REFORMED- ORTHODOX- CATHOLIC- A 2013
1856- FOR THE BIRDS
Late happy father’s day to all you dads out there.
Yesterday I got up early and went to Wal Mart- I wanted to get presents for my girls and do a kind of raffle at my oldest daughter’s house [Bethany].
I had wanted to meet at the beach- but I realized that plan wasn’t going to work so we ended up at her house.
I bought some nice stuff for the kids- and had a home bingo game I bought a while back [my wife plays with her sister- so I got them a cheap home version] and I used the thing that turns/mixes the bingo balls in the cage- and stuck the names of my kids on the balls.
It was silly- but they liked the stuff.
So- after I bought the gifts I took a ride to the beach [about 2 miles from where I live] and jumped in the gulf- yeah- it was dad’s day- so I swam.
O- I forgot- while driving to Wal Mart we had one of those quirky storms- and I [and everyone else] spotted a Funnel Cloud over the bay.
I stopped and took a few pictures- we do get them in our area- but it might be only the second time that I spotted one live [you see them on the news at least once every year or so- from the area].
As I was walking back to the truck after the swim- I heard someone yell out ‘hey John’.
Sure enough it was my buddy Tim [carpenter Tim- I wrote about him in the last few weeks].
Yeah- I have not spoken with Tim in years- like I said- sometimes I’ll run into my homeless friends once or twice every 2-4 years.
That was the case with Tim.
He was on his bike- and he told me he just got back to the area.
He rode the thing to Roswell N.M. [no joke- he’s a real bike rider!].
So we talked for about 2 hours [yeah- was running late for the father’s day gig].
Tim shared with me all the times the Lord provided for him on the bike ride.
At one point the weather got real cold- and the day before he found some long John’s [thermal underwear] at a rest stop- they were still in the bag!
He told me how this was how God provided the whole time [a few week- month type trip].
He told me he still has a camp in the Bluff [where I live- many years ago I used to visit Tim regularly in the camps- many of the homeless have camps- Tim was a regular friend- I would trek thru the brush area- maybe half a mile or so- Tim would have a nice camp set up- he’d brew me some Folgers over an open fire].
As we were talking there at the beach- he had some of the old Folgers coffee in his bag- sure enough he broke it out and made some right there.
I gave Tim some money- he really did not want to take it- then he tried to give me something of value [he had some music C.D.’s].
I told Tim ‘no buddy- the last few weeks I have been giving 20’s away- felt like I needed to catch up’. I was slacking with helping the poor- so it was the lord that allowed this chance meeting.
Tim told me he still has a camp on the property of some rich lady who lives here in town.
He does work for her- at almost no cost- so she lets him live there- outside!
He has told me about her in the past- nice lady- but a staunch atheist.
You know- the type that really lets you know they don’t believe.
He was telling me how she’s an avid bird lover- has all the stuff on her property for birds.
I gave Tim a quick Apologetics argument he can use with her- if he ever gets the chance.
I have written a lot about this over the years- but let me give you the short version.
Apologetics is the field where you argue for the existence of God- you use the proofs from science and logic and philosophy to argue your case for the existence of God.
Okay- this is the short version.
The fact that ANYTHING EXISTS- is proof that God exists.
For many thousands of years- dating back to the time of the famous philosophers- Plato, Aristotle and Socrates [5- 600 years B.C.] people who studied the universe [Cosmologists] believed that the universe [time, matter, space- all things that make up the physical world] had no beginning point.
Most [though not all] believed that the universe was eternal- even the contemporary Carl Sagan said ‘the universe is all there ever was- and all there ever will be’.
So- when Christian thinkers argued for the existence of a creator- most used the Aristotelian argument that said ‘God is the Prime Mover’.
Which meant- He started all motion.
Even the great 13the century Catholic scholar- Thomas Aquinas- used this argument.
But- in the modern era- science has found out that yes indeed- there was in fact a time when no physical matter existed.
We learned this in the 20th century- men like Einstein made great breakthroughs in the field of Physics- and they showed us that there was a time- well- when there was ‘no time’.
It would take too much to cover this here- but men like Hubbell and a few others made some great scientific observations that backed up Einstein’s theory- and vice versa.
So- when SCIENCE [not religion- not bible- not ‘God talk’] showed us that all matter had a starting point- it left the atheist in a tough spot.
If there was a time when nothing existed- then how did everything get here?
The only logical conclusion is something [or someone] who exists outside of the physical realm [called the metaphysical realm] had to have been responsible for it.
Why is this the only logical explanation?
Because things cannot come FROM NOTHING [the ancient saying ‘out of nothing- nothing comes’].
So- we are left with the dilemma that there was indeed a time of NO MATTER- and therefore something- outside of the material realm- has to be responsible for it.
This is indeed- in my view- the greatest Apologetic argument used to ‘prove’ the existence of God.
Now- some say ‘but how do we know it’s God- maybe there is some other ‘non material’ thing/being that did this’?
Look- some of the so called ‘new atheists’ have gone down this line of reasoning- and made fools of themselves.
One quick example.
One of the famous present day atheists is Richard Dawkins.
He was pinned down in an interview- and he was confronted with this dilemma.
He actually said that he thought it was possible that some ‘being’ from another time might have made all things.
He said the being- well- would have to be eternal [because if he isn’t- you have the problem- where did he come from].
He said this being had to have been very smart [you can’t get intelligence from non intelligence- this is a scientific observation].
And this being had to be very powerful- because he created all things.
In short- when Dawkins was done- he described the attributes of God down to the last detail [omniscient, omnipotent, etc.]
So- any thinking person- even an avowed atheist- realizes the problem that they face in trying to explain the existence of all things.
I told Tim it was ‘funny’ that this lady loves birds- but ‘hates’ God.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans chapter one ‘they did not want to have God in their thoughts- so God gave them up to worship the created order- Birds, etc..’
Yeah- men who rejected the obvious proof of God- creation- became worshippers of creation [they made idols of animals and birds].
I found it interesting that Tim’s bird lady was living proof that the bible is true.
I had a good time talking with Tim- it’s been a while- he asked if he should come by the house and visit in the upcoming weeks- I told him sure.
Tim is one of the homeless guys who does not like to impose on people- that’s why I hardly ever see him- he won’t even go to the free mission to eat- he avoids the whole scenario of looking like your homeless.
He works- lives- and feels like it’s his right to not have a home- without being looked down upon.
Well- I’ll end with that for now- for those who want to read more about Apologetics- I have stuff on the blog you can find- have fun.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1855- UNFINISHED BUSINESS
First we need to take care of some unfinished business.
Yes- I’ll admit- yesterday’s prediction failed.
The post warned of a possible sell off in the market [I guessed around 100 or so points- nothing real big].
But- the market went up around 100.
If I have learned anything in life- it’s when you blow it you need to fess up- come clean- in Christian lingo ‘confess your sins one to another- so you will be healed’ [James].
So- to all who read this site- I have one thing to say.
My account was hacked [Anthony Weiner?]
Okay- let’s move on.
Actually- most of everything I posted was [is] still true.
I don’t want to do another whole post on economics- but some analysts think the market went up- not because we had good news [yesterday stats showed factory orders were down in May from the previous month] but because we had bad.
Like I wrote- if investors think things are bad- that makes them think the Fed will act [put more money into the system] and Walla- the Dow goes up.
There are a few other things too- like the Greek vote on Sunday [whether or not they will stay in the Euro] but overall I still stick to my post- absent that one line that was hacked!
Okay- did we have any other ‘big’ news yesterday?
There were a few things- some ‘bigger’ than the media [or the administration] would like us to know.
The president did a funny thing yesterday- he sent a letter to congress saying he ‘declassified’ info about our terror [drone] campaign in Yemen.
This is the first time he did this [as far as we know?] since he’s been in office.
Why does this really look suspicious?
His administration is under criticism right now- it looks like they have indeed been ‘leaking’ these stories to the press.
The whole recent scandal of national security leaks.
Of course he has denied it.
But- if he [and his political people] were behind it- then they obviously had a strategy about how much would come out each month.
This ‘late Friday’ release- seems to go along with this theory- it looks funny to me.
The president also did his ‘kinda’ executive order- by giving some type of cover to some illegal aliens.
For the record- I’m liberal when it comes to this subject [for those who think I’m too far right!]
I want for our nation to work out some type of deal for the kids of illegal’s- who were young when they came to the country- who are in school- basically grew up just like you and me- I don’t want these kids to be afraid of getting sent back.
I also realize the need to have some type of border enforcement- I just want to say I’m not against the principle that that the Pres laid out.
Of course it was politically timed- I mean you’re in office for 3.5 years- and now you do it.
In actuality there really is more ‘politics’ to it than meets the eye.
When the president’s real plan for immigration was shot down- The Freedom Act- he simply blamed it on the Repubs.
But something unsuspected happened.
Marco Rubio [the Cuban American Republican from Florida- possible V.P. pick for Romney] began working on a Repub plan to allow the minor kids of illegal’s to stay in the country.
The same basic thing that Obama wanted to do.
Okay- to the surprise of some- he seems to have convinced enough fellow Repubs to sign on.
Now- the part you don’t see is this.
What the Pres did- and the other Democrats- was they saw how bad it would look if the Repubs actually passed a law that favored immigrants- that if Rubio succeeds- than it will look like they did something Obama was not able to do- pass immigration reform.
So behind the scenes Obama and the Dems have been telling fellow Dems ‘don’t agree with Rubio!’
Some have jumped ship and simply said ‘look- we want reform- we [the Dems] had total control of the govt. for the first 2 years- you [our leader- Obama] spent all your capital on health care- so we don’t care if it’s Rubio- we simply want TO HELP THE KIDS AND GET THE REFORM DONE’.
Okay- that sounds principled to me.
So- Obama realized he was gonna look bad if the Rubio thing goes thru- and he came out- after 3 and a half years- and said ‘I must act now’.
He pulled the rug out from Rubio [which in reality hurt the long term solution- which would have been much better for the Hispanic kids].
And gave an ‘order’ to Janet Napolitano [the lady that oversees the immigration laws] and said ‘put a 2 year hold on deporting the kids of Immigrants’.
Now- there’s more to it- but this is the short story.
It really would have been better to just let the Rubio idea pass- because the new plan from the Pres still leaves the kids in limbo- they simply get 2 years to not get deported.
Okay- lets end the week with a few verses.
I have been reading Isaiah chapters 26- 30.
Some notable verses ‘your dead sons will arise- together with MY DEAD BODY shall they arise’.
This week the more historic/traditional churches celebrated the Eucharist [communion- the actual term means Thanksgiving].
This past Sunday was a church memorial that always sticks in my mind each year it comes up.
It’s a special day that celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi.
This feast is a celebration of the Body of Christ- but because that’s the name of my city- I usually make note of it when it comes up annually.
I like the above verse- I have quoted it every week for years [it’s one of the many prayer verses I have painted in my yard].
It’s a prophetic verse speaking about both the future resurrection of all men- and it’s also speaking about the Lords Table.
At the last Supper Jesus gave his men [and us] an ongoing memorial of his death for us.
‘Take Eat- this is my Body’.
He broke the bread and poured the wine.
We as believers have been keeping this memorial for 2 thousand years.
The apostle Paul told the Corinthians ‘as often as you do this- you do show the Lords death until he comes back’.
I love the celebration of the Eucharist- the Catholic scholar Scott Hahn says something I like.
He says ‘Jesus said DO THIS in remembrance of me- not- write this’.
His point- to us ‘scholarly’ types- is that we often emphasize the bible- the written word- while Jesus told us the doing of the memorial was what would ‘show his death’ till he comes.
I like that.
So- for you non church goers- maybe tomorrow [or in the near future] you can make an effort and go to church and celebrate the meal.
Isaiah said ‘your dead men shall rise- together with my dead Body they shall live’.
Gather ‘together’ with the confessing church- celebrate the meal- lets all live TOGETHER.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1849- SHREK- A CITY- AND WATER FROM A ROCK
I want to end the week with at least some bible stuff- but let me share a few more homeless stories.
I have been getting with the guys the past few days and have not written about it every time.
A few notable things.
I heard that Chris- a homeless friend for many years- drove to Louisiana with another friend [a former ship captain- a Greek].
And Chris actually got a machinists job making 15 bucks an hour.
I was happy to hear the great news.
I have written about Chris before- he always told me he was a machinist- I think from the classic Youngstown area [Ohio- Springsteen’s famous song].
One day I had Chris over at the house.
My dad gave me these antique boxes of his father’s machinist tools many years ago.
As I kid I used to go thru the boxes in my garage [for any of my old friends who read the site- do you remember these tools?]
So when Chris saw them- he knew them like a carpenter knows a hammer.
So I knew he wasn’t making the whole ‘I’m a machinist’ thing up.
But I also could tell that Chris- like most of the street guys- has some type of mental problem.
So I never knew if he really was as good as he made it sound. But after hearing that he got hired- I was glad.
Dirk [another long time friend- a good friend] has been messing with the radiator on his van the last few days.
He lives in the van- I see it parked in the various parking lots on a rotating basis.
Dirk claims to be ‘a winter Texan’ sort of like he’s a retired tourist guy.
But the truth is- he is homeless- has been for years.
Anyway- he needed a ride to the other side of town to buy a new radiator- I obliged.
Henry went with us- Henry loves the fellowship- he’s the scholar friend- homeless too- but he picks my brain lots.
Dirk offered to give me 5 bucks for gas- it was about a 10 mile trek.
But I told him ‘no way’.
About half way back- he realizes he left his cell phone at the shop.
I was like ‘how did you do that- I never put my cell phone on a table at a store- when I’m done- it goes in my pocket’.
Any way- I told Dirk ‘don’t worry- we’ll get it’.
I kinda felt like taking the 5 bucks now- but let it slide [I have been giving the guys change from 20’s the last couple of weeks- I try to ‘spread the wealth around’ Obama style!]
Yesterday I helped Tammy [I do usually give Tammy a few dollars every time I see her].
Tammy is a ‘working girl’.
Her and her boyfriend [Shrek] are Meth addicts.
It’s funny- I have been giving Tammy a few dollars for years.
Someone gave her a girls bike yesterday- but she had to pick it up [a lady at the mission gave it to her for some yard work she did- Tammy was going to give it to a friend’s daughter for an upcoming birthday].
So I told Tammy ‘I’ll pick it up for you and put it in the truck’.
She was going to walk over and ride it home [home- her and Shrek are staying in some broken down trailer].
I do realize it looks like I’m a ‘customer’ I mean I give the girl dollars- and then a ride.
I don’t really care to be honest- but I do see how people could talk.
Anyway- when we dropped the bike off- I saw Shrek [he’s a big kid- around 35 years’ old- 300 lbs].
He’s really a nice kid.
I gave him and Tammy a nice tent once.
They were living in the brush at the time and the tent was a 2 person size- a nice one I bought from wal mart.
They never forgot that.
Shrek was glad to see me- it’s been a while.
Okay- let me cover Deuteronomy chapter 4.
I have been reading it this week [it was a chapter from the Mass this past Sunday].
Moses is going over the story of the Jewish people right before they enter the Promised Land.
He tells them that God did a great work by leading them out of Egypt and being with them all this time.
A few points.
Moses tells them that God was angry with him and because of this he will not ‘go in and take the land’.
This ‘anger’ moment was when God told Moses to speak to the Rock when the people were complaining of thirst.
For you ‘non bible readers’ this would be when Charlton Hesston delivered the people form Egypt and they went thru the Red sea and were in the wilderness.
At various times Moses loses his temper with the Jewish people.
This Rock incident was the one time God said ‘okay- that’s it Moses- you blew it one too many times- you can’t go in to the land’.
Moses was to speak to the Rock and water would come out.
He got mad- and struck the Rock- twice- with his famous rod.
The water came out.
Which was a type of ‘God striking the Rock’ [Jesus was punished for us on the Cross- Isaiah 53 says it pleased THE LORD to bruise him- God punished his Son on our behalf- Jesus was ‘the rock’ that the water flowed from [a symbol of the Holy Spirit]. On the Cross a soldier put a spear in the side of Jesus and water came out].
So the striking of the rock was a symbol that God would use- but striking it twice ruined the symbol.
The book of Hebrews says Jesus was struck only once for sin- not repeatedly.
So because of this Moses could not go in to the land.
Okay- to my bible scholars out there- I found a verse where Moses makes it into the land.
No trick [not really].
In the New Testament Jesus was transfigured before the disciples- the Mount of Transfiguration.
At the time the bible says Moses and Elijah appeared with him.
Of course- they were in the Promised Land at the time.
One more thing from this chapter.
It also talks about the cities of refuge.
These were cities  that God set aside- if someone accidently killed another person they could flee to the city for safety.
At the time- if you killed someone- the family of the dead person had the right to ‘avenge the blood’ of their relative.
But if it was an accident- you could run to the ‘city of refuge’ and find safety.
You had to live in the city until the death of the high priest.
After he died- you could go back home.
The ‘city of refuge’ is a type of the church- the community of God [not the building!].
We are all guilty of the innocent Blood of Jesus [he died for us].
We can ‘flee to the city of refuge’ and find safety from our guilt- as long as the high priest lives [Hebrews/Romans says we are saved by his life- he lives].
We also can ‘inherit the promise’ enter back into the land- after ‘he dies’.
Jesus died- and rose again- so we too could partake of the true inheritance- not a ‘city made with hands- but an eternal one in the heavens’ Hebrews.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1844- POPES HOMILY
Got with the homeless brothers yesterday- found out Football Jim died a few months ago.
Sad to see him go- will write more on Jim another time.
Spent another few hours with Mike [few posts back- Scapegoat].
Mike shared more of his story with me- serious [bad] stuff- he knows I’m chronicling it on the site- he’s fine with it.
I will tell more about this also- but not today.
What I want to do today is a post for my Catholic friends.
Note- I have Protestant friends who get offended when I use examples from the church- or when I watch [or every so often attend] the Mass.
There are reasons they get upset- and it takes time to explain why I think it’s important for me to keep in touch with ‘the ancient church’.
For the most part- I have been a student of church history [and the early church fathers] for the past 25 years.
It’s impossible to read deeply into church history without having an appreciation for the older more traditional churches.
Over time you begin to view these churches [Catholic, Orthodox] as sort of older relatives- like an uncle or grandpa- maybe they don’t know all the current techniques and all [like using computers!]
But over time you realize they know more [or are right more often] then you thought when you were younger.
So this has been my experience on the journey.
Okay- this past Sunday I watched the Mass on TV.
Every so often if the church is celebrating a special memorial they will broadcast the service from Rome.
This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday- so I watched the Pope give the homily from Rome.
Let’s cover the main verses he used.
The homily was good- but you have to pay attention to the verses/chapters to get a full understanding.
The chapters quoted from were Genesis 11, Psalms 103, Acts 2, John 16, and Galatians 5.
Because it was Pentecost Sunday the message was on the story we find in Acts chapter 2- when the Holy Spirit came to the church.
We read that the believers were gathered at Jerusalem- waiting for the ‘promise of Jesus’ that he would send them the Spirit [John 16].
When the Spirit came- all the disciples in the upper room began speaking Gods word to the multitudes that were gathered at Jerusalem for the special holiday.
They spoke ‘in tongues’ [unknown languages] and the people were amazed because they all heard the message in their own native tongue.
This was a Divine miracle that enabled the message to spread to all the different ethnic groups that were at the city.
After Peter preaches the gospel to them they repent and believe and are baptized- and the ‘Lord added 3,000 SOULS’ to the church that day.
The Pope contrasted this with the story in Genesis 11- The famous Tower of Babel.
This records the time when God divided the people by giving them different languages.
The people were building a tower and city that would reach ‘unto heaven’ [a symbol of mans efforts to reach God- or be like God- on his own- Humanism].
The bible says they ‘wanted to make a name for themselves’.
They were more interested in ‘leaving a legacy’ then in glorifying God.
God looked down and realized they were going to unite- in a wrong way- to build this city of man.
The bible says he came down and divided their languages in that day.
They were unable to communicate with each other and left off ‘building the city’.
This is where we get the term ‘babble ’ from- when you can’t understand what a person’s saying- he’s ‘babbling’.
In Galatians 5 we read about the fruit of the Spirit- and how we ‘thru the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness which comes by faith’ [a main theme of the Apostle Paul’s writings].
And in John 16 we read the promise Jesus made- that he would leave them and send ‘the comforter’- the Spirit- and he would guide them into all truth.
So we see the contrast of the biblical stories about language.
In Genesis 11 God divides the languages of men because they are rebelling against him.
In Acts 2 God ‘reverses’ this division by allowing them all to hear again in ‘one language’.
The Cross allows humanity to be united again.
The apostle Paul writes the Ephesians and says Jesus reconciled both groups [Jew and Gentile- which represented the major division of the time] by dying on the Cross for all men.
And that all men [who believe] now have ‘access to God by one Spirit’.
All in all- it was a good message.
The purpose of the gospel is to unite men- not divide them [I know Jesus said he came to bring division- families would be divided- mother- father against child. In context he was saying there was a reaction to being a follower of him. Sometimes families will even reject a child because they choose the Christian faith. We see this today among various religious groups.]
But the overall work of the Cross unities men- in Christ [2 become one- Ephesians- One New Man].
And we once again can share ‘a common language’.
The language of the Cross.
1840- DAVID’S TENT
The other day I went thru the gospel of Mark.
Of course there’s a whole lot in the book- but I came across a story that I liked a lot.
In Marks gospel Jesus is with the disciples and they are going thru the fields picking the ‘ears of corn’ [note- you did not have corn- like we think- growing in the land at the time. They were picking grain. But the King James Bible- 1611- which I use- did translate the term corn].
Now- when the Pharisees saw this- it was the Sabbath day- they accused Jesus and his men of breaking Gods law.
Jesus responded by saying ‘have you never read the story of David when he was fleeing Saul- how he and his men ate the sacred bread- that is not lawful for men to eat- only the priests’.
I always liked this story because there is so much to unpack- let’s try to do a little.
Was it unlawful for the disciples to have done this?
Not really- the Pharisees were a group of religious leaders that rose up during the time of the captivity of the Jews a couple hundred years before the time of Christ.
They did serve a noble purpose at the start- they wanted to retain the culture and religious beliefs of Gods people during a time of displacement from their own land.
So this group established the synagogue system [sort of a Jewish ‘church’] and they would gather around on the Sabbath day and read the scriptures and be reminded of their heritage.
Okay- what happened to these brothers- like many other good things that meant well at the start- was after a while they became elitist.
They saw themselves as better than everyone else- they became judges of all other groups- and they developed a Tradition- called ‘The Tradition of the Elders’ which was an expansion on the law of God.
This is what Jesus often fought against in his day- the Tradition of the Elders [not all tradition in general!]
Why is this important?
It is common in our day for many well meaning believers- Born Again Christians- to disdain all Church tradition.
Many people [like myself] come from a former Catholic background- and one of the first things you normally hear is ‘look at all the bad traditions that the church taught’.
This mindset is often justified by Jesus condemnation of the ‘Traditions of men that make void the Word of God’.
Jesus was not throwing all tradition under the bus- he was rebuking THIS specific tradition.
Okay- the reason I said ‘sort of’ [at the top] was because the defense Jesus gave said ‘didn’t you read what David did- when he ate the bread that was unlawful to eat’.
So Jesus really did not mind the ‘you broke the law’ accusation- but instead placed himself in the situation of King David and said ‘I too have authority over the Sabbath’.
In the Jewish mind of the 1st century- the statements like this that Jesus made [Moses said this- but I say this] these statements meant more than meets the eye.
They meant that Jesus saw himself as being equal with God.
If you carefully read the gospels you see this.
To the first century Jew- this was indeed a violation of what they were taught.
‘The Lord our God is One’.
So- Jesus defends himself and his men by saying ‘I am Lord over the Sabbath’
Strong words indeed.
The story of David is found in the book of Samuel.
He’s running from king Saul at the time- and he goes to the ‘House of God’ and needs food.
The priest [Abiathar] tells him he only has the sacred bread- which is reserved for the priests.
David makes up a story and says he’s on a special mission from Saul and the priest gives David the bread.
He eats- and gives to his men.
Now- when Jesus uses this story in the gospel- he does mention that David and his men both ate.
I find this interesting.
Because Jesus will sit down with his men at the last supper and do the same thing.
He tells them ‘take eat- this is my Body- drink- this is my Blood’.
How could Jesus ‘eat himself’?
The Bread and Wine represent the Body and Blood of Christ.
Jesus said his meat [bread- the thing that sustained him] was to do the will of God and finish his work.
He was sustained too by the mission he was on- he lived to ‘give his Body and Blood’.
This mission was his life’s purpose- he too ‘ate the Bread’.
Jesus also came from the lineage of king David- he was a ‘son’ of David.
In the above verses- it said ‘David came to the house of God’.
We often see this as the Temple.
But remember- the temple was not built yet.
David’s son Solomon will build it in the future.
So what ‘house of God’ did David come to?
It was the tabernacle [of Moses].
This was a tent type system that God gave to the children of Israel during their wilderness journey.
It became the central place of worship and sacrifice when they entered the promised land.
Eventually the main piece of this tent system gets taken by Israel’s enemies [They stole the Ark- the box that held the 10 commandments].
And when David becomes king he gets it back.
As the Ark eventually winds up back in the hands of David- he builds another tent thing- called the Tabernacle of David- and he places the Ark under this tent.
Now- David is king at the time- the bible says he put on a Linen Ephod and worshipped God before this tent [he operated as a priest- which was unlawful for kings to do- normally!].
Understand- at the same time the Tabernacle of Moses still existed- it just did not have the Ark in it- David’s ‘new’ tent had the Ark.
This was symbolic of the New testament King/Priesthood of Jesus.
He in essence would usher the people into the presence of God- absent the Veil of the Temple- a covering that existed in the Tabernacle of Moses- which represented separation from God- but was not in the one David made.
So you see- when Jesus used David as an example- there was more than meets the eye- much more.
[Jesus is the New Testament King/Priest that died on the Cross- the Veil of the temple was ripped on that day- and he now represents us before the throne of God- absent the veil- the thing that separated man from God].
1834- HOW LOW WILL IT GO?
This past week I spoke with my Liberal friend from the North- yes- a real person- not a composite!
I always try and take the middle ground in these talks- showing my friend that to be too partisan clouds the mind.
One example- this friend has bought the whole media line that Romney- because of his wealth- is unfit to serve.
That his wife does just sit on the couch all day and does nothing- and they are unable to speak about real issues because of this.
Now- this person voted for Kerry a few years back.
I told my liberal friend ‘say if you found out that Romney actually never earned his money- but he married his wife- who also never earned it- but she inherited it from a rich father’.
And say if Romney was spending all of his wife’s money on yachts- expensive vacation homes- and all the ritzy stuff that Romney has [elevators for cars].
Of course my friend would be even more mad.
Yet this is exactly what happened to John Kerry.
He simply married a woman who was heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune.
Okay- does this make Kerry a bad man?
But this shouldn’t make Romney a bad man either- yet I never heard one story about Kerry being a free loader off of his wife’s money.
The point being we get mad at the other side- even though we allow those same things to slip by if it happens on ‘our side’.
Now- the other day I posted on the economy- that I felt we still had a ‘long hard slog’ ahead.
Others had too rosy of a picture in my view.
Now- economics/finances is like anything else- you look at the data and make the best ‘guess’ possible.
When I looked at the data at the end of last year- we had some bad signs ahead.
This year- the states and local govts [cities- towns] were not going to have anywhere near the revenue that they had for the past few years.
The federal govt. has cut back much of the funding that they gave to the states.
Obama care has also put a huge burden on the states.
One of the ways it ‘covers’ the uninsured is to simply mandate that the states put millions of more people on the Medicare rolls.
This is a tremendous cost to the states- money they don’t have.
Housing prices have gone down- in some places more than 50%- and the way most states/cities pay for their local expenses [schools] is this way [property tax].
So you basically have the states and cities having to come up with more money- and in reality they have nowhere to get the money.
Now- last night I watched the governor from Cali. say that the state is in almost double the debt that they we were expecting.
California is 16 billion in debt- not 9 billion as was projected.
Governor Brown- a smart guy- he once studied to be a Jesuit priest- they are top of the line intellectuals among Catholic priests.
[just as a side note- this order rose up during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. A soldier by the name of Ignatius Loyola was wounded and recovering in the hospital.
He read about the life of Christ and dedicated himself to the Lord.
The Jesuits were the order he founded.
They evangelized all the way into Asia- an area that the Protestant missionaries avoided.
The Jesuits played a major role in the scientific revolution- as a percentage of how few Jesuits there were- they had a huge impact on the development of modern science.]
So governor Brown said his state has lived beyond it’s means for too long- they spent money they did not have- and now the chickens have come home to roost.
Brown is a liberal Democrat.
The governor of N.Y. said the same thing a few months back.
When he got elected he actually worked with the unions in the state and worked out a deal where they were going to cut the huge expenses that the retirees managed to bargain for over the years.
Cuomo- another Democrat- said it was impossible for the state to continue to pay out these lavish benefits.
After the union leaders made the deal- the rank and file rose up [like Greece] and simply elected new leaders who would fight the changes.
I heard a clip from Cuomo- he was yelling ‘we can’t keep making the rich/businesses pay- they are all leaving the state’- just like Cali.
So- with unemployment at historic highs- with state and local govts having to lay off tons of teachers and cops and firefighters.
While the cost to the states is going up- a lot [Obama care].
With all these things in the hopper- besides the ‘unknowns’ like the banks [Morgan Chase] still making risky bets.
Yes- in my view I could not see how some financial guys were talking a huge recovery- some have said they thought the DOW would be at 17,000 next year- nuts!
As I spoke to my liberal friend- they said ‘so- do you think Romney would have been able to create more jobs than Obama’!
They were mad- I said I’m really not a Romney supporter- but being I live in oil state I know from firsthand experience that Obama has cost us jobs.
When he got in office the regulations and the EPA came down hard on the state- they cost lots of jobs.
I saw a clip- video- from Obama the other day- it was from January of 2008- he said he wanted to see the cost of opening up coal powered plants go so high that any sane business person would simply choose not to do it.
Okay- if you have said these things- and have actually done them- then yes- there have been very real jobs lost because of these things.
I assume Romney would not have done this- at least not as much as Obama.
So yes- it’s quite possible that the president’s agenda has cost jobs.
I also explained to my friend that many business owners have put off hiring for 3 years now- because if Obama care passes many of them will be mandated to pay the health care- or a huge fine- for each worker.
Now- as noble as these things might be- they cost real jobs.
My liberal friend- who is a nice person- has lived off of govt. programs for a long time- has only worked a real job for a small part of life.
This person simply had no idea how the private sector really worked- they just listen to the media talking points- and the real world is so much different.
1830- DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER?
This past week I read the 1st letter of Peter [in the New Testament].
I read a chapter a day- and meditated on some key points.
I marked all the verses that dealt with the Christian doctrine on suffering. This teaching- found thru out the bible- has been neglected in much of the modern type Christianity.
Many systems of preaching and belief in our day have developed an idea that because Jesus suffered for us- therefore we need not suffer.
I’m sure some of my readers/friends have in some way been aware [affected?] by this- it’s almost impossible to have not been.
Many of the number one bestselling books [Wal mart] have these themes- most of what you would call ‘TV Evangelists’ teach this type of thing.
And many of the most popular Mega Churches of our day have some form of it within their ranks.
So- in the old style of actually writing out each verse- here we go.
‘For this is thankworthy- if a man for conscience toward God- endure grief- suffering wrongfully’
‘But if you do well and suffer for it- and take it patiently- this is acceptable with God’
‘For even hereunto were ye called- because Christ also suffered for us- leaving us an EXAMPLE that ye should follow his steps’
‘But if ye suffer for righteousness sake- happy are ye’
‘For it is better- if the will of God be so- that ye suffer for well doing rather than evil’
‘For as much then as Christ hath suffered in the flesh- arm yourselves likewise with the same mind’
‘If any man suffer as a Christian- let him not be ashamed- but let him glorify God on this behalf’
‘Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing- as unto a faithful creator’
‘But the God of all grace – who hath Called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus- after that you have suffered a while- make you perfect- stablish- strengthen- settle you’.
Okay- that’s the jist of it.
‘So why John are there so many teachings that leave this out’?
Many of the teachers are well meaning people- and they do have one side of the coin.
There are many verses in the bible that do speak about God blessing us- meeting our needs- delivering us out of trouble.
But none of these verses ‘do away’ with the ones I just quoted.
Peter himself said that Christ not only died to bring us back to God [redemption] but he also suffered for us- leaving us an example that we were to follow.
Peter says it’s better to suffer for well doing- then for evil doing.
Yet both are redemptive in nature.
Peter’s most famous suffering recorded in the bible is his very famous denial of Jesus.
The bible says after he did this he wept and was broken.
He went thru pain because of his sin- and even this suffering played a role in shaping the apostle.
Later on- we read in Christian history that when Peter was put to death in Rome- he requested that he be crucified upside down because he felt he was not worthy to die the same way as his Lord.
Geez- you would think he never got over the guilt.
Yes- the bible is clear on the matter- there are times when we are called to suffer.
We can’t ‘confess’ our way out of it- or ‘create our own world’ out of it.
We can’t rebuke the devil ‘out of it’.
There are simply times when we are called to suffer.
Now- this does not mean we sit around every day and wait for the thing to happen- no- we are commanded by God to take up our Cross daily and to follow him.
But the actual phrase ‘Take up the Cross’ carries with it the idea that there is a price to pay.
Okay- what’s my goal in covering this?
Am I trying to ‘put’ a bad confession on you?
No- but I’m trying to show you that if you are feeling guilty because in your mind things might not have turned out as well as you hoped.
Maybe years ago you started well- had good Christian friends- some who went on to ‘fame’ [Yikes!!]
Others had ‘good’ lives.
And maybe you have questioned God- ‘what did I do wrong- why am I different’.
That’s the point.
One of the verses I left out was Peter saying when you go thru these trials- don’t think it strange- but understand that you have many brothers and sisters in the world who are also experiencing the same pain as you feel right now.
Yeah- that’s the jist of it.
If we hold on to the ideas/teachings- that come to us by well meaning people- encouraging people- I mean who can dis like Joel Osteen!
But we need to balance it out with the Word.
Yes- many of these teachings go by the name ‘Word churches’ or ‘word people’ and I’m glad that they do quote the word.
But the Word also contains all these verses as well.
The Word shows us that there are things we will go thru in life- and we should not be taken by surprise when this happens- God told this to us from the start.
Okay- I was thinking I might throw in a few more things about the writings of Peter- some Non Canonical writings- the Gospel of Peter- and the Revelation of Peter [apocalypse].
Being I just ended a study form a liberal scholar- these writings came up.
They are early Gnostic writings that fall into the category of Pseudopigraphy [writing under the name of another person- note- I rarely use this word because my spell check does not have it- but I wanted you to see it- just beware I might have a letter or 2 off!].
I wanted to cover a few interesting tid bits from them- and to explain why we do not have them in our bibles today.
But I think I’ll let that wait for another post.
For today- re-read these verses on your own- if you haven’t read the book of Peter in a while- read it the next few days- look for these key themes.
The other day I mentioned the book of James.
I read it a couple of weeks ago.
I realized that I also mentioned ‘off the cuff’ that James was a leader at the first church we see in the bible- the Jerusalem church.
In Acts 15 we read that Peter, James and John are Pillars of the church.
They were spiritual ‘support beams’ if you will- what they said [and say] is very important.
If you remember- when I mentioned James I shared how he praises the poor- and warns the rich.
Here in Peter we see the biblical doctrine of suffering.
When I get to John [probably will do 1st John] I’ll hit on some key themes as well.
The point being- these key figures- these ‘Pillars’ they seem to be ‘out of touch’ with many of our modern day teachings.
I wonder who’s right?
1827- SCHOOL LOANS AND HOW MANY TIMES DID THAT ROOSTER CROW?
I want to try and do both ‘politics and religion’- lets start with politics.
This story is a couple of days late [the big one this week is the anti Romney ad that the Obama campaign released- saying he would not have killed Bin Laden].
This story is last week’s fight over keeping the cost of federally funded student loans from doubling in July.
Basically in 2007 congress passed a law to keep the interest rates low- and it expires in a few months.
Now- both sides of the aisle actually agree on this- they just disagree on how to pay for it [around 6 billion in cost].
The Dems in the senate want to ‘tax the rich’ yes- they are not afraid to keep going to this pool- even though eventually this pool will run dry [not saying all the rich will become poor- but ultimately you drive the wealth from the country- people put their money where it won’t cost so much to keep!]
The Dems in the house want to tax the oil companies.
The Repubs want to pay for it by taking some money out of Obama care.
Okay- as the battle lines were drawn- the Repubs control the house- so they passed it- with about a dozen Dems on board- with the money coming from Obama care.
The President threatened to veto it- and the Dems began accusing the Repubs of waging ‘a war on women’s health’.
Boehner [speaker of the house] actually got mad and said the Dems are waging a phony fight.
Okay- as an independent- there are some points on both sides- but the ‘war on women’ is a stretch.
The fund in the health care law that the Repubs want to use- is a fund for preventative care- less than 1 % of this fund is targeted for women’s health.
The President and the Dems were the first ones to tap into this fund- as sort of a slush fund- when they needed the money for- of all things- a tax cut!
Yes- in the recent fight over extending the payroll tax cut [Social Security] the Dems came up with the idea to tap into this same preventive fund- and they used the money [billions] to give people a tax cut.
Now- when they did it- it was not a ‘war on women’ it was a ‘good thing’.
When the Repubs did it- it was a war on women’s health.
So- this is gridlock- this is why our country is becoming more and more dysfunctional as the days go by.
I have said this over the past few years- if we don’t actually elect people who will deal with the real issues- the big one being the cost of Medicare- which at the current rate will consume around 50 % of all federal spending in a few years- if we don’t elect people who will do this- then all the other little ‘campaign’ talking points will mean nothing.
Okay- this past week I went thru a course by Professor Bart Ehrman.
He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He teaches Christianity and the New Testament and has been popular the last couple of years because he had a N.Y. times best seller- Misquoting Jesus.
Whenever I study a course- I usually do a parallel teaching on the blog.
Not word for word- I usually have a background in the subject already- and if the course goes too ‘off course’ I dump it and just finish the blog study by memory.
This time I never planned on covering the course from the get go- because I knew Ehrman was what you would call a Liberal scholar.
Now- Liberal and Conservative- in the field of Theology- are not political matters.
Liberals are those who hold to the critical view of the bible that was developed in the 19th century- primarily out of the German universities- men like Rudolph Bultman were leaders in the field.
This ‘way’ of interpreting the bible- called Higher Criticism- had some good points to it- but at the end of the day they came to reject the historical accuracy of scripture- and said that the Gospels were written by unknown men who wanted to simply convey spiritual truths that Jesus taught.
Conservative teachers [like me] hold to the belief that the bible is indeed historically accurate- and the ‘Inspired Word of God’.
Okay- as I went thru the course- I honestly expected Bart to make a better case for his side.
I really learned nothing knew- I was already familiar with the critic’s points- and he made the same ones that the conservative side has already refuted.
Now- let me give you a few examples.
When I first started reading thru the bible as a new believer- I did find some of these ‘discrepancies’ myself.
I noticed that in Matthews’s gospel the story about the denial of Jesus says Peter will deny Jesus 3 times before the ‘rooster crows’.
In Marks gospel it says ‘before the rooster crows twice’.
When I first saw this- it really wasn’t that big of a deal to me- and one time I mentioned it to my Pastor- a good Baptist man who was trained in a Fundamentalist school- and to my surprise he was not aware of this.
I also noticed a few more things like this over the years- and my pastor simply was never trained in these areas.
Now- I mention this only to point out that if you get a well rounded education- it really should include some of these so called discrepancies.
Some of the Higher Criticism is helpful- some not.
But to avoid these textual problems- simply because you’re a Fundamentalist- does more harm than good- especially when your parishioners are learning the stuff on their own!
Okay- I ‘solved’ the problem of the denials by simply seeing that even though one gospel says ‘before the rooster crows’ and the other ‘twice’- that at the end of the day one writer is simply giving you more detail.
It really is not a contradiction- if Matthew said ‘before the roster crows once’ then yes- that would be a problem.
But he simply gave less detail than the other writer.
Okay- after becoming familiar with Ehrman- and knowing that he is famous in the field of liberal scholarship- I thought for sure he would come up with something better than this.
But in actuality- this was one of his main examples of why the bible is not historically accurate.
I couldn’t believe it.
Now- to be fair- there are other things like this that do happen- but they are all minor details of the story [John’s gospel seems to indicate that Jesus was crucified on a different feast day than the other writers say].
But all these minor details in no way justify rejecting the gospels as historically accurate.
Let me just hit on a few things that the higher critics have right.
They do point to the fact that the early followers of Jesus lived in an Oral culture- things were passed along by word of mouth for the most part.
The writing of books [scrolls] did take place- but it was not an easy- or cheap trade.
We live in a day of books and internet access and all sorts of ways for the printed word to be distributed- but in the early church it was not like this.
So- the gospels were probably written about 20-50 years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
Yes- this is true.
The more conservative scholars go with the earlier date [some go as early as 15 years after Christ] but no one claims that the gospels were written at the same time as Christ walking the earth.
Yes- the stories were transmitted orally [oral culture] but they were written later on.
Now- the ultra liberal scholars say ‘see- how could they have known all the facts if they were written so much later’- and Ehrman uses the example of the game ‘telephone’ [or something like that?].
Where you have one person in class tell something to the next in line- and at the end of the line you get a different account.
Ehrman says ‘see- we have no idea what/who Jesus really was’.
Okay- the main discrepancy that Bart used- was the rooster crowing.
He actually sounded mad on the C.D. [I listen while I work!] and he said ‘well- which is it [damn it!!] did the rooster crow once- or twice!’
And then he jumped to the conclusion that the gospels were really fake stories that were made up by unknown men- well meaning men- but they had no real historical truth to them.
This my friends is what I call a ‘leap of faith’.
Geez- if we did this was all other biographies- we would have no ‘factual’ histories about anyone.
I’ll end with a note to my Catholic readers.
A couple of years ago I read the Popes book- Jesus of Nazareth- I did a brief review on the blog and I really liked the book a lot.
One of the things the Pope deals with [remember- Benedict was a priest from Germany- where the whole school of higher criticism arose] in the book is this whole debate over the historical accuracy of the bible.
At one point- as he graciously- yet boldly defends the conservative view- he is talking about the liberal view that the gospels were written by these unknown men who basically made the stories up.
The Pope asks ‘and just how did these men manage to write the most popular books of all time- books that came to be revered and known and loved by generations and generations- and yet no one even knows the names of the authors?’ [I did ad lib a little here]
The bottom line is- if the gospels were written by a bunch of anonymous men who simply wanted to convey some spiritual truths about Jesus- and they managed to stay hidden for all these centuries- this theory has more holes in it than say- a rooster crowing once or twice.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
This past week I have been reading the letter of James found in the New Testament.
James has always been a favorite- it was written [more than likely] by the brother of Jesus and it is the same James we read about in Acts chapter 15- one of the 3 main church leaders at the Jerusalem church.
Note- to my Catholic friends- when I say ‘brother’ Protestants believe that Mary had other children after giving birth to Jesus.
We both believe in the Virgin birth- conceived by the Holy Spirit- but Protestants believe Mary had other children by Joseph.
Okay- not a big deal in my mind.
To defend the Catholic position somewhat- even though James is called the brother of the Lord in scripture- brother can refer to close cousins and also ‘Christian’ brothers- so that’s how our Catholic friends interpret it.
Okay- Just this morning I read the last chapter- and thru the week I tried to meditate on one chapter each day.
Key themes- defend the poor, praise the humble- and rebuke [warn] the rich.
Beware of the tongue- what you say ‘it is a world of sin’ and can start a great fire- just like a match starts a forest fire.
Works- was not ‘Abraham our father JUSTIFIED BY WORKS’ ‘Rahab the harlot was JUSTIFED BY WORKS’.
To my scholarly friends- I believe a right understanding of these verses can bridge a 500 year old split between Protestants and Catholics.
I have tried my best to explain this in the past- and it takes time.
Suffice it to say that the normal Protestant interpretation does not do justice to the text.
Most Protestants try their best to say that James WAS ONLY saying ‘the faith that saves is working faith’.
While this is true- if you simply re-read the portions I quoted above- you can see there is more to it than this.
In a nutshell- Justification, Salvation, Righteousness [all words that speak about ‘being saved’] are not only static terms [one time events] but also fluent.
James uses the example from Genesis 22- when Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar.
The apostle Paul uses Genesis 15- when Abraham ‘believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness’.
I believe if we see that James is speaking about the ongoing relationship that God has with his kids- and when these kids do right- obey God- it pleases God.
And God can continue to say ‘well done son- did well’ and in the mind of James- you can say ‘Abraham was justified by works’ God said ‘good job- you’re just’.
There is more to it than this- but I think this explanation is more in keeping with the text than simply seeing James thru the lens of Paul- James does not contradict Paul- but is simply coming at it from a different angle.
Okay- James deals with the ‘rights of the worker’ yes- this is a biblical issue- workers rights!
That’s why historically the church has sided with labor movements.
Many of my conservative brothers seem to equate all union movements with ‘the left’ but to be honest to the text- James [and in this case- Jesus] can be called liberal!
James is chock full of good stuff- try and read it this week if you haven’t all ready.
One of the key themes that I always see ‘jump out’ at me is the theme of defending and honoring the poor- and rebuking the rich.
Now- to my friends who are ‘rich’ its okay- the warnings are along the lines of what the apostle Paul told Timothy [1st Timothy 6] to simply keep wealth in its proper context.
Honor God with it [by helping the poor- not by making TV preachers rich!] and be humble.
This theme is important for our day- because there are many well meaning Christians- and movements- who have gone off track with the wealth issue and have made it a goal of faith.
James- Paul- and Jesus all had strong warnings for the rich- and had great praise for the poor [they inherit the kingdom- James and Jesus said it].
For more on this subject- referred to as the Prosperity gospel- I will post a few posts from the blog right below.
These are from the February posts of each year.
During the year when I write individual posts- I put them in categories and stick them in the February posts at the start of the New Year.
So these are from the Prosperity gospel section.
Also- if you go to the blog [or are on it now] look to the left and you will find my first little book- called House of Prayer or Den of Thieves- I talk about this issue there as well.
Okay- that’s it for now- might do another politics post in a few days- not sure what’s next.
Don’t forget to try and lift each other up in prayer- help someone who’s down on their luck- share with the less fortunate in some way this week- give- but give for the purpose of helping the poor- don’t always see it as ‘an investment with a return’ but give out of love- God will reward you for it.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1825- PHILOSOPHY [conclusion]
Today let’s wrap up the last philosophy post for now.
Over the last 6 months or so I have posted around 25 posts- covering the pre Socratic thinkers [800 B.C.] and we made it all the way up to the 19th century.
The main philosophical thought of the 20th century was called Logical Positivism.
This idea said there were 3 stages to Western thought/culture;
First- Infancy [religious/myth]
Second- adolescence [philosophy]
Third- adult [science/empirical]
This idea said that man in the 20th century has finally advanced beyond the silly stages of religion and has now moved into a stage where the only true things are empirical in nature.
That is- for something to be true- you must be able to show it scientifically [or mathematically].
It did not take too long before the critics figured out the major flaw with this idea.
This philosophy states ‘the only truth is empirical’ this statement in itself [as well as all the books written on it] is not an empirically proven statement.
Therefore- according to its own criterion- it is false.
This particular aspect of the philosophy was called The Verification Principle [had to be proven/verified scientifically to be valid].
Pragmatism- this is the only home grown philosophy that had its roots in the U.S.
Founded by Dewey and Peirce- this thought denied objective reality and states that ‘whatever works- use it’.
Of course being ‘pragmatic’ in a practical way is fine- we do want things to work.
But at its core Pragmatism says there are no real ethics- no right or wrong- just things people do.
In the beginning of the 20th century you had the British thinker/mathematician Bertrand Russell.
Russell was a good man- raised as a Christian.
But as a young man he read a book by John Stuart Mill [19th century] that questioned one of the classic arguments for the existence of God [the argument from first cause].
Mill said ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not God- who caused him’.
Russell accepted Mills claim- and became an influential atheist/agnostic.
The main flaw with this argument- that everything ‘has a cause’ is that it’s false.
The law of Cause and Effect [Causality] does not state that everything has a cause- it says that ‘every effect has a cause’.
That is- there is nothing in existence- an effect- that came from nothing.
Some argued that there was no initial cause- but an infinite series of ‘little’ cause and effects that go on forever.
This too is wrong- it leads to another problem called the Infinite Regress.
If there is no First cause- then logically you can never arrive at ‘Now’
There had to have been a starting point somewhere [Einstein has since proved this] and the starting point [Big Bang] could not have come from nothing.
This too is a very common belief among many well meaning people- that somehow science has taught us that all things came from nothing.
This could not be further from the truth- this is referred to as Creation Ex Nihilo- which too is scientifically false.
The only other option- beside the Infinite Regress- and the creation out of nothing- is there had to have been some type of first cause- who is not limited to the material realm.
By nature this being would have to be Metaphysical [outside the physical realm] and would have to be self existent- having no beginning.
To have a First cause- who himself is infinite- is indeed consistent with the principals of logic- and at the end of the day is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of all other things.
Okay- as we end our posts on philosophy for now- why did I cover this?
Thru out the history of the church Christians have grappled and challenged the other world views- and have done a good job at it.
The Christian perspective is not some silly religious way of life that has no real proof.
To the contrary- the church has had the upper hand in all these debates down thru the centuries.
But in today’s ‘media market’ Christianity- the proliferation of self help books [everyday day a Friday?]
The nonstop talk about becoming rich- or sending your money to ‘my ministry’ as a ‘seed faith’ to become rich.
In this environment- many outsiders see the church as an irrelevant- never ending drum beat that they can’t wait to switch to another channel.
This is not the history of the church- and the church has historically won the debate on the reality of God.
It’s just the average person does not know it.
So- for the Christian to be learned in these fields- to have a working knowledge of the opposing world views- is a good thing.
Why do so many believers avoid a field like philosophy?
The apostle Paul warned the Colossians ‘beware of the philosophies of men’.
He also wrote to his protégé Timothy ‘beware of the oppositions of science- falsely so called’.
The word for science in this text is Gnosis- the Greek work for knowledge.
In the early days of the church there was a Christian cult that rose up- called Gnosticism.
More than likely- Paul was not saying that all science- as we use the term today- is bad- but he was warning against a particular from of science- called Gnosticism.
The same with the warning on philosophy- while you could apply it to all philosophy- that is to say that we should be careful when people try to give us opposing ways of thought- yet in context it seems like the apostle is dealing with the philosophies that oppose Christian thought.
For the first 1500 years of the Christian church the study of Theology and Philosophy went hand and hand.
After the Protestant Reformation [15th century] many Protestants avoided the field- which I think was a mistake.
So- as we close up this subject for now- maybe review a few of the posts on the blog that I did these last few months- become more familiar with the apologetic arguments for the existence of God.
Christians do not have to argue- or oppose atheists- or other religions that hold a different view than we do.
But we should be able to give a defense for the faith- to explain to society around us why we believe the things we do.
At the end of the day- we really do have the winning argument.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1822- CHOSEN BY GOD
Good morning to all my on line friends.
Today let’s cover the book of Ephesians and John 17.
I stumbled on them this past week- not realizing the similarity of themes.
In the past I have taught complete bible studies- both on radio and at the same time on the blog.
It took a little longer- because I would write on a chapter- then take 2 or 3 radio programs [15 minute shows] to cover it on air.
I’m not even sure- I think I might have already done a full Ephesians study on the blog?
Ephesians is written by the apostle Paul- though some scholars believe it was written by one of Paul’s disciples- they think it might be more of an elaboration on Paul’s other epistle to the Colossians.
There are various reasons that some scholars do stuff like this- won’t go into all the reasons- in my mind when a bible letter says within the text that Paul wrote it- then I go with that.
The short letter [6 chapters] starts off with a declaration that God chose the believers before he even made the world.
That God had a predestined purpose for them to have become children of God and for this new people of God to reveal the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ to everyone one [thing] else.
One of the verses says that even the angels and powers in heaven ‘learn’ the things of God thru the church.
This really is an amazing statement- that God uses the church to reveal Divine truths to the whole universe!
This theme of God choosing us [them] before the world- to fulfill a purpose that he planned before the world- is a major theme in the first 4 chapters of the book.
He wants them to see that this calling- this place where they are at at the present time- it is a sort of Divine appointment with destiny- that God had planned this before the creation of the world.
And it is now ‘in time’ that they are living out this Divine plan.
In John chapter 17 we read the prayer of Jesus.
Jesus says that he has ‘finished’ the work that God gave him to do- which was to reveal God to these disciples that God has given to him.
He says ‘all mine are thine- and thine are mine- and I am glorified in them’.
Jesus also hits on the theme of this being a work of God that he pre-planned before the world was made.
He prays ‘don’t take them out of the world- but keep them from the evil’.
The same theme that we see in the ‘Our Father’.
I find it interesting that one of the more popular ‘end times’ teaching of our day is the Rapture.
Tim Lahaye has popularized this idea in his very successful series of books about the end times.
In the 1980’s- the number one best seller among Christian books [I think it was actually number 1 for all categories?] was Hal Lindsey’s ‘late great planet earth’.
He too took the same line as Lahaye and taught the idea that God was going to take all the Christians ‘from the earth’ and that the world would wonder where they all went.
I have covered this in the past- how the church came to teach this- how the historic church did not teach it- and why I believe the Rapture- as a separate event from the 2nd coming- has no real biblical basis.
The point for this post is part of the prayer of Jesus is ‘I pray not that you would take them out of the world’ which on its face seems to be the opposite of what the Rapture doctrine teaches.
Okay- Jesus revealed the Father to his men.
The apostle Paul told the church ‘God chose you for this before the world was made’.
Jesus believed that these disciples [and by extension the church] were ‘given to him’ by the pre ordained will of God.
What all this means- in a nutshell- is that where you are at right now- all the things you are going thru- God knew it before it ever happened.
And he still picked you for the job!
The Apostle tells them to be strong in the Lord- to pray always- and put on the whole armor of God.
Yes- just because they were chosen- did not mean they could sit around all day doing nothing- they were chosen for a purpose- and it was up to them [by grace] to walk in that purpose.
I would encourage you to try and read these chapters this week- Ephesians is short- but has a lot of good stuff in it.
As you read- look for the theme of God choosing the church before the ‘world was made’.
Notice how often this idea ‘pops up’ in the writing of Paul- and how it plays a major part in the life of the church.
Read- and apply- the instructional aspects of the letter [on family- husbands and wives- children- workers and bosses].
And practice- as much as possible- the ‘put on the armor of God’ teaching found in chapter 6- that section ends with ‘pray for everyone’.
That- in my mind- is the most important part of the instruction.
1820- WHERE THE GRAPES OF WRATH ARE STORED
Let’s end the week with a look at the death of Christ.
Today- Good Friday- is the day we remember the Passion.
In Psalms 22 we see a Messianic prophecy- the words king David spoke thru the Holy Spirit.
These are the words- feelings- that Jesus had on the night before he was crucified- he went to the Garden of Gethsemane [literally- The Olive Press] and was in extreme anguish.
In this Psalm we read ‘I am a worm and no man’ ‘all that see me laugh at me- they think my cause is hopeless’ ‘I cried and prayed and you never heard me- I have no rest day or night’.
Read the psalm later today- see the pain he went through.
The garden of Gethsemane was an Olive garden at the base of the ‘The Mount of Olives’.
It was a place where olives were crushed- the process allowed the oil to come forth- which was a picture of what Jesus was going thru- he was ‘being crushed’ so the oil [Spirit] would come forth to the world [Acts 2].
In the prayer he says ‘Father- if it’s possible- remove this cup- never the less- not my will but yours be done’.
Many of us are familiar with this phrase ‘thy will be done’ but we miss the cup part.
What was the cup?
The cup stood for ‘the cup of the wrath of God’ it was a symbol of the judgment of God coming upon the sins of the world.
When Jesus said ‘take away the cup’ he wasn’t afraid of dying- but he ‘feared’ the separation that was going to take place from God.
As he ‘drank the cup’ [the sins of the world] he would become ‘the container’ of the wrath of God- he would be cursed from God as a ‘sinful’ thing.
The apostle Paul says ‘he- [Jesus] became sin for us- who knew no sin- that we might become the righteousness of God in him’ [Corinthians].
So Jesus struggled with the cup.
In the book of Revelation chapter 14 we see an image of the cup and wrath.
There are angels coming out from the throne- we see Jesus sitting on a cloud and angels all around.
The angel says ‘thrust in your sickle and reap- for the harvest of the earth is ripe’ and we see the ‘Winepress of wrath’.
The picture is this angel reaping the earth- gathering the ‘grapes of the earth’ [Steinbeck- the Grapes of wrath] and casting them into a winepress [another type of pressing- like the olive imagery].
The Winepress is ‘outside the city’ [very significant image] and the blood from the press goes out for 184 miles.
This is a scene of judgment and wrath.
During the civil war the north used this verse as their theme song- The Battle Hymn of the Republic ‘mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord he is Trampling out the Vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored’.
Yes- the winepress was an image of where the grapes of wrath waited for the pressing- when the blood would come forth.
Now- this next part really deserves a full study- but let me do a brief overview.
The writer of Hebrews [probably Paul] speaks about an altar that sits ‘outside the city’ where the animal’s bodies were burned.
In Old Testament Jewish law- some of the animals bodies were not fully burned at the time of the offering- the blood that was used for the Day of Atonement was not a complete burnt offering- the animal blood was used.
So- the Jewish people had a spot- outside the gate of the court [outside the city] where the bodies were burned.
Now- the writer of Hebrews says this is a type- a picture- of the final sacrifice of Christ that took place ‘outside of the law’.
That is Jesus established a New Covenant in his own Blood- not part of the Old animal sacrificial system.
Okay- his death took place ‘outside the gate’- that’s important to see.
Now- as Jesus struggled with his impending death- he came to a point where he sweat drops of blood- he then said ‘if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it- then so be it’.
He drinks the cup ‘of the wrath of God’ and in a sense he becomes the place ‘where the grapes of wrath are stored’.
He himself becomes the final sin sacrifice for humanity- the place of pressing- where the ‘wine/blood comes out’.
As we finish this Holy Week- getting ready for the resurrection celebration this Sunday- let’s not forget that Jesus drank the cup- he became sin for us who knew no sin.
Yes- as the North sang ‘mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord he is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored’.
They weren’t seeing that the place where the grapes of wrath were stored were inside the Son of God- he drank the cup ‘to the dregs’ and was ‘trampled on’ by God’s wrath.
Yes- Jesus said ‘I am a worm and no man’ he was in anguish for you- and me.
Amen- and amen.
1818- WHO IS BARRY?
Last night I was channel surfing the news shows- and I caught Lawrence O’Donnell doing another one of his ‘anti Mormon’ critiques.
Yes- MSNBC has an ongoing narrative where they speak about Romney as a ‘strange- weird- cult member’.
I saw this months ago- and they have been faithful to their task.
So anyway O’Donnell is covering the ancient teaching of Brigham Young [the co-founder of the Mormon religion- a follower of Joseph Smith] and he’s quoting all the racist teachings that he held to.
Specifically that mixed marriages are wrong.
Now- I could quote the actual Christian bible- yes- the Protestant/Catholic bible- and find this teaching in there.
Yes- the bible O’Donnell believes in!
But that would solve nothing.
Many old time preachers did teach this doctrine- from many various denominations.
Do we [I] believe that mixed marriage is wrong?
But you do have some fundamentalist groups who still teach this.
So O’Donnell is fulfilling his task to portray Romney as a cult guy- and he spends a big portion of the show telling everyone that Romney’s religion is racist.
Now- you could find stuff like this out- with all the other candidates- even the President- yet this network is really not a news network- they are simply Obama devotees.
Axelrod- the presidents campaign guy- a few weeks back tweeted that Romney’s religion does not allow women to enter the temple when they are menstruating.
He left the tweet up for a little while then pulled it.
I have heard other Mormons say this is a false charge- I really don’t know if the church ever taught it- but it’s possible.
Again- you do have certain health standards in the Old Testament- that if you read them- they speak about ‘uncleanness’ when a woman is menstruating.
We find verses on Dwarves not being able to serve God.
People [men] whose ‘stones’ are crushed not being able to serve God [testicals are stones].
So if you wanted- you could trace all these things- not just to Brigham Young or Joseph Smith- but you could also tie them in to the Christian faith.
Now- do most sane Christians believe these ‘strange’ teachings are still in effect?
Thank God- no.
But if your goal is to simply slander the opponent- then have at it.
Over the last few years- as a news watcher/reader- you pick up on certain clues along the way.
Maybe a story won’t make it into the mainstream [for various reasons- to cover up for a person- etc.] But as you read the other columnists- you see little pieces of the puzzle.
So- one of the charges that the ‘right’ has made against Obama is that he had a different name when he grew up- and went to school.
Some say he held the name ‘Barry Sotero’.
They claim his identity is in question because he might have been legally adopted by his stepdad- thus throwing the whole citizenship issue back into play.
Now- I have never read/heard a ‘mainstream news’ report on this- so I never brought it up [to me- it’s just as bad as raising the history of Romney’s church up- a belief he- and most Mormons do not hold to].
But as an avid reader of all stripes [both Liberal and Conservative writers].
I noticed something about a year ago- Maureen Dowd- a liberal columnist who writes for the N.Y. Times- she started referring to the president as Barry.
She gives no reason for it- she does not try and defend her use of it- she simply knows that he did indeed use this name- from what I can tell- all the way right up into his years in college.
Then why would you have never heard about this until now?
Because the media have a narrative- a story they want to tell [and also believe in].
They tell one that has the opponents of the president as a bunch of weird cult members- people who reject mixed marriages- people whose women can’t attend church when they are on their period- who have houses that have elevators for their cars [Romney].
These same media people were so entranced by a particular image of a man- an unrealistic messianic image- that they were so taken captive by- that one of them quit their job as a reporter- right on the spot- to simply join the most ‘transformative presidency’ in the history of man [Linda Douglas- who was reporting on the 2008 election].
You had another reporter [George Stephanopoulos] who admitted on national TV that he cried- very loudly [I guess like when you can’t get a word in type thing?] when he watched the inauguration of the president.
Chris Matthews famously said a thrill goes up his leg when he simply hears words proceeding from the presidents mouth.
Now- I don’t hate the man.
I don’t even like Romney.
But as you attempt to navigate between what’s best- what’s true- what’s fake.
For us to get treated to the 200 year old teaching of some strange leader of a religious sect- and yet for us to not even know that the current president never even came to the mainland of the U.S. until college- is striking.
Yes- the president lived in Indonesia- spent time in Kenya- visited the African continent- wrote about the anti Imperial mindset of the African colonies.
He was influenced by stories and people whose view of America was negative.
He lived among them- went to school with them.
Wore their Muslim garb [yes].
Prayed the Muslim prayer.
Used the name Barry.
And never stepped on the lower 48 until college.
Now- does this mean he’s a bad man?
But for us to know that menstruating Mormons cant attend temple- and to not know any of this- well that’s what you call media bias.
That’s not journalism.
1815- HEAD TRANSPLANT
I have been reading the San Antonio paper the last few weeks- and they have been running some ad for dental implants [fake teeth].
They have the ‘before/after’ pictures- whenever I see the ad- I think ‘before what? A complete head transplant’!
Yes- the before shots remind me much of my homeless buddies- the after shots look like glamour pictures for the ‘most beautiful person in the world’ contest.
This last week I have reached a sort of milestone- a few years ago I began praying [more than usual] for all types of criminal cases that I read about- or see- on the news.
I actually painted their names all over my gazebo- the back fence- and yes- right on the back and sides of the house [along with lots of bible verses].
I have hundreds of pictures/articles cut from the paper- their pinned to my office walls.
You say ‘John- I know you mean well- but do you think this is normal’.
Actually no- neither does my wife.
I have been threatened ‘if you keep doing this- I will paint the whole house’.
My paints [and brushes] have been hidden [by others!]- and when Christmas comes around- I tell the kids ‘hey- just get me another 5 gallon bucket of paint- I’m running low’ [yes- this part is a joke].
Some of the more severe cases- the ones that stick in my mind- I paint their names- the others I just pin up the article.
Sometimes I see the cases more than once- at the time of the crime- and then when they get sentenced.
This week Jacob Gonzales was sentenced to life without parole.
He plead guilty to a triple homicide he committed last year- shot 3 girls in cold blood.
The worst homicide the city has ever seen.
So I had written the name of Jacob down- and saved the article.
As I looked for a spot to paint the name- I realized that I already wrote the name Jacob- in big letters- on a ladder on my gazebo [long story- bible verse about Jacobs Ladder].
So it kinda just fit.
I knew his case was significant- I do ‘forever’ pray for these guys [and women] and being it was a local case- and he will be in jail for life- he would benefit more from the prayers.
During my normal reading for the week- I was reading Jeremiah chapter 31.
I usually focus on one or 2 chapters a week- and if I remember I comment on them at the end of the week.
As I read chapter 31- it starts with a verse that should be added to the previous chapter.
Sometimes you run into a chapter like that- our bible chapters and verses are really ‘man made’ that is the chapters themselves are not inspired- just the content [chapter divisions].
So I thought ‘heck- let me go ahead and see if the Lord has something for me in chapter 30’.
Now- this is the week where I added Jacob to my prayer group- again.
And I felt there was some special significance to his case.
In Jeremiah chapter 30 the Lord says ‘this is the time of Jacobs’s trouble- and I will save him out of it’.
It would take too long to teach the actual doctrine of Jacobs Trouble- but it is a long- and sometimes controversial teaching that we find all through the bible.
I say controversial because many [most?] Protestants have an ‘end time’ teaching about this [called Dispensationalism] that I don’t agree with.
I hold more to the historic churches’ view on these passages [Catholic, Orthodox, etc.]
But Jacob- in the bible- is the son of Isaac- the son of Abraham.
God changes his name to Israel [he is the father of the 12 tribes of Israel].
And the name obviously holds a lot of significance in the bible.
The ‘trouble’ part refers to the passages we find in the bible that speak about a very troubling time for Israel as a nation- in many of the End Time books/movies- it’s called ‘The Great Tribulation’.
But the significance for me- this week- was God kinda spoke to me thru the connection of this kid Jacob- who I prayed for all week.
Yes- Jacobs’ time of trouble.
In chapter 31 [Jeremiah] God tells Israel ‘there is coming a time when I will make a new covenant with you- not like the one I made with you during the time of Moses’.
This fits in with what I taught last week- how the apostle Paul said we are not under the old law [Moses and the 10 commandments] but under a new covenant- the new and everlasting covenant of the Blood of Jesus.
In the chapter it says God will write his law on our minds and hearts- it won’t just be an outward law- written on tables of stone- but one written on the inside.
Yes- he says ‘all things will be new- I will never remember your sins any more’.
You know- I guess complete head [heart] transplants can happen- but it takes a miracle from God.
1812- John 3- Ephesians 2 [and the chicken!]
I want to cover the 2 bible chapters that I mentioned the other day- John chapter 3 and Ephesians chapter 2.
But first- some business.
I wrote a post the other day about ‘confiscating’ the little plastic bags at my local grocery store [HEB].
And some of you might be thinking ‘see- crime does pay’.
For your information- the bags were probably worth about 25 cents.
The other day I went to take out the chicken thighs for dinner- I couldn’t find them!
Then I thought ‘gee- my truck has been smelling like dead bodies lately’.
Yes- the chicken was left under the back seat for 2 days- cost- about 6 dollars.
Lesson? Don’t steal the bags anymore- cost? Priceless.
Okay- John chapter 3 is the famous chapter where Jesus tells Nicodemus ‘a man cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’ [or born from above].
We also have the famous John 3:16 verse ‘for God so loved the world…’
If you read the chapter- both Jesus- and John the Baptist speak about those who believe- they are not condemned- and those who do not believe are judged.
Yet Jesus says he came into the world- not to condemn it- but to save it.
In Ephesians chapter 2 the apostle Paul says we are ‘saved by grace- not of works- lest any man should boast’.
Both chapters emphasize the role faith plays in salvation.
Okay- where did I come up with these chapters for the reading of the week?
They were both quoted from during the mass on Sunday [as a Protestant- I always try and watch the mass on Sunday- as well as doing our own home church meeting].
‘John- do Catholics believe in being born again’?
Yes- very much so.
Being born again is actually a vital doctrine within Catholicism.
For a brief review of Catholic/Protestant teaching- on my blog- on the front page to the left- you will see a bunch of studies that I have highlighted- click the ‘Protestant Reformation- Luther’ and you will get a more in depth discussion on some of the differences- and points of agreement.
But for this brief post- Catholics [and Orthodox] believe the new birth takes place at baptism- for the most part Protestants/Evangelicals believe it takes place at the point of faith [added to a long list of ‘altar calls’ or ‘5 steps of conversion’ etc.- in short- Protestants have their own sacramental system- they just don’t know it!]
I say- mostly- because there are many various groups within the Protestant movement that also would agree that water baptism is the point of being saved [church of Christ- various Pentecostal groups- etc.].
Now- I hold more to the historic Reformation view [faith] but I do not see a ‘grave’ departure from scripture with those who put more of the emphasis on baptism.
There are verses in John 3- Jesus says ‘a man must be born of water and the spirit’.
Plus- the last half of the chapter starts with a discussion over ‘purifying’.
There was a debate- going on at the time- between Jesus and John’s followers- about baptism- the chapter says the debate was about ‘purifying’.
Overall- it’s not unreasonable- in my mind- to hold to the more traditional emphasis on the importance of the role of baptism.
Yet- Christians fight- vehemently- over this.
In this part of the country it’s common for a Baptist- Assembly of God- or Church of Christ believer to view the ‘other team’ as a cult over this- this to me is very sad.
The main point?
Regardless of how much of a role water baptism plays in your particular denomination- the main point is we are saved by faith- thru the death and resurrection of Christ.
In the Ephesians chapter- Paul actually hits on some pretty deep themes- that the death of Christ removed the ‘wall of separation’ between Jew and Gentile- and we both are made into ‘one new man’.
This shows us the role that the Cross should play in society- it should bring various groups and cultures together- not divide them.
It would take a little too much time for me to go into what the ‘wall of separation’ was in Paul’s day.
But he wasn’t speaking about our sins separating us from God [though this of course is true].
But he was speaking about the role the law [10 commandments] played at the time.
Paul- a zealous teacher of the Jewish law [Pharisee] held the law in high esteem- and often it became a barrier between the Jew and Gentile.
Some of the more fame seeking Pharisees [the ones we see Jesus interacting with in the gospels] used the fact that they were the nation that received the law under Moses- as an ‘I’m better than you’ mentality.
Paul says ‘the law of commandments that was against us- Jesus nailed them to his Cross’ [Colossians].
He also says in his letter to the Galatians ‘if righteousness comes by the law- then Christ died in vain’ strong words indeed!
The point he is making is we- believers- are no longer under the condemnation of the law- no longer under the continual threat of God striking us down at any moment because of our sin.
We have been saved by grace and those who ‘walk in the Spirit’ are no longer under condemnation [Romans 8].
So- Jesus nailed the law to the Cross- and the barrier that separated Jew from gentile- as well as sinful man from a Holy God- has been ‘taken away’ by Christ.
I must note that the apostle Paul himself- who is famous for this teaching- always added the caveat ‘do we now sin because we are not under the law? God forbid!’
He was accused- by the strict sect of the Pharisees [known as Judaizers] of teaching a ‘lawless gospel’.
No- he- as well as most Christian denominations today- teach that the 10 commandments are still very important- and as believers in Christ we will naturally- by our new birth- fulfill the law.
But it is no longer this sword of Damocles hanging over our head.
Okay- for those who haven’t had time to read the chapters yet- try and read them over the weekend- they are short chapters- think about what I said in this post- look for the emphasis on faith- the role that faith plays in our salvation.
I’ll be back in a few days- but I need to go now- need to get another pack of chicken thighs before the store gets crowded.
1800- THE CHURCH LADY
I caught the debate last night [number 20!] and was surprised that King only asked one question on ‘social issues’ [I think?].
He did bring up the ‘controversy’ over birth control.
Now- up until a few weeks back- starting with the question by Stephanopoulos [a Dem insider- worked for Clinton- admitted- on air- that he cried while sitting at home during the Obama win. You say ‘so what John- Boehner cries too!’ Yeah- but he’s smart enough not to admit it when he weeps in private].
Yeah- when Stephanopoulos brought up the silly question on whether states had the right to ban birth control- right after that the media jumped on the band wagon and have been saying how the Repubs want a war on women’s right to health.
The media keep parading women across the screen- decrying the attack on their health- after all- birth control cures cancer! [The truth be told- there are many more health risks to abortion and birth control then there are health benefits].
Yes- they want the country to see the Repubs as right wing ‘satan hatin’ preachers!
I just read an article the other day- 2 ‘women’s health clinics’ were fined in Texas- their disposal company was dumping the bodies of aborted babies in the city dump.
A woman’s right? I wonder how many of these little bodies belonged to future women.
So the debate goes on- and the populace drinks it in.
They have been showing the clips of a speech by Santorum- he talked about evil as a reality and satan as an enemy.
Okay- he was speaking at a Catholic university forum- it was about 4 years ago- what’s the big deal?
‘Well- you never know- say if he starts talking like this in office’
You mean like Obama?
Yes- 2 weeks ago the Pres was speaking- at a political/religious forum- in Washington- and he defended his tax policies by saying they are based on Jesus’ teachings in the gospel of Luke.
He quoted Jesus ‘to whom much is given- much is required’.
Okay- I see the point he’s trying to make- asking the rich to pay more.
But for a sitting U.S. president to say that his tax policy- as opposed to the other side- is the ‘Jesus one’ well- that would have been world news for days if it were Bush.
So the satan speech- given at a catholic school- geez- give it a break.
The media would have you think that Santorum is the church lady from SNL [Saturday night live].
Dana Carvey did the Church Lady- he would often come up with some circumstance- and then reply ‘hmmm- could it be satan’.
Yeah- that’s Santorum!
This week I have been reading Ezekiel chapter 34.
It talks about the leaders- shepherds of the people. They are being rebuked because they are like ‘shepherds who feed themselves- they kill the sheep- eat the meat and wear the wool as clothes’.
In the New Testament Jesus alludes to this when he says ‘beware of false prophets- they are like wolves in sheep’s clothing’.
Yes- that’s where the term comes from.
The term means more than meets the eye.
It’s speaking about a mindset- one that sees people- church people- citizens- any group of people being ‘ruled’ by others.
And the mindset is ‘I can benefit in some way from my position over them’. This usually means financially.
I have written much about this over the years- and I’m convinced that many good men in modern ministry do not see the violation of scripture they engage in when they enter ‘ministry’ and constantly appeal for money- even to the point of thinking that their becoming rich off of the giving of people is ‘Gods way’.
But also in the broader sense- God is rebuking the leaders because they really don’t have the true concerns of the people at the fore front.
Good leaders- politicians- presidents- congressman. They should be willing to make the right decisions- even if those decisions seem less popular at the time- they should do it because it’s right.
The Pres put out a policy yesterday that said he wanted to lower corporate tax rates and eliminate tax loopholes.
Now- I haven’t read the thing- and I know some say it’s really a scam- I don’t know.
But if it has some truth in it- then it would be a good thing.
Because most analysts say that’s really a major step in the right direction.
Dems and Repubs- responsible ones- have already said this needs to be done.
So if the thing is accurate- then we should support the pres.
The other major thing that the next pres must deal with is the entitlement programs- but whoever gets in- whether it be Romney- Obama- or the Church Lady- they will need to govern for the people- not pander to them for personal gain [popularity that will help them win again].
Don’t get me wrong- as a Christian I’m glad the Pres talked about Jesus- and that Santorum talked about satan.
But the reality is- the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ looked/talked just like sheep- that’s how they kept getting into the sheepfold- but all they really wanted was personal gain- they saw the sheep [people] as a means to an end- and that’s what gets us in trouble- every time.
1793- ACCESS DENIED?
As we close the week lets try and wrap up one of the major news stories.
This week the war raged over the Obama care mandate for religious institutions to provide free birth control to their employees.
Obviously the main objection to the rule came from the Catholic Church.
Those on the left [by the way- not all] tried to frame the debate around a woman’s right to have access to birth control.
The right said it was a freedom of religion- 1st amendment argument.
Obama did an about face- to his surprise many of his own team were mad about what he did- and he supposedly ‘solved’ the problem by saying that the insurance companies must pay for it instead.
The Catholic Bishops conference in the U.S. – headed up by Archbishop Timothy Dolan [from N.Y. – soon to become a Cardinal] hesitated at first before they made a statement either accepting Obama’s compromise or rejecting it.
As of right now- they reject it.
Many Catholic institutions provide their own insurance- the so called compromise still has Catholics paying/providing for something that they believe is contrary to their faith.
I guess it would be good to cover why Catholics are against contraception.
Most Protestants [including me] have no problem with simple birth control practices.
We do have a problem with methods that basically abort the child after he/she is conceived.
But overall we are okay with the idea.
Catholics historically appeal to the very real mandate in scripture to ‘be fruitful and multiply’.
In Genesis chapters 1-2- you read how God created plants and animals and man- and they all have the ‘seed within themselves’ that is it is part of Gods purpose for things to reproduce.
Now- in the current debate those on the left have made some simple- and obvious contradictions.
They have argued that to give the conscience clause exception to the Catholics- that would be denying women ‘their right’ to health care.
They say it is an issue of access- that if you don’t do this women will not have proper access to the stuff.
Then at the same time they are saying ‘look- 99.9 % of all women use contraceptives’.
Okay- which one is it?
If just about every woman on the planet uses the stuff- then how can you argue that unless Catholic institutions offer it- then they are denying access?
Its seems pretty clear to me that most women that need it can get it.
Number 2- some political experts have said that the whole thing was planned- that the Democratic team was trying to change the debate from ‘a woman’s right to choose’ [abortion] to ‘those darn right wingers want to ban birth control’!
When I first heard this- I wasn’t too quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Dick Morris was the first to bring it up on Fox News.
But as the week progressed the idea grew legs.
It made it to the radio talk circuit and as of today many do think the whole thing was planned.
Why do I think there might be some truth to this?
Remember about a month ago when George Stephanopoulos hosted one of the debates.
He asked Romney a strange question- I mean even the audience booed.
He asked if a state has the right to ban birth control.
To be honest- the question seemed to catch everyone off guard.
Romney never fully answered it- but he did say that there is no one that he knows of that wants to do this- that there are no states pushing to ban birth control.
Then of course you had the present debate- which some on the left did indeed try to frame by saying ‘they want to rob you of your ‘right’ to birth control’.
Yea- I think Morris was right.
Now- if you can frame the argument- about anything- by convincing people that it’s ‘their right’.
Then sooner or later people will try to ‘access’ the right.
Let me give you an example.
A few years ago I caught a movie about some persons fight for Euthanasia [or as MSNBC says ‘youth in Asia’].
The show covered the struggle of some dying man and his fight for the ‘right to die’.
It was a true case that he fought all the way to the Supreme Court.
He finally won ‘hooray- no one can deny me this right- yippee!’
Then as the show concluded they admitted that as the year went by- the person kept getting worse- and you can imagine all his friends and fellow strugglers who fought with him to ‘win the right’.
Well- they kind of felt like ‘gee- when is he gonna pull the trigger’ after all- it’s his right.
The show ended by saying the disease progressed so fast that he didn’t have time to kill himself.
I mean he grew rose over a year- there was plenty of time.
He realized that what happened in his case was he was surrounded by people- many good people- people who I’m sure meant well.
But his entire fight was something that he really did not want- something that in the end was no right at all- he got caught up in the political fight and when he won- like the dog who chased the car but didn’t know what to do with it when he caught it- yes this victim was not only a victim of his disease- but a victim of those who convinced him that this was his right.
As of today- women in this country have access to birth control.
It looks like the congress might actually pass a law that restricts Obama’s health law- that says the religious exemption clause must stand.
I’m glad that the issue rose up now- because it does give some time for the president and congress to do something.
But the fact is- according to those who advocate for no religious exemption- they themselves admit that 99.9% of all woman use the stuff.
This does not seem like a ‘no access’ issue to me.
1791- PICTURES OF ME WITH BLACK PEOPLE
Well it’s been a sad couple of days- yes- we lost the beautiful angel Whitney Houston.
I never was really a fan of Whitney- I mean she had a great voice and all- I just never bought any of her music.
As I watched the media cover her death- I began to realize how interesting her journey was- even with all the failures.
She was from Newark N.J. – I never knew that [right around the area I grew up].
She started her singing ‘career’ in a church choir.
As I saw all the clips the past few days- I saw her singing some Christian songs [I didn’t know that either].
And the last clip of her being recorded- a few days before her death- she sang a note from the famous kids bible song ‘Yes Jesus loves me’.
I know many in the media- and ‘church world’ have a tendency to judge people when they die- many seem to know ‘for sure’ who made it to heaven- and who did not.
I have learned a long time ago- I’m not the judge on stuff like that.
I saw Bill O’Reilly do his shtick. He tried to do the ‘real guy’ stuff- you know- like when he had on Bernie Goldberg- a Jewish friend- who was trying to outdo Bill on the ‘I am a friend of the Black man’.
Goldberg brought out a photo of him with a Black rapper- Ice Cube.
As Bernie shows the photo- to say ‘look- I even hug Black men’.
He refers to Cube as ‘Ice T’.
Bill- as a true brother- corrects Bernie and tells him ‘it’s not T but Cube’.
Bernie gets mad- you can see the look on his face ‘how dare you correct me’.
Then someone from off camera must have yelled ‘listen- Bills right- its Cube- not T’.
And Bernie quickly back tracks.
I guess Bernie got the picture from his file ‘pictures of me with Black people’.
So anyway- O’Rielly does the section on Whitney and he kind of goes hard on her.
He talks about her choice to do drugs- and basically says she was looking to die- she made the choice.
I realize what he was saying- but I found it to be the wrong time to say it.
A few years ago I heard a radio preacher talking about the funeral of a gang member that he preached at.
He said the mother and family and all the gang bangers were there- and he ‘told it like it was’.
He went on and said how he preached ‘this kid is in hell right now- screaming his brains out- he has no rest- he’s burning- forever!!’
He said how the mom ran out crying- his family was distraught- I thought he was lucky that he didn’t get gunned down right in the pulpit.
Yes- we need to have grace in these situations.
So- after seeing all the clips of Whitney- I believe she very well might be with God right now- and sure- I know she messed up lots- but I am certainly not in the position to judge the angel.
The other day I was reading Psalms 147.
I read how God counts the stars and gives them names.
It reminded me of the book of Revelation- where there is this vision of Jesus [chapter 1].
John the disciple sees Jesus- he has hair like wool- these eyes of fire- and feet like brass- burned in a furnace.
As Jesus is standing there- he is surrounded by 7 golden lamp stands- and he has 7 stars in his hand.
The vision is revealed to John- the lamp stands are the churches [of Asia Minor] and the stars are the ‘angels of the 7 churches’.
Now- as a theology buff- I know many bible folk say these angels are Pastors- because the Greek word simply means messenger.
But as I have read this over the years- I have come to believe these are actually angels.
What does the bible say about angels?
In the book of Hebrews we read that they are ‘ministering spirits- sent forth to minister to those who are inheriting salvation’.
We often hear that angels in the bible look like men- they are not things with wings!
Actually- this is another ‘fable’.
While it is true that many appearances of angels in the bible do look like men- and Hebrews also says that we should entertain [show hospitality] to strangers- because some have helped angels and they didn’t even know it.
Yet- there are also angels ‘with wings’.
We call these creatures Cherubim and Seraphim.
In the book of Exodus we read the story of the 10 commandments [chapter 20].
We read the first commandment as not having other gods before God- and not to make graven images of anything.
Over the centuries the church has had some debates over Christian art- is it right or wrong?
After all- much of it is statues and pictures depicting people and creatures and angels and God.
So during the Protestant Reformation [and the rise of Islam] you had occasions where people went out and destroyed the statues and paintings of other groups.
A few things should be noted here.
The commandment- however you take it- does not say ‘go and smash the statues of other religions’ [a few years ago the famous statues of Buddha were destroyed- I think in India- but radical Muslims did this because they felt the statues violated the commandment on angels]
Also- after Moses gets the 10 commandments from God- he puts them inside a box called ‘The Ark of the Covenant’.
This box has a lid on it [called the Mercy Seat] and on the lid you had 2 statues of Angels [Cherubim].
So- the actual box that held the commandment not to make idols- had religious art on it!
So we need to be careful before we start going around smashing statues [by the way- this smashing of the statues was called Iconoclastic].
So- we see that angels are spirits- created by God- and they are here to help us.
In Revelation 1 we read about a war in heaven- Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon and his angels.
We read that Michael prevails and the devil loses.
It says ‘the accuser of the brothers is cast down- the devil- who accused them before God day and night’.
There are only 2 named angels in the bible [3- if you include the Catholic apocrypha].
They are Michael- Gabriel- and Raphael.
Yes- angels are real- they war on our behalf- and they fight in a specific way- they cast down the dragon [satan] who accuses the believers.
This day I am happy in a way for Whitney- she struggled a long time- she was such a beautiful ‘angel’.
I would like to think she is with God right now- getting ready for ‘church’ this Sunday- yes- I know she is not ‘an angel’ in the biblical way.
But let’s stretch some- yes- she will be singing in the angelic choir once again.
Let’s not accuse her this day.