Sunday, December 30, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Pastor John Piper offers an antidote!
Be faithful in how you live and how you give and God will shower you with material riches!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Have you read Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" lately? As you may recall it is a heartwarming tale of how the penurious old coot is transformed by the Spirit of Christmas. Certainly the story carries a far greater legacy than merely giving us the phrases "Bah, Humbug!" and "God bless us, every one!"
It is more than 150 years since Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. But that story endures and retains the power to move us because it speaks to the human condition, and offers an alternative to selfishness and materialism. It points us, albeit dimly, to the source of our being. As K Barth put it: “Christmas is where we come from…”
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!” “And what happened then ... in Who-ville they say [is] that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!” - Dr. Suess
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
In 1937, twenty-nine per cent of American adults told the pollster George Gallup that they were reading a book. In 1955, only seventeen per cent said they were. Pollsters began asking the question with more latitude. In 1978, a survey found that fifty-five per cent of respondents had read a book in the previous six months. The question was even looser in 1998 and 2002, when the General Social Survey found that roughly seventy per cent of Americans had read a novel, a short story, a poem, or a play in the preceding twelve months. And, this August, seventy-three per cent of respondents to another poll said that they had read a book of some kind, not excluding those read for work or school, in the past year. If you didn’t read the fine print, you might think that reading was on the rise.
You wouldn’t think so, however, if you consulted the Census Bureau and the National Endowment for the Arts, who, since 1982, have asked thousands of Americans questions about reading that are not only detailed but consistent. The results, first reported by the N.E.A. in 2004, are dispiriting. In 1982, 56.9 per cent of Americans had read a work of creative literature in the previous twelve months. The proportion fell to fifty-four per cent in 1992, and to 46.7 per cent in 2002. Last month, the N.E.A. released a follow-up report, “To Read or Not to Read,” which showed correlations between the decline of reading and social phenomena as diverse as income disparity, exercise, and voting. In his introduction, the N.E.A. chairman, Dana Gioia, wrote, “Poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement.”
PS. Thousands of years ago the sage wrote “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). If this was true then, how much more is it true today when we see tens or hundreds of thousands of books being released every year.
PSS. Click here if you need help with your 2008 Bible reading plan.
Friday, December 07, 2007
“Behold, … I will heal … and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. I will restore … the fortunes … and will rebuild them …. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me.
“It [you] will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for [you].
“… the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, 'Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, For the Lord is good, For His loving-kindness is everlasting”; and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the Lord. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,’ says the Lord.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'There will again be in this place which is waste, without man or beast, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds who rest their flocks (Je 33:6-9; 11-12).
(All Bible quotes taken from NASB Updated edition)
Thursday, December 06, 2007
To those who would turn from hell
But the critics gave him bad reviews
Even threw him to the bottom to the well
(Yonder Comes Sin, Bob Dylan)
When Jeremiah finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You must die!”
Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and to all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you.” (Jeremiah 26:8, 12-13)
“The Lord has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, to be the overseer in the house of the Lord over every madman who prophesies, to put him in the stocks and in the iron collar, now then, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who prophesies to you? “For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, ‘The exile will be long; build houses and live in them and plant gardens and eat their produce.’” ( Jeremiah 29:26-28)
Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchijah the king’s son, which was in the court of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. (Jeremiah 38:6)
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Here is what happened. As a class project, Miss Gibbons introduced her students to a cute, cuddly little teddy bear. And then she said “Now we have to give the bear a name.” All the students raised their hands and suggested names for the bear - eight names in all, including Abdullah and Hassan. To be fair, since there were so many great names to choose from, Miss Gibbons suggested they take a vote. And the winner, by a vote of 20 to 3, was: Muhammad!
Now, said Miss Gibbons, we will all take Muhammad home, one at a time, and we’ll bring him back with an essay about what we did with Muhammad the Bear when he was home with us. And so, one by one, the students took Muhammad the Bear home and wrote essays, and eventually Miss Gibbons bound all the essays into a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and the title “My Name Is Muhammad.”
Alas, the diabolical deed was stealthily uncovered by the ever efficient Sudanese police who immediately arrested Miss Gibbons and charged her with blasphemy and insulting the great prophet. She was locked away and told that her most likely sentence would be 200 lashes with a whip. Meanwhile a huge, unruly crowd collected outside the Khartoum jail bellowing fiercely and relentlessly for the immediate lynching of the western infidel.
In fact, if convicted, 54 year old Gillian Gibbons could be jailed for six months and subjected to 40 lashes. Her students have tried to claim responsibility for the act, which Britain's Foreign Service has called "an innocent misunderstanding."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
To whom shall I speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are closed
And they cannot listen.
Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it.
(Jeremiah 6:10, NASB)
For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for gain,
And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
But there is no peace.
(Jeremiah 6:13-14, NASB)
Thus says the Lord,
Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
(Jeremiah 6:16, NASB)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
A Psalm for giving thanks!
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
He has brought us to this place and has given us this land,
Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O Lord have given me.
and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.
(Deuteronomy 26:1-11; NASB)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
James Warren "Jim" Jones was the founder of the Peoples Temple, which became synonymous with group suicide after the November 18, 1978 mass murder-suicide by poison in their isolated agricultural intentional community called Jonestown, located in Guyana. Over nine hundred people died from cyanide poisoning or gunshot wounds in the aftermath of Jones ordering his men to kill visiting Congressman Leo Ryan and numerous members of his entourage.
In 1 Corinthians 12.10 the apostle Paul then refers to the “ability to distinguish between spirits”. The Bible talks of other extraordinary things appearing in an alternative or even counterfeit form. For example, in Exodus we see that some of the miracles that God performed through Moses were imitated by the court magicians of Pharaoh. More explicitly, Jesus himself says, in Matthew 7:21-23 21.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ ‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’Clearly, amazing and diabolical things can be done in Jesus’ name by people that do not even know Jesus - which is a sobering thought. And that sort of reality renders the gift of being able to “distinguish between spirits” - i.e., the ability to determine the authenticity of a particular thing - as a valuable gift for Christ to give to His church.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
“So I said to Jesus, ‘Look, if you can give me back my life, if you can restore me somehow, then I will do whatever you want me to do for the rest of my life.’ Like people make a pact with the devil, I made a pact with Jesus.”Or was it in fact another Faustian bargain? After all, the “Jesus” that Williamson follows is the false New Age “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles, not the real Jesus of the Bible.
“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3.7-8).A deal with the Devil, pact with the Devil, or Faustian bargain is a cultural motif widespread wherever the Devil is vividly present, most familiar in the legend of Faust and the figure of Mephistopheles, but elemental to a Christian view of the world.
According to traditional Christian belief in witchcraft, the pact is between a person and Satan or any other demon (or demons); the person offers his or her soul in exchange for diabolical favors. Those favors vary by the tale, but tend to include youth, knowledge, wealth, health or power. It was also believed that some persons made this type of pact just as a sign of recognizing the Devil as their master, in exchange for nothing. Regardless, the bargain is a dangerous one, for the price of the Fiend's service is the wagerer's soul. The tale may have a moralizing end, with eternal damnation for the foolhardy venturer. Conversely it may have a comic twist, in which a wily peasant outwits the Devil, characteristically on a technical point.
For example, the story goes that Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. However, shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.
“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20.10).
Saturday, November 03, 2007
FYI: The Cassini spacecraft monitors radio emissions from the planet Saturn. The radio waves are closely related to the auroras near the poles of the planet and are similar to Earth's northern and southern lights.
From article: Bizarre Sounds of Saturn's Radio Emissions
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Have you seen the Jesus Guy around? You may soon! He's begining to make headlines. For what it's worth, many feel that the Jesus Guy looks a lot like Jesus Christ Himself (an angilicized version, no doubt). They say he preaches like St. Francis of Assisi. Some rather candidly say he’s “a kook.” Others, confess him to be “a blessing from God.” I'm cluless!
Of course, contemporary liberal scholars, news pundits, and Hollywood have had many stupid opinions about Jesus and this guy fits the stereotype. He even answers the "name question" with a counter question "What's your name?" I suppose that's better than "I AM" for an answer. Sure he walks around barefoot in the snow (not, on water) and he's clad in a white robe but what does that say? Well, he likes to walk! According to reports, he’s walked through 47 states [and 13 countries] on a 16-year mission. So now the media wants in! Lately, both 20/20, Time and the Wall Street Journal have all helped to get the Jesus Guy a little free publicity.
So what's next? Interested? Click here to view more information about a documentary by Sean Tracey titled The Jesus Guy. The documentary covers the mystical journey of America’s “Barefoot Evangelist.” Oh, and by the way, the Jesus Guy is broke, penniless! So, if philosophy is for cynics and pop culture is for bimbos, what's this Jesus Guy all about? Does he have any good news?
Friday, October 12, 2007
I must confess! I passed through a rather intense Ayn Rand phase in my own philosophical journey. At that point, all around me, I was hearing the words: “Atlas Shrugged changed my life.”
Rand was from a educated, prosperous Soviet family who suffered terribly under communism. Her lifelong hatred for communism was superseded only by her love for the United States. She loved its skyscrapers, its technology, its machinery, its individualism, its energy. She was a thorough bred Aristotelian both in word and deed.
Unfortunately for Rand, she loathed religion as much as she hated communism. Being a fool for Christ myself, I was saddened to discover that she saw Christianity as the religion of fools and slaves. The woman was audacious in her worldly wisdom. For example, when faced with the writings of C.S. Lewis, Rand declared him to be a “driveling non-entity,” a “mediocrity,” and “scum.” (see, 1 Corinthians 4.13)
In place of Christianity, Rand, the antichrist, heralded objectivism - with objective reason as its god! Rational, responsible and principled individualism was her philosophy for living. In and of itself, objectivism is very compelling. It promotes values like love, friendship, wealth, and comfort. It respects science, technology, and innovation. It emphasizes reason and clarity. It values purposefulness, achievement, and success. It reveres passionate living, and pursing the greatest heights. All good things but meaningless without a knowledge of Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection.
So instead of glorifying and enjoying God, Rand set personal happiness as the extreme goal and objectivism as the philosophy that gives you the tools to figure out how to achieve it. Consequently, Atlas Shrugged turns out to be no more than diddly squat in light of the ultimate influence of the Bible.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
With the current McDonaldization of society it is no wonder more and more Americans know the ingredients of Big Macs than they do the Ten Commandments. It's a fact! Just check out this news story and weep.
BTW can you guess the correlation between morality and obesity? Have you seen the documentary Super Size Me?
Of course, this news is hardly all that shocking, particularly when so many American evangelicals (younger & older alike) are often about as clueless as the rest of the public when it comes to the Law of God.
What about the golden rule? How long before it goes the way of the golden aches (or golden calf)? What can be said about a society that no longer believed killing, cheating, stealing and slander are wrong? That envy and jealousy are good things? Help me here...
If we as Christians can remember the condiments on a hamburger over the contents of God’s commands, it’s a pretty good indication that our morality it shot. It is only through the knowledge of God’s Word that we are prevented from sinning.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
(ESV, Psalm 119:10-12)
Monday, October 08, 2007
“Faith lives in a broken heart. ‘He cried out with tears, Lord, I believe.’ True faith is always in a heart bruised for sin. They, therefore, whose hearts were never touched for sin, have no faith. If a physician should tell us there was a herb that would help us against all infections, but it always grows in a watery place; if we should see a herb like it in color, leaf, smell, blossom, but growing upon a rock, we should conclude that it was the wrong herb. So saving faith always grows in a heart humbled for sin, in a weeping eye and a tearful conscience.” –Thomas Watson
PS. "God loves a broken heart, not a divided heart."
Monday, October 01, 2007
Jesus, refuge of the weary,
Blest redeemer, whom we love,
Fountain in life’s desert dreary,
Savior from the world above:
Often have your eyes, offended,
Gazed upon the sinner’s fall;
Yet upon the cross extended,
You have borne the pain of all.
Do we pass that cross unheeding,
Breathing no repentant vow,
Though we see you wounded, bleeding,
See your thorn encircled brow?
Yet you sinless death has brought us
Life eternal, peace, and rest;
Only what your grace has taught us
Calms the sinner’s deep distress.
Jesus, may our hearts be burning
With more fervent love for you;
May our eyes be ever turning
To behold your cross anew
Till in glory, parted never
From the blessed Savior’s side,
Graven in our hearts forever,
Dwell the cross, the Crucified.
PS. Girolamo Savonarola (September 21, 1452 – May 23, 1498) was an Italian Dominican priest and leader of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for religious reform and vehemently preached against what he saw as the moral corruption of the clergy. He is sometimes seen as a precursor of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.
PSS. The novel Romola by one of my all time favorite authors George Eliot features Savonarola as a central character. Romola (1863) is a historical novel set in the fifteenth century, and is "a deep study of life in the city of Florence from an intellectual, artistic, religious, and social point of view." If you want to read the book click on Romola.
In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation an' they gave me a lethal dose.
I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn.
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm."
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
christianist (noun): one who advocates the reordering of society and government in accordance with fundamentalist Christian interpretations of the Bible.
Example of use: The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist.
Quote from site…
When you notice a new word - on the radio, in a book or magazine, or online - and discover that it’s not in the dictionary, then it’s a good candidate for Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary. Some words catch on, some don’t. It usually takes a few years for a word to enter the language and be used by many people in many different places. Lexicographers collect the evidence of new words used in print to determine when they are to be entered in the dictionary.
The Open Dictionary is a place to record new or specialized words or old words with new meanings, and some of the more intriguing new words and expressions submitted to the Open Dictionary at http://www.merriam-webster.com/ make it into this semimonthly roundup at the Britannica Blog. Some of these words are being used in active English but have not yet found their way into the pages of print dictionaries. Others are clever or useful coinages.
We welcome your contributions to the Open Dictionary - simply click here to join the fun.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I just had to post this 1971 performance of Jerry Lee performing the hymn Where He Leads Me. God rasied up Jerry Lee Lewis and if you don't believe me, believe him (click on the audio clip link below)!
For some great insight into this man and his music listen to this clip (turn up your volume control) of an interview with Jerry Lee from the 1970s. Lewis is being asked about where his religiousity and love of gospel music comes from. He responds by saying that niether denominations nor religion itself has any direct bearing on salvation. Here’s some quotes:
People of every church are going to be in heaven, brother. Upbringing’s got
nothing to do with it, or what church you believe in. I knew that’s what you
were referring to — I thought I’d just go ahead and get into it.
Are you a Christian or a Christian-minded person? [...]
… As a matter of fact, there’s no such a word as religion in the Bible. You’ll not even find that word in the Bible. Salvation, you’ll find.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
“Nebraska Democratic State Senator Ernie Chambers has decided to go straight to the top in an effort to stop natural disasters from befalling the world.
Chambers filed a lawsuit against God in Douglas County Court Friday afternoon, KPTM Fox 42 reported.” Here’s the story. Perhaps the good legislator needs to read God’s response to Job beginning in chapter 38.
Here come the Judge!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project (and onetime atheist), rejects the notion that science is sufficient to disprove the existence of God. Atheist biologist Richard Dawkins, aka Darwin's Rottweiler, insists that anyone who believes in an omnipotent creator is suffering a "delusion." Can the gloves of God defeat the punch of proof?
Collins once considered himself an atheist. However, dealing with dying patients led him to question his religious views, and after investigating various faiths., he became a believer in Jesus Christ after observing the faith of his critically ill patients and reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.
During a debate with Richard Dawkins, Collins stated that God is the object of the unanswered questions about the universe that science does not ask, and that God himself does not need an explanation since he is beyond the universe. Dawkins accused this as "the mother and father of all cop-outs" and "an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain."
Would you like to vote? Go here for more, and click on the heads to score each round to vote.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
She leaned on her brother's lego towers,
Being at that age when everything becomes
An aid to the miracle of mobility. Hers was
To sow disassembly on the industrious fields
Of a sibling's imagination. Innocently.
Far out in the world, men learn
The miracle of walking planes on leashes,
Testicles burning with artificial fire,
Striding into gangling towers
Innocent as placard-carrying activists.
Far out in another world, Hitler and Mao
Compare notes, ruing the slow evolution
Of human imagination. "I'd have built airports,
Not Auschwitz; sent Israel to Canaan
On Economy," Hitler says, in a rare interview.
Mao nods absentmindedly, he spends his days
Building Boeings from the pages of the red
Book. In New York, men settled for suicide,
Hurtled down burning towers, voices willed
To answering machines that reproduce
Every nuance of terror, and leak the smells
Of burning words, burning goodbyes, burning
Skins, burning everything. The journey
Of a thousand stories ends with one step
Into dust, into ash, into the salt from many eyes,
Civilisation toppling at the sound of God's name.
And as for you who wear masks and madness, and chant
God's name in vain: Pack all the fear you can, into
The aisles of a million jets, and watch them explode
Prematurely with a heroism that is not yours — and never will be.
(Originally appeared in The Vocabula Review )
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Currently I'm preaching through The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. I'm in chapter 9. In this Chapter Paul uses himself as a example for true freedom. According to 9.11 Paul has every right to reap material things from the Corinthian church. After all, they are his work and Paul has sowed spiritual things in them.
Of course, verse 11 falls firmly into the main teaching of 9. Namely, by means of personal example, Paul reinforces the appeal of chap 8, that the stronger believer is to forego his/her rights for the sake of the weaker, even to adopt the stance of the weak if necessary, by drawing attention to his own surrendering of his apostolic rights for the sake of a greater good! In this case, for the sake of the Gospel’s advance!
The major significance is the gospel-first posture of Paul that so ordered and influenced his life - his passion to keep the Gospel free and clear from any hindrances - whatever that might mean for him personally (1 Cor. 2.2). As a result of this gospel-first posture, Paul was more than willing to forego his personal rights, to abandon his apostolic privileges and “become all things to all men” for the sake of the Gospel’s advance.
To put it another way, what is on display in 1 Corinthians 9 is the gospel-driven, sacrificial mindset and lifestyle! This is the lifestyle that was demonstrated by Jesus, modeled by Paul, and whose echo ought to reverberate through the lives of God’s people, wherever they may be found.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
The God Delusion is an anti-theistic book by British ethologist Richard Dawkins, Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.
In the book, Dawkins contends that belief in a supernatural creator qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.
Dawkins writes that The God Delusion contains four "consciousness-raising" messages:
- Atheists can be happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.
- Natural selection and similar scientific theories are superior to a "God hypothesis" — the illusion of intelligent design - in explaining the living world and the cosmos.
- Children should not be labeled by their parents' religion. Terms like "Catholic child" or "Muslim child" should make people flinch.
- Atheists should be proud, not apologetic, because atheism is evidence of a healthy, independent mind.
"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good" (Psalm 14.1).
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
She's dead, he said.
So's he, said she.
Kicked the bucket, he said.
Bought the farm, said she.
Under the clover, he said.
Crossed over, said she.
Iced with a heater, he said.
Sleeps with the fishes, said she.
Taken for a little ride, he said.
Gone to the other side, said she.
Flat-lined, he said.
Out of mind, said she.
To a better place, he said.
By heaven's grace, said she.
Under the sod, he said.
To be with God , said she.
To Paradise? he said.
Would be nice, said she.
Could it be? he said.
Could it not? said she.
PS. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15.53b-57)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The piece shows the eye-catching steps of deceit which run every which way and connect in deceptive ways. Like the manner of fallen man, they are illusory steps going nowhere and all over at the same time.
“Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel” (Proverbs 20.17).
The following is a quote dealing with the matter of deceit from Augustine’s exposition on Psalm 50.19:
“Thy mouth hath abounded in malice, and thy tongue hath embraced deceit” (ver. 19). Of the malevolence and deceit, brethren, of certain men he speaketh, who by adulation, though they know what they hear to be evil, yet lest they offend those from whom they hear, not only by not reproving but by holding their peace do consent. Too little is it, that they do not say, Thou hast done evil: but they even say, Thou hast done even well: and they know it to be evil: but their mouth aboundeth in malice, and their tongue embraceth deceit. Deceit is a sort of guile in words, of uttering one thing, thinking another. He saith not, thy tongue hath committed deceit or perpetrated deceit, but is order to point out to thee a kind of pleasure taken in the very evil doing, He hath said, ‘Hath embraced’.” (Schaff, P. . The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. VIII. Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms. .)
Bible words for deceit:
From Hebrew root rāmâ, meaning treachery or guile (Ps. 34:13).
It is used of a witness, of balances and of a bow (Ps. 78:57).
It is expressed by several Greek words, e.g.:
- planē, ‘error’ (Eph. 4:14);
- dolos, ‘cunning’, ‘treachery’ (Rom. 1:29; Mk. 7:22);
- apatē, ‘beguiling pleasure’ (Mt. 13:22; Heb. 3:13; Col. 2:8).
Bible thoughts and verses on deceit:
Since the devil is the arch-deceiver (Rev. 20:10) his children are described as ‘full of deceit’, e.g. Elymas (Acts 13:10).
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Tim 4:1).
Conversely, in Christ’s mouth there is no deceit: “He (Jesus) committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22) and in the true Israelite Nathanael no guile, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (Jn. 1:47).
“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Eph 4:2).
“…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:14).
Thursday, August 16, 2007
“When are you going to post another blog entry?” asked my friend the other day. “I’m not sure”, I replied. “After all I’ve been rather busy with work, travel and family issues of late.”
But that got me to thinking. One huge feature of our daily lives is the awareness of time. We feel, think, and act in the time flow. Webster's Dictionary defines time as: “The general concept, relation or fact of continuous or successive existence, capable of division into measurable portions, and comprising the past, present and future.” In any case, time bears powerfully on human emotions. Not only do we often regret the past, we occasionally fear the future and curb the present.
Time is frequently described as the fourth dimension, and is very important to scientific observation because the events that scientists attempt to measure and explain all occur within a time frame. However, we know from Einstein's Theory of Relativity that there is no standard or absolute time frame, because time can be defined only by measurement.
You see, the measurement of time is based on reoccurring natural phenomena. For example, a year is defined as the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make one complete revolution around the Sun. A day is defined as the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make one complete revolution on its axis. The year and the day are then broken down into more arbitrary units - months, hours, seconds, and so on.
Einstein and others have shown that objects cannot travel faster than the speed of light, which is 186,291 miles per second. According to Einstein's theory of relativity, if an object were to travel at the speed of light its mass would become infinite. Hence, the speed of light then could be a function of time, because time can only be defined by measurement.
God is both faster than light and not in a hurry at the same time. For example, it took 40 years for Moses to receive his commission to lead God’s people out of Egypt. God called Moses to accomplish a certain task in His Kingdom, yet God was in no hurry to bring that mission into fulfillment. God took His time to accomplish what He wanted with and in Moses. But what did God want?
Interestingly, Moses wrote, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90:12). We are often more focused on the time something takes than the wisdom we are gaining as we live each day. When we experience God’s presence daily, one day we wake up and realize that God has done something special in and through our lives.
Even so, neither time nor wisdom will continue to excite us. Instead, what excites us is knowing Jesus Christ. As this happens, we are no longer focused on the wisdom because it is merely a result of our time with Jesus. In other words, wisdom is not the goal of our time with Jesus, but the by-product. Jesus is the Goal, alone and always!
God's timing in our lives will always remain a mystery. God will take the time he needs to get your ear and to impress on you his direction for your life. But our own understanding of time begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly” (Romans 5: 6).
PS. Scientists now suggest that a particle called a tachyon (from the Greek for "swift") may travel faster than the speed of light and cannot be slowed down. Some scientists believe that if tachyons could be detected and harnessed, they would help one to communicate anywhere in the universe instantaneously. So far the particle has not been found, but the new theoretical physics does account for this possibility.
Is time on your side? “For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.” Habakkuk 2.3
Saturday, July 21, 2007
You can’t have an interview or even a conversation with Dungy without recognizing that his personal faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing to him…..
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Yet "perception is reality" is usually just a clumsy but short way of saying that people generally do not react to reality, they react to their perception of it. Therefore if you control how they perceive reality, which is easier than controlling reality, you control how they will react.
For example, in the world of advertising it does not matter whether the audience believes the message to be true, only that they perceive it to be true. So those who are selling and those who are buying make a contract with the vapors. Their actions will be the same whether they believe it or only perceive it. Hence, the overt and subliminal message that perception is reality has snaked its way into every corridor of their reasoning.
Now from a Christian point of view, the enemy of our souls is very good at this game. He often manifests as an angel of light causing us to perceive to be true that which is a lie. For example, you may be at an impasse with a someone or something right now and it appears that there is no exit. Or, you may be experiencing an inordinate amount of fear or doubt or condemnation. It’s a lie and when you buy into it, your perception of the matter overrides the reality. Your only basis of truth is God’s Word. And the Devil prowls to and fro seeking to devour via perception (1 Peter 5.8).
Like a lion, the accuser of the brethren, makes for an impressive opponent. Yet behind that front is a weak, toothless feline with a destination that has already been prepared in the great abyss. That’s the reality! Satan knows his destination, but he wants to make a big roar.
The next time some circumstance or person comes into your life that creates fear and trembling, first determine the source. Look past the façade! See the thing in light of God's Word. Perception is not reality and the lion perishes for lack of prey.
Friday, June 29, 2007
You have the great Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs singing a great Dylan song on the greatest TV show ever. Add to that mix a great dance routine by Granny and Jed and you have a great laugh.
PS. (I don’t watch TV shows but when I was a child “The Beverly Hillbillies” was one of my all time favorites)
PSS. If you want to watch and hear "Mama You Been On My Mind", click here to go directly to a YouTube presentation of Dylan and his band delivering a delicate and lovely version of the song in Iowa in the year 2000.
watch, listen & enjoy, ron
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
Grace! tis a charming sound, harmonious to the ear; Heav’n with the echo shall resound and all the earth shall hear.
’Twas grace that wrote my name in life’s eternal book; ’twas grace that gave me to the Lamb, who all my sorrows took.
Grace taught my wand’ring feet to tread the heav’nly road; and new supplies each hour I meet, while pressing on to God.
Grace taught my soul to pray, and made mine eyes o’er-flow; ’twas grace which kept me to this day, and will not let me go.
O let Thy grace inspire my soul with strength divine; may all my pow’rs to Thee aspire, and all my days be Thine.
Chorus: Saved by grace alone! This is all my plea; Jesus died for all mankind, and Jesus died for me.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
Friday, June 01, 2007
Remember the ridiculous but very scary movie The Exorcist? It seems that exorcism are best left to the highly gifted or Jesus alone!
Just for fun check out this amusing 30 second re-enacted cartoon version of The Exorcist by bunnies (click here now)!
PS. For a brief guide on how to cast out demons click here.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I wonder if a man handing another man an extremely sharp, polished, two-edged instrument would hand it over with the air, gestures, and expression of one delivering a bouquet of flowers? Would not this be madness? What does one do then? Convinced of the excellence of the dangerous instrument, one recommends it unreservedly, to be sure, but in such a way that in a certain sense one warns against it. So it is with Christianity. If what is needed is to be done, we should not hesitate, aware of the highest responsibility, to preach in Christian sermons - yes, precisely in Christian sermons - against Christianity." - Soren Kierkegaard's (Works of Love: Some Christian Reflections in the Form of a Discourse)
Friday, May 25, 2007
A certain man is stumbling through the a cowboy town, totally drunk,
when he comes upon a preacher baptizing people in the horse trough.
He proceeds to walk into the trough and subsequently bumps into the preacher.
The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of alcohol,
whereupon he asks the drunk,
"Are you ready to find Jesus?"
The drunk answers, "Yes, I am."
So the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water.
He pulls him up and asks the drunk,
"Brother have you found Jesus?"
The drunk replies, "No, I haven't found Jesus."
The preacher shocked at the answer, dunks him into the water again for a little longer.
He again pulls him out of the water and asks again,
"Have you found Jesus my brother?"
The drunk again answers, "No, I haven't found Jesus."
By this time the preacher is at his wits end and dunks the drunk in the water again
but this time holds him down for about 30 seconds and
when he begins kicking his arms and legs he pulls him up.
The preacher again asks the drunk,
"For the love of God have you found Jesus?"
The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher,
"Are you sure this is where he fell in?"
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Say What? Although he refused to play at Woodstock, the spirit of Dylan's music was an integral force at the legendary Woodstock show. For example, he is responsible for such songs as "All Along The Watchtower" (made into a hit by Jimi Hendrix who did show up at Woodstock).
Quote: "Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said, Bob, why are you resisting me? I said, I'm not resisting you! He said, You gonna follow me? I said, I've never thought about that before! He said, When you're not following me, you're resisting me."
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Esau Sells his Birthright to Jacob
by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606 – 1669)
drawing with pen and brush ca. 1648/50 - British Museum, London
Want more: Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn biography.
This work is linked to Genesis 25:30
Below is an extract from Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1678, public domain). With one exception (Bible), Pilgrim's Progress was considered the most important writing in English, for a century or two.
Note: HOPE: is Hopeful, Christian's companion, CHR: is Christian, the main character of this book, on his way from the City of Destruction to the Heavenly City and RON: is me (not found in actual text)!
HOPE: Why art thou so tart, my brother? Esau sold his birthright, and that for a mess of pottage, and that birthright was his greatest jewel; and if he, why might not Little-faith do so too? (Hebrews 12:16)
CHR: Esau did sell his birthright indeed, and so do many besides, and by so doing exclude themselves from the chief blessing, as also that caitiff did; but you must put a difference betwixt Esau and Little-faith, and also betwixt their estates. Esau's birthright was typical, but Little-faith's jewels were not so; Esau's belly was his god, but Little-faith's belly was not so; Esau's want lay in his fleshly appetite, Little-faith's did not so. Besides, Esau could see no further than to the fulfilling of his lusts; "Behold, I am at the point to die, (said he), and what profit shall this birthright do me?" [Genesis 25:32] But Little-faith, though it was his lot to have but a little faith, was by his little faith kept from such extravagances, and made to see and prize his jewels more than to sell them, as Esau did his birthright.
You read not anywhere that Esau had faith, no, not so much as a little; therefore, no marvel if, where the flesh only bears sway, (as it will in that man where no faith is to resist), if he sells his birthright, and his soul and all, and that to the devil of hell; for it is with such, as it is with the ass, who in her occasions cannot be turned away. [Jer. 2:24] When their minds are set upon their lusts, they will have them whatever they cost. But Little-faith was of another temper, his mind was on things divine; his livelihood was upon things that were spiritual, and from above; therefore, to what end should he that is of such a temper sell his jewels (had there been any that would have bought them) to fill his mind with empty things? Will a man give a penny to fill his belly with hay; or can you persuade the turtle-dove to live upon carrion like the crow? Though faithless ones can, for carnal lusts, pawn, or mortgage, or sell what they have, and themselves outright to boot; yet they that have faith, saving faith, though but a little of it, cannot do so. Here, therefore, my brother, is thy mistake.
RON: Little faith is enough if it is in Christ Jesus alone!
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Caravaggio mostly painted on canvas, but this work was made on a panel. For more on Caravaggio see Caravaggio biography.
This work is linked to 1 Samuel 17:54
David has just killed the giant Goliath and takes the head with him in order to show it to his people.
What are some of the Goliaths we face in life?
Goliath represents the many insufferable obstacles and pitfalls we encounter in life, whether they be spiritual or physical. Goliaths will try to win over us, but, like David, we have the grace of God on our side, and God empowers us to confront and conquer those enormous giants. Like David, we fight with our God given weaponry to defeat them. We do not need to borrow or hire the weapons of others; all we need is the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ to defeat whatever Goliath we encounter. So pray, study the Word of God, and witness to God’s grace in the face of today's Goliaths.
Heads will roll!
Friday, April 27, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
"Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:1-6).
lighten up, ron
Friday, April 20, 2007
Killing Christians in the name of religion doesn't raise an eyebrow to Muslim murder in the name of civility! Click on the below link and ask yourself what's wrong with this picture?
ex parte? ron
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Immense tragedies such as this raise a host of questions. Where is God in all this? How could he allow this to happen? What kind of anguish would cause someone to randomly shoot people, and then commit suicide? What can we do as a society to prevent such tragedies in the future?
We are again facing the age old question of evil in a world both created and controlled by a good God (known, in theological circles, as theodicy). In case you are unfamiliar with either the term or its definition, here is one way the problem is presented:
God cannot be both all good and all powerful because:
- if he is good then he would do all he could to stop evil; evil exists, therefore God did not stop it and is not all powerful.
- if he is all powerful and evil exists then evil is his doing; therefore he is not good.
N.T. Wright makes the following point in his brilliant book Evil and the Justice of God:
If you offer an analysis of evil which leaves us saying, “Well, that’s all right then; we now see how it happens and what to do about it,” you have belittled the problem…. for the Christian, the problem is how to understand and celebrate the goodness and God-giveness of creation and, at the same time, understand and face up to the reality and seriousness of evil.
Evil cannot be explained. It can be viewed from different perspectives, but we, as finite creatures, do not fully know why evil is in the world and what God’s purpose for it is. What we do know, as Christians, is that we believe in an all powerful, all holy, all loving, all knowing, just God who has acted faithfully in the past and in whom we can be confident will act in the future.
At the end of the day there are no worldviews or religions that give a satisfying reason for evil in the world. What Christianity does have to offer above all other worldviews is the confident hope that God will restore the world. On that day, and not a day sooner, will we then understand the ‘why’ of the problem of evil.
“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.” Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
For further reading:
Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright
Unspeakable by Os Guinness
How Long O Lord? by D.A. Carson
Why Does It Have To Hurt? The Meaning of Christian Suffering by Dan McCartney
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Jesus took your punishment upon Himself -"For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3.16-17). Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. Jesus is alive! Follow Him today!
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Van Eyck’s painting shows three women positioned at the empty grave of Jesus. An angel is telling them what happened while the guards slumber in a deep sleep. The women bring bottles with ointment and spices to anoint the corpse.
None of the gospels describes the scene exactly as Van Eyck does on this panel. The painting is closest to Matthew's description, the only gospel that mentions an angel sitting on the door to the empty grave, and that also mentions the sleeping guards.
Mark talks of "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome" and a young man sitting next to the grave.
Luke says the women were "Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James". He also claims that "two men stood by them in shining garments".
John only mentions Mary Magdalene visiting the grave.
This work is linked to Luke 24:1.
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Happy Resurrection Sunday, ron
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Monumental work by Caravaggio on the Entombment.
The painting first served as an altarpiece for Roman church,
This work is linked to Mark 15:46
enjoy Easter, ron
Friday, April 06, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
In a recent book of memoirs about his predecessor, Pope Benedict recalls the events of the World Eucharist Congress at Bologna in 1997. It was a gathering of 300,000 young Catholic pilgrims who were to be exposed to Bob Dylan's radical songs with their "completely different" message.
Benedict wrote: "The Pope appeared tired, exhausted. At that very moment the stars arrived, Bob Dylan and others whose names I do not remember.
''They had a completely different message from the one which the Pope had.
"There was reason to be sceptical - I was, and in some ways I still am - over whether it was really right to allow this type of 'prophet' to appear."
At the time he gritted his teeth and sat it out. But now Pope Benedict XVI has admitted that he thought his predecessor's encounter with the singer Bob Dylan was a awful scheme.
In 1997, John Paul II sat on a stage along with 50 cardinals in a vast fairground outside Bologna while slightly below and in front of him, Bob Dylan, wearing a cowboy hat and rhinestone-spangled zoot suit, crunched his way through "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", "It's a Hard Rain" and "Forever Young".
After his performance Dylan went to greet John Paul on the podium to robust roars from the young and enthusiastic crowd.
Dylan became a born-again Christian sometime in the late 1970’s and released several albums relating to personal salvation. Notable among his Christian releases is Slow Train Coming.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Check out this YouTube of David Eugene Edwards (Woven Hand), the long-time front man for those remarkable gothabilly rockers 16 Horsepower singing Sinnerman.
16 Horsepower is not your ordinary Christian country-music band. There’s little hillbilly or cowboy about them. Rather, their subject matter turns on man's sins and breakdown, societies lack of faith, wallowing in a world of superficial possessions... all swallowed up in traumatic soundscapes of `ghostly banjos and a rather pulsation low-end. This music and lyric is not for the faint of heart!
o sinnerman where will you run to
sinnerman where will you run to
sinnerman where will you run to
all on that day
run to the mountain
the mountain wont hide you
run to the sea
the sea will not have you
and run to your grave
your grave will not hold you
all on that day
mountains are falling
the sea it rages
the grave will not hold you
all on that day
run to the lord
lord please hide me
run to the lord
where you gonna run to
all on that day
run to the mountain
the mountain wont hide you
and run to the sea
the sea will not hold you
and run to your grave
the grave will not hide you
all on that day
the mountain is falling
the sea it rages
where will you run to
all on that day
the mountain wont hide you
the sea won’t have you
and the grave will not hold you
all on that day