He says in a letter back to them (1 Corinthians 2:3 NIRV)  “When I came to you, I was weak and afraid and trembling all over.”

 
Paul that great apostle was afraid!


 Notice how he deals with the fear. . .



 

Does he stop what he is doing?   No!

 Instead, he faces his fear and moves forward in the power of Holy Spirit and teaching about Jesus. He says “Brothers and sisters, when I came to you I didn't come with fancy words or great wisdom. I preached to you the truth about God's love. I made up my mind to pay attention to only one thing while I was with you. That one thing was Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.”

 Perhaps the fancy words hadn’t worked in Athens. Perhaps he used too much of men’s wisdom in Athens. Whatever the case, he was now facing the new work despite failure.
 
 The world of the time was not positive to Christians. Emperor Claudius had taken over from Emperor Caligula. Caligula was cruel, sexually perverse and a terrible tyrant. Claudius had to have some of his attributes to have power. Claudius seemed to have deported Christian Jews from Italy. There was not much support for Paul’s message.

 He brought the message to a place that was the red light city of Greece. Not the sort of place a message of Christianity takes hold in very easily. The Greeks were known to kill people who differed from them on their religions in the past.

 Paul was afraid! Like that lady on my climbing wall, Paul faced his fear and listened to God carefully doing what God was advising.

 
 One step at a time! It wasn’t easy, but 2000 years later the results showed that it was effective!

 As Christians we need to know that God’s love casts out fear. He is our support and guidance, provided we listen. If we do what he says, we will be victorious and then our joy will know no bounds! The heavenly high fives waiting for us will be wonderful.

 Today I plan to face my fears, what about you?
Mon, September 12, 2011 | link          Comments


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