Month: June 2016

Solar concern: The Sun is shooting blanks

Paul Dorian is a noted meteorologist and sun watcher and earlier this month he expressed his concerns that the sun shot blanks twice in June. This takes place when the sun looks blank because of a lack of sun spots or solar activity. He said that the sun went completely blank on June 4 and solar activity did not start-up again until June 8th and then again on June 23. In between those two blank periods, Dorian described the sun spots as “sporadic.” According to NASA the sun goes through a 11-year cycle of increased and decreased sun spot activity called a “solar maximum” and “solar minimum.” This is the normal life of the sun. Dorian says the recent spur in blanks indicates the sun is entering the minimum part of its cycle. However, in what he describes as the “Weakest solar cycle in more than a century,” the extreme nature of the minimum is concerning him. This could be paving the way for a much more alarming solar event called a “Maunder minimum.” Similar …

Jesus warned us about judging others.

Right back at you

I often find myself silently criticizing others throughout my day without really planning on it. You know how it is, it just happens! Different faces over the years come to mind and one in particular sticks out or should I say is still “sticking it to me” because of the subtle conviction that reminds me that I am no different. The twinge of guilt when I point my finger at someone is a signal meant to redirect my focus and help me face my own unresolved fears and insecurities. It tells me that my weaknesses are being reflected back to me through that  person. Really, I should be grateful! I know that I shouldn’t judge others because Jesus commands it along with a hefty warning that when we judge others, God will also judge us. Judge not , lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1) But, I am learning to pay attention to my criticisms and judgements of others for a different reason. Jesus continues: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your …

Donald Trump Photo: Nathan Congleton/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did Donald Trump become a born-again Christian?

[UPDATED JUNE 29, 2016] If you want to have an interesting, perhaps even heated discussion, bring up Donald Trump with  your friends. People either love him or hate, there is little middle ground. But it looks like he is the Republican’s presumptive nominee for president and will be facing off with Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee for the Democrats. Dr. James Dobson, founder of the Christian organization Focus on the Family, recently reported that Donald Trump has become a born-again Christian. Dobson did not lead Trump to Christ but is reporting that he personally knows the person who did, but is not giving his name. In a meeting with several Evangelical Christians, Dobson said, “I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long. I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.” In reference to Trumps language and rough edges, Dobson added, “You have got to cut him some slack. He didn’t grow up like we did.” Because of the interest in the news about Trump’s conversion, Dobson released …

Antarctic Peninsula, Paradise Bay -- tonykliemann/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Book of Job and the ice age

Theologians consider the Book of Job as one of the oldest books of the Bible. It is generally believed to have been written during the time of the early patriarchs, shortly after Noah’s flood. There is an interesting feature about Job. It refers to ice and snow more than any other book in the Bible. It not only discusses ice and snow, but does it in a much more descriptive way. Out of the South comes the storm. And out of the North comes the cold From the breath of God ice is made And the expanse of the water is frozen. (Job 37:9-10 NASV) The word expanse is translated in another version “broad waters” refers to massive bodies of ice. Job was describing a sea of frozen ice. Considering Job lived in the Middle East, where did he get this idea? Then he throws out another depiction: From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the …

Photo: other think/Flickr/Creative Commons

Grief and time

I stood at the counter and watched as the cashier carefully wrapped my Willow Tree ornaments. I had purchased four of these ornaments for each of my immediate family. The statue is called “brothers.” The younger  brother is on the ground looking up at the standing older brother who is looking down. It was the first Christmas in my grief. Losing my oldest boy a year earlier made the holiday painful. The clerk looked at me as she wrapped the ornaments.  She asked me if these were for someone who lost a loved one. I said, yes, I lost my son. “Well,” she stated, “if this is your first year, the second year is just as painful.” “However, the third year is a little better.” she added, “and then by five years you will find it so much better.” Wow! A complete stranger had just made my world open to a possible future I could hope for. What a gift! In grief sharing with others who have lost a loved one, I have mentioned this …

North Korea propaganda Photo: ksevik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Pray because of ‘unreasonable’ and ‘evil’ men

There is a curious passage in the second letter that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. At the beginning of chapter three, he asks the Thessalonians to pray for him because the world was filled with “unreasonable” and “evil”men. “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 NKJV) In verse two, Paul was describing the two types of leaders that he was running into as he traveled through Asia preaching the Gospel. He needed to be delivered, literally rescued, from these type of people. The Greek word “atopos” translated unreasonable has several meanings — absurd, improper, unusual, inappropriate and out-of-place. Like the Christians bakers in Oregon who were fined $135,000 (US) because they refused to make a $200 wedding cake for a Lesbian couple. Others were blatantly evil (Greek poneros) — bad or wicked, similar to the one Kenneth Bae encountered. In …

Another reason to pray for those in power. Photo: Colorado State Capital bergerbot/Flickr/Creative Commons

God delivers a message to the Colorado State Capital

Ted Harvey is a Republican representative in the Colorado House of Representatives. He is also pro-life. Though, many in society are trying to quieten Christians in the public square, Jesus told His disciples not to worry when their adversaries were attacking because the Holy Spirit would give them the words and wisdom to impact society: 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. (Luke 21:14-15 NASV) I believe this promise was on full display in the Colorado legislature in early May. In an article posted on Faith it, Ted shares a remarkable story of God providing him a message for the Colorado State Capital. Just before the May 7th weekend, the House Majority Leader, a Democrat, announced the following Monday, she would sponsor a resolution honoring the 90th anniversary of Denver’s abortion giant, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Horrified by this, Harvey left for the weekend. That weekend Ted remembered …

The Glory of God is falling on West Virginia. Photo: small church in West Virginia's coal country on a mountain near Snowshoe, West Virginia. Robert Du Bois/Flickr/Creative Commons

Revival hits West Virginia coal country

Reports are coming in of a massive revival building in small towns through out West Virginia’s coal country hard hit by the economic crisis and America’s harsh environmental policies putting thousands out of work. An estimated 4,000 people have accepted Christ in this largely rural area where communities range in size from 500 to a few thousand people. The first inkling of what was to come appeared in late March, 2016, when a student at Logan High, Skyler Miller — a leukemia survivor, spontaneously started preaching in the school hallways. Logan, West Virginia has a population of 1,779 according to the 2010 census. Rather than reacting negatively to the message, many students stood and watched. The Holy Spirit showed up and some even responded while other students were looking on. But the revival that tepidly stirred among the youth spread into a Church of God in nearby Delbarton, West Virginia — population 579 . Pastor Mitchell Bias of Regional Church of God believed God wanted him to bring in a young 31-year old evangelist, Matt …

We need to have a prophetic element in our prayers. Photo: Matthew Green/Flickr/Creative Commons

Envisioning prayer

Last year, I was praying and seeking an answer and intervention for a particular situation that was very troubling to me. As I desperately sought the answer, I suddenly began to envision it happening right down to the exact details — what would it look like, sound like and feel like if it actually came to pass. After picturing the scenario in my mind’s eye, I spontaneously began to thank and praise God for the answer. My response surprised me. I realized because it had been so real in my mind as I prayed, that my spirit responded with thanksgiving and praise before I even knew what was happening. It was the same response that I would have felt seeing my prayer answered and fulfilled in the flesh. But in this instance it hadn’t happened yet. The incident reminded me of a verse: “Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the non-existent things that (He has foretold and promised) as if they (already) existed.”  (Romans 4:17 AMP) I had meditated and contemplated on …

Jesus's wife fragment almost certainly a forgery. Image: Live Science/Harvard Divinity School

Jesus’s wife fragment declared a fake one more time

An article published in the July/August 2016 issue of The Atlantic has concluded that the small business card-sized fragment of papyrus purporting Jesus was married is a modern-day forgery when the author alleges some of the provenance supporting the fragment’s authenticity is probably fake. The provenance tracks the recent ownership history of a piece of antiquity and is part of the process used to determine legitimacy. In 2012, Harvard Divinity School Professor Karen King caused a stir in her presentation to the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies about a papyrus fragment that had the words “Jesus said to them, MY WIFE.” Though the sentences were cut off, other lines such as “She is able to be my disciple”; “I dwell with her,” also indicated a marital arrangement. King suggested that this ancient fragment, supposedly dated to the fourth century, was a copy of an earlier document and is evidence that some close to the time Jesus lived believed He was married. The Biblical narrative makes no reference to Jesus being married and since others …

Pier 14, San Francisco Photo: Thomas Hawk/Flickr/Creative Commons

US government debt passes $19,000,000,000,000

On June 2, 2016, the debt of the American federal government was $19.2 trillion ($19,229,279,536,522). According to justfacts.com, that works out to over $59,400 for every person living in the US or $154,300 for every American household. At some point, this debt must be paid and this means future taxpayers will be called to account either through significant reductions in services, higher taxes or probably both. You can control your own destiny or do it Greek style when your debtors call the shots. I love the video below because it explains how government debt simply passes on the responsibility for excessive spending to the next generation. In order to pay down its $19 trillion debt, the US federal government must first get rid of its yearly deficit. Deficits represent any shortfall between revenues and spending on a yearly basis. Debt is simply the total accumulated deficits. Unfortunately, the US government is in no hurry to deal with its yearly shortfall, as its deficit in 2015 was $439 billion. Though it has been going down over the …

God has a specific destiny and path for each one of us. Photo: Dave Soldano/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: A sense of purpose adds years to your life

A study produced by researchers Patrick Hill from Canada’s Carleton University and Nicholas Turiano from the University of Rochester’s Medical Center concluded that having a purpose adds years to a person’s life. The two researchers tracked 6,000 people over a 14-year period who had been part of the Midlife in the United States study. Elements of the comprehensive survey delved into such areas as determining if a person felt they had a purpose. Among other things they were asked to respond to such statements as “some people wander aimlessly in life, but I am not one of them.” Over their study period, the research team determined that 9% (569) of these people had died. After analyzing the data, they found that across all age groups those who had a higher sense of purpose consistently lived longer. Lead author Patrick Hill stated: “These findings suggest that there’s something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity.” The two added in their report published in Psychological Science that other studies have come …

So what caused the 1910 Paris flood — SUVs?

The recent flooding in Paris that saw the Seine River break its banks has brought out dozens of environmental apologists claiming it was caused by man-made global warming. Of course, they are insinuating that if we don’t cut back carbon emissions more of the same awaits us. One man-made global warming article shrilly shouted in its headline: Climate Change Made the Flooding in France More Deadly. Unfortunately, there is a bit of problem with the messaging. This is not the first time Paris has flooded and this wasn’t even the worst flood. French Artist Julien Knez caused a bit of a stir when he used a bunch of old photos of the Great Paris Flood of 1910 and then took pictures of the same spots during this year’s flood allowing us to compare the impact of the two deluges. As the photos show, the 1910 flood was actually higher as the Seine River peaked at 8.62 meters above normal compared to only 6.1 meters above normal when it reached its maximum level on June 3 …

Florida-based Chick-fil-A restaurant. Photo: Robert du Bois/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Christian response to the Orlando attack

Chick-fil-A is a popular American-based fast food chain operated by Christians — the Cathay family. Over the past several years the restaurant has been in the sights of gay activists because of statements made by Chick-fil-A’s Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathay in a 2012 interview with the Biblical Recorder when he publicly came out in favor of “the Biblical definition of the family unit.” Since then gay activists and supporters have launched many boycotts and  protests of Chick-fil-A restaurants. This includes picketing their restaurants, trying to stop the chain from setting up restaurants on university campuses and most recently the New York City Council called for a boycott of restaurants in that city. After the horrid massacre of 49 people at a popular gay night club in Orlando, Florida on early Sunday morning on June 12 by an Islamic terrorist, Chick-fil-A broke one of its own cardinal rules to lend a hand. The chain purposefully closes its restaurants on Sunday, allowing its employees to go to church or spend time with their family, if they …

Photo: Leonard J Matthews/Flickr/Creative Commons

How Christianity is dying …. or is it?

There is a huge debate about Christianity these days. Many people thinks it’s an antique ideology, disappearing rapidly. I don’t want to argue, but my recent experience might help. My home city used to be the Bible belt of Canada. Our provincial premier, similar to a state governor, was also a Baptist radio preacher. My brother once went to a children’s meeting at the Fundamentalist Baptist Church, and a dignified older man said hello. That was him. We also had a mention in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” for Holy Row, or Church Street, a small area with the highest concentration of churches in the world. That Ripley’s thing might be an urban legend but we all believed it. Today, that inner city street is crowded with old churches and my personal favourite is the Danish Lutheran building. Some of those churches are still open, but Holy Row not so holy now. A few years ago my church moved to some place north of the city, into cow and chicken country, and I moved south; …

Middle East dust storm. Photo: diogo.saravia/Flickr/Creative Commons

Are you covered with the wrong dust?

Jesus was sending his disciples to preach the gospel in some nearby villages when He gave these odd instructions. 13 If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. (Matthew 10:13-14 NASV) If the village did not heed their words or receive Christ’s message they were supposed to shake the dust of the village off their feet. In the dry Mediterranean climate, dust was a constant way of life and not surprisingly idioms about dust found its way into the common vernacular. It was a quirky saying and sometimes we struggle to understand what Jesus was referring to. In fact, Jesus may have alluded to a quaint saying associated with Rabbis of the day. In her book, Walking in the dust of the Rabbi, Jesus, author Lois Tverberg explains that Jesus’ teaching approach was very much the …

Why do Islamic terrorists want to attack the Vatican? Photo: vgm8383/Flickr/Creative Commons

Italian police thwart Muslim extremist terrorist attack on the Vatican

In early May, Italian police reported they stopped a planned ISIS terrorist attack on the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome. They believe six people were involved in this plot — three men and three women. Four  Moroccans were arrested. Two others, a Moroccan man and his Italian wife have apparently fled to either Iraq or Syria. The police became aware of the plot through phone taps of conversations between members of the group. In a transcript released to the public, one of the arrested men allegedly said: “I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of the crusaders, I swear I’ll attack it, in the Vatican, God willing.” This isn’t the first time that the Italian police thwarted a terrorist attack on the Vatican. Last year, at almost exactly the same time, Italian police broke up an Al-Qaeda plot planned against the Vatican that may have included a possible assassination attempt on the Pope. Nine people were arrested (Afghans and Pakistanis) in raids and police were looking for …

Funeral procession in England for person killed during the 1918-1920 flu Pandemic that killed upwards of 5% of the earth's population.

Are super-bugs paving the way for end-time plagues?

I have always found one of the prophecies given about the end times a bit perplexing – the Bible talks about plagues. In His description of the apocalyptic end, Jesus warned: 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:11 NASV) With our modern medical practices, vaccines and antibodies, plagues seem to be something we only read about in history books such as the flu pandemic that swept the world between January 1918 and December 1920. It is estimated that 500 million people were infected from the Pacific islands to the Arctic. The Spanish flu as it came to be known killed upwards of 5% of the earth’s population (100 million people). But today health officials are warning that the improper use of our antibodies is creating a strain of super bugs that have a natural resistance to modern drugs. This may pave the way for modern-day plagues. Bacteria are similar to our human population, where we have people who …

Laura Bretan (America's Got Talent TouTube Capture)

Romanian Pentecostal girl wows judges at ‘America’s Got Talent’ audition

Last week, Laura Bretan, 13, wowed the judges on America’s Got Talent with her rendition of Nessum Dorma (None Shall Sleep) from the opera Turandot. Laura along with her Romanian-American parents attend Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago, Illinois. Charisma News reports her singing talent was first noticed by her mother when Laura sang along with songs in the show Snow White. By 8, Laura was singing in her church and would go on to win talent shows including the Apollo Theater amateur show. She has even sung at the annual conventions of the Romanian Pentecostal Assembly Church. During her amazing audition at America’s Got talent, she was sent through to the next round by former Spice Girl Mel B. (Melanie Janine Brown) who jumped up to push the Golden Buzzer. Each judge is allowed to put a performer through without having them go to a vote. However, that may have not been necessary as even the usually critical Simon Cowell was overwhelmed by Laura’s talent stating: “I have never heard anything like that in …

Mecca at the birth place of Muhammad and the place he received his first revelation of the Qur'an is considered the holiest site in Islam. Photo: AKPhotoPro/Flickr/Creative Commons

Muslim group admits Islamic teaching is at the root of terrorism

One of the world’s largest Muslim groups has admitted that extremism and the groups associated with it — such as the Taliban, ISIS and al-Quaeda — are rooted in Islamic teaching. Earlier this month, Indonesian Muslim cleric Yahya Staquf was speaking on behalf of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim group in the world, to an international Muslim conference being held in Jakharta, Indonesia. In his address, Staquf said: “We keep on denying the source of the problem, name some ailments within Islam itself. To be able to combat the global jihadi movement, world leaders and the general public must recognize the fact that extremism originates from Islamic teachings.” He further stated that extremists use Islamic teaching to justify their acts of violence. Staquf believes the only way to stop Muslim terror is to reform Islam itself. Islam needs to change. Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems in Islam is that extremist elements consider any criticism of Islam as blasphemy and punishable by death. They use intimidation to quell any dissent and because of this few …

Jesus the Name above all names Photo: Jesus on Corcovado

Generational Curses: Part 7 — Breaking the Demonic stronghold

This is the last article in my series on Generational Curses. We have been studying a passage out of Exodus 20:4-5, where God says he will pass the parents’ iniquity on to the children for up to four generations. In this closing article, I will look at the demonic strongholds often connected with generational curses. Iniquity and sin attract demons, like rotting flesh attracts flies. We can see this association in the life of Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus to the High Priest. In Acts 1:18, the apostle Peter declared that the 30 pieces of silver — which Judas received from the High Priest to show Jesus location — was the “reward of iniquity.” But an earlier account provides a clearer depiction of money’s hold on Judas. In this incident, we read the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with a valuable measure of perfume. We know that Judas was the treasurer of Christ’s band of disciples and the disciples were well aware that Judas embezzled money from this fund (John 12:4-6). Judas openly …

The University of Toronto is changing its position on providing only gender-neutral facilities. Photo: Roman Boldyrev/Flickr/Creative Commons

The surprising reason why this ACLU director resigned

The director of the Georgia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Maya Dillard Smith, announced she will be stepping down as its interim leader because of a conflict with the ACLU’s stand on transgender bathroom rights. The ACLU has taken on the cause to allow transgender men and women to use the bathroom and change facilities of their choice. This would allow biological males to use female facilities. However, there are concerns that such laws would also give sexual predators easy access to women and girls. In her resignation, she cited a personal experience with her own elementary-aged daughters that caused her to question the ACLU’s position on this controversial issue. Her daughters were using a public facility, when according to Smith: “Three Transgender young adults over six feet with deep voices entered. My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions for which I, like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer.” She adds: “I understood it to be ACLU’s goal to delicately balance competing rights to ensure …

Roots of bitterness Photo: Peter Lewis/Flickr/Creative Commons

When anger sprouts a root

Many Christians view anger as sin, but surprisingly the Bible says under certain conditions it isn’t. In his letter, to the Ephesians Paul writes: 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. (Ephesians 4:26 NASV). Other versions translate it more simply, “Be angry and sin not.” The fundamental thought behind this verse is that anger is not necessarily a sin. It is an emotional response to a negative event. In fact, the Bible records times when Jesus was angry. In Mark 3:4, 5, the Lord became angry when the Pharisees challenged the healing of a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. They were more concerned about keeping their legalistic interpretation of the law than seeing a person restored. Though angered by their response, Jesus also grieved about the hardness of their heart. But there are also times when the anger isn’t justified and it may be an indicator of sin. We see a hint of this back in Ephesians when Paul adds “do not …

The changing face of pornography

The Economy of Pornography

When I was six, some curious boys explored an empty house that was being demolished, and I went with them. Inside, one of the older boys called us to see a mail order catalogue that he found. I remember we sat on the floor and a big boy showed us pictures of women in their underwear. I didn’t understand, but I knew we were bad boys and those were dirty pictures. I still haven’t told my parents. The world has changed since then. Now three things are true; 1) products are mass produced and mass consumed 2) sex sells everything and 3) any business that succeeds evolves and expands rapidly. 1) Success is Consumption: Mass production and consumption dominate our economy, and all we need is money. For example, people everywhere eat fast food, made with mass produced sugar, salt, starch, fat, and additives. It’s bad for us, and it’s everywhere. We are struggling to manage this new set of rules. Pornography is one of the most overproduced commodities in the world, and people consume …