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Friday, March 8, 2013

A world where things donít slowly fail and fade!

 

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That wonderful car that we inherited or bought and that serves us faithfully for many years, slowly gets rust spots, the engine becomes tired, and sooner of later it is no longer roadworthy.

It’s sad isn’t it?

People decline with years, even trees finally get to the point they can no longer sustain their life and die (although we have some that have lived amazingly long).

Most animals die with lifespans that are shorter than humans. Even our flowers wilt, and mountains get worn down by erosion. It’s hard to find a piece of ground that has been here since the start of Earth time, since so much of it has been reworked by the forces of nature. The rock of today is sand or lava of yesterday, and tomorrow it itself worn down and converted into new sandstone.

I think we can all agree with Paul that amazing guy, who was given special knowledge of God, and wrote so much of it into what is now our bible when he says...

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Creation is straining and groaning!

Yet that is not as it will always be! Paul likens it to childbirth where a mother is in extreme pain as she brings forth a new life in the form of a healthy new baby child. The joy of that birth moment takes the mother to new heights of love and happiness!

Creation is groaning and straining, and we are part of it. In many ways we also are groaning and straining in our lives.  Paul explains why...

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Now this is complex isn’t it?

Why would God have subjected creation to frustration, for that is what this writing says?

In the original state, man was sinless and creation was good and not subjected to frustration. At that time men becoming God conscious, loved God completely, and God to enable them to have free will, something he greatly desired us to have. God had to set something up so that man could chose for or against God’s desires. By choosing for God, man was aligning himself to choose love God with free will.

That original state unfortunately didn’t quite work out. God’s antagonist Satan, established a desire for that which mankind should not have desired. This led to mankind to going against God’s will. In so doing, the knowledge of good and evil was established and mankind was now cursed.

Mankind needed to understand what cursed meant (and original man had no idea at the time).

So God frustrated creation, putting it under a curse and making sure mankind would get to experience what cursed living was all about.

Genesis 3:17 NIV

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

So creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it.

Why?

in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

To establish hope!

Mankind is the reason creation is subject to frustration by God. We as mankind openly invited Satan to have his control of creation. Satan is already cursed by God, and so he wants to take as much down with him as possible. God had to simply allow man’s will to extend to creation and the sin then takes creation down as well.

The hope is that we as mankind will see what this means. That we will accept Jesus’ gift of renewal and change our lives from the decay path to the glory path.

Jesus as God, injected himself into the decay, fought the sin that caused it, won, and offers the prize of that victory to everyone who chooses to accept God and that Jesus himself as God’s son. These people can then live their lives under the control of Holy Spirit.

What happens then is that we throw off the result of decay. We do not end up in eternal death, but in eternal life. We step forward into heavenly places and our future is an Earth renewed and without decay, where life is full and complete. Where flowers don’t wilt, rust and moths don’t destroy and we have bodies that won’t ache.

That’s the Christian’s destination! It’s a destination anyone can attain. It doesn’t take working hard, or great skills, or great intellect. All it takes is a decision to follow God, an acceptance of God’s love, ability to love ourselves and others the way God wants us to.

We can have a world where things don’t fade or fail. It’s a decision of will and a way of life after that.

Will you be joining me in a glorious eternity?
Fri, March 8, 2013 | link          Comments

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Confusion or support in a story with a meaning!

 

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“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. Matt 13:13

Why tell a story that people may not understand? Is that not worth less than saying nothing?

Not really!

Let’s assume we are faced with a tough crowd.

Let’s assume in the crowd we have people who would like to see us dead or would totally disagree with everything we say and are looking to find fault with us and trip us up.

Let’s also assume the rest of the crowd is trying to figure us out and want direction.

Faced with this we need to provide the direction without giving those who are against us, ammunition to take us down.

In this case, a carefully constructed story is just the right tool. It makes sure those that understand the meaning can receive direction, while our critics cannot attack the words of a story since it is a story, not pure facts.

Smart right?

Jesus explained it as such...

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
[a]

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.

There is something we can gained from parables.

We can collect good stories with meaning to be re-used in difficult circumstances. They don’t always have to be to teach Christian messages either.

For example, a project manager may need to explain to his team that they need to check that they are not ignoring something important and are communicating clearly. He could tell the story of the flight instructor...

A flight instructor as the aircraft approaches a landing announces to his student it is time to land. The landing is extremely bad, bouncing the aircraft up into the air and then down, first on one wheel and then the other. Finally as it slows down the pale and shaken instructor turns to the student. ‘That was NOT a good landing!’  he comments.

‘But I thought you were flying!’  was the students retort.”

Today let’s listen out for good stories that can help us communicate. It’s even better to take some of Jesus’ parables and turn them into a   context and use these when the situation warrants it. Every now and then I do that in these blogs, my last one was Competition between squirrels

How about trying this out sometime and see if your parables don’t help you guide others in their lives.

Have a great day!

Thu, March 7, 2013 | link          Comments

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mocking people, is this wise?
 
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My focus is to forget the pain of life. Forget the pain, mock the pain, reduce it. And laugh. ~ Jim Carrey

 

“Ha! Ha! Life is to be mocked and ridiculed!” many people say and act to achieve this aim.

They take this approach and tear down anything that seems to have some structure or reality base.

In some strange way there is a belief that by ignoring reality and turning anything of substance towards humour we can avoid the pains of life.

Is this true?

It is good to laugh and lift ones spirit with humour, but not good to do it the expense of others unless we are selfish. Our bible does not want us to be selfish, nasty or ignorant and so if the attempt of humour leads us down these paths we will damage ourselves in the long term.

I see stand-up comedians that hack into audience members for the way they look or act, just to get a few laughs. The crowd roars with laughter and we see the forced smiles on the victim’s faces as they bravely take the ego damaging blows and try to be courageous.

Is this the way to treat another? Is this the wise way to deal with life that will build our world?

If we try to rebuke someone for doing this, we don’t get very far do we?

Normally we just end up on the sharp end of some painful rebuttal. These types of people do not want correction. They want to mock others and defend themselves in selfish nasty ways with a vocabulary of well thought out nasty retorts they have lined up for use on every occasion.

Have you ever experienced that? I hope you haven’t fallen prey to this worldview as the bible has a lot to say about it.

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom[b] your days will be many,
    and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.
Proverbs 9 : 7-12 NIV

When faced with a person who mocks us in the way I described, we are advised not to rebuke them, as they will not listen to us. They will instead build up hate for us in their hearts. They react in exactly the opposite way to wise people who take loving rebukes to heart. Wise people listen and evaluate what can be done to use the knowledge and advise others offer.

A wise person is a person who has Holy Spirit in their lives, who follows God’s guidelines for this life and who loves others and treats others respectfully, even when these "others" are not always due that respect.

This wise person builds good relationships, has others who turn to them for solid advice and to have their spirits lifted in a positive manner that is sustained and works on past the immediate moment.

A fast quip may generate laugher, but how much does it build the person up towards eternity unless it is placed with wisdom in a direction that is towards the goal of loving others.

A mild joke, a self-depreciating comical expression, a new surprising way of revealing life’s secrets with humour are well enjoyed and can impart wisdom if done carefully and with respect for others. Humor is good when it is gentle and respectful. It is not good when it is hard, sharp and disrespectful.

It is good to remember the words...

If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

Sometimes it is not only “you alone will suffer”, but for mockers also that in “suffering you will be alone!”

Let us choose wisdom and gentle respectful humour today!

Wed, March 6, 2013 | link          Comments

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Keeping a clarity in obscure times

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“Perfect clarity would profit the intellect but damage the will” ~ Blaise Pascal

 

A pope is to be replaced, is the choice clear?

Probably as clear as the church knows where it should be going, right?

Decisions often seem to be obscured by the randomness of life and pain.

Just yesterday, I met a woman who was in anguish over whether to be present or absent when her lifelong friend, the family dog was to be euthanized.

We all get to the point where it’s difficult to make decisions and move forward.

Christians probably have a simpler time than non-Christians because we have tie breaking guidelines in our bible, and our intent must always be to love God and our community in our decisions. Our intent must be pure before we make the decision as a Christian, and this simplifies many decisions. Even tough decisions are made a lot easier!

Proverbs 4 gives simple advice in this regard

My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

Paying attention to what God says is the beginning of wisdom in making good decisions when the truth seems obscured. The one place we can know we are hearing from God, is by reading the bible and trying to understand and remember what it says.

Intellectual knowledge is not enough however. One has to have ones emotions directed at the same purpose. We give our hearts to God, and he returns them full of pure love which unveils the truths in the words. It’s easy to read words and not get what they are trying to say, if our mindset is totally different to the person communicating the words.

Most of us know that to properly understand what a person says, it helps to know the person and their background. If we also know their aspirations and dreams, then their words are far easier to understand.

It’s the same with God and reading the bible, his words to us.

Our emotions drive our actions in life and so to align our emotions with God’s, aligns our life’s direction.

Next, as we move forward in life, we must ensure the rudder that guides the course we follow is set correctly. James describes our tongues as a rudder. This small item can direct our lives by the words that come forth from it.

What we say counts and can take a good intention and twist it away from achieving a clear good goal.

The wise person knows that what they say, needs to reflect their heart and mind accurately, and in a Christian’s case, our mind should be reflecting God’s mind and so what we say should align with that.

Not easy, but it makes for good decisions and knowing where we should go in life!

Talking of goals, having them is important. We often get what we aim for. What are we aiming for today, this week, this year, this decade, this lifetime?

Knowing this will help us make good decisions. Prayer and studying God’s word for guidance can help us set these goals. Wives and husbands should align their goals to align their lives together and be blessed. Keeping our eyes on where we are to go, helps us get there.

Once we have carefully set our goals, we need to persist in directing ourselves and our life events towards them, keeping from digressing and getting pulled away from the focus of our lives as God has directed us.

Failing to do this simply generates that obscure fuzzy cloud of despair and confusion. Keeping clarity has a lot to do with knowing God’s purpose for our lives and blows away those clouds, showing us where to go. Sometimes the path is rocky and difficult, but it is ours to walk. Lets’ pray for courage and a steadfast will to do God’s work in our lives.

That way clarity will pervade our thoughts and make us strong.

Have a magnificent God directed day today!

Tue, March 5, 2013 | link          Comments

Monday, March 4, 2013

Noise, fire and the Pentecost population

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“When you strip it of everything else, Pentecost stands for power and life. That's what came into the church when the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost.” ~David Wilkerson

Ancient cities did not have large numbers of people in them in general. The numbers were limited by the water supplies, the ability to move food and livestock into and out of them, and the ability to deal with human excrement daily.

The Holy city of Jerusalem was no different. It was built on high ground in the center of Palestine and so getting things in and out was not the easiest of activities. There was around 30,000 people that lived in it around the time of Jesus and on festivals it has been estimated somewhere between 80,000 and 150,000 people attended.

The roads were bad and people travelled on foot and in caravans for safety. This extra loading of Jerusalem required city limits to be redefined for festivals since visitors from many different countries had travelled a long way and brought along their own tents.

The city limits were extended to fit in these tent township areas and so that the law of living in the city at Passover could be maintained.

Pentecost or the Jewish feast called Shavuot was one of the three feasts that people travelled to the Temple. The others were Passover and Sukkoth(feast of booths).

We read in acts that the Christians were all together in one place on Pentecost. It was then that something rather strange happened...

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2

Now I have heard it said many times in churches that wind filled the room, but that is just not true.

If you check the wording it was the SOUND of wind that filled the room. Like someone had turned on a very loud sound system and filled the room with the sound of wind. Today with our electronics and speakers, that is easy to do.

In the first century A.D. this was impossible to do! This was a noise that must have been fairly loud. Fortunately they were sitting down or they may have fallen down with fright.

Where did this noise come from? The bible says heaven!

Well there were three meanings of that word heaven in those times. These are

1.   Our atmosphere that surrounds the surface of the earth - the air,

2.   The sky above earth’s atmosphere where the sun, moon and stars are located,

3.   God’s home where Jesus sits and where the Throne of Heaven is located.

My choice is the meaning used here was point 1. The sound came out of the air. It came from nowhere! Weird, strange!

Now if that was not enough,

“They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” Acts 2:3

Now we have to read that carefully because it says the tongues separated and settled. Separated means they were combined at some point. So initially, a fire started in the middle of this noise as they sat around. Since it says it “settled” it seems like it started above them in the air.

So these folk were sitting there in this room, minding their own business when a loud scary noise starts up and a fireball appears above them.

How would you react?

I guess I would have been really scared! I probably would not have known what to do and would not have wanted to stand up and get close to the fire.

If I was a Hebrew person of that time my mind would have immediately reminded me of two other fiery events. The first was when the Israelites had crossed the desert after the exodus.

21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.  Exodus 13:20-22

The second was in the time before they left...

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

Both of these were God in action so as a Hebrew person in that room I would have recognised that God was doing something.

Staring in with fear and excitement at the flames and hearing the huge noise of wind the next event would have been even more scary...

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Acts 2:3

The fire splits up and heads for everyone present!

Can you feel the panic and concern it could have generated as this started to happen. Can you image the shock of seeing fire land on friends and family?

Then can you imagine the amazement when it didn’t burn everyone and instead something amazing happened to everyone.

Something happened to them all!

Moments before they were frightened and hiding away together, then this event changes them and the bible says the following...

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.

What sound could have drawn a crowd to the house?

Not just the languages inside, firstly it must have been that howling wind sound from INSIDE a house.

So people start to  gather and then maybe they catch a glimpse of fire and people probably started to rush for buckets of water and gather sand to put it out.

Before they can react, these visitors from many different countries all hear people speaking to them in their own language.

The bible says...

Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

To give context, these would have been people from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Italy, and Israel.

These languages are not the same! Hearing them all at once would have been an un-understandable cacophony.

Yet it wasn’t!

People heard them in their own language. The language they had been exposed to all their life. They could tell if this was mumbo jumbo or their home language and it was their home language.

How can this be?

I have a suggestion that those who loved God were enabled by God to hear in their language independent of what the Galileans spoke.

In fact if you loved God, a Holy Spirit communication channel was setup through the Spirit between people who heard the words clearly as the divine interpreter changed the form and perceptions to enable pure understanding.

Maybe this is how we will understand each other in heaven.

Independent of language, pure knowledge of what is intended will be received.

Notice that not everyone felt the same way! The bible says...

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Some people were obviously not connected with God. What they heard was the cacophony and assumed the disciples were drunk!

How would we have reacted as part of that crowd? How do we react to Gods words today?

It takes God’s Spirit and faith in Him to hear his words...without that sometimes it’s only noise we hear.

What is our relationship with God? Are we connected and able to hear the heavenly communications, or are we disconnected and disparagingly tell others we hear only noise?

God’s people hear his voice. If you don’t perhaps you need to become one of God’s people? Jesus made becoming one of God’s people available to everyone. That means us as well!

That’s a thought for today!

Mon, March 4, 2013 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

By Ken X Briggs

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This suspense thriller centers on Kiara, a beautiful young woman pursued by a murderous group of people, who relentlessly and ruthlessly hunt her and her sisters. Kiara has no idea why she is being targeted! When Kiara and her family turn to the law for help, this fails. Her pursuers’ powers reach deeply into the political and law enforcement world. Family support for her dwindles when they too have to flee her pursuers. Can Kiara escape the clutches of both the law and dishonest big business? With the media broadcasting that Kiara and friends are dangerous and subversive, can Kiara clear her name and bring her pursuers to justice?

 

 
  

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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.

Will there be a rift in evil?

Will they be able to stop the evil in time?

 

 

 
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